I had an amazing, ridiculously fast three day vacation in Colorado this weekend!
Commander Matt and I took an evening flight to Denver to hang with my parentals and attend the Odell Small Batch Revival. It was a painlessly quick flight. My parental unit picked us up at DIA and we headed back to their house to have some Enegren brews we’d brought as gifts, and then to pass out.
The views from their place are absolutely hideous. What’s with all the open space? It’s also incredibly noisy – that little creek below their porch makes quite a ruckus as it burbles over the rocks with the trout darting through.
They also have these rude deer that traipse through their yard whenever they please. Ugh.
We got all fancy and made breakfast – chocolate chip pancakes and grilled bacon!
These pancakes are made with almond milk and vinegar as a buttermilk substitute, and OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS.
After fooding, we met up with my brother and his wife and headed over to the Odell Small Batch Revival. It was HOT and packed!
We waited in exceptionally long lines for our beers and then found the small amount of shade that was available.
So. Many. People! This was taken right before the swarms of people arrived.
Ah, yet another perfect capture of how much we enjoy each other’s company.
I had the Totes McGotes Pale Ale Wheat – funky and sour with a strong Reisling flavor from the barrel, and the Extra Special Red. I was saving the Mash of the Titans for last, but they ran out right as I got to the front of the line. Heartbroken.
The next day we had a full schedule as well. First thing on the list:
Smith & Wesson 686 revolver. 357 magnum! I have no idea what all this means, but firing it is fun.
My bro firing his Glock. I preferred the .22 for accuracy, but this one was enjoyable too!
And back to the revolver!
Those holes in the head? All courtesy of me via the 686, before I started switching guns and throwing off my aim.
Can I have it? Christmas is coming up in only seven months. A Ruger Mark 3 would be lovely, thanks!
After shooting, we moseyed about twenty feet through the parking lot to the brewery. Grimm Brothers Brewhouse – it was nice to be able to taste and smell the beers, unlike last year!
I got a flight of eight. Had to try them all since I really hadn’t been able to before.
Shockingly enough, the Snow Drop was my favorite. The honey and molasses aroma were subtle but noticeable, with a sweet, almost mead-like honey flavor. This was an easy light sipper, but still came through at 7.1%ABV!
I also loved the Little Red Cap Altbier. Nice and malty and clean with a pleasant American hop bitterness.
My brother, Matt and I continued on to Funkwerks – a brewery that brews only Saisons!
The interior of this place is cozy and well lit, and full of craft beer enthusiasts.
I had to get a taster flight, of course. I was on vacation!
My favorite was the Codename: Farmhouse – roasted candied apricot and a bready finish with a hint of tartness.
To wrap up the evening, we swung by my brother’s work and he showed us some of the planes he’s rewired.
The new Garmin system is almost exactly like a video game! I’m fairly certain I played this game when I was twelve… The graphics are slightly better though, I must admit.
The next day was Memorial Day, and I was completely exhausted. We decided to have a slow day and regenerate on the lake.
Carter Lake was pretty quiet considering it was Memorial Day. We sat down on the dock and enjoyed the warm breeze.
Peaceful. Until he tried to throw me in.
Our flight out was at 9pm that night. It was tough to say goodbye to the parentals and the beauty of Colorado, but the bagpiper TSA agent helped ease the pain.
It was a wonderful, albeit far too short, weekend. I’m counting down the days until my next trip out.
Day three of Wolf Creek Unplugged!
Today was brew day! Typically we have up to two brew days per week, seeing that our fermentor and bright tank space is limited. This week’s single brew was Surfin’ Monks. I was up at 5:45am, inhaled a mug of coffee and headed over to the brewery.
We mashed in with 850lbs of grain.
Delicious malted barley!
It was so windy this morning that we had to wedge the used bags underneath the truck tires, and they still tried to fly away on us.
Breakfast was next. Meghan, the pastry chef at Wolf Creek, has to trim the edges off of her brownies and lemon bars so they are pretty when served, and we get to reap the benefits! I make multiple trips per day to the kitchen to chow down on these. I should probably stop doing that…
We do a step mash where we slowly “step” up the temperature at different intervals then allow it to rest so the starches can convert to sugars.
After the final temperature step is hit, we begin sparging and transferring the beer over to the boil kettle.
Water is sprayed over the grain bed in order to drain all of the sugary wort from the mash tun.
While we wait for the boil kettle to finish filling with said wort, we consume more foods. Chipotle tenders with a side of asparagus! If I add asparagus, then my meal is healthy. That’s just how it works.
We came back from lunch to find a wonderfully drained mash tun and a full kettle, rapidly approaching a rolling boil.
(Relatively) dry grain bed.
At this point, Rick and I open up the mash tun and start scraping out all of the drained mash into big garbage cans so I can hop in there and scrub it out.
It’s around 92 degrees when I get in there, and I’m kneeling on 174 degree steel plates. I lose about ten pounds of sweat every brew day. It’s a very glamorous job as you can see…
After the boil is complete, we whirlpool the wort so all of the hop residue and other junk piles into a cone in the center of the kettle so we can rack off all the good stuff.
Trub! That’s the real name for “hop residue and other junk”. After I drain this, I jump in and scrub it out. Luckily, this one is a nice cool 85 degrees and I’m not kneeling on top of a hot liquor tank, so I don’t have the overwhelming urge to pass out.
Brewing is an incredibly hot job. Seriously, overheating all the time. There’s steam everywhere, all the time! The beer is then run through the heat exchanger to cool it down and oxygenated on the way into the freshly cleaned fermentor. Yeast is pitched, the lid is closed for a few weeks, then suddenly…
It was a lovely 10 hour day and now I’m relaxing with a Stone Ruination IPA and a full mug of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream. Decompressing commence.
Wolf Creek Unplugged: Transferring. It’s just about as exciting as it sounds, PLUS I get free delicious foods.
Breakfast soup! Every morning, I randomly walk by the kitchen door, hoping they’ve finished making the soup of the day. Around 10am this morning, the Mexican Chicken Soup was done. Yay breakfast!!!
Rick and I had to keg off all of the Surfin’ Monks in order to empty the serving tank so we could transfer Mountain Hawk Red over.
A little pump action… Many a tri-clamp is used. Many a hot water burn is inflicted.
The serving tank was cleaned with caustic, phosphoric, and then a final rinse of 185+ degree water…
Partway through, I was called to the bar to make sure that the Surfin’ Monks we’d just kegged wasn’t “off” in any way. It wasn’t, plus I got a full taster of beer. Bummer. It’s a tough job, but I’VE got to do it.
Since we need twenty minutes for each wash, the bar fridge gets restocked while we wait. That Silk French Vanilla Creamer is mine – for every morning that I need an extra boost, this lovely carton awaits me to greet my taste buds and jolt me back into the present time. Those mornings that I need an extra boost? EVERY MORNING. No exceptions.
More pump action as the acids are flushed. Gas masks (aka brew towels) on!
Lunch? Okey, I guess that’s okey! Tilapia tossed in almond lemon butter, fresh shallots and garlic, with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus on the side.
About half of what I’d just eaten, packed up and to-go. Every lunch I order holds me over through dinner! Two meals in one – awesome.
We finished transferring beer around 3pm. I headed out into the 90 degree day with raging winds, blasted the air conditioner and then collapsed onto the couch to finish editing pictures, crack open a beer and do a little Cicerone studying. Not the most exciting day in the world, but perfect in preparation for brew day tomorrey!
This week I’ll be recapping every single day as a “Week in the Life of an Assistant Brewer” to give anyone who’s interested a glimpse of what a regular work week looks like for me.
Please keep in mind that my position is as assistant brewer in a brewpub that is preparing to transition from a 10bbl system up to a 30bbl production brewery. My days vary considerably from what a typical assistant brewer’s day looks like.
This morning I rolled out of bed, threw coffee in my to-go mug and got to work around 9:30am (we like to slowly transition from weekend mode to work week mode) to start filling the boil kettle with water and heating it up for keg washing.
My lovely spaceship. I’ll be jumping in there soon enough to scrub off all the hard water scale and hop residue after our next brew day. In case you didn’t know, Valencia water is essentially made of rocks. It’s this hard:
I actually pulled these from the drain a few weeks ago. All that buildup created actual rocks from mineral deposits. Crazy!
While we waited for the water to heat, the other assistant brewer, Rick, and I popped the stem out of one of the kegs to make sure that nothing evil or disgusting was growing inside. I’m thrilled to report that it was absolutely spotless! We had an incredibly impossible time trying to crank the o-ring back in once we replaced the stem, though. The palm of my hand and my fingertips have the bruises to prove it.
I hopped into the kitchen to grab the list of specials – one of my favorite parts of the day! On a typical day, I pace between the brewery and the door to the kitchen, waiting for the “breakfast soup” to be done. Today I actually had time to consume foods for breakfast, so the pacing was kept to a minimum.
Speaking of pacing, I pace in these. As a proud member of the Pink Boots Society, I now wear these with pride. Originally I went out to get the tackiest boots I could find, but now I’m slightly in love with them.
Fire. It’s just what we do. We had to replace some tubing on our keg washer, and of course you can’t do that without a torch… No, I’m certain that this is the legit way.
Rick was stuck with the task of keg washing, as I had an appointment at noon to visit the new brewery location to take some “before” pictures for the new blog I’ll be beginning tonight, documenting the process of opening a production facility. We walked the area, talked about silo and flex auger locations, almost melted in the 95 degree heat, and I snapped away.
We wrapped up the day early around 2pm and I headed home with the air conditioner blasting, my new iPad (on loan from the brewery for social media purposes) buckled securely in the passenger seat. The rest of the day was spent consuming giant mugs full of Moose Tracks ice cream and editing photos for the brewery blog. The only question that remains:
Which wine do I open tonight?
(Wonderful side note: Both of these bottles were given as tips when I worked at Enegren this weekend. No complaints here!)
Happy Anniversary to the Ladies at Ladyface: The Fermentables and Comestibles Education and Tippling Society!
Ladies at Ladyface: 1 – Trying out Ladyface beers.
Ladies at Ladyface: 2 – Brewery tour and aroma lessons.
Ladies at Ladyface: 3 – Favorites of the ladies.
Ladies at Ladyface: 4 – Summer brews!
Ladies at Ladyface: 5 – Harvest Ales.
Ladies at Ladyface: 6 – Oktoberfest.
Ladies at Ladyface: 7 – Holidays and white elephant beer exchange.
Ladies at Ladyface: 8 – Ladyface’s second anniversary.
Ladies at Ladyface: 9 – Chocolate and beer pairing.
Ladies at Ladyface: 10 – St. Patrick’s day brews.
Ladies at Ladyface: 11 – Dry hopping experimentations.
For Ladies at Ladyface: One Year, I brought along my cousin Allie to partake. I’m slowly trying to lure her away from wine and replace it with beer. Baby steps.
We split the goat cheese and basil fritters – I missed out on these last year when they came out, so I had to get an order! The tangy goat cheese with the spicy jalapeno jam and smooth avocado is a brilliant combo! Perhaps a little too much goat cheese for one bite, but delicious nonetheless!
Since we were turning one year old, Cyrena decided we would have an “aged” night. Barrel aged beer and cheese pairings, anyone?
The cheese plate contained a firm goat cheese, creamy basque, nutty Manchego and zesty blue cheese as well as sliced apples and a cherry reduction. We were served the Chaparral Saison, Blind Ambition, Co-Hoperative IPA and Blue Belly Barleywine that’s been aging for a while. After plenty of experimentation, I decided that the IPA helped cut through the silky, creamy basque, the Blind Ambition enhanced the nuttiness in the Manchego and also brought out the sweetness of the goat cheese. Not a fan of blue cheese, so that poor neglected cheese was basically ignored… Oops.
In addition to the beers above, J.J. brought this bottle of oak aged insanity from Brew Dog: Tokio. You are indeed reading that right: 18.2%ABV. The aroma on this baby is overwhelmingly tar and sherry-like. If you like roasty cough syrup, this is for you! It hurt to sip, but I wouldn’t quite say it was bad… It’s just not beer.
This aged beer was more to my liking – Supplication by Russian River. This is a sour beer that doesn’t have the hint of sweetness that you tend to find in beers aged with cherries. A powerful aroma swimming with cherries and a crisp tartness that stings the tongue in a delightful way.
It was a wonderful way to celebrate the way all of us ladies have grown in our knowledge of beer and overwhelming excitement about bringing craft beer into the world of women.
In other Ladyface-like news – Christian finally picked up his growler! There are still a few left waiting to be claimed! Those of you who won, come and get them, otherwise they’ll be donated to the next customers who look excessively thirsty.
When we got back Sunday night after the CBC12, I was definitely in need of a little detox.
…which would have to wait until Monday to begin.
Commander Matt and I headed to Cafe Firenze, an Italian restaurant in Moorpark, for a meeting with the chef Adam and the owner Jacopo, and took along a few gift bottles to share.
We brought them with the intent of letting the chef do a tasting, but somehow the bottle wound up getting opened at a table when they invited us to stay for dinner.
Cafe Firenze is located within a strip mall off of Los Angeles Avenue. Very unassuming from the front, excluding the rich velvet drapes and wine barrels, the inside is spacious and warm with high ceilings, dim lighting and soft cushions in each booth.
The menu is extensive and impossible to choose from, but somehow we managed.
We started off with their appetizer special – swordfish carpaccio with artichoke hearts and greens, drizzled with olive oil. Since we had those three bottles with us, a pairing was in order. The tart and dry Golden Spur Saison balanced out the pickled artichoke hearts and didn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the tender swordfish.
I went for the braised shortribs – Kobe beef that was so tender it fell apart if you looked at it too intensely topped with sauteed mushrooms and resting atop a fragrant cushion of polenta spiked with parmesan cheese and herbs.
Commander Matt went with the other special of the day – medium rare medallions of beef with roasted baby vegetables. Simple, elegant and mouthwateringly delicious. Both of our main courses were paired with Valkyrie California Alt – the sweet maltiness brought out the caramelization of the meat and balanced out the salty bite of parmesan from my polenta.
Adam, the chef, sent out this piece of artwork for our dessert – flourless chocolate cake with housemade vanilla bean gelato on top. Out of this world! We paired this with the Protector IPA, the hop bitterness cutting through the rich chocolate and calming the upfront sweetness.
Next time I’m there – Balsamic martini. Most definitely.
563 West Los Angeles Avenue
Moorpark, California 93021
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am-3pm and 5pm-close
The second day started off with a Pink Boots Society meeting!
Brie, Laina – owner of Wolf Creek, and I hustled to seats up front and grabbed a raffle ticket.
We had 101 women attending this meeting! As of Friday, there were 815 members worldwide of the Pink Boots Society – a group designed to educate and support women in the beer industry. Peek closely above and you’ll see the lovely Cyrena from Ladyface in attendance.
Raffle items! Brie and I scouted out the table and prepared for the sprint after the meeting.
SUCCESS! It was a wonderful meeting on top of getting the awesome shirts – everyone stood up and introduced themselves, told where they were from and what company they worked for. After the meeting broke, ladies magnetically drew towards those in similar job positions or met with others who could help them understand certain aspects they’d been looking into. I found the lead brewer, Alex Nowell, from Drakes Brewing and talked about participating in a collaboration brew they’ll be leading for the PBS to raise money for scholarships.
More gratuitous images of the SWAG (schwaaaaag!).
We then moved on to the Anchor Brewing hospitality suite, had a beer and chatted with the reps for a bit before we met up with the rest of the EBC crew.
On our way, we ran into Ray Daniels, the creator of the Cicerone program and talked for a bit about the certification exam.
I also went super creeper and snapped this pic of Jim Koch from Samuel Adams. Creepering is my specialty.
We finally found the rest of the crew.
The happy couple! Congrats again on your engagement Christoph and Brie Best. Picture. Ever.
Tyler Endicott – artist and brewer who’ll be opening up a 15bbl with his brother, Sean, back in Thousand Oaks where I used to reside, and Joe – Enegren’s brew chief as I’m sure you all know.
Peter/Sean – Joe’s brother or Tyler’s brother depending on whether or not you looked at his badge and if your name was Jim and you were a few beers deep before you stumbled into our table, and Commander Matt.
The beginning of our night…
The Tiki – the location of the 148 taps that was open EVERY SINGLE NIGHT we were there.
The Tiki is where I got this ring to try out from Creek Van Houton from Compass Rose Designs. I LOVE this ring!
We ended up going to Karl Strauss for the event they had there – free carnitas tacos, beer and a mechanical bull. I rode the bull. Then we made Brie ride the bull. It was epic, just trust me on that. There may be video footage coming up soon…
The next day after the boys had gone to their seminars, Brie and I hit up Little Italy for some brunch and to check out Monkey Paw. I had to try the beers to ensure that I would proudly wear the shirt I’d gotten from the raffle!
I liked their Oatmeal Pale Ale best (not pictured here) – full citrus on the nose, a rich body thanks to the oatmeal with a crisp end. I’d be more descriptive, but that beer was the first that I tasted at the Tiki. The rest is up for your interpretation…
We all got back together and ended the night at Blind Lady Ale House with chorizo and avocado pizza, egg and bacon pizza and taster flights. A gentle end to an insanely amazing four days!
After I catch up on sleep and detox for about a month or four, I’d so be ready to do it again!