The craft brewery explosion came pretty early to San Diego, and the San Diego Brewers Guild now has more than 130 breweries. The city was named the “Top Beer Town” in America by Men’s Journal, and the New York Times proclaimed that it “is rapidly becoming the country’s best craft beer scene.”
First, taste the brews at some of the best-known producers: Karl Strauss Brewing Company, which begun in 1989 by and was named after co-founder Chris Cramer’s cousin (who just happened to have been a master brewer from Germany), and Stone Brewing Company, which has its massive headquarters, complete with beer garden, in Escondido as well as several stores, a farm, and pubs at PetCo Park, Liberty Station, and the San Diego Airport.
Don’t miss craft brewers Lost Abbey (famed for its bottle-conditioned ales), AleSmith (focusing on English-style ales), Ballast Point (brewers of such seasonal beers as Habanero Sculpin IPA and Curry Export Stout), and Green Flash, who all get rave reviews from locals and international beer wags alike.
Those better-known names barely scratch the surface. If you want to visit a brewery that isn’t immediately recognizable to your friends back home, there are too many to list here, but a few standouts include Belching Beaver Brewery, Societe Brewing Company, Pizza Port (don’t be thrown by the name—it’s a top-notch brewery that serves pizza at five locations), Alpine Beer Co., Wild Barrel Brewing, Coronado Brewing Company, and Mother Earth Brew Co.
Beer tours, like the ones offered by Brewery Tours of San Diego, Scavengers Beer & Adventure Tours, and the entertaining Brew Hop, are big here too. The tours are an excellent way to sample craft beers at various locations while someone else does the driving—and shares brew-centric insights and information along the way.