With a fun-loving, skating and surfer culture like that of San Diego, comes a surge of home brewers crafting their versions of liquid sunshine. The home brewing trend is to thank for the increase of craft breweries popping up all over San Diego in the last couple of decades and has since become one of the main selling points for San Diego tourism. The San Diego breweries have made quite the name for themselves, and continue to shine.
It’s no surprise that San Diego is home to over 150 breweries. San Diego has been deemed the craft beer capital of the US and attracts beer enthusiasts from far and wide to its legendary beer scene. If you’re one of those people whose ears prick at the sound of California beer, beaches and sun, then San Diego is the place to be.
What Are The Best Breweries To Visit In San Diego?
Once you’ve made it to the land of sunshine and beaches, you’ll immediately want to dive right into your San Diego brewery tour. With so many options, it may be hard to pick, but here’s a rundown on the San Diego breweries that are well worth the visit. You’ll be able to see why these breweries have become so iconic and such a major attraction.
Ballast Brewing Company
If you frequent the San Diego coast in pursuit of a finely crafted beer, chances are you would have stumbled across, or at least heard about the legendary Ballast Brewing Company. These guys have become giants in the San Diego brewing scene, and since their opening in 96, have expanded on a national level and opened up a multitude of taprooms and breweries along the Cali coast.
Make sure to stop by any one of their locations. They have one in Little Italy, Miramar Anaheim, Long Beach and soon will be opening a branch in San Francisco. California natives will know a Ballast beer when they see one, as the iconic colourful, fish-themed illustrations on their cans are unmissable. All designed by their resident artist Paul Edder, the Ballast labels have become artworks in themselves, and invite you to taste the deliciousness inside.
To top it off, their taprooms have become just as committed to the food as the beer, so that you can enjoy their suds with a delectable lunch or dinner. There are weekly specials and they’re constantly introducing new dishes, but you’re likely to find classic bistro-style food here like mussels, burgers, steak and fish dishes. If you’re one to dabble in the art of homebrewing, their homebrew mart is the perfect place to pick up all the needed equipment and instructions.
Modern Times Brewing Company
For Modern Times Brewing Company, the ingenious idea of having a coffee roastery and a brewery in the same place opened up a world of unique and exciting coffee-infused beer crafting. Thanks to this, Modern Times quickly became one of the best breweries San Diego has to offer. Mix that flavour combo with the lively and quirky atmosphere of their taprooms, and you’ve got yourself a good time.
Although Modern Times beer is available for at-home consumption in a variety of states in the US, their taprooms are really what put them on the map. The picturesque and fabulously fun decor of the taprooms matches the unique wave of flavour you’ll experience when drinking their beer. Think Alice in wonderland with a 1960s groovy feel, with a big emphasis on colour and mosaics.
Okay, enough about the decor, what beer should you try? The Black House Stout has to be at the top of your try list, as it’s infused with in-house roasted coffee and has really become the reason Modern Times is considered the most innovative of the San Diego breweries bunch. Try this brew at any of their locations: the Far West Lounge in Encinitas, the Lomaland Fermentorium, and the North Park Flavordome.
Stone Brewing Company
Compiling a list of the top breweries in San Diego, you can’t forget to mention the renowned Stone Brewing Company, also known as the largest brewery in San Diego. With over 5 taprooms and 2 restaurants, Stone Brewing has surpassed the small craft brewery beginnings and has now become a brewing empire.
When San Diego natives see the trusty Gargoyl logo on a bottle of Stone brew, they can expect the classic citrusy, tropical pine flavour they know and love. You’ll be able to find their beer all over the US, and their nifty online store makes it accessible to even an international client base.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in San Diego, visiting one of the Stone Brewing locations is a must.
There’s a spot to get the well known and sought after “Arrogant Bastard Ale” in Richmond, Ocean Side, Pasadena and Kettner. If you can’t wait for the duration of the drive from the airport to one of these spots to try the beer, Stone Brewing now has a location at the San Diego airport.
Pure Brewing Company
In true San Diego spirit, the Pure Brewing Company has built their brand around the importance of environmental sustainability. It all started when founders Jesse and Agi Pine, together with buddy Mat Robar, started making use of the ingredients found at local farmer’s markets to create small-batch artisanal beers.
Fast forward to today, and the Pure Brewing company has expanded all over the coast and boasts 5 stunning taprooms for you to lounge around in the San Diego sun while sipping on their tropical-style beers. You’ll be able to do this all while knowing your beer was made following strict environmentally-friendly policies, so no worrying about your carbon footprint.
Their philosophy surrounding the use of local ingredients results in some pretty interesting and delicious creations. Recently they launched a mango lassi “smoothie beer”, and to the shock of the tasters, they were thoroughly impressed by the creative flavour. Its creamy mouthfeel and fresh mango taste is the exact kind of satisfaction you didn’t know you needed in your beer.
San Diego Brewery With The Best Outdoor Seating
What better way to enjoy the San Diego picture-perfect weather than with a beer on a rooftop. The Kairoa Brewing company has the views to encapsulate the beauty of the San Diego sunsets, all while sipping on their crisp and light ales. The food at Kairoa is of the best quality too, so make sure to order some accompaniments too.
Which San Diego Brewery Has The Best Food?
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There’s no doubt that San Diego is a food town, and the breweries almost always have an accompanying restaurant to order from while enjoying a cold one. San Diego has been known to embrace its Hispanic roots, being on the border of Mexico, so finding some tasty Mexican treats to go with your beer will be the ultimate San Diego experience.
Viewpoint Brewing has become the go-to place for authentic Mexican cuisine and flavoursome beers. You’ll be able to find meals like ceviche, adobada wraps, and fish tacos. Enjoy while sipping on a Mexican style lager like the Dias largos. Their location has just recently expanded, and now offers indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the pristine San Dieguito lagoon.
What Are The Major Beer Events And Festivals In San Diego?
If you get your timing right, you might be able to make it to the summertime San Diego Beer fest. This much anticipated day brings all the local beer heroes together to make an event true to the San Diego Spirit. There will also be a myriad of food trucks serving up some crazy good food, true to the San Diego cuisine of course.
The Tijuana beer festival held in Baja, San Diego is also one of those events that every beer fan simply can’t miss. The whole family is welcome at this event, so you can expect some good wholesome fun. It may feel overwhelming to try and taste all the craft beer San Diego has to offer, so by attending these events you’re able to get a good idea of what the different breweries are doing, and which one you’d like to go back for.
Why Is San Diego Considered The Capital Of Craft Beer?
If you can’t already tell, San Diego has become the capital of craft beer for many reasons. It’s largely due to the relaxed and progressive society and culture of San Diego and California, that enticed a home brewing revolution in the 80s before many other states were doing it. The success of the beer industry became obvious, and this in turn saw a lot of breweries popping up all over San Diego.
Many tourists come from far and wide to visit San Diego and sip on the many different crafts available. This is another reason for how San Diego got its craft beer status, where there’s support there’s success, and the public made it clear that the breweries had cracked the code and will be in high demand for years to come.
Jake has been a craft beer and homebrew enthusiast since his college days. He loves scouring Europe for unique and unusual hops to add to his beers.
Founder of Jake’s Brew Haven – he currently hosts beer-tasting sessions at select local pubs in Baltimore.
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- What Are The Best Breweries To Visit In San Diego?
- San Diego Brewery With The Best Outdoor Seating
- Which San Diego Brewery Has The Best Food?
- What Are The Major Beer Events And Festivals In San Diego?
- Why Is San Diego Considered The Capital Of Craft Beer?