The Best Beer Event?

What if you could go to a beer event and try amazing beers, find out about industry trends & issues and talk to some of the biggest names in California beer?

I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of beer event that gets me hyped. Having gone to all the previous California Craft Beer Summits, I’m excited about this year’s summit.

3 days of activities including 28+ educational seminars, an expo where you can talk to manufacturers, suppliers, and vendors while sampling beer from all over California. And it’s that’s not enough there are Food and beer pairings and the summit ends with a beer festival on the State Capitol featuring 160 California breweries.

Check it out, I tell me you don’t think it’s a great event. California Craft Beer Summit!

Check out my post from a past summit.

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Fargo, Where Else Would You Spend Your 30th Wedding Anniversary?

It’s a good thing we like each other!

While my wife and I are not new to road trips, the planning can get a bit heated stressful, and this trip planning was not an easy one.

  • 2 – Flights
  • 9 – States
  • 2 – Baseball Games
  • 2655 – Miles of Driving
  • 15 – days of Travel
  • 1 – 30th Anniversary
  • ? Breweries, Distilleries, and Generally Cool Spots

A little backstory; With a big move last year, a new house and a new job, we decided to put our big 30th Anniversary trip on hold and keep our vacation on the low-key side.  The vacation destination(s) were pretty easy to pick. My wife has a goal to visit all 50 States, and she only has 5 left. Although, It would be nice if they were all near each other. Buy hey, more breweries for me. When this trip is complete, she will still have Florida and Louisiana to hit.

We are using Chicago as our hub, both beginning and ending. From there we will be visiting Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan. There is also a handful of “drive-thru” States we will be seeing in our travels.

l look forward to reporting back. I’m sure there will be at least a few beers along the way.

So What Does 22 Mean In Beer Years?

Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale or just DBA is turning 22 & they are celebrating with a beer dinner.

Happy Birthday, DBA!

For those of us old enough to remember drinking beer (legally) before the existence of DBA & Firestone Walker, congratulations on still being able to remember things.

Back before Social Media and second wave of craft beer began, when you discovered a beer it was a major achievement. Now I don’t remember my first DBA. I do remember not knowing anything about the company. Were they new? Established? Related to a tire company? What I did know was that I found a beer and brewery that would change my understanding of beer and what it could be.

I’ve used DBA as a gateway beer for many of my non-craft friends. The expectation of somewhat darker, fuller bodied beer would often scare off the doubters. Inevitably, I got them to take a sip of my DBA…instant perception change. I might not have won them over, but now they were a little more open to experimenting, and straying away from their norm.

While you may think DBA is not cutting edge in today’s beer world, Firestone Walker still holds a patent for their Union System that is used in the fermentation process. And with four golds and one silver at the Great American Beer Festival, this beer has some serious street cred.

The fact that Firestone Walker is celebrating its 22nd year of existence, is as much as a celebration of its longevity as it is a celebration how far craft beer has come.

Do you think we will see DBA in a nitro can this year? I know it would make the Lion happy.

The Menu:

  • Double Barrel Ale: Welcome beer
  • Agrestic with fresh locally sourced fruit & cheese
  • Reginald Brett with an arugula salad with fresh citrus, toasted almonds, & raspberry vinaigrette
  • Rye Double DBA with NY steak potpie with flakey pastry dough, peas, carrots & beef gravy
  • UDBA with Chocolate pretzel brownie with caramelized bananas

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January Brings A New Challenge!

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January starts the new trek for attempting to hit a minimum of 100 different breweries or tasting rooms. This will be the 4th year of this personal challenge and if I’m going to make 100 different brewery stops, I’ve got to start strong. Math tells me I need to hit 8.4 breweries each month to meet my goal. So how did January go?  Well, a little bit of a slow start, but that’s what the rest of the year is for.

#001 – Monk Cellar I really don’t get out here enough.  They are brewing some classic styles beautifully and the food is spot on. My choices for lunch, their take on an American IPA and what might be my favorite, the London Porter. The IPA drank big for a 6.5% IPA. West Coast bitterness with some candy sweetness from the hops. The London Porter is an open-fermented gem that has a smooth chocolate finish while not drinking too heavy. The Scotch Eggs pair with life, don’t leave without trying them.

#002 – New Glory Brewery So, New Glory is an easy “Go-To” for me. Great staff, good vibe (keep the punk rock going) and I’m always impressed with the beer. This stop included Take 5, really superb Session IPA. Do you Even Simcoe, Broh? part of the single hop series. I try not to miss out on any of these.  Lastly, Greenergy, this 8.1% DIPA was drinking the best tonight. I’ve been going away from the higher ABV IPAs, but this one might bring me back in.

#003 – Track 7 Brewing (Curtis Park) is another favorite of mine, and today was no exception. The day started with Haze and Lupuline in Curtis Park, this 10.2% ABV triple IPA is dangerously smooth. Next up, Love and Hoppiness in Vermont. I drink this every time I see it. At 5.1% ABV, this could be a daily hazy for me. Then off to a new one for me, Darkness, Imprisoning Me. Holy hell, this 13.3% ABV Russin Imperial Stout is insanely good.  With an Untappd rating of 4.21, I don’t think I’m the only one who is loving this beer. Lastly, a palette cleanser with Left Eye, Right Eye. It’s just a 9.5% DIPA that is damn good.

#004 – Fieldwork Brewing (Sacramento Tasting Room) January’s stops ended here. I’m a big fan, but I left with mixed reviews today. My flight included Island Time, a fruited sour. Ill-Gotten Grains, a Gose was next up. Stream of Coffee, an English mild. Then to Coffee Town, a Brown Ale.  Finishing up with Sniff Test Bru 1, IPA. I really like Fieldwork, but I was disappointed. The coffee beers didn’t pop with coffee. The IPA didn’t taste up to par with Fieldwork’s IPAs I’m used to. My favorite today was the Gose.  Although it wasn’t a great day for me, I will be back (probably soon).

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February is off to a great start. More Sacramento area breweries, a trip to Vegas and followed up with a trip to Paso Robles. This month might get me back on track.

Beer Travels – South Lake Tahoe

The last three year’s I’ve set a goal of hitting 100 different breweries. So to continue with that annual ritual, it was time to venture out again. What better than a weekend beer crawl through beautiful South Lake Tahoe! It’s been a bunch of years since I visited and it’s never been known as a beer destination. My wife took it upon herself to find the breweries and book the weekend getaway. She found a local blog that provided some excellent information.

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Not Sure What To Expect

While South Lake Tahoe has a lot to offer, I wasn’t sure beer was one of them. Sking, mountain biking, boating, and gambling. With a captive vacationing audience, why would the beer need to be a standout?

Food?

All but one of the breweries had some sort of food. Two being full on brewpubs and one offer food as a side thing. Maybe there’s a shortage of food trucks in the area.

First stop, breakfast in the town of El Dorado. We stopped at the aptly named Cafe El Dorado. A basic little cabin/house that is a true locals spot. Killer breakfast and a great place to stop before hitting the mountain breweries.

From my research, there are 5 active breweries and 1 in planning.  We picked 4 to hit. All but one was relatively new.  The Brewery at Lake Tahoe has been around since 1992.

South Lake Brewing Company

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First Impressions: Big, open tasting room that would a great spot to meet up with some friends.

Staff: Friendly staff, although I thought it was interesting that they didn’t ask me if  I wanted to keep my tab open.

Beer List: I didn’t count the beers on the list, but they had about 10 to choose from.  They covered the key styles from IPA, Pale, Stouts and even a Berliner Weisse.

Brewery Highlights: The two beers that really stood out for me were their 3.3 ABV English Mild “Land Otter”. You are hard-pressed to find an English Mild on a tap list, and this one was very well made.  My favorite from the stop Burnside Stout. This beer had a nice bittersweet chocolate flavor with a good level of roast.  I didn’t get much coffee on it, but that might be a good addition to this 7% Stout.

Overall Impression: Great space (no food).  I think with a little more time, they have the capability of being a local favorite.

Cold Water Brewing

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First Impressions: A restaurant, a busy restaurant! There was a bar, but the setup was a traditional restaurant.  Not sure how comfortable this place would be if you weren’t eating.  We ate.

Staff: Hectic pace, but very friendly.

Beer List: I tried them all! Seven, and they were all really good.  Lager, Rye Ale, two IPAs, pale, Stout and even an Alt beer (which was my favorite).

Brewery Highlights: This place is good. The chicken wings were excellent and the beer is solid.

Overall Impressions: Not sure this is the place I would really want to hang and have a few beers with friends. However, this place might just be perfect for the vacationing masses.

Sidellis Lake Tahoe

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First Impressions: A nice bar area, and wide open.  Even though this is a restaurant, It didn’t seem that formal of a place.  Basically, walk in a grab a seat.

Staff: Really friendly staff and that transferred to the customers who we shared the bar with.  We had a great time talking at the bar.

Beer List: Ten of their own beers on tap, plus a couple of guest taps.  Three IPAs, a Porter, Brown, Amber, two Whites (one with Habaneros), Saison and ever a Kettle Sour.

Brewery Highlights: More than anywhere else we tried, these guys are brewing up some more adventurous beers.  Not everyone was for me, but I really like the directing they are going.

Overall Impression: I think this a great stop to grab some solid beers and a little food. Although not to crowed when we were there, this the place people are talking about.

The Brewery at Lake Tahoe

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First Impressions: Bar…restaurant…bar. Old school brewpub (literally, established in 1992). Beer might an afterthought.

Staff: A friendly bartender that knew how to work a busy bar.

Beer List: They run the full spectrum of beers, Pilsner, Wit, Pale, IPA, Amber, Porter, and a few seasonals. Being the last stop on the day and seeing the bar was packed, I opted for a pint of their Needle Peak Pale Ale. A good beer, and I’m sure it works perfectly with the crowd.

Brewery Highlights: There weren’t any lowlights, but also nothing too memorable. This is actually a brewery  I visited many years ago.  I really good place to grab lunch and a beer.

Overall Impressions: While sitting at the bar, I saw more cocktails, shots, and wine get served than beer. The beer is good.

So, South Lake Tahoe

This place is awesome. One of the most beautiful areas in the State of California. As for beer, not quite a destination…yet. Give these new breweries a little more time and I think you might see beer added to the local tourist guides. Just like Vegas, this place is a vacation resort that needs the tourist dollars. The clientele will be ever-changing, so it’s going to be difficult to appeal to the masses while also branching out.

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And on the way home, we stopped at Jack Russell Brewing in Placerville for a pint of their All American Ale. A solid lightly hopped pale ale. We also found a new brewery, Solid Ground. Very impressed. More about them in a future post.

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