It's officially time for the holidays! Unfortunately, that means that the day after sitting around with our favorite people and counting our blessings, we're trampling each other in the name of Black Friday sales.
We at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours have the antidote to crass consumerism. We firmly believe that the gift of knowledge is the best gift of all. That's why we're offering $10 off our Chauffeured Winery Tour and $5 off our Wine (and Beer) Train Tour*, so you can bring your loved ones out to learn all about wine, beer, and food pairings.
It's a welcome change from kneeing each other in the face over limited-edition plastic dolls. And it's the gift that keeps on giving! We'd rather spend low-key, fun days eating and drinking and making great memories with the people we love, wouldn't you? And isn't that what the holidays are really all about?
Plus, when you're with us, you get to avoid the Black Friday crowds. We're still up in the air about Cyber Monday…
Catch you on the flip side!
Brooke B., Sales Turkey
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
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
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
Patriot Day and the National Day of Service and Remembrance – September 11th – is a somber occasion, and one that we wish to treat with respect. It is, of course, the anniversary of the attacks on the United States in 2001, in which nearly three thousand people lost their lives.
San Diego Beer and Wine Tours wishes to extend the deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and to those who continue to be affected by the events of 9/11. We hope to do our part to foster a love and hopefully, someday, peace for all of humanity by encouraging common understanding. We feel that can be achieved, in part, through learning about and appreciating different food and drink.
For the month of September we will be offering $5 off all tours to commemorate the lives lost and affected during the horrific events of September 11th, 2001. We also hope to do our part to honor the victims with service to our community.
Brooke B., Peacenik
It's nearly autumn in southern California. The sky turns a particular shade of dusty blue and the heat waves everybody thinks should come in June always arrive in September. It's also a very exciting time of year in the wine industry, because it's harvest time!
We absolutely love harvest time in San Diego anyway, and the fact that we now have a month dedicated to wine makes it that much sweeter. There are special events and grape stomps all over the place! This year's harvest has come a bit early due to warm weather and a huge crop that promises to make 2013 a banner year for California wine.
For all your stomping needs across San Diego County:
The Julian Grape Stomp Festa takes place on the 7th of September, from 11am to 7pm. Thousands of people show up every year to enjoy themselves and sample Julian's particular natural beauty and tasty delights.
If you want to stay a little farther south that day or want to hit more than one stomp, Barrio Logan Winery's harvest celebration is also on September 7th from 11am to 7pm. It's about five minutes from the middle of downtown San Diego and will be an excellent time, with live music, costume competitions, and stomping contests, all going to a good cause.
September 14th is Bernardo Winery's grape-stomping festival. They'll serve up music and wine while allowing you to squish grapes between your toes. The stomp starts at noon sharp, so don't be late!
We're positive we'll see you at one or all of these.
Enjoy the harvest and stomp responsibly!
Brooke B., Twinkletoes
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
Graduation is what's on everybody's mind this time of year, whether it's from middle school or a Ph.D. program. These rites of passages are among the most important to a student, for obvious reasons. It's when their new life begins!
If you are a new graduate or love a new graduate, we know ways to help ease the transition from student at university to student of life – sampling the most delicious wine and beer that San Diego has to offer. We help you celebrate on our train tour, roam La Jolla on a beer or wine walking tour, or visit breweries and wineries all over the county in our chauffeured van.
And, by the way. We absolutely love to teach people about the different, wonderful beers and wines San Diego has to offer and introduce them to new ways to pair them, so you don't have to stop learning if you don't want to!
Here's to the lifelong learner and eternal student. Congratulations, and bottoms up!
Brooke B., Congraduate