Craft Beer

Where is California’s best beer and brewery?

Stone Brewing
The main dining room at Stone Brewing in Escondido. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

If you’re not drinking good local beer, you’re just not trying. issued its annual “RateBeer Best” awards, a measure of beers’ and breweries’ reputations based on thousands of readers’ reviews. By that yardstick, San Diego County rules.

Local winners are:


Top beer, California: AleSmith Speedway Stout, Bourbon-Barrel-Aged.

Top brewer, California: Stone Brewing.

Top bar for beer, California: Churchill’s Pub and Grille, San Marcos.

Top places for beer, U.S. brewpub: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Beer Garden, Escondido (tied with Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa; New Albanian, New Albany, Ind., Red Light, Orlando, Fla.; and HopCat, a chain based in Grand Rapids, Mich.).


Top places for beer, U.S. brewer taproom: Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey, San Marcos (tied with Hair of the Dog, Portland, Ore.; Cigar City, Tampa, Fla.; Wicked Weed Funkatorium, Asheville, N.C.; and The Bruery, Placentia).

Top 100 beers in the world: AleSmith Reforged XX and AleSmith Speedway Stout.

Top beers by category: AleSmith Speedway Stout Bourbon Barrel Aged, strong stout (tied with Clyde/3 Sons Rare Scoop, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Cigar City Hunahpuh’s Imperial Stout, Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout); Port Brewing Older Viscosity, AleSmith Old Numbskull Bourbon Barrel Aged and AleSmith Reforged XX, strong ales (tied with Firestone Walker XX and Fremont Abominable - Bourbon Barrel Coffee Cinnamon).

Top 100 breweries in the world: AleSmith, Alpine, Ballast Point, Green Flash, Modern Times, Pizza Port (Carlsbad), Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey and Stone Brewing.

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