Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

You may not know about the backstory of this column in DaBelly.

The Art of the Craft column grows out of my exploration of local craft breweries. Several years ago I organized a series of monthly visits to craft breweries I called Craft Brewery Pilgrimages. A group of us would meet each month at a different brewery, sample their beers, hold a conversation, and ask questions.

Over a couple of years we visited around 14 breweries throughout Southern California.

The Art of the Craft has drawn on those visits in some of the conversations I have chronicled. I have also continued my travels to visit breweries in California. For example, I have written about visiting Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton. One month I wrote about following a Gold Line Pub Crawl and another I described where I would stop on my way up the coast of California to Big Sur. A visit to London in the UK allowed me to discover the Mayflower.

wrote about a visit to Wick’s Brewing in Riverside. One month I described listing three breweries in Berkeley. I have also described visits to a number of breweries in San Diego.

This month I took an opportunity to explore another California venue for craft beer north of Big Sur. My most recent craft brewery pilgrimage took me to Monterey.

Monterey Bay and the Monterey Peninsula are in a beautiful part of the California coast between Big Sur and Santa Cruz. While there we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, as well as three craft brewing locations in the Monterey area.

Our first location was the Cannery Row Brewing Company on Cannery Row in the Historic District of Monterey.

We enjoyed our visit to the Cannery Row Brewing Company. They had excellent food and a large variety of beers on tap. I ate Ahi Poke and drank a Belching Beaver PB Latte.

Some of my more astute readers might be asking, but, if you were in Monterey, why were you drinking a San Diego brew?

Our server Kelly gave us some background information. Cannery Row’s location in the historic district is apparently both a blessing and a curse.

The owners who established Cannery Row Brewing intended to brew their own beer in Monterey. Their location means they face additional obstacles and regulations. They have made several attempts to begin brewing their own beers but have not yet been able to get started.

Cannery Row Brewing has found several creative ways to provide excellent beer to their customers. They contract with breweries around them to produce brews to which they have special access. They also do a great job of curating an impressive selection of beers from a variety of breweries. Cannery Row pairs their delicious food with a good selection of craft beers to serve locals and visitors to Monterey.

The second stop on our pilgrimage to Monterey was the Alvarado Street Brewery. Located in a historically registered building, though not in the historic district, Alvarado Street Brewing does brew its own beer.

We settled in for lunch and I enjoyed a Vegan Impossible Burger and a flight of beers brewed at Alvarado Street.

I dove into the hoppy end of the pool by beginning with their Azacca Dependent, a West Coast IPA with 100% Azacca hops. My second selection was their Single Cone, another West Coast IPA brewed with California Ale yeast and Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo hops. Both of these IPAs were tasty and refreshing.

My third selection was their Imperial International Style Juice a double IPA brewed in collaboration with Reuben’s Brewery in Seattle, Washington. This imperial version of last year’s collaboration is gloriously hoppy with a fruity fermentation.

My fourth choice was their Local Shred Red, a World Beer Cup gold medal winning Double Red Ale. My fifth and final selection was their Blackbeard’s Delight, a smooth dark ale with dark chocolate and espresso aromas and British roasted malts.

I had hoped to try their Best Part of Waking Up , a nitro milk stout, but they ran out just before we arrived.

The third stop on my Monterey pilgrimage was English Ales Brewery in Marina, a few miles north of Monterey on Highway 1.

I have written before about the significance British beers have played in my life. Visiting English Ales Brewing was a great reminder of how important British beer is to me. They brew their beers based on English recipes and use grains and hops from Europe.

I ordered fish and chips and a flight of their beers.

My flight included their Big Sur Golden Ale, a delicious light ale with a faint citrus flavor and their Monterey Bay Wheat, which is an American clear wheat beer. I continued with their Fat Lip Amber Ale, a smooth, rich amber ale which they discovered by accident, and their Pendragon Strong Ale, a well balanced, flavorful malty ale. My next selection was their 1066 English Pale Ale, a classic English pale ale. Next I sampled their Dragonslayer IPA, an English style IPA, and their Bad Bobby IPA, a West Coast session IPA. My next selections were their Corkscrew Ale, a traditional Best Bitter, and their Monk’s Brown Ale, a premium, malt forward, English style brown ale. I completed my flight with their Black Prince Porter, an English style porter with roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee flavors.

I strongly recommend you take your own craft brewery pilgrimage to Monterey.

Greg Richardson is a spiritual leadership coach and spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg atStrategicMonk@gmail.com, and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel on http://www.patheos.com.

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