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Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San Diego

Not Rated.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San DiegoKarl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San Diego
BA SCORE
88
very good

47 Ratings
Ratings: 47
Reviews: 30
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: n/a
Taps: --
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

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

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

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Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Ratings: 47 | Reviews: 30
Photo of anthony23cippy
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of cherche
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of anon
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of rocket182
4.75/5  rDev +21.5%

Photo of BubalooBrewMaster
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of Tarps68
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of kristougher
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of mattmarka1
2.5/5  rDev -36.1%

Photo of johnhkelm
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of sunny289
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of Beer_Trotter
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%

Photo of jjboesen
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Photo of crossovert
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

Photo of exodus1369
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

Photo of drpimento
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Photo of berley31
3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
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.

Photo of Siggy125
4.3/5  rDev +10%
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!

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

Photo of theghost3
3.4/5  rDev -13%
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.

Photo of armock
3/5  rDev -23.3%
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.

Photo of jnezda
4/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

Recommendations:
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.

Photo of Swimsum
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
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.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
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!

Photo of ndolover
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
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.

Photo of magictrokini
4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

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Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San Diego in San Diego, CA
88 out of 100 based on 47 ratings.