Beer, Bluebonnets, Wine and Rings

Friday was a road trip with our best friends, Bev and John. We did have a purpose to the trip, but the route was allowed to be managed from the male perspective. The one given, and not subject to deviation, was a meeting with our youngest son receiving his class ring at Texas A&M in the 4:45 PM grouping. The tradition of the ring is pretty well understood within the state of Texas but it is a bit foreign to those on the outside. Rather than spending a chunk of time trying to explain it, the following link will put it into context for all y’all that may be interested. Just a side note, I have spent most of my life in the petroleum industry and that Aggie ring network is powerful and widespread.

http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/symbols/aggiering.html

John and I knew we had to arrive in Aggieland in time to buy Joe and the entourage lunch and still make the ring event. The rest of the planning was up to us. Beer was on our list and we chose the Brazos Valley Brewery as a stop on the return trip. On the trip to College Station, Aggieland, we selected a small winery in Chappel Hill, Texas Star Winery on the day before the Bluebonnet Festival…..for you non Texans, Bluebonnets are the state flower and kind of a big thing. No, they are a really big thing…..this is Texas after all.

The winery was almost a non-stop. We pulled into the parking lot at opening time and we were met by a distinguished looking gentleman several years my senior….He was an A&M grad and was proudly displaying his ring. He also told us that the winery was closed for a private event….Bummer………… Fortunately John needed to get rid of some coffee and ran into the winery owner….the esteemed Aggie had it a little wrong….the tasting room down the hill was open!

Off to the tasting room and we were the first four folks in the door. Fifteen minutes later a couple of younger women walked in and they were a hoot. Yes, they were Aggies, both proudly displaying their rings. The wines were interesting and we bought a couple of bottles to take with us….Conversation with the young women was also very interesting and very Texas infused. Seems that one of the businesses that one of the gals was involved with was the selling of bull semen. Apparently lucrative and again, very Texan. Sly smiles and subdued chuckles all around.

Winery 1

Outside the winery tasting room.

Winery 2

Inside the tasting room

Back on the road to stay on the timeline John and I had planned. We wandered the backroads through ranch land, rolling hills and occasional patches of Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes and Texas Longhorns. We found a nice little open field on a sharp corner turn for some quick photos on the way to meet the gang for lunch prior to the Aggie ring event. This year’s Bluebonnet display was nice but paled in comparison to last year’s trip to Muleshoe Bend near Johnson City.

Flowers

We made it on time to College Station and gathered the gang up for lunch at Madden’s in Bryan, the town is melded to College Station. This party of 8 included my son Joe, an Aggie friend and former swimmer at Kingwood HS and A&M University, Austin, another Kingwood HS swimming friend, Steve and Steve’s girlfriend Alisa. Oh yes, and the four that started out on the journey. Great meal and great conversation until I said something about the Aggie gals at the winery and the phrase bull semen. Apparently I said it loud enough that some of the 8 at our table dipped their heads and folks around us spun their heads around in apparent disbelief, amazement….Oh well, not the first time I have been a little too frank or as some may say clueless, about my choice of words. Those who know me well shrugged it off as one of those “Bishop” moments.

The ring event was an efficiently run affair, an Aggie engineered event run by four hundred volunteers. The smile on my son’s face was well worth the trip. He is a Petroleum Engineering student and has now joined an amazing fraternity of Aggies. It will provide a powerful network for the future.

Ring 1

My little son with his ring and with his proud parents!

OK, now for the beer. I violated the code. My wife Kathy knew where we were off to, but we kept the final surprise from Beverly. We did tell her we were heading toward Brenham, Texas. Lots of options there in her mind, antique shops, restaurants and the awesome Bluebell Ice Cream Factory. Word of warning….navigating the confusing streets in the downtown area is difficult and made more difficult with 3 navigators. We managed to find the Brewery and now the cat was out of the bag. Note to others heading that way, the sign on the outside of the patio area says Brenham Brewery but the real name is the Brazos Valley Brewery.

This is a very comfortable and unpretentious place. The friendliest people that you could ever imagine. I also learned that this 6 degrees of separation is much, much smaller. I have to tell the story. John had engaged a seasoned gentleman in conversation. In the conversation John shared that he and Bev were from Rhode Island and mentioned that Kathy and I were from California. Somehow during the conversation, Tom, the seasoned gentleman, asked where I lived in California. His response was, “I lived in Taft!” Small world! I told him that I was born in Taft….well we had a Taft conversation and world travels in the oil filed discourse…I hated to end the conversation, just for a short bit because the flight of beers I ordered were not getting any colder.

Here is my flight……Golden Ale, Silt Brown Ale, Black IPA and the Cream Ale. Very well brewed and more than drinkable. This is the first brewery where my wife uttered these words, “Every one of the beers I tried were very good. Not a bad beer in the bunch!” High praise from her as she can be a discerning beer drinker…OK – just a bit picky sometimes.

One of the Brewers and a man of great business sense, David Nowowiejski, took us on a personal tour of the brewery. Wow, clean and well organized. The man knows his stuff. He answered all my questions, and that is saying something because my wife always tells me I quiz the brewers too much in all of our visits! We bought two six-packs of the Golden Ale to bring home with us….my wife loves it and for a non IPA I enjoy it too!

I just have to mention….this place is one where you aren’t a stranger from the moment you step onto the patio. I will sing the praises and pass along great reviews to any and all beer drinkers I meet.

File Apr 12, 3 35 06 PM

L-R Old Man Bishop, Lovely wife Kathy, “Goo” friend John and his Lovely wife Bev. Selfie at the Brewery! Note the black eye my wife gave me has almost faded away! She didn’t really  mean to hit me.

 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,

Bishop

 

Another Good Reason to Drink Beer

Not that I really need another reason but I have a very cool one now! For Christmas my daughters Lisa and Ashleigh gave me a US map with what appeared to be holes for quarters, 177 holes I found out later. Oops Dad, bad guess. It is designed to hold bottle caps. Now that is pretty awesome and as I pointed out, another good reason to drink GOOD BEER! 

  
I have already started and have a couple in the Colorado area, one in Georgia and one in a slot for Massachusetts. Only 173 more to go! 

  
I have a request for next Christmas, contingent upon filling the US map! 

  
http://www.beercapmaps.com

@beercapmaps

@pappadecker

Thanks Lisa & Ashleigh

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Christmas Eve at Town City Brewery


Another new and delicious Brewey in town. I think we have a new Christmas family tradition!!!!! Kids, Ashleigh – 30, Lisa – 29,  Joe and no brother Ben and father, me! Oh yes, Lisa’s trail running friend Tina- 35ish! Parking is sparse but adequate. The flagship brews are awesome!

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The Chipped Tooth IPA and the City Porter are my favorites. The girls also enjoyed the White Oak Wit Beer. I also gave the Wit high marks! The Amber scored well with my son.

image

Loved the decor and the natural edge slab tables. The staff is friendly and even better – knowledgeable!!!!

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Wednesday night is trivia night….. I am heading back this coming Wednesday to check It out!

http://www.newcitybrewery.com

 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Whole Foods Market – Brewery

My wife did make me walk through the store, just a wee bit, other than that I spent my time sampling beers in the Brewer. For those of you that don’t know, Whole Foods brews something new every time, no repeats. If you really like a beer on tap, reserve your seat, camp out, call in sick, do whatever you must because once once finished it will not be available – ever! 

Offerings on December 3rd, 2015.  

  
  
Those in red are their brews, in black are the guest beers. 

Now the dilemma! I went with a 4 beer sampler and Kathy had a pint of the St. Arnold’s Christmas Ale.  Perfect in all ways for her! 

Me, I did a sampler composed of the Simcoe Rye IPA ….. Wow, very nice! The second choice was the DL Wet Hop Double IPA…. I handed the keys to Kathy after that one. Then I went lightweight and had the “AnotherSESH” a session IPA that was very pleasant. Lastly, the Baltic Porter. The gal behind the bar also poured a pint of the porter by mistake for another customer and rather than toss it out, offered it to me at no cost. After much thought and debate, internal debate, I gave in and accepted! 

Lastly,  a pint the Post Oak Pale Ale. My hat is off to Dave Ohmer, Head Brewer – he makes great beers!!!!!! 

I helped Kathy navigate the Houston freeways home and only messed up once with my navigation. She has forgiven me! 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Spindletap Brewery – Now Open! 

Saturday November7tg was the official opening date. Cloudy and misty day did not keep folks away. The owners are an interesting bunch, converting friendships into business relationships. Kind of a cool story if you take the time to read the back story. 

http://spindletapbrewery.com/?age-verified=2071f3a862

The building housing the brewery is an industrial type warehouse and that theme carries through to the decor and layout. The brewing room is spacious, well laid out and bodes well for future growth. Canning line has yet to be installed but it will not cramp the area. 

  
The name plays homage to a nearby giant 1902  discovery called “Spindletop” and a reference to the wood handles used in days of yore on beer barrels. 

  
Smile Lisa… She always does and it is a beautiful smile. Let’s go inside now. 

   
 
Fresh, clean and spacious! Look closely and you will see the steel Derrick constructed stools! I love the look of the long tables…. I think Lisa wants me to build some. 

  
I did manage to get a taste of the full suite! I really enjoyed the Hopper House Double IPA and the Honey Hole ESB. Not a bad beer in the bunch, all were flavorful and very well crafted. 

This is a place to take a big group of beer lovers….. You will not be disappointed. 

  Partners in crime or is it in “beer tasting”? Lisa and John enjoying the atmosphere. 

Drink Lical and Drink Responsibly

Bishop 

Baywood Ale House – Again

On my irregular visits to visit my mom I always find time to have a pint or two at the Baywood Ale House. This is the off season and I am stopping in on a very quiet Wednesday afternoon. It is so laid back and that suits me well! 16 taps and an obvious absence of the big boys. Sorry, you can’t get a Bud, Coors or Miller beer. Ya gotta love it!


Let me tell you a story about the photo above. Chalk board is pretty obvious, brews available! A new change for me though- last visit they were arranged seriatum by tap position. Now, the are arranged by type.

Overhead are mugs for the locals. I love how they manage the slackards – every Monday a ping pong ball is dropped into the mug. When you visit and order a beer the ball is removed and you are out of jeopardy. If on Monday there are three balls in a mug you lose. There are 350 on the waiting list! Next in line goes up!

The martinis, yes they make martinis too. All are made with an Asian Vodka, “Soju”, not on my list today! Sorry! Music? Just listened to Fly Leaf …….. I like!

http://www.baywoodalehouse.com/#!food/c1jo3

Yes they have food too along with wine, bottled beer and other stuff”!

If you are cruising north or south on Highway 1 take a diversion to Baywood – Los Osos and indulge! Sure wish my wife was with me, love you Hun! I will be home the day after our after our 33rd.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

Passing Through Paso

I took a drive yesterday from Bakersfield, California over to the small town of Los Osos, California to visit my mom. The trip took me through Paso Robles and dang it, right by two of my favorite breweries! Firestone Walker is well known all across the national craft brewing world but I chose to bypass it and run by my other favorite, Barrelhouse Brewing Company.  

I waved as I drove by and promised to stop when I have more time…. Next trip. 

  
Beautiful day and the grounds are just a great place to kick back and enjoy their great beers. The old flatbed is used on the weekends as a stage for live music. I have enjoyed a beer with a band playing on a previous weekend visit but today’ mid-week was quiet with just a hint of Highway 101 traffic in the distance. Fittingly masked by the sounds of the waterfall and pond on the grounds. 

  
I wonder if I could put up a tent and camp out? I behaved myself and limited my intake to just two beers, the Templeton Session Ale and the Barrel House Blonde. The session ale was very nice and almost as good my home brewed session ale. The Blonde is one my wife has enjoyed and I drank it thinking oh her……I really did Hun! 

Next time you pass through Paso, stop by Barrelhouse Brewing Company!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop 

 

Beer and Honey or Honey and Beer

My  daughter Lisa participated in the Island Girl Tri, sprint triathlon, on Galveston Island this past weekend.  Post event, it was rehydrate time and what better place than Galveston Island Brewing. The board was full, 12 beers, so little time and so far to drive! 72.1 miles and about 1 hour  and 28  minutes, depending on traffic. Need to find another excuse to make the drive to the Island.

Lisa asked me to bring some of my honey, honey from my hives, down to the event. A number of her running mates with Team RWB, “Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”, were in attendance and were seeking some Raw local honey.  We were well prepared but we failed to make the connections at the event. So, I had plenty of supply when we arrived at the brewery.

http://www.teamrwb.org/

The  Brewery

We were first in the door on this Sunday noon! There was another triathlon participant and her date joining us for the first beers of the day. She, the young lady, was a brewer and prefers stouts and porters. The  crowd began to trickle in and  to our right was a couple, Tanya and Greg. Somehow the conversation got around to raw honey and specifically, creamed honey. Well, we just so happened to have a supply. Tanya and  Greg bought a pound jar of honey and a 3/4 pound jar of the creamed honey – cinnamon flavor.

Charday and  Dave showed up a little later, they had worked the beer stand at the triathlon event down at Moody Gardens. She  was intrigued and bought a jar of the creamed cinnamon honey…….she popped the top off and uttered that Mmmmmmm sound of enjoyment…she couldn’t  wait.

Now – Let’s Talk Beer

Lisa rehydrating with the Citra Mellow  IPA and I had the Blue Ridge Amber Ale.

Lisa rehydrating with the Citra Mellow IPA and I had the Blue Ridge Amber Ale.

Due to our early visit we were treated to a taster of the Amber Ale straight directly from the fermenter after the brewer added wet Mosaic hops….it was very yummy. I need to make a visit in a couple  of weeks when it is finished and kegged.

This is such a friendly place…reminds me of the atmosphere of the little village Gasthaus in the  village I lived in in Germany. Something about drinking beer gives  you automatic admission to the fraternity…Now, to rankle some feathers, I don’t get the same feel in a wine room or wine bar…just saying!

Lisa's Citra Mellow before rehydrating. She followed it with the Oktoberfest.

Lisa’s Citra Mellow before rehydrating. She followed it with the Oktoberfest.

https://www.facebook.com/GalvestonIslandBrewing/info?tab=overview

http://www.galvestonislandbrewing.com/brewery.html

Make the trip!

So, I think it was Beer and Honey, this time….but you never know when opportunities crop up. The lesson for me….I will carry a stash of my honey…great ice breaker to make new friends and maybe, make a little beer money!

Drink Local and  Drink Responsibly

Bishop

The Last of the Raspberry Wheat Ale 

Started early in the afternoon grilling a tri- tip and a bone in rib-eye steak. It had been so friggin hot that grilling is out of thequestion. It is 1:43 in the afternoon and it’s only 88 deg. F and 38% humidity. What a wonderful day! 

I am sipping on a pint of the “Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale” while grilling. There’s is maybe a pint left in the Tap-a-Draft 6 L mini keg and 4 or 5 bottles left from that batch. 

 

Glass is courtesy of one of my several visits to the No Label Brewing, Katy, Texas. Very good beers and an awesome brewery to visit. Today, if they were open, would be the perfect day to sit under the big shade trees, play some Corn Hole and enjoy some of their offerings. The B-52 Brewery in Conroe also comes to mind on a day like this! 
Last night I sampled a bottle of my Session Pale Ale. It is definitely light, 3.8-4.0% ABV. I went heavy on the dry hopping but could have gone heavier  I do believe! I will get my son Ben to give me his opinion. He likes the Session IPA’/Pale Ales. 

Next up, my backyard hive honey in something. A wheat ale, maybe a pumpkin ale or just a plain ole honey ale. I will keep y’all posted! 

Now, back to the tri-tip. Love the aroma of grilled meat. Just hope the HOA doesn’t elect PETA board members!!!! LOL

  
The Rib-Eye is getting ready to hit the flames. One more pint and the grilling will be complete. 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

The Brewery Tours – Whole Foods Market Houston

I had originally planned on a separate post for each stop but I wanted to keep my promise to the brewers and get the ball rolling.

July 11thWhole Foods Market, yes – Whole Foods Market – they have an awesome brewery in the store. The head brewer, Dave Ohmer, is the creative and driving force behind the efforts. I used the plural to reflect his commitment to continually brewing a new beer, never repeating. You will not find a flagship beer associated with the Brewery. If you find a beer you really like you better campout in the store and drink it until it is gone……because it ain’t coming back.

The day we were there was a bit of a family gathering….and we all lover beer! Daughters, Ashleigh and Lisa, friend of daughter Ashleigh….and she really loves beer…..LOL….Don’t hold it against me Ferrin, I meant it as a compliment, my son and his GF Cheryl Again, another two beer lovers. Last and definitely not least my wife Kathy…..a beer drinker for a very long time…maybe even HS age when her older brothers would stash beer in the bushes in the alley behind the house for her. Hun, the kids are old enough to hear these stories now.

Back to the Whole Foods story. We met for lunch, you can pick something up in the store and consume in the Brewery area or order off a menu. We did a mix of both. The day of our visit they had 12 house brewed beers on tap and a couple of guest beers. They variety and creativity is pretty amazing. A word to beer lovers, if you find one on the menu you like, carve out some time to continue drinking, come back often because once that batch is gone it will be only a memory!

Ten of the twelve Whole Foods beers on tap that day.

Ten of the twelve Whole Foods beers on tap that day.

I got a chance to meet with Dave, the head brewer, and we had a 20-30 minute beer discussion…. We are not beer nerds….I think we are a little beyond being beer nerds and definitely not beer snobs. We have a love for beer, brewing beer, enjoying new and interesting beers and love talking beer. And talk we did….He has a deep background in brewing….from being the clean-up guy all the way to head brewer.

Dave and me talking beer before heading into the back room.

Dave and me talking beer before heading into the back room.

While in the back room on the other side of the glass he let me sample a Belgian made with smoked pears, pears from the store, smoked in the smoker on site in the store and then mashed up and fermented along with the rest of the wort. So danged good. I asked why they won’t have a regular group of beers and then do seasonal’s or trials of others? At this point in time he told me, their plan is to never beer brew the same recipe again….they will produce a similar style but every batch will be unique.

On the other side of the glass....great equipment, amazing brewing knowledge and a very creative guy!

On the other side of the glass….great equipment, amazing brewing knowledge and a very creative guy!

If you are local – head on over. Whole Foods on Post Oak near the Galleria. If you are in for a visit….well some people like to shop at the galleria – and if you are like me, you could hang out a Whole Foods until the other party has finished shopping….if there is such a thing as finished shopping. Be nice Bishop….it could be said that there is a similar feeling about beer sampling!

Four beer sampler....so good!

Four beer sampler….so good!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop