The holidays have barreled down on us like a freight train and suddenly, it's almost 2015. Are you prepared for the parties and gifts? How about dinners with family and friends?
Prepared or not, there's very little that can't be improved with the proper application of delicious wine and beer, so here are some of our suggestions to help you add to your holiday spirit. Enjoy!
First of all – what do your winter holiday plans entail? If you're looking for last-minute gifts, the following beers are timely and delicious. If you don't celebrate (or are just boycotting the holidays this year) we think that the best thing you can do is treat yourself, whether it's celebratory or “just because.” The best way to do that, in our opinion, is to sample some of the many legendary San Diego beers – and try the seasonal brews!
Port Brewing Company has a classic Christmas beer called Santa's Little Helper. This imperial stout is brewed to pair with this season's sweet treats, with notes of roasted coffee and dark chocolate to play off the fruitcake your coworkers got you. Try the barrel-aged version, too – it adds depth and complexity with a twist of sweet bourbon. So delicious!
Speaking of fruitcakes, we can't get enough of Hess Brewing Company's Ficus. This small-batch beer is incredible, and if you do decide to have a holiday feast, it's the perfect pour to pair. It starts out a dark Belgian ale, great in its own right, but what really takes it over the top is the addition of locally-grown San Diego figs, over 10 pounds a barrel. Those add a dimension of complex sweetness to something that was already wonderful to begin with.
If you're a little chilly but don't feel like just pouring a belt of Kahlua into your cup of hot chocolate, go the beer route with Mother Earth Brew Co.'s Fuggin' Cocoa Stout. This award-winning American Stout is thick with notes of chocolate (of course), cinnamon, and vanilla. And it's so good!
We'd also like to give a shout-out to the really excellent breweries that don't offer holiday-themed brews but are great all year round anyway. Pick up a bottle of something from Council Brew (Pirate's Breakfast!), Automatic Brewing Co. (you can find their beers, and many other great ones, at Blind Lady Ale House in Normal Heights), or the teeny-tiny – but still incredible – Cold Bore Brewing Company out of Jamul.
We just made ourselves thirsty, so we're going to stop there for now. But more ideas are on their way. Until then, drink up and enjoy the holiday season of America's Finest City!
Brooke B., Saison's Greeter
It's almost holiday season. Well, actually, since holiday season starts right after Halloween these days, we guess it IS holiday season!
This the time of year that we tell all of you how thankful we are for all of you. We couldn't be in this business without you, our fellow beer, wine,nd food aficionados, and all the good things you bring into our lives.
We're also thankful we live in such an amazing corner of the world, where fine, locally-produced food and drink is available everywhere we turn!
Since we know you appreciate good meals and drinks just as much as we do, we thought we'd share some tried-and-true suggestions with you to make your Thanksgiving Day as delightful as it can possibly be.
First, to the food. Do you have too much to drink hanging around the house? Is that bottle of sparkling wine from your great-aunt not really doing it for you? How about roasting a champagne turkey? The wine (or sparkling cider, if you don't feel like sacrificing a bottle) plus some butter leaves the turkey tender, moist, and absolutely delicious. Or, if you have some leftover reds, how about adding a red wine glaze? Spectacular!
When it comes to actually drinking the wine, turkey is a special case. While you can drink red or white wine with anything, of course, turkey actually pairs beautifully with both!
So we think that if you want to kick it up a notch, you should take the middle ground and add a delicious orange to pair with your turkey, just to keep your family or friends guessing. Orange wine is white wine that's spent a lot of time fermenting in its own skins and seeds. At its best, it's complex and spicy and goes beautifully with a Thanksgiving feast. The ever-wonderful Bernardo Winery has a sweet orange moscato that would taste divine with cranberry sauce or even with dessert. It's also a gorgeous color!
If you're feeling beerish, we can't recommend a good stout, like Alesmith's Speedway Stout, enough. Its coffee and molasses notes are perfect for pairing with stuffing and its creaminess complements everything from peas to pumpkin pie!
But if you're feeling adventurous, sour beers are where it's at for Thanksgiving. Sour beers, in case you haven't tried them, are perfect for cutting through the sometimes-gamy flavor of dark turkey meat, and prep your palate for the lighter side dishes. If you can get your hands on The Savage from Societe, it's a great American sour ale and we highly recommend it! Its cherry finish will leave you singing.
As always, we're so thankful for you.
Brooke B., Thanks Giver
It's the spookiest time of the year!
Halloween is on its way. Kids are donning costumes, scary movies are all over Netflix, and ghosts are wailing in the trees (or is it just the Santa Ana?).
But we haven't forgotten about that other celebration of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day: Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That's the Mexican celebration of the dead, where you can go to the graveyards and talk to your loved ones who have passed on.
We are so close to Mexico here in southern California that we would be remiss if we didn't mention Baja California's vibrant beer and wine scene. But you shouldn't have to cross any international borders to sample them, if you don't want to!
First up, let's talk about the craft beer scene, which in no way stops at the international border. We absolutely love Cucapa, which is out of Mexicali, and now is readily available in San Diego.
A pair of binational brothers, Ivan and Damien Morales, have a tiny but great brewery out of Tijuana called Cerveceria Insurgente (Insurgent Brewing or Revolutionary Brewing) that is currently collaborating with Stone for something that will be truly delicious.
And then there's Mexico's wineries, which are the among the oldest in the New World. Their wines are fruity and delicious, but sometimes a little minerally and salty – a byproduct of the soil in which the grapes grow. Whether or not that is your thing is a matter of taste, but it definitely sets Baja's wines apart from the rest!
We'll also be brewing up wine and beer tastings this weekend, so grab your favorite calavera pals and taste some cerveza and vino with us.
It'll be an eerily fun time!
Brooke B., Calaca
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
It's Labor Day!
If we lived anywhere but this absolutely beautiful part of the world, this would be the unofficial end of summer and beginning of fall. But since we're in southern California, the march of the seasons are a good deal more subtle.
However, this is a great time to start planning outdoor barbecues and backyard parties with friends, and we're all for that!
Labor Day is actually a day to celebrate the rights and achievements of workers, long pressed tightly under the thumb of the manufacturing industry. After the Industrial Revolution, the average American worked more than 80 hours a week, with no days off, simply to put food on the table, and children as young as 5 were already working in the mines.
Labor unionized and revolted, organizing strikes and rallies. On September 5th, 1882, thousands of workers marched from New York City Hall to Union Square, agitating for change. And the change came. 40-hour weeks became the standard, and child labor was criminalized.
Twelve years after that historic march, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a national holiday. Thus was Labor Day born. Over time, this day became a way to celebrate community through parties and parades. That's our favorite part!
So, whatever you end up doing, tilt a glass for the history of Labor Day and the courageous people who made life better for the rest of us… and remember, it's perfectly acceptable to drink white after Labor Day.
Brooke B., Proletariat
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.