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Brewery Visit: Barrel House Brewing Co.

Molly and I had a chance to take a nice drive up to Paso Robles (pronounced row-bowls for some). We spent three days visiting several wineries (I’ll leave the wine reviews to molly’s Bar We There Yet??). We had a chance to visit the wonderful Firestone Walker, where we enjoyed a private tour, and several tastings. Among our usual favorites from this brewery, we were happy to try the Velvet Merkin (Barrel Aged Velvet Merlin – coming in bottles soon).

While searching for other breweries to visit, we came across news for the grand opening of Barrel House Brewing Company, just a mile or so south of Firestone Walker. We were excited to see another large brewery open in the area, but bummed that we would be heading back home just one day before their February 23 Grand Opening. We sent them an email, asking if we could stop by for an early morning visit on Friday, and they graciously obliged.

Barrel House Brewing Co.

Chris took us around the grounds including a beautiful garden, waterfall, and stage for live music. We sampled their Kolsch and their IPA. both were clean and true to style. They talked about getting used to brewing on a much larger system, and the adjustments they intend to make on their tried and true recipes.

Overal, we had a great time meeting the Barrel House Brewing Co. crew, and are looking forward to checking back in with them on our next visit to the area. They are a genuine bunch and are certainly passionate about their craft. We wish them the best of success. Be sure to visit if your passing through.

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Berlin Beer Preparations

This August Molly & I will be heading out to the East coast for some family time, followed by several weeks in Europe, which will be capped off at a close friend’s wedding in the South of France. Needless to say, we are thrilled as we prep for this trip. I love the miniature isle at Target, finally an excuse to buy that mini deodorant. It probably won’t even last the whole trip, but oh well, it’s cute.

Even more exciting is doing the prelim research on what we would like to do during our visit. Although I do appreciate the Lonely Planet type guides for their focus on fun-filled travel, we have found that the Rick Steve’s lineup of travel advice fits our nerdy, history-related interests, and that we can fill in the gaps for our other interests with some well worded google/blog searches (read the latter as beer/wine/food interests). Rick Steve has let us down several times when it comes to restaurant recommendations (read “family-friendly” as “the Chili’s of Brussels!! Yay!”)

Unfortunately, sites like have never done much for us when it comes to finding the beer spots where others don’t expect to find it. This stood out to us on our last trip to Italy, as well as our trip to Spain before that. It seems that if BeerAdvocate users don’t expect good beer to be there, they will convince themselves that it won’t exist. Worse yet, they will go online and tell everyone that it does not exist, thus perpetuating the very lie that denied them the pleasure of great beer abroad. What a shame!

Perhaps we will have time in the future to go back to our notes regarding Milan, Florence, & Venice. In each of these places we read everywhere that there was no craft beer to be found. Tell that to the shopkeeper in Venice that has over 100 bottles of beers decorating his windows, and perhaps more of them filling his numerous display fridges. We found that place on the first day… within about 30 minutes of wandering (perhaps we’ll post on the art of wandering about in a city). The Dog Fish Head collaboration we found the next day at a separate place, and it went great with our meals… I’ll tell you what.

So back to our current travel prep, especially Berlin: our first stop in Europe this August. BeerAdvocate and related sites list a few places that we are certainly looking forward to, and we have already created bookmarks for them on our “OffMaps” App on our IPad. The bulk of these options however, are large scale breweries… we want to go a bit deeper than that. It must be there right?!

So far all we have had to do is search for “German Beer Blog.” The top returns include a site that introduced us to 3-4 bars/breweries/cafes, that BeerAdvocate left out. I wil post the link to that blog here, and simply list those establishments below, in case you are also looking for some Berlin beer spots to enjoy during your next stay.

Provinz Cafe carries Rollberg bier, you also have Eschenbräu, and Bier Kombinat.

So in the end, the point of this ramble is to advocate digging a bit deeper than your usual resources when it comes time to plan your next trip.

Do you have any Berlin beer/food/wine spots you’d like to recommend?