What mountain road trip would be complete without stopping at one of San Diego's mountain-side breweries? If you're looking for some great beer and an inviting atmosphere, these four craft breweries are perfect for you. Nestled between the mountain foothills of the Laguna and Cuyamaca mountains, these breweries are waiting for you to stop by and have a drink. The four breweries include:
Smoking Cannon Brewery
What was once an old Ramona dealership has been transformed into Smoking Cannon Brewery, operated by Ramona locals Mike Nelson and Natallie Phillips.
This brewery embodies the look of a 19th-century saloon, including vintage photos, wood furnishing, cannon replicas, and themed beers. Each beer takes the name of a different Civil War cannon, and ingredients are selected for their freshness and natural flavors. Smoking Cannon beers originate from a love for home brewing, which Nelson has been mastering since the late '90s.
Some of their award-winning beers include Paxton (Smoked Peanut Butter Ale), winner of the 2019 Bronze Medal L.A. International Beer Competition, Bellona (Irish Red Ale), winner of the 2021 S.D. International Beer Competition Bronze Medal and Coehorn (American Stout) winner of the 2019 L.A. International Beer Competition Silver Medal.
Location: 780 Main St Suite I, Ramona, CA 92065
Nickel Beer Co.
Julian's famous pies and tasty cider are well-known among San Diego natives, but have you tried their fantastic beer? Nestled among pine and oak trees, you'll find Nickel Beer Co., a green building about a mile away from Main Street that's pretty hard to miss.
Headed up by Tom Nickel, world-renowned brewer and prominent figure in San Diego craft beer, he co-founded the brewery back in 2013. Tom started homebrewing at the age of 18 and had wanted to open a brewery in Julian since 1995. He worked in local breweries from 1996 to 2005 and, in 2004, was named the World Beer Cup Small Brewing Company Brewmaster of the Year.
With 16 beers on draft, Nickel Beer Company has various styles to sample, either in its comfortable indoor environment or out on its dog-friendly outdoor patio. For those of you who like IPAs, you've got to try their Volcan IPA and My Way. If you want something that combines Julian's characteristic cider with excellent San Diego beer, then you have to try their Apple Pie Ale, a beer/cider hybrid.
Location: 1485 Hollow Glen Rd, Julian, CA 92036
Mcilhenney Brewing Company
While Mcilhenney Brewing Co. is one of the newer breweries to call San Diego it's home, the team behind this brewery is anything but new. Pat Mcilhenney started Alpine Beer Company in 1999. His beers quickly gained local, then national attention putting the town of Alpine on the destination list of savvy beer drinkers. His son Shawn worked closely with his dad and quickly worked his way through the ranks when he became Head Brewer in 2006 and made a name for himself by garnering multiple World Beer Cup, GABF, and SDIBF awards.
In Spring 2021, the Mcilhenney family opened its doors in the same spot where Pat and Shawn started creating their beers nearly two decades earlier. Mcilhenney Brewing Company now operates out of the same spot the original Alpine Beer Co. once stood. Many locals are excited to have the Mcilhenney’s back in Alpine, brewing the same exceptional beer they remember from so many years ago.
Enjoy a laid-back atmosphere and a close-knit community when visiting Mcilhenney. Some fan-favorite beers include Wild Child 2xIPA (West Coast Double IPA), Muntz (New Zealand Hopped Rye IPA), and the Molotov Special (Russian Imperial Stout).
Location: 2363 Alpine Blvd, Alpine, CA 91901
Alpine Beer Company Outpost
Alpine Beer Company Outpost is back again as a brewery/pizzeria after having closed its doors for a few years. They bring back the same Alpine Beer you know and love, with an updated menu that is sure to please the palate. Food includes a great selection of salads, shareable appetizers, and, of course, their specialty - pizza. Savor Alpine classics like Duet and Nelson IPA, or if Pale Ales are more to your taste, try the Hoppy Birthday or Windows Up.
Alpine Outpost was designed with families in mind with a large outdoor patio great for seating many people at once. This is your go-to spot after large family getaways in the mountain. Alpine Outpost is a great option for groups looking to grab a bite before hitting the trails or mountain slopes.
Location: 1347 Tavern Rd, Alpine, CA 91901
After a day in the mountains surrounding San Diego County, grabbing a local craft beer is a great way to end the day. With an array of beer styles by world-renowned brewers and an inviting atmosphere, these breweries are perfect for an afternoon or evening out. And don't forget to bring your furry friends - most of these establishments are dog-friendly! If you want to make your mountain trip even more memorable, be sure to stop at one of these four breweries; Alpine Beer Company, Mcilhenney Brewing Co., Smoking Cannon Brewery, and Nickel Beer Company. These four craft breweries offer great beer selections that will keep everyone happy after their long day on the mountain roads!