Beers I drink, Brew Fest, Out on the town drunk

Long Beach Taste of Brews 2018

I had an amazing time at the 8th annual Long Beach Taste of Brews Fest held at Shoreline Park near Rainbow Lighthouse and the Aquarium of the Pacific.  It was my first time at this yearly event but after the fun my posse and I had, I will be back in 2019!

The whole day was an adventure and planning had started weeks before.  Heather and Paul found a deal online where we would arrive at the TofB Fest on the Big Red Bus, spend 3 hours (which doesn’t seem like a long time, right?) filling and emptying our little 4 ounce commemorative tasting cups, and then get shuttled back to the meeting point afterwards.  No drunk driving necessary!

We took an Uber from Huntington Beach up PCH to Legends on 2nd Street in Long Beach.  And there it was: The Big Red Bus!  IMG_3282 (2)

The tour operator had tacos for the hungry revelers but nothing vegetarian.  No problem!  There was a Pizza Press next door so we got a cheese pizza.

But we thought we had more time than we did because when I was just taking my third bite, I started to notice people from Legends walking past us to the BRB.  Not wanting to be left behind, we got a box to go and scuttled on outta there.  Maybe we scuttled a little too fast because not everyone was ready to go and we ended up waiting for a few people who, like us, never got the memo that we were getting seated on the bus.

But our expeditious butts got lucky in that we were able to get seating on the upper level of the bus before it filled up.  IMG_3281  Heather and Paul didn’t score seats upstairs for the trip there but I’m sure they had a great time.  It literally took me forever to get up those stairs with my damn oxygen tank trailing behind.  However, I’m glad I sat up top.  It was breath taking to see the city from that level.

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I was up above it

 

Austin commented on how strange it was to be drinking on a moving vehicle and we all agreed that it was a trip, indeed.

 

 

 

Oh, did I forget to mention the beer that The Big Red Bus served to us on the way there and home?  Silly me.  There were coolers on top and on bottom with ice cold cans of beer ready for us to drink.  Yay!  Loving this day already!IMG_3273

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What was under the kilt?

I don’t remember this guy’s name but he was so cool.  He gave a little intro speech about how we shouldn’t stand up and stick our body parts outside of the bus and all those warnings they are legally required to tell you.  He also served us cold beers when we ran out of the first round.  And he didn’t judge when the Old Man requested a third beer.  My only complaint about that was the type of beer.  I had to drink Coors.  And Bud Light.  ‘Nuff said, ok?  But free beer is free beer so my complaint is totally invalid.

IMG_3284 There was a mess that was supposedly several lines waiting to enter the beer fest when we got off the Big Red Bus.  That’s when the burning started.  My skin started slowly toasting and roasting in the hot sun.  The Old Man let me borrow his hat to keep some shade over me and that was my saving grace for the day.

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The VIP’s had gotten in at noon and us losers had to wait until 1:00 before we could start poisoning our livers.  So by the time we got through the outside line, the fest inside was crowded AF.  There was not one brewery set up that didn’t have at least 5 to 15 people in line and random groups just milled around filling in the gaps between lines.  It was pure insanity!

The first brewery we hit was the Anderson Valley Brewing Company from Boonville, CA.  They seem to be a regular on the fest circuit and I’ve always enjoyed their offerings.  They are always with Fat Tire Brewery.  The taste we sampled was sweet and malty and tasted like it would go good with a nice smokey barbeque.  I can’t recall what the name of it was (as is the case with more breweries as the day goes on) but it was all right.

We visited Belmont Brewing Company next.  They are a local brewery from the Belmont Shores section of Long Beach.  They had a pale ale that was so light in color but also very thick with yeast.  It wasn’t too cloudy though so it got a thumbs up from me and the Old Man.

If I thought Anderson Valley wasn’t a local, then the Common Sense Brewing people are from way out of town.  All the way from Bordentown, NJ they had two beers to showcase.  There was a pale ale but I always go with something like that so I decided to try the Jasmine Rice Saison.  It had a mild and smooth orange flavor that was really delicious.  Perfect for a hot day at the shore.  And they had stickers!

Refuge Brewery is from Temecula, CA.  They were offering a Blood Orange Wit, which is their flagship brew, and a Sand Surfer Unfiltered IPA.  I was going to go with the Wit but the guy behind the taps noticed the Old Man’s sunglasses.  They were a promo from a local brewery called Pizza Port in San Clemente, CA that we got at another brew fest we attended.  He pointed out that the Sand Surfer was a collaboration with Pizza Port so we tried that one.  It was so fresh tasting and pretty cloudy.  “Unfiltered” is just another way of saying “Lazy Brewer” or the brighter “New England IPA.”  Haha.

We hit up the Beachwood Brewery next because it had the shortest line of all the tents surrounding us.  Another Long Beach brewery on the scene that was pouring the LBC IPA.  It was a West Coast style with plenty of hoppyness.  I loved it and I think it was my favorite brew of the whole day.  Who remembers this? “Beachwood 45789, you can call me up and have a date any old time.”  Thanks to this brewery, I got that song stuck in my head the rest of the day.

By now I had to break the golden seal.  But I was at the halfway point in the park where the port-a-potties were down the hill and more brewery tents were up the hill.  Damn that weak bladder of mine!  But I made it down and then halfway back up to catch my breath, and then the rest of the way uphill for more beer!

 

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Line for Bootleggers Brewery

I saw Bootleggers Brewery.  They come from Fullerton, CA and their line was long but I had to try something from them anyway.  There was a 5.3% pale ale and a 7% Thai Tea IPA.  Guess which one I chose?  The 7%er, of course!  It was sweet and hoppy at the same time, really satisfying!  Bootleggers gave out coasters.  I grabbed 3 or 4 of them, not like I don’t already have a billion coasters in my storage and house already.  If it’s free it’s free.  You can’t leave something sitting there that’s free, right?

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Line for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

My old favorite, hailing from Chico, CA, was Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.  I had seen them, and scored some stickers, from Sierra Nevada at the last beer fest I went to and a familiar Pale Ale just hit the spot.  It’s only 5%, average for a beer but kind of on the light side for my tastes.  But I credit Sierra Nevada with giving me my love of hops.  The Old Man and I had several occasions to visit the brewery and restaurant up in Chico and during those periods, I went from a lager-drinking lightweight to a Pale Ale pounder.  I used to not be able to handle the taste of Sierra Nevada and now I drink it for breakfast.

There were no short lines up at the top.  The Old Man and I hit up one brewery and waited in line for 10 skin-sizzling moments only to find out that they were out just as we were going to be served next.  Hrmph.  It was only 2:11 in the afternoon and they were tapped out.

2:11 pm….interesting.  By this point I was 3 sheets to the wind and still getting in line for more beer.  I suspected I couldn’t handle much more and I dreaded that there was still almost 2 hours left to go.  I couldn’t comprehend how I had got so messed up in only an hour and eleven minutes.  Jeez.

Sean and I were sitting it out in the shade and the rest of our group walked by.  We agreed that it was medicating time and took up residence away from the throngs on the rocks right at the land’s end.  IMG_3331  Picture perfect!  I needed that break and I started feeling better.

There’s a group shot with the elegant Queen Mary in the background and an equally elegant Carnival cruise ship.  Welcome to Long Beach!

 

The rest of the breweries we hit up in the last hour became a blur in my mind.  I know we went to Rock Bottom Brewery out of Long Beach, CA and I tried a Citra Swell IPL (an India Pale Lager).  It was just as citrusy as the name implies.  They were also serving a Dreams of Gold Pale Ale.

I got beer and stickers from 10 Mile Brewing Company.  They had 2 taps but by the time I got up to the front of the line they were serving out of pitchers.  They are from the Signal Hill neighborhood of Long Beach.

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Hop Saint Brewing Company

Hop Saint Brewing Company out of Torrance, CA was one of the breweries I remember, thanks to the magic of digital photography.  They were pouring 2 different brews but were out of the 6.3% Simcoe Pale Ale, which is the one I would’ve wanted to drink.  Sean and I both settled for the 5.3% Vienna Lager which was not bad at all.  Here’s my reaction to the Vienna Lager:  It’s my “O” face!IMG_3324

 

 

I remember going to Hog Canyon Brewing Company where, again, I scored a tasty beer and a HC/BC sticker.  I had been seeing the stickers on a few people throughout the day and I was finally glad to be a part of it all.  Hog Canyon doesn’t have a website so I can’t give you anymore info other than I enjoyed my little taster.

We were eventually making our way to the end of the park where the BRB was picking us up at 4:00 pm.  On the way, my group stopped at a brewery I can’t remember the name of.  But I remember watching from the sidelines as a tender from the one brewery hit on my married sister-in-law.  He told her to finish her sample and he would get her a taste from the tent next door, which was SoCal local Golden Road Brewery.  She downed that 4 ouncer and, sure enough, that guy took her cup and filled it from one of Golden Road’s taps.  So little Miss Heather got an extra shot without having to wait in an extra line.  Nice move and nice way to end the day!

Guinness had a booth there and everybody got their cups filled except for me.  I was pretty much done for a little while.  The Old Man ran off to fill up his cup one last time from the mystery brewery.  It was an amber ale that he found to be malty.

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On the way out

Finally 4:00 came.  I was never so happy to be done with a beer fest.  I had definitely gotten my money’s worth of samples and I had a great day but I was beat and burned everywhere my skin was exposed.

I took a seat on the bottom level of the Big Red Bus and grabbed a Bud Light…the only beer left in the coolers unfortunately.  Well, they had Tecate Light but fuck that.

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Now I’m Down In It

Heather and Paul sat upstairs on the way back and I was glad they got their chance.  There was no way I could’ve made it up the stairs in my drunk and debilitated state.

The Old Man spent some time upstairs and I was left alone to listen to this drunk asshole tell a woman he had just met all about his fucked up life.  It was great drama.  The hipsters across from me got sick of it though.  They leaned forward and one of them said, “Tell me about yourself.”  I was like, “Wha?” and the guy goes “It would be so much better than this…” and he waves his hand to indicate the drunk asshole and his victim du jour.  So we ended up exchanging niceties but I didn’t feel like socializing.

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Peace Out

I was able to finish my beer before we disembarked at Legends but I was absolutely done for the day.  Everyone wanted to eat so we got a table at Legends and ordered every vegetarian appetizer/starter they had available.  I myself had zucchini fries which were very good.  But there was mac & cheese and tots going around the table, plus other food.

 

We stuffed ourselves and took an Uber back to HB.  I ended up driving us home and we crashed when we got there.  It was a fantastically fun day!  I can’t wait until next year’s Taste of Brews Fest.  Hopefully we can get another ride on The Big Red Bus.  If you’re looking for a unique way to get around the city, check out The BRB and for a mind-numbing beer experience, check out any one of the brew festivals that happen all over the place.  When you’re so drunk you can’t stop smiling, you will thank me!

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Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beers I drink, Breweries

Cismontane Brewing Co. Date Night

When a local brewery, like Cismontane, gets together with a discount site, like Groupon, it’s like magic.  For the tidy sum of $20, the Old Man and I went out on a date and tried some really delicious beers in Santa Ana, CA.  I’m not sure how long Groupon will have this sale going on in cahoots with Cismontane Brewing Company so you better get your ass in gear and buy in.  There are several options to choose from depending on whether you have 2 or 4 folks in your party.  Honestly though, it doesn’t matter if you are 2 people and you buy the Groupon for 4.  That’s what I did and I didn’t get sent to hell.  It just makes better sense financially to buy in bulk, right?

 

DSC09469 (2)     It was a Tuesday night, aka “Cask Night,” at @Cisbrewco and SoHo Tacos food truck was there serving up the eats.  It was expectantly crowded when we walked in, almost all the tables were taken and most of the seats along the bar.

I mozied on up to the brewtender and showed her my Groupon.  She marked it as redeemed and gave me 2 slips of paper to write what brews we wanted in the 2 flights and then she handed over 4 wooden tokens to use when we wanted to get down to pint-guzzling.  DSC09459   I like that method a lot.  When I go wine tasting, I am always worried about how the host will remember what wine I had last.  I’m afraid she’ll forget one of the wines and I’ll get gyped.  But this way, you have physical tokens you are holding in your hands to turn in when you want.  The brewtender even told us we didn’t have to use all 4 of the tokens that night, we could use them another time if we wanted.  Super efficient!  I love it!

So here is a pic of the menu board.  There are a lot of choices.  At Cismontane, a flight consists of 5 4-oz. pours so you can try quite a few.

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In honor of Cask Night at Cismontane, I tried the Black & Blue for my first flight choice.  Black & Blue is an 8% Imperial Stout made with blueberries that is mild and pleasant tasting.  The blueberries were hard to discern on my palette but there was a slight sweetness to it that I know was because of the addition of fruit.  Next, I went with a Citizen lager.  How could I resist Beavis & Butthead?  The Citizen was a 6% lager trying to be an IPA with an IBU measurement of 45.  I liked it.  I was expecting something light but the hops were very prevalent.

My last three choices were all IPAs; starting with a Back That Thing Up, then a Hop Dumpster, and finishing with a Pretty Fly For A Light Guy.  The stats on the first two are impressive.  The Back That Thing Up was a floral, tasty IPA with an ABV of 8.3% and an IBU rating of 90.  The Hop Dumpster was an extremely palatable and smooth double IPA that comes in at 100 on the IBU scale and a solid 8% ABV.  I loved them both but I really loved Hop Dumpster.  I ended my flight with a Pretty Fly For A Light Guy.  It was only a 4.1% session IPA but I got it because of the connection to Offspring, a lil’ ol’ OC band that made it to the big time.  The IBU was 52 and the hoppy bitterness was there but just not enough for my tastes.  It’s a light brew and named appropriately.

The Old Man’s flight was pretty similar to mine but with 2 differences.  The Coulter IPA, with a 7.2% ABV and 60 IBUs, was extraordinairy.  The Strawberry Letter 23 tasted like candy it was so good.  It’s a strawberry blonde with a decent ABV of 5.5%.  Just a taste of the Letter 23 was all I needed, it is sweet and fruity.

We finished our flights and got ready to redeem some tokens.  For the first round, we both revisited the Hop Dumpster.  It’s an incredible beer and I would drink it again for sure.

The brewtender called “Last Call!” so we downed those Hop Dumpsters and ordered our second and last round of the night.  We both got the Coulter IPA and sat around drinking those and chatting with this guy about random stuff related to sound engineering until the brewtender was done cleaning.  Look at how spotless that bar is!DSC09463 (2)

Cismontane had a good selection of merch, like shirts and hats, but it runs on the pricey side.

 

 

There was only one complaint I had about my date night.  The temperature inside Cismontane was practically unbearable.  It was just another hot-as-fuck night in So Cal and there was only one industrial-sized, stationary fan blowing towards the bar.  The door was open which only let the heat get in instead of providing a way for a breeze to blow through the building.  Fan?  No help.  DSC09456_LI (2) Open door?  No help.  Christ!  Does someone have to die of heat stroke before they air condition that place?

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This sticker of our President as the Devil seemed like a good theme pic for the night since it was hot as Hell.

 

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Beers I drink, Breweries, Game Night Drunk, road trip

Council Brewing Company Part Two

I like when breweries take chances and concoct new libations and that is exactly what Council Brewing Co. has been doing since I’ve been there last.  I was hop-stopping in San Diego last Saturday and happened to be in the neighborhood so I thought, “What the hell?”  My first time there was great so my anticipation was palpable.

So down Clairemont Mesa Blvd. we drove to the industrial park off Convoy St. where Council’s unassuming tasting room/brewery is located.  There was a small crowd so we easily got a table big enough to stretch out a long Timeline.

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I was pleased to see the changed-up menu offerings.  Even the selections from the Magic Factory had changed.  I remembered the Lickable Staves Sour that I had wanted to try but I didn’t see it up on the board so I might’ve missed my chance.   I saw on their website that Lickable Staves won Best In Show at the SD International Beer Competition!  Congratulations to them but now my regret is even greater that I never tasted it.  As the Old Man would say, “Bird in the hand and all…”

The first beer I tried was a hazy IPA called Hazeas Corpus.  It was a 6.7% and so citrusy with tropical juiciness.  Delicious.  Sean went with a new draft release called Miss Olivia that was a respectable 6.8%.  Carie got a Blonde called Lively Banter that was 5.5% ABV.   Ck stuck with the fruity theme of the night and got a 4.5% Guava Beatitude Tart Saison.  The Old Man and I also split a Bully Pulpit which we had both tried the first time we visited and wanted to experience again.

@Council has a well-rounded and extensive menu.  They have 2 NE-style IPA’s and 6 flavored Beatitude Saisons.  Just up on the main menu are 14 different beers plus 2 new releases on tap.  Then there’s the Magic Factory selections: 8 beers ranging in strength from 5.8% to 6.8% that are brewed at a different location.

 

Council has bottles to go and merchandise for sale.  Of course, the Old Man found the clearance bin.  DSC07495

Of course, I had to buy one of those clearance shirts since I love CBC so much.  You can also get growlers and crowlers filled.  Flights are $10 for 5 tasters which is a great option if you are trying to sample a selection from the menu rather than focusing on one or two pints.

The best part about ending the night at Council Brewing?  Our television star Pennywise!

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I went to the ladies room and this is what I saw:  It’s a sign from you-know-who.

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Happy Drinking!

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Beers I drink, Breweries, road trip

Oceanside Brewing Company

I had a family event looming on my horizon in #Oceanside so I wanted to check out some local breweries while I was there.  I had more than an hour to kill before I had to be somewhere and the closest brewery was also the one that would’ve been my first choice: Oceanside Brewing Company.  I like when the town is in the name.

DSC06293    A little sign above the door and a  “BEER HERE” sandwich chalk board  DSC06288  let you know you have arrived at the Oceanside Brewing Company.  There isn’t much parking but we got a place up front.  TGFHP.  That’s Thank God For Handicap Parking.

DSC06289  A couple with two kids walked in as we were getting out of the car so I knew OBC was kid-friendly right off the bat (you should see the disgusted look on my face as I type that).  I could also see the wagging tail and rear end of a dog so I knew they were dog-friendly as well.  DSC06306

Here’s a pic of the awesome fur baby I got to meet.  I will take dogs over kids any day of the week, lol.

 

@oceansidebrewingco has an extensive menu board with no less than 22 brews on tap.  There is literally something for everyone.

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There were a couple of beers I wanted to try but I was drawn to the New England style Desert Storm IPA which measured 6.7% ABV.  It was delicious with a citrus, grapefruit taste and stuffed with hops.  The Old Man tried a Corps IPA that came in at 6.8%.  It was interesting.  The Corps tasted more like a brown ale when we first sipped it but then the mellow hoppyness came forward and it tasted more like the American IPA it was billed as.

I complemented the brewtender/brewer on the Desert Storm and he told me a funny anecdote.  As regular readers will remember in my review of House of Pendragon, the New England or hazy style IPA is a fairly new type of craft beer to hit the market.  He said that the NE IPA is kind of a little joke among brewers who usually work very hard on getting clear, filtered beer.  And then some guy from Maine comes out with this “hazy,” unfiltered beer and it’s all the rage.  The brewer liked it because it shaved a couple of weeks off the brewing process by not having to filter out all the remnants.  And he said it was a popular choice so the general public seems to approve.

We wanted to go drink al fresco because the breeze was so nice & cooling but both entrances to the back patio were chained off.  As we stood there, contemplating the chain, the brewtender told us beers weren’t allowed out back and hadn’t been for six months as they battled with the ABC about the zoning.  The ABC are a bunch of dicks.  They were on the verge of having it all worked out and he said the back would be open for drinking in just a week.

OBC has a few games to play as well as some brew-crafting reading material.  The large wooden chess set was attractive and looked inviting if you are smart enough to know the game.  I’m not.

There are t-shirts for sale but I think they’re a bit overpriced at $25.  DSC06308

 

 

 

 

 

I left the Oceanside Brew Co. wanting more.  It’s a #roadtrip there but not too far from #Anaheim so I am sure I will be back.  There are more brews to sample and some outback patio fresh air & sunshine to soak up.  I love California.

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Beers I drink, Breweries, road trip

Sequoia Brewing Company

The Sequoia Brewing Company is an old standard of mine in Fresno, CA.  I’m there practically every April on the way to Oakhurst for some much needed R&R.

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We have been to Sequoia Brewing so many times that we are both very familiar with the beers.  Neither of us agreed out loud that we wanted to try something different but it seemed to be the unspoken consensuses.  Thanks to the “Specials” board out in front, we found what we were looking for;  two new brews that we were eager to sample.

I started off with the “So You Like IPA’s” Series #1 because I loved the high 7.4%.  It was delicious.  The taste was more malty than hoppy but the hops did creep up on me.  The bitterness was slight and it went down smooth.  I seem to remember that the IPA’s that Sequoia and Tioga Sequoia offer are not as hoppy as IPA’s available in Southern California.  The Old Man tried the Spring Bock which measured 7.2%.  It was a golden colored lager with a smoky aftertaste.

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In German, “bock” means “goat” and it is used to show a particular beer has a kick to it.  The Spring Bock indeed had a kick.  I tried some of Sean’s and liked it so much I ordered it for beers #2 and #3.  I got Sean’s original choice and he got mine for his second round.  He was as impressed with the IPA as I was.  There are a total of 3 varieties in the “So You Like IPA’s” series and we are excited to come back and try them.

Sequoia Brewing has specials for Happy Hour and we were hungry after our 4 hours just spent on the road.  We’ve had the pizza here before and it leaves something to be desired.  So we opted for the pretzel bites and we were not disappointed.

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The pretzel bites are small pieces of a larger soft pretzel that is deep fried to perfection and then salted and served with a side of stone ground mustard.  We ate that shit up fast! It was such a needed snack that ended up being our dinner.  Sequoia has a limited selection for vegetarians and I really wish they would offer a veggie burger.  They do have a veggie sandwich that sounds appetizing so I commend them for that effort.

Happy hour was coming to an end so we quickly ordered our third and last round.  I stayed with the  Spring Bock and Sean went back to the traditional menu to sample a Garage Sale Rye Pale Ale.  In the past, the Old Man has enjoyed rye IPA’s so he figured the rye pale ale would be just as good.  Coming in at a 6.0%, it was flavorful and crisp.  It had a nice dark red color.

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When it came time to pay the man, we were giggling with delight at the price of our beers.  I had to take a picture of my receipt to show off just how cheap the craft brewed beers are during happy hour.  $3.47!  $3.47?  Hell yeah!

Sequoia Brewing Company could teach other breweries a lesson about pricing.  Lately, I have been paying $6 and $7 for pints at local breweries.  They were no better and no less ABV than the $3.47 beers at Sequoia.  At a brewery, you cut out the middle man.  Where do some of them get off charging more than $5 for a pint?  I guess it’s the greedy American way.  The prices at SBC are refreshing and make me want to go drink and drink some more.

I probably won’t be back to Sequoia Brewing Co. until next Spring break.  If I was a local, I’d drink there more often but it’s just another one of those great stops on a #roadtrip. It’s nice to know I have a place to sit and enjoy some beers and unwind from the long drive.

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