Announcing Pregnancy

Everyone knows the 3-month rule. Due to the higher chance of miscarriage in early pregnancy, many, if not most, like to keep things under wraps until the second trimester. I did not follow this approach for a few reasons, however.

While the risk of miscarriage in known pregnancies is, according to Dr. Google, 10-20 percent in the first 20 weeks, the odds still appeared to be largely in my favor. I also considered the fact there are no known miscarriages in my family and I’m pretty healthy. Whether these are scientifically sound reasons for being optimistic, I can’t say, but that was my thought process.

I balanced these odds with the absolute certainty that within a week or two, I’d find myself at a party, uncharacteristically without an alcoholic drink, and would face questions about being pregnant and have to lie. I knew this with absolute certainty, because there was one occasion on which I attended a baby shower after a night of brewery hopping. As I had indulged sufficiently the night prior, I decided to take it easy on the alcohol at the baby shower. I was one of the earlier guests, and actually did help myself to a mimosa, but after that, I refrained with the exception of a virgin Bloody Mary, which is nice the day after drinking. Also, I hate vodka and love tomato juice, so I always drink Bloody Marys virgin, but I do not do this frequently, so not many people know this.

Subsequently, my husband received several text messages from his friends insisting they “knew” I must be pregnant, because none of the girlfriends or wives saw me imbibe alcohol at the shower, and in fact, saw me order a virgin drink. The texts were so adamant my husband actually called me on the way home from work to ask tentatively, “You’re not pregnant… are you?”

So I had a pretty good idea that any time I’m caught without alcohol, there would be questions. I am not a good liar and I could see myself being really awkward with this. Further, I’d have to make up a lot of lies if I was seeing people or being invited places over the course of 3 months.

Additionally, while you never know until it happens to you, I did not think I’d be the type to be completely devastated if I miscarried. Surely, it would be frustrating, but I suspected I would tell myself it was my body’s way of rejecting an organism not meant to be born, and doubted I would become a total emotional wreck. I balanced the relatively unlikely possibility of having to tell multiple people I miscarried with the absolute certainty of telling many awkward lies, and decided the awkward lies would be worse for me.

We told parents and family almost immediately, followed by close friends. Everyone else, we told if they asked or if it somehow came up. We did not go out of our way to share on social media or make any type of formal announcement. To be honest, for me, the beginning was characterized by a certain level of anxiety, and I didn’t want to feel like I had to put on an act for everyone about how exciting and joyous this all is. Maybe that makes me weird, but it’s the truth, and I was not inclined to put on a fake show. You can fool the world, but you cannot fool yourself, nor should you try to.

[Note: pictured above indeed is our little fetus, not a cat sitting on a plank, however appropriate that might be.]

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.

Modern Times In The Desert

We joined family up at a campground in Anza Borrego recently. We had just bought a case of a Modern Times variety pack from Costco, and had never tried it, so we brought some to the desert with us. Modern Times has been around for some time now, but I will totally admit I was in no hurry to try it because I had a lingering prejudice against canned beer. Well, after this, no more.

First of all, the red IPA was my favorite, though that’s no shocker. It was deliciously hoppy, powerful, and everything you want in an IPA, except red. It wasn’t timid like typical red beers. It was a brave and wonderful IPA. Their Hoppy Dank Amber was almost just as good for me. It was hoppy and dank indeed. In fact, it had a similar flavor profile to the red IPA, which made it awesome. It didn’t even taste like a typical amber, which can be a bit subtle, indecisive, and boring. On the contrary, this hoppy dank amber was assertive and badass. As you can see on the labeling below, it has 85 IBUs. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s highly irregular for a mere amber beer.

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The tropical wheat was on the lighter and brighter side, but also excellent. I tasted some passion fruit in there, and this actually might be one of my favorite lighter beers, owing to my predilection (or indeed, passion) for passion fruit. I cannot wait for it to be summer so I can drink this on the patio, under the sun, while one of my cats circles my lap jealously. The rustic saison was probably the weakest link of the variety pack, though this is not to say it was not a good beer. Just a little less well-rounded and complete than the rest.

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.

 

Beer Tours With Uber – The Best Idea Ever

Remember when beer tours used to be expensive? It’d involve a shuttle full of people, a tour guide, stops at 3 breweries or so, maybe 4 beers worth of drinks, and cost around $70 a person. They were fun, but sort of on the pricey side, and there was rarely any option to customize your own brewery route without paying exorbitant amounts of money.

But now, there’s Uber. Aside from coming pretty close to solving the problem of drunk driving, Uber has also made brewery tours much cheaper and more convenient.

A few weekends ago, we got together a group and decided to make our own brewery tour. We hit up Arcana first. Arcana was formerly Fezziwig’s Brewing a few years ago, until Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) threatened them with legal action. Boston Beer Company has an annual seasonal beer they put out called Old Fezziwig Ale, which isn’t bad. I’ve done some trademark work in the past, and I’m sure Samuel Adam’s lawyers know what they’re doing, but as an ethical matter, I’m not sure why Samuel Adams is entitled to some brand monopoly on the name of a Charles Dickens character. Their behavior in picking on a small brewery is more apt for comparison to Scrooge than Fezziwig. Bah humbug to that.

Arcana makes some great beers. I think I probably liked every single one I tried (pictured above).

Next, we hit up On-The-Tracks, which was not initially on the route we planned. However, it was in the same complex, so the thought was – might as well. In hindsight, maybe might as well not have. I’d been here before and had a relatively decent experience, but this time was somewhat different. An order was mixed up. There might have been an overcharge. The man at the bar did not seem very pleased with our existence, and this was surely before anyone was really drunk, so I don’t think it was us. But here’s a picture of us being pleasant despite leaving a somewhat unpleasant beer experience:

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Our last stop was Barrel Harbor. After that, we Ubered home for a night cap(s) and some pizza. Total Uber fare split between 8 people was minimal, and we had the flexibility of picking out all the breweries we wanted to visit.

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Some Beers In The Bay Area

We were up in northern California for a wedding recently. The wedding itself was in a sleepy and quaint Mill Valley, but we ended up spending some time in San Francisco as well as Walnut Creek, since we were there for a long weekend.

I’d like to say we came upon Resolute, a wine bar, after walking by its highly compelling sign (“HAPPY HOUR EVERY DAMN DAY!” pictured above), but the truth is we found it on Yelp. I believe this place is fairly new, as I had been in the neighborhood for work just a couple of months prior, and had not noticed it. We came by for happy hour. I had the “Hella Lite” pale ale, which was as juicy and citrusy as its description promised it to be. It was hoppy despite the fact it was “hella lite.” This would have been a great summer beer. Too bad the weather was already starting to cool down. The low ABV of 3.8% was probably also appropriate considering all the wedding festivity drinking from the night before. The rye saison by Henhouse Brewing wasn’t bad either. After that, we shared a glass of tempranillo, which was also lovely. Also had a cheese plate (manchego) to go with it all. Very nice.

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While up in the area, we also popped by to visit some dear friends, who had just returned from their honeymoon in Belgrade, London, and the Amalfi Coast (so jealous – if I ever make it back to Italy, it’s the Amalfi Coast for sure). We hit up a sort of Indian fusion joint called Kanishka’s Neo-Indian Gastropub in Walnut Creek. I can be slightly wary of fusion places, but when I looked up “beer” this is one of the first places that came up, and the thought of Indian food and beer was simply too enthralling to pass up.

This place did not disappoint. Lots of lovely beers of all types on tap. Good Belgians, good IPA’s, not much more a girl can ask for. The lamb sliders were probably more akin to wraps, but it doesn’t matter; they were heavenly. The tikka masala fries were also to die for and paired so nicely with IPA’s. All I want for Christmas is for someone to replicate this place and drop it off in San Diego.

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Biking To San Diego Beer Works

A couple of weekends ago, we took a nice bike down Pacific Coast Highway and stopped at San Diego Beer Works. I’d been wanting to check this place out for some time now. On our way, we stopped at the beach in Cardiff and took a dip. The weather was beautiful and perfect. The flat, coastal terrain was also perfect because my bike is a piece of crap from Wal-Mart.

My flight of tasters at San Diego Beer Works –

Batch #1 IPA: Brewed by 21st Amendment. 7.2% ABV. The tart hits you first. Then some citrus. Full-bodied, and a malty finish.

Hop Shovel IPA: Brewed by Bear Republic. 7.5% ABV. Hoppy, very floral, and crisp. The color is light for an IPA. There’s something about it that stings a bit, is almost spicy.

Summer IIPA: Didn’t catch the name of this IIPA. It’s by Bottle Logic. 9.0% ABV. It was an orangey golden color. The flavor was almost syrupy, and there was something in there that was slightly reminiscent of rubber bands.

Nitro Milk Stout: By Artifex Brewing. OMG, so amazing. Smooth like water. Smooth like cream. A beautiful, light, puffy, head. I was really in love with this one despite my usual preference for IPA’s.

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As beautiful as that beach is, it’s not actually the beach we biked by. This is actually some 10 miles up the 101. Close enough though.

Belching Beaver

Belching Beaver is another nearby brewery. Often, I see the ocean on my way to work and feel fortunate to have such a view so close by. Just as often, I cruise over to one of the many beer tasting rooms near me and feel insanely lucky to be so close to so many good beers.

Easy Beaver: 4.7% ABV. Session IPA’s are all the rage now, so lots of local breweries have started making them. This one was hoppy and floral, and finished with a bold bitterness. It was light and perfect for a session. Definitely a fantastic summer beer. IPA’s, although amazing, can get a bit heavy after a couple; their textures are also prone to changing when the sun’s out and the beer warms quickly. Sessions sort of solve this problem.

Great Lei: 6.5% ABV. Haha, get it? Funny, but the beer itself is sort of cute and sweet, as opposed to sexy. It’s an IPA, but with coconut and pineapple flavors. It’s much more pina colada than IPA. It’s definitely fruity, and a little too sweet for my tastes. It does transport you to a tropical island for a bit though. You’ll know what’s coming before it hits your lips too; it smells strongly of coconut and pineapple. Another good summer beer, if this type of beer is your thing.

Hop Highway: 7.3% ABV. Another IPA! They just don’t get old for me. Piney, fresh, hoppy, sassy, and a bit carefree.

Beaver’s Milk: 5.3% ABV. I finally switched it up from the IPA’s. This is a very smoky milk stout. Full and smooth. Not as good as their peanut butter stout, though well-balanced.

Sour Puss: 3.9 % ABV. A Berliner Weisse beer. Still open to trying new things. Still not really liking sour beers. This was fruity and very tart. Reminded me of a really crisp, unripe, tart apple. Which isn’t always a bad thing – but just not really a beer to me.

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