When I first heard about Barrel Republic in Oceanside and their freedom-to-pour-way-of-doing-things, I had to check it out, after all, the thought of taste testing a variety of beers, ciders and wine, ounce-by-ounce, makes me happy. Glad I did because on this particular occasion they had a hard pumpkin cider by Ace Cider that sent my taste buds racing to worship at the altar of the Great Pumpkin. I was digging the pour-it-your-way vibe and could feel the munchies creeping in – the perfect time to order the Barrel Burger that I’d been eyeing on the table next to mine. A few bites into the 100% Chuck, Black Wax Cheddar, Lettuce, Pickles and Onion burger on a Brioche Bun and I was ready to pour myself more ounces of freedom. Tip: There’s a Barrel Republic in Pacific Beach too.
Stone Brewery is arguably responsible for placing the San Diego Craft Beer experience at the top of the world’s tap lines. The Stone World Bistro Gardens at Liberty Station is heaven on earth for beer connoisseurs, whether you fly solo or take your family - it’s not unusual to find children and their parents enjoying the garden setting together. Enjoy a seasonal greeting with a pint of an Avery Brewing Gored Pumpkin Ale that tastes like you’re drinking a slice of pumpkin pie. With its 7.3% alcohol content, don’t be surprised if you start seeing multiple flashes of pumpkins after a few pints. You can remedy the buzz factor ordering the Korean Baby Back Ribs – a perfectly sized taster of tender braised pork ribs that fall off the bone, tossed in a spicy Korean BBQ sauce, sprinkled with scallions and toasted sesame seeds. It’s easy to order two or three plates, it’s that good. When you’re up in North County make sure to check out the Stone World Bistro Gardens in Escondido.
If you can handle the winding roads that define the road to Julian, make a stop at the Julian Station. Located in Wynola, about 3 miles from downtown Julian, the historic Julian Station is the place to be when you want to get your hard cider on. The famed Julian Hard Cider tasting room features specialty batches of award-winning hard cider, including the Apple Pie Hard Cider, famous for its too-good-to-not-be-a-real-apple-pie flavor. While you’re there, make sure to visit Golden Coast Mead and sample some delicious honey mead – an alcohol beverage made from honey and water. All that tasting can bring on a buzz. Luckily, one of the best taco shops in San Diego is located here, Mr. Manitas Taco Bar & Fruteria - where you can order a scrumptious burrito with your choice of Carne Asada, Pollo Asada, Carnitas or grilled veggies with rice, beans, salsa fresca, blended Mexican cheese, guacamole and organic Greek yogurt. Tip: order some tacos to go for the drive back home!