Food & Wine In Our Destinations

San Diego’s Most Novel Craft Beer Experiences

San Diego’s Most Novel Craft Beer Experiences

You likely already know that San Diego is the craft beer capital of America. What you might not know, however, are these examples of the craft beer scene’s most unique drinking experiences.


San Diego has established itself as a city fit for beer enthusiasts, with a wide variety of breweries, tours, and other experiences. Here, we highlight a handful that you’d be wise to check out, from gluten-free breweries to one that houses a sports museum.

Six-Wheel Beer Safaris

Ditch the utility van or bus as your typical beer tour transport. With Brewery Tours San Diego, you’ll travel in a vehicle you’d never expect to see bounding down the streets of San Diego: a Pinzgauer, a burly, six-wheeled, open-air, vintage Swiss safari vehicle that accommodates up to 12 passengers. Named “One of America’s Most Unique Beer Tours” by Forbes Travel, the 4.5-hour experience includes craft beer while you cruise, stops at three breweries of your choice (selected from a provided list), three to four tastings at each stop, and a hearty meal from Phil’s BBQ mid-tour.

An Atypical Pairing

Sure, you could order a glass of wine to go with your mustard-glazed salmon, but that probably isn’t what the chef at Spike Africa’s would suggest. In fact, in addition to its menu of the freshest seafood around, this iconic Gaslamp restaurant is known for its robust selection of local craft beer. Still leery of the idea of consuming seafood and beer together? Let them convince you with one of their special seafood and beer pairing dinners – check out their calendar of events to see if they’ll be hosting one during your next vacation.

Beer with Bubbles

Modern Times’s Lomaland Fermentorium feels less like a tasting room, and more like some funky modern art gallery. From the 40-foot wall covered with comic book pages to the funky chandelier made up of LED lights to the 10,900 Post-It notes that make up a mosaic depicting Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee, Bubbles, you could say that they achieved their stated goal of “super weird” decor. There are 32 beers on tap at any given time, but if you’re forced to choose just one, we’d recommend the Black House, a funky oatmeal coffee stout with a 96% rating on RateBeer.

Gluten Allergies Welcome

We’ve become more aware of gluten sensitivities as a society and restaurants have shifted their menus accordingly. But for Amplified Ale Works, the consideration starts at the core of everything they do, because one of their assistant brewers has celiac disease. So, all the beers that come out of their seven-barrel brewery are gluten reduced so that everyone can enjoy them. And they’re really good: Try the Whammy Bar Wheat, which took home the gold in the American Wheat category at the World Beer Cup.

A Tasting Room that Pays Tribute

It’s one thing to see sports memorabilia on the walls of a tasting room. But it’s a whole other thing to house an actual sports museum. That’s precisely what AleSmith Brewing Company set out to do when they opened their new 100,000-square-foot space – billed as San Diego County’s largest brewery tasting room – in 2015. In the following year, they premiered the Tony Gwynn Museum in the northwest corner of the facility, which honors the San Diego Padres slugger and houses hundreds of pieces of memorabilia collected by Gwynn’s widow over the course of his four-decade career. It adds yet another unique claim to this already highly acclaimed brewery: In 2014, RateBeer named AleSmith the “Best Brewery in the World.” That’s right, not the United States, not California, not San Diego – the world.

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