Category Archives: Brewery Reviews

Brewery Travels #21: Boston Area

As I said at the end of my last article, the Boston beer scene has exploded in recent years. While many associate the city with one of the biggest names in the craft industry, gone are the days when the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) was the only major player. The growth is especially evident as you move into the suburbs. Whether you head north to Cambridge, Somerville, and Everett, or drive south to Canton and Norwood, options abound. But make sure to take time…

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Brewery Travels #20: Portland, ME Area

Portland, Maine has established itself as one of the top beer destinations in the Northeast. From established breweries to several newbies, there is plenty for your taste buds to explore. I have visited a dozen breweries in the what I would call the Greater Portland Area. The majority were in Portland itself, with a few scattered in nearby towns. One unfortunate things about visiting so many is that I do not have time to properly write about each place I visit. I’ve selected the four…

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Brewery Travels #19: Vermont

Wow. Vermont lived up to the hype. Everyone in the craft beer community knows about this wonderful state. The most breweries per capita of any state, bucket-list breweries in the small towns that dot the landscape, and more great beers than you can shake a stick at. I did not get to every brewery (only reached 10), but the ones I did blew me away. For this article, I tried to pick four that stuck out the most, but I am hoping to do an…

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Brewery Travels #18: Northeastern Massachusetts

When you think Massachusetts, Boston is generally the first thing that comes to mind. And while we will eventually discuss breweries from the largest city of New England, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to the area north of there. Quaint towns dot the landscape of the Northeast section of the state. From historic and infamous Salem, to Newburyport with its church steeples towering above downtown, it’s a lovely area to visit even without the craft beer. Each of the four breweries…

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(Almost) Every San Diego Craft Brewery, Reviewed

One of San Diego’s 14 GABF2017 medal winners.

It has been a year since I launched my blog, CraftBeerInSanDiego.com, where I chronicle my quest to visit every craft brewery and tasting room in San Diego County. I had originally hoped to get them all done in a year, but the ongoing craft beer boom in San Diego has meant that I have missed that goal. Oh, darn, I have to keep drinking great beer.

When I started out in October of 2016, there were 130+ locations on my list. Now, there are 180+. That’s quite a lot of new places in just a year! That net increase is despite several brewery sales and closures. Don’t let anyone tell you that the craft beer boom is over, at least not in San Diego.

Karl Strauss helped launch the San Diego craft beer scene.

According to information I can find, there are 27 breweries and taprooms in development in San Diego right now, 19 of which are projected to open before the end of 2018. (Check out my monthly updates on the state of beer in San Diego.)
All of which is to say, I haven’t been everywhere yet. But I have been to 153 places already, and that feels like quite an achievement. At least I can say I surpassed my original plan to go to 130+ places in a year. It is just that the goalposts have moved since I started.

A big part of San Diego craft beer success has been the awesome White Labs.

It is probably going to take me an extra 10-15 weeks to finish the rest. (Though in that time additional places are likely to open up!). I made the strategic error of hitting all the places close to my house first. So now just about everything I have left to visit is in North County, quite a drive from my house. I’ve been relying on my girlfriend’s goodwill to drive me out there and be my DD on the way home, but there are limits even to her generosity and patience, so we’ve “only” been doing two or three places per week lately. (Thanks, Sarah! You are awesome!)

There’s a sense in which this quest will never end. No doubt there will be a constant flux in the San Diego beer scene, so new openings are likely to continue at a steady pace (though people keep saying the pace is bound to slow down). I’m good with that: I enjoy going to new breweries.

But I am looking forward to drinking pints instead of tasters all the time, and being able to establish a “local,” somewhere I go regularly. I’ve tried a lot of beer this year, but I’ve missed out on building community at a regular spot, which is an important part of the craft beer scene. I’m also planning to eventually transition to reviewing craft beer bars in addition to breweries. There are a lot of those in San Diego, too, but I’m not going to turn it into another completion quest.

Beer art.

Would I recommend that someone else try this quest? Maybe not. It takes a lot of time, not to mention money. Without accounting for gas, just buying flights at 150 places has cost me in the neighborhood of $1,800 this year. I spend at least three hours per review on average, including driving, drinking, writing, and editing.  750 hours in a year is close to a third of a full time job, even if it is one that requires beer drinking. Then there is all the time I spend on social media trying to draw traffic.

For the average craft beer lover, it might be a better plan to explore the offerings in a single neighborhood near home. There is plenty of beer variety in just about any area of San Diego, so you can get almost all of the experience of a beer quest in a smaller geographical area. Not to mention the fact that most breweries seem to offer 10-20 different beers at any one time. (And they usually rotate their offerings frequently, too.) For folks who just want to say they went to all the breweries, well, go for it. Just take your time–your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

Brewery Travels #17: Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is one of the many beautiful, picturesque, and awe-inspiring places our country has to offer. My wife and I enjoyed spending a couple days driving and hiking around the area, but this is not a vacation series. I had the pleasure of visiting four distinct and delicious breweries that call this part of Maine home. One brewery is actually on Mount Desert Island, while the other three are short drives away in neighboring communities. These breweries are all on the small side,…

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Brewery Travels #16: Coastal New Hampshire (Part 2)

In this article, we work our way down the New Hampshire coast. Starting just south of downtown Portsmouth, we follow Highway 1 down to North Hampton, and then (regular) Hampton. From a slew of IPAs, to some of the most unique brews I’ve sampled, this stretch is certainly memorable when it comes to craft beer. I’ve also decided to include FIVE breweries in this article. It should also be noted that the coast of New Hampshire is a beautiful place, and that enjoying the beaches…

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Brew Werks Brewing – From Beer Supplies to Brewery

Brew Werks Brewing, Plainfield, IL Back in January of 2012, Brandon and Amanda Wright started a small Homebrew shop in Plainfield, Illinois. It was located behind a local Binny’s liquor store and Limestone Brewery. The county would not allow the Wrights to sell homebrew ingredients, so they used their Internet store as a way to get around that pesky restriction. The idea of Internet In-Store pick-ups was born as was arguably the best homebrew shop. Chicago Brew Werks(CBW) was born. Nowadays CBW calls a local coffee…

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Brewery Travels #15: Coastal New Hampshire (Part 1)

Fun fact: New Hampshire has the fewest miles of shoreline of any state that bumps up against the ocean (about 18 ½ to be exact). Within this short stretch are multiple touristy towns with beautiful beaches, an old, quaint city, and of course some great breweries. In this first article, we will mainly focus on Portsmouth (incorporated in 1653). Although Portsmouth may not technically lie on the coast, it is on the Piscataqua River, only a few miles from where it merges with the ocean.…

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Brewery Travels #14: Road Trip (Milwaukee, WI to Portsmouth, NH)

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, my wife recently became a travel nurse. For her first assignment, we left our home in Milwaukee and drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We took three days to get out to the East Coast, and took the scenic route, with stops in places such as Cincinnati, Niagara Falls, and a small town in Vermont. I managed to find time to hit six breweries during this trek. Below, I select and describe my four favorites. Not surprisingly, the breweries were…

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