Happy Independence Day!
Today's the day the United States formally declared its independence from Great Britain, way back in 1776. Fourth of July celebrations include displaying the American flag, parades, and fireworks, not to mention the all-important barbecues.
All of those are wonderful, but we’d like to suggest a slightly different way of celebrating this great day. If you are thinking, “Hmmm, we bet this involves beer,” you’d be absolutely right. Here’s our idea for a patriotic afternoon of leisurely local craft beer sippin’:
Green Flash Hop Head Red (1 bottle)
Avery Brewing Company’s White Rascal (1 bottle)
Repeat as necessary. The red ale and white beer represent, of course, the red and white stripes of our great nation’s flag.
But what about the blue? we can hear you asking now. That took some special legwork, and you have to go outside the United States to find it – all the way to Hokkaido, Japan, where Abashiri Brewery has begun selling beer that is made with melted icebergs and colored with seaweed dyes.
We’re not too sure about this one, so we’ll leave the final decision about how far to take your patriotism up to you. We’ll be over here, celebrating the Stars and Bars with our favorite local reds and whites (beer, that is.)
Here’s to US!
Brooke B., Patriotette
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 |
Today is April Fool's Day, also called “The Worst Day on the Internet.” In an age where just about anything can go viral, and gullibility is compounded by clickbait, it's best not to trust anything for the next 24 hours or so.
We promise to not be part of this trend. We, instead, embrace an original rite of spring, the "renewal festival," which occurred in many cultures throughout the world and were characterized by lighthearted pranks and a temporary reversal of the accepted social order. (Yes, we know that the whole mockery mess supposedly began when France shifted from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one somewhere in the 16th century, thereby switching the New Year to January 1st instead of April, but we prefer the friendlier origin story.)
So, we are taking this opportunity to announce that we are expanding from beer, food, and wine tours into beer, food, wine, and koi pond tours. We're looking forward to three hours of showing you the best koi ponds that San Diego County has to offer after every beer and wine tour!
Okay, that was a joke. Sorry. We caught the April Fool's spirit for a moment. Or should we say, April Fish? But this is no joke – mention “springtime" to us and you'll get $5 off a tour through the month of April.*
Brooke B., Poisson d'Avril
*Call (858) 551-5115 for discount. Not to be combined with past purchases or other offers. Discount good now through April 30th.
The vernal equinox is the first day of spring. That's when the day and night are roughly equal in length. Now nighttime is just going to keep getting shorter, until we're at summer's glorious peak!
Not that springtime in San Diego is anything to sneeze at, unless you're allergic to pollen, of course. In fact, it's one of the most gloriously beautiful times of the year here, with rare flowers popping out of the desert and cherry blossoms adorning Balboa Park.
It's also a great time of year to sit outside and sip some light springtime wines. We recommend light-bodied wines. Here are a few to try:
Prosecco is a light and sparkly wine, and at its best it's fruity without being oversweet. It's also quite wallet-friendly, running about $10 a bottle. Perfect for sipping with or without peach juice as you sit on the porch in the springtime sun. Try something from Nino Franco to start.
California has a serious rosé issue — it's serious about rosés. And so are we! Dry, balanced rosés make life worth living, and Napa Valley produces some of the best you'll find anywhere. Trefethen Family Vineyards produces a wonderful fruity rosé that's made with Pinot Noir grapes and has hints of cherries and strawberries. Perfect.
Red wine that carries just a touch of sweetness will be welcome on any sunny day, too. Modesto's Tisdale Vineyard carries a wine called Sweet Red of California that's a springtime favorite. It's great for summer, too! Pair it with your favorite barbecued food.
Enjoy the sparkling days and clear nights of springtime in San Diego. Here's to the equinox!
Brooke B., Spring Blossom
Statue of Dionysius, the Roman god of wine and the harvest. Also the most fun god. True story.
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
March 15th supposed to be a day that bad things are bound to happen. The phrase "beware the ides of March" comes, like so many other things in the English language, from Shakespeare.
There's actual history behind the saying. As you may have guessed, March 15th is the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated, setting the stage for the Roman Republic to become the Roman Empire. But the middle of March wasn't always considered an unlucky day, and we agree that it shouldn't be. Back in the Roman days, it was also the feast of Anna Parenna, which was supposed to complete the cycle of the year.
This was a day of festivities, which included drinking as much wine as your belly could hold. It was thought that each cup of wine you drank meant you'd live yet another happy and healthy year. We can't say that's something you shouldn't do, but just keep in mind that wine back then was not as potent as it is now, since they mixed it with seawater (a thought which frankly horrifies us.)
Be that as it may, don't beware the ides of March… enjoy them, and have a glass of wine. Or two. Or three. One way or another, it'll make you happier!
To your health!
Brooke B., Haruspex
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