Buntzen Lake > Brewers Row

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Photo Credit: Corey Bradder @beertifulbc

Craft Beer Tourist Group Hike #1 – July 16th, 2017

Can you think of a better way to spend a day, than to meet up with 30+ like-minded people who share your love for hiking and craft beer so you can enjoy an afternoon navigating a scenic trail and then converging on a local brewery to chat the day away while sipping on the latest IPA release? Me neither!

On July 2nd, 2017 I had an idea to invite my local Instagram followers to join me for a true BC Ale Trail experience hiking around Buntzen Lake, followed by a little brewery hopping in Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row, located a short distance from the trail. I pumped it up through Instagram and Facebook and by the day of the hike there were over 30 people signed up to attend. In the days leading up to the event, I got in contact with the four breweries that make up Brewer’s Row (Twin Sails, Yellow Dog, Parkside and Moody Ales) and asked if they would be interested in donating a prize to be awarded to some lucky hikers. All four of them thought it was a fantastic idea and generously contributed a prize. As the hike was a free event, I asked everyone to come with some canned goods or a cash donation for the Langley Food Bank for a chance to win some beer swag.

Nametags - Craft Beer Touirst

The morning of the hike arrived and for the first time in what seemed like a month, it was raining. I was worried that this would discourage people from attending. I had set the hike meetup time for 8:30am on a Sunday morning too which, given the location, might have been a bit early. I was starting to second guess how many people were going to show up. When we arrived and already saw a few faces, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then a few more showed up and once the crowd had fully formed there were nearly 40 of us! Donations were made, Craft Beer Tourist name tags were on and we were ready to hit the trails.

Group Photo - Craft Beer Tourist

Photo Credit: Corey Bradder @beertifulbc

Buntzen Lake Loop Trail is 8kms long and is listed as “Easy” with a total elevation gain of only 110 metres. It follows the edge of the lake in and out of the trees. With many levels of ability among the group we all set off at our own pace and over time began to spread out. Just over half way around the trail there is a beach that we had all agreed to regroup at and enjoy a trail beer or two. It was the perfect spot to get a great group shot and spend some time meeting everyone. Once our last hiker caught up with the group, we finished the second leg and met back up at our first spot where I gave away the prizes which consisted of a growler and fill at each of the four breweries. Along the way I had encouraged everyone to take pictures of their trail beers and share them on social media using the hashtag #hikeforbccraft. It was actually a great opportunity for me to show my wife that I’m not the only one that takes pictures of all my beers before I drink them!

It was now time to converge on Brewer’s Row. We didn’t have a plan of attack from there. Everyone was on their own to visit the breweries at their own pace. We spent the next couple hours sipping on delicious craft beer and getting to know our new friends as we eventually hit each of the breweries. With everyone wearing their nametags it was easy to spot those that attended the hike.

It was such an amazing day enjoying nature and socializing with so many new friends. I knew immediately that I would definitely be doing this again.

A couple of days later I went to The Langley Food Bank and dropped off 3 big boxes of food and $150 in cash thanks to the generosity of the people who donated that day. The community that surrounds the craft beer industry is a very caring and charitable group of people and I am proud to be a part of it.

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Sea to Summit Trail & A-Frame Brewing

 

The Sea to Summit Trail – Squamish, BC 

Difficulty: Intermediate

Distance: 7.5kms / 4.6 Miles one way

Elevation gain: 918m /3011ft

Time: 3.25 Hours

The Sea to Summit trail starts out in the parking lot for the Sea to Sky Gondola ride in Squamish, BC. Before you start your hike, make sure you have money with you to pay for the ride back down! The trail wastes no time introducing you to the elevation gain you are about to experience as it begins on the same trail as the world-famous Stawamus Chief with steady uphill climbs and steep staircases. After reaching the turn off point for the Sea to Summit trail we left the masses behind and only saw a few other hikers the rest of the way.

 

 

The trail is a nice break from those hikes that are constant steady uphill grinds. This hike has several spots where is flattens out or heads downhill briefly and allows you to catch your breath and reduce your heart rate. The scenery amongst the trees is stunning, so be sure to slow down once in a while and look around, inhale slowly and deeply, taking it all in! Soon you will be back to a rigorous uphill section that will require your best effort.

 

 

The trail is very well-marked and has a bit of everything including some scrambling and sections where climbing with the assistance of existing ropes and chains is required. Along the way you will pop in and out of the trees and enjoy sweeping views of Howe Sound and beyond but the view once you get to the top will prove to be worth every ounce of sweat.

 

 

After taking some time to explore around the top of the gondola area and participate in an axe throwing challenge, we headed to the gondola for the ride down. From there we set our sights on a visit to A-Frame Brewing to rehydrate and relax.

A-Frame Brewing is just a quick 6 minute drive away from the trailhead so we hopped in the car and headed over. (Directions) A-Frame is a fairly new brewery that opened in December of 2016 becoming just the second brewery in the small town of Squamish and is locally owned by Jeff and Caylin, a sweet couple passionate about craft beer and community. All of their beers are aptly named after lakes from around the naturally diverse region and meticulously crafted by their talented brewmaster, Andrew Sawyer. I decided on a flight consisting of Okanagan Lake Cream Ale, Shuswap Lake IPA, Sproat Lake Dry-Hopped Pale Ale and Magic Lake Porter. Each beer offered something deliciously different and were all enjoyable. The cream ale and the porter we both stand outs for me. We enjoyed the serenity of the afternoon sipping our beers on their newly constructed patio and soaked in the sunshine while enjoying some food from a local food truck. It was a perfect post hike spot to indulge in some of BC’s finest craft beer.

 

 

 

A Weekend in The Comox Valley

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This adventure all began with a contest on Facebook that was being put on by Discover Comox Valley A tourism and booking agent. The ability to enter was open for a couple of weeks and the prize they were giving away was fantastic, so I entered a few times and was super stoked to find that I won!

The prize consisted of TWO weekends away for two people including airfare, accommodations, dine out gift certificates, craft beer and wine tours and a selection of other adventures all located in and around the Comox Valley! Talk about an amazing opportunity that was right up my alley as the Craft Beer Tourist!!

I started doing some research on the area and what it has to offer, as I had never been to this part of Vancouver Island before. The more I learned, the more excited I became. The Comox Valley is on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island and includes the cities of Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland. It is also in very close proximity to Strathcona Provincial Park. A 2458 sq. km. park known for its amazing hiking trails, lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers not to mention pristine forests and colourful alpine meadows. It’s also home to some great craft breweries. Gladstone Brewing Co., Forbidden Brewing Co., Cumberland Brewing Co., and a little ways up the Island Highway in Campbell River you can find Beach Fire Brewing and Nosh House. All of which are part of a very cool initiative called The BC Ale Trail, making the Comox Valley a perfect place to explore the beautiful wonders of the great outdoors as well as some tasty BC Craft trail beers!

Our itinerary looked like this:

Flight out of Coal Harbour in Vancouver aboard Harbour Air to Comox Valley Marina

Accommodations in a King Jacuzzi Suite at Crown Isle Resort & Golf Community 

A brewery and wine tour compliments of Ambassador Shuttle Service including; 40 Knots Winery, Coastal Black Estate Winery, Forbidden Brewing and Gladstone Brewing

A Snorkelling with Seals adventure with Pacific Pro Dive

Helicopter tour over the glacier with 49 North Helicopters

Dining experiences at Locals Restaurant and The Black Fin Pub

Day One: Friday Sept 21st, 2017

Our flight out of Vancouver was scheduled for 7:40am so we were up nice and early to avoid the traffic and to find some parking near the marina. We arrived as the morning sun was about to rise above the horizon making for a gorgeous start to the day. The near cloudless sky made for quite a sunrise. Check-in was a breeze and before we knew it we were already making our way down the ramp to the dock where we would soon board our DHC-3 Turbine Single Otter Seaplane. A rather cozy plane that only seats a maximum of 14 people. After a quick safety video we were off. This was my first ride aboard a seaplane so I was excited and a bit nervous to be honest but that went away quickly as the plane gently lifted off the water and climbed towards the east over the Lions Gate Bridge. The views along the way are spectacular as the planes cruising altitude is below 3000 metres. With the Vancouver skyline disappearing into the distance, we did our best to figure out what islands and cities we were seeing below us while marveling in the breath-taking views of the Howe Sound, Coastal Mountains and Sunshine Coast. 50 minutes later we were touching down into the Comox Valley Marina.

We collected our suitcase, which they store in the plane’s floats, and were off to collect our rental car. Although the contest did include some shuttle services we opted to rent a vehicle so we could have some freedom to explore on our own. The one problem was that I mistakenly booked the rental car at the airport thinking that was where were flying in to but of course, seaplanes land at marinas. So we called a cab and had them take us to Budget Car Rental. After we paid for the cab, I quickly realized we were not near the airport but went in anyways. The lady behind the counter was very pleasant and even though we had come to the wrong location she was happy to help us out and even offered us an upgrade to a brand new Ford Explorer with full Navigation! Further to that, because their location was closed on our return date, they said we could just leave the vehicle at the marina and leave the keys with the Harbour Air agents for them to pick up the next day! Now that’s service!

We had yet to have a proper breakfast so we did a quick Yelp search of the area to find a cool local breakfast joint and found a place called The Hen and the Hog Cafe It’s a tiny little place with limited seating but trust me when I say, it’s worth the wait. I had their daily feature which was two poached eggs in a chipotle marinara served with smoked bacon, toast and hash browns while my wife enjoyed a much healthier option of quinoa, yogurt and fresh fruit. Both of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals and we left with our solid base for a day that about to be spent touring some wineries and breweries.

 

We headed to see if there was any chance of an early check in at the resort but they were swamped with guests checking out so we left our bags with the front desk and awaited our tour guide to pick us up for our tour. “Brent” arrived promptly at 11:30am and we were informed that we were the only ones on the tour that day so we basically had our own private driver that encouraged us to just go at our own pace and take it all in. Our first stop was 40 Knots Winery. As we rolled in the first things we noticed were the lush rows upon rows of grapes and a beautiful, rustic barn shaped building with the double doors swung wide open, inviting us into the tasting room. Charlene greeted us and we got down to wine sampling right away. We ran through four different wines. White Seas, Uncloaked Chardonnay, Rose and the recently released Stall Speed Meritage. All of them were quite tasty and we settled on a bottle of the Chardonnay to bring home. We took a little stroll from their down into the vineyard and snapped a couple of photos before loading back into the minivan for our trip to the next stop.

From there we headed to Coastal Black Winery which lies just on the outskirts of the Comox Valley. It is a fruit winery that also specializes in mead and honey. This was a unique experience for us as this winery does not use any grapes! We settled into the tasting room where we were greeted by Sam, one of the winemakers, who offered us up some samples of their Blueberry table wine, Blueberry mead, Sparkling Raspberry Brut and a Blackberry Sparkling Brut. These styles and flavours were all new to us and both of us really enjoyed them. So much so that we got a bottle of each! We then went on a quick tour in the back and got a little inside scoop that they are currently doing some test runs on making their own ciders. I’m sure they will be amazing as well.

Back to the van and off to Forbidden Brewing in Downtown Courtenay. We found a seat and I ordered “the flight” that they were offering. Being a nano-brewery they only had three beers of their own currently available but Fat Tug IPA from Driftwood was a great way to round out the flight. Although I did enjoy the beers, especially the Arnold Schwarzen’ale, we were the only people in the place and the vibe was on the lacklustre side so we moved on to our final destination… Gladstone Brewing Co.

We arrived quickly as it was located close by. This place had a vibrant atmosphere, great music and a very unique overall design that was still themed around the building’s history as a car mechanic’s shop. With a selection of 8 beers to choose from, I narrowed it down to some unique styles, A Belgian Stirling Single, Munich Style Festbier, a Gose and a Burton Ale which was a collaboration with Vancouver Island Brewing. We grabbed a seat outside on the patio and soaked in some sunshine. Included in our tour was a pizza to share so after I finished my flight I ordered a veggie pizza and added some meat to my half! I also grabbed a couple 4 packs to go and a pint of the Burton Ale, as it was my favourite on the flight. The pizza arrived and we wasted no time digging in. We enjoyed the heck out of it. Especially the house made pizza crust! So flavourful!

That brought our tour to an end, so we hopped into the minivan and our driver delivered us back to the hotel for an afternoon siesta. The early morning flight and afternoon sampling session had taken its toll and besides…we were on holidays! The room itself at Crown Isle Resort was a stunner! It had a full kitchen, living area, huge walk out deck that faced the first tee of the golf course, fireplace and a big 50 inch TV. The bedroom had a jacuzzi tub big enough for two and the also had a 50 TV and fireplace. We crashed on to the comfy king size bed and had a power nap.

Later that night we made our way into town for a nice dinner at Locals restaurant. They had a three course meal deal that had options that appealed to both my wife and I so we went ahead and ordered those up. She had the seafood chowder, a grilled halibut and prawn entrée and a dessert sampler while I enjoyed a crab cake starter, chanterelle mushroom risotto with poached pear as my main and a berry pie with custard filling! Everything was presented exceptionally well and tasted amazing. With our bellies full, we headed on home for a good night sleep.

Day Two

My wife had been fighting a bit of an ear infection and although the thought of swimming with seals in the wild was of interest to both of us, we erred on the side of caution and regrettably opted out of the excursion with Pacific Pro Dive. We have head amazing things about their adventures so if you are in the area be sure to check them out!

We decided that a day of hiking and exploring would suit us just fine so we set out in search of some nourishment and find another great local restaurant thanks to my trusty Yelp app. This place was called Atlas Cafe. The food there was also creative and delicious not to mention tasty coffee. From there, we decided to head out on a hike in Strathcona Provincial Park called Lake Helen Mackenzie. An 8.5 km hike with a modest 450m of elevation gain. We drove the 30 kms up Forbidden Plateau towards Mount Washington Ski resort where we found the trailhead for our hike.

The trail begins with a beautiful walk through an alpine meadow along a wooden boardwalk that stands just above the ground. With it being the end of September there was no snow on the ground and the leaves were starting to show signs that autumn was setting in. After a kilometre or two, the trail branches on and heads uphill. after a short ways the trail emerges alongside Battleship Lake. The views from here are so pretty. Looking out across the still water towards Mount Washington, you can see the ski runs that carve up to the peak. All of it reflecting on the water like a mirror. Further along the trail we were entertained by a few squirrels and some extremely confident Gray Jays that happily ate from the palm of your hand if offered food.

We eventually reached our destination, and as I always do, I enjoyed a nice cold trail reward beer. A Belgian Single from Gladstone hit the spot just fine. We also had a little snack before continuing along the loop trail back to our vehicle. As we were leaving, it was decided that we would make one more quick stop to see Nymph Falls before continuing our way along the BC Ale Trail to Cumberland Brewing Co. The trail in is very short and well-groomed. It only took a few minutes to get to the river’s edge and see the active area of rapids knows as Nymph Falls. We snapped a couple of pictures and made our way back. Having now walked over 11 kms we were ready for some beer sampling and food.

We arrived at Cumberland Brewing and immediately started trying to scope out a spot to sit on the packed outdoor patio. It was 2:30 pm and this place was hopping. With one eye scanning for patio vacancies and the other reading over the menu board, we were greeted by the energetic staff and offered a flight of the 5 beers they had to offer. Of course, I accepted while my wife opted for a cider. The moment I was handed my flight I saw a couple leaving so we made a B-line for the table. after starting off my flight we began perusing the food menu and man did that get my mouth-watering. We ordered some vegetarian tacos and a spicy Indian chicken dish with fresh pita and neon pink beet hummus. THe pictures speak for themselves… we were in heaven. We enjoyed the food so much that we had to get more so we ordered their baked Focaccia bread with melted cheese, marinara and a selection of sliced meats. it too was unreal! While we were sitting there enjoying our meals we were fortunate enough to meet Darren, the owner. He joined us for a short while and shared his stories about the opening and growth of the brewery. His energy and enthusiasm for what he does is very evident. I could really hear the passion in his voice as he spoke. This is truly my favourite thing about drinking craft beer. I love supporting our local economies and occasionally walking into a brewery in a small town and meeting the people who actually make the beer and sign the paycheques. Overall, much like our visit to Gladstone, this too was a genuinely fantastic experience. As we left I remembered a tip I received from a local that direct messaged me on Instagram to tell me that “I had to go across the street to the bakery and try their Cronuts” What the heck is a Cronut I wondered. Intrigued we made our way to the bakery. Late afternoon and this place was still lined up. A good sign for sure…or so I thought. We got to the till and I ordered a “cronut” only to be told that they had sold out for the day. I guess I have to go back to Cumberland now just to track down these elusive cronuts! I settled on a chocolate almond stuffed croissant instead. It was pretty awesome.

Back to Crown Isle for a soak in the jacuzzi tub to soothe the muscles and to get ready for another night out. We had been told by some of the locals that if I loved craft beer, The White Whale would be a great option. We ordered up a cab and were on our way. We drank the night away and enjoyed some tasty nachos while chatting with the bar staff and some local regulars. Another great place to check out while you’re in town.

Day Three

It may be check out day but we still had some adventuring to do! After turning in the room access cards and having some breakfast at the golf course we tossed our luggage in the Explorer and headed north up the Island Highway for 49 North Helicopters at the Campbell River Airport for a 45 minute tour over the Comox Glacier. Campbell River was about 60 kms away but thanks to the 120km/hr speed limit on the Inland Island Highway, we were there in no time flat. ( I don’t think I have been anywhere else in BC where you can legally drive that fast!) We arrive and signed our life away and headed out the door to the awaiting chopper. We were joined by a tourist from Sweden who we let ride shotgun in the four seater Robinson R44 Helicopter beside our pilot Bastian who was ready to roll. After a quick chat with the tower to warn us of some parachuters in the area, we were off. Flying due west over the runway we were instantly greeted by a landscape clinging to its lush green colours as of summer and the awe of the experience began to sink in. As we got closer to the Glacier itself I was at a loss for words at the natural beauty that was below us. The vibrant deep blue water of the glacier lakes that sat silent, filled to the brim, at the top of the various peaks were a sight to behold. Bastian flew the helicopter nice and tight to the mountains and up and over peaks giving us a close of view while I snapped picture after picture. after circling in and out of the peaks we looped back and flew over top of Lake Helen Mackenzie. It was pretty cool to see the entire hike we had done the day before from above. We ventured over to the peak of Mount Washington and did a couple tight circles to entertain the hikers below and then made our way back the airport. 45 minutes was over in the blink of an eye. It was an exhilarating adventure that must be experienced to appreciate.

Back on solid ground, we said our goodbyes and headed into downtown Campbell River to visit their first ever craft brewery, Beach Fire Brewing and Nosh House. The place has a cool look inside; a rustic bar with stools, long harvest tables, local artwork adorning the walls, a cozy sitting area as well as some patio space. I ordered up a flight and we snacked on some tortillas chips and house made salsa. The Wheel Bender Stout and their Kettle Sour were both noteworthy but I enjoyed them all.

With our final restaurant gift certificate still burning a hole in our pocket and a flight to catch later on so we headed back to the marina to park the vehicle and walked over to the Black Fin Pub. We spent the rest of the afternoon taking in some football while sampling a number of their appetizers including crab cakes, baked brie with peaches and calamari. A nice relaxing way to bring this trip to a close.

We grabbed our luggage from the rental vehicle and checked into our flight home. As we gazed out the window at the colourful scenery listening to the steady drone of the propellers, we reflected on the amazing adventure we had just experienced and couldn’t believe we packed it all into three days!

VancouverSkyline

Arriving back into Vancouver aboard Harbour Air Seaplanes

A huge thank you to Discover Comox Valley and all the participating businesses that made our weekend one to remember. The area has everything we look for when we travel; natural beauty, great options for craft beer, adventurous excursions and a list of restaurants making some memorable meals! Can’t wait to return soon and explore a little more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific Beach, SD

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The trip all began as a chance to see my  beloved Tennessee Titans Football team play in sunny San Diego against the Chargers. I have been a big fan of NFL Football since the mid 90’s and became a Titans fan in 1999, the year they went to the Superbowl (and lost).  One of the huge side benefits to seeing a game in San Diego is that the craft beer scene there is insanely good. The planets all seemed to align when I learned that the weekend of the game was also the kickoff to San Diego Beer Week!! It was truly meant to be. I started looking at what events were going on and ended up buying some tickets to the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival. The event wasn’t until the Saturday afternoon so there would be lots of time to check out the local hikes and scenery as we were planning to arrive Wednesday night. This would give us all day Thursday and Friday to do some real exploring.

I was very fortunate to have a friend that owns a sweet Airbnb in Pacific beach just 2 blocks from the beach and the lively craft beer driven nightlife along Garnet Ave. The first day was a travel day, with our flight leaving out of Seattle in the afternoon. We often drive south to fly out of Seattle for travelling as the prices are usually much better than flying out of Vancouver, BC where we live. We had a good flight and arrived into San Diego around 9:00PM. We grabbed our rental car (a very cool, bright red Mustang convertible that I rented on points!) and headed to the rental house. Along the way, we stopped and picked up a couple grocery items and of course some tasty local craft beer. The “Build your own 6-pack” idea is pretty nice. This isn’t something I find very often in the Vancouver area. I picked up a mix from Ballast Point, Coronado, Karl Strauss and Stone. We found our destination and I settled in with a beer to unwind and plan our next day’s hikes!

DAY ONE

We were excited to get going and start our adventure, so we were out of the house early and on the road to Cowles Mountain. We figured why not hike to the highest point in San Diego and get a good view of the entire area. When we arrived around 9:30am the trail was already packed. This was clearly a local favourite as the parking lot was full and there were many cars lining the street. We parked the car and gathered our gear. GoPro – check, water – check, camera – check and finally a chilled Ballast Point Big Eye IPA in my Ice2Bottle carrier to enjoy once we got to the top. (Ever wanted to conceal your beer in an insulated stainless steel water bottle? Check the link!)

The hike itself was a pretty good challenge. It maintains a fairly steady incline as you navigate switchback after switchback. This hike is wide open with no relief from the sun so plan accordingly. The temperature was already about 80F and with little wind, the heat became a factor early on. I knew, however, that it would only make that beer at the top that much sweeter! The views on this blue sky day were fantastic. We could see all the way to the Pacific coast and as far south as Tijuana, Mexico! The trail was dry and dusty with lots of traffic. The signs said it was about 3 hours round trip but we got to the top in about 1hr and 15 mins having only stopping to take a couple pictures. When we arrived at the 1591 ft peak we were treated to unreal 360-degree views of the surrounding area. I cracked my chilled beer….. and sat to take in the moment. We spent about ten minutes there and then began our descent. The hike back down was a breeze. We made it down in about 40 minutes. The breeze had picked up a bit, so it was much more enjoyable too. Returning to the car we were greeted by a lovely ticket on the windshield bearing a $59.95 fine for not turning our tires toward the curb! Unbelievable. The road barely had an incline at the point where we parked but there was a sign stating to do so that I failed to see when I parked, so shame on me. Oh well, life goes on.

We put the top down on the Mustang, cued up some good tunes and set our Maps destination to the La Jolla area for lunch. After a bit of Yelp research, we decided on The Public House. The place is kinda cool. It looks to have been someone’s house and garage that are now converted to a restaurant and patio. Cozy and cool. We sat on the patio under great big umbrellas and had a nice light lunch and enjoyed a flight. We then headed for a nice walk down to the La Jolla Caves where we saw an abundance of sea lions and pelicans. The area seemed very popular with lots of families and some people out snorkelling and scuba diving. After a nice long walk, we headed back to the car and continued north to the Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve.

The day pass for the park was $10 and worth every penny. There are plenty of trails here to choose from and each offer slightly different scenery. We opted to hike down to the beach. The hike felt like the reverse of our morning hike. Instead of hiking up then down we were making our way from the highest point down to the beach this time, so we were very aware of the work that would be ahead of us. We saw a sign warning us of rattlesnakes on the way but thankfully never saw any. All we did see, were a number of little birds and lots of cacti. The colouration of the eroded cliffs was a beautiful palette of browns and reds. Posed against the deep blue of the ocean below ,the juxtaposition was breathtaking. We arrived at the beach after the final descent along a sandy stairway. It was amazing. The walk along the beach with the ocean to the right and 200-foot towering cliffs to the left made me feel so small. We took in the sights and sounds and explored the cliff walls for a way down the beach before heading back up to the parking lot. The climb back up was definitely more work than going down but I guess we were conditioned from the morning so we powered our way through it.

Back at the car now we opted to take the scenic route back and were rewarded with fantastic views of the Pacific Beach and Mission beach areas. With the car parked for the night, we got ready and headed out for a well-deserved dinner. We chose a place called Crushed on Garnet Avenue that we really enjoyed. More flights, but not just beer this time. This place is known for their Mimosa flights. Theresa isn’t much of a champagne gal but was feeling adventurous. She had a rosemary grapefruit one, a passion fruit one and a pina colada one. The last of which she enjoyed the most. The flatbreads here were really good too. After that, we called it a night and decided that the next day we would stay close to home and explore “PB” (Pacific Beach). A solid first day experiencing what San Diego has to offer.

DAY TWO

After a light breakfast at home, we headed out to find a coffee and make our way south along the Oceanfront Boardwalk that connects PB to Mission Beach and Belmont Park. The weather was once again perfect for a day out and about. The boardwalk was packed with cyclists, runners, walkers, rollerbladers and skateboarders. The walk from Reed Avenue, where we started, to the end of the oceanside boardwalk, before it loops back around to the bay side, was about 3 Miles. Once we turned the corner at the south end things calmed down dramatically. The wind died off, the water was calmer and there were way fewer people. We came about halfway back on the bayside and then decided to cut back over to the Oceanside to find a place to have some lunch and do some people watching.

We came out right at Draft. A huge craft beer focused restaurant right on the boardwalk. No option for flights here but they did offer 9oz pours so I ordered a couple and tried my first ‘Cioppino’. A shellfish dish with a flavourful tomato based broth and killer garlic baguette. The food and beer were excellent. From there we made our way a little further along and got thirsty again so we stopped in at Lahaina Beach House for a pint. (you may think this sounds like a lot of craft beer drinking but I was just getting started!) The atmosphere here was young and vibrant, the music was heavy and the patio was in the baking sun but that was totally fine with us! From there we decided that a visit to a brewpub would be a great idea and it was! We made our way to Amplified Ale Works Kitchen + Bar who just so happened to be celebrating their 4th anniversary. The 2nd-floor location and the outdoor patio with a view of the setting sun were exactly how we envisioned spending our next few hours! We met some new friends, enjoyed the great service, rocked out to the music, sampled the food and of course enjoyed a copious amount of delicious beers samples, ciders and sangria ! The walk back to our place was a real adventure as we navigated the boardwalk once again heavily under the influence. Tonnes of laughter and dancing like no one was watching. We made it back safe and sound, raided the fridge and called it a night!

DAY THREE

With the big plans of the day centred around an afternoon downtown at the San Diego Beer Week kickoff event ‘Brewers Guild Fest 2016’, we opted for a chill morning. We hopped in the car, put the top down and set the GPS for Coronado. The trip over the bridge to get there was a real experience. At mid-span, it stands 200 feet above the water and is just over 2 miles long with sweeping views of downtown San Diego and beyond. We parked by the training base for the US Navy Seals and walked the length of the beach to the world renowned Coronado Hotel. We had a coffee and strolled around taking in the sites before making our way back down the beach to the car and then headed back to park it for the day.

(Disclaimer:I did not take this picture!)coronado-bridge

The event I had been waiting for was finally upon us! We called our Lyft and headed downtown. As we arrived and stepped out, we could already hear the live music being played inside the fences. Brewer’s Guild Fest was held at the Port Pavillion on Boardwalk Pier. According to their website, there were 81 breweries participating over the two-day event along with a slew of food trucks. I got through the gates quickly and the beer was flowing shortly afterwards. I documented each beer I sampled and by the end of the day, there was 33 on the list of 2-3oz samples. I was buzzed, to say the least, but I did manage to shoot a vlog documenting the entire experience that can be seen here! I picked up some great beer swag from Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life and Craft Beerd. Both guys were there running their own booths and have awesome stuff! Check them out!

The event ended with a typical drunken moment. I lost my phone that I had used sparingly throughout the day so it did have a good charge on it. After a quick look, I was coming to grips with the fact it was likely gone. We got back to our place and there was a message on my laptop from my son saying that someone had found it. Putting my home phone number on my lock screen just paid off big time! I used my “Find my iPhone” app and there they were. I gave them a call and asked them to stay put. Back downtown we went and met up with this awesome young couple that said they found it on the sidewalk just outside the entrance. We sat and chatted with them for a bit over a few more beer. We took care of their bill as a show of appreciation and returned once again to our place. It was a real roller coaster but I was thrilled the story had a happy ending. That was it for me. Lights out!

DAY FOUR

Game day! I am a huge Titans fan and this was a great opportunity to fly somewhere hot and see my team! Sunday morning was daylight savings so we got an extra hours sleep but for some reason, we were both wide awake at 6:00am. We decided to get up and get some fresh air. We walked out into the super thick fog that blanketed all of Pacific Beach. For the first time, it was actually chilly. We took a brisk walk around the bay to warm up and found a little coffee shop to have a nice healthy breakfast. The fog was burning off and the kickoff for all of the morning NFL games was getting close, so we headed back. I got on my Titans gear and off we went. We ended up at Oggi’s Pizza and Brewhouse. It was packed with football jerseys from all over the country and had a very lively atmosphere. It had TVs everywhere, great food and a nice selection of craft beer. A perfect place to get this day rolling. After eating, we made our way to the game and had a great time there, even though my team lost.

After the game, we went back to our place and decided that we should have one last San Diego dining experience. Following another quick Yelp search, the decision was made to head to one more craft beer focus joint. Tap Room on Garnet Avenue was a hit! I had a flight and one of the tastiest bacon cheeseburgers I have had in a long time. I saved my imperial porter until last and decided to finish the night off right and pair it with their fresh baked chocolate cookie with ice cream! It was amazing. We took a leisurely stroll back through town and then returned to prepare our place for departure as we were flying back to Seattle at 8:00 am.

Our San Diego adventure full of hiking, cruising, drinking craft beer and exploring the local foodie scene had come to an end as quickly as it began. We fell in love with San Diego and are already discussing plans to return. So much more to experience! The area is beautiful and has all of my favourite things in one warm and scenic region. Can’t wait to go back and have another adventure.

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BEER DIARY …

Sam Adams – Nitro White Ale,

Sam Adams – Rebel IPA

Alpine Beer Company – Rye’der on the Storm

Omer Vander Ghinste Brewing – Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge

Alesmith Brewing – Hibiscus Tart L’il Devil

Bagby Beer Company – Upside Down Frown Brown

Bitter Brothers Brewing – Golden Child Hefeweizen

Green Flash – Comet Hopper

North Park Beer – Stay Classy

The Lost Abbey – Red Poppy Ale

Resident Brewing – Vacation Coconut IPA

White Labs – Super Yeast

Bitter Brothers – Sibling Rivalry IPA

Bitter Brothers – Bitter Bill’s Pils

Bolt Brewery – Deez Hops IPA

Coronado Brewing – Islander IPA

Intergalactic Brewing – Space Gose Coast to Coast

Half Door Brewing – Hoban House IPA

Green Flash Brewing – Cosmic Ristretto Porter

Bridgeport Brewing – Candy Peel IPA

New Belgium – Accumulation White IPA

2Kids Brewing – Poppycock English Bitter

Reckless Brewing – Honey Badger Don’t Care California Common

New English Brewing – Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout

Prodigy Brewing – Cock Strut Saison

Benchmark Brewing – Oatmeal Stout

Societe Brewing – The Pupil IPA

Second Chance Brewing – Tabula Rasa Porter

The Lost Abbey – Avant Garde Biere de Garde

Stone Brewing – Xocoveza Mexican Mocha Imperial Stout

Mikkeller – Overall Imperial IPA

Monkey Paw Brewing – Fear the Underdog IPA

Modern Times – Orderville IPA

Belching Beaver – Phantom Bride IPA

Green Flash – Soul Style IPA

Mission Brewery – Taste of the Glory ISA

Oggi’s Pizza & Brew – Torrey Pines IPA

Little Miss Brewing – Rosie Ginger Wit

Karl Strauss – Aurora Hoppyalis IPA

Legacy Brewing – That Guava Beer

Karl Strauss – Mosaic ISA

Lagunitas Brewing – TuberFest Marzen

Amplified Ale Works – Maibock Rock

Amplified Ale Works – Rare Form Belgian Strong Ale

Amplified Ale Works – Nyctophobia Imperial Stout

Amplified Ale Works -Whammy Bar Wheat

Amplified Ale Works – Dry School Hop Out Imperial IPA

Amplified Ale Works – Electrocution IPA

Victory Brewing – DirtWolf IPA

Modern Times – Blazing World Red Ale

Rough Draft Brewing – Grapefruit Weekday IPA

Deschutes Brewery – Black Butte XXVIII Imperial Porter

Knee Deep Brewing – Red Stapler IPA

Sudwerk Brewing – Marzen Amber Lager

Fall Brewing – Nervous Breakdown Imperial IPA

Ommegang Brewery – Hennepin Farmhouse Saison

Modern Times – Fruitlands Gose

Stone Brewing – Coffee Milk Stout

Coronado Brewing – Orange Avenue Wit

Acoustic Ales – The Verve Stout

Acoustic Ales – Red Red Amber Ale

Allagash Brewing – James Bean 2016 Belgian Triple

Acoustic Ales- Tush IPA

Ballast Point – Sculpin IPA

Ballast Point – Big Eye IPA

Ballast Point – Commodore