We all know San Diego is a craft beer mecca. The city has over 100 craft breweries, with new ones opening all the time. What does it take to stand out amongst the crowd? First, the beer must be stellar. San Diego beer lovers aren't receptive to non flavorful, run-of-the-mill (see what I did there?) beer. The tasting room should be imaginative, inspiring and welcoming. Finally, the overall experience should leave fans wanting more so guests will come back again and again. Here are 3 brewery standouts that I love.
Alesmith is one of the oldest breweries in San Diego. It was started in 1995, so has had many years to gain momentum and followers. Last year was a huge year for Alesmith, as it opened its brand new monstrous brewery and tasting room in Miramar, not far from the previous location. The new tasting room has 25,000 square feet, which makes it the largest tasting room in San Diego. The building has a retail shop, large bar, games, and indoor and outdoor seating. They are still working on adding a Tony Gwynn museum and an observation deck, both of which will be great additions to an already fantastic space. Speaking of Tony Gwynn, their Pale Ale .394 is a standout beer that I always go back to (and yes, that is Tony Gwynn's lifetime batting average--I know, right?!) James and I love Alesmith and are so glad it's a short drive away from where we live! We always end up taking out of town visitors to this awesome brewery. I can't wait to see what Alesmith creates in the next few years.
Fall Brewing opened in 2014 and has created a splash in the highly saturated beer scene in North Park, which is no easy feat. Fall has such a warm and welcoming feel about it that keeps us coming back. Dogs are welcome, and they usually have a food stand out in the front of the tasting room. From the tasting room, you can see right into the brewery. Sitting in Fall always makes me think of what it would be like to sit in Central Perk. It's relaxing, you can chat with friends, all while enjoying some of the best beers in San Diego. My favorite Fall beer is 2 a.m. Bike Ride, a coffee and vanilla bean stout. We love that Fall is near some of our other favorite places, like Tiger Tiger. It is really impressive that Fall was able to jump into the North Park lineup of breweries and make a solid name for itself so quickly. Many of James' Stone colleagues love and frequent Fall, and let me tell you, that gang does not settle for mediocre beer. Next time you're in North Park, pay them a visit!
Pure Project is one of San Diego's newest breweries, which opened in early 2016. They are part of the Brewery Igniter program by H.G. Fenton, which allows them to rent the brewery space out. The tasting room is very small, with seats for 12 or so people, yet it is this intimacy that allowed us to fully enjoy our time at Pure Project. The tasting room has a jungle-meets-urban feel, with plants and wood tastefully integrated into every nook. The owners original intention was to open in Costa Rica, however they were met with stiff regulatory issues regarding the disposal of waste water, which breweries make much of. They packed up and moved to San Diego, and found the perfect little place to get their vision off the ground. I loved the Valle Pura Vida, a blonde ale with citrus and ginger, which they said was the locals' favorite in Costa Rica. Many of their beers are brewed with tropical flavors and fruits, and the partner we spoke to (Agi) said that using fresh, pure, sustainable ingredients is massively important to them. We are lucky to have such an awesome new place in Miramar, and it will be exciting to watch how Pure Project evolves in the coming years.
So there you have it; these are 3 of my favorite breweries in San Diego. On the list for breweries I want to check out: Bagby's, Second Chance, and South Park Brewing. What are your favorite San Diego breweries?