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A Hop-Lover's Downtown Tour



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With more than 75 breweries now producing what is probably thousands of different beers, it can help to focus your plans a little bit by geographic region and even by the kinds of beers you want to experience. If there's one beer style that could be considered quintessentially San Diego, it's got to be our India Pale Ales (or IPAs). And when it comes to IPAs, San Diego brewers do not skimp on the hops! That's why, if you're a true hop-head, and you have a chance to tour some San Diego breweries, you're sure to be one happy hopper.

Here's one suggested roadmap for exploring Downtown San Diego and "hopping" from one great beer to the next:

First Stop: Karl Strauss

Where: 1157 Columbia Street

There are usually about 10 selections on tap here, which regularly include Pintail Pale Ale and Tower 10 IPA, both of which deliver plenty of hoppy goodness in a medium-bodied package that pairs well with food. If one of Brewmaster Paul Segura's special beers is available - such as Tower 20 Double IPA or Big Barrel Double IPA - don't pass them up.

Second Stop: Mission Brewery

Where: 1441 L Street - walking time from Karl Strauss: about 20 minutes

Here, you can check out a few of Brewmaster John Egan's hoppy brews, including El Conquistador Extra Pale Ale, which delivers an impressive amount of hops in a very sessionable beer (in other words, it's easy to drink!). Moving up in intensity would be Mission IPA and then Shipwrecked Double IPA, which has become the brewery's most popular and best-selling beer of late.

Third stop: Monkey Paw Brewery and Pub

Where: 805 16th Street - walking time from Mission: about 15 minutes)

Here, you'll not only find a great selection of excellent Monkey Paw brews, you'll also have one of San Diego's best tap lists at your fingertips. Chances are a number of fantastic pale ales and IPAs from all over San Diego will be available, but don't pass up a chance to taste some of Monkey Paw's own. Hooked on Chinook (a single hop IPA) and Bonobos (a San Diego Pale Ale that delivers tons of citrus, honey, and floral hoppiness) are both delicious. And, what's more, you'll be drinking at a gold-medal winning brewery: Bonobos won gold at this year's GABF (Great American Beer Festival) in a crowded field of 120 entries.

Optional Stop 4: Coronado Brewing Company

Where: 170 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118

If you really wanted to add an extra dimension to your downtown hop tour, you could walk to the ferry at Seaport Village (just a 15 minute walk from Karl Strauss) and float on over to Coronado, where you'll find Coronado Brewing Company. There, you can sip three or four delicious elixirs, including Frog's Breath IPA, Islander IPA, or Idiot IPA. And, if you're feeling Flemish, you can also try their tasty Hoppy Daze, which is a Belgian IPA.

San Diego Brewery Guide Looking for more San Diego craft beer itineraries? Bruce Glassman is the author or numerous books on San Diego craft beer, including the award-winning San Diego's Top Brewers. His San Diego Brewery Guide, which offers essential information on each brewery, tasting notes, and touring maps, is available at www.georgianbaybooks.com.