Commander Matt and I took an evening trip on Wednesday to Short Order in LA to drop off some delicious Enegren brews for their tap selection. Short Order is a freaking delicious burger and beverage place located in the Farmers’ Market on 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles, right across from where I used to live! If only it had opened while I’d lived there. Le sigh. They serve four beers on tap at a time. Enegren’s Golden Spur Saison and Valkyrie California Alt will be up soon, but for this night we picked from the current selection of craft brews. I got a non-beer-clean mason jar full of Eagle Rock Revolution – an American pale ale full of light caramel maltiness and a heavy dose of hops. Commander Matt chose Great Divide’s Hades Belgian Strong Pale Ale – the Belgian yeast gives off a fruity aroma, but the finish is shockingly crisp, dry and full of bitter hops. Absolutely loved this one! The restaurant has a large supply of hard alcohol as well for those of you who prefer a good whiskey at the end of your day. I’m not up to date on these, so enjoy the picture where I have absolutely no input. Potato wedges with SOUR CREAM AND BACON DIP. How have I never thought of this before? These crispy, buttery potato wedges were mercilessly dunked in the rich ranch and sour cream dip, with extra bits of bacon spooned on top. If everything else here was terrible, I would go back just for these. Fortunately, nothing else was terrible. Everything was amazing. Matt chose the pork belly burger – basically a luscious thick slab of bacon smothered in cheese, crunchy butter lettuce and a few other things that I could not pronounce or interpret. I chose Ida’s Old School Burger – medium-rare grass-fed beef, aged cheddar, grilled onions and housemade pickles with a secret sauce on top of a ridiculously soft bun. These burgers are absolutely out of this world, and extremely messy! I ate about half of this before it fell apart on me and was too overwhelmed with the mess to know where to pick it up from. Instead, I polished off the potato wedges and was happy.
It was an uncomfortable drive back, but oh so worth it.
Right now, I’m in Tempe, Arizona and this just happened. More on that tomorrey once I’m back to healthy and speedy internet connection.
The move is officially over! The movers were at the house until 11:30pm last night! That would make for a grand total of 15 hours, three calls to the police and a nasty neighbor who turned the sprinklers on, aimed it at the workers and soaked some of our stuff as it was being loaded into the moving van. What a long night it was. It was incredibly sad to say goodbye to this beautiful view. And this beautiful little house… Which really needs the roof to be scrubbed down…
Even more difficult was saying goodbye to my wonderful roommates who have been the best living companions anyone could ever ask for! I love you both so much and can’t WAIT to see you in July! HOWEVER, I’m more than thrilled to be at my new job! Scratch ‘n sniff above to smell Falconer’s Flight hops! Last week was full of brewing, keg cleaning and filling… Delicious eats (that would be a burger with BACON and blue cheese IN the patty!)… Delicious…er fermentation! And my second to last trip for the artist. We went to Tucson. I got heatstroke. I got pretty rings to make myself feel better. That didn’t work well enough. A local beer and a trip to the hotel pool, however, worked wonders!
And now I’m off to crash. Tomorrey is full of keg deliveries and pickups, location scouting and a trip to an awesome burger place in the evening!
Picture this: you’re in the middle of 4th Avenue in Tucson on a 90 degree day, sweating to death, suffering from heat stroke and wishing for a snowstorm to suddenly overwhelm the town. You also start wishing that there was a brewery within walking distance. You then start searching Yelp for local breweries. You find that one opened up within the last few months, and it’s only half a mile from where you sit, melting into the street, at this very minute. Enter: Borderlands Brewing Company.
Walk down 6th Street, left on 7th and cross the railroad tracks and you stumble across an unassuming brick building. Borderlands is only open Wednesdays from 4-7pm, Fridays from 4-7pm, and the second Saturday of every month from 12-4pm. Good thing I felt like scanning the area Friday afternoon! Friends Michael Mallozzi and Myles Stone joined with Blake Collins to open this nano brewery in the heart of Central Tucson at the end of 2011. The small brewery (I believe it’s 3 bbl) is surprisingly open and feels like a big space! The thick wooden beams lead to skylights that keep the room well lit and airy. They had three beers on tap when I showed up. Brewmaster Blake Collins explained that they run out of their beer so quickly that they were lucky to even have those three left! Considering the crowds that gathered fifteen minutes before they opened, I’m glad I showed up when I did! I would’ve hated to miss out. Borderlands also features fermentors from Premier Stainless. The brewery is set on the far left side of the tasting room, behind wide wire fences so you can walk around and get a good view of the entire system as you enjoy your pint.
Now onto the beer. I first tried the Ol’ Loco Citrus IPA. The aroma gave off plenty of bitter citrus, slight floral, and a hint of skunk. Not quite overwhelming, but it smelled almost lightstruck. Luckily, that one bit of aroma doesn’t translate to the flavor – medium-high carbonation that sends the floral flavor around your tongue, ending with a wonderfully sharp and bitter end. Still a few kinks to work out on this one with the aroma and perhaps balancing out the hops with a touch more malt.
The Noche Dulce Vanilla Porter came next. This taster was beautifully dark with a heavy scent of vanilla wafting off the head. The sweet vanilla was a little overpowering to me, but the roasted coffee flavor from the dark malt brought it back into a sturdy porter and an easy sipper. The Prickly Pear Wheat. This beer is possibly the most interesting beer I’ve ever encountered. Brewed with local prickly pear juice, the sour notes in this wheat beer threw me for a second. Having never had prickly pear, I assumed that some lactobacillus had gotten into the beer, but not in an unpleasant way at all. Without any residual sweetness, this tangy wheat beer gently awakens your palate and keeps you sipping as you wonder what exactly is going on. From what I was told, this beer may be phased out and turned into a lambic – PERFECT use of the sour notes of prickly pear! Overall, the unique prickly pear was my favorite, but I love the use of local ingredients in their beer! The vanilla beans, prickly pear juice and select hops come from local farms, and the conservation of water and resources is high on their list seeing that they’re located essentially in the middle of a desert. I’m so glad I arrived early and was able to sample all three of these new brews! While this is my second to last show and I most likely won’t be back in Tucson for at least a few months, I can’t wait to return and see what this little brewery evolves into! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for that lambic! I might even make that an excuse to come back sooner!
Borderlands Brewing Company 119 E Toole Ave Tucson, AZ 85701 Open Wednesdays and Fridays from 4-7pm and the second Saturday of every month from 12-4pm
Monday was our monthly Ladies at Ladyface: The Fermentables and Comestibles Education and Tippling Society meeting! We had a little belated St. Patrick’s Day celebration. This means Irish and Scottish beers! We had more than plenty to split amongst our group. Of course I had to start off with a little warm-up taster… Ladyface’s Trebuchet – a farmhouse ale with a slightly sour quality thanks to the lactobacillus. Crisp, fruity and refreshing! Lise brought her celebratory homebrew – as of yet to be named, but always hopped to high heaven and delicious! Cyrena made sure to save us all an order of their corned beef and cabbage sliders. I missed out on having Irish food on St. Patrick’s Day, and these MORE than made up for that! The tender corned beef melted in your mouth, and the sweetness of the caramelized onions and cabbage specked with peppercorns balanced with the saltiness of the beef perfectly! For dessert, the lovely Janelle provided chocolate chip and pistachio cupcakes. I may have eaten six or eleven. I stopped counting wrappers. It was becoming embarrassing. Speaking of, here’s Janelle downing an entire glass of water! Her little Avery is due in about 3 months, and while I’m sure Avery would love having a taste of beer (possibly one from Avery Brewing Company??), her mom was diligent about only consuming water, sliders and cupcakes. We had a packed table that was soon topped with glorious amounts of food ordered from the new spring menu! Goat cheese and basil fritters, anyone? Or steak tartare?? Unfortunately, I had to leave after only an hour in order to pack more and sleep. The next day was a brew day: Up at 4:45am! I darkened the pictures to make it appear like time had passed… Yea, all that up there is artistic and stuff…
Now I need to pack again! I’m heading out to Tucson, Arizona for my second to last trip with the artist. I’m sad to miss a brew day, but I’m certain there will be more then enough heavy lifting, grain shoveling, gravity taking and recipe tasting when I get back!
Did you guys enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations? After work at the brewery on Friday, I went to the other brewery to work. Brie and I fashioned this concoction for those who came in to gear up for St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday. This was our attempt at a “black and tan”. Turned out to be more “tan and tanner”, but everyone seemed to enjoy the Golden Spur Saison atop of the Valkyrie California Alt! We’re creative like that. The rest of my photos are all from my phone camera. They’re also all of food that I get at Wolf Creek every day that I work. It’s a tough job… Tri-tip pizza, anyone? NO! Cuz it’s mine! Back off! One more gratuitous shot of that beautiful parfait I got to sample!
I’m about three-quarters of the way done with the move! Once I’m settled, things on the blog will get back to normal. For now, I spent the day cleaning kegs, checking out production facilities, changing addresses online and doing a whole mess of thrilling things like that. Tonight is Ladies at Ladyface and tomorrey I’m up at 4:45am for brew day!
Here’s the list of everyone who won a growler: Brent Whitley, Jacob Smith, Johnson Le, Ryan, Christian K, and Darryl the Beerdolt! All the winners send me an email at Becki (at) Bitesnbrews (dot) com along with a reminder of your preferred growler and I’ll get you the info on when and where to pick it up! Thanks for participating and taking the excessive amount of growlers off my hands 🙂
The next few weeks are going to be a little sporadic and random blog-wise! Moving along with working my new job will keep me nice and busy, but I’ll still be updating when I can!
Today we delivered kegs to the Calabasas Wolf Creek Restaurant, took back empties and cleaned tap lines. Hoisting two 15.5 gallon kegs and navigating through a narrow walk-in fridge takes a lot of effort, even when said kegs are empty. My arms are KILLING me. Did I mention my arms hurt? Cuz they do…
I also got to try the pastry chef’s latest creation for the “Brewer’s Menu” which will be out soon. That would be caramel and banana pudding, a layer of chopped pretzels, housemade Howlin’ Hef caramel, more pretzels, whipped cream, more caramel pudding, more whipped cream and a drizzle of Howlin’ Hef caramel on top. I’ll gladly be a guinea pig anytime!
Sorry for the short post, but my muscles are screaming at me and I need to go pass out so I can work at the OTHER brewery tomorrey – Enegren Brewing Company! No such thing as too much brewery!
I celebrated the acceptance of my new job with a very special beer – FiftyFifty Eclipse Elijah Craig 12 Imperial Stout. This beer is one of my all-time favorites. This rich, chewy, beer has been aged for six months in a 12 year-old oak bourbon barrel and absorbed an intense bourbon flavor, full of toasty hints of coconut and chocolate. I have Commander Matt to thank for surprising me with this celebratory bottle after developing a massive crush on it at a tasting months ago at Wades Wines. Honestly, one of my top ten favorite beers ever! I want more… In preparing to move, the fridge has slowly been cleared out. My latest meals have been random selections of whatever is found hidden within the cabinets and the depths of the fridge. Barbecue chicken nachos, anyone?
Today was the first day of my job! Sorry for the lack of pictures – apparently when you’re hefting 350lbs of grain (out of 750lbs for the entire batch) to mill, mashing in, setting the protein rest temps, sparging, boiling, adding hops, whirlpooling, sanitizing fermentors and transferring beer into said fermentor, there isn’t much time to whip out the camera. The phone camera will have to suffice. This is the mash during one of the rests. This is the grain post-sparging. Yeah, that’s about all I got. Except for… LUNCH! Seared Ahi tuna on top of mixed greens, fresh tomatoes and mushrooms, tossed in a sesame vinaigrette. Oh yes, and a Wolf Pack Pale Ale to pair. Gotta support and rep my new company!
I spent the evening moving some of my stuff into my new place. Now I’m exhausted and need to pass out so I can wake up tomorrey and do more brewery work! I’m so ridiculously happy!
HECTICITY – noun: an accumulation of hectic situations. That has been my life lately. I told you guys that crazy things were happening and now I can officially let you know what those crazy things are.
Today, I accepted a job offer to be assistant brewer at Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewering Company in Valencia! Wolf Creek will be moving from a 10 bbl system up to 30 bbl, and I’ll be joining them in upping current production as well as moving to the new brewery! On top of that comes everything to do with “playing brewery” – cleaning, mashing, transferring, cell counts, pilot brews, more cleaning, tasting, cleaning, cleaning… Ecstatic doesn’t even begin to explain how happy I am right now. I start on Wednesday with my first brew early in the morning! Since it’s my first day, I’ll attempt to take pictures and document, but I make no promises.
This calls for celebration – the best way I know how. Beer. Duh.
I’ll be recapping the rest of my San Diego trip tomorrey. For now, time to crack open something fancy!
I had an interview in San Diego yesterday and it was getting to be around lunchtime. I figured that I should probably enter this interview with a full stomach to level my head. Enter: Stone Brewing. Again! I can never get enough of either this place, or San Diego in general! My pops ordered the Oaked Arrogant Bastard. He graciously let me steal a few sips. I love how the oak chips slightly mellow out the bitter bite of hops without really diminishing the wonderful, mouth-puckering IBUs. Both the beer list and the food menu were quite slim because they’re in the midst of an expansion. A new building will be going up behind the current one, and all the bottling/production will go in there so that more fermentors can fit into the current building. Luckily, we were able to find a few things to consume, small menu aside. The prime rib melt – so far the best thing I’ve eaten at Stone. Mushroom pillows – so far my least favorite thing from Stone. The mushrooms had released all the water while cooking and made for a sloppy mess. I like mushrooms at times… This was not one of them. My mumsie got the duck tacos – sweet barbecued duck topped with fresh tomatoes, onions and sprouts, served alongside spiced rice, beans and corn salsa. For dessert we split the orange chiffon cheesecake. This was like eating delicious air! Incredibly light, creamy, not too sweet with a perfectly crumbly crust. After fooding, I had the interview and we cruised down to San Diego for the William Fitzsimmons concert in Little Italy. A few pictures of that will come later! First, we had to stop by my favorite bar in town: Craft & Commerce. Both Michael Skubic from Hess Brewing and Jeremy Moynier from Stone Brewing recommended the Up In Smoke. I had to try it. This is a very, very smoky/scotchy drink! I’ve always been afraid of bastardizing beer, but I’m glad I got this! The sweetness and carbonation of Allagash Curieux along with the tang of the lime juice balance the smoky scotch, with big cubes of ice to mellow the blunt alcohol. This baby is a slow sipper! The real question now is what beer cocktail to try next? After Craft & Commerce, we sallied over to Anthology and spent the night being lulled into mellow, happy oblivion by William Fitzsimmons.