Article by: Eric Blumenfeld,
Beerspoke Tours CEO
Baby, it's cold outside. That's the bad news. Actually, the bad news is that it's freezing out, it's only January, there's some nasty virus going around, the world's going directly to hell and there are no good games on TV tonight (in no particular order of importance).
The good news? We're here to help you escape. As the beer travel folks, we have a few suggestions for warm weather locations that also offer fantastic brews. Obviously, this is a wildly abridged list, because we don't have space for a list of hundreds...but let's go!
1) Maui, Hawaii -- Maui Brewing Co.
Maui. An island in Hawaii. "Of" Hawaii? "Within"? Whatever. Point is...Hawaii. You want a getaway to a tropical paradise? Maui is what happens when paradise is challenged to step up its paradise game and, instead of cowering in the corner, rises to the damn occasion. Gorgeous beaches, beautiful parks, spectacular hotels...and Maui Brewing Company. With 2 locations on the island (and one in Honolulu) -- one in Kihei, is the brewery, tasting room and new restaurant; the other is a brewpub in Lahaina (which is actually the original brewery location) -- you can't go wrong for tasty grub, friendly service, relaxed outdoor space at the brewery and, most importantly, delicious, perhaps underrated beers. Try: everything, but definitely the Coconut Hiwa Porter (one of their flagship brews) and the Mosaic Mo' Betta (a double IPA that remains pretty easy to drink, with sweet, citrusy notes).
2) San Diego, CA -- North Park Beer Co.
We covered San Diego in an earlier post, so I won't go into all the reasons the place is magical. Just know that it is, and read our blog if you really want specifics. Of course, there are so many breweries to choose from here, including the larger and more well known. But we're going with North Park Beer Co., because of a mix of stellar beers of styles across the board (with probably a little bend towards IPAs) and big, beautiful interior, with huge windows and natural light up front, beautiful lighting further back and wood paneling and exposed beams everywhere. It's also located in a loaded area for beer geeks, with tons of other options once you've spent a bit of time here.
3) Tampa Bay Area, FL -- Cycle Brewing
It's cold where you are. It's warm in Tampa Bay. Might not be the first place you think of for a warm-weather getaway, but it's got a laid back vibe, plenty of cultural and art attractions, parks and hiking trails...and a surprisingly thriving craft beer scene. Who knew? Well, now you do. There are plenty of terrific local breweries like 7venth Sun and Cigar City, in Tampa (though Cigar City has sold to Oskar Blues, now owned by a Boston area private equity firm). But we're choosing Cycle in St. Petersburg for our one. A small taproom offers a few frills, open air (via garage door), let's-focus-on-the-beer-and-good-conversation atmosphere to go with their stellar beer selection, with a strong, and impressive showing in the imperial stout category.
4) Austin, TX -- Friends & Allies Brewing
Austin has the weather (usually) and an amazing nightlife, geared to the college set, the just-past-college set, the wish-I-was-still-in-college set, and the fully-grown-adults-who-still-love-fun set. Now think about a place like this having a beer scene. Well, it does, and Friends & Allies is where you need to go. Huge place, with modern, minimalist decor, tons of natural light, outdoor space for MORE natural light, board games, and all the beer...with a heavy-duty feel-good focus on charitable causes and community outreach. Supporting them means supporting good causes...and, you know, drinking solid solid brews.
5) Cabo San Lucas, Mexico -- Restaurante Bar Ramuri
SPRING BREEEEEAAAA...sorry, old habits. But that mindset is here, if you want it. Looking for wild parties by the ocean? Check. Prefer some more secluded beach time, with remarkably picturesque scenery? Got that too. Want to hit up some nightclubs? Do it. Prefer a more tame evening, at a delicious local restaurant? Great.
Want beer? NOW we're talkin'! Restaurante Bar Ramuri is going to perfectly top off all that stuff we mentioned above. The brewery was founded in Tijuana, but their popular brewpub in paradise is something you don't want to miss. First, it'll mean you're in Cabo. So, good on you. Second, inside, you'll find a solid selection of beer brewed on-site, in a range of styles, but with a focus on the darker, especially stouts. Try the Lagrimas Negras, listed as an Oatmeal Stout, but with an imperial abv of 10%. And after a few of these, try their food. It's outstanding! And it'll help sop up some of that 10%.