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. In celebration of the 6th Annual San Diego Beer Week last month, 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.

• Brewery Profiles
• San Diego Beer Industry Facts
• North County Brewery & Tap Room Directory


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? North County’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. James shared, “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!” New partner 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.”

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.”
Abnormal Company is also proud to soon bring its customers house-produced beers. Their glass-enclosed brewery is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. Abnormal Company intends to brew during restaurant hours to provide customers with a sense of artistry and display of their craft. According to Co-Owner Matthew, the company’s beer will be “gluten-reduced, flavorful enough to sit gently on the palate, and will pair perfectly with fare offered by The Cork & Craft.” As The Cork & Craft’s mission is to elevate the concept of comfort food to a gourmet experience, this new brewery will encourage customers to think a little more about what they are drinking, try out new beer and food pairings, and dare to step out into the abnormal.

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!”


Name of Business: Abnormal Company (Abnormal Wine Company, Abnormal Beer Company, Cork & Craft)
Co-Owners: Matt DeLoach, James Malone, and Elvin Lai
Years in Position: 2.5
Year of Establishment: 2012
Address: 16990 Via Tazon #123, San Diego, CA 92127
Phone: 858-618-2463
Description of Business: With every process on display from beginning to end, Abnormal functions as a full-fledged urban winery, craft brewery, and open-kitchen restaurant.

Lightning Brewerylightning_brewery_logo

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.
His 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, 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.

O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co.osullivan-logo

Ed O’Sullivan credits his family’s Irish heritage and California creativity for the success of O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co. He and his brothers – Rob, Charlie, Jon, and Paul – formed the company in the spring of 2013. Ed, coming from a background in the biotech and finance industries, earned a professional brewer’s certificate at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) to prepare for running a brewery that combines science and artistry. “Our approach is to create thoughtful and cleverly constructed artisan craft ales and lagers that stimulate the palate and arouse the senses,” said Ed. “We will use science to control, monitor, and make intelligent decisions about our recipes and brewing process. We will respect tradition but pursue innovation and keep our thoughts and processes open to creativity.”

“We currently offer six beers, a wonderful refreshing West Coast pale ale, a nice delicate amber ale, a new-to-San Diego brown porter, a smoked porter, and a sweet stout,” he explained. “We are also planning to produce a red ale and an imperial stout, which will be available in January.” Further ahead, the brewery is also planning a number of special bottle releases for St. Patrick’s Day.
When asked the overall philosophy behind O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co., Ed had only one answer: “Quality, quality, quality. In everything we do.” That quality is the result of caring and commitment from everyone involved with the company. “All our employees are part time and are passionate about brewing,” shared Ed. “Almost all of them are in the UCSD professional brewing certificate program.”
O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co. is located at 9879 Hibert St. Suite F, San Diego, CA 92131. Visit to learn more.

Urge American Gastropuburge-logo

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.

Intergalactic Brewing Company Print

Established in 2013 by Rancho Peñasquitos resident Alex Van Horne, Intergalactic Brewing Company has quickly set itself apart as an artisanal small batch brewing company. According to Alex, the brewing company has crafted well over eighty varieties of beer in just their first eighteen months alone. It is this innovation, along with the company’s “never give up and never surrender” attitude and motto “to boldly brew,” that’s greatly benefited their craft. With signature brews such as their award-winning Coconut Porter, That’s No Moon Triple IPA, and their most popular beer, Andromeda IPA – their fruity and citrusy twist of a San Diego IPA – the brewing company is not afraid to experiment with new ingredients and recipes. “Our uniqueness comes from our dedication to exploring flavors and new styles,” explained Alex.

Intergalactic Brewing Company is constantly experimenting with new flavors; however one thing is certain not to waver: their involvement with their community. “We [maintain this by] brewing small batches of passionately crafted beer for our community and getting involved with local beer festivals that are put on by nonprofit organizations,” shared Alex. Discover more at

Ballast Point Brewing & Spiritsballast

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.


In 2011, brewers and brewpubs generated a $299.5 million direct economic impact in San Diego County.

The economic contribution of craft brewers is more than 1 ½ times greater than the economic impact of Comic-Con International,
San Diego’s largest annual convention.

Since 2011, the total number of craft breweries in the region has more than doubled.

The largest craft brewing event in the region is San Diego Beer Week, which features more than 500 events and lasts from early to mid-November. Beer Week brings more than 20,000 participants to San Diego County.

Sources: National University System Institute for Policy Research and the Brewers Association

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 |


Bier Garden Encinitas
Gastropub Restaurant
641 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
760-632-2437 |

Lumberyard Tavern & Grill
967 S Coast Highway 101 #101, Encinitas, CA 92024
760-479-1657 |

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

Regal Seagull
996 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
760-479-2337 |

Union Kitchen & Tap
1108 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
760-230-2337 |


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 |

Breakwater 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 |

Slaters 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 |

Sublime Ale House
1020 W. San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos, CA 92078
760-510-9220 |


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
425 S. Melrose Dr., Vista, CA 92084
760-295-3500 |

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


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 |

Legacy Brewing Co.
7060 Miramar Rd., San Diego, CA 92121
858-695-9953 |

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 Hibert St., Ste F, San Diego, CA 92131
858-577-0350 |