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Calendar >  San Diego Brewers Guild Host Rhythm & Brews in Historic Downtown Vista

San Diego Brewers Guild Host Rhythm & Brews in Historic Downtown Vista

By   /  May 19, 2016  /  No Comments


San Diego Brewers Guild Host Rhythm & Brews in Historic Downtown Vista


TR Robertson

TR Robertson

The 5th annual Vista Rhythm & Brews Festival was held Saturday, May 14th under overcast, but not rainy skies. Postponed for a month, due to the threat of thunder and lightning, a record crowd was ready for a brew and music festival. Some 1,453 paid attendees, as well as guests of many of the brewers, crowded onto the streets of E. Broadway & S. Citrus in downtown Historic Vista, sampling tastes from 55 craft brewers in attendance. Slight changes in the layout of the festival reflected the willingness of the event to accommodate Vista Businesses that would be most affected by street closures. Along with this, those attending enjoyed the music of three groups playing on the main stage as well as taking in other vendors and several food trucks offering tasty fare.

The mission of the San Diego Brewers Guild is “to promote awareness and increase the visibility of fresh, locally brewed beer through education and participation in community events.” The Guild sponsors two annual festivals, San Diego Beer Week in the fall and Rhythm & Brews in Vista. The Guild was founded in 1997 and is the 3rd largest guild in the United States. President Mike Sardina and President Emeritas Kevin Hopkins, of Mother Earth Brewery, support the Guilds challenges of promoting San Diego breweries and creating an open line of communication between brewers. Of the 121 craft breweries in San Diego County, according to West Coaster Brewhouse, 78 are members of the San Diego Brewers Guild.  San Diego is referred to as America’s Capital of Craft Beer Breweries. San Diego County pioneered Double India Pale Ale, known as San Diego Pale Ale. As North County breweries have grown in number, along the Highway 78 corridor, from Oceanside to Julian, this has become known as Hops Highway. There are over 31 breweries in North County; counting Oceanside, Carlsbad, Fallbrook, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido and Valley Center. There are an additional 2 breweries in Julian and 1 in Ramona.

Photos by Brian Robertson

As beer enthusiasts wandered the streets of Vista on Saturday, sampling a wide range of beers, you could feel the enthusiasm of the different brewers and as they were open to sharing their knowledge about craft beers and brewing. Each of the breweries at the festival offered beers they had specifically developed that represented the wide range of beer styles and flavors. These range from IPA’s to Belgian Ales, Brown Ales, Pale Ales, Sour Beers, Bitter Beers & Session Beers, Stouts, Lagers and Wheat Beers.

There were so many breweries in attendance it was impossible to sample beers from each one. With so many in attendance, each of the breweries had long lines waiting to taste different varieties they were offering. My son and I sampled beers from Fallbrook Brewery – a 3 year old brewery, Aztec Brewing – a Vista brewery that will be having a Bacon & Brews competition on Sat., June 4 from 1-9, Booze Brothers – also a Vista brewery that offers entertainment on the weekends, San Diego Brewing – we sampled Kombucha fermented tea, Duck Foot Brewery – a Miramar brewery offering Choco Nut Lust Porter, Thorn Street Brewery from North Park, Burning Beard Brewing Company from El Cajon, O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Company from San Diego, Alpine Beer Company – offering Orange Blossom Honey Ale, Bear Republic from Sonoma County, Monkey Paw from San Diego and Firestone Walker Brewing Company – opening a new location in Venice Beach, I first sampled their beer in San Yanez Valley. Many more brewers were available to sample, some I had visited last year or had purchased their beers before. These included Rip Current, Tool Box Brewing, Green Flash, Stone Brewing, Oggi’s, Pizza Port, Belching Beaver and many more. One of the longest lines was at the Bear Roots Brewing Company tent. Bear Roots is a new Vista brewery that offers classes in how to brew, brewing equipment to purchase and now a tasting room. One of the beers they were offering was Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout.

Along with the breweries in attendance, several other vendors drew the interest of those at the festival. Doggie Beer Bones offered dog treats as they specialized in all-natural dog treats made with malted barley from the brewing process. Owner David Crane works with local brewers creating packaged treats for their breweries; such as Stone Bones for Stone Brewing Company. So Rich! Chocolates offered chocolate treats they paired with different beer flavors. Boochcraft offered a wide variety of flavors of fermented teas; such as apple-lime-jasmine, turmeric-tangerine-ginger and grapefruit-hibiscus-heather. SD Bottle Works is a San Diego company that takes glass beer bottles and other alcohol bottles and turns them into vases and drinking glasses. Global Coffee Trading offered Nitro cold brewed coffee that is 67% less acidic than hot brewed coffee. The company will soon open a coffee house in Sorrento Valley. The company also sells their coffee to San Diego brewers to use in different beer flavors. One such brewery is Ballast Point Brewing.

There were several other vendors offering such items as t-shirts with craft breweries on them and Flip It Beer openers with sports teams logos on wall mounted bottle openers. Several agencies were there that used the craft beer industry to help raise funds in the fight against different diseases. Beer 4 Boobs raises funds to fight breast cancer and Beer to the Rescue works with local craft brewers to host fund raisers to raise money to support the Lupus Foundation of Southern California.

A large performance stage featured three acts providing music for the festival. The first band, Givers & Takers, were billed as a Psychedelic-Soul, Bliss-Rock band. Following them was My Own Holiday and finishing up the festival was Euphoria Brass Band. Another feature of the festival were sessions about the beer brewing process, referred to as Beer College. These classes were samples of the types of classes offered at UCSD and SDSU where you can get a Certificate in Brewing. The UCSD program takes about 2 years to complete, most classes are offered in the evenings and will run you around $5,500 for the course. The classes are taught by various CEO’s and brew masters from the San Diego area. The program is divided into three parts: learning the science and technology of brewing, the business of brewing and an internship in a local brewery.

It is hard to imagine how much the craft beer scene has grown in such a short period of time. The first commercial brewery in San Diego called the San Diego Brewery, appeared in 1868, Alonzo Horton was one of the founders. The first year it produced 200 barrels of beer. By 1897 it was producing 140,000 barrels of beer. In 1982, California legalized the brew pub and in 1987, Bolt Brewing opened. The rest, as they say, is beer history as the craft brewing industry has grown and grown, especially in North San Diego County. From the reactions of the people in attendance at Rhythm & Brews, the general consensus is these breweries are fun places to visit, fun places to take friends and a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday evening, or any other evening. One new trend, for many of the breweries, is the opening of restaurants along with the brewery. Belching Beaver is already a popular restaurant spot in downtown Vista and there are a number of breweries in San Diego County with great eateries associated with the brewery. At the R & B festival Slater’s 50/50 offered their 50/50 burger for sale and at the restaurant the waiters and waitresses will assist you in combining various beer flavors together for new tastes. One of my favorites is the Mother Earth Cali Creamin’ combined with the Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout – a great flavor. Experimentation and Combination are the new names of the game.

As the crowd grew throughout the afternoon, no one noticed the slightly overcast skies or complained about the month postponement of the festival. Everyone was simply glad the festival had returned to Vista. Even the long lines at the food trucks and the wait time didn’t seem to bother many, just the occasional “I wish there were more food trucks here so we could get back to the beer tents”. All in all, another successful event for downtown Historic Vista.


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