Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 2014 Minutes!

The June B.A.S.H. meeting was held on Sunday the 8th at the home of Danna Sharpe in Port Aransas. Club President Adam Klager called the meeting to order and welcomed new member Zack Romo. We all congratulated Cory and Jess Mathews on the successful launch of Lazy Beaches Brewery. Treasurer Carroll Pate reported a positive treasury balance at the end of the fiscal year.

Speaking of fiscal years, the new one begins in July. Annual dues of $20 can be paid to Carroll at the next meeting. He prefers checks made out to Bay Area Society of Homebrewers but will accept cold, hard cash. Officers for the new year were nominated and conscripted by voice vote – President Cory Mathews, Vice President Sabrina Krueger, Secretary Wild Bill Lehfeld, Treasurer Carroll Pate and Webmaster Erik Hinz. It was the perfect time for Travis Clapp to stage a coup, but he was allegedly cavorting with inbred swamp men in East Texas.

In other business, Paul Holder reviewed existing homebrew laws. He will be taking orders for B.A.S.H. shirts at the next meeting, requiring a 50% deposit. He also mentioned that CC Beer Talk approached us to do a beer tasting before the Classic Brew in September, probably 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. the day of the show. Alex Hinojosa would host the tasting at Railroad Seafood Station downtown, assuming TABC approval. Several members expressed interest. Tom Freund issued a call to form teams for November’s Iron Mash competition.

The competition this month was for German wheat and rye beers, BJCP categories 15A – D. Wild Bill’s weizenbock and roggenbier captured 1st and 2nd places, with scores of 147 and 141. Mark Quade’s hefeweizen took 3rd with 124 points and Paul’s finished with 110 points. With three of six competitions complete, cumulative scores are as follows:

Wild Bill – 5

Mark Woerner – 4

Kevin Ramler – 3

Cory Mathews/Drew Burkhardt – 1

Chris Edwards – 1

Mark Quade - 1

We feasted on Danna’s shrimp enchiladas and chicken pasta by John Milan (who’s STILL NOT DEAD). In addition to competition beers, we enjoyed new homebrews by Chris Edwards (pale ale/Big Brew imperial Russian stout), Craig Gann (imperial IPA), Andrew Herzig/Sabrina Krueger (bock), Paul (chipotle amber ale/ESB) and Jess Mathews (“smorgasbord ale”). John was spotted with Warsteiner Dunkel, Tom with Clown Shoes Muffin Top and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Rocky Freund with Samuel Adams Summer Ale.

Random overheard utterances included …

“I didn’t even get any!”

“Just dribble a little down my leg!”

“It works on a John Deere!”

Upcoming B.A.S.H. events:

  • 13-July-14: B.A.S.H. meeting (B&J’s Pizza on Staples hosted by Paul Holder, brewing demonstration, pay dues) 
  • 2-Aug-14: Mead Day (need host, multiple brewing demonstrations) 
  • 10-Aug-14: B.A.S.H. meeting (Nick Nicoll pool party, Saison competition, BJCP 16C) 
  • 14-Sep-14: B.A.S.H. meeting (Adam Klager, brewing demonstration) 
  • 12-Oct-14: B.A.S.H. meeting (Claudio Montiel, bock competition, BJCP 5A-D) 
  • 1-Nov-14: Iron Mash XI (B&Js Pizza on Staples at Timbergate, multiple brewing demonstrations) 
  • 9-Nov-14: B.A.S.H. meeting (Andrew Herzig/Sabrina Krueger, barleywine competition, BJCP 19B/19C) 
  • 14-Dec-14: B.A.S.H. meeting (Carroll Pate, brewing demonstration) 

Thanks again Danna, keep on brewin’ and we’ll see you next month at B&J’s!

Beer Oasis in Nevada Desert

It was supposed to be a detox trip to Las Vegas. I had planned to drink nothing stronger than Diet Mountain Dew. Alas, although my intentions are usually innocent, I have a nose for misadventure.

“Wait a minute” you might think, “detoxing in Vegas? Isn’t Las Vegas synonymous with booze?” Hard liquor, sure. Margaritas, daiquiris, Jäger shots? Yep, but try to find a good selection of craft beer in the middle of The Strip. Oh, sure, you can travel several miles south of the airport and find an alehouse with 75-100 beer taps and you can find a couple of good brewpubs downtown. But within walking distance of the central strip, not so much. Until now, that is, thanks to The LINQ, Caesar’s Entertainment’s new retail and entertainment district.

The LINQ resides in a formerly decrepit alley bounded on the north by the Quad Casino (the old Imperial Palace) and on the south by the Flamingo. The west end is open to Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip), while the east end is anchored by the High Roller – at 550’ it’s the world’s tallest observation (don’t say Ferris) wheel.

I headed off from Planet Hollywood to explore the LINQ about 11:00 a.m., planning to see what shops and restaurants were open. I discovered a veritable beer oasis. My first discovery was Tag, a lounge inside the Quad with about 300 different bottled beers in inventory. Next up to the east was Chayo’s Mexican Restaurant with about 6 taps. O’Shea’s Blarney Bar had 8 taps outside, including Lagunitas IPA.

On the Flamingo side, I encountered Brooklyn Bowl, a three story bowling alley/concert venue. They had about 12 taps, including Brooklyn Brown Ale, Pilsner and Lager. (Apparently, the original Brooklyn Bowl in New York shares a building with Brooklyn Brewing). Further west is Flour & Barley, a brick oven pizzeria with about 10 beers on draft.

The final establishment on the Flamingo side is Tilted Kilt, a Hooteresque franchise where the barmaids wear plaid skirts. I was curious if the girls wear anything underneath their kilts, but I was too sober to sneak a peek. Anyhoo, they’ve got about 20 draft beers available.

So far, so good. I recrossed to the north side of the alley and discovered the real gem of the LINQ – a Yard House. With 180 taps dispensing 145 different beers, my pretentions of sobriety came to a screeching halt. My bartender, “Jersey Jarid”, explained the setup. Most beers were available as a shorty, a goblet/pint or a half yard. Beers above about 7.5% ABV were limited to a pint maximum. I thought about drinking shorties, so I could sample more beers. Then the following conversation came to mind – Travis – “What’s that in your hand?” Wild Bill – “It’s a shorty” Travis –“THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!”

I settled on a six pack sampler. You can get the traditional, the Belgian or the IPA sampler. I chose Belgian, containing 3 – 4 ounce glasses of St Feuillien La Blanche (6.3%ABV), St. Bernardus Prior 8 (8.0%), Troubadour Magma (9.0%), Yard House Belgian Amber Tripel (9.0%), La Trappe Quadrupel (10.0%) and Bourgogne Des Flandres (5.0 %). The IPA sampler consists of Deschutes Fresh Squeezed (6.0% ABV), Green Flash Le Freak (9.2%), Yard House IPA (5.8%), Rogue Farms 7 Hop (8.0%), Tenaya Creek Hop Ride (6.9%) and Uinta Detour Double IPA (9.5%).

I then had a sample of Stone Enjoy By 07/04/14 with my lunch, followed with a half yard of Epic Copper Cone (6.8% ABV). That’s when I overheard a couple of ladies seated to my right discussing the merits of wheat beers vs. IPAs. Sylvia was the hop hound, whereas Marilyn settled for a shorty of Karl Strauss Orange Wheat. Eventually, the remainder of their party from Sacramento showed up, Clayton and Joanne. We talked about beer for the next couple of hours. I recall enjoying a goblet of Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic and a pint of Deschutes Red Chair NWPA Nitro. Clayton didn’t mess around, sticking with pints of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Sylvia tried several different IPAs. We broke up about 3:00 p.m. or so. It seems that Clayton brought a couple bombers of über IPAs from California. Since Clayton and Joanne were staying in Planet Hollywood and the other ladies were next door at Paris, we decided to meet at 5:30 in my posh 31st floor Panoramic Suite.

Sylvia, Clayton and Joanne showed up as promised for our ultra hopping session. The 22 ounce bombers were from Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn, California. They’ve supposedly been beating Russian River Pliny The Younger and Pliny The Elder in recent competitions. First up was the Hopologist Double IPA at 9% ABV and 102 IBUs. We finished with the Simtra Triple IPA at 11.25 % IPA and 131 IBUs. Adam and Micah, eat your hearts out! We caught up with Marilyn in the Planet Hollywood Diamond Lounge and mercifully ended the days drinking with one last round. I wussed out with an Amstel Light.

If you find yourself in Las Vegas with a thirst for good beer, head to the LINQ. And be sure to befriend any beer-savvy Californians you run into. You can detox when you’re dead!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wild Bill Storms L.A. ! — Part 2

After two days of not quite indiscriminate drinking in Long Beach over Memorial Day weekend, we were prepared for an assault of the infamous Goat Hill Tavern in Costa Mesa. With 144 taps serving 137 different beers (they double up on Bud, Bud Light, etc.) it was the perfect location for Sunday lunch. We started out with a bottomless bag of peanuts, throwing the shells on the floor for the next couple of hours as we downed mug after mug. I began with Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard. Next up was Coronado Idiot IPA. Feeling hopped out for the day, I next opted for Kronenbourg 1664. My penultimate selection was Hangar 24 Orange Wheat, followed by Stone Spröcketbier.

We moved on to Pasty Kitchen in Los Alamitos. I know what you’re thinking – pasties go well with g-strings. Sorry to disappoint, but these pasties are meat pies. Bruce and I each had a large, stuffed with beef, potatoes, carrots and onions. We split sides of coleslaw and macaroni salad, enjoying the sunny day at a table outside. It was back to base camp for the rest of the day, to snooze, watch TV and rehydrate. We washed down our dinner pizza with the Lindeman’s Cassis Lambic we bought the previous day.

After three days of hanging around Long Beach and points south and east, we headed north and west up the PCH. I felt like a detox day, so I drained a Diet Mountain Dew Big Gulp during our journey. We must have passed 15 Del Tacos and 10 El Pollo Locos on our drive through Redondo Beach, Santa Monica and Malibu. Bruce’s off-key rendition of “Beach Blanket Bingo” was entertaining, but only to a point -- Frankie Avalon he ain’t! We headed inland up the scenic Malibu Canyon, then circled back on the Ventura Highway. Did we stop to see Hollywood? F*@k Hollywood!

Enough frivolity -- it was 4:00 p.m. and we hadn’t had a beer yet. What better place than Taco Surf in Belmont Shore? We split two pitchers of Dos Equis Amber and two baskets of chips with salsa. I downed four tacos -- one carne asada, one shredded beef, one pork and one chicken. Repeating our usual pattern, we returned to base camp to snooze and guzzle water. My project that evening was wrapping up four bomber bottles with bubble wrap for the next days’ flight home. The chosen beers were Stone Matt’s Burning Rosids Cherrywood-Smoked Saison, Nikasi Tricerahops Double IPA, Backstreet Brewery Ridin’ Dirty Rye IPA and Stone Rick and Robbie’s Spröcketbier Black Rye Kölsch Style.

Tuesday morning, the Brucemeister dropped me off at LAX for my flight back to San Antonio. Reflecting back, it was a great trip. I had a blast! I ate too much and drank too much, but even us old bald guys gotta let our hair down once in a while, so to speak. LA may not be the absolute Mecca for a craft beer connoisseur, but there are plenty of good breweries, alehouses and beer joints within easy driving distance. As Ahnold would say, “I’ll be bock!”

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wild Bill Storms L.A.! -- Part 1

Ah, California … land of milk and honey, fruits and nuts, Hollywood and Ahnold. Your humble and obedient narrator spent Memorial Day weekend 2014 in the Long Beach area, hosted by his surfin’ soccer star buddy the Brucemeister. The goal was to see the sights, drink the beer, eat the food and absorb the culture.

Arriving about noon on Friday at LAX, I met Bruce curbside. A quick dash down the 405 freeway got us to base camp (the maids quarters within Art and Margie’s family compound), a mere two blocks from the north Pacific. It was cloudy and in the 60’s, a beautiful day. Say hello to Cali the cat, dump off the bags and commence the assault!

First up was Taco Surf in Belmont Shore. Happy Hour began at 2:00 p.m. but our waiter Pepe could see we meant business, so he let us start at 1:51. The big special is street tacos – your choice of meat on 4-inch soft corn tortillas for a buck fifty each. The draft beer was dirt cheap, too. I washed down two pastor and two Baja fish tacos with a pint of Dos Equis Special Lager and two pints of Dos Equis Amber. After an hour and a half, a couple baskets of chips and salsa and lots of trash talkin’ it was time to move on.

Next stop was Mother’s in Sunset Beach. Bruce hadn’t been there since 1980 or so, when he was just old enough to legally drink. Apparently, it hasn’t changed a bit in the interim, except of course for the beer selection. This little shack had a seating capacity of about 30 – 15 or so at the U-shaped bar and the rest in four or five tables. You’ve been in a place like this, with donated dollar bills stapled to the rafters. Also up there were more brassieres than in Paul Holder’s front tree after a pool party! But I digress … Our barmaid was Alison, 6’ 2” of no-nonsense. We called her “Helga” and she called us both “Shorty”. You know the type – She says “COME HERE, BOY!” and you say “Yes, ma’am”. Over the course of an hour or two, we had a big bowl of peanuts, throwing the shells on the floor. I drained a 32-ounce mason jar of Stone IPA and had a sample of Karl Strauss Windansea Wheat, a damn good hefe.

With five pints already in the tank, the afternoon continued at Coach’s in Seal Beach. I washed down my delicious 3-piece cod fish and chips dinner with a pint of Stone IPA. The local sitting next to us, Erik, had been an ensign in the Navy. He was working on earning his wings at CCNAS when they terminated his training as Viet Nam was winding down.

Pint seven, a schooner of Carlsberg, was consumed at Joe Jost’s back in Long Beach. We watched a couple play pool, badly. I should talk – I’m a triple bogey golfer and I suck at billiards, but it is entertaining to watch people who are even worse than you. We got an unwelcome show every time the dude bent over to shoot. As Bruce put it “That guy’s got the highest plumber’s crack I’ve ever seen – it goes half way up his back!” We stumbled home to pass out, drink a lot of water and watch TV.

Amazingly, Saturday began WITHOUT a hangover. It was another cloudy day in the 60’s. We began with brunch at Roscoe’s Chicken and Biscuits – Snoop Dog, er, Snoop Lion’s place. I had the Stubby’s platter, a fried chicken breast and wing with grits, two eggs and a biscuit. Needing a jolt of caffeine, I opted for iced tea. Down the road, we hit Total Wine – think Liquid Town or Spec’s on steroids. I was in awe of the beer selection. I just wandered up and down the aisles for 20 minutes or so with my mouth open. Finally, Bruce resorted to threats and promises of free money and strippers out in the parking lot. I grabbed a big bottle of Lindeman’s Cassis Lambic for later consumption and four mystery bomber bottles to bring home in my checked bag.

Next stop was Beach City Brewery in Huntington Beach, a microbrewery with a tasting room that serves pints and 5-ounce samples seven days a week. After meeting the owners and brewmeister, we got a tour. The large walk-in cooler (more of a cool room) was full of various size kegs, all with the baby blue and silver Beach City logo. I asked the dude if they did any bottling, and he said they were having some contractors coming in soon with a mobile bottling line. Contract beer bottling at your location? I guess it makes sense if you have enough small local breweries. I then enjoyed five of the samples. First up was the Beach Cruiser Berliner Weisse, a great session beer at 2.8% ABV. Beer two was the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway, dummy!) Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV. The Hang Five IPA took no prisoners at 7.0% ABV, nor did the Rye’T IPA at 8.4%. Dessert was the Sweet Crude Stout at 5.6% ABV.

What if you get the munchies while enjoying a couple of pints at a picnic table in the tasting area? This place has a rotating schedule of food trucks (listed on a chalkboard “menu”) that camp out in the parking lot. That day it was “The Kraken”, with “Viking Sausage” and “Porko Rico BBQ” coming soon.

As the afternnon wore on, we drove down the scenic PCH through Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. There were Ferraris to the left, Maseratis to the right, Bentlys in front and Lamborghinis coming at you. “Do you want to go all the way to San Diego?” Bruce asked. “Hell, no!” I responded “that’s Paul Holder’s ‘hood!” We circled back to Long Beach, grabbing a couple of Jacked Up Crunchtadas at Del Taco for a snack before passing out.

That night we met some folks for a birthday dinner at Azteca, an Elvis-themed Mexican restaurant (say what?) on Old Main in Garden Grove. The pitchers of margaritas were tempting, but it was detox time for this old fool.

Stay tuned for Part 2, the thrilling conclusion to Wild Bill’s Memorial weekend adventure, where the identity of the mystery bomber bottles will be revealed!