THE COMPETITORS: The seeding committee (me) wasn’t shy about forcing the NCBPO judges (also me) to make a choice. Pure Project is known for its commitment to sustainability, unique ingredient choices, its approach to beer as an agricultural product, and its efforts to make beer “a force for good.”
Also, two of its five locations — Vista and Carlsbad — are in North County, and each feature very different but engaging patio spaces. Today, only one of them will move on to the 2nd round of the North County Brewery Patio-off.
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 NCBPO launch column. Skip below for an unexpected twist or two.
If you want to drink outside, you have a lot of options at PP-Vista. There are picnic tables lined up in front of the entrance, which considering the limited parking area, is a bold choice. They have a few tables fenced off under a tree looking into the brewery, another right next to the entry, and that is all before we get to the original patio running alongside the brewery.
It is a solid patio with a combination of high-top tables and lounging couches near the back. There is a combination of sun and shade in the form of greenery and deep blue umbrellas. The area is narrow, like a rail car-style apartment in New Orleans. A high wall separates the space from the cars racing by on Sycamore Avenue. That is one of the few negatives. During rush hours, the traffic noise is a constant.
My wife and I retire to a couch with a colorful sampler of beers. The dog is fairly content to sniff at the potted plants — which need some water. Someone at Pure Project Vista, please, please water those plants. It isn’t cool enough to turn on the heaters, and it is too early for the overhead string lights to provide atmosphere, but the beer is good.
There are a lot of unique offerings at Pure Project, and we feel encouraged to take a few swings outside our comfort zone. The bartenders patiently talk us through the menu and check in on us periodically to see how we’re doing. They have a few snacks—packaged pretzels and popcorn, but we don’t see other food on-site. They also host live music on Saturdays, and if you want to get smarter while you drink, check out their TWO SCIENTISTS WALK INTO A BAR series.
Takeaway: You can’t go wrong with a visit unless you’re hungry. The beer is good, and the brewery doesn’t only focus on one style. It will be easy for everyone in the group to find something they like. We had top-notch service. Follow their Instagram @purebrewingvista for food truck updates and to check their hours.
At the entry, there are a lot of signs about decorum and bathroom usage. The Village is a little weird these days. There is also a note about allowing outside food in, which is awesome because there are a lot of great restaurants within a few blocks.
Cross the threshold into the tasting room, and are you indoors? Are you out? The answer is both. The original patio at PP-Carlsbad was built into the footprint of the space with a true open-air space. When all the doors open, it feels like the whole space is a patio. The tree with the flowering blossoms that smell incredible is a really nice touch.
During the pandemic, an extra deck parklet was added with a line of picnic tables under heaters. That’s where I take my beers, one of which is a collab with Gravity Heights. It is one of the best beers I’ve had all year. Sitting out on one of these picnic tables staring back in at the patrons lined up against the original patio rail, feels a little weird, so I turn around to face the Carlsbad train depot.
It’s exciting when the first Coaster train arrives with a horn blast and a whoosh. I feel a little like the kid. Less so with the second, and I’m over it by the time the Amtrak blows through. Luckily, a beertender swings around with a refill and a treat for my dog. The staff at both the Pure Projects in the NCBPO are very well educated and willing to share about beer.
Despite my desire never to wait in lines, I don’t mind waiting here. They never rush a patron through their beer decision and are willing to work to find the right beer for you. That’s a rare combo and one worth waiting for.
A note about dogs: Like the Vista location, the patio at Carlsbad is dog-friendly — which I love — because I have a dog and spend an inordinate amount of time looking at dog videos on Instagram.
At the Carlsbad Pure, some regular customers have dogs that are allowed to wander off-leash. It has made for stressful visits trying to order beer, find a seat, and also monitor a random dog with no owner around as it approaches my pup. That is a negative wildcard.
Takeaway: This is a great spot for a beer, but the stress of dealing with other people’s pets makes it stressful to hang out. Being able to bring in food from other Carlsbad restaurants is a huge plus, and their proximity makes it easier to do than at the Vista location. The train is fun until it’s not. Finally, if you have a question about beer, this is definitely the staff to ask. Follow @purecarlsbad for updates on events and beer releases.
ROUND 1 WINNER: Pure Project Vista
UNRELATED: Shout out to Black Plague Brewing which is celebrating its 6th Anniversary this weekend. If they have tickets left, you can find them here.
The Del Mar Wine and Food Fest was just announced, and in addition to the daily Grand Tasting, one spirits-related dinner caught my eye. Actors Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston are hosting a Dos Hombres Mezcal pairing dinner at The Lodge at Torrey Pines.
You may remember Bryan Cranston as the dentist on Seinfeld or as Malcom’s dad. In 2000, Aaron Paul was a contestant on the Price is Right. Check out https://delmar.wine/tickets/ for more events.