Hop To It

Just in time for San Diego Beer Week—S.D.’s 10-day celebration of all things craft brew that runs Nov. 1-10 with events all over the county (SDBW.org)—we get the scoop on San Diego’s buzzy scene.

Culture Brewery in Solana Beach

City for Display: 

In a county regarded the world over as America’s craft beer capital, this week has beer fans bubbling over with excitement. For the insider’s guide, we’ve tapped the San Diego author Brandon Hernández, who just penned a new book, The San Diego Beer News Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries (available at Amazon.com). Thirsty?

1. Fave brewery spots to enjoy local brews: “Of course, the award-winning Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Escondido (stonebrew.com) where I work—especially when Stone Enjoy By IPA is on-tap. For indoor craft beer and conviviality, Old Town Vista's Mother Earth Tap House (motherearthbrewco.com) provides a spacious gathering spot, a broad offering of the company's beers (including the sinful Sin-Tax Imperial Peanut Butter Stout) and food delivery from nearby restaurants including URBN New Haven-style coal-fired pizzas. Let’s not forget Societe Brewing Company (societebrewing.com) in Kearny Mesa offers a cool farmhouse-meets-winery aesthetic—that includes my silhouette emblazoned on a barrel top—as well as some of the best service in San Diego.”

2. Stars on the rise: “Earlier this year, Stone Brewing Co. opened San Diego's largest restaurant in Point Loma's Liberty Station (stonelibertystation.com), installed a bar and eatery in Terminal 2 at the airport and christened a Stone Company Store in Downtown. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits (ballastpoint.com) is a brilliant addition to Petco Park, recently opened a tasting room and kitchen in Little Italy and is about to close on an expansive new brewery facility. Meanwhile, Karl Strauss Brewing Company (karlstrauss.com) is readying an eighth brewery-restaurant spot in Temecula, AleSmith (alesmith.com) is about to move to big new digs and Green Flash Brewing Company (greenflashbrew.com) will soon break ground on its second brewery… in Virginia Beach.”

3. Flying high under the radar:Amplified Ale Works (amplifiedales.com) is dishing out skewered meats in tandem with well-crafted beer at PB's California Kebab and Beer Garden; Breakwater Brewing Company (breakwaterbrewing.com) has been Oceanside's best (and best kept) beer option for half a decade behind West Coast-style brews that pack this brewpub every weekend; and Culture Brewing Company (culturebrewingco.com), situated on the same Solana Beach block as Belly Up Tavern, has the goods to make for a truly rockin' night on the town.”

4. Best of the rookie class: “After years of brewing consistently excellent beers under the AleSmith flag, Matt Akin teamed with dear old dad (a certified beer judge) to open his own baby, Benchmark Brewing Company (benchmarkbrewing.com) on Fairmount Ave., where he's serving up an exquisite, roasty oatmeal stout and weekly cask ales. Then there's Paul Sangster, the 2011 US Homebrewer of the Year, who went pro with brew bud Guy Shobe, and is simultaneously resurrecting Old World styles and going nouveau at San Marcos' Rip Current Brewing Company (ripcurrentbrewing.com).”

5. Next best thing: “The country's most award-winning brewer, Jeff Bagby (formerly of Pizza Port), is converting a massive two-story BMW dealership in Oceanside into an indoor/outdoor brewpub with multiple bars, a pizza-oven adorned beer garden, bottle shop and top tier deck with unimpeded views of the Pacific. Add in beer of the highest quality and Bagby Beer Company (bagbybeer.com) figures to be extraordinary in every way.”