San Diego Breweries, Day 1: Big Operations

Driving south on Interstate 5 from Orange County towards San Diego, (one of the current craft beer meccas), Lindsay opened the area’s beer map, boasting 38 locations in one county.  Oh, my, goodness. How would we get them all in over one weekend?

Though my type-A nature actually began strategizing a method to complete such madness, I knew a half dozen breweries over two days would be a great goal. There’s absolutely no need to over-indulge, be irresponsible on the roads, or confuse our palettes with yes, too much beer. So we opted to spend our first day in the Mission Valley area, visiting some of the well-known, larger craft breweries: Ballast Point and Green Flash, and then a Port Brewing location in Solana Beach. Without a doubt, we sacrificed visiting some other heavy hitters in the area, but we can always return to savor more SoCal craft beer.

I could go on and on about each of these places, though there are three highlights that make each operation well-worth visiting:

Ballast Point

– A solid variety of production beers that represent style and taste to near perfection, and offer an unrivaled clarity of beer color in each style.

– Once past the standard six, the brewers have designed an almost over-whelming menu of options, including a series of chile beers, a selection of smoked beers, and some craft releases I’m still craving to revisit nearly two weeks after our visit.

– A major hub for beer enthusiasts . . . we followed the Brewery Tours of San Diego bus (co-run by an editor of The West Coaster) into the parking lot for the 11 am opening.  It seems that everyone agrees, Ballast Point is not to be missed.

Green Flash

– Pushing the industry for larger-scale brewing and distribution of Belgian-style releases.

– Awesome tap room in the heart of their brewing operation (quit massive), and a beer garden with visiting food trucks . . . perfect for enjoying beautiful Southern California weather.

-IPAs that set the standard for what hoppy beers are capable of on the West Coast.

Pizza Port

– Most definitely an incredible combination of pizza and beer, perfect for celebrating a great day of surfing, biking, hiking, drinking and/or just laying out in the sun enjoying the sound of those waves.

– Several locations in Southern California so you’re never too far from great pizza and beer . . . and thus giving Port the ability to brew a large variety of styles and batches.

– Excellent in-house beer, but an organization humble enough to host other guest taps, always. (I got distracted by Firestone Walker’s Parabola)

Overall

– Excellent variety of what “big” operations can be.

-Well-worth a Saturday afternoon.

-Motivated us to check-out some smaller breweries (stay tuned for the next post on these!).

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