2005 | REGIONAL | WEST COAST
Oggi's Vista Pizza & Brewing Company
By Rich Link
San Diego County boasts more than 20 breweries and brewpubs.
Many of those breweries make award-winning beers, and their
brewers have become well-known throughout the industry. One
of San Diego County’s top new brewers is Jeff Bagby,
brewer at Oggi’s
Pizza & Brewing Company in Vista. Jeff’s beers
have won many awards in recent years, and I’ve erroneously
given credit to other brewers for some of those awards.
A graduate of U.C. Santa Barbara, Jeff was working at a local
YMCA when he took a part-time job as a truck driver with Stone
Brewing Company. He eventually began assisting Tomme Arthur
at Pizza Port Solana Beach, where he had a hand in helping
Arthur win Small Brewpub of the Year honors at the Great American
Beer Festival (GABF) in 2003. Even though my reporting errors
had taken some of the shine off of Jeff’s accomplishments,
he recently was gracious enough to spend some time with me
at the brewery and talk about his beers.
Oggi’s Vista is located in one of hundreds of small
strip malls along the bustling Highway 78 corridor between
Vista and San Marcos. I visited on a Thursday, and there was
a lively lunch crowd. The brewery is located behind the bar
and is visible through glass. As is standard at all Oggi’s,
sports is the décor, and televisions showing sports
are visible in every direction.
Although all Oggi’s locations serve the standard Oggi’s
list of beers, those locations with breweries also offer beers
unique to those locations. First I’ll discuss the standard
beers and then the beers that Jeff has developed. Jeff brought
to me samples of all of the beers he currently had on tap.
One of the more popular Oggi’s beers is California Gold,
a crisp, clean cream ale that is a great thirst-quencher on
a hot summer day. Sweet Spot Hefe is brewed to Bavarian hefeweizen
specifics and has a nice banana aroma and a surprisingly full
body. Jeff won a bronze medal for this beer at the 2003 GABF.
McGarvey’s Scottish Ale has tastes and aromas of dark
crystal and molasses with a rich mouthful but is not too filling,
weighing in at about 5.5% abv. Jeff’s version of Sunset
Amber won a gold medal at the 2004 World Beer Cup. This American
red ale showcases hops nicely in the aroma and also has a
citrus bite in the finish. Jeff uses Liberty, Amarillo and
Centennial hops in this beer. Paradise Pale Ale is very nicely
bittered with lots of Cascade hop pellets and is also dry-hopped
with Cascade flowers.
The Torrey Pines IPA is a classic West Coast IPA. Intense
hoppiness comes from heavy doses of Chinook, Columbus and
Centennial. Black Magic Stout is served on nitrogen only at
Oggi’s Vista. On nitro this beer is big and smooth with
lots of chocolate and roasty flavors and a lingering hop bitterness.
Now for the special beers that are brewed only at Oggi’s
Vista. Caber Tossed Wee Heavy is a big 8.5% abv Scotch ale.
It is very malty, with caramel flavors and aroma. This beer
won a silver medal at the 2004 World Beer Cup. Tan Line is
an English-style summer ale with a nutty malt aroma and balanced
bittering. At 4.5% abv, this would be a great session ale.
Harry Porter, an American brown porter, was served on nitrogen.
This beer was malty and a bit too hoppy for the style. However,
that has never bothered me too much.
Jeff is also a big fan of Belgian beers. Cinnabar, named
after his girlfriend’s horse, is a light (4.5% abv)
amber beer that is flavored with rose hips, honey, coriander
and cinnamon. It had a sweet, sodalike aroma and a slightly
phenolic taste that would fit in fine at any pub in Belgium.
Then came two big beers that were not yet on tap. Witch Doctor
Imperial Stout is very full-bodied, full of chocolate and
roast flavors. The original gravity on this beer was 1.092,
and it finished at 1.020. The beer was being conditioned and
was probably going to be released to the public that evening.
Jeff had also bottled some of this beer, and it should be
on sale at the pub when this issue is released. The second
big beer was Ding Ding IPA, a sample of which Jeff brought
me from the fermenter. Although fermentation was pretty much
complete, the beer was still quite murky and loaded with yeast.
It had intense hop bitterness that was well-matched by a big,
malty body. This should be a great one once it has clarified.
Hop Whompus, which won the gold medal in the Imperial or
Double Red Ale category at the 2004 GABF, was not available
for tasting. But I had had it a few weeks earlier at the Strong
Ale Festival in Carlsbad. It was, as the category demands,
a big, malty amber beer with a truckload of hop flavor and
aroma. Look for this one to come back again soon. Jeff’s
also thinking of brewing a strong golden Belgian-style ale,
as well as other new beers that I’m sure will be worthy.
There are seven Oggi’s locations in San Diego County.
In addition to the Vista store, there are breweries on premises
at the Mission Valley and Carmel Mountain Ranch locations.
Nonbrewing sites are stocked with beers brewed at Left Coast
Brewing, the corporate microbrewery located in San Clemente.
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425 S. Melrose Dr.
Vista, CA 92083
Rich Link is an associate editor of
the Celebrator Beer News. He lives in Santee, Calif., and
has been brewing beer at home since 1980. He can also be reached