Hoppy New Year: SD Beers You Should Try This Winter

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Over the last ten years, San Diego beer culture has changed tremendously, with award-winning breweries being established all over the city. Distinct from the bar scene, breweries offer a place for people to enjoy craft brews that are created in-house, at an often more reasonable price than a bar. Breweries tend to have open hours that are available for families to come in, so parents can enjoy a beer with their children or dogs inside. Although debate arises as neighborhoods max out on their liquor licenses, these breweries tend to be a place where community comes to gather. Rather than trying to convince you that our choices are the best (because let’s face it, taste is subjective and there are too many amazing choices in San Diego), we thought we’d share some of our favorite beers in each category, and where you can get them.

Photo Credit: Katrina Thomas

Opened only four years ago, Culture Brewing Co. has already won awards for their ales and are about to open their third tasting room. Although their brown ale recently received an award, we believe their 2x Black IPA should definitely be the next nominee. With so many IPAs in the market, Culture Brewing’s 2x Black IPA stands out. Its well-balanced flavor and twice-hopped nature makes the taste unmatchable. Not only does this brewery craft amazing beer, they are also intentional community participants. On Sundays, join them for “Hoppy Yoga” at their Ocean Beach location, with yoga and a pint for just $20. At both locations their walls are filled with local art from people within the community, and I’m sure their soon-to-open Encinitas location will do the same. 

Across town lies Point Loma’s new tap room, West Side Tap House. Even newer than Culture, this tap house and brunch spot has only had its doors open for 3 months. Their wide selection of tap and bottled beers make it a great one-stop-shop to satisfy many different beer palates, and a great introduction to a handful of San Diego breweries.

I asked the bartender for some of her favorites and two of her choices were from a brewery called Garage, just up the 15 freeway at our neighboring town, Temecula. The Marshmallow Milk Stout, a 2015 award-winning stout tastes unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. Imagine a liquefied s’more, and you’ll begin to understand the flavor. With a toasted flavoring, similar to Second Chance’s Tabula Rosa Toasted Porter, this beer is a great post-dinner finisher to satisfy your dessert cravings. Similarly unique, Garage’s Apple Pie Ale presents a lighter dessert option for those looking for something on the sweeter end. Though not as sweet as a cider, this apple pie ale provides another entry point to the beer world, for those who aren’t quite used to the hoppiness of an IPA.

My favorite offering from my visit is from a San Diego brewery, Mother Earth. Located in Vista, Mother Earth’s Cali Creamin’ is simply delightful. Its light and creamy flavor beckons you to keep drinking. Smooth all the way through, this ale offers a creamsicle finish, landing on your taste buds for the perfect amount of time. West Side has this beer on Nitro, providing extra cream for the head of the beer. Visit Mother Earth’s tasting room in Vista, where they continue to “promote the art and science of beer making”. 

Finally, the bartender recommended Resident’s Perky Blonde, a beer noted for being “an approachable, malt-oriented American beer that is well-balanced and great for easy drinking”. This blonde rings true to its name, really “perking” up your taste buds to invoke a full flavor. Unlike IPA’s, the blonde ale offers a lighter flavor with less hops. Resident’s downtown location is stewarded by master brewer, Robert Masterson. Their motto is to have patrons who walk in the door feel at home, like a true resident. 

Are you looking for something new? Stone Brewery, with locations all over San Diego, offers a monthly “Enjoy By” IPA. Each month they release a new flavor of their “Enjoy By” beer, that has a limited supply and is a great option for those looking for a surprising new flavor. This month’s “Enjoy by 2/14” is a chocolate and coffee IPA that is “flirtatiously fresh”. Visit one of their tasting rooms at the airport, in Liberty Station, or in Oceanside. Find their other locations and beer selection on their website.

So, what new brew will you be trying this winter?

Katrina is an OBcean that spends her time drinking quality coffee and engaging in the community that she lives in.

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