7 Craft Breweries In Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego’s craft beer scene is active and diverse. There are now seven craft breweries, several annual beer festivals, and numerous growler fill tap rooms, bottle shops, and hip craft beer bars. And they are growing in number. However, if you are looking for brewery-fresh beer in downtown San Diego, there are only seven craft breweries to choose from.
Geographically, San Diego is huge, and so is San Diego County. There are over 130 craft beer breweries scattered about the county, and some of the world’s best beers are brewed by them. Surprisingly, out of all those breweries, only seven are located in downtown San Diego. Here they are:
Karl Strauss Brewing– 1157 Columbia Street (est. 1989)
Right next to The W Hotel and just blocks away from San Diego Station and Broadway Pier, the upscale Karl Strauss brewpub is comfortable and hip. Lots of professionals come here for lunch, dinner, and to relax with a beer after work. Food is a bit pricey, but always delicious and worth the cost. The award-winning beers are famous for being consistently of high quality.
This is San Diego’s first microbrewery, opening in 1989. In addition to their core flagship craft beers, Karl Strauss also produces seasonal brews, such as their Double Chocolate Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, which I reviewed here.
The Beer Company– 602 Broadway (est. 2010)
This spacious place has it all: fresh, house-brewed craft beers, guest craft beers on tap and in bottles, good pub food, lots of HDTV’s, a full bar, great atmosphere, and friendly, attentive staff. Their beers are consistently good, and the menu includes amazing hamburgers.
If you enjoy California Common style beers, you should taste their Cali’ Common which I loved when I was there. The Beer Company is so close to Karl Strauss that it’s possible to walk from one brewery to the other.
Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery– 805 16th Street (est. 2011)
This small brewpub on the eastern edge of downtown San Diego has great craft beer and delicious pub food. In addition to offering a variety of beer styles from local craft breweries such as Stone and Pizza Port, Monkey Paw pours tasty, brewery-fresh beers of their own.
Beers like the thick Monkey Paw Faction Satisfaction (Russian Imperial Stout) and sessionable Stumble South Saison would be reason alone to go there. But then there are experimental beers like Same Day XPA, reviewed here, to entice you. Plus, their food is famously delicious with locals, as I can personally attest. They serve authentic Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches, and I once enjoyed a Wild Boar taco that was amazing.
A visit here is a must for any craft beer enthusiast. You are worthy of Monkey Paw!
Mission Brewery– 1441 L Street (est. 2008)
Visiting craft beer drinkers head over to Mission Brewery after Padre games at Petco Park and events at the convention center. Housed in the historic Wonder Bread building, Mission’s brews have character, much like the building where they are brewed.
The tasting room is adjacent to the brew house, where both are surrounded by tall walls of original brick and protected by hefty wood beamed trusses overhead. Mission brews a whole lineup of craft beers, including tasty seasonals such as their Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout, reviewed here.
Half Door Brewing Company– 903 Island Avenue (est. 2015)
Half Door Brewing refurbished an old San Diego house into a beautiful gem of a brewpub. They are located a city block from Petco Park, and from their upstairs deck you can look right into the shining stadium. Half Door is also within walking distance of the convention center.
While upstairs, check out the large picture window and admire the 10-barrel brewing system where they make all their beer. Downstairs is another deck, and inside the front door is the cozy Irish pub-themed tasting room with authentic décor. There are lots of cool places to hang out at Half Door. Find them!
Half Door pours popular house-brewed beer styles (I reviewed their Half Door Pale Ale), many of which are perfect for pairing with their comfort food pub dishes. Look for suggested beer and food pairings printed on the menu.
Resident Brewing– 1065 Fourth Avenue (est. 2016)
Resident Brewing Company teamed up with The Local Eatery & Drinking Hole, one of the favorite craft beer bars in downtown San Diego, when the latter was remodeled last year. The arrangement is quite unique, in that the brewery and its tasting room are operating independently inside the bar/restaurant.
Located at the corner of 4th and C, Resident Brewing is the sixth brewery to open in downtown San Diego. It is a welcome addition to the small cluster of breweries. The brewery tasting room is at the back of The Local, right beside the 10-barrel brewhouse which faces C Street.
The vibe is just as they describe on the brewery’s website: “Cool, inviting, and relaxed.”
Knotty Brewing Company– 842 Market Street (est. 2016)
Knotty Brewing Company is the newest craft brewery to open in downtown San Diego. Open the big red door and step inside the cozy tasting room of the 5-barrel brewery. It is a small room, but there is plenty of seating inside on comfortable bar stools. Plus, there are bar stools for sitting outside on the little patio when the weather is nice.
Thick slabs of finished wood make up the tasting room’s bar top and table tops. Knotty wood planking warmly accents the front wall, inside and out, framing the big window that opens to the sidewalk. One of the side walls has been stripped to expose red brick of the original building.
Repurposed industrial light fixtures circa 1940s hang from the ceiling, and mounted up high in one corner is a Plasma/HDTV for watching sports. Speaking of sports, Knotty Brewing is just three blocks from Petco Park and within walking distance to the other breweries located downtown.
The vibe is fun, relaxing, and unpretentious at this brewery. If you are lucky, Head Brewer Donovan Lane will be available to talk about his beers. Donovan is a cheerful man who loves to brew beer.