It’s no secret that San Diego County’s beer scene is exploding. For an introduction to the industry, many restaurants and bars offer an impressive list of local brews, or you can opt for a guided brewery tour to see the action up close. Of course, no trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to Stone Brewery in North County or its Liberty Station bistro, home of the best-selling Stone IPA.
But if you’re a true connoisseur or simply thirsting for more, there are plenty of breweries and beer-related events just off the beaten path. These attractions may not get as much attention as Stone or other area favorites like Pizza Port, but they are a must-visit if you’re looking to deepen your appreciation for the hoppy beverage.
So go ahead—sit back, pop open a cold one, and let your beer-loving imagination take flight.
- Drink Up San Diego. With new microbreweries opening every month in San Diego, it’s hard to keep up on the latest developments. Drink Up San Diego is a locally-run website devoted entirely to San Diego’s beer scene. It features a comprehensive list of San Diego’s breweries, plus a short “Beer 101” section for travelers who aren’t sure what to order. If you’re new to San Diego beer, make sure to bookmark this site.
- Karl Strauss Brewing Company. An oldie but goodie, Karl Strauss kicked off San Diego’s craft beer industry way back in 1989, when the term “craft beer” didn’t even exist. The brewery often gets lost in the fuss over all the new microbreweries, but its limited edition stouts and IPAs will tickle your taste buds.
- White Labs Tasting Room. White Labs is known for its impressive yeast bank, which it supplies to breweries and homebrewers across the country. It’s also the ultimate place to learn about yeast flavor in beer. Visitors can sample the same beer recipe made with different strains of yeast and experience firsthand the difference this one small ingredient makes in the final product. White Labs also offers courses for homebrewers.
- BEERology at the San Diego Museum of Man. Did you know that the first beer was brewed in China, or that headhunters in the Amazon made beer mash by chewing poisonous cassava roots? This is just a sample of the fascinating facts you’ll encounter at the Museum of Man’s BEERology exhibit, which runs through the summer of 2016. You can also buy tickets for upcoming beer tastings.
- San Diego International Beer Festival. Held every June at the San Diego County Fair, the San Diego International Beer Festival is one of the top beer festivals and competitions in the United States. More than 400 beers from more than 15 countries compete for awards, while more than 15,000 beer lovers wander from stand to stand sampling brews and meeting the people who made them. Another perk—admission to the fair is included with your beer festival ticket.
- Coronado Brewing Company. Coronado Brewing Company is only a mile and a half from Coronado Beach Resort, just west of the Ferry Landing. This Crown City gem is best known for its Coronado Golden and Orange Avenue Wit—both on the lighter side—as well as its classic Idiot IPA. The microbrewery also has an on-site brew pub where you can enjoy lunch or dinner before strolling along the waterfront.
- San Diego Beer Week. San Diego Beer Week brings together San Diego’s finest breweries, chefs, and musicians for a two-day celebration of San Diego’s craft beer culture. More than 25 breweries are typically represented at the festival, which takes place every fall.
- Mission Brewery. After visiting Petco Park or the nearby Gaslamp District, be sure to stop by Mission Brewery for a pint or two. The Bavarian-style Hefeweizen is surprisingly sweet with hints of honey, making it a favorite among beer newbies and aficionados alike. For hardcore palates, the Shipwrecked Double IPA will knock your socks off with intense hop flavor.