Monday, November 6, 2023

Cheap Beer!

The Ralph's on Jefferson has Octoberfest beers on sale:

They're all on a table at the back of the store.

I bought the Alschmidt Oktoberfest (six-pack) for $6.20. These beers are already at least a month old and there's no way of knowing how they've been stored during that time so there's a risk that they'll be awful even if the beer was originally excellent. But, at about a buck a beer, I felt it was a risk worth taking. (I didn't make note of the other prices.)

I already have a Hofbräu Oktoberfest in my refrigerator which I am looking forward to trying. In addition, I have Premium Pils from Bitburger which you can get for $6 (4 x 16oz.) at Trader Joe's (in La Quinta, CA) and Kaskadia Kölsch from 54-40 Beer (Washougal, WA).

These are just my Fall beers. . . .

The next time you see us sitting in the driveway, stop by. Bring a Fall beer to trade if you have one (although there's zero chance you'll get a Kölsch out of Hubby). Or, just stop by and we can taste some German-style beers. Bring a lawn chair or your own glassware (or plasticware), if you want. If you want snacks, you'll have to bring those as well. If you want conversation, beer, and a sunset, this is the place.

It isn't October any more. (Or even September.) But, we can pretend it is. 


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Something must be wrong.

I just went on a road trip during which I visited no breweries. This is unprecedented. Furthermore, it's been over a weeks since I've been in ANY brewery.

I did go to a tap house, however. And while this one isn't really worth noting, it is worth noting that there's a really good one in Orlando. 

The one we went to this weekend is called Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers (👟🍕) in Verrado (a neighborhood in Buckeye, AZ). They had a reliable menu of beers which included several choices from local breweries. I had the 8th Street Pale Ale (🍻) from Four Peaks Brewing Company (Tempe, AZ), a very reliable beer. It's easy to drink at 4.9% ABV. It had enough flavor to keep me interested but didn't overwhelm my palate. 

The tap house itself was easy to get to and had plenty of parking. The beer menu was ample but wasn't very interesting. There was plenty of shade on the outdoor patio but the music (rock) was just a little too loud. Servers wore t-shirts with phrases such as "I'd tap that" or "Show me your tips."

The one in Orlando was called Rock & Brews (🔙🍕) which we visited earlier this year. It's really not fair to compare the two because it's not like you can easily go from one to the other. They're 2,000 miles apart from each other. But, if you were ever faced with the unlikely decision about whether to go to Phoenix or Orlando based on just these two tap houses, I would recommend Orlando. (I will point out that Rock & Brews has locations in several other states including California.)

First of all, the music Rock & Brews plays falls more into the classic rock category. It's older by definition but so am I so that works for me. The brew menu was broad and deep. No matter what you're into, there's a beer for you on this menu. The wait staff was friendly and attentive (and didn't wear kitchy t-shirts.)

The vibe was a little like a Hard Rock Cafe where the experience includes music and memorabilia. The Orlando's Rock & Brews had plenty of parking and seating areas both indoors and out. We went back a second time while we were there. The first time we were at a hightop table, and the second time we snagged a couch.

When we weren't at Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers this weekend, we were visiting with family and eating Frito Pie for dinner. It was paired with Weekend Vibes (🍻) from Coronado Beer Company (San Diego) which we brought with us. 6.8% ABV and 60 IBU (according to Untappd), it's described on Coronado's website thusly:

Bursting with tropical dankness, this beer is everything you want from a San Diego-style IPA. It’s bright, bursting with hop fruitiness, and refreshingly dry. . . . 

Bronze Medal Winner – American-Style India Pale Ale – 2019 Great American Beer Festival

I couldn't have said it better myself. It was an excellent pairing with Frito Pie.

Now that we've moved the clock back an hour, I have more time to kill before Hoppy Hour today. I guess should go find something productive to do.

Or not.


Saturday, October 28, 2023

Beer Visits #2 and #3

Pure Project Brewing, Vista, CA - 👟⬅️

This is a 14,000 square foot warehouse facility that includes brewing, bottling, and canning operations; and a tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating. Despite its size, it maintains a comfortable, local-hangout vibe. It's located in an industrial center, making it feel like an in-the-know location.

You enter through a rollup door to find an ample bar with several taps, plants everywhere, and comfortable seating areas inside and out. Their Carlsbad location, by contrast, is small and often crowded. Carlsbad can be a fun location for people watching while the Vista location is large and open with ample seating and a more relaxed, local vibe.

This is definitely a place I would go back to visit but I would explore their beer selections a little more.

We tried the the Rain (Pilsner) 👟 and the Under the Oaks (Festbier) 👟🍺. For us, the Pilsner had no defining characteristic or flavor. It was almost too "clean." Perhaps that is what their website describes as "bone dry." The Festbier was better with a slightly spicy/rye flavor and medium feel. It was worth a pint.

I also sampled the Mystery Veils the Desert which I found very interesting and would categorize as a weird beer. I happen to like weird so if I went back I might opt for this beer when available. (It's a recurring collaboration beer with Wren House Brewing of Arizona.)

Booze Brothers Brewing, Fallbrook, CA - 🧦⏩🍕👫

This location has a bit of an identity problem. It's located at a funky intersection on a triangular lot with signage for The Mill which is a pizza joint which shares space with Booze Brothers as well as Owl Farm, an offshoot of Booze Brothers. The website describes the outdoor seating as lush and inviting when in reality it's mostly dirt which is particularly inviting to children. Indeed, they have set up play areas for the kiddos which include sand toys, trucks, and a structure that looks like Lucy's Psychiatry Booth but is easily imagined as a restaurant with a takeout window (as we witnessed while we were there). 

In italics, the website goes on to advise that indoor seating has only recently been made available.

It's funky but I can see why families would like going there. It's easy (once you figure out how to access its parking lot). The kids have something to do while the grownups sit in the sun with their beers and someone else makes dinner.

There are two other Booze Brothers locations in Oceanside and Vista which we have yet to visit.

We had the Pushing Daisies (Pilsner)🧦  and Penny Blonde (Blonde)👟. We found the Pilsner to be off the mark. It was cloudy, slightly hoppy, and had a medium mouthfeel rather than a clear, light, and slightly biscuity or doughy flavored beer. We liked the Blonde better and felt it was a better representation of its style.

If we were to go back, we would opt for one of their other locations and would try different beers. 

If you're wondering where Beer Visit #1 was, it was La Quinta Brewing in Old Town La Quinta, CA, which will be featured in a separate post.

Happy beer hunting and remember to #beercareful and #drinklocal.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Beer Here's new rating system:

🦶= blew my socks off

👟 = did not blow my socks off

🧦 = dirty sock; avoid

🤯 = mind blown; reserved for a truly special place or beer

The shoe was meant to be a clean sock but I couldn't find a clean sock emoji to signify that, indeed, my socks had not been blown off. Assuming you wear socks with your athletic shoes, I picked what I thought was the next best thing.

No, I do not have a food fetish. I thought I was being clever.

Ultimately, I mean to provide more beer and brewery reviews. Once upon a time, I lived in Washington and was a member of the Washington Beer Lovers. This is a wonderful organization that did a great job of promoting Washington breweries. Using their passport, I visited 200 breweries all over the state. Since I lived near the Oregon border, I also visited Oregon breweries but didn't keep track of those as well. In addition, I visited local craft breweries when I traveled. I have easily visited 300 different locations but stopped counting after I left Washington.

I live in California, now, in a beer desert. It's an actual desert, to be fair, but to my point there are only seven breweries in the immediate area.

29 Brews - Coachella
Babe's Bar-B-Que and Brewery - Rancho Mirage
Coachella Valley Brewing - Thousand Palms and Palm Springs (coming soon)
Desert Beer Company - Palm Desert and Indio (coming soon)
La Quinta Brewing - Palm Desert, Palm Springs, La Quinta
Las Palmas Brewing - Palm Springs
Luchador Brewing Company - Cathedral City

More information can be found in this article from Palm Springs Life.

The good news is there's some really good beer being produced here. For additional variety, I visit independent craft breweries in San Diego and Los Angeles and locations in between, as well as breweries in Arizona. How many I've already visited, I don't know because I haven't been keeping track. 

That changes now. I have a blank spreadsheet and a blinking cursor. It's time to start adding to my brewery count.

I can't wait to get started. 

Is it Friday yet?

Monday, June 26, 2023

Road Trip

I learned there is a new brewery in town. There are only a handful near where I live so when a new one comes on the scene, I want to check it out. This one is not actually in the town where I live. It's an hour and a half away but that's close enough for me.

Joshua Tree Brewing isn't new but they didn't previously have a tasting room. I don't know if that was because of COVID or because they were too small to have one. We didn't live here before COVID so I don't know. But I recently saw on Google Maps that they had a tasting room in Twentynine Palms, open only on weekends, so last weekend, we decided to go for a drive.

We started out heading west on I-10 and then drove through Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, and Joshua Tree before getting to Twentynine Palms. It was close to 3 by the time we got there and we were hungry so we stopped at a place called Mexican Street Tacos. It was attached to a bowling alley and a bar. The food was very local, very delicious, very Mexican. It was practically around the corner from the brewery which had no food.

The brewery only had two taps but only one beer so that’s what we had. A $7 hazy IPA that was cloudy and dense at roughly 7% ABV. I can’t say it was my favorite but we had made the drive so we were going to get the beer.

The entire facility wasn’t much bigger than my bedroom. They had the type of furnishings you would expect in a small brewery: barstools and picnic tables and benches. There was a shelf all the way around the room near the ceiling that featured a collection of old beer cans. We were the only customers.

There were spray misters on the back patio which was as big as the building itself. Maybe bigger. The tables were made of four cinder blocks standing on end and supporting a wooden pallet. They were surrounded by a mismatched collection of plastic lawn chairs like one might find at Ace Hardware on closeout. Parking was in an adjacent lot that was shared with an unmarked, two bay, car repair type garage. I refer you to the pictures on Google Maps for a visual aid as the photos I took don't really give you the whole picture.

There was no bathroom at the brewery. You had to go out of the patio's chain linked fence gate, through the parking lot, and around the garage. The handle and lock were flimsy and there were no paper towels but it was clean. Or I assumed it was since a woman with rubber gloves and disinfectant exited prior to my entering. It wasn’t the worst bathroom I had ever been in but it was definitely on that end of the scale.

Joshua Tree Brewing is a self-described microbrewery “making great beers since 2017.” While their website declares they have distribution in California, Texas, and New York, I suspect that the brewer has family there and brings his own beverages when he travels. I’ve never seen it in any bar anywhere but, then again, I don’t go to that many bars.

I only tried one of their beers since that was all they had. Based on that, I’m not in a hurry to go back. On the other hand, I don’t want to discourage anyone from going to Joshua Tree Brewing and trying it for themselves. The drive is interesting and Mexican Street Tacos is worth a stop, in my opinion. On the way back, we drove through Joshua Tree National Park which is also worth a visit. My recommendation is to go early and reverse the route. That is, go through the park first, stop and take a hike, and wind up in Twentynine Palms for a lunch and a beer. Then drive through the towns of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, and Morongo Valley on the way back.

We ended up at La Quinta Brewing in Old Town for a second beer while we waited for a pizza to go from Stuft. It was a good day but we were ready to be home. The drive is about 3 hours total without the stops.

Let me know if you get to Joshua Tree Brewing!