If you're in San Diego, you probably have noticed the fact that it is raining. Not just any rain, either — it's a true-blue El Niño, one storm after another lined merrily up to dump some long-overdue moisture on our parched and cracking soil.
While the rain is undeniably good for everyone in the region, it can put a damper (pun intended) on outdoor activities. The animals are almost all in hiding at the San Diego Zoo, walking around Sea World is a chore, and hiking up a steep and muddy hill? Forget about it.
But, of course, that's what we are here for. Whether you're visiting or you live here, we have delightful and delicious ideas for your activities, all of which, of course, involve wonderful wines, lip-smackingly delicious beers, and some of the best food you've ever had anywhere to pair with it.
We understand that the last thing you probably want to do in one of America's sunniest cities is traipse around in the rain. But we wouldn't make you do that. We'll just come pick you up or meet you, and then take you on a warm, dry tour of the best breweries, wineries, and restaurants in beautiful San Diego.
Brooke B., Rainy Day Friend
Memorial Day is almost here!
In case you were wondering why that’s a big deal, well – first of all, it’s a way to remember those who gave their life for the United States’ armed forces. It’s a solemn day, but that solemnity is tempered by celebrations: after all, it’s also the first official day of summer.
When you balance out the two, Memorial Day is a day of togetherness, of friends and family, and of barbecues. It’s also a day that’s traditionally full of beer – the best thing to drink with those backyard burgers and new memories you’re creating together is a growler of great beer. And now you can enjoy your beer and wine and also honor the troops! Here’s a few ways to do it.
50 Back American Lager is a beer that, as promised, gives 50 percent of all its proceeds to charities that support U.S. military veterans. Crack open a frosty one and know that half that bottle’s going to people who served your country!
You can also buy your beer from veteran-owned craft breweries! If you’re looking to expand your palate, here’s a handy starter guide from CraftBeer.com. If all you need is a bottle opener, a local company called Bullets2Bandages is in your corner too.
Have a great Memorial Day. We’ll toast to you, to a great summer, and – as always – to the troops.
Brooke B., Star Spangled Brewer
Image Courtesy: Flickr user Darren Moloney
The season has begun!
We're not talking about springtime, although that came in last month with scattered showers and even a hint of some May flowers. We're not talking about sports, although there are various events and seasons going on there, too.
No, what we're talking about is that most important of seasons in southern California: that of the craft beer festival. It kicked off this year with the acclaimed Citybeat Festival of Beers, an afternoon fair that offered music and food as well as local beer that ranged from the mainstream to the obscure.
Starting May 1st, and continuing through the 3rd, Temecula is hosting its annual Southern California Homebrewers' Festival at Vail Lake. It ran into some problems last year because of legislative issues, but this year it's going strong and promises to be a fun time, so get yourself out to the campground and see what's brewing!
In June, the San Diego International Beer Festival will be held in tandem with the San Diego County Fair. Nearly 200 breweries from all over the world will be represented, and since knowledge is power, it's your moral imperative to go find out as much as you can about each one! It includes free fair admission, so have fun – and hold on to your hat.
That's just a brief entree into southern California's wonderful beer world. But you don't have to wait until the festivals to have fun – give us a call and book yourself a beer train or chauffeured tour. We'll pair your drinks with delicious meals and show you the best of San Diego.
This is serious business. Kinda.
It's that dreaded or delightful day again, depending on your perspective, the day that no press release or news story can be taken seriously lest you become an April Fool! (Or, as they say in France, Italy, and Belgium, an April Fish.)
Brewers are a funny bunch anyway, and breweries have been having fun with April 1st for many years. It seems like only yesterday, but was really more than a decade ago, that Stone Brewing Co. cooked up its first of many classic pranks, 2002's “Extreme LemonyLime,” featuring a new “soda-like” malt beverage. Boy, was the internet mad, until everyone figured it out.
And we're actually a little bit upset that this wonderful self-refilling beer can from Canada's Cask Brewing Systems doesn't actually exist. It re-brews the beer right in the can! Why can't we make this happen?
And in 2014, Samuel Adams shocked everyone who wasn't paying attention to the date with their "new beer": HeliYum, which makes your voice sound like you've been sucking on – you guessed it!
But here's something that's decidedly not a joke, they swear. A dress made from beer and bacteria will debut at the World Expo 2015 in Milan later this year. The bacteria eats, or, well, drinks the beer and converts it to solid fibers in the process. How cool is that?
It just goes to show you it's like we always say. Beer is magic. No joke!
Brooke B., Poisson d'Avril
The spring equinox came in unremarkably, with little fuss and fanfare and the mild temperatures characteristic of this time of year.
Enjoy the mild cloudy weather while you can. Spring in San Diego may come in like a lamb, but it always goes out like a lion. After we get past "May Gray" and "June Gloom," which is never too difficult to be around to begin with, the famous golden southern California sunshine paints our cliffs and beaches and warms our deserts and mountains. For now, though, it's the perfect time to sit and watch the flowers bloom.
There are some great beers that pair perfectly with the first blush of spring around here! A good floral saison is generally known as a summertime beer, but of course, the rules are a bit different in southern California. Here, it's quite possibly the best choice for springtime. Traditionally brewed in the winter, its complex, fruity spices are often offset by its dry bite. In other words, this is the beer that pairs the best with the flowery air of a San Diego spring!
Want to amaze your palate? Try Monkey Paw's Lup'D Up Single Saison. It's a dry-hopped beer brewed with rhubarb and it's absolutely amazing. Sweet and spicy is the name of the game, too, with The Lost Abbey's Saison Blanc. The brew, which is inspired by crisp white wines, has a finish that to us smells like California pepper trees on a sunny day. Winning!
Saisons are pretty rare, though, and there's a world of alternatives out there if you can't find the one that's right for you. As the weather warms up more, we can't recommend Mother Earth Brewing Company's Cali Creamin' enough. This top-selling beer is sweet and creamy, and it's quite possibly the best beer we've ever found for sitting around enjoying a hot and fragrant southern California night. But if vanilla isn't your thing, Modern Times has an absolutely outstanding beer — more specifically, an American Pale Wheat Ale called Fortunate Islands. It's perfectly named, because it is absolutely impregnated with notes of pineapple, mango, and citrus: a perfectly refreshing drink for a warm day.
Happy spring! Enjoy these California brews in our California sun. And don't forget: Our tours are a great way to get to know more San Diego beers, along with gorgeous scenery and great people, in a comfortable environment, rain or shine!
Hope to see you soon.
Brooke B., Spring Chicken
It’s a great month in San Diego, because not only will we be getting a real spring this year, thanks to some serious rain we’ve been lacking for the past several years, but this is also the month that all the great beer events begin!
Here’s just a smattering of all the fun stuff going on in the first half of March alone.
March 7th: Best Coast Beer Fest. This one-day event, at Embarcadero Park South, is a fundraiser for a nonprofit group called Cancer for College. 100 percent of the proceeds goes to help put a cancer survivor through university. Also, it’s personally endorsed by Will Ferrell, who apparently sometimes shows up and just hangs out doing Ron Burgundy impersonations.
March 12th: Exotic ingredients Beer Tasting. First of all, you should get to the Museum of Man stat anyway, because their Beerology exhibit is a thing of beauty! This beer tasting, curated by the museum and featuring several local brewers, is a great reason to go see it. If you miss this tasting, don’t worry – there will be more. Many, many more.
March 14th: ShamROCK, also known as Saint Patrick’s Day in the Gaslamp. Oh, yeah! This holiday is a beer lover’s dream. Remember, though – you’re in no way obligated to drink green beer, just good beer.
March 15th: El Cajon Brewer’s Invitational. Feel like heading for the hills? El Cajon, which literally means “the boxed,” because of the hills that surround this warm valley, is having its first ever large-scale craft beer event. Just look at this lineup! It’s going to be incredible.
Brooke B., March Hare
The blustery weather has blown through San Diego, rain has come and gone, and for the first time in a couple of years, flowers are nodding in the breeze.
The drought might not be completely over, but this spring is a welcome respite! We think that a little celebration is definitely in order, especially since Easter’s almost here and, as we’ve mentioned before, Easter and beer have quite a lot of history in common.
Bavarian monks used to brew beer for Lent, a fast that lasts about a month and a half. The beer, Dopplebock, was brewed to be “liquid bread,” so it was dark and hearty, offered a lot of nutrients, and packed quite a punch – often up to 13 percent alcohol! This probably made the Lenten season, which ends with Easter, a lot easier to bear.
Beer, it’s widely theorized, was the reason agriculture was invented. People could hunt and gather food, but you had to work to brew beer. But, as any local brewer can tell you, the end result is completely worth it! Beer was the impetus for civilization, which makes perfect sense, and Easter was adapted from various farming and agricultural celebrations. So without beer, there would be no spring planting festival.
So here’s a hearty “cheers” to your favorite beers. Bottoms up, and happy spring!
Brooke B., Flower Power
Mardi Gras is almost here!
This is one of the best times of year to be a lover of food and drink. It’s related to Carnaval, which comes from the phrase “carne vale,” or “farewell to the flesh,” and in the Christian calendar is the time of feasting before the self-deprivation of Lent begins.
The Mardi Gras feasting and partying day is also known as Shrove Tuesday, the day that precedes Ash Wednesday. Both days are known as “moveable feast” days, which got their name because their dates move throughout the year in relation to Easter Sunday, which is always held on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere’s spring equinox.
That’s a mouthful, so to speak. But we love moveable feasts so much that’s what we do! Every tour we take you on is a moveable feast, because there’s so much deliciously good food and drink in San Diego that we can’t limit you to just one place. That’s why we have our train tours as well as our walking and chauffeured tours. We can’t choose just one.
Best way to celebrate Mardi Gras? Book one of our February tours, and laissez les bon temps rouler! We’ll even find you a chicory coffee and a beignet to wash it all down, but you may have to bring your own beads if you want some lagniappe.
Happy Fat Tuesday!
Brooke B., Krewe member
Today's the day!
Superbowl Sunday always gets people worked up, whether they're fans of the teams, enjoying the high drama (especially this year), or just watching the Puppy Bowl instead. Either way, beer and food are integral parts of Superbowl (or Puppy Bowl) Sunday! We know this, love this, and think everyone should make the most of it.
Since salty foods are a big thing for any football game, here's our tips for enjoying every moment of today:
Get bitter! San Diego's signature Double IPA style is a great match for Superbowl foods. Salty burgers, fries, and chips and guacamole are all perfect foils for your favorite hoppy brews. Try Alpine Beer Company's Exponential Hoppiness for a breathtaking match for your game viewing. Not hoppy enough for you? If you look very, very carefully, you may be able to find Russian River's elusive Pliny the Younger, their limited-edition Triple (!) IPA, in the wild. This superb and complex Sonoma County brew is difficult to find at the best of times, however, so best of luck!
If you aren't a hophead, go sweet. But not too sweet. A sweetish American Brown Ale like Monkey Paw's Sweet Georgia Brown has caramelly notes that are also ideal for savory red meats, anything with cheese, and vegetables. Ritual Brewing Company's Brown Ale is also a fantastic choice, and AleSmith Nut Brown a perennial favorite. Watch out, though — these ales go down easier than a linebacker on a slippery field!
These beers are a great starting point for today's parties. Please drink responsibly, and may the best team win! But you're drinking great beer, so you know who the real winners are no matter what.
Brooke B., Baller
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Saint Patrick's Day is a Christian feast day that is celebrated as a holiday in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It's also a special day in America, and around the world, for members of the Irish Diaspora.
Oh, who are we kidding! It's one of the best days of the year for beer lovers. Especially since we now don't have to settle for green beer which, let's face it, isn't anywhere near as good coming up as it is going down. But now that San Diego is truly a full fledged mecca for beer lovers, with a strong population of Irish people and Irish-Americans to boot, Saint Patty's is way more than just a day to imbibe. It's a day to savor!
Instead of going green this year, why not go red? Red ales are among Ireland's best-known beers. They are absolutely delightful. San Diego has its share of red ales too, but with a regional twist – since we're known for our hoppy brews, the red ales you can get around here have their own distinct flavor without losing sight of their Irish roots. Kind of like a lot of San Diegans!
Green Flash produces Hop Head Red, crisp with a sweet caramelly twist, and the venerable Karl Strauss has its Red Trolley Ale. Mike Hess Brewing makes a hoppy, citrusy version of red ale called Venator, and Mission Brewery has a well-regarded Imperial Red on tap called Carrack. Phew, that's a lot of reds!
Of course, other than green beers, people think "dark" when they think of Irish beer, thanks to Guinness, an old favorite. But while Guinness is definitely always a crowd-pleaser, there are some really excellent local darks that hold up beautifully. San Diego isn't just about Double IPAs! Try Dawn Patrol Dark, a brown ale from Port Brewing, or the wonderfully-named Great Ape Nectar from Monkey Paw, a hazelnut chocolate milk stout with a finish that's as sweet as an Irish bread pudding.
We think this list will be a good way to start your day off right. To continue, book one of our Saint Patrick's Tours. We'll show you all the best craic in San Diego. And there's plenty to be had!
Enjoy yourself. Éirinn go Brách!
Brooke B., Cocktail Colleen