Hoppin’ Places

Four Southwestern brewpub hotbeds that are worth the drive

San Diego

San Diego

While Las Vegas has some great beer bars, and its fair share of brewpubs, you are going to have to travel if you want to visit a true beer town. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far. Here are four tasty beer destinations within driving distance.

San Diego

“America’s Finest City” is also one of America’s best beer towns. There are so many breweries to visit, so much good beer on tap, that a shuttle service—Brewery Tours of San Diego—drives beer tourists around the area. If you decide to go it alone, though, put Stone Brewing Co. on your itinerary. Stone has built an empire on the simple idea that fizzy yellow beer sucks. With an in-your-face attitude (Arrogant Bastard Ale, anyone?) backed by some seriously good beer, they seem poised to take over the world. They recently expanded their brewery and bistro, and have plans to open a hotel next year. Back in the big city, the founders ofBallast Point Brewing & Spirits love two things: beer and fishing. Hence the naming convention of their craft-brewed beers (IPA Big Eye and Porter Black Marlin, for example), many of which are available at their tasting room. Green Flash Brewing Co. has a new brewery and beer garden where you can drink its award-winning beers, while Mission Brewery just finished converting an old Wonder Bread factory near Petco Park into a brewery that specializes in Old World beer such as Düsseldorf-style altbier. And if you believe that the quest for a perfect pint is akin to a religious calling, The Lost Abbey in nearby San Marcos should be part of your San Diego pilgrimage. Toast your deeds—good or evil—with a Judgment Day Ale.

Los Angeles

Despite its size, L.A. is no S.D. Nonetheless there are enough breweries, and more than enough good beer bars, to justify a trip. The Eagle Rock Brewery operates in Glendale, and they have taken it upon themselves to spread the gospel of good brew among the fairer sex with a monthly Women’s Forum. Check out their taproom if you miss the forum. Not too far away, in Los Angeles terms, try The Bruery in Placentia. People reportedly wait in line for hours at beer festivals for the Black Tuesday imperial stout. You won’t have to if you visit their tasting room, but check the website for days and times before you go. HitSkyscraper Brewing in El Monte and you can sample its wares at the tasting room, but like the others it’s only open a few days per week. For access to good beer and food beyond tasting-room hours, try this trio in Hollywood: Blue Palms Brewhouse; the 1739 Public House; or The Village Idiot.

Flagstaff, Ariz.

This northern Arizona mountain town, now only a 3 ½-hour drive with the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, has one microbrewery, Mogollon Brewing Company, and three brewpubs within walking distance of one another in its vibrant downtown district: Flagstaff Brewing Co. has a nice patio beer garden; and Beaver Street Brewery (BeaverStreetBrewery.com) has picked up some Great American Beer Festival awards for their beers, as has Lumberyard Brewing Co..

Utah

Utah

Utah

Yes, they make beer in Utah. A lot of it is really good, and some of it is even “heavy,” meaning more than 3.2 percent alcohol in Utah-speak.Wasatch Brewpub in Park City opened in 1989 as the state’s first legal brewpub. And you’ve got to give them props for their beer names: 1st Amendment Lager, Polygamy Porter (“Why have just one!”) and Evolution Amber Ale, among others. Unita Brewing in Salt Lake City is one the largest craft brewers in the state. Have a sandwich and a pint at their in-house brewpub. While you’re in Salt Lake City, check out Squatters, which is affiliated with Wasatch, has a brewpub in Park City and also brews and distributes its own beers. Red Rock Brewing (RedRockBrewing.com) has been a mainstay in downtown Salt Lake City since 1994, thanks to its eight-beer lineup, food and a line of sodas. You can also find them in Park City.

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