(Perfectly captured photo by attendee Christina Orlovsky Page)



What a day. Months and months of meetings, planning, dodging obstacles, ditching our day jobs to file permits, staying up late after the kids go to bed to post updates on social media, making trips to the printer again and again and again… all for this incredible day! SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off 2015 was definitely one for the books, and although we are still tying up loose ends and putting supplies away (and gearing up for our committee after party, yee-haw!), we are taking a moment to reflect on the day.

This event blows us away every year; the Chefs bringing their a-game and loads of awesome chili, the brewers delivering donated kegs of the best beer in town, all the hard-working craft vendors setting up their 10×10 shops in the street and the team of tireless parent volunteers arriving at the wee hours of the morning and staying late into the deep, dark night on a Sunday to make this all happen. Our gratitude overfloweth.

We don’t call this event a Chili Cook-Off for nothin’! A little friendly competition between 40 of San Diego’s most generous Chefs to determine who can create and serve the best chili in the coolest ceramic bowls did not disappoint this year. The chili game was strong, and the judges had no easy task awarding first place winners in the following categories:

Best Overall: Toronado San Diego 

“Totally Rad” Chef Missy Sandoval // Smoked Lamb Leg, Tri-tip Chipotle Chili

Best Vegetarian: Monkey Paw Brewery

Chef Onan Davis  // Vegan “Blairsteak” Chili with Mushrooms, Peppers and Monkey Paw Corneilius Stout

Most Unique: South Park Brewing Company 

Chef Luis Aguirre  // Shrimp and Seafood “Sausage Style” Smoked Chili Topped with Roasted Corn Bread and Smoked Jalapeno Cream

People’s Choice (awarded by attendees!): West Coast Tavern

Chef Abe Botello  // West Coast Style Chili with Short Rib, Tri Tip and White Navy Beans


Congratulations to all the winners, and a big shout out to all the Chefs and their teams for participating. Hauling chili is no small feat!


Finally, on a personal note if I may… one day post-SoNo my 1st grade son came home from school ecstatic that he had learned some cool new words in Spanish (we are now only saying colors in Spanish around the house..) and that he got to partner with his best friend in dance class. These are just a few of the programs offered to our McKinley kids because of the funds SoNo Fest raises! They are called “enrichment” classes for a reason- they really do enrich the lives of the students. If you attended SoNo and bought a bowl, a beer, a kids zone wristband or a gift from a vendor, you have personally contributed to the programs these kids love. If you donated your time, spread the word about this event, made food, popped tents, picked up trash or let this event take over the street in front of your house, you have personally contributed to enriching the lives of the students at McKinley! Our hearts are full of gratitude. And from my happy 6 year old to you: Thank You.



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SoNo Beer Garden: More Brewery Love…

It’s almost here…SoNo Chili Fest! This weekend is the big one and we are working to make sure everything is set for our always-epic fundraiser. We wanted to make sure to give a last shout out to some more of the awesome breweries who have donated to our beer garden this year so without further ado…



Green Flash is near and dear to our hearts because their newly promoted Brewmaster, Eric Jenson, is a Mckinley parent. They also happen to make some great beer and have been growing their business, bringing San Diego style brew to the rest of the country.



Rip Current Brewing kicked ass at this year’s Great American Beer Awards and it’s easy to see why. Paul has been brewing quality beers for years and we love having a tasting room in our own North Park, back yard.



Ballast Point has had an outstanding year. Their $1 billion price tag speaks for itself, and Constellation were no fools to put their money on Ballast Point moving forward. We can’t wait to see what good things are coming for this San Diego craft beer institution.



Pizza Port is another San Diego craft beer pioneer and also another big winner at this year’s GABF. Their many locations throughout San Diego bring together two of our favorite things…pizza and beer!



Coronado Brewing Company also won big in 2014 at the World Beer Cup when they won for Best Mid-sized Company and Brewmaster. They are always willing to help out in our beer garden and we couldn’t be more excited to have them pouring on Sunday.



Stone Brewing is the biggest craft brewery in Southern California and true pioneers in the craft beer industry. Not only do they have some of the best beer around (I’m looking at you Ruin Ten) but they have perhaps the best name in the industry with their Arrogant Bastard Ale. They have just recently expanded overseas to Germany, and we are excited to have such a fantastic brewery representing San Diego Beer over there.



Modern Times opened their tap room, the Flavordome, in North Park a little over a year ago and they are a fabulous addition to the neighborhood. If you haven’t been over to their Lomaland Fementorium in Point Loma, you should definitely make the short trip soon. They tons tasty beers on tap, including variations on core beers, pilot batches and down right delicious experiments.



Mission Brewery has a rich history dating back to 2013. Suffice it to say they are passionate about the craft with over 30 national and international awards to prove it. Their renovated brewery, in the old Wonder Bread building in East Village, is gorgeous and a destination for any beer lover looking for an excellent beer in a cool space.



Latitude 33 Brewing is bringing the Vista love along with their delicious beer to SoNo Fest’s beer garden. They took over the North County space after Green Flash expanded and have been making a name for themselves in both San Diego County and L.A.


Absolution Brewing Company came all the way down from Torrance, CA to lend their support and we couldn’t be more appreciative for their delicious beer and their generosity. Although this brewery is one of the little guys, they produce high quality, small batch beers that are seriously terrific.


and last but not least…


Thorn Street Brewery opened its doors during SoNo Fest, three years ago and has been a T-32 hub since, for family, dogs, and friends alike. Although they only have a 7 barrel system presently, they manage to turn out an impressive number of beer styles that are sure to please any palette. You can often find SoNo volunteers and Mckinley parents in TSB unwinding or planning the next fundraiser.


We really want to thank all of the breweries that are participating in SoNo Fest this year. We couldn’t do it with out them, and their generosity and strong sense of community spirit are heart warming to say the least.

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Rocking Out With Acoustic Ales

Located in the historic Mission Brewery Plaza, Acoustic Ales has been brewing delicious, one-of-a-kind, craft beer since 2012. Owner/Brewmaster, Tommaso Maggiore, spent years traveling all over the world learning about different brew styles, systems and brewing techniques. With this experience, he is able to create unique and delicious recipes using the freshest of ingredients, that will delight any craft beer lover.


If you like a hoppy beer, you have to try their Run for the Hills double IPA. This incredibly drinkable beer packs a punch, clocking in at 8% ABV, and has hints of ripe pineapple, orange marmalade throughout, with a bright, clean finish. If you like something a little darker, grab a pint of their Shake Your Money Maker, nut brown ale. This 6.25% ABV brown ale is nutty and chocolaty, finishing with notes of roasted coffee.


We really appreciate Acoustic Ales for their support at this year’s SoNo Fest and look forward to having one of their tasty beers in our beer garden on the 6th!


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