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GABF brewers' diaries

Tomme Arthur

Pizza Port Solana Beach - Sept. 16

When I first started in Solana Beach, all of the brewers in town were shipping their beers via Fed Ex or UPS to the sorting area. This is extremely expensive as the cost of overnight shipping was approaching $200 for one brewery. Also in light of the events of 9/11 the companies are not keen on shipping "yeast samples."

But this is no longer a problem as in 2000 I approached Steve Wagner at Stone Brewing about getting a community pallet shipped to Denver in a refrigerator truck. Steve and Stone Brewing have been huge supporters of the San Diego Brewing community and we felt that their shipping connections could help everyone in the community.

When you ship bottles via Fed Ex and UPS they sit in hot trucks and shipping centers. We felt this was a major problem and we addressed it by chipping in as a group to send a pallet in a cold truck. The cost savings were overwhelming. A pallet costs about $300 total and split among all the breweries, it winds up costing each of us about $30 bucks to ship the same beer, and the quality is even better. This is obvious to us. The first year we shipped beer in the truck, 6 medals were won by San Diego Brewers. This total hasn't been matched but we still feel it was a major step up in quality.

We've expanded the pallet to include other breweries from Southern California, and Eric Rose (the brewer at Santa Barbara Brewing Co.) even drove down his bottles this year to join the shipment. This is the first year that he has done this and we expect great things of his beers as part of this shipment.

The process of readying all this beer is quite taxing. The bottles were due at Stone Brewing the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. They shipped out on Tuesday and were due to arrive in Denver that Thursday. That same day, all of our keg beers for the festival floor were due at Stone brewing as well. The GABF sets up shipping regions accross the country and certain breweries act as agents of the AOB receiving kegs for the festival. For the last three years, Stone has acted as the dropoff point for the festival for the Southern California breweries.

All of our GABF beers are now gone. It is a major source of relief since there is nothing we can do now but show up and party like rock stars for a couple of days. The stress of a year long journey for our brewers and beers is over and in the hands of my fellow judges. Next time, we'll visit the process and talk about what to expect this year at the festival.