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
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
It's almost Valentine's Day! It's the most wonderful day in the world if you're happily in love, but not so much if you aren't. But it could be! If you're looking for something to do this February 14th, or any day in February, we have an idea for you.
Here's our idea: Love yourselves! Life is wonderful, especially with fine wine or beer paired with wonderful food and like-minded people. One of the best ways we know of to pamper yourself and make yourself happy is by indulging in the tastiest of food and drink. And we have the perfect time to do it – on one of our Valentine's tours.
Whether you're coupled up or a singleton, we don't mind. We love bringing people along for our Romantic Tours to show you the best of what San Diego has to offer.
Everybody loves a lover, so love yourself! We love you.
Brooke B., Valentine Clementine
It's almost springtime already!
You know how we know? It's not the blue skies or the buds popping out on the trees. No, the real sign that spring is almost here is the annual Farmer's Insurance Open Golf Tournament at the Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Even if you don't play, the PGA Tour tournament is sure to be a great time. Golf is only the tip of the iceberg during that week – the crowds will also be treated to delightful food and drink, the opportunity to celebrity-watch, and be surrounded by gleaming, vintage cars. It's also for a good cause, as the tournament works closely with local charities that provide help for schools and childrens' centers!
They're also looking for volunteers, which is a great way to take in all the sights while giving back to the community. That's what we'll be doing!
Plus, it's going to be a blazing hot month, so come cool off at Torrey Pines while rubbing elbows with San Diego's top golfers… and givers.
We'll see you there!
Brooke B., Beer Birdie
We can't believe it, but 2013 is nearly over and another year is about to begin!
This was a great year. They all are, but 2013 was particularly fun. We met great people, we tasted wonderful food and local wines, and the beer – well, let's just say that the craft beer in San Diego gets better and more plentiful by the year. New Year's traditions around the world involve spiked punch and champagne, but we really think that the only real way to celebrate the arrival of 2014 is with a California wine or a San Diego brew. After all, what you do on New Year's will set the tone for the next twelve months!
Do you have guests in from out of town? Are you a group looking for a wine or beer pairing luncheon or dinner party. We have the perfect event for your celebration. Call us and we’ll give you a Happy New Year gift of $5 off this wonderful party. Go here for more details.
It’s a busy holiday week for us, here’s some of our popular tours with spots open this week:
TOP SELLER! Winery Train Tour (Mon. – Fri. Start times: 1:40pm and 12pm) Easy-to-get-to start location via walk/trolley/train-usually no need to drive. Available Mon. 12/30; Thurs 1/2 and Friday 1/3
“FUN TIME ON THE WINE TOUR! We had a great time on the winery train tour, the time went by quickly, the lunch was AMAZING and it was great that you could drink on the train so we bought a bottle and enjoyed it with the other guests on the tour.” One of over 180 Trip Advisor 5-Star Reviews.
Drink on the train! Optional brewery stop for our beer lovers at no additional cost!
These GREEN tours are about 5 hrs in duration. You'll enjoy ample tastes of fabulous, local wines – about 18 tastes! We start the tour with wine and food pairings (light lunch) at our partner restaurant (delicious fine dining Italian). We enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery as we travel by rail (wine tasting on the train is highly recommended!). We have delightful guided historic walks (about 2 miles total, about 15 minute walks at a time) into the villages for tastings at the boutique wineries (fully operational urban wineries, this is not our vineyard tour) for wine and cheese and wine and chocolate pairings. Optional stop at our brewery for our beer lovers! You can join us on this Coaster train tour easily from most locations by using public transportation (bus, trolley, train, coaster etc.). These popular tours are only $88 per person which includes all your food, wine/beer and fun guided tours. (Does not include Regional Plus Day Pass train ticket which is an additional $12 per person.) Click here to book now!
TOP SELLER! San Diego Wine Country Chauffeured Tour (Wed.- Sun. Start time: approx. 11am) Available Friday 1/3 and Sunday 1/5
"SUPER SPECIAL AND RELAXED DAY FILLED WITH TERRIFIC WINE AND FOOD! What a perfect way to celebrate! The wine was spectacular. The wineries were beautiful and very welcoming. What took this tour over the top is the food! Cheeses, chocolates, breadsticks and brick oven pizza with breathtaking views. Completely worth every moment and dollar. Don’t miss! Cheers!” One of over 180 Trip Advisor 5-Star Reviews.
On these popular tours we pick you up from your residence/hotel (from most San Diego locations) and take you to the vineyards of San Diego Wine Country. These fabulous tours are about 6 hrs. and include ample tastings at three wineries (about 18 tastes!). Your guide will entertain you with local history and a wine appreciation presentation. At our first winery we'll savor delicious fruits and cheeses with superb fine wine tastings. During this adventure you’ll get to stroll the vineyards and see how our local wines are made. We'll conclude this amazing day with decadent, local wines paired with a gourmet wood-fired brick-oven pizza dinner overlooking spectacular wineries grounds. Beer options available for purchase. Wine Country tour is all inclusive with door-to-door transportation, cheese platter, dinner, tasting fees, guided tour, bottled water, wine tote gift bag at only $149 per person. Click here to book now!
Wine & Food Walking Tour (Daily. Start time: 2pm) Available Tues 12/31
"YOU EARN YOUR MONEY BACK IN THE FIRST STOP! We had a great time. Excellent food; excellent wine and excellent company. Will do this trip again soon!” One of over 180 Trip Advisor 5-Star Reviews.
This fabulous 3 to 3.5 hr guided walking tour has tantalizingly tasty tour stops in the beautiful village of La Jolla. You'll be delighted as you taste fine wines and savor delicious, gourmet food. Your expert local guide will educate you in the fine art of wine tasting and food pairing. You'll even be treated with scrumptious wine paired with chocolate! Enjoy a leisurely walk of about 1.5 miles near the ocean, while being entertained with the history and culture of quaint La Jolla by-the-sea. Join us as we partake in the very best of La Jolla’s restaurants and wine bars. These tours are priced all inclusive at only $72 per person which includes all your food and wine, and guided walking tours. Click here to book now!
Salud, cheers, prosit, and here's to a wonderful 2014!
Brooke B., Auld Acquaintance