Russian River Brewery- My Neighborhood Hangout Spot

Over the last several years I have traveled to over 370 breweries across the U.S. and written about the various beers, taprooms, people, and food. I have been asked why I have yet to write about Russian River, the best brewery in the U.S. and my neighborhood hangout….I have been pondering what exactly I should share about RRBC. Blind Pig is my favorite IPA just doesn’t quite seem like enough…but it is true and it’s the best craft brew made.

I have been bellying up to that bar for many years now, and had my fair share of time spent in line waiting for Younger, and popped in right at opening to try to obtain the “big bottle” days in a row… and finally I realized what the craft beer community needs to know about my beloved RRBC is not what everyone around the world thinks they know or reads about in the press.

After careful thought, I finally have something to share about one of my favorite places: it’s a wholesome locals spot, the bartenders are human, they like to educate people, they do get offended by rudeness, and the kitchen only has one oven so the pizzas and Pliny bites do take time. I am always amazed at how people just expect RRBC to be this magical place that can make pints and food simply appear and how people get angry when they cannot get the beer at home, or when the release gets blabbed about so they cancel it. Downtown Santa Rosa has some businesses that probably complain about the lines. Guess what? During Younger this year I never waited in line once, I was not the first to try it this year, or any year, but I was able to drive by a few times after work and miraculously there was no line, so I went in to indulge. For the beatification bottle release when there was a line around the entire block, I stayed away and drove passed around 2pm and went in only to have Amir ask if we wanted 6 or 12. They still had it. So if you’re looking for the excitement of waiting in line {like a tailgate with friends} then do it, otherwise, wait until the excitement dies down and you can go in without a huge line!

The bartenders have finally warmed up to my husband and me and I’m not going to lie, it definitely makes the experience much more enjoyably. They’re funny, nice, make small talk, and even have Blind Pig in a glass before we can walk to the end of the bar. It’s sort of like my favorite coffee shop…or Cheers. We all wanna go where everybody knows our name, right?

I love the pizza, even if the crust is a little soft one day, I still love it using a knife and fork. The Mickey, New Yorker, and Mama Mia are my favs. The Drew bites are must if you are looking for a snack, but ask for them served flat. Health nut? The Asian chicken salad is dynamite.

I’ve gone to many of the events they put on over the years: the Friendship lunch was by far at the top of my list of favorites; a nearly 8 hour day eating food and drinking amazing beers. Any menu that had Pliny as the palate cleanser is bound to be amazing. Vinnie and Natalie took a photo at the release of Younger one year drinking Hop Slam and Vinnie gave one to my husband. We ended up going to Bell’s that April on our craft beer and baseball honeymoon.

Every trip we go on, we always bring a case of Pliny to give to people who are nice, give us good service, and are just downright cool people {who actually know of Pliny- surprisingly, there are many who do not know about RRBC}. Once in NYC at a cool beer bar and pizza place, Kiabacca, we ended up there every night on that trip, the bartenders knew us by day 2 and were super cool and knowledgeable. We put a Pliny on the bar and the light in the bartenders eyes, man, it was epic. One of the guys actually started to tear up he was so happy.

Some tips in making everyone’s experience at RRBC more enjoyable:

  1. Leave your growlers in your car until you’re ready to go {Especially if you have more that two} the space is limited at the bar. If you have a table, then suit yourself.
  2. If you’re sitting at the bar, make your case purchases when you’re ready to cash out so others around you are not crowded.
  3. The seat at the end of the bar is for one person, not two.
  4. If you put your name on the list for a table and you find a seat outside or at the bar, let the host know so others can take the table.
  5. Order your pizza and bites right away so that if the kitchen is really busy, you’re food should be out by the first sip of your second beer.
  6. You do not have to finish every sample in the entire sampler, but you should get the full sampler, it’s the best in my opinion out of 368 breweries. It’s worth the $22.
  7. WASH your growler.
  8. Don’t even think about bringing in another breweries growler, RRBC will not fill anyone else and they have asked that other breweries do not fill theirs.
  9. Bring your I.D. other wise you will get a pizza stamp 🙁

I’m thrilled that I have such a cool place to go grab a bite to eat and a pint right in my backyard. Cheers to great beer!


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Yanni’s Sausage Grill

An Italian and a Greek married nearly 40 years came to Penngrove about five years ago to bring the world delicious, freshly made sausages.

Yanni’s is an amazing little gem in the tiny little town of Penngrove in Sonoma County. I have been hearing about them over the last couple of years and I am not sure why it took me so long to get there. On the way back from the city on afternoon we decided to stop in.
John and Francesca were so inviting and genuine. We told them it was our first time visiting and that we had heard so many good things. They gave us each a sample of their Greek chili to taste. Anytime someone is a newbie, they greet them with a sample- a nice touch.

A husband and and wife team, the make all of their own sausages and she makes this killer tzatziki {a Greek sauce for the sandwiches in lieu of a mayo or mustard… Don’t even ask for any other condiments- they know what they’re doing}.

The sausage sandos are between $7-$8, one topping is included and additional toppings {grilled onion, banana peppers, sweet peppers, cheese, or tzatziki} are $.60 each. Really reasonable for the quality and taste.

We went two days in a row because the route we were taking just so happened to take us right through Penngrove. Needing a place to eat lunch, we wanted to take our boys to Yanni’s.
We tried the Loukaniko {anise and citrus}, the sweet Italian, hot Italian, and Greek {feta and Kalamata olive}. All were exceptional. When we visited the day before, we sampled the lamb too, incredibly delicious. If I were judging their sausages against others, I’d hands down give them a double gold on all of them!
I forgot to ask them, but I believe they bake their own bread too.

The Greek fries are a must: salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice, and feta cheese with waffle style fries {fresh fries}.

Yanni’s is right next to the Penngrove Pub where you can sit inside and have a drink and eat, or sit out front and enjoy.
As their sign out front states- these sausages will really make your tastebuds sing… So take a package or two to go for only $8!
John and Francesca totally stole our hearts with their lovely personalities and flavorful food. Yanni’s is on my go-to list and certainly my best-of!

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Best Damn Dirty 30 Ever

My husband and I went to my favorite place on earth for my 30th birthday: New York City. We went to see some friends, hang out, eat great food, see the city, and drink beer. My husband had something more up his sleeve…he arranged with Charlie Palmer and his Chef at Aureole a special dinner menu based around all of my favorite foods. He invited three of my favorite people to spend the evening with us and mailed a bottle of my very favorite champagne ever: the Charlie 1985, so we could toast to me with this special wine. It was incredible. Every minute of this evening was special and filled with laughter.

We had a stunning five course meal that incorporated every single thing I love, some things in an obvious way and others not so obvious but very creative. I love carrots, watermelon, pot roast, ahi, foie gras, macadamia nuts, garlic, mustard, celery, truffles, and so many other things… my husband sent this list of what he knows I love and we were “awed”.

Some of the highlights:




















~Foie Gras terrine and pan seared…












~Wild Dover Sole with black truffles, celery root & apple puree, and whole grain mustard vinaigrette.











~Dry aged rib eye, braised short rib agnolotti {This was the ode to my favorite dish in the world: Pot Roast!} with roasted garlic and miso butter.











~My birthday dessert… WOW.











The food was all incredible, rich, artful, and made the entire experience one to remember. BUT one of the best parts of this whole meal was the simple efforts the chef made to accommodate my friend who doesn’t eat seafood and didn’t want to cause a scene by not eating it. They prepared two dishes for him that looked exactly identical to the rest of the tables, only in chicken instead of sole and watermelon instead of ahi, served him first and explained the dish, then served us all. My friends level of comfort wasn’t compromised by the thought of eating fish- it was awesome. We have dined at so many high-end restaurants and never had this personal touch- the chef is brilliant. Dining at Aureole is an experience everyone who has a passion for food should try.




Aureole on Urbanspoon

The Power of Social Media & Love for Craft Beer

As you know from a previous article about my love for social media and the craft beer scene: I think breweries have it down. All of it. I love being able to engage with the breweries I visit. Not only is it cool to be able to contact them ahead of time and promote them on my social channels, but it also makes the experience there better.

In a recent trip to New York City {my favorite city in the world} for my 30th birthday, I had reached out to several breweries I was intending on visiting. Sixpoint Brewery was at the top of my list and has been a place we have yearned to visit for a few years now. I tweeted to them with a lot of hopefulness that they’d reply to me and they did! Mikey contacted me with his email and through that we made a plan to meet at the brewery for a private tour. They are not open to the public but he was happy to show us around. This was one of the coolest brewery trips we have been on, it was brewery number 320 for us!

We showed up to the brewery, buzzed the doorbell and asked for Mikey. The place was covered with tools and building projects because they are remodeling. The space is not very big in general but they sure make the best of the space they have. Right away Mikey seemed chill and cool {everything you hope for on a brewery tour}. He manages the social media and content for Sixpoint and also helps out in the brewery from time-to-time. First things first: he gives us a few samples of the beers they have on tap: Hi Res, Sahti, and Gorilla Warfare. We filled up on Hi Res and made our way into the brewery. It was definitely a New York brewery: very small. It’s actually incredible what they can do in such a small space. They have a variety of different beer projects they work on and a lot of the smaller stuff is brewed at the brewery. They have another facility where they brew the rest of their beers- a 60K barrel facility. They brewery started in 2004 but the symbol {the Sixpoint Brewers Star} has been around since the dawn of civilization. The star itself is a representation of: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth together equally Great Work.

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Sixpoint brews over 40 different beers. Some I have seen out and about in the city {never over on the West Coast} like the Hi Res or Resin, others I have not. Many of them you can find on draft at local spots throughout NYC. The Gorilla Warfare is a coveted brew and rightfully so; it’s fantastic, a well balanced dark beer with notes of chocolate and toasted nuts. Some others they do are the Spice of Life Series and the Mad Scientist Series. I have not had a bad beer from them!

After touring through the {working} brewery, we headed back into the main room downstairs where we set up shop and chilled out by a big ice chest that was the home for one of the brewer’s pet projects: A Pilsner he is trying to perfect.

Mikey and the brewer checking on the status of the Pilsner

We hung out and chatted about social media and other incredible beers like Hillfarmstead and other favorite IPA’s. Part of what I love about the beer world is the sharing. It’s never about having the most of a beer, it’s about sharing it with the most people. So as we sipped on Gorilla Warfare and Mikey was gathering some awesome schwag for us, we busted out a couple of fresh Pliny’s for him as a thank you. Surprised just like we were for the cool schwag {growlers, beers, and shirts}, he was stocked and looking forward to drinking the Pliny. I always love to see my neighborhood brewery beers side-by-side a pint of something I love.

I love the dedication and passion that the people who work there have for the brand and the beer. Visiting Sixpoint was a true pleasure. The team seems like they’re a solid family and as a result are warm and welcoming to others, enjoying the simple pleasure of sharing their love of Sixpoint with others. Cheers Mikey and the Sixpoint crew- you really know how to do it right!! Thanks for sharing the love!

Maui Brewing Company

This is a true “neighborhood bar/pub”. It’s friendly, the people clearly love to work there, the food is excellent, the beers fresh and delicious, and the patrons love being there too. It’s been a brewery on our list for a while now and I am so happy we finally made it. In fact, I am happy that Maui Brewing was actually the driver for us {my husband} booking our flight over to Maui from the Big Island. It was well worth the trip.

The do samplers but only four at a time {that’s ok because with the humidity the beer gets warm so quickly you won’t want more than that otherwise it will not be enjoyable}.














The food is fantastic. Coming from a foodie and wife of a chef, WOW. Even my hubby was impressed. We went back twice for the food and both ordered the same things and the second time, opted not to share. We highly recommend the buffalo chicken sandwich with caramelized Maui onions and their house spicy catsup along with the French dip with the house fried Maui onion strings and awesome horseradish. Yum.
In for just a snack and a brew? The nachos are top notch: crunchy through-and-through, cheesy all around, tomatoes, incredible salsa, with black beans, {add in} the guacamole and sour cream. A small is perfect to split if you’re just thinking of a snack.

Buffalo chicken sandwich with blue cheese and caramelized onions

French dip with house fried onion strings and zesty horseradish




















Wednesdays they reward you for sporting your Maui gear by offering $4 pints of their beers {not including guest taps} all day! We didn’t have any Maui schwag on but we bought a ton and they were kind enough to honor the same price.

They sell a lot of great schwag: they have all of the sizes, they’re completely organized, and very helpful. They have hydro flasks and glass growlers, and they sell  a few on their more popular brews in the can by the six pack.

Maui Brewing Company is definitely on my top 10 breweries list. I highly recommend making the trek over to Maui.

Maui Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

Follow Maui Brewing online: @MauiBrewingCo

Giants bus ride adventure

At my job I get to put together so many amazing events and incorporate some really fun things. Usually it’s the typical food and wine paired meals or something cool in the vineyards but this time we did a bus ride for 40 people to the San Francisco Giants game where they were playing against the L.A. Dodgers. Not too shabby. We had a great group of 40, some met at us at the stadium, we had delicious wines and refreshing beers on the bus there. We all were decked out in Giants orange for #OrangeFriday and we came well equipped with #HunterPenceSigns. It was a BLAST!

It’s really a spectacular thing to be able to have a great experience in the tasting room with members and then have one outside of everyone element at a place everyone loves. Our members love hanging with us as much as we love hanging with them because at Trione we are real. #Winning.


AND it was great to #BEATLA 9-0.


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Trione Giants Adventure


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I love that I LOVE what I do!

In a recent discussion about “what the heck is it all for anymore? Work, work, work… And for what?” With an old friend, I was inclined to reminisce about my last few years at my job. I am truly blessed with the opportunities that I have been given- I work with amazing people and get to host some of the most incredible wine club members with unique and fun personalities: nothing compares.



My job is amazing. I help create awesome experiences, delicious culinary masterpieces paired with some of the finest wines in Sonoma County.


What is it all worth? Working like a dog…. When you do something you love, it’s worth it.

So I say to my friend: find what you are good at. Find that inner talent and that day job will make you smile because it’ll be a part of you.

Miller-Coors Brewing

Now I could not go to Colorado and not take the Coors tour! Or as my family liked to call it, ” the Cerrs terr”

The have everything very well organized. You walk up to the bus stop area and the wait was a little over an hour to ride the bus over to the entrance. They have the whole outside set up with misters to keep everyone happy and cool. The bus driver gave us the whole lowdown and the rules for the brewery and the lounge at the end.

There are only three rules:  Do not share your samples with anyone, do not give your sample away even if you do not like it, and do not take anyone’s sample even when they’re not looking.

The rules seemed to help regulate those rambunctious types…like me!

The brewery is totally a tourist attraction and set up much like the Empire State Building or the Seattle Space Needle is: learn the rules, go take a silly photo with a Coors like cowboy hat {to be viewed later with not one but four fun backgrounds}, get your little audio device to walk around with at your own pace, sample mid tour, then end at the lounge and the gift shop where you’ll inevitably buy things you never knew you wanted. Yep, that’s what we did. I even bought a coors tee shirt for the heck of it.

It was so cool to see all of the old school advertisements displayed on the wall from way back in the day. It was cool to see the progression of advertising too especially from such a huge, highly distributed brand.

A favorite:













I must say it was pretty surprising that we did not have to pay one dime for the tour, the samples, and the beers at the end of the tour. Even though we were told there was no charge for the tour, I couldn’t help but think I should expect to pay somewhere, but nope. Three free beers at the end of the tour too and soda or lemonade for the little. The beer is MUCH better at the source and it was quite interesting seeing the whole process and learning about how Coors started. It’s so rich in Colorado history and even their staff now, they all seem to be pretty passionate about who they are and what they do. I have new found appreciation for the Coors brand. I don;t mind me a Coor light every now and then, but I am certainly not converted. It was a fun tour though.

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One of the greatest things that really gets me so excited about beer travel is when the breweries tweet back to me or comment on my instagram photos! I love it and the Miller-Coors brand was spot on and responsive! Cheers to brewery number 233!








See San Francisco like a local

A Perfect Day in the City

From sunrise to sunset there are so many options in lovely San Francisco but where to go when you only have a day or so and you don’t even know where to start? I have compiled a list of my very favorite places to stop in, check out, dine, grab a quick one, browse, and relax. Why should my list matter? Well, I have traveled all over for food, wine, and craft beer. I have relied solely on the “Local’s suggestion”. When it comes to the best dish on the menu, can’t miss sunset spots, new hot wine bars, you name it, I went because a local told me to and in 10 years, I have never been let down. So from this local to you, here are my sweet spots.


All You Knead.

There are many breakfast spots to chose from and it can be a really tough call because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. From the Mission to Geary to Inner Richmond, there are several fantastic places to eat but my very favorite, one place I will wait for hours for is on Haight Street: All You Knead. Serving the fluffiest omelettes made up of suggested ingredients or built-your-own and served alongside country potatoes {add katsup + sour cream please!}.


Crossroads Trading Company.

Weather you are a shopper or not, this place will suit you because all of the clothes are separated by colors making it very easy to find what you might be looking for or didn’t even know you wanted. An awesome shop located both on Fillmore and Haight with a wide variety of clothing and accessories that won’t break your bank.

City Lights Bookstore.

I could spend hours in this shop. It’s incredible. Old, very San Francisco, crammed with shelves and bookcases filled to the brim with classics of all kinds.



Next to City Lights is a classy old dive bar like place {in the greatest sense of that term}. on the famous street: Columbus Avenue. It’s dark and roomy with a narrow staircase up to a second floor where people can hang out uninterrupted and sip on a classic manhattan or dark and stormy like a City native. It’s priced right, they have a full bar, and a great beer list. It’s my very favorite bar in the city, it feels like San Francisco in there.


Pacific Cafe.

Way out in Outer Richmond district is this quaint little cafe that is known for their big dishes of fresh seafood. From lobster to oysters to abalone, there is something here for every seafood lover. It’s not your typical restaurant. There is always a wait and since sometimes it can be a drag waiting for a table, they greet their guests with a lovely glass of white wine. Brilliant and delicious. I highly recommend the abalone. It’s not too often you’ll see this delicacy on a menu and they cook it just right: thin, breaded, and melt in your mouth.


Swan Oyster Depot.

This place needs no introduction. It’s over on Polk street and when walking down, it’s not easy to miss because there is a line down the street, sometimes for blocks. Swan is family run and a San Francisco staple. A long, narrow bar like those you may run into on the east coast. Run by men, they cook and plate up large dishes of insanely fresh fish daily. Shrimp louie, freshly shucked oysters, clam chowder are all my favorites paired with a glass of chablis. These dishes are all best shared because they are so large and it’s nice to try a few things. Swan is such an old school San Francisco place,they have been doing things the same way for many years. The staff is not super chatty but they are thorough and fast. They do like to get people in and out as much as possible because their capacity is limited (this you’ll see right away, there are no “seats in the back”).


California Academy of Science.

Many people have this on their list already but some may not know that every Thursday night they do the “Nightlife” from 6-10pm. It’s for the 21 and older crowd. It’s a more “adult” way to see the exhibits: with wine and cocktails! The academy is a wonderful place to explore any time but if you happen to have the opportunity to be in the city on a thursday, I highly recommend this experience.


Water bar.

The most spectacular view of the Bay Bridge you will find. The food is phenomenal and the best seat in the house is by the window, of course everyone wants to sit there. If you’re lucky enough to get that seat, great, otherwise, sit at the bar first. The restaurant sits under the bridge making it easy to get lost in watching the lights. Sit outdoors when the patio is open. Water bar offers the most magnificent view of the skyline.

Of course there are those spots where everyone who comes to San Francisco wishes to visit: the Boudin Bakery for a clam chowder bowl, Alliottos for the view at the Wharf, Lombard street because it is the coolest road on earth, Coit Tower,  and the top of the Mark. I recommend all of those things but when limited on time, it’s nice to be able to get away from the crowds in order to fit more in and delve into the city like a local would.

The Bear Republic Brewing Company

The Bear has been my neighborhood brewery for some time now {until a couple of months ago it was just four blocks from my house}. Their beer is always consistent, they hardly ever run out of anything {unless it’s the Cafe Racer 15, then it’s expected}, and the service is consistent. We like to sit in the bar area, even if it’s just at the tables. Ryan, the bar manager is kind of a goof but he gets the job done and if you go on Tuesdays, well, be prepared to eat the tacos because he is a great salesman!

My favorite beers are of course the Racer 5, the Churchill’s single hop, and the Racer X when available. I love to get the garlic fries and the press sandwich. The press is garlic filled as well so if you happen to go on a date, I do not recommend. If you’re married, have at it! Yum.

They have a great happy hour Monday- Friday from 3-5 pm, pints are only $3. This is a great brewery to bring your children because they make bomb root beer floats made from their own house-made root beer that they serve on tap. Kids also eat free on Wednesday nights!

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Bear Republic Brewing Company on Urbanspoon