One of the benefits to living in Southern California is year-round access to produce and other artisan goods via weekly outdoor markets throughout the region. While farm owners and bakers have sold their respective wares in this manner for decades, some of San Diego’s most famous artisans –brewers—have only had the ability to do so for a short while, but the inability to offer samples has made many breweries shy away from buying license. Thanks to law changes that recently went into effect, the Hillcrest Farmers Market became the first San Diego outdoor marketplace to offer educational sampling on Sunday.
With Hillcrest being the first farmers market to offer craft beer sampling, there really wasn’t a more logical choice than Hillcrest Brewing Company as the initial brewery on a slate of rotating vendors. Under the terms of the law, which passed in July, every attendee who is of legal drinking age may sample up to 8 ounces of beer per day. At Sunday’s booth, visitors happily tasted samples of Perle Necklace Pale Ale and Hoppy Endings IPA as brewery representatives talked about the location that’s right around the corner from the market.
Along with the usual patrons to the Sunday morning market, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria also stopped by the Hillcrest Brewing Company booth to be among the first to sample local beers in the farmers market atmosphere. Both officials talked about how big it is for this regulatory hurdle to finally be cleared.
“It shows the tremendous continued growth of the craft beer industry here in San Diego,” said Faulconer. “Craft beer is a big part of our economy now, and the great news is that the breweries are hiring San Diegans and we’re exporting beer across the country and across the world. I think it’s a great fit and a great combination and I expect other farmers markets to do the same.”
Gloria, whose council district includes Hillcrest and several other brewery-laden neighborhoods, echoed the same sentiment with regards to the importance of sampling. “It’s blending two of San Diego’s most favorite things: farmers markets and craft beer,” said Gloria. “It creates a synergy that we like to see in really helping small local businesses to compete in San Diego.”
While Hillcrest is the first farmers market to allow sampling of local craft beer, it’s a safe bet that other outdoor marketplaces will quickly follow suit, but Gloria delighted that it all started on his turf. “I take a lot of pride in Hillcrest being the first,” said Gloria. “This district is always on the forefront of things, and what gets started here gets replicated in communities across San Diego, so I think that people are not only going to love this, but they’re also going to adopt it at farmers markets in other parts of town like North Park and Little Italy.”