Here's how it works: The Brewery Tours van will pick you up at a pre-arranged location within a 15-mile radius of downtown San Diego. If you're from out of town, that's usually your hotel. They take you to three different-style microbreweries during the day. Start and end times depend on where you meet them, but it's basically an all-day affair. The price includes transportation, all tasting fees and lunch. In 2010, the breweries on the itinerary were:
- Stone, a big place with a gorgeous restaurant and garden, home of cheekily-named brews like Arrogant Bastard and Sublimely Self Righteous Ales.
- San Marcos Brewery, with a full-service restaurant.
- Ballast Point, an award-winning microbrewery (Brewer of the Year at the 2010 World Beer Cup) that seems more like a friendly wine-tasting spot, serving nothing but small pours of their excellent beers.
On our Sunday tour, we met a wide range of people ranging in age from barely 21 to mid-50s, who were taking the tour for an equally varied set of reasons, including an interest in home brewing. As you might expect, the party atmosphere intensified with each beer consumed, but it was lively fun.
Will You Like It?For the right participants, the Brewery Tour would be a fun activity during your San Diego vacation, if you have enough time to devote a whole day to it. If you like beer and just want to have a fun day out, you'll like it, and it's a good chance to get off the tourist track and do something different.
If you have a special interest in micro-brewed beer or just enjoy drinking it, you'll likely enjoy the tour, too. You get to taste some great beers in a lot of different styles. The tour would also be good for single travelers, who would likely make some new friends very quickly.
If you think of yourself as more of a beer connoisseur and are very serious about your beer tasting, you may be better off to tour by yourself.
TipsThree brewery stops adds up to a lot of beer to taste. If your beer-drinking capacity is somewhat limited, try to pace yourself, sampling only part of each pour, or you'll end up like we did, too sated to enjoy those award-winning brews at Ballast Point.
How to Take the San Diego Brewery TourPublic tours are given daily and you can buy your tickets online. Visit the Brewery Tours of San Diego Website if you need more information
Besides taking the tour while on vacation, it would also be a good gift, especially for the friend or parent who has everything else and it's a really fun way to celebrate a twenty-first birthday. They also do private tours that are popular as bachelor parties.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary tour for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.