I had an amazing five days in California seeing wonderful friends! I must say, I miss the 80 degree weather while sitting on the patio at Ladyface and the gorgeous sunsets from the beachfront hotel room in Oxnard, but it is so nice to be home in Colorado. I really do feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Now for a picture-heavy recap of the trip, plus the winners of the Craft Beer for the Homebrewer book giveaway!
Remember how I said that me as a 27 year old wouldn’t be skipping workouts? I may have lied to both you and myself and taken the rest of the trip off. Oops.
Story Tavern in Downtown Burbank on a beautiful patio with even better temperatures and amazing beer. It was a rough start to the trip.
Birthday breakfast at the hotel! A half serving of Eggs Benedict and copious amounts of horrible hotel coffee.
CUSTOM MELT to see my favorites Thomas and Phil! I was headed to the beach so I got some sammiches to go and sat around catching up with these two wonderful men.
I may have also tasted some of Enegren’s beer that I can’t get way out here in Colorado. Sniff.
Nothing Bundt Cake! I picked up a red velvet bundlet as my birthday cake and did a happy dance out the door.
No, we didn’t actually stay here, seeing that it’s abandoned and decrepit, but I had to swing by and say hello to one of my favorite formally-local hotels.
Once I got to the actual hotel, I scarfed down my Custom Melt sammich of choice – the Crispy Chicken: Thomas style. Fried chicken smothered in buffalo sauce and topped with carrots and celery in a creamy heaven sauce. My arteries were aching and it was so worth it.
A slow stroll on the beach followed by a relaxing sun-bath on the lifeguard stand.
Just because I’m artistic and stuff.
I hit the hotel hot tub to warm up and then sat out on the back deck to enjoy the sunset.
Overpriced hotel salmon and cous cous for birthday dinner.
Sunrise the next morning.
Okey, I am definitely missing this right now.
Lunch with my other favorites at Ladyface Alehouse in Agoura. The weather was to die for.
Beautiful mother and daughter!
And so very stylish, Avery! Now please stop chewing on Becki’s sunglasses…
I had to. I always have to. The mac ‘n cheese with bacon and jalapeno is too good to turn down, especially paired with the Ladyface IPA.
After saying farewell to Janelle and Avery, I went out to the mall to pick up some gelato and say hi to my friends who run the place, then enjoyed a walk through the farmers market.
Year round strawberries! It’s killing me to look at this.
Yet another stop on the food list. Andria’s Seafood at the Ventura Harbor.
And another sunset. You bored yet? Too bad.
Another sunrise that will never get old (to me).
I enjoyed a leisurely walk in Downtown Ventura and then drove up the coast to visit more of my favorite people who work at/own one of my favorite breweries. We had to visit The Spot for burgers and shakes while we waited for the brewery doors to open.
Island Brewing Company!
I enjoyed the Avocado Honey Ale with the ocean in the background. A perfect way to spend a Hallmark holiday.
Oh, I miss the ambiance of this place. They’re expanding to the space next door soon, and Mark was kind enough to give me a tour, which basically was him opening a door to a HUGE empty space and telling me to look while pointing out where the gigantic walk-in and canning station will be. Awesome.
Valentine’s Day flowers and sunsets make for a happy Becki.
Once I was back at the hotel I poured myself a Black Market Hefeweizen (all the beer consumed on this trip was beer that I can only find in California, for obvious reasons), and visited the pool for a swim.
Never enough sunsets.
Sunsets with best friends.
Trying to be artistic again and forgetting to drink my Trader Joe’s Mission Street Anniversary Ale (which is only $2.99!!!). Luckily we have a Trader Joe’s opening here in Fort Collins soon! I missed it so much!
Okey, enough with the art.
The final sunset on the beach. Le sigh.
On Saturday afternoon I drove up to the Burbank area so I could catch my flight early on Sunday and checked into this awesome hotel. What a view!
Golden Road was visited. 2020 IPA and Berliner Weisse with woodruff syrup was had. Fried artichokes were consumed. The hotel was visited and slept in.
Bright and early Sunday morning, I was sitting back on the plane with my face pressed against the glass, trying to will myself not to cave and move back.
Oh, Lord, why?
Once I landed, I had to go and check on the progress of my new house! It was 63 degrees outside and the bathtubs were installed! I breathed in the fresh Colorado air and felt right once again.
The wind picked up last night, followed by an unexpected downpour. I opened up this Enegren Brewing 2nd Anniversary Dopplesticke that I’ve had aging in my cellar since right before I moved and sat by the fire enjoying the company of my wonderful family.
What a glorious trip it was.
Okay, you guys ready for the winners of the book? I assigned all of you entry numbers (you could get up to four), and did a random number generator online. The winners are…..
Courtney L. and Aaron C.!!!! I’ve sent you both e-mails to let you know! As for the rest of you…
IT’S NOT OVER YET!!!!!
The publisher has offered up THREE more copies for me to give away! If you didn’t win, your name is going into the next giveaway! As soon as I receive those copies, I’ll put up an extension to the giveaway and three more of you will get this book for free. If you can’t wait until then, here’s a link to buy the book:
Craft Beer for the Homebrewer: Recipes From America’s Top Brewmasters
Happy Monday to everyone!
It’s been a while, I know. I was kidnapped and taken to a ridiculously beautiful (not abandoned) hotel on the beach for my birthday, forced to consume lots of delicious foods and try new beers, then kidnapped again and taken to Arizona where I was forced to drive golf carts, eat more delicious foods and drink more beer. It was traumatizing and rough, but I escaped and now I’m back to reality. Sigh.
Sunset at Mandalay Bay.
A complimentary bottle of Barrel-Aged Kriek from Island Brewing Company on my birthday.
Just heard that one of my Island Brewing favorites, Little Island, is back! Who wants to bring me a bottle? Beer trade, anyone?
My happy place. Craft beers and the beach – could it get any better?
Grilled filet mignon, lemony risotto and garlic-lemon sauteed broccolini with Tempranillo for Hallmark Day.
John, Joe and Patty from The Chive came to Enegren Brewing Company to learn more about the brewing process and everything beer. KCCO beer – coming soon! Looking forward to it, guys!
Joe and Patty checking out the digs.
A little pouring training for John.
Success! Much better than his first attempt…
Yeah, about that…
After a rowdy two or three hours, John bought beers for 40 Chivers to Pay It Forward and they departed.
As of now only ten glasses are left on John’s tab and Brother Joseph “Bro-Joe” Belgian Strong Ale is on tap! Why aren’t you here yet?
After all that craziness, another kidnapping took place. We went to Arizona, played golf (well, I hit two drives and then drove the golf cart. Same difference…) drank more delicious local beer and enjoyed the warm summeresque evenings.
On the drive back to California, we stumbled across this abandoned beauty:
But that’ll have to wait until tomorrey…
Some of the random things I’ve been doing this past week:
One of my nostalgic favorite places to eat: The Waypoint Cafe at the Camarillo Airport.
My parental unit and I used to go here at least once a month when they lived here to enjoy a greasy meal and watch the planes taking off.
The place has been spruced up since the last time I was here. The interior was all gussied up with new tables and booths and a polished bar. Luckily, their menu was still the same.
The patty melt. A must-have to fulfill grease-laden desires with deliciousness. This pairs perfectly with a chocolate malt.
If your finger aren’t dripping butter after each bite, your patty melt just wasn’t prepared correctly. These don’t have that problem.
The only problem I had was that they also had a cheesesteak as a special on the menu… What’s one to do?
One of the many benefits of having a dining companion. Order both…
…and halvsies! When both diners are craving unhealthy sammiches overflowing with beef, everyone wins!
I’ve also created a Beer ‘n Wings group. I went with Kevin and John to scout out the place for our first meeting. Shockingly enough, the local Hooters has craft beer on tap! Stone, Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head were among the selection. The boys seemed to enjoy themselves there, so I knew it would pass with other members of the group. I enjoy awkward things – going here is one of said awkward things I enjoy.
I headed up to Santa Barbara to get some Cicerone studying done with my buddy Grayson. Of course we had to stop at Island Brewing since it’s on the way up.
Some very kind gentlemen at the bar bought me a Blackbird Porter on nitro, just to be nice. It MAY have been as an apology for telling me that I looked like I was sixteen. That could’ve been it too…
Grayson and I made a terrible mistake and stopped by Keg ‘n Bottle in Isla Vista. My wallet hurts. Those three in the middle would be the 08-10 Vertical Epic series. I have 11.11.11 waiting in my closet to join them in consumption at the end of the year. Black Xantus is simply an amazing robust barrel-aged Imperial Stout and Sucaba looked cool and got good reviews on BeerAdvocate. I repeat – my wallet hurts.
We finally buckled down and got to studying. Feel free to steal our supersecret study secrets.
I also got classy for dinner. Surprising discovery – Cup o’ Noodles pairs deliciously with Valkyrie California Alt!
After a night full of creating a syllabus, “tasting” delicious beers, mourning the sorry states of our respective wallets and studying the malt and hop profiles of different styles we kept it cheap and gourmet. Breakfast Burritos a la Grayson. Scrambled egg stuffed with sauteed bell peppers, onions and crispy bacon wrapped up in a warm tortilla with cheese. Simple and freakin’ delicious!
To restore some mental health after the busy night, we took a stroll along the beautiful Santa Barbara coastline.
Not too shabby of a place to live, Gray.
Not too shabby at all.
Having a full time job plus working another job on the weekend makes for… no time for anything else in the world, like blogging. Or sleeping. Forgive me for my absence, but I took pictures to make up for the lack of posting.
On Friday we delivered kegs to the Calabasas Wolf Creek. It was not a very fun trip, driving the gigantic refrigerated truck down the 5 in the pouring rain with lightning flashing overhead, but somehow we survived. No toes were crushed in this delivery. One finger may have been smashed (again)…
On Saturday I worked at brewery number one – Enegren Brewing. It was a beautiful day out to make up for the excessive amounts of downpour we’d had the day before, so I took the brewery bike to pick up cheesesteaks from Carli’s in Moorpark. If you’ve never had a cheesesteak before, you must go eat one right now. This was my first, smothered in cheese and jalapenos, and I want more. I want more now.
We’ll soon be having another Mrs. Enegren on our hands! Congratulations to Brie and Chris!!!
On Sunday we had to take some kegs to Short Order in Los Angeles and decided to sample from the menu – this is the Charlie Brown adult milkshake. Vanilla custard, peanot infused bourbon, peanut butter, chocolate and awesomeness in a mason jar. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the one to order this, so I only got the few sips I stole when the consumer wasn’t watching. Insert evil laugh here.
I was still pretty stuffed from a hearty breakfast at a greasy diner, so I opted for the potato wedges with heavenly sour cream and bacon dipping sauce. Hands down, these are the best fries in the entire universe, especially when combined with the sour cream and bacon.
Back at the brewery, I made a beautiful tan and tanner – Valkyrie California Alt topped with Golden Spur Saison. I think I’ve found my calling – eating cheesesteaks and making pretty beer combos. I’m set for life.
The next day was spent celebrating Commander Matt’s birthday! He works at and owns a brewery which he goes to every single day, so obviously more brewery was necessary. I was more than happy to oblige and force my company upon him.
Hollister Brewing Company was the first stop (after mass amounts of fried fish at Andria’s Seafood in Ventura, of course).
We sampled almost all of their beers and came away with a growler of their Hip Hop Double IPA. My personal favorites were the Riverdance Irish Red – malty with a slightly sweet finish, gentle carbonation and low ABV, and The Pope IPA – not quite sure what it was about this that I fell for, but something about the malty aroma and surprising bitterness at the end made me happy. Very happy.
We also swung by Island Brewing on the way down the coast and the owner, Paul, was kind enough to give Matt, Grayson and me an in depth tour of the place.
I’m incredibly intrigued by their bottling line. Only four fillers, but they manage to bottle 720 bottles every time they bottle. Bottle bottle bottle.
The owner, Paul, suited up in his official “Tour Guide” lab coat. It’s embroidered with the words “Tour Guide”, so it’s official. That and he owns the place. That also makes it official.
I swung by the Ladies at Ladyface meeting (Number 11 already! We’ve almost hit our one year anniversary!) and sampled from the dry hop experiment – Ladyface Blonde with Delta pellet hops thrown on top, put in a French press and, well, pressed. It was “hop night” so there was a handful of single hop beers, homebrewed IPAs and other IPAs that could wreck your palate.
So they say. I’ve had more daunting, but this is a delicious beer!
Now I’m going to be awesome and hit the hay. Three nights of little to no sleep, brewery, brewery tour, brewery work, plus a ten hour brew day today = complete and utter happy exhaustion.
As of yesterday, I’m officially old. My age times four equals 100. My knees ache.
I’m officially twenty-five years old! I started off the day in the traditional way.
Eggs Portugal! Nothing like a deliciously fatty and savory bread pudding to start the day!
Add chocolate covered donuts to that and I’m a happy girl. A happy, aging girl.
The day consisted of a trip to Santa Barbara, perusing the REI (my favorite store in the entire world) up there, driving down the coast and visiting Island Brewing Company for a delicious taster flight. My birthdays seem to center around food and beer. I’m okay with this.
After my day on the road, I headed to my homebrew club meeting at Enegren Brewing, had a few tasters of the amazing homebrews that were present (the coconut porter was ah-may-zing!)…
…then this dashing young man took me out to dinner at Old Place Cornell and spoiled me rotten. I took the night off from the camera and fully immersed myself in the joy of devouring part of an entire chicken covered with balsamic glaze and a baked potato that was overloaded with bacon and homemade sour cream. A portion of a skillet cookie may also have been consumed, as well as an Anchor Porter and some complimentary Pinot Gris… It was the perfect birthday dinner – so very spoiled!
I also got to bite into this ridiculously rich triple brownie cake that was delivered via Mama Enegren – thank you so much, Kathy! Heaven on a plate, seriously. I ate until I hurt – as it should be on a birthday!
Thanks for all the birthday wishes! Now it’s time to have a quarter-life crisis: I’m thinking a motorcycle, skydiving and a tattoo, maybe? Any suggestions?
Suggestions will be accepted via comments on the blog, Facebook and Twitter! Do your worst!
Before our porter tasting up in Santa Barbara, Gray and I met up at Island Brewing Company in Carpinteria for an ocean view and a preparatory pint.
A beautiful day, as usual, on the coast.
I got a small pint of their Nut Brown Ale – a light, slightly thin-bodied brown ale with a toasty back-end and crisp finish with a gentle hop bite.
I also got a preview from the brewer, Shaun, of their upcoming Big Island Imperial Pale Ale straight from the fermentor. Dave, the guy working the taps, polished up last year’s bottle for me. This beer is brewed on the first of the year, every year. It’s a smooth sip with a nice punch of hops in the end and will be pretty high up there in ABV. I think I heard someone mention it’ll end up around 10%?
Grayson got Jubilee Ale – a sweet, malty beer with a full aroma of caramel and dried fruits.
After enjoying a relaxing hour and a half there, we headed off to stuff ourselves with mass amounts of Indian food and ready our stomachs for a night of porter tasting!
I’m fairly certain that we got an affected Anchor Porter – all I could smell was green apple (acetaldehyde – the sign of a young beer that hasn’t matured fully) and the taste was similar to the aroma. After reading about it on Beer Advocate and seeing everyone list it as “coffee, chocolate, roasty” I’m fairly certain that something was wrong with it. I’ll be going to another store to try this one again in the future. My favorite of the evening was Shipyard’s Imperial Porter – a rich porter that pours a dark mahogany with a long lasting tan head, a sweet aroma of brown sugar and currants with a matching flavor full of burnt sugar, hints of mocha and dried fruits with a slightly spicy finish. This beer also fit the BJCP descriptions almost to a tee, which is one of the purposes of these tastings – trying to distinguish between the sub-styles of so many beers.
Now back to burying myself in Tasting Beer and the draft system manual again! So much to learn!
Happy New Year to all! I hope you all had a wonderful, safe holiday! I spent my evening sipping a homemade hot toddy, coughing up a storm and watching In Bruges. Not quite the successful evening we’d planned, but we were miserably comfortable.
I’m attempting to sum up some highlights of this year with pictures, and I’ve realized that I have had a WONDERFUL year. If you thought 30 pictures was bad, prepare yourself for a visual onslaught.
The first of many, many nights at Ladyface, TRULY appreciating beer.
Learning all-grain brewing with Grayson and Frank.
Watching my first polo match in Indio.
Staying in a hotel in Indio where someone was possibly murdered…
Multiple trips to Ojai.
Opening my first brew: Dos Beckis!
Recording ADR for a film that has yet to surface… C’mon, Scott!
Enjoyed my first (of many) sangrias at Sofrita!
Created a recipe for Newman’s Own!
Had a blogger meetup at Ladyface.
Made Oatmeal Stout Brownies with Caramelized Bacon – this has gotten me recognized in the brewery and at the homebrew shop: “Hey, you’re the one who made the brownies with bacon!”
Attempted to resign, and then officially resigned from my retail job.
Went to Colorado for two weeks…
Was so sick that every time I inhaled I had to cough. (Seriously, I didn’t sleep for a week thanks to this horrible illness as I’m sure you can see in that picture!)
Went to the Odell’s Small Batch Revival. I jokingly told my brother that once he and his wife opened their brewery, I would be pouring in their taproom. They said, “We’d really prefer a sommelier for beer.” I went home, researched, and found the Cicerone program.
I became a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. I’m scheduled to take the exam to become a Certified Cicerone in the next few months…
Became a member of the American Homebrewers Association.
Was featured on The Chive three times!
Went to Breckenridge for a show and got to meet/interview the head brewer, Matt Darling.
…and enjoy Breckenridge in all of its chilly glory.
Purchased a MacBook Pro with my own earnings.
Purchased a camera. Then immediately upgraded to an even better camera!
Visited Wades Wines new tasting room. Then visited again and again and again. Then was interviewed by The Beer Wench.
Tried mussels for the first time. Tried mussels for the last time.
Visited Island Brewing Company.
Got a tour from the brewer.
Brewed my second batch of beer with the Maltose Falcons.
Finally trespassed and got a closeup look at an old abandoned water park.
Became a founding member of Ladies at Ladyface. Haven’t missed a meeting since.
Went to the second concert of my entire life with my friend/cousin Allie. She owled.
Went to Seattle for the first time in my life.
Visited Elysian Brewing Company and became obsessed with their Avatar Jasmine IPA.
Learned how to use the bus and visited Deschutes Brewery on our way down from Seattle.
Made a pit stop at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico to try all SIXTEEN of their brews.
Met the brewers at Enegren Brewing Company.
Weasled my way into the brewery and started volunteering there so I could be a Cicerone Certified Beer Server who’d actually served beer to people instead of just passed an online test. Then they threw me into a brewniform, let me help with a brew day and got stuck with me.
I learned how to lift 50lb kegs over my shoulder while wearing heels. Enegren will seriously have a hard time getting rid of me.
I visited TONS of breweries. The few I’ve featured are only skimming the top…
I created some delicious recipes for the autumn season…
Some boozy autumn recipes as well.
One of my recipes was featured on Taste Terminal and was their second most popular post of 2011!
Discovered a program for HDR and went slightly beserk with that. Consequently, I realized that food doesn’t always do so well with HDR.
Brewed again with Frank and Grayson up in Santa Barbara.
Met the Beer Chicks at the latest Ladies at Ladyface.
And that’s barely skimming the surface. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all!
Raising a glass to 2012 being as good, or even better than 2011.
Today I took a road trip with my lovely parental unit up to Solvang – a ridiculously touristy Danish village that you must visit exactly once every seven years. Seven years ago, we visited. Today, we went back. It’s now a tradition.
The entire day was spent playing with the manual settings on my camera and laughing like crazy with my mumsie and pops.
Only about half of the pictures I took were even usable.
We went into a book store that had an entire level devoted to first edition and limited release books. I’m a total nerd, so I loved looking through the dusty cabinets at the peeling covers.
They also had an old printing press. Inner nerd happy-dance.
It was painfully warm out, so we ventured around, searching for a place for a nice icy glass of water.
Oops. Found a brewery. Beer it is! Solvang Brewing Company.
We split the sampler of seven of their beers.
After. We weren’t the biggest fans of this. The amber was solid and the kristall weiss was good, but generic. The dark lager was the most unique – major molasses aroma and flavor, but with a funky finish thanks to the lager yeast. Unique, but not quite my glass of beer… We left almost all of the IPA (apparently I’m not a fan of the musky Warrior hops, or something else that was extremely musky/earthy in this beer) and dark lager and headed back out to walk around town a little more.
Not just flowers… MANUAL flowers!
Not just a window… a MANUAL window! Okay, I’ll stop now. Afterwards, we drove around the winding roads through Los Olivos and made our way down to Carpinteria. Island Brewing Company just started serving their seasonal Avocado Honey Ale. Once they start serving, it’s gone almost immediately thanks to the Avocado Festival that overtakes the entirety of the town. For the past three years, I’ve never been able to even get a taste.
I have never seen Island Brewing so packed! I got a wristband at the door, slowly navigated my way through the crowd, bumping at least twenty people on the way, and asked if they had any Avocado Honey Ale left. The bartender poured me a taster and pointed me in the direction of the fridge. A man stood in front of the fridge, the door held open with his hip as he collected the last four bottles of the ale for the year. He turned, saw the imminent tears of desperation forming in my eyes, and held out a bottle of the liquid gold.
Yaaaaay! Three years of waiting and I finally got to taste! They add honey from beehives in the middle of avocado orchards to the boil to get this hyper-speed-selling beer.
I love any beer that has honey in the boil! Overall, I think this beer was a little over-hyped, but it’s truly a delicious light brew! There’s a floral honey aroma that billows off the soft head, followed by a smooth, clear sip with a hint of honey that lasts on the tongue for a few moments after you swallow. Bouncy carbonation and a light finish – the perfect end-of-summer beer. Summer, I’ll miss you. Now bring on the spicy, malty and robust autumn beers!
I’ve featured Island Brewing Company a few times on my blog, and even used their growlers to bottle condition my very first brew – Dos Beckis. Today, for the very first time, I got a tour of the facilities on a brew day!
Of course, first we had to get a flight of a few of their brews to get in the spirit of Island Brewing.
Well, we had to get a few tasters and then a full pint of their Island Pale Ale…
Okay, fine! We had to get a flight, a Island Pale Ale, a Jubilee and a Blackbird Porter! Happy now?
Brewer Shaun was kind enough to give us a full tour and suffer through some blurry pictures as well.
This little brewery is tucked away on a side street next to the train tracks. Seriously, RIGHT ON the tracks! If you’re not an avid craft beer drinker and don’t know how to use Google correctly, you’d probably pass right by this gem.
They keep about 8-10 different beers on their menu, with the majority of their beers being served year round. The Belgian Ambre, Anniversary Ale and Tropical Lager are the only ones I haven’t seen before.
Beautiful copper mash tun. They were brewing the Island Pale Ale today and had just finished cleaning out.
Well, almost. Ryan was in there double checking…
Island Brewing Company gives their spent grain to local farmers, and also to Carpinteria High School for their organic garden which was recently featured on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. How’s that for community interaction?
The beautiful, golden extract travels from the mash tun…
to the boil kettle.
The IPA at a rolling boil. I can never get over how WONDERFUL breweries smell on brew days! I need to bottle the smell of the mash and use it as perfume. Drool.
They have ten fermentation tanks that are full of malty, hoppy deliciousness.
And the chiller is stocked with kegs and boxes of bottled beers. Prior to today, they hadn’t brewed in eleven days. I find this to be completely understandable since they spent all day yesterday bottling 720 bottles of beer!
On a random note, I was working a show in Indio *shudder* back in January, proudly wearing my Island Brewing Company sweatshirt. The photographer for the local newspaper came up to me to tell me she liked my sweatshirt.
“Are you an Island fan, too?” I asked.
Turns out Lani is the daughter of the OWNER of Island Brewing Company, Paul Wright. It’s a small world!
She took some cleverly located photos to document the occasion.
A big thanks to Shaun and Ryan for letting me saunter around the brewery and soak up the delicious aromas and beer, and to Alma for serving up said delicious beer! I can’t wait to come back… again.. for the 27th time…