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With so many breweries producing such a wealth of different beers, it can help to focus your plans around a geographic region or even by the types of beers you want to experience.
If there's one beer style that could be considered quintessentially San Diego, it's our India Pale Ales (or IPAs). And when it comes to IPAs, San Diego brewers do not skimp on the hops! Here’s a roadmap for exploring Downtown San Diego brews and the local IPA bonanza.
Where: 1157 Columbia Street
There are usually about 10 selections on tap here, which regularly include Pintail Pale Ale and Tower 10 IPA, both of which deliver plenty of hoppy goodness in a medium-bodied package that pairs well with food. If one of Brewmaster Paul Segura's special beers is available—such as Tower 20 Double IPA or Big Barrel Double IPA—don't pass them up.
Where: 1441 L Street - walking time from Karl Strauss: about 20 minutes
Here, you can check out a few of Brewmaster John Egan's hoppy brews, including El Conquistador Extra Pale Ale, which delivers an impressive amount of hops in a very sessionable beer (in other words, it's easy to drink!). Moving up in intensity is Mission IPA and then Shipwrecked Double IPA, which is among the brewery's most popular and best-selling beers.
Where: 805 16th Street - walking time from Mission: about 15 minutes)
Here, you'll not only find a great selection of excellent Monkey Paw brews, you'll also have one of San Diego's best tap lists at your fingertips. Chances are a number of fantastic pale ales and IPAs from all over San Diego will be available, but don't pass up a chance to taste some of Monkey Paw's own. Hooked on Chinook (a single hop IPA) and Bonobos (a San Diego Pale Ale that delivers tons of citrus, honey, and floral hoppiness) are both delicious. And, what's more, you'll be drinking at a gold-medal winning brewery: Bonobos won gold at this year's GABF (Great American Beer Festival) in a crowded field of 120 entries.
Where: 170 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118
If you really wanted to add an extra dimension to your downtown hop tour, you could walk to the ferry at Seaport Village (just a 15 minute walk from Karl Strauss) and float on over to Coronado, where you'll find Coronado Brewing Company. There, you can sip three or four delicious elixirs, including Frog's Breath IPA, Islander IPA, or Idiot IPA. And, when available, Belgian IPA Hoppy Daze is always a favorite.
Looking for more San Diego craft beer itineraries? Bruce Glassman is the author of numerous books on San Diego craft beer, including the award-winning San Diego's Top Brewers. His San Diego Brewery Guide, which offers essential information on each brewery, tasting notes, and touring maps, is available at www.georgianbaybooks.com.
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