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Category Archives: Beer Outings

I take a trip to find and drink beer.

Clusterfork at The Bruery

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Clusterfork, have you heard of it? It’s a great event that’s hosted at The Bruery in Placentia where they open their vault and pour you a taste of some of their aged beers and current special offerings.  It’s a great bottle share event too, you get to bring two beers of your liking and get to hang with like-minded beer people.  Earlier in the year I received an invitation and couldn’t make it due to prior engagements, but after attending the most recent event if that invite comes again, I will not be declining; I’m even considering a Society membership.  The invitation for Clusterfork came from a dear friend and fellow beer aficionado Dale, we’ve attended a few beer festivals and special events together and we’ve had our share of good and not so good beer.  Thanks again Dale!

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The was a total of eight beers to taste and with the option to come back and get a ninth pour of your favorite.  The Bruery selections were Oude Tart 11 & 13, Pinotlambicus, Bryeian, Windowsill, Cacaonut, White Chocolate 2013, and Chocolate Rain.  All the sours I had were great and my favorite was Oude Tart 11, obviously being aged longer than the 13 the flavors were more subtle and balanced, but you could still taste all the great flavors of grape, citrus, vinegar, and oak.

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I was worried about what to bring to an event like this one after going online and looking for pictures to give me an idea of what exactly folks were taking to share.  After I searched, I found a picture of a Barley Wine Style Ale made by a brewery called Blind Pig out of Temecula California that was brewed in 1994; we all know the story of Blind Pig and how it ends and resurfaces right?  If not click here to figure it out.  After seeing the picture of a 94 bottle of Blind Pig Brewing, I was thinking fuck, I don’t have anything that special!  I looked through my cellar and found two bottles of the same beer that was brewed two different years and I thought, I definitely have something special to share.  They were bottles of The Abyss from 2007 and 2009 Imperial Stouts aged in bourbon barrels and brewed by Deschutes Brewing; they have a wax seal that makes them look sexy.  The bottle of 2007 (aged six years) had a nice smoked oak flavor to it mixed with figs, licorice, and roasted malt.  The 2009 (aged four years) was brighter, not as dark in the flavor, but still had great flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and dark dry fruits.

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I captured about 95% of what I had a chance to taste that day and it’s all below.

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There’s evidence in my picture roll that I took a break to eat right around here and the food was provided with the purchase of the event ticket.  The Viking Truck was serving delicious dogs and I don’t recall the name of the one I had (pictured below), but it was hella good and came with the best tater tots I’ve ever had, they were perfectly crunchy. Thanks guys!

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I started taking pictures and jotted down some notes after each taste, but I had to stop myself as I was having lots of fun and I told myself only pictures will do.  I didn’t take any notes for the beers I sampled that are pictured below, but they turned out to be my favorites.  Mexican Cake, a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout that’s made by Westbrook Brewing Co in South Carolina, was by far my favorite of the evening.  The stout had a nice aroma with fantastic flavor of vanilla, dark chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, and just enough heat from peppers; simply delicious and I need to get a few bottles of this!  One of the things that I found odd was the disclaimer at the top of the label, “Product of the USA”, as if to warn idiots and proud Americans that they weren’t drinking a beer from south of the border.  My second favorite was Rare Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island out of Chicago.  This is a very hard to find beer and I even had to go online to make sure it was true, but I overheard someone say that they’ve seen a few of these bottles on the auction block for over $200 a bottle and they were right.  This last stout was too very delicious, lots of caramel, vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, oak, and you guessed it, bourbon.

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I didn’t have a clue on what to expect nor did I ever think it would be fun to be around so many beer enthusiasts or aficionados, whatever you want to call us, but please don’t call me a “beer nerd”, it drives me nuts!  It was a great event and I had a chance to try a serious lot of great tasting beer, some that came from different corners of the US and even Europe.  A setting provided like the one at The Bruery for Clusterfork puts you together with people that are eager to share a small pour of a beloved beer they’ve had hidden in their home cellar for years.  I love being a part of a community of beer drinkers who drink to appreciate great flavors and when given the chance, to share a bit of beer and knowledge with others.  Hope to see you at a Clusterfork soon.

Throw one back for me ~ cheers!

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in Beer Outings

 

I Pigged Out!

Haven Gastropub in Pasadena collaborated this past Sunday with Golden Road Brewery and hosted an event called, “This little piggy went to the brewery.” The event was right up my alley as they were serving two of my favorite food groups, pork and beer! Those are yours too right? I found out about the event last Friday when I stopped by Haven to grab a beer and some Pork Rillettes. The Pork Rilletes dish is delicious, served with toasted sourdough bread and pickled mustard, just tasty, so when Brian, who’s a bartenders there mentioned the event, I thought it would be worth coming back Sunday and checking it all out.  Thanks for hooking me up and remembering this beer patron Brian!

Pork Rilletes spread over sourdough bread with mustard seeds.

The Haven location in Pasadena is a nice big spot and although it’s not a sports bar, they have big screens, and it worked out as this sports fan needed to watch some Football on Sunday.  All the food served was great as was the beer selection.  The variety of beers on tap at Haven is up there, close to 50 I’d guess.  It was all you can eat pork dishes and 10 tickets for about a 5oz pour of any of the 17 combined beer options available from Golden Road and Haven Brewing.  I managed to taste all of the 17 beers available thanks to the great bartenders who weren’t overzealous about collecting the tickets and made sure we got a pour of all their beers; this keeps a patron and fan, coming back to visit.  Below you’ll find pictures of the delicious food I ate and I describe briefly three of my favorite beers that day.

The Beer Options

Hello World – Pale Ale – Haven Brewing
Sosigenes – Imperial Double IPA – Haven Brewing
Schwartz Stout on Espresso (cask) Golden Road
Hello World, was my favorite out of all the ones I tried, it had a nice strong hop flavor that blended well with the malt character of the beer.  Sosigenes, mild malt flavor with a nice citrus presence, a very refreshing Imperial IPA.  Schwartz Stout, nice bittersweet flavors of cocoa and roasted espresso beans with a nice creamy sip.

Charcuterie & Beer

You guessed right, filled with some yummy pork lard.

The Pork Spread!

I had a taste of everything and I have to say that I was really pleased with the offerings.  I probably had eight of the succulent pig tacos you see in the picture above, just wished the tortillas were hot by the time I was served the tacos.  The rest of the food included root vegetables, mac and cheese, fried Brussels sprouts, you can’t go wrong with fried and a pork rillette bite.  Everything was really good, thanks Chefs!

The Food and beer were great.  I’ll definitely consider going to their Sunday Beer events which they are starting to put together.  If you get a chance, make sure you check out some of their Sunday events, the food options and beer selection won’t disappoint you or the family.  Remember that if you are in Los Angeles, LA Beer Week starts today and both Haven Gastropub and Golden Road Brewing, are participating in events.

Throw one back for me ~ Cheers!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Beer Outings

 

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Seattle & Vancouver

Four our four year wedding Anniversary, the wife and I planned a trip to Seattle and Vancouver. We flew into Seattle, but immediately hopped on a rental and drove to Vancouver where we stayed the first two days of our trip and where we’ll start this post.

We went to Granville Island to walk around and be tourists.  I lucked out as they had a brewery on the island and they had just reopened their tasting room a few days earlier after some remodeling.  I tried four of the beers (list below) and none were special, but they sure were refreshing.  I later learned that they were bought out by a Canadian macro brew and was told that they felt their product had gone down since.  Those sentiments are common among craft beer drinkers these days, regardless of the company they buy out.

Granville Island Brewery:
Winter Ale – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Brockton IPA – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
English Bay Pale Ale – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Island Lager – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Irish Red (Limited Release) – Review Coming Soon

My wife bought me this glass and two bottles of the Red

While in the island, I walked into The Backstage Lounge, where I met Rex. He turned out to be a beer guy and self taught chef. We talked a great deal about beers and cooking with beer; he recommended a few beer locations and the brewery in the city.  When I first walked in I asked for a Sea Dog Amber, not really knowing much about the Canadian craft scene, besides Howe Sound and Unibroue.  After learning Rex was a beer guy I asked him to pour me something he would drink himself out of all the taps.  The beer he served me was called Red Racer India Pale Ale by Central City Brewing Co, this was one of the best beers I had while up in Vancouver; it was right up my alley, hoppy and bitter.  Rex loves beer and cooking, he has a channel on YouTube called BrewsChef where he posts his food recipes, all of which include a common ingredient, BEER!  I’m already planning on making a pork belly po’boy he made.  Check out the YouTube channel and save the link!

Sea Dog Amber – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Red Racer India Pale Ale – 3 out of 5 Beer Caps

Here I am walking the streets of Vancouver with a six of Corne du Diable by Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel.


Steamworks Brewing Company was a place Rex recommended I visit if I had time, and luckily the wife agreed to make the stop.  Out of all the beers I had there, only their seasonal beers impressed me, but the rest of the ones I tried were pretty good.  Wish I had more time and had shown up with an appetite as this place was serving great food, we ordered the nachos just to munch on something while we drank, and they turned out to be the best nachos I ever had!! The wife even said, “I can’t believe I had to cross the border to have the best nachos ever, the northern one at that!”

Steamworks Brewing Company:
Signature Pale Ale – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Lions Gate Lager – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Empressa IPA – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Nirvana Nut Brown Ale – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Coal Porter – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps
Purists’ Saison – 3 out of 5 Beer Caps
Newlywed Belgian Amber Ale – 3 out of 5 Beer Caps
North by Northwest – 3 out of 5 Beer Caps

We are in Seattle now for the rest of this post and this was the view of our Hotel after our late night check in. We stayed at the Sheraton Four Points near the Space Needle, just behind the Bill Gates Foundation building, a nice view. Although I didn’t have a beer at our hotel, it was great to know that they had them available in case of an emergency. This emphasizes the point of how far behind we are in Los Angeles at embracing beer, we’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.

Near Pikes Place Fish Market we walked into this small placed tucked behind a row of businesses, it’s called Emmet Watson’s Oyster Bar. One thing I liked about Seattle, they have great beer even at the shittiest places. It’s the Northwest! Here I had a half dozen oysters which were really good and I had two beers from Hale’s Ales, the Supergoose IPA and the Troll Porter. I had a third one from Hale’s at the airport, Red Menace.

Hale’s Ales:
Hales Supergoose IPA – 3 out of 5 Beer Caps
Hale’s Troll Porter – 3 out of 5 Beer Caps
Hale’s Red Menace Big Amber – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps

Before the Underground Tour of Seattle, I had a very tasty beer by Elyssian Brewing Co called Avatar Jasmine IPA; I enjoyed it and I recommend this IPA, so pick one up. 3 out of 5 Beer Caps

Scuttlebutt Brewing Co
Anthony’s Pale Ale – 2 out of 5 Beer Caps

The last beers of my trip was at the airport, two beers of the size you see above made me nearly miss my trip. I had to run to the head to break the seal and that’s when I heard my name being called over the PA, “last call for Cerveza Please, Virgin flight to Los Angeles…” I had to run through the aiport like OJ Simpson. I drank a beer called Anthony’s Pale Ale by Scuttlebutt Brewing Co; I think Scuttlebutt makes this for the Anthony chain of restaurants of the area. This is where I drank the third beer by Hale’s Pale, the Red Menace.

If I tell you that I probably drank two bottles of water during the entire trip, I’m not exaggerating, my liquid of choice to hydrate as you might imagine was beer and after five days of being on holiday, I drank a total of 19 beers that I tallied, but I might be missing two or three, that’s a 3.8 beers per day; a nice batting average if you do the math. I brought back a six pack of IPA’s you saw pictured above and two 22oz bottles of Granville Island’s Irish Red (limited release), I’ll have future reviews for those. My trip was never scheduled with the intention of making it about beer, but was really surprised and glad that both cities had such great choices of beer whenever we stopped to get a bite.  This will be one trip I’ll never forget, I had a great companion and experienced great spots along the way.  The follow up post will have tons of pictures I took of both cities.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Beer Outings

 

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2012 LA Beer Festival

This turned out to be by far, the best fest I’ve been to, and not because of the beer selection, but because of the location.  The Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood California hosted DrinkEatPlay’s 2012 LA Beer Fest.  It was the perfect setting for the big block-party, each turn of a street taking us to the different boroughs of New York.  Saturday was a hot day and I’m glad we chose to attend the second leg of the event, it started at 5 p.m. and ended at 8 p.m., just splendid as the sun was starting to go down and beer was being poured all around us.

With the crew ready to start drinking, @hecs14, @norwalkphil, @diskedo & @cervezaplease

Here’s a pictorial of the event.

I always make sure I visit Ladyface’s Booth

Streets of New York

Lederhosen!

I’m on empty

Which beer is next?!

@norwalkphil

Too much to drink?!

Long lines as always to break the seal

Finito!

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Beer Outings

 

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Pliny The YOUNGER!

I’m sure I don’t have to explain how limited Pliny The Younger is and how just a lucky few, get a chance to taste this.  I’m one of those lucky bastards that had a chance of drinking Younger, but it was an experience years in the making.

The long lines that accompany this beer.

I got my A ticket… that’s for the older generation, to remember Disneyland.

I find myself at home now writing this Younger experience and I have to say, damn, it’s been too much bullshit just to get a drink of it.  I’m going on a few years now trying to get a drink of Pliny The Younger; last year being the one that left me disappointed the most.  For years I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a taste of Younger, but last year I said OK, I need to put an effort into it, if I’m not taking a drive to Santa Rosa California, I need to find it here in Los Angeles.  I would try to go get in line after work somewhere only to find out the line had an hour wait and my chances were slim to none at getting a taste; after two attempts, I gave up.  This year, I tried going to a few places and I missed it just by a few hours, I’d read about it on twitter or facebook and by the time I got there, they were tapped out.  I had a few places near me that I was going to try to make it to after work, but I just knew it would be impossible to get some if I weren’t in line like a Twihard camping, waiting for the midnight showing.  This is where 38˚ Ale House and Grill come into play.  It was a location away from the West Side and Los Hipstaland Angeles, and I knew, my chances would be greater at this event.

I was scheduled to visit Eureka Burgers in Claremont this past Thursday for a tasting of Younger, but family responsibilities forced me to cancel and had me searching for another place that would be serving Pliny The Younger this late in February.  Luckily I found out that 38˚ Ale House and Grill in Alhambra, would have it as of 11:30 a.m. this Saturday morning, I was all over it.  They were going to be selling flights of Russian River beers and one of them would be Younger.  The flight consisted of Damnation, Blind Pig, Pliny The Elder, and Pliny The Younger; people on my Facebook post were calling it, the Holy Grail of Beer.

Needed some grub for the tasty beer.

Based on my previous experience of long lines and it tapping out early, I asked my buddy Rich to be at my place at 7:30 a.m. as I didn’t want to take any chances.  Had an issue with my phone and my alarm not going off and the wife woke me up at 7:40 a.m.  Luckily we got there and there was no one in line and had time to go across the street for some coffee.  We let the line grow a bit and crossed the street, at this point we were about 15th or so in line.  We had a chance to meet Joel and Norm in line and chatted about beers as the clock ticked to 11:30 a.m. and how they heard of Pliny on the radio and this was their first attempt at trying to have it.  This pissed me off a bit as I wanted a back story of how they traveled through the Mojave on foot for two days without a guide and water to get here, but no, it was their first attempt and they were in; it’s all about luck I tell ya!  They turned out to be great guys; we sat next to them at the bar and had a celebratory cheer when we had our first sip.  I hope I see them again as I mentioned I’d go visit them at Verdugo Bar, a place I haven’t been to, but it’s been on my radar.

Norm & Joel

So here we are, the moment of truth when I get a chance to sip the beer and say to myself, OK so what do you think Omar?  Well Internet, I wasn’t let down, it was FANTASTIC!  I knew it would be, but in the back of my mind I thought, this might be like in Citizen Kane (spoiler alert) where Rosebud turns out to be a fucking sled from Kane’s childhood that’s thrown into the basement furnace at the end of the movie; all the hype for nothing, is the point I’m trying to make.  And although I think Citizen Kane is the best movie ever made, I wouldn’t go as far as calling The Younger the best beer I’ve had, I just can’t, but it’s a damn great beer and close to it.  All these years of chasing the unicorn were worth it and I’m glad this one has been marked off the bucket list.

A flight of Russian River Beers & New Belgium.

The beer had a fruity aroma where peach and grapefruit were dominant, pine citrus hop showed up and alcohol.  The aroma was deceiving as I thought I’d have a very sweet beer, especially at 11% ABV, but it turned out to be quite the opposite.  The light carbonation gives it a nice body and mouth feel, the citrus and grapefruit flavor played well off each other and it was tart enough to make you pucker and invite you to sip again.  The sip of beer warms up in your mouth and you can taste the delicious bitterness, you will have alcohol burn when it washes down.

Pour, pour, pour favor!

My second ticket.

I had two pours of it and it was enough.  I was satiated and the morning turned out to be a great one for all beer lovers in that bar.  I have to say that the staff worked their Asses off to make sure everyone had a chance to sample the beer and they were pouring the four beers of the flight non-stop for the first few hours.  I was expecting a nightmare in there to get my beer and the rest of the beer crowd; well done 38˚ Ale House.

Five Beer Caps for Pliny The Younger!

Throw one back for me ~ cheers!

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Beer Outings, Five Beer Caps Club

 

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A Visit to Bootleggers Brewery

Happy New Year beer drinkers! Forgive me, it’s been a few weeks since my last post; I’ll drink for penance. Today I got out of the house and headed to Fullerton, California and visited Bootleggers Brewery, while there, I got a chance to enjoy some really good beers and I met a really cool cat named Noah. Noah mentioned a friend of his took him there and he fell in love with craft beer. I got the best quote from Noah, he said “before I came here, I was drinking Coors light”, and by the looks of it, he hasn’t looked back. He visits Bootleggers often because he loves fresh beer, so much so that he rigged an old refrigerator and put five taps on it; I share his love for beer. Great talking to you Noah and thanks for the pint!

The couple on the left had driven 4000 miles and decided to stop by to get a taste of beer.

Before I took the drive there, I went to the Bootleggers site to make sure they were open and also to see what beers to expect. If you visit their site, you’ll notice they don’t update often. I only saw four beers, almost didn’t go, but I wanted to get out of the house and have a beer. Once there, I was surprised to learn how many beers Bootleggers brewed and had on tap; I was glad I took the drive. One thing to note about my visit, all the beers I was served today were on the very cold side, making the aroma almost non existent, with the exception of one beer where hops were very present. As I do with all the beers I review, I’ll give it a rating from the Kalifornia Beer Scale, 5 Beer Caps being the highest.

I started with their Chocolate Mint, there was no aroma, it was very cold like I already stated, no chocolate flavor, roasted espresso beans and not much else. I waited on the beer to warm up hoping other flavors would show up, but only mint did and it was very faint. 2 beer Cap.

The second beer I had was Dr Tongue. This Strong American Ale turned out to be my favorite out of the ones I had. Very strong hop aroma and flavor. Bread yeast taste comes through with enough caramel/malt flavor to let the citrus hop shine. The beer is very bitter, the finish will whoa you with bitter goodness. 4 Beer Caps.

Black Phoenix (Chipotle Coffee Ale) was the third beer I ordered. I’ve had my share of chipotle flavored beers and I gotta say this has been my favorite thus far. I really enjoyed the way the roasted coffee flavor marries with the smoky chipotle. For the finish you’ll find enough heat to invite you to sip again. I’m sure this is not news to everyone, but I’ll share anyway… chipotle chiles are smoked and dried jalapenos. 4 Beer Caps.

Rustic Rye, this was my fourth beer and it was something I was not impressed with; my least favorite beer. There were sweet aromas and flavors. Grapefruit and other pitted sweet fruits; certainly not a flavor profile I liked. I only had half a pour of it as I was ready to leave and was glad I didn’t pay for a full pour; I hate dumping beer or not finishing it. 1 Beer Cap.

The fifth and final beer I tried was a 10% ABV Double India Pale Ale called, Knuckle Sandwich. I wish I had a designated driver with me to have enjoyed a full pour of it. The beer had similar sweet notes to the Rustic Rye, but it had malt and hop goodness. I should’ve bought a bottle of it, but I was in a hurry to get out of there to grab a bite and catch the second half of the Packers v Giants game that I forgot to buy a bottle. 4 Beer Caps, but I think it could be a 5 Beer Caps worthy; I shall determine when I have a pour of it again.

I plan on making my way to Bootleggers Brewery soon, but it will have to be on a night when one of the food trucks show up. I read about a German Sausage truck showing up every other week, so that should be some good stuff to enjoy along with a nice tasting beer. I was really impressed with the beers I liked. The tasting turned out to be hit or miss for me when it came to finding something I enjoyed, but that’s what’s great about visiting a brewery, you get it fresh from the source and you have choices.

Throw one back for me ~ cheers!

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Beer Outings

 

Eagle Rock Brewery

I finally got a chance to visit Eagle Rock Brewery, it’s within the city limits of my beloved Los Angeles and a damn shame I’m just getting around to visit.  Eagle Rock Brewery has been growing in demand and in popularity among the community here in the city.  I took a tour of the facility with one of the brewers, Steve, he and his son Jeremy run the place.  Steve and I talked for a bit after the tour about their recent hearing with City Hall and their permit extension, which went well by the way, their love of brewing and how it all started at home, how the craft beer scene here in Los Angeles has been growing, and how a lot more breweries have sprouted around the city since they’ve opened the brewery, all great thing for us beer drinkers.

I got a chance to sample three of their beers in the flight we bought, but too bad for me, their fourth and fifth selections had run out.  The three beers I sampled were Solidarity, Vanilla Been Nitro Solidarity, Manifesto, and the fourth beer was Triple White Sage by Craftsman Brew.  The clear winner for my taste buds was Solidarity, in fact I’ve been craving that beer and I will have to head back to grab me a growler very soon.

Solidarity: great roasted flavors and only 3.9 ABV; a great beer to drink during the summer when you just don’t want to drink a summer style beer. Four Beer Caps!

Vanilla Bean Nitro Solidarity: like the one above, but with vanilla hints; becomes nice and creamy as they dispense it through a stout creamer faucet. Three Beer Caps.

Manifesto: a Belgian style wit-bier, nothing fancy. Two Beer Caps.

Their Tap Room and Brewery

They have some sours in those barrels!

I really enjoyed my time while at Eagle Rock Brewery. The Tap Room is open Thursday through Sunday; check their webpage for times.  Food trucks show up on certain nights, this should be an added bonus to get you down there; you have to admit, beer and food trucks are a great mix!

Throw one back for me ~ Cheers!

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Beer Outings

 

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