We're not gonna lie – Earth Day is one of our favorite days of the year around here. Since our inception, we've been all about saving the planet. Just check out some of the information on our carbon-footprint-reducing train tours and our emphasis on buying local!
By the way, if you're a beer and wine nut, one of the best things you can do is buy locally. It's not just that you'll get better beer and wine, even though you will, or feel more connected to the local environment while you sip, even though you are.
No, the best reasons to drink locally is twofold: first, you're supporting our vibrant Californian wine and beer culture and keeping local jobs coming, and second – and this is a biggie – by directly supporting all the local brews, you're reducing the enormous, gigantic fuel consumption that comes when global mass producers of beer and wine ship it to your neighborhood.
Plus, there are all the benefits that come from getting out and getting to know your beers and wines and the communities and neighborhoods around you that passionately love and support them.
So remember: Think globally, drink, locally!
To your health and the health of the planet,
Brooke B., Recyclist
Easter has a very special place in our hearts around here. For one thing, we love making the usual jokes about how beer lovers always have a “hoppy Easter,” but for another thing, the history of Easter is in many ways the history of beer.
It all started during the ancient pre-Christian times, when Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess who represented the dawn and the springtime. Say her name out loud, and you'll hear how easily it became the word Easter. During the spring festivals, worshipers said, the sun would hop for joy as it rose in the sky. Water drawn during this time was said to be especially healing, too.
And the goddesses of spring and fertility in nearly every culture eventually became goddesses of the fields and agriculture; as beer is the reason for agriculture (and actually for all of civilization as we know it) it makes sense that they would become the goddesses of beer, too.
Later, with the spread of Christianity, monks would fast to observe Lent. Since Lent is 40 days long, the monks would have to get some kind of nourishment without actually eating to break the fast. This presented an obvious conundrum. Finally, the monks of Neudeck ob der Au outside Munich, Germany, hit on a solution in the 17th century: they brewed up a particularly rich, malty beer to keep them from passing out during prayer. That beer was called doppelbock, and has sustained many people, religious and not, since.
So drink up this Easter and remember that not only are you having a cold beer on a warm springtime day, but you are also participating in a tradition that is so important that it was actually how civilization came to be. And don't forget to join us on one of our Easter or springtime tours!
Brooke B., Spring Chicken
There's no such thing as a perfect child. Admit it – you were a brat growing up just like all the rest of us. Do you see those grey hairs on your mom? Those are your fault, every single last one of them. That time you came home three hours late without calling? The time you got under the sink and tried to eat Drano? How about the time you brought home that really inappropriate “friend” in high school? Oh, we know. We've all been there.
At this point, the only appropriate question is, “How can I make this up to my mom?” The answer is simple: with wine. That's why we at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours have put together a wonderful Mother's Day gift to help you apologize for all those months as a kid you spent refusing to eat anything but Oreos and mayonnaise sandwiches. We offer special packages for this time of year that include a wine (or beer) and food tour, plus a deep discount on a spa day for her! We're offering it now through the end of May.
Trust us on this one: your mom will love it. And if you're a mom, you know what we're talking about.
Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful moms out there. We salute you!
Brooke B., Mamacita
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
Above photo courtesy of my dear friend and neighbor, please respect the ownership of this photo and do not distribute, thank you-Shira Bliss
Top o' the Irish to ya!
There aren't many things we love more than beer, food, and wine, but if there was anything that went with them it would be dogs. "Hardly a bar in Ireland didn't have a dog," says our own Shira Bliss, " and I'd love to see more of that in the US."
Shira's our resident Ireland expert – after all, she was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saint Patrick's Day! You can't get much more Irish than that.
San Diego is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world, so in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day we've compiled a list of places you and the pooch can go tip back one or three.
Hamilton's Tavern in South Park is not only one of the prime places to go have a brew and a great meal, it's completely dog friendly , right down to bowls of water at the bar. They love all breeds as long as they're friendly. Until he passed away, the bar's namesake always had a friendly word and a pat for everybody's dog.
O'Brien's Pub in Clairemont is one of the largest soccer-friendly craft-beer bars in the county. It's also dog friendly. Did we mention they have great food, too? If you're a footie fan, come see what all the fuss is about. Bring Fido. He'll love it just as much as you do!
Last but not least, we love The Wine Pub in Shelter Island! We adore the name and the ambience of this little place – and if you come in on Woofer Wednesdays, you can donate 10 percent of your bill to Loving Arms Pet Adoption! Great view, too.
Drink up, pup, and Happy St. Patty's, and happy birthday, Shira! May your year be full of Bliss.
It's almost that wild and wonderful day, Fat Tuesday, where you're expected – no, commanded – to wear feathery hats, colorful clothes, and beads. It's also the last hurrah before the start of Lent, which is a time of fasting and repentance for those who observe the Catholic faith.
The origins of Mardi Gras as it's known today are traced back to medieval Europe, where farmers would slaughter and eat a fatted calf and drink enormous quantities of red wine. In fact, Carnival or Carnaval, as the week leading up to Mardi Gras is called in some regions, comes from "carna vale": farewell to the flesh.
However, the story of these traditions go back even further than that, to ancient Roman or possibly pre-Roman pastoral times, to Lupercalia, the festival of Lupercus, the god of shepherds, and Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus. According to Plutarch, during this festival young people would guzzle red wine and run up and down the streets naked and smacking people they met with "shaggy thongs." It was supposed to ensure fertility in the new year. They also wore fine clothes and feathered masks as they do today, presumably when they weren't running around in their altogethers.
If any of this sounds familiar, it's because this festival also serves as a basis for what is now known as Valentine's Day. (Our Valentine's Day was a little more subdued than that this year, but at least we had red wine!)
If you're looking for something to drink to get into the true spirit of Fat Tuesday and don't feel like slaughtering a fatted calf, here are a few suggestions:
If you're doing it up New Orleans style and eating spicy gumbo, consider a low-tannin pinot noir like Point Concepcion's Salsipuedes Pinot Noir. Its fruitiness plays well off the spicy richness of a gumbo. If you've decided on an oyster po-boy or a shrimp etouffe, pair it with a light, sweet white like ZD Chardonnay. And if you're having King Cake (and why wouldn't you?) any sweet sparkling wine is a must!
There are plenty of beers to pair with your Mardi Gras celebration, but our favorite one comes from San Diego's Modern Times Brewery. It's called Neverwhere. Why do we love it for this celebration? Because its pineappley, mangoey flavor is perfect for the subtropical party atmospheres of Carnaval and Fat Tuesday. It's a perfect pairing with your purple and green beads.
We're off to start baking our King Cake. After all, Fat Tuesday only comes round once a year.
Laissez les bon temps continuer a rouler toujours!
Brooke B., Bead-Tosser
Just say no.
Saint Patrick was an Irish hero for, according to folklore, driving all the snakes out of Ireland. For the purposes of this piece, we're going to skim over the fact that this was probably an allegory for his actual work helping extinguish Druidism throughout the island, and instead focus on what he really should have been doing – fighting back against the tyranny of bad beer, and worse: green beer.
In his absence, though, we'll do our part by giving you our annual list of our favorite San Diego breweries that provide Irish-style beers. It's a tough job, but we're just the people to do it!
First is the venerable and justly famous Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss. It's been a winner for ages, because it's delicious, and also because it's named after our famous trolley system. We love this beer!
Next is a beer from a brewery we just discovered: Mother Earth Brewery in Vista. Their Irish Red Ale, like all the rest of their beers, is creamy and delightful. We may have to sample it a little bit more to make sure it's appropriate, though. Mmmmmmmmmm.
We also love Hillcrest Brewing Company's version, which has a risque name like all the rest of its beers. Their Irish Red Ale is called Crotch Rocket. Saucy! But also very, very tasty! Check it out and while you're at it, if you're anything like us, you can sip at their delicious beers while you're giggling over their spicy, salty names.
There are always many more beers out there, but we think that these three will keep you good and busy for St. Patrick's Day. Remember, stay away from bad beer and beer that's been dyed green. It's what Saint Patrick himself would have wanted.
Brooke B., Cocktail Colleen
Little-known fact: He's actually reaching for a beer in this painting.
Happy Presidents' Day!
This is the day we have set aside to reflect on the many accomplishments of the presidents of the United States of America. What too often gets left out of the story, though, is our favorite part of it – the relationships between the leaders of the free world… and the breweries and wineries they kept.
Most recently, President Barack Obama gave new life to the phrase “amber waves of grain” by not only being photographed sipping beers, but also releasing the recipe to White House Honey Ale in response to a Freedom of Information Act request (which was released in 2012 to rave reviews.)
But he was far from the only one! George Washington loved his beer, and probably brewed it on his own estate. Fellow founding father Thomas Jefferson was not only a brewing nut, so was his wife Martha, who produced about 15 gallons of low-alcohol beer every couple of weeks. And John Adams came from a family of brewers – in face, Sam Adams (sound familiar?) was his second cousin.
The Founding Fathers loved their beer. But they also loved their wine! After all, Benjamin Franklin (yes, we know he wasn't ever president, but he was there) was the one who praised wine to the skies in his often-misquoted letter:
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.
He also loved his "strong, harvest-time ale." He's said to have praised beer in his customarily pithy way, saying, “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is courage, in water there is bacteria.” We're actually not totally sure about this one, since the term “bacteria” didn't exist until the mid-19th century, but we're sure he would have signed off on it.
So tilt a brew or a bottle back today, because you're following in the footsteps of a fine American tradition.
To your health!
Brooke B., Historian Doyenne
As we've said before, we don't really believe in New Year's resolutions. However, we do believe in constantly working toward lifelong goals and making ourselves and everyone around us happier.
This is nothing new. The New Year's celebration is as old as humanity itself, although many cultures wait until spring to throw their parties. The Romans were the ones who fused Christmas with the New Year, which was in and of itself an offshoot of Saturnalia.
We're particular fans of that holiday, because Saturn, as the god of agricultural bounty, and his consort Ops, the goddess of resources and wealth, were both celebrated with toasts and consumption of a lot of beer and of wine (which in those times was occasionally mixed with seawater; we don't recommend it!) Both were also associated with the notorious Bacchus, also known as Dionysus, the god of the grape.
Ever since those times, people have been making resolutions – probably never to drink again – and breaking them just as quickly. That's why we're simply continuing our work to make the world around us just a tiny bit better. We think, like the ancient Romans, that beer and wine and great food is a wonderful way to start. So, we resolve to bring more of that to you in 2014. Now, that's an easy one to keep!
Evviva, skaal, and to your health in the next year!
Brooke B., Epicure
Thanksgiving is either a day of relaxing and epic feasting, or a nightmare of cooking and making hasty last-minute decisions for a group of ravenous friends and family members. It all depends what side of the cutting board you're on.
While we can't help you with the cooking, we can suggest a few wines and beers to pair with your meal to make everything go a little easier for you. We consulted with Stephen Ansley, our resident wine specialist, and did some "independent research" during San Diego Beer Week to find the best brews to sip with your deep-fried turducken!
The traditional Thanksgiving meal is especially wonderful, because turkey can be paired with just about everything. If you want a pinot noir, try Cycles Gladiator or an Au Bon Climat from Santa Barbara. The tartness of the pinot cuts through the richness of gravy and brings out the flavor of turkey. The fruitiness of merlots also works well, especially with dark meats or hearty stuffings. Try one of Flora Springs' or a merlot from McManis Family Vineyards.
White wine lovers, take heart! There's plenty of room for you at the table. The butteriness and oaky notes of a good chardonnay is an ideal complement to the sweet and savory combinations you get with turkey, stuffing, and cranberries. Try something from Columbia Crest Grant Estates or White Oak.
If you're in the mood for a brew but still want something to pair with the richness of the meal, try a hoppy (but not too hoppy!) brew or one that's complex enough to balance the stuffing and gravy. Our pick is either an Alpine Captain Stout for chocolaty malty goodness, or a Monkey Paw Patas Pale Ale, which has hops that shine through just enough to offset the richness of the food. We have also encountered some excellent saisons that we think would enrich your eating and drinking experience. Green Flash Brewery's Saison Diego has a clever name and a nice complex palate that won't overpower your meal. And last, but certainly not least, porters and their chocolate and coffee notes are a wonderfully rich way to end a meal. Our hands-down and bottoms-up favorite is, and has been, Alesmith Robust Porter. Try it with a tasty tender piece of turkey, dripping with gravy and juices, and you'll know we're right!
We hope these will make your Thanksgiving Day just a little tastier. We want the best for you, because, as always… we couldn't do this without you!
Brooke B., Thanks Giver
This is the time of year that the weather turns cool and the indoors start to look mighty cozy. By the way, did you know that turkey pairs with all wines, from delicate whites to rich reds to all types of roses? It's true! It's just one of the great things about Thanksgiving.
It's also a great time to try some new beers. Because there's so much caramelization in Thanksgiving meals, dark and chocolatey stouts are sublime, but the light hoppy brews are great as well. It's a veritable feast of beer and wine, and you can't go wrong with Thanksgiving! We're thankful for that, too.
Don't forget the champagne, either. Bubbly is great with everything, whether it's the meal, the post-meal game, or the post-game coma.
As you can see, we love to count our blessings while we're stuffing ourselves with cranberries and turkey. There are many things we're thankful for, but most of all, we're thankful for you.
Thanks for everything!
Brooke B., Stuffed Turkey