California holds the title of being home to the most craft breweries in the country. San Diego is undoubtably at the heart of it all. Craft breweries seemingly line the streets and neighborhoods of this California craft epicenter. The city harbors some of the best craft beer in the industry and it can be overwhelming if you arrive and set out on the local beer trail. Below is a list of a solid five breweries that are great places to start.
1. Societe Brewing Company
Doug Constantiner and the crew at Societe Brewing Company have hit it out of the park. A solid lineup of ever evolving brews holds down the menu with Societe keeping true to those West Coast styles that make San Diego famous while simultaneously offering plenty of variety. Each brew is named after a character of society, with iconic silhouettes branding each flavor. The Apprentice and The Pupil are great intros into the world of the West Coast IPA while darker brews The Bellowsman and The Butcher are rich with flavors of chocolate and smoked cherrywood. The staff is awesome and will gladly help you navigate the menu to find the perfect brew for your palate.
Check out Joining Society: An Afternoon at Societe Brewing Company for a deeper look into Societe’s brewery and top beers.
We met up with Doug Constantiner of Societe and Paul Martinez of Brewery Pak for an exclusive Hoppy Talk at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. Check it out!
2. Modern Times Brewing Company
New England style comes to the West Coast. In their eclectic and zany taproom dubbed the Lomaland Fermentorium, Modern Times is brewing up some of the best new beer on offer. While known for their hazy NE style IPAs, Modern Times also has a delicious variety of West Coast styles, dark stouts and tart sours. Pair some of that beer with their in house cold brew coffee for an added pick-me-up. With the wacky décor and spot-on beer a stop at Modern Times is always interesting and never disappointing.
To get the big picture of what’s going on at Modern Times Brewing Company check out this in-depth article, Paradise in a Pint Glass: An Afternoon at Modern Times
3. AleSmith Brewing Company
A big player in the San Diego beer scene, head over to AleSmith’s shiny and spacious taproom for a diverse list of city favorites. Veterans of the craft beer world, AleSmith has a lineup of award winning beers who’s recipes have been crafted to perfection. Horny Devil, a Belgian farmhouse style ale and the dark and rich Scottish Wee Heavy are both fan favorites. Scout out the taproom and look for the secret password. Once in hand, head to the brewery’s hidden gem; a Prohibition style speakeasy. The secret room dubbed Anvil and Stave offers the latest from AleSmith’s barrel aging cask program. Sip on the bourbon infused Reforged or Old Numbskull barelywine while you listen to 1920’s jazz from an old phonograph and read the menu from the pages of a Faulkner novel.
For a more details on what to expect at AleSmith check out this in-depth article, AleSmith Brewing Company: Crafting the Beer Experience
4. Duck Foot Brewing Company
Duck Foot is literally the brewery for everyone. Matt DelVecchio, Duck Foot’s founder and head quack has brought passion for beer and big innovation together to create a cutting edge brewery. Duckzilla, a double white IPA is a well balanced best seller and my favorite on tap. For the non-hopheads, Rojoe Gringo Red Ale and Choco Nut Lust are delicious options on the malty side. By utilizing the science of different reacting enzymes Duck Foot has successfully created an entire lineup of flawless brews that are certified gluten free. I considered the realm of gluten-free beer underwhelming until I happened upon Duck Foot. Full flavored and well rounded whether you are going gluten-free or not this brewery is a must stop.
For the whole scoop on Duck Foot Brewing Company check out Delicious Beer and Ground Breaking Innovation at Duck Foot Brewing Company.
Don’t miss this Hoppy Talk at GABF 2017 with Matt DelVecchio, Duck Foot founder and Brewery Pak’s Paul Martinez.
5. Benchmark Brewing Company
Matt Atkin took his leave brewing for the successful AleSmith Brewing Co. in 2013 to found Benchmark. The cozy taproom with outdoorsy imagery that will endear it to any hiker, biker, or adventurer is an awesome spot to spend any San Diego evening. Known for its straight and to the point beers, Benchmark forgoes all the wacky fanfare of typical brewery branding and just lets its beers speak for themselves. While simply named, IPA packs full bitter flavor giving you that West Coast hop fix you came for. Table Beer is a crisp and refreshing Belgian while Oatmeal Stout is a rich and delicious dessert beer. The staff is awesome and great to interact with which another reason why Benchmark is such a hit with locals.
For a more in-depth look at Benchmark Brewing Company check out Benchmark Brewing Company: Where the Beer Does the Talking
Also check out this exclusive Hoppy Talk at this year’s GABF with Benchmark founder Matt Atkin and Brewery Pak’s Paul Martinez