This past weekend I was on a none beer-related trip up along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) our Highway 1. Our goal was Santa Ynes Valley, North West of Santa Barbara. Santa Ynes Valley is a fertile farm area with a 365 day growing cycle. A farmer told me that there is always something that need to be harvested. This is one of the areas where we get our fresh produce at the  farmers market in Santa Monica. The market have different kind of avocados, tomatoes, peaches, melons and much more. The climate and the soil in the valley is also great for growing grapes so this is wine country. There are vineyards where ever you turn. Los Olivos have to be the wine lovers heaven. There are dozens of tasting-rooms and restaurants in this small town. I don’t know much about wine. If I’m at a restaurant or at a party and there is now good beers I’ll have wine. For me it’s not beer or wine. It’s just that I haven’t explored the world of wine yet. That might happen one of these days, or not. Beer geeks and cork dorks have one thing in common though, the hunt for something more interesting, exiting and fulfilling. Another interesting town in the Santa Ynes Valley is Solvang. Solvang is Denmark in USA. Everything Danish is in Solvang except beer, at least up till now. In a few weeks there will be a brewery opening in Solvang.

To not do any beer research when you go on a trip is a big mistake. I didn’t do that going up along PCH. I know that in the actually valley there are not any breweries if you don’t count Firestone Walker. They have a pub there but I don’t know if they brew at that location. I found out about the pub from a local just as we were heading back so I didn’t have time to research that more. There are plenty of brewpubs along PCH coming up from Santa Monica and in Santa Barbara and Carpintera there are breweries. I found their beers in a store and decided to buy some 22 oz bottles. When I drink them I will review them in the coming weeks.

The first beer I had from the trip is actually not from the area around Santa Ynes Valley. This beer is brewed in wine country but a little further north in Napa Valley, the most famous wine district in America. The label of the Organic IPA from Napa Smith Brewery reminded me of a Samuel Smith Brewery beer label. It caught my eye and I thought that Sam Smith had come out with something new that I hadn’t head of. Instead it was domestic from California. This IPA is very American with an intense flavor of Cascade hops. The hopyness  takes over and it doesn’t let the other flavors bloom. As I have said before, I’m not a hop-head. I’m starting to get a little tired of over hoped beers. I lack the balance between the flavors in many of the American style IPS’s.