Brent Bernasconi

Santee Brewery Crawl – There’s Great Beer Out East

Butcher's Brewing Tasting Room - Stop #1 on the Santee Brewery Crawl

So you have been to all the breweries up north, have spent time sampling beers in downtown before a Padres game and biked around the local breweries of North Park. But have you ever explored the three great breweries out in Santee? No you say? Well then put on your walking shoes and prepare to sample the best of East County’s brewing community on a Santee Brewery Crawl.

Please remember to be safe while you enjoy any of San Diego’s amazing craft breweries. Plan on using alternative modes of transportation or bring a designated driver with you. Just make sure to supply him or her with plenty of soda, water and all they can eat as a thank you!

Getting to the Santee Brewery Crawl Starting Point via Trolley

While you can drive, why not play it safe and take the trolley. Just hop on the Green Line heading towards Santee from any of the stops including Downtown, Old Town and Mission Valley. Get off at the Gillespie Field stop and start walking toward the first brewery, Butcher’s Brewing. You can get walking directions for the entire “crawl” from the Google Map embedded at the end of this post.

Butcher’s Brewing

Walking directions from trolley stop: Head northwest on N Marshall Ave toward Cuyamaca St. Turn right onto Cuyamaca St. Turn right onto Prospect Ave. Destination will be on the left.

Butcher's Brewing Tasting Room - Stop #1 on the Santee Brewery Crawl

Make friends and drink good beer at Butcher’s Brewing, the first stop on the Santee Brewery Crawl

The 72nd brewery to open in San Diego (according to West Coaster San Diego), Butcher’s Brewing pours ten house beers along with special brews and four beers from the Mucho Aloha label. Once you arrive, check out what’s on tap and order up a flight. If it’s a warm day, cool off with a taster of the Haupia Cream Ale, a dry-hopped ale with roasted coconut and vanilla, or the Fair Weather Friend. My personal favorite was the Choice Red IPA, a crisp beer with hints of caramel and biscuit notes. Once you finish your flight, thank the bartender and head on out to the next stop, Twisted Manzanita.

> Read about my visit to Butcher’s Brewing during a Beer Up

Where: 9962 Prospect Ave, Ste E, Santee, CA 92071
Distance from Trolley Stop: .6 Miles
> Find out more about Butcher’s Brewing

Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits

Walking directions from Butcher’s Brewing: Head east on Prospect Ave toward Ablette Ct. Destination will be on the right.

Twisted Manzanita Tasting Room

Sample the Gillespie Brown at the Santee Brewery Crawl’s second stop, Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits

When I first discovered Twisted Manzanita, they brewed out of what is now this Santee Brewery Crawl’s first stop, Butcher’s Brewing. Manzanita had larger ambitions and needed a much bigger space. Keeping to their Santee roots, the brewery moved only .2 miles down the road. The larger tasting room invites you to relax inside with the air conditioning or to sit outside in the shade while enjoying a few tasters. You can easily sample all six house beers in one visit. Make sure to enjoy the Gillespie Brown Ale, their most popular beer. If you are feeling adventurous, order a taster of Where There’s Smoke, a 7% ABV brew infused with chiles.

Wait, they have spirits too?

Yes they do! Twisted Manzanita Spirits is one of the first San Diego breweries to branch out into the world of spirits (Ballast Point and BNS are two others). In a separate tasting room, you can order up a flight of their craft spirits while learning about the process of distilling. I have yet to sample any of their spirits, but a co-worker of mine recommends the Oaked Moonshine 80 proof. After you have sampled the beers and/or spirits, grab a water and start the trek toward BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.

Where: 10151 Prospect Avenue, Santee, CA 92071
Distance from Butcher’s Brewing: .2 Miles
> Find out more about Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits

BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.

Walking directions from Twisted Manzanita: Head east on Prospect Ave toward Ian Way. Turn left onto Cottonwood Ave. Turn right onto Buena Vista Ave. Turn left onto Railroad Ave. Turn right onto Mission Gorge Rd. Continue onto Woodside Ave. Slight left to stay on Woodside Ave. Turn left at Woodside Ave. Slight right onto N Woodside Ave. Turn left onto Wheatlands Ave. Destination will be on the right.

BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.

Sit on the patio or step up to the bar inside at BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., stop #3 on the Santee Brewery Crawl

With two breweries under your belt it’s time to hitch a ride or mosey on over to BNS Brewing & Distilling Co. You might want to bring a bottle of water for the 30ish minute walk. The beer will taste even better after the long walk! It might be best to start things off real light with the Gunfighter Golden Ale. After you cool down, move on up to the heavier beers like the Ma Deuce Double IPA or the Gatling Gun Imperial Stout (a favorite of two friends). Since this is the last stop, grab a full pint, take a seat on the outdoor patio and soak up the San Diego sunshine.

Where are the Spirits?

BNS was recently approved to build a spirits tasting room and the opening date is to be determined. When open, BNS plans on serving tasters of house vodka, gin, whiskey and bourbon.

Where: 10960 Wheatlands Ave #101, Santee, CA 92071
Distance from Twisted Manzanita: 1.7 Miles
> Find out more about BNS Brewing & Distilling Co.

Getting Back Home

Congratulations! You have just completed the Santee Brewery Crawl and it is time to return to your home base. If you are feeling energized, walk back to the trolley and enjoy the ride. However, if the weather is really hot or you just can’t walk anymore, call up a taxi or use on demand car services like Uber, Lyft or Sidecar. All I ask is that you get home safe, so let someone else do the driving for you!

Santee Brewery Crawl Map


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.

Brent Bernasconi

Craft Beer Continues to Invade San Diego’s Uptown

Pint at Poor House Brewing

The Uptown region (especially North Park and Hillcrest) is well-known for its great food (coffee, vegetarian), shopping and nightlife. Locals and visitors also flock to Uptown in search of great craft beer, and these recent additions only make it better.

Craft Beer Fresh from the Tanks

Thorn Street Brewery

Thorn Street Brewery Craft Beer Tasting Room

On warm days, the upstairs roof of Thorn Street Brewery opens to blue skies.

Some of San Diego’s most notable home brewers teamed up to transform a home brewing store into a 7 barrel brewery and tasting room. This family-friendly brewery is a great place to enjoy a flight of Thorn Street Brewing’s eight house beers in the main wood-paneled tasting room or the upstairs area with barrel tables and booths. Watch out for the chile beer: it sits there unassuming in the line up and then bam, it hits you half way through your flight.

As of this blog post, Thorn Street can only serve flights which allows the space to be all ages. My nephew had a great time playing with the provided books and blocks.

Where: 3176 Thorn Street, San Diego, CA 92104
Growlers: Yes
> Find out more about Thorn Street Brewery

Poor House Brewing Company

Pint at Poor House Brewing

Grab a pint at Poor House Brewing

After Firehouse Brewing Company sadly bottled its last bottle, the founder Chris Finch had the urge to continue to brew. Beer lovers can now taste his delicious concoctions and more than 30 other beers at his new brewery/bar, Poor House Brewing Company in North Park. While enjoying a cold one, challenge an old friend or a new one you just met at the bar to a game of pool and shuffleboard. If it’s on tap, make sure to try the “Panty Dropper Ale,” an 18.5% ABV beast brewed with red hots!

Where: 4494 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92116
Growlers: TBD
> Find out more about Poor House Brewing Company

Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego – Opening Soon


San Diego’s first nano-brewery is enlarging its 1.6 barrel system (50 gallons per batch) in a warehouse to a 30 barrel (1,100 gallons per batch) brewhouse in North Park. The pièce de résistance is a 50 skybridge that will guide craft beer aficionados over the brewery, located in the open air basements below, to the tasting room and back patio. Mike Hess Brewing will also be canning their 5 regular beers and using the original warehouse for experimental brews.

Where: 3812 Grim Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
Growlers: Yes
> Find out more about Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego

Craft Beer Bottle and Tasting Shops

Bine & Vine

What happens when the former proprietor of the craft beer store, South Bay Drugs, and a professionally trained sommelier join forces? They create Bine & Vine, located in Normal Heights, a craft beer and wine store that has become my go to place for a craft beer bomber or two ever since it opened. Joey and Stephen (former Beer Train Tour Guide) have a passion for craft beer and wine, respectively, and it’s reflected in the ever-changing local and international selections.

Location: 3334 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Bine & Vine

Bottlecraft North Park

Bottlecraft North Park

Browse the fine selection at Bottlecraft North Park.

The wildly successful and original Bottlecraft in Little Italy (and a frequent stopping point for me when I worked in Little Italy) is expanding into North Park. Those visiting and living in Uptown can expect the same great selection and knowledge of craft beers, all within walking and/or biking distance. Unfortunately, the owners could not bring the tasting room with them, but don’t fret – there are plenty of amazing craft beer bars and restaurants nearby.

Location: 3007 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Bottlecraft

Clem’s Bottle and Tap House

Will Ferrell Enjoying a Flight at Clem's Tap House

Looks like Ron Burgundy enjoys the flight selection at Clem’s Tap House. Photo courtesy of Clem’s Tap House.

Years ago, I went to Clem’s for Jolt Cola. Now I go to Clem’s Bottle House to pick up a local craft beer to enjoy at home or stop by the new Tap House to sample a flight of brews. Clem’s Tap House offers a rotating selection of four flights each offering four different styles of beer and/or a bottle list for those wanting to enjoy a full pint. Once you’ve ordered, snag one of the outside tables and enjoy your beverage of choice under the warm San Diego sky.

Location: 4100 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Clem’s Bottle and Tap House

> Enjoy more Craft Beer in San Diego

Been to one of the places above, or have another place in Uptown where you like to grab a craft beer at? Tell us about it 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?

Benjamin Eastman

New Years Eve Parties Big and Small

San Diego nightlife venues are jockeying for position in what is often the biggest celebration of the year! Whether you’re a club-goer looking to dance the night away, prefer to keep it quiet and intimate, or just want to have a good brew…there is a New Year’s Eve party for you!

San Diego’s Big Night

Arguably one of San Diego’s biggest NYE parties is Big Night San Diego at the Hilton Bayfront hotel. I’ve attended the last two years and each year gets bigger and better! With 6 dance floors featuring different styles of music, 12 themed rooms, an open bar from 9:00 pm – 3:00 am and roughly 4,000 of your closest friends, this all-inclusive event is definitely one for NYE partygoers who want to go BIG!

New Years on the Water

If Hornblower Cruises & Events has anything to say about it, you’ll be yelling “I’m on a boat!” come December 31st. Their yacht, the Hornblower Inspiration will play host to Millenium Events’ 6th Annual NYE Yacht Party with all inclusive tickets including 12 bars, 3 levels of entertainment and one of the most unique venues in San Diego.

A Beer New Year

If you prefer something a little less crowded but no less awesome, check out Stone Brewery’s New Year’s Celebration. Running from 8:00 pm – 1:00 am, enjoy an evening on Stone’s 1 acre compound in Escondido and delight in included craft beer, wine and sake, sushi, seafood and buffet stations (if you haven’t tried Stone’s food yet, I highly recommend it!) and music from live bands and DJs! Where else can you party into 2012 surrounded by gigantic containers of craft beer?

Wine of a Time

Or if you’re more of a vinophile than a beer drinker, might I suggest attending South Coast Winery’s New York New York New Year’s Eve celebration. A food and wine lover’s paradise, South Coast Winery has an exciting evening of award-winning food and wine paired with the croonings of Dan DeLurgio. Enjoy New York without the bitter cold temperatures and the expensive plane ticket!

After Party

So you watched the ball drop, counted down the last seconds of 2011 and kept on partying until the lights got turned up and the music started to fade away… It’s time to go home, wind down and sleep in on New Years Day, right? Not if you’re a true baller! Why stop the party at 2:00 or 3:00 am when you can hit up Side Bar’s Five/Ten After Party from 5:00 am – 10:00 am? For those who truly want to start 2012 off with a bang, you have to check this out!

Whether you prefer your New Year’s Eve party larger than life, or just end up at a house party with friends…be safe everyone and have an awesome New Year’s Eve!!

Brent Bernasconi

Stone makes San Diego an Even Better Beercation Destination

Yesterday Stone Brewing Co. made some awesome announcements.

Plans for Liberty Station

If you’re not already familiar with Stone, the San Diego-based brewer is mostly known for its “arrogant” beers. Regionally, it is the largest craft brew distributor in Southern California. It also operates Stone World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido. According to Stone, the bistro is the third most attend tourist destination in North County. I can say from first-hand experience that the food is amazing, topped only by the beer selection.

Luckily for me, Stone is opening a tasting room in South Park (I can now ride my bike for a growler fill!). Even better, they are opening up a second Stone World Bistro & Gardens  in Liberty Station, just a short drive from downtown in Point Loma. It will incorporate all the best parts of the north county location including a great selection of beer, good food, a relaxing garden area, and an outdoor movie section, plus the addition of a Bocce ball court. Continue reading


San Diego: Craft Beer Paradise

There’s no doubt about it – San Diego is a beer lovers paradise! With more than 35 local breweries, our city has more craft brewers than any other city in the country. Join me on a video tour of my favorite places to sample the best beer that San Diego has to offer.


5 to Try: Beer+Food = Beerfood

If you haven’t heard, San Diego brewers are pretty much kicking Heineken these days in the craft beer scene as they continue to pump out award-winning brews and take home coveted titles like “World’s Best.” Our beer is so tasty, that local restaurants and brewpubs have joined in on the fun and are rounding out their menus with beer-infused foods to compliment our sophisticated beer palates.

Some of my beerfood favorites include:

  1. Hamilton’s Tavern in South Park – the oldest beer and wine licensed establishment in San Diego serving tasty pub food with a twist because almost every menu item is made with beer! Highlights include Hop Sausages (house-made sausages, made with hop leaves), Beer Cheese Soup, Beer Candy and beer marinated chicken wings.
  2. Karl Strauss, multiple locations in San Diego – the largest craft brewery in the county offering a core lineup of beers, plus a variety of specialty seasonal beers.  Beer food items include Lemon Hef Chicken, Beer Brined Pork Chops, Big Beer Burger, Beer Battered Fish and Chips and my personal favorite, a Beer Float made with vanilla bean ice cream, dark chocolate and Red Trolley Ale. Continue reading