Quick Getaways: San Diego bubbles with craft beer tourism spots, at Petco Park … – OCRegister

For a wine lover’s weekend, driving north to Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles is a given. But if you pick your poison to be of the sudsy variety, head south.

In the ongoing craft beer boom, San Diego breweries have led the way in producing award-winning fermentations that are garnering acclaim around the U.S. and have even popped up in shops across the pond.

Four San Diego County outfits made the Brewers Association’s latest list of top 50 U.S. craft beer makers: Stone Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. and Green Flash Brewing Co.

And by the end of 2014, there were 97 breweries in San Diego County, up from 37 in 2011, according to a study from the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

Just staying within the San Diego city limits can satisfy tastes for the biggest craft beer snobs in your clique, as well as for those who commit beer blasphemy by claiming they don’t even like it.

No matter where you end up, pace yourself, drink plenty of water and grab a cab or a designated driver if you’re making a marathon of the drinking spots.

Petco Park

For the uninitiated in San Diego’s bevy of beer choices, or those hanging out with a group that wants to do more than drink, a great place to start is Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.

Get the notion of lukewarm, watered-down and overpriced, low-rent ballpark beer out of your head – Petco showcases the best in local brews in addition to your typical domestics.

And since the Padres won’t be heading to the postseason this year, you only have a few chances left to sample some of San Diego’s best beer in one place.

It’s a little bit like Disneyland for hop heads.

Once you’re inside the park, Craft Beers of San Diego serves San Diego beers exclusively. There are locations on the 100, 200 and 300 levels of the ballpark.

Stone Brewing is represented on the upper deck with a rooftop space, and out behind the scoreboard is a terrace that serves a lineup of Ballast Point, including the grapefruit version of its popular Sculpin India Pale Ale.

Just around the corner from Ballast Point is a spot to get Mission’s beers on draft and in large bottles as well as the brewer’s hard root beer.

Keep walking around the field level and you will find Karl Strauss trolleys. And in the Mercado food court area, you can get grub and grog from the beloved Pizza Port chain, which has multiple locations along San Diego County’s beaches and in San Clemente.

While some of the beers, especially those at Craft Beers of San Diego, come at a higher price, the Mission and Ballast Point offerings aren’t much more costly than their typical domestic counterparts. When you consider that many of their beers have a higher alcohol by volume than the stuff you buy in 30-packs at the grocery store, you get more bang for the buck.

Among the other San Diego County craft beers represented at Petco are AleSmith Brewing Co., Mike Hess Brewing and Coronado Brewing Co., and those are just the foamy head of a deep list.

Information: sandiego.padres.mlb.com

East Village

While Stone Brewing’s home base is Escondido, the company opened a new tap-room outside the ballpark on the left field side of Park Boulevard at the Park at Petco. With rich, dark woods and leather chairs and couches, it’s like being in a private beer library at a swanky mansion. The location also does some special beer dinners and other events.

Also steps away from Petco is Mission Brewery, which opens before and after games. In addition to the fine beers it offers (my favorite is the Shipwrecked Double IPA), the brewery has hard root beer and frozen beer-based flavored margaritas. There is plenty of room for meeting up with friends, and you can tour the facilities. There’s no kitchen onsite, but you’re welcome to bring your own food, and the brewery often has food trucks outside.

Half Door Brewing Co. and Monkey Paw Brewing are also in the East Village area, and there are some excellent bars and restaurants that feature crafts.

Information: missionbrewery.com, stonebrewing.com, halfdoorbrewing.com, monkeypawbrewing.com

Little Italy

Not far from Petco, between San Diego International Airport and I-5, is Little Italy, where you can watch jumbo jets come in for landings while knocking back a few.

One of the neighborhood spots to visit is the Karl Strauss Brewing Co. Karl Strauss started in San Diego in 1989 before craft beer was a thing and has become so successful in the decades since that there are Karl Strauss brewpubs all over Southern California. One of the signature beers, Red Trolley Ale, was originally brewed as a Christmas seasonal but was so popular the company started brewing it year-round.

When beer-loving friends come to town, we always start at Ballast Point’s tasting room on India Street. Like Karl Strauss, Ballast Point offers food, but at either of these places you’re only steps away from the best restaurants in the area.

In addition to the more popular Ballast Point labels such as Sculpin and Wahoo, there are plenty of tasting room exclusives. There’s a large patio for when the weather is nice (and it pretty much always is – come on, it’s San Diego) and a good amount of indoor seating as well. You can do beer flights and different amounts to try a variety of the specialty suds.

Just across the street and down a block from Ballast Point is Bottlecraft, a bottleshop and bar that sells plenty of local beer. Not all of the beers on draft are San Diegan, but there’s a great rotating collection and a ton of options to take home.

Information: karlstrauss.com, ballastpoint.com, bottlecraftbeer.com

North Park

Some people refer to 30th Street in the North Park area of town as Beer Street.

Modern Times actually calls its North Park location Flavordome. You can bring food, dogs (on the patio) and even kids to this spot. One of the other cool things about this site is that if you bring in a growler from another brewery, you can have it filled as long as it’s covered by a Modern Times growler koozie.

The brewery also sells a lot of its wares in cans, which is nice if you’re going to be out and about and don’t have immediate refrigeration for a fresh growler.

Also along 30th Street: Fall Brewing Co., Rip Current Brewing, Belching Beaver Brewery and Poorhouse Brewing Co.

Plus, Mike Hess Brewing, South Park Brewing Co. and Thorn St. Brewery are only a few blocks away.

Oh, and like East Village, a lot of the restaurants and bars feature local craft brews.

Information: moderntimesbeer.com, fallbrewing.com, ripcurrentbrewing.com, belchinbeaver.com, mikehessbrewing.com, poorhousebrew.com, southparkbrewing.com, thornstreetbrew.com

One more tip: If you find yourself making the trek over the blue bridge to Coronado, skip the Hotel del and hang out at Coronado Brewing Co. instead.

Information: coronado brewingcompany.com

Contact the writer: vfranko@pe.com or on Twitter: @vanessafranko