2016 San Diego Beer Reflection – What Happened?

29 Jan 2016 San Diego Beer Reflection – What Happened?


Dear San Diegans,

We are truly blessed to live in the Craft Beer Capital of the World. Our little sunny corner dubbed “San Diego County” confidently strutted into 2017 with 131 licensed and operational breweries. In 2016, our San Diego brewing family experienced a 20% growth, adding 23 breweries. By state, California is currently ranked 1st with 518 breweries. For a fun, yet not largely relevant fact, this means San Diego County contains over 25% of California’s breweries while only taking up 2.7% of its land. Still, not too shabby. By state, craft beer in California is also ranked 1st in economic impact by bringing in over $6.8 Billion, and 2nd in production by making over 7.6 Million kegs (each is 15.5gal).

In 2016, San Diego awards were aplenty, especially at Earth’s two largest beer competitions: World Beer Cup & Great American Beer Festival. There are honestly too many to name, so I’ll showcase the GOLD Medal Winners (and there were even more Silvers & Bronzes).


Amplified Ale Works (PB) Whammy Bar took GOLD for American Wheat Ales, Breakwater (O-side) Rye Dawn took GOLD for Rye Beers, Fall (NP) Bourbon Barrel Aged Jinx Remover took GOLD for Barrel-Aged Beers, Monkey Paw (EV) Ashes from the Grave took GOLD for Smoked Beers and Mike Hess’s (NP) Claritas took GOLD for German-Style Kolschs. On a personal note, Amplified Ale Works is one of my favorite places to drink & eat. If you haven’t had their Donor Fries paired with an Electrocution IPA while overlooking the ocean, you’re missing out. Go now.


BNS Brewing (Santee) Ole Prospector took GOLD for American-style Red Ales, Culture (Solana Beach) Brown Ale took GOLD for American-style Brown Ales, Karl Strauss (Everywhere) Queen of Tarts took GOLD for American-style Sour Ales, AleSmith (Beeramar) Old Numbskull took GOLD for Barley Wines, Rip Current (San Marcos) Breakline took GOLD for Bocks, Bagby (O-side) Sweet Ride took GOLD for Bohemian-style Pilsners, Second Chance (Poway) Tabula Rasa took GOLD for Robust Porters and Karl Strauss (yes, again) Windansea took GOLD for German-style Hefeweizens.  And to top it off: Karl Strauss Brewing Company, which is San Diego’s oldest operational brewery (1989) took the highest accolade of “Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year.” Boom Shakalaka.

Team Karl Strauss – World Champions



In 2014, Coronado Brewing Company took the highest accolade of “World Beer Cup Champion Brewery and Brewmaster for a Mid-Sized Brewing Company.” And in 2015, Rip Current (San Marcos) won “Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year” at the GABF. [golf clap]


There were 23 new breweries that opened in 2016, and we couldn’t be more excited (& thirsty). Before naming them, Mike & Ryan, founders of West Coaster Magazine deserve a special thanks. So, thank you. Their magazine’s information and literature has been a necessity for San Diego’s craft beer growth.

THE NEW 23: Amplified Ale Works (Miramar), Barn Brewery (North Park), Belching Beaver’s new HQ & Brewery (Oceanside), Belching Beaver’s Tavern & Pub (Vista), Bitter Brothers (Clairemont), Burgeon Beer (Carlsbad), Burning Beard (El Cajon), Culver Beer (Carlsbad), Eppig Brewing (North Park), Finest Made Ales (rebrand – Santee), KnB (Del Cerro), Knotty Brewing (Downtown), Little Miss Brewing (Miramar), Longship Brewery (Mira Mesa), Midnight Jack Brewing (Oceanside), Mikkeller (Miramar), North Park Beer (um…. duh…), OB Brewery (OB), Oceanside Brewing (um… duh… again), Prodigy Brewing (San Marcos), Pure Project (Miramar), Resident Brewing (Downtown) & Thunderhawk Alements (Miramar). Hell yeah, Thunderhawk is finally open!

The most important aspect of listing these breweries is that it helps you, the reader, discover them. Support local & drink local. Breweries are a reflection of sacrifice, creativity and passion. And they’re creating beers for you, so go visit them and enjoy them.

Brew Crew Tasting @ the new Eppig Brewing



  1. Resident Brewing Co. (Downtown): Vacation Coconut IPA, 7%
  2. Burning Beard (El Cajon): Holy the Voyd Coffee Stout on Nitro, 6%
  3. Eppig Brewing Co. (North Park): Festbier German Lager, 6%
  4. Knotty Brewing (Downtown): Turrets Irish Red Ale, 5.4%
  5. Pure Project (Miramar): Evangeline Gose w/ Grapefruit, 5%
  6. North Park (NP): Hop Fu! IPA, 7.5%
  7. Mikkeller (Miramar): Berliner Weisse, 3.2%



The Brew Project is dedicated to creating more exposure and awareness for San Diego’s independently owned and operated breweries. Every ounce of beer that has ever poured from our taps has been brewed within San Diego County lines. No exceptions. We strive to be invoice #1 for the newest breweries because, as a small business, we understand how important exposure and cash flow is to sustainability. A rising tide does lift all boats.

Private Events: The Brew Project – Private Beer Tasting Program has officially launched for our 2nd Story Event Lounge. The Tastings are perfect for Corporate Events, Birthday Parties and general drinking occasions. The Private Tastings explore the history of San Diego beer, beer styles, awards, economic impact and where it’s headed.

Private Beer Club Tasting


Looking forward into 2017, we’re excited to see San Diego’s other emerging markets take form. It’s going to be a big year for San Diego’s distilleries, coffee roasters, kombucha breweries, local farms and cannabis companies. We can’t wait to see how the emerging markets will complement and collaborate with our craft beer culture. With numerous Brew Project Consulting Projects already underway, expect to see many more, small-batch, local brews on draft around town. Big things ahead.

Cheers to a Great 2017,




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