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!

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

Black & White Beer Ball

black and white beer ballblack and white beer ball 2This weekend we attended the Black & White Beer Ball put on by Ales for Autism. This is the third year and our second year attending and it is becoming one of my favorite San Francisco Beer Week events. A night of dressing up, drinking beer, and supporting a great cause. Yes, all great things.

There were over 25 breweries and 2 craft cideries to choose from. I was especially excited to see The Rare Barrel, Redwood Curtain Brewing and Prairie Artisan Ales attend because this was their first times pouring in Sonoma County. Prairie actually brewed a beer specifically for this event, Prairie Spectrum, a red farmhouse ale. It was a little light, but grew on me the next day when I tried it again at BeerCraft. The highlight of the night was Churchill’s Pale Ale from Bear Republic Brewing. A complete surprise to me. It was so aromatic with gorgeous hop notes and incredible smooth.

I love dressing up and was so impressed that the attendees did the same…well almost everyone. I am excited to see this event grow and get more people from the bay area to experience North Bay beer. For those that what to attend next year I would highly recommend the VIP ticket. For $15 more ($50 VIP, $35 General) you get in an hour earlier, complimentary coat check and passed hors d’oeuvres. Completely worth it!

Check out this great slow motion video from Sonoma County Wire of the event:

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 thebeergeek.com 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

SF Beer Week Opening Weekend

SF Beer Week

The next morning was a bit tough, but after some much needed breakfast we were back to what we do best: beer. Our first stop was the Press Club in downtown Mikkeller Yeast Seriesto try the Mikkeller Yeast 2.0 Series. Each beer was made with the same malt, hops, mash time and temperature. The only difference is the yeast. The series included Lager, English Ale, American Ale, Saison, Brettanomyces Lambicus and Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. It was a great experience to see how much yeast determines flavor and was extremely eye opening.

The Press Club was also specializing in unique sours and had a list over over 30 sours. After only two days of “official” beer week they were already out of everything Cantillon and a few others. We ordered sours from France, Italy and the US. Only thing was nothing had a price and when the bill came it was over $100. It was a surprise, but totally worth the experience.

Then we were on to Speakeasy Ales Speakeasy& Lagers for their grand opening of their new tasting room. The place was packed and the tasting room was completely full. Very speakeasy style with dark secluded rooms. We hung out in their warehouse/brewery where all their Friday night events are. Speakeasy is always a great time. They have tons of local followers and always attract amazing food trucks. The staff is always great and the beers are top notched.

Smoked Beer Flight                                                      We then headed to the Mission district where it seemed there was a beer event on every corner. First was Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cooking where they were offering a smoked beer flight. Sounded awesome and the idea was great, but the follow through was terrible. Long story short: bad service and uneducated staff. Don’t post a beer week event if you are unprepared. Luckily, there was a Goose Island tap takeover a block down at The Sycamore. Their was no tap list prior, but I kept believing that Bourbon County Brand Stout would be there. Positive thinking = yes! The Sycamore is a small bar/restaurant and the place was insanely packed, but I squeezed in and got my first taste of Bourbon Countythe legendary beer. No joke the glass was probably 3 ounces, but at 15% it was all we needed. Hardest part was maneuvering through the crowd without spilling a drop. They have an awesome outdoor area with a huge screen. Strangely Planet Earth was planning which was a unique experience watching everyone sipping beer and watching seals eat penguins. We ended the night at 21st Amendment for their Strong Beer Month. One of our favorite San Francisco breweries.

Dynamo DountsThe last event we wanted to attend was on Sunday morning. Almanac Beer Co partnered with Dynomo Donuts to produce a Biere de Chocolate donut.  It was delicious and was a perfect end to the opening weekend of San Francisco Beer Week. If anyone ever gets the chance to attend some events, go for it! We attend 1% of events and had a fantastic time!

Cheers #SFbeerweek it was a grand time! – sparklinglover

SF Beer Week: Opening Gala


Oh SF Beer Week….we had a fun time. Normally I pop into a few events, but this year we went “all the way”. We stayed for the whole weekend and tried so many great beers.

We Drakes Brewing took Friday off of work so we could meander our way into San Francisco. First, we headed to the East Bay to finally check out Drakes Brewing in San Leandro. I really love Drakes and am sad to say it took us so long to get there. As much as I wanted a fresh Hopocalypse (released the week before) we decided on some session beers to kick of SF Beer Week. We had a long way to go before the Opening Gala. We tried their Something Mild 3.9% with Mosaic hops & Quarter Century of Issues (collaboration with Stone) 4.5% with El Dorado and Centennial hops which were both very tasty. Drakes is really leading the way with “drinkable” and “flavorful” session beers that won’t bowl you over with alcohol. Their Alpha Session is one of my favorite beers and is much needed during baseball season where games can stretch 3-4 hours.

SFBeerWeekSignsIt was finally time for the Opening Gala. With a line around the building we knew we had arrived. I love beer fest lines chatting away with other beer lovers and planning which breweries to hit first. Always devise a plan first otherwise you will end up just walking around and missing a lot of great beer that goes fast. (aka: Pliny the Younger & Hopocalypse Black Label) Our plan was to hit Drakes first to see if they brought their Hopocalypse Black Label a Triple IPA, which had been sold out for a week. Ohhhh…yes they did and it was great to do a side by side with the Double IPA. Surprisingly loved the Double IPA more.

GreenDeathNext we made our way to the San Francisco Brewers Guild who always release a collaboration beer during SF Beer Week. This year’s was Green Death a “craft beer” version of a malt liquor that was popular before and after prohibition. A tribute to San Francisco beer history. It was very smooth and creamy for 7.75% with a bready characteristic. My husband feel in love with this beer and searched for it around town after the event. More info here.

The highlights of the night:

Knee Deep/Track 7- Knee Deep in Beer Week Drakes-Tree Beer

Ale Industries – Unity, as in Edward

High Water Brewing – Aphotic Baltic Porter

Bison Brewing – My Funky Valentine

Almanac – Barrel Noir

Almanac – Farmer’s Reserve No 1

Almanac – Farmer’s Reserve No 2

Heretic – Shallow Grave

Drakes Brewing – Tree Beer

SF Beer Week Group ShotPhoto Stand at Opening Gala

For our first time at the Opening Gala this event was completely overwhelming even with my print out of breweries. I never expected all the breweries to bring seasonals, limited  and rare breweries in addition to their standard lineup. I was a kid on Christmas running from one brewery to the next. This was also the event to catch up with beer friends. This is THE beer event to go to during SF Beer Week!

Cheers, Sparklinglover

San Diego Beer Week

San Diego Beer Week

Two of my favorite things happened to coincide this weekend. My best friend and craft beer….and we do it quite well together. So I jumped at the chance of my best friend getting engaged and San Diego Beer Week. We added 5 new breweries (makes 139!) to the list and some wonderful beer bars.

1) Amplified Ale Works

Brand new to the San Diego beer scene. Amplified Ale Works opened 7 days prior to our visit on November 2nd 2012. A three barrel operation inside California Kebab & Beer Garden. They only had one house beer on tap, a blond called Leggy Blonde. It was really a silly name for how serious this beer was. For those musty Saison lovers, like myself, you will love this beer. Truly one of the best beers of the trip and I’m not a blonde lover.

2) Hess Brewing

A very popular brewery in San Diego. This place was hopping on Saturday afternoon. We weren’t able to taste samples because they ran out of glasses. Tried their Pallidus Belgian Pale Ale, which was excellent and one of their IPA’s. They had 750ml of their Anno Duo Imperial Saison (oximouron, perhaps?) in bottle, which I will return for. Very curious of a 9.5% Saison. For Hess being the first licensed nano brewery in San Diego (according to their website) they are doing quite well and opening a second brewery in the North Park district.

3) Wet ‘N Reckless Brewing

One man operation, Dave Hyndman does it all from making his beer to pouring it. Located in an office park like so many San Diego breweries. They opened earlier this year and Dave makes the beers he likes not defined by style. There has been lots of good vs bad arguments about this brewery. Either way, support local breweries by trying out their beer.

4) Rough Draft Brewing

My favorite of the day! Rough Draft has only been opened since March (16 new San Diego breweries opened in 2012) but they really thought the layout through. Spacious tasting room with long granite bars and plenty of room for brewing and possibly expansion. The sampler dressed to impress with some of the stand outs being their Belgian Vanilla Stout, Eraser IPA, Emboozlement Tripel, and Hop Therapy a DIPA. They have plans for distributing what people drink the most of. < — Great business model.

5) Poor House Brewing

A new addition to the North Park area just open a couple of months. Rustic feel with opened windows to the street and beer served in mason jars. I only tried one of their beers the IPA Experimental Batch #4. Delicious! For those that love the floral/citrus notes in IPAs you will love this. We will be back, especially because its in walking distance.

Our Own San Diego Beer Week Pup Crawl

Pup CrawlPoor House Brewing –> Ritual Tavern –> Toronado San Diego

I love having friends that live in North Park. So many amazing beer bars!

PS: Yeti is my new favorite beer.