I shouldn’t say a discovery, rather it was verification of a FaceBook discovery. I saw a post for a Craft Beer and Wine bar on Hamblen Road in Forest Cove. Well, it was well worth the stop. “Only” 31 beers on tap and I can only “sample” a few ……… each visit. I may have to schedule a couple of visits per week….yee haw!
The place has only been open three weeks and new has not even been rubbed off! It is well worth many return visits. The location has a great patio area and is very dog friendly.
My lucky day was today……….honestly, every day is a lucky day for me when I wake up on this side of the grass! Also lucky for a great variety of beers……. and to top it off – today was $4.00 IPA day. It doesn’t get much better than that!
As Arnold once said, ” I’ll be back!”……..and I will add – often!
Over the past several years I have conducting training classes in Williston, North Dakota and have been miserable due to the lack of Breweries in the area. I am in North Dakota during this last week of September and I am thirsty……I am also anxious to spend my free time down in Medora to shoot photos in the Teddy Roosevelt National Park and of the scenery along the backroads of North Dakota and Montana.
My wife, she certainly loves me…..how do I know? She sent me a text message on my drive from Williston to Medora. The text came in shortly after I passed the turn off to Watford City, home of a good brewery that has excellent pizza baked in a wood fired oven……I pulled over and stopped in order to reply…..I told her that maybe, on the way back I would stop at that brewery. I then headed south to the park.
I drove through the North Unit of the Teddy Roosevelt Park and was rewarded with an abundance of Bison…..and too many tourists….I now know why I like the end of October or into November for my fall trips!!!!!! It also seems as if more wildlife is out….Bighorn sheep, Mule deer, whitetail deer, coyotes and those cute little prairie dogs. After my pass through the North Unit, it was on down to the town of Medora.
I was up early to see the sunrise the next day and …… well much too overcast to be treated to a great sunrise.. I did see my first wild Mustang horses in the park as well as my fist sightings of Pronghorn Antelope. I also ran into a guy while hiking a trail, quizzed him on his home base and it turned out to be Dickinson ND….I was guessing it was more than an hour away but no….33 miles from Medora. Hmmmmmmm, now the beer-wheels are turning!
It was now a bit after lunch time and I have eaten at every place in Medora several times – I also yearned for a good beer. I remembered my wife’s text message from the day before and I mentally mouthed the words, “Yes Dear!” – I googled Dickinson and breweries and Phat Fish Brewery came up….35 minutes away…..how fortuitous! (that means lucky).
I have done training classes in Dickinson several times a few years back and no mention of a brewery by any of the attendees. They were either ignorant, hiding the truth from me or……maybe Dickinson was quaint enough to be barren when it comes to craft breweries. It turned out to be the latter.
I hustled east on I-94 and found the brewery at 1031 West Willard….obviously on the west end of town. I walked in and was impressed with the size, the layout and the crisp cleanliness of the place. The lunch crowd had pretty well thinned out and the crew was busy prepping for a special event that night, they planned on being busy as they were also expecting the regular crowd for Thursday Night football. Two young ladies one chair down from me were sharing a pizza and drinking a beer that looked a little anemic…..I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask. It was Miller Lite, Miller Lite for the both of them. That should tell you that they do have some guest taps at Phat Fish until they can further educate to town.
Gotta love the Phat Fish logo
I went with a pint of the Pipelayer IPA…an easy drinking and satisfying IPA – ABV 6.8% and 44 IBUs. I hope I wasn’t too pushy but I did encourage the young ladies to branch out and dip their toes into the beers on tap other than the domestic lagers. They admitted to being a bit less adventurous. While we chatted and ate, I had a thick crust Spicy Righand pizza with a decent dose of Jalapenos! I went reverse style and then ordered a 4 beer flight after my pint of the IPA. Blue Hawk Belgian – Belgian Wit, Nodak Sunrise- Oatmeal Porter, Roughrider Razz- Raspberry Wheat and the Hazy Honey. I think I had the Nurses convinced to try the Hazy Honey on their next visit.
The Belgian Wit was very nice. The coriander was not overwhelming and the citrus zest was perfect. I really liked the Raspberry Wheat, not over the top on raspberry! …. the girls had tried a taste of the Raspberry Wheat previously and enjoyed it….so there is hope for them.The Oatmeal Porter was my favorite of the 4 beer flight. Very good coffee flavors, smooth and robust! The Hazy Honey was light, smooth and refreshing.
Next week they will have a sour beer on tap…..I have to admit……sours are not in my wheelhouse but more and more people are finding them to be very drinkable. More power to them and it just adds a bit more variety to the Craft Beer world.
After the nurses left I damaged to spend a good 10 minutes talking with Melissa Scharf, one of the four principals of the business….10 barrel brewhouse, two – 10 barrel fermenters and two – 20 barrel fermenters. They found a great deal from a brewery that was upsizing and made a smart purchase…..the equipment was so clean it looked as if was set new when they opened 3 months ago…..I find that adherence to cleanliness a great attribute. I am impressed with her knowledge, energy and commitment.
Wow, is that a beautiful and clean image or what?
My four beer flight
Now I just gotta find a way to get back up here…..sooooooon!
I have included links to their website and their Facebook page.
I was out inspecting my bees today and had the good fortune of visiting my apiary two blocks south of the Megaton Brewery in Kingwood. I took a quick look at the activity and made plans to open the two top bar hives to harvest a bit Sunday morning before the Women’s World Cup Final. I intend to leave them with enough honey to get into the fall. I had not broke much of a sweat, my deodorant seemed to be in place, so I decided to pop into the brewery.
I am normally an IPA guy but I still had one more apiary to visit. I chose a 9 oz pour of the Blueberry Lemon Heimdall Farmhouse Ale. Surprisingly good! Next up was a pint of the Cranberry Kolsch. Easy to drink but not what I expected….little or no noticeable cranberry flavor nor aroma. Now a 9 oz pour of the Wildberry Kolsch. The berry flavor came through nicely and a pleasant aroma. Of the 3 I really enjoyed the Blueberry Lemon Heindall. As I was waiting to order a 32 oz growler can to go of my favorite of the day, the board flashed and it was no longer available! Damn! I needed to bring some beer home to my wife and daughter.
It was suggested that I try the Heimdall Farmhouse Ale, sans the Blueberry an Lemon additions. I tried a taster, and although a pleasant beer, I didn’t think the girls would go for it. I asked them to can up the Wildberry Kolsch………and guess what? The keg went dry. What’s a guy to do?
Scratch the Wild and add Cran for the Cranberry Kolsch. Hope the girls like it!
I had intended to go to the Santa Barbara Brewing Company on State Street as my wife shopped, hopefully for something on sale! My destination no longer exists. So, plan B.
Gotta love it! Blue sky, trees in bloom and a horrible 66 degrees…..sans humidity. I was dealing with bees in Houston the past week @ 92 degrees and humidity that sucked big time!
Even better, the beers are very nice.
I went big on my first beer with the Vacancy IPA. Poured with a perfect head and the aroma was very pleasant. Kathy went with the Mango Day Dreamin and she enjoyed it.
Next up for me was the Mosaic – Pale Ale. I love Mosaic hops! Very nice….crisp and clean. As I ordered the young lady forced, twisted my arm and shamed me into sampling the 2019 Spring Seasonal-100% Mosaic hops. Wow!!!! I am sure glad I have no will power.
The beautiful clean Mosaic Pale Ale.
Institution Ale Company is based in Camarillo, I need to talk to my son-in-law about hiding this brewery from me for nearly 6 years!
Every beer poured was perfect! Why do I say that? They use a tall pint glass, clearly marking the pint line with very sufficient space for head on the beer. Much of the aroma of the beer is from the head. As those bubbles burst your senses are treated to Hop and malt aromas, my opinion!!!! It also looks great, the aesthetics of the presentation!
We didn’t try the food here but the items passing by our table heading to the lunch crowd visitors looked and smelled amazing. This place is high on my recommended breweries list!!!!
Just an FYI, our go to list in the area includes; Rincon, Island Brewing, and Brew Lab in Carpinteria. We have visited all 3 this week. Santa Barbara choices include Figueroa Mountain, the newly added Institution Ale Company and the Brewhouse.
More to come as we wander north on Highway 101 next week.
So, how did I arrive at this epiphany? I am certainly one data point. I started brewing beer around 1991 and became a beekeeper 6 years ago. Ok, not a strong link, but I have more that I would like to offer up.
I have a prolific 8 frame hive, already has 3 supers, in the backyard of some friends, Mike an awesome beer brewer and his wife Annette loves his Chocolate Porter. Synergistic relationship I am certain. The beer fridge, with two beers always on tap, is less than 25 feet away from the hive. There has to to bee and beer intersection in the respective auras influencing honey production and quality beers brewed here! A stronger link don’t you agree?
Well, here is the confirmation! A few weeks ago I put out feelers for an apiary location closer to the house to host a few of my hives. Out of the blue came an offer…..just 2 miles outside my parameters but close enough. Several acres, with a nice tall berm that is above the flooding that plagues our area, a pond and…….next to 100 acres of Tallow Tree – the biggest nectar source for SE Texas beekeepers. First move was a swarm that had moved into a newly built top bar hive in my backyard.
The small top bar in place. Room left for two more hives. I have two Langstroth hives that we’re not doing as well as I wanted out at Berry farm just begging to be moved closer. Today I gathered them up and hauled them over to the new and closer location.
I have a 10 frame and an 8 frames Lang that were picked up Ready to go. They are loaded on the rack and they were set, opened and bees flying by 8:30 AM. Confirmation of the indisputable link between bees and beer happened at approximately 8:45 AM CST. My Goo friend John and I were packing the truck up when Terry, the property owner, asked if we wanted some homemade wine. It was red and sweet so we declined but mentioned beer is preferable. Terry turned and indicated that we should follow him.
There was a nice “Speak Easy” style door off the garage leading the BREWERY. – Yes a brewery…. 5 gallon style brewery, all electric, set up for all grain brewing. Sweet set up…..over to the right was the bar and a double tap. A lager on one, yes he truly brews and lagers his beer, and a nice Bock. John and I behaved ourselves as we had duties but we did sample and agree the Bees and Beer are joined at the hip.
It has been in the fermenter for almost a week now. One more week and it should be done. I brewed this all grain beer on one of the many crappy wether days that have been far too abundant over the last few months. Not horribly cold, but very wet. How wet? Nearly 20 inches over the past several months. Not any gully washer rains, but far too many wet days.
Let’s talk beer and brewing. My SMaSH IPA, made with Mosaic hops and Marris Otter malt, is conditioning in the bottle as I Wait! Sometimes waiting is difficult. I now wanted to brew a beer that would match something that my wife would like! Brewing is good for her in that I manage to mop some and sometimes all of the kitchen floor during the beer making machinations. I found a very interesting Vanilla Cream Ale recipe and sent it over to Preston at the Grain Cellar in Humble, Texas. FYI, for non Texans, the “H” is silent in Humble. By the time I had arrived, Preston had reviewed the recipe and noted that he’d had all the ingredients on hand that I needed.
As I visited with Preston, I notice on the chalkboard was listed a beer callled, Wife’s Wit. Well, I cancelled picking up the Cream Ale ingredients and went with the Wit. Preston tells me it is very popular and one of his most frequently brewed beers. I liked the grain bill and the additions, excepting the coriander!
The citrus added an amazing aroma. The lemon was off of my backyard Meyer Lemon tree. The grapefruit off of a tree in a yard where I keep a number of hives. The grapefruit came off of a tree visited by my bees kept on the property. The orange, sad to say, was a store bought blood orange.
Brewing day always calls for savoring some excellent beverages. First up……..
To the best of my knowledge I have never partaken in Strain G13, nor have I ever sampled this IPA.
Although not winterish in Houston, I did go with a winter beer as the grains steeped.
This is a familiar Ale, I last had one this past October while visiting Portland.
Lastly, before all the work of boiling, chilling and racking into the fermenter, I enjoyed a non beer beverage.
2.65 fingers of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. In the background is tire with a little sleigh attached. In December my daughter drug it 13.6 miles, a half marathon, just because!!!
After 14 days fermenting I will bottle this brew and then wait another 30 as it conditions….that will test my patience!