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Self-Guided Beer Tours

Sonoma Pride Tour

Sonoma Pride was originally conceived by Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing in July 2015 to celebrate living and working in Sonoma County. Since then they have released two beers annually under the Sonoma Pride brand. After the wildfires of early October, Russian River began brewing Sonoma Pride, a blonde ale, with all the proceeds from that beer going to help victims of the wildfires. To ensure the monies they raised went to the people that need it, they teamed with the King Ridge Foundation to begin a fundraiser for the victims of the Sonoma County wildfires. In a show of unity, more than 60 craft breweries and craft beer related businesses joined in to donate a brew that proceeds would be donated from; to date they have raised over $400,000.

When I left Sparks I had friends to visit and breweries to see, so I headed west on I-80. As there had been snow overnight, it made for a very scenic drive. Continue reading

Craft Breweries of Sparks Nevada

As I mentioned in my last article, I went to Sparks to bury my good friend, George. I did not bother using Google to check out the craft beer scene in Sparks because I did not know how much free time I would have; besides my friend Jon Urch had gifted me a bottle of Leafy Greens from Revision Brewing a couple months ago, so I had a good idea where I was going to head after the reception.

The reception after the funeral was held at Paddy & Irene’s Irish Pub, which meant nothing to me at the time but when I pulled into the Victorian Square parking lot I immediately got the feeling that George was looking out for me as right across the walkway from Paddy & Irene’s was Great Basin Brewing Company. Continue reading

Breweries of Highway 395

At the beginning of November I had to go to Sparks, Nevada to bury a friend; since I would be driving up CA-395 I knew there would be several breweries along the way that I had yet to try or visit. I decided to leave a day early and visit as many as possible; George would have wanted it that way.

From the Los Angeles area, the easiest way to get to CA-395 is via CA-14. CA-14 begins in the Antelope Valley and ends at CA-395. As I was in the Antelope Valley far too early to stop by and visit any of their breweries, my first visit was to Indian Wells Brewing Company in Inyokern.

The Indian Wells Brewing tasting room is a pretty interesting place; in fact, I will go so far as to say it may be the most unusual brewery I have ever visited. I walked around a few minutes in what seemed to be a cross between a gift store at a ghost town and a Cracker Barrel with a small museum thrown in just because. With all the soda pop for sale, I had to confirm that yes; they do brew all their beer in-house. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast

As I left Yuma I thought about the epic craft beer tour I was completing and decided that if I was going to make this series of articles truly coast-to-coast-to-coast, I was going to have to end it by visiting a California craft brewery that won a medal at the most recent GABF.

With at least 15 breweries in Southern California to choose from, my main obstacles were going to be the same as I had encountered over the past several weeks; day of the week, and time of day. As I looked over the list of GABF winners I realized that if I wanted to avoid rush hour traffic I was going to have to aim for breweries close to me. Fortunately, I live where I do and two of my favorite local breweries had won medals and they are both brewpubs, meaning they would be open by noon; Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, and HopSaint Brewing Company in Torrance. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Alabama and Mississippi

These photos were taken in Anniston, Alabama on October 19; and various parts of Mississippi on October 20, as I continued to work my way home.

There is something to be said for technology, but sometimes I wish I at least carried a decent paper map with me since trying to see the big picture on an S4’s screen is a lot easier said than done. When I left South Carolina I had decided that instead of taking I-20, I would take I-10. Unfortunately, I did not know what city to put in that would force my GPS to head to I-10 so I made a guess that was totally wrong. I would mention where I was, but I have no clue; I was not on an interstate, they were basically county roads. I was in the middle of nowhere South Carolina where it abuts nowhere Georgia. I also ended up on I-20.

What this meant for me craft beer-wise was that nothing in the part of Georgia I went through, including Atlanta, opened until 4:00 PM. I am sorry, but I was not going to stick around Atlanta for rush hour just to wait for a brewery to open. I will hit Georgia on another trip. Continue reading

Taking a San Diego Beercation with Travelocity

I have traveled to breweries up and down the state and ventured east as far as Indiana and Louisiana but even though it is only a couple hours away, I have not covered much in the San Diego area. With more than 100 breweries in San Diego County, I had visited a total of two; Alpine Beer Company in Alpine, and Stone Brewing’s Escondido location. The main reason for this is probably because a trip to San Diego for a beer tour would pretty much require an overnight stay and a convenient time just never came up. About a month ago I received an email asking if I would like to join Travelocity on an overnight beercation in San Diego; my convenient time had arrived. The fact that it was during San Diego Beer Week was just icing on the cake.

Our group consisted of a variety of foodies, travel influencers and two beer writers; we would be staying at the Pearl Hotel and visit AleSmith Brewing, Ballast Point, Mission Brewing and end with dinner at Stone’s Liberty Station location. We were transported around the different breweries by HotShots Brewery Tours. The reason for the invitation was that Travelocity has realized how big craft beer is around the country and that people are traveling specifically to try craft beer; so they created a beer tourism index. Everything we did can be booked via Travelocity. Continue reading

A Visit to Mother Road Brewing & Flagstaff Brewing Company – Flagstaff, AZ

After being fooled by Google in Gallup, New Mexico we got back on I-40 and continued west on our Craft Beer Tour 2016.

While there are plenty of new craft breweries in the southern half of Arizona, the same cannot be said for northern Arizona; at least until you hit Flagstaff. We saw one brewery pop up online, but that was after we had passed it; lack of an Internet signal certainly did not help much.

As we approached Flagstaff I knew there were several breweries there that I had yet to try. I had visited Beaver Street Brewery several times over the years, and Lumberyard Brewing Company a couple times, so I knew I wanted something different; I set my GPS for Mother Road Brewing Company, and I am really glad I did. Continue reading

Missouri Craft Beer on I-44

This portion of our Craft Beer Tour 2016 will be eastbound; beginning in Missouri and ending in Arizona. All of the Missouri portion can be found along I-44.

While it has been five years since the last time I drove along I-44, I seem to have driven this route more than anyone I know. The only reason I mention this is because I have driven through St. James, Missouri many times; so much so that I am readily familiar with some of the billboards you will see along the way. One of those billboards is for St. James Winery; so imagine my surprise when I saw an attachment to the winery’s billboard that suggested there might be a brewery now associated with the winery. Our first stop in Missouri would be Public House Brewing Company, which is located right next door to St. James Winery. Continue reading

Indiana Craft Beer: From North to South

If you have been following along you will recall that Craft Beer Tour 2016 technically began after visiting my buddy George in Reno, Nevada. It was there that I asked Tanya if she wanted to visit her family in Indiana; if she had not been up for it, my backup plan was to head to the Portland, Oregon area. When she said she wanted to go to Indiana, the only brewery that was a planned destination was Three Floyds Brewing in Munster. We have both been there numerous times; and while the rest of the trip would concentrate on visiting places I never heard of, there was no way I was going to northwest Indiana without another stop at Three Floyds.

I remember it was around 2:00 PM on Sunday afternoon at Big Grove Brewery when I told Big Grove managing partner Doug Goettsch and Tanya that we would be having dinner at Three Floyds Brewpub that evening. Goettsch reminded me that it was still another three or four hours to Munster; but as they would be open until 11:15 PM this would not be a problem; or so I thought. Continue reading

Iowa Craft Beer: Granite City and Big Grove Brewery

After having lunch in Lincoln, Nebraska we found our way back to I-80 and set our sights on Des Moines, Iowa.

I am not entirely sure how Granite City Food & Brewery got the nod for our final destination of the evening as in retrospect there seems to be a lot happening there; I suspect because it was the closest brewpub to the interstate, it was getting late and Tanya was hungry. Whatever the reason, it was a good stop.

The Granite City Food & Brewery location we stopped at was in the Clive section of Des Moines; I am still not exactly sure what that means, but if you are in Des Moines asking for directions, I am sure that will help out. Continue reading

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