Beer, Baseball and an iPhone

Over the past few weeks I find that I have been pairing beer with lots of things….fishing, fish tacos, brewery tours, vacation sampling and now baseball……that shouldn’t be much of a surprise for anyone that has attended a baseball game….the only pairing that I can think of that I won’t write about is beer and driving. This is a family blog, no, not really, maybe more of a responsible beer blog…yeah that should work.

I was off to Midland, Texas this week earning a little money so I can continue with my many hobbies. Wednesday of this past week the local AA team, the Midland Rockhounds were returning to town to open a stand vs. the Arkansas Naturals. The attendance was sparse… not like my previous visit of a month ago. The Rockhounds were rocking the Naturals! A 5 run first inning and it was hit after hit from there on. I think I may know why we saw the low attendance – The Rockhounds are in the cellar of their division with just 24 wins…..sad…..but the poor “Naturals” were in the same position for their division with just 17 wins to show for their efforts.

Midland is still in a drought and no relief on the horizon. Odessa is proposing a 40% increase in water rates – those lawns that have some color other than dead will soon join the desert look of the region. The other drought  is for local craft beers…. I do have to give the stadium vender a pat on the back for a variety beyond the standard Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light…..You can get  on draught – Dos XX’s, Shiner Bock (Texas Beer), Blue Moon Belgian Wit, Shock Top and ………….. insert 7 hour pause here because I just flat drew a blank. I sent my work partner for this trip an SOS call to help me out and then got busy with other tasks. An hour ago I was driving down Kingwood drive and ran into the word – Ziegenbock! Ah, that’s the beer I was drinking last night….and no I did not over do it….just two beers!  Wikpedia labels it as an “imitation craft brew marketed under Anheuser-Busch’s ICS (Import – Craft – Specialty) brand, positioned as a Texan beer to compete with Shiner Bock.” It is not a bad beer and competes well with Shiner Bock! Thanks Pat for sending the “Zig” text message….

Discussion on lost thoughts – I think they leave your brain as cyberwaves and float around until your brain collides with them and they can then be pulled back in. I am sure that we all have a unique harmonic frequency for our brain waves and when we encounter one of those orphan thoughts vibrating at “our” frequency we can recapture the thought. Makes sense to me….. the science geeks will say something like – you encounter some sensory clue, sight, sound or smell that allows the brain to connect that lost thought with the neural links that were associated to that thought or idea….. I prefer my harmonic mind meld explanation better.

As an aid for this post I am sampling a local beer brewed by Karbach brewery right here in Houston. I have previously enjoyed their “Hopadillo” IPA. Tonight’s choice is their Rodeo Clown Double IPA – mmmmmmm pretty tasty and one will probably be enough for the evening. Midland, Odessa, Lubbock and or Amarillo are in need a a local craft brewery – I correct myself…. Wicked Beaver Brewery is located up in the Lubbock area – they need to market in Midland! I just did a little snooping….these guys are committed craft brewers, creative, whacked out sense of humor (I like that!) and looks like they are branching out!

Wicked Beaver Brewing LLC | West Texas Craft Brewery | Dam Good Beer

I saw a photo on their Facebook that got me thinking. There are many many millions of beer drinkers in the US. If we all shift a significant portion of our $ spent on beer to true craft brewers we can help out the good ole USA.  Cut back on your Budweiser….. it is brewed by a Belgian-Brazilian beer conglomerate….Yes they have US breweries employing US workers but they own so much of the market your shift will not be a blip on their radar. There goes my Ziegenbock choice … Now Coors, is brewed  by the Canadian Molson Coors Brewing Company and is the third-largest brewer in the United States. At least it is North American. Drink Blue Moon or Killian’s Irish Red – close to craft beers.

Now my iPhone shots from the Midland Rockhounds game.

My Jumbo Dog, mustard, catsup or ketchup – whatever, relish, onions and the West Texas favorite…smothered with jalapenos!

From our seats…. somebody liked us and set us up with box seats. Thanks Zoe at the Residence Inn in Midland. Please note the Chevron(my former employer) sign on the outfield wall. The first of several Rockhounds home runs went out way above the Chevron sign.

Blue Moon Belgian Wit beers were quite common – Go Coors.

I have to give her credit – beer in one hand – social networking with the other and she glanced up when the crowd made noise!

And heeeeeeres Rocky –

The Rouckhounds have such a great family stadium and Rocky is a favorite with the kids.

Remember – Drink local – support the guys that lovingly CRAFT your beer!

TTFN

Bishop

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West Texas Drought

There was been a little improvement from the severe 2011 drought – but not much. I am in Midland Texas this week working for a few days. The drought is extensive and pervasive….I cannot find a good draught beer anywhere. Now a couple of establishments will have a Shiner, or a Blue Moon and once in a while a Sam Adams Seasonal but that is where Midland’s deviation from the Bud or Coors beer mindset ends. This town is nearly barren. Now, I can go into a store and pick up some bottles of good craft beers but my thirst needs a pint of a good microbrew to cut the dust..An IPA with a good dose of bittering hops and a nice hit of floral hops at the end of the boil for a good nose. California beers, Colorado beers, Pacific Northwest beers – Texas has some really good breweries but apparently kegs can’t roll all the way out to West Texas.

Dinner was good this evening, grilled scallops but the choices for a beer to wash them down with was sad. I had a Shiner…..the other choices besides the standard yellow fizzy water everyone serves were Peroni – not a bad beer but a little weak, Stellas Artois – ok but still just so so – and Shiner….At least Shiner is a Texas beer! I ate and drank lightly so I could get my work out in back at the hotel. Watched the recap of the Tour de France on NBC Sports network…. Go Mr Wiggins!

I have googled for some help in finding a decent pint between Midland and Odessa and have come up empty….The Wall Street Bar & Grill did have a Bass Ale in bottles but where can I get a good, really good pint out here? Help Needed!

Signed – Mr. Dried and Parched Decker

Dick’s Danger Ale Postponed Due to Weather

Belgian Wit – Nice Color – and Flavor

I had to delay the brewing planned for yesterday. It was a mixed blessing. The wind was gusting pretty strong which can bring all kinds of airborne contaminants – well beyond my cat dander nemesis. The good was the temperature drop which will make it easier to maintain better fermenting temperatures in the house.

After some errands, taking the MRI disc to the ear doctor, getting some materials to go vertical with my fall strawberry planting and picking up my share of CSA provided vegetables, I got down to beer related activities.(was that a run on sentence Mr. Kunert?). I picked up a copy of “Beer” magazine, the September/October issue and enjoyed the slick layout aand great articles.

This issue had two very important lists. One was the magazine’s top 50 beers. Over a three-year period of time they sampled and rated over 300 beers….how do I apply for a job??? It is a very interesting list and a bit sad… I realized that I have only sampled 4 of the 50! Three of my tastings scored 95’s and one a 94.  There a large number of beers scoring 96 and above that I may have to hunt down. If my children of legal drinking age are reading, I will leave the magazine out and my wish list tabbed. Thank you.

The other list in this issue was one that I can say I am more familiar with. It lists the top craft breweries by volume – “by volume”, that phrase resonates with me. So, I sat down, sampled a cold draft Belgian Wit(see photo), handcrafted by a good-looking gray-headed guy in Kingwood, Texas, and began reminiscing on my experience with these breweries and their offerings. I won’t list all 50 but I will list by rank those that merit my comments……yes I have sample from all that  I will mention.

1. Boston Beer Company – most beer drinkers will recognize the Samuel Adams brand and all of its various seasonal offerings. A craft beer company with roots going back to brewer and founder Jim Koch’s home brewing days. Also listed on the stock exchange…about $ 85 per share. I have tried and like many of their beers.

2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, California. My youngest son, not of legal drinking age, has Chico State on his list of possible choices. Their Pale Ale is very nice, not real hoppy at all, about a 37 on the IBU scale, but very drinkable. I like the Stout as well as the seasonal beers. Another plus….I can reuse the bottles in my brewing/bottling activities.

3. New Belgium, Fort Collins, CO. Fat Tire and 1554 are my favorites. The Ranger IPA has a great aroma and taste…. if you like hoppier beers. I also like my New Belgium bike jersey…way cool.

4. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX. Oh man… Shiner Bock!!!!! They have a nice suite of beers  – No IPA though, but overall they make Texas proud…. I may not have been born a Texan, but I got here as quick as I could.

9. Harpoon Brewing, Boston, MA. The Harpoon IPA is good as well as the UFO Hefeweizen.

11. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE. I have been developing a real fondness for IPA’s ( India Pale Ales were  heavily  hopped to help the English ales survive the trip to India, hence the the name. It became a favorite of expats returning home and the style became a fixture). The 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA’s are very nice.

12. Alaskan Brewing and Bottling Co., Juneau, AK. Alaskan Amber, MMMMMMMMM good, I traded 4 bottles of my Imperial Stout for a 6 pack… it is that good. After looking at their offerings I may have to explore some more….I wonder if my Continental Airlines pilot buddy can score a variety pack in exchange for some more home-brew???

14. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA. Love that Gargoyle logo…. Love the Stone Pale Ale, Stone India Pale Ale and obviously the Arrogant Bastard Pale Ale. They have a nice looking line-up of beers that beg for sampling… so few hours in the day!

15. Abita Brewing Co., Abita LA., Who dat! …. Tucked off of Interstate 10, what a great little accidental stop. My wife and I were driving home from Auburn Alabama after watching our son swim in the SEC meet and we were feeling hungry. Asked the GPS to finds us some food and it as if it knew that we were both beer drinkers. Kathy fell in love, first with me and then the Abita Purple Haze. I haven’t found one that I didn’t like….Turbo Dog is my first choice. Try it, you’ll like it.

16. Brooklyn Brewery, where else but Brooklyn, NY. I sampled the Brown Ale, Pale Ale and Lager at the Humble Brew Fest …. see earlier post. Not bad at all.

23. Anchor Brewing, San Francisco, CA. My introduction to beers beyond yellow fizzy water happened at Pizzaville on Oak St., Bakersfield, CA. Bob Green, the owner, stocked the Anchor Steam beer. I was intrigued with the flavor. It really grew on me. It was also the only place in town to get Olympia on draught! Bob loved Oly as did an older couple that came in every Friday evening, before the fights in the parking lot started, ordered a medium Beef & Onion pizza to go along with a pitcher of Oly. I just found a clone recipe for the long extinct Oly…..will try it once I am set up to lager beers. Where do Artesains hide? Answer in a future post.

26. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA. I want to retire to Paso and get a job at Firestone…..they can pay me in beer. I am a huge fan of the Double Barrel Pale Ale, the Double Jack will sneak up on you and knock your whatever into the dirt! They are very fond of all things Pale Ale-ish! Worth a trip to visit and sample.

28. Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD. I love the labels…..no I don’t peel them off and eat them – but he beers are outstanding. Give them a try… they may make you chase cars…. be careful and don’t chase parked cars….. is that how Pekingese dogs got that funny look????

33. Odell Brewing Co. – I sat in the airport in Colorado Springs waiting for a flight and drank a few Levity Amber Ales…. very nice. I want to try a few of the others in their line-up

48. St. Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX. Ah, back home, we are blessed to have an outstanding local brewery in the top 50 by volume. They make some great beers and I understand have a great tour…. need to round-up a DD and give it a taste test. I like the Elissa IPA really well but the others in the stable are very nice,  the Amber, the Lawnmower and the Weedwacker are in my fridge quite often.

TTFN

Bishop