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Monterey Peninsula Urban Beer Hike

For whatever reason, the section of California’s Central Coast that Merideth and I call home has always been immune to the beer revolution happening all over the country. Of course this has been a great disappointment to us. Luckily, the craft beer revolution appears to have finally come to our little beer backwater. While the Monterey Peninsula won’t be in the running for “America’s Best Beer City” anytime soon, the progress in our beer scene over the last year has been very encouraging. Wanting to highlight this positive development, Merideth and I planned a Monterey Peninsula Urban Beer Hike.

A foggy Sunday morning in Monterey

On a foggy Sunday morning, Merideth and I got off the bus in downtown Monterey and headed to the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. Stretching 18 miles from Pacific Grove to Castroville, one of the nice features of our Urban Beer Hike route was that 75%-80% of it would be done on this paved recreation path. Joining the throng of Labor Day weekend tourists, we headed towards Cannery Row and our first destination.

The aptly named Trailside Cafe

We rendezvoused with our fellow hikers, Dave, Kevin and Corrie at Trailside Cafe, conveniently located off the recreation trail. Owned by our friend Sean, Trailside is mostly known as a breakfast/brunch/lunch establishment. However, Sean caught the craft beer bug several years ago and his restaurant features a small but nice selection of domestic and international craft beer.

Brunch at Trailside Cafe

With over five miles to cover and five stops planned, a proper brunch was a key to our Urban Beer Hike. Merideth went for scrambled eggs with bacon paired with Paulaner’s Hefeweizen, a traditional German breakfast beer. I started with “Seanie’s Delight,” an egg, cheese and bacon breakfast sandwich. Knowing it was going to be a long day, I began my Urban Beer Hike with a lower ABV brew, Scrimshaw Pilsner from North Coast Brewing. As we enjoyed our delicious food, our group chatted about our upcoming adventure.

Cannery Row Brewing Company

The second stop of the day was located only a hundred or so yards up the recreation trail. Cannery Row Brewing Company, which celebrated it’s first anniversary a few months back, was unexpectedly quiet when we arrived around noon. I guess the hordes of tourists weren’t quite ready for a beer. We, on the other hand, were very ready for beer!

CRBC was just a quick beer stop in our day’s schedule. Our quintet ordered a variety of beers from their selection of 70 plus brews on tap. Since it was a rarity in our area, I went with the Rodenbach Grand Cru. Merideth drank North Coast’s Le Merle, with a New Belgium 1554, Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere and El Toro’s Poppy Jasper rounding our group’s beers.

Peter B's Brewpub at the Portola Plaza Hotel

The sun finally made an appearance as we set out on our first long leg of the Urban Beer Hike. It was a little over a mile to Peter B’s Brewpub. I have talked a lot about Peter B’s in recent months. While there are a number of positive things going on in our beer community, in my estimation, the rebirth of Peter B’s was the most important development of all.

A day-old Belgian-style Witbier

Squeezing our five-some into the only available outside table, we settled into trying some of the latest creations from Kevin, Peter B’s brewer. A bevy of the house brews, including the Blonde, Amber and IPA were eagerly consumed after the mile-long walk. Then several of us indulged in Kevin’s newest seasonal: Dark Side. A 5.5% ABV jet black ale, Dark Side was bold and assertive, the closest thing to a shot a espresso I have ever had in a beer.

Having Peter B’s brewer on our beer hike had it’s advantages. Kevin disappeared for a short time and reappeared with a beaker of his Belgian-style Witbier that he had brewed the previous day. It still had the malt-sweet taste of wort, but there were definitely hints that this brew is going to be a winner.

Three miles deserves a beer

It was very relaxing on Peter B’s patio, as we enjoyed Kevin’s beer and hospitality, chatted and listened to the Greek music from a nearby festival. But as with all beer hikes, there is a time to move on and we needed to move on. Upcoming was the biggest leg of the day, almost three miles to Post No Bills.

Heading north along the recreation trail, we passed the beach crowds lounging in the sun. The last few hundred yards of this leg, we finally departed the pedestrian path for the city streets. In just under an hour, we were sitting at Post No Bills’ stainless steel bar.

Merideth enjoying the Almanac at Post No Bills

Some thirst quenching brews were ordered first. Several of us started with the Weihenstephan Hefeweizen with Drake’s 1500 Pale Ale being another popular choice.

With our thirst quenched it was time to drink something REALLY special. I grabbed the last bottle of Almanac Summer 2010 that Post No Bills had in stock. What an amazing brew to finish up the fourth stop!

The last planned stop of the day was the wonderful German restaurant, Stammtisch, in Seaside. Our group was really looking forward to some good German food and beer to end the day. In fact, we had talked about it all day long.

Beer can soothe any disappointment...

I called Stammtisch the previous day to confirm their opening time. Finishing the call with “See you tomorrow evening,” I never thought we would need reservations. We have never had to make reservations at Stammtisch. Unfortunately, we needed them on this night. We could have had a table if we came back two hours later, but that wasn’t very convenient. Even the collective look of disappointment on each Urban Beer Hiker’s face wasn’t enough to get us squeezed in.

After picking up some food at a nearby noodle house, we returned to Post No Bills to finish out the night. With the added mileage of going to Stammtisch and back to Post  No Bills, we covered close to seven miles. We had a good day with our friends and enjoyed some wonderful beer. Thanks to Sean at Trailside and Kevin at Peter B’s for their hospitality.

View all the images from our Monterey Peninsula Urban Beer Hike…

Map of the five stops

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