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Craft Beer in North County: Getting brewing down to a science

Wavelength Brewing Co., one of five (soon to be six) breweries and tasting rooms in Downtown Vista, celebrated its fourth anniversary on Saturday, March 23.

I dropped by in the mid-afternoon and the place was almost completely full of fans of the brewery.

Unlike many brewery tasting rooms that are sited in industrial spaces, Wavelength is in one of the quirky old shops along Main Street.

The interior is decorated with astronomy, rocketry and science fiction memorabilia.

They have a large skylight that brings in beautiful light during the day, and a serious set of stage lights for nighttime events. One of the signs out front says, “Craft Science”; their clever slogan is “So Good It Hz.”

Wavelength owner Hans Haas.
Photo by Bill Vanderburgh

That combination of science outreach, a comfortable atmosphere, and geeky fun means that the crowd is different than what you typically find at many breweries, too.

Wavelength fans seem to be diverse in gender, age, and background, all brought together by a love of beer and science.

You still see a lot of beards, but some of them are on old professors instead of hipsters.

As Hans Haas, owner and now brewer, puts it on his website, “No science, no beer.” From microbiology to chemistry to thermodynamics, the science of beer is deep and interesting. And tasty.

While Wavelength Brewing admits they had some beer quality issues early in their existence, they have made serious — and successful — efforts to improve.

Last year, Wavelength installed a better and larger brewing system, too. Haas worked with and learned from several local experts, and the beer recipes are now “dialed in,” as they say in the beer world. 

I can confirm that the six beers in the flight I sampled on my visit were all good. Some, like the Stage IV Double IPA which was brewed to celebrate the fourth anniversary, were very good.

Stage IV has floral and tropical fruit aromas, a soft and sweet mouthfeel, and loads of flavor. Although it comes across as a little boozy at 10 percent ABV, overall it is well-balanced and finishes clean. It is the best Wavelength beer of the 10 I’ve tried over the last couple of years, and it puts them “up there” with other quality breweries across the region.

I also especially enjoyed The Missing Link, a biscuity amber ale. It pours a slightly cloudy golden-amber color and its foamy head laces the glass, leaving ring marks with every sip.

Missing Link seemed to be carbonated a bit more than typical, which was good because the sharpness from the carbonation complemented the hop bitterness on the finish.

I would have happily drunk several of these had I planned to take a rideshare home.

Haas also has one of the best sound systems around. One upcoming opportunity to hear it in action is the “80s vs. 90s Dance Off” scheduled for Saturday, April 20.

If you go, you should dress in period-appropriate clothing and hair: There will be a costume contest. The $10 cover charge for that event includes a taster of beer and an entry into the door prize drawing.

It is definitely worth a visit to Wavelength, especially for one of their public Friday Night Science Talks. If the skies are clear on those nights, they set up telescopes out front so that you can view the moon, planets and stars.

Bill Vanderburgh’s blog, CraftBeerInSanDiego.com, won the 2018 BrewDog Beer Blogger award. He has been to over 200 breweries and tasting rooms in San Diego County. Send news, tips and announcements about North County beer happenings to bill@craftbeerinsandiego.com.

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