Rincon Reservation Road Brewery expands into fruity and low-ABV beers

The tasting room at Rincon Reservation Road Brewery in Valley Center.
(Courtesy of Sean Curry)

Rik Mazzetti has met skeptics who believe the Rincon Reservation Road Brewery carries some unwelcome baggage.

“There’s this stigma about Indians and firewater,” said Mazzetti, head of the Rincon Economic Development Corp. (REDCO). “That’s a stereotype. As in any culture, there are people who get drunk.

“But you don’t see that here.”

What you see is a sparkling brewhouse and tidy tasting room where many of the offerings are decidedly non-fiery. Oasis, the blonde ale that is Rincon’s top seller, packs a modest punch ( 4.2 percent alcohol by volume). Ditto, Tropical Oasis, an ideal beer for Rincon’s hot summers, with strawberry, peach, orange and passion fruit notes.

“When you have more low ABV beers, you appeal to more people,” said Zeth DeVore, Rincon’s brewer.

Man stands inside beer brewery.
Rik Mazzetti, head of the Rincon Economic Development Corp., inside Rincon Reservation Road Brewery in Valley Center.
(Courtesy of Sean Curry)

Adjacent to Harrah’s Resort Southern California, the brewery — like the casino itself — is owned by the The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. It opened six years ago as the SR 76 brewery, named for the state route that meanders through rural Rincon Valley, which is home to the reservation and its resort. The new name more directly links the Rincon culture to this Rincon enterprise.

Those ties appear in several of DeVore’s recipes which draw on the tribe’s agricultural roots. Local guavas and pomegranates freshen some Rincon beers, and the tribe recently set aside 10 acres to raise hops.

Rincon beers are poured in the casino’s restaurants, at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Disney California Adventure Park and several casinos run by other tribes. A new distribution deal should bring them to BevMo, Trader Joe’s and Sprouts Farmers Market.

Still, for the full Rincon experience, there’s no substitute for the Rincon Reservation Road Brewery’s airy tasting room.

“We want you to come and learn about our culture,” Mazzetti said. “Sit down, have a beer and a taco. Get to know us.”

“That’s the whole draw,” DeVore said. “It’s about the story, it’s about the people.”

Gold Rush

Are San Diego breweries the best of the West? They strengthened their claim last week when they took 37 medals at the 2023 Brewers Cup of California.

The locals’ haul included 13 golds, eight silvers and 16 bronzes. Gravity Heights and Kilowatt Brewing each took two golds, while Kilowatt and Societe won four medals apiece.

For a complete list of winning beers and breweries, zip over to

Pucker Up

Beer and ice have a long relationship, but they’ve never been closer than they will be April 8 at the fifth annual Pucks ‘n Pints charity hockey game.

Brewers from numerous breweries — including Ballast Point, Burgeon, Harland, Modern Times, Rouleur, Societe, Stone and Thorn — will hit the ice for a 1 p.m. contest. The day continues with a beer festival from 3 to 6 p.m., and at 7 p.m., a professional game will take place pitting the San Diego Gulls against the Calgary Wranglers.

Both games will be played at Pechanga Arena, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego.

Modern Times’ Lomaland Fermentorium, 3725 Greenwood St., San Diego, will host the beer festival.

Tickets, $60, are available at Proceeds will benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego, Emilio Nares Foundation, Resque Ranch and San Diego Brewers Guild.

And don’t miss the event’s official beer, also called Pucks ‘n Pints. It is — what else? — a cold IPA.

Quick Sips

Rincon Reservation Road Brewery's Chief India Pale Ale.
(Courtesy of Peter Rowe)

Beer: Chief

From: Rincon Reservation Road Brewery, Funner

ABV: 6 percent

Style: IPA

Drink or dump: Drink. While Chief is billed as an IPA, consider it a first-rate pale ale. While the alcohol content and hop character are scaled back from typical IPA levels, they are just right — and delicious — for a pale.

San Diego Brewing Company's Old Town Nut Brown ale.
(Courtesy of Peter Rowe)

Beer: Old Town Nut Brown

From: San Diego Brewing, San Diego

ABV: 5.5 percent

Style: Brown ale

Drink or dump: Drink. Take a tour of Old Town for deep, toasted malts; a soft, creamy head; and a late, restrained bitterness.

Second Chance Beer's Fistful of Gummies, Berry Edition.
(Courtesy of Peter Rowe)

Beer: Fistful of Gummies, Berry Edition

From: Second Chance Beer

ABV: 5 percent

Style: Fruited sour ale

Drink or dump: Drink — if you can handle the electric pink hue. Brewed on behalf of the Pink Boots Society, Fistful is like liquid Sweet Tarts, popping with raspberry and strawberry flavors. A light-bodied drink, it’s well carbonated and less acidic than your typical sour.

The Next Round

North Park Festival of Beers, always a great party, features samples of more than 50 beers, live music, specialty food vendors and more. Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows, 2223 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego. $60, VIP; $40, general; $25, designated drivers.

Rowe is a freelance writer.