Photo by Beth Demmon
Bay City Brewing is the perfect place for a pint pre- or post-game.
San Diego sports have a pretty universal reputation of falling somewhere between painfully crummy and simply mediocre. Still, what our city lacks in athletic prowess, fans more than make up for it in their ability to stomach season after season of losing records with beer-fueled blackouts. However, there's hope for overlap between the jocks and (beer) nerds. Even the most sports-averse spectators (like myself) can handle a few hours of semi-professional athletes beating the daylights out of one another during the San Diego Gulls' AHL hockey games, thanks to the numerous craft beer options in and around the Valley View Casino Center (3500 Sports Arena Blvd).
Since technically tailgating isn't allowed at the arena, hordes of hockey fans in search of independently-brewed beer have three choices: One, grab a 16-ounce can of Pizza Port's Swami's IPA for $12 in the North Concourse before the start of third period. Or, two, pregame at one of the local breweries for a fraction of the cost. (No disrespect to Pizza Port—y'all are just mad expensive inside the venue!) The third alternative is to wait for the Friday night $2 Bud Light specials, but that's an awfully embarrassing option even for the frugal craft beer drinker.
There are plenty of places within walking distance or a short Uber/Lyft ride away where sports fans can remain loyal to local craft beer. Bay City Brewing Company (3760 Hancock St.) is a quick, seven-minute walk from the arena. The tasting room has a minimalist-meets-industrial feel that's offers a nice space for a pre-puck drop flight. Try a Belgian or lighter session for maximum pleasure.
For those who really want to test the limits of their endurance, Modern Times Beer (3725 Greenwood St.) is a 10-minute stroll away and offers a dizzyingly diverse selection of taps that seem to change daily. Fridays and Saturdays mean the Lomaland Fermentorium stays open until midnight, so those in search of a post-game potation should consider this their best option.
Drinkers with a designated driver have three solid choices within a 10-minute drive. Due north lies Coronado Brewing Company's brewery and tasting room (1205 Knoxville St.), and for those drawn south, Liberty Station boasts outposts for both Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens (2816 Historic Decatur Road, #116) and 32 North Brewing Company (2860 Sims Road). A word of warning—Liberty Station's labyrinthine streets can be perplexing to navigate and filled with oblivious shoppers wandering through traffic, so keep a sharp eye out to avoid those pesky pedestrians.
Finally, for those in search of a true pregame brewery crawl, Ocean Beach has recently exploded with craft beer and is now home to taprooms by Mike Hess Brewing Company (4893 Voltaire St.), Culture Brewing Company (4845 Newport Ave.), Helm's Brewing Company (4896 Newport Ave.), Belching Beaver Brewery (4836 Newport Ave.) and Ocean Beach Brewery (5041 Newport Ave.). Of course, beer and bites are always available at Pizza Port (1956 Bacon St.) or Newport Pizza & Ale House (5050 Newport Ave.).
The next Gulls home game is Friday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. against the San Antonio Rampage. And if these craft-forward suggestions are falling on deaf ears, then yes, know that $2 Bud Light drafts will be available.