Breweries, Out on the town drunk

Catalina Island Brew House

Islands are generally small, as illustrated by the size of Santa Catalina Island.  So to be a successful business on an island, one needs to be good at more than one thing.  The Catalina Island Brew House personifies this island ethos brilliantly as they brew & bake for the tourists and locals all day, everyday.

My adventure started on the Catalina Flyer at 9:00 am.  I had 3 cans of Stella Artois on the boat so I was ready to party when we set foot on land.  My first stop was the Pancake Cottage for more beer and a side of fries.  It was happy hour in the morning, something I had never heard of….but definitely something I could get used to.

After fueling up, me and my group headed down Crescent Avenue to find another watering hole.  As you stroll by, the view will take your breath away.  The sights were ass-tounding to say the least!

DSC08319  A hanging sign lets you know you have reached the Catalina Island Brew House.  It is shoved alongside Steve’s Steakhouse and Maggie’s Blue Rose Mexican restaurant in a small and narrow space.

There was a line when we arrived but it went fast and we were able to order our brews.  CIBH is a nanobrewery and they only had 3 of their own beers available in addition to guest beers such as Four Sons & Bootleggers Breweries.

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I was very happy they had an IPA on the menu so I got the Island Hop IPA with a 6.6% ABV.  It was full of flavor with a strong piney hop taste and a lighter malty sweetness.  I loved it…  DSC08325 I also loved how they give you fresh baked pretzel rolls with your beer order.  Way to go, Catalina Brew!  You impressed the hell out of me!

 

Like I said earlier, CIBH is good at more than one thing.  Not only do they brew great tasting beer, they brew coffee anyway you want it.

DSC08334 They’ve got a whole full-service coffee bar behind the counter and it makes me think they get very crowded in the early mornings when everyone needs their espresso.

The craft doesn’t stop at beer and coffee.  Catalina Brew has a small cafe menu featuring artisan flatbread pizzas and sandwiches.  There is a nice vegetarian selection of pizzas like the Islander.  It’s similar to a Hawaiian but without the ham.

 

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CIBH also offers bakery items as displayed.  I tried the brownies with nuts on top and I was astonished at how delicious it was.  Probably the best brownie I have ever tasted that I didn’t make myself.  The next day, I went back and bought 2 brownies to take home.

 

There is merchandise for sale but it’s limited to t-shirts and stickers.

One of the major complaints people have about islands is how expensive they can be for food and drink.  I thought the Catalina Island Brew House was reasonably priced for beer and a little above average for a shirt.  Their food prices are the same as any cafe on the mainland.

Catalina is one of those places you don’t get to that often so I don’t know when I’ll be back to the Brew House.  But next time, I will stop in and have a beer and a brownie and maybe one of those Islander flatbreads.  I loved this brewery and highly recommend that you visit if you are on Catalina.

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Cheers to Carie the birthday girl – Happy 40th!

 

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And a big “Fuck You” to the world from all of us!

 

 

 

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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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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

Fall Brewing Company

Saturday morning, we drove right past Fall Brewing Company and the door was open.  We circled around the block so we could park and check it out.  But when we got back, the door was closed.  We checked the hours and we were about 15 minutes too early.  Not ones to sit around and wait, we went somewhere else to conduct our drinking.  But later that night, in our final stop of a day of brewery-hopping, we ended up right back in front.

This time, there was no question about it being open.  DSC04288 It was packed.  It was after 5:00 so the crowd was not a big surprise.  We found an open table for five and then sent the men over to order.

The beer menu at Fall Brewing is varied.  There is something for everyone.  I’m pretty sure I had the Green Hat IPA because it was a 7.3%er.  I say “pretty sure” because somehow, I failed to collect any notes about this awesome brewery.  So there will be lots of pictures and less words this time.  You’ll love it.

 

Here’s a clear view of the brews that they offer.

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Art by Emily Connell

There was an art exhibit going on at the time I visited Fall Brewing called the #PlushRockArtShow.  I got a bunch of pics of the album cover art that this artist stitched together and the work is extraordinary.

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May I say who is calling?

 

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Where’s the Midol?

I got to observe some cute doggies.  I didn’t engage them because I was too far gone to make sense and I didn’t want to freak anyone out – dog or human.

 

Fall Brewing has some merchandise available too.

 

The best part about Fall Brewing Co. is the punk rock decor.  The boy’s room was covered with old fliers from shows more than 20 years ago.  That’s around the time all the millennials in the place were being born!  I’m old!

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Outside food is welcome at Fall and there was a food truck out in front on that Saturday night.  It was called Anthem and it was a 100% vegan food truck!  I could’ve shit my pants right there when I saw their vegan menu.  Everything looked so delicious but I was in between meals so I didn’t try anything.

 

Fall Brewing Company definitely fills a niche in the San Diego #craftbeer scene.  They are worth a visit to check out the brews as well as the cool wall-art.  Say, “Hi,” to this guy for me!

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Breweries

Council Brewing Company

If you are going to San Diego, you have many choices when it comes to drinking good #craftbeer.  There are a lot of breweries you can visit and they are each wonderful in their own ways.  But I believe Council Brewing Company is maybe a little more wonderful and definitely worth a stop.

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They are a self-described “nano-brewery” but the menu offers a diverse selection.  By the time I got to Council on that fine Saturday, I was already buzzed.  That may have clouded my vision and led me to order a 7.0% Make IPAs Clear Again.  Whatever it was, I was extremely pleased with my selection.  It had a strong number behind it but it didn’t taste like a typically overly hoppy west coast IPA.  It was a mellow IPA that was very drinkable.

The old man went with the award-winning Bully Pulpit that was a high 7.2% ABV.  DSC04199

I snapped this picture of him behind the cut-out.  The term comes from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt in which he refers to the White House as a “bully pulpit.”  The brew itself is another great IPA from Council.  Not too hoppy at all, very clean finish.  I can see why it was the medal winner.

Carie tried the Farmer’s Gold Belgian Saison and she liked the light 5.7% beer and Ck started off with a 5.2% Pilsner called Diamond In The Grain.

 

Neither of them could resist getting their pictures taken with the Bully Pulpit cut-out either.

 

Here is a nice, readable picture of the menu-board.  It’s surprisingly well-populated list of alcoholic delights.

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Council Brewing is like any other brewery, kid and dog-friendly.  Which is good in one way and bad in another, for me at least.  But I’m not complaining.  The kids in there were quiet and not running all over the place.  The parents had trained them well.  We were probably louder than the kids and we had just as much fun playing with the blocks.  I got to meet this sweetie too!

When it was time for our second round, we all tried something new.  Except Carie, who knows a good thing when she finds it.  She stuck with the Farmer’s Gold.  I got a 100% Maybe IPA that was lighter than my first and measured in at 6.3%.  Again, I was impressed with the flavor of their brews….delicious!

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Sean ordered a Questionable Advice IPA that was a 6.7% and Ck delighted his taste buds with a 3 Berry Beatitude Saison.  Even though it was a light 4.5% ABV, it was so tart & tasty.  We had Charlie join us for our second round and he went for the heaviest right away.  He got an 8% Royal Blood Imperial Red IPA that was dark in color and tasted like coffee.

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They have a special menu of sours that are brewed at another location called The Magic Factory.

 

One of them is called Lickable Staves and I was curious about what a “stave” was so I asked the brewtender.  He informed me that it is a plank of wood in a barrel.  So next time I go back, I definitely want to try the sour Likable Staves.

 

I liked Council Brewing Company a lot.  The only disadvantage is that it is tiny and not meant for crowds.  But the selection is extensive and the brews are good.  They brew truly craft beer and it is obvious once you try your first taste.

Go ahead and do yourself a favor.  Visit and enjoy Council Brew then check it off your list of things to do in #SanDiego.  Your drunk self will thank you.

 

 

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Breweries, Game Night Drunk, Stuff i do when i drink

Bay City Brewing Company

Last month I was lucky enough to try a new location of a previously-visited brewery, At Ease @ Barrel Harbor, and to experience a whole new brewery, AleSmith Brewing Company, while I was in San Diego for the weekend.  This month, I found myself in San Diego again with a lot of time and a lot of nothing to do.  So you know what I did?  I got drunk.

I started out the day right with a big breakfast and then a visit to the Villainous Lair where Ck picked up a new Munchkin game called MOOPS: Monster Mash-ups.  Then it was time to commence the drinking that I knew was going to happen all day long.

Our first stop was at Bay City Brewing Company.  It is located in an industrial area off the 8 freeway and close to Mission Bay (hence, the “bay” in “Bay City”).  Bay City is also about a two minute drive from Modern Times Beer.

Bay City is spacious and seemed even more so when we got there a little after it opened at noon because of the lack of people.  More folks eventually showed up and I got to meet two dogs during my time there.  Always the highlight!

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A well-behaved Frenchie

 

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The Pug that wandered in from the storm

Their menu isn’t extensive so I was able to pick out right away what I wanted to try.

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I went for the basically-named San Diego Pale Ale and the one with the highest ABV, 7.7%.

Sean tried a Power Play IPA that I told him to get because I wanted to try that one too and I knew he would like it.  It measured in with a 6.9% ABV.

Carie had the Vienna Lager, a mellow 5.0%, and Ck had the Dark Lager that came in at 5.3% ABV.

The Pale Ale & the IPA were very hoppy.  Very resinous tasting and mine killed my taste buds in such a way that I was able to enjoy the rest of my pint.  Otherwise, I would’ve been scowling with every sip.  I tried little sips of Ck’s & Carie’s lagers and they were so light in comparison.  They were delicious and worth a second visit.

We sat around a pallet table that was big enough for 8 people and played a game of Munchkin. It was so much fun because our group has been talking about doing it for about as long as we’ve been playing Munchkin, which is about 3 years.  Finally!  Our wish come true!

We didn’t have a game board but not to fear!  Ck had purchased each of us our own 10-siders that corresponded to our home-game Munchkin colors.  What a thoughtful guy!

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I languished around level 1 for so long as the rest of those munchkins rose up until Carie eventually claimed the win.

The brewtender who came to collect our empty glasses also asked if we wanted refills and the answer of course, was, “Yes, please!”  That was a nice touch of service and I will always remember Bay City as very customer-oriented.

A brew tour bus came through so it got a little crowded for about half an hour but then it cleared out and it was just our gang of four with a Frenchie guy and a couple other humans left over.

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A woman from the tour pissed everywhere around the toilet and nowhere in the toilet.  What, did she think she was in the men’s room?  Sidenote: Bitches please!  At least clean your piss up so I don’t have to if you can’t use a toilet seat the right way.  It’s your own damn piss.  Bitches. The bathrooms were nice and clean other than that little incident.

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Behind the scenes at Bay City Brewing Co.

The brew vats are set up off in the back.  They are lit up with cool blue lighting that goes with the silver of the tanks.  Cool design, owners!

There is a back patio area that I didn’t get to visit because I love sitting on my ass.  Next time I’m at Bay City Brewing, I will check it out.

I liked this brewery a lot.  It is roomy enough to deal with crowds and has some pretty tasty beer.  I would recommend starting with the light end of their spectrum and you won’t be disappointed.

The location is another great thing about Bay City that will definitely bring me back in.  Parking could be better but when I was there, parking wasn’t an issue so I won’t complain.  I’ll just say, I would hate to have to find close parking after 4:30 on most weekdays and all time during weekend nights.

Bay City Brewing Company is a must stop if you are in the Mission Bay area.  I had a great time there and will be back, for sure.

 

 

 

 

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