San Diego Beer Tour: East Village
[This post updated 3/6/2019 and 6/27/2019 with new information, openings and planned locations.]
In 2018, the East Village of San Diego's downtown suddenly became a beer destination to rival North Park. Well, okay, maybe not quite that good. But really good, for sure.
East Village has long had some craft beer gems. The venerable Stone Tap Room next to the ballpark. Half Door Brewing is a crowd favorite. Mission. Knotty Brewing. And, until 2018 when it closed down, the well-loved Monkey Paw.
But now, there are suddenly nine craft breweries and satellite tasting rooms in this pretty small area. That number will soon to grow to twelve. [Creative Creature plans to open their tasting room later in 2019, Bay City plans a tasting room next to Knotty Brewing (projected opening summer 2019), and and I’ve seen an announcement that Two Roots Brewing is planning a tasting room but I don’t know what their timeline is.] Plus there is 10 Barrel Brewing, but that one is owned by Big Beer so it doesn't count as craft—even though the company started in Oregon as, and still looks like, a craft beer place. That's not to mention the six other craft breweries and tasting rooms in the rest of downtown, and the five in neighboring Barrio Logan to the south.
East Village is a convenient area for a concentration of beer locations: it is close to the Convention Center, hotels, Petco Park and transit hubs. The Gaslamp Quarter is immediately to the west; the people who go there for food and drink could easily find their way to East Village for craft beer. There is a lot of apartment construction in East Village now, too, and it seems to be targeted at young professionals, a group that enjoys craft beer. Befitting the convention crowds, tourists, and wealthier residents coming to the area, many of the craft beer locations in East Village are slick and polished in a way that isn't common enough in some other parts of the county.
Right now, East Village is home to the following breweries and tasting rooms. The links will take you to my reviews of each location.
Amplified Ale Works Kitchen + Beer Garden (tasting room, coffee, food, full bar, barrel aging, patio)
Duck Foot Brewing East Village (tasting room, food, patio)
Little Miss Brewing East Village (tasting room)
Half Door Brewing (brewery, food, full bar, patio)
Hodad's Downtown (tasting room, food)
Knotty Brewing (brewery; bar with food and patios attached)
Melvin Brewing (brewery, food, patio)
Mission Brewing (brewery)
Stone Tap Room J Street (tasting room)
10 Barrel Brewing (brewery, food, full bar, patio: Not Craft)
Soon to open:
Bay City Brewing East Village (tasting room, barrel aging)
Creative Creature Brewing (tasting room, co-located with Red Hat Coffee)
Two Roots Brewing Co. (tasting room)
The most efficient path I've found is the one pictured below, which lets you hit all nine (eventually ten) in about a 1.4 mile walk. Interestingly, the Little Miss and Bay City locations are so close to the spots already on this route that adding them doesn't add much distance.
Here's a short but good route that takes you to six (eventually seven) in a 0.9 mile loop that starts and stops at the Park & Market trolley stop. That is excellent strategy since you don't want to be driving on a beer tour like this one.
Or, if you have a merely-extraordinary liver rather than a super-human one, you can split the tour into two groupings over two visits:
If you just want a "best of" list, well, that's definitely a matter of personal preference. But this is what I would do if I had one day and wanted to hit four spots in about four hours. You could sub in Stone’s Tap Room on J Street for any of these, too.
Like most parts of San Diego, East Village is spoiled for choice when it comes to craft beer. The good news is, you can hardly go wrong. Even at Hodad’s where the beer isn’t yet up to San Diego standards, you can still get an excellent burger and lay down a good foundation for all the beer you will enjoy later on your tour.
My fellow beer blogger, Paul from SDHopAddict.com, recenty posted his own tour hitting his highlights of Downtown and East Village. You might want to compare for another perspective. (He is more of a “haze bro” than I am, so if your tastes run that direction, he’ll steer you right.)
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