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It's no secret that craft beer lovers are a generally hip and cool lot who relish the opportunity to sip a few cold ones with friends, talking about hopes, dreams, and hops. The craft beer community, in turn, embraces the idea that a tasting room or beer garden should be a comfortable, laid back, friendly atmosphere that encourages relaxation and the pure enjoyment of great brews. To that end, many tasting rooms around the county have been intentionally designed to feel like the living room or rec room of your own house.
As part of their commitment to providing a casual and welcoming atmosphere for all, many breweries make a point of saying they are "family friendly" as well as "dog friendly." All in all, a little more than half of San Diego's 100 brewery locations call themselves specifically "dog friendly." In most cases, these breweries have some kind of fenced outdoor space in which dogs (and their owners) are allowed. For dog owners who love spending a weekend afternoon (or weekday evening after work) relaxing at the tasting room with their furry companions, having designated spaces for animals is a welcome option.
The kinds of "dog friendly" spaces available at these locations are, of course, as varied as the tasting rooms themselves. Some are basic standing areas, some are equipped with seats and tables. Some spaces are tiny, while others are ample enough to host numerous canines without forcing them to hang out too close together.
For the true "dog-friendly" location seeker, the quality of the space matters. Here are five San Diego breweries that offer what I deem to be the best overall accommodations for dog-accompanied patrons. The criteria? Well, each place has enough square footage to allow the comfortable cohabitation of dog owners alongside non-owners. Each also provides enough space for numerous dogs to be in the tasting area without being on top of other dogs. And finally - perhaps just as important - these places all produce outstanding beer!
The Green Flash experience is, first and foremost, about enjoying great beer. But it's also about enjoying it in a comfortable space - and Green Flash is all about space. When you first walk into the tasting room, it feels as if you've entered something of a beer cathedral. Concrete walls, kegs, and pallets of beer rise high into the air and the simple, uncluttered design enables the floor plan to open up in front of you. (Of course, 4,000 square feet tends to do that!) The openness and simplicity of the interior make Green Flash a particularly easy place to have a dog along - even better, though, is the beer garden. Right outside the tasting room, this mostly walled-in area - lined with artificial turf - is outfitted with large picnic-style tables, benches, and a separate (fenced) child's play area. Better still is the Green Flash food truck, which pulls up right to the beer garden and provides guests with easy access to great brew-friendly bites.
Where: 6550 Mira Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92121
Lots of dog-loving San Diego Padres fans have figured out that - after the game at animal-friendly Petco Park - a tasty selection of great craft brews are only a short walk away at Mission Brewery. Housed inside the old Wonder Bread factory (built in 1894) this large (3,000-square-foot), high-ceilinged tasting space provides plenty of indoor room to comfortably host numerous guests with dogs. Two super-long bar areas make for copious amounts of seating, in addition to the high-top tables scattered throughout. The vintage, competition-length shuffleboard table from the 1930s and the mounted flat-screen TVs provide other enticing distractions and enhance the overall festive atmosphere (especially after the Padres win!).
Where: 1441 L Street, San Diego, CA 92101
It’s still relatively new, but Societe has already achieved superstar status in the San Diego craft beer community. Their stellar lineup of great hop-centric beers, in addition to their superb Belgian-inspired brews and an impressive barrel program, have made the Societe tasting room a Mecca for serious craft beer fans - including lots of fans with dogs. That's why it's a good thing the tasting space is large, filled with high-top communal-style tables, and is well-suited to creating a comfortable, social atmosphere. An outdoor patio area, though somewhat narrow and outfitted with smallish tables, offers a good option for those who crave sunshine with their pints.
Where: 8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92111
From the time it first opened (as part of a homebrew shop) Mother Earth has always been a fun place to hang out. In addition to their combination of great beers and great service, the vibe at their Vista tasting room is infused with a sense of playfulness and quintessential SoCal mellowness that makes it easy to relax and enjoy. (This is partly influenced by the personality of chill owner, Dan Love). Inside, the spacious, high-ceilinged, brick-walled tasting room provides a long bar and plenty of high-top, communal-style tables to make patrons and guests of the canine persuasion plenty comfortable. A smallish area with tables and chairs outside - right on Main Street - is also available.
Where: 206 Main Street, Vista, CA 92084
As the newest brewery on this list, Bagby Beer is offering something fresh and unique to the beer-loving community. The brewery/brewpub provides one of the most varied and spacious settings for enjoying top-notch beer. With an estimated 20,000 square feet in total, this beer compound offers visitors a little bit of everything. There's an indoor tasting room, an outdoor patio tasting area (overlooking South Coast Highway), a courtyard tasting area (replete with Adirondack chairs and picnic tables), an indoor-outdoor eating area, a rooftop patio, and an expansive outdoor area anchored by a long bar and a large brick pizza oven. Needless to say, there are many excellent nooks and crannies in which to kick back with a brew and a dog - there's plenty of room for groups to be comfortable and the varied layout of the space makes it easy to find the nook that suits you best.
Where: 601 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
There are dozens of other dog-friendly breweries that have a nice amount of indoor or outdoor space where owners and pets can be comfortable. The Top 10 runners-up:
An informal survey of tasting room managers produced a number of key things for dog owners to keep in mind when coming in for a visit:
While you may not be able to fill your pooch's bowl with a milk stout or an IPA, there are ways you can share your love for beer with your dog. Many tasting rooms carry dog treats made from spent grain (Doggie Beer Bones is a local favorite) so while you sip, your pet can savor the malty deliciousness of the grain that probably made your beer.
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