Top 5 To-Dos in Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile is a colorful seaside town with UNESCO World Heritage Site status, where the only thing more impressive than the colors of the buildings and the freshness of the seafood is the steepness of the hills (of which there are over 40!).

Valparaiso, Chile

Just one of Valparaiso’s colorful staircases

There’s so much to do there, but without further ado, here are my Top 5 To-Dos in Valparaiso, Chile: 

5.  Walking Tour of Street Art

Valparaiso Chile Street Art

Valparaiso has some pretty amazing street art, and there’s no better way to see it all than to take a walking tour of the city with a guide.  We did the Valparaiso Highlights Tour with Tours4Tips, which wasn’t a street art-only tour, but we covered a LOT of great murals and learned about the famous street artists that have works throughout the city. The tour meets daily at 3pm at Plaza Sotomayor.

Valparaiso Street Art

Valparaiso, Chile Valparaiso, Chile Street Art

You’ll see some works by famous Chilean street artist Inti Castro (or just “Inti“), as well as some works by other high-profile artists from Valparaiso, Viña del Mar and Santiago like Charquipunk, and Un Kolor Distinto.

Valparaiso, Chile

One of the many works by Inti

You’ll find this piece when Continue reading

Stone Brewing (San Diego, California)

Stone Brewing

I’ll admit that I got really lost on the way to Stone Brewing‘s location in Escondido, California (just north of San Diego) – the Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. I mean “drive around the office park and check Google maps about 10 times, then find it and park in the wrong parking lot, then walk the length of a football field to the front door” lost.  But it was so worth it once I was safely inside.

Stone Brewing

Sitting at the bar in one of the many spaces of this huge complex.

Known for its IPAs (that’s Indian Pale Ales, for the beer novices), Stone Brewing’s iconic gargoyle is synonymous with good American beer and it is generally one of the leaders of the craft beer movement in the United States.  Not just for IPA lovers, Stone also makes some pretty great stouts, porters, and American pale ales, too.

What sets Stone Brewing apart is that they have opened a location in Berlin, Germany, which I believe makes them one of the first breweries from the U.S. to expand to Europe, a trailblazing move. What’s more interesting is that they chose Germany for their first international location – a country whose beer laws and regulations are older than any other law of the land. The Reinheitsgebot, or German beer purity law, is no longer the law in Germany, but many German beer purists still follow it to this day. The law, dating back to 1516, required that beer only be made from hops, barley and water.

Stone Brewing

Seriously? How is this in the middle of a brewery?

Anyway, Stone Brewing has 3 locations in California and Escondido is home to its largest. The World Bistro and Gardens is an expansive space, featuring a large center bar in a square format, a large indoor dining room and extraordinary outdoor space, including patios, decks, winding paths around ponds and streams, grassy lawns and more.

I sidled up to the only empty barstool I could find and was greeted by a friendly bartender, who presented me with the food menu and lengthy beer list. I may or may not have looked like I needed a drink.

The menu is elevated international pub fare, featuring soft pretzels (what good beer establishment doesn’t have pretzels?) – their take on it being Stone hemp-seed soft pretzels – , avocado tater tots and gourmet chicken wings.

Pretzels at Stone Brewing

If you are here by yourself, maybe DON’T order the pretzels and an entrée.

They also offer ceviche, salads, Asian fare, Mexican dishes, South American dishes and more. The menu is surprisingly varied and the food is really well-executed and delicious. If you’re expecting greasy pub food with no flavor, you’ll be sorely disappointed!

I started with the pretzels and the dish comes with three pretzels. For one person, it was way too much food to order that and then a main course, so if you’re on your own you should probably be more strategic in your ordering than me.  Never shying away from a bread basket, I did my duty, though. The stone-ground mustard and roasted poblano jalapeño cheese sauce was too tempting not to finish it all!

When I went last year, I had a deliiiicious barbecue pulled pork sandwich with house-made slaw and house-made barbecue potato chips, but it is no longer on the menu. It was pretty amazing, though.

Stone Brewing

Pulled pork goodness.

I was short on time so I was unable to tackle a tour, but tours are given all day long at the Escondido location and cost a measly $3 each. The schedule is M-F, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm , and Saturday/Sunday 12p-6pm every hour on the hour. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Stone Company Store at the front of the Escondido location. You must be there 15 minutes prior to your tour to check in and collect your physical ticket.

Stone Brewing

Enjoy one of the many beers on tap!

Speaking of the Stone Company Store, it’s a great place to pick up some swag for yourself or the folks at home. Not unlike the Guinness Storehouse store, it has everything, from t-shirts to bottle openers to candles, glassware, and more.

I wish I had more time to spend at Stone Brewing or that at least I had some friends with me to enjoy it, too. That’ll be for next time.  Cheers!

How to get to Stone Brewing in Escondido, California

Stone Brewing Escondido

Stone Brewing, Escondido
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029
Phone: 760.294.7866
Hours: Daily 11am-10pm; Friday and Saturday open until 11pm

 Have you been to Stone Brewing? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Ballast Point Brewing Company (San Diego, CA)

Ballast Point - Fish Out Of Malbec

Some of the biggest news in the craft brew world this year was the acquisition of Ballast Point Brewing Company by Constellation Brands. You might recognize Ballast Point’s famous, ubiquitous Sculpin IPA or Grapefruit Sculpin from your local grocery store shelf. However, there’s so much more to Ballast Point than what finds its way to your local store.

I had a few hours to kill during a free afternoon just outside San Diego at a conference last June and wanted to hit a few local breweries to maximize my time, sample some brews, and relax a little.

So, I started at Stone Brewing’s location in Escondido, CA and was browsing around the gift shop when I ran into several administrators of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control. I asked what other brewery I should check out in the area, since I only had time for one more, and they recommended that I check out Ballast Point. Those people obviously know their stuff, so who was I to disregard their recommendation?

Ballast Point Brewing Company

Outside the brewery

So, I plugged the address into my GPS and took off directly to Ballast Point Brewing Company in Miramar, which is north of downtown San Diego and northeast from La Jolla. One of Ballast Point’s five locations and home to its newest brewery, it’s in the middle of an office park, ten-plus minutes from the highway and if you think you’re lost, then you’re probably in the right place and are nearly there. There’s not a whole lot of parking for the amount of people who are actually inside.

Pro-Tip #1: Carpool if you’re going to come here with a group, if you can. And always designate a driver if you plan on trying more than just a flight!

Upon arriving, I first noticed that there’s an enormous outdoor patio with games and tables to sit and enjoy the food and brews. But when you enter the front doors, the sheer size of the place finally hits you – it’s huge! Continue reading

A Visit to the Heineken Experience (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Heineken Experience

The “Heineken Brouwery”, aka the home of the Heineken Experience

One of my favorite stops during a trip to Amsterdam, the Heineken Experience does the whole interactive museum thing right – brilliant design and a fun “ride” make this destination a must-see for beer lovers and friends alike.

Heineken Experience

Replicas of scenes of the past are quaint and imaginative.

You can do a self-guided tour through this experience and stop at interesting stuff along the way, where staff are on hand to explain things. The tour takes about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on how much you want to learn.

The place itself is a lot like another favorite destination of mine – the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. It combines education with a bit of fun and, of course, alcohol at the end.

Don’t miss the bottle “ride” Continue reading

Rockaway Brewing Company (LIC, NY)

Weekend afternoons in Long Island City would not be complete without a visit to the Rockaway Brewing Company brewery and Growler Room. Located conveniently across the street from the LIC Flea & Food, this craft brewery delivers fresh beer of all different kinds – to stay and enjoy or to take away in growlers – all with a smile. AND free bags of Cape Cod potato chips. What’s not to love?  Flint, who was on hand filling glasses and answering questions, quipped “I have 1,200 more bags, so just let me know if you want some more!”

Local brewing is experiencing a boom in Queens: Big Alice Brewing, Bridge and Tunnel Brewing Company are just two of the other microbreweries new to the scene. But, Rockaway Brewing Company was the first.  And there’s something about the first that’s special in itself.  Not only are they the first, but they have been delivering fresh beer for over a year and have been growing exponentially at the same time.

On tap are 10 different brews, ranging from their flagship English Style ale  (the Original ESB) to saisons, cream ales, stouts, cask ales, nitro stout and pale ales.

The Growler Room at Rockaway Brewing Company

Bar and Menu, and Flint!

We couldn’t decide, so we started out (by kidding ourselves that we were only going to have a taste) with Continue reading