Those who have spent any time in North County have marveled at the transformation of South Oceanside over the years. In its recent history, it has become a destination for foodies, coffee aficionados, and beer lovers as well cyclists, surfers and tourists from everywhere.
In January, South O increased its must-visit destinations with the addition of Heritage BBQ and Beer Company. And while the venue is new, the man behind the scenes in the brewery is not a new member of the community. Mike Aubuchon grew up in Carlsbad and was the head brewer for Pizza Port for over a decade. His wife, AJ, is the general manager and runs a tight, but fun, ship.
I’ll leave it to my esteemed colleague, David Boylan, to cover the food at Heritage. My ability to critique and appreciate food is somewhat like Christine Porter’s famous quotation regarding art: “I don’t know much…, but I know what I like.” I’ll stick to my expertise: beer. And Aubuchon is offering a variety of styles from hoppy favorites to traditional lagers and pilsners.
Aubuchon has taken his time to figure out his new system and dial in beers which pair with the Heritage bbq offerings. I had a chance to sit down with Aubuchon and hear about what he’s got brewing.
Cheers!: Tell me a little about your brewing philosophy and what you’re creating and serving here at Heritage.
Aubuchon: I am brewing approachable beers that pair well with barbeque. Lagers, IPAs and easing my way into some stouts as I figure out the system here.
Cheers!: Any tricks to this new brewing setup?
Aubuchon: I was at Pizza Port from 2007 until about 4 months ago and I had that system wired, so I thought it would be easier coming here to this newer system. But there was definitely a learning curve.
Cheers!: Well, you’ve got it figured out now. What is this we’re drinking?
Aubuchon: This is So Special, our Japanese lager. Real simple, two row, premium pils, and some Japanese rice from Kyoto.
Cheers!: And what differentiates this lager from other lagers?
Aubuchon: The key is the sweeter rice characteristic, and I try to make it a lot dryer by mashing it at a lower temperature. I filter it to make it really clear and really crisp.
Cheers!: It is delicious. Let’s try another beer.
Aubuchon: This is the Czech Pils. I really like the earthy notes and spiciness from the hops. It gives you that dry finish that compliments the food.
Cheers!: Where did this inspiration for pilsners and lagers come from? Aubuchon: From the source! It took me a really long time to develop relationships with friends in Germany. I made four trips. Shout out to my friend Sebastian at Freigeist Bierkulture for showing me around and teaching me about how to properly brew the traditional styles.
Cheers!: What else is being served at the bar?
Aubuchon: Besides the beers, I am making a base seltzer for our seltzer drinks. We have a mixed cocktail program. We have a really good wine list. So a great variety if you come in with your spouse or friends, there’s something for everyone.
Cheers!: You’re hands on with the BBQ as well?
Aubuchon: I still get to do some cooking. I am smoking some brisket and beef ribs for tomorrow night’s special.
Cheers!: Are there some crossover skills between brewing beer and barbequing?
Aubuchon: Yes, I’d say attention to detail and not taking shortcuts. Everyone’s using the same ingredients, so are you going to take the extra time to get it just right? You’ve got to make sure things are right in the details, that’s huge.
Cheers! What’s the reception been like in South O?
Aubuchon: The reception has been really good. It’s been extremely busy. Being busy is good.
Cheers: I am not leaving here without a meal. What should I order and what should I pair it with?
Aubuchon: The burger or the smoked turkey club paired with the Stones and Glass Houses Collab IPA.
Cheers!: Thanks for sharing your time, expertise and beer with me!
On Aubuchon’s recommendation, I ordered the turkey club and the IPA. It was a classic West Coast IPA with a dry finish. Podcast co-host, Jeff Riccitelli, ordered the burger with the Helles Lager. Everything was delicious.
Heritage BBQ and Beer Company is located at 2002 S. Coast Highway and is open 7 days a week.