You can no doubt tell, as a reader of this blog, that I enjoy craft beer and craft breweries. After all, I have reviewed just about every brewery and tasting room in San Diego County, now. In fact, I’m starting to return to some I’ve written about before. This is review number 221.
I first reviewed Bagby Beer Co. in January of 2017. It is hard to believe that was two-and-a half years and 170 reviews ago! I loved the location then, and now that I’ve been back several times, I love it even more.
If you look back at that old review, you’ll notice that I had a fine-but-not-great beer experience that day. I’m not sure, from this distance in time, whether that was me or Bagby having an off day. Either way, I can tell you that every Bagby experience I’ve had since then has been outstanding. Including my most recent visit last week. I went to take some photos for this Coast News column: To all brewery patios I’ve loved before. The rooftop patio was SO nice that I decided to have a beer, and ended up staying for two.
Singles Party (English-style bitter, 3.9% ABV), was absolutely delicious and just perfect for an afternoon enjoying the sea breeze in the sunshine. It is a SMASH (single malt and single hops) recipe that ends up lightly malty, smooth, and clean, with a refreshing floral/lemony accent from the Goldings hops. I’m passionately in favor of beers with ABV below 4% (so I can drink more of them). This was very close to a 4 for me, but it wasn’t quite life-changing even though it was excellent. 3.75/5
The food, service, setting, and beer are all world class. The only thing I can think of to complain about is that Bagby beer isn’t available in cans. That English-style bitter? I’d take it sailing with me every time. They make a huge variety of beers—English, German, Belgian, American—and pride themselves on making clean, true-to-style examples. And they succeed. They have 20 to 24 of their own beers on tap at any given time, and they also have a full bar and an extensive guest tap list. This is one of the breweries, however, where the house beers are not outshone by the guest beers, even though the guest beers are excellent.
One of the things that distinguishes the Bagby location in Oceanside, very close to the beach and pier, is that the space is incredible. I can’t think of another brewery like it. The property is divided into several indoor-outdoor spaces, including the main bar area with its large windows opening onto a street-facing patio, a dining area on the side, a small tasting bar in the back, an L-shaped outdoor space with several different seating areas and its own bar, plus an upstairs patio, bar and dining room. The opening hours vary for the different spaces, but mid-day to evening on a weekend you can count on all of them being open.
It is all great, but the upstairs patio is my favorite, in part because it is small enough to feel special even though it has seating for about forty. The bar up there has seats outside and inside. You can’t have a bad time there.
http://www.bagbybeer.com/ 601 South Coast Highway, Oceanside CA 92054