By the time this article is published, most Americans will have faltered — or forgotten — their New Year’s resolutions. I am happy to report that I successfully maintained my annual commitment, one that I have pledged to again this year: Supporting local, independent craft breweries and taprooms.
Even in my travels across the country and abroad, I seek out small, unique, independently-owned businesses. I find that they always have a story to share as well as terrific beers, unlike the mainstream and larger brewery options. More often than not, I get to meet an equally impressive owner, brewer or team member.
Here is my 2023 Beer in Review:
January: I rang in the New Year with a Gold Medal-winning beer, Rye Dawn brown ale from Breakwater Brewing Company. The CoLab Public House, which houses Breakwater Brewing, has been a go-to spot when meeting up with friends and family who also want to enjoy a glass of wine. (Vista)
February: On the Central Coast, I enjoyed an El Tambor Mexican Lager with Noelle Dubois, owner of Bang the Drum Brewery in San Luis Obispo. I also had one of their homemade chicken pot pies and cookies baked on the premises.
March: Puna Pils, an outstanding pilsner brewed by Tipping Pint’s Adam Jester. Jester shared his story and quite a few of the Tipping Pint lineup that day. Good day. The story of Tipping Pint and a review of several beers can be found in the archives for this article. (Oceanside)
April: Because the quality of a beer is enhanced by time, place, and the people with whom it is enjoyed, the Cul Dorcha dark ale I had in Dingle, Ireland, at Tig Bhric Pub & West Kerry Brewing was one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Ever. And I’ve had a lot of very good beers. Check the archives for this heartwarming story.
May: After a long wait, I was able to gain membership to Horus Aged Ales! And even though I didn’t get to take a bottle home until quite a while later, it was quite an experience to visit Horus Aged Ales and meet owner-brewer Kyle Hallop in Oceanside. (Now that I’ve enjoyed several, the wait was well worth it.)
June: One of the smallest nanobreweries I’ve ever stumbled across, Three Mile Brewing in downtown Davis is a beer for a beer and one of the best breweries you’ll find. It’s impossible for me to pass near Davis without stopping for a Honey Blonde made with locally sourced honey and a hint of orange peel.
July: I stumbled upon The Ale Apothecary in Bend, Oregon, on my way to a favorite place, Good Life Brewing. The tasting room was only open for forty-five more minutes, but it was a very impressive short visit. Unique wild and sour ales made using “ancient arts” and modern innovations. I left with several bottles.
August: In an earlier trip to Seattle, my visit to Georgetown Brewing had been thwarted. So, this trip was highly anticipated. Instead of chastising myself for missed opportunities, I relished in the absolutely mind-boggling number of excellent beers. Manny’s Pale Ale may be the best pale ale I’ve ever tasted. I had several to reassess and confirm that judgment.
September: When it’s September, local beer enthusiasts know you head to Eppig Brewing for Festbier. “Festbier is the best beer,” claims co-owner Clayton LeBlanc. In September, he’s absolutely right. (Vista)
October: This month, I met Chris Leguizamon, a beer educator at Pure Project. Chris walked me through several tastings. His notes and guidelines for tasting have had a lasting impact on how I sample beer. Astral Infusion is a barrel-aged sour made with pluots and elderflower. Find it, try it. (Vista)
November: Owners Mike and Ewa Zane celebrated Inzane Brewing’s 1st year anniversary with a Golden Ale that was a shocking 9%. This golden strong ale was smooth and warming, with a slight malty sweetness. (Vista)
December: On an 80-degree December day after Christmas, I enjoyed a sandwich and a Mad Neighbor blonde ale on the back patio of Culver Beer Company. Not a bad way to end 2023. (Carlsbad)
I am proud to say I have continued my resolution into 2024. See you out at our local breweries!