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San Diego
Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

SD to Host 2023 Homebrew Con

BEER: Event on Tap at Town & Country

With 150 craft brewery locations in the region, San Diego County is considered one of the most ‘brew-centric’ regions in the U.S. And that popularity has set the stage for San Diego to once again host this summer’s three-day 2023 Homebrew Con.

Homebrew Con is a homebrewing-focused conference and competition featuring more than 2,000 amateur and professional brewers from around the country, all of whom are members of the not-for-profit American Homebrewers Association.

The 45th annual event, put on by the Colorado-based American Homebrewers Association and Brewers Association (for small and independent craft brewers), will be held June 22-24 at the Town & Country Resort in Mission Valley.

In 2022, eight San Diego amateur brewers won medals at the conference and competition in Pittsburgh, including three who finished in first place: Doug Brown in the Pilsner category (out of 146 entries); Billy Lampert with Theresa Wilks in the American Porter & Stout category (out of 86 entries); and Scott Voak in the Spice Mead category (out of 24 entries).

Several more local home brewers finished in second and third place in other categories in 2022.

Ann Obenchain
Marketing and Communications Director
Brewers Association

“The American Homebrewers Association is bringing Homebrew Con back to San Diego in 2023 to celebrate homebrewing with one of its most active populations,” said Ann Obenchain, marketing and communications director for the Brewers Association.

The conference made its debut in San Diego in 2011, and it was here again in 2015. San Diego has been called “Homebrew Town, USA,” by the American Homebrewers Association, said Obenchain, who also noted that San Diego boasts 11 homebrew clubs, three homebrew supply shops and myriad other grassroots organizations that advocate for the hobby of homebrewing.

She calls the craft beer community in California “vibrant and active” and said there are currently 931 craft breweries — the most of any state. And San Diego Brewers Guild Executive Director Paige McWey Acers says San Diego County leads the way, noting the county is known as “The Capital of Craft,” a moniker trademarked in 2015.

Paige McWey Acers
Executive Director
San Diego Brewers Guild

“I am excited with a capital ‘E’ that The Capital of Craft will be the host of the next Homebrew Con,” Acers said. “This event is quite special for both professionals and amateurs within the industry. It nourishes and helps everyone flourish.”

The conference will include more than 50 speakers from the craft beer industry and will have eight tracks:

  • Beer Styles
  • Brewing Process
  • Homebrewing Culture
  • New to Homebrewing
  • Beyond Beer
  • Clubs & Competitions
  • Ingredients & Adjuncts
  • Quality & Sensory

    Erik Fowler
    Head of Education and Craft Hospitality
    White Labs, Inc.

While companies like Miramar-based White Labs Inc. and Vista-headquartered Pure Brewing are not homebrewers, many at those and other beer-related businesses have strong homebrewing backgrounds. They continue to support homebrewing, and representatives from both will be among Homebrew Con attendees championing homebrewing.

“The ethos of homebrewing is very important,” said Erik Fowler of White Labs, a business-to-business brewery ingredient supplier. “We primarily work with big breweries but we still try to support home brewers and that industry. We’ve seen how many great breweries have started in San Diego – 80-plus. And a lot of them started as home brewers. We also have educational workshops and products to support them. And we offer more than 70 yeast strains in quantities for homebrewers.”

Winslow Sawyer
Pure Project Brewing

Winslow Sawyer, one of three founders of craft brewery Pure Brewing, will be part of a Homebrew Con panel and will talk brewing from a professional perspective.

“I will be giving a seminar with White Labs talking about brewing beer with wild yeasts and how to translate this to a homebrewing level,” Sawyer said.

Every winter, he said, Pure Brewing makes beer using a traditional Belgian brewing technique where after boiling the beer, it is left outside overnight “to cool and inoculate with native yeasts that are present in the air,” he said.

The beer is then fermented in oak barrels for up to three years, at which point, Pure Brewing chooses specific barrels to blend and naturally carbonate in bottles. “The first batch of this I made over a decade ago when I was a homebrewer, so it’s great to be sharing this passion with other brewers,” Sawyer said.

Leading up to the June event there will be nine regional judging sites across the U.S. in the spring, including one in San Diego, that will determine which brews advance to Homebrew Con.

Fred Tayco
Executive Director
San Diego County Lodging Association

The event has San Diego tourism leaders looking forward to the brew-focused visitors, and San Diego County Lodging Association Executive Director Fred Tayco bubbling over with enthusiasm.

“HomeBrew Con is one of the country’s premiere and fun events, celebrating a growing and vital industry,” Tayco said. “Our hotels are ready to welcome craft beer enthusiasts from around the world with open arms and flowing taps.”

Pure Brewing

CO-FOUNDERS: Mat Robar, Jesse Pine and Winslow Sawyer
BUSINESS: Craft brewery
WEBSITE: purebrewing.org
CONTACT: 760-552-PURE or info@purebrewing.org
SOCIAL IMPACT: Company is “1% for the Planet” and donates 1% of all sales to environmental non-profits.
NOTABLE: Business approaches all operational aspects with a commitment to better business practices and a reduction in environmental impacts.


White Labs Inc.

CEO: Chris White
BUSINESS: B2B brewery ingredient supplier
EMPLOYEES: 140 (About 70 in San Diego)
WEBSITE: whitelabs.com
CONTACT: 858-693-3441
SOCIAL IMPACT: Partners with nonprofit Beer for Boobs supporting breast cancer research
NOTABLE: Business includes a commercial brewery, with Brewer’s yeast-focused beer and pizza


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