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San Diego's Craft Beer Guide

Breweries, brewpubs & beer bars!


Published:

(page 3 of 4)

In the Middle


BREWERY

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits    

What started as a humble brewery in the back of a Linda Vista supply shop has evolved into the reigning best small brewing company in the world (awarded by the World Beer Cup, the Olympics of beer). San Diegans are lucky to have easy access to brews like the tropically hop-assertive Sculpin IPA and Victory at Sea, a velvety imperial porter brewed with vanilla and coffee from North Park’s Caffe Calabria. Ballast Point recently expanded its main facility in Scripps Ranch, adding a new, lengthy tasting bar with extra space for the county’s only craft distillery. Only two years old, that side project has already garnered industry kudos for its Devil’s Share Whiskey. Overachieve much? 10051 Old Grove Road, Scripps Ranch; 5401 Linda Vista Road, Linda Vista, ballastpoint.com

BREW PUB

San Diego Brewing Company   

This spot was years ahead of the craft beer renaissance thanks to its installation of a multi-handled tap system loaded with microbrews and beers straight from SDBC’s tanks. The latter is also available at sister restaurant, Callahan’s Pub, in Mira Mesa. 10450 Friars Road, Mission Valley, sandiegobrewing.com

BREW PUB

Amplified Ale Works   

J.C. Hill, owner of Mission Beach’s California Kebab, beefed up his operation by installing a small brewing rig and bringing homebrew recipes (coming soon!) to his carnivorous clientele. 4150 Mission Boulevard, Mission Beach, cali-kebab.com

BREW PUB

Pacific Beach Ale House   

There are more bars in PB than any other part of the city, but most of them deal in fizzy yellow macro-lager. Grab a seat on this brewpub’s rooftop deck and literally turn your back on such operations while simultaneously taking in a Whitewash Wheat and the sun setting over the Pacific. 721 Grand Avenue, Pacific Beach, pbalehouse.com

BREWERY

Societe Brewing Company   

Brewers Travis Smith and Doug Constantiner bring double shots of youth and pedigree to previously brewery-free Kearny Mesa with the installation of a three-pronged palate attack. The duo, who’ve logged time at some of the country’s most critically acclaimed breweries, produce both a hop-centric line of West Coast-style beers (pale ales and IPAs) and a separate array inspired by traditional Old World Belgian brews. Part three will come in 2014 when they start releasing barrel-aged dark ales and sours. The waiting is the hardest part. 8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa, societebrewing.com

BREWERY

AleSmith   

Quality across an expansive breadth of diverse beer styles is the calling card for this long-esteemed operation, named the country’s best small brewing company at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. Owner, brewer, and master beer judge Peter Zien has tripled the space at his facility. The most recent expansion involved doubling the tasting room, adding ample space for sampling everything from the ultra-piney AleSmith IPA to the tamed 12 percent ABV chocolate-coffee beast that is his critically acclaimed Speedway Stout. Should you happen on a barrel-aged or otherwise supped-up version of that last one around town, don’t think, just order two and brace yourself for something extraordinary. 9368 Cabot Drive, Miramar, alesmith.com

BREWERY

Rough Draft Brewing Company  

The newest addition to the Miramar/Mira Mesa area, this brewery’s taking on numerous global beer styles in the most non-committal means ever seen in San Diego. Owner and brewer Jeff Silver is starting out with rough drafts he plans on tweaking based on feedback from customers. Skip Yelp and issue your constructive criticism in person. 8830 Rehco Road, Miramar, roughdraftbrew.com

NANO BREWERY

Hess Brewing   

Social media savvy and a wide-ranging rotation of small-batch beers has made this small yet solid company a huge hit. Enough so that owner Mike Hess is set to jump beyond the nano ranks via a new, larger production facility opening in North Park later this year. For now, enjoy beers like Amplus Acerba pale ale and Ex Umbris imperial stout. They’re worth deciphering Latin for and best enjoyed at Hess’ Friday Afternoon Club events, where TGIFers converge for sampling brews and food and playing catch with Hess’s unofficial canine mascot, Hudson (though owner Michael Hess calls him Muttley). 7955 Silverton Avenue, Miramar; 3812 Grim Avenue, North Park (coming soon), hessbrewing.com

NANO BREWERY

White Labs    

One of the country’s largest yeast production companies took a huge step outside the box in its quest to highlight the major role yeast strains play in a beer’s overall taste profile, constructing an in-house tasting bar where beers brewed by the company’s lab technicians and the country’s popular pro brewers are split into identical batches, each fermented using a totally different type of yeast. The result—completely different final products. Science lessons never tasted so good. 9495 Candida Street, Miramar, whitelabs.com

NANO BREWERY

Wet ‘N Reckless Brewing    

Less than a mile south of Green Flash’s goliath-like facility is its complete antithesis—a tiny start-up celebrating the adventurous nature of amateur brewing, despite jumping to the professional arena earlier this year. Its brewers buck the purist trend by using extracts in some of their beers to attain the flavor profile they’re looking for. 10054 Mesa Ridge Court, Mira Mesa, wetnreckless.com

BREWERY

Green Flash Brewing Company  

If there’s one brewery that most embodies San Diego’s trademark hop-’til-you-drop brewing mentality, it’s this fast-growing juggernaut. Green Flash produces a triple IPA called Palate Wrecker and even its stouts and maltier Belgian beers benefit from generous botanical bolstering. For brewmaster Chuck Silva, more bitter equals mo’ better, and beer enthusiasts agree. Nationwide sales of beers like the West Coast IPA allowed the brewers to move from their longtime home in Vista to a sprawling 44,000-square-foot facility in Mira Mesa (one they’re already scheduled to outgrow within the next year). Along the way, they’ve risen in the ranks, battling Karl Strauss as the second largest brewery in San Diego county. 6550 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Mira Mesa, greenflashbrew.com

BREWERY

New English Brewing Company   

Who better to educate us on the virtues of traditional UK beers than a proper Englishman? Wallasey-born and -raised Simon Lacey used to brew all of his beers at Mission Brewery Plaza, but recently opened his very own combination brewhouse and beer engine-equipped tasting bar in Sorrento Valley. His pub-friendly flagship Explorer ESB, an archetypal iteration of a British extra special bitter, is a beer style very rarely seen in Southern California. 11545 Sorrento Valley Road, Sorrento Valley, newenglishbrewing.com

BREWERY

Lightning Brewery   

A biochemist who rubbed elbows with Nobel laureates, Jim Crute utilizes his extensive science know-how as the county’s foremost producer of lagers. From a crisp pilsner with a sturdy hop backbone to a refreshing Hefeweizen rife with flavors of banana and clove, he rounds out San Diego’s ale-centric scene. 13200 Kirkham Way, Poway, lightningbrewery.com

MORE!

Craft Beer 101: An Interactive Flavor Guide

Craft Beer Cheat Sheet

Beer of the Week Blog

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