San Diego brews the best
’Tis the season for beer. And if you’re still pounding the Silver Bullet, it’s time you packed your things and went back from whence you came.
With 120-plus breweries, the San Diego area is the beer Mecca, dominating the craft beer scene and giving us a plethora of amazing choices. It’s a good time to live in Southern California.
To beat the heat, here’s some worth drinking. They’re local, delicious and readily available (If Russian River has a great session ale, who cares? We can’t get our hands on it.).
Refuge Blood Orange Wit
5% ABV, 16 IBUs
Our neighbors to the north have some brewing chops. Refuge’s Blood Orange Wit combines a traditional, Belgian style wheat with more than 200 pounds of fresh blood oranges in each batch. The result is super well-balanced — light bodied wheat with the refreshing tartness of blood orange. Not too sweet, like other orange wits on the market.
Honestly, the best thing to come out of Temecula since wine. Plus, the cans are sexy.
Mike Hess Claritas Kölsch
5.8% ABV, 28 IBUs
Hess’ Claritas Kölsch is my favorite, local German-style beer. Nice and light with fruity aromatics. The malts finish with a hop-driven dry, clean finish.
Belching Beaver Me So Honey
5.5% ABV, 19 IBUs
Me So Honey is great for summer. Not overly sweet, this wheat ale offers aromas of wild flowers and cloves, with a touch of honey.
Mike Hess My Other Vice
Sour beers have become increasingly popular, and it’s exciting to see our local brewers growing beyond the hop-storm IPAs that define San Diego. Hess’ My Other Vice Berliner Weisse is a great place to start.
Refreshing and tart, for sure, but not a sour bomb. It offers tastes of green apples, pomegranate and mild fruit.
Modern Times Fruitlands
This gose starts with a sour, salty base giving way to a heavy dose of fruit (which rotates depending on the season).
St. Archer Blackberry Gose
If you’re a fan of the gose resurgence, give this one a try too. Very refreshing, the blackberry is subtle but noticeable and compliments the sour and salty very well.
Alesmith San Diego Pale Ale .394
6% ABV, 26 IBUs
Pale Ale .394 is soft enough to enjoy through an entire baseball game, yet offers the piney, citrusy hop aromas and flavors we expect from San Diego beers. The malts and hops work perfectly together.
.394 references the highest single-season batting average Tony Gwynn set back in 1994 as a Padre, and part of the proceeds go to the Tony and Alicia Gwynn Foundation.
Arrogant Brewing (Stone) Wussie Pilsner
5.8% ABV, 47 IBUs
This Northern German-style pilsner surprised me. Amazingly drinkable and soft — not what I expected from the makers of Arrogant Bastard.
Modern Times Oneida
5.2% ABV, 50 IBUs
This season pale ale starts with a pungent aroma of hops, lemongrass and tropical fruit. It then gives way to the malts, which provide a smooth finish.
St. Archer Imperial IPA
A combination of El Dorado, Simcoe and Citra hops give this IPA notes of lemon, citrus and passion fruit, giving way to a delicious, bitter dankness. The finish is dry and smooth, suggesting a malt backbone.
Definitely worth trying with lighter meats, as this imperial IPA doesn’t leave your palate completely wrecked.
Stone Ruinten Triple IPA
10.8% ABV, 110 IBUs
Every summer Stone blesses us with Ruinten. There’s a lot going on here — from tropical fruit to coffee and brown sugar. Plus, it drinks much smoother than you’d expect from such a high ABV. (Also, try the So-Cal only Ruinten with orange peel and vanilla.)
Mother Earth Boo Koo IPA
6.5% ABV, 52.3 IBUs
Sessionable but hop forward enough to satisfy a San Diego palate. Lots of fruit and pine in the taste and aroma, yet finishes dry.