The world turns, the tides rise and fall, and new breweries come and go in the city with the best craft brewing scene in the country: San Diego (suck it, Portland). That America’s Finest City loves its craft beer is not exactly news — San Diego’s played home to more than 150 operational breweries for a while now — but as the town has matured, so too have the types of breweries popping around town and the tap lists they offer. It’s the dawning of a new era in San Diego beer, one marked by fledgling operations and relative up-and-comers brewing some of the best (and most audacious) beers in the country. It’s also marked, unfortunately, by the passing of some of the city’s traditional brewing stalwarts (pour some out for Gordon Biersch).
Like the dinner menu at a Cheesecake Factory, though, sometimes 150+ options is a bit more than you bargained for. Sometimes, you’re just dropping by San Diego for a long weekend and want to know the creme de la creme. Sometimes, you don’t want to wade through the not-so-outstanding breweries to find the crown jewels — and, per usual, that’s what we’re here for. We (selflessly) drank lots of local beers and compiled a guide to the best breweries in town, from the well-known to the hidden gems, from the longstanding to the up-and-coming, to help you plan out your next pint. Now go on and get to sippin’.
Kairoa Brewing Company
Est. 2019 | University Heights
Kairoa is another beautiful ode to a foreign country, designed to evoke the lush scenery, unique cuisine, friendly disposition, and otherworldly hops native to New Zealand — where the owners and head brewer all hail from. Decorated to incorporate aspects from the New Zealand countryside and coasts as well as Maori art into a sleek, modern architecture style, Kairoa specializes in brewing everything from English style ales to the pale ales San Diegans love, imbued with the hard-to-get New Zealand hop varieties head brewer Joe Peach has direct access to.