Our Local Beer Scene: Valley Greens Gallery

As you know, the Monterey Peninsula has its fair share of art galleries; not that Chris and I are into that sort of thing. Or so we thought…

Beer and art in Carmel Valley village

Several years ago, Valley Greens Gallery opened in Carmel Valley Village. Full of funky urban artwork, we mostly drove past it wondering what the heck it was and how it would ever survive in the Village, a place where every other storefront is a wine tasting room (and that’s no exaggeration!). But when we heard that artists/owners Leah Fusco and Neil Kirkpatrick wanted to add beer and cider to their gallery offerings, we knew we had to do our part to help the gallery survive. Nothing like having a good beer spot walking distance from your home.

The addition of beer came out of Leah and Neil’s love for the stuff (they own a bar in Birmingham, Alabama), as well as a desire to serve beer and cider at the art classes and private functions offered at the gallery. Add alcohol and even the self-proclaimed worst artist in the world begins to feel like Picasso or Van Gogh. Beer, art, and friends–what a wonderful way to pass a few hours!

Now you don’t have to wait for an art class or hold your own private function. Beer, art, and friends can be enjoyed at any time the gallery is open. A mellow alternative to the bar a few doors down that has been a Village staple for decades, Valley Greens Gallery is like going to a friend’s house for a few beers before heading home.

Enjoying beer and art

Seating 7 at the bar, it is very likely you will run into someone you went to school with. And by school, I mean elementary school. But whether or not you have known each other your whole lives, the bar becomes one big conversation about miscellaneous stuff–the artwork, beer, local events, and even a bit of good-natured Village gossip. Everyone is welcome and you never feel like that loner at the end of the bar drinking alone. Leah is almost always behind the bar with her broad smile, 3 taps, numerous bottles, and sometimes a few bar snacks. Valley Greens doesn’t serve food, but bringing in your own is certainly allowed.

So, the next time you come out to Carmel Valley Village to enjoy the sunshine, be sure to stop by Valley Greens Gallery, located at 16A East Carmel Valley Rd. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday 11am-late evening. Be sure to tell Leah that Chris and Merideth sent you!

Our Local Beer Scene: Toast Carmel Valley

With sunny and warm weather returning to Carmel Valley, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce the latest entry to the Monterey Peninsula beer scene — Toast Carmel Valley. In the heart of Carmel Valley village, Toast is a locally-owned, neighborhood bistro that opened in September 2010.

Merideth and I love where we live in Carmel Valley. Unfortunately, our beer options are very limited. Either we could  go into town, a half hour drive, or hang out at our only local option, the redneck bar with a pretty standard selection of beer. More often than not, we ended having a beer a home.

Our local beer hang out

So, it goes without saying that Merideth and I were really excited to learn about the coming of Toast. While not really a beer bar or pub, Toast, with its casual atmosphere and friendly staff, is a great place to drink a beer and relax with friends. With it’s welcoming atmosphere and dog-friendly outside seating, Toast will be OUR place to hang out in Carmel Valley Village during the Summer season.

The taps at Toast Carmel Valley

I don’t need a gazillion beer selections at my local. Toast has six taps with our staple brews being Green Flash West Coast IPA, Allagash White and North Coast Scrimshaw. Offerings from Lost Abbey and Port Brewing also are regularly featured in the draft beer line up. As for bottles, there are 15-20 to chose from including all-time favorites Rodenbach and Allagash Black.

My usual dinner entree... Fettucine with Local Foraged Mushrooms, Humbodlt fog and Truffles

To be honest, I wasn’t really concerned about the food they planned to serve. It was all about the beer for me. However, the food has been the pleasant surprise. All the dishes are simple, reasonably priced and delicious. A few things on the menu that Merideth and I regularly order:

  • Marinated Olives, Hummus, Roasted Garlic with House Flatbread
  • Monterey Calamari with Green Grapes
  • Mussels Steamed in Reisling Butter with Frites
  • Fettucine with Local Foraged Mushrooms, Humboldt Fog and Truffles
  • Roasted Chicken with Mascarpone Enriched Orzo

And the desserts are excellent too!

From its sunny deck, Merideth and I will be spending many an afternoon and evening enjoying a few beers and watching Carmel Valley life pass by.