How I Found Out I was Pregnant

This is a true story and it could happen to you. My brother was in town for the holidays, and I planned some brewery hopping for a Friday night. It was a really nice, sunny, warm day in December (23rd), even by San Diego standards. I ran stairs at the beach after work, went home and showered, and we were ready to head out the door early evening. Before we left, I decided to take a pregnancy test, because ever since going off birth control, I thought it was a good idea to take a test before decadent, booze-filled nights out. I was down to my last test and strangely, after peeing on it, I realized it was broken. Seriously. Instead of the little lines that show up on each window of the stick, both windows remained completely blank, even after about 15 minutes.

I had never heard of this happening before, and I felt vaguely ripped off by Target. These things are not that cheap, after all. I was not too concerned and decided I could always stop at a grocery store and grab another one on the way to the first brewery. We made a quick stop at Vons for this purpose and then were on our merry way.

The first scheduled stop was Burgeon Brewing, a new brewery nearby which I had not yet tried. Like so many breweries these days, Burgeon is a sort of warehouse facility located in an industrial park, with 30-foot ceilings and hipster lighting.

I ordered a flight of beers, which were served on a tree-trunk-shaped taster holder. Based on the picture of their menu, if I had to guess which beers I ordered, it was likely the Carlsbad Crop IPA, Thuja IPA, Mixed Greens Double IPA, and the Moo Moo Farm Milk Stout.

Halfway through the taster, I was able to pee again and snuck off to the bathroom to take the test, which turned out to be positive. Barely. The blue lines were faint, yet unmistakable. I cannot say I was shocked, because at this age, I’d have to be an imbecile to be unaware of how pregnancy comes about, but I was still a little surprised. I did not want to return to the group and announce this to a table full of people, so I tried to text my husband while in the bathroom stall, but the reception was exceptionally poor and I failed. Finding out you’re pregnant in the bathroom stall of a brewery and texting your husband while on the toilet has to be about the most romantic and classy way to break the news, if you ask me.

 

I had no choice but to emerge from the safety of the bathroom stall and return to the table. Once I was able to discreetly pull husband aside and share the somewhat surprising news, continued indulgence in beer was no longer an option, so I opted for the cold brew coffee on nitro. This cold brew was smooth and delicious; it was practically a dessert, even though it is not sweetened. Thus concluded my beer adventures for approximately 9 months, and began an adventure of different sorts.

Holiday Drinks 2016

My birthday is around Christmas, so it can be hard to get friends together during this time, but I was lucky enough to round up some of my favorite people this year and hit up some beer adventures.

Having lived in San Diego for almost a decade, I wanted to make the rounds in a neighborhood that was not one of the usual party spots (e.g. Downtown, PB, etc.) I also wanted to drink somewhere walking distance from a Coaster station, so I decided we would take the Coaster and get off at Old Town Transit Center. It’s really unfortunate San Diego increasingly has a stick up its ass, and banned alcohol on the Coaster, but I guess it’s not like we needed any extra alcohol, considering how the night progressed. We took a short stroll from Old Town to Modern Times Brewing, which was on a nondescript street corner that appeared relatively uneventful and dead until we got inside.

Modern Times was full of the holiday spirit, complete with Christmas tree and arts and craft supplies for those who like to play with glue, glitter, and pipe cleaners while drinking craft brews.

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Modern Times beers are fantastic, with my favorite probably being the Blazing World. While I rarely favor ambers, this one definitely is more related to an IPA in flavor profile. They served their tasters in cigar boxes.

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We stayed at Modern Times for a few rounds of beers, and made our exit when we had our fix of making Christmas trees, wands, and headbands out of popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. We took an Uber to Old Town Public House. It’s a pretty small bar, but even so, it was surprising that at 9:00 p.m. on a Saturday, there was literally only one other person in the bar. They had a fantastic selection of Belgian beers, which is unusual. Bars in San Diego tend to emphasize a vast collection of IPA’s, and rarely feature any significant selection of Belgians (dude, Stella does not count).

We had just one pint each here, and walked over to Home & Away, another neat bar in the area. Again, this was another joint that had a decent selection of beers on tap, and also had games a plenty, including ping pong on the patio. We really liked this bar, but again, it was surprisingly empty for a Saturday night. We did make friends with a regular who lived walking distance away. He treated us to a round of Fireball shots, which was wonderful of him, but regrettable when the morning rolled around.

When the bar closed, we Ubered back to our place to hang out and play Catchphrase until almost 4:00 a.m. It was a perfect end to a birthday celebration.

A Few Breweries Downtown

We decided to walk around to some breweries downtown a little while back, and started out at Monkey Paw Brewing,where we did several tasting flights.

Dr. Bill’s ESB was malty and a little sweet. The I-5 Coconut Black IPA was more coconut and less IPA than I would prefer. The Gibbon Back IIPA was lemony and floral. The Low and Slow Smoked Lager was interesting. I’m not usually one for lagers, but decided to give this one a go. It smelled sort of like smoked salmon, and had savory notes with a hint of smoked plum.

For our second flight, we had the Rhubarb Saison, which was fruity, slightly tart, with grapefruit tones. The Dark Side of Paradise, a macadamia nut milk stout, was a big hit with us. It was smooth, velvety, and practically a dessert. The Might Joe Young Stout was another good stout, with an obvious coffee flavor, more of a bite, but still smooth.

Our friends ordered some food while we were here, and decided it was the best Philly Cheesesteak they’d ever had.

Next, we made our way to Mission Brewery. Mission Brewery operates out of a building that used to be the Wonder Bread factory, which gives it a unique atmosphere and a certain charm that sets it apart from other breweries located inside industrial parks. We hadn’t been here in about 5 years, and were surprised to find some major changes to this place. You still have to walk through some pretty sketchy areas of downtown to get here (at one point, our friend saw an entire block of trash, tents, and shopping carts and questioned whether there was an alternative route to get to this place) but once you get in, it’s a whole different world.

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When we came 5 years prior, it was relatively empty and quiet. This time, it was busy as hell, and they’d added more tables, a small store, and opened up an additional area in the back.

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Mission has a great selection of IPA’s, so this was sort of a heaven for me, but if you’re not into IPA’s it might be a bit less exciting. After Mission, we walked to Half Door Brewing, which is located in a converted house. It is adorable, and I’d passed it with curiosity on several occasions in the last year. This was another IPA heaven, and I enjoyed most of the beers I tasted, including House of Hops, the Pale Ale, the Buzz, the Northeast IPA, and the Hoban. My only complaint about this place is that the tasters are a bit pricey for what they are.

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Drinking Adventures in Denver

We were in Colorado for a family reunion last month, and flew in and out of Denver to get to Glenwood Springs. On our way back, we took the opportunity to enjoy some drinks in Denver. Denver is known for great beers, and I was excited to go to Great Divide. I’ve had the “I Believe” yeti sticker on our beer fridge for years now. We took an Uber from our hotel, which was obviously less memorable than the beer, since I can’t even give you the name of it at this point. (Hyatt? Hilton?)

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We had two rounds of tasters, including the Yeti Imperial Stout, of course!

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I hit up Yelp and based on a combination of proximity and good reviews, we walked to Jagged Mountain Brewing next.

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The beers here were also excellent, most notably a Belgian/IPA mix that was well-suited for both lovers of Belgians and IPA’s. Thereafter, we decided to try something a little different. We walked into Mile High Spirits, a distillery that specializes in flavored hard liquor. I was planning on consuming lots of Denver beers, but this ended up being a pretty fun experience. They had about 20 different flavors of liquors, with fairly normal ones like pineapple vodka and honey bourbon, and then some really weird ones like pickle, garlic, pepperoncini, and black pepper.

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Strangely, it was the weird ones that we enjoyed most. I particularly enjoyed the garlic and pepperoncini vodkas. The venue was also really cool because there was a large patio area with cornhole and other fun lawn games.

Culver Beer Company

I’m going to say the douchiest thing ever: We were here before it was cool. We were pondering what to do on a casual Friday night after happy hour with an ocean view. We didn’t want to get crazy but wanted to do something different, so I did what I always do when I can’t make an instant decision – I started browsing Yelp. I came across 10 (or so) glowing reviews for Culver Brewing on Yelp and the decision was made (there are just a few more now).

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The pale ale was 55 IBU’s, citrusy, wheaty, and a little tart, but overall a decent pale ale. The Culver red was nutty and well-balanced. The Amaretto red was similar in flavor profile to the Culver red, but smooth (nitro). The Strange Ways Saison was quite drinkable, with noticeable and familiar citrus zest flavors, though I think it was a bit nuttier than traditional saisons. Finally, the vanilla stout was probably my favorite – full, smooth, nutty, and quite lovely.

I asked whether they had any IPA’s and the nice lady at the bar said “not yet” – which implies one is coming soon. Overall beers were quite good and all four of us really enjoyed our visit. I can see this place getting really popular very soon.

They played a bunch of fun music, most notable (and random) was Man of Constant Sorry by the Soggy Bottom Boys.

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Home Beer Tasting

We did a home beer tasting the other day, which was super fun. Most beers weren’t new, but it’s still fun to do comparisons even if you’ve had the beer  before. Notably disappointing was the Duvel triple hop. We saw it at BevMo and were excited to try it since we love Duvel, but the triple hop was fairly unremarkable. Other featured beers included Deschutes’ Mirror Pond, Obsidian Stout, and Inversion IPA; Stone’s pale ale, milk stout, Ruination, and IPA; North Coast’s Old Rasputin; Maredsous; New Belgium’s trippel; Lagunitas’s Censored Rich Copper Ale and IPA; Leffe Brune; Port Brewing’s Ponto SIPA and Swami’s IPA; Magic Hat #9 (pale ale); Mississippi Mud; Sierra Nevada’s Five Hop IPA, among others.

We took detailed notes about scents, flavors, and textures, which predictably degenerated into gibberish as the drinking progressed.

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This was the end result:

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This is always a good time, and we threw in a couple of sodas because so my nephew could participate in the tasting (result: I don’t like Hansen’s raspberry soda as much as I thought I did – it’s got a sort of chemically taste, Ramune (marble soda) is as awesome as ever, and sugar free shit unsurprisingly sucks).

Pro-tip I learned from my friends: Get a mystery box from BevMo if you want to try your luck. Apparently BevMo packages “mystery boxes” of random mismatched beers and will sell a case for $18 or so. They guarantee there are no more than 5-6 Coors/Buds in there (gross).

Pro-tip #2: Uber comes in handy even when you’re tasting at home. Have mom drop dad off for fun times and send him home in an Uber. He will be impressed by the technology and convenience.

Coming Back From The Desert

Sometimes you get greedy. You have a good weekend and you don’t want it to end so you delay by stopping at random places on the way home to extend the good times. This is not a bad thing.

On our way home from Anza Borrego, we stopped by Hill Top Winery in the Valley Center area. shareBearPic895 shareBearPic897

Cute location, though the day was a bit overcast and cold. It was nice to have a couple of glasses of wine to warm up.

After that, we hit up Valley Center Brewery. This was an unpretentious place with a divey-feel, located in a nondescript strip mall. They are able to do this and still have great reviews because their beers are pretty damn good.

Woods Valley Cream Ale: 4.3% ABV. Nutty, vanilla, smooth, light. Very nice cream ale.

Hunza Hill Hefeweizen: 7.2% ABV. Quite the bold one and quite the alcohol content for a hefeweizen. Saison flavors, fruity, warm, with a little bit of a tart edge.

Burnt Mountain Road Smoked Ale: 6.5 ABV. This is a barrel-aged smoked red. It tasted a bit like campfire and leather, in a good way, if you can imagine it. It was unique.

Hellhole Canyon Stout: 6.5% ABV. Smoky, full, deep, tastes of bourbon and coffee.

Morning Star Circle: 5.0% ABV. Belgian IPA. Smooth, creamy, floral, and slightly nutty. It was apparently dry-hopped with lavender which is pretty interesting.

Our bartender was very friendly and helpful. We had a fun tasting experience here. The bear sitting at the other end of the bar was quiet, but I think he was having a good time too.

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Beer Tasting At Slater’s 50/50

Yes, Slater’s has some pretty good burgers, but what I find even more impressive is their beer selection.

Their burgers are a bit ridiculous. Their normal burger could feed three adults. The Alarm Burger is so spicy they serve it with gloves (hand and eye protection I suppose). It’s not that I don’t enjoy their 50/50 burger or the Alarm burger. Both tasted fantastic. It’s just that I could never eat the entirety of any of their burgers in one sitting without eating myself sick.

In many ways, their beer selection is as excessive as th eir burgers, so it’s sort of the same concept. They have about 100 beers on tap, and we stopped by for a tasting recently (after some grocery shopping next door). Next time, I’ll probably just come for some pints, as I found their taster flights to be somewhat pricey.

I present to you the first flight:

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Shipyard’s Pugley’s Smashed Pumpkin: 9.0% ABV. ‘Tis the season, and I cannot resist a pumpkin ale every once in a while, particularly when it comes to ones I have not tried before. This one tasted like pumpkin pie with a nice bite and a bitter finish. It was a little citrusy, sweet, and I thought there might be some orange zest in there. It had surprisingly light feel, consider it’s 9.0% ABV (be careful with these!)

Delirium Nocturnum: 8.5% ABV. I love Delirium Tremens, and I love Delirium Nocturnum. This is not a new one, but this Belgian is always a treat during the holiday season. It’s warm, malty, roasty, and reminds you of everything you love about the holidays.

Hop Concept IPA: 8.5% ABV. It’s hoppy, fresh, pretty bitter, and everything you expect of an IPA. It’s full-flavored, smells floral and citrusy, and overall decent. I’m not sure I really get a big “tropical” impression, but that’s OK. To be honest, it’s a little heavy for the island life.

North Coast Stellar IPA: 6.0% ABV. This was not fresh, citrusy, or floral enough for an IPA. It almost had an amberish taste, though it wasn’t sweet like some ambers are prone to be – it was plainly bitter.

Flight number two was just as fun:

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The Great Pumpkin: 8.1% ABV, brewed by Elysian. Beer Advocate gives it a 92. This one also tasted like pumpkin pie, although it also tasted strongly of clove, which is again reminiscent of the holiday season. It was overall a warmer and stronger taste than the Shipyard pumpkin ale.

Zumbar Imperial Stout: 9.3% ABV. Beer Advocate gives it an 87. Brewed by New English. Deep coffee and bourbon flavors. Not bad.

The other two were a pumpkin ale by Avery and a stout by Mother Earth that I’d had before. Didn’t keep notes because sometimes you should pay more attention to your husband than the details of your beer.

 

Booze Brothers Beer

I’ve been to Booze Brothers a few times now, but haven’t written anything about it until now. At the risk of sounding all, “I was here before it was cool…” The last couple times I came was probably almost a year ago, and there was hardly a person in sight when I came in on a weekend. The beers were decent then too, but when I showed up here recently, this shit was bumping! There was loud music, a huge crowd, two long lines at both bars (I don’t even remember there being two bars before).

Good Guy Session IPA: 5.2% ABV. Fresh, hoppy, well-balanced, and a fairly typical tasting session IPA. I hate to say it this way, but it tastes good in sort of a generic way, as nothing about it stands out particularly. I am starting to like these session IPA’s to start off though. It’s kind of like a warm-up before you get serious.

Crow Jane IPA: 6.2% ABV. Maltier than Good Guy. Yeasty. A warm and nutty flavor, which isn’t particularly characteristic of IPA’s.

Black Hills Black IPA: 7.2% ABV. Coffee (and a little coffee-like tartness along with it). Smoky and reminiscent of campfire, but bordering on cigarettes. Not sure I got a whole lot of IPA in there.

Sundown Stout: 7.5% ABV. Stouty. Coffee. Deep.

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Biking To Local Breweries

After a hard week, a decision was made to bike to a couple of close by breweries to blow off some steam. The thing with biking to breweries is you can drink beer but feel like you deserve it because you are engaging in some kind of exercise. This was especially the case with some of the hills we encountered on our way.

First, we went to Latitude 33:

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I’d tried a few of their beers at various bars at some point or another. Their beers were not bad at all; however, they also weren’t really outstanding either. Each beer was a solid, well-balanced beer, but nothing that would blow you away.

American Wheat: It looks more filtered and clear than the usual wheat beer. It’s golden in color, and a little bitter at the end. It’s vaguely fruity. It’s almost got some lager tones, but enough to put me off (I don’t like lagers). It’s well-balanced, though not pungent or strong enough for my tastes. 5.0 ABV.

Belgian Witbier: Looks less filtered (more opaque), light yellow in color (think Hoegaarden color). It’s a little bitter on the end also. Some citrus and tartness in there. 4.9 ABV.

San Diego IPA: The pine smell is immediately apparent (a good thing). Citrusy, bright, with a very bitter finish. Fresn. 7.8 ABV.

Honey Hips Strong Blond: I have a friend who loves this. She specifically has said that it’s strong as hell, but doesn’t taste like it. However, I beg to differ. I can smell the alcohol before I even put it to my lips. It’s a deep golden color, with a slightly toasty/roasty flavor.

Vanilla Porter: Shit starts to get good around here. This one was far better than its predecessors. Creamy, but a bit tart on the end,

Breakfast Stout: I got preoccupied playing pool, because they have a pool table you can play for free. All I can say was I liked this a lot. Tasters were not cheap considering this is not a well-known brewery – $2 for the standard 4-ounce tasters. However, the pool made it worth it.

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Next, we made our way to Toolbox Brewing:

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This was probably a mistake, as we were unaware this place specializes in sour beers. Neither of us are sour beer fans. I hear it’s an acquired taste, but I’m not quite there yet. I tend to either like something immediately or dislike it. For instance, I immediately liked coffee and IPA’s, though for most people, these beverages are a matter of gradual liking. Anyway, I wasn’t in the mood for experimentation, and we ended up ordering Last Call IPA and the Mini Mudder Milk Stout. Last Call was a fresh and hoppy IPA (6.5 ABV), but quite standard. The milk stout on the other hand was quite exceptional. It was creamy, full, and had the familiar coffee taste. Beautiful milk stout.

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