There’s nothing quite like enjoying a beach view while sipping an ice-cold frothy beer in America’s finest city. Beer-soaked San Diego has been attracting craft beer lovers for decades with its great weather and great brews.
With over 150 microbreweries, you might feel starstruck trying to decide which brewery is worth the visit. So we compiled a list of the top breweries in San Diego for all your beer hopping needs. Feel free to sit back, and sip on a cold one while we go over the cream of the crop when it comes to San Diego breweries.
#1. BALLAST POINT
Ballast Point is a San Diego staple dating its brews back to 1992 and one of the pioneering breweries responsible for putting SD on the craft beer map. The creators of the award-winning Sculpin IPA offer over 50 beers on tap along with a globally inspired menu featuring pub favorites like pretzel bites with beer cheese and truffle-infused buffalo wings.
Home to juicy IPAs like the Aloha Sculpin or Watermelon Dorado and malty ales like the Calico Amber Ale, Ballast Point is a local gem and a top favorite among locals and tourists alike. It feels approachable yet innovative with ingredients that align harmoniously with the flavor profiles of Ballast Points Core Beers. Visit their little Italy location for a view of the airplanes flying in or their flagship location in Miramar for a larger food menu.
Neighborhood: Little Italy (research and development site), Miramar & Linda Vista (original location)
Stone Brewing is another pioneering legend responsible for putting San Diego on the craft beer grid. Needing very little introduction, this brewing giant is the USA’s 9th largest brewery and has been unapologetically supplying San Diego with bold hops and thick hearty stouts since the 90s... Have a beer adventure at their mothership location in Escondido which features an open-air patio and one-acre beer garden or head to historic Liberty Station to sip a pint and enjoy a meal from their eclectic bistro food menu which includes Kung Pao Crispy Brussel Sprouts and Mango Habanero Shrimp Tacos. They offer 36 craft beers on tap including their iconic west coast IPA plus a wine list for non-beer lovers.
Neighborhood:Point Loma, Escondido
With only one location in San Diego and over 27 years in the beer game, AleSmith easily made our list of top breweries in San Diego. Their state-of-the-art brewing facility also serves as one of San Diego’s largest tasting rooms and offers beers on tap for every palette.
AleSmith’s flavor profiles are well-balanced and versatile, from blond ales to IPAs, to its legendary Speedway Stout, which has made a splash on the national beer scene. Alesmith currently ranks #6 out of 33,000+ breweries worldwide. Pop in for a pint and stay for some San Diego good times. With no food offered at their location, there are rotating food trucks parked outside serving pizza and burritos to pair with your brew.
Kilowatt is a small-batch brewery offering hand-crafted brews in a laid-back, artsy setting under cool lighting. With its main location in Clairemont and two satellite locations in Oceanside and Ocean Beach, this brewery offers a creative and stimulating experience while you sip on a cold one and play some games.
With a sort of arcade feel to it, giant games are scattered throughout the tasting room in addition to games that you can take back to your table to enjoy with your gang. A bonus tip for the OB location: you are welcome to bring your outside food to enjoy with your brew. Local beer favorites include the juicy guava IPA, their hazy Hazezoose, or their award-winning Chocolate Macadamia stout. Their taprooms feature rotating artwork created by local artists, along with black light art that customers can enjoy with or without provided special 3D glasses.
Neighborhoods: Clairemont, Ocean Beach (satellite location), Oceanside
As the name says, Viewpoint Brewing is all about the view, which overlooks the San Dieguito Lagoon and clear blue San Diego skies. Their huge outdoor patio is connected to their indoor dining room offering open-air seating and bright lighting in a rustic modern setting. Their daily menu includes smoky brisket, adobada fries, and burgers while also serving up brunch on the weekends. Portion sizes are generous.
This brewery keeps a constantly rotating tap which includes crisp and hoppy citrusy IPAs, sours, and Amber Ales in addition to hard kombuchas and ciders. A great pit stops along the San Diego beach coastline.
Neighborhood: Del Mar
#6. BLIND LADY ALE HOUSE (AUTOMATIC BREWING COMPANY)
With lively communal seating and a casual order at the bar style, this family-friendly brewery features delicious local brews paired with delicious thin crust wood-fired pizza.
Blind Lady Ale House is a no-frills beer and pizza tavern where most nights of the week you can expect to show up and be seated right away.
A Normal Heights gem that manages to stay off the grid while offering a unique and robust tap list with top-notch local beer in almost every beer category. Centered around the community, they collaborate with other breweries and brew masters in the area to keep an evergreen tap list.
Neighborhood: Normal Heights.
#7. OB BREWERY
Sip your brew with a view. As one of the newer breweries in San Diego but also the first microbrewery to set down roots in the historic Newport avenue of Ocean Beach, OB Brewery is an OB staple and not just for its boozy influence on the hippy neighborhood. Located in the heart of Ocean Beach, this brewery offers a rooftop deck with inspiring panoramic views of Ocean Beach. Their craft beers are brewed on-site ranging from IPA’s, Pale Ales, and Dunkelweizen to experiential brews like their Jalapeño Saison. They have three levels of open seating (get ready to climb) and a food menu that features burgers and beer wings. This brewery collaborates with other local top breweries in San Diego and features award-winning seasonal and local brews on tap.
Neighborhood: Ocean Beach
#8. BELCHING BEAVER
With innovative flavors like Peanut Butter Milk Stout and New England-style hazy IPA, Belching Beaver is known for its fun and tasty pours that can’t be imitated. Visit their tasting room in Northpark (arguably the best beer neighborhood in San Diego) and maybe embark on a mini brewery tour, hopping around the nearby brewery spots like Northpark Beer Company or Thorn Brewing.
Neighborhood: Vista, Oceanside, Northpark
Regardless of which brewery you decide on, if we’re being honest any brewery you end up at in San Diego will guarantee to leave you buzzing and hoppy. Cheers!