Aztec Brewing Company, Vista
We were thinking about heading home after two somewhat disappointing brewery visits in Vista (Mother Earth's main brewery, and Indian Joe Brewing) but decided to stick it out and try one more. We were glad we did!
From the outside, Aztec Brewing is just another commercial space with an open garage door. There's not much signage. Inside, from the look there's also not much to tell you this place is different from a run-of-the-mill brewery: old tables, plastic folding chairs (albeit nice ones), nearly non-existent interior design and not much in the way of decoration.
But then, once you start interacting with the owners, it begins to feel like a whole new world. First of all, they are kind and welcoming. Just chatting with them for a few minutes makes you feel like you are part of the family. They are eager to talk about beer, and they stop to check on you as you are enjoying their wares. I can't remember that happening at any other brewery in San Diego, certainly not when I was not sitting at the bar. And it wasn't just an insincere, pro-forma query, either: they were truly interested in honest feedback.
That attitude may be one contributing factor in why they make such good beer, and why they've survived six years in business. The beer is not just good, it is very good, and they have a bouquet of ribbons on the wall to prove it: Three golds, two silvers and a bronze from a bunch of serious competitions, and across a wide range of styles, too.
They were pouring 14 beers during our visit. I had a flight of four, but apparently I forgot to log the Aztec Amber (which is classed as an altbier, 6.2% ABV)--I remember liking it but I don't have a rating or description!
Sacrifice Red IPA (7.6% ABV). Smooth, malty, hops tending tropical/almost candy on the palate. A little pine on nose, a little earthy on the end. 3.75/5
Macaroon Nut Brown (Brown Ale, 5.5% ABV). Smooth, toasted malts, nutty, pretty strong coconut flavor. 3.75/5
Macaroon Nut Brown on Nitro (Brown Ale, 5.5% ABV). The nitro dials back the flavors a bit. It seems more sweet, and unsurprisingly has thicker mouthfeel. It’s a toss-up which version you'll prefer. 3.5/5
Aztec is open seven days a week, and they host various kinds of crowd-pleasing events such as open mics on Thursdays, bands on Fridays and Saturdays, and vinyl records on Sundays. See their website for the full calendar of events. If you are curious about the name, they revived a Prohibition-era brand and the history of that is on their website, too.
http://www.aztecbrewery.com/ 2330 La Mirada Dr. Suite 300, Vista CA 92081