Pizza Port Brewing Company – Solana Beach, CA
Tours Offered: No
Food Service: Yes
Kids & Pets: Kid friendly, dogs outside patio
A Brief History
Pizza Port was founded in 1987, when Gina Marsaglia and her brother Vince purchased a scuffling pizza business in Solana Beach, CA. It was a pizza-only establishment until 1992, when Vince’s home brews (brewed on-site in extra space) were put on tap.
As a brewpub, Pizza Port became one of the most historically significant breweries in the San Diego craft beer scene. Not only for its own significance, but the influences of the brews and people involved in its culture. For example:
- The first pint of Stone Pale Ale was sold here in 1996
- Tomme Arthur, Jeff Bagby, and Tom Nickel have brewed for Pizza Port
- A home brewer named Vinnie Cilurzo (Blind Pig/Russian River) was once given the Swami’s IPA recipe to help him scale his own production
Pizza Port was always popular for its pizza and wings, but it really picked up steam within the growing local brewing community during the mid-90’s. Their Swami’s IPA was one of the pioneering beers in IBU escalation, which we now know as West Coast Style. With guest taps, fellow breweries and home brewers alike could have their beer poured in Solana Beach.
It didn’t take long for the Pizza Port brand to begin expanding into the empire we know today. Their second location in Carlsbad was opened in 1997, then they headed up the coast to San Clemente in 2003. Pizza Port Ocean Beach became their fourth brewpub in 2010, followed by their newest Bressi Ranch campus, which includes their corporate offices, fifth brewpub, and brewing facility responsible for canning their five core offerings.
Although it involved an off-shoot of their brand, perhaps the Marsaglia’s most prominent move in San Diego craft beer lore happened in 2006. With then head brewer, Tomme Arthur, they established Port Brewing / Lost Abbey as a means to distribute their visionary beers on a larger scale in bottles.
The Pizza Port Brewing Company brand has won countless awards at major beer competitions over the years. Solana Beach was named Small Brewpub of the Year in 2003 and 2004 at Great American Beer Festival, along with 24 collective GABF medals since 1994.
More Pictures from Pizza Port Brewing Company
Our Visit to Pizza Port Solana Beach
We have been to Pizza Port Solana Beach so many times it’s almost second nature to us. However, after our most recent visit last weekend, we realized we were missing a write-up on one of our favorite San Diego craft beer hangouts!
Unless you get there right when it opens for lunch, Pizza Port is always packed, and even in the early hours it can still be bustling. A limited amount of seating is available outside for people watching under the canvas cover and thatched awning. Inside, grab a seat at the community-style picnic benches, or smaller tables in back or by the front window.
The decor inside is a combination of sports bar meets surf shop, with a side of vintage craft beer signs and metal tackers. There are signed Trevor Hoffman and Junior Seau jerseys, along with surfboards hung from the un-finished rafters. Pizza Port is one of the few San Diego breweries with TVs that actually play sports, and there’s always a game on.
When it comes to the food — besides pizza — they offer salads, chicken wings, and other small bite munchies. But we can’t ever seem to make it past the Beer Buddies, which are seasoned pizza crust strips served with ranch and marinara dipping sauces. Those are a must to have with your first pint, before ordering pizza.
Being the creatures of habit that we are, we always seem to order the Monterey which is a pepperoni, with onions and artichoke hearts. FYI: you can order food from the beer line which is always faster than the “Order here” register.
And speaking of beer, not only does Pizza Port brew amazing stuff, but it’s a check-in heaven for any of you hardcore Untappd fans out there. With every trip, there’s at least 4-5 (if not more) “new” beers to explore, and that’s just from the house list.
Pizza Port beers are brewed right behind the taps, on their 7 barrel system. You can pull up a stool to the bar that runs alongside the production area to watch the magic happen. The murals painted on the wall behind the tanks depict their most famous releases from back in the day, including Swami’s, Port’s Porter, Pipes Pale Ale, CA Honey, and Hot Spots Hefeweizen, to name a few.
Can’t find anything you’re after on the house menu? You can always try Pizza Port’s guest list, which includes other local breweries, and out-of-market special releases. If you’re indecisive in line, they will always give you a splash to help you decide.
Once you’re stuffed from the Beer Buddies, pizza, and top-notch brews, it’s time to grab a sixer from their to-go fridge and hit the road. “Good Food and Good Beer Bring Good Cheer” couldn’t be more true…
Exclusives on Tap
With it being Octoberfest and hop harvest time of the year, we wanted to pay extra attention to those two styles when we ordered full pours:
- Oktoberfest: 3.5/5
A pretty solid Märzen with a touch of caramel and red apple character. It could have been more full-bodied, and was a surprisingly low ABV for a Pizza Port brew, but it still paired great with our Beer Buddies.
- Mosey IPA: 5/5
The BEST harvest/fresh/wet hop ale we have ever had. Brewed with 200 lbs of fresh Mosaic hops, it was loaded with an intense juicy dankness that crushed our palates in the finish. A real fruit and pine lip smacker that oozed hoppy goodness…