"All-Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth." This was the title bestowed by BeerAdvocate magazine upon Stone Brewing Co. - an irreverent San Diego brewery with big dreams. Stone is just one of over 40 craft breweries in this city that is fast becoming the Napa of beer.
The list of San Diego brewers is long, colorful and filled with passionate brew masters whose enthusiasm and exuberance are downright intoxicating. Here are just a few.
Stone Brewing's facility is a must for those who worship the golden nectar. Their World Bistro & Gardens, which specializes in delicious and creative preparations of locally-grown, organic produce and natural meats, is a fantastic place to soak in the sun and learn the ins and outs of pairing award-winning beer with great food. Don't miss the Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company was the first brewery to reintroduce San Diego to locally brewed, handcrafted beer since brewpubs were banned during Prohibition. Twenty years later, their Brewery Restaurants serve 10 handcrafted beers on tap, including their original Amber Lager.
AleSmith Brewing Company - #5 on BeerAdvocate's "Best on the Planet" list is an unassuming, artisan brewer that's deeply rooted in the homebrewing community. Award-winning creations include their incarnation of a Belgian Strong Ale playfully named Horny Devil, and their special edition Speedway Stout, a jet-black Imperial Stout filled with dark chocolate and strong coffee flavors.
Ballast Point Brewing Company's Pale Ale is a local staple for thirsty San Diegans. Winner of the Best Beer Award at the 2010 World Brew Cup, as well as other international gold medals, this craft brewery has become a local favorite.
San Diego also offers a diverse range of bars and restaurants that truly specialize in rare beers from local brewers and around the globe.
The Yard House in downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter is an upscale, casual eatery known for its extensive menu and self-proclaimed “world's largest selection of draft beer.” Guests can find a range of brews including classic lagers and obscure ales and stouts served in authentic goblets, pints and half-yard glasses. The Yard House features a transparent keg room containing more than 600 barrels and a fleet of over 130 tap handles.
The laid-back Downtown Johnny Brown’s, located in downtown San Diego, has an excellent selection of hard-to-find, specialty local brews from Green Flash, Stone Brewing, Port and Ballast Point. Other selections are also available from top-notch craft brewers from around the country.
Neighborhood, located in downtown San Diego’s East Village, offers more than 27 local craft brews on tap and a creative, upscale take on classic American dishes like burgers. Tasting flights of San Diego beers and international selections are available.
Toronado San Diego, located in the North Park neighborhood, is a sibling of San Francisco’s famous beer outpost. At Toronado San Diego, the focus is clearly on craft beer with 50 beers on tap featuring the best from local, domestic and international breweries. Bottled offerings number more than 230 and focus on Belgian, French, German and English brews.
Hamilton’s Tavern, located in the historic South Park area near downtown San Diego, is the oldest beer and wine licensed establishment in San Diego, with over 75 years of service. Hamilton’s offers the highest quality ales and craft beers from around the world and boasts one of the most diverse bottle selections in San Diego.
The Linkery in North Park offers gourmet local food that earned it recognition as one of the “Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants in America” by Gourmet magazine in its October 2007 issue. Guests can find an extensive list of beers made by true artisans, many of them local and regional; rare cask ales are always on tap.
Ritual Tavern in North Park, a dark cozy pub with a modern medieval atmosphere, serves eight local beers on tap and boasts an extensive list of bottled beer that leans heavily toward European imports with Belgium and Germany well represented. The menu favors sustainably and humanely raised meats and locally sourced produce with a nod to classic pub fare in dishes like vegan shepherd’s pie.
The 20 taps and extensive bottle list at O’Brien’s Pub in Kearny Mesa features rare brews and local San Diego drafts. Known as the “hoppiest place on earth,” guests can find an extensive selection of the pub’s specialty, hoppy beers, including selections from Alpine Beer Company, AleSmith, and Ballast Point, plus an authentic tasty tavern menu.