New Zealand: The Beers!

My last (really) belated post … New Zealand Beers! haha. I know, I know … it’s been a couple of years since I was there, but I have some nice photos to spark my memory. I flew into Auckland as my beginning location … and promptly visited The Shakespeare.

Although it was an excellent start to a pretty good beer journey, the focus of this trip was biking, birding, hiking, and major sight seeing, so the beer was added in where it fit and when we were close to civilization … otherwise it was kind of like this — fast, furious, and out of focus! lol

Not a lot of opportunities on the North Island — we were only there for a week — mostly around the National Park at Tongariro … but the South Island … wow. Of course, the first week (or so) on the South Island was a lot of small planes, boating, hiking, and birding.

By the time we made it to Wanaka, we had a chance to catch our breath and enjoy a good beer. Fortunately, this place had several options — we went with Speight’s Ale House — great patio with a view over the lake and an excellent selection of beers!

The IPA, made with New Zealand hops, was very satisfying. I was able to purchase a few more beers to enjoy during our stay and transition travels to Hokitika.

When we left Wanaka, we cruised across the lower Southern Alps and ended up on the West Coast … we staged out of the town of Hokitika — great place! We saw a couple of glaciers, put in some miles on the West Coast Wilderness Trail … and toured a brewery!

Monteith’s is a brewery in Greymouth … the original craft brewery (I think) in New Zealand — now owned by the Heineken Group. The tour was fun and informative and the beers were pretty good — worth a stop when in Greymouth … refreshing!

As we continued our trip back over the Southern Alps, I was able to sample a variety of other beverages when we arrived in Hanmer Springs.

We enjoyed these different brews around the interior of the South Island … as we made our way back to Christchurch to start our Alps to Ocean bike tour, we stopped at a small brewery near Geraldine — Valley Brewing Company.

They had some pretty tasty beers and excellent food … talk about your out of the way spot!

Finally, during our Alps to Ocean six day bike ride, I had a chance to sample a variety of beers (again) …

Our final stop was in Oamaru … at Scott’s Brewing Company. The location was beautiful — the beers were good … they matched their beers with their pizzas. Very nice patio.

Stating the obvious — the location made many of the beers special … and not necessarily the other way around! There were four or five outstanding beers … the rest were good to very good — but I wouldn’t complain. Solid beer trip!

Beer Mentor …

60. Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, CA (#78)

This entry will catch me up on my Growler List visits … I’ve now made it to 78 out of 125. Whew. What a concerted effort! But I am determined to complete as much of the list as I can — all in the name of good beer drinking!

#60 on the Growler List is the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA. I visited this place a few days after visiting Deschutes in Bend, OR in 2019. I loved both places — the difference in the vibe (to me) is that Deschutes is employee-owned (similar to New Belgium) and Sierra Nevada is family-owned … although the people loved working there (Sierra Nevada), you still felt like it was just their job–but what a great job! lol. Fantastic people and awesome beer.

They have a selection of different tours — we took the in-depth one … they showed you around everywhere, answered all my esoteric questions, and generally had a great time doing it. If you can make it to Chico, it’s well worth the stop and visit. Highly recommend!

Beer Mentor

Australia: The Beers!

I know this blog entry is a little overdue — since my trip to Australia was 2019. haha. Oh well — What can I say … the beers in Australia were better than Thailand and Malaysia, for sure!

First, I visited three locations in Australia that were fantastic “beer-drinking” establishments … check it out on this link here. Those places alone made Australia a great stop.

As far as the beers themselves, there were a couple of outstanding ones … and then some ok ones. Typical for most places I’ve been.

However, let’s start before the beginning … we were flying from Kuala Lumpur to Cairns — this required a stop in Singapore — needed a little refreshment at the airport and was able to sample this IPA from Archipelago Brewery (Singapore Craft Brewery). A refreshing, excellent example of an IPA.

Next stop — Port Douglas. Right across from our “hotel” was this cool little pizza place — Rattle n’ Hum Bar and Grill. They had a very nice selection of beers on tap — plus the food was excellent! I had both the 4 Pines and the Wild Yak … decent beers.

The next day, we visited an excellent brewery in Port Douglas: Hemingway’s Brewery. Unfortunately, no tour — but a great stop! Awesome place right on the water. Sweet vibe, really good beers, and definitely worth a visit!

I picked up a couple more to try while in Port Douglas … The Kolsch was nice — The Furphy’s was ok!

Next stop was the Blue Mountains … we were a little bit boring here — same place twice for dinner (plus I added a couple of other beers I sampled on my own). The place we ate was called The Lookout – Echo Point. Of course, when you see the views, you see why we ate there. haha. The beer was ok to pretty good, the food (again) was excellent.

So, from my limited two-week experience, traipsing around the East Coast of Australia, I give the beers two thumbs up! Excellent selection, beautiful locales, and great food.


Beermentor’s Favorite Five!

These are my favorite five places to visit if you truly want that quintessential beer experience! I can honestly say that I’ve been around the world sampling, tasting, and visiting “beer” establishments — this is my refined list (since I haven’t gotten around to posting my top 100 … lol).

First, here are three criteria/reasons why these are my Favorite 5. First and foremost, it needs to be great beer. I’m not saying it needs to be your favorite or it has to fit in a particular category — nor does it have to be considered “Craft” or “trendy” or whatever. It needs to be great. Great tasting, technically well-done, without any faults or off-flavors. Second, the locale should enhance the pleasure of drinking the beer. There should be something about the place/history/experience that makes you think the beer wouldn’t taste any better than right where you are drinking it! Finally, it should be a place with some permanence/staying power — it shouldn’t be in danger of closing, it shouldn’t be a place you can’t visit without a special pass — it should be accessible to anyone and welcoming to all. This is a tough one — for instance, I was going to include “The Falling Rock Tap House” in Denver — it had been around for over 25 years, was a popular hangout for the After-Great American Beer Fest Crowd, and simply had fantastic beers. Unfortunately, it closed in June of 2021. Sad. Oh well — I will just have to be more careful with my Favorite Five!

One caveat — I’ve been to hundreds of places — but I haven’t been to all places — so my list is a little skewed by the fact that there may be a better place … I just haven’t been there yet. We’ll call this a “living list.”

Another caveat — I won’t list any Festivals here — Those, too, may not be there the next year — and sometimes it is difficult to obtain a ticket, etc. I’m trying to choose places that, while they may be difficult to visit, are accessible to anyone with some effort.

Ok, here we go! Working from #5 up #1 …

#5. Ye Old Mitre, London, England. A place that opened in 1546 and is still going strong probably will be around a while longer. Plus, it is owned by the Fuller Company (former owners of the Brewery, now they simply operate about 360+ pubs in the UK). With an excellent selection of beers on tap (folks in the UK call it “Real Ale”), a cool alleyway entrance and a comfortable atmosphere, it’s well worth a visit.

#4. Staffelberg-Klause, Bad Staffelberg, Germany. This one is as far away from the city as The Old Mitre is close to one. haha. The Staffelberg-Klause is a small Bier-garten in Germany — near the city of Bamberg. You may, or may not, be familiar with Bamberg as the city of smoked beers (Schlenkerla). Here’s a map image (with the link here) of where the Bier-garten is located.

It takes a little work to get there — you can’t drive; you have to hike! However, the scenery in the area is stunning. Not only that, there are several Baroque-style Churches in the area, over 100 breweries/brewpubs, and … did I mention stunning views? Here are a few pictures:

They have the typical German-selection of beers — Pils, Weizen, or Kellerbier. Either one will be refreshing and the food is good too!

#3. In de Vrede Cafe, Vleteren, Belgium. Next up, a trip to have some of the most elusive beer in the world! Westvleteren 12! In fairness, a very (very) close approximation that is more readily available worldwide is the St Bernardus Abt 12. Also … a wonderful beer! But I digress. Back to “In de Vrede.” Translated, in de Vrede means “in Peace.” Or quiet, solitude; any number of phrases that you would associate with the Monks. The cafe is across from the brewery, but still out in the countryside. Closest city would be Poperinge (the Hop Capitol of Belgium).

The food is wonderful and you can drink all three of the Westvleteren Beers here … a bonus is the opportunity to purchase some as well! The area and the cafe all deserve your consideration for a visit … finally, it’s a pretty short drive to anywhere, all things considered. There are so many things to see, and do, in the area. Visit the Hop Museum, an active Hop Farm, other breweries … explore!

#2. Orval, Belgium.

To me, this is a very special place — Orval is, hands down, my favorite beer. I’ve visited the “Valley of Gold” at least three times. Each time is special. The first time there was late November. We stayed at a small hotel nearby in Florenville. You could have any beer you wanted, as long as it was Orval. A big one, too!

The next day, we lucked out and were able to join a tour group of French Students at the Brewery —

The third time I visited, I was with my best friend and my brothers … an awesome trip. By this time, in 2012, they had improved the whole “Orval Experience” with a wonderful museum … the tour of the grounds was tranquil. I even tasted the Spring Water used to make the beer!

We had the tour and retired just up the road to the local restaurant to reflect on the experience and to enjoy a wonderful glass of Orval. Consider it a must for yourself!

The only reason it’s not my #1 is you can’t drink the beer on the premises — However, you can buy a small case at the gift shop!

#1. Bräustüberl Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany. Here’s the place on the top of my list … a trip to the oldest brewery in the world — established in 1040 AD! Not only do they have the brewery here, they also have a University devoted to the study of beer. If you make your way into the Bräustüberl, you can drink your fill of the wonderful beers they have available. Plus enjoy some traditional Bavarian cuisine–I do recommend a reservation!

Well … there you go!! My favorite five! I hope you have the opportunity to visit one or two of these places and see if they make it into your top 5 as well!



87. Deschutes Brewery and Public House, Bend, OR (#77)

I had decided (previously) to quit trying to accomplish All About Beer Magazine’s “Growler List: 125 best places in the world to have a beer” a couple of years ago [Now more than ever since the magazine no longer exists — an excellent article on that here]. However, being a Type A personality who enjoys task accomplishment, I just couldn’t put my incomplete list away. Haha. So, although there are even more challenges now in completing the list, I’m still slowly working through it.

As mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I have made some of my own substitutions for locations/activities that are either: 1) closed, 2) defunct, or 3) “experiential in nature.” So, by my reckoning, when I visited Deschutes Brewery in 2019, it was my 77th place on the list.

Since the Growler List was published in 2008, the original idea was that you would visit the Public House in Bend, Oregon. This is the original brewpub opened in 1988. What an awesome locale! As a family and employee-owned business, you can really feel the passion when you visit the place (and the funky vibe–see photo below of the men’s room mirror). The food is excellent, they typically have Pub-exclusive rotating taps (see pictures below), and plenty of room to enjoy yourself!

Deschutes have done a great job of growing their brewery and they built a beautiful state-of-the-art facility in 2012. We scheduled a tour and took the opportunity for an in-depth look.

It’s just an absolutely beautiful facility, the tour is very fun–you end up in the tasting room at the end (obvious). Great tour guides, great ideas, and well worth a visit–definitely deserved a place in the top 125!


#43: Krcma v Satlavske (Český Krumlov) #61

I apologize in advance for the tardiness of this post!  As part of “The Gypsy Beer Experience” in October 2012 I visited #61 on All About Beer’s Growler List, Krcma v Satlavske (Český Krumlov).


This was my 43rd place on the list.  It is located in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic.  What a beautiful locale … check on google maps here.

It was an awesome place to eat AND drink beer.  Really quaint, down a narrow alley.

DSC_0973  DSC_0976

The beer was excellent and the food was quite tasty!  We had just visited Pivovar Eggenberg (taken the tour actually … really cool).


After we enjoyed our lunch, we went over to Budějovický Budvar Brewery, Karolíny Světlé, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic.  Wow. This was an awesome day … two brewery tours and two places on the All About Beer Growler List: U Fleku was our final stop.

I will add posts for these other stops soon.  Again, apologize for my delinquency in posting.


Beer Mentor

Beermentor’s Neighborhood: 4Hands Brewing (Beer 28/Day 28)

Welcome Back to Beer Mentor’s Neighborhood!  We are visiting a brewery 1.4 miles from my place but in another world because of the beers they are making!  This place is awesome. 4Hands Brewing.



I usually like to mix it up when I visit but today I stuck with the Resurrection IPA (28th beer in 28 days … keeping the train going!).  This beer is fantastic!  Maybe it is the Mosaic hops they are using … I don’t know.  But the Aroma and Flavor in this IPA is really satisfying.  I thought the flavor was Simcoe at first … but I guess Mosaic is derived from Simcoe and Nugget.  What a great kiddo.  haha.  Quick note: I’d go get some if you haven’t yet … it may be coming off the menu for a while.

They have a tasting option too and it is well presented.  Here’s a couple of pics of the Resurrection and the tasting flight.

IMG_2017 IMG_2016


This is really a nice place.


They have food available as well–however, it is a separate service so you will pay for the food separate from your beer.  

They have a great variety of beers and they have an extensive barrel-aging effort.  I didn’t try it this time but they have a beer called “Smoked Pigasus” — a smoked rye porter.  Can’t wait to try that one!


They have great events going on here and all over the city.  These folks are very involved in the Craft Beer industry and support local homebrewers.  Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday they have a bottle-swap event … worth checking out.  A few more photos for those who enjoy a nice brewery! Oh, I should tell you — you can buy growlers or take home some bottles too.  

IMG_2018 IMG_2014  IMG_2021IMG_2022  IMG_2015


Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Beer Mentor