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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Breweries, road trip, Stuff i do when i drink

At Ease @ Barrel Harbor

Barrel Harbor is a San Diego brewery with a great reputation and a decent local distribution.  Their original location, 2575 Pioneer Ave. #104, Vista CA , attracts all types of people.  From hipster beer-snobs, like the two pictured here, dsc03959

to casual one-pinters, it seems everyone likes Barrel Harbor.  And now there is a whole new plethora of reasons to like them.

In January of 2017, @BarrelHarbor opened a new location.  They collaborated with At Ease Games and popped up right next door, which gave way to one of the greatest tap rooms ever: At Ease @ Barrel Harbor.

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So the brewery is connected to a game shop, which i thought was really cool.  What goes together better than beer and games?  I looked around At Ease Games for a little while and my friends ended up buying some Munchkin card packs and a new Cthulhu game.  When we were done there, we headed next door to begin our Sunday of brewery-hopping.

The new location is huge.  Located at 8990 Miramar Rd., San Diego CA, they’ve got 16 taps and so many different delicious choices, I could’ve spent all day there.  Here is a picture of their menu board & current offerings:

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It was close to noon when I walked into At Ease @ Barrel Harbor and it was empty, save for the lone brewtender.  I wanted to start with something light so I tried the South Island Pilsner with a 5.2% ABV.  The beer was served in a tall, kinda skinny pint glass that made it seem really fancy.  dsc03941The Old Man tried the Barrel Harbor Red Ale with the same ABV.  Ck had what I had and Carie had a Blunderbuss Belgian Blonde that charts at 6.5%.

My pilsner was a golden color and it was cold and not flat.  In fact, there were so many bubbles coming off the bottom that it looked like champagne.  It tasted crisp and a bit citrusy.  I liked it a lot.

Everybody else enjoyed their choices as well.  When it was time for a second round, I wanted something harder so I sent Sean up to the bar with the explicit instruction to find me something “strong and good.”  When he came back with my Little Nugget IPA, I was not disappointed.  It was 7.4% and didn’t taste overwhelmingly hoppy.  It went down smooth and had a clean finish.  I wasn’t paying attention to what everyone ordered for their second beer so I can only say that the two I tried were top notch, tasty, & full of flavor.

dsc03953There is an area in the middle of the place where you can buy merchandise like shirts and pint glasses engraved with the Barrel Harbor logo.

They have demo games available at that counter too.  You can choose any game you want to play and if you like it enough, you can go next door and buy it.

At the rear is the game room.  This is where the experienced role-players go.  There are gaming tables set up so you can spread out and conduct a real adventure with your friends.


The longer we sat drinking, the more people showed up and headed to the back.  The game room is a popular addition to this brewery.

 

Since At Ease @ Barrel Harbor is located near a military base, they offer discounts for the service, police, & firefighters.

There are specials  listed on the menu outside like the BOGO 50% on Tuesdays.dsc03946

Like most breweries, Barrel Harbor allows pets and children.  The pets part I like; don’t get me started on the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

I loved how this location is so large.  I should’ve looked to see what the max capacity is.  It seems like it could never get too crowded and there are plenty of places to sit.

 

I’ve been to a lot of breweries but I have to say that At Ease @ Barrel Harbor is the one of my favorites.  The very concept of a game store connected to a brewery is genius.  This is the kind of brewery I will go back to whenever I am in #SanDiego.  It’s fun to exercise your brain with games while also killing those same brain cells with alcohol.  The circle of life.

 

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Out on the town drunk, Stuff i do when i drink

SCV Brewmasters

As a matter of formality, we visited the Santa Clarita Valley Brewmasters Pirate Beer Festival.  And damn, did we have a good time!

I have only been to one other event like this.  An event that celebrates drunkenness and promotes revelry.  But this one, this one, was the best.  It started off at noon.  We parked and walked to the entrance with 2 minutes to spare.  We wanted to get every moment possible to drink the selections offered by the various breweries represented.

At first, we wondered around aimlessly.

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We walked the plank of the LAPG booth and got prizes in return.  They were out of most of the prizes because of the selfish VIP’s who had stolen all the precious before the general public was allowed in.

Until we saw that Temblor was represented with 4 fine choices of beer.  I had a 661 and something else I seem to have lost the name of.  But it was wonderful to see Temblor at this event.  It’s about halfway between Bakersfield and Anaheim so you feel like they made the effort and you made the effort and everyone gets to drink in the end.

There were so many breweries represented.  We tried a Redhead from FireHouse Brewing Co. and also a Brunette.  They both gave about the same head but the Redhead was much tastier to my palette.

We sampled from Absolution, Elysium, Firestone Walker, Lagunitas and Golden Road.  Most we had heard of but there were some new names in the mix.  Like Kona, who poured two fine selections and gave away lei’s to the mass public.

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Here is some of our crew enjoying the fine pours that were to be had.

There were a ton of pirate themed decorations spread throughout the area the brewfest took place in.  We got many pictures playing amongst the toys.

I kinda thought we could last from open until close, that would be noon til 5:00.  But, avast ye matey’s, we didn’t manage it.  We just drank until we could drink no more.  Our VIP friends left at around 3:00 and we drank through until about 4:00.

There were many fine beers and I wish I were a better reporter because I would be able to credit them all.  Instead, I drank myself silly and I can’t remember shit.  If it wasn’t for pictures and the list Carie made, I would be lost.

When it came down to closing the night out, we just ended up playing card games in Ck & Carie’s hotel room.  We played Quiddler and I came in last.  Yay!

But we had a great time and I would do it all again next year.  The End.

 

 

 

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Beers I drink, Breweries, Stuff i do when i drink

South Gate Brewing Co.

My April Fool’s Day brewery tour, aka #roadtrip 2016, came to an end at the South Gate Brewing Company located in Oakhurst, California.  This was not my first time at this gastropub and it won’t be my last.  Not because they are the only game in town, but because they make incredible #craftbeer and fresh food with vegetarian options.  That’s all I ever really want: beer and veggie food.  When it comes to these good things in life, @SouthGateBrewCo scores a hit.

We came up from #Fresno and we were in dire need of refreshing drinks before completing the last leg of the trip.  Even though we got there close to 9:00, South Gate was packed.  But this came as no surprise, it is just par for the course.  South Gate has never not been crowded.  Since it opened in 2013, it has been consistently attracting customers that include locals and #Yosemite tourists.

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The old man and I both ordered a James Blonde IPA, mostly because we were attracted to the 7% ABV it boasts.  We managed to find seats in the brewery area where you can spy the fermenting vats and all the inner workings of a brewery.

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I am not amused at the tanks of beer behind me

At first, Sean and I had the same opinion of the beer.  We didn’t like it because it was too bitter and sour.  It was harsh on the tastebuds.  It was light in color so I think we both just expected something a little lighter and smoother.  After a couple of drinks of this IPA, we disagreed.  Sean still wasn’t into it but I got used to the strong taste and enjoyed it after a bit.  The table-talker write-up says it was cold fermented like a lager and double dry hopped, which explains the utter hoppiness of James Blonde.

In the past I have tried the South Gate’s Gold Diggin’ Blonde, which is a golden ale and an all-day lasting 4.7%.  The Gold Diggin’ Blonde is very light and refreshing, I know, I had more than my fair share of them at one time.  Another beer I’ve sampled is the Tenaya Red IPA which is more malty than hoppy and a little piney.

South Gate not only crafts delicious beers, they offer a menu board with all kinds of options.  That night, they had a veggie rice burger that sounded tempting, but we were already full.

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I just read an article from the Sierra Star that talks with South Gate and goes over their plans for expansion.  I say, “Too soon is not soon enough!”  They are always crowded and I have to hunt to find a spot to rest my weary feet.  South Gate is planning on doubling the size of the kitchen and dining areas and they want to feature full-serve dining as well as new, vegan and vegetarian options for the menu.  The tasting area where you can see the fermenting vats will remain the same.

The gastropub is not currently affected by the construction which is scheduled to end sometime in late June.  Just in time for summer season!  So don’t let the work get in your way of having a great time at the South Gate Brewing Co.!

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