SD Beer Week pt 2

Automatic BrewingWe continued our beer adventures on the second Saturday  in November during San Diego Beer Week. Our first brewery of the day was Automatic Brewing, we hadn’t been here before, but knew they brewed at/behind Blind Lady Alehouse. For beer week they had flights of Automatic ales. Nothing really excited us except their Ghost Town Brown. I would like to return because they had a ton of guest taps that were tempting. We had a full list of breweries planned so we were on our way.

Mother Earth Brew CoWe drove north to Vista where you can basically throw a rock at a brewery, there are just that many. This trip I wanted to visit Mother Earth Brew Co. We had their Cali’ Creamin’ Vanilla Cream Ale in our BeerCraft shipment a few months back that was just delicious. They were having an open house to tour their new Brew House at the original Thibodo Brewery location. The place was crowded with beer enthusiasts and the staff was so nice to take sampler after sampler orders. We toured their brewery and Mother Earth was a really a delight. Great beers, awesome environment and standout staff. One of our favorites of the trip.

Barrel Harbor BrewingWe drove down the road to Barrel Harbor Brewing, which we found out had only been open a month. We find this common every time we visit in San Diego. Their tasting room was nautical themed with lots of bar space and room to hang out. Their brewer brings experience from Sweden and his style shows through. Of course since its San Diego they have IPAs, but the lower alcohol beers shown through. Their Pilsner and Brown Ale were the standouts. Another brewery to visit once their training wheels are of and they get really going.

Booze Brothers BrewingOn our way to another brewery we saw a sign for Booze Brothers Brewing that we just couldn’t ignore. They had been open a week and had a few beers on tap. Their brewery was rustic in style with reclaimed mis-matched wood, vintage lights, and deer antlers as their tap handles. Their C.O.P Coffee Porter was my favorite. They warmed me before ordering if I liked bitter coffee. It was bitter, strong, and delicious, but I can see it wasn’t for everyone. Another brewery I would defiantly hit up again.

Our last two stops were practically neighbors On the Tracks Brewing and Arcana Brewing. We didn’t like the beer nor the bartender at On the Tracks. They could have cared less that we were there and there are just too many other great breweries in San Diego to put up with that. Luckily Arcana Brewing was in the same parking lot and couldn’t have been more hospitable. They used to be called Fezziwig Brewing, but had to change their name because of Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale. Luckily they still kept the steampunk theme in their tasting room. Their beers ranged from English Ales to IPAs to darker beers and a lot of them were really tasty.

San Diego is always a treat. We added 10 new breweries and revisited 2 favorites. Can’t wait til we are back in March. We will be there for a FULL week! Wonder how many new breweries we can fit in!?

Cheers, Sparklinglover

2013 in Review

Beers at Spring Training2013 has been a crazy beer exploration year for us. We visited 74 new breweries and drank numerous numerous new beers. This is our best attempt at “Top 10” lists….this was much harder than I thought. Hope everyone also had an eventful beer year!

Our Top 10 New Beers:

1) Dayman Coffee IPA – Stone Brewing Beatification

2) Parabola – Firestone Walker

3) Heady Topper – The Alchemist

4) Peanut Butter Milk Stout – Belching Beaver

5) Beatification – Russian River Brewing

6) Pumpking – Southern TierSam Adams Utopias

7) Hazelnut Porter – Rip Current

8) Syndicate No 1 – Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

9) Blueberry Ale – Cascade Brewing

10) Utopias – Boston Beer Co

Our Top 10 New Breweries:

1) Firestone Walker – Paso Robles, CA Rare Barrel

2) Drakes Brewing – San Leandro, CA

3) Belching Beaver – North Park – San Diego, CA

4) The Rare Barrel – Berkeley, CA

5) Heretic Brewing – Fairfield, CA

6) Rip Current Brewing – San Marcos, CA

7) Bike Dog Brewing – West Sacramento, CA Rip Current Brewing

8) Faction Brewing – Alameda, CA

9) Out of Bounds Brewing – Rocklin, CA

10) Discretion Brewing – Santa Cruz, CA


Our Top 5 Beer Moments:

1) Our first beer interview with the North Bay Bohemian for beer traveling!

2) Attending San Francisco Beer Week for the first time!

3) Meeting my two beer travelings favorites Chris & Meredith Nelson from and Maria Scarpello & Brian Devine from The Roaming Pint

4) Earning our 1000 Unique Beers on Untappd – getting closer to 2,500 now!

5) Visiting San Diego for San Diego Beer Week.

Wishing you the Best New Year!

– Sparklinglover & my fantastic husband

SD Beer Week pt 1

Derek & I

San Diego Beer Week 2013 – 10 New Breweries

San Diego is my BeerCity USA. Asheville, NC has won this award for years and Grand Rapids, MI won this year. View Results  We haven’t been to either yet…dying to though. No offense Asheville or Grand Rapids, but San Diego is my BeerCity. San Diego currently has 82 breweries in operation and 32 in planning. Those numbers are just insane, especially for beer travelers! Check out West Coaster fantastic blog with all these fun stats and San Diego beer buzz.

We visited San Diego a few weeks Helm's Brewingago during San Diego Beer Week. Our first stop was Helm’s Brewing in Kearny Mesa, which opened in 2012. In traditional San Diego style the tasting room was located in the brewery behind a rolled up garage door. After our 2 hour delayed flight (on the runway!) we opted for a full pint…no tasters. Their 7C’s Double IPA was a standout with over 100 IBU’s and a mouth full of hops. Their Wicked as Sin IPA was also really good. A must needed brewery to return too and a perfect first pint.

Belching Beaver BrewingOur next stop was Belching Beaver Brewery. They had recently opened a tasting room in North Park. Their brewery is in Vista. They had THREE Milk Stouts on tap and I just couldn’t resist. This was probably our favorite brewery of the trip. Awesome location, staff, and the beers were ridiculously good. Their Milk Stout, Peanut Butter Milk Stout & Pumpkin Spice Milk Stout were all standouts. It was hard to not just stay here all night. Also that damn beaver was so adorable. My husband just couldn’t stop all beaver jokes though!

Thorn Street BreweryNext we drove a few minutes down the road in North Park to Thorn Street Brewery, which also opened in 2012. The place was hopping, but the staff was really quick to get our sampler. We tried their Golden Hills Pils, Mosaic IPA, Relay IPA, The Menace, Santos Coffee Stout, The Dark Tsar, Coconut Porter, and O’Conners Oatmeal Stout. Santos Coffee Stout was terrific, but really all their beers were good. They have a small bar in the front and you wouldn’t even know there was a second area in the back. Down the hall opens to a large room with a huge bar, lots of tables and all their brewing equipment. This is defiantly a neighborhood brewery with lots of support. Highly recommend. They have food trucks all the time.

Normally we don’t find three awesome breweries in one day, but these were standouts. Part II will include our other 7 breweries visited!

Cheers, Sparklinglover

Reaching 200 pt 2

Creekside BrewingDay two of our Central Coast beer adventure. We woke up early and were already on the road to visit our first brewery of the day. We didn’t have much time because our friends wedding was in the afternoon. We drove down the Highway 1 from Cambria to San Luis Obispo in 40 minutes. The drive was incredibly beautiful along the coast.

We arrived a little before the brewery opened so we leisurely walked around downtown SLO. We found a creek that you could walk down to and explored. Our first brewery Creekside Brewing happened to overlooked that same creek…haha, didn’t click right away, but makes a lot of sense. Creekside  Brewing had a strange layout, the restaurant was on the top floor and you watched downstairs to the bar. We sat along the patio overlooking the creek. The beers were not too our liking, but the brewery was really beautiful and calming near the water.

We drove to our next brewery Central Coast Central Coast BrewingBrewing that was just a few minutes from downtown. I had never heard of them, but when we arrived I already recognized some of their beers, especially their Lucky Day IPA. We ordered a sampler and it was gigantic. There have been a couple of places we have been when the server brings you your sampler your eyes widen by the size…it was one of those moments. The beer was great and we left with many bottles. We met some locals who were brewing their own beer here. It reminded me of Devils Canyon Brewing that offers the same. Great atmosphere, local support and great beers. This put us at 199. Only a few miles drive to our next milestone!

Tap It BrewingI was really excited to visit Tap It Brewing, not only because we would make the big 2-0-0, but we had enjoyed everything we have had from them. Their IPA is one of my favorites, so balanced. Tap It Brewing was located south of downtown SLO in an industrial area. We walked into a small gift shop area with a few taps that was really tight. Luckily they had another area around the corner that had lots of tables and a patio that was creatively decorated. We got our sampler and I scribbled 200 on a coaster to share our excitement. Our goal was 50 new breweries by the end of the year and we still had 2 months to go. This was going to be our best beer travel year yet!

On Sunday morning we once againSLO Brewing drove down to San Luis Obispo to visit SLO Brewing and meet up with friends for breakfast. One fantastic beer traveling tool is a lot of breweries open early on Sunday during football season. This really helps beer traveling plans. SLO Brewing opened at 10am and the place was already full with football fans when we arrived soon after. SLO Brewing was located right in downtown only a block from Creekside Brewing. We ordered our last sampler of the trip and looked back on another  great beer vacation. Excited to reach our goal and left with 201 breweries on our “beer resume.”

Cheers, Sparklinglover

Happy Beer Girl

Reaching 200 pt 1

Since my last post we have been to 25 new breweries. No time to post!…I know #girlbeerproblems Our tale to 200 breweries…

Firestone WalkerIn the beginning of October we traveled down the Central Coast to attend a wedding. We had never been to this area before and planned to “complete” all the breweries (11) in three days, while attending to our wedding duties.

On Friday, October 4th we left at 6am in order to make the most of our day.  The sun wasn’t up yet and we were already headed to Firestone Walker.  Of all the numerous beers we’ve had from Firestone we have never been there before. Also, Velvet Merkin had just been released to add the cherry on top of excitement!

We arrived at Firestone just after 10am and their Visitor Center was open. We ordered tasters of the beers we hadn’t tried yet (Oaktoberfest, Velvet Merkin, Parabajava, and Agrestic Ale) and the ones we just had to have at the source (Wookey Jack)! The beer was incredible and I wish we could have stayed and done a tour, but we had 6 more breweries planned for the day.

We drove down the road, which couldn’t have been more than 3-4 BarrelHouse Brewingminutes and hit BarrelHouse Brewing. They had been open for less than a year and the facility was gorgeous. The tasting bar was nestled among the tanks, which opened up to a gorgeous outdoor garden and patio. We ordered a sampler and the standout was the Barrel Aged Double IPA at over 100 IBUs. I’m really interested to see more examples barrel aged on IPA’s . This is a great place to relax, have a beer and enjoy being outside. Alas, we already were on our way to number 3 and it wasn’t even noon yet.

We explored downtown Paso Robles to visit Downtown Brewing for beer and lunch. Downtown Brewing had terrible reviews and I was a little hesitant. They seem to be a bar and restaurant that either brews on the side or someone brews for them. I heard they are connected to SLO Brewing, but not sure. We had lunch and I ordered their Raven Porter, which was tasty.

Dunbar BrewingWe then headed to Dunbar Brewing, which headed up being one of our favorites of the trip. Chris, the owner and brewer was behind the bar and it seems like he is a one-man show. We tried their IPA’s and then he tapped a Scottish Heavy that was to die for. Not enough breweries make this beer in my opinion or they just don’t do it right. Dunbar specializes in English style beers and has a really good guest tap list and fridges of bottles to go or enjoy their. Highly recommend this place.

Four breweries is usually our limit, but we were just tasting at each place. We headed to Molly Pitcher Brewing in Atascadero and got our usual sampler.  They had an Imperial Red, Pale Ale, IPA, and a Session Stout. All were spot on and unfortunately we left to quickly to really appreciate the surroundings.  The ”pains” of #beertravel. Would defiantly go back if we are in town again.

Molly Pitcher BrewingWe now headed back to downtown Paso Robles to visit Paso Robles Brewing. They only had one of their own beers on tap their Pale Ale. We shared a pint and soon realized that we were in a Dodger bar filled with Dodger dogs on the menu. Luckily we didn’t have any orange and black on and my husband was wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates hat….no one picks on the Pirates.  Unfortunately, wasn’t much of a brewery…more of a tap room.

That put us at 6 and we still had one more to go. We headed to the little town of Cambria, which happened to be where the wedding was. Cambria reminded my of Stars Hollow on Gilmore Girls because everyone knew each other and they dressed the town up for holidays….it was decked out in themed scarecrows for Halloween. Really there were over 50!

Cambria BrewingCambria Brewing had been open just over a year. The tasting room was nicely decorated and very welcoming. Also a one-man show, Aaron poured us our sampler. We sat by the window and watched as locals strolled about town. Everything was just cozy. The beers were really tasty and a great ending to our extreme beer travel day.

We had never done 7 breweries in a day before and I honestly wouldn’t recommend it. We weren’t able to pay as much attention to the breweries because we were always onto the next….but when in Rome (Central Coast). This put us at 197 breweries…200 was just a day away.

Cheers, Sparklinglover

Great American Beer Festival Awards

GABF MedalsThis morning the Great American Beer Fest announced this years winners. Winners List.

Closer Look:

  • 31 out of 50 states got medals: CA (52) – CO (46) – OR (25) – VA (14) – PA (12) – TX (10) – OH (8) – NM (8) – NY (7) – MO (6) – AZ (5) – IL (5) – UT (5) – WI (5) – IN (4) – MI (4) – MN (4) – MT (4) – NC (4) – NV (4) – WA (4) – DE (3) – KS (2) – MA (2) – WY (2) – FL (1) – LA (1) – MD (1) – NJ (1) – TN (1)
  • 179 different breweries received medals
  • Most Medals: Devils Backbone Brewing (6) Beachwood BBQ & Brewing (5), Figueroa Mountain Brewing (5), Dry Dock Brewing (5), Firestone Walker (4), Rock Bottom – Colorado (4), Pelican Brewing (4) and Port City Brewing (4)

No Surprises:

  • Firestone Walker and Devils Backbone Brewing continue to take in not only medals, but Brewer of the Year awards again.
  • California receives the most awards followed by Colorado and Oregon.


  • Virginia (14), Texas (10), and New Mexico (8) our now on my #beertravel list. I was most surprised by New Mexico, which 6 different breweries took home a medal. After looking into the New Mexico Brewers Guild there looks to be 31 breweries and many more in planning. Great odds and way to represent at GABF!
  • We have been to 27 of 179 breweries that won a medal today. Thought we would have been to more. Alas…more beer travel!