Why Southern California Has the Best Beer Culture in America

Bill Manley

At the second stop at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America festival in San Diego, there was plenty of sunshine, IPAs and opinions why Southern California’s beer scene stands out from the rest. We walked the grounds to find out from brewmasters, enthusiasts, and the experts running the booths why they think that, when it comes to beer, Southern California is the best.

1. It’s the Amazing IPAs
“You go to a bar, and there are 10 world-class IPAs on draft. You have to pass over a Pliny the Elder so you can have a Ballast Point Sculpin.” -Mike Sardina, the assistant executive officer at Societe Brewing

“Our hard water lends itself to making great IPAs.” -Eric Magruder, Hess Brewing’s tasting room manager.

2. It’s Got Passion
“San Diego is a city that, through and through, demonstrates its love for craft beer more than any other city. There are thousands of folks here who appreciate high-quality craft beer.” -Steven Lisinski, Societe’s tasting room manager

3. It Has Adventurous Drinkers
“Southern Californians are curious. They’re not afraid to try new things. We have a huge number of experimental breweries.” –Julian Shrago, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing’s brewmaster

“They love uniqueness. They want something different. They always want innovation.” -Bob Brewer, festival attendee

4. It’s Got a Great Homebrewing Scene
“San Diego has a massive homebrewing scene. There have been many homebrewers who have gone on to open breweries. I bought my first homebrew kit at Homebrew Mart in 2000.” –Bill Batten, senior brewer at AleSmith

“San Diego has more certified beer judges than anywhere else in the country.” –Rachael Akin, manager of sales, marketing and branding for Benchmark Brewing

5. It Has Great Lower-Alcohol Beers
“You’re going to have to commute in a car, so maybe you don’t need an 11 percent imperial stout or a triple IPA.” –Lee Bakofsky, brewer at L.A.’s Eagle Rock

“Session IPAs are our answer to summer beer.” -Andre Stojka, sales rep for Valiant Brewing

6. It’s the Agriculture
“We have access to great locally grown ingredients. We use grapes, apricots, dates and oranges in our beers. It’s a taste of where we’re from.” -Donn Neufeld, regional market manager for Hangar 24

7. It’s the Weather
“Year-round, we have pleasant weather. We brew lots of crisp, refreshing beers that you can drink outside.” –Eric Magruder, Hess Brewing’s tasting room manager

8. It’s Established
“There are 91 breweries in San Diego County. There’s no place like that in the world. It’s such an older scene that you have to do something great or different.” –Phil Macnitt, sales wizard for Modern Times


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