2545 Progress Street, Suite D, Vista
Two weeks ago, I shared news about the latest entrant into Vista, the county’s most brewery-saturated municipality on a per capita basis. That operation goes by the name Booze Brothers Brewing Company (2545 Progress Street, Suite D, Vista), and it soft opened just before Halloween. In spite of only being open a month, a visit to the tasting room turned up a spot that’s already further along than many of Vista’s brew venues.
When interviewed about the appearance of their facility, owners Dave and Donny Firth humbly described it as similar to the garage they brewed in for the past half-decade. All I can say is they must have one hell of a beautiful garage. Booze Brothers is outfitted in a motif that blends the old west with Americana and hunting lodge flair. The cold box is paneled over in planks of salvaged wood in a pattern that makes the most of shades ranging from beige to ebony.
More of that wood has been used to create a wall, planters sprouting California ivy, and a stage on the spacious outdoor patio. It’s the largest — if not only — outdoor "beer garden" in Vista, and makes a case for more of them. There are plenty of picnic tables, which will come in handy for the future barbecues and live music events they have planned.
Back inside, there’s hand-crafted furniture, including two long wooden bars at the far end of the tasting room, an impressive chandelier, an American flag, and numerous miscellany in keeping with the well-delivered rustic theme. Tap handles are fashioned from deer antlers the brothers found from a local collector, and a shotgun is mounted directly above them.
On the beer front, the Firths are still ramping up production and, as such, only have a handful of beers on at a time. The day I was there, they were pouring an India pale ale, amber ale, stout, and a braggot. That last one is a rarity, a 13% alcohol-by-volume number called The Badger, which is made with honey and comes across a bit like an orange Moscato on the palate. The stout was nutty and cola-like, thanks partly to a somewhat thin body, but finished with a lingering roast akin to blonde coffee. The IPA had plenty of bitterness, but came in low on subtler fruit nuances, and the amber tasted woody and even mildly charred—and, if splitting hairs, a bit oxidized.
One of the things that most interested me at the outset was the fact that Booze Brothers is aiming to produce an adjunct lager made with a grain bill that’s 20 percent rice. It was still lagering when I came by, but they allowed me to try it and, though underwhelming (as one would expect in a beer vaguely following the Budweiser model), it delivers what one would expect. It was nice to hear that the reason for its existence is the Firths' hope that it will serve as a crossover beer to help non-craft fans transition to artisanal beverages.