After a one year hiatus, Merideth and I returned to the Santa Cruz Mountains for our traditional Christmas tree hunt.
Johnson Farm in Boulder Creek was festive on the bright, chilly Sunday morning. Families roamed the little forest searching for the right tree while a crowd on the hill roared in delight as they rolled pumpkins down the hill.
In this jolly atmosphere, Merideth and I set out to find 2011’s edition of our perfect tree. Usually a lengthy process, we almost picked the very first tree that we came across. While not quite perfect, we passed on “Stubby” because picking the first tree didn’t seem quite right. But it was only a few minutes later that we found “Wildwood”, our tree.
Merideth and I broke tradition last year because Boulder Creek Brewing, our long-established post Christmas tree hunt stop, wasn’t brewing at the time. While that might seem trivial, in our minds this opened the doors for an alternative plan. At the time, we were on the quest to reach 600 breweries so we opted to head south where there were breweries to add to the List. While we struggled with the unfamiliar Christmas tree farm, we did get two new breweries that day.
In the subsequent year, Boulder Creek began brewing again. We heard good things about the new brewer and his brews.
Sitting down at the bar, it felt good to be back at Boulder Creek. I started with Dragon’s Breath IPA while Merideth began with Golden Kölsch. Dragon’s Breath was a really nice beer even though it wasn’t an over-the-top type of IPA I usually enjoy. Merideth’s Kölsch-style was wonderfully crisp and flavorful.
The bartender also poured us a sample of Quick Hollow Pumpkin Ale. Made with 175 pounds of local pumpkins, Quick Hollow was subtly spiced and had a really full mouth feel that accentuated the spices. It was even better as the Dreaded Pumpkin, a 50-50 mix with their 7.5% ABV Dreadnought Ale.
In years past, we would have eaten at Boulder Creek as well, but I had a hankering for some German food, so we drove a few miles back down the hill to Ben Lomond and the Tyrolean Inn. The first customers of the day, we enjoyed the warm and cozy dining room to ourselves.
Lunch was a little slice of German heaven in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Merideth had the uber-cheesy Käsespätzle with a Spaten Helles. I chose the Bratwurst, potatoes and sauerkraut with a Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen. We miss Germany!
All that was left was to return home to decorate the tree. With a roaring fire, our favorite Christmas shows playing in the background and Peter B’s Brewpub Hazelnut Brown in our glasses, Merideth and I decorated our perfect tree. Even the dogs got into the Christmas mood, with Porter donning his reindeer ears and Stout sporting a Santa hat. It was a great way to start the 2011 Christmas season.
View all the images from our day…