Bear Roots Brewing Co., Vista
I really had no idea what to expect when I pulled up to Bear Roots. From the first impression to the last, though, it was consistently good. They made a new fan.
The Bear Roots delivery van was parked out front; I took it as a good sign that they spent some effort making it look good. There was a food truck, too, which is also always a positive, too.
The interior is smaller than a lot of tasting rooms, but it is well done. The large windows facing the street bring in plenty of light, and the woods everywhere create a pleasant and comfortable environment. A significant portion of the floor space is devoted to the second part of this business, being a homebrew supply shop.
I had to wedge myself into the last available seat at the bar--apparently, it is a popular place with locals. In sharp contrast to the unfriendly reception I had just had at Port Brewing/Lost Abbey, this was my first interaction at Bear Roots:
[bartender, with a big smile] "Hi, how are you? My name is Larry." [shakes my hand]
That's definitely above-and-beyond friendly, and the excellent service continued from there. Larry and the other folks behind the bar were not just friendly but also knowledgeable and eager to talk about the beer. The chatty/friendly attitude was also true of the patrons. This would be a great place to be a regular.
The beer was excellent. I've had Karl Strauss Peanut Butter Cup porter, Mother Earth's Sin-Tax Peanut Butter Stout, and Belching Beaver's Peanut Butter Milk Stout. They are all good (listed in order of increasing preference for me). But Bear Roots' Bear Cookie Peanut Butter Milk Stout is unquestionably the best of all of them. That makes it the best in San Diego, and I'd be very surprised if there is a better one anywhere.
Bear Cookie (Peanut Butter Milk Stout, 6.4% ABV). Plainly, wow. Far and away the best peanut butter stout in San Diego. The biscuity backbone makes it. There is sweetness, but it is never cloying or too strong. This beer should be nationally known. 4.5/5
Just to emphasize how good I think this is, on Untappd I have only rated three beers higher than 4.5, and only 37 (out of 1006 unique beers logged) at 4.5. That means this beer is in the top 4% of beers I have ever tasted.
Rooted in Nelson (IPA, 7.6% ABV). Unusual and unusually good. There's something almost "meaty" about the main flavor, I can't figure it out. 3.5/5
Latham Red (Raspberry IPA, 8% ABV). Raspberries lend ummami, slight vinegar note, really quite tasty. Again, I find it hard to identify the components but it works. 3.75/5
Edinburgh Pale (Pale Ale, 5.8% ABV). I got to chatting with a neighbor and didn't take notes on this one. I did rate it, though: 3.25/5
Ye Old Faithful (Barrel aged imperial stout, 12.5% ABV). Boozy. Undernote reminds me of the wonderful Bear Cookie stout but BOOZY. 3.25/5
For beer and atmosphere, Bear Roots is a place to seek out.
http://bearrootsbrewing.com/ 1213 S Santa Fe Ave., Vista, CA 92083