2018 Beer Travel Series - Vermont / California
No, I didn't go to Vermont, California or California, Vermont.....Yes, this was a coast to coast trip with a one day separation between the two. We're at the age where a lot of our friends are getting married and since our friends are cool people, we are able to visit some very awesome beer friendly destinations.
California was first on the list as we were heading out there for a wedding in Malibu. We planned on renting a car, driving up the coast on the 1 and hitting a few breweries where we could. The drive up the coast from Malibu to San Francisco was absolutely beautiful. I have done it once before however, the weather didn't cooperate that time.
This trip provided plenty of sunshine for the ride. When you drive up the Coastal Highway there really isn't much to see, you are essentially driving through another planet blanketed with dramatic cliff beaches and lush rolling green hills. The sights were quenching our beer thirsts and that was good enough for us.
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing was tucked back in an industrial park which has since been converted into a mom and pop shop style strip mall. The tap room was eclectic and really cool to see, the beer was crisp, clean and refreshing and the relaxation in their outdoor beer garden was just what the doctor ordered.
Now that we made it far enough the coast and inland we were now on our way to the San Francisco area. With our hotel located right in the Fisherman's Wharf we had access to a lot of bars that offered a good selection of beers that I have yet to try. Our first stop was the Buena Vista Cafe, made famous by their Irish Coffee.
I opted for some Red Trolley Ale by Karl Strauss Brewing Company which was fantastic! After enjoying a few Red Ales we made our way down the street to Jacks Cannery Bar which had over 60 taps of good beer.
I was pleasantly surprised to find Big Sky Brewing Company's Moose Drool on tap which is one of my favorite brown ales on the market. We fell in love with this beer on one of our trips out west to Montana a few years back. I also was able to grab a pint of Marin Brewing Company's Mt. Tam Pale Ale, a beer that is mentioned quite frequently on the pod casts that I listen to on my daily commute.
After waking up and shaking off our hangover from the night before I had two breweries on my must visit list. We Ubered down to the area where 21st Amendment Brewery was. Since its the brewery located down the street from where baseball is seen and played we strolled down to check out AT&T Park.
After doing a lap around the really awesome baseball stadium it was time to pull up a chair at the 21st Amendment tap room. This place is a prime spot for day drinking. A small courtyard flanks the building with huge bay windows tying the two spaces together. The taproom itself is nice and cozy and the small batch brewhaus is tucked in the back corner of the space.
The highlight beer of this visit was a collab with a homebrewer who won a local competition organized by 21st Amendment. The best of show, a Wee Heavy called Tales From the Kettle was enjoyable and demonstrated the camaraderie between commercial brewers and the homebrewing community.
Opening Day IPA - West Coast IPA
Pond Hopper: Red Ale
Tales From the Kettle: Wee Heavy
After we enjoyed a few pints at 21st Amendment we shot over to the historical Anchor Brewing.
I read a lot about the Maytags and their venture into brewing. Anchor is made famous by their coolships on the roof of the brewery. We unfortunately were not able to tour the brewery itself however, we did spend the entire afternoon in their tap room tasting some Anchor rarities and enjoying a game of trivia.
Trouble on the Double: Imperial IPA
Earl's Breakfast: Porter
The Admiral's Enigma: American IPA
Unauthorized: Imperial IPA (Collab with Lagunitas)
Mango Wheat: Fruit Beer
We worked up quite an appetite day drinking. We were in search of a really good local spot for some great grub. There was also a California beer that I was on the hunt for......Russian River's, Pliny the Elder. We consulted with our bar tender at Anchor and asked for his suggestion on a spot with great food and some Pliny on tap.
His recommendation came through with flying colors. We sat down for our final meal in San Fransisco and washed it down with a fresh Pliny!
Before I knew it, it was time to fly back to the East Coast to attend a bachelor party in the great state of Vermont. I was looking forward to this trip for months as I've been wanting to pay a visit to the birth place of the infamous NEIPA!
We gathered at a gorgeous cabin right on Lake Champlain and mapped out our brewery visits.
Our first stop was a beautiful brewery in the hills of Vermont called HIll Farmstead. It felt like we were driving forever. The roads were all dirt and covered in pockets of ice. Upon reaching the site of the brewery, there was a can/bottle shop flanking the taproom to the right.
It was tempting to jump right in and buy some to go beers, but I was anxious to sample some of their brews first. I went to the counter and ordered a fresh IPA and walked out to their back deck to take in the sites.
After I finished my first pint I headed to the other side of the tap room to take in the view of their impressive brewhaus. We loaded up some bottles and cans to go and headed for the coveted Alchemist!
Edith: Dark Farmstead Ale
Edward: American Pale Ale
Mosaic Single Hop IPA: American IPA
As we pulled up to the Alchemist, I felt as though we were stepping onto holy ground. The infamous Heady Topper is a beer recognized around the world and here we were at the doorstep of where its produced and sold. We walked into the crowded tap room, and I was in my glory.
The tanks that housed Focal Banger and Heady Topper shined in the background dressed with the branding found on their cans. The fermenters looked the giant cans of Heady Topper and Focal Banger....The taproom experience was a new one for me, given the popularity of the Alchemist. We were limited to three free samples: Heady Topper, Focal Banger and Holy Cow. There were no options to get full pints here...We took in the sights, snapped a bunch of pictures and loaded up our cars with cases of fine Alchemist beer and headed back to the lake house.
The following day we wanted to head into Burlington to sample some of the town's finest breweries.
The first stop was Foam Brewers. This place has to be one of my favorite tap rooms/breweries that I have ever visited. We got there right at noon and the place was already PACKED! The aesthetic of this place is second to none and the beer was fantastic. Foam Brewers has a sister brewery called the House of Fermentology.
I Was Never Young: Mixed Culture Sour
Built to Spill: Double IPA
Cherry Blossom Girl : American Wild Ale
The last and final stop of this trip was the under rated Burlington Beer Company. Situated in an old warehouse, BBC is laid out just like your traditional American Brewery in a warehouse space. They had a line of the DANKEST NEIPA in the United States. We sampled the hop bombs while staring at buckets of sanitizer over flowing with foam due to active fermentation.
It's Complicated Being A Wizard: Double IPA
Elaborate Metaphor: American Pale Ale
Uncanny Valley: NEIPA
As I sit home and enjoy some of my canned souvenirs from Vermont, Im prepping a few brew days along with a trip back to Beer City USA (Grand Rapids). Stay tuned for more updates and a re-cap of our first competition run!