Old Monterey District Blog

Alvarado Street Brewer's Log, March 2015

Posted on March 17th, 2015 by omba

I think it’s time to discuss one of my personal favorite elements of the beer realm for this month’s post, HOPS. It doesn’t matter if you’re a light beer drinker, are into darker styles, or one who can’t stand IPA’s, one cannot underestimate the importance of hops in beer and their role in growing the industry into what it is today. I can’t tell you how many people I meet that aren’t a fan of IPA’s or hop forward beers and then try the one that stimulates their olfactory senses to the point of completely reversing their opinion only seconds prior. It makes sense, the average beer drinker probably doesn’t realize that the aroma of a beer exists, let alone one of the best parts of the drinking experience. The rise of experimental hops, International varieties, and a fundamental shift from high alpha acid cultivation (hops used primarily for bitterness) to predominately aromatic varieties has had a direct impact on the public’s perception of hops. In the wine world, the aroma is arguably one of the most important elements of the drink – for beer, the same rule applies. And often, hops are setting the stage. Here’s a look a different varieties from around the world, and how they impact a beer.

Let’s cover the basics. The four main reasons why hops are added to beer is as follows:

1. Add bitterness to achieve balance with the malty, sweet wort derived from the mash (where malted barley and water are mixed).
2. Provide unique flavors and aromas.
3. Enhance foam quality.
4. Protect beer from microbial contamination, i.e. – hops will assist preserving beer from infection.

So there you have it – hops augment the appearance (by aiding the beautiful, pillowy-white lacing that catches the sides of the glass), aroma, flavor, provide balance, and even act as a preservative in beer. It’s no wonder that hops are truly an indispensable proponent that make modern beer what it is.


The Pacific Northwest
It’s no secret that the United States is leading the charge of the craft beer revolution. Much of the reason for that are the unique American hop varieties being cultivated in the Yakima Valley of Eastern Washington. It started with the Cascade variety in 1971. The floral, grapefruity character of these hops were noticed by early pioneers like Sierra Nevada, whose use of the hop in their pale ale changed the industry forever. Other varieties soon followed like Columbus, Centennial, and Chinook – mostly known for their pine-like, resinous, and citrusy qualities. Then a whole slew of experimental, aromatic varieties started pouring out – the infamous Simcoe (Pliny the Elder, anyone?), tropical Amarillo, and relatively newer varieties like Citra, Mosaic, and Equinox – prized for their stone fruit heavy, “dank” aromatic profiles. In the coming years, as craft brewers’ insatiable demand...Read More

Family Picnic Adventure at Portola Hotel and Spa

Posted on March 3rd, 2015 by omba

The Monterey Bay is filled with endless open space. From white sand beaches to whimsical gardens, parks and lush forests, there is no shortage of family-friendly places to picnic and explore. Portola Hotel’s Family Picnic Adventure package includes an overnight stay in a nautically-inspired guest room, a box lunch from Jacks Restaurant for a family of four, and the help of our concierge to find the perfect location where your picnic adventure will begin!

Lunch orders will be placed at check in and delivered to your room the following day at your requested time, 8am-3pm. For more information and to book your package online, please click here. Offer is available March 1, 2015 through July 31, 2015.

Please note: terms and conditions apply to all Monterey Bay hotel deals. Based on availability. Blackout dates apply. Subject to change without notice....Read More

More Info

Sweet Dreams Sale at Coastal Home Furniture Gallery

Posted on February 27th, 2015 by omba

Coastal Home Furniture Gallery announces our Sweet Dreams Sale, February 27 - March 17, 2015. We're offering up to 20% off bedroom furniture, mattresses, and bedding (excludes Tempur Pedic and iComfort). We're also offering innerspring, visco/gel and latex mattresses from $299 (for queen). Visit us at 458 Alvarado Street in Monterey.

Portola Hotel and Spa's Green LEEDers

Posted on February 24th, 2015 by omba

Recycling, sustainable living and “going green” are a way of life, especially in California. As Central California’s first U.S. Environmental Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Certified Silver LEED-EB hotel, the Portola Hotel has always led from the front. But, recognizing the need for their employees to have a channel with which to bring their own green ideas to management, the Portola Green LEEDers program was started in January 2011.

Through the Green LEEDers program, Portola staff help to continue and maintain the green initiatives put in place and introduce new ideas, such as in the staff lunch room, where there are separate waste bins for trash, recyclables, and food waste. In 2012, the hotel adopted Monterey’s Del Monte beach in 2012, where Green LEEDers organize four beach cleanups a year through the local environmental non-profit organization Save our Shores.

With interactive programs that engage the hotel and its employees in green practices, as well as engaging in additional sustainability projects, the Portola Hotel & Spa and its restaurants, Jacks Restaurants & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub, have established themselves as true leaders in going green.

More Info

Cha-ya Japanese Tea and Things is pleased to announce that we have acquired a gorgeous private collection of ceramics, Ikebana vases, baskets, scrolls, and much more. These unique pieces will be available for viewing and purchase for five days only, February 26 - March 2, during regular business hours: Mon-Fri, 10:30am-5:30pm; Sat-Sun, 10:30am-3:30pm.

More Info

Alvarado Street Brewer's Log, February 2015

Posted on February 12th, 2015 by omba

As I’m writing this, San Francisco Beer Week is halfway over; tons of amazing events have taken place, and more are in the works. So where did the concept of a “Beer Week” come from, and why are more and more beer tourists flocking to these destinations to participate every year?

The answer to the latter part of the question is simple - if you’re a beer enthusiast, a “Beer Week” in any city lays out a plethora of events with local breweries. All the specialty batches, one-off’s, and collaborations you could imagine - highlighting the best of the local scene. Last weekend, I went up to the Rare Barrel in Berkeley, where they were serving three different dry hopped sour ales and several collaboration beers with fellow Bay Area brewer (and hop Gods), Cellarmaker, and the highly lauded Sante Adairius from Capitola. Needless to say, I was blown away by these offerings - the Rare Barrel is already coming out with some of the most progressive sour ales on the market, and collaborating with these two breweries made the event that much more special. The brewing community does everything in its power to create meaningful events geared towards their fans, and it pushes the industry forward in every way imaginable. Beer pairing dinners, “meet the brewer” events, tap takeovers, festivals, educational seminars, and charitable events all take place over the region in the name of beer.

A modern “Beer Week” is the product of the brewers in the local community, and is usually planned by the local Brewer’s Guild. The San Francisco Brewer’s Guild was founded in 2004, and since then, San Francisco Beer Week has grown to accommodate over 800 events in the span of nine days. Other prominent beer weeks throughout the state include Sacramento Beer Week February 27 - March 6, Los Angeles Beer Week September 20 - 28, and San Diego Beer Week November 6 - 15. Other beer weeks that are starting to gain momentum are Silicon Valley Beer Week in late July and early August, Santa Cruz County Beer Week in August, and OC Beer Week in late June. Honestly, there’s never been a better time to be craft beer enthusiast in this state than right now.

Yes, Monterey is jumping on the train with a beer week we can call our own! Endorsed by the Monterey County Fair Heritage Foundation, Monterey Beer Week will feature events from every restaurant, bar, brewery, homebrew store, and bottle shop throughout the county that supports craft beer. This will not only encourage the local beer industry to collaborate, but will also spawn interest in our local food, art, and culture. The culminating event of the week is the Monterey Beer Fest, happening on Saturday, June 15, 2015. We hope that our first beer week can offer a dynamic range of events, attracting locals and tourists alike in the effort to bring recognition to Monterey County as a destination...Read More

Measure P: Fixing Monterey Streets:
There will be community meetings on Monterey Street Repairs on the following dates

Monday, February 9
Hilltop Park Center, 871 Jessie Street, 7 - 9 pm

Wednesday, February 11
Council Chambers, 580 Pacific Street, 7 - 9 pm

Wednesday, February 18
Casanova Oak Knoll Park Center, 735 Ramona Street, 7 - 9 pm

Monday, February 23
Monterey Youth Center, 777 Pearl Street, Noon - 2 pm
...Read More

More Info

February Mattress Sale at Coastal Home Furniture Gallery

Posted on February 2nd, 2015 by omba

Coastal Home Furniture Gallery announces that all our mattresses will be on sale in February 2015! We invite you to visit our showroom at 458 Alvarado Street in Old Monterey - we’re open Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm, and Sunday, 10am-5pm.

We’ve got some great deals this month! Save up to $200 on select Tempur-Pedic mattress sets. Receive a free box spring with the purchase of a Serta iComfort mattress or save up to $400 on a Serta Motion Perfect Foundation. All other mattresses, including Spring Air California and Serta Perfect Sleeper mattresses, are on sale from $299. And we’re refreshing our floor models, so come check out our selection of floor model Tempur-Pedic and Serta iComfort mattresses on sale.

More Info

Wedding Gowns at Bride N' Formal By the Bay

Posted on January 28th, 2015 by omba

It’s the beginning of the season when couples are making their wedding plans! Brides, if you’re looking for a beautiful wedding gown, we invite you to come to Bride N' Formal By the Bay, which offers you the personal service that only a locally owned and operated small business can provide.

We recommend that brides order their gowns as early as possible. Not all wedding gowns need to be special ordered, but with more time, you will have a greater selection of dress styles and colors to choose from. Once you’ve found your special gown, it will set your theme and make all of your planning come together. Our shop also has a selection of bridesmaids’ dresses, mothers’ dresses, and tuxedos. We look forward to helping you with your wedding planning!

More Info

Alvarado Street Brewery and Grill welcomes our new Chef, Robby Valdez! Robby came to Monterey as our Sous Chef last July, and his background leading a few legendary San Diego kitchens (Raglan Public House in Ocean Beach) made him an obvious choice to lead us towards embracing the "gastropub" element of our restaurant, and moving in a direction to where our food better complements our beer. Over the next several months, Chef Robby will be implementing more dynamic menu items that have a degree of comfort-ability, with a level of flair and creativity to make dining at Alvarado Street Brewery a truly fun, memorable experience.

More Info

Sewing Instruction and Open Studio Time at Bella's Studio

Posted on January 26th, 2015 by omba

Bella's Studio, Old Monterey's sewing, craft, and design studio, offers a number of educational and fun classes, workshops, and private and semi-private sewing lessons for adults and children. Below are brief descriptions of the varied types of lessons we offer that you won’t find on our regular workshop calendar. There's something for every age and skill level!

BEGINNERS PACKAGE (private one-on-one)
This package includes 2 hours of private instruction and is tailored to your interest and sewing level. It includes sewing machine instruction, project planning and selection, materials for a simple project, plus a 10-hour studio punch card.
Cost: $170.00

This companion sew-along session is a fun way to create a memory and share some creative time with someone special ~ a daughter, friend, granddaughter, niece or mate. Come sew a fun, easy project.
Cost: $85 is for two people and is a 1 1/2 hour class. Fee includes all fabrics and materials for the project.

LET ME INTRODUCE YOU (private one-on-one)
If learning to sew or returning to sewing is on your bucket list, but you're not sure how much of a commitment you want to make, come to the Studio and "test the stitches" first. Let Me Introduce You is a 2-hour private session where I will show you the marvels of the modern sewing machine, books, and easy contemporary projects. We identify your specific area of interest and explore some options.
Cost: $80 for a private 2-hour session. Cost includes materials for an easy project.

Youth Sewist Sessions are for your young stitchers with some sewing experience. Each 90-minute session will be semi-private and limited to 2 students, with individualized instruction for each student. Sessions can be scheduled for after school hours or Saturdays. You can purchase a Youth Sewist Punch Card for either 4 or 6 sessions.
Cost: Four 90-minute sessions for $100 plus $45 materials fee for 3 projects OR six 90-minute sessions for $140 plus $45 materials fee for 3 projects.

PRIVATE CLASSES (private one-on-one)
One-on-one sessions with Bella.
Cost: $40 per hour

Are you tired of dragging out your old sewing machine that barely works? Do you dream of having your own fully stocked sewing studio complete with new sewing machines, large cutting tables, materials, notions and helpful assistance? Then Bella's Open Studio for Personal Projects is for you -- an open-lab time where you can bring any project to work on and have full use of the Studio's resources.

Open Studio is intended for those with some sewing experience...Read More

More Info

Alvarado Street Brewer's Log, January 2015

Posted on January 6th, 2015 by omba

2014 has marked yet another banner year for craft beer. While year-end industry data won’t be released until spring, mid-year growth of the craft segment showed production up 18% over 2013, with craft brewers producing 10.6 million barrels (according to the Brewer’s Association). This double digit growth is truly impressive, and reflects how inventive craft brewers are, and how committed they are to putting out a quality product. Both quality and innovation are paramount to success in an ever competitive industry – the number of craft brewers has surged from 1,625 in 2010 to 3,040 in 2014! While overall beer sales dipped to -1.9% in 2013, craft beer sales hit a record high 17.2% growth over the previous year. Craft is still just a speck on the map when it comes to market share of the overall beer industry, but has steadily climbed to nearly 8% of all beer sales in 2013 – this number will surely creep up to 10% and well beyond within the next 5 years. So enough with the mind boggling statistics - what will be some new (or should I say, ongoing) craft beer trends for 2015? Here are a few that I think will see some momentum this coming year:

There’s never been a better time to be a hophead. Almost every craft brewery has a staple session IPA, regular IPA, double IPA, and several seasonal IPA’s. You can find White IPA’s, Black IPA’s, Brown IPA’s, Red IPA’s, Belgian IPA’s, Oatmeal IPA’s, India Pale Lager’s, Imperial India Pale Lager’s, the list goes on and on. No one is tired of hops yet. The “lupulin threshold shift”, coined by Vinnie Cilurzo (considered the pioneer of the west coast style, characterized by heavy dry hop rates) is here in full force: “When a once extraordinarily hoppy beer now seems pedestrian”, and “the long term exposure to extremely hoppy beers [will create an] excessive or prolonged, habitual dependence on hops.” That’s right. The traditional C-hops that were initially responsible for the style’s popularity (Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, etc) certainly seem pedestrian in 2015. Not to say IPA’s with these hops aren’t great (believe me, they are!), they’ve just been relegated to “traditional” at this point. A growing number of hop heads are craving dank, tropical hops with pungent aromatics that include everything from guava and passion fruit, to diesel fuel and garlic. Some newer varieties lean more towards the tropical end, and some towards the oniony side, but the fact of the matter is – these new varieties are in as high of a demand as ever, and the craft beer consumer will likely remember 2015 as “Year of the Dank” when it comes to IPA.

Note: “Dank” hops have been in for awhile, and many breweries have IPA’s that heavily employ new, experimental varieties. I feel their popularity is going to surge even further this year.


Bella's Studio: Youth Sewist Sessions

Posted on December 22nd, 2014 by omba

Bella's Studio, Old Monterey's sewing, craft, and design studio, now offers Youth Sewist Sessions for young stitchers with some sewing experience. Each 90-minute session is semi-private (limited to two students), with individualized instruction for each student. Sessions can be scheduled after school on weekdays or on Saturdays.

You can purchase a studio punch card for either four or six Youth Sewist Sessions. Four 90-minute sessions cost $100, plus a $45 materials fee for three projects. Six 90-minute sessions cost $140, plus a $45 materials fee for three projects.

More Info

Characters Sports Bar & Grill Weekend Hours

Posted on December 15th, 2014 by omba

With the start of the new year underway, football season is almost over! With that in mind, Characters Sports Bar & Grill at Monterey Marriott will be altering its weekend hours beginning Saturday, January 3, 2015, when we’ll return to opening at 11am on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning to serve lunch at 11:30am.

But just because the NFL season is almost over, it doesn’t mean the fun ends at Characters! We still have 11 HDTVs and are capable of showing all NBA and NHL games, as well as most MBL games. We also offer free wireless access, Wii Games, Happy Hour on weekdays, and a menu stacked with great appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts! For more information, please phone us at 831-647-4023.

More Info

Maybe on Monday: Call for Local Artisans

Posted on December 7th, 2014 by omba

Calling all local artisans! Maybe on Monday, a small, newly opened, curated gift shop located in Old Monterey at 251-B Pearl Street, is looking for unique items to add to our collection. We are seeking handicrafts, arts, jewelry, curios, and collectibles - handmade items only. For more information, please contact us at 831-275-1831 or email [email protected].

More Info

Ice Skating by the Bay 2014

Posted on December 6th, 2014 by omba

Celebrate the holidays along the scenic coastline at Ice Skating by the Bay’s seasonal ice skating rink, November 22 - January 4. At Custom House Plaza, located behind Portola Hotel & Spa in Old Monterey, skaters can spend the day in a winter wonderland by the Bay.

Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under; skate rental fee is $3. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 11am-11pm and Sunday, 12pm-8pm. Special holiday hours on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, 11am-10pm.

More Info

Alvarado Street Brewer's Log, December 2014

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by omba

It’s the most wonderful of the year, especially if you like spiced beer. Personally, those aren’t my favorite to drink, but there’s a time and a place ANY beer is enjoyable, right? Rather than focus on the gamut of peppermint spiked stouts and nutmeg infused amber hybrids, let’s talk about some traditional craft beer styles that are synonymous with colder temperatures, shorter days, and the occasional California rain shower. Here are a few of my favorite styles to drink this time of year, in no particular order:

Yes – IMPERIAL Stout, which signifies a higher alcohol content, and RIS (for short) is no exception. It usually ranges between 8 - 12% alcohol by volume, which adds considerable body to the beer – a heaviness on the palate and also a “warming” sensation. Be it known, examples that reek of alcohol are exhibiting a problem with fermentation – the better RIS will hide any traces of “booze” relatively well as it melds within the layered, rich dark chocolate, burnt caramel, and vanilla that all but characterize this thick, chewy, darkest of ales. Why Russian? The style was brewed primarily for export due to its popularity within the Royal court of the 18th Century Russian monarchy (i.e. Catherine the Great). Some popular examples are Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout, AleSmith Speedway Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin, and Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout, among MANY others.

Note: Many of these imperial stouts are treated to year long stays in bourbon barrels, so keep an eye out for the barrel aged versions – the oak accentuates notes of vanilla, and darker spirits will always complement the roasty, smokey, cocoa-infused malt character of the stout family.

Often lost in a sea of Trappist ales (namely, Singel, Tripel, & Quadruple), the often 6 – 8% Dubbel is one that harmonizes rich malt character with the traditional Belgian yeast esters of white pepper, clove, honey, and an array of floral notes. No need to add spices to this style! The yeast takes care of that (as long as fermentation temperatures are allowed to get a little crazy). The best Belgian Dubbels will almost taste like fruit cake – literally. Biscuity, pie-crust-like malt notes will seamlessly blend with the fruity, spicy tones of the yeast to create quite the holiday sensation of beer drinking experiences. Like I said, no spices needed. Some of my favorites include Ommegang Abbey Ale, Rochefort 6, and Chimay Red.

Note: Belgian Dubbels are extremely versatile when it comes to pairing with food. On the lighter side – anything sauteed; the maillard browning effect of caramelization is virtually the same as the kilning of specialty malts found in the Belgian Dubbel style. Heartier dishes like barbequed pork ribs, grilled steak, and braised lamb shank pair well, as Belgian styles of beer are typically higher in carbonation...Read More