Category Archives: Brewery Reviews

Brewery Travels #26: Florida

Florida is one of the more unique places in the country. Whether it’s the shape of the state, the lifestyle, the people, or the weather, it’s a place that seems to always draw attention. I spent several days visiting my old college roommate down in Jacksonville, but we did not limit our adventures there. Spending time in Tampa for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival and Orlando for the Pro Bowl allowed us to sample beer from three major cities. Each stop had several beers worth mentioning.…

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Brewery Travels #25: Atlanta, GA

Georgia is similar to many other states in the Southeast, in that a variety of laws and regulations limited craft beer growth when compared to other parts of the country. With that said, recent changes have allowed the city of Atlanta to experience significant progress. Sweetwater is the well-known, established name, but an influx of newbies that have popped up the last few years have drastically changed the local landscape (all but one of the breweries I visited had opened in the last 4 years).…

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Brewery Travels #24: Nashville, TN

Nashville is a vibrant, thriving city. From the lively music scene to the passionate sports fans, there is plenty witness. Tennessee in general may not be known as a craft beer destination, but if you step away from the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame, you can discover that breweries are making some serious headway. A few have deep roots in the city, but overall it’s a new interest. Just south of Downtown, there is a cluster of breweries that are within…

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Brewery Travels #23: Louisville, KY

There are many things that come to mind when you think about Louisville. The well-known baseball bat company and a certain famous horse race for starters. Beer is not even the first type of alcohol that people think of when Kentucky is brought up. While whiskey still may reign supreme, there has been a significant uptick in craft beer production, thanks to several new breweries opening in the area. It was interesting to me that only one of the breweries I visited in the area…

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Brewery Travels #22: Road Trip #2 (Portsmouth, NH to Nashville TN)

My wife and I are excited about spending the next three months in Nashville, Tennessee! To get here from New Hampshire we took a meandering route down the East Coast. I visited 11 breweries as we spent nights in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Raleigh, and Myrtle Beach. As it often is with road trips, we wished we had more time at each spot, but are thankful for the opportunities we did have! Highlights included the Liberty Bell, the National Mall in D.C., and of course the…

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Brewery Travels #21: Boston Area

As I said at the end of my last article, the Boston beer scene has exploded in recent years. While many associate the city with one of the biggest names in the craft industry, gone are the days when the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) was the only major player. The growth is especially evident as you move into the suburbs. Whether you head north to Cambridge, Somerville, and Everett, or drive south to Canton and Norwood, options abound. But make sure to take time…

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Brewery Travels #20: Portland, ME Area

Portland, Maine has established itself as one of the top beer destinations in the Northeast. From established breweries to several newbies, there is plenty for your taste buds to explore. I have visited a dozen breweries in the what I would call the Greater Portland Area. The majority were in Portland itself, with a few scattered in nearby towns. One unfortunate things about visiting so many is that I do not have time to properly write about each place I visit. I’ve selected the four…

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Brewery Travels #19: Vermont

Wow. Vermont lived up to the hype. Everyone in the craft beer community knows about this wonderful state. The most breweries per capita of any state, bucket-list breweries in the small towns that dot the landscape, and more great beers than you can shake a stick at. I did not get to every brewery (only reached 10), but the ones I did blew me away. For this article, I tried to pick four that stuck out the most, but I am hoping to do an…

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Brewery Travels #18: Northeastern Massachusetts

When you think Massachusetts, Boston is generally the first thing that comes to mind. And while we will eventually discuss breweries from the largest city of New England, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to the area north of there. Quaint towns dot the landscape of the Northeast section of the state. From historic and infamous Salem, to Newburyport with its church steeples towering above downtown, it’s a lovely area to visit even without the craft beer. Each of the four breweries…

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(Almost) Every San Diego Craft Brewery, Reviewed

One of San Diego’s 14 GABF2017 medal winners.

It has been a year since I launched my blog, CraftBeerInSanDiego.com, where I chronicle my quest to visit every craft brewery and tasting room in San Diego County. I had originally hoped to get them all done in a year, but the ongoing craft beer boom in San Diego has meant that I have missed that goal. Oh, darn, I have to keep drinking great beer.

When I started out in October of 2016, there were 130+ locations on my list. Now, there are 180+. That’s quite a lot of new places in just a year! That net increase is despite several brewery sales and closures. Don’t let anyone tell you that the craft beer boom is over, at least not in San Diego.

Karl Strauss helped launch the San Diego craft beer scene.

According to information I can find, there are 27 breweries and taprooms in development in San Diego right now, 19 of which are projected to open before the end of 2018. (Check out my monthly updates on the state of beer in San Diego.)
All of which is to say, I haven’t been everywhere yet. But I have been to 153 places already, and that feels like quite an achievement. At least I can say I surpassed my original plan to go to 130+ places in a year. It is just that the goalposts have moved since I started.

A big part of San Diego craft beer success has been the awesome White Labs.

It is probably going to take me an extra 10-15 weeks to finish the rest. (Though in that time additional places are likely to open up!). I made the strategic error of hitting all the places close to my house first. So now just about everything I have left to visit is in North County, quite a drive from my house. I’ve been relying on my girlfriend’s goodwill to drive me out there and be my DD on the way home, but there are limits even to her generosity and patience, so we’ve “only” been doing two or three places per week lately. (Thanks, Sarah! You are awesome!)

There’s a sense in which this quest will never end. No doubt there will be a constant flux in the San Diego beer scene, so new openings are likely to continue at a steady pace (though people keep saying the pace is bound to slow down). I’m good with that: I enjoy going to new breweries.

But I am looking forward to drinking pints instead of tasters all the time, and being able to establish a “local,” somewhere I go regularly. I’ve tried a lot of beer this year, but I’ve missed out on building community at a regular spot, which is an important part of the craft beer scene. I’m also planning to eventually transition to reviewing craft beer bars in addition to breweries. There are a lot of those in San Diego, too, but I’m not going to turn it into another completion quest.

Beer art.

Would I recommend that someone else try this quest? Maybe not. It takes a lot of time, not to mention money. Without accounting for gas, just buying flights at 150 places has cost me in the neighborhood of $1,800 this year. I spend at least three hours per review on average, including driving, drinking, writing, and editing.  750 hours in a year is close to a third of a full time job, even if it is one that requires beer drinking. Then there is all the time I spend on social media trying to draw traffic.

For the average craft beer lover, it might be a better plan to explore the offerings in a single neighborhood near home. There is plenty of beer variety in just about any area of San Diego, so you can get almost all of the experience of a beer quest in a smaller geographical area. Not to mention the fact that most breweries seem to offer 10-20 different beers at any one time. (And they usually rotate their offerings frequently, too.) For folks who just want to say they went to all the breweries, well, go for it. Just take your time–your wallet and your waistline will thank you.