2575 Pioneer Ave #104, Vista, CA 92081
Barrel Harbor is one of the hidden gems along the 78 Hop Highway. Found in Vista it’s just a short hop from a dozen other breweries in the area, which makes it easy to stop by while visiting nearby.
Inside, Barrel Harbor has a clean aesthetic with tables built from barrels (naturally). Board games are available to borrow and the staff is super friendly. They are all very excited to talk about the beers on tap and answer questions that you have. It’s obvious that they take pride in their beers, and after a few tasters (or pints) it’s easy to understand why.
For the most part the taps tend towards the San Diego styles, with robustly hopped pale ales. Although recently they have begun to add more niche varieties like their Blunderbuss Belgian Strong Ale. It’s surprisingly drinkable at 9%+ with flavors of raisin and candy sugar that turns alchemically delicious with the dryness of the hops.
They offer a Red Ale with a hoppy and refreshing character named, appropriately enough, the Barrel Harbor Red Ale. It has a big flavor that, like the best of beers, manages a balance that makes it enjoyable drinking.
The standout is their Black IPA. The dark malts create character and give manage to balance the robust bitter of the simcoe hops. Make no mistake – this is a full flavored beer. But the malt gives it a smooth character that makes it exceptionally drinkable. I would go so far as to say that Barrel Harbor’s Black IPA is possibly one of the best takes on the style I’ve ever had.
A few times a week they will also have catering and food trucks, and the occasional musician to provide the appropriate ambiance for your drinking. A calendar is available on their website: http://barrelharborbrewing.com/
At Barrel Harbor most of the tasters run in the $2.00 – $3.00 range, and they have the collection of wearables and glassware available, along with growler fill ups.
-Posted written by Eric Carr