Backstreet Brewery, Vista
I was surprised to learn that Backstreet Brewery is actually a little chain, with locations in Irvine and Anaheim as well as this one in Vista. The one in Irvine is also inside a Lamppost Pizza. The one in Anaheim is a tasting room and production brewery. To my knowledge, all the house beers on tap at the Vista location were made there. They have a pretty large system that adorns the back end of the bar area.
I guess one of the reasons I was surprised that Backstreet has multiple locations was because this one was a bit underwhelming. It wasn’t bad, it just felt a bit amateurish for a large sports-bar type of place. I didn’t try the food, but Yelp seems to think it isn’t that great. The bartender made a point of selling the house beer over the guest list, which is probably a good move business-wise, but he did it in a way that felt off-putting. Locals and regulars dominated the crowd, with a fair number of “bros” and a fair number of retired guys. The location is immediately next to a movie theater. I found the parking to be inadequate; be prepared to walk a bit, especially in the evening.
Backstreet is not far from the little triangle of beer I reviewed recently, made up by Mother Earth Brew Co.’s tasting room, Wavelength Brewing, and the Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill.
The beer I tried at Backstreet was at the low end of acceptable for the most part, with one that was excellent.
End-to-End (Smoked Beer, 5.5% ABV). Smoke overpowers the amber. I picked up a hint of astringency on the finish. I wouldn’t have it again. 2.75/5
Da Shaka (Amber Lager, 5,4% ABV). This was simple, but it grew on me as I drank it. 3/5
Lil’ Dirty (Session Rye IPA, 5.5% ABV). When did 5.5% become “session” (that used to be ordinary strength)? In any case, this is an excellent rye-IPA. Tahoma dry hops add a tropical fruit finish that I really liked. The rye provides a nice spice. This is in the ballpark of Mike Hess Habitus, which is one of my favorite San Diego beers. 4/5
YEWWW! (IPA, 7.5% ABV). This is a solid IPA. Dank/piney, with a sweetness in the background and strong bitter finish that lingers. 3.25/5
http://www.backstreetbrew.com/ 15 Main St., #B100, Vista, CA 92083