Last July, San Marcos welcomed new brewpub My Yard Live. I had heard that the concept was supposed to mimic a house party. Band playing in the yard, beer on tap and fun for all. I’m probably going to stop listening to those people because this was not the vibe I felt at all.
Walking into MYL, the first thing you notice is how big the space is. There are so many different places to sit, you kind of don’t know which direction to go. Because I was meeting my brother on a Sunday night during football season, there was sports ball on all the TVs and groups had gathered to watch throughout the more than 15,000 square feet of property.
I found myself confused with how to navigate the space. There were employees rushing all around but in different directions. There was no host or greeting to guide or seat me, which is definitely not a requirement—I know my way around a bar—but with so many places to be seated and multiple lines forming in different areas, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be. Kids screamed as they played arcade and other table/skill games in an area to my left. Lines were forming at a counter in front of the kitchen, but a line also formed across from that at the bar, though nobody was really sitting at the bar. Long grouped, picnic-style tables in one area were claimed by a large birthday party. Couches in an adjacent area had another birthday party corralled to watch a Chargers game. A band was setting up outside. Great! Pretty much all live music is good music (save an elementary woodwind recital), so I was looking forward to enjoying that over the football everyone else was concerned with.
It was too chilly to sit outside so I opted for a seat at the bar, because, duh, I love bars. Plus, it usually puts you in the cat-bird seat for surveillance of the room and directly in front of the taps. After all, I’m here for the beer, and people watching just might be my favorite sport. If you are not sitting at the bar, I learned that you have to wait in the two lines for alcohol or food; while a seat at the bar means you can order both directly from the bartender. As I watched a mom with three children younger than 5 first try to navigate the food line, then the self-serve drink fountain, and finally get them all back to their table with only a minor tantrum that Tyler could not go play the claw machine, I decided I had chosen my seat wisely.
What Filter?, a collaboration zwickelbier with Artifex Brewing Company (San Clemente), was my first choice off the taps. Mainly because zwickels are fairly uncommon but also because I enjoy Artifex beer, this felt like a safe start. At a time when people are acutely aware of fresh, hazy beer, it surprises me that zwickelbiers haven’t gained popularity. Their unfiltered, classic German-style lager is refreshing and sessionable at 5.2% abv (alcohol by volume). My only concern would be that this style is best consumed as fresh as possible, and I wonder how big of a batch they made for this collab or how many times they’ve brewed it since, if it is still on tap months later. I did not ask this question while I was there, but it’s definitely worth an ask to any brewery.
My Yard Lite, an American light lager, was up next. At 3.5% abv, well, it tasted like that. A little too light for me. If you think hops are too spicy, then this is the beer for you. A step up from that, with a little more flavor, is their pilsner, Pool Noodle. I get it. You’re supposed to drink this one on a hot day, in the pool. I like jokes.
Noise Complaint was more my speed. An American IPA at 7.2%, it’s clean and hoppy. This beer wants to be a West Coast IPA really bad, but it falls just a little short in brightness and carries more of a malt base than my ideal IPA. It’s still a decent enough beer, though. And coincidentally, I found myself wanting to file a noise complaint once the band started. It still surprises me that Sublime is relevant, I guess.
The only other house, single IPA they had on tap while I was there was a collaboration with Chula Vista Brewing called SD Steel Toes. Another middle-of-the-road beer for me. I find my palate enjoys a brighter, more crisp IPA, though there was nothing technically imperfect with their recipe.
Sandwiched in between all the beer sampling and ’90s ska-punk cheesing up my ear holes, I should mention that I had a few bites of food. I munched on some kettle chips while I waited for my brother to arrive. They were inconsistent in crunch and almost made me think they were fried twice, but they weren’t hot or warm so maybe they were just stale. It happens. When my brother arrived, we had the Buffalo chicken salad and the grilled chicken sandwich. The heat in the salad paired nicely with the beer, but I found myself pushing the generously topped bleu cheese aside. The chicken sandwich was unfortunately undercooked and had to be sent back. Again, things happen. In retrospect, maybe we should have just ordered the hot dog on a busy night. Their menu is huge, with almost 50 different items ranging from jambalaya to smoked ribs and brisket, clam chowder, chili and a large variety of burgers, sandwiches and salads. I certainly would have a hard time with ticket times if I was on the line in that kitchen. The staff was apologetic and happy to make the sandwich right, and did so fairly quickly. Bonus points there.
All in all, this spot seems appropriate for North County residents. It caters to large groups and families but definitely has more of an adult Chuck E. Cheese or mini Dave & Buster’s feel than I would personally prefer. I wish them luck as they round out their first year of business.
My Yard Live, 288 Rancheros Drive, San Marcos, 760.798.0779, myyardlive.com.