What could be more fun for a beer lover than to be able to sample the offerings of award-winning breweries? The perfect answer is on the Hops Highway in the northern end of what locals call the North County between Oceanside and Escondido, home to over 120 microbreweries.
Here are just a few of the unique breweries, some of which are also brew pubs and serve excellent food.
Belching Beaver Brewery Tavern and Grill
Opened recently in Vista, there is a mesmerizing strip of “fire”, which is actually LED lights and steam. Unusual is Peanut Butter Milk Stout with the taste of peanuts and chocolate or Pumpkin Spice Milk Stout with pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon!
Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey
These are twin siblings in San Marcos with Belgian Lost Abbey and the West Coast-centric Port Brewing. This fun party atmosphere place has walls covered with ornamentation and art that evokes the feel of a Belgian abbey. Judgment Day is a malty and strong dark ale, 10 Commandments is a farmhouse-style dark brew, and Red Barn Ale has ginger and orange peel.
Mason Ale Works
In Oceanside, this is the in-house brewery of Whiskey Bank and Urge Gastropub. The large selection of craft beers, wine, cocktails, and whiskeys is in a festive and upbeat rustic room. Food includes blue cheese sliders and a short rib burger. The Imperial Coffee Stout tastes like strong java. The Gose Be Trippin’ has mango, and the Mahalo Nui Loa has Hawaiian pineapple juice.