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.
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.
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!
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