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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
89
very good

42 Ratings
Ratings: 42
Reviews: 29
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 11.54%
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 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
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Ratings: 42 | Reviews: 29 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of berley31
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
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 +10.3%
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 +3.3%
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 -12.8%
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 -23.1%
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 +2.6%
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 +16.7%
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 -2.6%
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 -13.3%
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 +4.6%
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.

Photo of Durge
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

Photo of cggarcia
4.38/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Photo of OlieIPA
3.2/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

Photo of m1ked
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

Photo of LethargicAvenger
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
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?

Photo of KevBrews
4.45/5  rDev +14.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Was in San Diego for a convention and was pleased to see that the town has so many breweries and brew pubs (lowly Dayton, OH has NONE!). Karl Strauss was within walking distance of my hotel, so I did a little research and decided to give it a try.

The wait staff was very friendly and seemed knowledgeable about the beers. I tried the sampler special, and was able to sub in some of the beers not on the list for some that were on the list but I wasn't interested in. My waitress even threw in a free sample of the "tenth beer," which was a delicious oatmeal stout.

All of the beers I tried were at or above average. There wasn't a single beer I wouldn't try again. I really liked the Windansea Wheat Hefe, which I thought hit the style well. Also among my favorites were the citrusy Pintail Pale Ale and the woodsy Stargazer IPA. The IPA is touted as an "English-style IPA," which the menu defines as less over-the-top than most West Coast IPAs. At first I was concerned that it would be too tame, but I was not disappointed--it was very good. The Pale Ale and the IPA made for an interesting comparison--one more citrusy, while the other more woodsy.

The oatmeal stout was also excellent, with hints of coffee, chocolate, and caramel malt.

The food was average--nothing stellar. And overall, the price was kind of high ($8 for the sampler). But still, I had an excellent time. Tomorrow they tap a firkin of a special dry-hopped version of the IPA, so I'll be heading back over for a taste.

Photo of rousee
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Another fine brewpub in San Diego--just a little ways from the Gaslamp qtr--next to the W hotel. It is a little off the beaten path though. Not exactly a bustling neighborhood.

You walk in and the bar is good size immediately in front of you on the right side of the place. Very nice standard decor--woody and sunny lots of natural light coming in the place. Nice plasma TVs for watching the games.

The bartender was very nice and gave me samples of anything before buying a full pint. Beers were (and I could be forgetting a few) Woodys Gold (very solid) , Karl Strauss amber (another good one) , Oatmeal stout (excellent), Red Trolley ale (Avoid), Stargazer Ipa (decent) and the Windansea Hefeweisse which was also pretty nice. They had a few others too which I cant remember and I believe they also had guest taps which is really cool in a brewpub.

The food was excellent and reasonably priced just like the beers. We had some tuna 3 way combo thing and some spicy beef skewers (tremendous). San Diego seems to be quite a great beer city. Another impressive brewpub and there are 3 or 4 other locations of the Karl Strauss brewery I believe.

Photo of oggg
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

We easily found parking about a block away on a Saturday night at around 6pm, despite the proximity to Gaslamp. The front of the place is not exactly a showstopper, so they have a chalkboard standing out front on the sidewalk to pull more ppl in. There's a handful of outdoor tables to walk past to get inside. Once inside, there's a long bar in this typical diner style restaurant. It's actually not that fancy looking, despite the prices on the menu. There's like 2 normal size TVs. Nice comfy booths and candles at each table, but otherwise standard. The atmosphere is regular diner style, not a pickup joint, not a quiet foo foo place either. Clean restrooms.

The waiter had to think for a bit to recall the "10th tap" beer. On 3/6/04, it was the Hefeweizen. The sampler has 6 beers, not including the Strauss Stout or the 10th tap. It does however include the golden lager (or whatever) and the Trolley lager(or whatever). Anyways, I asked the nice newbie waiter if I could substitute the Stout and the Hefe in for those 2 piss beers, and he was said ok. Sweet! The beers were pretty good. Not intensely flavorful but pretty good. Pretty surprising for a chain that ppl consider to be too mainstream. I would definitely return for the Del Marzen, the Downtown After Dark, and the Strauss Stout.

The food is somewhat expensive, but they give you huge portions. My girlfriend ordered the nachos, which were really delicious, but way too much in quantity. I ordered the Beer Brined Pork Chops (2 large chops) with a special spicy mustard sauce, with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. The plate was huge, and the sauce was magnificently done. Best food at a brewpub by far, IMHO.

Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

One of the fine Karl Strauss locations, this one being the major unit for downtown San Diego. A large and well appointed restaurant with a substantial bar area and large seating areas, this location ,as others, sports the Strauss line of fine lagers. Difficult parking in this area and the spot is fairly pricey as are the line of Strauss stores. Quality, comfort, and fine food are the obvious trademarks of the Strauss locations, each one quite different in look and feel, but clearly high end and upscale for the beer seeking diner.

Photo of Fabric8r
4.72/5  rDev +21%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Stopped in here while on vacation because it was on this beer fly list of brew-pubs. While trying to navigate downtown San Diego (one of the hardest cities to get around in) we finally found this place and parked OK. A little bit uneasy walking up to the place, wondering if the car would be the same when we came out, etc, but once we got inside we were pleasently suprised. The waiter was very friendly and I ordered the 6-taster, to get a feel for the different brews. Each beer was true to the style and I enjoyed each one. The Red Trolley was my least favorite as I had a hard time considering it as an ale, but it went down just fine. Their beers are wonderful, although not anything to write a rave review about.
The food, wow, that was the best meal we had during our week visit to southern Cal. The three of us each really enjoyed our meal and we got to taste each other's.

This place is a must-visit for anyone interested in good beer and good food. I wish they would open up one here in Bozeman, we sure need a quality place like this!

Oh, the car was just fine when we left.

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

The 5th of the stops on a recent San Diego Pub-Crawl by a small, but highly select (even if I say so myself), bunch of So. Cal. BA’s. As we headed downtown from the Princess Pub & Grill, we hit this place. I had actually been here many, many years ago, and the memories flooded back. I stayed in San Diego for a weekend in 1995, whilst I spent 10 weeks working in the States. I quite enjoyed this place when I was last here, and although the surroundings have changed considerably (there seems to be construction work and new buildings everywhere these days it seems); the Karl Strauss appears to have changed little.

An imposing frontage, which is hard to miss, quality fittings abound inside. The Bar is to your right as you enter, with some tall seating in front of the bar, and more expansive restaurant seating on a various raised levels taking up the rest of the floor space. I get the impression, as I did in 1995, that this place is really orientated around the food crowd. However, it was rather quiet on our visit, so we were quiet lucky and enjoyed a few beers.

A small group of us elected to sit at the Bar, and the Bartender was very friendly and even helped to explain each of the offerings that they had on Tap. Service was good and attentive.

The beer range on tap was varied, but served a little too cold for my liking, but it soon warmed so it was no big deal really. I tried a couple of the beers, the most memorable of which was the Black’s Beach Extra Dark, an above average offering that was rather drinkable and a bit of a quaffer at just 4.4%ABV.

We gave the food a miss and basically elected to stay sat at the Bar and enjoy our Beer as well as each others company, which was becoming rather hilarious as time and the effects of the several pitchers of the Oak-Aged Stone Arrogant Bastard that we had sampled earlier in the day started to take hold.

I rather like the Karl Strauss for some reason, not sure why, it is not a bad place at all. Sure, it has the Karl Strauss corporate lines akin to those of the Rock Bottom, but I felt as though this place had a little more character and individuality about it. It most certainly had a more adventurous beer range in both style and flavor than the RB and out of the two downtown chains, I much preferred Karl Strauss.

It was quite expensive from memory, but certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.

Last Visit: 12th July 2003.

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Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San Diego in San Diego, CA
89 out of 100 based on 42 ratings.