Almost daily a new craft brewery opens in a city across America. Even in San Diego, where despite being one of the first American cities to embrace the craft beer movement, craft breweries continue to pop up.
You’ll find a craft brewery in every corner of San Diego county: from as far south as Mad Lab Craft Brewery in Imperial Beach, to the eastern portion which gives us Julian Brewing Company in Julian, back west on the coast gives Pizza Port in Solana Beach, and to the most northern San Diego County brewery, Prohibition Brewing Company in Vista.
San Diego craft breweries have come a long way since the opening of the first Karl Strauss Brewing Company in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp District. Gone is the short list of amber lagers replaced with a multitude of IPAs, porters, and nitro infused stouts.
From stouts to floral infused beers there’s a craft beer for every taste. For the select few who don’t like beer, there’s at least one San Diego craft brew that will convert you – especially the craft brews in North County.
If you’ve read my 5 Denver Beers Even Beer Haters Will Love post you know beer is not my favorite beverage. Beer doesn’t even make my top 5 beverage list. So it takes a lot for a beer to impress me.
But when beer loving friends visit, Kevin & Cassie of Ever In Transit, and you live in America’s craft-beer capital, you need to visit the local breweries. Here’s what made my list of the top 5 best North County San Diego beers.
5 Best North County San Diego Beers
1. Velvet Glove Nitro
Velvet Glove Nitro from Iron Fist Brewing Company is my top pick for number one North County San Diego beer.
An imperial oatmeal stout, the Velvet Glove Nitro, with hints of chocolate and coffee, has a smooth creamy finish that is remarkably easy to drink for such a strong, bold stout. Best of all – at least for me – there’s little carbonation.
But this beer packs a wallop with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 9.0% so be sure to either come on a full stomach or grab a bite to eat from the food truck.
Iron Fist Brewing, Company, located at 1305 Hot Spring Way #101, Vista CA 92081, is open Wednesday from 4-8 p.m., Thursday & Friday from 3-8 p.m., Saturday from 12-6 p.m., and Sunday from 12-5 p.m.
2. 10 Commandments
The 10 Commandments from The Lost Abbey is my second favorite North County San Diego craft beer, edged out only slightly by Iron Fist’s Velvet Glove Nitro.
Sadly, the 10 Commandments is a seasonal beer only available during the mid-summer and early fall.
If The Lost Abbey were to infuse the 10 Commandments with Nitro and keep in on tap all year, it could easily win first place in my heart.
The 10 Commandments delivers a hearty robust flavor of malt, raisins, and hints of rosemary. With an ABV (alcohol by volume) content of 10% the 10 Commandments will bring you to your knees.
Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey, located at 155 Mata Way #104, San Marcos, CA 92069, is open Monday – Tuesday from 1-6 p.m., Wednesday from 1-9 p.m., Thursday from 1-7 p.m., Friday from 1-9 p.m., Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12-7 p.m.
3. Cali Creamin’
Rounding up number 3 on the top 5 beer list is Cali Creamin’, a vanilla cream ale, from Mother Earth Brew Company.
A glass of Cali Creamin’ is basically a cream soda with a kick. A light refreshing malt beer that’s perfect for a hot day with an ABV (alcohol by volume) content of only 5.2%, just enough to give you a little buzz.
Mother Earth Brew Co, located at 206 Main Street, Vista CA 92081, is open Tuesday from 12-8 p.m., Wednesday from 12-9 p.m., Thursday from 12-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12-11 p.m., and Sunday from 12-8 p.m.
4. Vanilla Porter
Latitude 33 Brewing Company’s Vanilla Porter comes in fourth among the top San Diego beers.
This dark malt beer is a little more carbonated than I prefer. Thankfully the chocolate and spices makes up for all those bubbles. Vanilla dominates the flavor profile of this porter but without making it annoyingly sweet.
Vanilla Porter comes in with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 6.5%.
Latitude 33 Brewing Company, located at 1430 Vantage Court, Suite 104, Vista CA 92081, is open Thursday & Friday from 3-8 p.m., Saturday from 12-7 p.m., and Sunday from 12-5 p.m.
Completing the list of the top 5 best North County San Diego beers is the Saison from Prohibition Brewing Company.
A darker saison than I’m used to drinking, Prohibition Brewing Company’s Saison is a deep copper colored malt beer with hints of pepper and floral. Although heavy on carbonation, the Saison goes down smooth. ABV (alcohol by volume) is 6.7%.
Prohibition Brewing Company is only one of two North County San Diego craft breweries that offer a full food menu. Consider making this your first stop on your beer tour or your last.
Prohibition Brewing Company, located at 2004 East Vista Way, Vista CA 92084, is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11-11 p.m. and Sunday – Monday 11-10 p.m.
What are your favorite San Diego beers? Have you had a chance to try any of the beers on my 5 best North County San Diego beer list?
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Friday 3rd of May 2013
[...] 5 Best Beers in North County San Diego [...]
Friday 5th of April 2013
Love it! I'm glad you took good notes! I do remember loving the Velvet Glove Nitro, but I don't remember the others, and I never tried the Prohibition Saison. It sounds like a beer I would like a lot.
Thank you so much for taking us around! We can't wait to return the favor when you come up to NorCal!
Saturday 6th of April 2013
Yeah, I went to Mother Earth and Prohibition the following week since none of Stone's beers stood out.
Thursday 4th of April 2013
I spent 4 months in San Diego for work once....I loved the beer variety!! I haven't had any of those, so maybe the family and I will have to come back and do some more tasting. :)
Thursday 4th of April 2013
Most definitely! There's over 60 craft breweries in San Diego so plenty of beer choices. :)