“For a quart of Ale is a dish for a king.” – William Shakespeare
It’s my favorite time of the year — another major trade show, a new city, and a new craft beer blog! With more than 100 breweries, San Diego is perhaps the greatest beer town in America, and we’re going to be spending almost a week there for CEDIA 2017!
If you haven’t followed our CEDIA beer blogs in the past, here’s the scoop. We at Ihiji are craft beer nerds. So when we travel we like to try beers that the region has to offer in pubs that are unique to the area. We started these blog posts when CEDIA Expo was in Denver, continued it into ISE in Amsterdam and then Dallas for CEDIA 2015 and 2016.
The great news is that there are always new breweries, restaurants, and bars opening, so we can keep the list fresh. The bad news is that you’re probably not going to find time between all of the great CEDIA training, trade show exhibits, and work to see all of the breweries that week. But, that’s okay because we’re here to help you curate your tastes.
It was tough to narrow down the list, so this one is full of heavy hitters. Without further ado, here are 11 chill spots to grab a cold craft beer in San Diego.
1.Modern Times– Convenient to the convention center, hotels and airport, this brewery also features some killer coffee. What I love most about Modern Times though, is that over the years it has consistently gotten better. I always make a point to stop in at Modern Times for a cold beer followed by a cold brew when I’m in SoCal!
2. Fathom Bistro – This might be the coolest, low-key, hidden gem in your San Diego beer adventure. It’s literally an old bait shop on a fishing pier on Shelter Island. I stumbled across Fathom during the CEDIA Business Exchange and shared a pint with some of my favorite CEDIA friends. Since then I’ve been back a few times — mainly for the Pliny!
3.Toronado San Diego – Fellow Beer Nerds will know Toronado from NorCal but did you know there is a Toronado San Diego? Toronado packs an attitude. Expect loud heavy metal. Expect crowds. Expect lots of wicked tattoos. And hopefully some chilled Pliny 😉
4.Liberty Public Market– While technically not a brewery or a bar, Liberty is a Food Hall, meaning it is a beer nerd and foodie hotspot. Plenty of good eats, a wicked little bottle shop, some good beer on tap and a big brewery in the vicinity make this a must stop. Tip — it’s close enough to the airport that you can easily stop by on your way home!
5.Ballast Point – A behemoth in the brewing world, Ballast Point makes some fantastic beers. They have multiple tap rooms in town but if you want to live it up, go up to Miramar and enjoy the outdoor patio and tasty food.
6.AleSmith– Also in Miramar (yes, this might be your dream shot) AleSmith makes a great IPA and also some very solid barrel aged stouts. Just make sure you take an Uber home!
7.Societe – A cool little brewery North of downtown, closer to La Jolla, Societe makes some all around good beer. Good IPAs, good sessions, good stouts. It’s just all good.
8.Pizza Port – With beers like Kook and Swami’s, pizza port is a San Diego surf side classic. They have a number of locations down the SoCal coast, most of them in beach towns. Spicoli would approve – get yourself some tasty waves, a cool buzz and you’ll be just fine. Who ordered the double cheese and sausage?
9.Lost Abbey – Lost Abbey is a classic high-end craft brewery serving up unique concoctions, many of the barrel-aged variety. They have a larger brewery in San Marcos and the quaint “Confessional” tasting room near Encinitas. If you head to San Marcos you’re up near Stone’s main brewery which you’ll read more about below!
10.Stone – Stone Brewing is the Mac Daddy of the San Diego beer scene. It’s legendary, in both beers and what they’ve done for the craft brewing industry. Nothing beats a fresh Stone IPA straight from the source. Nothing beats their main tap room either (they have another closer to downtown). The main tap room is an experience, a full restaurant, multiple bars, outdoor patio, and plenty of space to chill out and sip a freshie.
BONUS! You’re in Ron Burgundy’s town and it’s fair to assume you’re not all beer lovers. So, when in Rome… “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch.. here it goes down.. down into my belly.”
The Whiskey House – Convenient to the convention center this bar packs in over 600 different Whiskies. Mr. Burgundy himself would approve.
With all of this talk about beer and whiskey just remember – stay classy CEDIA friends!
Michael Maniscalco is co-founder and VP product at Ihiji.