Over the last two decades, San Diego has established itself as one of the best cities in the country for craft beers and local breweries. The city is home to some of the best known independent brewers, like Modern Times, AleSmith and Stone, as well as more than 100 different breweries offering their unique takes on the beer-making process. There are breweries, often several, in just about every neighborhood around town, as well as across greater San Diego county.
Hillcrest, as one of the trendiest and more popular neighborhoods in San Diego, has more than its fair share of great bars, and restaurants, many of which proudly serve San Diego craft beer. They also serve as the home location for several excellent breweries and taphouses. We’ve found four of the best options for you to visit and find your new favorite Hillcrest craft brew destination.
The Brew Project
Location: 3683 5th Avenue (map)
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 3 p.m. to midnight, Friday: 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to midnight
The Brew Project is the only place on this list that doesn’t make their own beer. However, they offer such an incredible selection of local favorites and excellent food that they had to be included! They even serve brunch on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., allowing you to enjoy day of drinking and impeccable food.
The menu at The Brew Project is chef-driven, highlighting the strengths of their kitchen staff and incredible ingredients. There are some incredible house burgers, like the Diego, topped with roasted poblano peppers, muenster cheese and chipotle aioli on a brioche bun. There are also a half dozen kinds of hot wings, from hot sauce and Buffalo to whiskey-porter BBQ and Sriracha honey wings.
With nearly two-dozen beers on tap, you can definitely find something excellent here. Their current line-up includes popular brews by 32 North, Eppig Brewing, AleSmith, Bitter Brothers, Hillcrest Brewing Company and Modern Times Brewing, as well as many others.
On Thursdays, you can order craft pitchers for just $5, starting at 3 p.m. There’s also a Happy Hour here, from Monday to Friday, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., where you can enjoy wines, wells and beers for $5.
Hillcrest Brewing Company
Location: 1458 University Avenue (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday: 3 p.m. to midnight, Saturday: Noon to midnight, Sunday: 10 a.m. to midnight
If you’re looking for a place with funny beer and food names, Hillcrest Brewing Company is the best destination on this list. Don’t let their tame business name fool you, this menu’s got more puns than you’d imagine!
Their beers include the perennially popular Banana Hammock Scotch Ale, with a sweet flavor and powerful 9 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Their Perle Necklace Pale Ale is a perfect, drinkable pale with a hint of hops and an agreeable 6 percent ABV. Their Crotch Rocket Irish Red and Hop Sucker IPA are also popular.
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Hillcrest Brewing Company specializes in pizza, although that’s far from the only thing on their menu. Each month, they feature a specialty pizza. February’s is called “I Want to Be Loved Bayou,” a Cajun-flavored pie featuring cream sauce, five cheeses, Cajun shrimp and andouille sausage.
You know what will warm you up on these grey days? One of our specialty gourmet pizzas fresh out of the oven! Come try one of our specialty pizzas, new this month–The Philly Cheesesteak Pizza! Come get one at HBC! #pizzaofthemonth #specialtypizza #phillycheesesteak #phillycheesyeakpizza #hillcrestbrewingcompany #pizzaandbeer #craftbeer #comeplaywithus #fresh
Other pizza options, generally available as 12-inch or 18-inch pies, include Margherita pizza, BBQ chicken pizza, the Meatballer, the Meat Packer and even one called Mother Clucker. If pizza isn’t your go-to beer accompaniment, check out their hot wings, like honey Sriracha, spicy and BBQ flavors. They also make up salads, hot pretzels and desserts. Enjoy house-brewed root beer in a float with vanilla ice cream or a milkshake made from one of their stouts.
FruitCraft Fermentery & Distillery
Location: 1477 University Avenue (map)
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday: 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday: Noon to 11 p.m., Sunday: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Last on our list is one of the most unique breweries and drink makers in San Diego. FruitCraft Fermentery & Distillery is an employee-owned craft alcohol producer that is already popular in Hillcrest and beyond. They like to take basically every fruit other than grapes and ferment them, creating both fermented drinks with 11 percent ABV and distilled spirits with a powerful 40 percent ABV.
It’s easy to see how this unique but fun business model can stand out in a city saturated with craft breweries and similar businesses. FruitCraft provides both sippable fermented drinks and mixers powerful enough to give grocery store bottled booze a run for its money, all with more flavor than you’d expect.
Their 11 percent fermented drinks include a range of exciting and fun fruits. Currently, the options include pineapple, pomegranate, pineapple and mango blended, pomegranate and cherry blended, cranberry and pumpkin spice. Their distilled spirits, which they call Eau Di Vie (“water of life” in French) are made from pineapple, pomegranate and cranberry.
Our concept is simple: source, ferment and distill the highest quality, most delicious ingredients nature has to offer. Fruit! The result is the best tasting, all natural craft alcohol made from every fruit imaginable. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ What should we make next? Let us know! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 🍓🍋🍐🍎🍉🍒🍌🍍🍑
Their professional staff will happily create a special drink for you, depending on the flavors you enjoy. They also have a great menu of craft cocktails, each one made using their premium fermented products for your quaffing pleasure.
Location: 301 W Washington St (map)
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Technically located in Mission Hills, Toma Sol is close enough (and excellent enough) that we can’t leave it off this list. They have a full menu and plenty of excellent beers to keep you and your friends or co-workers coming back for more, and a killer happy hour that lasts all the way until 7 p.m. on Fridays!
One of the things we love about Toma Sol is their daily specials, which are impressively decent. Here’s what’s offered on each day of the week:
Monday: All draft IPA’s $5.00
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday 2 Tacos $5
Wednesday: Any Flatbread + Any Draft Beer $12
Thursday: Pulled Pork Sandwich + Any Draft Beer $10
Friday: Happy Hour Extended Till 7PM
Saturday: $5 Drafts 10:00 – 5:00 P.M.
Sunday: $5 Drafts 10:00 – 5:00 P.M.
Toma Sol also hosts a gun trivia night on Tuesdays beginning at 7 p.m. The first and second place teams walk away with gift cards and of course, the envy and admiration of their peers.
Happy hours fun from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and on Friday from from 4 p.m until 7 p.m. You can get draft beers for $5, appetizers for $6, and $1 off any glass of wine. Since this is primarily a craft beer bar, you’ll be happy to know they offer 12 rotating taps from some local favorites. At the time of this article they had such brews as Pizza Port Sharkbite Red Ale, and Modern Times Stencil Crew (nice to see something besides their usual offerings). Check out Toma Sol’s draft list here: https://www.tomasoltavern.com/craft-beer-menu.html.