Oscars + Food + Beer Pairings

The Academy announced the 2015 Oscar nominations last week. I am a huge fan of the Oscars and throw an Oscar party each year. I included beer with almost everything I do so here is my themed menu, pairing appetizers and beer with each of the Best Picture nominees. Feel free to use this as a guide for your Oscar festivities. Take lots of dressed up photos and share your themed pairings ideas!

 americansnipercollageHummus Bi Tahini – American Sniper – Rogue American Amber Ale

American Sniper has many themes and you can do American or Iraqi cuisine for this one. I went with hummus bi tahini and pita because it is easy appetizer to pair and it’s a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. If you wanted to go “USA!” I would suggest Apple Pie. Nothing is more visually an American beer than Rogue Ales American Amber Ale.


birdmanFried Chicken – Birdman – 101 North Brewing Heroine IPA

Birdman was tough to pair because there are no food scenes. The only mention of food is when Edward Norton freaks out about all the props being fake, especially the chicken. Ta da…fried chick is my pairing, plus its a bird. You could also go with theater themed food like popcorn or snacks. This beer pairing is one of the most visibly fun. I really love Heroine IPA by 101 North Brewing and the superman themed label matches…so will the fried chicken and IPA.


boyhoodcollageThree Cheese Mini Macs – Boyhood – Ace Apple Hard Cider

 Boyhood was filmed over 12 years and follows the same actors over this time. You can use so many different ages and eras for pairings. My “growing up” focused pairing is mini mac and cheese bites with Ace’s Apple Cider. Nothing is more grown up than fancy mac and cheese and adult apple cider. Other pairings can be pigs in a blanket, ice cream sandwiches, etc.


grandbudapestcollageMacaroons – The Grand Budapest Hotel – Weihenstephaner

The Grand Budapest Hotel is full of beautifully designed scenes and lots of color so I wanted something colorful to pair. In the movie they sneak weapons in pastries, so macaroons seemed fitting. You could also do little tasty mints to go with the hotel theme. Beer was tougher because they only drink champagne and cocktails in the movie. I went with the German beer Weihenstephaner because the movie was filmed in Germany.


imitationgamecollageCucumber Tea Sandwiches – The Imitation Game – Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA

 The Imitation Game has a scene where Benedict Cumberbach eats a cucumber tea sandwich, which is a easy to make. They have tons of scenes at pubs so you can go with English pub food as well. My beer pairing was a stretch….Torpedo IPA represents the sinking U-boats Alan Turning and his team are trying to stop by solving the Enigma….again said it was a stretch. I love Torpedo IPA too.


selmacollage Southern Buttermilk Biscuits – Selma – 21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die IPA

 Selma is set mainly in the southern small town of Selma, Alabama. There is one scene  when Martin Luther King and his friends eat grits and biscuits with jam. I’m intimidated by grits (California girl) so biscuits it is. The beer needed to represent freedom and the fight for it so Brew Free or Die IPA was the perfect protesting pairing.


the theory of everythingScotch Eggs – The Theory of Everything – Meantime London Porter

The Theory of Everything embodied British pub culture in many of it’s scenes. I am so excited to try to make scotch eggs, but you could also pair fish & chips, Shepard’s pie, or anything pickled to get the same feel. My favorite brewery in England is Meantime Brewing and especially their London Porter, which should pair perfectly.


whiplashcollageDeep Dish Pizza Cupcakes – Whiplash – Ninkasi Brewing Total Domination

Whiplash was an easy pairing because the Miles Tellar’s character first date is to a pizza place. You could also pair popcorn because he meets her at a movie theater. The beer pairing had to showcase J.K. Simmons legendary abusive performance as jazz professor Fletcher. Ninkasi Brewing Total Domination will stand up to that role….fiercely.

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!

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

The 300 Mark!

Petaluma HillsWe made it to 300 breweries since we started beer traveling 5 years ago. Our current stats, which I just love looking at.

California – 246 / Nevada – 16 / Oregon – 12 / Arizona 11 / Pennsylvania – 9 / Maryland – 4 / Virginia – 2 / DC – 1

2010 – 40 Breweries Visited
2011 – 53 Breweries Visited
2012 – 57 Breweries Visited
2013 – 74 Breweries Visited
2014 – 77 Breweries So Far

These milestones aren’t always easy to achieve. We almost didn’t make when we drove an hour to a brewery that just wasn’t open. No notice, nothing. Beer traveling has it’s mishaps just like all travels, no matter how much you plan.

We chose Petaluma Hills Brewing in Petaluma, CA for our big 300. Their tap room may be new to the Sonoma County beer scene, but their beers have been around for almost a year and they have been solid from the start. Most new breweries we go to have adolescent starts, probably a better world that, but most linger from the early stages of opening a brewery and replicating their beer recipes. We try to revisit them after the kinks are worked out and their beer pretty much always improves.

Not the case at Petaluma Hills Brewing. The standouts were the Portluma, a smooth and balanced Porter and the East Side Bitter, a mixture of malt and subtle bitterness. I’m very excited to try their upcoming Pumpkin Patch Traffic Jam Ale, rightfully named for anyone that has experience the rubbernecking pumpkin patch traffic……really people? it’s just a pumpkin patch.

All in all we couldn’t have picked a better place to reach 300 because they were genuinely excited and celebrated our milestone with us. I see only good things for this brewery. Come visit them at their great location across the street from Lagunitas in Petaluma, CA.

Cheers and Happy Beer Travels!


Lancaster Breweries

Kinetic Brewing I have to say we have pretty much avoided LA in our beer and baseball travels and have always drove past to San Diego. We decided to curb our wasteland stereotypes and on Memorial Day weekend we visited the town of Lancaster, CA in Northern Los Angeles County. A town historically known for aviation and breaking the sound barrier. This town is very proud of their past with murals, flags, and life-size jets on display, but we came for the beer and our first stop was Kinetic Brewing. Our friends Jess Poshepny Valley of Moxie Lady & Tim Vallery of Half Ass Beer Blogger raved about them on their past trip to LA.

After a 5 hour drive we arrived at opening and ordered a sampler. They were out of a few beers, but said you can get them at the beer garden at the Lancaster JetHawks Stadium, which we did later. The sampler board is a cog and their tap handles our spinning gears all representing Lancaster’s aviation heritage. The standouts was their Ignition New Zealand Pale Ale that was so bright and fresh and their Fusion Porter that had the perfect balance. The beer was heightened by their great hospitality. We probably talked to four different employees and every one was so nice and hospitable. They really value their customers and cared about social media. They had a board that looks like chalk, but is actually projected. It tracks all the social interactions of Facebook, Twitter, Untappd and Foursquare. As soon as I checked in I was on the board. That’s pretty awesome.

We then visited the second brewery Bravey Brewinglocated in Lancaster about 10 miles south Bravery Brewing. Their brewery is dedicated to the armed forces and it shows in their beer names, décor, and the huge American flag on the wall. They also have the drill sergeant uniform from Full Metal Jacket worn by Brian Avery, R. Lee Emery who is actually part owner with Dave Conett. With so much focus towards their military branding I have to say I didn’t think the beer would be up to par. My complete mistake, the beer was terrific. We ordered a pick your own taster set of 4 and then immediately ordered another one so we could try all their beers. The Old Rat an English Style Brown Ale was so full of flavor, while retaining its origins. Also really loved their Allegiance IPA a perfect west coast style. Ohh and their Morning Cup a Black IPA with coffee reminded me of Stone’s Dayman Coffee IPA, a beer I still crave today.

JethawksWe ended the night at Clear Channel Stadium the ballpark of the Lancaster Jethawkes a minor league class A Advanced team for the Houston Astros. Basic minor league ballpark with dedicated local fans and basic food. The standout was the beer garden hosted by Kinetic Brewing where we got to enjoy more of their beer as promised.

I have to say Lancaster, CA surprised us. They have two well deserving breweries worth the visit.

Cheers, Sparklinglover

Breweries Visited:

Kinetic Brewing – 735 W Lancaster Blvd,  Lancaster, CA 93534

Bravery Brewing – 42705 8th St West,  Lancaster, CA 93534

I am a Beer Traveler

Beer Collage It’s hard to put into words how exciting it is to step into a new brewery and taste at the source. Some breweries are a complete surprise because I have never tasted a drop before, but the truly special ones are the breweries that you crave to visit because you have enjoyed so many of their beers before or simply one beer that sparked a day of beer traveling to taste at the source. At the source is more than just tasting the beer as fresh as it can be, but seeing the town that it rests in. I love seeing how the locals embrace their brewery. Most breweries embrace their town by naming beers after local history, landmarks and streets, which just reinforces the locals love. Beer travel is seeing and more importantly feeling all of this, while drinking damn good beer. People always say they want to eat where the locals eat. Well we drink were the locals drink. Society of Beer TravlersI was inspired to write about what beer travel means to me after becoming a member of the Society of Beer Travelers create by Brian Devine and Maria Scarpello of The Roaming Pint. This new online community is for anyone that shares the same passion for beer travel. If you are the type of person who drives out of your way to visit a single brewery this site is for you. No matter by car, plane, bike, or foot, if your vacations revolve around beer this site is for you.

Happy beer travels!