San Diego, CA

Coolest Breweries in North San Diego County

Mike Peterson

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San Diego's craft beer scene extends well into North County.Josh Olalde/Unsplash

San Diego is known for its craft beer. While there's a lot of competition these days, the city has also been dubbed "Craft Beer Capital of America." Those who live here know that we live up to that title.

While there are breweries dotting the landscape across San Diego, the North County area has a high concentration of excellent and downright cool craft breweries. Here are some top picks you should check out.

10. Jacked Up Brewery

Address: 800 W Grand Ave, Escondido, CA 92025

Hours: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday - Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Website: https://jackedupbrewery.com/

Jacked Up Brewery in Escondido, California is a smaller operation than many other beermakers in the area, but it has plenty of charm and excellent brews. You'll find a menu of great bar fare, excellent beers like the spicy Reaper Pale Ale and the All In IPA, and live music or comedy shows throughout the week.

9. Burgeon Beer Company

Address: 6350 Yarrow Dr Ste C, Carlsbad, CA 92011

Hours: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday - Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Website: https://burgeonbeer.com

Burgeon Beer Company in Carlsbad offers a fun atmosphere and great house-brewed beers, including a selection of classic San Diego IPAs, lagers, and Pilsners. The brewery itself is subtly nature-inspired, with a tall tree near the bar and plenty of plants throughout -- all in all, a fun stop.

8. Wild Barrel Brewing Company

Address: 692 Rancheros Dr, San Marcos, CA 92069

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday - Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday - Saturday

Website: https://wildbarrelbrewing.com

Wild Barrel Brewing Company is a relatively small brewery in San Marcos that focuses on sour beers. If you're even remotely a fan of sours, then Wild Barrel is definitely worth a visit. Even if you're not, they have a wide selection of other craft beer styles. For event-minded people, Wild Barrel also shares its building with a batting cage and ax throwing center.

7. Lightning Brewery

Address: 13200 Kirkham Way Ste 106, Poway, CA 92064

Hours: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday

Website: https://lightningbrew.com

Poway's self-proclaimed "original craft brewery," Lightning Brewery features friendly staff and delicious cold beverages. Walk inside and you might be surprised to find yourself in a building that feels more like a neighborhood bar than a San Diego brewery. However, their beers are on-point -- including local favorites like the Black Lightning Porter and the Thunderweizen.

6. Pizza Port

Address: 571 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday - Wednesday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Thursday - Sunday

Website: https://pizzaport.com

Pizza Port has been around for a while, but that doesn't mean that they've lost their edge. This brewery and pizzeria in Carlsbad crafts some excellent local IPAs and a selection of other craft beers. As you'd probably guess, their pizza options are also solid. For those closer to San Marcos, there's also a second location in Bressi Ranch.

5. Viewpoint Brewing

Address: 2201 San Dieguito Dr Ste D, Del Mar, CA 92014

Hours: 12 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday, closed Monday

Website: https://viewpointbrewing.com

True to its name, Viewpoint Viewing in Del Mar offers amazing views of the local estuary and the Del Mar fairgrounds. A relatively hidden spot, Viewpoint feels like an upper-scale gastropub with the excellent food that you'd expect from such a location. The beers are all good, too, including the Del Martian Amber Ale and the San Dieguito Saison.

4. Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey

Address: 155 Mata Way Ste 104, San Marcos, CA 92069

Hours: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Website: https://lostabbey.com

The original Lost Abbey location in San Marcos is in a warehouse in an isolated industrial area. While the environment may not be glamorous, The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing craft some excellent craft brews -- including both great IPAs and Belgian ales. There's no dedicated kitchen, but there are often food trucks outside for your beer munchie needs.

3. Belching Beaver Pub

Address: 302 E Broadway, Vista, CA 92084

Hours: 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Website: https://belchingbeaver.com

Belching Beaver Brewery's Tavern and Grill in Vista is a popular hangout spot for locals and visitors alike. It features rustic decor, outdoor firepits, and excellent food. In addition to being a great spot to hang out on a Friday night, Belching Beacher also makes great beer -- the Peanut Butter Stout is a top pick.

2. Black Plague Brewing

Address: 2550 Jason Ct, Oceanside, CA 92056

Hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Website: https://blackplaguebrewing.com

This darkly inspired brewery in Oceanside, California draws on local skater culture and the namesake plague that ravaged medieval Europe. Don't let the name put you off, however. Black Plague makes some excellent, award-winning beers. The primary taproom is the best place to check them out.

1. Stone Brewing Bistro & Gardens

Address: 1999 Citracado Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92029

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday - Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Website: https://stonebrewing.com

One of the largest breweries in San Diego, Stone Brewing's primary brewery in Escondido has a hip and classy ambiance. If you're hungry, they actually make some great elevated food that goes above and beyond your typical bar fare. For beer, Stone specializes in IPAs, including their classic Stone IPA and Stone Delicious. But they also make a variety of other excellent craft brews.

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Mike Peterson is a journalist, editor, and yoga teacher based in North San Diego County. He's a fan of indie bookstores, local craft beers, and excellent tacos.

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