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The outdoor patio space at Oceanside Brewing. Photo by Ryan Woldt
The outdoor patio space at Oceanside Brewing. Photo by Ryan Woldt
ColumnsFood & WineI Like Beer

Oceanside Brewing’s ‘good time’ vibes boost patio experience

THE COMPETITORS: It is a battle between CoLab Public House and Oceanside Brewing Co. CoLab is the new name and concept on the block. Oceanside Brewing goes hard with events, live music and a devoted fanbase.

THE SCORES: As a reminder, breweries are scored on a 100-point scale with a max of 20 points per category. See the scoring details in our North County Brewery Patio-Off Bracket launch column. Skip below for an unexpected twist or two. View and download the latest bracket here.

Oceanside Brewing Co. (Oceanside)

I’m early, so I roll around the neighborhood for a minute. Oceanside Brewing is off the beaten path, and the area is a little intimidating. I almost decide to leave, but instead, I lean my bike against the vibrant stripes painted outside the brewery. I’m waiting when the owner arrives to open up for the day.

Can I bring my bike inside? I ask.

He replies with something to the effect of; I’d rather you did. There is only the briefest stranglehold on sanity outside these walls.

Beyond the entryway, it is a different world. The patio is out back. It is warm and welcoming, with picnic tables of various sizes. Umbrellas provide shade, and bamboo fencing offers privacy to the industrial businesses on the other side of the walls.

The patio at Oceanside Brewing Company.

The patio at Oceanside Brewing Company. Photos by Ryan Woldt
The patio at Oceanside Brewing Company. Photos by Ryan Woldt

The 70s-style paint job continues around the building. A cooler has the word “BEER” painted on it. In one corner, there is a stage for live music. Potted succulents dot the space, and cornhole boards are leaned against a red shed.

Before I can even park my bike, the music is turned on. Music is a vital component of the atmosphere. In hand-painted letters over the pallet wood sound booth is a quote from Bob Marley, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.

My wife meets me for a beer after work, and while we enjoy a bright sunshiny day, we watch as a man named Jacob sets up instruments on the stage for the Thursday night Open Mic night. A few notes from a Tina Turner jam occasionally blast through the speakers while he tests connections.

There is a “locals only” vibe back here. I bet there have been more than a few ragers back here that have walked the line between control and ‘What happened last night?’ Our service from the bartender (who turns out to be the owner, Tomas) is pleasant, personable, and helpful.

There are regulars at the bar who are ready to spring into action should a door need to be unlocked or a keg moved. In the moments while we’re waiting for some beers to be poured, they manage to share their fairly elaborate life philosophy, which boils down to live and let live.

Accommodation: 17
Atmosphere: 18
Offerings: 13
Service: 17
Wildcard: 17
Total: 82

Takeaway: There is a natural good-time vibe on the patio at Oceanside Brewing Co. It’s a music-infused experience, but there aren’t many food options in the neighborhood. There are occasional outside vendors, which I learned about on the @oceansidebrewingcompany Instagram.

CoLab Public House (Vista)

The front is mostly shaded at noon on a Saturday. There are patio tables tucked away under overhangs and along the fence separating the space from the parking (of which there is a lot). Flower boxes along the exterior and string lights add to the vibe.

I go inside to order a beer from Laguna Beer Company. They are one of several brands that share this space — including Propaganda Wine Co., Baby’s Badass Burgers, Breakwater Brewing, and Barrel & Stave Brewing. The ceilings are high, the murals vibrant, and all tables facing a large television are hung high over the bar. An arcade is tucked in a loft over the burger shop. On the north side of the building, a bright neon light says “patio.” Wait…what? Another patio!

I’ve never been to CoLab Public House* in Vista. When researching this competition, I saw photos of the front of the space and the patio near the entrance. I thought that was all there would be. What a pleasant surprise to find out there are two patios!

CoLab Public House's outdoor patio in Vista
CoLab Public House’s outdoor patio in Vista. Photos by Ryan Woldt

The back is an ample open space, mostly in the bright sun. A few tables have umbrellas, and jasmine is growing out of pots up trellis fencing. There are a few yard games spread out over the faux grass carpet. The fake grass serves to tamp down the extra heat from the sun. An oversized air conditioning unit hums along, providing an underlying white noise.

Signage on the doors promotes Deja Vu Bingo After Dark (18+), Fry Day (free fries with burgers), and $5 Happy Hour Monday thru Thursday from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. The sign says Select Pints. I wonder if that applies to wine…

*But I have been to the building before as Indian Joe’s Brewing Co.

Accommodation: 15
Atmosphere: 15
Offerings: 19
Service: 16
Wildcard: 16
Total: 81

Takeaway: The patio is solid but set apart by the combined size, shaded and sunny sections, and definitely by the number of food and drink options. Groups — even as small as a couple — rarely agree on everything to eat and drink. At CoLab, you have options.

ROUND 1 WINNER: Oceanside Brewing Co. This was one of the tightest competitions. Both patios offer a different experience. You can’t go wrong, but your desires for food, music, variety or a local experience will guide you.

Did I miss an excellent brewery patio? Send a message to @CheersNorthCounty on Facebook or Instagram, or e-mail me at [email protected].

CORRECTION: A recent column indicated Blue Fire Brewing was in Vista, but it is in San Marcos.

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