11 Best Breweries to Try in San Diego

Southern California has a drinking culture all its own, and craft beer is about as prevalent in San Diego as sunshine. With more than 150 breweries scattered throughout the county, travelers have more than enough options for beer-fueled adventures.

Trying out some of San Diego’s finest drafts is a must-do during a stay at a vacation home rental in the area. From beachside pubs with sunny patios to urban taprooms with a focus on innovative fl  vors, here are 11 of the best local breweries in San Diego County for you to explore on your next trip!

1. Kilowatt

Photo Credit: VDB Photos

Just off the main drag in Ocean Beach, you'll find a brewing company that perfectly matches this hippie neighborhood's notably eccentric flavor: Kilowatt Brewing.

Decorated with funky, interactive art from local creatives and glow-in-the-dark lighting, it feels like you're stepping inside a rave. Except for loud dance music, you'll be greeted with a rotating selection of small-batch beers and peculiar games you've definitely never heard of.

You'll find everything from traditional IPAs like their Hazy And The Hendersons to fruits and sours like their Pineapple Coconut Blonde on the menu. Grab a pint and enjoy it on the small, pet-friendly patio overlooking the sidewalk for some prime OB people-watching or sip it inside while playing with the brewery's gigantic light-bright.

If you really want to get crazy, their adult slushies come in at a whopping 9.5% ABV and taste almost better than the alcohol-free versions you enjoyed as a kid. Be sure to check out the back of the brewery at least once to snag a photo in their wild, colorfully lit backdrop. As an added bonus, Kilowatt also rotates off-site chefs and guest food trucks.

While the OB location is easily the most loved by locals, they also recently opened a space-themed speakeasy in Oceanside and a hidden tiki lounge in Kearny Mesa that's worth checking out.

2. California Wild Ales

Photo Credit: Kirill Z

Sour lovers unite! This small, funky brewery is the only brewery in SD—and one of the few in the country—that primarily makes complex barrel-aged sour beers.

California Wild Ales may be a new addition to the Ocean Beach beer scene, but it's quickly become a fan favorite thanks to its tart and delicious brews.

They pair with local farmers and backyard growers to create truly unique flavors like Carlsbad Blueberry, Blackberry Jam, and Pomegranate Wild Ale. And if you don't like your beers all that fruity, the Gose Style Ale and the Pesky Parrot provide more of that traditional sour taste.

Everything about the vibe of this place brings out your inner kid, from the homage to the beloved childhood book  Where The Wild Things Are to the homemade table-sized games and wheeled (yes, wheeled) seating options.

Because it—and most of San Diego, really—is super pet-friendly, you'll likely be sharing your space with some furry, four-legged friends. After you get your pets in, enjoy live music or whatever they have playing on their pull-down projector screen. Past entertainment includes live game-day viewing and virtual Phish concerts.

3. Amplified Ale Works

Photo Credit: amplifiedales

Technically, this brewpub is not a traditional brewery. But before you come for us, browse Amplified Ale Works' wide selection of 30+ local taps, and you'll quickly understand why it had to make our list.

Located in Pacific Beach, Amplified Ale Works' laid-back atmosphere and prime ocean views are just a few of its many enticements. Its selection of craft brewing offers something for everyone—even people who hate beer. With a menu that includes wine, hard kombucha, cider, and even a few cocktails, you're sure to find something that pleases your taste buds.

Music is the running theme here, and it shows in the art-filled walls, guitar-shaped trays, and live shows. From hip-hop to reggae to rock 'n roll—Amplified Ale Works brings in some of San Diego's best local talent.

Plus, their 2nd-floor grass rooftop patio is pet-friendly and always an ideal spot for a sundowner with friends. And unlike some smaller breweries, Amplified Ale Works has food!

Their small, Mediterranean-California fusion menu has some seriously big flavor, especially when it comes to their always well-attended Hangover Brunch. You can even drink your dessert when you order one of their signature beer floats.

4. SD TapRoom

Photo Credit: siamionau pavel

  • Website: sdtaproom.com
  • Address: 1269 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, CA

Don't you hate when your favorite brew is tapped? Well, you'll never find yourself blindsided at SD TapRoom, thanks to their live beer menu.

Not only can you see what percentage of the beer is left on their tap, but you can even request a new beer to be included on the menu. Once you submit your choice, you'll receive a text or email alert when it's ready to pour. Talk about having your beer and drinking it too.

This Pacific Beach go-to is also well-known for its extensive pour list of local and international beer, wine, and a few cocktail options in its dog-friendly interior dining area or outdoor beer garden.

In addition, they make all of their own food, including some pretty creative beer-themed snacks like beer-brined fries, beer soakers, and beer mac and cheese. If you're more in the mood for a full meal, their menu features pizza, burgers, and other American-style pub fares that pair perfectly with a pint (or two).

Don't forget to stop by their smaller brewery, TapRoom Beer Company, in North Park.

5. PB Alehouse

Most breweries are known for their casual, quieter atmosphere—but not PB Alehouse. The party doesn't stop at this two-story beachfront pub in Pacific Beach, which boasts an impressive list of award-winning homebrew beers, wine, and craft cocktails on a rotating selection.

Here you'll find some old-time favorites like IPAs and lagers, along with exciting new takes, like their "bright and tart" Sunsetter Raspberry Berliner Weisse.

But the real draw at PB Alehouse is their second-story patio. Boasting some of the best ocean views in San Diego, this open-air oasis is the perfect spot to take in some sunsets with friends.

While you can always enjoy the sights alongside a $5 draft beer during their weekday Hoppy Hour, their Reverse Hoppy Hour on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to midnight is where the real action is.

6. Eppig Brewing

Photo Credit: lin Judy via Flickr CC2.0

  • Website: eppigbrewing.com
  • Point Loma Address: 2817 Dickens Street, San Diego, CA
  • La Jolla Address: 1273 Prospect Street, San Diego, CA

Eppig Brewing has a fascinating backstory—it's the product of a family of brewmasters who traced their roots to the pre-Prohibition era in New York City.

They offer a rotating list of house brews, from delicate lagers to bold IPAs, along with their flagship IPA, 10:45 To Denver—a New-Style India Pale Ale that won the 2020 European Beer Star Gold Medal. And if you love the excitement of a special release, keep an eye out for Eppig's limited-edition seasonal brews.

Now a staple in the San Diego craft beer scene, this German-style brewery has two locations. Its waterfront Biergarten in Point Loma overlooks the marina, where you'll be rewarded with scenes of frolicking sea lions and unreal cotton candy sunsets. They also host a ton of events like waterfront yoga, trivia, indie markets, and succulent-making workshops.

Its new Bierhaus in La Jolla is less picturesque but is located in the center of town and offers a casual scene not often found in the posh coastal community. Both offer some small snacks and allow you to bring in your own food.

7. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

Photo Credit: chenjack via Flickr CC2.0

Located in the heart of Liberty Station—a naval training center turned arts and entertainment district—this Stone Brewing location is a must-visit for beer lovers. The large bistro offers an expansive selection of house-brewed beers with over 40 taps on its list.

Be sure to sample some of their signature pours, like their Arrogant Bastard Ale, the Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager, and the Stone Delicious IPA.

Also, on their massive menu, you'll find wine, cocktails, and tons of food options. There are a lot of yummy dishes to try, but you can't go wrong with the Stone Delicious Bavarian Pretezel or the Chicken Tinga Tacos.

And have we mentioned this place is huge? There's plenty to explore and keep you occupied with an indoor dining area, outdoor garden, bocce ball court, on-site store, and cinema space. Though we have to say, the tranquil outdoor garden is where it's at, especially if you have kids tagging along.

They'll love watching the little ducklings that call the area home. Just be sure to make a reservation, as this location gets packed, especially on the weekends.

8. North Park Beer Company

Photo Credit: Adriano Ramos de Mello via Flickr CC2.0

Despite the name honoring a different San Diego neighborhood, North Park Beer Co. is one of the few craft breweries you'll find in Bankers Hill.

Their newest location is a lot smaller than their original site in North Park, but the cozy, art-deco style taproom still offers plenty of delicious brews on tap—including popular pours like the X-Raying Citra or their Birdie To Bogey Cali Pilsner. With a rotating menu of unique house brews, you're sure to find something new every time you visit.

But the real draw at this charming brewery is its food. They serve up elevated pub fares that pay homage to the area, like Bankers Fries and Bankers Tendies as well as decadent burgers.

There's even a meal option for your pooch! So if Fido is tagging along on your San Diego adventures, you can both enjoy a delicious meal together. Plus, it's right across the street from Balboa Park, making it the perfect spot to grab a bite before you explore all this cultural gem has to offer.

9. Pure Project

Photo Credit: purebrewing

San Diego is all about being eco-friendly, and everything about this Bankers Hill brewery screams sustainability.

From its responsibly sourced ingredients to its upscale interior designed with reclaimed Torrey pinewood, Pure Project is helping the planet one pint at a time, and being socially conscious never tasted so good, thanks to its delicious selection of house-brewed beers.

The menu of 20 taps is constantly rotating, but you can always find eccentric pours of all ABVs, from the light Rove Adventure Beer to the hefty Bourbon Barrel-aged Lady Jane's Lament ale.

Whatever your beer of choice, you can sit back and enjoy it on their 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio, a breath of fresh air in a neighborhood made up of primarily tall buildings. In this space, they primarily host events like dog adoptions, cornhole tournaments, and, of course, live music.

10. Harland

Photo Credit: Kirk K via Flickr CC2.0

Being one of the smaller San Diego neighborhoods, South Park doesn't have much in the way of breweries, but it does have Harland. Matching the hip nature of the area, Harland's South Park tasting room has an airy and modern atmosphere to it, with a small sidewalk patio and plenty of unique brews to try.

Their rotating lineup always features something new and exciting, but their core beers never disappoint. The Hazy IPA, the Rumbler, the Japanese Lager, and the India Pale Ale are all crowd favorites.

Unlike some breweries, Harland opens up their menu to include wine, cocktails, ciders, and even meads, along with a robust list of scrumptious eats. And unlike some breweries, they run a cafe in the morning serving yummy concoctions like Hawaiian Lattes and Blueberry Cold Brews.

11. Fall Brewing

Photo Credit: Karl via Flickr CC2.0

Also dubbed the Golden Rhino Room—for the massive golden rhino mounted on the wall—Fall Brewing's first satellite tasting room in South Park is a smorgasbord of eccentric decor that makes you feel like you've opened up a punk rock time capsule.

Vintage lamps hang from the ceiling, fliers for shows plaster the walls, and classic steakhouse booths fill the floor, making the atmosphere of this brewery one-of-a-kind. But don't let that distract you from the 18+ drinks on tap, which rotate often and feature a combination of classic offerings and experimental concoctions.

No matter what you drink, the name you won't soon forget. Popular choices include the Plenty For All Pilsner, the Magical and Delicious Hoppy IPA, the Your Pretty blonde ale, the Young and Goodlooking IPA, and the classic Oh Yeah light lager.

New brews are always rolling out, but the mismatched vibes alone are enough of a reason to make Fall Brewing a stop on your personal beer tour.

Sip and Stay in San Diego

From the expansive beer gardens of Stone Brewing to the hip vibes of Harland, San Diego is certainly no stranger to the craft beer scene. There's something for every hophead who stays at a vacation rental in the Finest City.

So grab a pint or two, and cheers to exploring the craft beer capital!

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