Monday, April 8, 2013

Brewery Tour

This past weekend Ryan and I went on a road trip with some friends and had a BLAST! Two of the guys have birthdays in April, so we thought we would do a little brewery tour to celebrate. Although I am NOT a beer drinker, I know that the guys enjoy the microbreweries and I enjoy the company, so we signed up :).

Our limo (just kidding, it was a minivan – but a pretty sweet one at that) came and picked us up on Saturday around 8am. We had 8 stops on our tour – and one of the ladies was kind enough to lay it all out for us (with directions to each of the stops and estimated time and distance between them all). She even made a coversheet with PowerPoint pictures for the front of the packet of papers :) [if I was thinking about it I should have taken a picture to document it – Ryan joked we should have made shirts with the slide on them].

The first stop (okay, after getting gas and stopping so that Ryan with his small bladder could use the potty) was Cold Springs Tavern. Although this wasn’t a brewery, it was a really cool spot. One of Ryan’s co-workers had told him about it and I am glad we made the stop. We stopped for lunch. The food was YUMMY and the atmosphere was really cool (the carnivores really liked the BBQ and Ryan and I enjoyed our snazzy grilled cheese). The place sort of felt like it was a little cabin in the woods, with a fireplace, different rooms, etc. We stopped and took some pictures at this cool bridge on the way out.

The next stop was Figueroa Mountain Brewing. This was my favorite brewery that was stopped at. Obviously it had NOTHING to do with the beer (since I don’t drink it) – but it was ALL about the OUTDOOR AREA! They had this whole big yard, which was really thought out. They had an area with fire pits and chairs (for the chillier months or evenings), they had picnic tables where you could bring your own food or could even call local places and have them deliver, they had horseshoes, a spot for bocce ball, free space for setting up your own games (one group had brought ladder ball and were setting it up) and even an area where you could bring your dogs and let them run around. This was a great stop, especially since it gave us a chance to stretch our legs, get some fresh mountain air, and just enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

The next place we stopped actually wasn’t on the itinerary. We drove through this really cute (probably very TOURISTY) town and we saw a Viking brewery - Solvang Brewing Company. We decided since that was what the weekend was all about; we would make a pit stop and try it out. The guys were very excited about this one, but were slightly disappointed.  I guess when you think Vikings you have a certain vision in your mind. It was more of just a bar that brewed beer (but not on-sight, at least not that we could see).

On the way out we did have a funny incident. There was a big windmill that we thought we would try and get a group picture in front of. We asked someone walking by if they would take our picture for us. They looked like they knew what they were doing, were really trying to get the angles, etc. We looked at the picture in the car and had to laugh. We were sooooo tiny! It was mostly a picture of the windmill and a bit of our small heads. Oh well – next time we need to explain exactly what we wanted I guess :).

The next brewery on the tour was Pismo Brewing. It was rather empty for a beach town brewery – which should have been our first hint I guess. The awesome thing was that there were games on the tables – so the ladies were set. The guys ordered a couple different tasters and we soon knew we wouldn’t be staying very long. They thought all of them were pretty bad (like watered down and all of the flavoring strained out). They did have root beer floats that some of us partook in – and the ladies played two rounds of Apples to Apples (with the guys being the judges). All in all, we had fun – but would NOT suggest the beer (which is ROUGH when it is a “brewery”).

After this we were on our way to San Luis Obispo (which is where most of the breweries were located). We were trying to get up there in time to watch the Final Four game as well (that was my one request for the weekend). Although we were in the car for most of the day, we definitely made the most of it – having dance parties, listening to comedy, taking tons of pictures, singing at the top of our lunges, etc.

Our next stop was when we reached San Luis Obispo and it was Creekside Brewing. They had a restaurant upstairs and more of a bar atmosphere downstairs. We started downstairs, but then decided it was too dark down there so moved upstairs. The scenery was beautiful – next to a really pretty creek full of ducks and wildlife (hence the name I would guess, hehe). Ryan ended up breaking out the chest strap for the GoPro and walked around the place getting some funny video of the other folks inside. 

After the guys finished their beer (and the girls finished our waters) we decided to go check out the creek. We scampered around a bit, took some pictures, and then decided to walk over to the next stop.

The next stop on the tour was SLO Brewing. This is where we decided to stop and watch the Final Four basketball game. We also ordered dinner here. The guys liked the beer and everyone enjoyed the food. The game started about 40 minutes late (seemed like they were waiting for the arena to clear out from the first Final Four game), so we ended up finishing dinner and drinks around half time. On the way back to the car we saw some fun things – like an alley COVERED IN BUBBLEGUM!

We drove over to the last brewery of the day – Central Coast Brewing. Thankfully they had a TV playing the end of the game. The ladies (except me – since I needed to watch the game) stayed in the car for this stop so they could call around and book us hotel rooms for the evening (nope, we didn’t plan that portion before we hit the road). The guys tried some tasters at this stop. They didn’t like all of them – but there were a few that they did really enjoy.  It was a pretty small area (it was more of a brewery that had a couple tables so that people could try the beer on tap), but they did have some outdoor seating (although we had to sit inside so we could watch the game). This is the stop that we were able to watch the Michigan Wolverines WIN their Final Four game and advance to the National Championship!

The ladies were able to find us hotel rooms (this was actually EXTREMELY difficult – because apparently there was a huge race [not sure if it was a full marathon or just a half] in San Luis Obispo so EVERYTHING was booked) a few towns over. Thankfully we were heading towards Paso Robles the next morning for the final breweries and this was on the way. We hung out a bit before hitting the sack around 10pm.

Ryan and I woke up early the next morning so that we could take a drive out to Lake San Antonio – where the camp that we are going to be volunteering at this summer will be located. We needed to take a couple measurements, and we wanted to see it firsthand so that we actually see what we have been talking about (be able to put a visual with the planning). The drive was beautiful, as was the lake itself. WE WILL HAVE A GOOD TIME – I AM SURE OF IT!

Once we got back from Lake San Antonio we were able to check out of the hotel and pick up the rest of the sleepy crew. We went and grabbed a little breakfast and decided to hit up one of the last stops on the list.

The next brewery on the list was the one that the guys were actually most looking forward to – Firestone Brewery. We decided to try and get there early because they had tours and we figured if we got there early enough on a Sunday we would be able to jump on one of them. When we got there the guys got signed up for the tour. We were told that we had to wear flat, closed toed shoes for the tour. The girls only had flip-flops so we weren’t allowed to go. So what did we do, went to get pedicures in the meantime :). (The guys said that the tour was different than what they were expecting – I guess living by Stone leaves you with you high expectations – and this tour was a little more science-y than they were expecting.)

Once the ladies were done with the pampering and the guys were done with the tour we headed out for some lunch. We figured we would head back towards San Luis Obispo since there seemed to be more food that way, but forgetting that the race everyone was in town for was going on – this meant lots of road closures, detours, etc. We realized during this time that we didn’t get to one of the breweries on the list that was back in SLO, so we were able to stop at the last one – Tap It Brewing. It was a very short stop – mostly because we were hungry at this point, not to mention ready to hit the road and head back home. I heard that they had a cool outdoor area as well (although the Yelp reviews weren’t that great, which is why we almost skipped it altogether).

On the road again... This time we were planning on just a straight shot back to North County. We made a few detours due to bad traffic (taking some back roads instead of the 101), but for the most part it was a pretty direct route back home. EXCEPT for that one stop that Ryan suggested we make because he NEEDED a cow picture :). 

Then we were really on our way. That was until Ryan threw out an idea AGAIN (I think he mentioned this about 10 times throughout the weekend). He wanted to stop at the famous Randy’s Donuts in LA. We looked it up on the map and realized that it was pretty close to the freeway exit, so we made it happen. Of course we needed donuts! They were yummy – and the ladies even all agreed that this was the best stop along the trip, hehe, but maybe that was because there was no beer involved :).

We pulled up to our place at 8pm last night – which meant it was exactly a 36-hour trip. We all had a blast and were pumped that we were able to make it happen such short notice! It is surprising how tired sitting in a car can make you. [After unpacking, showering and getting ready for bed I think I was asleep by 8:45pm]

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