2016 was a year of great growth within the San Diego craft beer community. 23 new breweries opened their San Diego doors in 2016 and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome them into the community. This incoming crop is putting out some of the most delicious beers in the county and is showing just how much promise San Diego has to continue being one of the leaders in the craft beer industry.
The 2016 Freshman Class
Take it from us, breweries are not easy to get up and running. Large upfront costs mix with tight margins while working with a product that is highly finicky (brewers are basically freaking scientists) to make opening a brewery no easy feat. So the fact that we have 23 new breweries opening up means that there are a lot of incredibly hard-working people with passion and talent behind these launches.
Here’s a list of the new breweries and what we know about them so far…
- Amplified Miramar – Known for making some of the best gluten reduced beer around, they have been operating since 2012 on a 3-barrel system (make six 15.5 gallon kegs each brew). Now they have expanded to a 10-barrel system in Miramar so should be popping up on more beer menus near you soon.
- Bear Roots Brewing Co. – Started by a couple of home brewers with a dream, this Vista ale-house is special because it’s also a home brew store and offers the opportunity for people to buy a package that allows them to collaborate and brew a beer on their system and ends in a private release party where half the proceeds go to a charity of the person’s choice. Rad.
- Belching Beaver Oceanside – These guys have been around for a while, but opened this new production facility and tasting room in Oceanside in 2016 and are in the process of getting a brand face-lift with new packaging and logos.
- Bitter Brothers – Started by two brothers who have been brewing for a long time, this brewery is family-style so all the names are themed to this (Prodigal Son and Golden Child to name a few) and people can join their Family Tree Membership program where you can set up a prepaid account for yourself or a friend.
- Burgeon Brewing – This 15-barrel brewery was started by three high school friends with a passion for homebrewing. Another one for North County, these guys plan to produce a wide variety of styles to please any palate.
- Burning Beard Brewing – Perhaps the best name of the bunch, this brewery has a rockin’ attitude and brews some really delicious beer. Just another reason to head to East County to check out all of the great breweries out that way.
- Culver Beer Co. – Both dog and kid friendly, this new brewery up in Carlsbad offers keg sales to people and will also rent you the jockey box and CO2. Take it from a brewery, jockey boxes are basically gold around here so to be able to rent one where you can also get delicious beer is awesome.
- Eppig Brewing – Joining the North Park contingent this brewery is turning out some great beer already. The brewers both are ex-Ballast Point guys and are now ready to join the ranks of nano breweries here in SD.
- Kensington Brewing Company (tasting room) – After quietly operating for 3 years on their Grantville 1-barrel system. They opened up a tasting room there in early 2016 and grew to a 3-barrel system, ready to get their beer out to more people.
- Knotty Brewing – the owner of Knotty Barrel, a beer bar in downtown San Diego, decided to make a go of brewing with the knowledge he has gleaned from 33 years in the bar and restaurant business. These guys are special to us because we recently got to collaborate with them on a baltic porter that they have available in their tasting room right now.
- Little Miss Brewing – They only opened in August 2016 and have been so busy that plans are in the works for new tasting rooms in both Normal Heights and Ocean Beach. Owned and run by Joe Liscia, who cut his teeth at Green Flash, this was a much-anticipated opening and definitely lives up to the hype.
- Longship Brewing – Just off Mira Mesa Blvd., this new brewery sports a Viking theme and a diverse array of beer styles on their menu.
- Mason Ale Works – from the people who brought us Urge Gastropub and actually located in the same space, this new brewery has hit the ground running and already has 4 different beers in cans.
- Midnight Jack – Chalk up another one for North County, because these guys opened up in Oceanside with another home-brewer-brewery story. (On a side note, how cool is it that our industry is one where people who brew at home can turn it into a business with the right opportunities and skill.)
- Mikkeller – This opening excited us so much we wrote a blog post about it. Mikkeller is the brainchild of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a world-renowned gypsy brewer. While he does have his own facilities in Copenhagen now, the old Alesmith location is their new stateside home.
- North Park Beer Co. – We love our North Park neighbor owned by home-brew darling, Kelsey McNair. Hop Fu, his award-winning IPA is almost always on tap in their gorgeous tasting room and you can see all the brewing equipment right there while you sip on your beer. Even better, North Park Beer Co. leases space to Mastiff Sausage Co. for a match made in beer and foodie heaven.
- OB Brewery – from the good people over at Newport Pizza (an institution in Ocean Beach) this brew pub offers food and beers from local breweries as well as their own lineup of solid brews.
- Oceanside Brewing – with 18 beers on tap at any one time, it’s a wonder how this small brewery can put out so many different styles of beer. So many to try, but make sure it’s on a Thurs-Sunday as they are closed the other three days (yes they are still brewing).
- Prodigy – Grantville got another great brewery in 2016 with this addition. They put out hop-forward beers and although are new to the scene, brew master, Dean Rouleau is a seasoned vet who not only brewed for San Diego Brewing Co. but also has built numerous beer systems for other breweries.
- Pure Project – These guys are brewing some truly great beers including hazy, low- visibility ales that are outstanding. A stand-out brewery in a crowded hood, make sure to take a trip up to the 92121 to check out these guys.
- Resident Brewing – Another award-winning home brewer with a dream opened up this spot in 2016 with his brother-in-law, who also owned The Local. Located inside the craft beer bar, this brewery is already turning out some impressive beers.
- Setting Sun Sake Brewery – Along with the swath of beer breweries that opened up last year was a craft sake brewery. While sake is often known as rice wine, it’s much closer to rice beer because of how it’s made/brewed. Want to learn more? Make sure to visit Setting Sun and they can tell you all about it while sipping on their hand-crafted sake.
- SR76 – A brewery at a casino? Why not! This is San Diego’s first Native American-owned brewery and is located in Harrah’s Rincon. While they may be new to the craft brewing industry, they tapped Brian Scott, who has been brewing professionally in the industry for years, to helm the beer side of things.
- Thunderhawk Alements – This newcomer brews on an electric one-barrel system. Opened by two life-long friends and avid homebrewers, their love of the craft has seeped into their solid lineup of beers.