30 October 2010

Mikkeller Texas Ranger

A couple of Saturday's ago, I went over to Kerrville and stopped in at Grape Juice.  I discovered Mikkeller Texas Ranger on tap and ordered it.  Here are my tasting notes that I recorded on my iPhone, because I left the notebook in the car.  D'oh!

Jet black opaque. Dark brown head

Some caramel notes with dark, sweet fruity smoke notes

Subtle sweetness with a little roast. Subtle heat comes through in the finish. As it fades, the hops and roast are left at the back of the tongue.

Like having a Old Rasputin with a plate of nachos.

posted by Jeff Holt at 11:38 3 comments links to this post

28 October 2010

Oatmeal Stout, Clones, and Dreams

Last night, after getting off work at 8 pm, I found a bottle of Satan's last batch of Brother Spuds Oatmeal Stout. The first thing I said after the first sip was, "Ooo. . ." I was so moved that I took a photo of the beer and emailed Satan with that sentiment.

Satan has been working on this recipe for years. Tweaking an ounce of grain here, increasing hop additions times a minute there. He started out trying to clone Anderson Valley Brewing's Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. Frankly, I think Barney Flats is nature's most perfect beer. It has a silky mouthfeel, with a nutty flavor that hits at the back sides of my tongue, and makes me feel glad to be alive. At Oktoberfest at the beginning of the month, I tried Summit Brewing's Oatmeal Stout. I got the same feeling from that beer.

Satan is very close to his goal. And that brings up the whole issue if it is possible to actually clone a beer. Can I--as a mediocre homebrewer with improvised equipment, a different procedure and different grains--actually clone a beer? As much as I like The Jamil Show on the the brewing network, I have to say no. I might get close. Very close, in fact. But it won't be the same beer.

Yes, I'm splitting hairs, but I have a blog and I can do that.

Anyway, that first Brother Spuds was so good, I opened another. Then another. Then another! I went to bed and slept the sleep of the righteous. A heavy sleep with vivid dreams of Penn & Teller on tour using a school bus is the one I remember the most. But there were other equally bizarre dreams.

It must have been the oats.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:51 0 comments links to this post

26 October 2010

Ten Best Brewery Tours by Trip Advisor

TripAdvisor.com has released a list of the ten best brewery tours.
  1. Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, Missouri
  2. Samuel Adams, Boston, Massachusetts
  3. Coors, Golden, Colorado
  4. Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  5. Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
  6. Stone Brewery, Escondido, California
  7. Terrapin Brew Company, Athens, Georgia
  8. Harpoon Brewery / Massachusetts Bay Brewing Co., Boston, Massachusetts
  9. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado
  10. Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, Missouri

For the complete story, click here.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:12 1 comments links to this post

24 October 2010

The Satan Push - Conclusion

At the conclusion of the trip, Satan and I didn't talk about another trip.  He came back to Paradise the next weekend for Oktoberfest.  We worked the entire weekend, and were exhausted.  We still didn't talk about another trip.

The other night, I emailed him and asked, "So.When's the next beer trip, and where to?"  We had a few options: Lubbock for a day, Dallas, Kansas City, Artesia/Socorro/Las Cruces, or Denver.  New Mexico is likely the front runner, since Satan's littlest brother lives in Dexter, and teaches at the INS Academy in Artesia.

Yesterday, we met in Eola for a home brew contest at the Eola School Brewery, more on that later.  Sometime in the course of the day, we decided on when and where.    I think I'll keep it a surprise.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:01 0 comments links to this post

22 October 2010

The Satan Push - Stop 6 - Ranger Creek

The latest entrant into the Texas Brewing scene is Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling in San Antonio. I had been corresponding with Mark McDavid for a while, and he suggested that I stop by the next time I was in San Antonio. As soon as Satan said he was coming, I knew we'd be stopping by. And since my nephew lives in San Antonio, I figured he and his wife would like to come along. My brother joined us, and the five of us drove across town, past Morgan's Wonderland, and into an industrial park that Ranger Creek calls home.

Mark met us at the door.  After shaking our hands, he launched right into the tour.  He poured us a sample of their Oatmeal Pale Ale, or OPA.  I have to admit, I was scared of the OPA.  I've had the Quacker Oat Ale at Dodging Duck Brewhaus in Boerne, and wasn't impressed. I make a beer called Dirk's Elixir Wheat Porter from Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass, and one time I left out the black patent malt, creating a vile looking, milky golden beer. I am happy to report that Ranger Creek's OPA is nothing like the other beers. It was crisp and hoppy. I wish it was already in stores!

Mark led us unto the brewery and gave us the a great tour.  After our visit to Jester King, it was odd seeing a brewery with four walls and a complete roof.  Our first stop was by several pallets of three gallon wood barrels of assorted toasts.  Mark said that as soon as they get everything set up, they will be making Texas bourbon and experimenting with the barrel caracteristics.  (It's at this point that my brother's migraine kicked in, as you can see from his expression in the photo.)  Mark told us that we could expect to see Ranger Creek whiskey on store shelves in 2012.  I know what I'm drinking for my 50th birthday that year.

Mark showed us around the brew house, and explaining the brewing process.  He showed us the beer mash tun and the whiskey mash tun.  He showed us the fermenters.  They were almost touching the ceiling.  When they were erected, they had to cut some of the steel supports.  I wondered aloud if they would have to remove the roof to expand, and Mark said they probably would.

Someone crawled out from behind the fermenters carrying what had once been a large roll of tape.  Mark introduced us to TJ, who was insulated the glycol lines, which had been sweating and leaving puddles on the floor.  Then Mark introduced us to the Hungarians, whom I had been following on the Ranger Creek blog. (Later, one of the folks I follow on Twitter mentioned that when he toured the brewery later in the day, the Hungarians were fascinated by his iPhone. I forgot to take mine out, but my neice-in-law is an attractive blond and was wearing shorts. The Hungarians were focused on something else.)  To my surprise, Satan didn't know the Hungarians.  But when he was in Yugoslavia, he had spent a few days in their hometown, so he got along famously with them.

The Mark showed us the still.

[Insert sounds of Angelic singing here.]

The still is a thing of beauty.  Copper gleamed as the sun through the skylight that had to be installed to accommodate the still .  Like a beacon in the night, it beckoned the whiskey lovers among us like a siren summoning ships to the rocks.

Ahem.

Back in 2009, Satan and I had visited Anchor Brewery and taken the tour. Our tour guide there showed us their still at the far end of the building, and like the Lord told Moses, told us that we could go no farther, but we could gaze upon the holy land. At Ranger Creek, Mark let us go up close, peek inside,and even--GASP!--touch it.

Then Mark took us outside and showed us the largest smoker in town, possibly the world.  It is a shipping container with a firebox in the back.  This is where they will smoke the malt for their Mesquite Smoked Porter.

Back inside, Satan spoke with the Hungarians, and guess what!  No, he didn't know them.  But he had visited the town they were from when he was in Yugoslavia.

Satisfied from the samples and tour, we thanked Mark and headed for our last stop, San Antonio's Flying Saucer before heading home.  We found out the next day that they had tested the still later that day.  Sure enough.  It works.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:31 0 comments links to this post

21 October 2010

Cactus Jack at Fredericksburg Brewing Company

A prickly pear wheat ale brewed by Fredericksburg Brewing Company for their "Beer for Boobs" event, which will raise money for Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation. They are having a special event on Friday night

Not bad. Reminds me of Cap'n Crunch Crunch Berries.

I stopped by on Monday on my usual visit. The first one was for Aunt Ann P. who kicked breast cancer's ass. Next one was in memory of Aunt Ann T. (Satan's Mom), gone 13 months. Third one was for Grandma Claudia, gone oh so long ago, back when Satan's and my parents were kids.

Who said drinking beer was bad?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:33 2 comments links to this post

20 October 2010

Major Blankety-Blank India Wit Ale

I have been having a hard time deciding what to brew next.  I want to brew another Kölsch I Said So, but haven't bothered to order the ingredients.  Instead, I kept trying new things.  That's my curse, I'm afraid.  So, while going through Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass, I came across this recipe:







Major Blankety-Blank India Wit Ale
Specialty Beer

 

Type: All Grain
Date: 10/16/2010
Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Brewer: Jeff Holt
Boil Size: 7.97 galAsst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 minEquipment: Jeff's Brew Pot (15 Gal) and Igloo Cooler (10 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00
Taste Notes:
Ingredients
AmountItemType% or IBU
0.50 lbRice Hulls (0.0 SRM)Adjunct3.03 %
8.00 lbPale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM)Grain48.48 %
7.00 lbWhite Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)Grain42.42 %
1.00 lbCaramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)Grain6.06 %
0.50 ozGoldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (Dry Hop 5 days)Hops-
1.50 ozGoldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min)Hops21.0 IBU
2.00 ozGoldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (20 min)Hops17.0 IBU
1.00 ozGoldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (5 min)Hops2.8 IBU
0.50 itemsgrapefruit peel, zested (Boil 5.0 min)Misc
0.90 ozOrange Peel, Sweet (Boil 5.0 min)Misc
1 PkgsBelgian Wit Ale (White Labs #WLP400)Yeast-Wheat
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.060 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.010 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SGMeasured Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol:6.02 %Actual Alcohol by Vol: 0.65 %
Bitterness: 40.8 IBUCalories: 43 cal/pint
Est Color: 6.5 SRMColor:
Color
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch SpargeTotal Grain Weight: 16.50 lb
Sparge Water: 5.59 galGrain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 FTunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment:FALSEMash PH: 5.4 PH
Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Step TimeNameDescriptionStep Temp
75 minMash InAdd 20.63 qt of water at 161.4 F150.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Corn SugarVolumes of CO2: 2.4
Pressure/Weight: 4.5 ozCarbonation Used: -
Keg/Bottling Temperature:60.0 FAge for: 28.0 days
Storage Temperature: 52.0 F
Notes
Created with BeerSmith


Naturally, I screwed up the order and only bought 1 ounce of Kent Goldings.  So I improvised.  I used .75 ounces of Chinook at 60 minutes, and .75 ounces of Columbus at 20.  I got 1.058 instead of 1.060, so I'll call that a stand up triple.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:21 0 comments links to this post

19 October 2010

The Fine Art of Beer Taunting

I work every third Monday. So, on occasion, I will visit a brew pub or restaurant without Satan, my trusty sidekick, my kemo sabe, my wingman.

At 3 pm, or thereabouts, I’ll head over to Fredericksburg Brewing Company for a couple or three pints. Once in a while, four pints. I will be so happy to have a cold, craft beer in front of me that I will use my POS iPhone (the one that won’t sync because it things everything in iTunes is a corrupt file) to snap a photo and send to Satan to let him know I am thinking about him.

For some reason, Satan takes offense at this! He uses language so foul, that if his mother were alive, she would wash his mouth out with soap. Then he suggests that our shared ancestors are canines! All of this vitriol because I was enjoying a good beer while he was at work.

Apparently, he also expressed his displeasure at my Monday’s off with his fellow Basin Brewers. So when I include them in my discoveries, they, too resort to profanity and hinting that I am acting like a part of male anatomy! They accuse me of taunting them!

I don’t taunt them.

Satan taunts them.

On our last trip to NHC last year, when we stopped at Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant, Satan told me to snap a photo of him holding a pint in one hand, and extending the middle finger of the other, in what I assumed to be the official salute of the Basin Brewers—he had me email it to him so he could sent it to the other members.

And when we arrived in our Minneapolis hotel room after registering for the conference, he had me photograph him holding the conference beers while proudly wearing what my father calls a “Shit Eating Grin.” Once more, he had me mail it to him so he could send it to his “friends” back home.

On our recent trip to Jester King Brewery, was it me who posed like Captain Morgan on their brew deck? No. It was Satan.

Satan has tried to “taunt” me, but since he doesn’t have a camera phone, he can muster a weak, “I’m having a Woodchuck Cider at Buffalo Wild Wings” every so often.

Meh.

Only Tom, one of the Basin Brewers, has successfully “taunted” me when he took photos of the cool beers he was drinking at the Dancing Bear Pub, in Waco. You see, Tom understands the rules of taunting.

The Rules of Taunting

  1. Pics or it didn’t happen. What’s the point of telling me how good a beer looks or how nice the bar is if there is no photo? Don’t have a camera? Then, keep it to yourself.
  2. It must be something I can’t get or done when others can’t or where the others aren’t. Don’t send pictures of you enjoying a Coors Light while watching Sunday football at home. Send me the photo of the cider at BFWW. Preferably with the game on the big screen slightly out of focus in the background. If it’s 10 am and your watching the World Cup at Freetail, taunt away! I will even accept that photo of a Coors Light if it’s at the stadium while a game or concert is in progress.
  3. Be subtle. A simple “Guess where I am” is sufficient. You don’t have to add “I’m at a cool bar and you’re not!” It’s implied. Even a childish “Neener, neener” is good.
  4. Tasting notes are acceptable. Refrain from adding a snarky “Too bad you’re not here.”
  5. Pics or it didn’t happen. It bears repeating. Someone pass out? The waiter/waitress is hot/has cool tattoos? The chick at the next table is scantily clad? Send photos. That’s why I carry a phone that can get email!

There you go. Now get out there and taunt away!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:43 2 comments links to this post

18 October 2010

The Satan Push - Stop 5 - Freetail Brewing Company

I only have a few rules in life.  Some have multiple applications:  "Don't dip your pen in company ink", for example, applies to office supplies and personal relationships in the workplace.  Some are life lessons: "You can only count on yourself" or "Always watch your back."

One is very simple:  "Never drive by Freetail without stopping."

The plan was to meet my nephew and his wife for lunch at Freetail Brewing Company, then head over to Ranger Creek.  My nephew works nights for Boeing, so this would be breakfast for him.  (Beer for breakfast.  I miss my 20s.)

As usual, the food was excellent, but the real winner was the beer.  I've never had a bad beer here, and still haven't.  I had a sour beer while my brother, who had complained that his wife never lets him do the things Satan and I do and decided to join us, had the Spirulina Wit.

Satan was raised on a farm.  On that farm was a medium sized flood control lake chock full of algae frogs.  The Spirulina Wit looked like a glass of that.  Or like a green bean smoothie.  It was a murky bright green with next to no carbonation.  It had an herbal aroma that was hard to describe, and tasted light and herbal.  Like it was good for you.  It was surprisingly good. It would have been better if it were more carbonated, but if we weren't heading for a brewery tour, I would have ordered a pint.

Our waitress was awesome, in multiple ways.  She was prompt and attentive, even if at times she seemed to be covering someone else's tables besides her own.  She had an athlete's body and was well inked.  She looked like she could rip me in two.  I tipped well, both for my safety and for her service.  Then we loaded up the car for the drive across town to Ranger Creek.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:45 0 comments links to this post

15 October 2010

Foam on the Range - Houston, 10/22 - 5-8 pm


A Beer Lover's Celebration with 25 tables featuring over 100 craft brews and a VIP room featuring the finest beers at Foam on the Range. Enjoy live music while sipping and sampling your favorite brews. Interactive games, interesting vendors and concessions fill the experience. Under the Texas skies adjacent to Alamo Draft House at West Oaks Mall at Highway 6 @ Westheimer.
Yellow Cab Designated Driver tickets are $5 and Designated Drivers receive a Kroger gift bag, a bottle of Kroger water, live music and lots of people watching.
Hosted by West Oaks Mall, the event is being held outside on the grassy area behind Alamo Draft House. In case of rain, the event will move indoors so come rain or shine. The entrance fee covers tasting cups, beer, brew knowledge, a Kroger gift bag and Kroger pretzels, a bottle of Kroger water, fun, interactive games and live music. Food is available for purchase and is provided by Rioja Spanish Tapas Restaurant.

Each guest receives 24 beer samples. Additional beer sampling cards are available for $5 each which is good for an additional 12 beer samples.

Last year this event sold out so we encourage guests to get their tickets in advance. Tickets are available online and at the door, but space is limited. Foam on the Range is an element of Zest in the West which provides scholarships to the nonprofit West Houston Leadership Institute.
FOAM on the RANGE is an annual tradition brought to you by Food & Vine Time Productions the producers of Wine & Food Week, Brewmasters International Beer Festival, The Epicurean Adventure at Bayou City Art Festival, Cinco Charities Sip & Stroll and Zest in the West!

Brewers you fill find at Foam on The Range
Ace
Lagunitas
Ace Apple IPA
Ace Joker Censored
Ace Pear Little Sumpin' Sumpin'
Hop Stoopid
Anchor
Humming Ale
Left Hand
Anchor Steam Left Hand Milk Stout
Liberty Ale Twin Sister IPA
Anchor Porter
Oskar Blues
Avery
Dale's Pale Ale
Avery IPA Mama's Litle Yella Pils
White Rascal Old Chub
Ellie's Brown Gordon
Hog Heaven
Real Ale
Breckenridge
Fireman's #4
471 IPA Rio Blanco Pale Ale
Vanilla Porter Full Moon Pale Rye
Avalanche Brewhouse Brown
Agave Wheat Real Ale Oktoberfest
Brooklyn
Ska
Brooklyn Lager Modus Hoperandi IPA
Brooklyn Brown Ale Pinstripe Red Ale
Brooklyn Oktoberfest True Blonde Ale
Local 1
Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Dogfish
Stone
Punkin Arrogant Bastard Ale
Indian Brown Ale Stone IPA
Raison D'Etre Stone Pale Ale
90 Minute IPA Smoked Porter
Full Sail
Summit
Sessions Summit Extra Pale Ale
Sessions Dark Summit IPA
Sessions IPA Horizon Red Ale
Sessions Amber Seasonal Oktoberfest
Great Divide
Victory
Hercules Double IPA Prima Pilsner
Titan IPA Hop Devil IPA
Golden Monkey Triple
Hop Wallop Strong IPA
Green Mountain Cidery
Green Flash Brewing Company
Woodchuck Cider Amber West Coast IPA
Woodchuck Cider Granny Smith Hop Head Red Ale
Woodchuck Cider Pear Trippel Belgian Style Ale

Barleywine Style Ale
Harpoon

Harpoon IPA Merchant du Vin
UFO White Samuel Smith's Nut Brown
UFO Hefe Samuel Smith's Organic lager
Harpoon Cider Lademan's Framboise
Ayinger Brau-Weisse
Artisinal Imports
Ayinger Oktoberfest
Xingu
Hobgoblin Unibroue
North Coast Old Rasputin La Fin Du Monde
Ephemere
Belukus
Maudite
Wells & Young's Chocolate Stout Trois Pistoles
Wells & Young's Banana Bread

Blache De Bruxelles
Hopus
Duvel
Duvel
Maredsous Brune
Ommegang Witte
Houblon Chouffe
If you go, make sure to drink some for me!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:06 0 comments links to this post

14 October 2010

Pedernales Brewery is Coming

From the press release:

“ROLL OUT THE BARREL” 

THE NEWEST CRAFT BREWERY IN TEXAS WILL SOON BE BREAKING GROUND IN FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS…RIGHT IN THE HEART OF THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY.

DR. PAUL FARNSWORTH, NOTED CRAFT BREWER, SPEAKER, CONSULTANT, AND PROFESSOR OF FERMENTATION SCIENCE AT UNM IN ALBUQUERQUE, WILL BE THE BREWMASTER FOR PEDERNALES BREWING COMPANY.

THE PEDERNALES BREWING COMPANY, LLC IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THEY WILL HAVE MULTIPLE BRANDS AVAILABLE– LOBO, LOBO BOCK, AND LOBO NEGRO; LADDER TRUCK LAGER, WHICH WILL BE A BENEFIT BRAND TO SUPPORT RURAL EMS UNITS AND VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENTS; AND PEDERNALES CLASSICS -WHICH WILL SHOWCASE CLASSIC BEER FROM AROUND THE WORLD INCLUDING PALE ALE, PORTER, STOUT, PILSNER, AND OTHERS.

THEY INVITE YOU TO “LIKE” THEM ON FACEBOOK AT "PEDERNALES BREWING COMPANY." MORE INFORMATION WILL BE FORTHCOMING IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS AS THEY BREAK GROUND AND PREPARE TO BE OPEN WITH THEIR PREMIERE PRODUCT LAUNCH IN LATE SPRING OR EARLY SUMMER 2011.

PEDERNALES BREWING COMPANY, LLC WILL ALSO SOON BE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT AND IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT LEE HEREFORD, 830/669-2917.

Currently, the website is not active.  The Facebook page says it will be up soon.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:04 0 comments links to this post

The Satan Push - Stop 4 - Real Ale Brewery

There's a family joke that anywhere Satan goes, he knows someone.  Four years ago, in Denver, as we were being served beer for the opening toast, the server asked, "Were you in Afghanistan?"  With a roar of delight, Satan leaped to his feet and embraced the man.  "Tim!"

This time, we were at the Real Ale Brewery, where we asked if everyone got to take turns wearing their GABF Gold Medal.  Someone in the crowd looks at Satan and said, "Are you from Midland?"

"Yes, I am," Satan said.

"Are you Satan?" he asked, using Satan's real name.

"DANE!"

I rolled my eyes.  Here we go again.

Dane Mosher used to live in Midland and was a member of the Basin Brewers.  He worked at Real Ale for a few years.  Gabrielle, the gal in the background, said that he came up with the first Fireman's #4 recipe.  Then he left Real Ale to go to medical school.  So Satan called one of the Basin Brewers so he could talk to Dr. Dane.  So while Gary and Dane got caught up, we skipped the tours and kept sampling.

All too soon, we had to leave.  We had promised my parents we would be back early for dinner.  Gary and Dane exchanged phone numbers, and gave him one of the bottles we had purchased in San Marcos.

posted by Jeff Holt at 07:27 0 comments links to this post

12 October 2010

I love Dirndls





Kim Kardashian visited Germany, and so someone put her in a dirdl and took a few photos.  You can see 'em here.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:23 1 comments links to this post

10 October 2010

The Satan Push - Stop 3 - Root Cellar Cafe and Darkside Fermentations

It had been a long time since I had been to San Marcos.  In a previous life, I was a route salesman and I worked San Marcos for a few months.  Long enough to get the general geography down, not long enough to learn all the details.  San Marcos is a small city with a large university, and the whole town feels like the campus.  And Satan and I love the vibe of college communities.

I will say that it was easier to find the Root Cellar than it was to find a parking place, but we managed.    The restaurant is in the basement of a three story building.   The ceilings were low, the rock walls covered in a thick, glossy tan paint.  Art hung everywhere.  Very laid back and hip atmosphere.  A couple of attractive waitress scurried among the tables: one a shorter, curvy blond in jeans, and a taller blonde in shorts (with a fistfull of straws stuffed in her right back pocket) with great legs.  Runner's legs, Satan decided.  There were a couple of guys working there too.  They looked like guys.

We had to wait for a table; not a surprise, it was 12:30 pm on a Friday.  We scoured the menu and had already picked out what we wanted when we were seated.  We had seen a chalkboard at the cashier's stand advertising a Golden Strong Ale and a Grooms Ale, made with yarrow root.  We ordered a bottle of each, only to find out the Grooms Ale was sold out.  So we ordered two bottles of the golden ale.

I thought the Golden Ale was a little on the Dark Strong side, but it was still a very nice Belgian ale.  Dark, dried fruit, with hints of spice and a nice alcohol warmth.  A perfect beer for a neat little place.  Satan commented that the restaurant reminded him of some places he had been to in Europe.

I love being in college areas.  There's a sense of education in the air.  At restaurants in non-college towns, the conversations you overhear tend to be about work, last night's TV shows, or something else that is important in people's lives, but hardly inspiring.  At the table next to us, two ladies were discussing Shakespeare, Shylock and politics as they discussed the opening of a Shakespeare Festival they were organizing.  You don't hear that in Eola, for example.  The conversations in Eola are more prosaic and tend to be about farming and family.

 I ordered a rosemary citrus chicken, Satan had Shepard's Pie.  Really great food.  If I have a complaint, it is that the service was a bit slow.  It was a busy Friday, true.  But the ladies next to us waited an hour after their order, and only got their food because they flagged down the waitress.

Stuffed, we made our way back to the car and headed for Blanco, our last stop of the day.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:06 2 comments links to this post

08 October 2010

The Satan Push - Stop 2 - Jester King Brewery

I tend to start things and not finish them.  I can't tell you how many comic or stories I have started writing and never finished.  Half way through each project, I get a new idea, and so I am off on a tangent, leaving the old project behind, gathering dust in a drawer.

That's why Jester King Brewery felt homey and familiar to me.  It is both unfinished and, as of the night before, a real, working brewery!

As we climbed the hill of the east side of Dripping Springs, heading towards Austin, we drove into a driving rain storm.  So we followed the ribbon of flashing brake lights to Fitzhugh Road and turned left.  As we left 290, the rain began to thin out a bit.  Jeffrey Stuffings had told me to look for a sign that said Ceres Park.  By the time we had found the sign and turned into the drive, it had stopped raining.  We drove down the road looking for the brewery.  It was hard to spot because 1) there isn't a sign, and 2) it's at the bottom of a hill hidden behind a small garage/workshop.  Fortunately, there was mail on one of the workbenches identifying the place as Jester King, and we weren't trespassing on some sharpshooting farmer's property.  And to confirm our deduction, there was a field of stainless steel kegs off to the left. We made our way to the brewery.


Jeff and his brother Mark had brewed their first batch the night before and were running late.  "Make yourselves at home," he texted.  So we did.

We explored every corner and all but climbed on top of their equipment as the rain cloud moved over the property.  That's when we noticed the roof wasn't finished.  The ridge cap hadn't been put up over halve the roof, and the walls on the west side of the building hadn't been put up.  We basked in the glow of morning sunlight reflecting off stainless steel fermenters, dodged raindrops and tried to figure out how the brewery worked from the maze of pipes running along the ceiling.

After about forty-five minutes, we were about to leave when we spotted Jeff and Mark.  So we got the "official" tour, and found out that we had been pretty close in out guesses.

As Mark and Jeff lead us around the berewery, Jeff told us that they would be making barrel aged beers, and focusing more in the Belgian tradition.  He showed us his barrels, and his cool room.  I could feel my mouth watering in anticipation of a sample or two, but sadly, they didn't have any to share.  They did have a lot of enthusiasm, though, and that helped me through my pain.

The rain clouds were breaking up and it was getting steamy as Jeff and Mark described their previous 13 hour brew day.  We sympathized.  The first batch on a new system always takes twice as long as it should.

With stomachs growling, we thank the Stuffings for their hospitality, and headed for San Marcos.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:14 0 comments links to this post

06 October 2010

The Satan Push - Stop 1 - Pecan Street Brewery, Johnson City (Under Construction)

I call Satan "Satan" because he says his friends' wives all say he's the devil—a horrible influence on their husbands.  When he's around, they say, their husbands drink more, stay out later and flirt with women of dubious virtue. Satan says that it's his friends' fault when they get in trouble with the wives. But I have a theory: Sometimes, when Satan comes up with an idea, before you know it, you think it's your idea and you're convincing him to go along with “your” plan.  I call it the Satan Push.

A couple of weeks ago, Satan decided he would take his birthday off and come down and drink beer, maybe visit  a couple of breweries.  By the time everything was arranged--Satan Push!--I felt bad that I had convinced him to take a vacation day to drive four and a half hours to get here, just so we could drink beer.

I set up a little tour of places I wanted to visit, and on Satan's Birthday, we headed out towards Austin to visit Jester King Brewery.  En route I decided to tempt Satan a bit, and swing by the site of the future Pecan Street Brewery.  No one was around, so Satan took a few pictures for his homebrew club's newsletter.

Meanwhile, I got a text from Jeff Stuffings, owner of Jester King, that said he was running late.  He told us to make ourselves at home while we wait.  Once Satan had enough photos, we headed for Dripping Springs.

Next Stop: Jester King

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:35 0 comments links to this post

04 October 2010

Flying Saucer - Austin

After picking up ingredients for Abbey Wiezen, I decided to have lunch at the Flying Saucer in Austin. I stopped in a bit after noon to find a pretty thin crowd. It's in one of those live/work/play places that seem to be all the rage.

I slipped into a booth and my future ex-wife came to the table. She was slim, blonde, and had a cute, pierced right eyebrow.  She was petite, with a wonderful smile, and looked really good in her short pleated skirt and tight t-shirt, the Flying Saucer uniform.  Best of all, she knew her beer. She brought be a (512) Brewing Company Double IPA, whose name eludes me at the moment. And, no, I did not take notes. (Update: It's called Two. Google is your friend.) It's a great beer, with a nice malty backbone, and nice piney hops.

After that, my future Ex suggested the Real Ale Lost Gold IPA, which I drank the rest of the meal.
In retrospect, I should have asked the Future Ex if I could snap a picture, for my furtive attempts to take a picture to send to Satan all turned out to be kind of "stalkery". Oh well, the relationship was doomed from the start.  She was no doubt the age of my nephew, and it's probably real creepy for a guy in his late forties to be drooling over someone have his age.  Especially if he's fat, and not at all rich.

I don't get over in that neighborhood too often anymore, so I don't expect I'll be back anytime soon. The Saucer in San Antonio is much closer. But it was nice to try some Austin beers.

posted by Jeff Holt at 14:13 0 comments links to this post

02 October 2010

DFW Beercation Stop #5 - Gordon Biersch

The final stop on our beercation was Gordon Biersch at Park Lane, a massive live/work/play complex near downtown, which is a good hump from Rahr & Sons. Naturally, there was some construction. And, like every other time I have been to Dallas, I had to divert through Dealy Plaza where either Oswald, Casto, Hoffa, The Mob, Johnson, or aliens whacked JFK, depending on which conspiracy theory you believe. Apparently, JFK had some construction to deal with, the assassin/s knew it, and all they had to do was wait.
One of the founders of Gordon Biersch is Dan Gordon, a German-trained brewer who insists on authentic German beers in his restaurants. He a four time guest on The Brewing Network and I always enjoy it when he stops by. While Gordon Biersch beer has been sold in Texas in bottles for a while, the restaurants are a pretty new arrival. There are only two Gordon Biersch restaurants in Texas, both in the Metroplex.
Our server was Andrew, and, to give him credit, he did a good job explaining the beers to use. Satan and I refrained from mentioning that we were familiar with beer styles while he described the flavors we would be experiencing. When he got to the hefewiezen, though, he stumbled a bit. He assured us that there was no fruit or spices in the hefe, but said the flavor came from how they boiled the beer. Since our first rule of dining out is "Don't Be A Dick," (especially to people who will be handling your food) we smiled and nodded politely. We did not say that the flavors were the result of the yeast strain and fermentation temperatures. The dude was doing his job, and doing it well enough for civilians.
Satan and I both chose the Märzen, and dishes that had been prepared with it. I ordered a chicken in a Märzen sauce that was excellent. However, the heat of the brewery tour combined with the late night before was beginning to affect us. So instead of another pint, we headed back to the hotel for a nap before joining Satan's brother and family for dinner.
Next time, we plan to focus entirely on the Dallas area and hit the brewpubs and beer bars there. Paul Hightower has promised to hoist a pint or two with us next time we're in town.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:45 1 comments links to this post