From left to right: son Ben, daughter RaeAnne, daughter Jade, grandson Coleton, Shira's mother Malka, daughter Shayna, daughter Leeyah
Mother's Day is a very special time around here. Our very own Shira Bliss is an extraordinary mum, raising five beautiful children of her own, so she understands what mothers go through very well. That's why we go out of our way to make our Mother's Day tours very special ones for hardworking moms and their grateful kids.
Jean "Shep" Shepherd, the humorist best known for penning and narrating "A Christmas Story," once famously proclaimed that "beer is the mother of us all." We agree that beer is a wonderful invention, and one that's even been credited with helping create civilization.
So, what better way to treat your mother on Mother's Day than to introduce her to the delights of the mother of civilization as we know it? This year, we're offering $5 off each ticket for our special Mother’s Day tours, offered from now through the end of May so that you can celebrate motherhood everywhere! (Mention “MothersDay2013” to get your special discount.)
Happy Mother's Day, all you hardworking moms! We salute you. To Motherhood!
Mum's the word,
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
Earth Day is one of our favorite days of the year, but not for the reason you might think. While we love that there's a day dedicated to the planet we all share, we think that every day should be Earth Day. That's why we do the tours we do – it's the only fully “green” winery and beer tour you can find in San Diego.
Our chauffeured tours are no different. While we're driving you so you can fully enjoy San Diego's great beer and wine, rest assured knowing that our low-emission vehicles help you participate in our environmentally friendly practices.
We're also reducing our carbon footprints in another, more subtle way. By showing San Diego the delights of its own vibrant wine, craft beer, and local food scenes, we are helping them buy locally – which cuts down on the amount of fuel that we use and by extension, cleans up the atmosphere.
Here's to clean air!
Brooke B., Gaia Goddess
Read more about Earth Day by Shira Bliss, owner SD Beer and Wine Tours.
We've already mentioned that this is one of our favorite times of year, from the Easter egg hunts to the buds on the trees. We're also pretty sure we've mentioned wine's particular role in the spring season's rites and rituals, but since Easter (and springtime in general) is all about beginnings, today we're going to talk about the integral role beer has played in human history: helping spark civilization.
That's right. Your humble glass of beer isn't just a delight, nor is it a brew reserved for sailors and ruffians (although, really, was it ever?) It's the reason everything, absolutely everything, exists as you know it. The theory goes thus: ancient Sumerians discovered that they could ferment barley, and were so happy with the results that they retired from their nomadic ways to cultivate it. There was enough enough food and beer to go around for thousands of years, and so they stuck around in one place for generations, focusing on other things – and that's how civilization was born.
It is not coincidental that the Sumerian goddess of fertility, Ninkasi, was also the goddess of beer and alcohol, whose hymn, once deciphered, also functions as a recipe for beer. But – stay with us – here's where it gets really interesting. Ninkasi was known by a few other names, including Astarte and Ishtar. That last name may sound familiar if you say it out loud, the way it was meant to be pronounced: “eesh-tar.” That name is, in fact, the goddess of fertility for which the Easter celebration is named.
So, the next time you're hoisting a beer, especially on one of our annual spring tours ushering in the season, pause for a moment and reflect on what you're sipping: not just a humble beer but the origins of civilization itself. To say nothing of Easter.
Brooke B., Spring Sumerian
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
The weather's warming up, the sun's out, birds are chirping, and the sunburned tourists are arriving. It's springtime, one of our favorite times of year around here! Everything is new again, the cold and damp of winter has passed, and we can't get enough of the daffodils, johnny-jump-ups, and nasturtiums that are making our gardens burst with color.
Spring is also a very important time in the wine world. It's when the vines start to wake up and start popping out buds, so we need to either store or drink last year's vintage to clear away room for the new, whether it's a cool flowery riesling, a delicate rosé, or a thick, sweet icewine. It's a very nice ritual, and dare we say, it's far preferable to spring cleaning.
Springtime also means green – green leaves, green buds, and green living. We're happy to say that our tours remain the greenest around, because by taking the train we reduce our collective carbon footprint. That keeps our gardens and grapes – and all the rest of us – very happy.
Stay gold (as in the LEED certification), and here's to spring!
Brooke B., Daffodil Sniffer
Green beer is okay, but "going green" on one of our train tours is much better!
We have barely recovered from Valentine's Day, but St. Patrick's Day is nearly upon us. As we adore Ireland with every fiber of our being (that's where our lovely Shira Bliss is from!) we are happy to share some insider love with you.
Now, you could celebrate the old-fashioned way – by pinching people and drinking green beer until you can't look at anything green for the next month – but why go that route? Celebrate in style. Here are our suggestions.
Don't let its reputation fool you. Ireland is not just a country of craic and Guinness. It is also a land of epicures and microbreweries, which in recent years have started springing up like mushrooms after a rain.
Unfortunately, not many Irish microbrews are available in the United States. We can only find two brands, but they're well worth hoisting.
Carlow Brewing Company, out of Carlow, Ireland, puts out beers like O'Hara's Irish Red and O'Hara's Celtic Stout. Its Irish Stout will have you singing – it's legendary! Pair with a good, thick Irish stew (that's where you'll be using all extra Guinness you bought last week) or boxty for maximum authenticity.
Porterhouse is arguably Ireland's most famous microbrew. They offer the notorious, and extraordinarily well received, Oyster Stout. But you don't need to stop there. We highly recommend their creamy-headed Porterhouse Red or their Templebrau Lager if you can find it, especially with a piping-hot bacon and cabbage dish.
For those of you whose culinary tastes run closer to home, try Karl Strauss's Red Trolley Ale, a McHale's Irish Stout or a Seaside Stout from Pizza Port Brewery, or a Scrapper's Irish Red from Coronado Brewing Company.
Enjoy, drink responsibly (drink, don’t drive, on our St. Patrick's tours), and avoid drinking too much green beer. You'll thank us for that last bit of advice later!
Erin Go Bragh!
Brooke B., Cerveza Colleen
Happy Mardi Gras!
Today is Fat Tuesday, a tradition that hails at least back to medieval Europe, when revelers would slaughter a fatted calf and party the night away before the next day, Ash Wednesday, marked the beginning of Lent. That meant an enormous party as people consumed their best food, beer, and wine to steel themselves for the Lenten fasting season.
In some cultures, this time of year is also known as Carnival or Carnaval, which comes from the Latin root "carne," meaning "meat" (there's that fatted calf again.) It also marks the end of winter as it turns the corner into springtime.
In New Orleans, which arguably has the best-known festival, people dance in the streets all week long, wearing elaborate masks, beads, or (in some cases) nothing at all, while sipping Hand Grenades or Hurricanes and watching the musical parades.
Here in San Diego, we carry on the tradition by throwing our own big party in downtown's historic Gaslamp District. And we do mean big. Up to 40 thousand people will be participating in tonight's party, which will include floats, dancing, and wonderful food and drink!
Come on out and dance with us, or if you’d like to party with a little less ruckus, join us for one of our beer or wine tours and learn about San Diego's history while tasting San Diego’s finest wine, beer and food. In the spirit of Mardi Gras, we'll give you $5 off the tour of your choice through the end of the week.
If you ask nicely, we'll toss you some beads as well! Fasting tomorrow is optional.
Brooke B., Masqueradrix
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Tours, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
It's Groundhog Day! This is the day, so the story goes, that Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his hibernation to check the weather. If he sees his shadow and skitters back into his burrow, we'll have six more weeks of winter, but if the famous groundhog doesn't get startled, it will be an early spring. (This year, according to Phil, we'll have an early spring.)
San Diegans don't have much to worry about, no matter what the groundhog does. We're lucky to live somewhere that has beautiful weather, no matter what. We are, however, fans of the movie "Groundhog Day," in which an increasingly hapless Bill Murray is subjected to the same day again and again until he finally gets it right.
We at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours want to help you get it right every day. That's why taking one of our tours is so important. Not only do you learn about pairing gourmet foods with fine wines and craft beers, you're also having fun. We think that's a recipe to a successful day — one that you get right the first time, and don't have to repeat like Bill Murray's character.
It's only because we care!
Brooke B., Woodchucker
It's September, the time the weather changes and the leaves start to turn (okay, maybe not so much around southern California, but we're practicing poetic license here) and stores sell out of backpacks and notepads.
San Diego Beer and Wine Tours are champions of education and learning. While we celebrate going back to school, whether you're heading off to college or graduate school or sending your kids to kindergarten, we don't think that education needs to stop when you leave the classroom.
We also think that learning should be fun. In that spirit, we're offering $5 off our San Diego Wine Country Tour or our Beer and Food Walking Tour. Not only will you be learning the history of San Diego's craft beer and wine, we'll also throw in some brewery and vintner science and before you know it, you'll graduate to advanced geometry and physics, in the form of pouring techniques and glass shapes. We know you'll all be A students.
Come grow your brain with us!
Brooke B., Lifelong Learner
We at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours have been giving a lot of love to beer lately. Not that there's anything wrong with that – after all, our fair city is the craft beer capital of the country, and possibly the world, with microbreweries and nanobreweries springing up everywhere like toadstools after a rain.
But we want to remember where we came from and give wine the love it deserves, as well. After all, we started out as La Jolla Wine Tours!
Luckily, San Diego isn't just a place you can find all the craft beer you can handle. Thanks to its Mediterranean microclimates and mild winters, it's also a wonderful place to find wines.
“But, SDB&WT,” we hear you say, “where do I begin my journey to becoming a wine aficionado?”
Luckily, California has your answer, courtesy of Governor Jerry Brown, who has proclaimed September California Wine Month. Wineries across the state are offering classes, specially-priced tours, and discount tastings just for you, and we'll be happy to act as wine ambassadors. And it goes without saying that our chauffered tours and train tours offer exactly the knowledge base you need to confidently traverse the wine countries of San Diego… and beyond.
Here's to wine!
Brooke B., Wine Ambassador
We've already covered how to dip your toe in the unfamiliar waters of wine if you're a beer lover. Now if you're a wine-drinker trying to unravel the mysteries of beer, we can help you!
We have consulted the greatest craft beer experts of our time, who by a lucky coincidence work here, at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, for ways to navigate the seas of San Diego's craft beer scene with ease.
If you love deep, plummy reds like pinots, we think a darker beer with coffee notes will be right up your alley, like Alesmith's Nautical Nut Brown Ale. (We love this beer!) A stout or a porter, like Rogue's Chocolate Stout, will also make your palate sing.
If you like your wines (reds or whites) really dry, you'll probably love bitter ales like IPAs. One of our recent favorites is Green Flash's Palate Wrecker. It's really, really, really bitter, but also has a lot of spicy and citrusy elements to it. It's called Palate Wrecker, by the way, because it is so astringent that you can't taste anything else while you're drinking it. Stone Ruination IPA is another good one – but don't try it first in a flight!
For those of you who like your wines sweet and light, stay with me here. As counterintuitive as it might seem, we think you will love sour beers. Their fruity notes and complexity fade into a sweet aftertaste. Consider starting with Lost Abbey's Red Poppy Ale as your entree into the world of sours, especially if you like cherries.
We hope this helps you get started in the brave new world of beer tasting. After all, San Diego is the craft beer capital of the world – might as well make the most of it.
Brooke “Hoppiness is a state of mind” B.