Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Did you know that San Jose has grown exponentially with it's craft beer scene? If you've been sleeping under a rock, there are now a number of local craft breweries all located within a 1 mile radius from downtown San Jose.
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The growth of the San Jose craft brew scene since 1954
One of the very first establishments to offer craft beer was Henry's Hofbrau, which first opened it's doors back in 1954. They feature 28 draft taps and over 100 bottled beers according to their website. They are also one of the few Bay Area locations to offer the coveted Pliny the Younger, made by Sonoma's Russian River Brewing Co., which is offered only once per year in a 4 oz. tasting glass.
In the early 1990's, the Tied House, which was one of the first brew pubs in California (the original location in Mountain View, CA opened in 1988) opened a second location in downtown San Jose's San Pedro Square.
Around the same time, the now world-famous Gordon Biersch Brewing Company was built by proprietor Dan Gordon close to San Jose's Japantown. It's a 24/7 operation and now has several restaurants and are also known for their garlic fries. Gordon Biersch is considered by many a pioneer of San Jose's craft beer scene, an original.
Today, the San Jose craft brew scene has been growing fast and mostly centralized in or near downtown San Jose. This craft beer trend for the 10th largest city in America is finally making a name for itself following in the footsteps of other craft beer cities like Portland, Denver, Austin and San Diego.
In addition to the craft breweries I am about to cover, there are a good mix of public houses and bars where craft brew is sold. You should check out the Market Beer Company (in San Pedro Square Market), Original Gravity Public House and ISO Beers which are all located downtown. Each offers a wide-variety of craft beers from many breweries.
If you live in downtown San Jose or visiting, a number of craft breweries have now opened within a 1 mile radius from the center of downtown. Please read on to learn more about these awesome local craft breweries!
P.S. please be responsible and make sure you have a designated driver or use Uber or Lyft if you decide to do this beer route.
The Local Guide to the San Jose Craft Beer Scene.
Hapa's Brewing Company
460 Lincoln Avenue
San Jose, CA 95126
Hapa's Brewing Company was the first stop since it's the furthest away from most of the other craft breweries. The word "hapa" is the Hawaiian word for "mixed". The owners, Brian and Derek who are both culturally diverse live up to this name, but so does the science behind the making of beer - lot's of mixing.
The location is on a corner end of a small warehouse and across the street from The Standard luxury-apartment complex and right next to an active VTA (Valley Transportation Authority) light rail railroad. Parking is decent, if it gets packed you might have to park along Lincoln Avenue or Auzerais Avenue and the area is generally safe.
The layout as you walk inside is at angle, think of it as starting from a corner of a triangle. The beer selections are good quality. I tried the Hungry Dog IPA, Counter Clockwise New England IPA and the Barbie's Blonde Ale. If you are in the mood to sample, they offer a "Taster Flight" where you can pick four beers.
There is no kitchen at Hapa's, but they did mention that you could bring your own food inside via deliver like (Door Dash, Uber Eats, GrubHub etc...) I also noticed a food truck (Brooklyn Pizzeria) out front the two times I was there. There was also a private party each time I went. Speaking of private parties, yes you can reserve space here for a private party, just contact Hapa's here. This is also a dog friendly establishment complete with a dog-treat jar.
Floodcraft Brewing Company
777 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126
Floodcraft Brewing Company is named in memory of the devastating pre-Memorial Day 1981 flood in Austin, Texas. In case you didn't know already, Wholefoods is headquartered in Austin and this brewery is located on the 2nd floor of Whole Foods on The Alameda in San Jose.
Prior to it's current name, it was formerly known as Mission Creek Brewing Company. You can find a decent choice of beers and wine plus a small choice of bottled craft beers from other brands. I really enjoyed their Citra Fix IPA, it's very hoppy with a nice citrus taste and I highly recommend it! If you are hungry, they also serve food here.
The set-up is semi-outdoor that has open sides, but a roof to keep you dry. I like to come here during the summer especially if you are going to a Sharks hockey game or to watch a concert at SAP Center. This is the perfect place to grab some drinks before heading out because it's less than a half-mile away from the arena. Dogs are also allowed.
Uproar Brewing Company
439 S 1st Street
San Jose, CA 95113
Uproar Brewing Company is located in the once (early 2000's) immensely popular SoFa (South of First Area). There is good reason to the name that fits with history of the area.
"We named it Uproar because we wanted to bring some life back to this part of town." says Steve Vandewater, who along with his wife own this craft brewery. I can agree with what he says because I told him I used to DJ a few doors down in what then known as the Cactus Club.
The wide-open warehouse has plenty of seating and can seat up to 250 people. You can definitely reserve the space just inquire here.
The Grand Opening will take place on April 22nd, 2018 which celebrates this craft brewery to brew their own beer on the premises. Due to the variety of beers they serve, each day the menu can and will change. You'll just need to come to this brewery to experience what they have on tap at the time.
You can also order food from their daily charcuterie board which is a plus. They serve brunch, lunch and dinner. The kitchen is located on the right side of the building where the servers will pick up your food and deliver it to you at your table. This is also a very dog-friendly place.
Camino Brewing Company
718 South 1st Street
San Jose, CA 95113
Camino Brewing Company, which is owned by co-founders Allen and Nathan, is the newest addition (Grand Opening was on Saturday, April 7th, 2018) to the San Jose craft brew scene. According to their Twitter bio, the name of the brewery comes from their impressive "1,900 mile bike pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago" in Western Europe.
I highly recommend the Double Income IPA and the Cafe Con Leche, which I predict will be their best-selling product. If you like a dark stout with chocolate tones, then this is the beer for you.
The location aka SoFa (South of First Area) on South First Street is starting to become a craft brewers haven what I call, "Craft Brew Row". It's nice to see this part of town slowly growing into a place with craft beer options. Camino is also dog-friendly.
980 S 1st Street
San Jose, CA 95110
Clandestine Brewing definitely lives up to it's name as it's snuggled away in a small parking lot just off South 1st Street and also borders South 2nd Street. It also has a plain wooden, nondescript exterior. If they didn't have their small banner hanging up on their wooden patio enclosure, I'm not sure I would have given an extra effort to park and look.
One clue that will help you is to look for a parked food truck just outside (which is available Thursday, Friday and Saturday's). Since they do not have a kitchen you may bring your own food or have it delivered. Once inside, you will notice how small it is, but should have no problem finding a seat at the bar or one of the many tables.
Their full beer list of 150 beers is expansive to say the least, but you'll have an easier time just choosing from their limited on tap beer list. I tried out their super-potent ConeBreaker, which is a West Coast Double IPA and it was awesome. Dogs are allowed inside.
Santa Clara Valley Brewing
101 East Alma Avenue
San Jose, CA 95112
Santa Clara Valley Brewing was one of the smallest of all the breweries on this San Jose craft beer guide. It's the corner building in a small commercial building complex. You would never guess this would be a brewery if not for the signs outside. However, do not let size of the building determine the quality of their beer.
After coming here a handful of times, their Electric Tower IPA, which a West Coast IPA is one of my personal favorite IPA's. It's very hoppy and has a great citrus taste that goes down very well. If IPA's aren't your thing, no worries, they have a total of 11 beers to satisfy your thirst!
Hermitage Brewing Company
1627 South 7th Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Hermitage Brewing Company first started off as a brew pub back in 1987, which many of us longtime residents know as the Tied House located in Mountain View, California. They eventually opened a second location in downtown San Jose's San Pedro Square, but after 17 years they decided to close it and reopen as Hermitage Brewing Company. Since 2008 when they opened this San Jose craft beer production location they have been brewing beers for other brands and now they've been growing their own brand.
This brewery has a very friendly and welcoming vibe out of all the breweries. I would call this brewery a true hipster hangout. There is plenty of seating inside and outside the warehouse. They also have corn hole which is fun to play while enjoying their wide-variety of American sour beers. I recommend their Hermitage Single Hop Series: Citra or their ultra-potent Palo Alto Socially Awkward Barleywine.
Since they have no kitchen, there is a food truck parked outside when I visited. They probably had the biggest parking lot, which made it the easiest place to find parking. A lot of activity is happening around here, so just be careful not hit any of the people riding electric bicycles or scooters in the parking lot and yes, dogs are allowed here.
Strike Brewing Co.
2099 South 10th Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Strike Brewing Co. is the final stop of this San Jose craft brewery beer guide. I first tried their beer at a San Jose Giants baseball game and was excited to hear that they were a local brewery so the natural step was to check out the brewery itself.
Their location is in a warehouse off of South 10th Street and they have 7 beers on tap, they are the: Triple Play Triple IPA, RallyHat Pale Ale, Two Seam IPA, Strong Arm Magnolia Collab, Double IPA, Big Wall Imperial Stout and the Santa Cruz Blonde Ale. They also have a $100 Mug Club, which includes one daily pint of beer up to a year. If you purchase, your mug it will be stored on their Mug Club wall.
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