Being a member of the Vista community is something Mike Zane, owner and head brewer of Inzane Brewing, takes seriously. Even after saying he was “born and raised here in Vista,” he felt the need to self-correct (his first two weeks of life were spent in San Diego). A technicality to most, but not to Zane, despite 42 years as a resident in Vista.
In October, Zane and his wife, Ewa, opened their neighborhood brewery in the heart of downtown Vista. Inzane Brewing is on Main Street in what is quickly becoming a North County hot spot.
Cheers: Why was it special for you to open up here?
Mike Zane: My mom had a business just two doors down from here. And now I have a place on Main Street, too, in the town I grew up in. And there’s something special about having a business on Main Street anywhere, right?
Ewa Zane: This is home. We’ve watched the downtown grow, and now we are a part of it. And we live a 20-minute walk from here. Of course, we spend more time here than at home now — we just sleep at home.
The Zanes have taken a do-it-yourself approach since they secured the venue formerly occupied by Wavelength Brewing. In the summer, with the grand opening some time away, I found the Zanes hard at work redesigning the brewery’s interior.
They looked exhausted and delighted, which I took as a sure sign that they loved their work. I came back shortly after their grand opening to see how things had turned out.
Cheers: Congratulations on your grand opening!
Mike: Thank you. It was a long time coming, that’s for sure.
Cheers: You are serving a lot of different beer styles. Where do your inspirations come from?
Mike: Most of my creations come from friends who want to make or drink something. When I get a beer suggestion from a friend who has a beer style they like, I play around in my own little laboratory and try to come up with something on my own.
Cheers: How long were you “playing around in your laboratory” making beer for your friends?
Mike: 20 years. I was making 35-gallon batches, so I made a lot of friends.
Cheers: What were some of the first beers you brewed that got you thinking about opening a brewery?
Mike: California Common was my very first beer recipe and one of the first beers I brewed. It’s rich and malty with hints of toast and caramel. A dry finish. Very drinkable.
Cheers: Anything special brewed for the holidays?
Mike: Our nitro line is up, so we have an oatmeal stout on nitro. Also, our Belgian Tripel will be released this week.
Cheers: How long was owning a brewery in the plans?
Mike: We’ve been discussing it for eight years. I had a few partners for the first planning stages. We watched the beer industry plateau for a while and decided the time wasn’t right. I went back to brewing for fun. When COVID hit, most of the partners backed out. We decided to do it.
Cheers: You described yourself as an introvert before we started this interview, but it sounds like you’re a risk-taker at heart.
Mike: I am a risk taker at heart. I can be a little shy, but when it comes to business, I want to go all in if I’m going to do something. When this location became available, I wanted to grab it, but my last partner bowed out. So my wife and I decided to do it ourselves.
Cheers: People will recognize the exterior with the great windows, but once you walk in, it’s different. Very light and welcoming.
Mike: Ewa is the designer and architect. She told me what to do, and I did it. We didn’t have the budget to bring in anyone, so we did it all ourselves. We also wanted to improve the acoustics, so we reworked the entire wall and stage area.
Cheers: What are the plans for the stage?
Mike: We will have live entertainment for the community. We want to have music, open-mic nights, stand-up comedy, whatever we can think of. Whatever we can put on a stage, we wanted to have it here.
Cheers: Your sense of humor can be seen everywhere in your brewery: the shirts, signs, coasters…
Mike: Yes, one thing we don’t do is take ourselves too seriously.
Cheers to that!
You can check out I Like Beer the Podcast to hear more about my interview with Inzane Brewing. Also, you can follow Jeff Spanier on Instagram @ilikebeerthepodcast.