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Brewer's Deck at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Brewer's Deck at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Cheers! North CountyColumnsFood & Wine

Patio Challenge: Brewers Deck vs. Black Plague Brewing

The Brewers Deck in Del Mar stacks the deck with three breweries against Escondido’s Black Plague Brewing, whose distinctive vibe sets them apart.

Breweries are scored on a 100-point scale with a max of 20 points per category. See the scoring details in our NCBPO launch column.

Black Plague’s Purgatory Taproom

Host of the long-running Beer Night in San Diego podcast and Escondido-local, Cody Thompson, stepped in to visit the recently opened Black Plague Brewing patio back in June. It is a tough gig, but someone has to do it.

He reported back on a well-shaded space with excellent food offerings and a backyard-like experience topped off with a dash of heavy metal. Beers and burgers in the backyard are about as summertime as you can get.

Accommodation: 18
Atmosphere: 16
Offerings: 18
Service: 16
Wildcard: 15
Total: 83

The patio at Black Plague's Purgatory Lounge in Escondido. Photo by Cody Thompson
The patio at Black Plague’s Purgatory Lounge in Escondido. Photo by Cody Thompson

The Brewers Deck

I did not understand that there was more than one fine beverage-producing company sharing an outdoor patio at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center. I assumed they all had their own dedicated area.

Sky Deck is the indoor collaborative food space and Brewers Deck is upstairs. It features two brewery tasting bars — Northern Pine Brewing and Rough Draft — as well as hard kombucha makers Boochcraft.

The opportunity to explore multiple local brewers in one space is an immediate advantage, as is the access to the ten craft restaurants below.

The patio is long and narrow, with the bars running along the east, tables through the center, and stools lined up along a rail bar to the outside of the space. It’s already packed when I arrive mid-afternoon on a Friday. I grab a stool at the bar.*

The location at the mall is a mixed bag. If you want to grab your groceries, browse a bookshop, or buy a new pair of slacks — the Brewers Deck is pretty convenient. If you’re the kind of person who hates parking lots or is impulse shops after a few drinks, maybe not so much. It’s a weird pros and cons that impacts our Wildcard score.

Brewers Deck

Brewers Deck

Brewers Deck
Brewers Deck at Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Photos by Ryan Woldt

In the pro column is the service. Each of the tasting bars offered excellent service. My bartender interactions were informative, efficient, and done with plenty of kindness. In the cons column, Brewers Deck has to stay on the Brewers Deck. There are more casual seating areas below, but they are for the restaurants below.

Also a pro, and this is surprising, is the view. The chaos of the parking lot stretches out below, but in the distance, you can see a line of palm trees and the hazy sky above the ocean. It isn’t an ocean view, but you’ll see the colorful SoCal sunset if you time right.

*I tested stools at each of the bars. They were all pretty much the same.

Takeaway: Variety abounds at The Brewers Deck. A combined outdoor (covered) tasting room serves a little bit of everything for everyone on the southern edge of North County.

Accommodation: 17
Atmosphere: 17
Offerings: 19
Service: 19
Wildcard: 17
Total: 89

ROUND 2 WINNER: The Brewer’s Deck. Both locations offer beer and food in a casual outdoor space. The Brewer’s Deck does it three times over.

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

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