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
San Diego Restaurant Week is almost here!
It should go without saying that we love San Diego's food scene. We may be San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, but tasting beer and wine without knowing what foods to pair them with takes at least half the joy out of the whole experience!
That's why we always offer food on our beer and wine tours. When you correctly pair, it brings out nuances and dimensions to your drink – and your food – that you never knew existed. It's like a voyage of discovery with every meal!
San Diego's craft beer scene has been extolled and admired as one of the best on the planet for years, and with good reason. Its wine scene is also gaining attention, too, as more people realize how wonderful it is. But the food scene here is one of the region's best-kept secrets.
We're committed to changing that, and that's why we're such huge supporters of San Diego's Restaurant Week. Everyone should get out during the week of January 18th through the 24th and check out the menus! Participating restaurants offer special, prix-fixe menus so that you can sample as many as you like without a big dent to your wallet. It's totally worth it to be able to explore!
And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that as huge supporters of San Diego's food scene, we also organize food and drink tours that showcase some of the best, most scrumptious meals (and beers and vino too) that you can find anywhere.
So eat, drink, and be merry with us, because tomorrow… well, tomorrow there will be more of the same!
Here's to a delicious life,
Brooke B., Gastronomix
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 |
Happy New Year!
`Tis the season to look back on the preceding year and make resolutions for the following one. But, as news story after news story tells us, we're doing it all wrong by focusing on the negatives instead of the positives.
Anyway, as you may already know, we don't really believe in resolutions around here, because they're so easy to break – only 23 percent of people who make resolutions keep them! Instead, we tend to follow the research that indicates good habits are easier to pick up if they're folded into our everyday lives slowly, over time, and with lots of rewards.
However, I suppose in this instance we're going to make a resolution after all. Really, it's the same one we always make, and it's pretty easy to keep. Best of all, our resolution contains its own reward. We resolve to drink nothing but great wine and beer in 2015!
We lovers of local craft beer have already demonstrated that when the people stand up and demand better taste, they get it, and everybody wins. So really, by resolving to drink nothing but the best beer and wine, you're doing the world a favor. You can't let the whole world down, can you? Neither can we.
So there you have it. We're wrapping up 2014 and drinking a toast to 2015. It's going to be a grand adventure. Join us!
Brooke B., Auld Lang Syner
Spotlight on… Café La Rue!
We've been talking about some of our favorite places to get eats as well as drinks lately. Right now, it's Café La Rue's turn!
Café La Rue is a relatively new place in an old haunt – the bar and bistro reopened last year at La Jolla's historic La Valencia Hotel, which is known as "The Pink Lady," after closing down for a makeover and taking over the space of an iconic bar called The Whaling Bar – traces of which still live on in its décor and some of its drinks.
Café La Rue has also updated its menu, favoring simple foods but with a European flair: their dishes include smoked cheddar bratwurst – made with IPA beer cheese – and pork belly confit poutine. Delicious! Even their french fries are simple yet superb: they're served with Pacific cod or, if you're in the mood, duckfat mayonnaise.
Their cocktails are excellent (try The Whaler!) and the perfect libations to savor while people-watching or simply gazing out over La Jolla's unparalleled coves. Also, we'd be remiss if we neglected to mention the fact that they have a great selection of San Diego beers.
Oh yeah, and don't forget to check out their happy hour, from 4-6pm daily. It's called 'The Appointment" in homage to one of the former names of its space, "La Cita," which is Spanish for – you guessed it – "The Appointment."
We love Café La Rue and we know you will too. We're also very pleased to announce that it's now a stop on our Wine and Food Walking Tours!
See you there in 2015!
Brooke B., Epiphanarian