“We’re just going to be patient,” says Lisa Deju, “It might be a little extra work to get done, but it’s going to be great!”
5674 El Camino Real, Carlsbad
She’s speaking about the airy new Mission-styled Vista taproom recently opened by Guadalupe Brewery, the beer brand she and brewer husband Raul Deju have developed with a patience verging on divine. They first launched it seven years ago as Cervecería Guadalupe, establishing food-friendly flagship beers south of the border, within Ensenada’s esteemed Valle de Guadalupe wine country. It’s when they decided to bring the business closer to their North County home that patience became their greatest asset.
Four years ago, Guadalupe Brewing began producing beer in the back of their homebrew shop, Carlsbad Brew Supply. They set up a brewhouse, poured a concrete tasting room bar, and secured the necessary state and federal licenses. They were ready to serve customers, however, the cost of doing business in the city of Carlsbad proved too high for their limited resources. “We thought it was going to be expensive,” recalls Raul Deju, “Then it turned out it was going to be way expensive.”
An early estimate, that city permitting requirements and fees could amount to around $8000, quickly grew to more than 25 grand. That amount didn’t guarantee approval when the permit ultimately went to city council vote. Furthermore, the city’s space restrictions would cap their taproom capacity at an untenable 14 customers. Their new tasting room has more tap handles than that: sixteen.
The Dejus told me four years ago they would likely open a taproom in Vista, but first they would wait to find the right space. “We wanted to have a big tasting room,” explains Deju, “that would fit our Mexican wine country roots.” They eventually found it, in a 90-year-old building on Santa Fe Avenue, a commercial corridor south of the city’s civic center. It wasn’t in great shape, but to the Dejus it looked like a blank slate, one with plenty of salvageable, century-old wood.
The dense lumber now supplies hardwood floors and an open beam ceiling; work that has taken the better part of a couple years to complete. Outside, it frames an adobe-style façade, including craftsman style cantilevers and a large open window with a drinking counter so customers can sit facing the street. Wood furniture completed the taproom’s rustic appeal, and with finishing touches on a back patio underway, it has been open for business in April.
As it happens, right in the middle of a massive overhaul of Santa Fe Avenue that will keep the business district’s streets and sidewalks under heavy construction through summer and most of the fall. Again, the Dejus practice patience. “We’re in it for the long haul, so we’re not worried.” Raul says, “we’ve just got to make it through this year.”
Guadalupe opened the space anyway, and local customers have found it — something that didn’t come so easy without a tasting room the past four years. While the brewery furnished a steady list of restaurant accounts during that time, particularly with its El Vainillo cream ale and Tonantzin Belgian gold, the Dejus now make Vista customers the focus. Beers are still brewed in Carlsbad, where the homebrew shop allows Raul to experiment with interesting ingredients, such as the all-South African hop bill in his Southern Hospitality IPA. Meanwhile, greater control over product allows him to do thing like replace the pasteurized orange puree in the Fiddy Fiddy orange cream ale with fresh squeeze juice from local fruit.
So, while the Dejus must cope with a few more months of construction, Guadalupe Brewing is at last available to local beer fans wanting to try its beers.