Bakersfield Beers, Big and Bold

I had a quick trip to Bakersfield California last week, Not much free time but I did manage to get out to the Lengthwise Brewery Pub out on Calloway on Sunday night during the football game. I had my two beer work night limit, one was the Midnight Restoration Ale, it was nice, and then I had the Centennial IPA as we called it an evening.

Bakersfield has a number of good establishments that are catering to the craft beer drinkers. I have heard lots of good things about the brewery up Kernville and as far as I can figure, Lengthwise is the only local brewery. Frugatti’s on Coffee Road has Firestone on tap, great beers brewed in Paso Robles,  Fat Tire seems to be everywhere, some of the San Diego beers are pretty easy to find as well as the Sierra Nevada beers. The Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the standard and well known and well loved. I am a big fan of the Torpedo IPA. Pop over to the website and wander through their offerings. The beer description pages are very detailed and the food pairings piece is pretty cool. If you are an IPA fan the “Hoptimum”  is awesome, checking in at 100 IBU’s….

My last night in Bakersfield last week included a dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. Her husband and to a certain extent, my sister-in-law are oenophiles. I have nothing against the affliction, I believe that it is curable and those that can’t be cured can still live a full and productive life.  I believe they just need to broaden their horizons! I swung by the Calloway Lengthwise Pub on Calloway to pick up a couple of growlers as a gift for the hosts. My wife had sent me a note informing me of a new tapping on sale that evening – the Double Centennial IPA. I picked up one growler of the Double and the other was the Golden Ale – a light refreshing ale that isn’t too heavy.

My sister-in-law tried a pint of the Golden Ale after dinner and she was on to her second pint as I left to head back to the hotel….. I knew she was versatile! Beer lovers are too often caste as a bit crass and low brow…. but, to the informed, the depth and breadth of the beer drinking experience matches, at a minimum and probably exceeds, that of the wine world. Read the article in the attached link for a grin and an attempt to provide a more appropriate moniker for those of my ilk. Unfortunately I sometimes reinforce the beer drinker stereotype with my coarse behavior, language and I occasionally burst into inappropriate song on a few rare nights each year.

I will try to pick a day this week to brew a session type beer – 4.5% ABV or so, light in color and body. My friend John sent me a note….his Christmas gift – beer of the month delivery is in his possession – he needs some expert help assessing the quality of the shipment. It may be an effort but then again it might be worth the effort.

Drink Local – Drink Responsibly





Travel and Tasting and Invoking the Saints

I have been busy working for the past several weeks. A bit too busy to blog but not so busy that I couldn’t sample some good beers. In my last beer blog I told you that I was in the frozen Colorado and Utah areas. Rangely Colorado is so small that it did not surprise me that there were no micro or craft breweries. I still like to sample local fare so I had to expand the sampling zone.

The last night in Rangely, Thursday January 10th we dined at the motel restaurant. I quizzed the waitress on beer selections and they carried several by New Belgium in Fort Collins Colorado. They had a seasonal beer called, Snow Day Winter Al, a darker beer that was pretty darned good. When I looked at the web site to pull up the details on the beer, I found a story behind that sort of matched current conditions. The genesis for this beer was a massive snow storm that hit Fort Collins in 2003. Well, not quite matched, but being from Houston the 10-12 inches of snow overnight is massive enough for me.

From New Belgians website – “Snow Day carries the subtle chocolate and caramel flavors of a new brewing malt known as Midnight Wheat. The Styrian Golding, Centennial and Cascade hops bring the backbone of hoppy bitterness to complement the roasty undertones. This beer is the deep garnet of a roasted walnut and presents a creamy tan head, floating artfully atop. Snow Day is bold and hoppy, drinkable and strong. It reminds you to enjoy the unexpected.”

Looking back toward the town of Rangely from the college campus.

Looking back toward the town of Rangely from the college campus.

I am very appreciative of breweries that give you an understanding of the ingredients – I helps me to better define my palate as well as get the creative juices flowing for a cloning effort……not like Dolly the cloned sheep but more like cloning/crafting of a reasonable facsimile!

The next night we were housed in Vernal Utah. I knew enough about Utah to expect good craft breweries in the state but knew nothing of Vernal.  I have sampled beers from Uinta Brewing on several occasions and enjoy their beers. Here is a partial list of breweries of all sorts in Utah. In Vernal we found a brew pub that wasn’t listed  – The Quarry.

Our waitress at the Quarry, bless her heart, ( if you know southern slang – Bless your heart means –“You are an idiot but I like you and care about you so I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Now she wasn’t really an idiot – just very poorly informed. She had no clue about the beers on tap or in bottle for two reasons; 1. She was brand spanking new! & # 2. By her own admission, she only drinks Tequila! My guess she probably is pretty entertaining and maybe clueless at parties, bless her heart! She thought that there were just two in-house brewed beers on tap. I drank the house Brown Ale and it was pleasant, better than Newcastle but not exceptional. I then took a look at the beer list and saw that they had a Wasatch offering in bottles, Devastator Double Bock, a strong amber ale. I asked for the Devastator and she brought me a draught beer……I gave her a quizzical look! Bless her heart, I had used the Wasatch Brewery name when I ordered and she saw a Wasatch handle and drew a beer – the Wasatch Bobsled Brown Ale….I offered up a lesson and showed her the beer list and descriptions and suggested she invest some time with the samplers to improve her knowledge…. I drank her mistake, it wasn’t too bad and she then brought me the Double Bock….

Leaving Vernal on Saturday morning was a challenge. The weather at minus 14 F, had everything backed up. I was really feeling sorry for a young couple that were trying to get to Denver on the same flight we were on……rabid Broncos fans trying to make the 2:30 PM kick-off. Scheduled departure was 6:30 AM that was pushed back to 8:45 AM. Ok, still plenty of time. They finally got the plane warmed up, baggage loaded and pulled up to the ground gate. Ooops……. Bad weather in Denver so we sat back down and waited some more. They kept the engines idling consuming fuel and guess what????? They were now low on fuel….they shut down the engines, we were finally allowed to load up while they were adding fuel. Then the fuel truck broke down, 200 pounds short of a safe load! Too funny. Not! It was becoming less funny for me because I was now in jeopardy of missing the second flight. Great Lakes Airlines (high marks for customer service) changed my original flight to the second departure time to Houston and now it looked like I was destined to miss that one! I invoked a short prayer to the two Patron Saints of storms, St. Scholastica and St. Walburga, and I hoped they would be gracious enough to allow the storm to linger in Denver just long enough, no harm, but just enough to delay my next flight. Insert sign of the cross along with crossed fingers. I bet none of you knew about these two saints did you!

I anxiously awaited touchdown on the Denver tarmac so I could fire up my “iPhone United Airlines app” and see if my plane was still at the gate. We touched down at the scheduled departure time…..come on hurry up……the app finally came up and the flight was delayed. Yee haw! The Saints came through for me! I still had to boogie from the far end of terminal A to the train and over to terminal B. I was saddened that I didn’t have any layover time….The far end of Terminal A, just beyond gate 61, is a New Belgium establishment with a handful of their best beers on tap, possibly a Snow Day. Maybe next time!

I made the flight…….. it was on one of the new 787 Dreamliners….they are pretty darned sweet. In hind sight that may have been unlucky! We made it safely to Houston. FYI – The economy seats recline nicely as the bottom portion of the seat slides forward just a bit. They are really comfortable, even for a big guy like me.

Finally arrived in Kingwood Texas, tired and thirsty. I had one of my Dirty Honey Blonde homebrewed beers, put my feet up and watched the Forty-Niners whip up on the Packers. Tomorrow was a big mountain to climb for my local Houston Texans. I felt like the Patron Saints may have smiled on me today so I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to pull in some more high level assistance. Sunday morning before leaving on my next job I sent up the following prayer to the Saint of Lost Causes, St. Jude.

O most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus — People honor and invoke you universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, for I am so helpless and alone. Please help to bring me visible and speedy assistance. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my ( this is the place to state your request –desires for the Houston Texans to find the strength and wisdom to beat the pants off of the Patriots), necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly  and that I may praise God with you always. I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you by publishing this request. Amen. Blogging is kind of like publishing the request isn’t it.

I guess I went to the well one too many times. The Houston Texans may have been too hopeless!I now pray that I haven’t been seen as too greedy!

I do have a theory that no good deed goes unrewarded. On the plane from Vernal to Houston was a woman who was also heading to Houston and on to Jackson. She was a bit of a novice when it came to  traveling through Denver. Denver can be a pain in the butt! She also needed to connect to a flight out of Houston to Jackson, Mississippi. I was able to help her tag along behind me and wind up at the gate just moments prior to the door closing on the flight to Houston. I felt like I had done a good deed. Upon landing in Houston I pulled up the flight status for her next flight and helped her on the way….she was probably bumped to the last flight out but likely got home on Saturday….I felt good. The Saints of storms must have sensed my good intentions.

I wonder if St Jude was eyeballing me to see if I had earned his intercession. I may have to apologize to the Texans Fans……I probably didn’t do enough to help them secure the win! Maybe the Texans didn’t do their part?????? Does St Arnold have any stroke….they make good beer! Maybe I need to invoke the local Saint via local beer….There is always next year!

By the way – St Arnold is real –

The Legend of the Beer Mug

It was July 642 and very hot when the parishioners of Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of their former bishop. They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable. At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave Champigneulles, one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz.

Enough trivia – I am a little thirsty and I am in the parched desert of Midland Texas – Thanks to HEB I have some good choices! Tonight, Lost Gold IPA by Real Ale Brewing in Blanco Texas….it is damned good in my opinion!

Drink local and drink responsibly







Spiced Avalanche Beer Jelly

I have arrived in Rangely Colorado and it is chilly but also beautiful! At dinner we asked for a Colorado beer and the young waitress recommended the Breckrenridge Avalanche Ale – an amber ale. Her recommendation was pretty darned good. I went to the website to take a more detailed look at the beer, – you know – which malts, hops, bitterness and of course the ABV….this one was under 5% and that is not a bad thing. Crisp and clean beer. They also provided a recipe tab for the beers – see below.

Because of my love of canning and making jams one of the tabs caught my eye. Breckenridge Brewery in Breckenridge Colorado. Check them out.

The Players

  • (2) 12-ounce bottles of Avalanche Amber Ale
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cups 100% apple juice
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 pouches liquid pectin


Put beer, cinnamon, cardamom and orange zest into a medium-sized, stainless steel pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove from heat, cover and allow ingredients to steep for 20 minutes.  Remove and discard cinnamon sticks.   Transfer beer mixture to large, stainless steel pot.  Stir in apple juice, lemon juice and sugar.  Heat on high, stirring constantly.  Bring mixture to a full, rolling boil that can’t be broken by stirring.  Add both pouches of pectin and continue stirring.  When mixture comes back to a full, rolling boil, continue boiling hard and stirring constantly for two minutes, or until mixture begins “sheeting” off a spoon.  Remove from heat, quickly skim foam and fill hot jars to 1/4″ head space.  Wipe rims with clean, wet cloth and cover with lids and bands.  Tighten bands to fingertip tight (just until you feel resistance).  Place jars into water bath canner.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Process for 10 minutes at sea level, 25 minutes here in Castle Rock, Colorado.  After 25 minutes, turn off heat and remove canner lid.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then remove jars to clean towel on countertop.  Allow to sit for 12 to 24 hours until all jars have “popped,” indicating an adequate seal.  Reprocess or refrigerate and promptly use any jars that don’t seal properly.

I Just gotta make this soon – I made some Serrano Pepper jelly last year that was yummy spread over soft cream cheese as a dip….I may have another choice now

This morning in Rangely Colorado…..wonderful crisp morning.

About 7:20 AM this morning from teh Rangely College Campus....

About 7:20 AM this morning from the Rangely College Campus….

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly



Colorado Bound

I am sitting in the Houston airport ready to fly off to Denver, so many good beer opportunities there, then to Vernal Utah -” hey Mr. Romney, know of any good beers in town?” then drive over to Rangely Colorado for a couple of days. My expectations are not real high for good craft beers in Rangely! In fact the best they could do on my last visit 6 years ago was some aged Coors Banquet Beer…,, FYI, it does not age well.

If the layover in Denver is long enough I know that they have Odell’s on tap in the B terminal. I’ll tweet an update if I get lucky….. With the beer!!!!

Remember to drink local and drink responsibly! I guess Coors would be considered local – I hope I can do better than that!


First Taste – Pumpkin Ale

Last night was a sad night for the Irish and confirmation that the SEC dominates college football here in the US.

In preparation for the evening I fired up the grill and cooked some chicken breasts. I tend to grill better when enjoying a good beer. My Pumpkin Ale has been conditioning in the bottle for about two weeks now. The temperatures here in Houston have finally dropped to well below room temperature. Since I/we prefer to keep the house cool, the inside temperature has been in the high 50’s….inside the house. We fire up the fireplace in the living area and keep the rest of the house cool.

The impact of the cooler temperatures inside the house are not so positive for my beer to condition properly and form carbonation. When I have beer in the fermenter it is an easy fix. I set a big plastic barrel in the room, set the fermenter inside the barrel and partially fill the barrel with water. I then add a fish tank heater set to 68 degrees F. I works very well. Just as I finished bottling the temperatures nose-dived. I hoped for the best but the low  temperatures lingered.  I didn’t want to chuck all of the bottles into the water barrel so  after a week I used a little space heater set on low in the proximity of the cased bottles. I removed one bottle last night before the game, chilled it and was very pleased with the results. Flavor had mellowed nicely from bottling day, carbonation was evident but just a little lacking. I did a little maracas shake with each bottle, placed them back in the cases and I should have dang near perfect beer in less than a week.

My friend, Bill shared some of his Helles Lager with me and now I feel comfortable sharing the Pumpkin Ale in return…Ah, life is so good when you have good friends, good beer and a good woman…..I might change that order depending on situation but you get my drift!

While my head was on the pillow last night I began to form some thoughts for this posting. I had some really cool thoughts that I planned on using but CRS overtook me. I remember just enough to know that I had the thoughts but they have escaped into lala land. I was tempted to go back into the bedroom and put my head back on the pillow in an attempt to recapture those salient and important thoughts! I thought the better of it, my mountain bike riding friends will remember my “den of the cave bear” comments and understand why I chose to not take the risk! I will always love you Hun!

These guys mashed and fermented in real pumpkins……I wasn’t so brave, I roasted the pumpkin, pureed the flesh and steeped it before boiling, adding the malts, hops, spices and irish moss to the wort…..Looks pretty interesting! I may not be brave enough to try it!

My pumpkin used for the process;

Cutting the pumpkin wedges prior to roasting.

Cutting the pumpkin wedges prior to roasting.

The roasted wedges prior to making purees pumpkin.

The roasted wedges prior to making puree pumpkin.

Drink local, drink responsibly,







Be Hoppy

Lot’s of good reasons to be Happy and be Hoppy.

My daughter Lisa and I went to downtown Houston to Discovery Green in miserable weather to see the ice sculpture contest. Her company, interesting sculptures and local beer made it nice. My daughter Ashleigh met us for a Happy Birthday beer while we were there. Topped off an excellent outing. Tool man’s paradise – chain saws ripping ice, dye grinders gouging out huge chunks of ice and blow torches smoothing it all out! (insert Tim the Tool Man’s grunt here)

Can't say it any better!

Can’t say it any better!

St. Arnolds's Christmas Ale for Lisa and Ashleigh!

St. Arnolds’s Christmas Ale for Lisa and Ashleigh!

Sr Arnold's Elyssa IPA. what a very nice local beer! Poured a perfect head...I love ......never mind!

Sr Arnold’s Elyssa IPA. what a very nice local beer! Poured a perfect head…I love ……never mind!

The winning Ice Sculpture. Pretty Cool - a pun????

The winning Ice Sculpture. Pretty Cool – a pun????

This was my choice for number 1!

This was my choice for number 1!

Family, cold beer and an interesting day.

Drink local – we did, drink responsibly – we did and……….


Imperial Stout Bread

I ripped off a recipe from the magazine “Beer” – I love that title. The original recipe was made with an oatmeal stout called Velvet Merlin from the Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles California. I really like beers from Firestone Walker – they will be distributed in Texas some time this year. Texans are in for a treat. Issue 27 of Beer magazine, page 60+

So, I love to make bread and utilized a bottle of my home-brewed Imperial Stout, not mature enough to drink yet but it made some very good bread. The bread making process was an entirely by hand process – the only thing resembling a machine was the oven! It called for a nice home-brew from one of my neighbors to aid in the process. here is the link to the recipe on my other posting location.

My Imperial Stout bread!

My Imperial Stout bread!