When 24-year-old AleSmith Brewing Company (9990 AleSmith Court, Miramar, alesmith.com) wins Best San Diego Brewery, amid a sea of craft breweries in the city, you know they are doing something right. Former homebrewers, Peter and Vicky Zien pay close attention to every detail at their Miramar brewery, kegging, canning and bottling national and international award-winning brews—and it shows.
AleSmith was a gateway into craft beer for me. Many who imbibed local beer in the early aughts may remember the legendary Liars’ Club of Mission Beach. It was here that owner Louis Mello convinced me that I did not in fact want a Newcastle Brown ale. Instead, I needed to try an AleSmith Nautical Nut Brown Ale. And, boy, was he right. I lived in a twenty-something world of cheap beer and chronic cottonmouth. Nut Brown, as they have since shortened the name, was eye-opening. I had no idea that beer could taste so fresh and flavorful, let alone that they were a local San Diego brewery.
Fast forward 15 years and AleSmith is not only still turning people on to craft beer, but they also continue to set standards industrywide. Earlier this year, RateBeer.com, an online mecca for worldwide beer info, listed it as the sixth best brewer in the world in its annual top 100 brewers rankings. Operating the largest tasting room in San Diego, it also boasts a museum at its 100,000-square-foot brewery featuring hometown MLB Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn.
Coronado Brewing (170 Orange Avenue, Coronado, coronadobrewing.com) also ranks near the top of CityBeat voters’ lists. Brothers Ron and Rick Chapman have come a long way since opening their humble brewpub on Coronado’s Orange Avenue over 20 years ago. Their core series of beer is approachable, affordable and absolutely crushable.
Rounding out the top three finalists for Best Brewery of 2019 is Belching Beaver Brewery (1334 Rocky Point Drive, belchingbeaver.com). Whether you are visiting one of their five locations around San Diego or simply picking up a case of their famed Hop Highway IPA, the Beaver is always quite accessible. Not a fan of their name? They don’t really give a dam.