Beer trip across the West Coast

Discussion in 'Pacific' started by groperfish, Apr 17, 2013.

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  1. groperfish

    groperfish Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2011 Australia

    Hi all, fulfillment of a childhood dream to visit the states: will be there in a month for a month! So excited and a great majority of the trip will be beer/brewery tour. Will be travelling all way from San Diego to Vancouver. Mostly train but will hire car as needed.

    Would appreciate any beer related suggestions. So far, I'd like to try (and/or visit) the following:
    • Stone
    • Green flash
    • Ballast point
    • Karl Strauss (not my fav but can be convinced)
    • Hess Brewing
    • Alpine (maybe not, a bit of a drive and might be able to get on tap/bottle in Cali)
    • Lost abbey
    • Mission
    • San Marco's
    • Bottle craft beer shop & tasting room
    • Underbelly
    • Hamiltons tavern
    • Blindlady ale house
    • Toronado
    • Russian river
    • Lagunitas
    • McMenamins, Portland
    • Bridgeport
    • McTarnahan's tap room
    • Deschutes
    • Sierra Nevada (if can easily/affordable make to Chico, and if the consensus is that I should definitely go...we get a lot of SN brews here in Australia.)
    • Rogue
    • Victory
    • Kern
    Would appreciate any suggestions. If there are any must do's - for example, PtY release, breweries or beers which I really should try, etc. I'm a big DIPA fan.

    Thanks guys. I am so looking forward to this, you have no idea.

    Thanks for your help. Adam
    Centennial likes this.
  2. rmdownward

    rmdownward Aspirant (294) Feb 10, 2007 California

    Nice wish list. Only problem I see is that many, if not most of these, are not close to the rail. You way just want to rent a car for the whole thing.
    Centennial likes this.
  3. theconductor

    theconductor Aspirant (209) Nov 4, 2008 California

    Your Portland list needs some help! I'm sure you posted in the NW forum, but skip McTarnahan's and McMenamins for better places such as Bailey's Taproom, Henry's, Cascade, Hair of the Dog and Upright. All a short walk or cab ride from the Amtrak station.

    Beer Revolution, The Trappist and Linden St. Brewing are all near by the Oakland stop. Sacramento has some good spots downtown that will require a short cab ride from the depot. Where are you planning on getting off of the train on your trip?
    RobertV916 likes this.
  4. CenCalMario

    CenCalMario Initiate (132) Jan 12, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    The Sierra Nevada trip is well worth it, the best tour imaginable and the pub has 20 beers on tap... of which a bunch that don't see distribution or are special one-offs.
  5. hopsputin

    hopsputin Meyvn (1,014) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    That's a hell of a list. I'd throw The Bruery and Hair of The Dog in there
  6. mhksuccess

    mhksuccess Zealot (576) Jul 7, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    In the SF area: hit Drakes
    In Santa Barbara: Hollister has amazing IPA and DIPA selection
    In Orange County: Beechwood has some nice stuff and Bootleggers makes Knuckle sandwich nice DIPA and of course the Bruery great sours and varitey has a nice hoppy lager you might like
    In San Diego: MUST STOP Societe great IPAs

    ALSO let you know Kern is way out of the way from anything at least probably 2 hr plus drive for you
    Centennial likes this.
  7. suncrust

    suncrust Initiate (161) Apr 17, 2011 Washington
    Beer Trader

    This should help you with your PDX excursion :

    Skip Rogue, Bridgeport, & McMenamins. Way better spots in Portland and lots of really easy, walkable crawls. Public transit is great. Don't miss the Commons, Upright, Cascade, HotD, & Belmont Station. Also, Apex is a must, and bring cash. Rent a car and go to Hood River. Logsdon, pFriem, Double Mountain, Solera.... and some awesome scenery/hiking.

    Nothing from WA on this list (can't say I'm surprised....) are you heading up to Vancouver, BC or Vancouver WA?

    If you hit Seattle, just put Fremont Brewing, Rebuen's Brews, & Black Raven on your radar. Lots of bars like Brouwers, Bottleworks & Pine Box are worthy adversaries. Chuckanut Brewing if you hit Bellingham for some of the best German biers in the country.

    This might help you with ideas for WA:
  8. Sam_Frank

    Sam_Frank Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2012 California

    I 2nd renting a car for the whole trip. Some rental agencies will let you drop your car at a different location. leave from SD and drop it in Washington.

    your SD list looks good. there are some great beer bars in LA if you're planning on passing through

    should add Firestone Barrelworks and main brewery to your way up

    and yeah, Kern is way inland. could do it but it will slow you down

    Big Sur is beautiful. California Redwoods are beautiful. practically all of Oregon and Washington are beautiful. I am envious
  9. flexabull

    flexabull Poo-Bah (2,265) Mar 9, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    Awesome trip! You are probably going to need/want a car. They are cheap to rent though, and you'd probably need it to go Chico for Sierra Nevada anyways.

    I'd also recommend Bend Oregon once you leave Northern California, GREAT beer town. From there head north to Hood River area, then west to Portland.

    And I know people like to say skip McMenamins, but I wouldn't discount some of their iconic places like the Kennedy School or Edgefield, I think they are worth your time. You go there more for the uniqueness and history and not for the beer which most think is just "average".
  10. Whatdyisit

    Whatdyisit Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2010 California

    I would add the White Labs tasting room and change Alpine to a must see. You will have a hard time finding bottles. Also consider Alesmith if you have time.

    Northern California has Bear Republic that is a pretty cool stop also.
    westcoastbeerlvr and bladerR like this.
  11. dcgunman

    dcgunman Defender (623) Jul 1, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Alpine a bit of a DRIVE?!!!. . . . . .if your gonna hit Kern River why not ALPINE? Kernville is a bit of a drive. Alpine is around the corner from San Diego compared to Kern. Plus you can buy bottles or growlers at the brewery to take with you on the rest of your trip. And you'll be alble to try at least 3 world class ipa's. Maybe 4.

    Might I add if your going through LA/OC area then a must is the Bruery, Bootleggers and Beachwood BBQ & Brewery (Long Beach or Seal Beach). The 3 B's.
    westcoastbeerlvr likes this.
  12. rboinski

    rboinski Initiate (0) Mar 19, 2012 California

    I second firestone/barrelworks. Take 101 instead of 5 and skip kern river would probably be a better trip.
  13. danscott

    danscott Aspirant (237) Jul 15, 2006 California

    Are you taking the Coast Starlight exclusively, or will you be wandering around via train? There are a lot of Amtrak buses that connect to the train routes, using these will increase your options significantly.

    Lots of comments and suggestions, but you need to add Firestone Walker to your list. You should spend at least three days in San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and Portland. Use major cities as regional hubs and take some time to explore. Don't be obsessed with ticking breweries, wander a fantastic, diverse part of the world.
    AptosBeerDrinker likes this.
  14. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    A month is a good amount of time to spend here. Hopefully you enjoy your trip. Doing it all by train will be a huge challenge, and you will definitely need a car for some stops.

    My only suggestion is to regularly post on BA and try and meet people in each of the places you go. In my experience, meeting up with fellow BeerAdvocates has been more memorable than the beer itself.
    rmdownward and flexabull like this.
  15. groperfish

    groperfish Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2011 Australia

    Ok, it's late here, but your replies have got me even more excited!

    We were planning on hiring a car for the whole journey to Vancouver, BC, but think we'll Train to majors where we can hire a car for day trips. Much cheaper and was thinking we could get in the trolley in SD, for example, and get in a few breweries so we can have a few and not have to worry about the car.

    Will definitely keep SN in the itinerary, based on your advice CenCalMario.
    Why is Rogue not recommended? We do get the occasional Rogue here, though, so might be better spent elsewhere.

    The upper west part is a little lacking. I think that is because we get a fair few San Diego beers here in Melbourne and I know the breweries. And I am really looking forward to them fresh.

    Is Kern really not worth a visit? A 2 hour car trip doesn't bother us, unless the brewey isn't worth a look and if we can try some Kern stuff in bottles. Alpine is in now, Bruery too. And Societe. I'd really like to hit Firestone Walker but not sure as we are most likely training from SD to LA. Unless it is essential and can drive there from SD... Wife's favorite drop is Racer 5. I will have a look into Bear Republic now and see if we can make it work. Likewise the upper west/WA. I haven't even thought about Vancouver yet.

    Really great advice all. Thanks a lot.

    Ps we are hoping to fit in a few parks. Camping will ge ideal but not sure about the weather in a month, or if we can get sites in Sequioa/kings /Yosemite. And redwood. I read a post online that said there was a drive a few hours out if Portland that was quintessential American West. Anyone know what this may have been referring to? Anyway, I digress.

    I'm going to run through itinerary after suggestions and get back to you. Thanks again all.
  16. rboinski

    rboinski Initiate (0) Mar 19, 2012 California

    Bear Republic should be easy on a day with Lagunitas and Russian River.
    Joenajera and jgluck like this.
  17. MichaelGV

    MichaelGV Initiate (0) Apr 2, 2008 California

    Your Portland recommendations are right on.
    theconductor likes this.
  18. Bnoise11

    Bnoise11 Disciple (376) Dec 25, 2012 California

    WOW. I want to join you and your guests on this amazing road trip!
  19. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (579) Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    Make sure you stop at Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola if you get a chance. I would pick them over some of the more well known spots on your list.
  20. theconductor

    theconductor Aspirant (209) Nov 4, 2008 California

    The train does stop in Chico (Sierra Nevada) albeit in the middle of the night.
  21. groperfish

    groperfish Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2011 Australia

    afrokaze, can I ask which of the main ones you'd skip? Is it based on the actual brewery experience, or quality of beer?
  22. MastaShonuf

    MastaShonuf Devotee (493) Jan 21, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Sierra Nevada is pretty far out of the way...Nice place put you can skip it and pick up most of the hard to find beers out at the time at several bottle shops in the San Francisco area.

    If you are driving out to Russian River, Lagunitas is a good stop on the way. I would recommend stopping at Taps in Petaluma (a few miles from Lagunitas) for a lunch time treats (Abe's Fries and a burger is highly recommended). Bear Republic is also a good place to stop in Healdsburg. If you are going to stay the night, find a place in Healdsburg and eat dinner there as well.

    I also recommend Firestone Walker and Stone Brewery when in So Cal.
  23. rboinski

    rboinski Initiate (0) Mar 19, 2012 California

    Also the sierra nevada taproom may be open in berkeley by the time you take your trip. I hear its going to be beer only no food, but it would give you a chance to try their stuff without going out of your way.
  24. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Savant (971) Sep 4, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    To make San Diego easier for you I would spend a couple nights closer to downtown, or hell even North Park, and a few nights in the Carlsbad area. Once in Carlsbad you can take the Sprinter train and hit up Stone and Lost Abbey as well as a few others. Taking the train from downtown to Stone would be way to long of a day for me.
  25. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (579) Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    Mostly on beer quality, I'd take it over Rogue, Victory, Mission, Karl Strauss and Bridgeport. I was blown away by Tim's beers the first time I went to Sante on their opening weekend. If you like sours, Belgian-inspired brews and IPAs I'd definitely take the time to check it out. Plus Capitola/Santa Cruz is an awesome place to just hang out. If you do make sure to eat at burger. 20+ taps of good beer, great cocktails and awesome burgers all decently priced. Have fun!
    jtmartino likes this.
  26. rrryanc

    rrryanc Disciple (310) May 19, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    Have you taken a look at a map? If you're going to head to Sequoia/Kings/Yosemite (I say definitely go to Yosemite - they're all spectacular, but Yosemite is a notch above), then you're already driving a large portion from LA->SF.

    If you have oodles of time (and it sounds like you do), I'd drive from LA to Kern, then from there to Yosemite, then back down and across to Paso Robles (Firestone Walker), then over to Highway 1 and take the scenic drive up to Capitola - and then into the Bay Area. It's probably 4-5 days, with quite a bit of driving - but the beer's good and the scenery will be world class.
    jtmartino likes this.
  27. walterfredo

    walterfredo Aspirant (257) Nov 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Sequoia Nat'l Park is not be missed.
  28. Sam_Frank

    Sam_Frank Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2012 California

    i 2nd this. also the Ho National Rainforest in Washington is absolutely incredible. one of the best camping / hiking experiences of my life

    weather should be great for camping in a month.

    buy a giant ice chest when you get here. and yes, please post. you should keep a blog so BA's can live vicariously through you

    i plan to do this myself when i get a nice chunk of time off. so many frickin breweries to hit along the West Coast

  29. besaunders

    besaunders Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2007 California

    Somebody has not kept up with the local news.
  30. groperfish

    groperfish Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2011 Australia

    Must admit, recently had a BridgePort HopCzar and found it a little out of balance - too malty for my tastes, but I think that it may be because it hasn't travelled well over sea to Australia and the hops aren't as prominent. Maybe fresher it'll be more enjoyable...

    This is awesome advice, and exactly what we need. Thanks so much. We will likely be hiring a car from all of the capitals and camping, when possible. Ever since I was a kid I've had this dream of doing a US road trip. Cannot wait.

    Great about the weather. Have been a bot concerned it might be too cold, but that is good to hear.
    The problem I'm having is whether I try and book motels around the NP's and do day trips or rock-up and try and get a campsite. I hear the campsites open up daily and they go *very* quickly.

    Wife already has a blog happening (we've been doing SE Asia for the past 3 months) and this tour will be the final chapter. She is almost as excited as I am about trying the beers and even wants to start her own BA profile to post tasting notes. Awesome.

    Have already had a very kind offer from a BA'er to meet up and show me his cellar. I might also see if there are any other meetups planned while we are around. Very impressed by the States, and we haven't even arrived.

    Thanks again all. Now gotta get to work!
  31. groperfish

    groperfish Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2011 Australia

    Is the Sprinter train still out of action? Just did a quick search.
  32. besaunders

    besaunders Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2007 California

  33. groperfish

    groperfish Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2011 Australia

    OK, cool. Thanks for the heads-up.
  34. AptosBeerDrinker

    AptosBeerDrinker Initiate (177) Aug 9, 2011 California

    Here's what I would do...

    A) Rent a car. You will miss a lot of the "Coast" part of the West Coast if you are tied down to a train. You could maybe work a few train trips (SD to LA?) in to your trip but personally, I would want the flexibility of a car. There is just too much cool shit to see.

    3-4 days in San Diego (Alpine, Societe, various Pizza Ports, numerous other SD breweries already mentioned)
    2-3 days in Greater L.A. area (Beachwood, The Bruery, etc.)
    Drive (Maybe train?) from L.A. to San Luis Obispo/Paso Robles (hit Firestone Walker Buellton or Paso)

    From here you can either head due East to Kernville if you want to hit KRBC or you can head over and up Highway 1 through Big Sur to Sante Adairius Rustic Ales. Personally, I would choose the Coastal Route.

    2-3 days in San Francisco Bay Area (RR, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, Drakes, etc.)

    Once again you can head inland to the Sierras perhaps hitting Fifty Fifty in Truckee or you can continue up the coast to Mendocnio/Ft. Bragg hitting Anderson Valley Brewing and North Coast Brewing.

    1 Day in Ashland, OR...2 days in Bend, OR...3 days in Portland, OR. Tons of great beer in these three places. (Caldera, Boneyard, Crux, Ale Apothecary, Deschutes, Upright, Cascade, Hair of the Dog, etc.)

    3 days in Seattle. More great beer.

    2 days on one of the San Juan Islands (Orcas, Lopez, San Juan) which are accessible by Ferry. Then take another Ferry to Vancouver Island/Victoria B.C.

    2 days in greater Victoria area. Ferry to Vancouver.

    2-3 days in Vancouver area.

    This is a little City centric (that's where the breweries tend to be) so there is a lot of variations you could throw into this. Are you more of a mountain person or a coastal person? This will kinda determine your route. We have copious amounts of both.

    I can provide a lot of additional info as I've done some version of this trip in segments on a few occasions. I'm extremely jealous that you have a month to do this. You are going to have a fantastic time.
    1424IpA and jtmartino like this.
  35. groperfish

    groperfish Initiate (0) Jul 2, 2011 Australia

    While I'm at it, wife is thinking GCNP trip should be included. Is this do-able within the 4/5 week time frame? Maybe I should ask this elsewhere...

    AptosBeerDrinker - thanks for your message. Haven't completely digested it but I am starting to think you are right about hiring a car. We are trying to do this trip on a budget (hence, trains to majors and day trips - which may require a car - from there. And a car would be hired for a week or two while we hot the parks..)
    The problem is cars are cheap t hire in the US *except* when you drop off in another state. More than doubles the cost.
    I might send you a PM, if OK.
  36. flexabull

    flexabull Poo-Bah (2,265) Mar 9, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    It's certainly doable. But that's going to be a long trip from Southern CA. At least a day (7-8 hours) driving in each direction. While the Grand Canyon is incredible, I'd save that for another trip when you can focus around just the Southwest. You'll have plenty to see and do in CA, OR, WA, and BC.
    AptosBeerDrinker likes this.
  37. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Great suggestion, except I would definitely add a detour to the Sierras. They are easily one of the most scenic attractions on the west coast.

    I'd leave LA and head straight to Kernville, if that is a must for you. About a 3.5 hour drive from Orange County. Grab lunch and beer in Kernville, then you have a decision. You can either go to Sequoia and check out the trees then up to Yosemite, or you can save your big tree excitement and just hit the Redwoods on the coast. If you decide to skip Sequoia, I'd head east on HWY 178 to 395 and then up to Mammoth. Stay the night in Mammoth Lakes - there are a few places to check out hot springs, or you could always camp near the San Joaquin. My favorite is Reds Meadow because of the natural hot springs showers (free) which are great after a long day of hiking or sitting in the car.

    After you get your fill of Mammoth (and Mammoth Brewing Company,) head up and over to Yosemite. It's an easy 2 hour drive and one of the most scenic in the state. Breathtaking views - even Mono lake is a cool place to stop before you climb up the pass of HWY 120. Spend the day hiking around Yosemite and checking it out, and then spend the night camping, in a cabin, etc.

    When you're done with Yosemite, I'd drive back down to the coast and continue your trip. It's 4 hours to Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, and you can spend the night in Cambria. Check out Cambria Brew Co and Hearst Castle if that's your thing, and be sure to drive up HWY 1 from that point through Big Sur to Capitola where you should definitely visit Sante Adairius.

    From Sante, you can either spend the night in Santa Cruz or drive 1.5 hours north to San Francisco. From there, the rest of your journey is up the coast as people have mentioned.

    There is a ton to see, and renting a car is the best way to go. You will definitely get a discount if you rent long-term which may offset the different pickup/dropoff costs.
    rrryanc and AptosBeerDrinker like this.
  38. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Savant (971) Sep 4, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Wow I had no idea. I have been living in DC for the past 2 years so I'm a little out of the loop. I hope they fix it soon though because it was a great addition to North County public transit.
  39. chromebomb

    chromebomb Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2009 California

    If you take the coast up check out Big Sur. Stunning.
  40. Deftonian

    Deftonian Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2012

    would be a shame if you didnt hit up the bruery
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