Sunday, August 10, 2008

Central California Weekend Roundup

Let me just start by saying we probably would have been better off traveling the extra 200 miles north for the Toronado's 21st anniversary party and The Bistro's IPA Fest. There were still a couple bright spots in the short weekend getaway.

I wanted to leave around 2 but we didn't actually get going until 3. We hit the 210 West to the 134 and in a half hour we were in Glendale at Red Carpet Wine to pick up a case of Blind Pig. After that short stop we continued on up the 101. Thanks to Friday afternoon traffic and a crash 10 miles before our first destination of JJ Brewsky's in Camarillo, we didn't get there until 5'ish. This place was quite big and had a pretty large crowd for early on a Friday. The beers I ordered were a Green Flash Imperial IPA (sadly the first time I've gotten around to trying that) and a Sierra Nevada Super 7 Pilsner. The Green Flash was pretty good (more on that later), and the Super 7 was probably not the best choice to follow up such an aggressive brew.

After we stuffed ourselves with a bunch of appetizers and beer we continued another 50 miles up the 101 to Goleta where we stopped at Hollister Brewing Company. For being such a small (yet very promising), young brewery they sure had a nice thing going there. A small, contemporary sports bar type place located in a big shopping center, and it was packed. They had 13 beers on tap so we ordered a sampler of each one. There have only been 2 beers I've ever had that have simulated the dank, pungent qualities of a handful of pellet hops- these being Green Flash's Hop Head Red and Green Flash's Imperial IPA. Hollister had a beer called White Star Extra Pale Ale which had this same hop pellet smelling and dank, resiny taste to it that was as pungent as either of the Green Flash's. It's not a taste I would want in every beer but it's fun every now and then. Another beer that impressed was the 85.9 Double IPA. I think my favorite beer in the sampler was the Kristalweisse which had an awesome clean wheat and clove taste. Least favorites would be a lemon-juice-tasting Wit, and "The J" which they brew with hemp seeds and smoked malt. They said it should taste like bacon and it sure did.

As we finished up our samples our friend Pat and his girlfriend had finally made it into the area and were passing us up to get to the Firestone Taproom in Buellton where we were about to leave to. They got there first and guess what, it's like 9pm and Firestone is closed. Bummer. We ended up having to just go straight to Pat's house in Pismo Beach. And since we didn't feel like going out after all the driving we just stayed in and enjoyed some beverages.

Saturday afternoon, after having breakfast in San Luis Obispo, we went to a pub we usually stop in at when up there called the Frog & Peach. Although we've had some fun times there in the past I probably won't be going there anymore. The beer selection is ok (though never rotates) and the place is really dirty. I usually just stick with Black Butte Porter and that's what we did Saturday with a pitcher of it before moving on.

After Frog & Peach we walked over a street to Downtown Brewing Company (formerly SLO Brewing Co. I think). We finished watching the Angels-Yankees game there (and the Angels 8 run 8th inning to blow the game open) while having some of their IPA which was really good.

Downtown Brewing was just a quick stop before the main attraction of our weekend; going to dinner at the Sea Chest Restaurant in Cambria. We usually get there 45-60 minutes before they open the door at 5:30 to stand in line where people tailgate with wine, beer or whatever. We bought a cooler of Blind Pig to have while waiting. The great thing is they let you bring in whatever you are drinking while in line, so we popped the cap on another round of Blind Pig just before 5:30 to bring in as we sat at the bar. It doesn't get much better than having some Blind Pig in the cool ocean breeze, or in front of a warm kitchen with a bunch of Oysters and Calamari.

Dinner was the climax and everything was downhill from there.

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