Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pink Boots at New Belgium

"It’s rather nice to think of oneself as a sailor bending over the map of one’s mind and deciding where to go and how to go." ~Katherine Mansfield

June 27: Met Grady Hull at 9:00 am, and he introduced me to Alex Dwoinen. Grady and Alex tag-teamed on giving me tours of various parts of New Belgium's extensive brewery. Then I sat in the nice air conditioned brewery control room (with six computer monitors!) and Mike Cothran showed me New Belgium's brewing control program with it's impressive graphics of all the systems.

I had watched the brewers work the control programs at Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, and Stone, but now finally my brain was catching up and I seemed to follow what the brewers were doing on screen better. Grady, Alex, Mike and Matt Gilliland came and went from the control room as needed, but we all managed to gather on the brewhouse floor for the photo above. (Left to right: Teri, Alex, Matt, Grady and Mike.) Note the mosaic tile around the base of the kettle near my boots.

Now, lest anyone think that the kettle above is only 3-feet high at the hip, please be assured that a 200-barrel kettle is much taller than it looks because it continues on down to the next floor.

New Belgium has lots of capacity built into their system. They have a 100-barrel brewhouse as well as this 200-barrel brewhouse, but they only use the 200-barrel system these days. However, once the hot and thirsty days of summer are truly upon us, they will no doubt fire up the "little" 100-barrel guy. They do not currently have a pilot brewery, but the brewers think about it often.

New Belgium only uses their 200-barrel brewery because of efficency, which means using the least amount of energy, resources and labor required to produce the most beer. It takes a lot of energy to heat up a big tank full of liquid, and if it's hot to begin with, that makes the job more efficient. The theory is, why heat up two kettles for 12 hours a day, if you can heat up one kettle for 24 hours per day? So that's what they do.

After spending the morning in the brewhouse, I spent part of the afternoon in the cellar with Mikey "P." Mikey says he used to work all over Michigan - at Bells, Atwater and other breweries. He quit the brewing business and moved to Colorado to be a ski bum. Perhaps the lift tickets were too spendy, but Mikey ended up working at a winery instead of skiing. His buddy told him of an opening at New Belgium, and he's been back in the brewing business ever since.

Mikey showed me some really nifty things that New Belgium does to recapture energy, including a heat exchanger that runs beer in both directions. Yup, you read that right. They don't rely on their glycol systems to cool beer or wort; the glycol systems are just to keep liquids cold. They use heat exchangers to cool or heat all liquids. Thus, one cold beer can be used to cool down another beer. Ask Mikey. He'll explain it.

One other nifty thing New Belgium does, is that they have a four-unit doser that can dose hop pellets (or spices) into a kettle without opening the manway. This is a much safer system as it avoids the possibility of injury and keeps the heat in. Mike Cothran showed me how the four units worked. I told him New Belgium should name the four units after the Beatles. After all, they are the Fab Four.

At the end of the day Alex lead us to the very crowded tasting room (known as the Liquid Center) where we tasted all their Belgian and sour beers (yum) and I met John Rich's wife, Ailey for the first time (please email me the correct spellings). Alex was kind enough to send us home with a bunch of goodies including a hoodie for me, a baseball hat for Jon, two mixed cases of beer, and a 750 ml bottle of Le Folie, because everybody needs to have a folly. Mine is spending money on gasoline. What is yours?

Jon and I spent a quiet evening sitting in our camp loveseat on the gravel back lot behind New Belgium. We watched some of the staff practice their volleyball shots in anticipation of tomorrow's big employee game. Jon read while I wrote "Thank You" post cards to the people at the breweries that had welcomed and hosted me during this trip. We enjoyed some cold New Belgium beer and I saw a red fox lurking about New Belgium's equipment bone yard. The cottonwood trees lost most of their cotton in the breeze. The wastewater treatment plant 's methane burner burped flames now and then. And the sun set slowly, leaving just a hint of pink in the darkening sky.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Visit to Odells in Fort Collins

"There is no place to go, and so we travel! You and I, and what for, just to imagine that we could go somewhere else." ~ Edward Dahlberg

June 26: Slept in a bit and enjoyed a nice Rocky Mountain morning, sipping hot tea (me) and coffee (Jon) outside while nibbling on some fruit. Hot showers, some blogging, then off to Fort Collins.

First stop was Odell Brewing Company where my contact was John Bryant, marketing and sales. John has a long history in the craft brewing industry, beginning in Oregon and including Deschutes Brewing Co., which was the first stop on my trip.

John lined us up with 12 samplers (one of everything on tap) and when I turned around, there stood Gene Gregg, former owner/brewer of Oregon Trader Brewery in Albany, Oregon. The brewing world is a small world. I lost track of Gene when he sold Oregon Trader and disappeared. Apparently he moved to Fort Collins and is looking to get a brewing job there. (Photo above: John, Gene, and husband Jon Graber.)

The photo at right is of Odells brewing crew. Left to right: Ryan King, Jim Weatherwax and Greg Wiggall. It's hard to tell, but they are standing in front of Odell's 5-barrel pilot brewery. This cute little brewery is parked right in the midst of Odell's 50-barrel brewhouse and assorted giant tanks.

As John Bryant explained Odell's system to me, it is the brewers and their imaginations that drive Odell's engine. Marketing doesn't ask the brewers to "brew something like our competitor" or "make me a light amber ale," rather, the brewers come up with any new recipe or idea that suits their fancy. Then they brew it on their 5-barrel system, and it is up to the marketing guys to sell it. This creative process was the genesis of Odell's popular (and yummy) 5 Barrel Pale Ale. This 5-barrel brewery also drives Odell's annual Small Batch Beer Festival.

John Bryant gifted us with an Odell's t-shirt (for me) and baseball cap (for Jon). Thanks, Odell's!

Then it was off to New Belgium Brewing Company before Brewmaster Peter Bouckaert went home for the day. We drove past Coopersmiths Brewpub. We had planned to drop in, but I hadn't heard from anybody there, so we waved as we drove by. The brewpub was packed, which was great considering it was a Tuesday.

Ran into Peter as he was running out the door for New Belgium's monthly Crown Pub educational series. Assistant Brewmaster Grady Hull gave us a ride over to the Crown after New Belgium's very serious security folks made Jon and I security tags for tomorrow.

Every month, New Belgium's brewers, cellarfolks, laboratory and production people are encouraged to discuss a new or educational topic in the informal setting of the Crown. This month's topic was bottle-conditioned beers, and the meeting was lead by former Eugene brewer (and newlywed) John Rich. I knew John from back in his High Street brewing days.

Jon and I arrived well into the meeting, so we ended up at the "kid's table" and thus too far away to hear or partake in the discussion. We tried all the New Belgium beers on tap, and I was happy to note that the Crown Pub treated both of Fort Collins' main craft breweries equally, as New Belgium and Odell's each had four beers available. Then it was back to New Belgium where we would be parked for the night
The New Belgium crowd at the Crown Pub was much larger than this photo shows, but I couldn't fit everybody in. John Rich is second from right above, in the blue t-shirt

A Visit to Avery, Left Hand, and Oskar Blues

"I am seduced by travel." ~Charles Kuralt

June 25: A long day of driving and brewery visits. Started out the morning at Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder. (Photo above: Steve Breezley and Adam Avery.) Steve gave Jon and me a custom tour of Avery's patchworked and ever-growing brewery. It's an inside joke that Avery will be moving to a purpose-built new building in two years. They've been saying that for many years now.

Steve's tour ended in the new tasting room. We got to try some of their experimental beers from wooden casks including a version of Salvation, Avery's Belgian Golden Ale, that had been aged in a Sauvignon Blanc keg. Hearty, tart, and tasty. I've been waiting for somebody to experiment with white wine kegs. If Avery hadn't done it, I'd have to do it. I still might do it if I get the chance. A big thanks to Steve and Adam for loading us up with a mixed case of Avery's finest. White Rascal Wit was great on such a hot day.

Next stop was Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont. (Photo at right: Joe Schiraldi and Andy Brown) Joe and Andy tag-teamed on a tour because Joe was busy with his filter. We got to taste several beers including a nice Milk Stout.
Time for lunch, so a stop at the Pump House Brewery, also in Longmont. The brewer wasn't in, but we ran into Greg Nowatzki (photo left) of Las Vegas.

Greg and I were featured on the 2002 GABF (Great American Beer Festival) program that aired on the Food Channel. Even though we were both on the same film, we had never met, but I recognized him sitting at the bar. Of course Greg had his 3-ring binder listing every beer he'd ever tasted. In 2002 he was up to over 4,000 beers, now he is up to over 9,000 beers. It turns out that Greg is a fellow Wisconsinite - originally from Madison.

Left the Pump House Brewery and returned to our van and trailer to find that Longmont's Finest had left us a ticket. Notice the nice diagram in the lower left corner showing how we had parked and taken up three parking spots. (Gee officer, we could have taken five spaces, but we were trying to be courteous.)

Next it was off to Oskar Blues in Lyons. When I first sent out the notice that I was departing on this trip, marketing man Marty Jones called me to make sure I had received his email invite. Marty couldn't meet us today, but brewers Mike and Eric gave us a tour. (Photo at left: Eric Huber and Mike Hall.) I'd been wanting to see their canning operation for a long time. Note the pallets of cans stacked behind Eric and Mike in the photo.

Both Oskar Blues and Left Hand had a neat contraption outside their breweries that I'd never seen before: A big wheeled spent grain dumper. (Photo at right.) Seems like a good idea to me.

Last was the drive up hill to Estes Park to visit Jon's old pal, Baby Kay and her family. Baby Kay is all grown up now, and so are her two babies. Dave grilled burgers, and we sat outside on a balmy summer eve on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park in their back yard and enjoyed a few of the beers we'd collected. What a nice end to a brewery-filled day!

(Photo at right: Maddy, Kay, Dave, Teri, Jon and Mica.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Denver, Colorado

"I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind – filled with a strong desire to wander." ~Matsuo Bashō

June 24: Jon and I spent a wonderful Sunday with my sister Heidi and her family. (Photo above: Top row: Jon and Jan; Bottom row: Teri, Jake, Max and Heidi.)

We did lots of mundane stuff like laundry, and making the trailer's table and benches into a queen-size bed (I've been sleeping up on the bunk), and checking the fluid levels on the van. Here's the total gas expense and mileage for my trip through Denver:

Miles Driven (so far): 2,812
Gas Purchased (so far): $790.18

The best part of the day was playing with my nephews, Jake (almost 8) and Max (6). We played Blink, Set, Loot, The Very Clever Pipe Game, Hang Man and Cathedral. We also drew pictures with watercolor pencils, and tried to grow yellow crystals with a science kit.

Heidi made a delicious salmon and tilapia dinner, and I read the boys a book on Black Holes before bed. And that was our day.

American Homebrewers Assn Conference Banquet

"Wherever your journey takes you, there are new gods waiting there, with divine patience and laughter." ~Susan M. Watkins

June 23: Happy day! I got to meet up with my husband, Jon Graber (photo at left), at the AHA Conference Banquet in Denver, Colorado.

Met up with fellow Eugeneans and Cascade Brewer Society homebrew club members Brandt Weaver and Denny Conn (photo at right).

Met up with lots of other beer industry luminaries like Charlie Papazian (photo below).

Jon made me wear my pink rubber boots to the dinner. He even washed the brewery grime from them for me. I attempted to be fashionable with a matching pink and black skirt. Denny Conn tried to improve my outfit by giving me some red Mardi Gras beads with three small rubber chickens hanging from it. The rubber chicken necklaces seemed to be the fashion du jour.

The dinner was excellent, the awards ceremony was fun and casual, the prizes for the winners were generous, and everybody had a dang good time.

Next year's conference will be in Cinncinnati. If you're a home brewer - don't miss it! You never know who you'll meet. In 1988 I was a homebrewer and attended the AHA conference. I met Charlie Papazian, Michael Jackson, and a few professional brewers. It was there that I decided to go Pro myself. The rest, as they say, is history.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Drive: Durango to Colorado Springs

"Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life - is the source from which self-respect springs." ~Joan Didion

June 22: Up at 6:45 am and on the road at 7:35 pm, after cousin Kevin cooked me up a road-sustaining scrambled egg and English muffin breakfast. Then a long drive across Hwy 160 and over the very steep Wolf Creek Pass. The road photo below is from Hwy 160. (What would a road trip blog be like without at least one nice road photo?)
Arrived at my cousin Laura's house at about 3:30pm. Her husband Jon was mowing the lawn in anticipation of daughter Nichole's sixth birthday party the next morning.

The rest of the Colorado Springs clan joined us for dinner. Well, most of them. Some of them already flew to Missouri for their grandfather's 90th birthday party this weekend. Jon grilled up a bunch of hamburgers and Wisconsin bratwurst.

After dinner Jon set up Nichole's new blow-up water slide and the kids had a blast doing flips off the top while the adults held their breaths until that kid moved and proved that kids are made of rubber and seemingly impervious to serious injury or paralization.

Above is the goofy family picture, and I think I like that one better. Below is the straight picture. Here's who's who in the photos: L to R: Teri, Ryan, Ashley, Bonnie, Justin, Lisa, Nichole, Jon and Laura.

Pink Boots at Ska

"The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good." ~Baltasar Gracian

June 21: Slept in till 9:00 am. All this driving is taking its toll. My cousin Kevin lent me his old Toyota Four-Runner so that I could leave my van hooked up while I went to Ska for the day.

Spent part of the morning with Jeffrey Wayne Ogden who was brewing up a batch of Pin Stripe Red. Jonathan Reed prepped a plate & frame filter.

Partner Matt Vincent showed me the blueprints for their new 4-story building. Construction should start in July, with move-in slated for one year later. Everybody at Ska seemed excited and relieved (and perhaps terrified) of the big move.

Hung out with Lab Technician Katie Frye. I can happily report that Katie is just on top of it. And she's interested in a pair of steel-toed pink boots, if I can find a manufacturer willing to manufacture a custom order for a whole bunch of us brew women. Katie is in the budget-and-planning stage for Ska's future lab, so if any of you lab specialists want to pass her your helpful hints on what you recommend for her lab in the new building, please email her at

Then I helped myself to a popcorn lunch and talked to Partner Bill Graham about the differences between brewing and distilling. In addition to being a partner at Ska, Bill is also a partner at Peach Street Distillers. He gave me samples of his Apricot Eau de Vie and Peach Eau de Vie. Eau de good! Ska's beers seemed to lean toward the English style, and were equally good.

Meanwhile, the staff was getting ready for the weekly Ska-be-que, an unadvertised treat for Ska's regulars. Each Thursday at 4:30 pm, Ska invites a local restaurant to serve some food, and a local band to play some music. It's free to the regulars and anybody else who shows up. The restaurant and musicians get an opportunity to promote themselves plus some beer in trade. The regulars get a weekly party with some free grub, and Ska gets to sell some beer and build a lot of goodwill.

I enjoyed two soft tacos by Gaspacho Mexican Restaurant. The music de jour was punk and a little loud, but still fun. The crowd was friendly, and included some of the best-looking dogs and babies I've seen. This week's Ska-be-que was also the going-away party for Ska's distributing guy, who is moving to California, so there were a few visiting local brewers in attendance.

My contact for Ska, Partner Dave Thibodeau arrived during the Ska-be-que, so I finally got to meet him. A big thanks to Dave for gifting me two t-shirts and a bottle of Double Blonde.

One of the local brewers who showed up was an old friend of mine, Scott Bickert. What a surprise. Scott used to work at Rio Salado and Tommyknockers, and is now a Partner at Durango Brewing Company. Scott was accompanied by his Assistant Brewer, Ben McKibben. Here's a list of who's who in the above photos:

Top Photo: L to R: top row: Katie and Matt; bottom row: Bill, Teri, Jeffery and Jonathan.

Middle Photo: L to R: Beth Graham with baby Ila, Bill, Teri, Dave and Matt.

Bottom Photo: Ben and Scott from Durango Brewing, and Teri in her new Ska scooter girl t-shirt.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Drive: Sedona to Durango

"Maps encourage boldness. They're like cryptic love letters. They make anything seem possible." ~Mark Jenkins

June 20: More uphill driving. All day from 7:15 am until 4:30 pm. That's over 9 hours if you're counting. Arrived at my cousin Kevin's house in Durango just as Kevin was leaving to go set up for his "gig," playing electric guitar in a jazz duo at a restaurant downtown.

The photos above and at left were taken shortly after I entered Colorado from New Mexico. I immediately decided that Colorado was a prettier place than either Arizona or New Mexico.

Now, don't get mad if you think otherwise. You didn't just spend 9.25+ hours driving on hot Interstate highways here! The green of Colorado is immediately soothing to one's beige rock and red stone-parched eyeballs.

I played two rounds of "Loot" the pirate card game (and one of my favorite games) with Kevin's daughters, Maria (16) and Kayla (14). Then we went downtown to the restaurant where Kevin was playing jazz. I had a lovely grilled chicken and toasted walnut salad and two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sorry to disappoint the hard-core beer fans, but I like wine too. (Nice break actually.)

The girls and I sat outside and enjoyed the warm and breezy Durango evening, and Kev's music.
Once home, Kevin and I caught up on what all our relatives were up do. I hadn't realized the time zone change, so we were up talking until 1:00 am! I slept well and hard - until nearly 9:00 am.

A Visit to Oak Creek in Sedona, Arizona

"Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes." ~James A. Froude

June 19: I am getting a little burned out on the intense pace of my trip at this point. Drive, brew, blog, repeat. And I miss my husband like crazy. Only a few more days until he joins me.

It is all up hill heading north out of Phoenix on Hwy 17. I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get from Surprise to Prescott. Since the drive included very steep inclines up Mingus Mountain, and the ambient temperature was about 108, I had to turn off the air conditioner, roll down the windows, and turn the heat on high. Needless to say, I quickly became a cranky face.

There were so many mountain rises between me and my destination, that I had to crank up the heat lots of times and the going was slow. Grrrr! My Cingular cell phone lost service and still hasn't regained it as I write this post from Durango, Colorado.

I stopped at a McDonald's at the Hwy 69 turn-off to Prescott for something cold, and called Prescott Brewing Company's owner John Nielson on the pay phone to tell him that I wouldn't make it, and that I had to press on toward Sedona. Pay phones are a pain in the butt because they hang you up after two minutes. And it's so freakin' hot here! Grrrr.

Arrived at Oak Creek Brewing Co. in Sedona, and Brewmaster Jim Strelau was waiting for me. The photo above is of Jim showing off the company's 1929 Model A "C" Cab delivery sedan. It's fitted with beer taps on the sides. Jim gave me the tour of his hard-working brewery. He and two brewers put out over 4,000 barrels a year at Oak Creek's two labor-intensive locations. Don't try that at home, folks! Jim works way more hours than is healthy, and although working since dawn, he rallied for my visit.
Jim set me up with a sampler of all his beers, then went home to fetch his fetching girlfriend Casey.

We went to Oak Creek's brewpub (separate ownership) for dinner. The photo at right is of the pretty (and functional) seven barrel JV Northwest glycol-jacketed serving tanks behind the bar. Note the custom copper jackets and top-shelf liquor racks. Snazzy!

Jim helped me back Big Buddy up Oak Creek's sloped parking lot for the night. It was hot and my head was downhill, but I was pretty tired. The next morning I was up at 6:45 am and on the road at 7:15 am. The photo below is the view back toward the mountains surrounding Sedona as I hit Hwy 17 heading north again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Surprise, Arizona

"Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth: the egg of the phoenix." ~Christina Baldwin

June 18: Got caught in a bit of afternoon traffic in Phoenix. In my opinion, the early rush-hour seemed more chaotic (and therefore worse) than Los Angeles. The temperature was a nerve-frying 113 degrees. Ventured to Surprise, Arizona, the farthest West and North suburb of Phoenix, to visit my Aunt Karen and Uncle Bill. Their daughter, my cousin Megan, lives nearby and joined us.

It was a nice chance to relax in a pleasant air-conditioned environment, look at the family photos on the walls, and do my laundry. (Maybe an extensive road trip would make a good reality show, because you have the reality of dirt and sweat all the time.) Uncle Bill grilled some good Wisconsin bratwurst, and after dinner Megan and I played three rounds of "Cathedral," one of my favorite games. A real shower and a real bed, and I slept great.

The next morning we went out for breakfast and I got a tour of the planned community section of Surprise. I was happy to see that the citizens are encouraged (perhaps required) to plant native desert shrubs and plants. Instead of green lawns, everyone has nicely sculpted gravel and rock beds out front. Very sensible folks, if you call living in a hot-as-heck desert sensible!

After updating my blog, I was off to Prescott, Arizona.

Pink Boots at Four Peaks

"Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings." ~Samuel Johnson

June 18: Last night Brewer-Owner Andy Ingram and his staff set me up with a prime parking spot right in front of the outdoor patio, and I plugged my 75 foot extension cord. Ahhh, air conditioning in the trailer. I wouldn't have had that in the teardrop!

As promised, here are the "washing her hair in a brewery bucket" photos. Andy was kind enough to set me up with 1/3 hot water from the liquor back and 2/3 city water for the event.

Andy manned the first of four batches of Arizona'a best-selling draft craft-brewed beer, Four Peaks' Kiltlifter Scotch Ale (6.1% ABV). Andy came in to start the brew at 4:00 am. Charlie Billingsley took over on the second batch.

Jim Roper handled their newish finicky filter. If any of you have a Velo FOF8, 8-meter horizontal DE Filter, please email Jim at and give him your advice and secrets. Jim and Charlie have tried every variation suggested, yet still the filter wants to bleed through about half the time. I offered several suggestions based on my 3-meter vertical screen closed-erosion doser experience, but either Jim had already tried the suggestion, or we determined it wouldn't work on his open-dosing system.

Owner-Partner Jim Scussel joined us for lunch. (Photo above, L to R: Andy, Jim S., Teri, Jim R. and Charlie.) The food here is great. For lunch I had the Prime Rib sandwich with fried onions and red peppers on their house-baked beer bread (a thick soft pita-like roll-up bread made with their 8th Street Ale).

Four Peaks has swamp-cooler technology nailed down. Andy turned on the big cooler in the brewery at 5:00 am, and the brewery seemed to stay fairly cool until I left about 3:00 pm. Outside, the fog-misters made the patio feel like San Diego instead of 110 degrees.

Jim S. and Andy gifted me with a case each of their famous Kiltlifter and their 8th Street Ale. You know what makes the Kiltlifter such a great beer for Arizona? It tastes good cold and after it warms up. Unless you chug your beers, they tend to warm up quickly in Arizona. Four Peaks hopes to hit 16,000 barrels of production this year.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Drive: San Marcos to Tempe, Arizona

"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything." ~Charles Kuralt

June 17: I skipped my morning shower opportunity at Greg Koch's old house, and chose to make highway time instead. I was tired of driving on Interstate freeways, although for this marathon section of my trip, they are mostly necessary. I'd been given recommendations to take Hwy 8 or Hwy 10 toward Phoenix, but I picked some 2-lane highways to take me toward Hwy 10 in a more direct line to Phoenix.

If you are following along on your map, I took Hwy 78-East from San Marcos to Hwy 15-North to Hwy 79-South to Hwy 371-North to Hwy 74-East to Hwy 111-South to Hwy 10-East. Whew! Are you dizzy yet?

Hwy 74 was a beautiful winding twisting road through a pretty desert with lots of rocks, shrubs, and outcrops. Lots of motorcyclists were out enjoying a sunny Father's Day ride. The photo above is from the Cahuilla Tawanet overlook. Hwy 74 dropped me into the town of Palm Desert. What a change of scenery. Palm Desert and Indian Springs are possibly the most beautiful and unnatural creations of mankind foisted upon an arid environment. So much green grass you'd think you were in Oregon (except when you spy the barren hills on the horizon.)

Finally I made it to Hwy 10. What a long hot ride to Tempe! I watched the engine temperature carefully, and when it tried to creep above 235 degrees, I had to turn off the air conditioning and roll down the windows to keep the van from overheating. Good thing I didn't waste time going to get a shower this morning!

Arrived at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe around 5:30 pm. Owner-Brewer Andy Ingram was busy enjoying Father's Day with his two kids, so I enjoyed a beer newspaper and a sampler set of 8 beers. Andy then joined me for dinner, and gave me the quick tour. Looks like I'll be able to park within extension cord distance tonight, so I can run Big Buddy's air conditioner. I'm happy about that because most of today's drive was at 109-112 degrees. Four Peaks doesn't have a shower for me, so tomorrow I plan to wash my hair in a 5-gallon pail of warm brewery water. Stay tuned for photos.

P.S. Thank you to Andy Ingram and Four Peaks Brewing Co. for letting me take over his office to update this blog.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pink Boots at Stone

"Don’t stay at home and putter around the house. You need a change of scene." ~David M. Ogilvy

June 16: Saturday morning and the kettle is burning at Stone Brewing Company in San Marcos. Brewer Jeremy Moynier was single-handedly manning the mash when I arrived. Jeremy is a former wine-maker with an interesting history that begins and ends in San Diego. And here he is, a brewer at Stone and loving it.

Brewer Laura Ulrich joined us at 10:00 am to begin her filter on the large Velo vertical screen open dosing DE filter. Laura worked her way up, unafraid of any of the boy's jobs, and I must say it was refreshing and fun to hang out with her. It is rare that I get to talk shop with another woman brewer, and Laura is totally into it. You go girl!

Laura was kind enough to treat me to dinner at Stone's Bistro. I asked her what she thought of my idea of gathering the contact info for all the women brewers I could find, and forming a "Pink Boots Society." (Sort of like the "Red Hat Society.") She liked the idea. We thought it would be fun to get together at a once-a-year event; maybe dinner during the week of the GABF. All us "Pink Boot Society" women could drink beer and talk about brewing, styles of beer, our experiences breaking into (and staying in) the brewing business, etc.

So, I think I'll do that. It will take a bit of time because I'm busy with this road trip, but eventually I will try to put together a roster of all the women craft brewers (not lab techs or marketing people, but actual brewers), and I will list these women (by state) on my website,

It is 10:35 pm and I am working on this blog in Stone's brewing office, waiting for Kevin Gray to dry-hop the Ruination IPA so that I can take a picture. I'm falling down tired and Kevin won't be ready for awhile, so it's off to the trailer and bed for me. I've got a long drive again tomorrow.

P.S. Thank you to Stone Brewing Company for the free wireless in their Bistro.

Pink Boots at Port

"Adventure is my only reason for living." ~Alexandra David-Neel

June 15: Knock knock. It's 5:30 am, and whereas I thought I was parked in an out of the way spot at Stone Brewing Co., I was actually in the middle of the early morning action. Stone ships their out-of-area kegs and bottles by 4:30 pm. The local deliveries depart by 6:30 am. Plus, the employees wanted to park in those spots I was using. So, I fired up the van and pulled Big Buddy to the top of the "upper lot" near the restaurant. Then I went back to sleep. Stone's owner Greg Koch had generously offered the use of the shower at his old house, which is for sale and empty, so I headed there to freshen up upon waking.

After a quick lunch at Albertsons grocery store, I headed for Port Brewing Company. Port is housed in Stone's old facilities in San Marcos. Brewmaster Tomme Arthur was out of town on an East Coast beer safari, but owner Vince Marsaglia welcomed me. Vince was in the middle of cooking up a seafood penne pasta extravaganza on Port's loading dock. It smelled so good, I had to have a second lunch.

Afterwards, Vince fired up Port's 8-head "Skip-Built" bottle filler. Vince mentioned that until today they'd only filled bottle-conditioned beers with it, but today he planned to counter-pressure fill Shark Bite Red into special private-label bottles for Qual-Com. I fetched my safety glasses (more like sunglasses) from my van. Vince showed me how to run the gas-powered bottle crowner, and he and I tag-teamed most of the afternoon. (Photos above.) Bo Winegarner manned the bar as Port's faithful fans filed in to get their Friday afternoon growlers filled.

Vince took off, Bo cleaned the bottling mess, and dynamic duo Terri and Sage Osterfeld took over bartending and growler-filling duties. The bar atmosphere morphed into a friendly living-room sort of place. Patrons brought their dogs and their babies. Homebrewers shared their beers. A local guy nicknamed the "Beer Hunter" shared his latest finds. I enjoyed the Devotion, Red Barn, 10 Commandments, Angel's Share, and a few others. Terri gifted me three bottles of tasty treats to take with me.

Every time I asked for a "taste," I was served half a glass. I moved from the twilight zone to the danger zone, as most of Port's beers are unique, delicious, wood-aged, and quite strong. The bar is only open on Fridays from 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm, and if you make it there, you were trying because it is not so easy to find.

After closing, Terri, Sage and their friends and crew took me to dinner at Churchills, the No#1 beer bar in the area. I had very nice Fish & Chips and a Kolsch. Adam Tillotson and his wife dropped me off at my van at Port Brewing. I keep an Alchohawk breathalizer in my van for these occasions. Needless to say I sat in the parking lot and chatted with my husband for about 45 minutes until I was legal to drive. Also needless to say, I had a well-earned headache in the middle of the night. Although Port's beers were excellent, I hope not to repeat the hangover experience during the rest of my trip.

L to R: Adam, Teri, Bo, Terri and Sage
P.S. Thank you to Stone Brewing Company for the free wireless in their Bistro.

Drive: Paso Robles to San Marcos, California

"What is more beautiful than a road?" ~George Sand

June 14: The good news today was that I was accepted to receive a scholarship from District Northwest MBAA to attend the MBAA International Brewers Symposium on Hops in Corvallis. That will save me $324 for the registration and the monograph. Every little bit helps because I'll be paying my flight from Bar Harbor, Maine to Corvallis, Oregon for the event, plus my hotel room. (And $324 adds up to over 4 tanks of gas.)

The other good news is that Matt Brynildson gifted me a mixed case of Firestone Walker beer, and helped me get the van jumped after the battery quit.

The bad news is that after a late start, I had a very long day. I had trouble finding an RV wastewater dump station and had to back track on Hwy 101 after several false leads. Finally I drove past San Luis Obisbo at 1:00 pm. Then I hit rush hour at 3:45 pm in Santa Barbara. Traffic let up a bit, then really crawled until the rush hour bottleneck let loose at 7:30 pm somewhere on Hwy 405 in L.A. I felt like I was driving 5, 10, or 65 miles an hour all day, with no other choices allowed.

I lightened the drudgery with slowly doled out diet Dr. Pepper and Cheetos. I thought of road signs I wanted to see posted at freeway on-ramps like, "If you're too stupid to accellerate when merging, stay off the freeway." And bumper stickers like, "Powered by Dr. Pepper."

I grew tired as the sky grew blacker. Finally got to Stone Brewing Co. about 10:00 pm. Although I needed a shower bad, I was too tired to disconnect the trailer and find owner Greg Koch's old house for my shower. I parked in a quiet area in back, away from the restaurant parking, and camped there for the night.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Give me your tired, your beer-stone encrusted, your cracked and warped…

“You can't choose the ways in which you'll be tested.” ~Robert J. Sawyer

I’m looking for class props: I will be teaching a class at the American Brewers Guild when I get to Vermont. My class will be on practical brewing, and will partially focus on equipment maintenance and replacement for the small brewery. If you are about to replace or throw out a busted or worn part that I can use as a visual, please save it for me. I will pick it up when I visit you. (Scroll down for schedule through July 14.)

No breweries will be mentioned by name in my class, as everybody replaces, cleans, fixes, or tosses out stuff like these examples. We wouldn’t want any students getting a wrong view of a good brewery that is taking care of things properly (and giving these nice cast-offs to me).

Not all props have to be ugly or broken. The pipette filler is perfectly functional. I just need visuals to demonstrate good brewing and good lab practices.

Please keep your lab samples and filled petri dishes: nothing growing or alive please. My sample of enterobacter bacteria already exploded, as my trailer’s fridge doesn’t cool properly. Thanks.

Can you identify the nifty props that I’ve picked up on my trip so far? (photo above):

Sankey keg stem covered with beer-stone
Stainless reducer with non-sanitary welds
Lab pipette filler
Worn butterfly valve gasket
Corroded pump seal
Gauge that displays a false pressure reading
Worn sanitizing brush
Cracking and dirty CO2 hose

Anything visual that demonstrates a point would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pink Boots At Firestone Walker

"Pilgrims are poets who create by taking journeys." ~Richard R. Niebuhr

June 13: I am sitting on the curb outside Firestone Walker Brewing Company at sunset. I can smell the wort from their 5th batch of today, a batch of DBA (Double Barrel Ale). The compressors are noisy, the highway traffic less so. The western horizon an reveals the silhouette of a broad orchard crowned with a pink sky, fading up into violet and then pale ultramarine blue. The North Star hangs suspended like a single white Christmas light alone in that expanse of pale blue. A small black beetle decides not to climb on my legs where my laptop is balanced. The wireless signal is not quite good enough here. I'll have to move closer to the tasting room.

Today I spent a lovely morning with Will Crosby (photo above with Brewmaster Matt Brynildson) brewing Red Nectar and then DBA on Firestone Walker's 50-barrel JV Northwest system. This system is very similar to Deschutes' 50-bbl JVNW system, except Firestone Walker uses hop pellets and Deschutes uses whole hops. Will even let me hop in the kettle to squeegie the last bits of the spent grain down the chute.

I spent most of the afternoon with QC Manager Jim Crooks (photo right) in their lab. We swapped stories on qualtiy control (or the lack that we've both seen in our long careers.) Both Will and Jim are very into bread-making. Seems there are a lot of us yeast nuts out there.

I'm parked in a shady spot near the brewery. There's railroad tracks about 20 feet from Big Buddy, but only one long train went by last night. On the other side of the tracks is a large brown-grass field full of sheep and one dedicated shepard.

Paso Robles is a grown-up agricultural town. That means the visitation of wine-country tourists ensure a decent selection of restaurants downtown. Matt Brynildson and his girlfriend Melissa and I enjoyed some of that selection. If it weren't so darn hot here, it would be a nicer place than it already is.

P.S. Thank you to Firestone Walker for the free wireless internet in their tasting room.

Long Drive with Short Stop in Gilroy, California

"To know the road ahead, ask those coming back." ~Chinese Proverb

June 12: Spoke with Bill Owens this morning, publisher of American Distiller ( who is on his own 4-month road trip. Bill is taking photographs for two upcoming books - the first one (on America) is an updated expansion of his famous photography book, "Suburbia" which is still used in university level photography courses. The second book is a photo book on the current state of the American Craft Distilling scene. Bill and I determined that he is about six weeks ahead of me. We will try to link up somewhere along the road.

After a quick drive from San Jose to Gilroy, I stopped into Farmhouse Brewing Company. Peter Licht (pronounced Light) has been brewmaster there since 1995 when it was called Coast Range Brewing Company. I know Peter because Steelhead contracted them to brew two brands of root beer in bottles, "Steelhead" and "Bulldog." Bulldog Root Beer is available nationwide at Cost Plus World Market. Steelhead Root Beer is available at the three Steelhead brewpubs as well as limited distribution in Eugene and Portland in Oregon.

Peter is a former New Yorker with a classic road trip tale: Way back when, he and a buddy got in their car and drove until they ran out of gas money. They ended up in California and they're both still here. Peter looks serious in this photo but he throws his head back when he laughs, and he laughs a lot. For a New Yorker he's a pretty mellow guy who doesn't seem to let much bother him.

Peter gifted me with three 22 oz bottles of his Farmhouse Ales, and a bottle of his "Boot Rear" root beer.

Back on the road, I powered down Hwy 101. It was interesting to note that between Gilroy and Salinas, half of the radio stations were spanish-speaking. That's an estimate, but I definitely had to channel surf a lot as I don't speak spanish.

Arrived in Paso Robles in good time.

P.S. Thank you to Firestone Walker Brewing Company for offering free wireless in their tasting room so I could update this blog.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Schedule as of June 11th

This is still a bit of a wish list as not all of these folks have been contacted. Email and Internet contact is sketchy from the road. Sometimes it is best to call me instead of waiting for me to call you.

Tues June 12 - Drive to Gilroy (visit Farmhouse/Coast Range) then to Paso Robles.
Wed June 13 - Brew at Firestone-Walker Brewing Co.
Thur June 14 - Drive to San Marcos, CA
Fri June 15 - Brew at Port Brewing Co.
Sat June 16 - Brew at Stone Brewing Co.
Sun June 17 - Drive to Tempe, AZ.
Mon June 18 - Brew at Four Peaks Brewing Co.
Tues June 19 - Drive toPrescott and Sedona, AZ. Visit Prescott & Oak Creek Brewing Co.s
Wed June 20 - Drive to Durango, CO.
Thur June 21 - Brew at SKA Brewing Co.
Fri June 22 - Drive to Colorado Springs and visit family.
Sat June 23 - Drive to Denver, CO.
Sun June 24 - Visit family in Denver. Husband Jon Graber joins me.
Mon June 25 - Visit breweries in Boulder (Avery), Longmont (Left Hand), and Lyons (Oskar Blues). Stay with friends in Estes Park.
Tues June 26 - Visit Odell and Coopersmith Breweries in Fort Collins.
Wed June 27 - Brew at New Belgium Brewing Co.
Thur June 28 - Drive to Crazy Horse, Mt Rushmore, and Rapid City, SD. Visit Firehouse Brewing.
Fri June 29 - Drive to Sioux Falls, SD. Visit Granite City Brewery.
Sat June 30 - Drive to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Visit Herkimer and Summit breweries. Then drive to Chippewa Falls, WI.
Sun July 1 - Drive to Munising, MI.
July 2-6 - Visit family in Munising.
Sat July 7 - Drive to West Bend, WI.
Sun July 8 - Husband Jon flies home to Eugene.
July 8-14 - Visit family in West Bend.

Sun July 15 - From this point on I can relax with my trip as I am past the time deadlines. I will probably visit Madison-area, then Chicago-area, then Michigan. Details to come...

The Kyle and Jason Show

"My interest is in the future because I intend to spend the rest of my life there." ~Charles F. Kettering

June 11: Spent a wonderful evening with Jon's cousin, Brendan's family in San Jose. Kyle (almost 5) and Jason (almost 3) are my new adopted nephews. They adopted me too. Mom Stephanie grilled steaks for dinner and I took a night off from beer. I didn't know that two kids could jump off the top of a 3-foot plastic playhouse into a 10-inch blow-up pool using so many variations and styles of jumps, twists, and splashes.

Happy, Hoppy Hayward, California

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." ~Beverly Sills

June 11: Spent most of the day in the subterranean offices of Tom Dalldorf's Celebrator Beer Newspaper. Tom worked on editing some neat beer festival videos for the Celebrator website, and I worked on this blog.

Mike Pitsker joined us in Tom's cave for a beer tasting. Mike brought the mixed 6-pack of cans of Maui Brewing Company beers. We tasted the Bikini Blonde Lager (hazy with fruity ale-like esters but lager flavor), Big Swell IPA (coppery with a murky haze and big resinous hop aroma and flavors), and CoCoNut Porter (more chocolate on the nose with forward raw coconut in the flavor). Then we escaped to the surface for fresh air and sunshine.

After a lovely lunch outside at the new, improved and expanded Buffalo Bills Brewpub, we walked across the street to Vic Kralj's famous "The Bistro." Vic was on duty so we had a few tastes of his marvelous draft selection including Green Flash West Coast IPA, Green Flash Double IPA, and Russian River Blind Pig IPA. We joked that the average IBU of the beers Vic had on tap must be 60 IBU or more. (Photo above L to R: Vic, Teri, Mike and Tom.)

Luckily we only had tastes, as next it was back into traffic for me, heading to San Jose.

P.S. Thank you to Tom Dalldorf and the Celebrator Beer News for letting me hook into their wireless for a few hours.

San Francisco Bay Area Friends

"Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it." ~Marcus Tullius Cicero
June 10: After a morning of organizing Big Buddy (my trailer), I met my former coworker buddy Ann at her home in San Leandro. She took me to lunch at Horatio's on the waterfront, and we had a lovely view of the marina while enjoying our seafood-themed brunch. Then we walked it off by circling the marina. Ann is from Michigan, and with me being a Wisconsinite, we mentally surfed that Midwesterner wavelength. It was fun catching up.
After a thorough review of SF Bay Area maps, it was off to Foster City where I lived when I worked as a financial systems COBOL programmer in the 1980's. Met up with some of my old pals who still live in the area. Camped near Steve's house. Steve and his girlfriend Jennifer cooked up a feast of marinated grilled chicken, strawberry spinach salad, and asparagus. I provided the beer and root beer for the feast. Aggie and Dan brought their kids Rachel and Sean, and also fruit salad and cheesecake. (No we didn't eat their kids - somebody had to take the photo!) It was really fun to reminisce about our youth and former careers.

L to R: Aggie, Dan, Teri, Jennifer and Steve
The next morning Jennifer and I went on a power-walk tour of Foster City, then I drove to Hayward to visit Tom Dalldorf at the Celebrator Beer Newspaper offices.

P.S. Thank you to Tom for letting me plug into his wireless and spend several hours working on photos and blogs.

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