Friday, June 21, 2019

Good News in the Desert

I don't know how many years I've been visiting Palm Desert but in the years since I've discovered craft beer, there have been woefully few craft breweries there - only three: Babe's Bar-B-Que and BreweryCoachella Valley Brewing Co., and La Quinta Brewing Co. The good news was that all three breweries turned out award winning beers - nothing to complain about there. In a way, it was a comfortable contrast to the the ever-shifting landscape of the craft brewing scene in larger markets.

Well, things are shifting in Palm Desert.

On a recent visit, I utilized a map app and searched for "brewery." I didn't expect to see anything new but you never know. Every once in a while, the map app finds a brewery that's not in my Brewery Passport app which is my go-to app for finding local breweries. Although, it's been a while since anything new has popped up in Palm Desert.

On this occasion, I was directed to a brewery I'd yet to discover: St. Arnulf Brewing located in Boucheé Café & Deli near the west end of El Paseo. A home brewer of several years, Boucheé owner Tim DeGross moved his brewing operation to the restaurant only months ago. We are glad to see craft brewing expanding in Palm Desert and look forward to seeing more from St. Arnulf in the future.

After sampling beers from St. Arnulf, we found ourselves running errands in La Quinta. As we traveled along Hwy 111 towards Costco, we looked up to see a sign that read, "Pizza Brewery." We maneuvered through several lanes of traffic and changed course. Could there be two new breweries in the Palm Desert area?

The "Pizza Brewery" sign belonged to newly opened Tuscano's BrewQuinta a collaboration between Yucaipa's Tuscano's Pizza & Pasta and Brewcaipa Brewing Company. Opened earlier this year, they are still waiting for permits to begin brewing onsite. In the meantime, they are serving brews from Brewcaipa.

Imagine my good fortune, to find two new breweries! This was on the heels of a recent article I read in Coachella Valley Beer Scene, by Andrew Smith, announcing La Quinta Brewing would be expanding to a larger location near I-10 & Cook Street in Palm Desert. But there's more: La Quinta Brewing opened a Palm Springs location last year! How could I have missed this? I was just there two months ago! Obviously, I must go back.

But then I came across this - another article from Andrew Smith of Coachella Valley Beer Scene, published just days ago - announcing the opening of another craft brewery in Palm Desert: Desert Beer Company. This one will be near the corner of Country Club and Washington, very near Alps Village where I had lunch just a few days ago!

This is getting to be too much - new breweries popping up everywhere I go!
A) I can't wait to get back to try them all.
B) Am I following Palm Desert breweries or are they following me?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Old (Style) Beer

Someone made beer using a 5000-year-old Egyptian yeast

" The yeast was plucked from pottery used to produce beer in ancient times, extracted from the nanopores of the clay and converted into an alcoholic drink with the help of microbiologists, archaeologists, and winery experts. The end result is ostensibly beer that would've been similar to those drunk at the time of the Pharaohs. "
Read more at Business Insider | Someone made beer using a 5000-year-old Egyptian yeast

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Time Out

I know it's been a while, believe me, but I needed to take a break. Doctors' orders. A medical issue required my abstinence from alcohol so, heeding their advice, I stopped drinking beer (all alcohol) on February 26.

Sobriety has its advantages. For some, it means weight loss but not so much for me - about 3 pounds. I haven't really noticed a difference in my sleep pattern either except I am tired and go to bed a little earlier. The biggest change for me has been my blood pressure which has been slowly creeping up in the last year but is now much closer to what doctors consider normal. That, and I'm more motivated to do things in the evening that I might otherwise do only during the day. Not drinking is also cheaper whether I'm dining out or at home and cuts down on my Uber bill.

My social life hasn't changed much. I have good friends that don't care whether I'm drinking or not; while generally featured, alcohol is not a condition of our getting together to enjoy each other's company. We still have fun.

This isn't to say I've lost all interest in beer. I still read about it, still follow beer happenings on Twitter. On the one hand, I'm looking forward to my first drink and wonder what it will be. I think it should be something special, memorable, celebratory. Like, hiking to a beautiful place with a beautiful view of the Columbia River with snow-covered mountains in the distance, sun shining on my face. Hearing the fizz as the seal is broken on a can of craft beer goodness, taking in the aroma of esters and hops, letting the bubbles dance on my tongue, letting that first sip linger allowing my whole mouth a taste before swallowing. Then waiting. Waiting for all the flavors to gently reveal themselves to me, subtly layered, one after the next.

That's a good as it gets. That moment. I don't even need the rest of the can. Just that first glorious taste. That will be something.

The other hand is to stop drinking altogether. I've considered it as I've never considered it before. Partly, for overall health reasons. But also, because I'm already here. It's not as though getting here was hard so much as every day is easier. Everyone's journey is different. If you're considering sobriety and it is hard for you, don't be afraid to get help. Alcoholism (any addiction) is a serious matter. Sobriety can be a terrifying idea, even as one desires it. Also, no judgement. If you need help, get it. No one will judge you the worse for admitting you need it. Rather, the opposite; getting help is a good thing. A very good thing.

For me, this journey is more about getting through this medical thing. The alcohol thing was an enlightening side trip. It's all good and it'll all be behind me soon. It's all been quite extraordinary.

Sunday, February 17, 2019


Sitting in Brass Tap, I heard the bartender call out to play music. The trivia contest had just ended and the music that went with it left, along with a good number of patrons, leaving a vacuum. Like an empty noise bubble.

"Turn on the music," she shouted to the other bartender. Then, I heard, "Beat It." I thought she wanted to hear some Michael Jackson. Then, I heard a chant rising up from the remaining few in the bar, getting louder and louder. "Beat It!"

But, wait. Were they saying "Phoenix"?  Yes, that must be it.

After a while, the chanting stopped and the bartender came to check on us. Meanwhile, the music started to play and not only was it not Michael Jackson, I couldn't figure out what the song had to do to Phoenix. "What was everyone chanting?" I asked her.

"Penis. Don't you know that game?"

Well ... no.

"Remember how embarrassing that was to say in middle school, penis? Now it's just funny. One person says 'penis' and then the next guy has to say 'penis' only louder. On it goes so that the last guy is shouting it. Penis!"

Sounds more like middle school to me but whatever.

There were no more chants of "penis" before we left which was fine by me. As we neared the door, I called out to the bartender, "Thank you!" but she didn't hear me.

So I said, "penis" and before the door closed behind me I heard her shout, "Penis!" I guess she heard that.

Penises aside, it was a fun joint. Lots of taps to choose from and if you're in the Mesa area on the 25th, Northwest Brewing will be there from the Pacific Northwest with some of their brews. Northwest Brewing has undergone a bit of a revamp lately so their website doesn't have a lot of information but you can find them on Facebook or on Untappd.

Also, it's trivia night.

Also, penis.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Catching Up

Almost every traveler I know drinks when they travel (but I'm a drinker so it's equally possible that I only know other drinkers). It's not a requirement, drinking in airports, although it will certainly kill the time between passing through TSA and the jetway. Fortunately for us, Portland International Airport is Beervana - Willamette Week:
"Nearly every corner of the H-shaped concourse hosts some member of the state's thriving beer industry."
If you want to appear responsible, don't book your air travel for before noon. (At least.)

The hottest topic, however, in the local news of late seems to be BridgePort Brewing, a onetime Portland ale mainstay, to close - KGW8 :
"In 2013, BridgePort was Oregon's fifth-largest brewery based on barrels produced."
If you're planning on heading over for one last pint, do it soon. They close their doors on March 10.

In California, 'America's first craft brewery' attempts to unionize - Los Angeles Times:
"Although many of the country’s largest breweries are unionized — workers in the American facilities of Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are represented by the Teamsters or United Auto Workers, for example — unions are practically nonexistent among smaller, independent and craft operations."
Is it ironic that United Auto Workers represent beer producers?

Meanwhile, a looming federal shutdown has implications for the local beer scene with Federal workers on shutdown watch - The Columbian:
"Bryan Shull, co-founder of Vancouver’s Trap Door Brewing, told The Columbian on the one-month anniversary of the shutdown that he was struggling to obtain federal approval for new beer can labels. Although the government has reopened, at least temporarily, the backlog is still so bad that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau functionally feels closed to craft brewers trying to get their packaging OK’d. . . .
"In order to cross state lines, beer labels need to be approved by the federal agency."
This brings us back to travel. Remember, not only is it illegal to cross state lines with marijuana, it could also be illegal to cross state lines with certain beer cans.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

When in Seattle, Drink Beer

Seattle is a great place to visit and also a great place to drink beer with a plethora of excellent breweries. This article, by Jeannie McWilliams, published in Northwest Brewing News (December/January 2018-2019) is an excellent guide:

48 Hours in Seattle

I've been to many of these breweries when we visited the breweries of Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods. We've also sampled in the SoDo and Central districts. According to a May 5, 2017, article in the Washington Beer Blog, Seattle (the metropolitan statistical area) has 174 breweries - 60 within the city limits. 48 hours is hardly enough time to sample them all.

But that doesn't mean you can't try.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Cosmic Tripster!

The quest to become a Cosmic Tripster starts with a McMenamins passport which looks very much like a US passport. There are pages within for various and unique stamps from all the McMenamins locations. The number of stamps needed to complete the passport depends on how many McMenamins locations there are which increases year to year. 2018 saw the opening of their Kalama location and 2019 will see the opening of their Tacoma location.

Right now, McMenamins lists 65 locations, including Tacoma. Twelve of those locations are hotels with multiple bars making the total number of stamps required to complete the passport at over 120. (The count could be over 130 when the Tacoma location opens.) Along the way, those on the quest receive prizes including food, merchendise, and gift certificates.

Once completed, a passport holder becomes a Cosmic Tripster which earns an invitation to a private Tripster-only party, overnight accommodations at one of their locations, concert tickets, and all-day happy hour prices on their beers Monday-Thursday for a full year.

Correct pronunciation of "McMenamins" is not required. I've heard it pronounced mc-MIN-i-mums, or mc-MIN-i-mins. It's mc-MEN-a-mins.

Their historic hotels are unique and interesting. Each property is a renovation of an historic building located on beautiful grounds in Oregon and Washington. They alone are worth exploring. (Hint: several feature secret rooms.) Bars range from busy and large to small and intimate. Some feature whiskey; others feature cigars. Some feature both. Many have wood fires inside as well as on outdoor patios. It can take full day to take in a property.

We completed the quest last weekend at Old St. Francis School in Bend. We are now Cosmic Tripsters! While no purchase is necessary (other than the passport itself at $30), we made at least one purchase at each location while enjoying the journey. And, now we're off to do it all over again!

Our livers are aquiver like flivvers!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Please note this addition to the Beer Happenings calendar: History on Tap at Kiggins Theatre, sponsored by the Clark County Historical Museum.

The evening will kick off with a gameshow-style segment. Two local “celebrities” and one member from the audience will be quizzed on Clark County history. Next, local historian and author Pat Jollota will provide the answer to a question about local history, previously submitted from social media, email, or through the museum. In addition, a selection of locals brews will be available for purchase throughout the presentation.

The final segment will be a talk given by Steve Bader of Bader Beer and Wine Supply: “From Lucky to Loowit: The Fall of Lucky Lager and the Rise of the Craft Brewing Industry.” Lucky Lager Brewing Company came to Vancouver in 1950, closed in 1985, and was demolished in 1995. All that remains is the warehouse which is located on Columbia Street in downtown Vancouver with the red logo - a cursive L - painted on the building’s exterior. The warehouse is listed on the Clark County Heritage Register.

This is bound to be a entertaining and informative presentation. Tickets are $18 at the door ($15 in advance). Doors open at 6pm and the bar will be open upstairs offering beer and wine. History on Tap begins at 7pm.