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40+ North County San Diego Breweries (2017 Master List)

40+ North County San Diego Breweries (2017 Master List)

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san diego breweries in north county

We all know that San Diego is a beer lover’s paradise, especially here in North County. Over the past few years, this region has seen an explosion of breweries and tasting rooms, mostly along the coast and along “Hops Highway.” But others are cropping up throughout the region, as well.

Every few months, a new (or somewhat familiar) name comes on the scene. Either an experienced brewer decides to take a chance and breaks out on their own or an intrepid home brewer takes a hobby-turned-passion and decides to go pro.

You can spend all year, hopping around, tasting new varieties, and never get bored. Is that a challenge? Maybe. If you’re up for it, here are all the breweries in North County. Go forth and taste!

1. Bagby Beer Company

Bagby Beer Company has a simple vision: World class beers, simple food well done, and inviting hospitality. Owner, Jeff Bagby has been working in the North County brewing industry since 1997, earning more awards at the time than any other individual brewer in the area. You won’t just find beer at Bagby’s. The food menu and other libations are as exceptional. Sunday Brunch is a must.

2. Culture Brewing Co. - Tasting Room

Culture Brewing aims high with all their beers, focusing on keeping things simple. Classic styles done beautifully is what Culture is all about. The tasting room has a trendy vibe with modern-rustic flair. The Solana Beach tasting room serves up some craft beers on tap and offers patio seating.

3. Pizza Port

One of the earliest North County breweries, Pizza Port was previously a struggling pizza place in Solana Beach that siblings, Gina and Vince Marsaglia bought in 1987. Vince started dabbling with home brewing in the storage area, and the rest is history.

Pizza Port has three North County locations, so you're never too far from a beer and some Pizza Buddies!

4. Karl Strauss

Back in the mid-1980s, San Diego was void of the thriving beer scene it has today. It was on February 2, 1989 that Karl Strauss Brewing Company officially opened its doors in downtown San Diego, later opening up its North County location in Carlsbad, and then in La Jolla.

5. Burgeon Beer Co.

It didn't take long for this brewing company to get an award. Within a year of opening up, they garnered a Gold at the San Diego International Beer Festival for their Bitter, 'Taking the Biscuit.' The garden like tasting room is also dog-friendly.

6. Stone Brewing Oceanside Tap Room

This Oceanside outpost of the ever-expanding Stone Brewing franchise wins for its relaxed atmosphere, lush patio, and inviting atmosphere. You can bring your dogs, kids, and even your own grub to nosh on.

7. Arcana Brewing

Founded in 2012 by Dan Guy, a creative brewer who started home-brewing when he was in college at UC Riverside and CSU San Marcos, Arcana Brewing is all about traditional English style ales. The tasting room will make any steampunk fan very happy.

8. Breakwater Brewing

Founded in 2008 by Lars Gilman and Shannon Sager in Oceanside, CA, Breakwater opened its doors on the corner of Pacific Coast Hwy and Seagaze Drive in downtown Oceanside, just steps away from the town’s iconic pier.

Using equipment salvaged from a brewery in New Orleans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, Breakwater set out to offer something to just about anyone. At any time, you’ll find between 12 to 18 house beers on tap, as well as 25+ guest beers.

9. The Lost Abbey – The Confessional

Lost Abbey’s Cardiff tasting room, cheekily named The Confessional, serves beers from its namesake, as well as from Port Brewing and The Hop Concept. One fan raved about the fact that visitors can grab food from the pizza place next door or from Seaside Market for the perfect beer accompaniments.

10. Legacy Brewing

A patriotic motif built around America’s founding fathers and colonial glory days feels right at home in Oceanside, not far from Camp Pendleton. A visit to the tasting room actually feels a bit like falling in at a Marine Corps mess hall… except there’s beer. Bonus: This is where all the crazy kids go after jumping out of a plane across the street.

11. Oceanside Ale Works

Oceanside Ale Works crafts award-winning ales in the first microbrewery to find its home in Oceanside. Excellent beer with an amazing variety of options like Vanilla Cream Ale, Watermelon Ale, Pineapple IPA, and Coconut Pineapple Hef. Kids, dogs, and even bikes are welcome inside.

12. Oceanside Brewing

18 taps, all pumping out different and widely varied beer styles. Core beers include an American pale ale, India pale ale (IPA), amber ale, cream ale, hefeweizen and English-style porter. Those share space beside a pineapple-infused IPA, double IPA, black IPA (or Cascadian dark ale, as they prefer to refer to it), barley-wine, tropical hefe, imperial stout, Belgian-style strong ale and witbier.

13. Culver Beer

Culver Beer Company was opened in early 2016 on the basis of top notch craft beer, a comfortable and inviting tasting room, and to help and participate in the community of North County craft beer. Join the “geeks” on Thursday nights for trivia!

14. Rouleur Brewing

Walking into Rouleur, you might think you’re walking into a bike shop. If you have any cyclists in your circle of friends, you know that there are quite a few that will bike for beer, so it was only a matter of time that a cycling-themed tasting room would open in the area.

Rouleur is the French word for an all-arounder... a rider who doesn’t stick to one style of riding, rather who's good at all aspects of cycling. In the same way, the brewers at Rouleur don’t like to stick to one style of beer, choosing to do more hybrids.

15. Midnight Jack Brewing

Great atmosphere, nice decor, friendly staff, and open space so you’re not bumping elbows while hoisting one of their small-batch specialty beers like the Dominator German lager brewed with Midnight’s friends the Oceanside Brewing Company.

16. Wiseguy Brewing Co

Wiseguy Brewing Co. started like quite a few of our North County breweries; in their garage as a hobby. After 10 years of perfecting their beers, they finally have a tasting room open to the public. Go test out hoppy, German styles, and malty beers any day of the week.

17. Black Plague Brewing

Black Plague is one of Oceanside's newest taprooms and they offer everything we could possibly want: a vast beer selection, pet and family friendly, and regular special events like trivia night, live music, and food trucks.

18. Guadalupe Brewery

Guadalupe Brewery does not have a tasting room (yet!), but you can go in and get your growler filled with one of their many popular beers. While you're there filling up you can purchase your own homebrew supply at the attached Carlsbad Brew Supply and even sign up for educational classes.

19. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido

Famed brewery that wasn’t necessarily the first, but definitely the one that put San Diego beer on the map. The restaurant and gardens built around the brewing offers an American menu, California-modern indoor/outdoor with fire pits and koi ponds.

20. Mason Ale Works

As they themselves put it, “Mason Ale Works is beer for people who defy the odds and make their own fortune.” Mason is headed by Mike Rodriguez, a veteran of Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey and Boulevard Brewing.

Founded in 2010 Urge Gastropub is the American reinterpretation of the traditional English Pub. Great comfort foods accompany the eclectic and extensive beer list that changes daily.

21. Iron Fist Brewing

Iron Fist Brewing Company grew from a passion for brewing, which, as they tell the story, prompted them to make a lot of it. Since they made a bit more than they could drink themselves, they decided to sell the overflow. As a family owned brewery, they invite you to bring the furry members of your family to their patio.

22. Indian Joe Brewing

Max Moran’s Great Uncle Joe was a Luiseño Indian from North San Diego County. His grandfather had tended to the vines at the San Luis Rey Mission, but brewing beer his real passion. Great Uncle Indian Joe earned a reputation in the early 1900’s for brewing outstanding beers. His recipes were infused with natural ingredients —some with medicinal properties— gathered from canyons and valleys throughout the coast and neighboring reservations. Encouraged by friends and loved ones, Max picked up the torch and, In 2010.

23. Belching Beaver Tasting Room

Belching Beaver takes the brewing seriously, but don’t worry… their tasting room is fun and lively and they’re all about having a great time. Don’t miss out on their Family Trivia Nights!

24. Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill

Although there are various brewing locations throughout San Diego, Belching Beaver decided to put its Tavern Grill in the heart of North County’s brewing hub in Vista. The tavern is a rustic indoor/outdoor hangout with fire pits and two spacious patio, both of which your furry friend is welcome to join you in. The tavern offers lunch Wednesday through Sunday, and dinner Monday through Friday, with a weekday Happy Hour. There are over 60 beers on tap to choose from, plus wine for those of you bringing along a non-beer drinking buddy.

25. Prohibition Pub & Grill

Ron and Kathy Adams founded Prohibition Brewing Company in 2011 after years of being home-brewers. Their goal was and still is to use traditional brewing methods and the finest ingredients to produce superb, unique brews. Their passion and commitment was recognized when they were awarded the 2016 Small Business of the Year for the 36th Senate District. The vibe at Prohibition is very relaxed, plus bar eats, sandwiches, and breakfast on the weekends.

26. Mother Earth Brew Company

Founded in 2008 by three passionate home brewers based in a humble garage, Mother Earth Brew Co. had one goal: to create distinguished, hand-crafted beers that stimulate sensory conversation and a desire for the next sip. Today, they brew in a 2000 plus sq. foot facility with two available tasting rooms in Vista.

If you’re hungry, there are plenty of local places to grab a bite on Main St. But if you wait a minute, someone will show up with menus and will do the ordering and pick up for you. It’s totally legit. Just make sure to pay after you get your food.

27. Barrel Harbor

Craft brewery offering a range of ales, lagers, IPAs & stouts, plus a daily tasting room.

28. Bear Roots Brewing Co.

Bear Roots Brewing Co. was created by home brewers for home brewers. A deep rooted love for creating craft beer turned into the vision that you see today. Come for the beer… stay for the laughs! This brewery offers comedy nights, as well as their great beers.

29. Booze Brothers Brewing Co.

Dave and Donny Firth turned their garage tasting experiment into a brewery and tasting room with a distinct flare. What was once a huge empty room has become a rustic, good-ole’-days oasis. Miss-matched reclaimed wood lines the walk-in cooler and patio fence, vintage bulbs hang from the ceiling, and wood, concrete, and iron make up the hand-crafted bar. Even the bathrooms have a cheeky style, being decorated to look like out-houses.

30. Rip Current Brewing

Of Rip Current’s two San Diego tasting rooms, one is thankfully located here in North County! The tasting room is directly across the street from the Grand Plaza shopping center, home of several restaurants and plenty of shopping. Cap off a day of window shopping with a pint at Rip Current.

31. Latitude 33

Helmed by Alpine and Backstreet-alum Kevin Buckley, this taproom offers tasters, pints & growler fills of San Diego-style craft ales, lagers & seasonal brews.

32. Backstreet Brewing

With locations throughout Southern California, this microbrewery brings together Lamppost's award-winning pizza with fresh, handcrafted ales and lagers. Their brewmaster uses traditional brewing methods in small batches to ensure freshness and quality.

33. Aztec Brewery

The original Aztec Brewing Company started in Mexico during the Prohibition era. Later moving to San Diego, the brewery and its ABC (Aztec Brewing Company) brand all but disappeared from the area in the 1950s.

In 2011, Aztec “reappeared” in Vista as a new brewery that pays homage to the old brand. Offering seven year-round beers like San Diego International Beer Festival winner Aztec Amber, Aztec also features a changing selection of seasonal and specialty beers, including the Coffee Blonde.

34. SpecHops Brewing

Have a seat at the tasting bar in front of their 15-BBL Brewing System and 180BBL Fermentation Cellarand relaxing over a pint or two of our Pale, Session IPA, Stout, and Saison, or play a game of Corn Hole or Giant Jenga.

35. Plan 9 Alehouse

Another group of Team Stone alums moved on from the gargoyle clan to set up camp in nearby downtown Escondido with a restaurant equipped with a tiny brewing system. Outfitted in reclaimed materials with roll-up garage doors looking out onto Grand Avenue, it’s a cozy place to settle down and enjoy tasty pub grub and a spectacular tap list. That list seldom includes house beers, but those rarely seen ales have won kind comments from those lucky enough to get a taste of them.

36. Toolbox Brewing Co.

This is a spot where visitors can get a feel for all of the interesting things that can be done to beer… legally. From increasing a beer’s dryness to adding funk or a touch of biting spice, it’s worth investigating.

37. Wavelength Brewing Company

Fans of craft beer, who might also happen to be space geeks, now have a place to enjoy two of their favorite things. These two things are brought together at Wavelength Brewing Co. Its mission: to explore bold new flavors; to seek out knowledge of space and stuff; to boldly go where no bar has gone before!

Proprietor, Hans Frederick Haas has long had a passion for both beer and science. He talked his friend James Petti into the concept, and together, they opened Wavelength in Downtown Vista in 2014.

38. Dos Desperados Brewery

Dust off your boots and mosey on into the toughest and tastiest brewery in town. Tucked away in San Marcos, Dos Desperados Brewery is a family owned and operated brewery dedicated to crafting, pouring and serving crowd favorites and specialty brews.

39. Fallbrook Brewing Company

Fallbrook Brewing opened in 2013 and is located in downtown Fallbrook. Since then, FBC has been brewing quality craft beer and showcasing everything Fallbrook has to offer. This downtown nano brewery offers the choice to observe passers-by or sit at one of four bars. Order local food from surrounding restaurants. No matter if you sit or stand it's a great place for craft beer.

40. Stumblefoot Brewing

Craft Brews and great vibes. Home of the new “Stay Classy California Common”. Now on tap and very, very, very classy.

41. SR76 Beerworks

SR76 Beerworks is the first brewery of its type in Southern California owned by a Native American Indian tribe (Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians). Their brewery and the brews are inspired by how members of the tribe would travel between coastal and inland camps along the San Luis Rey River, a path which would later become the highway known as SR-76.

42. Battlemage Brewing

Owners, operators, beertenders, and brewers, Ryan Sather and Chris Barry are the guys behind the newly opened Battlemage. Their two-man operation had a soft-open in May to debut beers made on a five-barrel premier stainless system. After years of assisting home brewers at Mother Earth’s old shop and Ballast Point’s Home Brew Mart, Sather and Barry come to Battlemage having experience with a wide breadth of beer ingredients and styles. The brewery’s theme of wizardry and magic is represented all the way down to flights served on a wooden replica of a battle ax.

43. Ebullition Brewing

Whether you want to sip on an IPA, amber, or a stout, you can trust that you will enjoy a beer that's been flawlessly brewed and well-balanced in flavor. Bring your friends, family and even your pets to relax with Ebullition Brewing in their modern and comfortable setting!

44. Viewpoint Brewing Co.

Viewpoint is the city's first brewery, bringing together the diverse perspectives of a collaborative group of longtime members of the culinary and craft brewing communities. A spacious venue offering house-brewed beer & gastropub fare in an industrial-chic waterfront setting.

45. Port Brewing Co / The Lost Abbey - Tasting Room

The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing are both brands of Port Brewing Company. Like Chevrolet and Cadillac, or Taco Bell and KFC, both are produced by the same company but targeted for different markets.

Their American / West Coast-style beers (Wipeout, Old Viscosity, Shark Attack, etc.) are packaged in 22 ounce bottles and released under the Port Brewing label. Their Belgian-inspired and premium beers (Avant Garde, Judgment Day, most of the barrel releases, etc.) are packaged in 375ml or 750ml corked bottles and released under the Lost Abbey label. Either way, they’re all produced in the same brewery by the same amazing staff.

46. Culture Brewing Co. - Satellite Tasting Room

Culture Brewing aims high with all their beers, focusing on keeping things simple. Classic styles done beautifully is what Culture is all about. Their satellite tasting room has a trendy vibe with modern-rustic flair.

47. Mason Ale Works

Mason Ale Works occupies the north side of the building, housing a 10-barrel Premier Stainless brewhouse, six 10-barrel fermenters, more than 30 barrels (mostly red wine, currently, with plans to expand into more vino and spirits) and a cold-box fitted with eight 10-barrel bright/serving tanks.

48. Mason Ale Works

The latest installation of the Urge/Mason Ale Works locations is the largest. And unlike the Oceanside location, visitors to Urge Commonhouse have a clear view of the brewing process walking up to and into the restaurant, as well as from the White Russian bar in the Big Lebowski-themed bowling alley.

49. Pizza Port

One of the earliest North County breweries, Pizza Port was previously a struggling pizza place in Solana Beach that siblings, Gina and Vince Marsaglia bought in 1987. Vince started dabbling with home brewing in the storage area, and the rest is history.

Pizza Port has three North County locations, so you're never too far from a beer and some Pizza Buddies!

Sugar Jones: Sugar Jones has been blogging about life since 2008. She has contributed to various local news stations for lifestyle segments, speaking about tech, social media, travel, food, and family. She most enjoys sharing her favorite places and things to do around her adopted home of North County. You can follow Sugar's adventures on her blog, Live the Sweet Life, Facebook, and Google+.