Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in southern California.

Archive for the ‘alcohol’ Category

Cycling through Santa Barbara Wine Country

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A few weekends ago, I took an afternoon away from the little one to finally do a little riding coupled with wine tasting. When in SB… do as the Santa Barbarians (and tourists), and sip some vino.

My friend and I spontaneously came up with the idea of a wine tasting bike tour the morning of, and drafted up a route using some older resources we found on the SB Bike Coalition and Crazy Guy on a Bike websites. We were shooting for something around 15 miles without too much climbing. I’d say we were successful in doing so, so I’m sharing the route and details here. Would love to hear if I’m able to inspire any others to do something similar!

Wine on.

Written by Crystal Bae

June 4th, 2017 at 4:14 pm

State-Specific Alcohol Laws

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Sometimes you come across strange laws or practices isolated to one place.

In Pennsylvania, for example, you have to go to the beer distribution store to get bottles or cans of beer in large quantities, but the beer store doesn’t sell smaller quantities such as six-packs. To get a six-pack, you have to go to a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, who can sell you a six-pack to go. And hard liquor is sold only through state-controlled stores. You potentially have to make several stops if you’re looking to stock up.

Several northern states we’ve passed through, like North Dakota, also advertise “on or off sale,” which for awhile I couldn’t figure out. Turns out it’s also alcohol-related, and that establishment can sell alcohol for both on-premises and off-premises consumption.

Montana, with its heralded craft brewery scene, also has some quirky regulations. Montana law limits customers to 48 ounces (or three pints) of beer in its brewery tasting rooms. Breweries can’t serve food in the tasting rooms, either – it’s purely beer tasting. In Billings, we visited Angry Hank’s Brewery, where they do make popcorn for you to enjoy with your $3 pints, but there’s no food menu to order from. The hours that a brewery can be open are also controlled by the state; every brewery we’ve seen has the same tasting hours posted, which were 4 to 8pm.

Angry Hank's in Billings

Written by Crystal Bae

July 13th, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Year 2012 in Drinks

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This post is a continuation of this project to record every drink we have this year, complete now with a full year’s worth of data.

I recognize that we’re only two points of reference and therefore can only draw conclusions about our own habits, but the concept of quantified life seems to be enjoying its heyday at the moment. People are getting creative about what they track and how they visualize it: Nick Felton’s design-oriented Annual Reports were my original inspiration. Tracking one’s bike rides is popular, as you can see with Strava and posts like this from a fellow rider in DC. People are measuring what they eat, where they travel, and how they spend their days. This piece in the New York Times, “The Data-Driven Life”, describes a guy who even explored how much time he spent doing his roommate’s dishes – along with everything else he spent time on throughout the course of each day.

New Belgium BrewingAlcohol consumed seems like as good a metric as any to track over the course of a year. Never having taken this kind of count before, we were frequently surprised at our totals – after a month, three months, or an entire year. Adam and I lead fairly active social lives in Washington, DC, where there are plenty of options for going out. We rarely go clubbing and prefer the bar scene or relaxed parties at friends’ houses. And this seems to be reflected in the data: we’re on average 21 times as likely to choose a beer over a mixed drink or hard liquor.

Year 2012 Totals

From January 1st, 2012 to December 31st, 2012


Total Number of Drinks: 505
(of which 82% were beers)
Average Number of Drinks per Day: 1.38
Favorite Brewery: New Belgium
Most-Frequented Watering Hole: Boundary Stone


Total Number of Drinks: 833
(of which 93% were beers)
Average Number of Drinks per Day: 2.28
Favorite Brewery: Chocolate City
Most-Frequented Watering Hole: Thunder Burger

Both of Us

Chocolate City BeerI usually have the most drinks on a Saturday, while it’s Fridays for him. On Saturdays I have more than twice as many drinks on average than on Mondays (the day with my lowest drink averages). I’m more likely to go out closer to home, and Adam goes out closer to work. That’s probably due to the fact that there aren’t very many good places to grab a drink near my office, which isn’t in the city.

Number of drinks for both of us also trend down overall throughout the entire year. However, the numbers trend upward going from the beginning of the year into the summer, then drop in late summer and trend upward again towards the end of the year (and the holiday season).

Number of Drinks in 2012

Click to zoom.

More to come. Let me know what you think or would have been interesting to note!

Written by Crystal Bae

January 7th, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Year 2012 Recap: The Good, the Bad, and the Goals

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2012 has been a memorable year.

I traveled to Boulder in the spring to visit a good friend, took an end-of-summer trip around Iceland, and spent a long weekend in Atlanta with two of my oldest friends. I rode my bike over a hundred miles in a single day (twice), followed ongoing transportation projects in the area, and organized a couple of local rides that turned out to be very popular. I went on a 50km/31mi hike that lasted 12 hours and left me with more memories than blisters (though it gave me plenty of blisters). I spent a lot of time in a tent, though I would have liked to spend more. I read some great books and also started writing more. I made lots of new friends and reconnected with others.

There have also been some bad moments in the year, such as the time my friend got into a bad crash. Or the time our apartment got burglarized. But these have also served as important learning moments, teaching me and those around me that although you have to be careful, you can’t prevent everything.

New Belgium Brewery

On another note, Adam and I spent the year tracking our drink consumption and are working now to summarize that information. We’ve got a year’s worth of data. It makes for a good feeling to track an aspect of our lives for an entire year, and in total it comes to something like 16,000 fluid ounces of beverages between the two of us to make sense of – so as you can imagine, this’ll take some time. We’ll find out if the metrics we tracked were the worthwhile ones, and see what else we can cull from the data.

Chocolate City BeerFor now, I can easily see that the brewery I most represented this year was New Belgium, a Colorado-based brewery that is well-loved in DC. Their traveling festival, Tour de Fat, even came to Washington, DC for the first time this year. Adam’s most represented brewery was Chocolate City. The Chocolate City brewery is practically next door to us, so we’re lucky to be able to fill up growlers on Saturdays.

We had beers from about 121 distinct breweries this year – and I say “about” because tonight’s drinks are still to be recorded. It’s hard to say whether there’s an observer effect here, whether we’re drinking more or less or opting for more variety because of our decision to record our drinks.

Looking forward, here are my resolutions for 2013. I’m keeping them to the goals I really want to focus on and think are achievable this year. Besides these, I have other projects in the works that will become better realized the new year.

  • New Year’s Resolution #1: Read all of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. I’m going to begin by rereading Swann’s Way (the first volume of seven volumes total), since I last read that four years ago. Just some 3,000 pages to go.
  • New Year’s Resolution #2: Learn to enjoy running. I try this every year, but I think having a dedicated running buddy will help this time around. Our goal is to run a 5K in the spring, maybe work up to a 10K later in the year.
  • New Year’s Resolution #3: More civic participation! Volunteer with local organizations and give back to the community. What’s your favorite local cause?
  • New Year’s Resolution #4: Ride more brevets than I did last year. Hopefully that’s easy because I rode only one brevet – my first – in 2012.
  • New Year’s Resolution #5 is another bike-related one: Ride 3,000 miles in 2013. Evenly distributed that’d be 250 miles/month – doable! In 2012, I rode about 2,400 miles from April to December.

Happy New Year!

Written by Crystal Bae

December 31st, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Wrap-up of DC Breweries Tour

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What a day.

This is a tough one to write, because most of the ride went well but a friend in pain overwhelms other emotions. I’m still a little shaken by what happened towards the end of the ride but I’ll get to that.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a small group of friends outside of the DC Brau brewery who announced that it was their last stop on a ride to all three of the city’s breweries. I sent a message to a couple fellow riders on Twitter suggesting that we do the same sometime. They were interested enough, so I decided to pick a date and make it happen. After putting the word out to friends via email and sharing the plan on Twitter and Facebook, I put together a route that made a counter-clockwise 15-mile loop from Chocolate City to DC Brau to 3 Stars Brewing. I attempted to take quieter streets where it didn’t bring us off course, but inevitably there were a couple dicey roads with faster traffic.

Around seven this morning, I rode through the route to check it against what I had mapped out in Google Maps. (Geographers might refer to this as ground truthing.) I’m glad I did, because I was expecting to have at least 15 people on the ride and didn’t want to get lost leading the group, but also because, for instance, you don’t always realize which streets suddenly turn into one-ways. So, on this run I familiarized myself with the route and marked some changes to the cue sheet before heading back.

For the ride, we gathered for a 12:15 start at Big Bear Cafe. Adam, BrianVeronica, and I were the earliest ones there, making time to grab bagels or coffee before the “official” meeting time of noon. I say “official” because this was the first ride I put together that reached outside my immediate circle of friends, and really the first time leading more than eight people on a bike ride. It was nice to see familiar faces from around town, including Kevin, Ted, Michael, and Ed and Mary (who unfortunately could only join for the coffee part). As we chatted and folks began arriving, I realized I had underestimated the attraction of riding to three breweries on a beautiful autumn day. People had brought friends, told others, heard the word and bravely decided to join without knowing what to expect, even sent people in place of themselves if they couldn’t make it. The sidewalk outside Big Bear quickly became crowded – must have been at least 30 riders there, ready to try some local brews.

Photo by Ted Nigrelli

Photo by Ted Nigrelli

We hit the road at 12:15, which gave us time to get to Chocolate City brewery at the start of their growler hours (12:30-4:30pm every Saturday). Chocolate City is the closest to my house of the local breweries, so we come often to fill our growlers. It’s a short ride up the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which I like for its street art and totem poles. As we arrived, we spotted John and Kate, who were there to join for awhile. I think Chocolate City’s setup lends itself well to a group visit – it’s a small building with one open wall that makes it easy to drift around and socialize. They had a food truck stationed outside, but their offerings looked a little too heavy for a bike ride bite. I took this time to try to meet everyone on the ride, a challenge in itself!

Bikes outside of DC Brau brewery

Got the group back on the road promptly since we had two more breweries to visit in a short time window. The next stop, DC Brau, always seems to have a crowd inside, redeeming their generous number of free tasting tickets or walking around touring the facilities. I sat in the sun chatting to friends awhile before going inside to get a sample of DC Brau’s Ghoul’s Night Out (a Belgian-style Quadrupel; like a Tripel but stronger). I’ve had it before, though, so guess it can’t be considered a sample. We arrived at the brewery right when they started a tour, so a large part of our group joined that. Leaving the brewery, we tried to sweep everyone out but accidentally left a friend behind. Realized our mistake ten minutes later, so waited a bit while she caught up with us on the Anacostia/NW Branch Trail.

Though we were able to take to the trails for part of this stretch, we had to take some bigger roads with faster traffic closer to 3 Stars Brewing. Managed that without too much of a hitch, then we started up one of the last hills towards the brewery.

That’s when I heard someone call out “man down” and realized people were stopped at the base of the hill. I rode back down and saw a friend lying in the street, his face bloody -and others had already lept into action, holding cloths to his forehead and nose to stop the bleeding, another rider on the phone with 911. We arranged for a friend of a friend to have his bike taken back while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. His scarf had gotten caught in his front wheel and the bike threw him over the handlebars onto the ground headfirst. A woman who didn’t know him was holding his hand, another trying to talk him through his shock. Neighbors even came out to see if we needed help. It was a moment that made me realize that people do come together most strongly in times of need. A mutual friend ended up riding with him to the hospital once the ambulance arrived, and I led people back to our starting point, too shaken by it all to feel like going to another brewery.

An accident like this is a reminder that even on a quiet road with no cars, things can happen. Going quickly or slowly, things can happen. I’m relieved to say that he’s okay and recovering, and glad it wasn’t worse.

Thank you to everyone for coming, for your patience, and for demonstrating that community really is defined by the great people that make it.

Written by Crystal Bae

November 18th, 2012 at 12:07 am

Bike Tour of DC’s Breweries – Saturday, November 17, 2012

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I’m posting this as an open invite to join me on a bicycle tour of all three breweries in Washington, DC:

  • Chocolate City Beer
  • DC Brau Brewing Company
  • Three Stars Brewery

DC Breweries Bike Tour RouteThis ride will take place on Saturday, November 17th. We’ll meet at noon at Big Bear Cafe, located at R and 1st St NW – or likely the park in front of it as the group grows.

Tentative route can be found here on Google Maps. I’ll be checking out the route beforehand. Please be comfortable with city riding and hand signals. And I know it’s DC, but there are a few hills along the way.

No one will be left behind unless you beg us to leave you with your beer. Estimated to get back to Big Bear around 5pm. Let me know the morning of if you’ll need to drop off earlier than that.

Your reward is good company, and of course free beer tasting! There’s no obligation to buy anything at these breweries (and the sample pours tend to be generous), though tipping is always appreciated. Bring a water bottle for that between-brewery hydration.

Hope to see you there!

Directions – though not a proper cue sheet with mileage – follow the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Crystal Bae

November 9th, 2012 at 9:11 am

Year 2012 in Drinks – Quarter 1 Preview

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As some of you know, Adam and I are taking on a personal project to record all of the alcoholic drinks we have this year. My initial reasoning was that collecting this kind of data would help us curb our drinking (the usual “Drink less this year” resolution) – I was thinking the observer effect could cause us to change our behavior. It’s only been a few months so far, so I’m not sure if it’s working or whether it’s just making us drink a greater variety of beers. Hopefully we’ll see.

Currently the reporting side of this is in progress, but thought I’d throw in an update anyway. Here’s a preview of our working notes.

Year 2012, Quarter 1

From January 1st, 2012 to March 31st, 2012


Total Number of Drinks Consumed: 151
Average Number of Drinks per Day: 1.66
Favorite Day of the Week to Drink: Saturday

Top 10 Breweries:

  1. DC Brau
  2. Dogfish Head
  3. Bells
  4. Pabst
  5. Budweiser
  6. Brooklyn
  7. Corona
  8. Flying Dog
  9. Allagash
  10. Chocolate City

Total Number of Drinks Consumed: 201
Average Number of Drinks per Day: 2.21
Favorite Day of the Week to Drink: Friday

Top 10 Breweries:

  1. Lagunitas
  2. Allagash
  3. Bells
  4. Yuengling
  5. Chocolate City
  6. DC Brau
  7. Dogfish Head
  8. Brooklyn
  9. Flying Dog
  10. New Belgium

Both of Us

2012 Quarter 1 - Number of Drinks

Click for detailed view.

We primary drink beer. Adam didn’t have a single glass of wine this quarter (I had 11). There was a scattering of whiskey and soju and the like, but not much of it. Beer’s our go-to.

It raises a few questions for us: Where’s our beer coming from? How local do we drink? This year, thanks to the revival of Washington DC brewing, we’ve been drinking a lot of DC Brau and Chocolate City. It’s available everywhere we hang out.

Breweries (mapped quickly in Google Fusion Tables):

World Map of Breweries Represented

Here’s a zoom into the United States:

United States Map of Breweries Represented

Drinking plenty of local(ish) beers!

Also interesting: The United States recommended maximum intake of alcoholic beverages is about 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for men, and according to Wikipedia that differs between countries. Among the countries that have a higher recommended maximum than the U.S.: Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the U.K., Denmark, Ireland.

That’s it for now. More data and observations to follow in a later post.

Written by Crystal Bae

April 18th, 2012 at 7:51 pm