Southern California is home to some of the best breweries in the nation! Many of these breweries have been awarded medals for brewing some of the best beer in the nation and the world at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.
These nationally-renowned and world-renowned breweries are just a short drive away in LA, OC, SD, and the IE! Too far to drive? You can pick up most of these beers at BevMo, TotalWine, your local bottle shop or even the neighborhood supermarket.
Top 10 Breweries in Southern California
1) Stone Brewing Company – Escondido, North County San Diego
Famous for Arrogant Bastard and Stone IPA, Stone is the un-rivaled champion of craft beer in Southern California. Founded in 1996, Stone is the 10th largest craft brewery in the nation according the Brewers Association 2013 rankings. In addition to malt-heavy and hop-filled beers, Stone has become famous for Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens– an enchanting, outdoor adventure, dinner spot and breathtaking pub in Escondido, with a second location at Liberty Station in downtown San Diego. Put a visit to this brewery on your SoCal bucket list!
2) Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey – San Marcos, North County San Diego
While Port Brewing offers a variety of beers, The Lost Abbey specializes in Belgian-inspired beers, barrel-aged beers, and sours. These siblings of the SoCal craft beer world share a tasting room adjacent to their brewery, which is the former location of Stone Brewing Co. Between the two, they have taken home 9 medals at the World Beer Cup and 24 medals at the Great American Beer Festival. In most cases, expect Port Brewing to be priced more accessibly than The Lost Abbey, though both produce superb beer.
3) Green Flash Brewing Co. – Mira Mesa, San Diego County
Founded in 2002, Green Flash has become synonymous with what is known as the San Diego or West Coast style, hop-forward IPAs and Double IPAs. The brewery also produces a number of aggressive beers and Belgian-inspired ales. If you’re a casual beer fan, stay away- this is for the seriously-obsessed craft beer followers. Since 2005, Green Flash has flown back from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver with 10 medals, including two gold medals, and pulled down 8 medals from the World Beer Cup.
4) Ballast Point Brewing Company – Mira Mesa, San Diego County
The third largest craft brewery in San Diego, Ballast Point is also the first and only micro-distillery in the county. It is best known for its Sculpin IPA, a light bodied, heavily hopped IPA that won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in 2010 and a silver at the Great American Festival in 2009. Overall, Ballast Point has been awarded 8 medals at the Great American Beer Festival, including a gold for their pale ale and a silver for their red in 2014.
5) The Bruery – Placentia , Orange County
Although known to many locals at a popular hot-spot, The Bruery has a following around the world for their Belgian-style ales. With the more-mildly flavored Saison Rue and Mischief widely available, the Bruery also features a full lineup of exotic and creative styles.
6) Beachwood Brewing & BBQ – Long Beach, Los Angeles County
A great excuse to visit tourist-friendly Long Beach, Beachwood has become one of Southern California’s most highly-regarded breweries, with a full BBQ menu available for all of your savory desires. Beachwood won the Gold for Foam Top cream ale in 2012 at the World Beer Cup, as well as the gold for Mocha Machine coffee stout and Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year in 2014 at the Great American Beer Festival. With nine medals since 2012 at the Great American Beer Festival, expect big things from the up-and-coming brewery.
7) Black Market Brewing Co. – Temecula, Riverside County
Started in 2008, Black Market won its first medal (a gold) at the Great American Beer Festival just two years later in 2010 for its Rye IPA and a silver in 2014 for its German-Style Hefeweizen. Brewing both traditional and experimental styles, Black Market has rapidly expanded to become the second-largest brewery by volume in the Inland Empire, now distributed in Southern California by Stone Distributing Company.
8) Bootlegger’s Brewery – Fullerton, Orange County
Founded in 2008, Bootlegger’s has become famous for the cult following surrounding its Knuckle Sandwich Double IPA. While its best-seller is Old World Hefeweizen, Bootleggers offers a wide-range of creative and off-beat beers. In 2014, Bootlegger’s win two medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Bootlegger’s is distributed widely in Southern California.
9) Hangar 24 Craft Brewery – Redlands, San Bernardino County
Famous for its Orange Wheat, Hangar 24 is the distributed throughout Southern California and beyond as the Inland Empire’s largest brewery. Founded by a brewer-pilot at a hangar adjacent to the Redlands Municipal Airport, the tasting room provides an excellent backdrop for aviation and beer enthusiasts alike. In 2012, Hangar 24 won the gold for its Winter Warmer at the World Beer Cup.
10) – AleSmith – Miramar, San Diego County
Founded in 1995, AleSmith is best known for its IPA, Speedway Stout and Nut Brown. The company maintains a popular following among beer enthusiasts, with 9 medals at the World Beer Cup, including five golds, and 17 medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
This list is by no means comprehensive, and numerous amazing breweries were left off! Be sure to check the breweries near you to find the up-and-coming breweries in the Inland Empire, Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County! Think we missed a brewery? Email us at email@example.com with your feedback!
Learn more about the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup by visiting brewersassociation.org.