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World's First LBGT Brewery to Open in San Diego

World's First LBGT Brewery to Open in San Diego

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Mo's Unverse and 'Queens of Beer' will open the brewery marketed towards LBGT clientele

Hillcrest Brewing Company is the world's first LBGT brewery.

One San Diego establishment is targeting an often-ignored drinker in the beer market — the LBGT community — with the addition of Hillcrest Brewing Company, the world's first LBGT brewery.

Mo's Universe, a restaurant chain known for being LBGT-friendly, will support the brewery as it opens in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. Urban Mo's Bar & Grill, Baja Betty's, and Gossip Grill, have already begun serving the brewery's first offering, a pale ale named Perle Necklace (pun slightly intended — the brew uses perle hops in the recipe). The "queens of beer" have marketed themselves as with the slogan, "We’re here, we’re queer and we love beer.”

Says Eddie Reynoso, Marketing & Public Relations Director for Mo's Universe in a press release, the brewery is following the footsteps of LBGT beer lovers before them: Queer Beer in Europe, Purple Hand & Salamandra Beers from Mexico, and Gay Pride Beer from Vermont.

What can you expect at Hillcrest Brewing Company? Handcrafted beers, stone pizzas, a 15-foot chandelier made of beer bottles, and an outdoor patio complete with growing hop bines. There will even be beer tastings and homebrewing classes on taps, said owner Chris Shaw to the San Diego Uptown News.

But the beers on tap aren't the fruity flavors you'd typically expect from an LBGT-marketed beer, said Reynoso to the LA Times. Instead, try one of the raunchier-named beers: an American Strong brew called Brain Lubricant, a red ale called Crotch Rocket a Red, and an IPA called Eighth Day. The brewery is set to open this month, most likely to coincide with the famous Stonewall Riots.

Barrio Logan restaurant to open amid purple tier restrictions

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A San Diego craft brewery hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic is taking the rare step of opening a restaurant, despite the region going into the state's most restrictive purple tier.

Dennis O’Connor says the pandemic hurt Thorne Brewing Company the moment the first shut down kicked in back in March.

“It wasn't so much that nobody was coming in, but you also lost all those bars and restaurants that were buying your product,” said O’Connor, who co-founded the brewery in 2012.

Not to mention, the price of cans increased, hitting the craft brewer’s distribution.

Thorne operates three locations in San Diego County, at least one of which will likely have to shut down as the region enters the most restrictive purple tier, outlawing indoor dining. The restrictions take effect midnight Saturday, to help stop the increased spread of the coronavirus.

“We are nowhere near thriving,” O’Connor said. “It’s survival at best.”

But O’Connor has a new tool for survival.

Connected to Thorne’s Barrio Logan location is a new full service distillery and wood-fired pizza restaurant the brewery finished in march, but never opened. O’Connor says it was a multimillion-dollar project that took years.

“It was pretty much just a big blank warehouse,” he said.

While the interior can't open, Thorne is converting the restaurant’s outdoor patio into its own barbecue eatery, with a bar in the back called Sideyard Barbecue by Hot Mess (the name of the adjacent pizza restaurant) . It'll seat 84 people and opens to the public Nov. 19.

“If outdoor is the new norm then let's do an outdoor and let’s kick (butt) on it,” O’Connor said. “Let's not put it in the street, let’s not put it in a barn tent, let's do something special. So that's what this is.”

O’Connor said he hopes the barbecue can help get Thorne and its now-limited staff through the pandemic.

April 12, 2021

LITTLE ITALY— Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien, in partnership with Grain & Grit Collective, has opened the second location of Samburgers inside the Little Italy Food Hall. First launched in Seaport Village as part the multi-menu EATS by Sam project, it offers a beef patty blend of sirloin, brisket, and short rib as well as a salmon, chicken, and vegan burger. For the grand opening, Zien will be hosting a book signing for his latest cookbook, Recipes with Intentional Leftovers, along with other special events and giveaways. Samburgers is next headed to Costa Mesa, where Zien recently opened another Not Not Tacos. 550 W Date St Suite B.

EAST VILLAGE— The seventh outpost of City Tacos has arrived in the East Village in the former Larry’s Deli spot right next to Petco Park. Currently open two hours prior to and after every Padres home game, City Tacos Ballpark Taqueria is serving a limited menu of its most popular menu items including the chorizo asado, pescado, and borrego tacos and offering patio and some indoor seating. 323 Seventh Ave.

VISTA— Pure Project has partially opened its new brewery headquarters, a 13,850-square-foot space that will be its production hub. Although the indoor tap room and brewery are still under construction, the patio and beer garden areas are open for on-site service as well as beer to-go. 1305 Hot Springs Way.

DEL MAR— After shuttering its original location in North Park, Tamarindo has resurfaced at the Del Mar Plaza with its menu of agave spirit-focused cocktails and tacos, salads, sandwiches, and entrees that range from seafood paella to Oaxacan chicken mole. The nearly 6,000-square-foot restaurant, which has a spacious ocean view patio, is open for dinner service with takeout and lunch coming soon. 1555 Camino Del Mar Ste. 116-117.

PACIFIC BEACH— Uncle Chai Thailand Street Food recently landed on Cass Street with a takeout menu that ranges from Thai curries and soups to a variety of rice and noodle dishes. Other specialties include green papaya salad, stewed pork legs, and moo ping, or Thai-style grilled pork skewers. 4508 Cass St., Ste B.

As you drive toward luxurious La Jolla, pick up some afternoon joe at Bird Rock Roasters in quaint Bird Rock before checking out the beautiful scenery and hard-breaking waves at Windansea Beach, a local surfing hot spot. Take a selfie at the legendary Polynesian-style surf hut, built in 1947 by pioneering Windansea surfers and registered as a San Diego Historic Site.

Stop at picture-perfect La Jolla Cove to watch playful seals and sea lions frolic in the water and sunbathe along the coastline. Visit the historic Cave Store, established in 1902, and its century-old bootlegger&rsquos tunnel that leads guests through the cove&rsquos sandstone cliffs into the legendary Sunny Jim&rsquos sea cave. A self-guided tour of the tunnel and sea cave is available.

Mikkeller to open SD brewery

Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a celebrated Danish brewer who roams the globe making beer under the Mikkeller label, is forming a partnership with Miramar’s AleSmith to produce his beers in San Diego.

The as-yet-unnamed brewery will open June 1 in the plant now occupied by AleSmith. AleSmith is moving to larger facilities nearby, still in the Miramar area.

Bjergsø, who owns a beer bar in San Francisco and operates a Copenhagen brewery, Warpigs, with Indiana’s Three Floyds, said he intends to continue brewing at numerous European breweries.

But in the U.S., his base will be San Diego. “It comes down to the fact that I am able to work with one of the best brewers in the world,” he said, referring to Peter Zien, owner and brewer at AleSmith. “Peter is a great, great brewer and AleSmith makes some of the best beers in the world.”

Zien said he is a longtime friend of Bjergsø, who annually invites him to a brewing party in Copenhagen. While writing his regrets last year, Zien wondered if he could entice his Danish friend to visit San Diego on a regular basis.

Their talks eventually arrived at this idea: They would form a new company, with equity held by Mikkeller and AleSmith. The as-yet-unnamed brewery will make Beer Geek Breakfast and other Mikkeller mainstays, plus experiment with new beers.

Making his beers in Europe and shipping them to the U.S., Bjergsø said, “it’s hard to keep them fresh and keep them at a fair price.”

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Homes for LGBT Seniors Open in San Diego

The first LGBT-affirming affordable housing community for seniors in San Diego celebrated its grand opening.

Mark Davidson Photography Developed by nonprofit Community HousingWorks, North Park Seniors is San Diego’s first LGBT-affirming affordable housing development for seniors in the city. “North Park Seniors is much more than just a building,” said resident Terry Vaughan. “For many of us that live here, a home like this is a dream decades in the making.”

“This new development is open to all and provides a positive and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors a first for San Diego and one of only a handful in the nation,” said San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Developed by nonprofit Community HousingWorks (CHW), the $27.1 million North Park Seniors community features a 76-home affordable senior apartment building and a 118-unit market-rate multifamily building developed by Alliance Residential.

On-site supportive services are provided by the San Diego LGBT Community Center, which provides resources, referrals, and engaging community activities to help residents live healthy, independent lives while creating a community of acceptance.

“There is no better way for us to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Community HousingWorks than with the opening of North Park Seniors,” said Sue Reynolds, CHW president and CEO. “This community is the product of years of advocacy, hard work, and collaboration between nonprofits, neighborhood leaders, elected officials, and San Diego community members. We are proud to build a brighter future for all San Diego seniors with this LGBT-affirming community."

The new development is open to all residents aged 55 and older who meet the income requirements. All housing decisions are made in accordance with the Fair Housing Act and state law, noted CHW leaders.

Funders for North Park Seniors include U.S. Bank, Union Bank, the San Diego Housing Commission, the city of San Diego, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, Community Housing Capital, and Torrey Pines Bank.

CHW was founded in 1988 and is a nationally recognized nonprofit that develops, rehabilitates, preserves, and operates affordable apartment communities throughout California.

North Park Seniors is CHW’s first mixed-income development in the organization’s 30-year history, meaning the project brings both income-qualified and market-rate apartment homes to San Diego.

SeaWorld announces plans for resort, restaurant in wake of closed orca exhibit

On November 9, Sea World San Diego announced its plan to phase out its famous killer whale shows, following years of protests, legal setbacks, and trainer swallowings. Instead, the park will feature an orca-themed exhibit, because, in the words of SeaWorld Chairman Joe Kidby, "Children love a good exhibit."

In addition, the park announced plans to either build or buy a hotel-resort near its current Mission Bay location, because "while children love a good exhibit, parents love a comfortable bed and cable TV within walking distance, plus a minibar and maybe a decent restaurant. And while we're on the subject of restaurants, I'd like to add that we're also planning to open San Diego's first underwater dining establishment as part of the resort complex. For now, we're calling it Dorsal, a name that harkens back to our legendary mascot's most famous fin and at the same time points straight up toward our commitment to a brighter future."

Kidby noted that while that future would not include live orcas, "the tradition of killer whales at SeaWorld has a surprise ending, one we think our supporters will appreciate. For generations, SeaWorld patrons have feasted their eyes on Shamu & Co. Now, for an extremely limited time, a select few will have an opportunity to feast their bellies, as well. Trust me when I tell you that our killer whale steak is a killer whale steak."


This November, Point Loma’s Liberty Station Promenade will welcome a fresh culinary concept, Roseville Cozinha, a “fish-to-fork” eatery inspired by the seaside community’s rich history as a popular fishing peninsula settled by Portuguese and Italian immigrants over 100 years ago. Owner/Executive Chef Michael Alves, a Point Loma native of Portuguese ancestry, will serve flavorful traditional Portuguese and Italian dishes with a contemporary twist, focused on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and fresh off the line seafood.

Alves, a former Georgia Southern University football player and graduate of San Diego State University, comes from a tight-knit Portuguese family where hearty food and fine drink was at the heart of every gathering. As the youngest in a family of 10, Alves spent much of his childhood and adolescence immersed in the flavors of his mother’s, grandmothers’ and aunts’ kitchens, developing an earnest appreciation for traditional Portuguese cuisine and honing his culinary skills.

Alves made his first foray into restaurateurship as an independent operator of Da Kine’s Plate Lunches, a tribute to Hawaiian cuisine and culture, in Point Loma in 2007. A year later came the opening of the Point Loma location of seafood-focused Joao’s Tin Fish Bar and Eatery, named for Alves’ beloved Portuguese grandfather, also a lifelong fisherman. Inspired by the Da Kine’s concept, Alves set out to pay homage to Point Loma’s Portuguese and Italian fishing community with Roseville Cozinha.

“Few San Diegans know that Point Loma was built on the tuna fishing industry by Portuguese and Italian immigrants— in fact, San Diego was once America’s tuna fishing capital,” says Alves, “I want to educate people and honor our community’s legacy.”

Roseville is the oldest settled part of Point Loma, named for its developer, San Diego pioneer Louis Rose, and “Cozinha” is Portuguese for kitchen. The restaurateur’s longtime friends Pete Balistreri (Rose Pistola and Tender Greens) and Craig Jimenez (Craft & Commerce), Point Loma natives and notable San Diego culinary virtuosos, collaborated on the familial yet sophisticated menu offering— a modern take on authentic Portuguese dishes. The impressive menu will emphasize seasonal cuisine from local farms including, Suzie’s Farm, PL Farms, Shoemaker Farms (Ramona) and Terra Bella Ranch, as well as freshly caught shellfish from Carlsbad Aquafarms, and grass-fed meats from Natural Angus. Menu standouts include the Ervilhas Stew, a traditional Portuguese dish made from green peas, potato, linguica, and topped with a poached egg, and the Fish Monger, a selection of the day’s seafood, pickled onions and wood oven roasted vegetable. Balistreri has also lent his skill at making exceptional salumi to Roseville Conzinha’s menu with the Local Salumi Board, featuring hand crafted P. Balistreri Salumi, house-made pickles, marinated olives, Dijon mustard, nuts and pate.

A custom-made wood fired oven will be turning out hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven Neapolitan-style pizzas with a variety of fresh meats, seafood and cheeses. Alves was schooled in the fine art of pizza making by nine-time World Pizza Champion and the only American to win the Naples Championship in Italy, Tony Gemignani. Pies include the Wild Mushroom, topped with a variety of wild mushrooms, mozzarella, speck, buratta, arugula, truffle oil and piave, and The Fennel, topped with fennel seed sausage, roasted peppers and chili oil. Traditional Portuguese desserts are not forgotten. The stand out sweet selections include, Malasadas, Portuguese sweet dough, fried and rolled in cinnamon and sugar and Portuguese Sweet Bread Pudding, Portuguese sweet bread made by Con Pane Rustic Breads served with a scoop of gelato.

To ensure a truly memorable meal, an exceptional wine, beer and craft cocktail menu has been carefully cultivated. Alves has enlisted the assistance of Cohn Restaurant Group’s Sommelier, Maurice DiMarino, a childhood friend, to develop the sizeable wine list – all from Portugal and Italy – include the Malvasia/Gouveio Blend from Ferreira winery in the Douro region and a Paso Robles Syrah by San Diego local, Greg Martelotto. Roseville Cozinha’s 22-strong craft beer selection is focused on outstanding local brews including Ballast Point’s Yellowtail Pale Ale, Stone’s Arrogant Bastard and Sagres, a popular Portuguese beer. The craft cocktail menu, inspired by San Francisco’s vibrant North Beach neighborhood, historically home to Italian-American fisherman, includes unique options like the Spicy Carrot Martini, made with Tru Organic Lemon vodka, carrot juice, lemon juice, roasted cumin syrup and garnished with fennel fronds, and the Um Beijo (“a kiss” in Portuguese), made with hibiscus infused gin, Lillet Blanc and Benedictine.

Rustic design elements are combined with familial comfort for a welcoming, relaxed ambiance. Point Loma’s fishing history is celebrated in black and white framed images along the walls, the day’s catch and specials are prominently displayed on a large chalkboard and vintage items like an antique typewriter, milk basket and copper pots (from Alves’ grandmother’s farm and central California) and reclaimed pendant lights made from old farm toasters and wenches from old tuna boats add an air of nostalgia. Wine bottles are housed inside an exposed wood grain case that lines the entryway with the focal point being the custom wood-fired pizza oven. A large, outdoor patio encourages guests and their canine friends to enjoy the San Diego sunshine and cool Bay breeze. Roseville Cozinha’s authentic design captures Point Loma’s history as the hub of San Diego’s tuna fishing industry and haven for Portuguese and Italian immigrants.

Delores Jacobs Bids Farewell To San Diego LGBT Community Center

Above: Dr. Delores Jacobs, outgoing chief executive of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, sits for an interview on June 20, 2018.

As the San Diego City Council earlier this month proclaimed June 22, 2018 "Dr. Delores Jacobs Day," Councilwoman Georgette Gomez gave the longtime local LGBT activist a personal thank you.

"Dr. Delores Jacobs has been a great leader in the LGBTQ community, and I have the great pleasure to call her my mentor," Gomez said. "She inspired me and encouraged my community involvement. And I can actually honestly say this, that I wouldn't be here as a council member without her support and her encouragement. So thank you."

Jacobs, who has served as the CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center since 2001, will be formally stepping down from her position at the end of this month. In her 17-year tenure, Jacobs founded a youth leadership academy, expanded transgender-focused counseling and support groups and started programming at a North Park affordable housing project for LGBT seniors.

While Jacobs had a hand in all those things, she declines to take all the credit.

"The idea that any one person runs any organization is a little misleading," Jacobs said in an interview. "Without the talent, the creativity and commitment of this staff, and the board and the volunteers, The Center wouldn't move forward. And we're lucky enough to have all three."

Her time at The Center was not without challenges and setbacks: In 2008 Jacobs led an aggressive but unsuccessful campaign against Proposition 8, which revoked the right of same-sex couples to get married. Shortly thereafter came the Great Recession.

"It was a double whammy," Jacobs recalled. "We lost an election one day, and the next day learned the economy was bottoming out."

The economic downturn translated to declining revenues for The Center. Between 2008 and 2011, The Center's budget shrunk by a quarter, forcing staff layoffs.

But the budget and staffing have more than recovered — The Center successfully completed a $2 million fundraising campaign late last year, and this spring it paid off the mortgage on its main building in Hillcrest.

Photo credit: San Diego LGBT Community Center

Delores Jacobs poses with staff and volunteers for the LGBT Community Center at a San Diego Pride parade.

The political setbacks did not last either: Proposition 8 was ultimately overturned by the courts, and in 2015 the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country. Jacobs attributes those victories to more LGBT people becoming politically active.

"Took a while to get organized and change more minds and hearts, and change the courts' minds about basic fairness and basic freedoms, but we did," Jacobs said.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, Jacobs said many in the LGBT community have not seen the same level of progress. She said The Center is seeing an increase in the demand for its services: Last year it served more than 25,000 people through more than 73,000 services visits.

"There are challenges for the trans community, who continues to be oppressed, there are challenges for people of color who are also LGBT, there are challenges in the prison system, there are challenges in health care with disparities that continue," she said. "So the fight's not over."

Last March The Center's board announced it had selected Jacobs' replacement: Cara Dessert, the current chief development and community engagement officer. Dessert started as a community organizer at The Center in 2007 before going to law school and later working in the office of then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

"My heart was always calling me back home to The Center," Dessert said.

Dessert will be The Center's first Latina CEO, and said she would continue The Center's focus on social justice issues that intersect with LGBT rights.

"We're on the border, and so that means that when we talk about our LGBT community, that community includes immigrants and refugees, and it includes LGBT people in mixed-status families," Dessert said. "And so as we advocate for all of our families, that means advocating for our immigrant community as well."

Asked about her fondest memories of The Center, Jacobs recalled the 2006 opening of the Sunburst Youth Housing Project, which houses formerly homeless LGBT and HIV-positive youth.

"The first time we gave a key to a youth, he couldn't stop crying," Jacobs said. "And when he finally stopped sobbing, he was talking about never having had a space where he was safe. A space where he didn't have to worry who was going to beat him, or who was going to yell 'faggot' at him, or who was going to steal his stuff. Those moments are everything."

Dr. Delores Jacobs steps down as the CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center at the end of this month. She has overseen a doubling of The Center's budget and a major expansion of its youth, senior and Latino services.


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San Diego Traveler Information: COVID-19

Go San Diego and our passes’ attractions are working hard to make sightseeing fun and accessible for everyone. Things haven’t returned to complete normality just yet, but there's still so much you can tick off your bucket list in San Diego. Our passes give you the much-needed choice and flexibility to plan your trip with confidence and, of course, amazing savings too.

Many San Diego attractions have put in measures to keep visitors safe. Here's what you need to know and how you can make the most of your vacation.

Capacity will be limited at certain attractions

You may need to reserve time slots in advance.

Opening times are subject to change.

  • Capacity will be limited at certain attractions. Visitor numbers are currently restricted at several San Diego venues and this may affect wait times and availability. We recommend booking ahead where you can.
  • You may need to reserve slots in advance. Many attractions require pre-booking and you'll find this information on our attraction listings and the reservation page. Be sure to check before you show up.
  • Opening times are subject to change. Opening hours may vary so we suggest checking the official attraction website before you visit. You'll find these listed below - handy right? While safety regulations are in place, a few attractions are not permitted to open. You'll see these flagged on our attraction lists.

For further information about our pass, visit our FAQs page.

Theme park entry

Please be aware that some theme parks are currently only welcoming visitors who live in the state of California. Others are accepting non-Californian residents if you are able to show proof of a fully completed COVID-19 vaccination (you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot, or two weeks after the one-dose vaccine). Please check the guidelines for individual attractions before you travel.

What is Go San Diego doing to help you sightsee?

90-day cancellation. You spoke. We listened. In response to this ever-changing world which we currently live in, we’ve acted to ensure sightseeing with us is flexible for you. That’s why we now offer 90-day cancellation for when your plans change. Our passes are also valid two years from purchase.

New site features. We’ve been working hard to make planning your trip simple and our listings are being constantly updated with the latest booking information so you don’t miss out on visiting one of your San Diego must-sees. Check out our All-Inclusive pass and Explorer pass pages to start planning your trip.

We're committed to making sure you have a great time so please bear with us. While this ever-changing situation makes it tricky to organize a trip, we're working closely with attractions to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.

What things are there to do in San Diego during COVID?

While we wait for the world to return to normality, now's the perfect time to make the most of San Diego's stunning beaches. Have a picnic, go for a paddle, or cycle along those pristine sands. Or for something a little different, why not take a hike to Three Sisters Waterfall in East County San Diego?

10 Barrel Hoping To Open San Diego Brewpub

You’ve probably heard the rumors and the news that 10 Barrel Brewing, acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2014, is trying to open a new brewpub location, this one in San Diego, California. Today I received a press release from ABI, detailing the trouble they’ve met in trying to expand into the Southern California market. Here’s what they had to say:

This will be the first non-craft brewery, per the Brewers Association’s definition of a craft brewer, to expand into San Diego — which is already home to 117 local craft breweries, with 40 more in planning. The news has been met with strong opposition from members of San Diego’s craft beer community, including the San Diego Brewers Guild, who’s mission is to promote awareness and increase the visibility of fresh, locally brewed beer.

10 Barrel has applied for a permit to construct a brewpub in San Diego’s burgeoning East Village, at 1501 E Street, and has proposed a “full-service restaurant with accessory alcohol manufacturing.”

Today, February 17th, representatives of 10 Barrel will present on behalf of the project to the Downtown Community Planning Council (DCPC), an advisory group, and a decision is expected soon.

Apparently, the biggest opposition they’ve received is from local brewers already in the market, in the guise of the San Diego Brewers Guild. This is setting up to be an interesting battle. San Diego business owners clearly want to keep their local angle for the businesses, though how that will square with the acquisition of Saint Archer by MillerCoors remains to be seen.

Curiously, ABI’s press release also includes that opposition, in fact is more than half of what I received, giving voice to their complaints. According to them, “Representatives of the San Diego Brewers Guild, including President Emeritas Kevin Hopkins, will speak at the meeting on behalf of the Guild,” and also circulated the guild’s official statement:

“The acquisitions that transacted last year and the news of AB-InBev’s intentions to open up in San Diego through 10 Barrel highlights the fact that San Diego is truly a world-class brewing center. That reputation is due to the hard work of locally-owned breweries and the San Diego Brewers Guild. Historically, it has been independent brewers who have built the thriving beer community that San Diego is now known for around the world. The risk underlying the acquisition of breweries by large, international corporations and the risk of businesses like the proposed 10 Barrel brewpub in San Diego is that beer drinkers here may think that when they patronize these businesses, and buy and drink beer, that they are supporting the local brewing community. That is not the case. Should the 10 Barrel project open in San Diego as proposed, consumers need to know that it is owned by Anheuser-Busch and not a local craft brewery or a craft brewery in general. Now more than ever, with the introduction of non-craft breweries to San Diego’s craft landscape, it is important to continue to support locally owned and operated San Diego breweries, like the brewer members in the San Diego Brewers Guild.”

I’m a little baffled by that. Are they looking for sympathy for their cause. On one hand it’s certainly understandable that San Diego brewers would prefer to not have a carpetbagger come into their midst, but as Thorn Street Brewery owner Eric O’Connor said in a letter of opposition, “large companies have the right to open and operate where they see fit.” I’m sure I’d feel the same way, but I’m not sure what anyone could do about it. As long as consumers support the venture, it will continue to thrive. If everyone agreed to not patronize it because its ownership wasn’t local, it would likely have to close. But how realistic is that? I’m not trying to be difficult, I honestly don’t know. We all talk a good game about supporting local and not spending money with breweries who’s ownership has changed and/or is not to our individual liking. But Goose Island, 10 Barrel and even Blue Moon continue to do quite well despite all the foot stomping. And this is not a new problem. People said the same thing about Redhook and Widmer when ABI acquired just a minority interest in them in 1994, and both are still in business over twenty years later, so I’m not sure a boycott would really work, nor could this sort of hand-wringing do any good.

In O’Connor’s letter, he adds that if 10 Barrel does come, “there should be complete transparency of who the ownership is and where the money is going.” But isn’t there already? Don’t we already know that ABI owns 10 Barrel and that’s, of course, where the money will go. MillerCoors isn’t hiding the fact that they own Blue Moon, or Saint Archer. Likewise, it’s not exactly a secret who owns Goose Island, Blue Point, or Shock Top. But that’s because there’s a tiny sliver of the market that actually pays attention to who owns what. Most of the world is busy doing something else, living their lives, and drinking whatever they want, oblivious.

And believe me, my sympathies are with the San Diego brewers, but I don’t see what they can really do. ABI also included a pdf of all the complaints their plans have received, including letters from other local bars and brewers. The gist of them is that “beer drinkers here in San Diego may think that when they patronize a business like what 10 Barrel is proposing, and when they buy and drink 10 Barrel’s beer, that they are supporting the local brewing community.” And they’re probably right to be concerned about that, but I think it’s more of a problem because most people don’t care as deeply about that as we do. Mike Sardinia, president of the guild, insists “it is vital that consumers need to know that it is owned by Anheuser-Busch and not a locally operated brewery.” In his conclusion, he warns that “[i]t is important that the City not make it easy for Anheuser-Busch to open in San Diego without due diligence and without a full review of its application and its intentions with the 10 Barrel project.”

The irony there is that in the early days, small brewers were complaining that it wasn’t fair how difficult the then Big 3 (Bud, Miller and Coors) made it for them to obtain distribution, tap handles and generally succeed in a market that they dominated. I’m certainly glad we have more power now, and have, in many cases, succeeded spectacularly, but I’m still not sure this, while understandable, is the best way to use it.

Last month, Peter Rowe, in the San Diego Union-Tribune, asked rhetorically, An Anheuser-Busch brewpub for San Diego? Toward the end, he even mentions that “some threaten to picket and boycott 10 Barrel, when and if it opens,” which also seems silly. If people in San Diego, like most places, are really as supportive of local-only businesses then it will fail all by itself. But I think the real fear is that everybody loves the locals on Twitter, or Facebook, or when answering a pollster, but not when it comes to reality. Like it or not, national brands in every industry are popular precisely because they’re familiar, widely available and the same everywhere. It’s certainly true that artisanal products, like cheese, chocolate, bread, etc. are all doing great, but the big brands are still the big brands, just like with craft beer. Dents have been made, but they still have a majority marketshare.

But headlines about this from mainstream news are along the lines of Local craft brewers to Anheuser-Busch: Keep out. It feels strange to side with the big guys but it doesn’t feel like they’re doing anything particularly wrong here. I understand opposing this or even working together to promote their own local-ness as a positive attribute, but this feels like a case when turnabout isn’t fair play. We should be better than that. If San Diego brewers are making great beer — and they are — and if people in their market are willing to support them, then this is something that will take care of itself, and that, I think should be the goal.