Shooting for That Top Spot | Craft Beer Tourism Summit Encourages All San Diego Businesses to Embrace Our Beer

September 23, 2013

On Thursday, September 19, politicians, brewers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, and media members joined together at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station for the San Diego Craft Beer Tourism & Hospitality Economic Summit, a symposium with the summary purpose of encouraging all local businesses to 'embrace and evolve' our position as a craft beer mecca.  Stone Brewing Co. founders Greg Kock & Steve Wagner invited fellow beer enthusiasts, including former mayor and current San Diego Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Sanders, to a discussion about how we can take our city to the next level as the world's top destination for beer enthusiasts.

San Diego breweries by location
Stone Brewing Co. founders Greg and Steve kicked off the festivities.  Everyone in attendance received a gargoyle-branded wooden nickle for a beer of their choosing, clearly intended to loosen the crowd and pique our palates.  We began together with an invigorated communal Cheers!, followed by Koch's presentation discussing the innumerable economic benefits that the craft beer industry has bestowed upon San Diego businesses.  While making it clear that our thriving beer industry results in more jobs, more tourism, and more money for San Diego, he also demonstrated that we have a lot farther to go in order to be in the esteemed rankings of other likeminded beer cities.

Comparing San Diego to another beer mecca (Munich) as well as California's famed wine countries in Napa and Sonoma valleys, Koch showed that while San Diego was certainly prospering from it position as one of the best in beer production, it hasn't yet fully committed.  He explained that all restaurants and bars in Munich serve Munich-made beers, many only serving local beer.  The same thing went for California Wine Country - all vendors serve locally produced wines, many offering only local wines.  Koch's point was that our city and all of its hospitality-based businesses need to all get on board and support our local breweries, currently an estimated 77 in number.

"We are the leading place in the world for craft beer," boasted Koch. "We need to change perception."

After Greg Koch's inspiring presentation, Mayor Jerry Sanders took to the podium: "What a great tradition...daydrinking," he joked (though it was a beautiful, sunny San Diego afternoon!).

Sanders boasted about all of the efforts currently put forth throughout our community to promote the San Diego craft beer industry, from Petco Park's impressive local beer offerings, to the changes in Lindbergh Field's Terminal 2, to San Diego's many, many beer festivals and events.

"Support long as they make good beer," Sanders explained. "That's the caveat!"

And good beer is certainly being made.  San Diego has been listed as America's best beer city by Men's Journal, Esquire Magazine, Yahoo Travel, and many more.  We've also been listed as one of the best by publications such as CNN, Men's Fitness, and Food & Wine.

Mayor Jerry finished with the San Diego Craft Beer Pledge, which he had the packed room recite along with him:

I recognize that San Diego's reputation in the world of beer is second to none.

I pledge to do everything I can do to help grow the recognition of that vaulted reputation.

As a San Diegan, I pledge to build a region in which citizens and visitors alike know the relevance, importance, depth and diversity of San Diego craft beer.

I pledge to put San Diego craft beer in the center of every communication.

And I will faithfully promote the awareness of San Diego craft beer, fostering direct economic benefit to San Diego's Tourism and Hospitality industries, and to our overall economic prosperity. 

The event finished with a panel discussion amongst Koch, Sanders, Joe Terzi (President & CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority) and Vince Vasquez (policy analyst at National University System Institute for Policy Research and author of “The Economic Impact of Craft Breweries in San Diego”).  Local attorney, Omar Passons, moderated the debate.

Take the pledge and drink local craft beer.  Support our craft beer community, and one day, we will truly be recognized by all as the Napa Valley of craft beer, as we rightfully deserve. Cheers!