Monday, August 30, 2010

Grimm Realities and Some Photos

I see that I’ve only posted about two new posts a month for the past few months. Here’s to consistency, I guess. Guess I’ll ramble on and post some pictures that I’ve had in the hopper for some time.

I’ve sampled plenty of new beers and probably some duplicates (I need to set up a spreadsheet to track what I’m trying) but nothing really jumps out at the moment. Perhaps the big news isn’t what’s in the glass so much as where it’s coming from.

Recall that I got word, third or fourth-hand, that Old World Brewery was out of their location on Lone Cactus and moving into new quarters (much) further south. Well, perhaps it’s karma or just dumb luck, but as events would have it, the new location is within a mile or two of where I ply my trade as a low-level government functionary.

I’ve never sampled beer in Mogadishu or Kabul but I’ve had a few in a now-famous hell hole called Juarez and I was served beer by a one-eyed gal at the Pine Knot Saloon near Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, so I’ll venture that by outward appearances, the “new” Old World venue is not far off the mark, friends. The concertina wire on top of the fences in the neighborhood ought to be enough of an indicator but add a sign on the fence across the street that informs potential trespassers (and lost drunks) that the guard dog is trained to attack and, well, I rest my case. (Thank God I’m too old to be out late partying these days.) Still not convinced? Okay, how’s this: The place has bars on the friggin’ windows, people!

Still, I wish them the best in their move and I’ll drop by again (in the daylight) to see if any of the old gang is around for a tour of the new digs.

While I was in Colorado recently, my nephew raved about a new brewery opening up in Loveland, Colorado. I’ve not sampled any of their offerings but I’ve visited their website
HERE and find it’s very nice! Besides, my nephew knows his beer, so if you’re within the distribution region of Grimm Brother’s Brewery, give them a try and post me a comment here so I’ll know I haven’t been led astray.

Enjoy some pictures…..

Bell's Two Hearted Ale has got to be one of the best beer's I've tried in the last year. I frequently balk at paying $10 or more for a sixpack of beer, but not when I'm buying Two Hearted. I know it's not a "western beer" but I don't mind jumping the fence now and then when the beer his so damned good!

I first tried Blue Moon in cans during a rare visit to a local golf course. Since then, I've purchased a few of them for home consumption and I figured the first one out of the chute ought to be special so I opened the can with an old school opener and set up an ensemble pour. I'm not one for gimmicky packaging tricks but I really do think they need to develop a can opening that better replicates a bottle pour if they plan to stick with this whole can fad.

This time of year I really begin to start thinking about fall and its promise of cooler weather and shorter days. This line of though invariably leads to thoughts of Oktoberfest and Winter seasonal's and then, especially to what I think might be one of the better beer labels out there: New Belgium's Two Below. That's cold! Now, don't get me started on New Belgium's newer line of labels as exemplified by their Ranger IPA - "cheap and uninspired" are words that come to mind and if people pass up the beer because the label is lame, it won't matter how great the beer is. For the record, I've tried the Ranger (may even have done a write up here, I forget) and it's darn fine stuff, the label's just lame.

My birthday was last week and a sweet, dear friend gave me three bottles of Baltika beers from her native Russia, along with a sweet Baltika glass. Naturally I had the Porter first, but now they're all history. Here's a head shop of one of the Baltika's she gave me in year's past. I'll post a picture of the cool glass some time soon.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Catching Up: Eddies: The Documentary and Other Business

Sorry I Took So Long Ed (and Michael)
I watched Eddies: The Documentary about a week ago with my son-in-law. We lounged around his place leisurely swigging some Session Black Lager. It’s really a terrific piece of work and I hope to do a more detailed write up at a later date but except for the fact that filmmaker Michael Peterson doesn’t delve much into the history of Big Rock Brewery, I can’t find anything not to like about the work. Beer drinkers and fans of the filmmaking craft – especially amateur filmmakers – will find a lot to like here!

One noteworthy aspect of the film is the fact that it covers contestants who manage to deliver entries of varying quality and even some who completely fail to come through, so at the end there is no suspicious feeling that Peterson has tweaked the content to provide a better filmic outcome. (Winning entries are evidently not actually aired on television and I thought the sequence near the end where Eddie himself considers running one of the entries in a television spot is especially humorous and a revealing look into the mindset of corporate folks at all levels.)

You need to go to the website Eddies Documentary and have a look at the synopsis and what other folks have had to say. One commentator states that by the end of the film you’ll want to make a film and you’ll want a beer. I’d echo that sentiment and will admit that I’ve already given thought to how I might acquire bottles of Big Rock product in order to conduct a film shoot here in Arizona, USA…but how, I don’t know. I’m pretty good at laying my hands on beer, but not a filmmaker.

Last of the Colorado Notes…For Now
I covered my nice visit to Breckenridge Brewery in Denver and in that post briefly mentioned a nice visit to Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs (where I grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s). Well I stopped there on July 20th on the way back to Denver after a day in Clear Creek County. I ate a plate of their outstanding onion rings and had a pint of their Hop Strike Black Rye IPA (Cascadia Ale to some, perhaps. See my previous musings on this style here and here.) Tommyknocker’s version of this emerging style tips the scales at 7% abv, presents an opaque brown and smells vaguely (and rightly) of grapefruit. The taste is strangely nutty and hoppy at the same time and it’s one of the better examples of this new style that I’ve tried. The waitress told me it’s only been out a month or so.

To round out the meal I enjoyed a Pick Axe Pale Ale (which I’ve had in the past and which I would enjoy again later in the Colorado trip during a lunch with my nephew and his son in Georgetown - that's when the picture was taken). Finally, to put an exclamation point on the visit, I bought a six pack of their TundraBeary to carry back down the hill to Denver. (I enjoyed that immensely, bottle by bottle over the next few days.)

Old World. New Digs?
So I’m sitting here at BeerRant HQ, checking activity on my new Facebook page (which I’ve only had a week or so) and I see a note from one of my nephew’s who says something about Old World Brewery closing down and moving. WTF?

I go to the Old World Brewery website and it’s about as nondescript as ever, so (heh, heh, heh, I’m an insider now) I click on their Facebook link and find a string of comments intimating that they’ve closed down their operation on Lone Cactus and are relocating (much) further south to the area around 25th Avenue and Van Buren.

I’m bothered by this for reasons I can’t explain. Perhaps it’s simply that I no longer have a “local” brewpub in close proximity to my house. It’s sad.

Evidently the “New” Old World will open some time in October. Eh. End of an era.
Last of the 2009 Jubelale and Goodbye to a Great Man
Drank my last bottle of the 2009 Jubelale this evening and will have done so in honor of my Uncle Buff Rutherford who passed away yesterday - gone to be with my mom (his little sister) who went on ahead just this past May 29th. Buff was a man's man, a working man and by the work, you'd know the worker: rock solid and trustworthy. The world's a little less well off today for his loss.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Breckenridge Brewery - Off On a High Note.

I’m sorry to have begun the Colorado recap on a down note, posting a “Beer Jerk” entry about Golden City Brewery. I’ve had a positive bit of feedback from a patron of theirs and that’s heartwarming. Nevertheless, my sentiment remains the same: real beer folk offer a smile and a kind word to all who enter their establishment. (That’s the operative word here, folks. The door was open. An open door signifies something in this world. I’ll let you all do the math.) What part of "Publick House" is unclear?

Now, on a more positive note, I’m at that stage where I’m mentally summarizing the things, places and people I saw in a week of Rocky Mountain memories, returning to the high mountain town where my mom was born and raised in order to allow her brothers and citizens of the town she loved so much an opportunity to say goodbye one last time in a church from 1876.

1. Everything seems smaller each time I return.
2. The summer weather, no matter how hot, entices me to stay forever, but I always know what comes around in late October.
3. A minister with a southern drawl and three missing fingers on his right hand is a fellow I want to have as the leader of my church, any day.
4. There is never enough time to see all the family.
5. Sadly, I feel more and more like a tourist each time I go back there.

I hopped off a plane about 10:30 on a Monday morning, picked up a rental car and headed toward my sister’s place on the west side of town. I’d done a bit of preliminary reconnaissance to determine that the Breckenridge Brew Pub was along the same alignment of 6th Avenue as my sister’s place, so knowing that everyone else would be at work, I made a detour to a little place on Klamath Street just south of the 6th Street alignment.

I pulled into a small side parking lot and snapped a few pictures of the outside of the building - wondering if perhaps I was too early to find them open. (Given later events in the trip, the colossal irony of this now nearly knocks me out of my chair.) The door was indeed open and I entered to find the place empty save a barman and a fellow working in the kitchen (Initially I didn’t see the back of the plant where the bottling line was chugging away mightily.) I hopped onto a stool at the bar and over the usual pleasantries the barman supplied me with a beer list and a menu. I pondered the options, perhaps too long, and settled on a pint of their Ball Park Brown and I ordered bowl of a meat soup that really turned out to be more of a stew that might easily have crossed the table in your mom’s kitchen. The Ball Park Brown presented a dark brown with a thin beige head and a thin mouth feel. It tasted a tad sour, not unlike some manifestations of Old World’s Dark Knight Porter (ah, I love the unpredictability of microbrews, don’t you?)

My host, the barman, was Stuart and, perhaps seeing my interest in the operation, he offered to walk me into the back of the building to see the tanks and the bottling line. Sweet! I gazed upon the tanks and had a peek at the bottling line, where they were just then in the process of bottling up their Vanilla Porter. Stuart stepped around to the line and, plucking a fresh bottle off the line, presented it to me as a memento of the visit. That was nice.

We returned to the bar where I had my lunch and a pint of their Oatmeal Stout. As a lead up to the pint, Stuart explained that they’ve got their stout in a nitrogen “fortified” version and a non-nitrogen version. He poured me a side-by-side sampling and the fortified version is altogether more appealing to the eye for sure and frankly the taste difference is amazing as well. The nitrogen infused stout is a good deal smoother than its non-nitrogen cousin. Stuart told me that they no longer offer growlers of the nitroginated stout because it just doesn’t pour the same once people get it home and they get a lot of wastage trying to pour it from the tap into a growler. To which I offered my theory that a growler beer requires an aggressive pour if a cash and carry customer hopes to come close to replicating a pub pour at home. Stuart seemed to agree.

As Stuart diligently went about the tasks of the typical barman (counting bottles, jotting notes, interacting with the bottling crew and trying to field the inane questions of a visitor) I finished my lunch and beers.

It was altogether a terrific first stop on the Colorado trip and a personal exchange for which I’m grateful. I mentioned the purpose of my visit and we commiserated briefly on the vagaries of life and Stuart offered condolences; all the things one would expect from any public house worth its salt. Made me wish I lived just up the street.

I just wish I’d gotten a chance to go back before catching the flight home a week later. Next time.

Colorado Beer Facts

Denver Colorado Beer Facts