San Diego: The Craft Beer Capital of America
San Diego doesn’t do anything halfway. We have the world’s best zoo. We have a park system that ranks in the top 50 of the USA’s most populous cities. We’re home to the largest naval fleet in the world. You get the idea. So if you’re craving a craft brew, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve been called the Craft Beer Capital of America.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company started in 1989, and it’s one of the city’s most popular breweries, Stone Brewing will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. “The craft brewery explosion came pretty early on to San Diego,” says visitcalifornia.com.
Of the more than 4,100 craft breweries scattered across the country, California claims nearly 500, and 121 of these reside in San Diego. Almost two dozen of the latter sprang up in the past year, so business shows no sign of slowing down.
What’s behind the popularity?
“Beer has always been a hallmark of this country,” the Brewers Association’s chief economist Bart Watson said in a press release. Furthermore, statistics have shown that the majority of craft beer buyers want to support small, independent breweries in their neighborhood. It probably doesn’t hurt that craft beer is more potent than big-name competitors. Craft beer contains 5 to 40 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) compared to 2.5 percent ABV in Budweiser Select 55, and 2.8 percent in Miller Genuine Draft 64.
Whatever your reason for drinking craft beer, here are a handful of local favorites you should try while in San Diego.
Nason’s Beer Hall
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Pendry’s very own addition to San Diego’s iconic craft beer scene. Nason’s features an expansive selection of local and international beers, globally inspired comfort food, and vintage bar games. It has a geat atmosphere, excellent service and complimentary popcorn to boot!
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station
Since opening in 1996, hometown hero Stone Brewing (stonebrewing.com) has expanded to 10 locations, including Petco Park and San Diego International Airport, which is appropriate since it also went global to Berlin. Visit the bistro in Liberty Station and take in the amazing stonework throughout the restaurant and restrooms. You’ll find swanky décor like red velvet curtains and a wood table with a stream running through it, a garden complete with a bridge over a koi fish pond, and, of course, your beer, perhaps with a side of yellowtail fish tacos or spicy rigatoni.
Green Flash Brewing Co.
Fourteen years ago, husband-and-wife team Mike and Lisa Hinkley founded Green Flash (greenflashbrew.com), and it has earned close to 40,000 votes – about one vote for every two barrels it produces per year – on beeradvocate.com. Food truck enthusiasts flock here for the garlic French fries, burgers, and pasta. At Green Flash, you’ll find a wide beer selection, tour, tasting room, photo booth, and even a shuttle that travels to other breweries and tap houses. The brewery is also dog-friendly with outdoor seating.
Abnormal Beer Company
Those who can’t agree with their significant other on where to eat, let alone how to start a craft brewery, should head to Abnormal Beer Company, a brewery, winery, and fine restaurant all rolled into one. Its debut IPA’s 7.6 percent ABV is “pretty smooth,” according to the website. The company created a Double IPA with 8.8 percent ABV to celebrate its one-year anniversary in May. Wines include chardonnay, merlot, and its very popular Chocolate Berry Port.