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Can't Miss Brew Tours

Four of San Diego's best areas for beer

No brew lover’s visit to San Diego is complete without a tour of one (or more) of our top areas of brew mastery. Here are the four best—and the must-see breweries to hit when you find yourself there—as recommended by San Diego beer legends.

Recommended Spots to Sample the Suds

Great beer is found all over San Diego, but some places seem to exist purely to satisfy our thirst for delicious, hoppy, suds. Here are four can't-miss areas for beer aficionados, as recommended by San Diego beer legends and insiders Mike Hinkley (Green Flash), Doug Constantiner (Societe) and Vince Marsaglia (Pizza Port).

Hops Highway (Highway 78)

An astounding percentage of San Diego County's craft breweries are found along Highway 78, from Oceanside to Julian. This stretch of North County is where some of the beer greats decided to set up camp.

Bagby Beer Company

A huge space with great, classic beer styles. "Jeff Bagby is possibly the greatest brewer of this modern generation," says Doug Constantiner. "Don't just order the hoppy stuff. Everything they make is as good as it gets."

Pizza Port Carlsbad

A local legend near the beach, with a family-friendly vibe that includes multiple pinball games. "Killer beer, killer pizza, killer atmosphere," Doug Constantiner says. "Visit the Pizza Port Bottle Shop next door with more than 600 beers to choose from."

The Lost Abbey

Great barrel-aged beers. "Ask to walk around the barrel room!" says Mike Hinkley. "And don't fall for just the hard-to-get, rare beers," says Doug Constantiner. "Order a Devotion (blonde ale)."

Toolbox Brewing Company

Fans of sours (both kettle and barrel) and brettanomyces beers will love Toolbox, known for its interesting, highly creative, small batch pours.

Stone Brewing Co.

Stone is perhaps San Diego’s best-known brewery, and is responsible, in many ways, for giving San Diego an international reputation as a craft beer capital. "It's a landmark, legendary, path-clearing, take-no-prisoners, outta-my-way brewery," says Doug Constantiner. "Take the tour and stay for the food."

Beer Blvd (30th Street, North Park)

30th Street has been called the best craft beer street in the country, and one visit will show you why. Not only will you find a big collection of breweries right in the middle of North Park, but the bars and restaurants also serve an amazing collection of San Diego's craft brews.

Modern Times Beer

"A funky and fun tasting room," says Mike Hinkley. Great beers aside, visitors enjoy a nostalgic gander through all the old VHS tapes that make up the bar.

Rip Current Brewing

Winner of 2015's "Very Small Brewing Company of the Year" at the Great American Beer Festival, this place is right in the center of it all.

Fall Brewing Company

Three industry vets opened this fun, friendly tasting room that’s become a favorite of locals and brewers alike. A great place to take your dog, too!

Mike Hess Brewing North Park

"Probably the coolest tasting room in San Diego," Doug Constantiner says of the setup surrounding the actual brewing equipment. When you're there, "go for the Ex Umbris imperial stout."

Automatic Brewing Co.

Vince Marsaglia calls Automatic "the MacGyver of the beer scene." Automatic is the brewery in the back of Blind Lady Ale House, the favorite beer bar of many beer lovers.

South Park Brewing Company

The newest project of San Diego beer legend Scott Blair is attached to his renowned beer mecca, Hamilton's Tavern. It specializes in serving fresh fish made to order, too, which is designed to be a delicious pairing with your craft beer.

North Park Beer Co.

The next big thing to come to Beer Blvd is North Park Beer Co., a stylish, beautifully designed brewery from local homebrew star Kelsey McNair. Don’t miss his Hop Fu IPA!

> More on Beer Boulevard

Beer-a-Mar (Mira Mesa / Miramar)

Tucked away in business parks and around unexpected turns are some of the best breweries in the country, complete with world-class tasting room experiences.

Green Flash Brewing Co.

One of the local staples with a huge tasting room, awesome tour program and good food trucks. One of the Shang-ri-las for any serious hop head. 

AleSmith Brewing Company

AleSmith has the largest and "most beautiful tasting room," says Vince Marsaglia. Doug Constantiner goes even further: "AleSmith is one of the best breweries in the world. If you visit San Diego and don't go to AleSmith, you might as well throw your travel money away."

White Labs Tasting Room

White Labs is one-of-a-kind. It proves that brewing beer is a science, focusing on yeast and fermentation advancements. "They're the industry's #1 source for liquid brewers' yeast and have a tasting room to try the same beer fermented with different yeast strains," says Doug Constantiner.

Ballast Point Brewing Company

This San Diego giant has great beer—including many experimentations and variations of its popular choices—as well as awesome food. This enormous production facility houses a great bar, restaurant, and outdoor patio space. It’s always busy, and has generated an incredible amount of buzz, thanks to the massive scale and design of the place.

Societe Brewing Company

Mike Hinkley's "favorite of the new guys," Societe features a taproom with rustic design that sits right next to where it's brewed. The Pupil is considered by many to be one of San Diego’s best IPAs, and The Harlot is considered to be an equally great Belgian-style.

East Village (Downtown)

San Diego's East Village neighborhood is a hub of arts, culture and beer. The trendy district has some of the most unique breweries and tasting rooms in San Diego—all within the excitement of downtown.

Monkey Paw Brewing

Great selection of creative, fun and highly-flavorful beers, both brewed by Monkey Paw and by others. Mike Hinkley and Doug Constantiner agree that Monkey Paw has the best cheesesteak in San Diego.

Mission Brewery

Mission Brewery originally opened in 1913 but was closed during Prohibition (like most breweries). It opened again in 2007, and now is located in the old Wonder Bread factory home—a truly one-of-a-kind downtown experience.

Half Door Brewing Company

In the heart of East Village is this Victorian home filled with early 1900s decor. This unexpected two-story building houses Half Door Brewing Company, which offers a wide variety of beers as well as tasty comfort pub foods, like chicken pot pie and fish and chips.

> Learn more about the downtown brewery experience

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