Sunday, August 23, 2009

Family Brewery Tour

For those of you who don't know, my husband is obsessed with beer . . . as in homebrewing, visiting breweries, and talking to people who make/serve beer. We just returned from a weeklong road trip to the Pacific Northwest that included nine brewery stops.

I have to admit that I was a bit wary of this trip, largely because of a similar trip we took before kids. Our good friend Ed joined us for the earlier trip, which resulted in some unnecessary nudity (let's just say I was the only one who consistently remained fully clothed) and one of my all-time favorite quotes.

Here's the scenario . . . Ed, my husband and I visited a friend in Spokane, who was a successful glassblower at the time. The glassblower generously sponsored the entertainment for the afternoon, which ended in a lavish feast at a brewery with all his employees. After much food and drink, my husband was loudly leading the convo from across the table and randomly commented that he would like to see a beaver since he had heard they inhabited the Spokane area. One of the younger glassblowers was so offended by my husband's audacity that he turned to me and declared angrily, "You can't just go out and SEE a beaver. I've lived here all my life and I ain't NEVER seen a beaver." My mature response was to repeatedly fall into uncontrollable laughter for the remainder of the lunch. But that guy was really mad (wherever you are dude, I sincerely hope that you have seen that elusive beaver by now).

But this vacation was different. My interest in breweries was about whether my kids could eat something nutritious - or at least something they liked - and whether they could stay entertained while I enjoyed my meal, usually with a pilsner. So here are some of the notable highlights of our brewery tour.

Bear Republic Brewing Co in Healdsburg, California

This being our first stop, you can see Daisy's optimism, though Violet wasn't very impressed. The adults split a Brewben (reuben) and a Mango Shrimp salad. The food was good but not particularly memorable. I bailed out early with the kids when they couldn't take it anymore, and we found a fan museum directly across from the brewery. This was exciting for us as the kids happened to be thinking about the fans they had accidentally destroyed in the car earlier that day. We bought new fans for a dollar each then promptly destroyed them again. But still, you don't come across many fan museums.

Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House in Oregon

Although excited to get to the restaurant after a night of unexpectedly chilly camping, Daisy diplomatically commented five minutes after sitting down, "I don't know about anyone else, but I'm bored." The kids proceeded to experiment with shoving napkins and straws into their mouths for entertainment. This was my favorite meal for being the most unbrewery-like. I ordered one of the specials, the Chicken Martini, which was roasted chicken strips and steamed broccoli over rice with an olive-scented butter sauce. So simple and good. I also have a thing for Mirror Pond Ale, so this was a worthy stop for me. It should be noted that the waitress was phenomenal in the number of my husband's questions that she patiently answered while being slammed during the lunch rush and that my husband has since received a follow-up email from one of the brewers with more info.

More to come . . .

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