As the saying goes, hoppiness isn’t far from happiness in San Diego. San Diego has built up a bustling beer scene that stretches from Little Italy, across Downtown San Diego, to reach the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village. Some have chosen this urban location to brew their beer, but most are local breweries that have opened tasting rooms downtown for visitors and locals alike to have better access to their brand. You’ll also find a few are from out of state hoping to make a name for themselves among some of the most popular craft beer bars in sunny San Diego County. If beer is your thing, we recommend spending a day (or two) checking out some of our favorites – you’ll be pleasantly amazed at how walkable they are and the many amazing food options available.
Grab some friend, visit them yourself, or book a San Diego Tour where our talented guides will take you on a walking tour complete with beer samples, delicious food, neighborhood history and beer facts that will make you feel like the expert! Keep reading for our favorite breweries and things to do in downtown San Diego.
Little Italy Favorites
Known for true, authentic Italian food, street markets and wine you’ll be happily surprised with some great beer in Little Italy!
Started almost 25 years ago, this “home brewery” now has 9 locations including one in both Illinois & Virginia! Little Italy was home to their first tasting room and restaurant and is still one of their top R&D facilities. Visitors can grab some tasters or a pint and sit inside or out on their patio where you’ll be sure to get a fly-over of airplanes landing at the nearby San Diego airport! Their kitchen boasts farm-to-table concepts and has a little something for everyone – for a private and intimate dining experience, book the Kettle Room where your group will dine on a one-of-a-kind chef prepared culinary menu with complimentary beer pairings. We definitely recommend Ballast Point as a potential venue for your next fun event!
Boasting a “hipster-friendly” vibe at their Little Italy tasting room, Bolt Brewery has 20 beers on tap to taste, a full kitchen and dog-friendly outdoor patio. They offer customizable taster flights and daily specials on food and beer. Grab a beer and a patio table and enjoy the people watching along India Street!
Brewing since 1989, they originally opened their doors in Downtown San Diego. Now their main brewery is located in BayHo, and they have 10 tasting rooms total, including their downtown location! They brew over 140 different beers and make one of the most award-winning beers in the world, there are many unique beer flavors, stop into their tasting room and see for yourself.
Downtown San Diego
A few favorites have joined the craft beer scene and opened up shop in the bustling downtown core. There are several downtown San Diego breweries and they all serve some great neighborhood beer! Whether your palette prefers a lighter beer like a pale ale or a darker beer like a stout, we guarantee you will find just what you are looking for at any of these breweries.
This location is a scaled down version of the opulent “Stone experience” where you can try amazing beers on 16 different taps that rotate core brews, special releases, and unique cask and small batch creations in an industrial-modern vibe setting fitting to downtown. If you’re hungry, we recommend grabbing some tasty farm-fresh eats from their bistro.
Located in the center of downtown, this place offers a cool and relaxed San Diego beer experience. This place was founded as a homebrew. Like many others in the area, its founder Robert quickly started collecting awards for the stellar beers he was making and then formed a partnership with The Local to open up shop downtown. Their beer list boasts a variety of fun, delicious flavors like Vacation Coconut IPA, the Perky Blonde, and the Golden Kiss Saison. If you stop in, taste one of these beers and order some delicious food, you’ll be happy you did!
This one is part of the recently opened Owl Drug Company who decided when they opened up shop to keep the operating 15 barrel brewhouse as part of their allure! The award-winning brewer ‘Nacho” keeps many of their 28 taps filled with fresh beer. If you come in on a day when he is working, you might be lucky to get a private tour!
Head over to the east village and you’ll be happy to find many tasting rooms and breweries tucked in amongst the residential buildings and old warehouses. This neighborhood is quickly becoming known for its craft cocktails, diverse food and award-winning beer which pairs perfectly with a Padres game! San Diego Tours will soon be offering weekly East Village Beer Tours – check back in to purchase tickets or schedule a private tour today!
Their partner restaurant Knotty Barrel opened over 5 years ago with the mission to offer quality food, beer & cocktails at a reasonable price! Once established they decided it was time to start producing their own beer and in 2016, they added an in-house craft brewery and opened a tasting room and beer garden next door – Knotty Brewing Company. Having gained quite a following, just this year they opened their second location in Rancho Penasquitos. Something notable about their beer list is that they’re all named after influential people that have made a difference in their 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.
For a from-scratch appetizer or entree alongside an ice-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.
Mirrored after a traditional Irish countryside pub, beer is made and served fresh. This family-owned and operated joint serves up some great beer with food to pair in a casual setting. 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. They are located just one block from Petco Park and stay busy year-round, so if you go, we recommend making a reservation.
Unlike most other breweries, this one is gluten-free! Founder Matt has Celiac Disease and instead of that taking over his life, he decided to experiment and uses an enzyme that takes all traces of gluten out of the beer. Their East Village kitchen also offers a completely gluten-free menu to complement their beers. Duck Foot Brewing Company has made it possible to eat and drink gluten-free and truly enjoy the taste. Stop in and check them out, you won’t know you are missing a thing!
Open for only a few months, this tasting room is the brewery’s third location. Headquartered in Miramar they also have a location in Normal Heights. They pay homage to a World War II theme and even name their beers as such. Check out their bottomless beer Friday special where for only $20 you’ll get a wristband and can order as many as you’d please as you start off your weekend at 5:00 pm happy hour and enjoy until close.
Just like their original location that was started in the back of an Asian food joint in Jackson, WY, their newest venture in San Diego pays tribute by serving Asian-inspired pub food to go along with their West Coast style beers. Their neighborhood brewmaster and ale smith runs a custom brewing system to keep their taps full of Melvin’s finest. Grab a beer and check out their wall décor – designed by a San Diego based artist to incorporate the breweries original artwork and add in some Southern California elements like the Coronado bridge!
Originally established in 1913, this brewery went out of business during prohibition. In 2007, an avid homebrewer reinvented the brand and opened a brewery addition to a small restaurant in UTC. They soon outgrew the space and relocated to a shared warehouse in Chula Vista. After a few short years, they were ready to venture out on their own and opened their current brewery and tasting room in the historic Wonder Bread building in the East Village. When you visit, you’ll be in the center of the action where they brew, bottle, can and keg onsite in 25,000 sq. ft. of space. Sign-up for one of their weekly tours where you can get a behind the scenes look at production all while sampling their amazing beers! We’d recommend sipping on a crisp and light-bodied California Craft Lager or trying 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.
Want to keep the brewery crawl going? Visit one of these new downtown San Diego bars!0