Beer Maverick

Latitude 33 Brewing, Vista

Latitude 33 Brewing in Vista is one of North County’s better known breweries, with pretty wide distribution. Their tasting room is comfortable and fun. #craftbeer #sandiego #vistaca

[In an unusual move, in December 2019 Latitude 33 sold their brewery and equipment to Local Roots, a hard kombucha company. The will keep the tasting room at this location, but now they are brewing at Green Flash under an alternating proprietorship arrangement.]

I have been looking forward to going to Latitude 33 Brewing for quite awhile. I see their cans in stores all over San Diego, and I’ve heard very good things about their flagship beer, the Blood Orange IPA. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed, though I wasn’t as wowed as I had hoped to be.

The brewery is larger than most, and the same goes for the tasting room. It is simply but well decorated, making a comfortable space for hanging out. The long bar has plenty of seats. Perhaps best of all, there is a large, well-lit pool table area that would be my first choice for spending time with a group of friends. 

For a large brewery, the beer list is surprisingly small. This is probably a good strategic decision. Instead of diluting themselves across a wide number of different beers, they focus on a smaller number of things they do well. More breweries should take this approach, I think. The brewery opened in 2012, so it is stunning to see that they only have a total of 14 beers entered into Untappd. For comparison, Mother Earth Brew Co., which has been around just a couple of years longer, has 430 beers listed in Untappd. Mike Hess Brewing also opened in 2010 and has 250 different beers in Untappd. Even little Bear Roots Brewing, which just opened in 2015, has 41 beers listed. 

On the board during my visit were eight core beers (six of which were IPAs or similar), a rotating porter, and three small batch beers.

Blonde Cartel (5.1% ABV). A flavorful blonde ale. Floral and biscuit elements, hoppier than “to style” versions. 3.5/5

Lost Cities (New England IPA, 6.3 % ABV). Floral/grass/sharp. Juiciness is in the background. Not my fav. I don’t think aficionados would consider it a NEIPA.  3/5

Ocean Grown (Imperial IPA, 8.5% ABV). I expect that this is a popular beer, but it doesn’t suit me even though it is well made. I just don’t like the hops profile. 3/5

Honey Hips (Strong Ale with Honey, 8.3% ABV). It hides its higher alcohol content well. Nicely malty, medium mouthfeel, just right on the sweetness level with a slight lingering honey flavor. I’d drink another. 3.75/5

Blood Orange IPA (7.2 % ABV). I’m not a fan of the kind of bitterness you get from blood oranges, so this one is starting from a disadvantage. Even so, because the orange is subtle, the overall impression is good even though it is a little too bitter for me.  3.5/5 (This one is very popular: with almost 14,000 ratings this beer averages 3.94/5 on Untappd.)

Native Trails Black and Blue (Porter with berries, 6.5% ABV). Blackberries and blueberries in this batch, though I thought I also caught a strawberries note. It is not a standard porter but it is good.  3.75/5

When I reviewed 32 North Brewing, I pointed out that their name missed the mark since they are actually located at 32.8 N, just 8 miles from the 33rd parallel. Latitude 33 Brewing, in contrast, is on 33.1 N, so it wins for accuracy.

Service was fine, parking is easy, flights come in a muffin tin, and I like the pool table. Otherwise, I didn’t find much remarkable here, just a steady hand producing a few well-made beers that appeal to a lot of people. It is a pretty good business model. I’m surprised they haven’t opened a satellite tasting room yet.     1430 Vantage Ct #104, Vista, CA 92081