There’s the Beer Hunter, Malt Man, the Beer Bitch, the Beer Enthusiast, the Malt Maven, the Beer Goddess and the Beer Babe—and those are just the ones I correspond with regularly. Enter the Beer Guppy: a small, thirsty fish ready to swim in the big waters of Southern California. And these are beery waters, indeed, as The Beer Guppy’s Guide to Southern California demonstrates.
The southern half of rich, populous California deserves a beer-touring book all its own: though it isn’t yet a beer destination to compete with regions to the north, the microbrewery and brewpub scene is thriving. For evidence, look no further than the decision by the Brewers Association to host two national Craft Brewers Conferences in a mere four years in San Diego, home to some of the country’s most innovative breweries.
If this is an area where the pros want to gather, then beer enthusiasts would be smart to follow suit, and the Beer Guppy—a.k.a. Jay Shevak—is a capable tour guide. His book—really more of a sturdy magazine—promises “Social’s Best Beer Oases.” The guide is a comprehensive directory of breweries, brewpubs and “beer purveyors” in each of four southern California regions, with southern Nevada thrown in as a logical freebie.
Shevak’s entries are systematic: name and location, list of beers where appropriate, hours and a few notes. Given that all micro- and brewpub producers of beer automatically earn a place in this book, the editorial assessment is reserved for “purveyors”—bars, retailers and homebrew shops. If Shevak’s instincts are sound, this may be the area where this book provides the greatest value to the visiting tourist: you can find all the SoCal breweries on line, but a great bar recommendation is a gem. Pick up a copy and try it out.