Mother Earth Brew Co. Tasting Room, Vista
Mother Earth Brew Co. was already one of my favorite San Diego breweries before I even walked into their tasting room on Main Street in Vista. (The production brewery and accompanying tasting room are just 3.6 miles away.) After visiting Mother Earth, it might now be my very favorite San Diego brewery; it is certainly in the top two.
Mother Earth's Cali' Creamin' Cream Ale is a revelation--it is flat out one of the best beers I've had. I tried a pint for the first time a couple of months ago at Tribute Pizza in North Park and wrote this on Untappd:
Cali' Creamin' (Cream Ale, 5% ABV). Amazing. Cream soda notes, creamy mouthfeel, smooth, balanced, nice bready malts, golden with a thick white head. So perfect that Sarah stole my pint. I got another. 4.5/5
And later I had this in a bomber at home:
Sin Tax Imperial Stout (Coffee Chocolate Imperial Stout, 8% ABV). Excellent: Deep, roasty, flavorful, smooth. 4.25/5
So I made a point of not having either of those beers when I visited their the Mother Earth tasting room on Main Street in Vista. A standard flight at Mother Earth is six 4oz pours (they seem bigger, actually) but I knew I was going to a couple of other breweries later so I only had four. They were all good; in fact, three were excellent.
Hop Jitters (Coffee Imperial IPA, 8.2% ABV). A strong aroma of coffee that is somewhat muted on the palate. What stands out is something like hot peppers. I'm not sure that's supposed to be there, but overall it is not bad. 3.25/5
Those were my notes while drinking. The beer board just described it as a coffee IPA. Later I read the commercial description: Hop Jitters is a collab beer with Automatic Brewing (housed at Blind Lady Ale House; from my review of Automatic, you can tell I'm not a huge fan), and the brewer notes on Untappd say, "With big bitterness, whole hop flavor and a tantalizing aroma (thanks to a secret dry-hopping regiment), it’ll be up to you to determine that certain 'je ne sais quoi.'." Well, no, I do know what: it is chili peppers. Note to brewers: That's probably not the best thing to surprise people with. (And I think they meant "regimen"--though a black ops army division made up of brewers specializing in commando dry-hopping would really be something!)
All was forgiven with my next taster:
End of Summer Beer (ESB, 5.4% ABV). This starts out being just fine…but by the end of the sip you are in love. This is a nearly a perfect ESB (according to me). 4.25/5
Renown Brown (American Brown Ale, 6% ABV). This was a malty, toasty, full-flavored brown. 4/5
Fallen Angel (American Imperial Stout, 8.1%). Rich, deep, chocolate malt, boozy, raisin on the finish. Quite delicious. 4/5
Just to point out the obvious, that's three out of four beers at or above 4/5, with two more Mother Earth beers from other occasions at 4.25/5 and above. I can't think of another brewery whose beers I have found so consistently excellent. Even Mike Hess Brewing, which until today I would have without hesitation called my favorite San Diego brewery, might not be quite that good. (Mike Hess' slogan is, "Great beer, no excuses." I saw a sticker on the wall at Mother Earth that said, "No crap on tap." Maybe the key to a good brewery is a snappy, no-nonsense slogan that emphasizes quality.)
The tasting room is large, well done, with loads of light and air. There is a good quantity and variety of seating, including seats in the open front wall that approximates a patio. The area behind the bar is probably too large, but the room is big enough that it doesn't matter much. Service was fine (though I noticed that regulars were treated a little better--I suppose that's just human nature, but it isn't great customer service). You can bring in outside food, and the excellent URBN pizza right across the street will hand deliver a pie if you go over there to order it. (The pizza is amazingly good, for the record.) Taster flights are served in a wire rack (careful, they are a little unbalanced and unwieldy if they are not full).
Mother Earth forms one end of an "L" with Wavelength Brewing in the middle and Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill anchoring the other end. That makes for a very high density of breweries in this little area, and an easy three-stop beer tour. Vista's Main Street is a little "sleepy" but it has some interesting restaurants, shops, a distillery, and a playhouse. I recommend checking it out.
I look forward to coming back to Mother Earth to enjoy a full evening of sampling their wares. Speaking of wares, Mother Earth is collaborating with Brother's Provisions to open a shop next door called Mother's Provisions. This continues a steady growth trajectory for this family-owned company. In 2016, Mother Earth opened a second production facility in Idaho to help expand their market. To the rest of the US, I say: lucky, lucky you. But we had it first in San Diego.
www.motherearthbrewco.com 206 Main Street, Vista, CA 92084