About sparklinglover

My husband and I travel for beer and baseball. Follow our travels!

RateBeer Best Event a Must

ratebeerbestWe are one week away from brewers, beer hunters and beer travelers swarming Santa Rosa, CA for the RateBeer Best celebratory weekend. This two-day event is one of the most anticipated beer events of the year celebrating the top beers and breweries of the world.

The second annual event kicks off on Saturday, January 28th 2017 with the RateBeer Best Festival at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The VIP session starts at 12:30pm (sold out) and general admission opens at 1:30pm to 5:30pm. A limited amount of tickets are still available here. Food will be available for purchase from a wide range of Sonoma County vendors and the VIP tasting will be treated to tasty beer pairings from Peloton Culinary & Catering. The list of breweries is enough to excite any beer enthusiast:

A Taste from the United States

Hill Farmstead Brewery · Sante Adairius Rustic Ales · Tree House Brewing Company · Jester King Brewery · Monkish Brewing Company · Side Project Brewing · Great Notion Brewing · Blackberry Farm · Toppling Goliath · Prairie Artisan Ales · Tired Hands Brewing Company · Cellarmaker Brewing Company · Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery · Cycle Brewing · Other Half · Three Floyds Brewing Company · Superstition Meadery · Russian River Brewing · J Wakefield Brewing · Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company · De Garde Brewing · Trillium Brewing Company · American Solera · Evil Twin Brewing

A Taste from Abroad

De Struise Brouwers · Cantillon · 3 Fonteinen · Westmalle · DUM Cervejaria · Cervejaria Dogma · Brasserie Dunham · Bellwoods Brewery · Omnipollo · Cloudwater Brew Co · Beavertown · Buxton · Kiuchi Brewery

A Taste from Local Sonoma County Breweries

Moonlight · Lagunitas · Bear Republic · Cooperage · Fogbelt · 101 North · Third Street· Plow · Henhouse · St Florian’s · Stumptown · Seismic

rate-beer-best-logoOn Sunday, January 29th 2017 the RateBeer Best Awards Reception at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, CA starts at 11:00am for industry members, VIP guests and media. At 1:00pm the reception and bottle share kicks off for ticketed attendees, giving beer enthusiasts an opportunity to mingle and share beers with some of the world’s best brewers.

As a beer traveler most of these breweries have been on my “must visit” list for a while. I was unable to attend the inaugural event last year, but heard epic stories from friends who attended, sharing tales of legendary beers they never thought they could get their hands on. I am so EXCITED for this event and ready to knock multiple beers of my beer bucket list and meet beer fans. You can follow along on my Instagram and be sure to tag #ratebeerbest



2016 in Review


In 2016 we slowed down a bit on our beer travels and I defiantly slowed down beer blogging. Our year was filled with getting a new job and finishing a college certificate. We did visit 68 new breweries and 4 new beer states, including Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Our most memorable beer destination was defiantly Asheville, NC for Asheville Beer Week. That beer town was AMAZING. Here is our best attempt at a “Top 10” list of new beers, new breweries and new beer experiences.

Our Top 10 New Beers:

1) Batch 1000 – Wicked Weed Brewing

2) Skillet Donut Stout – Burial Brewingbatch-1000

3) 4×4 Double IPA– Melvin Brewing

4) Black Angel Cherry Sour – Wicked Weed Brewing

5) Athena Berliner Weisse– Creature Comforts

6) Lizard of Koz – Founders Brewing

7) Coolcumber – Wicked Weed Brewing

8) Liliko’i Kepolo – Avery Brewing

9) Gose – Westbrook Brewing

10) The Pavlo – Claimstake Brewing

Our Top 10 New Breweries:

1) Wicked Weed Brewing– Asheville, NC

2) Burial Brewing – Asheville, NCburial-beer

3) Moonlight Brewing – Santa Rosa, CA

4) Claimstake Brewing – Rancho Cordova, CA

5) Second Chance Brewing – San Diego, CA

6) Mikkeller Brewing – San Diego, CA

7) Barbarian Brewing – Garden City, ID

8) HenHouse Brewing – Santa Rosa, CA

9) Eppig Brewing – San Diego, CA

10) IMBIB Custom Brews – Reno, NV

Top 5 Beer Moments:

1) I cannot say enough good things about Asheville, NC. We visited during Asheville Beer Week and it is one of our most memorable beer cities. A proper blog post soon enough.

2) Visiting Wicked Weed Brewing at the source! We didn’t hit as many new breweries in Asheville because we just couldn’t leave the incredible beers at Wicked.

3) Navigating the crazy beer laws in Georgia. This was defiantly the most difficult beer state to visit so far.

4) We visited Boise, ID and it turned out to be a surprisingly great beer town and a very walk able. Previous post here.

5) Randomly I made the cover of Celebrator with my dear friend Mikaelaa celebrating Sacramento Beer Week. It was exciting because it was such a surprise.

On to 2017!

Boise is a Beer Town

Boise Beer

Before last week I had never had a beer from the state of Idaho. I honestly did not find this surprising because I didn’t know a whole lot about Idaho beer. What sparked my interest was learning that Idaho grows more barley than any other state and they rank 3rd in hop production. Why wouldn’t Idaho be considered a beer destination?

We traveled to Boise for President’s Day weekend and were impressed. They have over 15 breweries within 20 minutes of Boise and many were downtown or in close proximity to each other. We first focused on the downtown breweries and did an “urban beer hike” inspired by Chris & Meredith from The Beer Geek who routinely walk from brewery to brewery on their beer trips. This was a first time for us and I loved the concept. I feel like we walked by so many local establishments and mainly beer bars that we would not have noticed in a car. You can visit 10 Barrel Brewing, Boise Brewing, Postmodern Brewers, Woodland Empire Ale Craft all within 2 miles. Make sure to also stop by the City Peanut Shop who collaborates with local breweries to create peanuts that pair with their beer. This was seriously one of the highlights of the trip! You can also find their peanuts and nut mixes at most of the breweries.


Another area we really liked were the breweries along highway 26 in Garden City. It reminded me a lot of The Hops Highway in San Diego with one brewery after the next. Our favorites were Barbarian Brewing for their IPA’s and sours and County Line Brewing for their porters and stouts. Payette Brewing was another standout. They were the first brewery in Idaho to can their beer and now they also have crowlers (can growlers) to go. Our favorites were the seasonal Rodeo Rye IPA and their Pistolero Porter.

In the end it’s always who you meet that makes your trip memorable. We met so many locals who were very proud of their town and showed us why they valued it. Boise is defiantly a beer town. I would highly recommended Boise for a quick and relatively inexpensive beer vacation. You can hit a bunch of breweries within a short distance and not pay that much for your hotel, rental car or brewery tab.

This brings us to 420 breweries visited in 9 states + D.C.


Breweries Visited:

10 Barrel Brewing Boise – 830 W. Bannock St, Boise, ID 83702

Barbarian Brewing – 5270 W. Chinden Blvd, Garden City, ID 83714

Bella Brewing – 4340 W. Chinden Blvd, Garden City, ID 83714

Boise Brewing – 521 W Broad St, Boise, ID 83702

Cloud 9 Brewery – 1750 W. State St. Boise, ID 83702

County Line Brewing – 9115 W. Chinden Blvd #107, Garden City, ID 83714

Crooked Fence Brewing – 3705 Idaho 16, Eagle, ID 83616

Edge Brewing – 525 Steelhead Way, Boise, ID 93704

Highlands Hollow Brewhouse – 2455 N. Harrison Hollow Lane, Boise, ID 83702

Payette Brewing – 111 W. 33rd St, Boise, ID 83714

Postmodern Brewers (Grind Modern Burgers) – 705 W. Fulton St, Boise, ID 83702

Powderhaus Brewing – 9719 W. Chinden Blvd, Garden City, ID 83714

Slanted Rock Brewing – 2374 E Cinema Drive, Meridian, ID 83642

Sockeye Grill & Brewery – 3019 N. Cole Rd, Boise, ID 83704

Woodland Empire Ale Craft – 1114 W. Front St, Boise, ID 83702


Oscars + Food + Beer Pairings

It’s award season and the Academy has announced this years Oscar nominations! I am a huge fan of the Oscars and host an Oscar party each year. I include beer with almost everything I do so here is my themed menu, pairing appetizers and beer with each of the Best Picture nominees. My last years pairings was my post popular post and one of my favorites. None of the recipes our my own so click on the links to find the source and the recipe to try. Feel free to use this post as a guide for your Oscar festivities. Take lots of dressed up photos and share your themed pairings ideas!


The Big Short

Caviar Blinis with Smoked Salmon – The Big Short – Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard

For The Big Short I wanted a food and beer pairing that screamed excess, gluttony and the “to big to fail” stupidity that represented the pre-recession financial culture. Caviar feels exclusive and is delicious served with smoked salmon and crème fraîche. For the beer pairing I went with Stone Brewing’s Bourbon-Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard to symbolize the robust and arrogant culture of the time.


Bridge of SpiesClassic Russian Dumplings (Pelmeni) -Bridge of Spies – Speakeasy Payback Porter

 Bridge of Spies gives you multiple pairing options from good old America to Russia to Germany. I choose to focus on Russian cuisine and found a recipe for pelmeni’s, which our classic Russian dumplings. This will be a unique pairing that I don’t think people will expect. Speakeasy’s Payback Porter is one of my favorites and the label works so well for this spy drama and depending what you stuff the pelmeni with it will pair nicely too.



Cheddar & Guinness Dip – Brooklyn – Guinness Draught

 Brooklyn also has so many themes you can play off of from Ireland to New York to Italy. For me Ireland just goes hand in hand with Guinness and I wanted to not only show that in the beer but also incorporate Guinness into the appetizers. Cheddar & Guinness beer dip will bring out everyone’s Irish spirit and cheese and beer goes over well at any party.


Mad Max

Steampunk Cupcakes – Mad Max: Fury Road – Paradox Beer Co Skully Barrel No. 26

Wow…Mad Max is hard to pair with. The movie has absolutely no food themes unless you count vegetables for the elite members. I wanted to showcase the color of the desert because it was such a big part of the movie, but I couldn’t think of anything. Luckily I found these awesome steampunk gear cupcake decorations that will be perfect. I am also going top the cupcakes with silver sprinkles to showcase their weird silver spray. The beer pairing was a lot easier with Paradox Beer Company’s Skully Barrel No. 26. The skull label fits right into the Mad Max theme. Also, this will be a new beer and brewery for me.


The Martian 2

Mashed Potato Puffs – The Martian – 21st Amendment Brewery Down to Earth

How could I not do some potato appetizers when you think of The Martian!? Matt Damon’s character miraculously grows potatoes on Mars and even though he despises potatoes in the end they are his life source. These mashed potato puffs will be a tasty upgrade from the potatoes he had to eat. For a space themed beer 21st Amendment Brewery’s Down to Earth Session IPA showcases his wish to return down to earth.


The Revenant

Boozy Chocolate S’mores – The Revenant – Sudwerk Brewing Bourbonator

Oh Leo…Oh Leo…this is your year! The Revenant was a little difficult on food themes unless you want to go with bison liver, raw fish or a bear? A little more appetizers friendly alternative our these adorable “boozy” chocolate s’mores. These marshmallows are filled with a chocolate bourbon ganache that is decadent. Sudwerk Brewing’s Bourbonator is just too perfect of a beer pairing with that ferocious bear label.



Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – Room – Bike Dog Brewing Milk Stout

The plot of Room is very dark, but Brie Larson’s character tries to protect the childlike view of the world for her son who only knows the world as room. I wanted a kid friendly appetizer of mini grilled cheese sandwiches and a tomato bisque dipping sauce for the adult spin on it. To highlight a child’s imagination I am pairing Bike Dog’s Brewing Milk Stout because of the their loveable bike dog logo and it’s milk…stout.



Bite-Sized Boston Cream Pies – Spotlight – Harpoon Brewery Celtic Red

Spotlight revolves around Boston and I wanted to showcase the historic city. The Boston cream pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts and these bite sizes version are so classy for an Oscar party. The beer pairing was an easy choice because Harpoon is the first Boston brewery that I always think of (sorry Sam Adams) and they also drink it in many scenes throughout the movie.


Oscars are Sunday, February 28th at 5pm. Follow on Instagram I will be dressed up and showcasing my beer and appetizer pairings.

Happy Oscar Season! ~ Sparklinglover

oscar photo

2015 in Review

2015 Breweries Visited

2015 was one of our top beer years to date. We visited 77 new breweries in 3 different states.  Our most memorable beer areas were San Diego, Phoenix, and Denver. We also bought a house this year, which we are still on cloud 9 about! Here is our best attempt at a “Top 10” list of new beers, new breweries and new beer experiences.

Our Top 10 New Beers:

1) Triple Hammerhead Speedway Stout – AleSmith Brewing

2) Bourbon County Brand Stout 2015 – Goose Island Brewery

3) Mexican Chocolate Stout – Copper Kettle Brewing

4) Sip of Sunshine – Lawson’s Finest LiquidsMexican Chocolate Stout

5) Kentucky Breakfast Stout – Founders Brewing

6) White Mocha Stout – Fieldwork Brewing

7) The Seer – Holy Mountain Brewing

8) Lupulin River – Knee Deep Brewing & Kern River Brewing

9) Tweak Bourbon Barrel Aged – Avery Brewing

10) Half Nelson – Clandestine Brewing


Our Top 10 New Breweries:

1) Great Divide Brewing – Denver, COGreat Divide

2) Fieldwork Brewing – Berkeley, CA

3) Crooked Stave – Denver, CO

4) Copper Kettle Brewing – Denver, CO

5) Left Hand Brewing – Denver, CO

6) Kern River Brewing – Kernville, CA

7) Blue Note Brewing – Woodland, CAFieldwork Brewing

8) Culture Brewing – Solana Beach, CA

9) Aftershock Brewing – Temecula, CA

10) Clandestine Brewing – San Jose, CA


Top 5 Beer Moments:

1) Reaching 400 breweries! – 400 sounds way better than 300

2) Attending the AleSmith Speedway Grand Prix 2015 for San Diego Beer Week. This was one of the coolest beer events I have ever been too. 12 specialty Speedway Stouts ranging from maple blueberry pancake to Butterfinger.

3) Finally visiting Denver, CO home of so many wonderful breweries and tasting Yeti at the source!

4) Sacramento Beer Week! We came out in force this year and went to numerous events. I was really proud of my home town representing so well!

5) Lastly, I am so grateful for the founders of Sacramento Beer Enthusiasts for creating such a great group. I have made such great beer friends this year due to this group.

Happy New Year!

25 Beers of Christmas

Continued my tradition of enjoying 25 Christmas beers from wonderful clove to orange peel to Christmas spices galore. See last year’s post. Here is my list of #25beersofchristmas from Instagram:





Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Our 10 Most Remote California Breweries Visited

California has 431 craft breweries according to Brewers Association and currently we have been to 304, that is 70% completed (!) until tomorrow when another one opens and then another and another. I wanted to highlight some of the tiniest towns we have been to on our quest for breweries. Most of these breweries were multiple hours away from anything else and in some of the most beautiful places.

10) South Gate Brewing – Oakhurst, CA – Population 2,829

Before you enter Yosemite stop by for a pint. Located 15 minutes from the south entrance South Gate Brewing opened in 2013. Complete with a brick oven pizzas and a tasty porter.

9) Prospectors Brewing – Mariposa, CA – Population 2,173

I loved this place. When we visited it 13 Prospectors Brewingwas basically a one man operation and the beers were so good. A must stop on the way to Yosemite National Park…it’s seems all the park entrances have a brewery. Quent little town with great beer.

8) Jack Russell Farm Brewery – Camino, CA – Population 1,750

This brewery would feel “remote” if it wasn’t 30 minutes from my hometown. Located in Camino, CA and more importantly Apple Hill. For anyone that didn’t grow up in Sacramento area, Apple Hill is a must when fall comes around, filled with orchards, farmers markets, wineries and Jack Russell Farm Brewery. Yes, they have an Apple beer also.

7) Dunsmuir Brewery Works – Dunsmuir, CA – Population 1,650

Honestly you could drive right by and not even Dunsmuir Brewrey Worksknow this town had a brewery. Dunsmuir Brewery Works was such a treat on the long drive to Oregon. It is a perfect pit stop for a pint and lunch. The town is known for rock climbing, skiing and fishing and I pretended to be outdoor-sie.

6) Mad River Brewing – Blue Lake, CA – Population 1,253

All I really remember from Blue Lake is driving past a remote casino and landing at Mad River Brewing. Which is great because you arrive at Mad River Brewing. A great gem of Humboldt breweries since 1989.

5) Anderson Valley Brewing – Boonville, CA – Population 1,035

For such a well known brewery it’s quite a surprise that the brewery is located in good ol Boonville in Mendocino County known for boontling a “language” only spoke in Boonville.  They also host the annual Boonville Beer Fest each May where you camp with the brewers..it’s pretty awesome.

4) Etna Brewing – Etna, CA – Population 737

Etna feels like it should only have a Etna Brewingpopulation of about 50 not 737. It’s located 2 hours west of Hwy 5 in Northern Northern California. This was a trek, but worth the flight and a waitress that calls you hun.

3) Highway 1 Brewing – Pescadero, CA – Population 643

Located on the California coastal highway with stunning ocean views. I loved this place because they offer beer and breakfast, yes please. Any brewery that opens early is on beer travelers wish list, plus you get to stare at the ocean.

2) June Lake Brewing – June Lake, CA – Population 629

If you are headed to Mammoth Lakes this is a must stop. I recommend driving around June Lake first (its a whole 10 minutes) and then grab a pint here. This is defiantly a local hangout where I tried to pretend I hiked before grabbing a beer…no I just went for the beer, but wanted to feel like a “regular”

1) The Brewing Lair – Blairsden, CA – Population 39Brewing Lair

I adore this place. Drive 2 1/2 hours from Sacramento among the pine trees and turn up a dirt road and you arrive at this little oasis. The brewery and tasting room looks like a small lodge on top of a hill. Grab a pint or sampler and find a place on their porch that overlooks a big grassy area. Come prepared with a picnic and stay for their disc golf course.

Get out and #beertravel to some of California’s greatest small towns!

Cheers, Sparklinglover