Sip Trips #126: San Diego Sipping (Part 2)

Part two of our month in San Diego County began with an outing to Belle Marie Winery, where Mrs. Sip enjoyed a tasting. As Mrs. Sip sampled a few wines, I changed a Baby Sip poopy diaper. Alas, this is life now! The other reason I didn’t join Mrs. Sip was because I’m still not a fan of the way tastings are done in the San Diego area. Whereas I’m accustomed to typically paying $5 for a tasting at home, which is waived if you buy a bottle, here the price was $10 and bottle purchases don’t lead to a free tasting. To be fair, this is one of the more decent tasting prices we’ve encountered in that region. Don’t even get me started on the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

Following the winery, we visited Plan 9 Alehouse, taking advantage of their progressive keg pricing ($3 pint at 3pm, $4 at 4pm, $5 at 5pm). I selected The Lost Abbey Farmhouse Lager, which went well with our appies of Garlic Fries and Chips & Guac. En route back to our resort, I restocked our beer reserve with Kona Brewing’s Liquid Aloha Variety Pack. This case included the brewery’s Island IPA, Magic Sands Mango Saison and Wailua Wheat.

guacamole good fat

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we decided to spend the occasion doing a bit of a brewery crawl. The journey started at Mother Earth Tap House, where we built two flights of six 6oz beers, allowing us to try much of the tasting room’s extensive lineup. Our favourites were the Xtra Nuts and Cali Creamin’, which seemed to be very popular around the region.

Next up was the Belching Beaver 980 Pub, which we had been advised had fantastic Philly Cheesesteaks. That advice couldn’t have been more accurate. As we scarfed down the delicious sandwiches, I tried the Phantom Bride IPA, while stealing sips of Mrs. Sip’s PB&J Blonde, which was fantastic. We also tried samples of the Peanut Butter Stout, Horchata Imperial Stout, and Mexican Chocolate with Dark Cherries cask option. With good fortune on our side, as we finished our pints, they began stocking the “to go” fridge with a limited release beer, so I implored Mrs. Sip to go investigate. The Belching Beaver/Deftones Good Morning Beautiful Brown Ale (with Coconut, Coffee and Maple Syrup) was the prize and so we snagged a bottle for the road.

Our crawl wrapped with a quick stop at Iron Fist Brewing, where we split another flight, including their Renegade Blonde, Spice of Life, Seven-Seven, and Ken Schmidt’s Pillow Mint. The Pillow Mint was the highlight of the visit, reminding us of a liquefied After Eight chocolate.

After Eight Chocolate

The next day, we got together with friends of ours who live in the area, meeting at their local favourite: Booze Brothers Brewing. While Mrs. Sip ordered a flight made up of their Peachy Monkey, Blackberry Cruiser, Easy Rider Brown, and Honey Bloom, I enjoyed a pint of their Green Eyed Amber, which I had read online was a very popular choice. The place was very neat, with lots of comfy seating and food trucks on hand for munchies.

Following the brewery, we had dinner at Tekila Cocina Mexicana, where Mrs. Sip and I split their Queso Fundido and Carnitas Quesadilla. To quench my thirst, I ordered a Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita, which had a decent level of heat and interesting flavour blend with the addition of Cilantro. Mrs. Sip tried their “Build Your Own Magarita” option, selecting Hibiscus Liqueur and 1800 Reposado Tequila.

No visit to San Diego is complete without seeing the San Diego Zoo. Best of all, folks can drink craft beers throughout the park, with different options on tap at locations spread around the attraction. I started with the Stone Tangerangutan Express IPA and later added the Mike Hess African Leopard IPA. Other animal-themed brews included the Ballast Point Koala Kolsch (which Mrs. Sip tried) and Karl Strauss African Penguin Pale Ale.


After our day at the Zoo ended, we went for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Here, I paired the Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA with an order of Spaghetti Vesuvius. The IPA worked well to cool the heat from the spicy sauce of my main dish.

Part three of our travels includes journeys to Temecula and Carlsbad, for beer, wine and other shenanigans!


Sip Trips #44: California Dreamin’ (Part 2)

Part one of this week’s Sip Trips looked at our time aboard the Star Princess, travelling from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Part two sees us arrive at our final destination, Escondido, California, for a few days of R&R at the Lawrence Welk Resort.

Shortly after arriving in San Diego, we were off in search of some of the city’s craft beer to enjoy during our stay. I picked up Stone Brewing’s variety pack, which included their Cali-Belgique IPA, Pale Ale 2.0, Coffee Milk Stout, and Ruination Double IPA 2.0 (including the slogan “A liquid poem to the glory of the hop”). My favourite of the lot was the stout and the entire collection made for some good drinking, while relaxing and catching up on TV viewing.

cats watching lion king

Our Lawrence Welk Resort also had a couple of their own craft beers, brewed by Iron Fist. This included the Renegade Blonde and Stout. The beers were decent, but expensive, coming in at $10 and $14, respectively. That said, they did come in 750ml bottles, so we were open to experimenting.

The weather during our stay was a mix of warm, sunny days and chilly nights (it even rained one day), so we managed to get a little pool time in. While soaking up some sun at one of the resort’s pools, we ordered a couple drinks from the pool bar. Mrs. Sip got a Mai Tai, while I enjoyed a Cucumber-Jalapeno Margarita. The cool of the cucumbers provided a nice balance to the heat of the jalapenos and it was a good tanning beverage.

That same day, we toweled off and made our way to the Temecula Valley Wine Country, a beautiful region chock full of wineries. We randomly selected Bel Vino Winery to start our journey and were shocked by the very expensive tastings prices ($17 each for 6 one oz pours), which are not waived with bottle purchase. I’m not sure if other California wine regions operate similarly, but you have to understand that Mrs. Sip and I are accustomed to paying $5 for a tasting, which is typically waived with the purchase of a bottle.

unpretentious wine taster

Hell, for the $17 tasting, I could just buy a bottle and call it a day. Mrs. Sip and I found this business tactic to not be very conducive in encouraging guests to buy wine. After sharing our first tasting, I didn’t even bother participating at our next stop, Leoness Cellars, which was suggested by someone we talked to at Bel Vino, and also operated under a similar pricing structure, with tastings costing $18.

The wineries we visited and drove by we all packed with people – some very, very intoxicated – so perhaps doing a tour bus would be the better way of hitting the region and saving money with whatever package you pay for. Joining the winery’s respective clubs is also an option and includes perks that make the prices more tolerable. All in all, I was pretty disappointed with how the Wine Country operated and their business practices.

We travelled back to Temecula a couple days later to visit Garage Brewing, but sadly, they are closed on Mondays. I had looked them up after returning from our wine afternoon and they had some interesting brews on tap. It just wasn’t meant to be, but another time will hopefully provide more success.

start drinking on monday

While we were visiting, San Diego was enjoying their annual Craft Beer Week, but being located outside the city, we didn’t get to attend any of the festivities. We made up for it on our journey to the airport by stopping at a few locations, starting with Lost Abbey and Port Brewing. There, we tried some samples of their Red Barn Saison, Witch’s Wit, Serpent’s Stout, and Mongo IPA. I thought each beer was quite good, with the Saison perhaps edging out the others as my favourite, thanks to its ginger bite on the back end.

Our final stop was to Stone Brewing, which has a new beautiful facility, although signage is hard to find, save for the gargoyle mascot that represents the company on bottles and other products. We sat down and had some drinks and snacks in the brewery’s restaurant, testing out beers such as Xocoveza for the Holidays, Sawyer’s Triple, Smoked Porter, and Go to IPA w/ Lemon Peel and Vanilla Bean. The Xocoveza winter ale and IPA were my favourite of the bunch. As we were leaving, we splurged on a bottle of Locoveza (produced in wine and tequila barrels) to bring home. At close to $20 for the brew, we’re saving it for a special occasion.

The return to the real world is always harsh, but next week’s Sip Trips will be full of goodies (they always are!), as Vancouver’s Hopscotch Festival has been ongoing and Mrs. Sip and I have been busy attending a number of the event’s proceedings!