March 7 2014 07:27 PM

Vista brewery offers more than just booze

3-12 beer art
Was “Brews Brothers” already taken?
Photo by Ian Cheesman

A reviewer must always remain vigilant for potential sources of bias. Something as simple as the rumor of a shoddy beer or a delayed payoff check can taint an entire experience if I'm not careful. Worse, when you enjoy hating things as much as I do, you're often just spoiling for a fight.

And, man, do I hate the name Booze Brothers Brewery

As the craft-brew phenomenon grows and brewers are increasingly recognized for the sophisticated work they do, leading with a name that crudely touts its alcohol content just smacks of immaturity. I may be in no position to chastise immaturity given my column's consummate embrace of it, but must I also forgive bastardizing Aykroyd and Belushi's seminal work? Is nothing sacred?

It would have been all too easy to hate these guys. I can't tell you how much it pains me to feel completely the opposite. Stupid open-mindedness.

(It helped to learn that the name was not born of frat-boy bravado, but from a nickname bestowed on Dave and Donnie Firth during a period when they established a multi-tap brewery out of their garage for friends and family. That sort of passion for brewing deserves humanitarian awards, let alone an alliterative nickname.)

Their uniquely rustic, yet polished, tasting room (2545 Progress St., Suite D, in Vista) possesses 15 taps, though generally only about 10 of them are actively supplied by the 10-barrel brewhouse and 20-barrel fermenters. In fact, the entire brewery seems built with a one-to-grow-on sentiment. The tasting room is already massive and due to get even roomier as brewing operations migrate into the newly acquired neighboring suite. That alone is an ambitious consumption of space for a brewery open only since last October, and it doesn't even include the massive outdoor patio that's rivaled only by those at Stone Company Store in Oceanside or Karl Strauss' tasting room. It's an audacious strategy for absorbing growth, but it may be prudent given the space crunch that so many emerging breweries seem to inevitably encounter.

Booze Brothers Brewing hasn't established a predictable set of core beers just yet, but I'm notoriously A.D.D. with my drinking, so that suits me fine (especially at only $3 for a full pour). What's important is that they're fully exercising this creative latitude to produce a full complement of styles (including braggots, a brew that's as much ale as it is mead), and the quality was solid overall. I do hope the Qué Onda Güero? eventually makes another appearance in the tasting room, as I thought it was arguably a better pale ale than the pale du jour, at least by San Diego standards. It was strongly grassy and a bit dank, with a satisfying resin-y finish and a gentle 4.4-percent-ABV payload.

It's a cliché to say Booze Brothers Brewing has something for everybody, but it's uniquely positioned to provide exactly that. If your preference is a strong ale and a quiet corner, lurk away. If you're craving a chatty bar while belting sessionable IPAs, you're covered. Any brewery that can defuse my hate is worth checking out.

Write to and Ian blogs at and you can follow him on Twitter @iancheesman.


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