The original Karl Strauss Brewery and Restaurant in San Diego is located in Downtown. It was the first brewery opened in more than 50 years in 1989 and has been a staple in the neighborhood ever since. Not only does this brewery have a legendary location, but it is also where Master Brewer Karl Strauss created and brewed the first batches of his namesake Amber beer, and medal-winning Red Trolley Ale. The on-site micro-brewery still remains to this day and is fully functional producing a string of rotating special release brews. While the focus is and always will be craft beer, they also create exceptional West Coast pub food to pair with their world class beers.
When it comes to knowledgeable staff, there are few that can compare with these craft beer enthusiasts. They know the ins and outs of this industry from their ten featured crafts on tap, to the process in which ingredients turn into a nice cold brew, to the perfect pairing combination to tantalize your taste buds. Karl Strauss is more than a brewery, more than a restaurant, it is a complete dining experience that will blow your mind. This is ideal for the 21 and up crowd although, with their delicious eats it’s great for the kiddies too!
Karl Strauss Brewery Ambiance
When it comes to industrial chic with a mountain cabin twist, Karl Strauss is tapped in. This brick building utilizes light wood awnings, pillars, and open overhead beams to create the urban warehouse meets winter cabin feel. The focal point of the restaurant is the long, sand-colored wood bar with high-back mahogany chairs. The ten featured craft beers are perfectly displayed on tap with a chalkboard overhead that gives insight into their types and alcohol content. Shelves showcase Karl Strauss glass jugs, and other memorabilia. Four evenly spaced plasma televisions hang overhead ensuring no one misses their favorite teams play – win or lose.
Large glass windows allow a look into their micro-brewery with industrial sized fermenting tanks. Interspersed kegs, casks, and blown up photos of brewing equipment decorate the walls, and bring the whole look together. Guests can enjoy their favorite brew and a delicious meal in their cozy plush leather booths, or choose to dine at the dark wood tables and chairs, with soft overhead lighting. It really feels like you’re in a remote mountain town, if you, can see past the strangers dining next to you. For those who would prefer to bask in the summer sun there are two outdoor tables on either side of the Karl Strauss entrance, an archway covered in greenery, is a beautiful additive that welcomes you.
Karl Strauss Food
Before you think about food at Karl Strauss, you must consider beer. Do you prefer ale? Get the famous Red Trolley Ale. Are you more of an amber brew type? The Columbia Street Amber is a good start. Maybe an IPA is more your speed. The Tower 10 or Blackball Belgian is for you. No matter what your preference is, Karl Strauss has ten outstanding on tap beers ready for any craft brew drinking connoisseur. Each brew’s stats are listed on giant chalkboards so you know the alcohol content, color, bitterness, availability, and tasting nodes, as well as best food pairing options. Many of their beers are available as carry-out six-packs, 12-packs, or even kegs.
Many of the beers at Karl Strauss have won awards at festivals and competitions such as the American Beer Festival. Since 2010 they have been rolling out an annual collectors’ edition holiday series – “an eclectic collection of high alcohol cellar friendly beers that celebrate the season with a San Diego twist on a classic tune” – the Twelve Days of Christmas. So far six of these limited releases have been rolled out, so be sure to get in on the fun. Drink them now, or years from now!
Now on to the food. Karl Strauss serves West Coast Pub food where nearly every dish is infused with one of their craft beers. Expect entrées with American, Asian, Mexican, and of course, Cali-style influences. Starters like the warm beer pretzels from the local San Diego Pretzel Company get things going – beer spritzed, spice rubbed, and served with a mango mustard and beer cheese dip. Asada fries, piri piri wings, and the nacho stack are other favorites.
The Big Beer Burger, their signature burger, says, “Hello America!” It’s basted with Karl Strauss Amber, topped with Red Trolley Ale onion, IPA mushrooms, beer brined bacon, gruyere, tomato, and lettuce, with IPA steak sauce for dipping, and a heaping order of fries. For Mains you have everything from Spicy Tofu Curry to Fish N’ Chips, and don’t forget the selection of Macs On Tap (macaroni and cheese) – P.A.C. Man, Tree Hugger, and Piggy Bank!
Karl Strauss Details
Karl Strauss Brewery pre-dinner Happy Hour are weekdays from late afternoon to early evening with select Starter menu options, craft beer, California wines, and flights. You can schedule a tour of their brewery by setting an appointment through their website. They can accommodate large parties for corporate events, weddings, birthdays, and business meetings. They have a wildly popular event known as Cask Night every Thursday, where they debut a new brew; this is a traditional serving technique in the United Kingdom. They are ADA accessible, welcome children, have Wi-Fi and televisions, and offer bike paring out front. They do not have a private lot, so it’s street parking only.
Karl Strauss Brewery Neighborhood
Karl Strauss Brewery is located in the historical business and financial district of Downtown San Diego just blocks from both Little Italy and San Diego Bay. The neighborhood is filled with historic architecture; be sure to visit the nearby 100-year-old historic Santa Fe Depot. Other highlights include Millionaire Row – a stretch of luxury condos along Pacific Coast Highway, the Maritime Museum, Waterfront Park, Tuna Harbor Park – home of “The Kiss” statue, and the boardwalk along San Diego Bay.