Grand Junction, CO – Two for One Post

What a nice change of environment, three plus days out of the Houston heat and humidity. The only drawback – I wasn’t able to share this trip with my wife. I know sooner or later  the benefits of a mostly empty nest will be evident. What does mostly empty mean? Our oldest son has finished all of his on campus requirements for graduation from LSU’s Construction Management Program – one remaining class that can be completed via distance learning. It is cheaper to have him in Houston with us until all of the boxes for graduation are checked off and the job search begins.

The second night of the stay my workmate and I visited the Rockslide Brewery & Restaurant. Side note; the state of Texas has taken a giant step forward with recent legislation easing some of the restrictive regulations for small brewers and brew pubs but still lags far behind Colorado, California and others. The next night we drove about 15 minutes out of town to the little village of Palisade. The drive took us through some of the vineyards and orchards that cover the Colorado River Valley in this more temperate part of Colorado. There is a mall brewery in Palisade, Palisade Brewing Company.

Let’s talk about Rockslide Brewery and Restaurant. Located on Main St. in the old downtown section of town that has been nicely remade. The road has been shrunk to two lanes that meander around small plaza like areas sprinkled with benches and pleasant landscaping. It definitely slows traffic but adds a nice quaint old town feel. The restaurant is bright, clean and was hosting a party celebration of some sort in the back half of the upstairs seating area. The waiter had decent knowledge of the beer offerings and I have to admit, the food menu was broad enough to satisfy most visitors. My travel mate tried the Widow Maker Wheat – “pleasant and easy to drink” were his comments. Me, I went with the four beer flight, Rabbit Ears Amber, Cold Shivers Pale Ale. Kokopelli Cream Ale and the Horse Thief IPA. They were all very good beers, the IPA was my favorite but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  The food fare – my work mate had the fish and chips with a twist. The twist was  – the fish was battered salmon rather than cod. He said it was surprisingly good. I had the steak salad, medium rare and it was perfect with their house Balsamic dressing.

http://www.rockslidebrewpub.com/

Rockslide flight of beers

Rockslide flight of beers

Rockslide Beer list.

Rockslide Beer list.

Palisade, small village as I mentioned before, and the journey to the brewery is only for those that know where they are going, have been there before or you are paying close attention the GPS. We had a driver, one of the client reps that attended the training session, who also happens to like good beers. He was a bit tentative but eventually we turned down the right street and pulled up at the brewery adjacent to the railroad tracks. We had the good fortune of live music out on the patio on a perfect evening for  dining and sipping al fresco. The seating was ample but all three of us noticed an odd split in the seating designations. At least 75% of the seating is designated for SMOKING! That is right, only 25% labeled for the non-smokers. If it hadn’t been for the three of us occupying 3 of the 20 plus seats on the no-smoking side it would have been empty. The smoking side was packed! Another observation, I felt like I had been transported back to the 60”s. The crowd was very reminiscent of SFO’s Haight Ashbury in the heyday of the 60’s hippy movement. I wonder if the 2012 ballot initiative that passed in Colorado had any influence on the seating arrangement and attendees.  More about being transported back in time later in this post.

Food was typical pub food with lots of Jalapenos available for every dish if you so desired. James, my workmate, had a huge appetizer portion of Nachos with the Blonde Ale offering. Our client driver, Rob, hmmmm, I forget what he ate but we both ordered a flight of beers, 6 beers served in 4 ounce Mason jelly jars. High marks to the brewery. Not a bad or even average beer in the bunch. I gave high marks to all 6 beers sampled.  Rob enjoyed the High Desert Red, James the Laid Back Blonde Ale  and me, the IPA, so well in fact, that I followed up with a pint of that nice IPA……Rob was driving! The “Off Belay IPA” was really, really good in my estimation……that is why I sampled it twice in order to confirm my first impression.

http://www.palisadebrewingcompany.com/

Palisade Brewery flight of beers in jelly jars

Palisade Brewery flight of beers in jelly jars

Uber healthy brisket, cheddar and Jalapeno sandwich. I paired it with a cucumber salad to solidify the healthy aspect!

Uber healthy brisket, cheddar and Jalapeno sandwich. I paired it with a cucumber salad to solidify the healthy aspect!

Dirty Hippy T-shirt from Palisade Brewery

Dirty Hippy T-shirt from Palisade Brewery

Upon return to the hotel I realized why it felt like I had been transported back to the 60’s. Parked out front was Emmett “Doc” Brown’s “Back to the Future” 1981 DeLorean, flux capacitor and all! I peaked inside and sure enough the dials were set to 1969! Not really, I am stretching the truth a little. Look at the photos and I think that you will agree that it is a remarkable replica of the movie vehicle. Why was the car there? I’ll tell you.  http://www.fireballrun.com/teams/182

Doc’s car and a companion car, a fairly stock DeLorean, are participating in the Longmont, Colorado to Riverside, California Fireball Run. The Fireball Run is a 2000 mile long scavenger hunt designed to create awareness for missing children and obviously raise funds. Check out the info online and the Facebook page to read about the successes they have had finding missing children. I made my donation to Doc and Team # 15. It is “small world after all”. Team #15 is driven by Paul “Doc” Nigh, a 4th year participant and from my home town of Bakersfield, California. He is a bit younger having graduated from North High in 1974 but sure enough, we had a few mutual acquaintances!

https://www.facebook.com/fireballrun

Look close - set to 1969 - Not

Look close – set to 1969 – Not really but could have been!

BTF car

BTF car and sister DeLorean in the background

Oh by the way, if your beverage of choice is wine, the area is dotted with small wineries with growing reputations. If you are on Interstate 70, make the decision to slow down and visit Grand Junction, Palisade and Fruita!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

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Beer Thirty

The thirty I refer to is not a place on the clock, it is a reference to 30 years married to my best friend and wife Kathy as of yesterday – 10/2/1982-10/2/2012. Yes, beer was part of the celebratory events! I asked Kathy to trust me and take a ride down town around 2:00 PM. Good sport that she is, she trusted me! Headed south on Highway 59, exited at Collingsworth, drove about a mile and half on the access road to Lyons Ave. Turned right and she became very curious….a bit of blight was visible…beat up, old and abandoned buildings, industrial weed growth everywhere… The road took a jog and around the bend and then she spotted the destination, Saint Arnold’s Brewery! Now, before you think I am totally low brow, we returned home, gussied up and had a nice dinner that evening at a nice Italian Ristorante!

I have been wanting to see the St. Arnold’s brewery and beer hall for a long time. They make some very nice craft beers, in fact they call themselves the “oldest craft brewery in Texas”. I can’t and won’t dispute the claim….it’s not really that important. Kathy has been primarily a beer drinker ever since she turned – ahem! – 21! The photo below was cropped from a pre-ceremony wedding picture 30 years ago – just her hands holding a can of Coors Light. It may have been a little liquid courage to go through with the ceremony.

Grainy shot holding a cold Coors Light.

In my haste to get out the door and surprise Kathy – I forgot to bring a real camera, I did have my iPhone so we did chronicle the visit. I also forgot to have us wear closed toe shoes….safety requirement to participate in the downstairs portion of the tour.

 

 

Santos, a black Kölsch style beer – still too malty for Kathy’s palate. I liked it!

Our next choices in the cute little 10 ounce or so glasses were – the Amber for Kathy and the Endeavour for me. The Amber was easy on Kath’s palate so now we have something more to broaden our beer style horizons. The Endeavour is a Double IPA – way too hoppy for Kathy but the flavors made me very hoppy….ok, I know a little over the top in description. I liked it a bunch!

Kathy enjoying one of the samplings.

Kathy tried the Brown next and I think she was surprised at how nice it was! She finished with the Fancy Lawnmower which is a true German Kölsch style beer. I had to use two chips to get the Endeavour so I was limited to three small beers….. my last chip was for their standard IPA – The Elissa – less “amped” up on hops as compared to the Endeavour but I liked it!

My lovely wife Kathy up at the counter… Happy 30th Hun!

 

I encourage all y’all to drink local! We met a young couple in town from PA for some meetings. They work for EOG Resources and follow the “drink local” creed. On top of that the young lady also homebrews!!!!! Wow.

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

 

 

 

Humble Texas Beerfest – May 7, 2011

My good friend John  and I made a brief appearance at the Humble Beer Festival this past weekend. For you none Texans, the H in Humble is silent. We both were a bit dismayed with the brief part….. the entry fee was double what it should have been but as true lovers of beer we winced when the wallet opened and closed but we were treat to some outstanding samples. Now don’t be too judgemental of  John’s appearance. The photo was taken quite early in the event, probably no more than 5,  two ounce samples under his belt.  I just forgot to say, “1, 2, 3, smile.”

It really was a nationwide festival, Brooklyn to Seattle and a few “fereners” notably the Ruskies. Every sample was good! although a few were much better than others. We met some interesting folks, the guy with a hops hat wearing a kilt was interesting to say the least. He was part of the Foam Rangers brewing club. I asked a young lady with bright pink hair to pose with me and she complied. I shared the photo of me and my friend on Facebook and my mom commented – “I was sent to the office in 1945 for having hair that color.”

Many new and even 3 day old start-up breweries were plying their marvelous concoctions. My primary interest was to assess how some of my recent efforts stacked up against the professionals. And yes maybe just drink a few as potential brewing candidates. I think my brews compare well! Hooked up with a local brew club here in Kingwood, TX so my brewing knowledge will continue to grow.

As for my brewing efforts;

The batch of wheat ale made for Lindsay Waterman went sour due to….. just my guess, cat dander from my wife’s cats. We rebrewed, is that a word – I guess now it is, and I bottled it yesterday. The sample pulled prior to bottling to check the gravity was might tasty! tonight I boil a new one for my daughter Lisa. She asked for a special brew that her friends from the band ‘Downfall 2012″ to take on their summer tour. I will try to replicate the recipe I shared in an earlier post. The only change I will make is to dry hop an ounce of the Amarillo hops. So, why mess with a good thing…. just to see if we can make it better. I will not send the full 5 gallons out with the band….i willjust keep some brew to replace the sweat I lose in the brewing process.