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San Diego breweries among best in the world....

....according to RateBeer. 7 SD breweries ranked in the Top 100 in the world.


AleSmith ranked #1. We certainly are blessed in SD to have so many great breweries locally.

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        1. re: Fake Name

          I didn't think so. Not very likely!


      1. re: Josh

        What isn't, go have an Anchor Steam and cry in your lousy beer.

        1. re: cstr

          Much better breweries here now. :-)

          1. re: Josh

            Also Beer Week and PtY release right now

            1. re: DougOLis

              Going to a Crooked Stave thing at Mikkeller today. \0/

              1. re: Josh

                Josh how is the food there? I went to the soft opening but was umm "trapped" in the sour room the whole time and didn't get to eat. I think we are going back in a month or so.

                1. re: MrKrispy

                  Food is mostly good. The sausage sampler is my favorite. Avoid the Li'l Smokies. The pickled vegetables are also great.

      2. Those guys are serious beer geeks, so it's a meaningful honor.

        Just finished a 22 oz Anvil ESB (which is a delicious beer) when I saw this post. Really. Quite the coincidence, I think.

        3 Replies
        1. re: DoctorChow

          Their [Nautical] Nut Brown is my desert island beer -- if I could only drink one kind.
          It works as well as a post-ride refresher as it does with just about any meal (breakfast through dessert).
          And if anyone hasn't tried their vietnamese coffee Speedway, wowsers.

          1. re: The Office Goat

            I do love the AleSmith. Funny story. Awhile back a vendor I work with hosted a party at a box at Petco for a Padres game. Turns out one of his friends is a brewer at AleSmith and is also attending. Spent a lot of time talking to the brewer and he mentions that next time my vendor buddy is in town he should stop by the brewery and he'll give him some beer to bring to me.

            So the next time he's in town, we meet for lunch to discuss business and he mentions he has some AleSmith for me. Expecting a couple of bottles, we get to his car and he brought me 12 (yes 12!) growlers and 2 cases of bombers!!! I'm in beer heaven but growlers have a limited shelf life and there's no way I can drink that much beer (including 2 growlers of the 11% ABV stout) without a couple weeks of detox. Fortunately the following weekend is Halloween and I took the beer to a friends house who lives on a street where they do Halloween big. The kids roam the street for candy and the dads roam the street with Red Solo Cups for adult treats. So we poured the AleSmith and were the highlight of the dads Trick-or-Treating that year.

            Need to get down to AleSmith to try the Vietnamese Speedway!

            1. re: steveprez

              They rarely have the Vietnamese Speedway stout on tap - you need to follow their Facebook page to keep up on that.

              I sure wish I had taken my daughter trick-or-treating in your neighborhood. We usually do PB, which in the area we roam hasn't usually featured too many beer options. :)

        2. What always surprises me about SD local beers is that so many are high-gravity alcohol bombs, which would be fine in Alaska with their climate, but not really a good match for balmy SD weather. What's going on?

          9 Replies
          1. re: Tripeler

            That is a myth, IMO. Sure, the large format AleSmith beers are like that, but your standard-issue SD pale is usually around 6-7%. Ballast Point makes a lot of lower-ABV beers, as well as higher.

            1. re: Josh

              I think another misconception is that SD is a tropical climate when it is in fact a cool coastal climate, especially within ~5 miles of the coast. It rarely exceeds 80F in the summer and usually cool in the evenings, save the occasional Santa Ana. I rarely consider the temp too hot to enjoy a bigger beer.

            2. re: Tripeler

              Those are just the most famous ones people write about. But there are plenty of others: Alesmith's Anvil, X, Nut Brown and Little Devil are all under 6%. My Bloody Valentine is 6.66% which seems appropriate.

              1. re: Tripeler

                FWIW, IPA is San Diego's best know style, and if you want very drinkable IPAs, I highly recommend the trip to Alpine Brewery.

                1. re: wanker

                  Yesterday I had a Stone brew that was 9.4%, wow one and done!

                  1. re: cstr

                    Sounds like it was a barleywine. Or very close.

                  2. re: wanker

                    I was interested in what a "beercation" is, and ran across this link, which has an interesting reference to "West Coast IPA" and SD's influence.

                    Guess the author doesn't know that you aren't supposed to drink beer on the beach these days, though.


                    1. re: DoctorChow

                      I don't think they were literally saying drink on the beaches, but I suspect you knew that. :)

                      1. re: RB Hound

                        Should have added my snappy tongue-in-cheek emoticon.

                2. For anyone that cares, the owner of Alesmith is Sam the Cooking Guy's cousin.

                  Peter also makes some fantastic cheese and they now have a Spoedway Stout mustard that is quite tasty.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MrKrispy

                    Cool! I like them both but never made the connection. Know where the cheese/mustard can be purchased??

                    1. re: steveprez

                      The mustard is always for sale in their tasting room. He's only done cheese at relatively private events, though I've heard/read that he's going to be getting more into that in the future. I suspect that licensing issues might prevent him from selling it at the brewery.

                  2. It's good but I will take a good Czech beer as my #1 beer in the world... An unpasteurized Staropramen or Pilsner Urquell rocks

                    1. Well deserved by Alesmith. There are breweries that have better beers, but Alesmith is consistently great across the board.

                      1. Lest we forget that this whole beer thing is just hipster marketing by Stone, a quote from Erick Castro of Polite Provisions:

                        "The cocktail scene here owes a large debt to the beer scene. Brewers have been making incredible beer here for 15 years; they're been training palates, getting people to try IPAs, sours and more esoteric beers, so people are more receptive to all kinds flavors. Because of that, I feel like people are very receptive and open-minded to trying different cocktails. In a lot of cities, you have to do training wheels on people but I feel like in San Diego, you can just skip that entirely and not coddle them."


                        Damn hipsters.

                        62 Replies
                        1. re: jmtreg

                          To bad the same doesn't appear to be true of our palates for food :-(... It often seems that the safer the better rules in SD.

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            Beer and cocktails are cheap compared to dishes (especially more complex/creative ones) and so people are more willing to try something unusual.

                          2. re: jmtreg


                            While I enjoy beer and I enjoy cocktails, I've not really enjoyed this new wave of either.

                            Because most of them are not very good.

                            Most of them are the result of throwing together a bunch of crazy ingredients to make something with a cute name (brand) with which someone can associate.

                            Again- not quality ingredients, thought or care- just marketing.

                            I went to two places over the weekend that had a "Signature Cocktail" menu, and not one really appealed. I tried, I really did.

                            I certainly agree that people have become more and more easily influenced by low quality and highly messaged products.

                            1. re: Fake Name

                              What, you don't like pumpkin mustard basil beer?

                              1. re: Fake Name

                                Would you care to elaborate which beers and/or cocktails you tried and didn't like? Or perhaps which breweries and/or cocktail bars don't use quality ingredients? After all, the whole point of Chow is to point out which places have the best food - and I think beer and cocktails fall into that spectrum.

                                If not, then you're just trolling.

                                1. re: jmtreg

                                  I don't think Fakey is trolling on this one. I like cocktails and I'm always willing to try something new.

                                  Unlike our beloved FN, I don't have a problem finding something to order on a specialty cocktail menu ;-). I figure I've got a 50-50 chance of it being drinkable...it either will, or it won't. However, once they start heading over the $12 mark I have to wonder if it's really worth it. I would say that I'm probably batting about .500 in the success range with specialty/signature cocktails.

                                  I've had better luck with the signature cocktails that use bourbon, whiskey or rye as the base than other liquors. Vodka and I are not friends and we haven't been for a good long time, so I just don't even go there.

                                  I cringe when I see tequila or mezcal as the base since they're either using a mediocre tequila or go overboard on the mezcal. To be fair, my preferred way to drink tequila is neat, so mucking up good tequila with crazy mismatched ingredients doesn't always seem like a good idea to me.

                                  The most interesting contemporary cocktails I've had were at Mision 19 in Tijuana. I think Starlight does a very good job with innovative drinks. I just wish some places would hire bartenders who actually know how to make classic cocktails before they let them go off in the experimental realms...

                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                    I also like things simple and classic. I prefer all liquor neat, tequila, whisky, scotch, even vodka (Russian). The only cocktails I really enjoy are a martini -- straight up, made with gin, vermouth, plenty of ice, and stirred (not shaken) -- and occasionally a Rob Roy. And I like beer that's been made with exactly four ingredients: malt, hops, yeast, and water -- never any "flavorings", not even in stouts or porters. I don't care for beers that are way off-balance with hops, either, although I love a well-done IPA.

                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                      YES, stirred (not shaken), because shaking "bruises" the gin. At least, so says my husband.

                                  2. re: jmtreg

                                    That's me, always trolling!

                                    Banana Beer and Peanut Butter shakes made with somebody's leftover stout just don't appeal to me. And I don't need to taste them to find out- I hold these truths to be self-evident.

                                    The "Signature Cocktails" are always cloyingly sweet- that seems to be the trend- and then the classics seem to be bastardized.

                                    I ordered two Manhattans this weekend at two different places. Place One shook the living hell out of whatever they poured into the shaker. I saw the guy, like he was Tony at the Copacobana- practically danced while doing it. The result was a frothy, whipped concoction full of chips of bar ice. Bar ice- that's tap water, and has no place in a Manhattan. I was on a date (yes, with MrsName) and really didn't want to send it back.

                                    Place Two I was more careful, and specified rye and stirred not shaken. And it was delicious, and it was expensive- it was an expensive place. And there, plopped in the middle of it, was a great, big obnoxious Marachino cherry. You know, the RED kind, full of Red dye. Go the hell to BevMo and get some Luxardos or even BadaBings. This is a restaurant that would never cut corners on their food ingredients- why piss me off with a Mezetta cherry?

                                    What do I want to see? I'd like to see a cocktail menu that's based on quality ingredients- for my Manhattans, how about good Bourbons, great Vermouths and quality cherries? How about storing Vermouth in the fridge, vacuvin like it ought so it doesn't degrade?

                                    Don't sell me vodka poured over three fruit juices and a dash of elderflower because it seems so exotic.

                                    Look, we all know I'm not the highest of brow around these parts. I'm just not that sophisticated, and I'm the first to admit it. But I'm also not a trend-follower, and these cocktails, no matter how signature they may be, are often low-quality, bizarre and clownish and their appeal lies in their ability to name their concoctions as cleverly as possible.

                                    Doubtless there are some very good ideas, but...

                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                      Thank you for some detail, but you still haven't mentioned a name of either restaurant. Were either Sycamore Den, Polite Provisions, Craft & Commerce, or any well-regarded cocktail bars? Or did you go out to dinner at a random restaurant, order some Manhattans and then get pissed? (By the way, Manhattans at Starlite don't use Marachino cherries).

                                      As far as beers go, craft breweries (from homebrewers to nanobrewers to large-ish brewers like Sam Adams) are SUPPOSED TO BE CREATIVE. That's the key benefit over the macrobrewers. They can afford to take risks and experiment, and that's a good thing. But you, as the drinker, can choose to not drink the experiments. Oh, and the brewers don't market their weird beers - instead they focus on their production beers.

                                      So again, unless you have a specific criticism about a specific brewery and/or bar, you're just trolling.

                                      1. re: jmtreg

                                        Creative is one thing, random is another.

                                        Suffice to say we disagree, and I encourage you to avoid reading my posts.

                                        Wellington and Georges.

                                      2. re: Fake Name

                                        Manhattan...saken? Oh, that's just wrong

                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                          You just reminded me of an incident where a guest at a party took a bottle of my 15 yr old Sterling cab reserve and made a spritzer with it. Was probably the same bartender that shook and foamed out your Manhatten.

                                          1. re: cstr

                                            What a Dbag..
                                            I would've sent a Darwin Award to the idiot!

                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                              I've actually heard of people (all right, known people) shaking decanters, and even bubbling air with an aquarium pump and stone through decanted young wine, with the idea of aerating the wine. But a 15 yr old Sterling cab reserve shouldn't need to be aerated, I would hope, and in any case shaking a sealed bottle wouldn't accomplish anything more than what happened. Good grief. Yes...a true ignoramus we have here...what a sorry way to waste fine wine. I assume the klutz wasn't asked to open wines at subsequent parties. Or just not invited.

                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                So I was reading something on-line last week...nifty kitchen tricks or something like that...the suggestion in that article was to aerate red wine by pouring it into the blender and whirling it for a few seconds.

                                                I'm actually tempted to try it just to see what happens...but not with a good bottle ;-D

                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                  3-buck Chuck. Sounds like a good Chowdown experiment.

                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                    Might actually work...young wines do need to be aerated, so what the heck.

                                                    Just not by shaking an unopened bottle.

                                                    I guess I've never seen a bottle of wine "spritz" like cstr did, though, regardless of rough handling.

                                                    Aged fine wines shouldn't need any aeration -- just a little open time to lose any bottled up acrid vapors.

                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                      We are not talking about young wines which benefit from the blender treatment but also old wines. Modernist Cuisine has shown (including blind tastes (just for FN) that the blender treatment is as effectivr in aerating wines as anything else you normally use but needs much less time.

                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                        The moron that opened the bottle added ginger ale to the wine to make the spritzer, really suave. Sadly, that bottle was rated a 95 by Parker. Fortunately, that person was a guest of a friend, never again. As for a blender to aerate wine, I think just opening and decanting is enough. Couldn't imagine foaming up wine and serving a grape froth bomb.

                                                          1. re: cstr

                                                            Decanting is definitely doing the job but the question is if there are other methods who come to the exact same result in shorter time and the blender is doing it (and it doesn't create froth). Wine aerated by decanter or blender are indistinguishable

                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                              I envision a Vitamix bashing the heck out of that liquid and heating it up in to a soup.

                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                I'm going to try it with my Vita Mix when I get back from vacation...

                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                  I would think a blender would remove way too much of the volatile aromas that you actually want in wine. Kind of interesting, I want to read more about this.

                                                              2. re: cstr

                                                                You just brought back terrible memories of a Thanksgiving where my sister in law added Sprite (or some such) to a nice Bordeaux I'd brought special for the occasion. Shudder.

                                                                1. re: Ed Dibble

                                                                  Reading your post just made my skin crawl!

                                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                                    I still laugh about that moron guest that opened up that 95 rated Cab and made a spritzer.
                                                                    I am SO intrigue by idiots like this. .

                                                                    I bet you just flipped the f*ck out in your goofy dignified way.
                                                                    I bet you still relive it...hee hee

                                                    2. re: Fake Name

                                                      What do you mean by "banana beer"?

                                                      If you're referring to Wells' Banana Bread beer, the banana flavor comes from the esters produced by the yeasts the beer was fermented with. Banana/clove flavors have always been observed from certain yeast strains.

                                                      I agree with all your complaints about cocktails, however.

                                                      I went to a place here in the city and ordered an Old Fashioned. I saw the bartender (who looked to be about 21) with a Collins glass, squirting soda to fill it and figured he was making someone else's drink. When he brought it to me I asked him what it was, and he explained "my take on the Old Fashioned, I like to add some Sprite to top it off". I got a dirty martini instead.

                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                        I like it when bartenders, table sider servers etc say it's 'my take'. Well, I don't want your take, I'd puke if someone gave me an Old Fashioned with sprite. I once had a server make a ceasar salad table side and wanting to use a full tablespoon of yellow mustard because he said he likes it that way, WT......!!!!!

                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                          Banana beer was just something I spun off the top of my head.

                                                          Not targeting any banana or beer directly.

                                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                                            I do not understand why Josh is still taking you seriously, Fakey.

                                                            I through a good example out there for you to use, and you ignored it. Habanero Sculpin. Want another one?


                                                              1. re: RB Hound

                                                                Beacuse I'm a very serious person.


                                                                1. re: RB Hound

                                                                  I tried some of that Indra Kunindra Stout.

                                                                  Awful, just terrible.

                                                                  Naked Emperor should be my next Craft Beer name.

                                                                  Sorry. Digressed- I'd moved on, really, until I saw that stuff.


                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                    Indra Kunindra is an extreme end of the continuum.

                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                      But certainly supports my view of the industry.

                                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                                        I know you made up "banana beer", but I actually saw this at Von's today. Glad it's not made here, or even in the US of A -- that'd be really embarrasing.


                                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                          Ugh. It's not embarrassing. It comes from yeast - banana flavor from yeast in beer is literally hundreds of years old.

                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                            Glad to hear they don't put bananas into the mash. But I don't think I'd ever choose a yeast for beer that produces a noticible banana-like ester. And if I did (and were a commercial brewer), I wouldn't put the word "banana" in bold print on the bottle. Yes, ugh.

                                                                        2. re: Fake Name

                                                                          'extreme end of the continuum' is that is the as the 8 mi sphere of comfort?

                                                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                                                            I think it depends on how you look at it. Gruit is a medieval beer style that is pretty weird tasting by our standards today, it predates the use of hops for bittering so employs a variety of herbs, but some people like it and some breweries still make it. I could see using Indra Kunindra as a pairing beer with certain kinds of meals, but it's not something I would drink normally. But that's one beer, from one brewery - a brewery that has one of the largest beer portfolios in San Diego.

                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                              But it does prove my point- the Kunindra is terrible- it's vile.

                                                                              Yes, I know vile is pretty subjective, but to me it shows that people will overlook common sense and drink anything marketed to them as Craft Beer.

                                                                              1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                Not sure who "people" are in this context. I can't say I have personally met any fans of that beer.

                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                  I've met the dude that made it, so I assume he likes it. Other than that, I don't think I've met too many other fans.

                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                    Point taken.

                                                                                    Allow me to rephrase?

                                                                                    Yes, I know vile is pretty subjective, but to me it shows that people will overlook common sense and purchase anything marketed to them as Craft Beer.

                                                                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                      "Some people will overlook common sense and purchase anything marketed to them."

                                                                                      The bread and butter of advertising/marketing.

                                                                                    2. re: Josh

                                                                                      ::waves hand:: I don't drink it all the time, but I like it. :)

                                                                2. re: Fake Name

                                                                  I think we have to be careful not categorize every innovation in beer/cocktails as pure marketing. As always hardly any truth is just black and white - many (most likely even the majority) "innovations" are pure marketing but a significant part are simply improving the quality of beer/cocktails. It would be very boring if we would only drink the same classical cocktails but places like Grant Lounge and Lion's Share are really making strong improvements on cocktails and it wouldn't do them justice to think it is only marketing and no substance (I actual think that Starlite is more about marketing than innovations for their cocktails, their food is much stronger).

                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                    I never get bored by classic martinis. Guess I'm living in the shadow of the legend of MASH.

                                                                    For those who like trying new cocktails, though, it's great that there are places to go that keep on inventing.

                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                      Agreed, and I should be more careful with my grand statements.

                                                                      Of course there are good quality beer and cocktails.

                                                                      But as you say, I believe the majority are hype and salesmanship.

                                                                      Just my opinion. I suggest most people not read my posts.

                                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                                        Maybe it's just me, but I thought your posts in this thread were more about the craft cocktails and not really about beer (which we've already covered ad infinitum). But I will reiterate one thing Mr. Krispy says - the beers in San Diego that get lauded the most are not the ones with strange/different than usual ingredients. People are taking BeerCations to San Diego because of the Habanero Sculpin. I like Coconut and Peanut Butter flavors in my porters/stouts on occasion (but never together!) but making a shake with them is scary.

                                                                        As an aside, if the beer thing annoys you so much, you could ignore threads that clearly mention it in the thread title, you know. :P

                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                          People read, respond, and sometimes react to your posts because you're a well-liked and respected long-term contributor to this board, FN.

                                                                          1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                            You're very kind, thank you.

                                                                            Hey, it's just my opinion, and I fully understand people much wiser than I disagree with my point of view.

                                                                            And yes, my comments were mostly about cocktails. I understand and support those who enjoy the Craft Beer scene here.

                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                              I don't always agree with your opinions, FN, but I always enjoy reading your posts. Keep up your great contributions.

                                                                            2. re: DoctorChow

                                                                              Well-liked and respected ? Now you are pushing it ;)

                                                                        2. re: Fake Name

                                                                          In Britain I believe they refer to this as a load of cobblers.

                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                            LOL. . .or a load of codswallop!

                                                                      2. Went to Chuck Alek for a 9 flight tasting...
                                                                        Most were quite good...nice to taste something a little different than what is being brewed in SD.
                                                                        Mostly European style brew...getting a growler of some the Ramona Farmhouse..really good.

                                                                        Next door to Bisher's and a new Thai Time resto that delivers to the brewery.


                                                                        1. From the beer I have had from SD area breweries, I think the city is blessed with a lot of great beer. So are a few other cities, but I would say that SD might rank among the top five cities in the US for great beer.

                                                                          28 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                                                            Just for shits and giggles, what would you consider the top 5?

                                                                            1. re: steveprez

                                                                              In the U.S. I would say the Top Five are in Portland, SF Bay Area, San Diego, Boulder/Denver, and, uh, Milwaukee. Doesn't really matter -- a lot of great beer is made in the U.S. and San Diego makes a lot of it.

                                                                              1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                Milwaukee? Why? Being the origin of Miller's does not make one a beer city. There are a few decent craft places there, but they pale in comparison to other places IMHO.

                                                                                1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                  You are obviously irony deficient. I thought the "uh" would be a clue. Actually, I'd like to have "the beer that made Milwaukee jealous." Anyway, beer lovers in SD have every right to be proud of all the great beers brewed in the SD region.

                                                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                    Recollection of jingle from childhood in Milwaukee:

                                                                                    "I'm from Milwaukee and I oughta know,

                                                                                    It's Blatz, Blatz, Blatz, Blatz, wherever you go,

                                                                                    Smoother, fresher, less filling that's clear,

                                                                                    Blatz is Milwaukee's finest beer!"

                                                                                    The heck with Schlitz -- all they did to become "the beer that made Milwaukee famous" was to send some to Chicago during the big fire.

                                                                                    Speaking of which, while perusing the menus of some of the finest SD restaurants of the mid-70s, I noticed Schlitz as one of the few beers listed.

                                                                                    And it wasn't until retired Miller brewmaster K. Straus moved here from Milwaukee and opened up a "microbrewery" about 10 yrs later that we had any localbrau at all in SD.

                                                                                    How things change.

                                                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                      Not always irony deficient - just today.

                                                                              2. re: Tripeler

                                                                                "Might rank among the top five"?

                                                                                Being top five is pretty much indisputable. The argument is whether or not San Diego is the top city. I think that Denver and Portland are usually in the same rarified air.

                                                                                1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                  San Diego is the top beer city, for a very simple reason: the IPAs. Stay with me here.

                                                                                  Among SD area, Portland, and Denver area, all 3 have a few renowned breweries with barrel aging/sour beer programs.
                                                                                  All 3 have multiple breweries that take top awards at GABF and World Beer Cup.
                                                                                  All 3 have a generous distribution of breweries and brewpubs, tasting rooms, and bottle shops.

                                                                                  However, neither Portland nor Denver have a killer IPA in the style we have in San Diego (dry, hoppy, juicy, very little to no caramel/malt character, smooth or very little forward bitterness). They have regular IPAs, and what I call East Coast style IPAs (more caramel malt character, but not as much as English style IPAs). Note that San Diego is fully stocked with those styles as well.

                                                                                  It is a matter of time before someone in those locations figures it out...some breweries on the east coast (and third coast) have. I will say Portland has far more variety and creativity with some brewpub concepts, regulations in CA/SD are always going to stunt that here.

                                                                                  1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                    Offhand I can think of several excellent IPA's of the style you describe not made in San Diego, starting with what is arguably the original: Blind Pig IPA, made by Russian River in the Bay Area, along with Pliny the Elder.

                                                                                    Also in the Bay Area: Faction, Cellarmaker, Social Kitchen, Fort Point, and Marin all produce the dry, light-bodied, floral hop IPA you describe. Cellarmaker's recent Crush a Bale and Questionable Origins #3 I would put on equal footing with any San Diego IPA/pale.

                                                                                    Maine Brewing Company makes some stellar dry, hoppy IPAs, and Alchemist's Heady Topper is a really delicious IPA, too. A touch maltier than one from San Diego, but nothing like the old-school malt-bomb IPA's of the early 2000's from the PNW.

                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                      Hair of the Dog's Blue Dot from Portland is another.

                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                        I was only referring to Denver and Portland. SF can't claim Santa Rosa no matter how much they want to haha. SF doesn't have centralization of all of these things either...great bars in the city but the breweries of note are not in the city and not near each other.

                                                                                        My point was that San Diego has all of it, and in multiple areas...the others do not. Why bring up Heady Topper? One beer does not make a city a great beer city.

                                                                                        *edit* I also mentioned: "It is a matter of time before someone in those locations figures it out...some breweries on the east coast (and third coast) have." Heady Topper is included in that (and HT also is a little more sweeter than I prefer compared to the stuff I love out here, but it is still an amazing beer).

                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                          Josh, San Diego has over 80 breweries, and there seems to be 2-3 more open every week. Beyond just the sheer volume, the quality of our breweries is quite high. So everything seemingly revolves around beer, from restaurants to brewpubs, to dive bars. Now, I haven't been to Portland, but I've been to SF and I've been to Denver, and their beer scenes are good, but they don't compare.

                                                                                          1. re: jmtreg

                                                                                            Yes, and the reason that breweries keep opening here at such a rapid pace would seem obvious: A new brewery immediately inherits our area's reputation for being a place where a LOT of first-class beers are made. They can put "made in San Diego" on their label, with pride.

                                                                                            1. re: jmtreg

                                                                                              Not sure what any of that has to do with the discussion. A poster asserted that San Diego is "the top beer city" based solely on their opinion about one style of beer, IPA, an opinion informed by the characteristics emphasized in this style by many San Diego breweries. I responded by pointing out that many other breweries around the country are now making IPA's that emphasize similar characteristics, so if the determinant of San Diego as "the top beer city" was made based on its IPA's, and other breweries in other regions now produce IPA's with those characteristics, it would follow logically that San Diego doesn't deserve said designation based on this criterion.

                                                                                              I was in no way making a comparison between San Francisco and San Diego's respective beer scenes. By sheer volume of breweries, San Diego would seem to hold the edge there, though in terms of quality I think SF more than holds its own as there are very few breweries here producing mediocre beers. With 80+ breweries in SD county we both know they ain't all winners.

                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                No, they're not all winners, and not all will survive. Many are basking in the reputation of the area. It's simply not possible for the rate of growth that jmtreg mentioned to continue indefinitely.

                                                                                                We do have what seems to be a pretty distinctive IPA style in our area, as MrK says, and I agree that that's a discriminator. I'm not as fully convinced as he is that it's how we won our claim to beer fame, but as he also said, we're "fully stocked" with the more familiar styles, and many of those are outstanding.

                                                                                                Still, I think it's true that it's our IPAs that seem to get a lot of national press, even though other places now brew a similar style.

                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                  I got what Josh was saying, and I'm usually one of the first people to get irritated with him. :)

                                                                                                  Truth be told, I could be plenty happy just living in Paso Robles.

                                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                                    " A poster asserted that San Diego is "the top beer city" based solely on their opinion about one style of beer, IPA,"

                                                                                                    Not exactly, Josh. I think your burritos have too much rice in them lol.

                                                                                                    I said San Diego, Denver, and Portland are the best beer cities in the nation and all share a few traits to rise above other cities with big craft beer scenes. HOWEVER, the number AND quality of the particular type of IPA is what sets it apart from Denver and Portland. While other cities may have that style of IPA (typically one, at best, if at all) San Diego is overflowing with them. I can't recall the Denver area having any that stand out, and Portland not even close although I am due to return for a proper inspection.

                                                                                                    (Blue Dot is a prototypical west coast IPA, but not a Pliny/San Diego style IPA/IIPA)

                                                                                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                      But who defines what type of beer (or even IPA) should be used to define if a city has top quality or not ? It would be the same when somebody would judge the quality of cities regarding all their food solely based on Italian (or even better Nothern Italian) restaurant.

                                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                                        honky, you are missing the forest for the trees. The point isn't that SD is craft-beer kick-ass just because it has the IPAs. It has ALL the other craft beer stuff going for it but the bounty of top IPAs is what elevates it above the other few cities at the top. Now, I could argue that Portland is a better beer city because it is easier to get around or has many creative, unique brewpubs or urban beer density or whatever...but really, shouldn't a "Best Beer City" be defined by the beer itself and not the room in which it is served?

                                                                                                        The food comparison isn't a reasonable comparison; is a comparison of Best Foodie City (ugh) between say NYC and Lyon and Tokyo based on one kind of food? Of course not. But chowhounders still find criteria to determine the best food city. Beer tourists (of which there are many, believe it or not) don't go to Denver or Portland just for sours, or IPAs, or whatever but for the bounty of beer. Same with San Diego. However, many do flock to San Diego especially the IPAs.

                                                                                                        I welcome someone to offer up reasons why another area in the US is better for craft beer than San Diego.

                                                                                                      2. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                        I understand what you're saying. I'm just saying I don't agree. When I first moved up here 2 years ago I was disappointed by the lack of the San Diego-style IPA. Now I am quite content with what's available locally. Even better, this city has two dedicated sour beer breweries.

                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                          @Josh...I definitely agree, the beer scene up there (while sadly still horribly spread out) has much improved. I am loving what Almanac and Cellarmaker are doing. I think Faction is gonna be great once they are dialed in. Pliny available all over (drool). I just wish they were more concentrated in a couple of areas...trying to do a brewery/brewpub tour up there is a trainwreck

                                                                                                          1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                            @MrKrispy, regarding doing a tour, there is actually a kind of nexus of craft beer forming around the waterfront: San Leandro, Alameda, Fruitvale (Oak), West Oakland, Berkeley and Dogpatch (SF). Once everything is going full steam you could do a pretty great bike tour particularly if you incorporate the ferry or BART, and I imagine at some point a water-based tour might develop. (Uber would also be easy if bikes aren't your thing.) Off the top of my head in this area I can think of Magnolia Dogpatch, Anchor Brewing, 21st Amendment (building in San Leandro), The Rare Barrel, Linden Street, Ale Industries, Drake's, and Faction.

                                                                                                            I see a parallel to how in San Diego in the last couple years, breweries have found a way to expand from the more remote industrial areas into integrating themselves more in the urban and close-in areas, whether it's Stone opening satellites in the city or Societe choosing to be in the CMB as opposed to inland North County. I think it's great for a city/region when this happens because it helps weave the product and places into day-to-day life (and make it more of a tourist draw, too).

                                                                                                            1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                              Most start up crafts are located where rent is cheap, far from urban areas. When they become viable, like Stone, they locate satellite stores in highly populated urban areas. As for comparing Oakland to SD, please spare me.

                                                                                                          2. re: Josh

                                                                                                            That's nice about the sours, but whenever Almanac even farts we get the smell down here. :)

                                                                                              2. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                I agree that SD has some fine breweries but, if you think how many local craft beers are being produced in the US. it's probably impossible for anyone to actually have experienced enough to make such a statement. So, your statement that SD 'might' is a fair opinion.

                                                                                                1. re: cstr

                                                                                                  Sure, it's impossible to visit most of the beer centric cities, unless you are one of the lucky few that do that for a living. But if you scan most of these lists (especially those done by people that do that sort of thing for a living), San Diego is usually highly rated. Furthermore, you can sort of look at measurables such as awards at the larger beer festivals, the number of microbreweries and brewpubs, and the "beer tourism" dollars - and San Diego pretty much is not parallelled when you combine all of that.

                                                                                              3. Thanks for the link.

                                                                                                <rant on>
                                                                                                This thread is why I have a hard time with Chowhound. Jeez. People who know very little about a subject but will argue about it to no end.

                                                                                                If I tell someone I don't like onions, I am not going to try to have a discussion about why onions are not good. I would have obviously had very few of them because I don't like them.

                                                                                                I am much more interested in people's opinions about things that they enjoy, in general. That way when they have a criticism, it can be taken in context to the fact that they do enjoy the product attempt, but may have problems with the one in question.

                                                                                                If you really don't like some particular thing, why look for threads talking about the best ones, just so you can laboriously point out again and again why it sucks.
                                                                                                </rant off>

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Wino

                                                                                                  Did this warrant a bump of a thread (and an argument) that had been dead for over 6 months? LOL

                                                                                                  1. re: Wino

                                                                                                    No one is an expert in everything -- every cuisine and every dish at every restaurant. I think that goes without saying; it's physically impossible.

                                                                                                    But we have our opinions, as you do, regardless. What we do know is what we like: what tastes good in places that are comfortable, or fun, and with service that reflects people who are very much into their job.

                                                                                                  2. I do like many SD county breweries, but do not consider this to be a representative list of the best breweries in the world. Only a handful of Belgian breweries are on the list; the list is clearly biased towards US breweries. Many of the best beers are still made in Belgium and the variety of beer that they make in Belgium is unmatched. I am happy to see though that Brasserie Rochefort made the list.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: travelprof

                                                                                                      Unmatched? Nope. How many British-style ales are made in Belgium?

                                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                                        Witbier, blond, dubbel, tripel, geuze, fruit, sour, pils, everything in between.

                                                                                                        1. re: travelprof

                                                                                                          Bitter, mild, porter, barleywine, old ale, stout, imperial stout, IPA - all non-Belgian styles. Also absent: Vienna lager, rauchbier, schwarzbier, Berliner weisse (Germany).

                                                                                                          Don't get me wrong, I love Belgian beer. But to claim that the variety made there is unmatched when US-based brewers not only make every Belgian style, but also English, German, and French styles, not to mention American-invented styles like the IIPA and black IPA, is to be operating with an out-of-date set of facts.

                                                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                                                            I agree with Josh. The U.S. has the broadest variety of beers being made anywhere. However, Belgium has by far the broadest variety of Belgian beers being produced. Interestingly, Scotch Ales are quite popular in Belgium, and several are produced there under license. I enjoy them, oddly enough, here in Tokyo at my favorite Belgian beer bar.

                                                                                                            Still, beer enthusiasts in San Diego have every right to be proud of their many excellent breweries, which produce some of the best beers in the U.S. My favorites are Green Flash, Lost Abbey, Stone and Great Wimberly.