San Diego’s year-round warm weather makes this city the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and beer drinkers alike. With more than 30 breweries, the San Diego beer scene will always be there to quench the thirsts of surfers, bikers and joggers at the end of a long day in the sun. One of the best time’s for this is during San Diego Beer Week, which happens every November and continues to grow in popularity since its inception in 2009. In fact, beer has made such an influence on this city that Mayor Sanders declared June to be Craft Beer Month in San Diego. The city also hosted the 2012 World Beer Cup, with several of its own breweries receiving awards for their tasty brews. Now’s a better time than ever to check out one of the five beer spots that influenced the city’s evolving craft beer movement.
Stone Brewing Co. continues to make a name for itself in the beer world. Its Arrogant Bastard Ale, first released in 1997, is still as arrogant as ever with the words "You’re Not Worthy" proudly displayed on the bottle label. Guests can visit the company’s original Escondido location and explore the 19-acre farm, where fields of organic produce are grown and used to create the food in the Stone Brewing restaurants as well as the hops in the beer. Beer lovers can also visit the newer Liberty Station location in downtown. Both locations have outdoor garden areas – a perfect way to enjoy a sunny San Diego day.
The tasting room at AleSmith Brewing Company is similar to a wine-tasting room in that visitors are there for one thing only: to taste beer. The glistening wooden counter top wraps its way around the room, and a display of taps encourages guests to choose several beer tasters that come in 4 ounces or 8 ounces. The "Lil’ Devil Belgian-style ale is a spot-on choice, with coriander and orange peel flavors. The AleSmith IPA is another customer favorite with its strong hoppy flavor.
The name Mission Brewery pays tribute to one of the city’s first breweries that opened in 1913 and subsequently closed in 1919. This more recent version opened in 2007 in a historic 1894 building, located on the outskirts of the city’s Gaslamp District and near Petco Park. The beers here are so delicious they practically sell themselves. The Barrel Aged Dark Seas, for instance, is a limited edition of the Russian Imperial Stout, which has been aged for 20 months in Four Roses whiskey barrels that create hints of vanilla.
The Lost Abbey can accommodate several hundred guests in its tasting room, which serves beer from a 42-tap system. The brewery is the answer to co-owner Vince Marsaglia’s search for finding the "lost" abbey-style brewery, a brewery that would produce a range of Belgian beers. As such, The Lost Abbey opened in 2006 serving a variety of beers crafted using Belgian brewing traditions. Beer lovers will want to try the Avante Garde Ale, a year-round brew with hints of green apple.
Tiger!Tiger!, located in North Park, invites guests to take a seat at one of its many narrow picnic tables, either inside or out, before choosing a beer from the extensive chalkboard beer menu. The about 30 tap handles are connected to a custom-built Direct Draw Draught System and feature a wide selection of tasty beers from across the world. The food is equally as good. A wood-burning oven is used to cook wood-fired sandwiches such as the Banh Mi sandwich, which consists of Chinese pork belly, veggies and a chile aioli served on a baguette.