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

 

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

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

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!