San Diego breweries and bands pair up

Vista's rock scene goes with craft beer

The band Loom performs at the Booze Brothers tasting room in Vista.
  • The band Loom performs at the Booze Brothers tasting room in Vista.
  • Image by James Tyler Stewart

Hangovers aside, the proliferation of craft beer in San Diego has made little impact on its local rock scene. But for some areas of the county, breweries hosting live shows have established music venues in communities where traditional venues are lacking.

One such community is Vista, where Booze Brothers Brewing Co. hosts live music on its back patio most Friday nights. General Manager Kris Anacleto says aside from occasional shows hosted by a local recording studio, there aren't a lot of in-town options for amplified music, adding, "Outside of that you kind of have to head out to Oceanside."

The band Taken By Canadians performs at the Booze Brothers tasting room.

The band Taken By Canadians performs at the Booze Brothers tasting room.

Vista currently only allows Booze Brothers to host live music once a week. It might not even be that much but for the efforts of Aztec Brewing Company partner and tasting room manager Tristan Faulk-Webster. He says playing there with his band Taken By Canadians, and hosting others, was his plan early on — but the city had to be convinced.

"When we first opened in 2011," he says, "it was established that we could have live music with special event permits four times per year." As he pushed for approval to increase frequency, he says, "We were given an acoustic only license. No amps whatsoever." In time Aztec was given permission to host amplified bands, provided they didn't exceed three players. Later that number went up to four.

"In early 2015," Faulk-Webster continues, "I took over the Vista Brewer’s Guild as president and met with both the City and Chamber of Commerce to convince them that giving us the ability to have a greater number of band members would have a positive effect on our community both socially and economically. Soon after we were finally given the ability to book full bands in all of the Business Park Breweries in Vista."

Breweries benefit by attracting customers, but bands are starting to catch on to the idea of finding new fans. "There are plenty of musical acts that kind of go brewery to brewery," says Anacleto. While he tries to book unique Americana acts for Booze Brothers, one psychedelic group has proven reliable. "Ocelot has a good following," he says, "and they have a pretty good turnout in our tasting room."

"I have had many bands/performers embracing the idea of breweries as venues," says Scott Clayton, a booking agent who books several North County venues with his company On Point Promotions. "Just as brewing beer is an art and craft so is the music. So we feel it pairs well."

Music and beer pairings may sound ridiculous, but it's happening. Clayton produced an event at Aztec, pairing the brewer's Macaroon Nut Brown ale with island music. Meanwhile, the March 18 edition of Mike Hess Brewing's monthly music night in Miramar will feature a local band called Splavender, satirically pairing songs to a curated taster flight of Hess beers. "A fruity wheat beer will go with an easy, catchy pop song," says Splavendar musician Danny Ellis, "a double IPA pairs with a break-up song, because it's kind of bitter."

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Another indication that most of these breweries are essentially operating beer bars rather than "tasting rooms". I've even experienced being asked to pay a cover charge just to enter a certain brewery in Carlsbad due to a band playing. I laughed at the door guy and proceeded to the next brewery a stones throw away. I love craft beer and I love live music, but in my opinion the lines have gotten a bit blurry between what type of business some of these breweries truly are.

What a crock. Lines blurred? This is the kind of narrow minded perspective that turned the music biz into a focus group distorted segmented business that killed creativity and innovation. These indie breweries are encouraging local music and that's something we should all embrace.

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