2011 Christmas Tree Hunt

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

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.

A successful Christmas tree hunt

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 back at Boulder Creek Brewing

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.

A few beers at Boulder Creek Brewing

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.

The Tyrolean Inn in Ben Lomond

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!

Chris doing his best Bumble imitation

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…

My Firkin Tapping Debut

A girl, a mallet, a beer and a firkin

It’s good to have friends in the right places. Thursday night I had the honor of tapping the second firkin at Peter B’s Brewpub (Thanks, Kevin!). Chris was beer-tending at Post No Bills, so I had Corrie Clark (wife of Peter B’s brewer Kevin) video my firkin tapping debut so Chris could see it.

The beer was the Organic Belly Up Blonde and I was a bit nervous. The mallet seemed heavy, the tap I had to hit small, the angle of the swing awkward. You name it, I worried about it. I was most concerned, however, that I wouldn’t hit it hard enough and I’d end up getting showered with beer. Brewer Kevin assured me that I’d be fine, but I didn’t really believe him. Sure enough, though, he was right. You can see the whole thing on video.

The beer was delicious! I can’t wait for the Hazelnut Brown firkin later this month!


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Firkin Fun at Peter B’s Brewpub

In another sign that the beer scene on the Monterey Peninsula is moving in the right direction, Peter B’s Brewpub tapped their very first firkin on Wednesday night.

Dark Side Ale

Brewer Kevin Clark did the honors of tapping the firkin and I had the honor of getting the first (and last) pint. The beer was the wonderfully aggressive, espresso-bomb Dark Side Ale. In the firkin, Dark Side morphed into a tasty mellow brew with strong notes of mocha and coffee. A huge hit amongst the many gathered at Peter B’s, the firkin was dry in less than three hours.

I look forward to the next firkin, a dry-hopped IPA.

Watch Kevin tap the firkin

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