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.

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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Stumblefoot 2.0

A friend was interested in coming to Stumblefoot after having tried their beers somewhere down south, so I came back here for the first time since we moved out of our old neighborhood. Good ol’ Stumblefoot. I remember when a lot of their beer tasted a bit tart, with a distinctive home brew taste.

They have come a long way since then. We’ve continued to come here periodically (for instance, see this previous post), and I definitely notice an unmistakable and continual improvement. They frequently change up their menu, which makes things exciting. This time, my friend suggested the Nelson IPA, which did not disappoint. It was fresh, well-balanced, nice, rounded, with a bitter, hoppy, finish.

I was even convinced into trying a sour or two here. I haven’t developed a taste for sours, but I’ve been wanting to branch out and switch things up. The cherry sour was tart, fruity, not too sweet, and probably a good introduction into sours. The Naughty Leprechaun was a sour porter, which was very interesting indeed.

After a good time at Stumblefoot, we made our way to Arcana, and played a round of Jenga, then to good old Pizza Port.

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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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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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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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Alesmith’s New Location

Alesmith Brewing Company, which makes some delicious beers, opened up a new location recently. They didn’t move very far; the new place is just down the street, and it’s beautiful. There’s plenty of lounge space and seating, and a fire table outside.

By a stroke of luck, our real estate agent who sold us our condo just a few months ago had the ins with the owners of Alesmith, and invited us to a special pre-opening event at the new beer garden. I was super excited and fought through cross-county traffic (woe is me) to get there after work.

I ordered a flight of 4 tasters, including the IPA, the Double Red IPA, the scotch ale, and the Velvet Speedway Stout.

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They were all fantastic beers, and don’t require a whole lot of explanation. The IPA was hoppy, citrusy, fresh, and well-balanced. The scotch ale was excellent. It was darker, more full-bodied, and more substantial than most scotch ales I’ve had. The double IPA was intense, but great. Velvet Speedway Stout was really nice, although I think I actually prefer the original. I also had a chance to taste a couple of the Belgian-style beers, including the Horny Devil and a quad, which were also very good. This is probably one of the few breweries that does several styles of beer very well.

After we finished a round, we were taken on a tour of the brewery by one of the co-owners of Alesmith, who served as our lovely tour guide, providing interesting information about the machinery, origin of the barrels, and other aspects of the brewing process.

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Seeing the bottling machine, the aging barrels, and the kegs in the massive fridge sort of made me feel like a kid in a candy shop.

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Really cool brewery. I can’t wait to come back soon.

 

 

 

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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Dos Desperados

Happy Friday! I love Fridays (Freedays)! A couple of Fridays ago, we went to Dos Desperados, a fairly recent brewery in San Marcos. I’d been meaning to try this place out for some time, and was happy to finally get a chance to do so. They offer tasters for $2 each, or $6 for a flight of 4 tasters, so the decision was obvious.

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Belgian Trippel: Familiar trippel flavors, smooth, fruity. As with most trippels, it has a higher alcohol content of 7.7%, but doesn’t taste like it. It has a little bit of expected sweetness to it.

Jailbreak IPA: 6.2% ABV. Fresh, malty, smells a bit tart, but isn’t. Nice, full bitterness. Not quite as hoppy as I like them, but a solid beer. Almost an amber color (though that could be the darker lighting in the brewery).

Double IPA: This one was a little too sweet for me, and also not hoppy enough. Nevertheless, I would still say it’s a solid beer. It is quite bitter and smells a bit damp, if that makes sense. I probably would not regularly drink a full pint of this. It’s overarching quality is the bitterness, and it’s hard to detect much else going on.

Vanilla Oatmeal Stout: Deep, full, oatmeal and vanilla, obviously. Smooth and lovely. Chocolate tones, well-balanced. This was one of my favorites from the flight.

Imperial Stout: Took just a sip of this from my friend’s flight, but I thought it was really good.

Overall, would say Dos Desperados does the trippel and the stouts exceptionally well.