Travel and Tasting and Invoking the Saints

I have been busy working for the past several weeks. A bit too busy to blog but not so busy that I couldn’t sample some good beers. In my last beer blog I told you that I was in the frozen Colorado and Utah areas. Rangely Colorado is so small that it did not surprise me that there were no micro or craft breweries. I still like to sample local fare so I had to expand the sampling zone.

The last night in Rangely, Thursday January 10th we dined at the motel restaurant. I quizzed the waitress on beer selections and they carried several by New Belgium in Fort Collins Colorado. They had a seasonal beer called, Snow Day Winter Al, a darker beer that was pretty darned good. When I looked at the web site to pull up the details on the beer, I found a story behind that sort of matched current conditions. The genesis for this beer was a massive snow storm that hit Fort Collins in 2003. Well, not quite matched, but being from Houston the 10-12 inches of snow overnight is massive enough for me.

From New Belgians website – “Snow Day carries the subtle chocolate and caramel flavors of a new brewing malt known as Midnight Wheat. The Styrian Golding, Centennial and Cascade hops bring the backbone of hoppy bitterness to complement the roasty undertones. This beer is the deep garnet of a roasted walnut and presents a creamy tan head, floating artfully atop. Snow Day is bold and hoppy, drinkable and strong. It reminds you to enjoy the unexpected.”

Looking back toward the town of Rangely from the college campus.

Looking back toward the town of Rangely from the college campus.

I am very appreciative of breweries that give you an understanding of the ingredients – I helps me to better define my palate as well as get the creative juices flowing for a cloning effort……not like Dolly the cloned sheep but more like cloning/crafting of a reasonable facsimile!

The next night we were housed in Vernal Utah. I knew enough about Utah to expect good craft breweries in the state but knew nothing of Vernal.  I have sampled beers from Uinta Brewing on several occasions and enjoy their beers. Here is a partial list of breweries of all sorts in Utah. In Vernal we found a brew pub that wasn’t listed  – The Quarry.

http://www.beer100.com/brewpubs_o_to_z/utah.htm

Our waitress at the Quarry, bless her heart, ( if you know southern slang – Bless your heart means –“You are an idiot but I like you and care about you so I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Now she wasn’t really an idiot – just very poorly informed. She had no clue about the beers on tap or in bottle for two reasons; 1. She was brand spanking new! & # 2. By her own admission, she only drinks Tequila! My guess she probably is pretty entertaining and maybe clueless at parties, bless her heart! She thought that there were just two in-house brewed beers on tap. I drank the house Brown Ale and it was pleasant, better than Newcastle but not exceptional. I then took a look at the beer list and saw that they had a Wasatch offering in bottles, Devastator Double Bock, a strong amber ale. I asked for the Devastator and she brought me a draught beer……I gave her a quizzical look! Bless her heart, I had used the Wasatch Brewery name when I ordered and she saw a Wasatch handle and drew a beer – the Wasatch Bobsled Brown Ale….I offered up a lesson and showed her the beer list and descriptions and suggested she invest some time with the samplers to improve her knowledge…. I drank her mistake, it wasn’t too bad and she then brought me the Double Bock….

Leaving Vernal on Saturday morning was a challenge. The weather at minus 14 F, had everything backed up. I was really feeling sorry for a young couple that were trying to get to Denver on the same flight we were on……rabid Broncos fans trying to make the 2:30 PM kick-off. Scheduled departure was 6:30 AM that was pushed back to 8:45 AM. Ok, still plenty of time. They finally got the plane warmed up, baggage loaded and pulled up to the ground gate. Ooops……. Bad weather in Denver so we sat back down and waited some more. They kept the engines idling consuming fuel and guess what????? They were now low on fuel….they shut down the engines, we were finally allowed to load up while they were adding fuel. Then the fuel truck broke down, 200 pounds short of a safe load! Too funny. Not! It was becoming less funny for me because I was now in jeopardy of missing the second flight. Great Lakes Airlines (high marks for customer service) changed my original flight to the second departure time to Houston and now it looked like I was destined to miss that one! I invoked a short prayer to the two Patron Saints of storms, St. Scholastica and St. Walburga, and I hoped they would be gracious enough to allow the storm to linger in Denver just long enough, no harm, but just enough to delay my next flight. Insert sign of the cross along with crossed fingers. I bet none of you knew about these two saints did you!

I anxiously awaited touchdown on the Denver tarmac so I could fire up my “iPhone United Airlines app” and see if my plane was still at the gate. We touched down at the scheduled departure time…..come on hurry up……the app finally came up and the flight was delayed. Yee haw! The Saints came through for me! I still had to boogie from the far end of terminal A to the train and over to terminal B. I was saddened that I didn’t have any layover time….The far end of Terminal A, just beyond gate 61, is a New Belgium establishment with a handful of their best beers on tap, possibly a Snow Day. Maybe next time!

I made the flight…….. it was on one of the new 787 Dreamliners….they are pretty darned sweet. In hind sight that may have been unlucky! We made it safely to Houston. FYI – The economy seats recline nicely as the bottom portion of the seat slides forward just a bit. They are really comfortable, even for a big guy like me.

Finally arrived in Kingwood Texas, tired and thirsty. I had one of my Dirty Honey Blonde homebrewed beers, put my feet up and watched the Forty-Niners whip up on the Packers. Tomorrow was a big mountain to climb for my local Houston Texans. I felt like the Patron Saints may have smiled on me today so I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to pull in some more high level assistance. Sunday morning before leaving on my next job I sent up the following prayer to the Saint of Lost Causes, St. Jude.

O most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus — People honor and invoke you universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, for I am so helpless and alone. Please help to bring me visible and speedy assistance. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my ( this is the place to state your request –desires for the Houston Texans to find the strength and wisdom to beat the pants off of the Patriots), necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly  and that I may praise God with you always. I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you by publishing this request. Amen. Blogging is kind of like publishing the request isn’t it.

I guess I went to the well one too many times. The Houston Texans may have been too hopeless!I now pray that I haven’t been seen as too greedy!

I do have a theory that no good deed goes unrewarded. On the plane from Vernal to Houston was a woman who was also heading to Houston and on to Jackson. She was a bit of a novice when it came to  traveling through Denver. Denver can be a pain in the butt! She also needed to connect to a flight out of Houston to Jackson, Mississippi. I was able to help her tag along behind me and wind up at the gate just moments prior to the door closing on the flight to Houston. I felt like I had done a good deed. Upon landing in Houston I pulled up the flight status for her next flight and helped her on the way….she was probably bumped to the last flight out but likely got home on Saturday….I felt good. The Saints of storms must have sensed my good intentions.

I wonder if St Jude was eyeballing me to see if I had earned his intercession. I may have to apologize to the Texans Fans……I probably didn’t do enough to help them secure the win! Maybe the Texans didn’t do their part?????? Does St Arnold have any stroke….they make good beer! Maybe I need to invoke the local Saint via local beer….There is always next year!

By the way – St Arnold is real –

The Legend of the Beer Mug

It was July 642 and very hot when the parishioners of Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of their former bishop. They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable. At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave Champigneulles, one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz.

Enough trivia – I am a little thirsty and I am in the parched desert of Midland Texas – Thanks to HEB I have some good choices! Tonight, Lost Gold IPA by Real Ale Brewing in Blanco Texas….it is damned good in my opinion!

Drink local and drink responsibly

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

 

 

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Be Hoppy

Lot’s of good reasons to be Happy and be Hoppy.

My daughter Lisa and I went to downtown Houston to Discovery Green in miserable weather to see the ice sculpture contest. Her company, interesting sculptures and local beer made it nice. My daughter Ashleigh met us for a Happy Birthday beer while we were there. Topped off an excellent outing. Tool man’s paradise – chain saws ripping ice, dye grinders gouging out huge chunks of ice and blow torches smoothing it all out! (insert Tim the Tool Man’s grunt here)

Can't say it any better!

Can’t say it any better!

St. Arnolds's Christmas Ale for Lisa and Ashleigh!

St. Arnolds’s Christmas Ale for Lisa and Ashleigh!

Sr Arnold's Elyssa IPA. what a very nice local beer! Poured a perfect head...I love ......never mind!

Sr Arnold’s Elyssa IPA. what a very nice local beer! Poured a perfect head…I love ……never mind!

The winning Ice Sculpture. Pretty Cool - a pun????

The winning Ice Sculpture. Pretty Cool – a pun????

This was my choice for number 1!

This was my choice for number 1!

Family, cold beer and an interesting day.

Drink local – we did, drink responsibly – we did and……….

TTFN
Bishop

Billings Montana? Ok, Twist My Arm, I’ll Go

I have been asked to deliver one of my training sessions in Billings, Montana for a small energy producer. I have been doing a little work for them over the past few months. Sessions in Midland, TX, Houston, TX, Laredo, TX and Williston North Dakota.

Midland – beer offerings are ordinary and lack variety for craft beers lovers.

Houston – Making its mark with some excellent local choices and establishments. I am working on trying them all – Karbach, St Arnolds and Southern Star are top notch. No Label Brewing in Katy is on my bucket list, as is Bayou Brewing….

Laredo…sorry my research is coming up empty.

Williston – pubs maybe

Billings Montana – Jackpot !!!!!! 8 craft breweries in the city limits and 10 in the greater Billings area…. Three days is only going to whet the appetite – I will provide a report out sometime around the 7th or 8th of September….maybe some updates via iPhone posts…. I do have to real work to do  – kinda….I have a trout fishing float trip scheduled for the 5th and the class is on the 6th. I will behave appropriately!

There are 4 beer brewers within walking distance of my hotel and Angry Hanks looks like a short cab ride away…. Most will offer tasters…those little 5 oz glasses……an easier way to taste a broad suite of beers….. it used to be that 5 pints wasn’t much effort but I would like  not be swayed by that 5th pint….The truth and only the unbiased/unhazed truth.

A little research brought up this photo…..looks like people I can relate to !!!! Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. Staff.

Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. – Head Brewer Ryan Koga, Room Manager Donnie Veltri, and Manager/Brewer George Moncure

I apologize if I am using your photo  without permission…..you were just such a handsome bunch that I could not resist.

TTFN

Bishop

Just a thought – old stories, mountain bikes, blood, beer and essentially flat trails……a birdie dropped a little something in my inbox today and the stories, to the best of my recollection, may find a forum here……beer and blood in the early mornings…could be fun. Thanks Pat.