Saturday, January 24, 2015

Highway 1 Brewing Co (Pescadero, CA)


After a weekend in Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Aquarium, we headed north back to The City via Highway 1 coast scenery. We were planning to stop at Pigeon Point Lighthouse when we noticed a brewery on this lone stretch of California coast.

Being early in the day, we were the only patrons in the pub and ordered a sample tray at the bar and chatted with the waitress.  The Knuckle Down Brown was thin for the style and my least favorite.  Of my favorites, Amberdextrous is an amber ale that's slightly light but very flavorful with a hop bite and a burnt wheat bread underneath; Anna the waitress helped with the brew. Also in the running for best beer was Trollup, a Belgian ale infused with strawberries. Overall, Trollup was a hazy yellow Belgian Ale with a solid yeast funk. The strawberry flavor was light but it's a tough fruit to get a bold taste.

French Mexican is a glistening yellow saison with a white head that's infused with jalepeno peppers. Sounds like an odd combo (and it is), but the yeasty spice mixes nicely with the pepper for a very aromatic nose. Best in the place.

I loved this stop because they really seemed to be working hard to craft a brewery out of the stark coast. Every brewery story I've read seemed to come alive in Highway 1 Brewing. It's the only brewery I've seen marked off by kegs to separate it from the bardefinitely a brewery that is digging deep to make it work. Most of the ales had a house taste from the yeast, but the attitude and heart was apparent in the unique and bold beers.  Even though every beer didn't work, I would love to return in a year or five to taste them when they completely get on their feet.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Seabright Brewery (Santa Cruz, CA)


With tickets for an evening fireworks cruise, we arrived early to the port of Santa Cruz to park and find our way to the boat. Reading online, we were warned of the severe traffic on the 4th of July. Once settled, we used our phones to find a place to eat before the cruise. Seabright popped up within a short walking distance and we happily tromped up steep set of stairs from the dock to the main road for 1/4 mile walk.

Bustling on the holiday, we luckily got a quick seat on the patio and ordered beers and ubiquitous central California garlic fries. Heavily laden, we indulged in the sweet, punget fries with thick Gilroy garlic and downed a few good beers.  The Blur, a Northwest IPA, was my favorite, though only moderately hoppy.  On a summer day, The Stinger was light, sweet and an easy drinking wheat beer.

Seabright is a more than decent brewpub with a bit of a chain feel; however, it was the right port for us.  While not nearly as radical as our evening boat ride through an ocean filled with thousands of dark winged sea birds and chasing illegal beach fireworks, Seabright is a very respectable stop that we enjoyed.

New Bohemia Wurst + Bierhaus (Golden Valley, MN)

Without any planning of my own, I followed beery freinds to New Bohemia Wurst + Bierhaus in Golden Valley after the latest One Voice concert. Being a vegetarian, a bratwurst specialty pub hasn't inspired me to stop for a pint.  Serious mistake. Upon walking in, friends had already filled a long, sociable table and promptly asked me to try the pretzel with pepperjack cheese sauce: light, delicious and massive.

Overwhelmed by beer choices, it took time to pick a new beer to insure New Bohemia on my database. I settled on Lucid Duce, a more than satisfactory amber ale for the end of an evening. A well curated tap list, New Bohemia had a serious devotion to Minnesota with about half of the taps dedicated to local brews. The remainder had some very good national and regional brews.  I settled on New Belgium La Folie for a second draft.

A video DJ was playing tunes with a screen behind him to keep the party rolling, which inspired several singalongs by the choir. A lively and convivial place that still allows a conversation, I was pleasantly impress with New Bohemia.  A vegetarian option for a bratwurst in addition to frites and the above noted pretzel, there's plenty of bar food for every beer drinker.

The original location is in Minneapolis. More than acceptable options for food plus an concentration of several Minnesota brews for me to try is more than enough reason to push New Bohemia up on my drinking list.