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
We love new experiences around here, and we love to share them with you. That's part of what we do – we go around finding delicious new eats and treats so we can spread the love.
We also love San Diego. That's why we have a big announcement for you. We've expanded our horizons with a new tour and a new partner!
First things first – our new tour. We've had our beer and wine walking, chauffeured, and train tours for years. They're all part of our eco-friendly commitment to San Diego – we try to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. We also just love your company!
In that spirit, we're offering a brand-new Beer Tasting Trolley Tour. Hop aboard one of San Diego's famous historic “moving landmarks,” the San Diego trolley, and enjoy one of San Diego's renowned microbrews with us!
We're also proud to announce we have a new partner – San Diego's Mission Brewery. Their digs are in downtown San Diego's historic Wonder Bread building, which was built in 1894. It has plenty of room to expand – and, get this. Their tasting room can accommodate 400 people!
Their beer is a rainbow of deliciousness, from their Mission Blonde Ale all the way to their Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout. It's won multiple awards and is, we can attest, mighty tasty. We know you'll agree, because we love nothing but the best!
We know you're going to be as excited as we are to explore more of San Diego's beautiful landmarks and our divine craft beers. We'll see you on a tour!
Cheers to all of you!
Brooke B., Trolley Girl
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
Heading to the racetrack doesn't always have to be a summertime affair. This year is an unusual one, because for the first time since an unsuccessful one-year run in the 1960s, the autumn horseracing circuit will be at Del Mar instead of Hollywood Park, whose racetrack closed down for good at the end of last year.
You know what that means? We get to wear our big hats and party like it's summertime for the next few weeks. The Bing Crosby Season lasts from November 7th until the 30th, and it promises to be an exciting time, just like always!
But people don't just go to the races to watch the horses, although that's of course the main draw. The Del Mar racetrack is also home to great food and drink. There's something for everyone, whether you're looking for burgers and fries or a fresh Mediterranean buffet. Delicious!
But the real treats here are the drinks. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has some of the best mixed drinks you'll find anywhere in San Diego. And since November promises to be a warm month, it's a perfect time to come out with us and enjoy a cool and refreshing Del Mint Julep, or perhaps a Moet and Chandon Ice Imperial… delightful! But there are so many more.
Don't forget, too, that the exclusive Turf Club at Del Mar offers Sunday brunch created by Chef Brian Malarkey for the duration of Bing Crosby Season, paired with bottomless mimosas. Just don't forget there's a dress code!
We're off and running. See you at the races!
Brooke B., Thirsty Thoroughbred
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
One of the best weeks of the year in San Diego is almost here!
Okay, we're willing to admit that's just a matter of opinion. But it's a pretty great week. What is it? It's San Diego Beer Week, of course.
The San Diego Brewer's Guild pulls out all the stops for this event, so you can take your pick of things to do. Do you want to take a class on the history of craft beer? Do you want to learn about coffee beer? How about a pork-paired beer dinner? You can do all of these things and more. These are just some of the reasons this is one of San Diego's most highly anticipated events!
One of the great things about San Diego Beer Week is that it's actually longer than just a week: its events run from November 7th to November 16th, so it's ten solid days of all your favorite microbrews and nanobrews, as well as all your favorite brews you simply haven't met yet.
Another great thing about Beer Week? We think it's the fact that San Diego's great brews are front and center!
In the spirit of Beer Week, we're going to be running our brand-new Beer Train Tour to bookend this week – we'll have one on November 7th to kick it off, and another on the 16th just in case you don't feel like letting go of the Beer Week glow. Do you want to get in on one of our new tours? Of course you do! You can take in San Diego's beautiful sights with us as we take you on the best tasting tour around. It's environmentally friendly, you don't have to drive, and we'll feed you, too!
Join us! Call us at (858) 551-5115 today to get ready to savor the delights of San Diego during one of our favorite weeks. You'll be thrilled you did!
Brooke B., Beer-O-Matic
Halloween is coming, don your masks and grab your bags and get ready for some old-fashioned trick-or-treating! Did you know the history of Halloween in the United States is also wrapped up in its long tradition of great beer.
In 1620 the Pilgrims had been at sea for nearly two months and were off-course by the time they sighted land. While they had set a course for the Virginia colony they ended up in New England, and they had a problem—they were running out of beer. This was no small matter—water aboard ship was likely to become brackish and potentially deadly, while beer remained drinkable.
When the first pilgrims settled in the vast sweeps of New England, there were pumpkins everywhere. Green pumpkins, blue pumpkins, yellow and pink, and mottled ones littered the ground along with the traditional orange. Their proliferation guaranteed that the thirsty settlers would use the sweet squash, first called "pompions," to make the first pumpkin beers.
Pumpkin brews proliferate in San Diego this Halloween. There’s Green Flash Fire Roasted Pumpkin Ale, Ballast Point Pumpkin at Sea, and Coronado Brewing Punk'in Drublic, not to mention many other great locally made pumpkin brews. This Halloween try some of these delicious holiday beers a on San Diego Brewery Tour with San Diego Beer and Wine Tours.
Shira Bliss, Boo-zer
You know how we keep saying this is the best time of the year for beer and wine lovers? We do, because it is!
It's not only a gorgeous time to experience all of southern California's unique and unforgettable beauty without contending with too much crowding and traffic, but it's also harvest time, when the grapes are squeezed and the hops are threshed.
This is also when great events take place for those who love their wine and beer. One such happening is Oktoberfest, a loosely-knit series of beer festivals. There's the huge one in Munich, which draws at least 6 million visitors a year (!) and then the various local Oktoberfests that showcase local brews all over the world. We like those better, because not only do you save yourself hundreds to thousands of dollars in airfare, we think you might even be getting better beer. Don't tell anybody we said that.
But seriously, you can imagine that in a place like San Diego, where the beer is so divine that we are actually exporting breweries to Germany at this point, you're going to be in hops heaven. Don't just take our word for it, though! Go see for yourself how amazing San Diego's brews can be. Here are a few upcoming events to get you started.
San Diego's first Oktoberfest celebration of the year is in Encinitas today: September 21st. It's fudging the definition of Oktober ever so slightly, but they more than make up for it with their great beers and wonderful music with which they fill the streets of their beautiful coastal city.
If you like the beach and can't make it to Encinitas, Ocean Beach's Oktoberfest will take place Oktober – pardon, October- 10th and 11th, and it's the only such celebration right on the waterfront.
If staying dry is more your thing (or you just don't want to wait!) go east to La Mesa's venerable Oktoberfest, which gets more fun every year. It boasts vendors, live music, and a HUGE beer garden (trust us, it's HUGE!) and will be filling the streets of downtown La Mesa on October 3rd, 4th, and 5th. It's even right on a trolley line so you can roll on in and not have to worry about either parking or driving, which is a huge bonus.
There are so many more that we just can't name them all, but here's a list of some of the rest of Oktoberfests around San Diego to get you started.
Go have fun, and we'll see you there!
Brooke B., Oktoberfestaria
We know we're called San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, but we don't just deal with beer and wine. In fact, we never have. We understand that beer and wine without wonderful food pairings is like having peanut butter without the jelly, ice cream without the sprinkles, yin without yang – you get the picture.
All of our tours, as a matter of fact, include food tastings to go with your beverages – the equivalent of a full meal. We don't just tour the finest wineries and breweries in San Diego. Our tours are filled with the best food this town has to offer, no matter what you're in the mood for!
It's a great way to savor the best gourmet, farm-to-table fare while you sip without having to commit to the price of a full meal. Plus, you get to answer one of life's eternal questions: what's better with pizza, beer or wine? (Answer: Both, of course. And don't forget champagne, too.)
Worried about calories? Don't be! First of all, you won't be getting overprocessed food – we deal with only the best food made with the highest-quality ingredients, and our walking tours will burn them right off.
We don't stop with beer and wine pairings. We also have whiskey tours – we've found that Chedi Thai Bistro's food works beautifully with owner and chef Pia's creations.
And in case you're not in a drinking mood, rejoice. We have suggestions for wonderful non-alcoholic drinks to pair with food as well!
In other words, we have something for everybody and we proudly support the small businesses that produce the tastiest and freshest foods in San Diego.
Here's to health, good food, and lip-smackingly delicious libations!
Brooke B., Epicure
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Health, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
It's Labor Day!
If we lived anywhere but this absolutely beautiful part of the world, this would be the unofficial end of summer and beginning of fall. But since we're in southern California, the march of the seasons are a good deal more subtle.
However, this is a great time to start planning outdoor barbecues and backyard parties with friends, and we're all for that!
Labor Day is actually a day to celebrate the rights and achievements of workers, long pressed tightly under the thumb of the manufacturing industry. After the Industrial Revolution, the average American worked more than 80 hours a week, with no days off, simply to put food on the table, and children as young as 5 were already working in the mines.
Labor unionized and revolted, organizing strikes and rallies. On September 5th, 1882, thousands of workers marched from New York City Hall to Union Square, agitating for change. And the change came. 40-hour weeks became the standard, and child labor was criminalized.
Twelve years after that historic march, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a national holiday. Thus was Labor Day born. Over time, this day became a way to celebrate community through parties and parades. That's our favorite part!
So, whatever you end up doing, tilt a glass for the history of Labor Day and the courageous people who made life better for the rest of us… and remember, it's perfectly acceptable to drink white after Labor Day.
Brooke B., Proletariat