San Diego County — ahem, the Capital of Craft, ‘cause we’re kind of a big deal — makes a lot of great craft beer. With 180+ independent brewing facilities and counting, local brewers constantly tap into creativity — for recipes, collabs, and the names of their beers.
To wrap up Drink Up Week, we’d like to raise a glass to 11 super San Diego-centric brews whose names draw inspiration from our beloved communities, lovely landscapes, the Padres + cool local culture. Cheers. 🍻
🌊 Swami’s India Pale Ale, Pizza Port Brewing Co.
Pizza Port is known for its lineup of locally-inspired grog + stellar can art honoring our coastline, and the brewery’s Swami’s IPA gets us stoked, every time. First brewed in 1992, the name pays tribute to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas and, as the brewery explains, “our favorite local surf break nestled below a spiritual enlightenment temple that sits on the cliffs above.”
Style + Flavor: A 6.8% ABV West Coast Style IPA with a profile of citrus + pine and a crisp finish. Get it at Pizza Port’s brewpubs or in cans all over town.
⚾ San Diego Pale Ale .394, AleSmith Brewing Company
A tribute to late Padres legend Tony Gwynn — aka “Mr. Padre” — AleSmith collaborated with Gwynn’s team in 2014 to create a brew fit for a baseball + San Diego icon. The brewery says .394 — a nod to No. 19’s career-high batting average achieved in 1994 — honors “the city he loved.”
Last month, when we asked San Diego Brewers Guild executive director Paige McWey Acers which craft beer is “just so San Diego,” she went to bat for this brew, telling SDtoday: “AleSmith’s .394 is kind of that unofficial official San Diego beer. The history of the beer — the relationship with the Padres + Tony Gwynn, that story is so special to San Diegans.”
Style + Flavor: According to AleSmith, based on Gwynn’s tastes, he wanted the beer to be “light with a kick.” The 6% ABV golden pale ale is full of American hop flavor + aroma, “with a subdued bitterness and a malty, sweet finish.” Get it online, in stores, or at AleSmith’s Tasting Room.
🍊 Orange Avenue Shandy, Coronado Brewing Co.
Style + Flavor: The 4.2% ABV wheat ale is bright + citrusy.
🌵 O’Side or No Side, CraftCoast
🖤 Burlingame, North Park Beer Co.
This beer is named after the cool neighborhood bordering North Park — known for its historic character + architectural styles from the 1900s. Like Burlingame, North Park Beer Co. says this beer is “also quite characterful in that it has many flavors common with stouts and porters, but with the clean and refined finish you would find in an exceptionally well-crafted lager.”
Style + Flavor: A rich, dark and malty 5.6% ABV Czech-style black lager with flavors of toasted bread, bittersweet chocolate, and roasted notes. Find it on tap at the North Park tasting room or in cans.
⚾ No-No Joe Double IPA, Resident Brewing
Brewed in collaboration with Padres pitcher, MLB All-Star, and San Diego native Joe “No-No” Musgrove, this West Coast Double IPA is another one for fans of the hometeam. Resident Brewing Co. originally brewed this to commemorate Musgrove’s historic no-hitter in 2021, and a new batch was released earlier this month.
Style + Flavor: The 8.2% ABV unfiltered IPA is brewed with Nelson, Strata, Citra + Simcoe hops via what Resident describes as an “uncommonly heavy dry hopping regimen.” Although dry, it also has a fruity aroma of pineapple and those little peach ring candies.
🌯 Burritos & Lighthouses, North Park Beer Co.
This North Park Beer Co. + Definitive Brewing collab from earlier this year was such a fun one, honoring two very local things in its name: Burritos + the historic lighthouses of Point Loma. Just saying it out loud makes us hoppy.
Style + Flavor: A 10% ABV hazy triple IPA — and we’re on the lookout for it via North Park Beer’s website.
🤎 Swingin’ Friar Ale, Ballast Point
Style + Flavor: The 5.5% ABV hoppy pale ale is 100% Simcoe brewed with aromas of citrus, peach, mellow berry, pine + grapefruit — with a “biscuity malt backbone” and crisp finish. Find it at the ballpark, in cans all over San Diego, and score $5 pints every day during baseball season at the Ballast Point tasting rooms in Miramar, Little Italy +Home Brew Mart.
☀️ Chula Palooza, Attitude Brewing Company
Style + Flavor: The 9% ABV triple dry-hopped hazy IPA was brewed with Simcoe, Nelson, Ekuanot + Amarillo hops.
🏝️ OB Bubble Dubbel, Kilowatt Brewing
This beer puts Ocean Beach in the spotlight — and won the bronze medal in 2019 at the Great American Beer Festival.
🫐 Carlsbad Crush, Burgeon Beer Company
Brewed several times since 2019, this Burgeon Beer brew highlights Carlsbad in San Diego’s North County — and is now available in the brand’s signature colorful cans. Oh, and it also won the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2020.
Style + Flavor: This 5.8% ABV West Coast Style Mosaic pale ale is 100% Mosaic-hopped, so the bright, fruity flavors are prominent, including passion fruit + blueberry.
Pssst: This is just a sampling of local craft brews with San Diego-related nods in their names. We’re always looking for more, so if we missed your fav, please email us. The more the merrier, right? 🍻