Lunch at College Street Brewhouse & Pub

Up on a hill, parking is a little confusing but not terribly.

It is family friendly.

Big Blue Van served with blueberries in the glass. Don’t know that they add flavor but they add to the presentation. Makes a fun game trying to snag a blueberry.

Jesse’s Lager is heavy and clean with a hops void. I think I love this beer.

We had for lunch: chicken caprese wrap, margherita pizza, and pirate johns BLT. Sweet a Devil Stout was a surprising compliment to the BLT. Gotta be the smokiness. I know I love it. One of the best stouts ever. Ever.

Tall building
Gordon Biersch-y
Patio looks cool

Brewhouse is stainless and utterly gorgeous. Utterly.

No readily available beer menu, like a board it something. Gotta rely on servers. They’re not bad.

Food is fantastic!

Their Octoberfest is … Well, there is a bitter aftertaste that I’m not happy with. Good color, great head, but that hops at the end … Dunno. Not happy with it.

Conclusion: nice place. Would I come here again? Yes.

Is it better than Mudshark, the other Lake Havasu brewery?

No.

Sweet Devil is one of the best stouts ever. Big Blue Van is more intriguing and refreshing than it has any right to be. But Full Moon is the Einstein of wit beers and Mudshark’s atmosphere is far more liberated.

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The Brewer’s Barrel

It’s been thirteen months since I have brewed a beer.  It’s been approximately twenty-five months since I have brewed a successful beer.  Yeah, the last one just, sort of, kinda, well … exploded.  I had planned an awesome Winter of Brewing, beginning in October of 2012.  This did not occur.  Life conspires.  Time expires.

As with most home brewer’s, however, creating Art In A Glass is in my blood and eventually I shall return to it just as the Jedi returned to a galaxy far, far away.  And whence I do I’ll begin with old recipes that I have stored on my computer.  Once I need more I’ll be looking online.  Like I haven’t been doing that anyway.

Some brew recipe sites are difficult to navigate.  I like this one at the moment:  The Brewer’s Barrel.  It’s a clean site, nice fonts, good colors, easy to read.  Those are seriously important factors for me.  The site does not allow you to create your own recipes.  It is a compendium of recipes from home brewer’s around the country.  The home page lists popular recipes and newest recipes.  You can also choose to see all recipes.  They are grouped by style and indicate if they are All Grain or Extract recipes.  This site is a great starting place for a Brew Day.

While it doesn’t let you craft your own specialized recipe it does have a practical option that other similar sites seem to lack.  Once you’ve found the recipe you like you can click “Buy Ingredients.”  The Brewer’s Barrel is connected to a home brew supply company in Chicago called Brew Camp.  Once you click their link you can buy the exact ingredients in that recipe.  Now, it sends the order immediately to Brew Camp.  You’ll get an email confirming your order.  Make sure you’re ready to order when you click the link and enter your information.  The guys at Brew Camp will send you a confirmation email within a few hours and contact you for payment.

The homebrewing community is a social place and Brewer’s Barrel capitalizes on that.  Go on, check it out.  Add your own recipe.  I hope to get around to brewing it one of these days.

A Glass of Friday – Indio by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma

This beer seems appropriate to finish the week with.  (No, I cannot pronounce properly the brewer and distributor of Indio, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma).  Earlier in the week, I had a portion of the El Bandido burrito, a specialty at my favorite Mexican restaurant in town, El Palacio.  We had a Mexican-y concoction for dinner last night.  My wife and I went to El Palacio once again this night, whence I ate the El Pardino burrito and she had the Godfather burrito.

Now for the beer.  (Had Negro Modelo at dinner).  Let me regale you first with photo’s.

Indio 12 Pack - High Resolution Indio Bottle - High ResolutionThe label is actually kinda cool, the more I look at it.  Sort of a Spartan/Mayan mashup going on.  I like the color scheme, too.  Platinum Hulk.

That Smell …
It smelled a little sour and was fizzy around the edges.   Interesting.  I guess I could also say it was bready, grainy.  In a strange turn of events it was also redolent of banana peel.  I say that because it sounds better than saying it’s bananay, which isn’t really a word.  So you get the idea that it has a banana like smell without, you know, saying an un-word.  Anyway …

In Appearance …
It’s grand appearance is that of burnt … noodle.  You know, like when a macaroni noodle throws itself over the edge of a pan and is engulfed, briefly, in the flames of the oven burner.  That kind of brown – a brownish orange.  It has astonishing clarity.  The beer is topped by a thin, off white head.

But the Taste …
It’s not bad.  But it’s not a spectacular craft juggernaut, either.  It’s like, well, a Mexican Amber Bock.  That’s not necessarily bad. Mind you, if Amber Bock was not an AmBev product, I’d drink it.  So, this is now an alternative.  It has a nice, medium body.  No aftertaste, finishes clean like the lager it is.

Join Me For A Plate Of …
I can see it complimenting one of the burrito’s I had above.  I know for sure that it blends well with corn dogs (covered in ranch dressing).  And Taco Doritos.

The Conclusion Of the Matter Is …
Okay, I said it was nothing spectacular and that it reminds me mostly of Amber Bock, so this next statement may seem off.  It reminds of Fat Tire, too.  Fine, some people will say that is off and be all, ‘Fat Tire is pure genius’ and others will be all, ‘Fat Tire is flatly overrated.’  Whatever.  Indio is like it in that it is refreshing, clean, nothing offensive, there’s not a lot of brain/taste power involved.  It’s innocuous.  I can drink Indio and not feel like a traitor to the craft world.  Yes.  Cool.  It’s nowhere near as malty as Fat Tire.  I do like how bright and refreshing it is.  Very little hops interference with the taste.  The malt, while not dominating, is the core.

In Review – Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide To The World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher

Let it now be said, straight up (coincidentally or not, that’s the way I like my whiskey) – I reveled in the digi-pages of Randy Mosher’s book, Tasting Beer: An Insiders Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink. Just wanted to get that out there right away, you know, for those who have no interest in reading the rest of this review; or those who lack the attention span to do so, sufferers of Internet ADHD.

It’s brilliant, well written, not condescending so as to turn away initiates, not so bland as to trouble the cognoscenti. You want to be a beer critic or evaluator? Well, read this here book. (All the bored people can leave now).

After reading the following quote from the book, I instantly understood why I needed it. “If you take the time to develop an approach and a vocabulary,” states Mosher, “even casually tasted beers may reveal themselves in greater depth, meaning, and eventually, pleasure.”  This book should be required reading for anyone who reviews beers, whether a professional or a simple blogger.

I have heard Mosher’s name oft mentioned in the beer world.  However, this is the first time I’ve read him.  He has a fatherly, mentor-like voice.  It’s authoritative and assuring.

Beer History
The first chapter covers some of beer’s backstory and the author was succinct without leaving gaps; his synopsis leaves the reader filling fulfilled and enlightened.  Plus, he touches on some cool subjects right away.  For example, he discusses technology’s impact on brewing.  After reviewing the dramatic increase of production in the early 1800s, he notes that the “new industrial scale is important, because it increased pressure on brewers to find efficiencies that had been insignificant in a smaller setting.”  Ah, the demon seed of corporate brewing!  Efficiency, distribution, pressure – to the dark side do these lead.

Adroitly does Mosher explain how this country really had no culture when it began.  Culture was brought to it via immigration.  He writes:  “Those flooding in had a strong affinity for beer … a world without the joys of a few lagers in the garden on a Sunday afternoon was just unthinkable, and … they set about rebuilding their beer culture.”  Mosher goes on to explain why their reconstruction efforts eventually led to the fizzy mainstream dishwater we are so familiar with now.

Drinking Beer
After providing the cultural context, Mosher moves on to the important part:  drinking the beer.

Chapters 2 through 6 focus on understanding and analyzing beer.  Mosher provides a vocabulary for the beer judge, explains how beer should be presented, consumed, written about.  I discovered that an easy way to increase your vocabulary of descriptors for beer is to append a ’y’ on another word. Thus, a beer can be “yogurty” or perhaps “bubble gummy” or “diesel exhausty”.   My shiner black lager tastes steaky. Think I likey.  Well, you get the idea. So, if you see a -y copiously in the notes below, it’s because I’m trying to apply.

I was able to read this book via Inkling (more about the Inkling format below) and the file comes with tasting records that can be completed right there in the book, on your iPad.  Cool.  One of the beers suggested as a ‘beer to try’ was Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont, a Belgian saison (as you could tell from it’s fancy name).  Let’s see what I came up with.

In chapter five we are told to first smell the beer.  I wrote that this one smelled “solventy, dirt tinged with worm.  The dirt came from a citrus orchard, to be sure.  Musty, skunky, Heinekeny.”  Then we take a look at the beer.  It is “pale yellow.  Witty, Budweisery.  Pours a frothy white head.”  Next, take a sip.  This saison is “light, somewhat slick body.  Fizzy.  Lemony.  Acidic base under that fizz.”  It was supposed to have a slight tang, which I think I indicated in my sparse notes.  Whiffs of orange are appropriate.  I missed the peppery-ness of it, but I did need to take Nyquil later that night.

One humorous note on beer presentation:  I have always fancied the shaker pint glass, thinking it symbolic of the modern quaffer of craft beer. Mosher denounces it, to a degree, and now I find myself shamed to own so many. Oh, what a rube I am for possessing them!  I must procure some English pub glasses with the fancy pop out rim. At least I have two elegant English mugs that properly display the play of light through the body of the beer.

Truly, reading about the origins of the beers and what certain tastes and smells arise from was a boon.  I look forward to using some of this material in my own brewing and writing.

Beer and Food and Styles
Several years ago a good friend purchased one of Stone Brewing‘s Vertical Epics.  Since I had this book and that beer and the time was right, I tried to follow the guidelines in chapter 7 of the book to make a memorable dinner paired with a memorable beer.   We had stew with Shiner Black Lager (roasted grains with roasted meat) and consumed the 06-06-06 Vertical Epic with brownies after dinner.  It wasn’t complicated but it was great.  The chocolate and the Epic were a perfect match.

After talking a little about how to host beer dinners and pairing food and beer, Mosher then moves on to the various beer styles.  He tells us where they came from, what they used to be, what they should be; it’s a glorious ride through the beer world.  Granted, some of us feel beer is art and should be unfettered by these silly styles; Mosher addresses this and the reality of beer styles.  As you may have guessed from comments and notes above, I loved the “Suggested Beers to Try” lists.  I have not had enough of the beers he lists.  Now I have crucial additions to my own Beers I Want List.  Thanks!

Unfortunately, some of the histories and the suggested beers leads to some bad feelings on my part.  For example, I remember trying Sam Adams Cream Stout many, many years ago.  It had “chocolate malt” in it.  I discovered that wasn’t what I thought it was, but, whatever!  It did make me look into beer.  Mosher writes regarding cream stouts:  “[It] devolved into a rather feeble, soft, sweet, and roasty style … By the beginning of the twentieth century, it was positioned as a drink for invalids.”  Feeble?  Invalids?  I don’t know how to feel about this beer that I enjoyed.  Feeble, I suppose.

Last Call
I can’t say enough good things about this book.  It is well researched, evenly presented, crisply written and eternally motivating.  Let me allow Mosher to sum it up best:  “Uncap something special and pour it into a treasured glass. Give it the time it needs to settle into perfection. Ahh, beer! Raise the glass, as have countless others before you, and toast someone special. Pause for a sniff, and then drink deep. Grain, water, hops — and yet so much more. Use your head, your heart, and your soul, and you can taste the whole world in it.”

Beautiful book, beautiful drink.

Inkling Format
Now a word about the Inkling book format.  This was the first time I’ve used this app at all.  I enjoyed it.  Book pages scroll up just like a website, which is different than other readers which mimic the page turns of paper books. The sidebars and pictures in the text are separate embedded items.  In other words, on page ninety-eight there is a banner titled “Forms of Bottled Beer” with an arrow on the right side.  Tap it  and another page scrolls out displaying what’s in the box on that page, or a picture, etc.  Swipe to the right and you are back on the main page.  Keep swiping right and you uncover navigation for each chapter and navigation for the entire book.  Pages just pile on top of each other, like on a desktop, waiting to be swiped and read.   The left side of the screen shows your progress through chapter.

It’s also social media wrapped up in an e-reader.  You can highlight portions of the text and leave comments on it.  These comments can be viewed by others with Inkling accounts and you can follow them or they can follow you.  The notes are a fun way to keep track of your thoughts of a book or a theme.  It’s all very interactive, which is exactly what the company is seeking – bravo!

A Glass of Friday – Shiner Blonde by Spoetzel Brewery

Word is that the Spoetzl Brewery, maker of the Shiner line of beers, took some medals at this little beer fest we call the Great American Beer Festival.  Wish I could’ve been there.  That implies that I wasn’t there.  That implication is utterly veracious.

Upon reading that my favorite Texas brewery (for now, since I haven’t really had other Texas beers – what a horrible phrase to have written!  My very knuckles feel cursed after keyboarding such heresy!) won gold medals, I forthwith decided it was time for a series of Friday Glasses featuring the Shiner beers.

Since my last beer was a British blonde it seemed appropriate that this week I should try a Texan blonde.

In Appearance ..
It’s very fizzy, bubbly, champagne-ish.  The yellow is very bright.  The white collar is foamy and bouncy.  Bright and gorgeous and alluring it is.

That Smell …
Just like you’d expect a Texas blonde – a little earthy, slightly harsh.  It’s grain and hops, to be sure, in an odd conflation.  Honestly it’s not that appealing.  It smells like Boddington’s and other innocuous “pub” ales.  Maybe a tad stale?

But The Taste …
It’s light and watery (or ‘aqueous’ if you prefer the descriptor used upon a time by the snobs over at Craft Beer Radio).   Maybe there’s a bit of sugar in that body.  It’s a non-lagered pilsner without the hops.  It’s not bland, so to speak, but it isn’t overly exciting.  That’s, uh, disappointing.  No one wants a non-exciting blonde.

Join Me For A Plate Of …
Creamy potato soup with ham.

The Conclusion of the Matter Is …
Meh.  I can’t stand that word, not sure why.  But, alas, it was so appropriate I used.  It looks pretty good, it’s a better beer than most mainstream artists – uh, beers, but there’s not a whole lot to it.  It’s a fun diversion.  Move along.