Beer Week in San Diego has become an international event that draws beer aficionados from around the world that flock to the area from Nov. 4 to Nov. 13 to take part in over 500 events happening all over town. I wanted to learn more about this phenomenon from someone immersed in our thriving beer culture and was directed to Kevin Hopkins, San Diego Brewer’s Guild president Emeritus and Mother Earth Brewing’s vice president. Kevin is super approachable and far from a beer snob, a perfect guy to have a fun conversation with over a beer.
You are quite entrenched in the San Diego beer scene with your role as the Brewer’s Guild president Emeritus and Mother Earth’s vice president, how long have you been involved in the beer industry and what led you here?
My love for craft began while living in England many years ago. When my career brought us to the San Diego area in 1999, I was introduced to the local scene by my local Publican. I then made a “passion play” decision to join the industry in 2007.
Beer Week in San Diego has evolved into a 10-day event drawing aficionados from around the world, how did San Diego become such a brewery mecca?
Our current roots can be traced back over 25 years to the opening of Karl Strauss and the start of the homebrew scene fostered by Ballast Point and other homebrew supply stores in the area. There is a direct correlation to our oldest, largest and most successful breweries that comes from this tree.
What role does the San Diego Brewer’s Guild play in the industry here locally and in Beer Week?
The San Diego Brewer’s Guild provides year-round education, awareness and access to the general public as well as important legislative and industry support to our brewery members. During SDBW, the guild coordinates community and media awareness through our website (sdbw.org) as well as via radio, print and live television appearances.
There are a lot of events all over town during beer week, probably too many to mention here, can you touch on some of the highlights?
There are over 500 individual events that literally occur morning, noon and night throughout beer week. The guild produces two of the largest and most popular events of the year in Guildfest and Chef’s Celebration at Torrey Pines, which bookend beer week and draw sell-out crowds.
Your role as vice president at Mother Earth Brewing sounds like a fun one, what does that entail and what’s new with the brewery?
It is indeed fun and I am honored to have a role that helps move our company forward alongside our dedicated team of brewers and staff. My responsibilities generally revolve around our brand, which includes our sales, distribution, national accounts, marketing, communications and general corporate areas. Things are quite busy around here, as we have just opened a second 40,000 square-foot production brewery in Nampa, Idaho. This is in addition to on-going growth and expansion at our original Vista brewery. We are increasing our national footprint with new states as well as introducing new beers as well as our new “Love Pack” mix-packs featuring popular year-round cans as well as seasonal offerings.
As with most folks over 30, you probably did not grow up drinking crafty beer, what were some of your favorites during your formative beer drinking years?
I was first introduced to beer via Lone Star longnecks. Then I moved to Europe at age 18 so the local pubs really taught me to appreciate the classic English styles of lagers and ales. Thank you William Younger!
For those of us looking to enjoy a seasonal pairing of beer and food, can you suggest a nice autumnal combination?
A warm butternut squash bisque served with a malty Brown/Amber or ESB
And just for kicks, fill us in on your first concert and dream concert lineup that would include three bands, any era, dead or alive?
First concert was a college show of Black Flag and XTC, great show! Dream concert is tough but I’ll give it a shot: Robert Johnson/Kansas/The Police
Anything else you would like to add?
Just that it is wonderful to have a host and writer like you bring together the social aspects of food, music and drink! The key to happiness is by making a conscious decision to be happy. What you and we in the craft industry provide is a doorway into creativity, passion and the enjoyment that supports a happy lifestyle. Thank you!
Learn more about San Diego Beer week at sdbw.org.
David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at [email protected] or (858) 395-6905.