The early 20th century birthed the first incarnation of Mission Brewery, in which California newsboys and other pre–Jazz Era scallywags tossed back their sudsy concoctions before Prohibition closed its doors. Despite its short tenure since its reestablishment in 2007, Mission Brewery has already snatched medals from the Great American Beer Festival and other competitions for its pantheon of brews. In its tasting room, patrons claim bottles or sample draft beers that include the Bavarian-style hefeweizen with hints of banana, clove, and pear; a russian imperial stout; or the Shipwrecked Double IPA, a strong concoction that, like walking on hot coals, benefits from a liberal use of hops. Located just a few blocks from the San Diego Padre's Petco Park, guests can enjoy tours through the rows of gleaming vats in the brewing chambers, which are housed in the historic Wonder Bread Building, rumored to be haunted by multicolored polka dots.
Tucked away on Cabot Drive off Miramar Road, this regional craft beer brewery has produced unique bottles of popular brew for almost two decades. Visitors make use of AleSmith Brewing Co.’s tasting room, which is standing room only with a few tables to gather around and compare the variety of beers. They specialize in American-style IPAs, having received national attention for these carefully crafted beers, while one of their most popular options is the award-winning Horny Devil, a citrus Belgian pale ale that combines fruity and spicy flavors, with a dry finish that goes down smoothly. Perhaps their best known is the Speedway Stout, a surprisingly drinkable stout that comes with a 12% ABV. Weekly tours of the working brew facility are also offered, allowing guests to peer behind the scenes of the brewing process, from barley and hops to beer in a glass.
Mike Hess Brewing’s original location is on Silverton Avenue in an industrial quarter of Miramar. The no-frills interior has an industrial attitude with large stainless steel tanks scattered throughout. The layout offers a unique vantage point, allowing guests to walk comfortably within the brewhouse and fermentation tanks. The craft brewery is recognized as one of the best in the city, and Mike Hess’s brewmasters are always passionate about their latest batch. Guests delight in trying standouts, such as the Grazias Vienna Cream Ale, a smooth beer featuring vanilla-like malts and slightly toasted flavors with a surprisingly dark finish. The space here is standing room only, and primarily offers tastings.
Focused on the beers such as ales, porters, stouts, and IPAs, On The Tracks Brewery churns out handcrafted beers made in the Scottish and English style. Open weekdays at 4 p.m. and weekends at 1 p.m., the brewery opens its doors to the public, welcoming guests to try one of their house-brewed barley drinks at the tasting room. Try a flight of beer, sip samples, or bring along a pizza to enjoy with purchased pints.
Satisfying meals and handcrafted beer intersect with premium sports viewing at Lamppost Pizza and Backstreet Brewery, founded in 1976 by Angelo Barro and his sons, Dan and Tom. Today, the franchise welcomes patrons to 37 locations in three states, and the philosophy remains the same at all of them. Seven big-screen TVs broadcast football, basketball, and baseball games from around the leagues to entertain patrons sipping small-batch draft beers brewed onsite. Fans munch on traditional sports-viewing snacks, such as jalapeño poppers, potato skins, and buffalo wings. Chefs also prepare heartier entrees including garlic-chicken pasta, Pesto Supreme pizzas covered with artichoke hearts, and The Linebacker, a pizza loaded with pepperoni, salami, ground beef, sausage, and two types of bacon.
Though it has no legal bearing in the U.S., the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 is gospel at Newport Beach Brewing Company. It stipulates that only three ingredients should be found in beer: barley, hops, and water. Brewer Derek Bougie sticks to this 16th century decree when creating all of Newport Beach's beers, which include hefeweizens, pale ales, and the comically named Evil Monkey and Village Idiot. And the Bavarian approach pays off: Derek's beers have earned the brewery two bronze medals, two silver medals, and one gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
While Derek sticks to tradition, Newport Beach's head chef, Gabriel Beltran, prefers putting an contemporary spin on classic bar food. Made entirely in-house, his cuisine ranges from bourbon stout salmon, 1/2 lb. Harris ranch raised burgers, and fish and chips to brick-fired, garlic-crusted pizza topped with macaroni and cheese. His innovation even extends to desserts such as calzone filled with white and dark chocolate. Beer-fueled feasts unfold in front of Newport's HD televisions and 101-inch flat-screens, which stay tuned to the latest sports and weather reports from neighboring planets. Patrons may also visit the beer garden and patio located near the beach and the bay on Balboa Peninsula.