I’ll be the first to admit that these last couple of months I deserve an F on blogging…work, chores and life in general seem to have gotten the better of me lately. BUT, I have to say I still deserve an A for effort in my ultimate task of trying new beers. I haven’t been writing about beer, but I sure have been drinking it.
My first beer saga to report is a vacation my beer guide and I took to Santa Barbara and Monterey at the end of August. This trip was kind of a breakthrough for me. For the first time I chose to order beers at nearly every place we ate, and I have to say for the most part I really enjoyed them. Our first stop on the trip was Santa Barbara, which we learned has become sort of a hub of its own for craft breweries.
We arrived to Santa Barbara at night and headed straight to The Brewhouse for dessert and a brew or two. I had their Condor Pilsner, which was nothing like the Budweiser or Coors most people associate with the pilsner varietal. Instead of being water and tasteless, it was slightly bitter on first taste but ultimately smooth, malty and delicious. I’ve noticed this to be something of a trend with my taste buds and beer. Beers taste harsh on first gulp, but in the end my tongue seems to get over it and give in to the taste of the beer behind the hops. This place also has the most AMAZING peanut butter and chocolate pie I’ve ever had in my life.
Our second day on the trip, we stopped by Firestone Walker Brewing Company (headquartered in nearby Paso Robles) and I had their 805 Blonde, which I would definitely recommend for beer newbies. We also had a beer at Union Ale Brewing, where I had a white ale from local Telegraph Brewing, which was also quite yummy (wow, look at me legitimately liking beer, who would have thought?). After trying a few blondes and white ales, I would definitely have to say those are safe bets for getting your feet wet in beer taste. Both are light, malty and smooth and go great with pretty much anything. When people talk about having a cold one on a hot day, I feel like these are the light, refreshing types of beer they’re referring to.
On our way up to Monterey, we stopped in San Luis Obispo, home of Tap It Brewing (which is also readily available in the L.A. area). We tried a few different beers there, but probably the most noteworthy for me was the Full Blown Stout. For me, stouts are still super intense, and this one wasn’t really any different. It tasted very roasty, dark and like slightly carbonated, thick coffee. It did get better after a few sips, though. It’s still going to take a bit more time for me and stouts to be friends, I think.
The final stop of the vacation was Hollister Brewing Company in Goleta, which had a plethora of interesting and unique beers on the menu. We ordered a flight of six different kinds, and I enjoyed nearly all of them. I think the craziest and, of course, best one we had was the Popsicle Princess. Nope, popsicle isn’t just in the name, it’s actually in the beer. The brew is actually made with melted Big Stick Popsicles. Awesome, right? I think so, anyway. It was absolutely delicious. The popsicle taste was definitely there to give the beer some fruity undertones, but it wasn’t overpowering. The beer was light, refreshing and had a smooth, malty finish.
All in all, I’d say it was a pretty successful vacation. More catching up to come later…