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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

Craft Beer Tour 2017: New Mexico

Leaving El Paso, I headed west for about an hour to Las Cruces, New Mexico which was a planned stop for the day. I was aware of three craft breweries in Las Cruces, but as it was Monday, one was closed; I chose High Desert Brewing because it was the closest to my motel.

High Desert Brewing Company is a brewpub that has been open since July of 1997 and is apparently the second oldest brewery in New Mexico. Everything they brew is done in small batches of about 100 gallons each. Apparently they brew 27 different beers; on the night of my visit they had 11 available as well as their root beer.

While being shown around the brewhouse, I was told that High Desert Brewing never had any aspirations of becoming bigger than they are; they always just wanted to be a simple, local spot for craft beer and food lovers. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Texas

These photos were taken over the course of three days in Texas, beginning with Grapevine Craft Brewery on October 21, Jester King Brewery, Freetail Brewing, and Pint & Plow on October 22, and finishing with Ode Brewing on October 23.

When I left Louisiana I set my sights on Grapevine, Texas and Grapevine Craft Brewery.

Grapevine Craft Brewery is a production brewery that has been around for four years. I picked it as a destination primarily because I thought Grapevine was Van Horn; which meant once again I had no idea where I was. I had meant to avoid Dallas, but there I was; at least I had a friend that lived down the road a piece and she met me at Grapevine. 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

Craft Beer Tour 2017: South Carolina

These photos were taken over the course of two days; October 17 in Columbia and October 18 in Charleston, South Carolina.

When I left Charlotte, I set my sights for Blythewood, South Carolina where I would be spending the night with my brother Steve and his wife. A few weeks back I asked Steve if he had any favorite breweries we could visit; he responded that he had shared a flight once, with our dad, back in 2010. We were going to have to go another route.

Fortunately, Steve has friends that do know craft beer and we were directed to Conquest Brewing in Columbia. Conquest Brewing is a microbrewery that has been open about five years and is Columbia, South Carolina’s first production craft brewery. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: North Carolina

These photos were taken at Bond Brothers Beer Company, Heist Brewery, and The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery on October 16 and 17 as my Craft Beer Tour 2017 continued into North Carolina.

When I first decided I was going to take this trip I only had five specific destinations; GABF, Three Floyds, Grand Rapids, MI, Charleston, SC and Yuma, AZ. Everything else would just happen, sort of.

Shortly before I left for GABF I was talking to Beer Paper owner (formerly Beer Paper LA), Daniel Drennon about my plans. Since he knows people around the country, I thought he might have a couple of ideas for stops. He handed me a bundle of the latest issue of Beer Paper and asked me to deliver it to his friend Whit Baker, the Certified Cicerone Brewmaster at Bond Brothers Beer Company in Cary. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Ohio

When I left off; my Craft Beer Tour 2017 was leaving the Grand Rapids area and honestly, I was not sure which way I wanted to go. As I saw it, I had two ways I could venture. On the one hand, I have had very little time in New England and the leaves were beginning to change colors, so that would be cool. On the other hand, I knew I was going to head down to the Carolinas, so New England would add another couple thousand miles to my trip. I would have been okay with that, but literally everywhere I went saw their weather worsen with my arrival!

I am not kidding, every evening I would get an alert on my phone that the weather would be anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees cooler the next day. I had people in North Carolina suggest I was Old Man Winter; relatives in South Carolina apologized for not having enough blankets, because “it never gets this cold.” I even heard the Dallas-Fort Worth weatherman say that they may have just experienced their last hot day of the year. Heck, even when I got home it was 102 at 2:00 PM; 24 hours later it was 73. I was getting a little paranoid as I had not really packed for inclement weather. I decided I could not risk the weather in New England and decided to head south instead. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: West Michigan

These photos are of the breweries I visited in Michigan; in order, they were Founders Brewing (two visits), Bell’s Brewery, New Holland Brewing, Our Brewing, Rockford Brewing, Perrin Brewing, Elk Brewing, and Greyline Brewing Company.

After driving back and forth between Grand Rapids and Detroit, in the pouring rain, and another four hours of technical work, I was ready for Craft Beer Tour 2017 to get back on course. First stop would be the Founders Brewing taproom.

As we were pulling off the freeway it was easy to spot the huge red brick building with “Founders Brewing” emblazoned with yellow letters. As we were parking I could not but help notice the fermenters in the windows; they appeared to be three stories tall, but I could not see clearly enough to see where their feet were. I hoped I would have a good view of the brewhouse, because it looked a little too busy for me to ask for a quick personal tour like I do at the smaller breweries. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Iowa and Indiana

By the time I finished exploring the craft breweries in Nebraska, it was getting late Monday afternoon and I had an appointment in Detroit on Wednesday morning, so the road trip of my Craft Beer Tour 2017 suddenly became a drive; which is not nearly as much fun. It did not help that as I continued eastbound, I would lose another hour before I hit Michigan. Anyway, enough complaining.

Exiting Nebraska, I entered Iowa. I drove through Iowa last year and was tempted to divert to Salon and Big Grove Brewery, but I also wanted to go up to Toppling Goliath; but the time thing was becoming an issue. I decided to power through Iowa, because there was a brewery in Indiana that I was stopping at, no matter what. Continue reading

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