363 Airport Road, Oceanside
For many, it’s monuments in Washington, D.C. that put people in a patriotic mood. But for me, the son of a soldier born on an Army base, the grandson of a Navy man who served in World War II, and stepson of a senior chief who spent years stationed on ships and with Marines up at Camp Pendleton, it’s drab, earth tone-painted, cement-floored rooms sporting Old Glory and portraits of prominent figures that feel all-American to me.
So, when I walked into Legacy Brewing Company (363 Airport Road, Oceanside), a brewery and tasting room matching the above description, it felt just like being back at Pendleton, working my first job, visiting my stepdad and his colleagues, or saying good-bye before a deployment. I wonder how many visitors will get the US of A motif the way I do (figuring how close Legacy is to MCB Camp Pendleton, a good number), but if folks don’t, it certainly won’t be because the owners didn’t try hard enough.
A replica of the Declaration of Independence greets guests just beyond the front door, pictures of historically significant Americans are lined along the north wall, and a thirteen-starred flag looms large on the west wall. And, of course, beer names like Sons of Liberty Porter and Founding Fathers Nut Brown help to drive it home.
From a picnic table, visitors can sample a wide variety of beers, mostly English in style. A tad ironic, considering the whole 1776 breakaway thing, but they really explore a wealth of UK ale varieties. Among the more successful are the aforementioned nut brown, which has more hop character and a higher ABV than those that inspired it; Clan Ross Scotch Ale, which brings subtle sweetness and dried fruit in a way that’s not overpowering; and 3.6 ESB, an extra special bitter that isn’t necessarily “special,” but is nicely balanced and easy-drinking.
Other beers are slightly flawed, like the porter that’s slightly acetic on the finish or an IPA that smells of hops but fails to deliver their flavor on the taste buds. But the only beer that really failed taste-testing was The Chesty, an Irish red that’s all over the place and sour on the nose. Not surprisingly, a version of it brewed with spices for the holidays — Sleighwreck — was equally unimpressive. But it’s early, so it’s likely there’s still some dialing in being done on the 15-barrel brewing system.
Overall, it’s a calm place, made even more appealing by its close proximity to Tap That tap room and keg rental spot. And if you come on a Sunday, you can watch the Chargers on the large projection screen. Considering their level of competition, I'm not sure if that’s a plus or a minus.