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Local Brewer Talks About the Art of Beer Making

With more than 40 local breweries participating, San Diego Beer Week 2011 is a must-attend for any beer fan.

San Diego is fast becoming one of the most respected brew towns with upwards of 40-plus breweries throughout the region. Saturday kicks off a spirited celebration of all things beer with San Diego Beer Week 2011, Nov. 5-13. Organized by the San Diego Brewers Guild, the 10-day festival features local craft beer and dinners, festivals, rare-bottle tastings, cheese pairings, brewery tours and classes.

The festival starts with the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival on Saturday at Liberty Station and concludes with the Beer Garden event at The Lodge at Torrey Pines on Sunday, Nov. 13.

More than 40 San Diego brew houses will be participating—how can you not in this thriving brewing culture?—for what has become a Mecca for craft beer.

Patch spoke with local brew master Dan Jensen (technically titled head brewer) at . to talk shop. Not a bad gig!

Patch: What do you enjoy most about your job?

Dan: In addition to making new recipes, I enjoy the people I work with in the brewhouse and going to beer festivals.

Patch: Does a typical day include a lot of taste testing for you and your team?

Dan: We do taste the beers every day, but not all of them. Just little tastes in the morning to make sure we are still good.

Patch: What is the most challenging part of beer making?

Dan: Keeping the beers consistent is the hardest part of my job, because we are a small brewhouse with no lab and also the fact that sometimes we order the ingredients we need and our suppliers don’t have them so we have to sub other companies’ ingredients.

Patch: What makes San Diego such a great place for breweries?

Dan: I believe San Diego is a great place to brew, because we have so many great brewers and they are all very willing to help each other out.

Patch: Take us through a typical day.

Dan: A typical day involves a lot of heavy lifting and cleaning. I would say half of the day I am cleaning the tank I am brewing into and the equipment used to brew the beer. There is a bit of down time too, while we wait for the brew to boil. Also, some days we are bottling and cleaning kegs too.

Collectively, San Diego’s breweries recently brought home a record 20 medals at the 30th annual Great American Beer Festival. In 2010, San Diego’s beer elite won more medals at the World Beer Cup than the traditional beer countries of England, Germany and Belgium combined. Impressive!

SDBW is one of the only beer weeks in the country put on by the actual brewers themselves to support the local craft brewing industry and raise appreciation.

This is the third-annual SDBG-sponsored week, hosting more than 500 events to praise craft beer in San Diego.

“Breweries release many special, rare beers that are unique and different from their usual offerings,” said Marty Mendiola, senior brewer for Rock Bottom Brewery and president of SDBG. “For instance, we just released a Bourbon Barrel Aged Scottish Ale aged for 10 months! 

“The other great thing about Beer Week is the great beer and food pairings throughout the city,” he said. “Matching great local food with our craftbeer is a never-ending exploration into the world of flavors. We have a Beer & Bacon Brewer’s Dinner here at Rock Bottom La Jolla on Saturday, Nov. 12, that will blow you away.”

The two capstone events are the festival on Saturday and the closing beer garden with food and beer pairing on Nov. 13. Saturday, the festival is from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $35, which includes a commemorative taster glass and unlimited samples of all of San Diego’s breweries.

There will be live music and several local gourmet food trucks. FM 94/9 will host several live bands, including Matthew Sweet, Telekinesis and Stone Foxes, among others, including the Ballast Point Bagpipe band.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will also be a VIP event for $55 with complimentary food and beer pairings and the chance to meet with the brewers and taste exclusive beers.

The closing Beer Garden event will be held at on Sunday, Nov. 13 from noon to 3 p.m. Guests can sample unlimited craft beer and food pairings from some of San Diego’s top chefs for $65. Each chef will be paired with two local breweries to create a truly unique event.

“The success we have enjoyed with the last two years of SDBW proves that this festival has something for every beer lover,” said Mendiola. “Our brewers and chefs look forward to bringing out their very best for SDBW and we pull out all the stops to ensure a wide range of events to please every palate and price point.”

For general information about SDBW, including complete event listings, sponsors, public transportation and accommodations, visit www.SDBW.org.

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