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Joe Devlin and Lauren “Lu” D’Hondt create community and pour excellent beer at Bear Roots Brewing Co. in Vista. Photo by Bill Vanderburgh.
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Craft Beer in North County: Bear Roots celebrates third anniversary with Brut IPA


Welcome to Craft Beer in North County, The Coast News’ biweekly column on the local craft beer scene. Send news, tips and announcements about North County beer happenings to [email protected]

Bear Roots Brewing Co. celebrated their third anniversary on March 16. Located at 1213 S Santa Fe Ave. in Vista, Bear Roots is a combination home brewing supply store and brewery.

It was a gorgeous day, hinting of summer beers to come. The crowd was relaxed and happy, loving the beer and the event. Bear Roots has attracted a strong local following because of their diverse menu of uniformly excellent beer and family-like atmosphere.

I hadn’t been in for several months but all the staff working recognized me and even remembered my usual order.

The special anniversary beer was very good, a Brut India Pale Ale with apple. Brut IPAs are brewed to be especially dry and more highly carbonated than usual IPAs — kind of like champagne with hops.

The addition of apple really worked in this example, and the hops gave it a bright citrus-pine finish. The big hits of the day, though, were Imperial Orange Double IPA and the signature Bear Cookie Peanut Butter Stout.

Imperial Orange reminds me a lot of Orange Crush soda, minus the cloying sweetness.The prominent orange flavor is complemented by a slight bitterness from orange pith and hops; the piney hop background is fairly faint, so even non-IPA drinkers will like this, too.

I heard several customers and the bartenders raving about it. And Bear Cookie is, in my estimation, the best peanut butter stout in San Diego County, which probably means the world.

And, yes, I am including the iconic North County gems Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Stout and Mother Earth Sin Tax Imperial Peanut Butter Stout.

The parking lot was partly blocked off to set up some communal tables. Good thing, because the anniversary event drew a large crowd: At least 200 people flowed through in the ninety minutes I was there.

A bluegrass duo entertained the crowd inside, and Pure Burger Catering had a food tent outside. Their burgers are generously sized sliders — quicker to cook and easier to eat than your typical burger. I had the “OG” burger combo, two classic beef sliders with a side of excellent fries.

They offer several other intriguing options, too, from buffalo patties to the vegetarian “impossible burger.”

Bear Roots started small, on a tiny brewing system. Last year, though, their popularity inspired them to open a new tasting room in downtown Vista, and to purchase a larger brewing system.

Slow and steady growth is a wise strategy in San Diego’s crowded craft beer market, where more than 200 breweries and tasting rooms compete for beer lovers’ attentions; 59 of those locations are in The Coast News coverage area.

The new tasting room in downtown Vista, at 135 E Broadway, does not sell brewing supplies and it has a somewhat smaller selection of beers available. It is a very comfortable and well-designed room.

They have arrangements with neighboring restaurants so that you can order and pay at Bear Roots and have your food delivered to you at the bar.

It is a good spot to include if you are doing a beer tour of downtown Vista, where you’ll also find Mother Earth, Belching Beaver, Wavelength Brewing, Backstreet Brewing and (soon) Guadalupe Brewing’s new tasting room.

Upcoming Beer Events:

Belching Beaver Brewery will be celebrating the launch of their new Buenos Tiempos Mexican-style lager on Saturday, March 23 from 1 to 5 p.m., at all five of their locations throughout San Diego County, including two in Vista and one in Oceanside. Taco trucks on site and swag available. Kid and dog friendly.

Also on March 23, Wavelength Brewing Company will be celebrating their Four Year Anniversary at their science-themed downtown Vista location at 236 Main St. New beer release at noon, 3 p.m. raffle for swag, 7 p.m. dance party. (Ticket required for dance party, $10.)

Bill Vanderburgh is originally from Montreal, Canada. He teaches philosophy for a living and moved to San Diego three years ago to learn to sail. His blog,, won the 2018 BrewDog Beer Blogger award. He has been to over 200 breweries and tasting rooms in San Diego County.