Craft Beer Holiday in Del Mar

The San Diego International Beer Festival is a county fair centerpiece.

BEER AT THE FAIR: County fairs and adult libations have gone together for years, but one is apt to think of a cold beer as being part of a meal consumed at a picnic table, quickly, so one can return to the midway. But beer and wine samples are found as frequently in tony fair competitions -- yep, we pulled out "tony" there, and we might even say "highbrow" -- where honors and awards given might just show up on a winery's label soon after. One of the major competitions on the county fair scene is, hands down, or rather pint glasses up, the San Diego International Beer Festival. And the three-day sipper is set to foam again at the Del Mar Fairgrounds from Friday, June 21 through Sunday, June 23.

ALL THE FANCIEST FOAMS: One gets that sense that if you're a specialty brewery in business in 2013 then you're competing in this respected competition. The roster is lengthy: Tap It Brewing Co. from San Luis Obispo, Samuel Smith from England, Vermont Hard Cider Company, and several local Southern California outfits, including Saint Archer and Rough Draft, will be in the judges' tiny tasting cups.

GENERAL ADMISSION: There are over 300 beers in all to try, and your $55 admission gets you unlimited one-ounce samples. (So, yep, line up that designated driver first, then send them off to wave at the animals and ride the Ferris wheel several times.)

SAN DIEGO'S STARS SUDS: The city is known as a top-tier spot for craft brews, for sure, but did you see this recent New Yorker best craft brew states map? Turns out much of California is doin' the craft brew biz right.

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