What Should I Look For in a Local San Diego Brewery?

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Craft Beer Tasting Flight

San Diego is thriving as the craft beer capital of the United States. There are currently more than 150 craft breweries in San Diego, and rumor has it that more intend on moving in. While the popularity of craft beer seems to be stalling around the country, there are no signs of craft beer fatigue in San Diego.

If you live in San Diego, or plan to visit, you may want to stop by a local San Diego brewery or two to see what the hype is all about. With more than 150 places to choose from, how do you know which craft brewery will be the best choice for you? The answer depends on what you’re looking to get out of the experience.

Culture & Atmosphere

The best breweries are memorable not only for their beer, but for the atmosphere and culture of the brewhouse itself. Beer is great, but atmosphere will help to bring guests back time and time again. Even the smallest details can help to create a great atmosphere:

  • Choice of seating: Where will you be sitting to enjoy your local San Diego craft beer? Did the brewery choose to go with traditional table and chairs, or did they opt for something more interesting, like picnic table, bar stools, or benches?
  • Games: Everyone loves games. Many craft breweries make traditional board games widely available to their patrons. Others embrace “life-size” versions of those games for bigger laughs and thrills
  • Decor: A simply-decorated bar may be nice, but it may lack the “wow” factor needed to bring guests back. Breweries that embrace decor and really commit to a theme tend to be popular with guests.
  • Music: Music can make a good experience great. Do you prefer live music, or do you simply want to hear hits from the 80s and 90s on the radio? If you have a preference, a simple online search can help you find the brewery with the best choice of music for you.

Best in San Diego for culture and atmosphere:

  • URBN Street Brewing
  • Half Door Brewing
  • Stone Liberty Station
  • Monkey Paw
  • Modern Times

Canines Welcome

Are you and your dog inseparable? You may want to narrow your choice of breweries down to those welcoming your canine companion. Fortunately, many breweries in San Diego seem to be dog-friendly.

Best in San Diego for culture and atmosphere:

  • Ocean Beach Brewery
  • Thorn St. Brewery
  • Amplified Ale Works
  • Bolt Brewery
  • Second Chance Beer Co. Brewery.

Food Options

What food options are available at a particular brewery? Are consumers encouraged to bring their own food, or is the brewery set up to prepare and sell food to complement the beer? Maybe the brewery has a relationship with a few food trucks or local restaurants who set up on site and sell tasty fare to brewery patrons.

If you know that you’ll want food to accompany your craft beer, a quick online search can help you find breweries with in-house food service options. If you’d rather be adventurous and check another food truck off your bucket list, you can find some options the San Diego Food Trucks website.

Best in San Diego for food:

  • AleSmith (food trucks)
  • 10 Barrel Brewing
  • Helix Brewing (food trucks)
  • Half Door Brewing
  • Duck Foot Brewing Company (food trucks)

Substantial Local Beer List

You’re going to a San Diego craft brewery because you want to enjoy local San Diego craft beer, right? Some breweries have a few of their own local concoctions on tap, but also have other readily-accessible beers available for purchase. Make the most out of your trip to a San Diego craft brewery by making sure that they have a substantial local beer list.

Some breweries even emphasize the sourcing and use of local ingredients, which can help to make your San Diego craft beer experience even better.

Interesting Beer Offerings

When you go to a brewery you want to try some great beer. You may also want the opportunity to expand your horizons by trying new and different brews. The best breweries will have a mix of takes on traditional favorites and experimental ales. Do some recon online before you go out to find out which breweries are serving up beers you’re most likely to enjoy.

Outdoor Seating

Do you want to drink your San Diego craft beer while soaking in the sun? Several breweries feature outdoor seating areas and bars, which means that your dreams can come true. Outdoor areas tend to get crowded quickly on nice days, so make sure you’re willing to battle the crowds for a seat at the bar or table.

Best in San Diego for outdoor seating:

  • Ballast Point Brewing
  • Half Door Brewing Co.
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Co.
  • Bagby Beer Company
  • South Park Brewing Company.

No matter which San Diego craft brewery you decide to visit, chances are high that you’ll enjoy some quality craft beer. The brewery that is the best fit for you will depend on what you want to get out of the experience. Considering things like culture, food, and variety of beer before making your choice.

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