How to Enjoy San Diego's Craft Beer Scene

Start with the Stone Brewing Festival, book a room and explore nearby breweries

Stone Brewing Company’s two-day craft beer celebration, Aug. 16-17, features 60 craft brews from around the country on the opening day.

With more than 40 breweries serving up hundreds of local beers, San Diego boasts one of the country’s top craft beer scenes.

If you’re looking to sample a few of the best brews the city has to offer, don’t miss the upcoming Stone 17th Anniversary Celebration & Beer Festival, held at Stone Brewing Co.’s San Marcos location Aug. 16-17. Before you head out on your craft beer quest, here’s what you need to know.

Sample San Diego’s Best at Stone Brewing Co.
Stone Brewing Company’s two-day craft beer celebration kicks off on Friday night with a Brewers’ Reception from 6-9 p.m. Live music, all-you-can-eat gourmet fare and a cigar lounge set the scene for a night filled with free-flowing beer tastings. More than 60 craft brews will be offered, half of which won’t be returning for Saturday’s festivities. Some of Friday’s exclusive beers include an oaked version of Stone’s popular Arrogant Bastard Ale and the spicy new Barrel-Aged Habanero Noche de los Muertos, an imperial oatmeal stout by Aztec Brewery.

During Saturday’s Stone 17th Anniversary Celebration & Beer Festival, you’ll get 15 three-ounce samples of beers from more than 40 guest breweries from around the country, including New England-based Dogfish Head and Hawaii’s Maui Brewing Co. San Diego’s craft beer scene is also well represented by the likes of Monkey Paw, Coronado Brewing Co. and Mission Brewery. Between tastings, you can also enjoy home-brewed sodas and beer cheese.

Where to Stay
Stone Brewing’s Escondido hotel isn’t slated to open until late 2014, but there are plenty of limited-service hotels (like a Hampton Inn and Ramada Limited) within miles of the San Marcos brewery. But if you’re looking for a brew-themed stay, head 20 minutes south to Rancho Bernardo Inn. The “Look What’s Brewing” package includes beer tastings for two at Ballast Point Brewing Co., Latitude 33, Iron Fist and Port Brewing, plus breakfast at the onsite Veranda Fireside Lounge.

If you would rather head into downtown San Diego after the festival, you can check out the craft beer package at the Hard Rock Hotel. Four local craft beers will be waiting in your room upon arrival with two souvenir mugs, and if you’re planning to explore more of San Diego’s breweries, you’ll appreciate the discount coupon for a brewery tour with Brewing Tours of San Diego.

Explore Nearby Breweries
Speaking of Brewing Tours of San Diego, their guided tours offer a great way to experience San Diego’s top breweries without worrying about a designated driver.

Their Sunday excursion takes you on a six-hour behind-the-scenes tour of Stone Brewing Co., San Marcos Brewery & Grill and The Lost Abbey. In addition to touring all three breweries, you will also receive a souvenir glass and lunch at San Marcos Brewery.

Or you can let your designated driver take the wheel as you spend a day hopping between your picks of the dozens of breweries throughout San Diego.You would need a lot more than a single weekend to explore them all, but there a few noteworthy breweries that should top your travel list.

Opened in 2012, Societe Brewing Co. in Kearny Mesa quickly gained a loyal following for its Belgian beers and India pale ales. Over in Mira Mesa, Green Flash produces an impressive variety of handcrafted ales, while AleSmith in Miramar is known for its classic British and Belgian brews. Tasting rooms at all three breweries are open on Sundays, offering a smooth finish to your craft beer weekend.

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