The Waiting Game

I’m on day 2 of week 40. Home stretch. At least, hopefully. I really don’t want her to be too late, but if she does not come by her due date, I’m working from home until she does. All my friends’ babies (all five of them) this year came early. Although there are only 5 days until my due date, according to this neato labor probability calculator, the odds of me giving birth by my due date is a mere 20.34 percent. The odds of me giving birth by week 42 is actually not that high either, at 85.03 percent! Ugh! I barely feel capable of making it through this week, much less 3 more.

On the other hand, as impatient as I am getting, I’m also nervous about labor and birth. Maybe this is the mental dissonance that is causing me to lose sleep in the middle of the night.

My parents arrived over the weekend and I was showered with more cute baby clothes, pineapple cakes, organic snacks from my Aunt Sylvia (dried pineapple, dried guava, glutinous rice with dates, almond tea, etc.), and chicken soup from my Aunt Amber and Uncle Alfred. All the way from Taiwan. I’m very excited about these foods, which are supposed to be good for the postpartum period so at this point I’m excited to give birth just so I can start eating these things.

I’ve developed a bad sweet tooth. I was in an irritable mood the other day and self-medicated with a pineapple cake and strangely felt better immediately after eating it. This has never happened to me before with sweets. Maybe with a beer, but never desserts. People give alcohol a lot of shit, but drinking an IPA after a crappy day costs you 140 calories, and you get some antioxidants in the mix. Eating cookies/cakes/creme brulee costs a fuckload more calories, sugar, and fat. I hope this is a phenomenon limited to pregnancy because otherwise, it is extremely dangerous.

I had a relatively smooth third trimester for the most part, but first trimester seems to be repeating itself in these final days. I randomly feel nauseated during the day, and wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep for hours. I woke up at 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday and could not sleep so I finished up some laundry.

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.

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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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.

Beers in Chicago

I was in Chicago for work, but had a little time to explore. Chicago is an awesome city, but this post is dedicated to drinks.

Although I continue to believe San Diego makes the best IPA’s, Revolution Brewing‘s IPA was not bad. It’s entirely a thing of preference, but I like west coast IPA’s – super hoppy and aggressive. IPA’s hailing from other parts of the United States tend to be a bit less pungent.

On Saturday night, we bought a 6 pack of pick-your-owns at the closest grocery store (pictured above and below). I tried to get non-California beers, but caved on the Stone Pataskala Red IPA because I had never seen it or heard of it before, so it counts as something new. Whenever encountering a pitiable hotel room that features no fridge space, or no fridge at all, the sink and a trip to the ice machine is all it takes:

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Ironically, I made 3 laborious trips to the ice maker per my usual routine in hotel rooms because so many of them don’t have refrigerators these days… then looked down under a shelf and discovered there was a completely empty mini-fridge in the room.

Later on in the night, we went to an awesome pizza and cocktails place called Pi Gallery. The pizza there was absolutely amazing. To my husband’s initial disappointment, we were in Chicago, and this was not deep dish, but this was actually to my great delight, because I really think thin crust is the best. This kind of statement likely is akin to blasphemy/sacrilege in Chicago, but I’ve left the area now so they can’t get to me. We ordered the veggie pizza which had a balsamic sauce. We both really liked it and I’ll say that it was one of the best pizzas I ever had.

My first beer was Archer Avenue Pale Ale by Blue Nose Brewery. This was a lovely and flavorful pale ale. This beer is so new (and/or obscure) that it only has one review on Beer Advocate, and does not yet have a score.  This does not surprise me, because the owner of this awesome joint introduced himself, and we learned that he is really into music and the arts, so it would make sense that he would have good beers on tap “before they are cool.” The next beer I had was an amber ale that tasted slightly floral, slightly hoppy, and reminded me of candy. We tasted a couple of other beers, did some shots of Jameson with the owner, chatted with him about music, and this was a really great night.

Pi Gallery seems like it may have only recently opened, as it only as 21 Yelp reviews, but I thought it was a gem of a find. It doesn’t have a flashy entrance, and is located upstairs, so you sort feel like you’re walking into a mystery. If you’re in the area I highly recommend this joint.

Other notable beers while on this brief weekend sojourn included the Matilda (Belgian strong pale ale by Goose Island) and The Poet (stout by New Holland).

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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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