Beer Maverick

Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill, Vista

Come for the craft beer, or the food. Good spot just off Vista’s Main Street.

Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill forms one end of an “L” with Wavelength Brewing in the middle and Mother Earth Tap Room anchoring the other end. That makes for a very high density of breweries in this little area, and an easy three-stop beer tour on Main Street in Vista. That’s how I spent my Wednesday afternoon this week.

There’s plenty of parking in the lot. You can see the patio as you come up. Inside, you’ll be greeted at the hostess stand. I opted for the bar and not ordering food. The inside, which is open and spacious, in its design simultaneously reminded me of the early 1990s and a mountain community like Alpine or Lake Arrowhead. The bar is long with plenty of seating, and there is a pretty tree-branch-based false ceiling that makes it feel cozy. All the staff were quick, pleasant and knowledgeable about the beer. Prices are reasonable. The place was almost full on a Wednesday around 4:30pm, so you know they are doing something right. Most people seemed to be there to eat.

A week or two ago, I confirmed by email with the manager that they do indeed have a small brew house on site, so this location does count as a brewery rather than a tasting room. The tap list includes the full range of Belching Beaver products, plus guest beers. I’ve had several Belching products since starting my brewery quest, and they are generally good. (See my reviews of the Belching Beaver North Park and Belching Beaver Ocean Beach tasting rooms.)  On this occasion I just had a pint of a specialty IPA:

Tavern Interleague (IPA, 7.5% ABV). Mostly piney/resiny on both the nose and palate. Light mouthfeel, cloying bitterness on the finish that really lingers. I rated it 3.25/5 or “fine but not special.”

By a curious coincidence, the very next day after my visit Draft Magazine rated Interleague IPA (a related beer made in collaboration with Downtown San Diego’s Half Door Brewing) the 8th best IPA in America out of the 386 they tested. Given my online research, I’m nearly sure (but not completely sure) that Tavern Interleague is a different beer–neither the menu nor Untappd mentioned anything about a collaboration for the one I had, and the taste descriptions seem to be quite different. It is nowhere to be found on the Belching Beaver website, so it must be a small batch “one off” kind of thing. By the way, Mother Earth’s Boo Koo was ranked number 18, and in total San Diego had seven of the top 50.

This is a good spot for some food and quality beer. Make it part of you beer tour of Vista.     302 E Broadway, Vista, CA 92084