This Scotch ale is one of eight inaugural brews on tap at Bear Roots.
  • This Scotch ale is one of eight inaugural brews on tap at Bear Roots.
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Bear Roots Brewing Co.

1213 S. Santa Fe Avenue, Vista

Bear Roots Brewing Co. officially joined the ranks of Vista breweries with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, December 18. The one-barrel nanobrewery actually soft-opened through November, releasing a few batches of beer to share with friends and customers of its home-brew supply shop.

The shop has been running strong since September, hosting a Learn to Brew day in conjunction with the American Homebrewer's Association and North Coast Brew Club, and launching a quarterly homebrew contest. The winning recipe from each contest, chosen by a panel of certified local judges, will be served in Bear Roots' new tasting room for three months, with half the proceeds going to a charity of the homebrewer's choice.

What a tasting room in a home brewing supply shop looks like.

What a tasting room in a home brewing supply shop looks like.

The inaugural contest focused on the American IPA style, and with the grand opening Bear Roots owner Terry Little announced the winner was Sean Daniels, who beat a "really impressive" field of 32 entrants to see his IPA hit the taps this winter.

That will be alongside the initial Bear Roots lineup, which includes the Latham Red IPA with raspberry, Deep Rooted double IPA dry hopped with Amarillo, and Bite the Bulleit Belgian tripel made with bourbon soaked oak chips. There's also the We Made One Too peanut butter milk stout, its name in reference to a similar beer made by Vista neighbor Belching Beaver.

Little says, "It's really hard to cater every beer to every palate, so we try to have a beer for every palate." He adds that, with a home brew shop at his disposal, which carries dozens of different grain varieties and over 40 strains of yeast, he's got room to try out a number of styles. "All the ingredients we have access to, we can brew spontaneously."

With another Vista home brewing supply shop, operated by Mother Earth Brewing, having just closed for good on December 15, Bear Roots recently expanded its hops selection to accommodate area brewing hobbyists. While the shops were technically competitors for a short time, Little feels more appreciation for their having an established market, saying: "We thank Mother Earth for supporting us, and keeping the homebrewing culture alive in Vista."

The new tasting room shares space with the shop, decked out with raw wood panel, and concrete bar. The only divider between supplies and bar are several tables and a leather sofa, where beer enthusiasts may sip and discuss.

Shop manager Nick Boling, who helped build out the shop and tasting room, says "The past two months, the biggest alligator to the boat has been the tasting room." In other words, it's been the biggest priority, so while eight beers were on tap for the grand opening, none were available for growler fills until more time can be devoted to brewing.

Little, who works full time outside the shop, figures he can catch up to initial demand by January, but beyond that he has upgrades in mind. "By summer," he says, "we're looking to expand to a five-barrel system in a neighboring facility."

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