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Belching Beaver Hospitality Director and Sommelier Ralph Lizarraga in the wine vault at the Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill in Vista. Courtesy photo
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Belching Beaver builds beer, wine togetherness

Belching Beaver is one of the leading craft beers in San Diego County. Sure I know, the area is loaded with crazy stories from the over 130 breweries in this region, some beer is garage made, others are billion dollar businesses.

At least 115 wineries operate in the county. Neither wine or beer are treated equally at drinking and eating establishments … until now. Belching Beaver has been a little different in its fast-growing history.

Their motto … DAM GOOD TIMES!

Hospitality Director and Wine Sommelier Ralph Lizarraga and I talked about how the name Belching Beaver came to be.

“Well, I wasn’t there but the owners had a marathon drinking meeting over a name for this incredibly good beer,” he recalled. My guess is they chewed on it for hours, finally said they felt like belching beavers, and it was a done deal. They are now in nine states and five countries, and locally they have five tasting locations and a production brew house in Oceanside. Lizarraga went on that “the beaver shows up in just about everything we do and offer, from small bites to large dinners and he’s always grinnin’ and laughin’ like he’s havin’ a good time.”

An upscale Ribeye steak serves guests from the new grill dining space at the Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill in Vista. Courtesy photo

The beer list never stops flowing from digitized taps that change daily. There are 66 taps in the Tavern & Grill, including 34 “Beavers” and the rest other brands.

Beaver names you’ll want to try include Peanut Butter Milk Stout, Here Comes Mango and Phantom Bride.

From burgers and Belching Beaver beer in the bar area, to comfy booths, decorative flame décor, and an executive chef with upscale entrees and lots of quality wine to pair, the grill side of Belching Beer Tavern & Grill will impress you.

Chef Romiro Guerra gave us a quick tour of the menu. His top rated appetizer is the Fried Cauliflower, locally grown and organic. His Chef’s Special was the Bone-in Ribeye, fire gilled with potato and vegetable, blue cheese crust and house-made steak sauce.

I paired it with one of their Cab beauties from Sonoma, a 2014 Stonestreet, on a commanding elevation in the Alexander Valley.

Thanks to Lizarraga, his quality wine selections have earned the restaurant a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

One more kudo… on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, guitarist Jimmy Patton, none better in the area, plays guitar for diners inside and on the outside patio.  See more at

Ramona wines score well at eighth annual competition

Congratulations to 10 of the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association members on their award winning wines, in competition in nearby San Diego’s Toast of the Coast County Fair competition. I was one of the founding judges in the first year of this event.

Ramona is one of the few districts in Southern California where there is a trail of over 40 wineries for a day’s worth of premium wine tasting. Significant victories went to Woof’nRose for Best Cabernet Franc and Best of Ramona Valley AVA.

The judges tasted 820 wines from the 135 wineries including wines from Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Paso Robles.

Other Gold winners from Ramona included Eagles Nest Winery for its Picpoul Blanc white dessert wine and Speckle Creek for their 2017 Falanghina. For more about the competition and the 2019 County Fair, go to

Wine Bytes

  • WineSellar and Brasserie in Sorrento Valley San Diego presents a Famille Perrin Wine Dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. May 11.  This is a nice Mother’s Day family celebration with wine from France’s Chateau Beaucastel from the Rhone Valley. Cost is $109 each. Club members pay $99. Call today at (858) 450-9557.
  • Country Line Dancing and wine sipping highlights from 7 to 8:30 p.m. May 11 at La Fleur’s Winery in San Marcos. No cover charge. Wine, cheese and crackers available for sale. Info at (760) 315-8053.
  • A spectacular Brunch is being served for Mother’s Day Sun. May 12 at 20/Twenty Grill in Carlsbad from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Start out with a chilled glass of rosé then the made-to-order omelet station and much more, all prepared by Executive Chef Julian Quinones.  Pricing is $85 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under. RSVP today at (760) 827-2500 or by visiting
  • PAON Restaurant & Wine Bar in Carlsbad has a Scott Palazzo Napa Valley wine dinner, from 5:45 to 9 p.m. May 22. The food selections will be perfectly matched to the wines.  Cost is $150, with club members will paying a discounted $120. Call for more info at (760) 729-7377 or check it out at
  • The San Diego County Vintners Association is holding its annual Wine Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. May 18 at Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead in Escondido. Dozens of San Diego County’s finest wines will be poured with unlimited tasting. Also enjoy a silent auction, live music and exhibits. Many of these wineries have lately been award winners in international competitions. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased through