Indian Joe Brewing is very close to the Mother Earth brewery, and hence quite close to A LOT of other breweries in Vista (seventeen, if I counted correctly; plus San Marcos and Oceanside are right next door).
As we pulled up to the parking area, right next to the highway, we saw a food truck set up and a patio. It looked like most other places until we walked in, and then–wow–it was a whole other world. The interior design is a big step up compared to most tasting rooms attached to breweries. It looks more like a bar than a tasting room in that regard. As you might expect from the name, there are Native American touches throughout, and near the entrance there’s a photographic portrait of the owner’s grandfather, a brewer in his own day who was known as Indian Joe. Most impressive, though, is that in addition to the bar and seating area as you walk in, there is a second floor upstairs with a balcony overlooking the main room. This is Indian Joe Brewing’s second location, after a fairly long hiatus while they looked for and built out this new space; it looks new, having only opened earlier this year.
So much for the good. Now for the less good. The music was much too loud. That may have been partly because we were sitting directly under a hanging speaker, but people come to tasting rooms to talk and drink, so (in my opinion) having the sound at club levels is a mistake. I know it encouraged us to leave sooner than we might have otherwise. The service was fine, though with only about 20 people in the whole place the bartender was clearly stressed and was having trouble keeping up. Maybe he was new. I did see the owner giving some folks a tour. The beer was the real let down. I had heard good things, but the four beers we tried were all disappointing.
Luiseno Summer Pale (Pale Ale, 6% ABV). This pale ale was hazy and had a huge funky/dank taste. People keep saying that marijuana in beer is coming, but this tasted like it was already here. I just didn’t like it and couldn’t finish a small taster of it. 2.25/5
Indian Joe IPA (7.2% ABV). For a “flagship” IPA, this underwhelmed. It had a light funky/resin aroma and taste, a bitter middle, and an earthy finish. The hop combo is unusual, but I don’t think that is the same as good. 3/5
Red Hot (Belgian Tripel, 9.5% ABV). I have to admit that while I was drinking this I didn’t remember that it is classed as a Belgian Tripel. It certainly didn’t taste like that. In fact, what I got was essentially “flat cola” and root beer flavors, and it was way too sweet for me. I didn’t notice the high ABV. It wasn’t spicy hot in any way, nor did I pick up any cinnamon flavors, so the “red hot” name must not be referring to the candy. There aren’t many Untappd raters for this one yet but the variance is WIDE, from 5 to 2.25. 2.5/5
Milk Stout (5.2% ABV). It is oil-black and thick. My main take away is “cloying sourness”. Burnt malt, burnt tabacco and coffee flavors with a powerful lactose sweetness, a thick mouthfeel, and a strongly sour finish that leaves my belly unhappy. 2.5/5
If Indian Joe can dial in their beers, this could be a popular spot. A lot of the right elements are already in place. But the beer needs work. They have 30 beers on the menu; maybe I got unlucky in my choices; maybe shortening the list would help.
https://www.indianjoebrewing.com 2123 Industrial Ct., Vista, CA 92081