Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – November 7-12, 2017

Spend the upcoming weekend in San Diego enjoying everything California’s Beach City has to offer including San Diego Beer Week, Veteran’s Day and these top things to do.

San Diego Beer Week

San Diego Beer Week

Building on the success of the previous San Diego Beer Weeks, the San Diego Brewers Guild is preparing for San Diego Beer Week 2017 (SDBW). San Diego Beer Week is a ten-day celebration inspiring people to drink local, craft beer and promoting San Diego’s thriving brewing culture with multiple events happening across the county.

When: Thru November 12, 2017
> Browse San Diego Beer Week Events

San Diego Asian Film Festival

Founded in 2000, the festival has grown to become the largest exhibition of Asian cinema in the western United States, and has showcased everything from future classics like Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder (US Premiere) to luminary independent work like Patrick Wang’s award-winning In the Family (North American Premiere). Each year, the festival brings West Coast, North American, and World premieres of films from around the world to San Diego and gives audiences unique opportunities to discover international cinema.

Where: Various Locations throughout San Diego
When: November 9-18, 2017
Cost: Starting at $9
> Find out more about the San Diego Asian Film Festival

Coronado Island Film Festival

Come celebrate our enduring love affair with Hollywood that began when the historic Hotel del Coronado, our Presenting Sponsor, had barely opened its doors.  That romance continues uninterrupted to this day.

Where: 820 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When: November 9-12, 2017
Cost: Starting at $10
> Find out more about the Coronado Island Film Festival

Fabulous France

Fabulous France

Parlez vous francais? Whether you speak it or not, this concert of French masters has something for everyone, from Jean-Phillipe Rameau’s exotically mythological opera suite to Gabriel Fauré’s darkly suggestive music for a tragic stage melodrama. The concert includes Maurice Ravel’s bright, brilliant, jazz-tinged Piano Concerto (as performed by French-Canadian Ravel specialist Louis Lortie) and Ibéria, Claude Debussy’s fantastic “impression” of a Spanish composer.

Where: San Diego Symphony – 1245 Seventh Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: November 11-12, 2017
Cost: $20-$72
> Find out more about Fabulous France

A Veteran’s Day Celebration for All

A Veteran's Day Celebration for All!

Join us all day long for a fun-filled day celebrating our service men and women! Activities include Veterans Day Parade along Harbor Drive; NBC 7 & Telemundo 20 Salute to Service Festival presented by Thank You Heroes Home Rebate Program on the Midway Flight Deck; Blood Drive by The San Diego Blood Bank; Live Entertainment, KidZone, give-a-ways, and more onboard!

Where: USS Midway Museum – 910 North Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: November 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Included with Admission
> Find out more about A Veteran’s Day Celebration for All

San Diego Veteran’s Day Parade

San Diego Veteran's Day Parade

“A Tribute To Heros At Home” – Recognizing Contributions By Veterans To Their Communities and Country. Join in delivering a greatly deserved tribute to all U.S. Veterans who served during the war years 1941 to 1945! We invite all San Diego region to participate in this tradition and welcome all sponsors, donations, and volunteers.

Where: San Diego Embarcadero – Harbor Drive and West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
When: November 11, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Veteran’s Day Parade

Escondido Tamale Festival

Escondido Tamale Festival

The Escondido Tamale Festival is a celebration of Tamales and all the great Latin foods that have become iconic staples of California’s culture. It’s a look back at the history of the Spanish and Mexican settlers who have influenced and contributed so much to our multicultural community, and a show of appreciation for the traditions which have so positively affected Escondido.

Where: Grape Day Park – 321 N Broadway, Escondido, CA 92025
When: November 11, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Escondido Tamale Festival


Collabapalooza - Top Things to Do in San Diego

The spirit of collaboration has always been alive and well in the San Diego brewing community and collabapalooza is focused on highlighting this camaraderie and shared goodwill. Plus, we wanted an excuse to hang out with all of our friends and fans while sharing some incredible beers.

Where: North Park Observatory – 2891 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
When: November 11, 2017
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $40-$55
> Find out more about Collabapalooza

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival

Photo courtesy of Joey Hernandez.

As the West Coast’s premier showcase of wine, beer, spirits and gourmet foods, the weeklong epicurean experience celebrates San Diego’s vibrant culinary community through wine and cooking classes, celebrity chef dinners, and multiple tasting events ranging from lessons in mixology to a rough and tumble fish taco competition.

When: November 12-19, 2017
Cost: Varies by Event
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

Beer Garden

Beer Garden

There is no better setting for the closing event of San Diego Beer Week than the Arroyo Terrace of the Lodge at Torrey Pines.  The Beer Garden brings together the best of San Diego’s breweries and local chefs to celebrate the craft beer movement.  With 28 breweries and 14 chefs, the Beer Garden is a truly unique and delicious food and beer pairing event.  Each admission includes unlimited tasters of beer and food.

Where: The Lodge at Torrey Pines – 11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: November 12, 2017
Time: 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Cost: $85
> Find out more about the Beer Garden

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Book Your Stay in San Diego - Discover Unpublished Rates

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast

Brent Bernasconi

Beer in the Barrio – 4 Breweries and Tasting Rooms to Check Out in Barrio Logan

Border X Brewing - Brewery in Barrio Logan

With more than 150 breweries, San Diego is the best place to find your perfect beer. Looking for a few beers brewed with the flavors of San Diego and Mexico? Head to Barrio Logan for an amazing selection of cross-border brews and plenty of local favorites.

Here are the 4 breweries and tasting rooms in Barrio Logan, from south to north, that need to be on your next San Diego beercation itinerary.

Border X Brewing

Border X Brewing - Brewery in Barrio Logan

Border X brews the flavors of Mexico into each one of its beers like the popular Blood Saison, inspired by the traditional Mexican drink Jamaica. Don’t forget to sample the Horchata Golden Stout and Abuelita’s Chocolate Stout. In fact, mix the two for an amazing Mexican-style black-and-tan. Once you have your beer in hand: take some time look around and enjoy the amazing artwork the covers the interior, order a few tacos from Tury Tacos and finally head out to the patio to enjoy the sunshine and Barrio Logan.

Where: 2818 Logan Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113
> Find out more about Border X Brewing

Iron Fist Brewing Co.

Iron Fist Barrio Logan

While the actual brewery is located in Vista, this central location boasts 30+ taps, an indoor bar and outdoor beer garden where guests can enjoy beer, music, food, and art from surrounding Mercado del Barrio artists and vendors. Make sure to order a Velvet Glove (Imperial IPA) or Counter Strike (IPA) before heading out to the beer garden.

Where: 1985 National Ave., #1132, San Diego, CA 92113
> Find out more about Iron Fist Brewing Co.

Alta Brewing Company

Alta Brewing Company

Photo courtesy of Alta Brewing Company

Brewmaster Brett Stampf’s (veteran brewer from Stone and Green Flash) goal is to go over and above with his brews. The core beers are a nitro-driven blonde ale, pale ale, IPA, dry-hopped brown ale and dry Irish stout. If it’s still on tap, order up a pint of the Alta ShakaAzacca IPA brewed exclusively with Azacca hops.

Where: 1983 Julian Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
> Find out more about Alta Brewing Company

Thorn Brewing Co.

Thorn Brewing just upped its capacity from a small North Park brewery to a massive 10,500 square foot brewery located in a former factory. To celebrate the expansion, Thorn is brewing up the Barrio Lager, a Baja-style lager made from both domestic 2 row barley and flaked maize.

Where: 1745 National Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
> Find out more about Thorn Brewing Co.

Brent Bernasconi

5 San Diego Beer Week Events & Festivals Well Worth the Trip

San Diego Beer Week is a ten-day celebration inspiring people to drink local, craft beer and promoting San Diego’s thriving brewing culture with multiple events happening across the county.

Here are 5 San Diego Beer Week events and festivals you don’t want to miss this year.

Bikes, Brews & Brats

Bikes, Brews & Brats

This year’s ride will be better than ever with two separate departing times for different level groups. Beginner and intermediate level riders are welcome on this urban mountain bike ride which includes pavement as well as single track mountain biking through Florida Canyon and Balboa Park. Riders will experience a few climbs as well as some descents.

Where: Cal Coast Bicycles – 3020 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
When: November 4, 2017
Time: 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM
Cost: $55-$60
> Find out more about Bikes, Brews & Brats

San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

San Diego Brewers Guild Fest

Enjoy the Guild Festival with a commemorative tasting cup and unlimited beer samples. The event showcases San Diego County’s finest craft breweries! Food will be available for sale from local, craft-beer friendly restaurants and food trucks. And to top it all off, musical entertainment will be provided by some of San Diego’s most talented musicians!

Where: The Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier – 1000 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When: November 4, 2017
Time: 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $45-$100
> Find out more about the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

Stone DRK Festival

Stone DRK Festival

Celebrate the dark side of ales. Stone Brewing has combined their annual Pour It Black and Oakquinox beer festivals into one mashup just for San Diego Beer Week! We have been on a mission to find the best and rarest dark beers to share with our dark beer loving friends.

Where: Stone Brewing – 2120 Harmony Grove Rd., Escondido, CA 92029
When: November 5, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Cost: $49
> Find out more about the Stone DRK Festival


Collabapalooza - San Diego Beer Week

The spirit of collaboration has always been alive and well in the San Diego brewing community and collabapalooza is focused on highlighting this camaraderie and shared goodwill. Plus, Karl Strauss wanted an excuse to hang out with all of our friends and fans while sharing some incredible beers. Their goal is simple: rally 30+ independent, San Diego-based breweries to help us throw a killer party during our favorite week of the year complete with tons of good food, excellent vibes, and altogether fabulous people.

Where: North Park Observatory – 2891 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
When: November 11, 2017
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $40-$55
> Find out more about Collabapalooza

Beer Garden

Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines

There is no better setting for the closing event of San Diego Beer Week than the Arroyo Terrace of the Lodge at Torrey Pines.  The Beer Garden brings together the best of San Diego’s breweries and local chefs to celebrate the craft beer movement.  With 28 breweries and 14 chefs, the Beer Garden is a truly unique and delicious food and beer pairing event.  Each admission includes unlimited tasters of beer and food.

Where: The Lodge at Torrey Pines – 11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: November 12, 2017
Time: 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Cost: $85
> Find out more about the Beer Garden

Guest Blogger

Rhythm and Brews Music & Craft Beer Festival – May 6, 2017

What do you get when you combine the rockin’ soundtrack of live music with tastes of San Diego County’s most sought after brews? The Rhythm and Brews Music & Craft Beer Festival!

The San Diego Brewers Guild’s annual must-attend festival in the heart of historic Vista Village is quickly approaching on Saturday, May 6th. All craft beer aficionados are invited to experience what sets San Diego craft beer apart from the rest – its breweries and its enthusiasts, of course.

50+ Breweries – 100+ Beers – And More

Rhythm and Brews Music and Craft Beer Festival

Photo Courtesy of Tim Stahl

San Diego County is home to more than 130 breweries, with 24 more in planning in 2017. This quantity (and quality) of local breweries provides ample opportunities to explore a variety of craft brews. Rhythm and Brews is the perfect place to get acquainted with the best of what San Diego breweries have to offer.

At North County’s most rockin’ beer festival, sample 100+ beers from 50+ local breweries, including taps from Karl Strauss, Bear Roots and AleSmith.

Whether you prefer stouts, IPAs or anything in between, this festival has a beer for every taste.

Craft beer fans can groove to live musical performances and enjoy delicious eats from local food trucks.

Check out the beer and music lineup and snag your tickets now!

Rhythm and Brews VIP Tickets and More

Rhythm & Brews Music and Craft Beer Festival

Photo courtesy of Tim Stahl

VIP tickets grant its holder entry at 12:00 PM to sip exclusive brews for an extra hour prior to general admission.

Last year, 1,600+ people joined in the festivities to celebrate San Diego’s craft beer community. Rhythm and Brews overtakes historic downtown Vista Village for an entire craft beer-filled afternoon.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the San Diego brewers Guild – a non-profit whose mission is to promote awareness and visibility for San Diego’s growing craft beer industry.
Guest Blogger

Best Coast Beer Fest – Will Ferrell’s Beer Fest of Choice

Best Coast Beer Fest

On March 11, Best Coast Beer Fest will return to Embarcadero Marina Park South for our third year. We will be bringing more than 75 breweries, a food truck alley, and local bands right on San Diego Bay. This is an event that you don’t want to miss – for casual drinkers and beer connoisseurs alike.

Best Coast Beer Fest Tickets

Best Coast Beer Fest

Tickets are currently on sale and include options ranging from general admission, which includes unlimited beer samples from 2:00 to 5:00 PM to VIP, which includes extra hour of tasting and access to the VIP area which offers food, a rotating tap of limited reserve brews, executive restrooms and more. With Ultra VIP a limited amount of private cabanas will be available.


Cancer for College

We work together with the nonprofit charity, Cancer for College, to provide you with the best festival experience. Best Coast Beer Fest benefits Cancer for College, which provides cancer survivors with college scholarships.

> Find out more about Cancer for College

To re-cap: You. Beer. Music. Food trucks. San Diego Bay. The whole shebang. There is no physical way in the universe you can enjoy a day better than this. We’ve done the research. It’s science.

Bruce Glassman

A Six-Pack of San Diego’s Best New Little Breweries

San Diego’s beer scene has simply exploded over the past five years. That growth has meant expansion of all kinds. It has meant more breweries, but it also means that little guys have gotten medium-sized and the medium-sized have gotten big.

San Diego now boasts about a dozen breweries that are producing in the tens of thousands of barrels per year. Some, such as Stone Brewing Co., Karl Strauss Brewery, Green Flash Brewing Co and Ballast Point are on the country’s Top 50 Largest Craft Breweries list (Stone is currently #10).

The big breweries in town make great beer – that’s a major reason why they’re the big breweries! – but the vast majority of brewers in San Diego are relatively small. Most are brewing on 7-barrel or 10-barrel systems that can’t output more than a few thousand barrels per year at absolute maximum.

The nice thing about San Diego’s small craft brewers is that, in general, their systems still require them to craft every batch by hand – dumping in bags of grain one by one, measuring out hops, and pitching their yeast at just the right time. The handcrafted beverages they produce reflect the personal passion and attention that made these folks want to be brewers in the first place. While it’s certainly convenient to pick up a San Diego six-pack at a grocery store or bottle shop, most of the packaged beer available in those outlets is from medium to larger breweries. If you really want to “support local” and “drink local” it’s also important to visit the little guys. You’ll be glad you did. And I know they’ll be glad you did!

Here’s a list of six new outstanding small breweries that have opened recently. They all show great promise, they all make great beer, and – who knows – someday soon you may be seeing them on the list of the Top 50 Largest Craft Breweries in America.


Amplified Ale Works

Amplified Ale Works Tasters

This is actually the second location for this brewery – the first was on Mission Avenue in Pacific Beach – but this is the first space they’ve had where they can house a decent-sized brewing system. This is good, because Amplified’s brewer Cy Henley is a talented guy who can now let his brewing colors fly.

The new tasting room (with brewery in back) is designed with fun touches that echo the rock ‘n roll theme of the brewery. A video loop of a live rock show plays on the wall, concert graphics and posters adorn the other walls, and tasting flights are served in nifty guitar-shaped boards.

The brewery offers a nice range and variety of beers, including their award-winning brews, Sell Out Lager (winner at the 2016 San Diego International Beer Festival) and Whammy Bar Wheat (winner at the 2016 World Beer Cup). When you visit, don’t miss a chance to taste Electrocution IPA (their most popular) and Electro-Lite, which is a deeply satisfying session IPA that clocks it at a mere 3.9% ABV.

Where: 9030 Kenamar Dr #309, San Diego, CA 92121
> Find out more about Amplified Ale Works

2. Pure Project Brewing

Orange Cream Ale - Pure Project

When you visit Amplified, you won’t have to go far to get to Pure Project; they are literally right next door. This is fortunate for the beer tourist, as you can enjoy two of San Diego’s best new breweries by making only one stop.

The tasting room is nicely designed with wood and floral features that are inspired both by nature and by Costa Rica, where the founders lived before returning to San Diego to start their brewery.

Brewer Winslow Sawyer cut his teeth brewing in Northern California, so he brings a somewhat different approach to the mix. He came to San Diego with a No-Cal palate and an affinity for more offbeat styles like gose and Kentucky common. All of Pure Project’s beers are very good, but their fruit-centric cream ales and wheat beers tend to be the hands-down crowd pleasers.

Where: 9030 Kenamar Dr #308, San Diego, CA 92121
> Find out more Pure Project Brewing

3. Division 23

Berliner Weiss - Division 23 - San Diego Breweries

Only minutes from Amplified and Pure, you’ll find Division 23 tucked away in yet another nondescript office park. You have to be persistent and follow the signs all the way to the back of this complex, but the hunt pays off with a casual and comfortable bar-style tasting room complete with shuffleboard, ping-pong, and comfy couches.

Division 23 offers a nice selection of well-made beers, including a few stouts and IPAs, but the most interesting option is the Berliner Weiss. Tasty and refreshing on its own, it’s even more fun sampled with a variety of flavored syrups, which are offered at the bar. The standout mix was the Thai-spiced Berliner Weiss with a splash of coconut syrup. Truly a super-delish treat.

Where: 7408 Trade St, San Diego, CA 92121
> Find out more about Division 23

4. Resident Brewing Company

Resident Brewing Tasting Room

Here’s a downtown destination where you can actually do a little bit of everything. You can sample the tasty beers from Resident, you can find great craft beers from other producers, and you can enjoy a full menu if you’re hungry.

The Local, on 4th Avenue just across from the Grant Hotel, used to be one of downtown’s best craft beer bars, and – now that Resident Brewing opened up in the (expanded) space and starting brewing right there on the premises – it’s even better.

The large space offers plenty of seating, tables for big groups, and a full menu of pub-centric food. The front section, as you enter, takes you into the Local, which remains one of the city’s best spots for craft suds. Moving toward the back, you’ll find the tasting room area for Resident Brewing.

Brewer Robert Masterson does a nice job with a range of food-friendly and crowd-pleasing styles. The Perky Blonde was notable for its excellent mouthfeel, its bready-biscuity flavors, and its crisp, clean finish. Other standouts include the Vacation Coconut IPA, (which has just the right amount of flavoring without overwhelming the beer) and the Back Alley Porter, which had alluring aromas of coffee, vanilla, and bittersweet chocolate.

Where: 411 C St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Resident Brewing

5. Bay City Brewing

Bay City Brewing Tasters

Nestled in the shadow of Sports Arena, this light and spacious tasting room provides plenty of space to gather with friends. A few large tables, a nice big bar, and some four-tops provide plenty of options.

The size of the space, as well as their impressive tanks and equipment, may make Bay City the largest brewery on this list of little guys. But, they’re still brewing on a relatively tiny scale.

Brewer Chris West learned his trade on a variety of small systems that provided ample opportunities to be creative and different. His modest lineup here is no exception. There are a few straightforward selections (including a very creamy and flavorful Vienna lager), but the more offbeat brews provide the real interest. If the Brown Sour or the Coffee Pale Ale are on tap when you visit, be sure to get some tastes.

Where: 3760 Hancock St, San Diego, CA 92110
> Find out more about Bay City Brewing

6. Bear Roots Brewing

Bear Roots Brewing Tasting Room

The brewing system at Bear Roots is definitely the smallest on this list (basically a homebrew setup). They probably best embody our nod to the “little guys.”

This cozy, rustic tasting room was a homebrew supply shop before it was redesigned. Now, homebrewing supplies share space with a comfortable sofa, some tables, and a welcoming, spacious bar.

Owner and brewer Terry Little, an experienced home brewer, has put together a simple, straightforward collection of well-made, full-flavored beers, including a very tasty Nelson IPA, a chocolate-caramel-vanilla laden Scotch Ale, and a deliciously decadent Peanut Butter Milk Stout.

Where: 1213 S Santa Fe Ave, Vista, CA 92083
> Find out more about Bear Roots Brewing

> Discover more San Diego Breweries

Bruce Glassman

Three Cheers for the Little Guys – 8 Small Breweries to Check Out

Three Cheers for the Little Guys - 8 Small Breweries to Check Out

If you’ve heard about San Diego craft beer, you’ve probably heard about Stone, Green Flash Ballast Point, and AleSmith. These are San Diego’s biggest and most widely distributed breweries (and they all produce fantastic beer!). Because they’re so good and so big, you can likely find their beers in shops all across the country. When visiting, these are also the breweries at which you’ll have the most “polished” brewery experience. Their spacious tasting rooms are beautifully designed and there are tons of taps…

So here’s an idea:

If you’re planning to spend a day or two touring San Diego’s 120+ breweries, make sure you make some time for the little guys. Why? Well, for five reasons specifically – and here’s my thinking:

1. The new guys have to be excellent or they’re dead in the water

With so many great breweries in town, the barrier to entry for the new brewers is pretty tough. And the bar has been set awfully high. But that’s good. That means the newbies have to come out of the gate with quality brews if they’re going to have a chance of survival – and most of them do.

2. You can only get the little guys here in San Diego

If you’re going to be here for a visit, why not experience some of the breweries that can’t be seen or tasted anywhere else? A lot of the small brewers are doing creative and interesting things, experimenting with new techniques and ingredients, and doing small batches that are here one day and gone the next. Being small and independent gives them the freedom to play around and – while that’s not always a recipe for success – at least it’s interesting.

3. The small guys need visitors

Most of the smaller breweries rely entirely on tasting room sales to stay afloat. Their systems (most of which are 10-barrel systems or smaller) can’t produce enough beer to go into full-scale distribution or even bottling. So the business model for these breweries is to sell everything they make through their tasting room.

4. You’re encouraging independence and innovation

By supporting the small brewers, you’re also supporting the notion that anyone can make great beer on any scale. The more brewers we encourage, the more diversified our talent pool will become, and that’s good for everybody.

5. It’s all about the beer

The typical tasting room at one of San Diego’s nanos is housed behind a rollup door in a light industrial office park; Not exactly a feature spread in Home & Garden. Concrete floors, simple seating, and inexpensive design are the hallmark of the San Diego small guy. But there’s actually a benefit to going without all the bells and whistles: it makes you focus on the beer. And, let’s face it, even our greatest brewery success stories began in humble basements or garages where our brewers first unleashed their true passion for making beer. 

It is important to point out a few things about San Diego’s nano breweries. First, with 120+ breweries in the mix, not all the small guys are making gold-medal beer. So, let it be said that just being small is no guarantee of greatness. Second, not all the new small guys are new to brewing. In fact, a number of the really good new breweries in town have been started by brewers who had considerable pro brewing experience under their belts.

8 Superior Small Guys

New breweries in San Diego county are currently opening at an average rate of one per month! So there’s no worry about finding small, new places to visit, no matter where in the county you may be. Here’s a list of 8 superior small guys who have shown the beer community at large that they have what it takes to stick around:

1. Benchmark Brewing (Grantville)

This family-run operation is headed up by a former brewer from AleSmith who knows his stuff. Their charming tasting room is outfitted with lots of comfortable, “crafty” touches, and top-notch beers.

2. Bolt Brewing (La Mesa)

Their brewery is a quonset hut. Their bar is a small structure with a rollup door, and their tasting room is a sunny outdoor patio space. Despite the lack of frills, Bolt’s lineup is high quality and nicely varied, with excellent options for hopheads and malt lovers alike.

3. Council Brewing Company (Kearny Mesa)

This husband and wife team (she’s the brewer) offer visitors a nice selection of hoppy ales, as well as a number of more interesting, less commonly brewed beers. The tasting room is airy and comfortable, with high ceilings and rollup doors that open to drench the space in sunshine.

4. Fall Brewing Company (North Park)

Set in a semi-residential neighborhood on San Diego’s most beer-centric street (30th Street), Fall is a cozy and welcoming place that offers a quality lineup and showcases the talents of a longtime brewer who brings his experience from Mission, Maui, and St Archer to this new endeavor. 

5. Half Door Brewing Co. (Downtown)

This family-owned-and-operated establishment sits inside a historic two-story house on the corner of Island and 8th Avenue. The brewer, who came up at Coronado Brewing, crafts a nice range of small batch, full-flavored beers, all of which pair well with the pub-style menu they offer (try the fish & chips!).

6. O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Company (Scripps Ranch)

A simple, tiny tasting room with 10 taps, this nano offers visitors a nice selection of Irish-inspired beer styles, including malty browns, ambers, stouts, and porters.

7. 32 North Brewing Company (Miramar)

This new brewery offers an impressive mix of beer styles and interesting flavor combinations. The tasting room, though simply appointed, is spacious and open with plenty of room to move around.

8. Toolbox Brewing Company (Vista)

This little brewery came out of the gate with a desire to be different. They offer well-made hoppy ales as well as some malty ones. What distinguishes them is their selection of brettanomyces (wild yeast strain) beers, which produce oodles of sour, funky, fruity, fabulous flavors.

> Explore San Diego’s 120+ Breweries

Bruce Glassman

8 San Diego Brews Spreading the Holiday Beer Cheer

8 San Diego Brews Spreading Holiday Beer Cheer
8 San Diego Brews Spreading Holiday Beer Cheer

Photo by Bruce Glassman

There’s no shortage of beer innovation in San Diego – it goes on all year long – but the holiday season always provides an extra-special inspiration for many brewers. All over the county, brewery tasting rooms are tapping small-batch and specialty brews that were created especially to bring extra holiday cheer to craft beer fans.

Given their limited quantities of holiday brews, most of the medium and small brewers in town will restrict their special releases to their tasting rooms. In some cases, very limited bottlings will be available, but – again – mostly at the brewery location. If you’re in the holiday spirit – or want to get some holiday spirits – I encourage you to check your favorite breweries online (or use TapHunter or similar apps) to see what’s being offered and when. Then head out and get to those tasting rooms, as specialty beers from good brewers never last long.
San Diego for the Holidays

If, for some reason, you miss out on a holiday beer you wanted from a small brewery, don’t fret. There are also a bunch of great holiday releases that you can find in bottles at many major retail outlets, including many of the big supermarkets (and also at the breweries themselves). These beers tend to be from the larger producers in town, but they are every bit as fun and tasty as anything being made in San Diego. They also make awesome gifts for those special beer-lovers in your life…

Here’s a round-up of holiday beers I was able to preview. In addition to tasting notes, I’ve also included some thoughts about pairings. After all, with all those pecan pies, Christmas cookies, and buche de noels around the house, you’ll want a few beverages to help wash them down. Besides, who needs more eggnog, anyway?!

1. Six Suits A Hangin’ (Karl Strauss/Pacific Beach)

This Imperial Belgian-style brown ale is a dark, rich, full-bodied brew that has been aged in French oak. It has aromas of freshly baked bread and spices, and has flavors of molasses, caramel, nuts, peppery spice, with a hint of tropical bubble gum. This beer paired very well with apple pie and pumpkin pie, but was an absolute knockout with orange bourbon pecan pie.

> Find out more about Karl Strauss Brewing Company

2. Jolly Folly IPA (Green Flash/Mira Mesa)

Holidays are for hop-heads, too! Even though most holiday releases tend to be heavier, more malt-driven styles, there are a few beers out there for hop lovers as well. This IPA is bold, West-coast-style hoppy brew with major aromas of pine (Christmas tree!) and freshly cut grass. With a medium mouthfeel, this beer delivers crisp, piny hop flavors with a hint of honey and pleasingly bitter finish. We paired this with a spicy chili, which was wonderful, but other spicy or highly seasoned stews or soups would fare equally well.

> Find out more about Green Flash Brewing Co.

3. XOCOVEZA (Stone/Escondido)

How about a Mexican hot chocolate for the holidays? Well, Stone has brewed the beer version. This thick and rich mocha stout is brewed with cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and Pasilla peppers, all of which waft from the glass as soon as it’s poured. Dark chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon are predominant flavors, along with notes of vanilla, smoky pepper, and nutmeg. Stone has released a few variations of this beer, including an extra-special “charred” version, which has been aged in bourbon barrels. Perfect pairings include chocolate, pecan pie, almond cookies, and roasted nuts, but this is one you can also simply sip by itself in front of the fire pit.

> Find out more about Stone Brewing Co.

4. Mission Holiday Ale (Mission/Downtown)

This Belgian-style dark ale smells of raisins, candied fruit, figs, plums, and the characteristic “breadiness” of the Belgian yeast. The beer tastes of molasses, raisins, and candied fruit, with a light spiciness. Best pairings include cherry pie, chocolate cookies, and candied nuts.

> Find out more about Mission Brewery

5. Gift of the Magi (Lost Abbey/San Marcos)

According to their web site, this rich golden ale is brewed with a small amount of Myrrh (an herb) and is bittered with the help of Frankincense (for some reason they left out the gold!). On the nose, this beer smells of caramel, honey, and raisins and has flavors of caramel, raisins, and pecans, along with a pleasing spiciness, a light funk from the Brettanomyces yeast, and crisp hop bitterness. Pumpkin cake and almond biscotti were equally perfect pairings with this beer, but this gem would also surely enhance any fruitcake.

> Find out more about The Lost Abbey

6. Santa’s Little Helper (Port/San Marcos)

This imperial stout is a perfect example of its style. Rich aromas of chocolate, coffee, and caramel come out of the glass, backed up by plenty of chocolate, coffee, and caramel flavors in your mouth. If you want to turbo-charge your stout experience, Port also offers a bourbon-barrel-aged version of this beer, which has all the deliciousness of the base stout with the added decadence of bourbon notes. Chocolate covered espresso beans and chocolate covered walnuts were seamless pairings for this brew, as would be any kind of chocolate cake or mocha dessert, such as Tiramisu.

> Find out more about Port Brewing Company

7. Macaroon Nut Brown (Aztec/Vista)

Ever wonder what a beer equivalent of a Mounds bar would be? Well, wonder no longer. Aztec’s special end-of-year release has big coconut on nose and an intense coconut flavor. It’s a brown, so it has a lighter mouthfeel and body than a stout, along with a lighter maltiness. Pair this with chocolate cookies, chocolate covered walnuts, or – yes! – even a Mounds bar.

> Find out more about Aztec Brewing Company

8. Enlightenment (Twisted Manzanita/Santee)

Here’s what you’d get if you dropped your candy cane into your beer glass and waited for it to dissolve…This Santee brewery usually creates their peppermint-infused chocolate stout just in time for the holidays. The beer has strong aromas of eucalyptus and peppermint, with candy cane flavors that are supported by a light maltiness, a light mouthfeel, and hints of dark chocolate. Pair this with dark chocolate truffles, chocolate pastry/cookies, cheesecake, or vanilla ice cream.

> Find out more about Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits

> Sip & Savor at 100+ San Diego Breweries

Happy Holidays!


Destination San Diego Episode 1: Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach and more

In this episode of Destination San Diego, you’ll take a tour of NTC at Liberty Station, San Diego’s newest arts and culture district. We’ll take a look back at the history of the Point Loma Lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument and Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier. And, you’ll see a wonderful side of Ocean Beach’s history that might surprise you. Plus, Stone Brewing Company Co-Founder and CEO Greg Koch will give you the inside scoop on San Diego’s ever-expanding craft beer scene and the best way to taste all that San Diego has to offer.

What’s In This Episode of Destination San Diego

> Watch all the Destination San Diego Episodes

Bruce Glassman

Walk This Way: 8 Great Downtown San Diego Tap Lists

8 Best Taphouses in Downtown San Diego
8 Best Taphouses in Downtown San Diego

Photo by Bruce Glassman

Yes, San Diego is home to more than 100 awesome breweries, and each has its own tasting room (some have two or three!). But, San Diego is a big county and, though many breweries are somewhat “grouped” in geographical areas, the majority of them are a 20-40 minute drive from downtown. So, how do you sample some of America’s finest beer from America’s Finest City if you’re only going to be downtown? It’s simple: There are a slew of great bars to choose from, if you know what to look for. And they’re all within a 20-block radius of one another, which means, you can easily sample a few different places while you stroll around.

You can find San Diego beer on almost every menu in the city at this point, which is great, but the majority of downtown restaurants and bars are still pushing the mass-produced stuff harder than the craft stuff. The eight places on the list below are notable for the depth and breadth of their craft beer taps and bottle lists, most of which often include at least 50% San Diego beers (though these things rotate and change on a sometimes daily basis).

Just for fun, I’ve also noted the places that do some interesting craft beer cocktails. These offerings come in especially handy when craft beer lovers are out and about with craft-beer newbies…they offer a “kinder gentler” way to start appreciating the wonderful array of flavors available in great craft beer.

Here’s the list of my recommendations, starting on Beech Street (in Little Italy) and working south and east toward Island:

1. Craft & Commerce

Spacious and welcoming, with seating options both indoors and out, this craft-and-cocktail-centric restaurant is easy to settle into. In addition to its full menu of tasty and creative comfort food, Craft & Commerce has about two dozen taps of well-chosen craft beers. They also offer about five different craft beer cocktails, including a delicious IPA cocktail (IPA, grapefruit-infused asperol, orgeat, and lemon) and the Pony Boy (Ballast Point’s Wahoo Wheat with cynar, lemon, and honey).

Where: 675 W. Beech St. San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Craft & Commerce

2. Downtown Johnny Brown’s

Feel like going on a little treasure hunt? You can’t see DTJB’s from the street (it’s tucked inside the courtyard that houses the Civic Center) but this classic San Diego beer bar is worth seeking out. The ambience is no-frills and the food is basic pub fare, but the tap list (about 30 handles) and selection have made it a downtown beer mecca. Also to its credit: DTJB’s was one of the first bars downtown to actively embrace, promote, and support the San Diego craft beer movement – so, big props to them.

Where: 1220 3rd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Downtown Johnny Brown’s

3. The Beer Co.

Here’s a place where you can taste a small lineup of beers brewed on premises in addition to a nice array of other craft handles. A large bar dominates the somewhat dark but nicely done space, which also has tables and booth seating. The 20+ tap handles offer good variety and tend to focus on easy drinking selections that pair well with the food on the full bar menu.

Where: 602 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101

4. Quad Alehouse

One of the newer (and nicer) beer bars downtown, this spacious and tastefully designed space offers big windows, more light, and a much nicer view than most of its Fifth Avenue neighbors. Being up high, on the third floor, is a nice option, and it’s fun to have more than 28 taps to choose from while you look out at the bustling Gaslamp below.

Where: 868 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Floor, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Quad Alehouse

5. The Tipsy Crow

Head south on Fifth Avenue from Quad Ale House and, within a minute, you’ll be standing in front of The Tipsy Crow. This well-established bar has been offering patrons the “classic” pub experience for many years: the ground floor offers low light, dark wood booths, and small darkened spaces, while the second floor offers a more comfortable lounge-inspired setting. The tap list is a bit lean, but the bottle list, with about 80 selections, makes up for it.

Where: 770 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about The Tipsy Crow

6. The Hopping Pig

One more block south on Fifth brings you to The Hopping Pig, which has more in common with the Tipsy Crow than Quad Ale House. Those who crave the ambience of their favorite dive bar will find this space comforting, and their tap list, which comprises more than 30 handles, will provide more than enough choice to make your visit a tasty one.

Where: 748 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about The Hopping Pig

7. Neighborhood

This smallish corner bar beckons those who appreciate the eclectic approach to watering holes. Filled with all sorts of curious objects and images, including mounted stuffed animals, rubber dolls, and religious iconography, Neighborhood also provides an eclectic mix of beverages. Their excellent lineup of 28 taps provides good breadth and depth, but the full bar also offers a deep list of bourbons and whiskeys, including their own homemade fireball hooch, which is well worth a try.

Where: 777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Neighborhood

8. Stella Public House

Seekers of the light will de-light in the space that makes up Stella Public House. Much of the pub/bar opens to the outside and overlooks the Coronado Bridge and a large span of town that backs up to Petco and the new library. 30 taps, including two hi-tech nitro taps, provide an excellent selection of well-chosen beers, about half of which on average are local. Stella also had one of the more developed menus of craft beer cocktails, which includes a MAI IPA (Mai Tai mix with IPA and lemon), a Fizzy Gin (Belgian beer with Tanquerey, lemon, and agave), and a Breakfast Beer (Stoli Raz, Coffee, and Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Stout).

Where: 1429 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Stella Public House