Four men stand at the front of the room, three looking predictably San Diego: toned-down formal, eschewing ties, or jackets, or both.
Then there’s the fourth. His style looks part open-collared coolness and part Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.
The man with the the frizzy, gray-flecked, shoulder-length beard and matching tangle of locks, Greg Koch, is the CEO and co-founder of Stone Brewing Co. He’s outlining a hope for the local tourism industry. He tells an audience of suits and flannel that he wants the San Diego region to become as synonymous with craft beer as Napa is with wine. Not to sell more beer, he says, but to draw more tourists.
He throws down this accusation: Grand Rapids, Mich., is doing a better job promoting its breweries (“they’re wonderful!” he notes) than San Diego. He cites an online poll to determine Beer City, USA. Grand Rapids got 27,005 votes. San Diego got 300.