SD Benefits From Rising Craft Beer Sales

America's Finest City is the "Napa of craft beer"

By Sarah Grieco
|  Thursday, Apr 26, 2012  |  Updated 3:46 PM PDT
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Drink up, San Diego: High-end beer sales increased last year and local breweries are seeing the results.

Sales increased more than 2 percent last year, according to data from The Beer Institute.

Researchers attributed the boost to high-end beer businesses. The sale of imports, crafts and above-premium beers sold was up nearly 3 percent.

This is good news for San Diego -- a city leading the charge in the craft beer industry. With dozens of breweries scattered around the county, local brews have become a mainstay in America’s Finest City.

But why San Diego? It’s science.

The increased ion levels in San Diego’s water is one of the reasons it’s such a great place to have a brewery, said Paul Sangster, vice president of San Diego’s Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity.

“Generally our water has more calcium and sulfate,” he said. “When used in a hoppy beer, it will give the hops a very nice flavorful taste.”

San Diego-based brewery Karl Strauss has benefited from the public’s demand for local beer. The company saw a 10 percent bump in beer sales last year, and its restaurant sales increased 6 percent, according to the brewery’s spokeswoman Melody Daversa.

“It’s been really exciting to see, people asking for craft or local beer,” Daversa said. “San Diego is known as the Napa of craft beer…it’s winning more medals in beer competitions than other cities combined.”

But while high-end beer retail sales have increased, shipping for major companies, such as Anheuser Busch, have slightly decreased. Major beer companies also took a dip in shipping last year.

Zach Lowe, spokesperson for The Beer Institute, attributed decline of corporate breweries to the surge in demand for craft beer.

“[The U.S.] sold a lot of the higher end, more expensive beer,” he said. “It’s really growing in popularity.”

And it looks like it might be here to stay in San Diego.

“San Diego has a gigantic amount of new breweries and brew pubs,” said Sangster. “We’re going to become even better, more pronounced as a beer leader.”

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