135 N. Coast Highway 101, Solana Beach
571 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad
1956 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach
2730 Gateway Road, Carlsbad
This family-run chain of brewpubs is one of San Diego’s oldest craft beer operations, and it has served as the launching pad for many talented individuals who have gone on to receive national acclaim, move into high-profile positions within or outside the Port empire, or start their own brewing companies. Through the many generations of talented brewers who’ve come, gone, and flourished in the process, Pizza Port remains a consistent producer of beers that deliver textbook flavors no matter the style. It’s a testament to the company’s ability to find individuals with ambition, ability, passion, and tenacity to work as brewers in Pizza Port’s quartet of family-friendly brewpubs. The newest and largest of the four recently opened in Carlsbad’s Bressi Ranch community and includes a production brewery equipped with a canning line that will soon bring Port Brewing beers to market in aluminum.
155 Mata Way #104, San Marcos
The Lost Abbey / Port Brewing
While the world of barrel-aging and souring beers is rapidly expanding, one of the forerunners in these areas remains one of the best. Head of brewery operations Tomme Arthur is recognized as an expert in both fields and the possessor of a supertaster palate. The latter allows him to masterfully blend barrels of seemingly disparate tart, oaky, tannic, and fruity beers together to create concoctions that deliver complex flavors in harmonious balance. Key examples are the sours and stouts that make up the experimental Veritas series as well as Duck Duck Gooze, a blend of one-, two-, and three-year-old lambics — Belgian sour ales — to be released Labor Day weekend. Someday, Arthur hopes to serve these envelope-pushing brews from a remote facility built to mimic an actual abbey. For now, he serves them from a tasting room doling out those California-ized Belgian-inspired beers in tandem with full-on West Coast sun and surf-friendly refreshers and hop bombs in North County.
1325 Grand Avenue, Suite 100, San Marcos
Rip Current Brewing Company
It’s challenging for any homebrewer to make the jump from the recreational ranks to the big leagues. That’s true even for Paul Sangster, the 2011 Homebrewer of the Year. While he’s amassed a trophy room wallpapered in ribbons and as glaringly golden as the boxful of awesome that melted those Nazis’ faces in Raiders of the Lost Ark, even he needed some time to adjust to brewing on a larger scale. Fortunately, he had the help of partner and long-time homebrewer Guy Shobe. Together, they’ve ratcheted Rip Current up into an operation with wide-ranging styles and whimsy reminiscent of their homebrewing roots. In addition to their primary brewhouse, they regularly brew on their pilot system, allowing them to introduce more outlandish or obscure offerings on a regular basis and keep early fans coming back for more.
1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido
2816 Historic Decatur Road #116, Liberty Station
Stone Brewing Co.
Even before I worked for Stone, I appreciated what their beers and foresight did to draw attention to San Diego’s beer scene and help define the hoppy, flavorful West Coast style of brewing. I wasn’t the only one. Every day, fans from here, there, and everywhere flock to Stone’s Escondido facility for brewery tours, farm-to-table cuisine, garden lounging and, of course, plenty of craft beer. Its draw is such that, earlier this year, Stone opened a second garden-affixed restaurant in Point Loma’s Liberty Station. That venue includes a brewhouse pumping out numerous new beers each month, many of which, including a white IPA, black wit, British pale ale, and oatmeal stout, explore styles Stone has rarely or never explored. It’s a space for experimentation and has proven a great way for San Diego’s largest brewing company (and the country’s tenth largest) to further diversify its already extensive portfolio.