The year is over and it’s time to look back and reflect on 2009. Over the course of year, we made two trips to Europe and one to Australia. Closer to home, we participated in the first SF Beer Week, hosted Monterey Beer Festival and attended the eighth Sierra Nevada Beer Camp. We also managed to squeeze in our first trips to New York City and Maine. Adding 74 breweries to “the List” in 2009, the highlight of our beer year was both of us reaching 500 on our trip to Maine in October.
In compiling my ‘best of the year list’, I’m taking a little different tack for 2009. Following is a list of my ten favorite beer places of the year that were new for us.
Auburn Ale House – Auburn, CA: We visited Auburn Ale House on my birthday trip to Sacramento. Quoting myself from the blog about the trip… “I will admit that it takes a lot for a brewpub to ‘WOW’ us these days but Auburn Alehouse managed to do just that.” Great food (order the Asian Nachos with Ahi Tuna), great beer and good friends made Auburn Ale House one of the memorable breweries of 2009.
Avery Brewing – Boulder, CO: Avery had been on my list of ‘must visit’ breweries for some time. We finally got there on our trip to Colorado in February for Beerdrinker of the Year contest. Beer travel is about drinking beers at the source and to finally have beers like Maharaja and Salvation at the brewery was a wonderful experience. We also got to meet Adam Avery.
The Palace – Dublin, Ireland: Proof that craft beer is on the rise in Ireland, mainstream pubs are featuring the likes of Galway Hooker and Carlow Brewing. The Palace Bar, a cozy boozer in Temple Bar, is one such pub. Long noted as the bar for writers and journalists, the Palace is also a pub where I get to enjoy a pint of Galway Hooker in Dublin.
Cwellyn Arms – Rhys Ddu, Wales: It is always nice to find a beer place by chance. After a day of driving around Snowdonia National Park, we took the long route back to our B&B. Driving through a small village, Merideth spotted a sign that said “9 Real Ales 9 Days a Week.” We had to stop. Turns out Cwellyn Arms is a CAMRA award winning pub, catering to hikers, bikers and others enjoying the natural beauty of that part of Wales. A great place to spend the afternoon…
Königlicher Hirschgarten – Munich, Germany: The plan for our day in Munich was to visit three or four beer gardens that we hadn’t been to yet. We made it to just one, the Hirschgarten, the former royal hunting lodge just outside the city center. Our visit coincided with a Trachtentag, a day when locals showed up in traditional dress. We spent the afternoon in Munich’s largest beer garden people watching, playing scrabble and drinking liters of Augustiner.
Brauerei Schumacher – Düsseldorf, Germany: This is an acknowledgment of what a wonderful time we spent in Düsseldorf and the four Alt breweries we visited. My favorite of the four was Brauerei Schumacher, located a short ten minute walk from the Altstadt. Loved the food, the beer garden and their Altbier had a nice hop bite.
Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn, NY: Never a huge fan of Brooklyn’s beers, I became a huge fan of their Friday night brewery party during our August visit. Friends gather around large tables, drink Brooklyn beer, play games, and chat. Delivery pizza can be ordered from a number of nearby pizzerias. Despite saying that I am not a fan, I really enjoyed Local 1, Local 2, and Blast, their Double IPA.
Novare Res Bier Café – Portland, ME: Over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to visit some of best beer bars in the United States. I would now include Novare Res in that grouping. Besides the comprehensive, Ringwood-free beer list, Novare Res has a friendly and knowledgeable staff in a setting that made me feel like I was in Belgium. I can’t wait to visit during the summer to take advantage of their beer garden.
Bridge Road Brewers – Beechworth, Australia: It was a three brewery race between Sweetwater Brewing, Bright Brewery and Bridge Road Brewers for my favorite on the High Country Brewery Trail. I loved all three but if I had to pick just one for this list it would be Bridge Road. Loved the beer… loved the setting… I just wish they were open more during our stay in Beechworth.
Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel – Sydney, Australia: We love brewery/hotels and the Lordie had everything we look for in man’s greatest invention. Good beer, very nice accommodations in a historic setting made for a wonderful experience. And I can’t forget to mention the working WiFi, a rarity in our time Down Under. The Lord Nelson was an excellent home base for our past few days in Australia.
Now it is time to look forward to 2010 and what great beer experiences the coming year has to offer… stay tuned.