Beer Maverick

Bear Roots Brewing, Downtown Vista

Bear Roots’ new downtown Vista tasting room is smash success—beer, service, vibe, everything. Bear Cookie peanut butter stout may be my favorite beer ever. And Downtown Vista is nipping at North Park’s heels as the best beer nieghborhood in San Diego. #craftbeer #sdbeer

We had an awesome time at the new Bear Roots tasting room in Downtown Vista. So much so that Rob and I decided to stay there longer instead of moving on to the planned next location in our brewery tour. (That’s Rob’s photo above. You’ll see more of his beertography skills on his Instagram feed, @sdbeertour: check him out and give him a follow.)

I loved the original Bear Roots location, too, when I visited last September. It is hard to believe that was 39 reviews ago. This is my 190th review!

Back in September, I made the claim that Bear Roots’s Bear Cookie is the best peanut butter stout in San Diego, or maybe anywhere–that’s a bold claim given the excellent products of Bear Roots’s Downtown Vista neighbors Belching Beaver (Peanut Butter Stout) and Mother Earth (Sin Tax). Now I’m going to double down on that claim: Bear Cookie is in contention to be my favorite beer overall, ever. The latest batch is even better than previous ones I’ve had. I rated it a 4.75/5. For perspective, I’ve only rated four of the 1100 beers I’ve logged on Untappd at 4.75 or higher. Bear Cookie is smooth, nearly black, and has a persistent tan head. The smooth, soft, medium mouthfeel from the lactose leads to a sweet but not overly sweet taste, with deep roasty malts set off and balanced by subtle bitterness, peanut butter and chocolate flavors. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Speaking of batches, one of the things that makes Bear Roots great is batch-to-batch consistency. They do it amazingly well, especially considering that they have been brewing on a one-barrel system until just this week, when they had a new brew system delivered at their original location. This capacity increase is great news for beer lovers since there will be more Bear Roots beer out there in the world.

In addition to the eight beers on tap at this location (more beers are available at the original location), they offer food that is delivered from two nearby restaurants. We tried a cheese steak and chicken strips, both great. Delivery was very quick, and they don’t charge a silly mark-up for delivery. It is a great example of small businesses working together to enhance things for themselves as well as customers.

I can’t say enough about the great service we got from Joe and Vince on the bar. They were both friendly and enthusiastic about their product. That sort of thing really enhances a beer lover’s experience at a tasting room, so I’m always really pleased when I see it.

Sticking with the theme of the brewery, the interior of the tasting room is decorated similarly to the original location. There are barrels, plants, thick wooden tables and bar tops, and rough wood paneling. The ceilings are low, giving the place a cozy, relaxed and comfortable feeling.

In short, Bear Roots Brewing is firing on all cylinders, and both locations are excellent in every respect you could hope for–beer, service, atmosphere, you name it.

The Bear Roots Downtown Vista tasting room is very close to the Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill, which in turn is right across the street from Wavelength Brewing and the Mother Earth Tap House. You can do all four in a 0.2 mile walk! Backstreet Brewing (inside Lamppost Pizza) is a mere 0.3 miles further. Guadalupe’s tasting room will be going in nearby later this summer. Downtown Vista is becoming a genuine competitor with North Park as a beer tourist’s Mecca–for brewery density, walkability, and beer quality.

You can catch the Sprinter from Oceanside or San Marcos if you want to avoid driving while drinking–there’s a stop 0.2 miles from Mother Earth, 0.3 miles from Bear Roots Downtown. Speaking of nearby, the main Bear Roots location–the homebrew shop, brewery and original tasting room–is a mere 1.4 miles down the street.     135 E Broadway, Vista, CA 92084