- Photo by Ian Cheesman
If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: The problem with most San Diego beer joints is that they never have enough fair-trade duck salami and ethically sourced applewood-smoked pink Himalayan sea salt available. But now, thanks to Brothers Provisions, I'm no longer forced to settle.
At first blush, Brothers Provisions (16451 Bernardo Center Drive) seems like a curious amalgamation of consumer experiences. It's a café, a deli, a bar, a boutique grocery store and a bottle shop all in one. I'm wagering that by this time next year, they'll also be doing tax preparations and selling waterbeds. The thing is, they manage to pull it all off without a hint of confusion or even crowding the space. They're just trying to share a little bit of life's best with Rancho Bernardo.
That's not to say that everything has run 100-percent smoothly for Brothers Provisions. The Man has been putting the kibosh on bottle sales due to some licensing technicalities, even though the place has a license to serve craft brew from its 15 tap lines. The owners are hopeful that snag will be resolved in a couple of months. In the meantime, you may certainly peruse the sizable wall of beer selections and purchase away, provided you're ready to kill it while on the premises. Challenge accepted, Bureaucracy.
That hiccup aside, this place really is something of a gem for craft-brew lovers. The taps are appointed with an excellent blend of regional and international goodies, occasionally offering some relatively rare stuff. At the time of this writing, Brothers was carrying everything from a Hofbrau Dunkel to "Oskar The G'Rauch," an Oskar Blues collaboration ale that I hadn't even heard of prior to seeing it scrawled over the tap lines. Between that and its enticing beer events, such as the Ancient Ales and Ancient Cheese tasting coming up on Aug. 14, it's a legit craft-brew destination.
I didn't sample a wide variety of items from the artisan café menu, but I can't imagine them besting the Lonza Pork sandwich. It's a blessed union of pork loin, spicy apple jam, caramelized onions and aged white cheddar on a pretzel bun. Three out of three members of my group wanted it (thereby ruining my plan to covertly sample the menu), and all were thoroughly satisfied. It's a stunning example of classic flavor profiles being elevated by quality ingredients.
My favorite aspect of Brothers Provisions is its indirect support for the lesser-recognized consumer niche of closeted foodies. It's a safe haven for anyone concerned with being caught squealing in delight when happening upon rosemary-and-mint-infused dark chocolates. Should any judging eyes happen by, the excuse of only stopping in for a pint is readymade. This has been a huge burden lifted off my friend's shoulders, who is completely masculine in every other respect, I swear it.
My only real gripe with Brothers Provisions was its colossal misstep in not calling itself "Brovisions" instead. Sure, it sounds more like a place where you'd buy hair gel and Axe body spray, but it's way catchier, right? Right?