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 neighbourhood beer! Whether you 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 one 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. Stop in, taste a few 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. Stop in and check out their list of great beers, all named after influential people that have made a difference in their story!
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. Located just one block from Petco Park, they stay busy year-round, so 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 neighbourhood brew master and alesmith 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!0