Monday, June 11, 2007

A Visit to Triple Rock, My Old Home Brewery

"People don't take trips. Trips take people." ~John Steinbeck

L to R: Teri, Karen and Jerry
June 8-9: Drove from Sierra Nevada to Auburn, California to visit Jon’s Aunt Karen & Uncle Jerry. Parked on a flat spot a block away. Aunt Karen did my laundry and I had Uncle Jerry’s homemade chicken soup for dinner, then blogged 4 posts and went to bed. Up at 7:00 am and off to the Edelweiss with Jerry and Karen for a hearty breakfast. A gas fill-up and then on my way to Berkeley. It was Saturday morning without traffic so I made good time.

Parked at Trumer Braueri for the day/night, and Brewmaster Lars Larson came out to greet me. It was chance he was there, and I got a quick tour of his expanded Briggs brewery and a photo. Lars is happy making a lot of Pilsner these days, but his background includes brewing ales at Bridgeport in Portland, Oregon. And you know how serious and kinda scary Lars looks in Trumer’s ads? He actually smiles a lot and is very friendly in person.

Lars Larson at Trumer Brauerei
Then I had an hour to kill, so I arranged the trailer (Big Buddy) as a mini-office so I can work on trip planning tonight.

My old boss, Reid Martin picked me up for lunch. Reid and his brother John opened Triple Rock under the name Roaring Rock in 1986. It was the first brewery in California to have serving tanks, possibly the first brewpub anywhere to have them. (Hey everybody, if I get your stories wrong, just email me the correct version and I’ll update the associated blog post.)

Reid’s seven-year old daughter Kendall joined us for lunch. She was more interested in my dill pickle than her unsauced chicken wings. My green chili-mushroom burger with salad was great. So were Christian Kazakoff’s ales, especially the stout.

Triple Rock was déjà vu for me, as it looked almost exactly the same as when I was Head Brewer there in 1989-90, but not quite. Reid and I caught up on what’s been happening while Kendall mastered her crayon technique. It was great to see Reid. I appreciate that he and John gave me the opportunity to work for them in 1989, as Triple Rock really launched my brewing career. Every good thing I’ve done since then has stemmed from the training and experience I gained at Triple Rock. It was fun to notice that Brewer Christian Kazakoff’s Titanium Ale was completely different from my original recipe that I developed in 1990. Such is common with brewpubs and successions of brewers. It’s still a great name and slogan… Titanium Ale: Strong yet Light.

L to R: Grant, Teri, Kendall, Reid
Grant Johnston, Brewmaster at Black Diamond joined us after lunch. Grant was my buddy back in my Berkeley days. Local homebrewer and beer friend Dave Suurballe and his wife Honoria also joined us. Reid was kind enough to take care of our bill, and he gifted me a t-shirt. We did exactly what beer was designed for: We sat there and chatted and enjoyed each other’s company for several hours.

Grant and I commented that at the beer festivals and professional conferences where brewers run into each other, it seems we never have enough time to just plunk down and enjoy a few beers over a few hours of conversation. The same topic had come up with Rod Kucera of Mia & Pia’s in Klamath Falls. Thus, part of the impetus for my trip: To sit with none of the pressing requirements of our hurry-up world; to sit with nothing better to do than drink a few pints and enjoy a few hours in good company. After all, what could be better than that?

L to R: Teri, Grant, Dave and Honoria

1 comment:

Rich said...

As I'm catching-up on your trip, I have to put in my two cents for one of my favorite brewpubs - Triple Rock. I've always enjoyed my visits. And to find out that you brewed there "way back when" makes it even better. Here's a shot of Luke, with the brewery in the background, back in 2003. He's 17 now, and yes he beet me in that chest game. A few years later, here's a shot of the front of the pub and the classic bar.