How they drink beer on the other side of the county

An overdue visit to Legacy Brewing Co.

Games, motorcycles, artwork, music, and more for the Oceanside community at Legacy Brewing
  • Games, motorcycles, artwork, music, and more for the Oceanside community at Legacy Brewing

It’s my first time passing through the doors of Legacy Brewing Co., and I’m not sure what to expect. The place has been here five years this fall, but. I count about forty miles and a hundred breweries between my house and its Highway 76 location, out near the Mission San Luis Rey. Why make the special effort to go to Oceanside, I figured, when Legacy operates a taproom and lunch counter in much closer Miramar?

A tattoo art-like bald eagle mural

A tattoo art-like bald eagle mural

But there’s a lot to like. Though I know it’s a brewery, it takes me a few minutes to locate any brewing equipment; there’s too much else to see. A Harley motorcycle sits parked near the entrance, beside a wall packed with patriotic artwork and painted skateboard decks, and a pro-style audio console to mix sound for a small stage set up across the room. There’s a small section of upholstered seating, several high top tables, a long bar, and a drinking patio. Games are scattered throughout, including giant Jenga and giant Connect Four.

The space has evolved into something welcoming and engaging.

The space has evolved into something welcoming and engaging.

Oh, there’s the small brewhouse, tucked so unobtrusively in the back. Looking at old photos, I can tell the place didn’t look this great when it first opened, and that the work put into it has furnished a far more polished and welcoming space. While I settle right in to start poring over the beer menu, a new customer walks in, bellies up to the bar and, thinking the place a regular bar, orders a Coors Light.

Happens often, says the beertender, pointing to a beer menu that covers a gamut of styles, from a light Helles lager to a darkly rich Russian imperial stout.

It’s more than I expected. Most of my encounters with Legacy brews have involved its flagships, That Guava Beer or Hellfire IPA, which have proven popular enough that Legacy has gone ahead and made a Hellacious Guava IPA to bridge the gap between them.

I’ve found Hellfire and Guava Beer in good beer shops, and had assumed they were the extent of Legacy’s packaged offerings. However, there are more than a half dozen different canned six-packs behind the bar, including all the aforementioned, a pilsner, and even a scotch ale. Why haven’t I seen these downtown? I have to wonder. Maybe those 40 miles between me and Legacy are a tough trek for beer cans as well.

Then it hits me, and I look around. Where are the beer geeks? I haven’t found the usual San Diego beer crowd here, though I have found a few Legacy regulars. Members of Legacy’s “founding fathers club,” they drink from 20-ounce glass mugs kept in special cubby holes behind the bar, marked with their names. Several roll in and out while I drink. One even has a couple of kids in tow, who know exactly where the games are kept.

Legacy Brewing Co.

363 Airport Road, Oceanside

The people drinking at Legacy aren’t your average hipster beer nerds, sniffing their beers (as I am), and updating their social drinking apps. Everything happening here caters to the needs of people who live up here, far from the North Parks of the world. The brewery attracts Marines stationed at neighboring Camp Pendleton. It hosts classic car shows in the parking lot, and events offroaders or bikers. Every Tuesday night is tacos and open mic. Friday nights offer live music, and Sunday afternoons there’s a regular reggae event through the summer. This is one very Oceanside place.

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