Bon soir, mes amis! It's almost time for one of our favorite days, Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras (same thing, but French.) The holiday is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, which signifies the beginning of Lent; that means it's a great excuse to party.
You don't need to be in New Orleans to enjoy yourself, though. San Diego's beer scene is the stuff of legend, but its food and wine are great, too. Also, there's a pretty rockin' music scene here, so it's not too difficult to find places to really get into the Mardi Gras mood by getting your zydeco on.
But you need a guide if you venture out on Mardi Gras, whether you're a San Diego lifer or you're visiting for a weekend. One who knows the byways and secret alleys of the town, all the best places to have a meal and a glass of wine or beer, and then find a great spot to dance the rest of the night away (or watch others do the same.)
That's us! We possess esoteric knowledge about where to find the best places, and most importantly, the tastiest food and drink you'll find anywhere. Mardi Gras is all about having a good time, so come with us and let the good times roll!
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
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
-William Butler Yeats
Happy Valentine's Day!
February is such a great month in San Diego. Not only is it when springtime begins around here, but it's also the month of love!
Valentine's Day is a tradition that's been going on for centuries – and probably millennia. The tradition of Valentine's Day is murky, but it's thought to come from a 5th century Roman fertility rite called Lupercalia. The rites were supposed to honor Faunus, the god of agriculture, and Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome who according to legend were raised by a she-wolf. The rites consisted of parties and sacrifices, but most importantly, wine.
Over time, it became much more about romantic love than agriculture. Much of the ancient festival has changed (although it could be argued that it's still a fertility rite) but we've held onto the wine, because wine is love… and let it never be said that we don't believe in love!
That's why we think the best thing you can do this Valentine's is head out to one of our winery tours; we recommend the Chauffeured Tour! If you're feeling more like a beer, we love bringing people along on our new Beer Trolley Tours. Don't worry, beer is love, too!
This February, come join us! It doesn't matter if you're with your sweetie, your best friend, or if you just want to be with us. We love having you and sharing Valentine's with you, and we know you'll love it too.
Here's to amore!
Brooke B., Vinamorata
Posted in Beer, Breweries, Food and Vine, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Travel, Uncategorized, Valentine, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Wineries |
The holidays have barreled down on us like a freight train and suddenly, it's almost 2015. Are you prepared for the parties and gifts? How about dinners with family and friends?
Prepared or not, there's very little that can't be improved with the proper application of delicious wine and beer, so here are some of our suggestions to help you add to your holiday spirit. Enjoy!
First of all – what do your winter holiday plans entail? If you're looking for last-minute gifts, the following beers are timely and delicious. If you don't celebrate (or are just boycotting the holidays this year) we think that the best thing you can do is treat yourself, whether it's celebratory or “just because.” The best way to do that, in our opinion, is to sample some of the many legendary San Diego beers – and try the seasonal brews!
Port Brewing Company has a classic Christmas beer called Santa's Little Helper. This imperial stout is brewed to pair with this season's sweet treats, with notes of roasted coffee and dark chocolate to play off the fruitcake your coworkers got you. Try the barrel-aged version, too – it adds depth and complexity with a twist of sweet bourbon. So delicious!
Speaking of fruitcakes, we can't get enough of Hess Brewing Company's Ficus. This small-batch beer is incredible, and if you do decide to have a holiday feast, it's the perfect pour to pair. It starts out a dark Belgian ale, great in its own right, but what really takes it over the top is the addition of locally-grown San Diego figs, over 10 pounds a barrel. Those add a dimension of complex sweetness to something that was already wonderful to begin with.
If you're a little chilly but don't feel like just pouring a belt of Kahlua into your cup of hot chocolate, go the beer route with Mother Earth Brew Co.'s Fuggin' Cocoa Stout. This award-winning American Stout is thick with notes of chocolate (of course), cinnamon, and vanilla. And it's so good!
We'd also like to give a shout-out to the really excellent breweries that don't offer holiday-themed brews but are great all year round anyway. Pick up a bottle of something from Council Brew (Pirate's Breakfast!), Automatic Brewing Co. (you can find their beers, and many other great ones, at Blind Lady Ale House in Normal Heights), or the teeny-tiny – but still incredible – Cold Bore Brewing Company out of Jamul.
We just made ourselves thirsty, so we're going to stop there for now. But more ideas are on their way. Until then, drink up and enjoy the holiday season of America's Finest City!
Brooke B., Saison's Greeter
It's almost holiday season. Well, actually, since holiday season starts right after Halloween these days, we guess it IS holiday season!
This the time of year that we tell all of you how thankful we are for all of you. We couldn't be in this business without you, our fellow beer, wine,nd food aficionados, and all the good things you bring into our lives.
We're also thankful we live in such an amazing corner of the world, where fine, locally-produced food and drink is available everywhere we turn!
Since we know you appreciate good meals and drinks just as much as we do, we thought we'd share some tried-and-true suggestions with you to make your Thanksgiving Day as delightful as it can possibly be.
First, to the food. Do you have too much to drink hanging around the house? Is that bottle of sparkling wine from your great-aunt not really doing it for you? How about roasting a champagne turkey? The wine (or sparkling cider, if you don't feel like sacrificing a bottle) plus some butter leaves the turkey tender, moist, and absolutely delicious. Or, if you have some leftover reds, how about adding a red wine glaze? Spectacular!
When it comes to actually drinking the wine, turkey is a special case. While you can drink red or white wine with anything, of course, turkey actually pairs beautifully with both!
So we think that if you want to kick it up a notch, you should take the middle ground and add a delicious orange to pair with your turkey, just to keep your family or friends guessing. Orange wine is white wine that's spent a lot of time fermenting in its own skins and seeds. At its best, it's complex and spicy and goes beautifully with a Thanksgiving feast. The ever-wonderful Bernardo Winery has a sweet orange moscato that would taste divine with cranberry sauce or even with dessert. It's also a gorgeous color!
If you're feeling beerish, we can't recommend a good stout, like Alesmith's Speedway Stout, enough. Its coffee and molasses notes are perfect for pairing with stuffing and its creaminess complements everything from peas to pumpkin pie!
But if you're feeling adventurous, sour beers are where it's at for Thanksgiving. Sour beers, in case you haven't tried them, are perfect for cutting through the sometimes-gamy flavor of dark turkey meat, and prep your palate for the lighter side dishes. If you can get your hands on The Savage from Societe, it's a great American sour ale and we highly recommend it! Its cherry finish will leave you singing.
As always, we're so thankful for you.
Brooke B., Thanks Giver
It's the spookiest time of the year!
Halloween is on its way. Kids are donning costumes, scary movies are all over Netflix, and ghosts are wailing in the trees (or is it just the Santa Ana?).
But we haven't forgotten about that other celebration of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day: Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That's the Mexican celebration of the dead, where you can go to the graveyards and talk to your loved ones who have passed on.
We are so close to Mexico here in southern California that we would be remiss if we didn't mention Baja California's vibrant beer and wine scene. But you shouldn't have to cross any international borders to sample them, if you don't want to!
First up, let's talk about the craft beer scene, which in no way stops at the international border. We absolutely love Cucapa, which is out of Mexicali, and now is readily available in San Diego.
A pair of binational brothers, Ivan and Damien Morales, have a tiny but great brewery out of Tijuana called Cerveceria Insurgente (Insurgent Brewing or Revolutionary Brewing) that is currently collaborating with Stone for something that will be truly delicious.
And then there's Mexico's wineries, which are the among the oldest in the New World. Their wines are fruity and delicious, but sometimes a little minerally and salty – a byproduct of the soil in which the grapes grow. Whether or not that is your thing is a matter of taste, but it definitely sets Baja's wines apart from the rest!
We'll also be brewing up wine and beer tastings this weekend, so grab your favorite calavera pals and taste some cerveza and vino with us.
It'll be an eerily fun time!
Brooke B., Calaca