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Craft Beer in North County: To all the brewery patios I’ve loved before

Above: The Confessional by The Lost Abbey has a tiny patio in a nice setting located on San Elijo Avenue in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Courtesy photo

Don’t let “June Gloom” get you down — soon, it will be patio weather. Frankly, most of the year in this area is patio weather if you are willing to wear a light sweater with your flip-flops.

In celebration of impending summer, here’s my round up of the best brewery patios in North County.

A lot of breweries and tasting rooms have large roll-up windows that let in light and air, but that’s not going to cut it for this list. And while I appreciate the effort when a brewery squeezes a patio onto a sidewalk out front, that’s not the sort of thing this list is about, either.

I’m talking a genuine, real-deal patio: comfortable seating, some cover from the sun, preferably with a nice view.

By this standard, The Confessional by Lost Abbey in Cardiff (2007 San Elijo Avenue) is an “edge case,” as they say. It has only six stools in a tiny space barely outside the roll-up window, tight against a narrow beer rail that looks out onto the courtyard of a small retail center near San Elijo State Beach.

Even though the patio is so small that it has no tables, it is still a good spot to enjoy an afternoon beer, if you are lucky enough to get a seat.

In contrast, one the largest — and certainly one of the best — outdoor brewery spaces is Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido (1999 Citracado Parkway).

From the walk through the leafy tunnel that leads to the entrance, to the koi ponds on the patio, to the paths through tall trees, the whole place is relaxing and gorgeous. And you can carry your beer with you as you explore.

Tiny Escondido Brewing Company (649 Rock Springs Rd B, Escondido) has no indoor seating at all, so it was wise of them to make their outdoor area so lovely. The strings of white lights hanging from the wooden trellises create a magical scene at dusk.

Stone Brewing’s main production facility in Escondido is also home to its World Bistro and Gardens. Photo by Bill Vanderburgh

Like many patios, they have yard games. They are only open on Fridays and Saturdays: check their website to be sure they are open before you head that way.

Unfortunately, the surrounding area is not much to look at (a wrecking yard and three tire stores are in the immediate area), so going after dark improves the ambience.

The Stone Brewing Tap Room in Oceanside (310 N Tremont Street), though considerably smaller than the Escondido location, also makes for a pretty and pleasant outdoor experience, with shady trees, Adirondack chairs, and tables with umbrellas.

There’s even a fire pit for cool evenings.

Bagby Beer Co. (601 South Coast Highway, Oceanside) often makes lists like this one, as it did in SD City Beat’s recent Brews of Summer piece.

Bagby is always a good choice — for beer, food, service, atmosphere, proximity to the beach/pier, and for its several distinct outdoor areas, each one better than the last.

The rooftop deck is open only during the busiest times, but the three other outdoor areas downstairs are excellent, too.

You can tell the “back porch” at Booze Brothers Brewing Co. (2545 Progress St Suite D, Vista) was originally just a concrete slab on the back of a commercial building, but they have added plants, trellises, communal wooden tables and benches, some wooden wall features and even a small stage so that now it is a comfortable, shady place to hang out.

Belching Beaver’s Tavern and Grill (302 E. Broadway in Vista Village) has a “backyard” that isn’t visible from the entrance.

It is much larger than you would expect, with a full bar set up, rail seating on one side, low chairs arranged as if around a campfire, and the whole surrounded by trees and tall fences.

It feels like a world apart, and it is a relaxing place to spend a few hours.

Bagby Beer Co. in Oceanside has several excellent outdoor spaces, plus good food an an extensive list of world-class craft beer. Photos by Bill Vanderburgh

Helia Brewing Company (1250 Keystone Way, Vista) has a small and rustic outdoor area. They needed to add another picnic table or two last time I was there, but the patio’s position on a slight rise means that looking over the road in an industrial park doesn’t feel too bad at all. Plus, the rest of the place is hip and wonderfully designed.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company’s Carlsbad location (5801 Armada Drive) has a couple of different outdoor spaces.

One, near the front entrance, is comfortable but is right next to the parking lot. Another, a bit smaller and around back, has a view down the hill over the road.

Unfortunately, despite being adjacent to them, neither patio gives you a view of the flower fields. For those cooler nights, they do have outdoor heaters.

Carlsbad Brewing Company, as I pointed out in my column last week, has two small patios on a hill overlooking the McClellan-Palomar Airport with the ocean in the (extreme) distance, which makes it a great spot for plane-spotting and sunset-gazing.

Finally, Viewpoint Brewing (2201 San Dieguito Drive, Del Mar). Parking is not always easy (especially during the County Fair), but the beer is solid, the food is good, and sitting at one of the long communal tables with a view of the lagoon is delightful. Unlike some other brewery locations, this one is a great date spot.

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