Beers I drink, Breweries, Uncategorized

Out on the Towne (Park Brewery)

September saw the opening of the newest brewery to join the other 13 breweries in Anaheim.  Towne Park Brewery & Taproom is located off Lincoln Avenue, right by the 5 freeway.  The only way they could be in a better location is if they popped up on Katella & Harbor or somewhere along “Lager Palma Brewlouvard” with their crowds.

I’ve been waiting a while for @TowneParkBrew to open.  I heard about their impending arrival onto Anaheim’s craft beer scene sometime around July.  I signed up for their newsletter and at that time their tentative opening was going to be in late August.  I never got one damned email from them and I wouldn’t have known they were in business except that I went to see a friend’s band at the Holiday Lounge in Costa Mesa and the Towne Park IPA was available on tap.  I tried it and I was impressed.  The hops provided a bitter shock to my palette that I have come to love in IPAs.

So one night, I happened to be in Towne Park’s neighborhood at the Doll Hut Studios

and needed a place to continue drinking after Chuy practice.  The Old Man and I headed over to Towne Park and were surprised to find that it was packed.  It was a Wednesday night around 9:30 and the only parking available was handicap.  Luckily I was the only handicap person there so I took that parking faster than Blac Chyna got knocked up by the only male heir to the Kardashian name.

DSC07833Their HQ is huge!  It’s the center of the Towne Park universe where all the brewing, canning, bottling, aging, and tasting happens.  Out in front they’ve got what appears to be a “company car” with this fun license plate.  It’s probably the owners.

 

I got a few pics of what it looks like behind the scenes in their production area.

Look at all those cans of delicious beer!  Of course, it was dark so the pics could be better but they can give you an idea of just how large their operation is.

Follow the next sign for a good time…

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There is a spacious outside seating area that is all lit up and inviting-looking to the outside world.  Inside is a bright, open tasting room with a bar against one wall and tables with chairs spread throughout.

The Menu Board…

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Towne Park offers 8 different beers as well as non-alcoholic beverages.  They also have apparel and glassware merchandise for sale.  They have pretty average prices for everything on the menu with the exception of the $8 IPA.  It only comes in at a 6.7% ABV and the going rate at most breweries for that level of alcohol is $6 ($7 if they’re bougie).

Since I had already tasted the IPA, I took the “doublemint” challenge and went with the Double IPA  DSC07847 that measures a whopping 9%.  I expected it to pack a hoppy punch but I was let down in the worse way.  It didn’t even taste like an IPA, much less a DIPA; it was much too sweet and malty.  I tried to drink it fast to get it over with and that left me feeling like I shouldn’t have another beer that night.  Damn 9%er’s!

So that’s a score of one to one with my Towne Park Brewery experiences.  I’m not sure how to think about them and they definitely deserve a third try.  I will taste their lighter content brews next time.

It could’ve been a bad night but I had such a good time on the outside patio watching all the pugs and pits play and demand attention from their millennial owners that it made up for the overly sweet brew.

There’s a brightly lit marquee sign that advertises the goings-on of the upcoming week.

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I like that they’ve got a Trivia night on Wednesday’s.  Wednesday is my traditional day for trivia competitions.  We used to play all the time at BackStreet Brewery until they just didn’t have it anymore.  Sometime I’ll check out Towne Park’s game.  And taco’s on Tuesday?  Who woulda’ thunk?  Wonder if there are veggie selections on the menu?

Overall, I am happy with this new brewery.  I just had a bad experience with the taste of one of their concoctions and I won’t let that stop me from going back and tasting what else they have to offer.  Welcome to Anaheim, #TowneParkBrew!

Cheers!

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The self-promoting selfie box (not free btw)

 

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New kid in Towne

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Beers I drink, Breweries, Game Night Drunk, Out on the town drunk, road trip, Stuff i do when i drink

Red Tandem Brewery

I’ve had my eye on Oxnard for a while.  I see in the news that the weather is perfect there which makes me want to retire in the nard of the Ox.  So when the Eichels invited us to the Oxnard Steampunk Fest I was more than eager to check out the town.

We got dressed up in our finest and paraded around Heritage Square for a couple

of hours and then, as per usual, spent more time at the bar than mixing with the crowd.  We got dinner and went back to our room to drink Heinekens.  All of a sudden, we had the whole night before us with no immediate plan.  So we decided to hit the town.

I chose Red Tandem Brewery because they were the closest one to our hotel and we wanted to Uber since we had been drinking for most of the day.  DSC07921  The brewery & tasting room is in a strip mall kind of area surrounded by nice beachy-type houses in the Oxnard Shores community.  We arrived early in the evening when it was still light outside and snapped this picture of one of the houses all decorated up for Halloween. Getting in the spirit…I love it!

 

DSC07922  There is a bright red sign letting you know you are exactly where you want to be… minutes from the beach on a mildly temperate evening in October about to get drunk on “nanobrew.”  Good times for the forecast!

 

 

The interior of @RedTandemBrews is on the small side but there is seating for at least 25 people.  The menu is also on the small side but that’s not a bad thing when they advertise on their website as a “nanobrewery.”  At least you know what to expect when you walk in.  There are only 7 different brews but everyone in my group got something unique so the limited selection wasn’t an issue.  The Old Man snapped this clear shot of the brew board.

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I started off with my usual, a 6.4% IPA called C-Hag.  The hop level was just about perfect.  It has a measurement of 47 IBUs and was not shocking to my palette at all.  It was so good that I stuck with the C-Hag for the rest of the night, which ended up being about 3 beers long.  Sean got the Beach Blonde Ale with a high 5.9% ABV for a blonde.  He loved it but he also experimented with the Island Fox Red Ale and some of that C-Hag.  Everything we tried was a taste of perfection.  You can tell that the brewery really cares about what it is producing and takes the time and attention to detail that is necessary.

Red Tandem has some art on the walls (possibly for sale?), a chess board,

and a barrel set up with games to play.  We bought our own game of Timeline because we’re pretty good at this brewery thing; this wasn’t our first rodeo.  We met a nice guy named AJ.  He was just drinking and waiting for a friend so Ck asked him to join our game.  He caught on right away and we all had a great time.  I only won once but I’m glad about that one.  Every time I play I try to remember one card from the whole night.  Last month, I memorized the death of Billy the Kid as happening in 1881 and as fate would have it, I drew that card this time and stole the game!

As I was walking around the place taking pictures, the owner and brewer, Mark, asked if I wanted a tour.  I said yes right away because I love seeing all the equipment of the whole brewing process.  He was very friendly and quickly went over all the steps.

It was information overload during the tour and I don’t remember much of what Mark told me but he showed me the vats, the 55 lb bags of grain they use, the door to the temperature controlled fermenting room, and the refrigerated room where they keep the kegs and other ingredients.  All the brewing is done on site in the back.  It’s a small operation but extremely efficient.

I really liked Red Tandem Brewery.  From the location to the brews, they are tops in my opinion.  It’s too bad that I’m hardly ever in Oxnard because this is a place I would revisit again and again.  Maybe someday I will make it back there.  I hope Mark is behind the bar.  And I hope I get a better Uber driver than the crazy lady who picked us up at the end of the night.

Cheers!

 

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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, Game Night Drunk, road trip, Stuff i do when i drink

Societe Brewing Company

With good traffic, I can make it to #SanDiego in an hour and a half.  That’s the perfect amount of time to anticipate all that the south-most county in California has to offer.  With a plethora of breweries and map full of comic book shops there is always something to do.  I was in San Diego last weekend for a wedding and had a night to kill so I set my radar to find the coolest brewery I’d never been to so far and I came up with Societe Brewing Company.

It was around 6:00 on a Saturday night when I showed up with the Old Man, Ck, & Carie.  The tasting room was packed as well as almost every table outside.  We quick snagged an empty spot and contemplated the menu.

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@SocieteBrewing has four different styles of beer that they brew: Out West, Old World, Stygian, & Feral.  Sean and I went traditional with IPA selections from Out West.  I got the Publican, a 5.5% Small IPA and the Old Man tried the 6.9% Fiddler IPA.  We were happy with our choices and they were just hoppy enough.  They were both light in color but the flavors were developed and foremost.

Carie went with a 5.6% Belgian Blonde called Harlot from the Old World menu.  Ck wanted it fruity so he chose one of the Feral brews called Henchman, a 6.1% that was $10 for a 12 ounce pour.  It is also known as a fruited beer and it can be called feral, or “wild,” because a different type of bacteria is used in the fermentation that produces different flavors.

DSC07473  Societe doesn’t offer flights but you can get up to two samples if you are on the fence about what you want to try.  They have a great selection so deciding could be a problem.  There was one thing about Societe that I didn’t like.  That was their “full pours” being 12 ounces instead of 16.  Lame.  Don’t know why it bothers me but I kind of feel like I am getting gypped out of that extra 4 ounces.DSC07475

There are also bottles to go and growlers you can get filled at the bar.

Something that I always enjoy seeing are the brewery tours and Societe offers them on Saturday’s at 2:00 and 4:00 pm.  DSC07478

Dogs are just as welcome as people at Societe Brewing and they actually have merchandise for sale for the pooches.  Talk about a stylish puppy, wearing a Societe dog tee and munching on beer bones!

People-sized shirts for women are available for $17.

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The decor is old fashioned and whimsical.  I loved the black silhouettes on the wall with their steampunk-style lights in front of every one.

DSC07485  And the piano in the corner was cool.  A good selection of games lined the top but we had come prepared with our own cards to play.  We’ve been hooked on one called Timeline.  It’s addicting, fast, and fun and you only need 2 or more to play.  It’s perfect for a brewery.

Societe is great for a night of hanging out and trying different styles of brews.  The atmosphere is relaxed and the place is well-run.  There’s a menu board that lists what upcoming food trucks will be there and sometimes they have events.  They’ve got a charitable night with a dog rescue receiving the proceeds.  It was National Sour Day when we went so they had specials on their Feral selections.

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I’ll be back to Societe Brewing Co. and there’s not much that I think should change.  They’ve got this down.  I can’t wait to try some of their 7%+ IPA’s and I’m always ready for a game of Timeline.

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Beers I drink, Breweries, road trip

Central Coast Brewing Company

Tucked in between the hills of San Luis Obispo is a small, unassuming building that houses the Central Coast Brewing Company.  There’s a sign you can see from the street that advertises the wares within.  Stef's pics 8-7-17 041

The tiny parking lot is usually filled with cars.  There are always bikes cruising by and getting locked up while the rider has a brew (or two).  Such is a typical night in SLO on Monterey Street.

In July, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in SLO and I wrote the @ccbrewSLO on my schedule in permanent black sharpie.  I like to visit breweries in every town I visit but certain towns have particular breweries that I especially love and Central Coast Brewing is one of them.

Previous visits to CCBC have been less inviting due to the crowds but it was practically empty when I strolled in on a Sunday night.  There were about 7 people inside and 3 people out on the deck outside.  We weren’t graced with the presence of a canine but I noticed a bowl of water on the floor so they are definitely dog-friendly.

Their menu is so extensive, I had to break it up into 3 shots to be able to make it blind-lady sized.  15 original beers on draft! Had I died and gone to hop heaven?  I love me some Pale Ale and there were 5 different flavors to sample.

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I decided to sip the International IPA called Citrusogalactic at 6.6%.  The Old Man went with a Moonbuggy which measures 8.0% and is a New England style IPA.

 

When I went to pay, I expected my total to be $14.  But the brewtender charged me $8 and change.  I was so stunned that I forgot to say anything like, “Hey, is that the happy hour special or what?”  It would’ve been nice to know.

We got a seat outside on the deck.  It was a nice night and the sun was in the process of setting as we sat and drank.  We watched the shadows on the hills in front of us grow longer and a chill came to the air.  In fucking July.  A chill.  I love SLO.

The citrus was bright tasting and lived up to it’s name.  It was very sour with bitter grapefruit notes.  Sean’s Moonbuggy was resinous & juicy af with the unfiltered haze of a NE IPA.  Both brews were hopped just right.

Stef's pics 8-7-17 024 I love the little details about Central Coast that make it so cozy feeling.

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They’ve got a wall full of different bottles of beer that I could not stop staring at the first time I visited.  This trip was the first time I’ve been able to sit outside so I had never noticed before but the railing is made up up staves from old barrels.  Recycling in action!

I did notice one new thing about CCBC and that is the 2 new bathrooms inside the building.  Now you don’t have to leave your beer out of sight if you are afraid of getting drugged….haha, J/K, that doesn’t happen in SLO!  But seriously, the bathrooms used to be up several steps and down the hall of the building complex next door.  The addition of in-house pissers is convenient and good news to report.

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Central Coast has their own food truck.  It’s something I have seen at a small number of breweries.  They had closed up for the night right before we got there so I didn’t get to see what was on the menu.  But I got this pic…check it out!

You can get merch and beer to go from Central Coast Brew Co.  I like to advertise!

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We talked for a while and then decided to order another round.  Here is what I remember:   Stef's pics 8-7-17 043

It was delicious and I took a nice picture of it.  But I learned an important lesson.  And that is to write stuff down so that I remember when I end up writing the brewbroadblog.

Maybe as soon as November, I will visit Central Coast again.  But it may not be until next year during spring.  I never know where the seasons will take me and what new brews I get to sample.  But I will keep taking pictures and writing about it!

 

 

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Breweries, road trip

HoP: The Dragon’s Lair

I had such a blah experience with House of Pendragon that I wasn’t even going to write about it.  I hate saying mean things in print and out loud.  So I was just going to lock this visit in my vault, give them the benefit of the doubt and return another time to get a better taste of what HoP has to offer.

But the research department of my huge blog happened to have given me an article from the Fresno Bee that was dated March 22, 2017.  I didn’t get a chance to read it until the night I got home from my #roadtrip, which happened to be about 8 hours after my visit to The Dragon’s Lair.

Robert Rodriguez, a reporter for the Bee,  wrote about this new trend in brewing called New England or Northeast IPA’s.  He describes them as “juicy, hazy” and as I read, I remembered what the brewtender at The Dragon’s Lair said about their Qui Gon Jinn & Juice when Sean asked what an “NE Style IPA” was.  She used those exact words.  So it took me a second but I finally realized we had tried something new and innovative at The Dragon’s Lair without even grasping that.  Maybe a short review of HoP was in order, I thought.  I can be really nice when I’m trying to be.

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Bad picture of the menu board

I guess I should start with why I had a shitty time.  First, there is major construction in the immediate area of the brewery that made getting there a bitch.  Then, there was no parking.  Their lot was full so we had to park a little ways down the street.  Next, there was a huge line just to get in when we first walked up.  Then, there were a ton of unsupervised kids running amok.  Also, it was freezing that day and the wind was blowing through the warehouse. And the Old Man had a bad time at first because he got a 12 oz. pour instead of a 16 oz. like I did.  Whew!  That’s a lot of negative stuff, sorry.

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About that line…I stood in the outside one while Sean went inside to see what the other line was all about.  The outside line was to get tickets and a wristband to drink.

After reading this chalkboard sign, it was apparent they were having some kind of special event.  It was their 4th year anniversary and they had a commemorative 14.5 oz glass you could get with a pour for $12.50.  Otherwise, you could get a taster ticket for a 5 oz pour for $3.00 or a 12 oz or 16 oz pour for $5.75.  And they charged tax.  Hmmmph.  And they were using plastic cups.  I heard Mother Nature cry a little.

About that second line….it went pretty quick.  Like I mentioned before, we had a question about the Jinn & Juice.  The brewtender was knowledgeable and told us what we wanted to know.  I ordered the Lancelot IPA which was a 7% and Sean was the brave one who went with the 8% Qui Gon Jinn & Juice IPA.  The Lancelot was nice and flavorful and I liked the amount of hops, not too bitter.

The Old Man was immediately unhappy with his choice.  Not because of the taste.  He said it was indeed juicy & fruity more than bitter and it was a pretty hazy yellow color.  It was an all-around great beer.  But he didn’t realize when he ordered that it came in a 12 oz cup.

 Anybody who knows my man, knows he does not stand for shit like that.  He was pissed and drank his Jinn & Juice so fast he could barely enjoy the taste.

I advised him to get another one that came in a 16 oz cup and he would feel better.  He left me for a few minutes and came back with a 16 oz cup full of  Red Wedding Cake Red Ale.  It was a deep red and tasted sweet, not at all like a 7% ale.  He relished his second beer at a slower pace and went from Hulk to Banner by the time it was finished.

The Dragon’s Lair is the brewery and tasting room that House of Pendragon Brewing Company calls home.  HoP has another location in Clovis that seems to be popular but we wanted the brewery experience so we drove the extra bit out of our way to visit them.

They use kegs and sacks of grain for seating and there is a lot of it.  We were lucky to find seating right away considering the crowd that was there.  I was tickled that their theme is the Arthurian legends.

There were two food trucks. One was a gourmet popcorn truck  DSC05057and the other was a hot dog cart.  The hot dog cart offered veggie dogs but it was extra to substitute one.  It started to sprinkle while we were there and the popcorn people moved inside with their table of free samples.

Damn free samples!  Sean had some and that made me want some so I ended up filling a couple of handfuls of popcorn & chowing down.  Well, the kids also liked the free samples and all the little “adorable shitheads” started hanging around the popcorn table.  Luckily we were close to leaving so it wasn’t too annoying but I will never understand why it is popular for breweries to be kid friendly.

I said it in the beginning and I’ll repeat it: House of Pendragon deserves a second visit.  I feel in a way like it is unfair to judge them based on this one experience.  There was enough cool stuff about them to outweigh the negatives.  This summer when I can spend more time exploring the newer breweries in Fresno and the surrounding areas, I will stop in at the Clovis location and maybe even The Dragon’s Lair again.  I’ll take better pictures, I’ll have more than one beer, I’ll take notes while I’m there.  Everything about my subsequent call to HoP will be better.  All you have to do is sit back and wait.

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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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