Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San Diego

Not Rated.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San DiegoKarl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San Diego
very good

31 Reviews
Reviews: 31
Visits: 54
Avg: 3.87
pDev: n/a
Taps: --
Bottles: --
Cask: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1157 Columbia St
San Diego, California, 92101
United States
phone: (619) 234-2739

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Place added by: BeerAdvocate

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 31 | Visits: 54
Photo of socon67
4.09/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Location in the downtown area. Always have a Brewer's Choice and a barrel aged tap option. Also saw they do a cask on Thursdays. Went with a flight that had the peanut butter cup porter and the Oktoberfest. Food was good (I recommend the west coast carbonara).

 264 characters

Photo of Davepoolesque
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Decent atmosphere, friendly bar tender and flights of beer. Food looked good. Not the most amazing beer selection as they had only Karl Strauss offerings.

 156 characters

Photo of mrcraft
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%

I forgot this place was only a few blocks from the Sante Fe Depot. It was perfect to grab a few tasters before jumping on the train back home.

It was a Friday evening, so it was packed, a good sign. The atmosphere was inviting. Bartenders and servers were all friendly. I sat at the bar to grab a series of tasters. I had a nice chat with a fellow from back East visiting San Diego to watch the Patriots/Chargers game with buddies he hasn't seen in over 20 years. That was cool.

I didn't order any food, but it looked pretty good. The beers were good, nothing earth-shattering but solid. My favorite of the night was Five Wee, a scotch ale. Very nice.

I'll surely return in the future, and make my rotation of places to hit before hopping on the train.

 766 characters

Photo of myelo
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Seems primarily a restaurant with good beer selection. Convenient to downtown. The food is better than a lot of brew pub places and atmosphere is upscale casual. Tried the chili, fish tacos, and the squid and ahi poke appetizers and they were all excellent. Service is very good and servers knew about the beer offering, which was about 10 beers on tap as well as some bottles. Also fill growlers. Tired the Belgian IPA, Octoberfest, Red Trolley ale and one other that I can't recall and they were all nice. Most main dishes were in the $15 range so figure $25-30 with a few beers.

 583 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%

Upon entering you first notice the lighter shades of woods, yellow walls, and plenty of tables and 1/2 booths. There are a few tables outside too. The bar overlooks some of the brewing tanks. Big open wood ceiling give this a bit of an airy feel.

There were about 10 house beers on draft with some beers available in bombers. I had numerous beers over a few stops here and the ranged from OK to really good. One of the older places in San Diego, and it is worthy of a stop.

 475 characters

Photo of jjboesen
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Overwhelmed by choices during my recent San Diego Beer Week sojourn, I did not give much thought to Karl Strauss; however, an exhausting trip to the nearby Maritime Museum, as well as an overwhelming thirst, led me to this downtown venue. Located on a generic block, the building can be spotted immediately identified from the massive leaf drapery that festoons its’ façade. Thus began, my tenth stop of the trip.

Entering into the dimly lit interior, which has plenty of wood décor, can be found in any other restaurant in the city, I found a seat at the sparsely populated bar and was greeted by the cheerful and very exuberant 14-year old server (she was young, to say the least, but certainly not a pre-teen).

Karl Strauss offers a wide range of brews; during my lunchtime visit, I was proffered with their Red Trolley Ale, Tower 10 IPA, Pintail Ale, and yet-to-be-named amber taken directly from the fermenting tank. While the beers cannot be compared to many of the local hop bombs, the beers here were pleasing and good accompaniment to the big and juicy cheddar burger.

A pleasant experience nonetheless: decent beer, hearty chow, a friendly server who was liberal with samplers and another day in America’s favorite beer city.

 1,245 characters

Photo of crossovert
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

This is a cozy little place kind of away from a lot of the action. Still right downtown though. It is on a quiet corner. I went in the evening it was happy hour so the bartender convinced me to get boneless wings, they were nothing special but good. The bed of spicy as fuck mustard and cabbage was the best part about it. I had a sampler of a few of the beers. They were decent. Nothing stuck out, I think this brewery has more beers to offer but they run a pretty limited selection at the pub. Only about 5 taps total. Overall a god stop in SD.

 546 characters

Photo of exodus1369
4.22/5  rDev +9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 4

Great place wonderful location, not huge not to small. The quality was outstanding. The service was great, out standing waitress! Besides being HOT she new a ton about beer and loved to talk about it. Selection is not huge of cores it is a single Brewery. The food was great! and every thing was very well priced. No complaints at all, they have growers that are priced very well. They have monthly beer pairings witch is nice. Not a huge menu but every thing I have tried has been great. They have a nice selection of food made in a beer sauce. If ever in San Diego a wonderful place to check out.

 598 characters

Photo of drpimento
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

I came here based upon last year when I was out here and had a really tasty bottle a their brew. And that it was just off the trolley route which for a lazy fuck like me adds a lot of charisma. They have a smallish patio in front which had an employee enjoying whilst he did some sort of arcane paperwork. Got a spot at the far end of the bar by the tap tower and immediiate service. Easy going bartenders and customers. Bartenders went from very accomodating to work a day. There’s a view of the brewery behind the back bar and a wide range of beers to look at from my spot. Great garlicy aromas in the air. Just got a very polite sniff an sample of an obscure tequila plata from the gracious bartender. Nice large oak bar, overhead is old school commercial, good lighting, sports on TV, growlers to go. I think my score should be better. But there you go.

 859 characters

Photo of berley31
3.25/5  rDev -16%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 2

Dropped in for some food/beers after being at DJB's for a couple of hours...

A: What you'd expect. Lots of tables, big bar, high ceilings... not very many people there at 10 or so on a Monday night.

Q+Selection: Several of their beers on tap (about 10)... I only tried the IPA, but it was very fresh and tasty.

Service: Blech. We had one of those young, so-snarky-I'm-cool waitresses. I'm not your best friend, no need to be sarcastic with me from the very beginning. And when I showed my AHA card (website says it gets happy hour prices on beer all day), she takes it to the bartender, who tells her they only honor it during Beer Week... wtf?

F: Had some wings and garlic fries which were subpar.

O: The beer was good, the rest wasn't. I wouldn't return.

 761 characters

Photo of Siggy125
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5

I get to visit San Diego on business every few weeks and this has been a favorite lunch spot for some time. Being that it's lunchtime and I'm supposed to be working, I enjoy 1 brew each visit.

The restaurant is located downtown and parking can be a challenge unless you arrive a little early. But then you still have to fumble for change to feed the meter, This joint has no parking lot.

Pretty diverse menu, geat food. Burgers, pastas, pizzas , sandwiches, etc.. Food quality has always been solid. They have a pretty full list of beers from lighter Hefs and pale ales to stouts and porters. Something for everyone. They usually come around the restaurant and offer small tasters of their beers complimentary. Nice touch.

Service is pretty solid, staff pretty friendly. I've never ran into poor service here. Good spot if the food is just importatnt to you as the beer. Recommended!

 886 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Went to this place pretty late at night, but were surprised how well and smooth our visit was. Some places seem to change within an hour of close.

The place was very relaxed. Great, open areas for seating and a nice, long open bar. Our bartender was great. She was very helpful describing the beers, as well as the rest of the pub's offering.

They have their standard flagship beers available on tap, plus 3-4 seasonal and limited brews. They also have bombers of some of their out of season beers, as well as some guest taps.

The food was decent. Desert was fantastic. They do a "Shake and Cake", where they make a milkshake with one of their beers, and pair it with a lovely, rich chocolate cake. That alone is worth a trip.

All in all, with the beers and the food, the pricing wasn't bad at all. I would definitely make a return visit.

 842 characters

Photo of theghost3
3.4/5  rDev -12.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

This place is located downtown. There was some seating outside, which in hindsight, I should've gone for since the weather was so nice. However, there were few people outside, there wasn't much of a view, and I was alone, so I took a place at the bar.

As you walk in, there are tables and booths in the front and to the left. The brewery is behind glass on the right and the bar is also to the right a little farther back. Lots of wood, fairly dark inside, and a long bar--typical brewpub.

The place had a decent amount of business for a Monday during the summer. This was probably explained by all of the TVs showing a Monday night preseason NFL game as well as a Padres game.

Happy hour was still going on when I was there, and I was imprssed with the low prices on some of the food at that time. There were 8 taps with a couple of there seasonals/specials. I had the Oktoberfest. I also had the spicy sweet potato fries. Warning--very spicy. Outside of that, a ceviche and a couple of other fish dishes, the food is just standard bar food. They sell growlers, and they advertise a cask night on Thursdays. They also had several bombers available to take home.

The service is the worst part of this place. The bartender was nice enough and attentive at first, but she slacked off because she just had too much going on. The bar area was full when I got there, and she was the only bartender working. Not only was she working a large bar (which had full taps at both ends), but she was the only one pouring beers for all of the waitstaff who were taking care of the customers sitting at the tables. They should either have another bartender or allow the servers to pour their own beers. There was also a fair amount of chit chat between the bartender and the other employees; all the while ignoring customers.

I might come back here to try some of their other beers or food, but I definitely wouldn't go out of my way to make it back.

 1,945 characters

Photo of armock
3/5  rDev -22.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3

The atmosphere is is pretty much like any other brewpub and for a chain brewpub its even more cookie cutter. As you walk in you can see the brewery behind some glass walls. the resturant is pretty narrow as the building isn't all that big.

Quality and selection are pretty average they have eight beers on tap six of which are their year round beers and two seasonl or brewers choice beers. Their beers range from mediocre to pretty good so to me that makes their beers fairly average then.

Service is like just about every other restaurant around the Gas Lamp pretty shitty but for the area its average so if everyone elses service sucks then Karl Strauss has average service. I asked the bartender what special beer they have on tap while pointing to the brewers choice beer and he told me they're all special and I've must have never been to a Karl Strauss. What a douche I then tell him I've been to their other brewpubs and clarify that I wanted to know what the brewers choice was so he says there isn't one right now. So I order the DIPA only to hear the other bartender tell a guy a few seats down they have an ESB as the special.

The food was hit and miss on my plate here. I ordered the sausage plate one was very good the other was horrible so yet again that made my food average.

Overall I'd avoid this place everything is average at best and a few blocks a way you can go to Rock Bottom which has better beer and food.

 1,436 characters

Photo of jnezda
4/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Having enjoyed a couple of the Karl Strauss beers over the last couple years I was pleasantly surprised to find one of their brew pubs beside my hotel (W not recommended) in San Diego last week. Arriving late Sunday evening I was disappointed that they close at 10 pm, 11pm on weekends with the bar being open an hour later. Hours of operation aside I convinced the guys we should check it out the next night after work. This was the first of two visits over three days so we got to try a number of items as get a good feel for the service.

Since the two guys I was traveling with are not as much beer hounds as myself we started with the tasting menu for beers and spinach artichoke dip. Both were very good. The dip was one of the better SA dips I have enjoyed and the tasting menu opened up the variety of beers for the guys. All in we all enjoyed the staples and each found one to really enjoy. Our server started out strong but she faded as time progressed and became a bit lax by the end of our visit. One thing that did disappoint was the lack of information available on the beers. The only material available was menu and the brief descriptions provided on the tasting matte. Our waitress on both occasions was big on the one or two beers they liked but knew little about the other beers and did not seem to even have tried them all.

Over all atmosphere was fun and lively, dinner Monday night did not have a busy crowd but staff and patrons seemed to be enjoying themselves, and lunch Wednesday was busy but the staff was attentive and helpful. I did notice that unlike my native Dallas better than half the patrons were enjoying beers during our weekday lunch which leads me to believe there must have been a number of out of town guests like myself enjoying lunch at the brewpub.

Beer: Seasonal Oktoberfest was a great find and fits the style well for an Oktoberfest Lager, slightly nutty, deep golden color, light on the palette with a smooth malty finish.

Double IPA (Fall) nice and hoppy with good color, slightly sweet with good citrus notes, nice pale amber color.

Food: En Fuego Jalapeno Burger, Spinach Artichoke Dip, and don't miss a pairing of the Roasted Pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon along with the Oktoberfest.

Good job over all Karl Strauss. Next time I am in San Diego I will try and hit the brewery to where it all happens.

 2,378 characters

Photo of Swimsum
4.55/5  rDev +17.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Went here for lunch on my birthday. Stopped in around noonish. It's downtown SD and so of course there were lots of business persons on their lunch breaks eating here. It is a very nice place and the inside is very cool. There are pictures on the walls of Karl Strauss and beer related items. There is a few tables outside but most of the seating is inside. The bar is decently long and has a good amount of seating. There are 5 TV's that you face if you sit at the bar with different things showing. It was an awesome atmosphere, not too loud.

The service was awesome. Our waiting was very cool and a super nice guy. He brought me four samples that I didn't even ask for and was quick to get anything that my girlfriend or myself needed. For how busy it was, I thought it was impressively fast and friendly.

There is happy hour week days from 4 to 6:30 pm and every Thursday nights they have Cask Night. I thought that was pretty cool, sadly didn't come in on a Thursday. They had 10 beers on tap. Six of their normal beers, three seasonals and a tenth "brewers choice" tap (was an Oatmeal Stout). I had the Tower 10 and the Altbier (a seasonal), both were very good. Can get free samples of any other the beers at no cost.

The food was very good and a good variety to choose from. I had a burger and the girlfriend had some Mac and Cheese. Both were very good and very filling. You will not leave this place hungry that is for sure.

Half gallon and one gallon growlers were available for purchase as well as other swag (shirts, pints, etc). I went here on my birthday and got a free beer and pint glass. If you are in downtown SD or near any of the other Karl Strauss brewpubs/restaurants I suggest that you stop in and have a beer and grab a bite to eat. I will be back here the next time I'm in SD for sure.

 1,816 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Stopped in here on a Sunday night about 6PM. It was somehwta bust but not to bad. We were seated almost immediatley. Atmosphere was tourists, locals and families. Not much beer geek talk going on here. Service was good, nice and prompt. Quality was average. I had an Oatmeal Stout on nitro which was weak and I hate nitro brews. The Abbery Red was good and the Hee was above average. Selection was about a dozen house beers with a wide range anyone would be happy with. Food was good and lots of food for the price but house beers were $6 a pint for average beer. No thanks!

 574 characters

Photo of ndolover
3.38/5  rDev -12.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

The Karl Strauss brand is a good one. This particular location is near the marina area. I was there on business and walked from the nearby tourist area to this unassuming storfront. It had the typical wood, brass, and stone. I made 2 visits to this location and I found the food to be classic bar food that had a nice twist on occasion. However, nothing stands out on the food side.

The beer was above average as it was fresh. I had a pale ale, IPA, hefe weizen, and belgian ale, and a barley wine during my visits. Sadly the barley wine stands out as it was poorly done. I believe they were going for more or an Eglish style Barley wine...but it missed.

This region has many good eating establishments with better beer. While I certainly like the Strauss franchise, there are just too many better places to go for food and drink in the area for me to reccomend this place. However, if you like fresh beer, by all means hit it.

 930 characters

Photo of magictrokini
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Good place to grab a beer. Renovated warehouse next to the W Hotel. Food is upscale but edible. Better than standard bar fare. Like the Cuban sandwich. Beer selection is all Karl Strauss. Most of it is average, some awful, but once in a while you can find a diamond in the rough. Their IIPA is above-average, as is their barleywine. Problem is that these are not produced in large quantities. Kind of pricey and can be crowded on the weekends. Parking sucks, as in you can valet it for $15, park for $10, or take the trolley.

 525 characters

Photo of Durge
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Stopped in here for a leisurely Tuesday lunch last week and was quite pleased on all counts. I was able to enjoy their IPA, DIPA, a bock & their Imperial Amber Lager, the first three being very enjoyable, the lager OK. I thought they all tasted like pretty good quality brews. I had their fish & chips as recommended by the bartendress, and that also was very satisfying, excellent cole slaw and a sizeable portion for lunch. The service was very friendly, helpful and reasonably quick. The bar itself is a somewhat dark, wooden old fashioned feel with some outdoor sidewalk tables surrounding the front entrance. It's located right in the heart of the down town, only 10 minutes from the airport or the ocean. Not much else to say, no complaints. I definitely recommend this location and imagine their other sites around San Diego must be decent as well.

 855 characters

Photo of cggarcia
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Came in rather late on a Monday night, but was greeted nicely. Just came for the beers, so didn't try the food. 10 beers on tap dominated by lager styles, with an ale or two and 2 IPAs. The Dbl IPA was awesome. Hops hit hard, of course, but the brewer hit a great balance w/ malt to make it easy drinking. The std IPA was very good also w 3 NW hops. The Dbl IPA had hops from New Zealand so had a citrusy smack on the finish. Also tried the the Octoberfest and found it very nice after all the hops of the IPAs.

The staff was very knowledge about the beers and the brewing process. They also have a cask night on the 1st Thurs of the month. I would come back here.

 665 characters

Photo of OlieIPA
3.2/5  rDev -17.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

After a long day of visiting several breweries, a whole bunch of my friends decided to grab some grub and beers to end our day. We went on a Saturday night and I was expecting a wait, but I was suprised to see that the restaurant was half empty. The atmosphere was nice and the game was on...so most of my attention was focused on that. The quality was pretty good as well as the selection of beer. The food was also good, but nothing special. My overall impression...a nice place to hang out, but again...nothing too extrodinary. Worth a visit if your in town and are looking for a place to chill.

 598 characters

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

This is where it all started for me. Around 1990 domestic beer was just beginning to come out of the dark ages. This place was an oasis. They always had an excellent selection on hand listed from the light in color beer to the dark. The food was pretty good. At this time it was really happening. Some nights it was tough to fight through the crowd and get a beer. The people that worked there were great and more than happy to talk about beer. I loved the $1 beers on Tue nights. It doesn't look like they do that anymore. Sometime when I'm back in town I need to go back and re-rate it. This place rates high for what it gave us back then.

 641 characters

Photo of m1ked
3.83/5  rDev -1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

It is interesting to me that there haven't been any reviews from any San Diegans of a SD classic. While Karl Strauss has not historically been much to brag about, or go out of your way for, I do think that they have made improvements. I think that I really appreciated this at the most recent Karlfest. Anyways, the downtown restaurant is not somewhere I frequent, but I will go midday on a weekend to fill my 1 gallon growler for about $12...that is pretty awesome. They have scheduled rotationals, and their classics. Food is pretty decent, I have had their burgers and other meat sandwiches which were very good. I persoanlly go there for the growler fills, and occasionally get some food. Good place to check if you are from out of town, have guests from out of time, or you like their beer (I do). While they are not the best in the SD area, they are good, and add to the variety of the SD beer scene. If you haven't been there, or haven't been there in a while, check it out.

 981 characters

Photo of LethargicAvenger
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Was here on a tuesday night, not too crowded but enough for the waiters to piss off the barkeep. Seemed like a place for trendy 20-something groups but there were a few regulars watching the game. The food was good but very typical for Socal and even breweries in general: a sampling of burgers, sandwiches, steaks and fish -- nothing too daring. Tried an octoberfest which seemed a bit too bitter for me, their DAD ale which was good but it didn't really fit my mood. The IPA however was delicious and surprisingly not recommeded by the bartender. Very light and citrus-y, it fit the bill after the previous darker beers.
All in all, a solid brewery with good beer and good food - nothing to stand out though. One thing, becareful when ordering beer, I though I was loaded until I realized my pint glass really was bigger than usual. They have a 16oz and a 22oz "pint" glass and I was never offered a choice. Maybe I look like a drunk?

 938 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San Diego in San Diego, CA
88 out of 100 based on 31 ratings.