It’s been a little bit, hasn’t it?
Things have spun madly around in wonderful, intricate, and confusing spirals over the last three years. I helped open a brewery, bought into that brewery, ran that brewery for the entirety of two and a half years and then left at the end of last year. I know the few of you who didn’t delete this blog from your feed are probably dying (or just curious) to know what happened, and the truth is quite simple. I lost myself within that brewery.
I’m extremely good at completely immersing myself into the culture of a business, and when I OWN part of that business, I let it melt into me like it’s part of my entire being. I worked for 74 days without a break when we first opened the business. I devoted the majority of my time to that business, waking up at 3am to respond to notifications on Facebook, answer emails, just to get our name out there and show how involved we were. Waking up at 6am, heading into the brewhouse and then running the taproom and eventually the sales team until the very end of the day became natural to me. The first time I went outside after that 74 days in a row, the shining orb in the sky looked unfamiliar, and the lack of a concrete bar between me and the other people around threw me for a loop and almost inspired a panic attack.
Now – almost 9 months after I departed the brewery, I think I’m finally setting into plain and simple joy, happiness, and contentment.
I also found a new job – WINE! I’m now the proud manager/social media maven/event planner for Sweet Hearty Winery! Through this new venture, I’ve been able to sneak away every day to a vineyard which resides on a few acres, next to a river, with views of the mountains. Life is pretty danged good now.
I’ve been setting up TONS of sold out events! Wine Glass Painting…
Fly Fishing Casting demos with the local business, Elkhorn Fly Shop…
Cupcake and Wine Pairing with another local business, The Cupcake Gypsies…
Yoga on the Lawn, where I got to meet one of my Insta-Friends in real life!
The oh-so-lovely Beer Yoga! And what have I been up to for the past few months prior?
Managing another brewery in Fort Collins for a bit…
Enjoying boat rides on Carter Lake with the family…
Hanging out with my friends…
Both human and canine…
Helping out at a local brewery farm in exchange for beer and wonderful friendships…
Accidentally falling in love with my best friend…
Going on brewery tours with some of the best people I know…
Drinking plenty of craft beer still, don’t worry!
And also some not-quite craft beer that isn’t owned by the big guys. Unofficial Street Team
With all honesty, I am beyond happy, and oh-so-blessed, to have ended up where I am today. Life is such a random roller coaster of an adventure and I’m thrilled, terrified, and excited to see what else God has for my path. I’d like to say a huge thank you to anyone who’s still tuning in here after such a long hiatus! Let’s see where we end up from here…
I’ve finally decided upon my only resolution for the new year! I’ll be on a quest to visit every single coffee shop in Fort Collins, and there are many. I haven’t done a full count yet, but once my list is compiled I’ll share with you. Yesterday was a visit to Little Bird Bakeshop which I plan on recapping for you very, very soon. But FIRST!
I had to share this magical pairing I experienced yesterday. Honestly, my life has been changed. After delivering a keg to one of our accounts in the morning, I headed over to The Fox and the Crow, a new cheese shop in Fort Collins, to pick up a keg of ours that they’d just kicked. Since I was there, I decided I should grab some lunch to go. After perusing the menu for a few minutes, I asked the owners what their preference was between the French Kiss – a buttered baguette with thinly sliced ham and brie cheese, or a simple grilled cheese with bacon. They kindly pointed me in the direction of their not-so-simple grilled cheese of the day – French Onion. I just wasn’t prepared to miss out on the bacon, however, so I requested a few slices in addition.
Two soft pieces of bread generously slathered in butter, stuffed with sweet, tender caramelized onions, rich layers of slightly salty cheese and crispy bacon panini-pressed into a melty oblivion. The aromas emanating from this heavenly sandwich swirled around the shop, enrobing me with the ever-so-sweet scent of comfort food with a gourmet twist.
The Snow Squall Black IPA from Snowbank Brewing (also known as my second home) paired perfectly with this meal. Notes of roast enhanced the smoky bacon while the earthy hop bitterness and effervescent carbonation sliced through the richness of the creamy cheese and the sweetness of the caramelized onions balanced out the final resiny bite of the brew. After inhaling this, I was fully prepared to officially start the day. I waddled to the door and turned on the open sign.
If you live in Fort Collins or any surrounding area, get over to The Fox and the Crow and request this perfection of a grilled cheese. And then come see me at Snowbank Brewing to complete the pairing!
Filed under beer, Daily Life
We did it! We survived Great American Beer Festival week! And the Oktoberfest week before that, and the week before that…
I’ve been kind of buried in work and haven’t had a chance to update, so I’ll do a little picture purge to recap the last few weeks for you. Dave and I visited Pateros Creek to show our support for Stevetoberfest and wish brewer Steve a happy birthday. We left our mark as is expected.
As everyone knows, Oktoberfests should be celebrated whilst wearing traditional German dirndls. My parental unit just got back from Germany and brought my sis-in-law and myself these so we could celebrate accordingly.
Keg deliveries were made in said dirndl, as is also required when running a startup business.
We went to the second youngest brewery, Zwei Bruder, in southern Fort Collins to try their wares, as well as to say hello to my old brew system from Wolf Creek Brewery which made its way to this new brewery last year!
A Colorado Avalanche preseason game was attended. Not while wearing a dirndl…
I was able to sneak out of the taproom for an hour one day and made it all the way down the street to New Belgium!
Snowbank Brewing had TONS of special releases prepared for GABF week. Chocolate Porter with the cacao husks and nibs from our friends over at Nuance Chocolate which just had their first day of operation yesterday!
Coffee Pale – my very own creation that I might be slightly proud of.
The wonderful Susan over at Cranknstein was kind enough to model for our Coffee Pale press release picture.
Green Chile Pale infused with roasted pueblo chiles. Intense chile aroma and a slight heat that hit your throat about a minute after sipping.
We have a lot more collaboration beers coming up that I’m beyond excited about. The local companies we’ve been connected with through this wonderful brewery have become incredible friends.
Last Friday morning I left the brewery in the capable hands of Broox and headed down to Denver for the Samuel Adams Longshot brunch at Marlowe’s. Pumpkin challah french toast, crab cakes, sausages made with elk, rabbit and buffalo, biscuits and gravy…
And of course, beer! We were the first of the public to try Samuel Adam’s new double IPA – Rebel Rouser – a west coast style IIPA that clocks in at 8.4% ABV.
I sat with the crew of The Brew Happy Show out of Portland, who I’d happened to meet up at Snowbank the night before!
After brunch I headed back up to Fort Collins to meet with my wonderful bestie craft beer girl from California.
The beautiful Janelle! She was child-free this time around so she, her hubby Andrew and I hit up the town.
First up was Funkwerks where I had a (GABF gold medal winning!) Raspberry Provencal.
Odell Brewing for tacos and brews.
And of course I had to introduce them to my latest hangout – Social. On all the nights where we close extremely late, we can always count on Social to have their delicious menu waiting for us.
The next morning was GABF! The Snowbank crew filed into the Bellco theatre for the awards ceremony and sat amongst an ocean of Coloradoan breweries with full glasses of beer.
Colorado’s cheers for every win were only one-upped by the Texans sitting a level up. I’ve never been so proud to be a resident of this wonderful state!
After the ceremony we filed into the convention hall and started the important part – drinking great beers and visiting with our friends, both old and new. We even ran into a few Snowbank Brewing t-shirts in the wild! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing those shirts on someone else around town.
And now I must bid you adieu as I venture out on my first day of sales outside the taproom! I GET TO GO OUTSIDE! Like, where the sun is! I might be excited…
It’s official! I’m officially un-unemployed! Which means I’m employed! Which means I have a job!
My job in California was absolutely wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but I was working extremely long days followed by nights and weekends volunteering at a brewery (which I also absolutely loved), and stopped having time to live. Adventure mountain bike rides, reflective Sunday mornings at church, cooking, hiking, road trips and weekend vacations were slowly removed from the picture, plus I was far from my family whom I’m ridiculously close with. All of that has changed and I think I’ve finally got my priorities in order.
I first visited Loveland Aleworks back in December of 2012 during my Christmas vacation.
I immediately fell in love with the blend of exposed brick, concrete bar and tall windows that let in all the light and gave wonderful views of the brewery.
After a long two weeks of interviews and meetings with other breweries and beer companies, I realized that this was the place I wanted to be.
I’ll be starting off as a Beertender/Aleworker and morphing into a variety of other things – which will have to be kept under wraps until more concrete plans are in order.
For now, I’m more than thrilled that I stuck it out and didn’t settle for a job that wasn’t in the beer business. Bonus points – I still have enough time left that I can hike, bike, go to the archery range, cook and blog among other things! Life is good. Living is great!
Bonus point #2: The assistant brewer is a huge Colorado Avalanche fan as well, so we spent last night hollering at each and every goal with the customers.
Have you ever gotten so caught up in making a living that you forgot to live?
What are your biggest priorities in life?
It’s been a busy week followed by a lazy weekend – my favorite kind!
We’ve had quite a range of weather as the temperature slowly begins to drop.
I spent the first part of the week walking around downtown Denver with a hot cup of Bhakti chai and snowflakes slowly drifting down around me, melting right before they hit the ground.
I’ve found the best way to recover from long cold walks outside (which I’ve been doing almost every single day in this beautiful state) is with hot apple cider, hot pumpkin chai, hot coffee… basically anything hot to help defrost my numb fingers.
That includes a fresh slice of vegan pumpkin banana chocolate chip bread. Oooooh, yes.
You guys remember that “Guys Night Out” ticket pack I got? We cashed in on it Thursday night.
I totally blended in with my ‘stache. No one was the wiser.
We suffered a painful end to that game. Bexter was a sad panda to see the Avs lose to the awful, terrible Red Wings – the one team with whom we have the biggest rivalry. Le sigh.
Even with the loss, the Coors Original and the nosebleed seats, it was awesome to be able to go watch in person! And I’ve got a few more games on the schedule to go see! WOOOOOT!
My brother and I had plans to homebrew the next day. I woke up to a good inch of snow blanketing the ground.
Absolutely beautiful – until you realize that the brew system is located in his garage and not in a steamy brewery. I scraped snow off of my windshield (for the first time in my life!) and headed over to his house.
We put together the official recipe and headed out for the important things: grain. And burritos from Matador. Very important to start a brew day with a solid base.
I happen to have some amazing tea that I first tried in Ojai that inspired me to make a warm, holiday brew with. We started with an experimental brown ale base recipe and will be adding the tea extract into secondary.
Of course you must “relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew” when you’re homebrewing. Lucky for me, my brother has Citra Smash Lager that he made last month. This is absolutely my favorite Citra beer of all time. Clean and crisp with flavors of honey, lemon and a candy-like fruitiness.
My bro’s control panel. Intense.
His entire system is awesomely intense, and surprisingly easy to use thanks to his SOP he’s been working on. I didn’t break anything following the instructions! Hooray!
Mash paddle from the homebrew store – Hops and Berries. This is also where I got my first recipe ever for Dos Beckis!
Recirculating the mash.
SCIENCE! My bro and sis-in-law got a new pH meter they wanted to calibrate and try out.
Remember all that snow on the ground? The garage was getting pretty freaking cold. Dave came by and brought my new best friend.
Glorious heat! This heater doesn’t emit carbon monoxide, but it definitely eats up the oxygen pretty quick. We kept the back window open so we didn’t suffocate. More people started filtering in once that heater arrived.
Pre-pitched wort! Looks like this will be coming in around 5%-ish ABV. Since it was so cold out we didn’t hit many (or any) of our temperatures, but I still have high hopes! The rest of the day was spent drinking more homebrew, making more vegan pumpkin banana chocolate chip bread, eating said bread, drinking more homebrew and listening to “Thrift Shop” and Weird Al. Cuz we’re cool like that.
Have you ever homebrewed before? Any success or horror stories?
Filed under beer, brewing
I’m in Colorado again for a wonderful visit with my wonderful family, wonderful breweries and wonderful eateries! I took a well-deserved long weekend and flew in yesterday.
Noodles and Company was my first stop. While it is a chain, I can’t find it anywhere by me in California! I’ll always have wonderful memories of high school – biking here with friends for a piping hot bowl of Wisconsin Mac & Cheese or something equally unhealthy. This time, peanuts were calling to me.
Indonesian Peanut Saute! Rice noodles with tons of veggies and ridiculously spicy peanut sauce. I forgot to add meat and didn’t even notice. Accidental vegan!
We also had to hit a brewery on the way home. Grimm Brothers has been a local favorite of mine for a few years now.
I’m a huge fan of Snow Drop, but when they add Funkwerks Saison yeast to it… HUGE FAN. Oh, happy days. Their sessionable Willow Wren Erntebier (harvest beer) clocks in at 3.4%ABV with rich cocoa and coffee aroma, but still clean and light enough to enjoy on a hot summer day. I see a growler in my very near future with the 80+ degree heat here this week.
Today was even more rice noodles. Sri Thai is a Thai restaurant I’ve frequented since I was eleven years old. Unfortunately, it’s been less frequent since I moved from Colorado ten years ago, but I make a point to stop by every time I’m in town.
Thai iced tea with soymilk. Avoiding dairy is difficult, but this place is quite vegan friendly. I consumed my Pad Thai with chicken too quickly to photograph… I can only vegan so much in one week.
After lunches I got a haircut, compliments of my wonderful parental unit who spoil me too much, and then headed to Odell Brewing Company.
American Homebrewers Association cards get you $4 off any flight here! I went for one of the new seasonal flights.
One of the standouts here was Press Pale Ale – a pale ale with coffee added. It was extremely strange and wonderful. Light and refreshing graham cracker flavor with a huge coffee aroma and finish, but still crystal clear and pale. I also adored the rye hefeweizen. And all the others on this flight. Since they’re under construction, adding yet another building onto their ever-expanding brewery, there was no Small Batch Revival this year. Le sigh. They promised me next year would happen
The evening was spent at the local golf clubhouse with amazing Good Juju Ginger Ale from Left Hand Brewing out of Longmont paired with spicy wings, and then on the porch of my parental unit’s beautiful home.
Elysian’s Avatar Jasmine IPA – this will always be a nostalgic favorite of mine.
Happy spring to all!
Filed under beer, brewery
American Craft Beer Week started off with a huge bang! Ladies at Ladyface: The Fermentables and Comestibles Education and Tippling Society celebrated our two year anniversary!
I stuck to my latest tradition and started off with mac ‘n cheese with jalapeno and bacon. For a night like we had ahead, food was necessary. As was a warm-up beer…
It was a HOT one out, so I grabbed a nice light Palo Comado XPA.
The week had started off with a high of 100 degrees, so the patio misters were more than welcome as the sun slowly set and the earth finally began to cool.
Our youngest member who was unable to attend either the first meeting or the first anniversary (on account of not being created or born yet) joined us for dinner.
Little Avery lovin’ on her Auntie Michelle!
The theme of the day was “favorites”. We were supposed to bring in our favorite beer… One of my ultimate favorites is aging in my cellar (aka a cardboard box sitting in a cool closet), and I just wasn’tt prepared to be unselfish and share it, so instead I brought six of my other faves. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier is one of my favorite wheat beers, along with Franziskaner – musty with intense notes of banana and earthy cloves.
Lost Coast Downtown Brown – nothing too fancy about this one. Just a quality brown that’s always a good go-to when you’re looking for a lower alcohol beer with lots of roasty nutty malts and gentle hops.
This was one of the first, if not the first, recipe I made for the blog with beer. Bison Brewing Organic Honey Basil is the heart of my Honey Basil Chicken recipe, which I’m looking forward to grilling again this summer!
Michelle brought in Pilsner Urquell – the original Czech Pilsner.
Nancy Gold of the Maltose Falcons brought in two homebrewed clones of Allagash Curieux – one aged with oak cubes from a rum barrel and one with oak cubes from a bourbon barrel. Droooool.
We were all very fond of both. I think I preferred the toasted rum cubes, myself.
Janelle (I believe this was her donation) brought in Anderson Valley Brother David’s Triple – a deliciously boozy Belgian.
Cyrena brought in a beer she’d gotten overseas at the Westvleteren Trappist brewery (there are only eight Trappist breweries in the world), and was kind enough to share it with us. This beer does taste a little closer to heaven.
We had a handful of other beers – New Belgium’s La Folie was my mother’s donation from afar since she now lives in Colorado and was unable to attend. J.J. brought in Duchesse de Bourgogne which tasted like it was made of sugar cubes after the intense sourness of La Folie.
Ting Su of the Eagle Rock Brewery showed up with some Los Angeles ladies to participate as well!
Ting brought in Deuce – Eagle Rock Brewery’s second anniversary ale which is a super-loaded version of their flagship beer, Solidarity. Toasty and full of chocolate, roast and hints of smoke – scarily drinkable and clocking in at 10%ABV. This could throw you for one if you weren’t aware of the alcohol content.
I capped off the evening with an old favorite – bread pudding!!! I left that night overstuffed and overhappy.
Happy Two Years, ladies! Here’s to two more!
I finally got a chance to check out the actual BREWERY instead of just the pub!
Of course, beforehand I had to fuel up in said pub. I can’t go on a brewery tour without fuel. I’m not completely insane.
There was a big group of us and they assigned ordering to me. I closed my eyes and pointed. Roasted potatoes with soy chorizo and vegan ricotta. Surprisingly pleasant, even for someone who lives for bacon!
Vegan wild mushroom fritters with vegan pimento – for someone who hates mushrooms and loves pig, also surprisingly pleasant. One might even say delicious!
Pretzel with non-vegan cheese. Two vegan options are more than enough in my opinion, no offense to all my vegan/vegetarian readers out there!
We topped it off with the charcuterie plate full of cheese, grapes, spicy peanuts and cured meats. Okey, fueled up. Tour time.
We made our way through Chloe’s – the exclusive club for all those who love beer.
As you can see, I hadn’t quite gotten my lens repaired/been able to remove the lens yet…
We made our way into the gigantic offices/cold room. Don’t worry, these are separated. They don’t actually cryogenically freeze the employees. Yet.
This be a pretty big walk-in. I be pretty jealous. I become pretty chilled…
That ought to satisfy the LA consumers for a few days…
Once we got back into the warmth, we were greeted with all these empty cans, waiting to be filled with Wolf Among Weeds.
And finally, into the brewery!
They had to remove the roof of this building in order to lower these fermentors in by crane.
They’re kinda big…
And finally, a glance at the 50bbl brew system. Fifty. Barrel. Brew. System.
They run their wort through the hop dosing system before sending it to the boil kettle.
Instead of filtration, they have a separation tank. This spins the chilled wort around and all of the solids are brought to the center and removed – basically a second whirlpool tank, but faster and cooler looking.
The canning machine! We didn’t get to see this in action, but that makes for easier pictures anyway. These are spun around, sanitized, purged with CO2, filled and capped/clamped.
The quality assurance room/lab. If anyone for some reason calls in about their beer having an issue, the Golden Road team is able to come in here and taste that exact same batch to see if it’s a problem based on brewing or by handling. I think I’d be good at this part of the job.
I’m checking out how good I am at quality assurance right now.
In other news – I took my camera in to the repair shop and after a lot of hammering from the backroom and me cringing as I listened to each bone-shattering crack, the shattered cover was removed and my camera is at the ready to take some more awesome pictures!
I’d like to preface this post with a photo.
I haven’t been able to get the UV lens to come off of the camera yet, so unfortunately the pictures I got are quite sad. I was able to go down to Anaheim and got a (blurry) tour of The Bruery by the Sr. Director of Brewing Operations/Everything Else, Tyler King.
The Bruery has three separate buildings – offices and barrel aging space, the actual brewery and a distribution center/warehouse which also hosts more barrels.
This is their 3bbl pilot system. As you can see, it’s very fuzzy and soft-looking so some of the brewers use it as sleeping quarters… Out, damned crack! Out, I say!
Their old (also unfortunately fuzzy and blurry) fermentors are about to get swapped out for shiny new ones.
They propagate their own yeast on site instead of working through other labs. Their new fancy schmancy lab and lab technician are in full swing!
And here’s where I finally got (some of) the focus under control.
The Bruery is currently distributed in 21 states AND in Europe! After seeing the 15bbl system they work and finding out they have a staff of about 50, my mind was boggled. And impressed. Massively.
Brand new 60bbl fermentors!
Many, many kegs waiting to be filled with golden, amber and ruby deliciousness! And then some more!
One small section of their barrel aging program.
One bigger section of their barrel aging program. The scent of spirits, vanilla and oak swirling around the giant warehouse is intoxicating!
All of their bottle-conditioned beers, packed up and ready to be sent out!
And now these await me in my cellar (read: cardboard box in a dark cupboard) while they age out. Luckily I got two (or more) of each, so I should probably try them fresh as well, yes?