Multilectual Daily Online Magazine focusing on Architecture, Travel, History, Interior Design, Vintage and Contemporary Fiction, Craft Beer, Coffee, Bungalow Living, San Diego's Historic North Park and Balboa Park by award-winning journalist Tom Shess
Friday, December 30, 2016
THE BREWSPAPER / BEST NEW SAN DIEGO CRAFT BREWERIES
North Park Beer Co., North Park
West Coaster Magazine’s
Recap: San Diego’s Best New Breweries
/ By Brandon Hernandez, West Coaster
Magazine Contributing Writer.
It’s the final days of the year, and time to reflect on the year nearly
gone-by. That means assessing San Diego County’s brewery landscape starting
with a look at the plethora of new brewing operations that opened in 2016.
More breweries opened this year than any in history. And it’s important
to note that more good breweries opened in 2016 than in the
past several years. Many tout the double-digit number of rookie fermentation operations
added to San Diego’s brewery-count each year, but I’ll be honest and say that
the past half-decade has seen too many average-to-subpar businesses join the
Sure, some duds opened in 2016, but the same can be said of any
food-and-beverage business. The bottom-line is, aspiring entrants into the
local suds-scene seem to understand, now more than ever, that they better have
good beer if they’re going to compete, and that’s leading to better breweries,
from conception to birth and beyond.
The following are (in order) 2016’s best new breweries.
Burning Beard Brewing Company in El Cajon
Beard Brewing Co.,El Cajon: Rockin’ beers
and rock-and-roll make for amenities worth an East County excursion at this
small but well-run spot featuring a variety of beers ranging from Belgians to
San Diego-style hop-elixirs to deep, dark stouts and, eventually, fouder-aged
ales. Throw in employee exuberance that ranges from the brew-crew to the bar
staff, and it’s sort of a holy-grail situation.
Park Beer Co.,North Park: One of the most
anticipated new brewery project of the past four years, the brainchild of its
namesake community’s proud denizen Kelsey McNair finally came
to life. Its former MMA gym home has been transformed into a beautiful,
two-story, wood-paneled den of communal enjoyment of beers that are largely
sessionable and rely on impressive balance versus belligerent brawn.
Downtown’s Resident Brewing Company
Brewing Co.,Downtown: Urban bar and
Local, is a long-time supporter of the craft-beer movement, but when
it added on-site fermentation to its equation, the resulting product was
something special. An award-winning homebrewer-turned-pro is pumping out some
of the bolder, ideally hopped West Coast-style beers of the rookie-class while
bringing flavor with myriad other styles.
Pure Project Brewing,Miramar
Project Brewing,Miramar: If a wide array of
easy-drinking beers—crisp to full-bodied, clear to hazy, fruited to (GABF
medal-garnering) barrel-aged—weren’t enough reason to become enamored with
this, the first brewery to test out the Brewery
Igniter ready-to-brew model, the fact it’s a generous One
Percent for the Planet business is enough to pull the
wishy-washy off the fence.
Bear Roots Brewing in Vista
Roots Brewing, Vista: A small homebrew-supply
store opening a three-barrel nano-brewery with a bar that takes up half its
shop…sounds risky if not ill-advised, but a husband-wife duo have not only made
it work, but amassed such a cult-following behind a varied beer line-up that
includes a tasty cookie-inspired dessert beer that they’re looking at growing
their baby to papa-bear status in 2017.
Bitter Brothers Brewing, Bay Ho.
Brothers Brewing Co.,Bay Ho: The first
brewery to open in 2016 has done well for itself, producing a solid line-up of
hoppy beers offset by a number of English-style malt-driven styles and
“candy-bar” beers. Further refinement of its wares in the coming year should
keep this operation on its upward trajectory, as should fun, well-done
quarterly beer dinners in its tasting room.
It’s important to note that, in previous years, a half-dozen picks for
best new brewery would have been excessive. This year, I could have added
another two or three rather easily. The following are those that missed the
cut, but never before has the division between the best and the rest been so
slim. Cheers to that!
2016 Contenders: Culver
Beer Co. (Carlsbad), Guadalupe Brewery (Carlsbad), Kensington Brewing Co.
(Mission Valley), Little Miss Brewing Co. (Miramar), Longship Brewery (Mira
Mesa), Mason Ale Works (Oceanside), Midnight Jack Brewing Co.
(Oceanside), Mikkeller Brewing San Diego (Miramar), Oceanside Brewing Co. (Oceanside),
Maybe Next Year: Burgeon
Beer Co. (Carlsbad), Eppig Brewing Co. (North Park), Knotty Brewing (East
Village), OB Brewery (Ocean Beach), Thunderhawk Alements (Miramar)
Previous Top-Ranked Breweries
2015: Fall Brewing Co. (North
Park), Second Chance Beer Co. (Carmel Mountain), South Park Brewing Co. (South
Park), Bay City Brewing Co. (Point Loma), Abnormal Beer Co. (Rancho Bernardo),
Duck Foot Brewing Co. (Miramar)