San Diego – America’s best beer town even if Portland complains

I’m getting a good laugh out of the guys up in the Northwest who are all in high dudgeon over Men’s Journal naming San Diego as “the new beer capitol of the U.S.”

Seems that our beer drinking brethren up in Oregon (and Washington state) don’t like the fact that Portland – the self-titled “Beertown USA” – ranked behind San Diego and New York City as a great place for beer.

Key to their claim that Portland should have been ranked number one is that Men’s Journal goofed when they wrote that San Diego has more breweries than Portland. The city of San Diego has only a dozen or so breweries. The rest are scattered throughout the county – with a concentration of them up in the North County along highways 78 and 15. Portland by contrast has 38 within city limits.

Ignoring that everyone who lives in San Diego County refers to the whole area as “San Diego”, our friends up in the cold cloudy country are missing the point of the article. Men’s Journal wasn’t ranking the cities based on the number of breweries; it was ranking cities based on the amount of great beer available. (There’s only a couple of breweries in NYC, but there’s a ton of great beer bars and pubs.)

Having been to Portland more times than I can count, I can tell you there’s a lot of breweries/brewpubs in the town — Pretty much every block.

But a lot of beer is not the same as a lot of good beer, which is the point the article was making.

Just about every brewery in San Diego is making fantastic, boundary pushing beer. Whether you want classic English styles, aggressively hopped IPAs, Belgians or barrel-aged wonders you’re going to find the world’s best examples in San Diego.

And when I write “world’s best” I’m not giving you my opinion as a San Diegan, I’m giving you the opinion of the international craft brewing community – including Oregon.

We’re the home of the 2009 GABF large brewpub of the year (Pizza Port Carlsbad), the reigning World Beer Cup world champion small brewery (Port / Lost Abbey), the 2008 GABF small brewery of the year (Alesmith), the 2007 GABF small brewery of the year (Port / Lost Abbey), and our beers have dominated the “best of” lists of beer mags and beer rating websites for at least five years. (Heck, our Pizza Port Carlsbad took home more medals at this year’s GABF than every brewery in Portland combined.)

Add all of these great breweries to the huge number of great craft beer bars and it’s little wonder than San Diego is the current center of beer in the U.S. (some might argue the world).

Sure, Portland might have more breweries than any other place, but that no longer is enough to make you number one. After all, Detroit has more car companies than any other place, but the industry and consumers will tell you the best cars come out of the Toyota plant in Georgetown, KY.

Author: Sage
I'm a writer, marketing strategist, tech weenie and craft beer lover.

1 thought on “San Diego – America’s best beer town even if Portland complains

  1. Just read your blog…..not a betting women…but I take it your from San Diego? Just to let you know….Vermont has the most breweries Personally I like my info about beer from a beer source not a Men’s magazine. I love beer and we brew and even though its a home thing and not on a big huge scale….it makes us happy. I’ve lived in Colorado (New Belgium got me into appreciating beer), also in Jersey but traveled all around…NYC/state, as well as Vermont, and living twice in Portland,OR…..also lived in NorCal and SoCal…..oh and was born and lived most of my life in SoCal. The reason for all my stats on where I’ve lived… to let you know that not only did I live in these place but the culture was apart of living there. Sure Ptown has a lot of breweries….and yes that can add up to good beer (sorry have to disagree a bit with you there 😎 We started brewery while in Ptown……its heaven for that….meeting lots of like minded people and open to share their secrets… me its like cooking…..the more knowledge/info you get the more you can create your own unique recipe! Sure there’s good beer here in SD…..we love a lot of them….including Stone….our 1st brew was the Ruination IPA. But in my eyes…..good beers have to be more then just tasting good….not only in the brewing process…..water (sorry hands down….Oregon has much better water then SD) hops…..I’m not a hop farmer…..but think hops growing grounds are in the NW…..they don’t like to be in a desert climate (proof in our backyard and our hops plant going through shock from Ptown to SD). Set aside the ingredients for brewing…….the culture and the vibe are key in my mind……and even though we started brewing in Ptown….I’ve lived and kept moving away from SoCal because for me…..its not my culture or kinda vibe like Ptown is (obviously a personal preference). I don’t wanna start comparing Ptown to SD…..and of course we are open minded people and want to explore more into the SD brew scene….but just our short time relocating back to SD….we come across someone and a beer conversation….. when I mention causally we brew and use to live in Ptown (not letting them know I’m from SoCal) they get VERY cocky and a bit defensive about SD being better in the brewing area then Ptown….kinda a turn off….and then I came across your post(icing on the cake….or in brew terms….dry hop on top of the brew)… just wanted to share a SoCal girls thoughts on brewing and I’m not trying to be rude or bust your chops…this born again SoCal girl has a little Jersey in her when it comes to her passions 😉 Peace-n-Love….Sarah

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