The Coast News Group
Katie Tent and Casey Mendoza, both of San Diego, enjoy the craft beers. Photo by Promise Yee

Local craft breweries on tap for festival

OCEANSIDE — Fifteen San Diego County craft breweries brought their best ales, stouts and IPAs to the first San Diego Beer Festival at the Junior Seau Beach Amphitheater on July 21. 

“It’s a whole different world than the light American lagers that have become synonymous with beer for some people,” Lars Gilman, head brewer at Breakwater Brewing Company, said. “Beer can be and is a lot of different things. Craft beers definitely demonstrate that.”

Many of the San Diego breweries pouring beer at the festival are located in North County.

Latitude 33 Brewing Company is located in Vista. Nick Comstock, a Latitude 33 brewer, said it is the Matueka, New Zealand hops that gives their beer its distinct solid taste. He added that Latitude 33 beers range from the pale ale that is a nice everyday beer at 5 percent alcohol by volume, to the unexpected and complex First Fleet Wheatwine beer at 11 percent alcohol by volume.

Iron Fist Brewing Company is also located in Vista.

“We focus on a Belgium style of brewing,” Cesar Torres, an Iron Fist employee, said.

Torres said the beer’s distinct classic taste comes from Belgium yeast and brewing methods. He described the popular Renegade Blonde beer as having a clean, crisp taste.

Festivalgoers also shared their comments on beers.

Tim Groeschel, of Anaheim, described the taste of the Lost Abbey IPA. “It’s really crisp, a lot of hops to it, refreshing, not a complaint to make,” Groeschel said.

While beer flowed, six well-known bands played on the amphitheater stage. The day’s lineup included Hills Like Elephants, Maren Parusel, The Beautiful View and Gone Baby Gone.

The festival was organized by the Breakwater Brewing Company and sponsored by the Oceanside Longboard Surfing Club. Breweries donated the beer and event proceeds went to the longboard surfing club. The club supports amateur surfing competition, the preservation of surfing history and coastal conservation.

“Everything met our expectations and more,” Billy Sager, event coordinator and Breakwater Brewing Company bar manager, said. “This is our first year doing this. The city was very welcoming. We hope to make it an annual event.”