The San Diego Craft Beer subculture is a culture I knew of but was never really educated on. Living in San Diego I knew that the craft beer scene was something the city was known for therefore I decided to immerse myself in the culture to fully understand why it is so unique.
Craft breweries were legal as of 1976 in California shortly after San Diego made its mark in the craft with opening a brewery in 1986 called Bolt Brewery. However, this was not the citys first time in the brewing industry. As early as 1872 San Diego had 7 breweries and over 50 saloons which accounted for 25% of California's beer production. Unfortunatley with the Prohibition Act of 1919 many breweries were forced to close their doors. Fast forward to today San Diego has once again become
"One of the country's most notable beer destinations"- tableagent.com
The city has over 136 San Diego based breweries, some notable ones would be Ballast Point, Belching Beaver, Modern Times, Greenflash, and Stone Brewing. "Craft beer in San Diego brought $851 million in revenue for the county in 2015" as stated in the video "San Diego Craft Beer Culture and Community" . With the culture growing it is not only helping the economy by bringing individuals from all around for the yearly beer fests such as Best Coast Beer Fest said to be one of Will Ferrels favorites but it is offering jobs to thousands of people.
Above is a video I found interesting and informative on the San Diego beer subculture.
"Craft brew brings in more revenue than Comic Con to San Diego every year" - Marc Truex director of sales at Belching Beaver
3 Aspects that make the craft beer scene in San Diego so unique.
I interviewed Damisha Collins who has worked in the beer industry such as Gordon Biersch and craft brewery Ballast Point.
Me: What are three words that come to mind when you think of the craft beer culture in San Diego.
"Without hesitation I would say family, collaboration, and creativity." - Damisha Collins
One would think with the competition in the industry growing that the craft beer culture would be a competitive one but on the contrary these companies are very supportive of one another. " we get customers coming into ballast saying how they want to try a smaller brewery down the street such as Duckfoot and we encourage it, I love to give recommendations of other beers to try despite the fact that I work at Ballast". In the craft beer industry it is encouraged to support one another and spread the word of new breweries which is part of their communication ritual "A set form of systematic interactions that take place on a regular basis" (Martin,Nakayama, pg 135). we rely on each other it's one big family, we get help and support from other breweries" said Marc Truex the director of sales for Belching Beaver. Seeing everyone in the craft brewing industry as a big family is something I believe is a major cultural value meaning they are "values are that are most deeply felt beliefs shared by a cultural group; they reflect a shared perception of what ought to be, and not what is" (Martin,Nakayama, pg 95).
2015 Collaboration between San Diego based brewer Stone Brewing Co and Sierra Nevada
In addition to being family oriented, the craft beer culture is big on collaboration which helps spread the word of new and smaller breweries. Misha stated that " we currently have a new beer on tap that is in collaboration with Little Miss a new brewery to San Diego". The community is all about working together and helping each other out so that both parties can benefit from the experience. " We get a new beer that could potentially become permanent and Little Miss gets a large exposure by having their name at a large brewery such as Ballast Point".
Craft beer is known for it's creativity most breweries have new monthly flavors. Unlike regular domestic who brew the same beer, craft breweries and encouraged to use their creativity. "Huge word of mouth community people are always excited to try something new" stated Jill Davidson who is the vice president of the San Diego Brewers Guild. What makes the craft beer industry successful is the fact that they use the dialogical approach which is " focus on the importance of dialogue in developing and maintaining relationships between individuals and communities" ( Martin,Nakayama, pg 35). Maintaining steady dialogue with other breweries and it's customers is the reason why these companies are flourishing.
Aside from flavors breweries are starting to add nitrogen to their beers to create a different mouth feeling essentially making the beer smoother and slightly more carbonated from the use of carbon dioxide.
Submerging myself in the culture
Aside from researchering and interviewing I wanted to get a hands on experience in the craft beer culture. I was lucky enough to go on a mini behind the scenes tour at Ballast Point and see the machines that create the beer we drink. Apart from that my cousin Luis Avila makes his own craft beer and was kind enough to teach me about the ingredients and tools of the beer making process.
Left: Lauter Ton used to separate the mash in beer into a clear liquid and residual grain. Right: Boiler kettle used to essentially heat beer, most breweries use copper due to its conductivity and helps spread the heat evenly to prevent scorching.
Canned beer ready to be distributed
Ingredients for making beer at home. Malt extract adds sweetness to the base and provides something for the yeast to feed on in order to create alcohol, hops is the bitterness in beer IPA's tend to have a higher amount of hops, yeast is an ingredient to create the alcohol content in beer, and priming sugar is used for taste.
air tight fermenting bucket
"You'll spend about 6 hours on brew day brewing and cleaning up (this will get shorter as you gain experience). Then the beer will ferment for about 2 weeks. Then you'll spend another 2-3 hours bottling the beer and it will be another week or two before it's ready to drink" ( Brad, Sam. Home Brewers Association).
After submerging myself in the culture I can confidently say that I am well immersed in the craft beer subculture in San Diego. I learned that the culture is more than just beer. There are so many aspects to it family, collaboration, creativity and it is truly an art form when looking at everything it takes to make the beer itself and I think a lot of people don't realize it myself included before learning about the process.
1. Inc., Restaurant Agent. "San Diego's Craft Beer Culture." Table Agent. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
2. "San Diego Brewery Watch." West Coaster San Diego Beer News. N.p., 27 Mar. 2017. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.
3. Smith , Brad. "Copper boil kettle - taste impact?" How to Brew Beer. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.
4. Nisechang. YouTube. YouTube, 04 May 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.
5. Collins, Damisha. "Beer Culture." Personal interview. 3 Mar. 2017.
6. Avila, Luis. "Beer Culture." Personal interview. 4 Mar. 2017.
7. Martin, Judith, and Thomas Nakayama. Intercultural Communication in Context . 5th ed. n.p., n.d. Print.