Reaching 350 breweries in Mammoth

June Lake BrewingFor my birthday we headed to Mammoth Lakes, CA to visit one veteran brewery and two new ones and to reach our goal of 350 breweries. We had never been to the east of Sierra’s before and the drive was absolutely beautiful from flat lands to mountains to lakes and lakes…it had it all.

Our first stop was June Lake Brewing in the tiny town of June Lake, CA. They have been open for almost a year now by San Diego transplants. We celebrated number 350 by getting a sampler and planting ourselves at the bar. The bar was long and faced the brewing facility. The brewery was already busy with people enjoying the outdoors. The beers were really tasty, especially the Gulllllager a complex lager and the west coast style Hutte Double IPA. The best part of June Lake was had their beers to go in crowlers (think canned beer + growler) We had heard about their growing popularity, but were excited to take one to go.

Mammoth BrewingOur next stop was just 20 minutes south to Mammoth Brewing, which has been brewing since 1995. We have had a lot of their beers before, but were excited to try some special releases. We grabbed a flight and were excited to enjoy the sunshine and mountain views outside. Their Epic IPA was defiantly the standout. Later that night we ended up coming back for a pint and to try their food. Let me tell you, the food was amazing it complimented the beer. Worth a visit all around.

Mountain RamblerOur last stop was Mountain Rambler Brewery in Bishop about 45 minutes south. This brewery is only a few months old and seems to be adding new beers and menu items each month. They had four beers on tap when we arrived and were out of the Pale Ale that I had heard about. We had their Black IPA and Brown Ale and the Black IPA was really well done. We didn’t get to try their food, but would defiantly go back to see how they evolve.

Overall a nice overnight trip to Mammoth Lakes in search of breweries and it looks like there is already a new brewery in planning, Black Doubt Brewing. The travels always continue. Happy beer travels!

Breweries Visited:

June Lake Brewing – 131 South Crawford Ave,  June Lake, CA 93529

Mammoth Brewing – 18 Lake Mary Rd,  Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Mountain Rambler – 186 South Main Street,  Bishop, CA 93514

My Sac Beer Week Picks

sac beer week

Sacramento Beer Week is finally here! This is the 6th year of festivities presented by the Northern California Brewer’s Guild and runs from Thursday, February 26th to Sunday, March 8th. There are hundreds of beer inspired events all over the Sacramento area. You can find events listed at Sacramento Beer Week and the mobile app Beers in Sac. Also don’t forget to check-in on Untappd for your chance to earn a Sacramento Beer Week badge! Here are my picks for the events I am most excited for. If you see me at any of the events, say hi!

Thursday, February 26th

Sacramento Brewers ShowcaseSBS-2015-Logo

The kick off event to Sac Beer Week. Over 30 Sacramento area breweries will be pouring their classic, limited and collaborative beers amongst a sea of classic cars at the California Auto Museum. Unlimited tastings for $40, increases to $45 at the door. A special IPA tasting area will be available for a $10 ticket upgrade. Photo Source.

Friday, February 27th

bikedogbottlesBike Dog Brewing First Bottles Release Party

Bike Dog Brewing is having their first ever bottle release on Friday night. Bottles include San Dog IPA and their much loved Milk Stout. They will also have a special deal on their first ever bottle opener. Don’t wait around to get your bottles, like most of their events it will go fast. One of my favorite local foods trucks The Culinerdy Cruzer will also be there. Photo Source.

riveterredHopBroads Riveter Red Release Party @ Yolo Brewing

HopBroads, a group of beer loving women, pioneered a collaboration beer with Yolo Brewing just for Sac Beer Week. Event will be from 6-8pm at Yolo Brewing and continue to the after party at Capital Beer & Taproom starting at 8pm. If you miss these events you can taste their collaborative red ale at Final Gravity on Monday, March 2nd starting at 6pm. Founding members of HopBroads and founder/brewer Mike Costello will be on hand. Photo Source.

 

Saturday, February 28th

                                                                                 San Diego Invades Midtown

sd crawlSacramento Beer Enthusiants and Beers in Sac have spearheaded one of the most exciting events of beer week, a San Diego inspired beer crawl showcasing 10 fantastic San Diego breweries at 7 beer bars around Midtown. Crawl starts at any beer bar at 2pm and you can go at your own pace. The Facebook event has over 500 people attending so it’s going to be huge! Photo Source.

 

Midtown BierGarten – Green Flash Brewing & Alpine Brewing
The Golden Bear – Saint Archer Brewing
Beach Hut Deli – Karl Strauss
Goldfield Trading Post – Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
Tank House BBQ & Bar – Lost Abbey & Port Brewing
Alley Katz – Stone Brewing & Coronado Brewing
LowBrau – Alesmith Brewing

milkstoutMilk Stouts Gone Crazy

Bike Dog Brewing is well know for their classic milk stout and their one off creations. They are outdoing themselves on Saturday with 8 different milk stouts including orange vanilla, raspberry tamarind, chili, mexican chocolate, curry, macaroon, rum, and brandy. Get two taster trays of all 8 until they run out. Starts at 2pm. Photo Source.

brewdayBrew Day Open House & “Fear Itself” & “Across the River” Release

New Glory Craft Brewery is hosting an interactive brew day where you can ask questions and watch them brew a batch of beer on their 15BBL system. They will be releasing their first ever Double IPA “Fear Itself” and what I’m most excited for is the release of “Across the River” a Session Wheat IPA collaboration with new Sacramento brewery Argonaut Brewing. Event from 12pm – 9pm. Photo Source.

Tuesday, March 3rd

beerpairingdinnerBeer Pairing Dinner @ Blackbird

I can’t wait for this event! 3 course meal by chef Carina Lampkin of blackbird. Kitchen + Beer Gallery paired with beers from Device Brewing, Mraz Brewing, and Bike Dog Brewing. I haven’t even seen the menu or even the beers yet, but know this event is going to be one of my favorites. To start, blackbird has stellar food and with 2 beers per course, this event is a stand out. Event starts at 7pm and tickets ($30/person) are available at the link above. Photo Source.

Friday, March 6th

hopstotableHops to Table 2nd Anniversary Party

Celebrate Hops to Table Magazine 2nd Anniversary at Capital Beer and Taproom. They are promising rare kegs to kick off the celebration, which I’m sure they will have. This magazine has been essential to the growing popularity of Sacramento beer. Come raise a pint and help them celebrate. Starts at 5pm. Photo Source.

Sunday, March 8th

capitalbeerfestCapitol Beer Fest

The only way to end an epic beer week is with an epic beer festival. Capitol Beer Fest is an outside event lining the capital mall. Hosted by more than 100 breweries from Sacramento and beyond. Ample amounts of food trucks and live music. Event is from 2pm – 5pm and tickets, $40 advance, see link above – $45 day of. Photo Source.

Happy beer week!  ~ Sparklinglover

Sac Bacon Fest + Craft Beer

Oh what a glorious day filled with bacon and beer.

track 7 brewingI was so excited to learn that Sacramento has a whole week dedicated to bacon! This week was the 4th annual Sacramento Bacon Fest celebrating all things bacon from January 19th to 25th.

Our first stop was Track 7 Brewing for their Bacon Firkin Burnt Fog Smoked Porter with Cherrywood Smoked Bacon…oh delicious. Nicely smoked porter with just a hint of meaty bacon. Drewski’s Food Truck had a whole array of specialized bacon dishes. The smoked bacon mac and cheese balls were to die for. Lightly fried coating with oozing mac and cheese amazingness.

oak park brewingNext up was Oak Park Brewing for their Pork Belly + Egg + Toast bacon fest inspired dish. They posted a photo of it on Facebook and I just had to have it. It was everything I thought it would be and more. The boiled egg was breaded, fried and still had the amazing running yolk. The pork belly was so soft and luscious. It was one of the best I have ever had. Great excuse to visit again and see how they are developing. The 35th Street Porter was wonderful as before and the Citra IPA was so fresh and lively. Excited to try more from them.

Can’t wait for next years Sac Bacon Fest to try more bacon inspired dishes and craft beer pairings. With over a 100 restaurants, pairings, and events we will defiantly be going to more than two places next year.

 

 

2014 in Review

Derek & Erin

2014 was a year of new experiences. We moved from Sonoma County to Sacramento to be closer to family. We started new jobs in new industries and have continued to travel to various beer destinations. We added 102 new breweries this year, more than any other year. Our most memorable were San Diego, Los Angeles, and Southern Oregon. Here is our best attempt at a “Top 10” list of 2014.

Our Top 10 New Beers:

1) Sourtooth Tiger – The Rare BarrelFramboise de Amorosa

2) Framboise de Amorosa – Lost Abbey

3) Cellar Palette Raspberry – Sante Adarius Rustic Ales

4) Earl’s Grey Dinghy – Noble Ale Works

5) Bourbon Barrel Double Milk Stout -Bike Dog Brewing

6) Black House – Modern Times Beer

7) Double Dry Hopped General Sherman IPAHochata Imperial Milk Stout – Tioga Sequoia

8) Cap Tap’s 2nd Anniversary IPA – Device Brewing

9) Xocoveza Mocha Stout – Stone Brewing

10) Horchata Imperial Milk Stout – Belching Beaver Brewing

Our Top 10 New Breweries:

1) Noble Ale Works – Anaheim, CANoble Ale Works

2) Modern Times Beer – San Diego, CA

3) Golden Road Brewing – Los Angeles, CA

4) Anchor Brewing – San Francisco, CA

5) Sante Adairius Rustic Ales – Capitola, CA

6) Beachwood BBQ & Brewing – Long Beach, CA

Golden Road Brewing7) The Bruery – Placentia, CA

8) Fall River Brewing – Redding, CA

9) Smog City Brewing – Torrance, CA

10) Klamath Basin Brewing – Klamath Falls, OR

Top 5 Beer Moments:

1) Reaching 300 Breweries! – 300 sounds way better than 200

2) A whole week in San Diego and Los Angeles dedicated to beer

3) Meeting fellow beer travelers Brandon Wurtz & Michael Roberts of Brews Travelers 365

4) Earning my 2500 Unique Beers on Untappd

5) Finally getting to tour Anchor Steam Brewing. They don’t lie when they say 6 months out. We have been trying for a couple years and finally got in!

Happy New Year!

25 Beers of Christmas

Christmas beers and winter warmers are some of my favorite styles of beers. The clove orange peel, and Christmas spices just get you in the mood for the holiday. From bigger body to hoppy hoppy, everything was included. Here is my list of #25beersforchristmas from Instagram from December 1st to 25th.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Hopworks Abominable Winter Ale Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale Laurelwood Vinter Varmer Ninkasi Sleigh'r Bison Gingerbread Stout Abita Christmas Ale Deschutes Jubelale Hoppy Brewing Hoppy Claus Boulder Slope Style New Belgium Frambozen Anchor Our Special Ale Alaskan Winter Southern Tier Krampus Wychwood Bah Humbug Rouge Santa's Private Reserve N'lce Chouffe Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Bruery 7 Swans a Swiming Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper Double Mountain Fa La La La La Golden Road Back Home Gingerbread Stout Monkish Brewing Magnificat Corsendonk Christmas AleSt Bernardus Christmas Ale Merry Christmas!

Southern Oregon Beer Travel

Opposition BrewingA return trip to Oregon has been on our list for a while. The last time we were in the state was four years ago for our honeymoon, which was also beer focused. This time we were going to visit Southern Oregon, specifically the towns of Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass and Klamath Falls.

We woke up at dawn with all the Black Friday shoppers, but beer was the only focus. Luckily a lot of the breweries opened earlier that day because of Black Friday. Our first stop was Opposition Brewing, formally known as Apocalypse Brewing in Medford, OR. They had to change their name in 2013 over trademark issues with 10 Barrel Brewing. Brewer Dennis Poncia showed us around their 1.5 barrel system. It was defiantly an operation of love with the owners not only brewing and serving, but wearing all the other hats of a small business. Their beers ranged from Cream Ale to Pale Ale to Stout and my favorite was their Devastated Sky American Stout and Pull the Pin Imperial Red Ale. This brewery was one of are favorites of the trip from character to quality of beer.

Southern Oregon BrewingAnother reason why we loved this place was because it was the intersection of beer travelers. We met Brandon Wurtz & Michael Roberts of Brews Travelers 365 who are on a year long beer journey of the United States. I have been waiting for them to end up on the West Coast and luckily are paths crossed in Southern Oregon. It’s always a treat to meet other beer travelers and compare stories. We both were off to do what we do and planned to meet up later that night.

We then headed a few miles down the road and ended up at Southern Oregon Brewing. This brewery had one of the best pilsner’s I have ever had. Their Na Zdravi Czech Style Pilsner was the standout with bright aromas and a fuller then usual body. The brewery was full of locals and the sampler had a vast variety of beer styles. You could see the 20 barrel brewery through a large window behind the bar. Quick stop because we had 3 more breweries planned.

Portal BrewingThe next stop we could have skipped honestly. Walkabout Brewing didn’t have social media accounts or even a website. This might have been a sign. It’s located across the street from a beer distributor, which might explain why half their taps were Budweiser. We were able to try their lineup and it was average at best. No real standouts and it didn’t help that the server hated beer.

Luckily all the breweries in Medford are a few miles from each other so we were quickly on to the next. Portal Brewing is located in downtown on a corner. It was small, cozy and just kind of funky. It was a place to grab a pint and settle down with a board game. It was a great setting, especially while it rained nonstop outside.

Our last brewery of the day was Swing Tree Brewing in Ashland to meet up with Brandon & Michael again. Sadly they only had one beer of there own on tap, but the one beer they had was delicious, an English Brown Ale called Two Shilling Ale that came in at 3.4%. Love full flavored beers with low ABV, helps for traveling. Wish we could have tried more from them. The night progressed with shuffleboard challenges and beer travel stories.

Beer TravelersSwing Tree Brewing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers, Sparklinglover

 

Breweries Visited:

Opposition Brewing – 545 Rossanley Drive #106, Medford, OR 97501

Southern Oregon Brewing – 1922 United Way, Medford, OR 97504

Walkabout Brewing – 921 Mason Way, Medford, OR 97501

Portal Brewing – 100 East 6th Street, Medford, OR 97501

Swing Tree Brewing – 300 East Hersey Street #7, Ashland, OR 97520

 

 

Breweries on the Border (not that border)

Pigeon HeadI love living closer to the mountains. It gives us an escape, while only being a couple hours away. Also, there are breweries in the mountains…are main destination. Our first stop labor day weekend was to Reno, NV which we had visited back in April, but a new brewery had just opened. Pigeon Head Brewery is in the industrial area of Reno east of the downtown casinos. They are the second brewery to open in that area after Under the Rose Brewing in late 2013. With two new breweries also in planning the city is talking about naming that area the “Old Brewery District” more info here. Another example of how the brewing industry has been revitalizing towns. Pigeon Head was carefully thought out before they opened from the design to the beer. What makes them unique is they focus on lagers not ales. I’m a west coast girl, but a nice lager can be just as balanced and complex sometimes. The standouts were the Pilsner and the Weibbier. Overall the whole feel from the hospitable staff to the design felt right.  The brewery is visible behind a black chain-link fence from the tasting room. Take a seat at one of the picnic tables and watch the brewers in progress. We’ll defiantly be back again once the other breweries open in the area. Brewing LairSometimes it feels like you were never at a place long enough, but we were on the road to Blairsden, CA to check out The Brewing Lair. The drive was quick and easy and under an hour taking us back into California. It ranged from dry and rocky to mountain pines. Our only indicator of the brewery was a sandwich board sign which led uphill to dirt road. We parked below because the place was busy with vacationers playing cornhole and disc golf. The brewery and tasting room looks like a small lodge on top of a hill. You grab a pint or sampler and find a place on their porch that overlooks a big grassy area. You could tell this was a regular place because people were prepared with packed lunches, games and lawn chairs. This was my kind of brewery and the beer was delicious. Favorites were a really hoppy blonde, Tres Solo India Blonde Ale and their Ambush IPA, really I could have done the whole sampler again and just laid out in the sun. Lassen Ale WorksOur last destination was Lassen Ale Works in Susanville, before that we stumbled on Eureka Peak Brewing in Chalet View Lodge. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any of their own beer yet because they had just changed brewers. We continued on the road, which paralleled the Nevada border and headed north to Susanville. For a town with a population of around 17,000 it was even smaller than I thought with one main drag. Lassen Ale Works is located at the historic Pioneer Saloon. This was a saddle up to the bar kind of place and gaze at all the livestock branding symbols that looked like modern art above the bar. The sampler was loaded with different styles and the favorites were the Spring Bock and the Extra Galactic Pale Ale. The nice thing was they bottled almost every style. three forks brewingThe next morning we drove home with all the Burning Man traffic, remind me next time to stay away from hwy 80 during labor day. We did stop at a new brewery that just opened in Nevada City, CA a couple weeks ago called Three Forks Bakery & Brewing. This is a new combination for us and honestly it just makes sense. Beer before noon and baked goods, I’m in. Had two quick pints that were travel worthy and left us planning a return visit. All in all a quick overnight beer trip to North Eastern California and a pit stop in Reno, NV. One of our most relaxing and beautiful beer trips. Go escape into the woods…just make sure there are breweries there, always the main destination.

Cheers, Sparklinglover

Breweries Visited:

Pigeon Head Brewery – 840 E 5th St, Reno, NV 89512

The Brewing Lair – 67007 CA-70, Blairsden, CA 96103

Lassen Ale Works – 724 Main St, Susanville, CA 96103

Three Forks Bakery & Brewing – 211 Commercial St, Nevada City, CA 95959