By: Carol Farrar, 1850 Realty
Have you heard of the Hop Hwy? It’s in your own backyard.
North County San Diego is on the map & gaining recognition for being a place to live & work, but also a place for beer.
Over the last decade, the craft brewing community has become one of the most recognized industries with over 2500 craft breweries in the entire country, according to the Brewers Association. Craft beer connoisseurs from all over the world visit San Diego as a destination on the beer map with 88 operational brew houses in the County & another 30 in the planning stages.
When did we become known as the Hop Hwy?
San Diego’s craft beer scene started taking shape in the late 80’s with brewpubs like Pizza Port Solana Beach, but it wasn’t until a decade later that breweries like Stone Brewing came into the picture.
Fast forward to today, North County has inherited the name Hop Highway because of its ever growing list of breweries. To date, there are 27 breweries along Hwy 78, which include Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, Oceanside & Carlsbad making North County home to a third of the breweries in all of San Diego County.
Our region is a destination where craft beer lovers abound come to seek out culture, hand crafted brew & community.
The taps keep flowing & so do the awards. We are lucky to host such highly recognized businesses who love their craft. Validation comes often, it seems, with accolades from competitive events like, World Beer Cup & Great American Beer Festival. San Diego hosts its own event every summer at the county fair called the San Diego International Beer Festival. This year it’s hosted in June on 20th where over 400+ beers in 19 categories from all over the world are judged blindly making it one of the largest competitions in the US. Our very own Lost Abbey in San Marcos won Champion Brewery of the year in 2013 as well as earning 6 medals for their Belgium inspired beers.
The beer community is a tight knit one. Lost Abbey was originally the home of Stone Brewing Company before moving into their multimillion dollar brew house, bistro & gardens in Escondido. The connection goes deeper, Lost Abbey is in the Port Brewing family & Pizza Port Solana Beach was the first to carry Stone beers on tap back in 1996. When the opportunity came in 2006 to take over the established brewing facility on 155 Mata Way, it was a no brainer for Stone to pass the baton to the folks at LostAbbey/Port Brewing.
The list of places to visit can seem daunting as it would take you 2.5 months to visit every brewery in San Diego, an exhausting yet noble feat for any craft beer enthusiast. Some sage advice from one craft beer lover to another, start by visiting breweries in your own backyard. San Marcos is home to five breweries & one on the horizon. If you haven’t already patronized these locally owned & operated establishments, you should do yourself the favor & stop into one of these tasting rooms.
Rip Current Brewing Co – Established in 2011 by award winning homebrewer & Master Beer judge, Paul Sangster, this up & coming brewery offers a myriad of beers. Local patrons know this brewery well for the delicious variety of West Coast Style IPA’s. A favorite of mine is the Lupulin Lust San Diego-style IPA, grapefruit & floral notes with a smooth hoppy finish. The latest word through the hopvine is Rip Current is getting ready to expand into a facility in North Park. Beer aficionados in the southern parts of our county are thrilled.
Stumblefoot Brewing – Established in 2012 by Bill and Pat began as home brewers in 2001. Their willingness to experiment is what inspired their name as the definition of the name is the science of gaining new knowledge through the happenstance of interesting encounters. Some of the beers I found interesting at this microbrewery were; Schwarz be with you… Black Lager – a German style black lager & the Questhaven Sour, a beer aged for a year in sours bourbon barrels with apricots and peaches.
Dos Desperados – San Marcos’ newest brewery opened its doors in March with 8 beers in their lineup including crowd favorites, Fugitive Farmhouse Ale & Jail Break IPA. They also uniquely offer Hoppy Yoga on Saturdays at 10:30. $15 pays admission for a one hour class & a beer or flight after class. BYOM (Bring Your Own Mat)
List of Breweries along the Hop Hwy:
Kurakali San Marcos – coming soon
Bagby Beer, Oceanside – scheduled to open in June