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Get Out of Town!
One for the Road
September, 2014 - Issue #119
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Beer is a good reason to travel. There's nothing quite like sipping a favorite pint where it was brewed or discovering new flavors not readily available in Santa Clarita.

My choice in stops is dictated by quality. Since I live in Santa Clarita, I'm spoiled when it comes to beer. Whatever I taste when I travel is inevitably compared to my hometown favorite, Wolf Creek Brewing Co. They've been crafting delicious, high-quality beer right here in Santa Clarita for nearly two decades, so they've become my tasting baseline.

So what's worth stopping for when you head out on the highway? Here are some suggestions based roughly on the cardinal points of the compass.

North
You'll have two Firestone Walker destinations to choose from on the 101. The Taproom Restaurant in Buellton is a favorite stop on the way to Pismo Beach to refill my growler. But keep going all the way to Paso Robles to reach the source - the brewery itself. Take a tour to learn firsthand how they make 805, Double Barrel Ale and Velvet Merlin. The tour guide won't just talk about beer. She'll give you a sample, too. It's worth visiting around lunchtime, as their food is as good as their brew.

South
Stone Brewing Co. beer is available almost anywhere. But the World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido demands a pilgrimage, so stop in the next time you're on your way to or from San Diego. With multiple patios, gardens and bars, it's a destination designed for spending the afternoon sampling outstanding beer matched with equally-delectable cuisine. Everything on the menu sounds amazing. Just be sure to have a cup of Cheddar, Garlic & Stone Ruination IPA Soup. It's a magical blend of cheese and beer that must be experienced to be believed.

"No need to worry - IT'S NOT GREEN. Instead of avocados, it's made with honey from bees that pollinate avocado trees."
East
It can be a long, hot drive to or from Mammoth. That's why the Indian Wells Brewing Company is always such a welcome sight. Perched beside State Route 14 in a metal warehouse, the brewery (like the surrounding Inyokern scenery) isn't much to look at it. But inside are all sorts of surprises, like the Whisky Barrel Amber. It's aged in bourbon barrels, giving it a rich, one-of-a-kind taste. But don't drink it until you're safely home. It's got a 12 percent alcohol content.

Kids always appreciate the crazy soda flavors they also concoct. Nothing eases the desert heat like a bottle of glowing green Martian Poop.

West
Carpinteria is my favorite day-trip beach destination, and not just because the laid back locale has its own micro-brewery. But Island Brewing Company certainly is a good reason to visit.

Finding it can be tricky. Park on Linden past the railroad tracks and follow the sign from the sidewalk to the homey tasting room. The Blonde is my go-to tap. It's light and refreshing after a day on the sand. For something truly unique, try the Avocado Honey Ale, available in October for the town's annual Avocado Festival. No need to worry - it's not green. Instead of avocados, it's made with honey from bees that pollinate avocado trees.

So, next time you're headed out on the highway, take a break at one of the above. Just remember you have to get back in the car and keep driving.

Choose Your Brew
Wolf Creek Brewery
www.wolfcreekbrewingco.com

Firestone Walker
www.firestonebeer.com

Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens
www.stoneworldbistro.com

Indian Wells Brewing Company
www.mojavered.com

Island Brewing Company
www.islandbrewingcompany.com

Eric Harnish lives in Castaic, which boasts a fine selection of malted beverages at its multiple convenience stores.
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