San Diego Breweries Guide: Where to Drink Craft Beer Around the City

Our favorite spots to enjoy craft beer around the city.

If you find yourself on the sunny Pacific Coast in the vibrant city of San Diego, the beach vibes may put you in the mood for a crisp, foamy lager or a bold and hoppy IPA.

enjoying beer in a brewery at san diego

I stopped by some of the breweries in San Diego so I can give you the down-low on where to grab a beer and soak up the seaside vibes.

From breweries with tasty food to simple ones with charming atmospheres, San Diego has a lot to offer beer lovers and foodies alike.

If you live in San Diego you may think you know all the best spots, but my list has some hidden gems you don’t want to miss out on.

Best Breweries in San Diego

  1. AleSmith Brewing Company
  2. Pure Project
  3. Ballast Point
  4. Modern Times Beer
  5. Societe Brewing Co.
  6. Stone Brewing
  7. Green Flash Brewing Co.
  8. Border X Brewing
  9. Viewpoint Brewing Co.
  10. Karl Strauss Brewing Company
  11. North Park Beer Co.
  12. The Lost Abbey
  13. Burgeon Beer Company
  14. Coronado Brewing Company
  15. Eppig Brewing
  16. Mikkeller Brewing San Diego
  17. Thorn Brewing Co.
  18. Fall Brewing Company
  19. Pizza Port
  20. Resident Brewing
  21. Mission Brewery
  22. Bitter Brothers Brewing Co.
  23. Groundswell Brew Tasting Room (San Diego)

And for all the tourists visiting the sunny city, I’ve done the digging for you so you know exactly where to go when the mood strikes for a beer.

Check out my list of the best breweries in San Diego below!

AleSmith Brewing Company

9990 AleSmith Ct, San Diego, CA 92126
Phone: 858-549-9888
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The AleSmith Brewing Company boasts the largest tasting room in San Diego for guests to enjoy their collection of craft brews.

You can purchase growler fills, bottles, and official AleSmith merchandise right inside the tasting room to take the fun home with you.

Located just two blocks from their first facility they opened in 1995, the brewery continues to serve the same community they have for over 20 years.

They offer a handful of homebrews; the menu features a hazy IPA, a West Coast IPA, an English-style brown ale, a San Diego-style pale ale, and more.

My favorite by far was their hazy IPA called Juice Stand. The beer was beautifully hoppy with notes of tropical citrus fruits and a sweet flavor like cotton candy.

Pure Project

9030 Kenamar Dr #308, San Diego, CA 92121
Phone: 858-252-6143
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The Pure Project has two breweries and I visited the small tasting room in the Miramar commercial district of San Diego in Centerpointe Square.

The vibes in this place are perfect for a casual date or spontaneous afternoon outing with friends.

The bartenders are friendly and charming without being annoying and are insanely knowledgeable about their tap list. I had the pleasure of ordering a flight, which is every beer-lovers dream when they visit breweries.

I chose two of their murky IPAs which is what they are known for. The Form and Melody and the Subconscious Mind were both foggy and colorful and bursting with a rich, hoppy flavor.

And the best part is you can order their beers right to your door and keep the good vibes rolling!

Ballast Point

Multiple locations
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Ballast Point is a well-known brewery throughout the country, with their Grapefruit Sculpin being a featured beer in many bars.

I’m familiar with the fruity and bold flavors of Ballast Point IPAs, so I went for something different.

I tried the Longfin Lager that is a German-style beer and it was refreshing and crisp without being bland.

However, the burger I ordered was just okay and the service was lacking. There is added gratuity despite the hands-off attitude of the staff which was bothersome.

Modern Times Beer

Multiple locations
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Modern Times is a nationally known brewery that makes excellent beer in a variety of styles. This location was massive with loads of space, both inside and outside.

I visited the location on the corner of 30th and Upas on 3000 Upas Street. This location has a whimsical and funky interior design with loads of lampshades hanging from the ceiling, dramatic mirrors, and walls plastered with photos and newspaper clips.

I tested out their Space Ways IPA and the Forbidden Chants Fruited Berliner. The IPA was right up my alley and the hops were fantastic.

The Berliner was a different choice for me and I was mesmerized by the bold flavor and smooth texture.

Societe Brewing Co.

8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111
Phone: 858-598-5409
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The Societe Brewing Company is a beautiful tasting room with wood walls and a chalkboard for their draft menu located on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard next to Mossy Nissan Kearny Mesa. It offers a rustic and comfortable atmosphere for people to taste a variety of beers.

By far, my favorite brew was their specialty IPA called Good Of The Public. It is a rotating beer available between July and September and has a distinct peach flavor that is bold and refreshing.

My main takeaway from this spot was the welcoming staff and the smooth texture of their beers. Every beer I tried was silky on the tongue and a treat to enjoy. 

Stone Brewing

Multiple locations
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For an upscale brewery experience, check out Stone Brewing for its soft dim atmosphere that is great for a romantic date or pleasant dinner.

Their location at Liberty Station is funky and creative, with an extraordinary cozy patio and awesome rock fire pit.

I loved their Hazy IPA that was the ideal pairing of fruit and hops for a mouth-watering flavor. But the highlight of my visit was the out-of-this-world lobster roll.

For a fancier beer experience, try out this chic brewery that has a lot to offer in the way of food and beer.

Green Flash Brewing Co.

6550 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92121
Phone: 858-622-0085
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Green Flash is an industrial yet friendly atmosphere. From the outside, it looks like an office building, but when you walk in, the brewery vibes are apparent. The location has a casual vibe and super friendly staff that enjoy talking about beer.

Because I love a seasonal selection, I ordered their Zaccatecas Mexican lager. The lager has the traditional golden corn color of Mexican beers but surprises the drinker with a burst of hops that you may expect from a lighter IPA.

The outdoor patio is beautiful, and the draft board is alluringly exciting, so next time you are in San Diego, try to swing by this brewery.

Border X Brewing

2181 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Phone: 858-405-0528
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Border X Brewing is a Mexican brewery that offers more than just corn-colored lagers. If you love Mexican lagers but are looking to explore more Mexican brews, this is the perfect brewery for you.

The atmosphere is classy yet casual, so it’s great for occasions from some afternoon beers with friends, an exciting first date, or a celebratory event.

They offer some very creative beers, from a Blood Saison with notes of agave and hibiscus to a Mexican Chocolate Stout to a cloudy Horchata Golden Stout.

The brewery seems to try out new flavor combinations and wind up with some amazing brews.

Viewpoint Brewing Co.

2201 San Dieguito Dr Suite D, Del Mar, CA 92014
Phone: 858-356-9346
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This may have taken the top spot for my favorite breweries in San Diego. The brewery is located right on the harbor, so you can enjoy a beautiful view of the water from practically anywhere, whether you sit inside or out.

They have an upscale menu with burgers, flatbreads, salads, and some scrumptious appetizers.

Plus, they offer weekend brunch, so you have an excuse to drink beer at 10 a.m! The atmosphere is vibrant, with lots of greenery above you.

I went for the Yeast Bound and Brown amber ale that had beautiful caramel notes as well as rich oaky color.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Multiple locations
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If you find yourself in Downtown San Diego with a yearning for a foamy brew, the Karl Strauss Brewing Company is the perfect spot. They offer traditional bar food with a few surprise dishes inspired by Asian flavors.

I tasted a few beers and ordered a few as well, but the one that stood out to me was the Boat Shoes Hazy IPA. It was a succulent beer that was super cloudy and full of fruity flavor without being too sweet.

The location gives classic pub vibes and is perfect for enjoying a few beers on a weeknight.

North Park Beer Co.

3038 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
Phone: 619-255-2994
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North Park Beer Company makes an array of fine brews that they’ll ship anywhere in California. This is excellent because once you try their beers, you’ll want a 6-pack to take home.

They’re located in North Park near The Observatory North Park and Queen Bee’s Art and Cultural Center.

I loved their Art is Hard IPA as well as Infinite Content Hazy Triple IPA. But their short rib grilled cheese was heavenly and the perfect pairing for some beers.

Although the atmosphere was relaxed and pleasant, the staff seems poorly trained, and they have little knowledge of their beers, which is not ideal for a brewery.

The Lost Abbey

1313 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 800-918-6816
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This brewery has a charming atmosphere and incredible brews. The Lost Abbey is a new addition to the San Diego neighborhood, arriving within the last two years and still finishing up construction.

But the construction by no means gets in the way of the fabulous service and well-brewed beer. The long wood tables have an aura of medieval times that the brewery tries to cultivate.

I was ecstatic after trying the Red Poppy Ale that sang flavor notes of sour cherries and had a flowery aroma. I immediately fell in love, and I urge anyone that checks this place out to try the outstanding Belgian brew.

Burgeon Beer Company

6350 Yarrow Dr STE C, Carlsbad, CA 92011
Phone: 760-814-2548
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One of the best aspects of Burgeon Beer Company is that they offer all of their draft beers in three size options, which makes it easy to try more!

The Fifth Mirage and Prawn Burgundy were my top brews on their menu. Both were hazy IPAs bursting with well-balanced flavor and a smooth texture.

While they don’t have a kitchen, they have a food truck calendar on their website, so you know when the best times to go for food and beer are.

The rustic-style brewery has loads of space and natural light that fosters good vibes and is the perfect spot for a relaxing outing with friends.

Coronado Brewing Company

1205 Knoxville St, San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: 619-275-2215
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The Coronado Brewing Company fosters a beachside atmosphere with mermaids on their cans and refreshing beers on tap.

I’m not a fan of Shandie’s usually, but I gave their Orange Avenue Shandy a chance and was pleasantly surprised by how rich the orange flavor was.

For once, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the lemonade, which I feel sometimes makes Shandie’s taste watered down.

And they have food! Their pizza was a solid addition to the visit but wasn’t particularly memorable.

Eppig Brewing

2817 Dickens St, San Diego, CA 92106
Phone: 619-756-6825
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Eppig Brewing is a charming brewery located right on the water so you can sip an excellent beer while soaking in the special San Diego views.

The location has a long draft list giving visitors lots of options. I couldn’t settle for just one, so I ordered a flight of IPAs that arrived in an adorable wooden box.

The Try This! and Smokey The Beer were my absolute favorites; both beers were rich in flavor with a velvety finish.

Mikkeller Brewing San Diego

9366 Cabot Dr, San Diego, CA 92126
Phone: 858-381-3500
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The Mikkeller Brewery in San Diego is a minimalist brewery with a chic and modern tone that offers a relaxed atmosphere. They offer 24 beers for guests to enjoy in their colorful and sleek tasting room.

The beers here are very experimental, so it’s a great location for beer enthusiasts to check out. I fell head over heels for the ​​Passion Pool Gose beer, brimming with fruity flavor and aroma but punctuated with the taste of sea salt for a well-balanced brew.

From brews like Bah Hum-Bock to the Mashes of the Flake IPA to the Beer Geek Vanilla Shake imperial oatmeal stout, this taproom has something to offer every beer-lover.

Thorn Brewing Co.

Multiple locations
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The Thorn Brewing Company offers some fantastic beer options that will have you coming back for more.

The decor is nothing to write home about; they have a wood vibe with some street signs on the wall and other subtle decors.

I got the Scorched Earth: Toy Machine Collab which is a juicy, hazy IPA with an intense flavor of lemon and grapefruit. The IPA was delicious and something I would buy to bring home.

The brewery has a laid-back pub vibe that welcomes locals and tourists alike.

Fall Brewing Company

4542 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116
Phone: 619-501-0903
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The Fall Brewing Company has a lot of character with its completely black exterior, cartoony glasses, and lively employees.

The spot doesn’t serve food but welcomes outside food and often has cool food trucks parked outside.

The brewery has grunge artwork and clever decor that will make you chuckle to yourself. The beer names are comical too, with brews called 4:59 (because it’s almost 5 o’clock) and 86’D, which means it’s not available, but obviously, it is!

The best part of this bar is the vibrant staff, unique decor, and positive atmosphere.

Pizza Port

1956 Bacon St, San Diego, CA 92107
Phone: 619-224-4700
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If you want a brewery that can deliver quality beer and food, Pizza Port is a great option. The pizza is thick but crunchy, and they certainly do not skimp on their toppings.

The brewery has a casual and fun atmosphere where you can bring children and have an afternoon outing.

While this doesn’t say anything about the beers themselves, the cans are to die for. They have cute cartoons on them and are art in themselves.

I had a Dream Trip IPA that was a malty, copper-colored west coast-style IPA with notes of berries and citrus. I had to buy a six-pack on my way out.

Resident Brewing

1065 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-717-6622
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The Resident Brewing Company is a rustic, up-scale brewery that offers a warm and cozy atmosphere along with an array of top-notch brews. The brewery is run by award-winning brewer Robert Masterson and it shows in their beer.

I tried their peppery Golden Kiss Saison, which was refreshing and had a deep flavor all at the same time. It had strong notes of pepper and subtle hints of fruit for a distinct and memorable flavor.

The best part of this brewery was the bold bathroom stalls with life-size pinup girls painted on them.

And the worst part: they turned off the music and played the football commentary over the speakers. But if you’re a sports nut, this is the brewery spot for you.

Mission Brewery

1441 L St, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-544-0555
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The Mission brewery is located in downtown San Diego and offers a beautiful taproom with an array of brews. Their taproom is kid-friendly and dog-friendly so bring your little ones with you!

They do not have a kitchen but encourage visitors to bring their food, whether from home or another restaurant.

The taproom is located in the old Wonderbread factory, making it a unique spot for a brewery and adding some history to the spot. The brewery has a large tap list with a variety of brews as well as hard seltzers.

I went with the ​​Frooty Booty Fruited Hazy IPA because how could I pass up a beer with a name like that? I was punched in the tastebuds with a fruity, vibrant, cloudy IPA that immediately broke into my top ten favorite brews.

Bitter Brothers Brewing Co.

4170 Morena Blvd Unit F, San Diego, CA 92117
Phone: 619-961-6690
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This large taproom with a plethora of beers welcomes beer lovers of all kinds. Bitter Brothers Brewing Co. is located on Morena Boulevard, just south of Costco Wholesale.

The space is very industrial, with not much texture aside from wood and cold metal. But what matters is that their beer is fantastic.

Although Dunkels aren’t my usual beer of choice, I opted for their Brotherly Love Dunkelweiss to step out of my comfort zone. It was a lovely, copper-colored beer with a rich, sweet flavor without tasting like a dessert.

Groundswell Brew Tasting Room (San Diego)

6304 Riverdale St, San Diego, CA 92120
Phone: 619-795-2337
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The Groundswell Brew Tasting Room is a dim brewery that offers truly innovative beers. This is a great stop for you beer connoisseurs out there to find something new.

I tried their sage IPA and the white IPA, both brimming with hoppy flavor and perfectly encapsulated their names.

The sage beer was a well-balanced IPA with the hoppy notes of fruit dulled by the strong sage scent and flavor.

Groundswell puts forth the attitude that beer is a social activity, and the atmosphere in the tasting rooms radiates this with the hum of cheerful conversations.

And if you’re hungry, they offer plenty of pizza, sandwiches, and more so you can keep having a good time.

Final Thoughts

No matter what kind of beer is your jam, San Diego can deliver. The harborside city has loads of innovative and creative brewers that liven up the flavor of the city.

If you’re looking for an upscale location or a spot that offers yummy bites to go along with your beer, San Diego breweries have all of that and much more to offer locals and tourists.

If you’re not looking for breweries in San Diego, check out these sushi spots instead!

Did we leave your favorite brewery out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.