Thursday, September 11, 2014

Family Reunion & Anchor Brewing Tour

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Well, this past weekend was our EPIC four-day weekend trip to Utah and… it was over 1800 miles & a lot of hours in the car… but hey, it’s what you do for Adventure& Family. We drove up to Reno Thursday night after work (and a taste of the ChocoNut Stout at Elevation 66) and then continued the rest of the way across Nevada to my family reunion in Delta, Utah (central Utah desert). Now… the drive across Nevada… isn’t terribly usually (unless it’s triple digits in summer or flash flood or something) but… it’s definitely not the most entertaining either. About every hundred miles, there’s a little town with gas stations and stuff like Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko & Wells… but the rest is mostly the high desert landscape you’d expect. Izzy has a lot more pictures of this (because I was driving) so feel free to check out her blog for some great pictures of Nevada along I-80.
We got to “The Compound” around 4:30 PM, about ten minutes after my mom & cousin Alicia got there, so we helped them set up the camper… and then made our rounds to see the rest of the family… and then set up our homebrew station. Basically, we brought a five-gallon keg of our award-winning Honey Amber, a five-gallon keg of our Pale Ale, and a few bombers of our Bock, Cali Common, ChocoNut Stout & Torpedo Clone to share with my family. Needless to say, when you bring free beer to a party of rednecks, it goes pretty quickly… even if most of the people drinking are now in their 40’s & 50’s. As far as feedback, we make some pretty damn good beer… especially for people who don’t know much about craft beer. There were even some potential investors in the bunch… but probably not exactly multi-million dollar endorsements.

Saturday, we basically enjoyed each other’s company in the heat (high-80’s?) and played games… made ice runs into town… and even The Wingman stopped by for about two hours to say howdy since he lives about two hours away, so we caught up for a bit… and are already planning our next meetup… hopefully bringing his new wife and their NINE kids to the Bay sometime. I told him… “maybe just the two of you for a honeymoon… leave the kids with the dogs or something” but he seems REALLY happy & healthy so I’m glad about that. He’s had a rough year thus far…
Saturday afternoon, I headed to Salt Lake City to hang with my dad… but I had gotten some bad news just before we drove up there when apparently my stepmom’s dad had… he too has had a rough year since his wife died and… basically he called all of his kids in for… basically his last words. Yeah, I know… kinda of a kill buzz… but that’s what happened… and this was after I found out that my dad’s work schedule got flipped again… so he was going to work all day Sunday instead of hang out & watch football or something… but hey, obviously after my stepmom’s dad’s situation, that was kind of the least of our worries. Grandpa W was a great guy (spoiler alert, he passed away Monday while we were driving back) and basically the sweetest man you could ever hope to meet. I know a lot of people say that about people after they’ve gone but… I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it a few times while he was still around. Every Christmas he would have a family get-together and read the passages from the Bible about the Nativity Scene (until I took over this year) and the Birth of Christ… and you could just see him light up every time he saw one of his family members. He was just a treat through & through… and hopefully he’s in a happier place with his wife again. That’s about all you can really hope for. If anybody deserves to be “up there” then it’s Grandpa W.
So yeah, Saturday night, we watched some TV while catching up with one another… my dad was pretty sick (as he tends to be whenever I come to visit, which concerns me but… you know… he’s a guy so he brushes it off… pretty much like I would too) and we had a good time before we all turned in pretty early.
Sunday, dad went to work & my stepmom went to see her dad… so Izzy & I ended up going to a newly opened brewpub called “The Annex by EPIC Brewing” which is basically the gastropub for EPIC Brewing up in Sugarhouse. They serve the great beer that I briefly touched upon when I visited the brewery in December… and they had brunch offered this Sunday morning, which was actually pretty good too. From their fall selection, they had a Pumpkin Imperial Porter… and it’s pretty f**king fantastic… but then again, most of their beers are that way… and we sampled most of them during the meal. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re in the Salt Lake area… either at “The Annex” in Sugarhouse… or at their brewery downtown. They specialize in higher alcohol beers… but they also have a great selection of average-alcohol too… like their Festdevious Maerzen, which is among my favorites. There’s also their Brainless series which is their Brainless Belgian style ale… but barrel aged with other things like raspberries, peaches, cherries, or extra hops. They also have a relatively new Double Skull Dopplebock which… being a fan of bocks, I really liked. Definitely check them out if you get a chance.

After watching some football during the day, Izzy & I met up with some of my former coworker friends at Red Rock Brewing downtown to share a few beers, catch up on happenings… and basically just have a good time. It had been a while since I’d seen a few of them… but we reminisced about the “good ol’ days” and everybody had questions about things they’d read on Facebook… which I think is a pretty standard thing now. As for the beer at Red Rock, I don’t believe I’ve mentioned much about it before… but about five years ago now, I used to live across the street from there… and it was one of my first experiences with craft beer right after my few months in Denver. Basically my apartment was between Red Rock, another microbrewery called Squatters, and the Utah State Liquor State… the three places in downtown where you can get alcohol over 3% ABV. Not a bad spot… especially when I would go over to Red Rock and try their Amber Ale& Honey Wheat mostly… and they’ve also won a number of awards like Brewpub of the Year 2007 at the Great American Beer Festival & recently the Gold Medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup in the Experimental Category for Paardebloem (Belgian style ale with dandelions in place of hops, but unfortunately they were out of it). This time though, I tried their 20th Anniversary Imperial Red Ale (very good, my kind of beer) and a Honey Wheat along with a personal pizza & some hot wings that I shared with Izzy. Great spot. Check it out if you’re in Salt Lake City.
That night, we came home a little early to watch football with my dad… but he wasn’t doing any better so he went to bed early & we did too as we were heading out at 6:30 AM or so the next morning for a long drive back to San Francisco. We made REALLY good time… and we were about to hit rush hour in Sacramento… so we decided to do an impromptu meetup with Izzy’s sister & her boyfriend at La Fiesta for tacos. Since we were early though, we stopped at Sierra College’s Natural History Museum because Izzy said it was badass… and it certainly was. Do you like DINOSAURS??? HISTORY??? SKULLS??? TAXIDERMY ON SAFARI??? FOSSILS??? Then this is the place for you… and bring the kids too. Behold the pictures of me having a full-frontal nerdgasm…

Tuesday night, I had the privilege of a special behind-the-scenes tour of Anchor Brewing which… is basically the grand/godfather of Craft Beer in the United States as far as I’m concerned. With over a hundred years of history behind them, constant expansion into nearly every bar in America & now overseas too… and looking to double their production in the next few years with another brewery in the Bay Area… this was truly a treat… and as part of the SF Homebrewer’s Guild, I can hardly believe that they allow us to have our monthly meetings there. If you’re willing to arrange it 4-6 months in advance, get the tour! Did you know Anchor is also a distillery? Me neither… it’s called Old Potrero & apparently their limited supply made (especially compared to their beer production) is so popular that you’ll rarely see their spirits on the shelf. Anyway, here are some pictures from my little tour that might stimulate you to go check it out first-hand… but keep in mind, this is just a camera phone so… it’s not going to be the best…

Another thing about Anchor… is I’m finding that their beers are among the best in the world… and if you haven’t tried them, then I suggest you try their lineup on almost any chance you get. In my humble opinion… the following samples are basically my benchmark for their respective style:
·         Anchor Steam – California Common (of course)
·         Old Foghorn – Barleywine
·         Christmas Ale
·         Anchor Bock – Bock (but I hear they’re discontinuing it?)
·         Anchor Porter – Porter (also rumored to be discontinued?)
·         Anchor Saison – About the only Saison I actually like a little
The rest of their lineup is also incredible like their IPA, Big Leaf Maple, California Lager, Brekle’s Brown, etc. but the ones above are basically what I judge other beers upon when they claim to be the same style. Yes, I know different recipes produce different results… but again, my humble opinion. I highly recommend checking these guys out if you haven’t (for some unknown reason).
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this week’s adventures… plenty more coming up this weekend. We start a new batch of Pumpkin Ale, transfer our Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Porter to secondary, sample a variety of pumpkin-based beverages, and even non-pumpkin related activities. Have a great pumpkin everybody!!!

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