San Diego Breweries, Day 2: Smaller Operations

I titled this post very carefully.  As opposed to last week’s “San Diego Breweries, Day 1: Big Operations,”  the three operations in this post aren’t “small” per say, they’re just smaller, and they deserve the credit of recognizing how well they’re doing and how far they’re headed.  Also, all three of these locations are located in North County San Diego in the town of Vista, within a block of the same road, Sycamore Avenue . . . convenient?  Absolutely.

So my alternative title: “Who Brews on Sycamore Ave?”

Spot One — The Hometown Favorite: Rarely do I go against the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but with a brewery named Mother Earth, a couple of Colorado hippies couldn’t avoid checking out this locals’ watering hole. Hidden in a warehouse area near Highway 78 (we’re accustomed to this set-up), Mother Earth was packed when we walked in on a Sunday afternoon.  Decorated with both beer and rock posters, stickers, decals, and generally colorful tidings, this brew shop and brewery boasts a wide-array of beer styles. Sometimes we avoid ordering tasting trays and samples so that we don’t stand-out as newcomers, but after squeezing our way up to the bar, we couldn’t decide on just one pint. Our favorites included their Red Dog Rye XPA, their Caber of Love Wee Heavy, and their Round About Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

Spot Two — A Young Man’s Success: I think Iron Fist Brewing is home to the youngest head/founding brewer we’ve encountered.  Brandon Sieminski, at a mere 21 years old and with a good bit of help from his parents and his brothers, opened this predominantly Belgian-style brewery in the fall of 2010. Lately, we’ve encountered several new and old breweries exploring Belgium’s recipes, (evolving and educating our palette with every stop), and Iron Fist is no exception to these operations producing some stellar beers, as unfamiliar as they might be to our taste buds. I’m still thinking about the Uprising Belgian-Style Tripel IPA, and the Hired Hand Saison. And notice the ABV on these selections . . . holy smokes.

Spot Three — A South-of-the-Border Influence: While many breweries are dabbling or going full-force into the world of Belgium Beer, Aztec Brewing Company is examining notions of terroir and the influence of Mexico on the Southern California palette. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the first thing we did when we arrived in Redlands was drive straight to our favorite burrito stand from college.  California-Mexican cuisine is everywhere, and when complimented by the warm, sometimes down-right hot weather, even the craftiest of beer connoisseurs has been known to crave those “coastal” lagers and something with a little kick.  But this beer shouldn’t be overlooked as having less flavor.  We found that Aztec’s El Dorado Blonde, and their Chipotle IPA were not only fitting and refreshing, but packed full of crafty depth as well.  They’re Noche de los Muertos, is also always worth a taste or a pint. Oh, and this is certainly random, but these very friendly customers at Aztec who hospitably welcomed us into this great brewery, wanted us to share their dogs with our readers . . . so, here they are . . . (wow do we love this industry!):

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