Monthly Archives: August 2011

Ladies at Ladyface: 4

Monday night was yet another Ladies at Ladyface meeting. Are they getting old? Um, no. Never. Not possible. Never ever ever. Never. No.
My mumsie (an eager-to-learn founding member of Ladies at Ladyface) and I arrived early to have a nice, leisurely dinner. I started with the Ladyface Rye. A beautiful red, delicate lacing, and full of wonderful Centennial aroma and bitters. Since we were having lots a few sips of summer beers later, I opted for a taster.
Ever since I had these with Brie, I’ve been dreaming about them. Popcorn chickpeas aka DEEP FRIED chickpeas. Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything that’s been deep fried.
Little crispy paprika and lemon-scented pebbles of deliciousness. I’m salivating looking at my own picture. They’re that good.
We balanced it out with some green – spinach sauteed in garlic. See? My blog isn’t ALL about unhealthy foods!
Just MOSTLY about unhealthy foods. The sausage plate contained brats, jalapeno chicken sausage and basque. I wasn’t a fan of the basque (I Googled – it’s chorizo), but the brats were wonderful! This plate was demolished.
After our meal, we headed out to the patio to join the rest of the ladies and enjoy the warm evening.
It was nice and quiet for the first half hour, then people started filing in as the work day came to a close. Will someone explain to me what a work day is? I just can’t seem to remember what it’s like to work during the week… I’m kidding. Please don’t hate me.
Ladyface had just released their Palo Comado XPA (one reason why our meeting was pushed back a week), and Cyrena passed around a pitcher of the organic, pale, rose-scented sessionable beer. I loved the aroma and drinkability of this, but every summer I’ll always reminisce about their Derailleur.
There was a wide variety of summer ales on the table. A hint – don’t drink the Leinenkugel Summer Shandy. Weiss beer with “natural lemonade flavor” is nasty. Perhaps with REAL lemonade it would taste better, but I’m not a fan of drinking lemon Pledge. To each his/her own.
J. J., a local homebrewer, brought in her latest brew – Mango-Apricot Pale Ale. Heavy mango aroma, wonderful, slightly sweet apricot flavor with high carbonation and a smooth finish. I was surprised how much I liked it, seeing that I’m not the biggest fan of fruit in beer. J.J. then had us pour a small splash of cream soda into the beer and try it again. Mango-Apricot Creamsicle beer. Awesomeness in a glass.
My mom’s contribution was the La Folie sour brown by New Belgium. This was the first beer she tried that she actually ENJOYED! The first time I had it, I absolutely hated it. This time – LOVE. It’s strange how your taste buds evolve.
Brie brought Captain’s Summer Session as well as a bottle of the Valkyrie California Alt from Enegren. Yes, I’ve tried both before. Yes, I still had a taster (or two) of both. The finished Summer Session is lovely! I tried it from the fermenter before and loved it, so add a nice chill and carb and it’s awesome.
Janelle “doesn’t do” sessionable beers. Another reason I love her. She brought Avery’s Eighteen back from her trip to Colorado. Nothing like an 8.1%ABV Saison face-punch to spice up the night! Good choice, but boy, did things get crazy after that…
Someone brought out Horny Devil by AleSmith. It’s that gorgeous red-wrapped bottle there. ALSO a face-punch at 11%. DEFINITELY not a summer ale, but at this point, no one was caring! We were far too busy socializing, talking brew techniques, new breweries and beer.
Of course I couldn’t end the night without dessert. A center cut of the bread pudding. I think this was the best cut I’ve had to date! I’m sure they NEVER get tired of hearing me ask for the center cut. In fact, I’m sure they look forward to it… Maybe not… At least I tip well!

The next morning, I was up bright and early to help out a family member who had surgery. Took her to the surgical center, suffered through hospital food…
and now am waiting on her hand and foot.
Hahaha, FOOT! Get it? It’s a PUN!

Since I had to stay around to care for her, I decided I should do some studying for class. Instead, I did this:
Me as Taylor Swift.
Me as Zooey Deschanel.
Me as Taylor Momsen.
And me with my MAD AWESOME Photoshop Paint skills, trying on some new hair. If you follow me on Facebook, you already got a preview of this. And for that, I am so very sorry.

Now I should really go study, but the bottle of Coronado’s Red Devil Imperial Red is calling my name.

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Firestone Taproom

On Friday, we headed up the 101 for an art show in Palo Alto. I’ve seen the Firestone Taproom every time we’ve driven up, and finally got a chance to try it out!
The menu isn’t overly extensive – thank the good Lord, otherwise I would have had an even more difficult time choosing.
I ordered a 10 ounce Solace for Ora, and only had a sad sip or two since I was driving.
I got the special of the day – a jalapeno chicken panini covered with garlic aoli, pepperjack cheese, copious amounts of avocado and roasted bell pepper. Holy. Heaven. I was stuffed after the first half, but it was so delicious that I ate the rest. I don’t regret it. And the fries! Crispy and hot and droooooool.
The Taproom was originally built to be the Firestone Brewery, but had issues with the city concerning water usage. Paso Robles jumped up and practically begged them to brew up north, so north they went. What would have been the brewery is now full of seating and displays of their awards.
I love how bright and airy it is back there! The front of the restaurant, where we were seated, is much smaller and earthy. It looks like a small town bar where everyone knows each other, full of walls of beer club steins, ragged wooden slats and squeaky bar stools. Quaint and wonderful.
They also have a nice selection of wine… If you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not so much, so I just enjoyed looking at the oak barrels they used as tables.
They have all their beers on tap. Next time, I’ll plan to stay for awhile and fully appreciate one of these beauties!

I really loved everything about this place. The food was absolutely mind blowing, the beer – although I only had a few sad sips, was full of malty fresh sunshine, and the building is gorgeous. Another thing I loved?
The setting. Absolutely beautiful!
It really feels like you’re at some mystical place of happiness, bubbling over with beer out in the middle of nowhere.

Loved everything. Must go back soon and actually enjoy a full beer alongside my meal!

I must now pass out. I had a crazy night with my brew boys that lasted until 3am and need to not die of exhaustion. If any part of this post is confusing, boring, non-descript or in any way not to your satisfaction, I blame Grayson and Frank. That is all.

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End of Summer Flight

Last night I met up with Brie at Wades Wines for the End of Summer Flight Night.
She’d never been to Wades before, so I decided it was my duty to show her around. I’m helpful like that.
The beer they had for the tasting was all extremely light and low in ABV.
The Eagle Rock Solidarity Black Mild was exactly that – mild. While it had a wonderful aroma with hints of chocolate and coffee, the flavor didn’t match up. It was pretty bland and… mild. Who would expect that? Both Brie and my favorite was the Rugbrod Rye by the Bruery. Rich aroma full of rye and caramel and a full flavor to match.

After Wades, we were hungry. Well, before Wades we were hungry but after, we were ravenous. If you’ve been reading my blog for even a short amount of time, you’ll know where we ended up…
Ladyface! Durr.
Brie got the Ladyface IPA while I opted for a splash of the cask of the week – mango Chesebro IPA with cayenne pepper. Um, not a fan. It tasted like a weak peach juice with a facepunch of spice (and not the good kind). It took a while to get the back of my throat to stop burning. Props for creativity, though! I stuck with my usual – regular Chesebro IPA.
They had a happy hour special that we had been eying – “popcorn” chickpeas. Deep fried chickpeas sprinkled with paprika and fresh lemon. It was long past happy hour, but they were kind enough to fry up a batch for us. These disappeared in a matter of minutes. SO GOOD!
I was craving a juicy, blurry burger topped with white cheddar. Craving fulfilled. Ladyface was pretty busy and unnaturally chaotic last night – we waited for about twenty minutes before I finally got my Chesebro and had to reiterate our orders at least three times before they headed back to put the order in. Our bill came out pretty quickly though… It’s a good thing I love Ladyface or I would’ve been a little peeved.

After, we headed out to Paramount Ranch to look around in the dark and once it started to get a little chilly, headed BACK to Ladyface to hang out with Matt for a bit. It was a long night – exactly what I needed before I get back on the road to head up to Palo Alto today for the art festival.

Time to start that lovely six hour drive!

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Boulderdash!

Also known as rock climbing. Also known as “holy crap, I didn’t know I had these muscles!”. I tried to prepare for a night of rock climbing as best as I know how.
Indian buffet. Isn’t that protocol for pre and post workouts? It is in MY book!
I got a Groupon a few months ago for half off of an open climb at Boulderdash in Westlake Village. I did a teeny, tiny bit of rock climbing when I was younger and loved it, so I pounced on this deal.
Then, I let months go by until it was almost expired before I actually forced myself out of my comfort zone and into the gym.
I’m so glad I did! This place is wonderful, and all the staff are extremely kind and helpful. I climbed up a variety of easy to painfully inverted routes for the first open gym time and after, they offered to let me stay and try out the bouldering and traversing section.
I thought it over for a while, then felt the sharp knife-like pain shooting through my feet from the tight climbing shoes, and recalled that I just HAD to be home by 6:30pm for a prior engagement.
Labyrinth – a new (to me) beer that Janelle and her husband brought to my attention when we were tasting at Wades last week. This beauty clocks in at 13.2%ABV, pours a delicious burgundy color and offers up an extremely sweet raisin aroma with just a hint of anise. It’s very full bodied and malty, full of rich chocolate tones, caramel and sweet raisin. Did I mention it clocks in at 13.2%ABV?
I also had to finish up with the final movie of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. 6 discs in 4 days = LoTR geek overload. Now it’s over. I’m lost and sad. Halfway through the final disc, I started feeling the marrow of my bones begin to scream and ache from climbing, and the rope burn from belaying too fast start to sear through my shoulder. My muscles – they crave more!

I’m thinking a rock climbing membership may be in my future… Since I’m all out of Lord of the Rings discs…

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Real Life

Back to real life again. What a drag.
Movies to geek out over, beer to consume
Indoor rock walls to climb…
Pages and pages of studying in order to start working towards becoming a Certified Cicerone.
More abandoned places to track down and explore…

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. I suppose I’ll get by somehow.

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Brewing at Enegren!

Yesterday I awoke at 4:30am, made a gigantic mug of coffee and rolled out the door over to Enegren Brewing Company for brew day!
When I got there a few minutes after 5am, Chris and Matt were already set up, prepping for the mash in.
In order to fill one of their 6 barrel fermenters, Enegren has to brew TWICE in one day. It’s a crapload of work and makes for a long day, so I tried my best to help out in any way I could, as well as not get in the way.
And this is just the first batch.
Here’s what’s in one of those buckets that Matt’s lifting. There were five buckets of this size. TWICE, they lifted five of those to the mash tun. Macho men.
Delicious oatmeal breakfast mash! Such a heavenly aroma.
While the mash tun does have a thermometer on the side, it isn’t the most accurate way to read temperature since there can be hot pockets and uneven heating througout. Matt, Chris and Joe use a long harpoon-style thermometer to check for those hot spots and make sure their readings are accurate.
Checking the pH.
While they did the scientific stuff, I stirred in my required brewniform.
Tacky boots were a necessity – of course.
In my attempt to be helpful, and since the brewers were excessively busy with creating delicious beer, I filled these kegs with beer from Joana – the fermenter full of their California Alt beer.
So. Many. Kegs.
They showed me how to fill, and after a getting soaked by a few minor beer showers, I finally got the hang of it.
Lauter tun with a false bottom, extracting the sugary wort from the mash.
Once all the liquid is extracted, they open the door to a wall of caked grains, and try to get the bucket underneath before it spills all over the floor. They succeeded – this time.
I think I need to do more weight lifting if I’m going to be in the brewing business…
11am rolled around, so I changed out of the brewniform and stepped behind the bar with Brie to help serve the masses of craft beer lovers that stopped by.
Wave after wave of groups came in to taste, fill growlers and chat with the brewers. They stayed for a couple of hours, but I don’t think they really enjoyed themselves or liked the beer that much… The couple in the center is actually getting married soon, and Enegren will be serving their beer at the wedding! I guess they do kind of like it after all.
While brewing is a very, very serious business, there’s ALWAYS time to play Whack-a-Mole when Chris is cleaning out the mash tun.
Brie has had serious training when it comes to Whack-a-Mole.
You can never practice too much when it comes to Whack-a-Mole.

I lasted until 11pm before I decided that I wanted to survive the drive home and not fall asleep behind the wheel. The guys were getting close to finishing up the second brew, but still going strong when I left. It was a LONG, exhausting day for me – the fact that the brewers hold 9-5 jobs AND do this on the weekends astounds me. I’ll be back there as much as possible, until they kick me out. And just to end this post on a gratuitous note:
See you guys soon!

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Mockery and Repetition

Remember how I mentioned that I’ve been dreaming about that Toppers pizza? I know I had it only two nights ago, but I wanted NEEDED it again!
Homestyle! Thank you, Trader Joe’s, for your whole wheat pizza crust and pizza sauce. You make my life easy. I love you.
Pepperoni, jalapenos (a few (or a ton of) seeds included), pineapple, cheese, more cheese, just a touch more cheese…
It took about twenty minutes to cook. I could’ve sat around twiddling my thumbs, but I decided this would be a better way to spend my time. LOVE this beer! I’m going to pick up another one and try aging it!
Oh. Yes.
Pizza just isn’t good if it doesn’t make your eyes water and your nose run. So deliciously spicy!

On another note – tomorrow is brew day at Enegren Brewing! My attempt at weaseling into the brewery worked! I’ll be helping pour in the tap room and documenting the brew process for a wonderfully mashy, boozy post. I thought that making my Oatmeal Stout Brownies with Caramelized Bacon would be a good tradition to start for brew days. This time though, I cheated…
Please forgive me!

I used the mix, one egg, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and 1/3 cup of Stockyard Oatmeal Stout. I decided to throw some of the caramelized bacon INTO the brownies, as well as on top, and weaved a little fudge ripple throughout.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be forgiven for taking the easy way out… We’ll find out tomorrey!

Brew day starts at 5am. I now have 4 hours and 56 minutes to sleep. But really, who’s counting?

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FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!

In order to weasel my way into the hearts, and into the brewery of Enegren Brewing (speaking of which – check out the latest, most amazing blog full of epicness written by Joe, Enegren’s brew chief), I willingly accepted their challenge to give Surf Brewery another try.
The verdict? It was okay… The carbonation has definitely mellowed out since the last time I was there. I didn’t drink the first two – both a little too close to water for my liking, but the Surf Patrol Black IPA was not bad! Pretty low on the IBU, but passable. After finishing most of the sampler, we ordered a pint to split amongst the four of us. I jokingly asked the server for straws. She brought straws.
That server is my hero. Naturally, we didn’t want to let this precious moment go to waste.
How could I not?
Matt, Chris and Brie – willing to go the extra step for the sake of beer. Awesome.

While I’m still not officially a fan of the brewery, I am slightly more willing to go back and try some of their new brews. They have improved since their soft grand opening.

Since it was still semi-early, and since we’re real people who can’t solely subsist on beer, as much as we’d like to believe, we went over to what used to be a creepy old abandoned restaurant in the Channel Islands Harbor – now refurbished into a Toppers Pizza.
When Toppers first destroyed the beautiful destitute remains of the brick building – complete with shattered windows, dead leaves littering the faded carpet, and wooden booths with cushions ripping at the seams, I was bummed out. But then we ordered a “Fire in the Hole” pizza – pepperoni, jalapenos and pineapple.
Toppers, you are completely forgiven for destroying the history of the crumbling restaurant formerly known as “Harbor Lights”. You are TOTALLY forgiven. I may have dreamt about this pizza last night, and talked nonstop about it today. Maybe…

After that deliciously cheesy, sweet and painfully spicy pizza, we went over to the old mental institution to walk around. Seriously, how can you end a night WITHOUT trespassing into old abandoned courtyards littered with old cafeteria chairs and balconies that have ominous ropes dangling from them at midnight? Pictures to follow:
I couldn’t believe I got a picture of that! Seriously creepy, right? Yeah, I didn’t actually take any pictures there… I’ll put my ridiculously fancy camera at risk at midnight at an old mental institution sometime soon though, I promise. Matt, Chris and Brie – good luck getting rid of me. Anyone who’ll gorge on pizza, drink craft beers with straws and then traipse around creepy abandoned buildings in the dark is… well, just plain awesome.

Something beautiful came in the mail today…
My official Certified Beer Server pin! I’m officially official now!
That sums up my life about now. And what a wonderful life I lead!

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Simplicity: Part I

Sometime all you need in life is to sit back, relax and enjoy the simple things in life.
A beautiful, warm summer morning.
A hot boiled egg.
A green monsta made with a handful of spinach, splash of almond milk, a peach, 3 sprigs of asparagus, a lemon, half a banana and a cup of frozen berries. (Everything tastes better when it’s sipped from a pint glass…)
Super simple, yet simply Magical Bread Pudding


Life is good. Simply good.

Beer tasting tonight makes it even better!

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Grilled Portabella Mushroom Sammich

I didn’t spend ten minutes trying to find out the true spelling of Portabella… Okay, maybe I did, but it’s all in the name of journalistic honesty! The Mushroom Council has officially designated the spelling for those gigantic, steak-like shrooms. Portobello/Portabella no more! Portabella is the way to go. I’m a research junkie.

ANYWAY. I’ve been wanting to recreate a portabella sammich ever since my first one EVER at Breckenridge Brewery. Yes, I did spell it portobello then, when I was uneducated. ANYWAY AGAIN. I made one tonight!
Ingredients assembled! You can get a print-out version of the recipe HERE.

Grilled Portabella and Roasted Red Pepper Sammich
1 portabella mushroom
1 red pepper
2 slices of bread (ciabatta or foccacia recommended)
3 tbsp goat cheese
3.4 basil leaves, chopped
2-3 sundried tomatoes, diced
A handful of spinach
Olive oil
Salt + pepper

1. Take the portabella mushroom and clean it with a damp towel/mushroom brush.
2. After washing, scrape out the gills of the mushroom with a spoon.
3. Try not to mutilate the mushroom like I did…
Oops…. I’m pretty sure that’s a portabella mushroom there… I think…
4. Brush what’s left of the portabella with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
5. Take the red pepper and a pair of tongs and blister the pepper over medium-high heat on the stovetop. (A grill works as well if you don’t want your smoke alarms going off. Oops again…)
I’d also recommend hot pads for your hands. Metal tends to conduct heat. Oops times three…
Deliciously burned!
6. Place the blistered pepper in a Ziploc, seal and let it rest for 15-20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
7. Once the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove it from the Ziploc and peel of the skin. It’ll come off very easily thanks to the steaming effect of the Ziploc. This is not an ad for Ziploc. I swear.
8. In a mixing bowl, combine the goat cheese, basil and sundried tomatoes.
I prefer the sundried tomatoes that are soaked in olive oil. They have much more flavor than the boring, chewy dry ones.
9. Place the portabella mushroom on a preheated grill/grill pan and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until grill marks appear.
GRILL MARKS! Ignore the fact that these are on chicken. My camera failed to successfully document the marks on the mushroom, thanks to a little irritating smoke that came out of the grill press almost immediately after I placed the mushrooms in it. TOO MANY OOPS! Learn from my mistakes! I’ve adjusted all the times/temperatures so that your recipe won’t burst into flames, no worries!
10.  Slice the grilled mushrooms and red bell pepper into bite sized pieces.
11. Slather the slices of bread with the goat cheese mixture and layer with the mushrooms, bell pepper and spinach.
12. Place the sandwich in the grill press and cook until warmed through – about five minutes.
13. This sammich is ridiculously hot, so enjoy it with a chilly brew that has enough flavor to bring out the tang of the goat cheese, the rich herbs of the sun dried tomatoes and basil, and the rich, savory umami of the mushrooms.
Old Chub Scotch Ale by Oskar Blues Brewery. Malty, boozy and smooth. A wonderful combo!

For no reason at all – some wonderful pictures that my lovely new camera has taken.
My most eager model.
OOPS! That’s not a picture from my camera, that’s my new business card!

I’m legit.

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