About a week and a half ago, I stumbled across an interaction between former Tiger (and San Diegan) Guido Knudson and Tigers minor league reporter Emily Waldon (with cameos by Rob Rogacki, Hookslide, and Phil Coke's Brain) debating the merits of San Diego Beer versus Grand Rapids Beer.
Guido Knudson (@GKnudson15) April 14, 2017
Now, as someone that has written a fair amount on this subject, I feel that it's only fair for me to weigh in.
First of all, I would like to be involved in all decisions to choose between Grand Rapids and San Diego on who has better beer. Yes, this is a thinly veiled way of saying I want to drink all the beers each town has to offer.
Second, I already wrote a few hundred words last year on the Grand Rapids beer scene, including a trek to a sketchy liquor store to get KBS. The only reason I haven't written more about San Diego is the fact that the Tigers only play out there about once every six years. However, I did stretch a bit to write about Stone Brewing Co. on a trip to Anaheim a few years back.
And finally, the title Beer City, USA was somewhat already awarded based on a USA Today poll in 2016 to Grand Rapids (Cleveland finished fourth, San Diego did not place), but an internet award from a newspaper is no way to truly name this thing.
So, after consulting with the Voice of the Turtle podcast, Twitter, and my personal experiences, I think we need to have each city put its best foot forward on this front. Both San Diego and Grand Rapids offer dozens (hundreds!) of choices for beer lovers, and it wouldn't be fair to just nebulously name this based on bias and familiarity.
My suggestion: go try some beer! By that, I mean go and find a good liquor/beer store, make a mixed six-pack with three beers from San Diego and three from Grand Rapids, and give this an honest go! Pick any six you want, but if you need some help deciding, here are my suggestions for each city:
*Founders KBS - Okay, so this may win the award for best beer, but It's not against the rules to have the best beer be in your six pack (if you can get it). Chocolate, coffee, maple, and bourbon team up to make this beer everything you've bargained for and more. Just make sure to have water handy.
*Brewery Vivant Triomphe - While the Big Red Coq is certainly more fun to say, the Triomphe is a better, more complex beer. The citrus, black pepper, and pine notes play off Belgian yeast to make a nice slow-sipping IPA.
*Perrin Black - Dark, yeasty, and mellow, this is a great beer to give the complex allure of a dark beer without the heavy overtones most come with.
*Stone Enjoy By series - Typically, these are IPAs where hop freshness is critical to them being as delicious as possible. However, it doesn't matter what kind of beer this is; if it's available, get it, enjoy it, and thank me later.
*Ballast Point Sculpin - Quite possibly the best beer San Diego has to offer, this is such a smooth, well balanced, and flavorful beer with hints of lemon, apricot, and peach that I would bet that, even if you were not a big IPA drinker, you'd enjoy this beer.
*Green Flash Blonde - Don't let the name fool you, this is more than just a palate cleanser. A bit of honey and a crisp finish make this a great compliment to all the hoppiness San Diego has to offer.
It would only be fair to give each city a fighting chance. If you have any other beers to throw into the fray, don't be afraid to list them. Plus, help each other out and point out where you can get the harder to find beers. Distribution is a hard thing to navigate, so post if you know where any San Diego beers can be found (I'm working on the assumption that the majority of the readers are in Michigan). After you're done, comment on what you think of the beers you've chosen, and vote in the poll, Let's see where Beer City, USA really lies.