Friday, August 31, 2007

A Visit to Harpoon and Redbones

"Frugality without creativity is deprivation." ~ Amy Dacyczyn

August 30: Slept in a bit and daydreamed in Allison's luxurious guest bedroom. After lunch Allison and I took off in her car with her little GPS direction finder. I am happy to report that my laptop-driven GPS unit is just as dopey as Allison's small portable unit. They all make a few mistakes and announce the turn just as you're passing it. They're still handy; you just have to go around the block once in a while.

We parked at Harpoon Brewery and walked to Commercial Lobster, a local's fish market and tiny restaurant. Allison bought me lunch. She ordered the coconut shrimp and I had the Clam Strip Roll. It comes with a side dish, fries, cole slaw, or vegetable. The vegetable was steamed beans and that's what I got. We were entertained by a sunburned woman who told herself a lot of jokes and laughed out loud at them. I didn't see any cell phone cord or ear set, so I'm pretty sure she had an invisible companion we just couldn't see.

Walked back to Harpoon where Sales Operations Rep Seth Cohen awaited us. Seth and Quality Control Manager Jaime Schier tag-teamed on giving Allison and me the back-stage tour. Above right is a photo of brewer Charlie Cummings adding hop pellets to the whirlpool.

At left is cellarman Drew Martinez working on his DE filtration. I hadn't seen any contraption like Drew is wearing before, so I asked him about it. Normally a filterman wears a Hepa-filter face mask, but Drew is wearing a motor on his back that pumps filtered air into his face mask, creating a positive displacement of air. That way the DE (diatomaceous earth) cannot get into his mask or his lungs because it is continually blown away by the positive air displacement.

I also found another woman brewer for my Pink Boots Society list of women brewers. Katie Tame was formerly employed in biotech. Like most of us nutty brewers, she took a pay cut to follow her dream and work in a brewery. Katie is mostly employed in the lab now, but I noticed her black rubber boots and asked her about them. She said she is moving slowly toward production. You go girl!

Seth Cohen gifted us a mixed case of Harpoon beer, and then it was off to Redbones for the evening. Redbones BBQ in Somerville is a craft beer institution in the Boston area, and if you are looking to taste a lot of great beer in one place, Redbones is where you should go.
I met owner Robert Gregory back in the early-to-mid 1990's when he was on his history-making beer tour of the Pacific Northwest. (Robert - please tell me the exact year of your first Northwest Beer Festival.)

Back then, I met Robert at Steelhead in Eugene where I was Brewmaster. Robert must have asked to see the Brewmaster or else the bartender just pointed me out as I got off shift. I remember sitting at Steelhead's bar discussing NW beers with him, and he told me of his idea to bring Pacific Northwest craft-brewed beers to his BBQ house in Somerville. I gave him the names of several people who could help him including Larry Bausch of Pink Cadillac Pins & the Pint Post, and John Maier of Rogue. (Yes, I go back a very long way in the brewing industry.)

Larry and his wife Carol, who worked for Redhook at the time, were instrumental in helping Robert set up the logistics to get his NW Beer Festival off the ground. That year Robert was kind enough to fly me to Somerville for the first NW Beer Festival Brewers Dinner. I gave a little speech and met lots of wonderful East Coast brewers who I have remained in contact with ever since, like Will Meyer, Tod Mott, Horst Dornbusch and Jeff Charnick.

Allison and I arrived at Redbones a little after 4:00 pm. I knew that Robert was out of town on vacation (very unfortunate), but bartender Dolly told us that Robert was picking up our tab. How nice of him! Photo below shows Redbones equal-opportunity tap handles. All appear to be hand-carved narrow wooden handles without brand markings. Each beer gets an equal-opportunity masking tape label.
I had hoped that some of the Boston-area brewers and former brewers that Seth and I had emailed (and other Boston-area friends) would be able to join us at Redbones upstairs bar. For the first hour Allison and I had plenty of time to catch up and taste many of Redbones' 24 draft beers. Then Seth Cohen and Jaime Schier bicycled over from Harpoon and we had a really good time. Photo at top of page, L to R: Jaime Schier, Teri and Seth Cohen. Notice the "dial-a-beer" behind us. If you just can't decide which of Redbones' 24 taps to try, just spin the dial!

Allison and I tried the fried oyster appetizer and then a platter of pulled pork, pulled chicken, and jerk beef with four different barbeque sauces. Whew! Watch out for the spicy jerked beef, especially when paired with the extra hot sauce. At about 8:00 pm, we followed the GPS directions back to Hopkinton.
Thank you to Cape Cod Beer Company in Hyannis for use of their Internet connection.

No comments: