1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

41 Ratings
Ratings: 41
Reviews: 28
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 11.79%
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
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)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Ratings: 41 | Reviews: 28 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%

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.

TheLongBeachBum, Jul 20, 2003
Photo of Gavage
3.9/5  rDev 0%

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.

Gavage, Sep 05, 2014
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%

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!

barleywinefiend, May 26, 2009
Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%

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.

AtLagerHeads, Nov 09, 2003
Photo of crossovert
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

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.

crossovert, Jul 26, 2012
Photo of rousee
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%

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.

rousee, Jun 04, 2006
Photo of jjboesen
4.25/5  rDev +9%

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.

jjboesen, Mar 25, 2013
Photo of Bung
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%

Bung, Oct 07, 2014
Photo of GarthDanielson
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%

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.

GarthDanielson, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of mattmarka1
2.5/5  rDev -35.9%

mattmarka1, Jan 15, 2014
Photo of Durge
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%

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.

Durge, Oct 14, 2008
Photo of armock
3/5  rDev -23.1%

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.

armock, Apr 23, 2010
Photo of ndolover
3.38/5  rDev -13.3%

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.

ndolover, Feb 01, 2009
Photo of oggg
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%

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.

oggg, Mar 08, 2004
Photo of drpimento
3.86/5  rDev -1%

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.

drpimento, Nov 09, 2011
Photo of cherche
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

cherche, Jul 18, 2014
Photo of stumac
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

stumac, Sep 14, 2014
Photo of johnhkelm
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

johnhkelm, Jan 06, 2014
Photo of magictrokini
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%

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.

magictrokini, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of berley31
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%

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.

berley31, Sep 30, 2011
Photo of kristougher
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

kristougher, Jan 31, 2014
Photo of m1ked
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%

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.

m1ked, Feb 18, 2008
Photo of OlieIPA
3.2/5  rDev -17.9%

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.

OlieIPA, Sep 18, 2008
Photo of Swimsum
4.55/5  rDev +16.7%

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.

Swimsum, Jun 18, 2009
Photo of BubalooBrewMaster
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

BubalooBrewMaster, Apr 21, 2014
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Downtown San Diego in San Diego, CA
89 out of 100 based on 41 ratings.