A beercation, a bit of a new or at least more of a mainstream phenomenon really takes two subjects to enjoy, math and chemistry. Math, you need to have a large amount of breweries in one area. Chemistry, you need to have people who know who to make really good beer. Welcome to Carlsbad which is home and neighbors to plenty of both.
Carlsbad is just a breezy, laidback ocean town that gives you the best of everything, friendly people, small and inviting breweries, restaurants and shops. You can also find lodging for every budget and if San Diego is a place on your list to visit, Carlsbad is close enough you can spend the day their and then come back to the more relaxing atmosphere that Carlsbad offers.
When it comes to beer tours there is nothing quite as Southern California as Scavengers Beer Adventures. The tour is given on an old, yet beautifully refurbished Swiss Military transport truck that is open air and allows you to drink while being a passenger. Scavengers comes loaded with a cooler of some of the finest beers in the area. From there you are taken from brewery to brewery, three in total, while enjoying the sun and an ice cold beer. They are great for small groups or any type of party because they can fit up to 12 people on one vehicle. Scavengers has a long list of breweries that they can take you to including such greats as; Pizza Port, Stone Brewing, Belching Beaver, Lost Abbey and many others. Scavengers also have an amazing staff that knows the breweries inside and out so they will give you tips on the best beers to try.
To get any beercation started and to get our palate ready for whatever you have planned your first stop should be Barrel Republic. This is simply a beer lover’s paradise, over 50 tap handles that are always changing and offering you the best of local and national beers that you likely have never poured before. The concept is perfect for those who love to sample beer after beer as you purchase a wristband which you hold up to a beer and you can pour as little or as much as you want. with all those beers and continually upgrading you might think there would be little time to create a menu, but Barrel Republic has put together a very gourmet bar menu with such tasty items as; bacon wrapped pork belly, pistachio crusted lamb meatballs and a house made soba noodle salad. Barrel Republic is definitely a place you can stop in and wind up spending the entire night.
On to the breweries and you have many right in Carlsbad and many more in nearby cities and you can work your way down to nearby San Diego. Just plan for a few days at least and set up a tour or a Lyft driver and enjoy. Lyft is as easy as connecting to the Lyft app, setting up your destination and getting dropped at the brewery of your choice. You can either keep your Lyft driver for your tour or if you want to stay longer then just set up another driver as you are near completion, Lyft is easy to use and always timely.
If you are looking for the all-encompassing experience you should visit neighboring Oceanside to check out Bagby Beer. Bagby Beer took over a former car dealership and repurposed into a brewery, beer garden, restaurant and two deck fun experience. The front of the house is a complete bar with every Bagby Beer on tap and the back is the restaurant and brewery that you can bring your growler in and take some home or just hang out for the day.
Culver Beer Co., which in its short existence has already begun creating a number of fabulous beers including the dark stout "Daily Routine" which gives a fabulous rich flavor of chocolate and coffee. Recently Culver was able to showcase their beer at the Green Dragon Tavern & Museum with their own tap takeover. Definitely one of the must visit breweries while you are in Carlsbad.
Mason Ale Works located inside of Urge Gastropub & Whiskey Bank in Oceanside that is highlighted by the imperial coffee stout "Cash". A collaboration with Monstra Coffee using Costa Rican beans, this is a very rich beer, full of chocolate notes and coming in at 9.4% ALC/VOL. There is a lot going on at this location and well worth your time to try a few beers, throw in a unique whiskey and some food and that will make for a great afternoon.
The brewery list is long and outstanding. You can visit the Lost Abbey tasting room in San Marcos is home to two large bars and a 42-tap system. Belching Beaver in nearby Vista is home to one of our favorites, the Peanut Butter Milk Stout. A little bit of dessert in a beer, with a great mixture of peanut butter and chocolate flavors. Arcana Brewing is another great local Carlsbad brewery that offers a long list of beers among them the fabulous Honey Pale Ale, one of the stronger honey flavored beers you will ever try. On the Tracks Brewery has a small tasting room but some great beers including an adult root beer flavor that will take you back to your childhood. Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Guadalupe Brewery and Pizza Port and Port Brewing Company. That is really just the tip of the iceberg, but the one thing about this area is people know their beer, so simply ask and you will get pointed in the right direction.
While San Diego is the bigger city and more well known, Carlsbad is home to some stunning properties to spend your vacation at. Right off of the freeway you will find a bit of a hidden gem in West Inn & Suites. A bit of a throwback with amazing personalized service that big chains are lacking these days, this is what all boutique hotels should be measured against. West Inn & Suites created a great beer tasting package called the "Hops Highway Retreat". This four hour tour provides all-inclusive tastings at Stone Brewing Co., The Lost Abbey and Mother Earth Brew Co. In addition for adult guests during the week West Inn & Suites has a complimentary happy hour which goes far and above the normal, they serve high end wines as well as many of the local beers that came to Carlsbad to try.
West Inn & Suites has two fabulous restaurants right outside its doors, West Steak and Seafood and Bistro West. West Steak and Seafood serves up the highest quality steaks along with a great assortment of fresh seafood, this is considered one of the finest steakhouses from Carlsbad down to San Diego. Bistro West is more casual, only in comparison to West Steak and Seafood. Bistro West is a beautiful restaurant that offers such dishes as short rib and duck confit with gnoocchi parisienne. Both restaurants also cater to the craft beer drinkers with an assortment of local beers to choose from.
Park Hyatt Aviara, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond resort, has created a Carlsbad setting that offers so much you really never need to leave during your stay as they provide you with 200 acres of resort.
Without having to leave the grounds you can experience the Arnold Palmer-designed Aviara Golf Course, Home of the LPGA Kia Classic and a wonderful training facility that makes for a perfect gift for the golfing fanatic in your life. You can also enjoy the spectacular spa, tennis courts and if you have a pet bring them along. There are plenty of trails and pet friendly beaches nearby.
The dining experiences seem endless and a weekend visit is a must just so you can enjoy the Sunday Sparkling Brunch at California Bistro. serving seasonal farm-to-table cuisine showcasing some of Southern California's best and freshest ingredients. Other restaurants include; Vivace - Giro d'Italia featuring a changing lineup of wines from a various regions of Italy, when it comes to a steakhouse you can try a fabulous organic steak and much more at Argyle Steakhouse overlooking the 18th green as well as the Ocean Pool Bar & Grill and Lobby Lounge. Of course throughout the resort you will find an incredible mixology program as well as being able to arrange beer events and beer tours.
Cape Rey Carlsbad is one of the most scenic resorts in all of Southern California. Literally you only need to take 150 steps until your toes are in the sand or you can enjoy one of the most incredible views while dining at Chandler's. If you are in the area and want to enjoy the glorious Ocean Crest Spa, again the drive alone is worth visiting this spa, but while you are there get a treatment to revitalize and get yourself back out there for some more beer.
Your Carlsbad tour would not be complete without a history lesson at the Green Dragon Tavern. It is simply amazing that a restaurant could have so many museum quality pieces, but that is the case with the Green Dragon Tavern, they literally walk you through the early history of America with a little Sam Adams thrown in. Equally amazing is that a location so focused on getting authentic historical pieces that they are equally dedicated to the restaurant and they are. A fabulous menu filled with New England inspired dishes such as shepherd's pie that is so big you better bring your appetite along with a few friends. In addition the Green Dragon Tavern does a great job of having some unique and local beers on tap and frequently has tap takeover events that allow you to meet the actual brewers and try several of their beers. In the case of the Green Dragon Tavern, come for the history and stay for the food and beer.
If you are looking for something a little more casual but still offering great food, visit Senor Grubby's. Home to every type of Mexican food you can imagine including hormone free chicken breast on the "Healthiest Burrito". This is a great spot not just for some amazing Mexican food, but they have a great tap lineup of beer that is always rotating and they even have tap battles that is voted on by customers to see who will stick around.
Does that sound like too much for one trip? Well make more than one trip. Carlsbad is a city for all seasons, you certainly will love the beach in the summer, spring and fall give you best of both worlds and let's be honest, there really is no winter so you are fine all year round. Regardless of your brew of choice you are going to find plenty of flavors that you love, be open minded because the best part of the beercation is find those flavors and breweries that you had no idea existed, but the moment they hit your palate you know are hooked.