San Diego’s Thriving Craft Beer Scene
San Diego’s Craft Beer Scene
San Diego County is home to over 50 breweries, and has a thriving craft and home brewing scene. The demand to know what craft beer is on tap at what bar or restaurant has spawned maps of the city, coffee table books and even a smart phone application called Tap Hunter.
Craft beer enthusiasts in San Diego pride themselves on their knowledge and sophisticated palate, eschewing light and mild beers for beers they consider to have more personality, character and flavor. They plan tastings and discuss each beer with as much thought and care as fine wine enthusiasts.
There are numerous venues that cater to craft beer enthusiasts in San Diego, specialty bars and gastropub restaurants, as well as the numerous breweries in the county.
Bottlecraft Beer Shop and Tasting Room
Located in San Diego’s Little Italy, Bottlecraft Beer Shop and Tasting Room sells over 500 different brands of beer from both San Diego, and all over the world. The owner, Brian Jensen, is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute’s sommelier program, believes in educating people about beer-drinking through beer flights and tastings.
Karl Strauss, the largest post-Prohibition craft brewery in the United States
The Karl Strauss Brewery Company is the largest post-Prohibition craft brewery in the country, founded in 1989 by Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner. They currently operate 6 brewpubs and are expanding, their distribution brewery due for a renovation that will make it more tour-friendly and include a beer garden later this year.
Stone Brewing Company, the largest craft brewery in Southern California
Stone Brewing Company is the largest craft brewery in Southern California, based just north of San Diego, in Escondido, California. Stone Brewing Company’s headquarters is Disneyland for beer enthusiasts, with tours offered during the day and a restaurant with views of the brewery’s fermenters.
Stone Brewing Company is famous for its craft beers with names like Ruination IPA and Arrogant Bastard Ale.
Beer Bars in San Diego
San Diego also has plenty of “beer bars.” Bars dedicated to serving the best of craft beer, with knowledgeable staff that can tell you about what you are drinking and guide you through a tasting, much like a wine sommelier.
One classic beer bar in San Diego is Hamiltons Tavern. Opened in 2006 by Scot Blair, this bar is a true pub. It features 28 beers on tap, shuffleboard and billiards, and educated bartenders.
In opposition to the old-fashioned pub-style of Hamiltons Tavern is the well-lit Blind Lady Ale House in the neighborhood of Normal Heights.
This bar has plate glass windows, communal tables, and fusion food that includes house-made chorizo and fresh epazote.
Beer Week in San Diego
If you are interested in the craft beer culture in San Diego, there’s an entire week dedicated to it during the month of November. San Diego Beer Week is the largest beer festival in the Southern California region and it runs from November 2nd until November 11th, 2012. Numerous bars and restaurants have specials dedicated to beer week, as well as outdoor festivals and other events catering to craft beer enthusiasts.