Meet Greg Koch: San Diego’s Guide to the Good Stuff for Beer Lovers


To craft beer fans, Greg Koch may be a household name. The co-founder and CEO of Stone Brewing Co., one of San Diego’s largest craft breweries, definitely knows his beer. But rest assured, even if you’re a beer novice, Greg has some tips to get event the first-time craft beer drinker started. As Greg would say, “I’m a beer nerd so that you don’t have to be!”

“San Diego is considered a Mecca,” says Greg. “We’re looked at as being a leading destination in the world for beer.” So where would this craft beer expert spend his time in San Diego? Check out Greg’s tips for getting to know San Diego’s craft beer and much more.

Great Breweries are Everywhere

Stone Brewing Co Greg Koch

Greg Koch enjoys a beer at Stone Brewing Co.’s World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station

Stone Brewing Co. is, naturally, Greg’s favorite brewery, but he has plenty of other favorites, too. “Many of them are doing incredibly specialized, unique creative things that nobody else does,” says Greg. Here are some of Greg’s favorite San Diego craft breweries:

Beyond the Beer Suggestions from Greg Koch

It’s true – there’s more to San Diego than craft beer! Break up your beer tasting with a few of Greg’s other favorite activities:

Get more insight from Greg Koch on exploring San Diego’s craft beer scene, including tasting tips, at

Bruce Glassman

Beer-Centric Bites: 5 Great Craft Beer Restaurants in San Diego

Let’s face it, touring San Diego’s many craft beer offerings is hard work. All that standing at bar counters, lifting your arms up and down as you sip…it’s not difficult to work up an appetite. Fortunately, San Diego is not only home to more than 70 great craft breweries, it’s also home to dozens of great beer-centric restaurants, bistros, and pubs.

Here is just a smattering of some great craft beer restaurants in San Diego (starting in North County and moving south):

Churchill’s Pub & Grille (887 W San Marcos Blvd.)

churchills stout braised pot roast san diego craft beer restaurants

The pot roast at Churchill’s is stout-braised, of course. (Photo ©Mike Pawlenty/Chefs Press)

This popular spot boasts one of San Diego’s best selections of craft beers on tap and a great menu of beer-friendly and beer-inspired food to go along with it. More creative than simple “pub comfort food,” the kitchen offers a wide variety of apps, soups, salads, burgers, and craft-centric entrees, including a Spicy IPA Burger, Cottage Pie made with brown ale, Imperial Stout Pot Roast, and a Grilled Salmon topped with a sour ale beer blanc sauce.

URGE Gastropub (16761 Bernardo Center Dr.)

urge beer battered mac n cheese san diego craft beer restaurants

Craft beer mac n’ cheese at URGE (Photo ©Mike Pawlenty/Chefs Press)

With 51 craft beers on tap (mostly from San Diego) and more than 100 bottles to choose from, URGE’s food offerings are unabashedly beer-inspired. Brew-infused, hearty pub fare makes up the core of the menu (Beer Cheese Fries and Beer-Battered Mac and Cheese!), with many dishes that include more interesting elements, such as wild boar and rabbit, and burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers that come with a variety of craft beer dipping sauces (Sculpin mustard, Ur-Bock Aioli, and Sour Cherry Ale BBQ sauce to name a few). For the light of heart, there are numerous salad options, including a goat cheese salad topped with a Wit Beer Vinaigrette and a wedge salad topped with a Barbar Honey Ale Blue Cheese dressing.

Local Habit (3827 Fifth Ave.)

local habit cali belgique braised pork san diego craft beer restaurants

Pork braised in Stone Brewing Co’s Cali Belgique at Local Habit (Photo ©Mike Pawlenty/Chefs Press)

This Hillcrest restaurant is a bit of a hybrid: it combines the casual, comfortable aspects of a pub setting with a more elevated take on salads, small plates, and sandwiches. An excellent selection of local brews on tap, along with great non-local craft selections, make it easy to pair the creative but comforting fare with great beer. A regular lineup of special beer-and-food pairing menus and brewmaster dinners means that, whenever you go, chances are good some special beer-inspired food awaits.

Ballast Point Little Italy (2215 India St.)

ballast point brewery tasting room and kitchen san diego

Ballast Point’s new Little Italy Tasting Room & Kitchen

Fans of this brewery’s great beers are already flocking to Little Italy’s newest tasting room and kitchen for a taste of Ballast Point’s new food menu. In addition to an impressive selection of Ballast beers on tap, the menu offers numerous beer-infused choices that include everything from beer-battered onion rings to house-made pretzels with beer cheese and beer mustard, to a grilled chicken sandwich with beer vinaigrette. And note to garlic lovers: don’t pass up the beer-steamed mussels with ginger.

Stone World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station (2816 Historic Decatur Rd #116, San Diego)

stone brewing co. world bistro and gardens liberty station san diego

Stone Brewing Co.’s new World Bistro & Gardens at Liberty Station

Opened this past summer, Stone’s impressive new dining site on Point Loma rivals its Escondido sibling in every way. Beautifully designed, with numerous indoor and outdoor dining and drinking options, Stone offers an extensive draft and bottle list along with a varied menu that highlights organic, local, and farm fresh ingredients (Stone’s own organic farm supplies many of the bistro’s products). For beer-centric bites, a few of the options include Arrogant Bastard brined pork chops, Cheddar, Garlic, and Stone Ruination IPA Soup, and the super popular BBQ Duck Tacos dressed with Stone Levitation BBQ sauce.


bruce glassman author of san diego brewery guideBruce Glassman is the author or 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


San Diego Brewery Guide: Beer Week and Beyond

san diego beer week brewery tour tasting

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting chilly (ok, not that chilly), and San Diegans are in a festive holiday mood, which can only mean one thing. No, it’s not Thanksgiving or Christmas that San Diego is getting ready to celebrate – it’s the annual tradition of San Diego Beer Week!

With 70+ breweries across San Diego County, navigating the brewery scene can be daunting at any time of year, and even more so during the 10-day run of San Diego Beer Week. Fortunately, the new San Diego Brewery Guide offers essential tips and advice for any travelers looking to brave the San Diego beer scene. The comprehensive guidebook features tasting notes on more than 400 San Diego brews, at-a-glance details on just about every San Diego brewery, dozens of maps to fit in your back pocket, and beer-based itineraries by region and by beer style.

san diego brewery guide 2013 georgian bay books bruce glassman

The San Diego Brewery Guide offers everything you need to know about San Diego’s 70+ breweries.

During San Diego Beer Week, you can pick up a copy and meet the author Bruce Glassman at two fun- and beer-filled events:

Friday, November 8, 4 – 7 p.m., at Stone Brewing Co. World Bistro & Gardnes, Liberty Station

Saturday, November 9,  5 – 10 p.m., at Mission Brewery

If you can’t make it to the events, or simply can’t wait to get your copy, the San Diego Brewery Guide will be available for purchase online for just $16.95 beginning Oct. 30, 2013.

Once you’ve got the lay of the craft beer land, it’s time to plan your San Diego Beer Week agenda. Beer Week spans hundreds of events between Nov. 1 – 10, so the options are limitless, but here are some of San Diego Beer Week’s most popular, innovative and talked about events.

san diego beer week brewery tour tasting

San Diego Beer Week offers hundreds of craft beer tasting events

Rare Beer Breakfast, Nov. 1, 9 a.m.: Kick Beer Week off bright and early with Arrogant Bastard donuts, live jazz and more at Stone Brewing Co.’s World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido.

Bikes, Brews and Brats, Nov. 2, 10 a.m.: Join Green Flash Brewing Co. for a scenic mountain bike ride, followed by beers and bratwurst at the Regal Beagle in Mission Hills.

San Diego Brewers Guild Festival, Nov. 2, 2 p.m.: The official kick off festival features samples from 50+ breweries at the beautiful Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego.

“Dive-In” Theatre, Nov. 4, 8 p.m.: Join the Pearl Hotel for a poolside screening of the 1983 cult comedy classic Strange Brew and enjoy burger and beer pairings from Modern Times Beer.

Chef Celebration & Beer Garden, Nov. 10, 12 p.m.: Set in the gorgeous garden of the Lodge at Torrey Pines, this feast of 24 beers paired with creations by 12 local chefs is the perfect way to end Beer Week.

With so many events during San Diego Beer Week, which ones will you be checking out? Let us know in the comments below.


What’s New in Craft Brew: San Diego Takes the Gold

Craft Brew Judging - Great American Beer Festival

San Diego may have an Olympic training center, but the region’s newest gold medalists won’t be found there. Thanks to an outstanding slate of local breweries, San Diego has been racking up the craft brew awards at beer festivals across the world.

Craft Brew Gold Medal Winners at the Great American Beer Festival

Craft Brew Judging - Great American Beer Festival

San Diego breweries won big at the Great American Beer festival this fall.

Held in Denver in October, the annual Great American Beer Festival saw more than 4,000 entries by 666 breweries from around the nation, and San Diego brewers earned a total of 15 medals. The Lost Abbey and Pizza Port breweries took home the most collective medals of the San Diego based breweries, with Pizza Port claiming gold in Session Beer, Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout and Oatmeal Stout and a bronze medal in Imperial Red Ale. The Lost Abbey received gold in Belgian and French-Style Ale, silver in American-Style Sour Ale, bronze in Experimental Beer and Indigenous Beer. Green Flash Brewing Co. received top honors in American-Belgo-Style Ale and Belgian-Style Abbey Ale and a silver medal in Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout.

San Diego’s craft beer winning continued across the pond as well. In November 2012, San Diego-based Ballast Point Brewing took home two awards from Europe’s beer community. The brewery’s signature Calico Amber Ale was awarded a bronze medal at the inaugural Brussels Beer Challenge. The Calico also won a gold medal in the “English-style bitter” category at the ninth annual European Beer Star competition in Munich.

New San Diego Craft Breweries

Helms Brewing Company in San Diego

Helm’s is one of San Diego’s newest craft breweries.

Looking to get out and try something new? The number of San Diego craft breweries continues to grow, too!

  • Offbeat Brewing Co. opened in Escondido in San Diego’s inland North County. Showcasing local artists in their brewing space, Offbeat brews up creative varieties of hoppy ales and sessionable brews.
  • Fezziwig’s Brewing Company opened in Carlsbad in San Diego’s coastal North County. In addition to brewing porters, winter wheats, barrel-aged and other styles of beer, Fezziwig’s facility is inspired by a steampunk aesthetic.
  • Helm’s Brewing Company opened in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Designed to appeal as much to the average consumer as the beer connoisseur, the Helm’s tasting room includes two 46” televisions to watch sports and features full view the brewery facility. The addition of Helm’s Brewing Company brings the total number of breweries in San Diego County to 60!

Where will you sample a San Diego beer this weekend?

Brent Bernasconi

San Diego Beer Week Returns – November 2-11, 2012

Cheers during San Diego Beer Week
Cheers during San Diego Beer Week

Say Cheers to another exciting San Diego Beer Week!

San Diego Beer Week is a countywide celebration of the amazing local craft beer culture. Over the course of 10 days, SDBW offers craft beer lovers the chance to sample award winning regional beers (San Diego breweries took home 15 medals from the 2012 Great American Beer Festival!) at more than 250 different events including festivals, tap takeovers, beer brunches, brewery tours, pint nights, beer releases, cask nights, beer dinners, brewer meet and greets, education sessions and more.

You can find a full list of events at

While picking an event to attend each day and/or night can be a difficult decision, here are two events you don’t want to miss:

San Diego Beer Week Brewers Guild Festival

Mayor Sanders Tapping the first keg - San Diego Beer Week Brewers Guild Festival

San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders taps the first keg during the 2011 San Diego Beer Week Brewers Guild Festival.

The Brewers Guild Festival is SDBW’s signature event and features more than 100 different beers from San Diego craft breweries, food from local brew pubs, and live music and entertainment throughout the festival. Entry into the festival includes a commemorative 4 ounce tasting glasses, ten tasting tickets and the chance to talk to the brewers as they pour you a cold one.

> Watch highlights from last years festival here

Location: Port Pavilion Pier – 1000 North Harbor Drive (map)
Date: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $10-$45
> Find out more about the San Diego Beer Week Brewers Guild Festival

Tip: Save yourself the hassle and use an alternative mode of transportation to get to the festival. Take any of the multiple buses, Blue or Orange Trolley Lines, or Coaster that stop at the Santa Fe Depot, and it’s just a short two block walk to the pier. Find public transportation schedules at You can also easily take a taxi or Uber it. Remember to enjoy yourself and stay safe.

The Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines

Beer Garden attendees talking to a brewer during San Diego Beer Week Beer Garden

Meet the Brewers during San Diego Beer Week Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines.

To close out SDBW, The Lodge at Torrey Pines is hosting the Beer Garden, a relaxing Sunday afternoon that includes unlimited beer tastings from 20 local breweries, food pairings from 10 of San Diego’s finest chefs and a beautiful view of Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean. Take advantage of one of the Signature Room ($349) or Palisade Room ($429) packages offered by the Lodge that include a one night stay and two tickets to the festival.

Location: The Lodge at Torrey Pines – 11480 North Torrey Pines Road (map)
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Time: 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Cost: $75
> Find out more about the Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines

Which San Diego Beer Week event are you most looking forward to this year?


What’s New in San Diego Brews

Green Flash Brewing Company

Green Flash Brewing Company

In case you haven’t heard, sampling craft brews from out many local breweries is a top reason to visit San Diego. Even the New York Times thinks so! With nearly 40 breweries around San Diego County, there is always something new and exciting happening in our craft beer scene:

Expanded Tasting Room at AleSmith Brewing Company

AleSmith recently expanded the tasting room at their North County-based brewery. Not only is the bar itself now longer, so are the bar’s hours, which have been extended to 2:00 – 8:00 pm on Fridays, 12:00 – 7:00  pm on Saturdays and 12:00 – 6:00 pm on Sundays. Head up their to try their My Bloody Valentine special release, available only on tap at selected bars for a limited time.

Green Flash Brewing Company Continues to Grow

After opening up their new location in Mira Mesa in 2011, Green Flash has expanded again with the addition of a second cellar. Plus, you can now take a behind-the-scenes look at the brewery, thanks to new brewery tour opportunities. Head over on a Saturday or Sunday, when $5 will get you a tour and guided tasting. Hops lovers, be sure to try their Palate Wrecker Double IPA while you’re there.

Keep an Eye on Karl Strauss Brewing Company

With 23 years of history in San Diego, Karl Strauss is a local legend, and a new tourable space at their main brewing facility in Pacific Beach will finally give visitors a chance to see the brewing action up close. The expansion, expected to be completed this May, will also include an outdoor pizza oven, lounge spaces, a tasting room and bar, beer-to-go, and even some new event and meeting space.

Tell us in the comments below, what is your favorite spring time beer?


San Diego Beer Week: Tour San Diego One Pint at a Time

San Diego Beer Week 2011

Beer Week returns to San Diego

Good things are brewing in San Diego! With nearly 40 craft breweries located across the county, San Diego is a top destination for beer lovers any time of the year, but the annual celebration of all things brewed kicks off on Friday, Nov. 4. From special limited edition releases, to beer pairing dinners, to countywide pub crawls, San Diego’s 2011 Beer Week is a 10-day extravaganza of sudsy goodness.

San Diego Beer Week comprises more than 400 individual events at locations all over San Diego County, so choosing which ones to attend can be a little daunting, even for a seasoned festival goer. Here’s a guide to a just a few of the libation celebrations you’ll find around San Diego between Nov. 4 – 13:

San Diego Brewers Guild Signature Events

The San Diego Brewers Guild offers two big events to open and close the beer festivities. The San Diego Brewers Guild festival gets the party started on Nov. 5 with tastings from more than 20 different brewers, food from some of San Diego’s most iconic restaurants, and live music by 90s alternative darling Matthew Sweet. The Brewers Guild wraps everything up on Nov. 13 with a chef blowout at the scenic gardens of Lodge at Torrey Pines, where some of the region’s most celebrated chefs will offer beer-paired culinary creations.

Brewmaster Dinners

San Diego Beer Week offers beer connoisseurs several opportunities to get up close and personal with the masters that brew up their favorite drinks. Ballast Point’s Colby Chandler will dine with guests at O’Brien’s Pub on Nov. 6, Terra American Bistro welcomes the brewers from Manzanita Brewing Co. on Nov. 7 and Steve Beaumont and “Dr.” Bill Sysak will hold a beer-pairing showdown over a 5-course dinner at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens on Nov. 8.

Sweet and Savory Beer Pairings

We all know that beer pairs well with a full dinner, but what about a cheese course or with dessert? San Diego Beer Week gives you the chance to find out. Urge Gastropub, La Valencia Hotel and Venissimo Cheese are a few of the sites for beer-and-cheese pairings while Eclipse Chocolat, Small Bar and Chuao Chocolatier present pints alongside the sweet stuff.

Beer for Breakfast

That’s right, you don’t have to wait until lunch to enjoy a pint. During San Diego Beer Week, beer with breakfast (or brunch) is encouraged at Stone Brewing Co. on Nov. 4, Karl Strauss Brewing Company on Nov. 6, Alchemy on Nov. 11 and Sea Rocket Bistro on Nov. 13.

For a complete list of all the San Diego Beer Week events, visit

With so many San Diego Beer Week events to choose from, which ones will you be attending?