San Diego’s brewing scene is booming these days, and we in North County are lucky enough to experience the best of the boom right here in our own communities. Craft breweries, also known as microbreweries, are independently owned and produce small amounts of beer, allowing for higher quality and greater individualization than traditional breweries. Perhaps nowhere is this industry growing faster than in San Diego, which has become a beer-drinker’s dream destination – and not just for the beaches any more. Local breweries have been stepping into the international spotlight with their award-winning beers. The industry’s exhilarating growth shows no sign of slowing down. With the 6th Annual San Diego Beer Week coming up from Nov. 7 through 16, we’re excited to offer an insider’s look at the best breweries North County has to offer. The craft brewers we speak to have a huge variety of differences in technique and taste, but they all share a deep-rooted passion for their products. We invite you to read along and see what the buzz is all about.


Abnormal Wine Company Expands with New Brewery, Restaurant, and Winery

Have you ever been intimidated while brew or wine tasting because you’re surrounded by snooty “experts” who make you feel inferior? 92127’s Abnormal Company has built their business around dismantling that attitude. Co-Owners Matthew DeLoach, Elvin Lai, and James Malone, friends and fellow Poway High School graduates, have made their urban brew and wine industry business – which now includes a new beer brewery, restaurant, and expanded winery – approachable, friendly, and fun!

The owners are especially excited about their newly opened restaurant, The Cork & Craft. “We all love good food, and there’s nothing quite like a delicious meal paired with a glass of wine or craft beer. We are so excited that this adventure has now led us into the action-packed craft beer and restaurant worlds,” the partners shared. Elvin Lai, who also owns and operates Pacific Beach’s Ocean Park Inn, added, “We’ve brought together a fantastic team of talented chefs, experienced staff and an excellent head brewer to complement the wine experience. We’re proud to deliver a dining experience that really speaks for itself.”


photo by CJ Sullivan

The restaurant’s mission is to elevate the concept of comfort food to a gourmet experience, and an important part of that process is pairing their elegant dishes with just the right brews. They offer forty-one beers on tap, including some local San Diego favorites.

One way Abnormal Company has made its business more accessible is by adding a glass-walled brewery, open kitchen and, of course, the winery on the premises. This remodel, which launched with a grand opening on Sept. 18, has expanded the previous 1,500 square foot location into one measuring in at over 5,000 square feet! James proclaimed, “By knocking down all of the walls we created an environment that enables our guests to see everything going on at all times. We wanted to give our guests a more dynamic experience, and let them appreciate both process and product.”


photo by Modern Skull

With wine as their mainstay product, the most popular is a dessert blend that combines the flavors of wine and coffee. Abnormal Company is also proud of its signature “No. 18 Merlot” wine. Matt elaborated, “It has a wonderful balance of sweet and spice accompanied by a blend of three different types of oak.”

Committed to servicing the greater community, Abnormal frequently hosts and contributes towards charitable events such as Rady Children’s Hospital and the Civic Youth Orchestra. “We aim to establish a solid relationship with those working for worthwhile causes in our area,” James revealed. “There’s nothing abnormal about that!”



Address: 16990 Via Tazon #123, San Diego, CA 92127
Phone: 858-618-2463


Lightning Brewery

For Ph.D-level Biochemist Jim Crute, science is second nature – and so is brewing beer. When he made the switch in his professional life to start up Lightning Brewery it seemed like a natural transition. The brewery was founded as a small artisanal brewery and remains that way today, only now with its beers available in over 300 local restaurants, shops, and grocery stores.

Cover_Lightning_beerHis science background inspires him to discover innovative brewing methods. “Our flagship beer Thunderweizen Ale is crafted with a very time-consuming and very hard-to-emulate process of decoction mashing,” said Jim. “This method enhances the body of the finished beer, dramatically improving taste, impression, and enjoyment.” Methods like this are what make Lightning Brewery so unique. “We are the first, and, to my knowledge the only brewery in San Diego County that uses this process,” he noted.

Lightning Brewery has earned dozens of regional and national awards. “In 2012 our seasonal beer Old Tempestuous Ale won the Best of Show award at the California State Fair,” shared Jim. “We take that award as having the best beer in California that year.”

Lightning Brewery is located at 13200 Kirkham Way in Poway. For more information visit or call 858-513-8070.




Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Karl Strauss Brewing Company has been a San Diego staple since 1986, when renowned brewery consultant Karl Strauss was approached by his cousin Chris Cramer and business partner Matt Rattner to start their own microbrewery. This was before the San Diegan craft beer renaissance we’re enjoying today. Karl’s skill and passion as master brewer drove the project to achieve incredible successes and delicious beers, and that momentum continues to this day. Karl Strauss Brewing Company’s attention to quality and consistency had a ripple effect across the entire San Diegan beer community, and is partly responsible for the vibrancy of today’s industry.


Karl Strauss Brewing Company hit the North County scene in 1999 with the opening of its Carlsbad location. Ten rotating beers on tap, a full-service bar, and brewery tours are available every day for the beer enthusiast and novice alike.

In 2012, 4S Ranch became the newest community to enjoy a Karl Strauss outpost. The brewery restaurant debuted with a brand-new onsite microbrewery and serves a rotation of handcrafted beers. Brewery tours are coming soon – call 858-376-2739 for availability and reservations. Discover more at


Urge American Gastropub

Brothers Nate and Zak Higson and their longtime friend Grant Tondro founded Urge American Gastropub after the swift success of their first restaurant, The Barrel Room. With two popular RB eateries under their belt, the guys realized they had a knack for the restaurant business. So they quit their day jobs and threw themselves head-first into being restaurateurs – their most recent venture being Brothers Provisions. Together, this trio has helped to transform the RB restaurant scene into the diverse, vibrant foodie haven that it is today.

The guys all grew up in Rancho Bernardo and still have strong ties to the community. “While we each came and went during our college years,” they explained, “as we each settled down, got married and had kids, we began to appreciate this part of town more.”


“Frankly, neither of us had a ton of restaurant experience… it took a lot of time and hard work to get going,” Zak admitted. But after The Barrel Room started thriving, the guys knew it was time to expand. “We really wanted to do something different,” explained Nate. “The idea of burgers and beer just kind of seemed obvious,” added Grant. Urge opened in July 2010, and has since shone as an American reinterpretation of the classic English pub, with an emphasis on local products and great service.

They enjoy being able to give back locally. “We’ve donated over $100,000 to local charities,” shared Grant. “We all try to be as active as we can in the community.”

Urge Gastropub is located at 16761 Bernardo Center Dr., in Rancho Bernardo. For more information visit or call 858-673-8743.


Stone Brewing Co.

The people behind Escondido’s Stone Brewing Co. have strong opinions to go with the strong beers. They use only local, organic, in-season ingredients to produce better-tasting beers and foods that are better for the customer and better for the planet. This is nothing new for Co-Founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, who have been involved in the “Slow Food” movement since 2000. The slow food comes with rapid growth though. They’ve been on San Diego Business Journal’s “Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies” list for the past eleven years.


Stone Brewing Co. started in 1996 in San Marcos and moved to the current Escondido facility in 2005. The adjacent Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens opened a year later. As the business grows, they’re keeping their fiercely independent streak. Koch takes pride in going off the beaten path with the menus instead of sticking to traditional pub fare.

Don’t believe the hype? Check out what’s going on for yourself by taking one of the daily brewery tours. An “Indoctrination Specialist” will lead you and your group around the heart of the brewery, followed by a guided beer tasting. For more about the tours and the brewery itself visit


Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits

Ballast Point was born in the back room of Home Brew Mart, a supply store for home brewers owned by Jack White. In 1996, he teamed up with fellow home brewer Yuseff Cherney for a homegrown venture that would grow into the Ballast Point Brewery known and loved by San Diegans today. Ballast Point outgrew the back room and moved to its current Scripps Ranch location in 2004. Their efforts have produced internationally recognized results. At this year’s World Beer Cup, Ballast Point won a Gold Medal in the International Pale Ale Category for their Sculpin IPA, as well as a Bronze in the Aged Beer Category for their 2012 Aged Navigator Doppelbock.


The name Ballast Point and the names of most of their beers come from Jack and Yuseff’s other passion – fishing. The team takes this passion very seriously, and the business’ two award-winning sport fishing teams have proved that in competition.

In addition to mastering the arts of brewing and fishing, Jack and Yuseff have begun exploring the ancient craft of distilling. Seven Ballast Point spirits are now made and bottled at the same Scripps Ranch location. Check out for more.


North County Breweries & Tap Rooms


Karl Strauss
5801 Armada Dr., Carlsbad, CA 92008
760-431-2739 |

On The Tracks Brewery
5674 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 92008
760-550-9688 |

Pizza Port – Carlsbad
571 Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad, CA 92008
760-720-7007 |

The Compass
300 Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad, CA 92008
760-434-1900 |


Pizza Port – Bressi Ranch
2730 Gateway Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009
760-707-1655 |


Arcana Brewing Company
5621 Palmer Way, Carlsbad, CA 92010
909-529-2337 |


Oggi’s – Encinitas
305 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas, CA 92024
760-944-8170 |


Plan 9 Alehouse
155 E. Grand Ave., Escondido, CA 92025
760-489-8817 |


Offbeat Brewing Company
1223 Pacific Oaks Pl., Escondido, CA 92029
760-294-4045 |

Stone Brewing Co.
1999 Citracado Pkwy., Escondido, CA 92029
760-471-4999 |


Bagby Beer Co.
601 S Coast Hwy., Oceanside, CA 92054
760-270-9075 |

Break Water Brewing Company
101 N Coast Hwy., Oceanside, CA 92054
760-433-6064 |


Oceanside Ale Works
1800 Ord Way, Oceanside, CA 92056
760-721-4253 |


Legacy Brewing Company
363 Airport Rd., Oceanside, CA 92058
760-705-3221 |


Lightning Brewery
13200 Kirkham Way, Poway, CA 92064
858-513-8070 |


ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main St., Ramona, CA 92065
513-465-9768 |


Port Brewing Company
155 Mata Way, San Marcos, CA 92069
800-918-6816 |

Slater’s 50/50 – San Marcos
110 Knoll Rd., San Marcos, CA 92069
760-759-2900 |

The Lost Abbey
155 Mata Way, San Marcos, CA 92069
800-918-6816 |


Carruth Cellars
320 South Cedros, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Culture Brewing
111 S Cedros Ave., Solana Beach, CA 92075
858-345-1144 |

Pizza Port – Solana Beach
135 N. Highway 101, Solana Beach, CA 92075
858-481-7332 |


Dos Desperados Brewery
1241 Linda Vista Dr., San Marcos, CA 92078
760-566-6209 |

Rip Current Brewing
1325 Grand Ave., San Marcos, CA 92078
760-481-3141 |

San Marcos Brewery & Grill
1090 W. San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos, CA 92078
760-471-0050 |

Stumblefoot Brewery
1784 La Costa Meadows, San Marcos, CA 92078
760-208-1012 |


Aztec Brewing Company
2330 La Mirada Dr., Vista, CA 92081
760-598-7720 |

Back Street Brewery
15 Main St., Vista, CA 92081
760-407-7600 |

Barrell Harbor Brewing
2575 Pioneer Ave., Vista, CA 92081
760-734-3949 |

Belching Beaver Brewery
980 Park Center Dr., Vista, CA 92081
760-599-5832 |

Booze Brothers Brewing Co.
2545 Progress St., Vista, CA 92081
760-295-0217 |

California Fruit Wine
1040 La Mirada Ct., Vista, CA 92081
858-522-9463 |

Indian Joe Brewing
2379 La Mirada Dr., Vista, CA 92081
760-295-3945 |

Iron Fist Brewing Co.
1305 Hot Spring Way, Vista, CA 92081
760-216-6500 |

Latitude 33° Brewing Company
1430 Vantage Ct., Vista, CA 92081
760-598-2337 |

Mother Earth Brew Co.
2055 Thibodo Rd., Vista, CA 92081
760-599-4225 |

Toolbox Brewing Company
1495 Poinsettia Ave., Vista, CA 92081
760-598-1477 |


Mother Earth Brew Co.
206 Main St., Vista, CA 92084
760-726-2273 |

Oggi’s – Vista (coming soon)
425 S. Melrose Dr., Vista, CA 92084

Prohibition Brewing Company
2004 E. Vista Way, Vista, CA 92084
760-295-3525 |


Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment
1795 Hancock St., San Diego CA 92110
Tasting Room:
2120 Washington St., San Diego, CA 92110
619-299-2537 |


32 North Brewing Co.
8655 Production Ave., San Diego, CA 92121
714-791-8973 |

Ballast Point
9045 Carroll Way, San Diego, CA 92121
858-790-6900 |

Green Flash
6550 Mira Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92121
858-622-0085 |

Malahat Spirits
8706 Production Ave., San Diego, CA 92121
858-999-2326 |

New English Brewing
11545 Sorrento Valley Rd., San Diego, CA 92121
619-857-8023 |

Rough Draft Brewing Company
8830 Rehco Rd., San Diego, CA 92121
858-453-7238 |

Saint Archer Brewery
9550 Distribution Ave., San Diego, CA 92121
858-225-2337 |


2kids Brewing Company
8680 Miralani Dr., San Diego, CA 92126
858-480-5437 |

Ale Smith Brewing Company
9366 Cabot Dr., San Diego, CA 92126
858-549-9888 |

Callahan’s Pub & Brewery
8111 Mira Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92126
858-578-7892 |

Intergalactic Brewing Company
9835 Carrol Centre Rd., San Diego, CA 92126
858-750-0601 |

Mike Hess Brewing
7955 Silverton Ave., San Diego, CA 92126
619-255-7136 |

Pacific Brewing Company
8680 Miralani Dr., San Diego, CA 92126
303-819-7086 |

White Labs Brewing Company
9495 Candida St., San Diego, CA 92126
858-693-3441 |


Abnormal Beer & Wine Company
16990 Via Tazon, San Diego, CA 92127
858-618-2463 |

Karl Strauss – 4S Ranch
10448 Reserve Dr., San Diego, CA 92127
858-376-2739 |

The Cork and Craft
16990 Via Tazon, San Diego, CA 92127
858-618-2463 |


Oggi’s – Carmel Mountain
10155 Rancho Carmel Dr., San Diego, CA 92128
858-592-7883 |

Phileas Foggs – Bar & Restuarant
11385 Poway Rd., San Diego, CA 92128
858.486.4442 |

URGE American Gastropub
16761 Bernardo Center Dr., San Diego, CA 92128
858-673-8743 |


Oggi’s – Del Mar
12840 Carmel Country Rd., San Diego, CA 92130
858-481-7883 |


Ballast Point
10051 Old Grove Rd., San Diego, CA 92131
858-695-2739 |

O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co.
9879 Hibbard St., San Diego, CA 92131
858-577-0350 |