The 33rd Degree

Lat_33_pano
Above the 33rd parallel in Vista, CA sits a small brewery among a backdrop of rolling brown hills, strip malls and industrial office parks called Latitude 33 Brewing Company. Seekers of this place have to know a little about the area to get there, methinks, but I found it ok and boy am I glad I did. Occupying the former home of Green Flash Brewing, the first thing I noticed was Irish music playing in the background (recorded, not live, unfortunately). This immediately got me in the spirit.

Lattitude 33 water towerThe entrance had a pool table, ringed with stools and a counter area. This led to the main brewery and tasting room. It was a very small, tidy space, but this only served to concentrate and enhance the working brewery atmosphere. The intoxicating smell of roasted barley and malts was thick in the air, which only got me more excited to get to the beer.

I decided to make my own sampler and started with the Straw Horse Wheat. This one poured a very clear pale yellow, with thin white head that left only a little lacing on the sides of the glass. Citrus, mainly lemon, aromas dominated the smell. The taste was very fresh and lemony, propped up with a malty backbone. Light carbonation helped give this one a light-medium mouthfeel. There really was not much else to this beer.

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Sampler lineup_wheat_strong_stout

Next, I sampled the Honey Hips strong ale. At 8.3% abv, I expected a boozy sipper. It poured a cloudy golden amber color with pale off-white head that did not stick around long. Sweet roasted barley came first on the smell with some spice afterward. True to this brew’s name, the taste was strong and boozy, but lots of malty sweetness helped to temper it. Medium carbonation and medium mouthfeel helped bring out some plum flavors and sugary malts after the booziness subsided a bit. It finished a little heavy and boozy, but enjoyable.

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Then I moved on to the bourbon barrel aged stout. This was an off-menu item when I was there and the bar tender just suggested it when I ordered their regular Breakfast Stout. Don’t tempt me with a good time… of course I had that instead! This beauty poured black, with thick tan head that really had some staying power. Even though it was like a thick cap on top, it still allowed the potent boozy aromas of the namesake bourbon through on the smell. Whiskey and sweet malts flooded my nose and it was wonderful. The taste was all whiskey up front. It was almost overwhelming, but then some sweet malty flavors came through, before the bourbon came back and lasted through the finish. This was a rather thick and boozy beer, but I definitely liked it.

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Lat33_bfast_stoutI was going to stop there, until a friend asked if I wanted another. Since I switched the Breakfast Stout out of my original order to accommodate the bourbon barrel stout, I considered it only a short while before enthusiastically agreeing.

This one poured thick and black, with tan head that stuck around about as long as that of the bourbon stout. It smelled sweet and malty, with a touch of vanilla. Being a “breakfast” stout, I expected some coffee aromas, but none materialized. After my surprise at how light this stout was subsided, I did not have to wait long, as it was all coffee flavor up front. Then some sweet vanilla came through, before the strong coffee came back through the middle of the drink, lasting through the finish alongside some moderate booziness. Lat33_bfast_stout_top

At 8.5% abv, I am not sure I would have this with breakfast, but good nonetheless.

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All in all, this is a great little brewery that makes some really tasty, if undynamic beers. I’ll definitely be looking them up in the future.

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