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
Halloween is almost here, and another special day is just around the corner: Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. In Mexico (and in other countries around the world!) it's a time that families remember their loved ones who have gone with altars and music. But it's not a sad holiday, at all – it's festive and happy, although it's perhaps just a little spooky.
Anthropologists have traced the origin of the holiday to a festival for the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of the Dead. It included marigolds and whatever things, including food and drink, the deceased person loved the best. If you see flower altars this October 31st and November 1st and 2nd, you'll see photographs, flowers, and sugar skulls and bread to help feed those loved ones in the afterlife.
Luckily, like us, the Aztecs also believed that you didn't have to die to get everything you love, and that included food and drink. In fact, they had 400 godlings all dedicated to wine – their mother, the goddess Mayahuel, was the goddess of the maguey and of pulque (a milky alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant) and fed those young gods, represented by rabbits, every night.
Like the ancient Aztecs, we appreciate the value of good wine. This November 1st, we'll tip a glass back to you – unless you want to come on one of our famous train tours or chauffered wine tours, and learn even more about the history of wine!
Feliz Día de los Muertos,
Brooke B., Mueca de la Catrina
Halloween is coming, so don your masks and grab your bags and get ready for some old-fashioned trick-or-treating! If you want a real treat, though, join us on one of our many craft beer or winery events, such as one of our guided walking tours through San Diego.
There are many good reasons to learn about craft beer and local wine, not just because San Diego offers such an exciting array of both, but also because the more we learn about beer and wine, the more we appreciate them!
This month is particularly interesting, especially in light of the great pumpkin beer debates, because the history of Halloween in the United States is also wrapped up in its long tradition of pumpkin beer.
You see, when the first pilgrims settled in the vast sweeps of what was now called New England, there were pumpkins everywhere. Green pumpkins, blue pumpkins, yellow and pink, and mottled ones littered the ground along with the traditional orange. They were so common and easy to grow in the fertile ground that they were seen as an everyday and delicious staple.
Their proliferation guaranteed that the thirsty settlers would use the sweet squash, first called pompions, to make the first pumpkin beers. A seventeeth-century poem went, in part:
If Barley be wanting to make into Malt,
We must be contented and think it no Fault,
For we can make liquor to sweeten our Lips
Of Pumpkins and Parsnips and Walnut-Tree Chips.
It wasn't until the 1800s, when Irish immigrants began swelling the ranks of the American population and bringing Celtic All Hallows' Eve traditions of carving gourds with them, that pumpkins were eyed as something other than food and the makings of beer. In fact, the fat orange pumpkins you see today were specifically bred for carving, which is why they don't make for very tasty eating. If you want to taste pumpkin pie like the Native Americans used to eat, try finding the multicolored squash at farmer's markets or growing them from heirloom seeds yourself.
But no matter what, despite how much fun it might be, don't knock pumpkin brews for being trendy. They're part of an ancient and proud American tradition! It was also considered a especially healthy drink.
So that's the not-so-scary story of pumpkin beer. You know what's really terrifying, though? Drinking bad beer in San Diego. That's why we're here, to help you get to know the craft brew scene around here. Call us at (858) 551-5115 to book a tour with us and we'll show you what we mean. Costumes, by the way, are always welcome.
Brooke B., Hallo-wino
Holy cow, it's nearly the end of September again. How did this happen? (We know, we know, the same way as always.) While San Diego's summer is filled with interesting and fun things to do, truth be told, our biggest open secret is that autumn is hands down our favorite season around here.
“But San Diego Beer and Wine Tours,” we hear you say, “there are no seasons in San Diego!” Ah, that's where you're wrong. There are four distinct seasons here, made all the more beautiful by their subtlety, and this is the best one of them all. It's not just because of the warm winds that sweep up from Mexico, or the way the angled sunlight makes ocean waves extra glittery, but also the wealth of opportunities to go out and have fun!
One such event is San Diego Beer Week. This amazing event, which is going on from November 1st through November 10th 2013, is now in its fifth year. You may have noticed that Beer Week lasts ten solid days. That's because it's too big to contain in a mere seven!
San Diego Beer Week was dreamed up as a way to showcase and promote our vibrant craft beer community. It's a wonderland of tastings and pairings at a variety of price points. From piney to sour, to barrel-aged beers, all brewed locally, there's sure to be something to make everybody happy. It certainly keeps us thrilled and eager to go explore the little-known nooks and crannies of San Diego's craft brewing scene.
That's just one reason we love the fall in San Diego, and it's a big one. If you don't believe us, check out some of the events going on. We promise you'll love it.
See you there at one of the great events of San Diego Beer Week. Remember: Drink, don’t drive. Call us at (858) 551-5115 for a ride to the awesome events! Mention “San Diego Beer Week” and we’ll give you $5 any of our tours throughout November!
Brooke B., Cerevisaphiliac
This week is San Diego Restaurant Week! It's a magical time of year when all participating restaurants offer deep discounts on a special (and extremely delicious) price-fixe menu.
We at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours absolutely adore San Diego Restaurant Week, because we think that San Diego's food scene is upcoming, underrated, and filled to the brim with deliciousness.
We also love Restaurant Week because we think great wine and beer, which San Diego has in abundance, is well and good, but it lacks a dimension if you don't pair it with tasty food. That's why we feature food and wine and food and beer tours, and why we're such happy champions of Restaurant Week. We think that developing your own palate, whether it's for food, wine, or craft beer, is an essential part of a happy life.
Eat, enjoy, and pair away!
Brooke B., Epicure
We've said this before, again and again, but San Diego's best and most underrated season really is autumn. It's when the leaves on the trees change color, the low sun makes the water in the harbor look extra sparkly, and all the harvest activities are happening!
One of our absolute favorite autumn events is Oktoberfest. This Bavarian beer festival was first held to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810, and quickly became a tradition.
But you don't have to make a pilgrimage to Bavaria to enjoy Oktoberfest. San Diego, with its glorious craft beer scene, has taken the traditional Oktoberfest and given it a unique regional flair. Best of all, you can find them all over the county, from La Mesa in the east to Encinitas in the northwest, each chock-full of all the best beer San Diego has to offer — and believe us when we say that is beer well worth a taste, especially all the wonderfully crisp pumpkin- and apple-laced brews.
Want to come sample the best brews of San Diego like a true Bavarian? Come learn about San Diego's beer scene with us. We're offering a 10 percent discount on ALL tours throughout the month of Oktober — er, October.
Brooke B., Bavarian Humanitarian
Happy Pride from San Diego Beer and Wine Tours!
Today and tomorrow, San Diego is holding its annual celebration of diversity: Pride Weekend. Much like our craft beer scene and Comic-Con, it started out a small gathering and turned into something much, much bigger. Every year, the Pride Parade, festival, and afterparties transform the always-lively San Diego neighborhood of Hillcrest into a gigantic, colorful (and sometimes glittery), and inclusive party.
We at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours love and respect the differences that keep life interesting. After all, who wants a world just full of Merlots when there are varietals like Albariños, Montepulcianos, and the ever-delightful and spicy Gewürztraminers to try, as well? And who wants to drink the same bland big brand beers every day when you can try a whole rainbow of craft stouts, pilsners, or IPAs?
That respect for diversity is part and parcel of who we are. That's why we're offering $5 off any of our beer and wine tours for the month of July, to help you appreciate the wine and beer world's rich pageant. Just mention "Pride" for your discount!
Celebrate diversity! It makes the world go `round.
Brooke B., Rain Beau
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
Well, maybe not Wolverine.
As difficult as it might be to believe, it wasn't so many years ago that Comic-Con was just a tiny gathering of like-minded people. Now, much like San Diego's craft beer scene, it has transformed itself from a handful of geeks who do their best work alone in a basement into an economic and cultural leviathan. We in San Diego are proud to lead the way in both beer and comics, two of the things that make life worth living!
Luckily for all of us, you don't have to choose one or the other. You can have both – and sometimes two separate things combine to make a new and wonderful experience. For example, Gigantic Brewing Company out of Portland, Oregon proudly displays labels designed by comic book artists, as does Elysian Brewing's 12 Beers of the Apocalypse series. They feature artwork by Charles Burns of Black Hole and sound delicious to boot, but may be difficult to get your hands on, since the world ended back in 2012, after all. And Dark Corner Ale features its labels as comic book art, with its two brewers starring as the main characters.
But we've saved the best for last. On Saturday, July 20th, an amazing benefit craft brew festival will be taking place in downtown San Diego, right next to the Comic-Con digs: Heroes Brew 2013. It's the first superheroes-themed craft beer festival, but don't worry! Capes are optional. (it's also powered by sustainable energy, and all money raised goes to San Diego Coastkeeper, a nonprofit that works to keep water around San Diego County clean, so we totally approve.)
We love our breweries and our comic conventions, and we know you will, too. Catch you at the Con!
Brooke B., Beer Geek
Hey baby, it's nearly the Fourth of July. We love this time of year! The days are at their longest and warmest and everybody is in a party mood for Independence Day. We prefer the annual San Diego rite of passage of heading out to the beach, where you can barbecue next to the surf, but really, there's fun to be had just about anywhere!
We know that you're probably going to have a cookout, so we won't waste our time recommending food. You know what to do. What we have done, however, is once again sampled some of San Diego's finest in order to help you best pair your favorite local brews with your meals!
We'll start off with an oldie, but a goodie – a classic in the vibrant world of San Diego's beer scene: Karl Strauss's Red Trolley Ale. This venerable red ale is a two-time winner at the World Beer Cup, and it lives up to its reputation and then some. Its toffee flavor and medium body pair beautifully with red meat and sharp cheese, so don't hesitate to have this on hand when you fire up the grill.
If you like ales but want to expand your palate into something a little more off the beaten path, try out Port Brewing Company's Shark Attack. It's a little more full-bodied than Red Trolley, but will still be delightful with a still-sizzling cheeseburger. If you want even more, Port's Older Viscosity is black as asphalt and so rich you might even want to forgo the burger. (Just get a little something in your stomach, though. Trust us.)
IPAs are also good for those hot, hot days by the shore. There's nothing more cooling than the citrusy finish of a nice, hoppy IPA like Big Eye from Ballast Point. Salty foods are the best with a lot of bitterness and hops, and so save your Big Eye for a sausage plate or for when you've just come out of the ocean with a mouth full of salt. Not hoppy enough? Try Stone Brewing Company's Ruination IPA or Green Flash's Palate Wrecker. Their bitterness will make you sing!
If you prefer coffee and caramel notes in a dark beer to cool you down, we would like to take this opportunity to point you to one of our perennial favorite all-around beers: AleSmith's Speedway Stout. We hate to play favorites, but this outstanding stout goes down so easily and pairs so beautifully with everything from coleslaw to ribs that you don't really need much else while you're watching the fireworks at the end of the night.
We are, of course, open to any additions that you would like to add. In fact, we welcome it! Any chance we get to try something new is a good day for us. And if you would like to try something new, put yourselves in our capable hands and join us on a chauffered winery tour, or a brewery and winery train tour. We're running "Celebrate America" specials from now through the end of July!
Here's to independent spirits!
Brooke B., BBQ Brewery Babe