Paso Robles – Barrelhouse Brewing Co.

Just a solo visit, my bride couldn’t make the trip. Nice warm day in Paso, about 100 degrees but dry and a nice breeze. Besides having some very nice beers they have a “lovely” grounds area. When I say lovely, I mean it in the Australian sense! The British application of the word fits! Using “British” may irritate some of my Australian friends, but, they have accused me of being an Anglophile! The first time I heard the Australian us of “lovely” was from a well dressed bloke in Sydney describing a nearby Steakhouse!

“Cute is certainly one of the possible subsets of meanings of lovely in Britain, from my time there. But it’s sometimes used to mean “acceptable”, (f.ex. lovely weather) “friendly” or “considerate”, (f.ex. she’s a lovely girl) and “appealing”, (f.ex. he looks lovely today) too.”

So let’s say the grounds are appealing and more than just acceptable, though my wife might say “cute”.
I really like the garden chairs, the picnic tables, the fountain and today- the old flat bed truck converted to a stage. Yes, live music, live music California style, i.e., the rhythm guitar player in a tank top, shorts and barefoot!

I drank light today, I had the Templeton Session Ale and the Brass Monkey. The Brass Monkey is a great hot wester summer beer. Great refreshing flavors. A smooth, honey, citrus ale! It is just a seasonal offering. Below are some iPhone scene captures,
The Session Ale looking in though the outside counter top

A look across the grounds.


The waterfall and little pond


Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Goose Island Beers

I am off to a higher caliber social setting than I am accustomed too here in Chicago. Last nights’s rehearsal dinner was at the Chicago Yacht Club serving cold but simply fizzy yellow water bees. I had an MGD and decided that I had lowered my standard enough.

The reception tonight is promised to have a suite of Goose a Island offerings. I will be wearing a black tie early in the evening….My enthusiasm is a bit tempered as Anheuser-Busch owns 58% of the Goose Island brand. I do like some of their beers but ….. they no longer fit my vision of “Craft Brewers”. Some of their beers are brewed under contract arrangements. That said – I do like their Goose Island IPA, the Matilda Belgian Style is pleasant, I hear that the Bourbon County Stout Imperial Stout is amazing, second only to the Firestone Walker Parabola barrel aged imperial stout. United Airlines is now serving the 312 Urban Wheat Ale- nice easy drinking beer and the Green Line Pale Ale is available everywhere here in Chicago and is not too bad!

Post wedding I will grade the host’s selection. I will be nice as the price is perfect, i.e., open bar, free beer, por nada amigos, kostet nichts- just free, Willy or was that “Free Willy”, what ever.

Drink Responsibly and Drink as Local as Possible!


Mopping the Floor

I bottled my Russian Imperial Stout last night. I looks inky black but, the drips on the light colored tile look like coffee! Yes, I made a small mess! I did have help, my wife cleaned up the drips as I cleaned and put away the equipment. Thanks Hun, I owe you!

I bottled most of the beer in 22 ounce bombers and the rest in the flip top bottles with the porcelain stoppers, except for one stray 12 ouncer. One of the bombers was giving me fits trying to get the crown cap to seat properly. I tried a 12 ounce bottle to see if it was the capper of the bottle? Turns out the bottle was bad so off to the recycle bin the offender went.

Initial tasting impressions; the bourbon soaked oak comes through with a hint of vanilla. Additionally there is hint of coffee in the background. A nice smooth and velvety feel on the tongue, Now, to be patient and let it sit a couple of months to mellow and mature….. like me!!!! Oh, I forgot to mention, I primed with 4.5 ounces of dark brown sugar….and the bottles are now sitting at a controlled 65 degrees as the condition.

Siphoning from the secondary into the priming tank with a glass of two year old stout from a previous batch. It was very good!


Toasted oak spirals in the bottom of the secondary fermenter. Having done their job they are off to an afterlife in the chiminea.


Thermocouple nestled amongst the bottles. Working to keep things at 65.


Some of the flip top bottles filled with the dark, thick and tasty stout.


Now, just wait and plan for the IPA I will brew next,

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

All Grain – Golden Wheat Red IPA

I am out on the patio after a brief rain here in Kingwood, 88 degrees F, 65% humidity and feels like 95! Sweat is dripping and the only effort I am making is flipping the Beef Ribs! I am softening the blow with the last “Golden Wheat Red IPA” in a frosty inverted mug.


These mugs are awesome, or should I say, it is awesome. I received a pair of them a couple of Christmas’ ago and one abruptly departed the cabinet. It is insulated and it is pretty cool to observe the inverted bottle shape.

I have just finished creating the recipe for the replacement batch, albeit in an all grain format! I use BeerSmith software and it does a good job of providing an expected product. It calculates, ABV %, IBU – bitterness, color and expected starting and final specific gravity, among all if the other important steps like water volumes, mashing times, sparge volumes and so on.

I must say adios to the last last beer of the batch. I hated to see it go but, who better to drink it than me! I hope I can replicate the final product in this all-grain recipe. Time will tell, (has anyone counted the number of cliches used?) Last photo, a creamy , thick and close to a perfect head……. on the beer! Loved it!

Drink Responsibly and Drink Local


Le Freak – Belgian Style American IPA

I encountered this interesting San Diego beer by Green Flash, in of all places, Williston North Dakota!

“Le Freakā„¢ is the first-ever hybrid ale of its kind: the convergence of a Belgian-Style Trippel with an American Imperial IPA. Spawned over barstool pontifications between Publican and Brewmaster, this zesty Amarillo dry-hopped, bottle-conditioned marvel entices with fruity Belgian yeast aromatics and a firm, dry finish. Experience a legendary beer phenomenon.” From the Green Flash web page- not my words but pretty durned accurate.

I have to give this beer a thumbs up for an interesting mix of flavors. Actually a bit of an odd marriage, but it works ( kinda like if I had married Elaine Lewis). Erin, at the Williston Brewing Company, suggested that I try this new addition to the draft beer collection. This beer was preceded by a Beaver Creek Redheaded IPA, I have always thought redheads were interesting and this beer did not disappoint! Now, it was a blind recommendation as she had not sampled it. The beer nerd came out in me and a I had to explain what a “freaky” combination this beer represented. The citrusy Amarillo hops link nicely with the fruit flavors of the Belgian Tripple. I would stop at one as I am more of an IPA kind of guy. This is a nice beer to sip in a languorous fashion. Huh? Take your time, “Dammit” and enjoy it! Is that clear enough?

Williston Brewing Company, they don’t brew anything but they do have a good variety of beers and pretty darned good food!

An Imperial Pint of the Green Flash offering.



Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Savoring the Final Few

It was Tres Amigos until I poured this beer. Now it is down to Los Dos Amigos. My “Golden Wheat Red Ale” is nearly gone and I have been selectively sharing the remaining few! The hopping of this beer was near perfect, great aroma and not overly bitter. Kind of baby bear perfect – no I am not Goldilocks, but it is nice when it comes out just right! Good head retention and nice lace.

The big question is- can I recreate this beer as an all grain batch? Will need to start soon, like a month ago! I need to bottle my Russian Imperial Stout. It has been sitting for more than 3 months in the secondary fermenter on toasted oak that was soaked in Bourbon. Yumm!

Just returned from Calgary and sampled a few local beers but need to get a longer period of time to explore the downtown beer scene.



Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!