Got this photo in my inbox today from a riding buddy out west:
Just a nice reminder to watch out on the trails for those random encounters with nature! Rattlesnakes are a pretty common sight out west, as I have seen quite a few in my time. Here in Ohio, rattlesnakes are not as plentiful, but they are out there, so keep your eyes open!
This photo got me thinking though, how many readers out there have seen interesting wildlife on the trails? What have you seen?
Just keep spinning…
Photo thanks to Chip Brent in SoCal. Check out his site here if you are looking to buy a home in the San Diego area!
Sonoma County in California is known for their wine. Wine country… Full of vineyards, Porsches, and tourists pretending to know what the hell they are talking about when it comes to wine. Little do these clueless tourists know that in this very same area there is a place that they will very likely overlook. And what a shame that is. Bear Republic lives in these hills, with that said, enter their Hop Rod Rye:
Since I have recently been digging on rye style beers, this beer popped up on my radar. Here in Ohio, it runs around $11 a four pack, which puts it in that “Questionable Purchase” category. Especially if you are not too into the rye flavor. But let me tell you, if you want to try a new beer/style today, this is where you should start.
The beer pours a nice amber, with an off white head. The smells that float off of the pour are not as strong as one might expect, at least for me, which my sense of smell could be considered faulty. That is the price you pay to be a zookeeper. Anyway, once the beer hits your mouth it is a completely different story. Right off the bat, bitter hops hit your mouth. Not in violent way, but they definitely make their presence known. Following that first impression comes the earthy rye flavor that compliments the hops perfectly. The beer finishes with another twist, this time in the flavor of sweeter malts, which again, compliment the flavors perfectly. One thing to point out, is let this beer warm up just a bit, say, a few minutes before drinking. Ice cold from the refrigerator brings out a slight metallic taste. Once finished with your first though, you will quickly reach for another.
This is a great beer for the rye lover, and the rye novice alike. Just be careful with this hot rod, because it weighs in at 8% ABV. This beer is definitely on my short list of rye favorites. Well done Bear Republic!
San Diego, also known as the whale’s vagina. Also home to around 50 or so craft breweries. During my recent two weeks out west, I tried to find some of the beers that I used to really enjoy and cannot find here in Ohio. I also tried to discover some new beers to lust after once my trip was over. That was accomplished thanks to some friends who live in the quiet little mountain town of Alpine, which is just around 30 miles east of the city. Little did I know that Alpine was the home to one of the finest little breweries that is known to man. You might think that is an exaggeration, but you would be wrong. Enter the Alpine Beer Company:
Located off of I-8, on the main strip of Alpine, you will find this little gem of San Diego county. The brewery is split into two sections, which oddly there is a book store in between the two sides. The book store did look interesting, but every time that I was by the brewery they were closed, which was a good thing since I like book stores. Anyway, the first area that my friend and I walked into was the brewery sales area, which had a variety of Alpine Beer company goods, and also sells their beer directly via growlers and 22oz bottles, no sixers here.
After spending some time chatting with their friendly staff, with me basically pestering them to ship beer to Ohio, (Which was responded with, “Yeaah, that’s not going to happen”) my friend and I walked to the other side of the beer company, their brewpub.
This is where the magic happens, when it comes to beer. Everything that I had from them was delightful. Sometimes I overuse that word, but drinking their beer was downright enjoyable. First up was a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout by the name of Odin’s Raven.
Odin’s Raven was an amazing beer. What I remember: The bourbon alcohol flavor hits you at the first sip, but then you are overtaken by malty chocolate tones, but not too sweet, and finishes off like a stout should. It also clocked in at around 11% ABV, which makes it a very heavy hitter. Definitely a must have from a company that is more known for their hop varieties.
Next on my plate was their Chez Monieux, which was a Belgian style Kriek. I have not had too many of this style to give a great run down, but it was a sour, tart cherry carbonated blast that had a dry wine like finish, which makes sense, since it was aged in wine barrels. Good, but not normally my thing. I was glad that I had it though.
I finished off my tasting with their Alpine Ale, and also some of their Nelson IPA, both of which were again, delightful. Add these beers to the two that I have reviewed earlier in the week, and that equals one of my new favorite breweries. Be sure to check out their website here to learn more about this fantastic company, do not miss them if you are in the San Diego region. Big thanks to my friend Jimmy for taking me to the place (And letting me stay at your house!), and my friend Thom for the recommendation!
Well done Alpine!
Since tonight is the last night of my California trip, I thought I would finish it off with another walk with the Alpine beer company. With this selection, I feel that I have had enough of their products to make the call; this is one of my favorite brewers. Every single product that I have had from them has been stellar. But alas, I am getting the cart before the horses. Let’s talk about their Duet IPA.
Once you spend a little time at the Alpine Beer Company, you will get the impression that hops are a big deal there. And you would be correct. Hops play a huge part of their line up, especially when you think of beers with the name, “Pure Hoppiness.” Their Duet is no exception.
Once the beer is opened, hops punch you in the face. The smell of this beer is amazing, which I would imagine even makes hop masters like Stone blush a bit. Very fragrant citrusy hops, almost floral like, with a good touch of pine. Transfer that to your taste buds, and the favors remain. Only the taste is so much smoother. For an IPA clocking in at 7%, this is one of the easiest drinking beers that I have ever had. A beer like this would definitely get me into trouble. One of the best beers that I have had in a while.
This beer finishes up my two weeks in California with a great finish. If you have the chance to make it out to the small mountain town of Alpine, do not miss this brewery. And they have a nice brewpub to boot. Well done Alpine, now ship your products to Ohio!
During my time out here in the West Coast, I have found myself scanning and scanning the beer isles looking for brews that I have not seen before. There are so many regional beers on this side of the states, that this process can take quite a bit of time. Luckily, I am staying at a friends house out in the amazing mountain town of Alpine, which just so happens to have a brewery. What a sweet coincidence. While I have not been to the brewery itself, (coming soon I promise) I did happen to find this guy hanging out at the local beer store. Enter Alpine Beer Company’s Captain Stout.
This beer pours out of the 22 oz. bomber bottle like a good stout should, nice and black. A decent (for a stout) head comes with that, which is more sticky than one might expect, and leaves a nice lacing pattern on your glass. Smell wise, this is a straight up stout, with a good malt aroma. Taste wise, this beer delivers. It has a nice, smooth, creamy flavor, with notes of chocolate mixed in as well. Definitely one of the better stouts that I have found in my travels. I will be taking a bottle or two back to Ohio with me when that time comes!
Since I am staying in Alpine for the next few days, it is only fitting that I make a trip to the brewery to see what else is on tap with this brand. If everything else is a fine as their stout, then they have a new believer. Be sure to check out their website here.
Well done Alpine!
Spent a solid two hours after work this evening back at Mission Trails regional park. This is one of my favorite places in the San Diego area, only around 20-25 minutes from the city proper. No excuses for those yuppie surfer types on how far away the mountains are. Yah bruh.
One of my favorite hikes in the park is the climb up to North Fortuna peak. Not the highest mountain in the range, but definitely the most secluded, and one could argue the most difficult. Most folks head over to Cowles mountain, which at 1591′ or so, is the tallest peak in the city. Two facts here: 1. Cowles is pronounced “coals,” and 2. Cowles mountain is higher than 8 different states’ highest points. Amazing right? Thought you might like those.
Anyway, I started my hike at the grasslands parking area, which dropped me into one of my favorite trails, Oak canyon. Rocky does not even begin to describe it. Here is a small taste:
In the rainy season, this canyon is green beyond green, with many different pools and waterfalls that are a pleasure to see. No joke. After this favorite trail, it was on to one of my least favorite parts of the hike, what I like to call the wall.
This climb, going up to the saddle between North and South Fortunas, is like climbing a loose granite gravel service road, that at points decides to go straight up. Not the most technical climb in the world, but quite the workout on your legs. I climbed this road once on my mountain bike a while back. That day was one of the worst of my life.
Once climbing that horrid piece of tilted Earth, you start your final climb to the summit, which is a narrower dusty trail that gets only a quarter or less of the traffic of nearby Cowles mountain. I like Cowles, but being alone on Fortuna is pretty amazing.
At the top, amazing views all around, views down into Mexico, the Pacific, downtown, out east to the Cuyamacas, etc. On a clear day, it is something to see.
After hanging at the summit for a bit, I loaded my camera gear back into my Osprey Talon pack and headed back down the trail. Once back in the canyon, the lights were getting dim, so I alternated hiking with trail running to make it back to the car before dark. Total mileage of around 3 or 4 miles I would guess, and a total of 2 hours hiking time. Such a great hike, and so close to the city. One of my favorites…
While out and about yesterday in Ocean Beach, I spotted this beauty chained to a post outside of a local establishment. I love to see bikes like this getting some action. Well done San Diego high wheeler!
Now if only Surly would build one of these!
Just keep spinning…