As the saying goes, hoppiness isn’t far from happiness in San Diego. San Diego holds the title of the Craft Beer Capital of America and is home to over 150 incredible breweries. From tiny micro-breweries to larger breweries known around the country, there’s many-a-beer to explore in our sunny city by the sea for all you beer lovers.
If you’re planning a brewery hopping playdate sometime soon, here are some of our favorite downtown San Diego breweries. From Golden Ales to Guava IPAs, experience some of the best parts of the city’s beer culture with these top spots.
Knotty Brewing Co.
Knotty Brewing Co. makes traditional English style pale ales and sweet malts with balancing earthy hops. The head brewmaster, Donovan Lane, grew up around Portland, Maine, and began brewing with a home brew kit his dad purchased for him. Their beer list features a variety of brews with names that tell each drink’s own personal story. The Tom Tom Blonde, for example, is an ode to two of the brewery’s most loyal customers (both ironically named Tom). There’s also the Kama Kama Chameleon, a blend of roasted and rich flavors that was done in collaboration with Knotty’s friends at Thorn Brewing during the winter of 2016. Venture to Knotty Brewing in the heart of East Village for a cold one and perhaps, a sandwich or steak salad.
Half Door Brewing Co.
Half Door Brewing Co. is a true “pub” in the sense of the traditional pubs of the Irish countryside. It was built to celebrate the tradition of pubs right here in what they refer to as the Capital of Craft that is San Diego. They have a unique list that features beers like the Bean Bar Mocha Collaboration — a 5.4% Golden Ale on Nitro with chocolate and coffee both added for a creamy, smooth, and somewhat sweet flavor. There’s also the Flour Power, an oat flower West Coast pale ale. You can sample their delicious food offerings during brunch, lunch, dinner, or happy hour — and they even have a cocktail list for the occasional non beer-drinker in the crew. Try the White Truffle Flatbread or the Bangers N Mash for an indulgent bite.
Under the guidance of award-winning brewer Robert Masterson, Resident Brewing offers a cool and relaxed San Diego beer experience. Their beer list boasts a variety of fun, delicious flavors like Vacation Coconut IPA, the Perky Blonde, and the Golden Kiss Saison. For the current season, they even have the ultimate warm weather sipper — a barrel fermented peach saison with Gold Dust Peaches. They added over 200 pounds of organic Masumoto peaches to French oak barrels for a beer that is ripe with bright peach flavors and aromas of the season.
10 Barrel Brewing
For a from-scratch appetizer or entree alongside an iced cold beer, visit 10 Barrel Brewing. They have two rooftop areas with patio seating where you can soak up the San Diego sunshine or enjoy the sunset. Start with the Fried Pickles, house made pickles served with whiskey habanero remoulade and honey mustard before moving on to the Pork Belly and Watermelon Salad with crispy Korean glazed pork belly and compressed watermelon. Of course, you’ll want to wash your meal down with a beer (and there are plenty to choose from). Sip on the Blood Runs Cold for a subtly sweet blood orange IPA or the Rose Yayyy! for a wild wine-beer hybrid.
Mission Brewery was originally established in 1913 and is a piece of San Diego history. It went out of business during the first year of prohibition and the company was re-established in 2007 by an avid homebrewer, Dan Selis. They’ve taken over the old Wonder Bread location in San Diego for a brewery and tasting room of massive proportions. The tasting room alone is 2,500 square feet and the total space of the brewery rests over 25,000 square feet (so when you’re here, you’re in another beer-scented world entirely). They’ve won over 50 National and International Awards and are considered one of the top breweries in downtown San Diego. Sip a crisp and light bodied California Craft Lager or try a few tasters of some of the beers on tap — like the Peanut Butter Dark Seas, a Russian Imperial Stout made with a bunch of peanut butter.
Ballast Point is a San Diego craft beer icon. Visit Ballast Point Little Italy where you can enjoy a patio pint and a coastal breeze at the same time. Chances are you’ve probably seen their flagship beers around town, like the Sculpin IPA or Manta Ray double IPA. Their explorer series offers fun variations like the Watermelon Dorado IPA and the Tongue Buckler (an imperial red ale that is said to leave you speechless). For an experience with one of San Diego’s most iconic craft beer names, make sure to put Ballast Point on your brewery bucket list.
If you’re looking for the best brews in town, San Diego is luckily home to a wide assortment of them! The breweries near downtown San Diego are plentiful, so whatever your beer style is, rest assured you’re bound to find a sip or two that you love after exploring other things to do in downtown San Diego.
From all of us at So Diego, thanks for reading! We’re off to relax with a cool beverage of our own. If you have any suggestions for your favorite breweries of the area, feel free to share them with us in the comments below. We’re always on the hunt for the next best San Diego brewery. Cheers!0