Local microbrew headlines International Beer Festival


More than 350 beers from 150 breweries across the world entered this year’s San Diego International Beer Festival, but the class of the show could be found just 2 miles north in Solana Beach.

The event, set for June 25-27 at the Del Mar Arena, chose the “Big Wednesday” Belgian-style IPA beer from Pizza Port as its “best of show” for 2010.

“The judges really liked the idea that this was more of an American IPA that used a Belgian yeast, so it was a little lower alcohol but had more aggressive bitterness and hopping to it,” said International Beer Festival co-coordinator Tom Nickel, also owner of Claremont’s O’Brien’s Pub. “It was kind of making a new territory for that style of beer.”

Mike Gabbard, general manager of the Solana Beach Pizza Port, said Big Wednesday got its name because it was invented on a Wednesday in 2009 when conditions were too large for surfing. He said brewers stayed in and concocted the now award-winning beer instead of paddling out.

“This would be my current proudest beer moment,” he said, noting the microbrew’s history of award-winning brews. “There’s been an influx of people that are requesting Belgian beers and we have a large following of IPAs, so we are using this as a crossover beer to people that normally drink Belgian-style beers.”

An IPA, which stands for India Pale Ale, was invented in the 1700s. It was purposefully brewed with high hops and alcohol content so that the British navy could ship it to troops abroad without it spoiling on the long voyage over.

Of course, those who wish to attend the fourth annual International Beer Festival can hear it from the authorities themselves. They also will get an unlimited number of 1-ounce tasters for all beers.

Nickel said this would allow visitors the freedom to try beers they normally wouldn’t, as opposed to dealing with the gun shyness of being limited by five or six “drink tickets.” For the beers they especially like, participants can fill up on 1-ounce tasters to their liver’s content.

Battle on the Bank III

The San Diego Derby Dolls will host the third annual Battle on the Bank, a national women’s roller derby tournament, in conjunction with the beer festival throughout these three days. There will be eight teams competing for the championship. Admission to the tournament is free with a ticket to the fair.


If you go

  • What: International Beer Festival
  • When: 4 to 8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
  • Where: Chevrolet Del Mar Arena, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
  • Advance tickets: $37 per session, includes fair admission
  • Gate tickets: $43 per session, includes fair admission; $30 per session, not including fair admission. Prices include a souvenir tasting cup and a wristband that entitles the wearer to unlimited 1-ounce samplings of beer.
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