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 |
The second Sunday in August is a very special day. As of 2010, it's been “Spirit of `45 Day.” It was passed unanimously by Congress, and the first Spirit of `45 Day fell on August 14th, the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Spirit of `45 Day was created first and foremost to commemorate the ordinary people who lived through the Second World War and the mettle shown by surviving members of the Greatest Generation as they rebuilt the United States after the end of the war. Another, very important reason was to remind the world that the United States is committed to never allowing a world war to happen again..
We, too, would like to honor these ordinary heroes, the men and women of World War II, so in the Spirit of `45, we are offering $4.50 off any of our Train Tours or our Chauffeured Wine Country Tour between now and the end of August. There's no better way to celebrate than tipping back a locally brewed ale. San Diego's beer scene emphasizes the solidarity and the can-do spirit that characterizes the United States at its best.
Here's to the Spirit of `45, and we'll see you on a tour!
Brooke B., Andrews Sister
Did you know that June is San Diego Craft Beer Month?
Yes, we know it's almost over. We have been out sampling all the delights San Diego's beer scene has to offer! But if you've missed it so far, don't worry. There's still a solid week of events left, and plenty of beer to go around. Here's a smattering of them.
If you like beer flights – and who doesn't? – stop by Carnita's Snack Shack in North Park. Their tastings are $7 per flight, every night, and always local beers. And they're all delicious! Try some of their food, too.
Modern Times Brewery is dropping a new beer this week, just ahead of its first anniversary party next month. What a year it's been for them! If you haven't tried out their beer before, now's the time. No, really. Try their beer!
This Friday, Ska Brewing's throwing their launch party at Hamilton's Tavern. It starts at 5pm. Head out there and get in on one of Colorado's best breweries — but without having to leave San Diego. If you can't stay to sample a beer you'll just have stop by to pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.
There are plenty more events going on this week, so get thee to a brewpub! San Diego's beer is among the best in the world, and it's right out there for the sipping.
Salud! See you out on the town!
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