Siblings Jeff, Jason, and Julia are the founders of Brew Amigo Tours. Consider them concierges as well?they curate tours through some of San Diego's most beloved breweries, blending beer and education in a way that feels almost like college, minus the tests and poetry bullies. During four-hour tours, guests are escorted in comfy air-conditioned rides to breweries such as Green Flash Brewing Company, Coronado Brewing Company, and Mike Hess Brewing. There, they witness the brewing process firsthand?the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of hops and barley and barrels all working together to churn out tasty, cold beer.
Northern California may be known for its wine, but it's safe to say Southern California has made a name for itself on the craft-beer scene. In San Diego alone, dozens of microbreweries and nanobreweries turn out brews to taste, from Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits' gold-medal-winning Sculpin IPA to Breakwater Brewing Company's Beach Honey Ale, brewed with local grapefruit honey. That's where San Diego Brewery & Beer Tours comes in. To quench the thirst and feed the brains of beer lovers, the company provides tours of local breweries throughout the week. Guests can choose from various walking and driving group tours geared toward craft-beer novices and connoisseurs alike. Or they can design their own private tour by picking from more than 20 area breweries, such as Green Flash Brewing Co. and Belgian-inspired spot The Lost Abbey, whose co-founder talked to the Groupon Guide about Avant Garde, its "Saturday-afternoon beer." Each tour includes tidbits of beer trivia and samples of brews, as well as the opportunity to find out whether the shape of the froth at the bottom of your empty beer glass can really tell you your future.
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.
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.
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.
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.