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 

 

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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

http://www.barrelhousebrewing.com

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A look across the grounds.

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The waterfall and little pond

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Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
Bishop

Beer Trumps All

I spent last week in California, more precisely, Coalinga, Paso Robles, Bakersfield and San Ardo.

In Coalinga we stayed at Harris Ranch Inn. Great beef, great ranch style rooms and good beer to. Tuesday night we shifted locations to Paso Robles, 27 minutes south of San Ardo oilfield. We were in the midst of some of the finest red wine growing and nearly 300 wineries, from little tiny to very, very big! Just a note, we should have had a 27 minute drive but due to cattle guard issues with a local rancher and some drilling activity we had to drive another 8 or 10 minutes north, hook back across the Salinas River and meander through some  lush produce fields adding 15 minutes to the drive. We witnessed seemingly endless vistas of vineyards, cattle grazing on the rolling hills, cabbage harvests and lettuce planting….This stretch of Highway 101, El Camino Real that parallels the freeway is the most amazing display of the earth’s bounty.

Harris Ranch Inn pool vista. Actually pleasant arounf the pool - the wind from the Harris Ranch feedlot was not tracking toward the hotel!

Harris Ranch Inn pool vista. Actually pleasant around the pool – the wind from the Harris Ranch feedlot was not tracking toward the hotel! Thank Goodness

The altar at the San Miguel Mission near Paso Robles. Built in 1794!

The altar at the San Miguel Mission near Paso Robles. Built in 1794!

My workmate, Murray and I had worked in the region this past December. While in Paso Robles we dined at the pub associated with the Firestone Walker Brewery. Great beer and now great food to boot.  We treated ourselves in December to a bottle of Parabola, a barrel aged Imperial Stout. We shared the 2011 “vintage” – I think it is ok to use that term since we are in an incredible wine growing region! The 2011 bottle was amazing! We both agreed that it treated the senses to a mouth feel, taste and aroma that could be used to describe a great Port! I would love to have hauled an unopened bottle back to Texas but they wouldn’t agree to sell one to me for that purpose. I tried to explain that I was Bishop Decker, world famous beer drinker and blogger extraordinaire! I guess my fame is restricted to Texas!

Murray's good side with his 4 beer sampler at Firestone Walker Pub.

Murray’s good side with his 4 beer sampler at Firestone Walker Pub.

Surrounded my great wines, vineyards and wineries, so what do Murray and I drink? Beer!! We had the DBA, the 805, a 4 beer sampler – see Murray’s good side, and of course the Parabola. Rules seem to have change or maybe Murray and his west coast of Canada charm worked some magic – the rascal convinced them to sell him a bottle of the 2011 Parabola in a “to-go” box. In fact it was the last bottle and stamped as the No. 2 bottle from that batch.  We shared the 2013 bottling on the advice of our server….he said the 2012 was a bit too sweet. The 2013 is superb!

The Parabola 2013

The Parabola 2013

I treated Murray to a dinner with my Mother on Wednesday night at her favorite seafood place in Morro Bay. She ordered her favorite meal – the chicken breast – FYI the old gal doesn’t eat fish. She was her usual perky self at 84-ish. She conducts a Tai Chi class 3 days per week – as much a social gathering as it is fitness – a mix of mind and body. PS – Mom, Murray thinks you are pretty special. I hesitated putting that comment in because it could go to her Head!!!!

Friday we trekked back to Bakersfield the long way, through Santa Maria, similar vistas as the 101 north of Paso Robles but now strawberry fields add to the mix. We took Highway 166 through Cuyama…endless vistas of carrot fields! We continued our beer sampling at Lengthwise Pub out on Calloway in Bakersfield with their Centennial IPA.

Saturday on the plane very early, fingers crossed for an on time flight….My youngest son was graduating High School with over 600 of his classmates. The event was held in one half of Reliant Stadium…the same place that the NFL Texans play their games! At the celebratory graduation I tried a bottle of beer from Bear Republic, Red Rocket Ale – I really liked it!!!!!!

COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Red Rocket Ale is a bastardized Scottish style red ale that traces it’s origins to our homebrew roots. This full bodied and hoppy brew finishes on the palate with sweet, caramel malt flavors. 2009 California State Fair – SILVER 1999 Great American Beer Festival® Other Strong Ales or Lagers – SILVER 1998 Great American Beer Festival® Other Strong Ales – SILVER

JBD_3414

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly – I am sipping on a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale as I write….made with fresh hops…Murray has promised to bring me some fresh hops for my home brewing efforts next fall – Grown on the island of his residence, Salt Spring BC – said that he would supply me a kilo of the good stuff! A KILO OF HOPS Y’ALL!!!!!

Dinner at son Joe's graduation - he is far right, my big maroon body with my Red Rocket Ale is near right.

Dinner at son Joe’s graduation – he is far left, my big maroon body with my Red Rocket Ale is near right.

Bishop

Beer Travels

My beer blogging efforts have been pretty slim over the past month or so but that does not mean I haven’t thought about, dreamed about, consumed or made any beer. I have been traveling, primarily to Bakersfield California, home of Lengthwise Brewing. I am a big fan of their Centennial IPA. It is not crazy hoppy, just a great balance of the bitter and the aromas. I have visited the pub out in the Rosedale area three times during this past month. Besides their offerings they always have a few guest beers from the western US. One of the guest beers was the Hop Notch form Uinita Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Good but not as good as the home town offering!

This past week I was in Paso Robles for two nights. My occasional workmate, Alan would have been right in his element. Paso is becoming one of the best red wine districts in the country. For Alan, the Paso area would be reminiscent of our experience in the Margret River area in Western Australia….great wines, no crowds and a great tasting room experience – The Paso winery for fun, great wine and great service is Tobin James. Isn’t this supposed to be about beer? Oh yes, Paso, home to Firestone Walker and that is the real story.

I have enjoyed the Firestone offerings for many years now but have never made the stop. This trip my partner was Murray and he does love his beer. We went to the Taproom Restaurant adjacent to the brewery. It was a great casual place, brewery themed and staffed by some great people. Tiffani was assigned to us and she was delightful, knowledgeable and provided outstanding service. I started off with the Taproom IPA. How would my kids text it?….OMG!!!! ….. That sums it up. The first thing that I noticed was the heavenly hop aroma before it even touched my lips, I paused, savored the aroma and then let my tongue enjoy the beverage. I then tried the Velvet Merlin, an Oatmeal Stout, recommended by Erica at the Courtyard Marriott hotel. It was pretty darned good.

Tiffani recommended the seared Ahi Tuna which Murray ordered and I chose the salmon. Both were excellent. The only question that went unanswered for the evening was which hops were used in the Taproom IPA. Tiffani didn’t know, the brewmaster had headed home 30 minutes before our arrival, Rob the manager also didn’t know and last but not least, Milt (capacity unknown) swung by and although very chatty, he didn’t know either! Tiffani brought by two small brandy snifters of a barrel aged DBA – oh my – it was superb. Now our interest was piqued and I asked about the Walker Reserve, Parabola, a barrel aged Imperial Stout – the 2011 was $ 55.00 for a 22 oz bottle and the 2012 was $ 35.00. We decide to go big! Before I could ask where I could buy it on the outside I was informed that I couldn’t…it has to be sold and consumed on site.

Parabola - Barrel aged Imperial Stout from Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, CA

Parabola – Barrel aged Imperial Stout from Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, CA – iPhone photo

It was absolutely outstanding. Murray noted that was akin to indulging in a very good Port after dinner. It felt so good in the mouth and the complexity of flavors was heavenly. All we needed was some good dark chocolate and it would have been complete. Note: Alan, the only non-beer drinking Australian I know, you would enjoy this “beer” – it really goes well beyond beer, We shared a glass with Tiffani, I hope the management won’t frown on her sharing a bit of this fantastic bottle!

A quick google search for the best barrel aged Imperial Stouts showed the Firestone Walker’s Parabola in first place amongst the voters and Goose Island from Chicago holding down the second place spot. I need to contact my nephew in Chicago to see if he can score a bottle or two for me!

I am drinking a test bottle of the Imperial Stout I brewed about 4 months ago. It is pretty tasty but will benefit from a few more months in the bottle. I will rack my Cinderella Pumpkin Ale to the secondary tomorrow. I have high expectations of this brew. Reading beer mags during the past week I discovered a brewing technique that I want to explore….. SmaSh brewing……single malt, single hop with a variation of maybe a single specialty grain…..could be an interesting experiment!

My young Imperial Stout - yum but has some time to go!

My young Imperial Stout – yum but has some time to go!

TTFN

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!

Bishop