Given that it’s home to at least 153 brewhouses and often pegged as the Craft Beer Capital of the U.S., it should be no surprise that San Diego loves its beer. And while delicious craft beer can be enjoyed in any setting, there’s nothing quite like drinking a cold, frosty brew straight from the source. That said, with so many options at your disposal, it’s tough to narrow ‘em down to the best of the best. Fortunately, you don’t have to because we did it for you.
The next time you have a hankering for a fresh and frothy beer, check out one (or all) of the following tasty microbreweries.
In just six short years since it opened in 2012, Belching Beaver has become a massive favorite in the San Diego brewery scene. In fact, it now has five different locations in the city and ships to eight states outside of California. Plus, its head brewer Thomas Peters has won the coveted Alpha King award twice. But if you’ve ever sampled anything from this brewery, then its accolades won’t surprise you. With innovative offerings like Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout and Me So Honey Blonde, you’ll definitely want to add this gem to your brewery bucket list.
Founded in 1996 by two guys, Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, with a passion for exceptional beer, Stone Brewing Company has become the 10th-largest craft brewery in the country. It was also called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine, twice, and voted “Best California Brewery” by RateBeer. With year-round offerings and tasty seasonal releases, the variety here is killer. So killer, in fact, that its flagship beer, Arrogant Bastard Ale, now boasts its own brewing company.
Another brewery founded in 1996, Coronado Brewing Company specializes in brewing beach-inspired beers, often with refreshing hints of citrus and earthy spice. The brewery has won a gang of awards, including the Champion Mid-Size Brewing Company and Brewmaster at the World Beer Cup in 2014. It features a wide variety of offerings, including seasonal brew and Art Series and Core Series selections. For an unforgettable pale ale, try Weekend Vibes, a bright, hoppy, and fruity IPA that’s perfect for relaxing the day away.
Alpine Beer Company isn’t as centrally-located as the others on this list, but its foothills location is every bit worth the trek. Founded in 1999, this brewery with a small-town feel offers up everything from quintessential San Diego IPAs to small-batch sours. And its offerings don’t come without recognition—RateBeer ranked it as the sixth-best brewery in the world in 2015 and its Keene Idea Double IPA was voted among the 120 best beers in the world by Beer Advocate.
When it comes to dedication to technique, flavor, and innovation, it doesn’t get much better than Ballast Point. In business for over 20 years, the company started as a small group of home brewers with a mission to create an exceptional beer. The brewery has since received national acclaim, with its ever delicious, five-stage hop, Sculpin IPA, regularly gracing lists of the best beer in the country. And while the brewery already features a range of unforgettable brews, it’s not stopping with its current offerings—its location in Little Italy is solely dedicated to experimentation to create the next best beer.