The Tasty Privilege of Maui’s Local Variety

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Beer List at Maui Brewing (by KRoark)

We recently enjoyed a little beach vacation time in Hawaii, which meant the good fortune of checking out the Maui Brewing company facilities first-hand, (both their brewery and their brew-pub).  We heard the owner speak at a GABF event two years ago and have been intrigued by the company’s deep commitment to local production and sourcing ever since.  Maui-made is something in which the islanders have a great deal of pride and they should, especially since many “Hawaiian” products are brewed or manufactured on the mainland.

The biggest surprise though during our visit was the shear quantity of beers the brew-pub had on-tap. In took three visits, but we managed to sample all 22 of their ales, lagers, and specialty beer.  They’d organized their menu into the categories of “hoppy,” “regional releases,” “dark and malty,” and “lagers,” which made each visit and tasting flight distinct.

This diversity was astounding for the obvious reason that here in Colorado, we don’t benefit from the vast array of delicious beer that Maui Brewing Company creates; shelf space, limitations on distribution, and the volume of production make this impossible and understandably so. While we enjoy a few of their brews via can (Coconut Porter and the Big Swell IPA), their most exciting and interesting beer demands a long flight and some dedicated beer tourism. Continue reading

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Craft Beer in California’s Wine Country

A Sunday Bonus Beer ~ Out-of-State Adventures

The argument rages between wine lovers and beer enthusiasts about which delightful liquid tastes better, takes more effort or skill to make, draws a stronger community, or relies on a more refined palette. The debaters can have their positions, while I’ll continue to thoroughly enjoy both fermented grapes and fermented malts.

That’s why on our California adventure back in June, we attempted to cover a wide variety of wineries and breweries.  For us, the two beverages go hand-in-hand, and no better place exemplifies this symbiotic relationship than the wine country of and near Sonoma County. Continue reading

Beer Mecca in California

You may have noticed a few postings on our Facebook page and recent blog posts about California breweries. We took a little sabbatical from Colorado beer to explore breweries both big and small from San Diego to Sonoma Counties. During 600 miles of driving, we visited 25 breweries and wineries, including three beer meccas that were simply magical. The Webster Dictionary regards meccas “as a center for a specified group, activity, or interest;” Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, Lagunitas in Petaluma, and Russian River in Santa Rosa fulfill Webster’s definition exactly.  And though all three breweries offered very different experiences, it seemed that angelic choirs of beer gods sang to us as we walked up to the front entrance of each location, acknowledging our arrival to very special places. Continue reading

San Diego Breweries, Day 2: Smaller Operations

I titled this post very carefully.  As opposed to last week’s “San Diego Breweries, Day 1: Big Operations,”  the three operations in this post aren’t “small” per say, they’re just smaller, and they deserve the credit of recognizing how well they’re doing and how far they’re headed.  Also, all three of these locations are located in North County San Diego in the town of Vista, within a block of the same road, Sycamore Avenue . . . convenient?  Absolutely.

So my alternative title: “Who Brews on Sycamore Ave?”

Spot One — The Hometown Favorite: Rarely do I go against the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but with a brewery named Mother Earth, a couple of Colorado hippies couldn’t avoid checking out this locals’ watering hole. Hidden in a warehouse area near Highway 78 (we’re accustomed to this set-up), Mother Earth was packed when we walked in on a Sunday afternoon.  Decorated with both beer and rock posters, stickers, decals, and generally colorful tidings, this brew shop and brewery boasts a wide-array of beer styles. Sometimes we avoid ordering tasting trays and samples so that we don’t stand-out as newcomers, but after squeezing our way up to the bar, we couldn’t decide on just one pint. Our favorites included their Red Dog Rye XPA, their Caber of Love Wee Heavy, and their Round About Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. Continue reading

San Diego Breweries, Day 1: Big Operations

Driving south on Interstate 5 from Orange County towards San Diego, (one of the current craft beer meccas), Lindsay opened the area’s beer map, boasting 38 locations in one county.  Oh, my, goodness. How would we get them all in over one weekend?

Though my type-A nature actually began strategizing a method to complete such madness, I knew a half dozen breweries over two days would be a great goal. There’s absolutely no need to over-indulge, be irresponsible on the roads, or confuse our palettes with yes, too much beer. So we opted to spend our first day in the Mission Valley area, visiting some of the well-known, larger craft breweries: Ballast Point and Green Flash, and then a Port Brewing location in Solana Beach. Without a doubt, we sacrificed visiting some other heavy hitters in the area, but we can always return to savor more SoCal craft beer.

I could go on and on about each of these places, though there are three highlights that make each operation well-worth visiting:

Ballast Point

– A solid variety of production beers that represent style and taste to near perfection, and offer an unrivaled clarity of beer color in each style.

– Once past the standard six, the brewers have designed an almost over-whelming menu of options, including a series of chile beers, a selection of smoked beers, and some craft releases I’m still craving to revisit nearly two weeks after our visit.

– A major hub for beer enthusiasts . . . we followed the Brewery Tours of San Diego bus (co-run by an editor of The West Coaster) into the parking lot for the 11 am opening.  It seems that everyone agrees, Ballast Point is not to be missed. Continue reading

Hangar 24 and The Bruery: 4th Anniversaries

Our first day out beer tasting in California serendipitously landed us at two very different breweries in Southern California celebrating their 4th years in business. Though we missed their actual anniversary parties, drinking taster trays from each spot made it clear to us that Hangar 24 and The Bruery have plenty to be proud of as they near their half-decade milestones.

Hangar 24, as its name might lead you to believe, calls an old airplane hangar at the Redlands Airport, home.  Never heard of Redlands? It exists in the Inland Valley of Southern California, beautifully perched beneath towering mountains and an unfortunate amount of Los Angeles smog.  I called it home for more than seven years as I went to school at the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands (an idyllic undergraduate experience).

And though Redlands might not be on the top of your destination list during a visit to California, it should be. As a late 19th-century citrus hub (orange production here is a rare site as of late, but local heritage groves still produce some of the finest Navels in the world), Redlands offers a small-town California charm with historic Victorian houses, and now a brewery making massive headway in the local craft beer scene. Continue reading