Space: The final frontier.
Beer: Among the oldest beverages humans have produced.
These two things are brought together in one place: Wavelength Brewing Co. Its mission: to explore bold new flavors; to seek out knowledge of space and stuff; to boldly go where no bar has gone before!
Fans of craft beer, who might also happen to be space geeks, now have a place to enjoy two of their favorite things. Proprietor, Hans Frederick Haas has long had a passion for both beer and science. He talked his friend James Petti into the concept, and together, they opened Wavelength in Downtown Vista in 2014.
James, whose his last name was attached to a brew he created while employed at Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Heavy Petti Double IPA (it was apparently the unofficial ale of San Diego Beer Week a few years back) with Hans, a home brewer who started with a mail order kit that his wife ordered for him, have since developed a range of brews, including a Czech Golden Ale, an Hibiscus Red, an Orange Wheat, and a Cascadian Dark Ale.
I found out about Wavelength through one of their recent speakers, Liam Kennedy. Liam and I met at NASA in Houston while covering the Year in Space media day for our respective social media outlets. We were lucky enough to meet the crew that was headed for the International Space Station, including Commander Scott Kelly. Later, we got to sip some Sangria with the Commander at Chelsea Wine Bar, a favorite of local astronauts (in case you wanted to “accidentally” run into any of them). Yes, we were completely geeking out the entire time.
While in Houston, Liam presented Commander Kelly with one of his devices, ISS-Above. The ISS-ABOVE is an electronic device that brings the Space Station to your TV. With informational screens and live views of Earth from external cameras. The device lights up whenever the International Space Station flies overhead. One of those devices now has a permanent home at Wavelength, showing a live feed from the ISS on one of their screens.
“I can’t remember for sure how I heard about Wavelength,” Liam told me. “It may have been from a social media post by Oceanside Photos & Telescope for the launch party there in 2015.”
OPT partnered with Wavelength on an observatory out in Joshua Tree. That’s also where the giant telescopes in the bar came from. Those telescopes are regularly brought out onto Main Street for star gazing parties, including one particularly spectacular night last fall to view Jupiter and all of her seventy moons.
“I was planning a trip to see a corporate client, ViaSat, for ISS-Above and just sent an email telling Hans about it. Straight away, he invited me to give a presentation at the bar and bring along some units to sell to his customers.”
“I’ve been back a couple of times to present. It’s a very fun crowd. Hans is ‘the real deal’ as far as promoting a love for science and space. It’s remarkable what he’s created. I’m inspired to see Hans’s idea of a science/space-themed tasting room be successful among the more standard bars where the TV monitors exclusively show sports.”
Knowing what a NASA Nerd I am and that I had just moved back to Vista, prodded me to go in and have a pint. That sentiment was echoed by Rod Pyle, another speaker at Wavelength.
For those who don’t geek out over space stuff, Rod Pyle is kind of a big deal. Documentarian and author of a bajillion books on space and science, as well as writer for JPL, Rod is regularly heard on radio speaking on the latest in space news. One particular Friday night, he even spoke at Wavelength.
“Hans is the first and only proprietor I’ve met who realizes that there is an audience of people who crave an alternative environment of this kind, and it was a thrill to see it come to life,” Rod shared with me. “His devotion to his craft, to space and science, and to STEM impressed the hell out of me.”
At both Liam and Rod’s insistence that I check it out, I finally made my way into Wavelength for SpaceX Trivia Night. There. I met Bill Carton, engineer and, more importantly, SpaceX Facebook group wrangler, who has donated Space X flags and other items to the brewery.
Bill once said, “You would think that it would be in Pasadena or Houston, but it’s here in Vista.” Carton and his wife, Kae Carton-Horne, Vista residents themselves, regularly attend lectures, bringing their own tablecloth and a bite to eat while sipping their beers.
Bill’s SpaceX Trivia Night had a great turnout, which made finding a seat a bit of a challenge. (Can I admit that I wasn’t sure it would be full?) I grabbed my Wavelength Orange Wheat and found a spare stool in the back. As I looked around the room, I saw teams of parents and kids, co-workers, and couples.
Some folks opted out of the trivia challenge, choosing instead to play a game of Battleship. I quite enjoyed knowing I was among so many nerds. We tend to be the odd men out in other bars. (Hence the reason I was surprised at the turnout.)
Bill describes Wavelength as, “a place where I don’t have to hide my lack of interest in sport, or be seen as a NASA tour guide” to folks not interested in space.
Once everyone had logged into the Kahoot app, the game got started. Bill kept things lively with multiple choice answers that went from tricky to hilarious. Prizes were items that had been given to him (or taken by him) on tours of SpaceX. Afterwards, players came up to talk to him about the latest developments and the potential of trips to Mars. Not one of us talked about sports.
Not that there’s anything wrong with sports or sports bars!!!
We love our sports bars. We love going in to watch a game over a beer and some mussels. It’s just that there aren’t too many places that offer something different. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to come up with five bars or tasting rooms in your local area that are built around curiosity and imagination.
Plus, there are all these amazing speakers! Astrophysicists, chemists, cosmologists… quite an amazing variety of highly qualified people in their fields. “In the beginning, one of the challenges was where to find all these speakers,” Hans shared. Hans was concerned that the folks he wanted to have present wouldn’t get to excited about working all day and then again on Friday night. “Now, we have people coming to us that want to participate and want to speak. It was a challenge before but not so much of a problem anymore.”
As one woman said walking out of a Friday night presentation, “Wavelength is the first brewery I walked out of smarter than when I came in.”
And how many of those bars have regular stargazing parties out front on the sidewalk?
Wavelength Brewing Co.
Address: 236 Main St., Vista, CA 92084
Tasting Room Hours:
- Monday 3PM – 11PM
- Tuesday 3PM – 11PM
- Wednesday 1PM – 11PM
- Thursday 1PM – 11PM
- Friday 1PM – 11PM
- Saturday 12PM – 11PM
- Sunday 12PM – 9PM
If you want to stay on top of the happenings, like when the next stargazing party is or who the next guest speaker will be, follow Wavelength Brew Co. on Facebook.