2018 Best in Brew San Diego
With well over 150 breweries in the county making countless styles of quality brews, San Diego has got a good thing going
Founded in 1996 in the back of a homebrew supply store in Linda Vista, Ballast Point grew into one of the most recognizable craft beer brands and the second largest brewery in San Diego, as well as a micro-distillery. The story doesn’t stop there, though. Ballast Point and its iconic nautical- and fish-themed beers, like the Sculpin IPA and the Victory at Sea, have only continued to gain recognition and devotees with numerous awards and an expansion to the East Coast, cementing the brand’s name nationally and internationally.
Based in San José del Cabo, Baja Brewing Company was Baja California Sur’s first brewery. After taking Mexico by storm, Baja Brewing expanded distribution of its donkey-emblazoned bottles to the United States.
Launched in June 2017, Black Plague Brewing is a craft beer movement now servicing over 250 accounts across San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties. Inspired by social goodwill, self-expression, and collaboration, Black Plague brews the highest-quality, handcrafted beer at just 20 barrels at a time, primarily focused on flavorful, approachable IPAs in the New England, West Coast, and Imperial IPA styles. Their 2,300-square-foot tasting room—with 21 beers on tap—is open Wednesday through Sunday. It is always dog- and kid-friendly, and features leisure sports games, trivia, art, food trucks, and live music (on weekends).
Booze Brothers Brewing Co. started with two brothers with a tendency for making great beer, a hobby that shortly thereafter grew into a thriving brewery in Vista. The small homebrew kettles eventually grew into a full production facility, then a private event space, followed by a second brand, Owl Farm Unique Fermentations. Both Booze Brothers and Owl Farm can be found throughout San Diego and L.A. in draft, bottle, and can formats. Try the Buena Vista IPA, Sunup Stout, and Blackberry Cruiser.
South Park Brewing Company is the sister brewpub to iconic South Park beer haven Hamilton’s Tavern, brewing IPAs, Irish reds, pale ales, oatmeal stouts, and much more. Last year, this brewery quietly won 11 medals for beers made in seven different styles. Founded in 2014, South Park Brewing Company has partnered with Tacos La Mezcla to bring together the Mexican eatery’s epic tacos with award-winning beers. Carnitas and craft beer—what could be more San Diego than that?
Established in 1997 by craft beer enthusiasts Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens who had day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. brews complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders ranks among the top 10 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild. For more information, visit foundersbrewing.com or follow Founders on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
Oceanside’s Legacy Brewing specializes in European beers inspired by a fateful trip that head brewer Mark Mericle took to Germany in the 1980s—when he realized that domestic beers were woefully inadequate.
10 Barrel Brewing likes to say its brewery was “unestablished” in 2006, which is its way of saying, “We’re fun, easy-going, and unassuming,” says brewmaster Benny Shirley. “Come on in and drink a beer.” Shirley brews a wide array of styles, with an emphasis on hops, barrel-aging, and sour beers, always striving for true-to-style expressions. “I’m a little bit of a purist,” he says. “I look for sessionable qualities—balance, flavor, and medium-to-low alcohol levels. It’s a pub; you’re supposed to be here for a while.” The three-floor East Village location—a short walk from Petco Park—boasts a rooftop bar and elevated pub food with local Mexican and seafood influences. “Our motto is, ‘Brew beer, drink beer, have fun doing it,’” Shirley says.
This Mira Mesa brewery takes on ingredients and beer styles bold enough for a Viking. The tap list includes IPAs, dunkelweizens, stouts, and even a table beer brewed with fair trade coffee.