On the second day of my vacation I stopped in at Great Basin Brewing Co.’s Sparks, Nevada location to try some of their beers. Since I didn’t want to drink too much or stay too long I decided to just get a sampler. They let you choose your own beers so I picked 6 beers that spanned the gamut of their offerings. One of my six picks was tapped out, so I just went with five instead.
Category Archives: Beer Trip
After a breakfast of slightly warm hotel eggs and bacon, I got showered and toward the San Diego Zoo. Google Maps on my phone was apparently unaware of the actual location of the zoo (it thought it was on the side of a grass covered hill), so I ended up making a couple laps around the block before finding my way to the parking lot.
This past Friday marked my 30th birthday. In honor of that magnificent (horrific) day I wanted to get out of L.A. and drink some beer while I was at it. So, once work was out on Friday I jumped in the car and headed south to San Diego.
Rush hour traffic made getting out of Los Angeles a little more time consuming then I would have hoped, but soon I was on the open road and heading south.
I awoke early Tuesday morning and grabbed a quick bite to eat from the hotel’s continental breakfast. With some “food” in my stomach and loaded up the car and headed south. I was looking at +/- 14 hours of driving that day, so I didn’t want to dilly-dally.
I awoke Monday morning to another drizzly Seattle day. After packing my bags I headed across the street for some coffee and breakfast. With my stomach full I jumped in my car and headed for Bend.
I really love the fact that the border between Washington and Oregon is the Columbia River. It was kinda odd seeing the “Now Entering Oregon” sign while crossing a bridge, but it doesn’t add a little bit more excitement to the proceeds than your regular “Now Entering” sign.
Just across the border I ran into some traffic. I’m used to sitting in traffic, but it was especially annoying because I could see my offramp (which was clear) and yet it was oh so far away. Soon enough I was out of traffic and on my way towards one of my favorite parts of the (driving portion of the) trip.
Google Maps apparently knows me very well and set me on a course that would lead me through Mt. Hood National Forest. I’m a huge fan on the look of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve always been enamored with coniferous forests and Mt. Hood was exactly that. Pine trees for as far as the eye can see and low-lying clouds dumping rain on my car. It would pour, then stop, the sprinkle, then stop, then pour, then stop…you get the picture. All the while I curved my way through the mountains, loving every minute.
As I made my way out of Mt. Hood National Forest the mountains slowly gave way to flatter lands. Trees still lined both sides of the road, but they were beginning to thin out and show the signs of autumn. Before I knew it I was out into the rolling plains of NW Warm Springs Highway. It was an odd change of scenery that found me crossing the Mill Creek bridge. I took this opportunity to stop and stretch my legs, and grab some photos while out I was there. As morbid as it is, I couldn’t help imagining myself loosing my footing and plunging towards the bottom of the ravine. Thankfully this did not occur.
Soon enough I was back in the car and inching ever closer to Bend.
Around 3 pm that afternoon I pulled into my motel in Bend, Oregon. After checking in and googling the local breweries I was on my way to start drinking!
With the wind picking up I donned my hat, coat and gloves and headed toward Silver Moon Brewing. I hadn’t heard of Silver Moon prior to my Google search, but it was the closest bar to my hotel. I made my way to Silver Moon and was glad to see that I was there in time for happy hour! Oh, yeah it’s a Monday.
It was a pleasant surprise to see over 10 beers on their beer board and each one was calling my name. Even though this was my first experience with Silver Moon beers I was still drawn to their seasonal/special release/one-off beers. My thinking behind this is that if I ever coming across a Silver Moon beer in my local beer store I’m more likely to see their award winning Snakebite Porter than I am their wet hop IPA. As you can probably tell where this is going I ordered their HOPOPATAMUS WET HOP IPA.
With my Hopopatamus in hand a took a seat to watch the Bears vs. Lions game. Being raised in the Midwest I was frequently subjected to the Detroit Lions and their inconsistent play throughout the 90s-2000s. The game started off kinda badly for the cats from Motown so I started focusing more on the beer in front of me and settled in.
The Hopopatamus went down so easily that I couldn’t help but order their other fresh hop IPA, HOP KNOB. Not a lot of brewers brew fresh hop IPAs, so it was quite a treat to see two on tap from this lesser known brewer. I had a marvelous time drinking two beers of the same style back-to-back that were both quite different from each other, but still incredibly tasty.
With a smile on my face and headed back out into the chilly October air on my way to my next destination: Deschutes Brewery Public House.
As I made my way up the block I was dismayed to see that people were waiting outside for their table to be ready. This didn’t bode well for me and the growing hunger in my stomach. Thankfully I was able to get a table almost instantly, which was one of the upsides to go at this trip alone. I took my seat and was glad to see that there was a TV in my eye line and they were showing the Monday Night Football game. Go Lions!
Deschutes is a brewery that is readily available in my area and I haven’t had a bad beer from them. Every single one of their beers has been tasty and I was more than excited to see what kind of unique beers they had on tap tonight.
I was thrilled to see that there were almost FIFTEEN brewery exclusive beers on tap…but I know have the horrible conundrum of deciding which beer to pick first. I went down the list and tried to find a style of beer that I hadn’t had in a while, so I went with their TWIN PILLARS STRONG ALE. This beast was 8.6% ABV and a big way to start the evening.
After polishing off beer number 1, a burger and some sweet potato fries I figured it was time for dessert. AFTERSCHOOL SPECIAL is Deschutes’s version of the milk stout and a chocolatey way to end a meal. Afterschool was a smooth, creamy beer that hit the spot, but really started to fill me up.
I knew I had to have at least one more beer before heading to the next brewery, so I chose a “smaller” beer to save space in my stomach. SPENCER’S GOLD is an American Pale Ale that has one of the greatest noses that I had smelled all weekend long. Sadly, the beer itself did not live up to the hype of that hop-filled aroma, but it wasn’t like I was gonna dump the beer out.
Three beers down and a Lions victory in my pocket, I figured it was time to hit the road. I picked up 22 oz. bottles of their CONFLUX NO. 2 and THE STOIC for the road, but I sadly have not cracked those open yet (soon…soon).
With the wind picking up and the temperature dropping, I headed toward the Bend Brewing Company. Thankfully I only had a few blocks to walk, but I was saddened to find out that the bar was closing for the night. It was pushing 10:30 and I had had a long day, so I decided I should probably just call it a day. I had driven across the state and enjoyed several good beers, so I had nothing to be upset about. Even better I had two more bottles of great beer and another day of travel ahead of me to look forward to! So it was back to the hotel with California on my mind.
Come back soon for the fifth and final day of my travels!
DAY #3 part 1 THE GREAT PUMPKIN BEER FEST
I woke up Sunday Morning and immediately jumped online to find the Eagles vs. Bills game. It quickly became apparent that Philly was not gonna win this one, so I wasn’t too concerned that I was gonna have to miss it (the first game this year I didn’t watch).
With myself showered and ready to greet the day I stepped out in to the early morning drizzle in search of something to eat. After consulting my phone I found a nice little diner called Planet Java and made my way there. As I ate my breakfast I was forced to watch the Giants vs. Seahawks game (which NY ended up winning, boo). Continue reading
I woke up Saturday morning feeling rather good. No hangover and the promise of more beer ahead. I hit the road and head north toward Seattle, but first I must past through the orchards of northern California. I saw trees growing everything from oranges to apples and walnuts. It was nice to drive down long stretches of highway with nothing but rows and rows of trees enclosing both sides of the road. As the orchards slowly began to disappear I found myself in another flat stretch of California. Thankfully I could see Mount Shasta looming in the distance and I knew that the scenery was going to change soon enough.
The flatlands and orchards of California soon gave way to the pine tree-lined mountains of Lake Shasta. This was one of the more breath-taking parts of my trip and really added a bright spot to my day. The mountains rose up on both sides as the beautiful blue lake carved it’s way through the forest. I really hope to get back here next spring/summer and spend a few days exploring this magnificent park.
I cruised into Oregon with a smile on my face. So far, so good.
Being a beer nerd I like to know as much as I can about the breweries I love. Several times throughout this trip I learned things that made me go “Oh, that’s where that name came from!”. The first being Rogue Brewing Company. The Rogue River is a not that large, but very pretty river that runs through southern Oregon. I ended up (inadvertently) following it for a good portion of the day.
With mid-day rolling around my stomach started to gurgle and I knew that I needed to find food soon. With the help of my trusty smartphone I was able to find a brewpub not too far from the highway…and off I went.
Mad River Brewing is located in Grant’s Pass, Oregon. I swung in for lunch and picked up a pint of their IPA. It went down fantastically and tasted pretty good with the calzone I ordered. With some beer and food in my tummy I headed back to the car. And away I went.
With another trip up and down a mountain I found myself in the Willamette Valley. The Willamette Valley produces the majority of the hops that come out of the Pacific Northwest and quite a few bottles of win, too. Sadly I didn’t have time to look for a hop farm due to my strict schedule, but maybe next time.
Rural Oregon soon turned into Portland and next thing I know I’m in Washington. I really love the fact that you cross the Oregon/Washington border via a bridge. There’s something cool about a maritime border.
The sun soon started to fall and I was growing a bit tired. Thankfully the rest stops in the PNW provide free coffee and hot chocolate. It was nice to stop for a minute, drink a hot chocolate and watch the darkness creep in through the surrounding pine forest.
I rolled into Seattle at about 9:30 at night and I found my hotel rather quickly. Well, technically I found the area near my hotel rather quickly, but I couldn’t quite find my actual hotel. I ended up driving around the block three times (damn one way streets) before finally seeing the hotel’s sign. It didn’t help things that I was dodging the hordes of fans coming from the Sounders game.
Once I saw it opened up my mind…couldn’t help it…I parked and checked in in a matter of minutes. I made it to my room and got settled in, but it was only 10:00 on a Saturday and I didn’t feel like calling it a night just yet. With another glance at the iPhone I found out that Pike Brewing Company was located only a few blocks away. With my hood pulled up to keep out the drizzle, I made my way toward Pike’s.
Pike’s Pub has a very unique and very cool location for a brew pub. It’s located within a mini-shopping center type indoor mall and on the basement floor. You essentially walk into the shopping and head downstairs.
Once inside the restaurant is rather large, but it was closed by the time I got there so I headed to the bar area. Technically there are two bars, but I headed to the smaller of the two and sidled up the bar. I ordered an order of fries and a pint of their season AULD ACQUAINTANCE.
The fries were quite good and the beer went down smooth. The only problem is that it made me realize how tired I actually was. I had put in an 11 hour day and my body was finally starting to feel like it. Knowing that I had a long day ahead of me tomorrow I decided to call it a night. A made my way back to the hotel with the promise of pumpkin beers keeping me dry in the late evening rain.
Check back later for DAY #3!