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Critic’s Picks: San Diego’s Best Beer 2018

Beer columnist Bruce Glassman looks at the 15 brews that have created the longest-lasting impression since May 2017

By Bruce Glassman

Lost Abbey

Devil Went Down to Georgia American Strong Ale

Aged in bourbon barrels, this beer is a life-changing experience. Deep, rich flavors of caramel, bourbon, and peach are elevated by Brettanomyces notes and black tea.


Mikhail Espresso Russian Imperial Stout

Aged in bourbon barrels, this thick, decadent, vanilla-tinged beer pours like a liquid dessert.

Karl Strauss

Liquid A/C English-Style Summer Ale

Memorable both for its depth of flavor and its simplicity, this unique summer quaffer lands somewhere between a Mexican lager and a lighter, toastier pale ale.

Burning Beard

Apricot and Blackberry D’Brücke Berliner Weisses

The brilliant colors of these two beers are a feast for the eyes, while the fresh fruit flavors, floral aromas, and perfect tartness levels are a treat for the nose and mouth.

South Park


A rare and ancient style that uses a mixture of herbs instead of hops; a truly memorable beer that expands the palate and blows the mind.


Glazed Imperial Pastry Stout

This chocolatey, roasty, coffee-tinged beer has all the elements you want in a dark, malty brew, with a depth of flavor that makes it taste as if you’re drinking right out of a donut box.

Belching Beaver

Phantom Bride IPA

It’s challenging for an IPA to make you stand up and take notice, but this beer does. Highly tropical on the nose, with juicy, citrusy hop flavors that provide the right bite.

Ballast Point

Fathom IPA

A perfect blend of citrus notes and pine make this perfectly balanced, slightly bitter beer super easy to drink.


Sea Señor Mexican-Style Lager

Toasty bread and corn flakes on the nose enhance this crisp, clean beer that utilizes a subtle hoppiness to create great balance.


Woofle Dust Apricot American Golden Sour Ale

Aged in oak foeders (giant barrels), this complex wild ale offers a stunning variety of flavors, from stone fruit to lightly toasted biscuits to classic Brett funkiness.


Highbinder Feral Raspberry Ale

The pungent raspberry aroma and deliciously tart fruit elevate this funky wild ale to a special place. Just the right level of oak and yeastiness, this is a beer for contemplation.

New English

Barrel-Aged Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout

The regular version of this beer is so good, it’s hard to believe you can make it any better, but putting it in bourbon barrels brings this rich, chocolatey, heady beer to a whole other level.


Super Schwarz German Black Lager

Few breweries in town do this roasty, malty yet somewhat light-bodied lager style. Eppig does it perfectly.

Wild Barrel

San Diego Vice with Pink Guava Berliner Weisse

Big guava aromas on the nose with the perfect balance of tartness and fruitiness make this beer an all-summer sipper.

Limited Release: Ballast Point

2010 Tongue Monster BBA Imperial Brown Ale

A huge beer that combines the maltiness of both Tongue Buckler and Sea Monster, then adds the boozy bourbon notes from eight months in Heaven Hill barrels. It was a one-barrel-only special limited release for Home Brew Mart’s 25th anniversary. Here’s hoping you got a taste!

Critic’s Picks: San Diego’s Best Beer 2018

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