With so many local craft breweries peppering San Diego city and its surrounding county, it’s obvious why “beercations” (vacations centered around beer tasting and craft breweries) are becoming insanely popular. People are traveling across the country and world to try new beers, meet new people, and find a sense of adventure in their lives.
San Diego's South Bay beer scene has seen a lot of growth in recent years, thanks to its vibrant and diverse community. With its proximity to the Southern Border and the influence of local residents with Latin American heritage, South Bay breweries offer an eclectic mix of craft beer you won't find anywhere else.
South Bay is an excellent area for exploring during your time in Southern California, and these are six breweries you should definitely check out when you visit!
Here's the list:
Thorn Brewing Co.
Thorn Brewing Company first opened its doors in North Park and later expanded into Barrio Logan. They strive to highlight South Bay's culture and create an inviting space for locals while also serving as a destination for tourists wanting to get a taste of what San Diego has to offer in both beer and culture.
Thorn Brewing's tasting room in Barrio Logan has a wide selection of beers to choose from, and they provide various events and game nights to ensure the community has a great time. If you’re visiting San Diego for a special event, like a family reunion or a bachelor party, you can rent their private room upstairs. They also have additional locations in North Park and Mission Hills.
Beers to Try: Thorn Brewing Co. has a wide selection of beers to try, from their year-round selection to their limited releases. You can't go wrong with their Barrio Lager - it’s light, crisp, and easy to drink. The beer has a nice golden color that goes down smooth and is excellent on a hot summer day. IPAs more your style? Sun Soaked might be right up your alley, with hints of mango, strawberry, passionfruit, and berry flavors that give it that beach feel.
Location: 1745 National Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Mujeres Brew House
Mujeres Brew House originally started as a club gathering for women (and anyone interested in learning about beer) and was based out of Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan. The club’s mission has always been about inclusivity and education, focusing primarily on creating a welcoming space for women of color to learn more about beer.
Mujeres Brew House first opened its doors to the public in July of 2020 and regularly hosts a wide range of events, including a market for local artists and businesses, fun events with live music and DJs, and educational programs that promote inclusivity and help give back to the community.
With San Diego Pride in full swing, Mujeres Brew House will host a social gathering centered on supporting the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities. The event will include drag performers, ballet Folklorico dancers, a DJ set, and a small mercado featuring local LGBTQ+ Latinx artists and vendors.
The event takes place on Saturday, July 17, from 3-7 PM - more information can be found on the SD Pride website.
Beers to Try: If American Amber Ales are your thing, you'll want to try the Conchita, a moderate, hoppy beer with a distinct caramel malty flavor. If you're looking for something on the lighter side, the Buenas Vibras (Blonde Ale) is a great option.
Location: 1983 Julian Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Co.
Thr3e Punk Ales is known for its refreshing craft beer and punk vibes. You’ll find punk rock posters lining the walls, and you won't want to stop singing along with the music pumping through their speakers! The friendly staff, good music, and great beer make this brewery a great place to meet up with friends. They also have a taco truck that sets up pretty regularly!
Thr3e Punk Ales, Groundswell, and Chula Vista Brewery (read more about the latter two breweries below) are all located on Third Avenue in Chula Vista - an up-and-coming part of the city being revitalized by small, locally owned businesses.
Into podcasts? Be sure to check out Emo Brown: The Saddest Mexican, recorded at Thr3e Punk Ales. The podcast explores themes and topics involving Mexican Culture as experienced through Southern California eyes and highlights local businesses and personalities.
Beers to Try: If you're in the mood for something a little sweeter, consider trying the Emo Brown, an Imperial Brown with Mexican coffee & chocolate. They've also got an excellent selection of Seltzers to try out (we recommend their strawberry lemonade - Helter Seltzer! Another popular choice is Needle In the Hey, a double India Pale Ale.
Location: 259 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Hours: Monday - Sunday: 12 PM - 10 PM
Groundswell Brewing Company
Located in Chula Vista, Groundswell Brewing Company is known for its variety of beers, including IPA's and German-style brews. They're a family-friendly brewery that believes beer should be social. They create a friendly environment where visitors can chat and mingle, making Groundswell Brewing an inviting brewery for South Bay locals and newcomers alike.
Groundswell Brewing Company desired to create a brewpub experience in Chula Vista when they first opened their doors. It’s a place where people can come and enjoy a pint or two and choose from a selection of games to keep friends and family busy. You can also try some of their delicious pizza via The Palate, Groundswell Brewing’s newest restaurant concept.
Beers to Try: Be sure to try their First Date, a very crisp and refreshing blonde with slight notes of citrus. Other popular beers are the Hubba Hubba, a double IPA with a smooth fruity flavor, or the Sour Suite, a light and refreshing sour ale great for a warm summer day.
Location: 258 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Chula Vista Brewery
Chula Vista Brewery was founded by Timothy J. Parker and his wife, Dali. Tim is a Chicago Southside born and raised native who grew up in the projects. He moved to San Diego to pursue a career in the U.S. Navy, where he met his wife in 2002 and was introduced to Chula Vista by her. The husband-wife team is committed to partnering with local businesses and supporting the South Bay community.
Chula Vista Brewery has various beers for customers to try, with plenty more on tap. With a wide selection of brews to choose from award-winning brewers James Hodges and Ignacio "Nacho" Cervantes, including IPAs, ales, and seltzers, Chula Vista Brewery is a South Bay destination for beer lovers.
Beers to Try: You can't go wrong with Warplanes, a Hazy Pale Ale brewed with simcoe, citra, and mosaic hops that give it a light and slightly fruity taste. Other beers to try are Browner than Ivan (American Brown Ale), Guerita (Blonde Ale), Children of the FOG (New England IPA), and Hilltop IPA. They also have seltzers and micheladas to try if you prefer something different.
Location: 294 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Novo Brazil Brewing Co.
Novo Brazil Brewing Co. rounds out our list of South Bay breweries to visit and makes a great final destination on your beercation adventure. Established with the expressed intention of bringing authentic Brazilian culture and flavors to San Diego county, Novo Brazil has become internationally recognized for its wide variety of beer, kombucha, and seltzers.
Not only are there 40+ drinks to try, but they serve an incredible array of food and Brazilian-inspired dishes. Family and dog friendly, Novo Brazil Brewing in Otay Ranch is a great space to relax with family or catch up with friends.
Beers to Try: With so many options to choose from, it's difficult to choose a few drinks. For fans of IPAs, we recommend the 2Can, a classic west coast IPA with bold citrus, grapefruit, and piney aromas, or the Passion Haze, a hazy IPA that packs a passionfruit punch. They also have a great selection of Imperial Stouts for those who like heavy, malty beers.
And don't forget their wide selection of kombucha and seltzers! We recommend flight tasters to try a wide selection of their drinks and find a new favorite.
Location: 2015 Birch Rd #1017, Chula Vista, CA 91915
South Bay is home to these breweries and more that are worth checking out. Visitors and locals alike will enjoy the unique South Bay culture that these breweries have to offer. If you're looking for a way to spend your weekend, beercationing in South Bay should do the trick!