Monday, April 27, 2015

Stevetoberfest 2015

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
We’re well into my birthweek… which is like a birthday… but I’m greedy. I’m just going to say that it started Friday when my coworkers decorated my office in dinosaur attire… well, a few balloons, dinosaurs & Reese’s peanut butter cups…

Saturday was the 2nd annual Steve-toberfest celebration!!! We invited friends and family to come hang out for a few hours, eat some delicious food, drink some delicious beer & just have a good time in the Presidio on a beautiful Saturday. We had about ten people actually show… and the food was quite eclectic. In the German theme, we had pretzels with beer cheese dipping sauce, kartoffelsalat (potato salad), but we also had Taco Bell tacos, brownies, Scotch eggs, chocolate covered strawberries, hummus, goat cheese, baby carrots, and other leftover baked goods from the previous week. Here are some pictures…


As far as beer on tap… we had our Strawberry Hefeweizen, Milk Stout, our Torpedo Clone, our Hoppy Red Ale, and of course… the incredibly dangerous… Steve’s Birthday Cake!!! That is our barrel aged imperial stout… and boy, it’s amazing. Big Ben also brought some Anchor Steam clone & single malt-single hop Golden Ale with hops from his backyard (he’s been growing them for a decade) and all was right with the world.
So the real question… “How many boots of beer did you have, $teve?” The answer is four… plus a few others… but yeah, I was pretty sleep shortly after everybody left. Great party!
Sunday was my actual birthday… and let me just tell you that my girlfriend Izzy is absolutely amazing. She started off the day by giving me this wonderful drawing for a gift…
She also fried me up a leftover hangover breakfast and then we headed to her house… and she’s growing our hops… hopefully they will have useable hops this year… but I’m told they still take a few years… and our Chinook hops are a year old but the Galena just started…

For lunch, we then headed over to Fieldwork Brewing in Berkeley, which Big Ben & his wife had been RAVING about for the past month or so… and oddly enough, they were having a beer & donut pairing special on my birthday. Fatidic? Perhaps. The brewery takes a more… I don’t know… homegrown, agricultural look at how beer is made & keeps it very simple. The atmosphere of the brewery… is basically just like the inside of a wood & tin field storage area where you might park your trailer or something… but instead there are a few 10-20 barrel systems in the back… and their décor is a lot of standard shelves with bottled samples of hops & grains, simple logos, etc. just more of a beer focus it seems. Now as for the beer, it’s also pretty good & simple. They had farmhouse ales, breakfast stouts, just good all day drinking kind of beer… except Eliza, their chicory imperial stout… that was pretty strong. The Biere de garde was no joke either… but yeah, I highly recommend going to check it out. Oh… and the donuts from Doughnut Dolly were ok… but yeah, I still prefer All Star Donuts.

Anyway, that was my magnificent weekend… and more news on the way… with EPIC movie reviews & fun times with others… have a great week everybody!!! Happy birthday to MEEEEEE!!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Top Five & Other Random Movies

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
I’ve watched a few movies this past week-plus, so I thought that I’d catch you up on them:
First off was “The Elephant Man” starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt & directed by the eccentric genius David Lynch (“Eraserhead”, “Twin Peaks”, etc). The movie is about the AMAZING TRUE STORY of a man whose body was SERIOUSLY disfigured and how one doctor took him from a sideshow attraction to somewhat prominence in turn-of-the-century London. I know… it sounds like some kind of “Blind Side” movie where rich whitey takes a poor, unfortunate soul and turns them into an NFL Player… but it’s not that at all. The movie is in black & white, which basically seems like the right choice for this movie in general to make it kind of a classic story… but also, the makeup for the Elephant Man may have been completely distracting. That being said… the story is great… and the makeup is so good that it led to the creation of an Academy Award for makeup the following year, because they academy thought work like this should be recognized. There are a few moments in the movie that are… well, Lynch-esque… like the opening few seconds… I’m pretty sure that a woman is being raped by an elephant, not “trampled” as was told later in the movie. So I highly recommend that you check this movie out… great performances all around (except for a few cockney extras) and just a great lesson in movie making & revealing surprise twists. I enjoyed it immensely.
Next up was the Academy’s Best Picture of 1973, “The Sting” starring Robert Redford, Paul Newman & Robert Shaw. Set in Depression-era Chicago, this movie is about a young con man (Redford) whose partner is killed by a criminal banker mastermind (Shaw) and he seeks REVENGE!!! However, he can’t just walk up & off the guy… then expect to live… so he asks for the help of a master confidence man (Newman) to get REVENGE… and maybe rich at the same time. I had never seen this movie growing up… but had heard good things… and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I’m not going to reveal any more than the premise really… but if you’re a fan of movies like the “Ocean’s 11” trilogy or intricate little spy thrillers and stuff of that guild, then you’ve probably already seen this movie… but if somehow you haven’t, then absolutely check this out! You’ll actually see a LOT of things that’re pretty standard now over forty years later… but yeah, it’s still semi-fresh & worst-case scenario… ladies, you get to look at Redford & Newman for over two hours… gentlemen, you get to see wit & VENGEANCE!!! It’s just a fun little romp with various twists and turns along the way… so check it out! Classic!
Sunday night, we watched one of the most talked about horror movies of the past year called “The Babadook” starring Essie Davis and written-directed by Jennifer Kent (don’t worry, you haven’t seen anything else they’ve done unless you’re in Australia I think). The movie is about a single mother (Davis) who husband died in a horrific car crash while she was pregnant… and now she’s raising a seven-year old son… but the son is acting… let’s face it, he’s acting f**king nuts. He may have a learning disability… but kudos to the child actor playing him… because he really got under my f**king nerves. Anyway, one day she’s putting her son to bed when he pulls a children’s book from off the shelf… but it’s a book they’ve never seen before… called “The Babadook” and… it’s easily one of the creepiest things you’ll ever read… so of course, the son LOVES IT!!! As the days go by, the son gets more & more disturbed and talks about Babadook being in the room & freaking out… and basically there’s a demonic presence that makes itself known… and now the mother starts losing it with sleep deprivation and… demonic possession? The story goes from there and again, I’m not going to ruin it. What I REALLY like about this movie… is that it’s basically, in my opinion, a perspective piece on mental illness and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Who do I come to that? Well, the story centers around two people, the mother & the son. Everybody is really only in the story as ancillary characters to be like “You sound f**king insane! You know that, right?” or “Your son is out of control!” and stuff like that. However, nobody really sees this Babadook… or even this book… except those two. The mother having an incredibly difficult time since her husband gruesome death right in front of her eyes & feeling somewhat responsible for it… and then a young, impressionable child raised by that same person, so no real frame of reference for what’s considered sane. So is there really a demonic presence in the house? Or is it just her mental breakdown finally coming to fruition? It keeps it kind of hazy… much like “Oculus” that came out the year before… but yeah, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.
Last up this entry is “Top Five” starring Chris Rock (writer-director-star), Rosario Dawson, JB Smoove and a HOST of great cameos including Gabrielle Union, Cedric the Entertainer, Anders Holm, Tracy Morgan and a bunch of others that I don’t want to spoil… but are definitely fun. The plot is about a famous comedian movie star (basically Chris Rock playing a version of himself) who has decided that he wants to do a serious movie… about the Haitian slave revolution called “Uprize” which… just sounds horrible, even as a parody. He has a reality-TV star fiancée (Union) and is out promoting his new movie venture… when he meets up with a young female reporter with the NY Post (Dawson) and they basically spend the day together talking about his motivations for things during his career. It’s actually a pretty well done little flick in that respect… there are moments of great conflict involved in his decisions, weakness of character, strength in overcoming adversities, all that kind of stuff… except there was one part that REALLY didn’t need to be part of it (you’ll know it when you see it, trust me) but overall, I’d highly recommend checking this movie out. It’s poignant for perspective on the life of comedians & actors… and yeah, there are a few things thrown in like the love interest angles, odd character conflicts, stuff like that… but hey, that’s what you need for a movie to work, not just a documentary or set piece or something. It’s a pretty good little flick… but yeah, you’ll know what part I’m talking about. Guaranteed. Oh… and whole top five thing is a running thing where characters in the movie (mostly his family) talk about their Top Five all-time rappers… and it’s all over the place with everyone from Rakim to LL Cool J to Biggie to Nas and so on… but yeah, that’s why it’s the movie’s title. On that note…
My Top Five… since you asked:
1.       Jay-Z – He’s been slipping a little bit the past few years… but he’s a Business, MAAAN!!! He has children with Beyonce. Game won!
2.       Eminem – Yes, there are definitely songs (and some albums) that you could absolutely pass on… but when he’s on, he’s on.
3.       Notorious B.I.G. – Too soon… too soon…
4.       Tupac Shakur – Too soon… too soon… almost feel like if he’s made it to his forties, his mindset would be better suited for it. He could share hosting duties for Award Shows with LL Cool J. You know… so LL could take a weekend off or something.
5.       DMX – Yes… DMX is in my Top 5… “WHAT???” I loved DMX… and the market did too for his first five albums, all debuting at #1 in the 90’s & early 00’s. He was also a large-budget movie star in “Belly”, “Cradle 2 Da Grave”, “Exit Wounds”, “Never Die Alone” and others… but unfortunately, crack cocaine is a helluva drug… and he’s made some serious mistakes in his life. OH GOD, have you SEEN VH1’s “Couples Therapy” Season 1? Greatest f**king reality TV EVER!!! I've mentioned this before. Anyway, I hope that he can get his sh*t together… because when he was on, he was on. Rough, raw, real… and rumbly… grrrrrrrrrr… (insert dog barks)
My 6th man is Ma$e… f**k you, it’s my list! “Harlem World” was ahead of its time. I’m a product of 90’s and early 00’s rap… that’s the era that made me. Yes, I love what little I’ve heard from KRS-One, Slick Rick & all those guys from the 80’s… but it’s not what I was raised on. Anything made after 2005, I think is basically horsesh*t with a few exceptions like Macklemore and a few other singles out there. Lyric for lyric, line for line, yeah… those are my Top Five… deal with it. I know… you don’t care… I’m just being semi-confrontational to show my resolve in this matter. Busta Rhymes almost made it on the list… and WU TANG CLAN as a group would absolutely be on there… but mostly due to the large bulk of both artists and a great disparity between their great licks & horrible rhyming nonsense… they didn’t make it.
Anyway, that’ll do it for today… Tomorrow is Steve-toberfest!!! An epic celebration of my birth some 34 years ago!!! Tell all your friends & bring a boot to drink from!!! Have a great weekend everybody!!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Learn to Homebrew Day & Meals on Wheels

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Thursday night, we kegged our Milk Stout in preparation for Learn to Homebrew Day on Saturday... here are some pictures...

Saturday, we started around 10:30 AM and we had about 8-10 guests for our Learn to Homebrew Day. We had our first one about six months ago in early November... and during it, we basically explain the process of brewing beer (much like this blog), share some of our homebrew to show what can be done, share some of their own (some have done a handful of brews), and share stories, answer questions, just plain have fun. This time around, we did a partial mash English style Porter. Here are some pictures...

Above: Our fabulous potluck
Below: Spent Grains 

The whole brew took about four hours total, so a pretty quick spiel... and everybody had a good time... and hopefully we'll have a few more readers of this blog. For those new readers, please feel free to go back through some of the past entries. There are LOTS of pictures and further explanations of past brews. I'd also like to thank everybody for coming out to the event & please check out the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild page for details on how to learn more... join their mailing list... join the blog... or just read our blog too... it's pretty awesome! Comments are always welcome & I can certainly recommend past entries & answer questions if you want to know more. It's truly my pleasure.

After the event, since we had all of the gear still out... we also decided to transfer our SMaSH English Pale Ale to secondary as well...

 Beer Lacing Alert - Beer Turkey!!!

Sunday, we helped out at the Meals on Wheels Fundraiser Gala where they annual raise MILLIONS of dollars for elderly individuals who cannot provide food for themselves... so a great cause and a great night with a LOT of great individuals helping out those less fortunate. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures... but yeah, everybody dressed to the nines, a lot of great restaurants & vintners donating... and yeah, I highly recommend helping out, if not this charity, charities in your areas... just do it! Pay it forward!

Anyway, that's about it for this entry... unfortunately I'm just a wee bit busy... but please leave comments, check out some past entries & just enjoy your wonderful lives! Have a great day everybody!