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

 

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:

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Merry Christmas & 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

 

 

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