The Summer Solstice Ale Trail

Passport-driven reward system encourages local beer touring

Local beers in summer-appropriate mason jars at BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. in Santee.
  • Local beers in summer-appropriate mason jars at BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. in Santee.

Benchmark Brewing Co.

6190 Fairmount Avenue, Suite G, Grantville

Societe Brewing Company

8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa

BNS Brewing & Distilling

10960 Wheatlands Avenue #101, Santee

Without camaraderie, the San Diego craft beer scene would be much different—and much smaller. It’s the cooperation of local breweries through the San Diego Brewers Guild and on individual, inter-brewery levels that has allowed so many businesses to thrive when other industries would have already reached a saturation point.

Following the solid example set by the Old Guard, a trio of young brewing companies are banding together to make imbibers’ summer a little brighter through local beer. Benchmark Brewing Company, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., and Societe Brewing Company have established the Summer Solstice Ale Trail. It’s not an actual thoroughfare, but rather an imaginary, yet very real, connection linking these businesses that’s designed to further encourage beer touring during the sunny season.

Starting June 1, the three breweries will begin handing out 2014 Summer Solstice Ale Trail Passports to visitors stamped with that brewery’s unique mark. From there, beer travelers can take the passport to the remaining two locations. Once they get stamps from all three breweries, they can turn the passport in for a commemorative bar towel (which should make for a pretty good San Diego beer version of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ "terrible towels").

In addition to the aforementioned prize, there are plenty of other good reasons to visit these businesses. Benchmark, a Mission Valley-based family-run business from ex-AleSmith brewer Matt Akin, will celebrate its first year of operation with numerous events during the month of June. BNS, a combination brewery and distillery run by long-time friends in Santee, will also pass the one-year mark next month. And Societe, regarded as one of the country’s best new breweries, will celebrate its two-year anniversary with events held throughout the week at its Kearny Mesa tasting room from June 20 to 29.

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