Friday, September 28, 2007

A Visit to Bloomington & Upland Breweries

"Goodness is the only investment that never fails." ~Henry David Thoreau

September 23-24: Drove from Lexington, Kentucky to Bloomington, Indiana. As I drove the limestone showing through where the highway was cut changed from shale-like to granite-like. The clouds were beautiful, numerous and fluffy white, just like they were in Kentucky. More of the trees were turning brown, with many leaves falling from the trees and tumbling across the highway in front of me. Across southern Indiana I found a lot of Country Music radio stations and had to keep searching for classic rock.

I arrived at the home of Bloomington Brewing Company's Owner/Partner Jeff Mease in the early afternoon. We connected right away and talked our heads off about brewpubs and restaurants.

Jeff got his start in the restaurant business by dropping out of college at 20 and starting his own pizza delivery company. He learned quickly at the College of Hard Knocks, and grew his pizza company to a regional (citywide) chain of five Pizza Express companies. More locations than either Dominos or Papa Johns has in Bloomington, a vibrant college town of about 80,000 people.

Jeff is very progressive and is passionate about sustainability. He's got one emission-free electric delivery vehicle, and plans to get another one within a year.

The photo above, at left and at right show Jeff, his electric delivery "truck," and me in the driver seat. I didn't actually drive it, but I can tell you it was a fairly quiet ride. The truck's top speed is about 20 miles per hour, and it is licensed to go on any city street with a 35 MPH speed limit or less.
In 1994 (not sure of the year as I memorize the info - I'll repost the correct answer later), Jeff opened Lennie's restaurant with his then-wife. Later he added the Bloomington Brewing Company and pub next door.

I asked Jeff if he had problems as a restaurant owner, selling beer to other restaurants. He said a few but not many. It helps that Jeff is a huge supporter of the local restaurant association and has built solid, positive relationships with the other restaurant owners.

Plus he's low key with his brewery signage in Lennie's. You may notice in the photo at the top of this page that the name "Bloomington Brewing Company" is not listed anywhere on the external signage. The tap handles are plain black without logos.

We went to the brewpub for dinner. It's connected to Lennies. Lennies has a more upscale feel, and the brewpub has a casual feel. While we enjoyed our beers and dinner, Brewmaster Floyd Rosenbaum dropped in. Photo at left is of Floyd and Jeff.

After dinner we wheelied in the delivery truck over to Upland Brewing Company to visit Lead Brewer Eileen (Ale-Leen) Martin. Eileen has 15 years of professional brewing experience. It just amazes me that there are women brewers out there with that depth of experience that I never heard of. Eileen had heard of me. I make a lot more "noise" out in the brewing world (writing articles, this blog, etc.) than she does.

Eileen is a petite blonde with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a lot of passion for brewing. (Photo at right.) Eileen spent most of her brewing career in Louisville, Kentucky. She's been at Upland in Bloomington, Indiana for the last two years.

Eileen gave me the full tour of Upland's brewpub. Upland is currently the largest brewery in Indiana, producing 5,000 barrels a year in bottles and kegs.

I was shocked to see how the management/owner team at Upland refused to separate the brewery and kitchen space. It wasn't just the serving tank cooler sharing space with lettuce and chicken breasts; all the brewery space was shared with the restaurant and kitchen. The staff's "break table," was right in the middle of the brewery. I can't blame Eileen; she's as much in favor of separate spaces for restaurant and brewery production as I am.

Eileen produces a full spectrum of beer styles and sent me packing with a beautiful 750-ml bottle of wood-aged Blueberry Lambic, refermented in the bottle. Then Jeff and I electrically motored back to his house.

Jeff recently bought a 69 acre farm with his ex-wife and current partner, Lennie. (She's now happily remarried.) I think it's great that Jeff and Lennie have a healthy post-divorce business partnership.

Jeff has big plans for his future farm(house) brewery and country restaurant. He wants to produce organic food for the restaurant, and some barley and hops for the brewery. We brainstormed "energy independence" for the project as well as other sustainability issues. We talked until 1:00 am. That's how much fun we had talking and brainstorming!

The next day I blogged from Jeff's big farmhouse-style dining room table until it was time for me to motor off to St. Louis, Missouri.

Shameless Plug for the Great American Beer Festival

I'm a big supporter of the Great American Beer Festival. Steelhead sent beers and served them on the festival floor every year I worked for them. If you've never attended this event, plan your vacation time to do so someday.

I first attended the 1988 festival. Watching Brewmaster Mellie Pullman get up on that stage and accept her medal helped inspire me to "Go Pro" with my homebrewing hobby that same year.

I've attended every year since 1991 as a professional, and I've judged every year since 1991 (except 2004, the year Jon and I got married). There are too many extranous events to attend them all, but if you are as big a beer geek as I am, you will get a lot out of attending as many events as you can.

With Judging and the Judge Orientation & Reception, the GABF lasts five days for me. (Tuesday - Saturday.) If you want to catch me, you can try these public events. I may wear my pink boots (no promises). See my complete Itinerary for more details.

Thur Oct 11
5:30 - 10:00 pm: GABF Festival
7:30-8:00 pm: Women in Brewing Interview (at Festival on Center Stage)
10:00 pm: Introduce Lucy Saunders at KROC meeting

Fri Oct 12
1:00 - 3:00 pm: Alpha King Challenge - Judge (at Falling Rock Tap House)
5:30 - 6:30 pm: You Be The Judge (at Festival booth E1)
5:30 - 10:00 pm: GABF Festival

Sat Oct 13
12:30 - 4:30 pm: GABF Members Only Session
1:15 - 3:00 pm : Awards Ceremony
5:30 - 10:00 pm: GABF Festival (I never stay past 8:00 pm on Saturday night.)

The festival itself is a snapshot of what is happening in each region of the country. You could do your own "Road Brewer Tour" by attending all four sessions and concentrating on a different region each session. Or if you are a big fan of a particular style of beer, study the free booklet and taste every example of that style that you can find.

In my opinion, the very best session to attend (to avoid the crowds) is Thursday night. However, if you want to see the Awards Ceremony, Saturday's day session is THE session to attend. And while all the brewers are crowded around the Awards Stage, the booths are nearly deserted so it's also a great time to taste the beers without any crowds.

In order to attend the Saturday day session, you will need to join the AHA (American Homebrewers Association), as only members, brewers, and the press are allowed to attend this exclusive session.

The numbers are impressive this year, as they are every year. Here is 2007 by the numbers:

408 - Breweries on the festival floor (24 more than last year)
1884 - Beers on the Festival floor (Yikes! 230+ more than last year)
474 - Breweries in the competition (24 more than last year)
2832 - Beers in the competition(422 more than last year) updated 9/14/07
75 - Style Categories being judged (6 more than last year)
107 - Judges from 7 countries(4 more Judges than last year)
Avg number of competition beers in each category: 37 (2 more beers than last year)
Category with most entries: American Style India Pale Ale, 120 Entries(Same category last year and 26 more entries)

Click here for the GABF website. Book your plane and hotel, buy your tickets. GO!

P.S. My old pride and joy, Steelhead Brewing Company, was listed in the October 2007 (current) issue of Playboy magazine in the Stephen Beaumont article on "Top Ten Brewpubs in College Towns." Tom Schlafly told me the news. Yay!

September 30 Toast to Michael Jackson

Friday September 28: I'm posting this from Columbia, Missouri where I am four brewery posts behind. I want to remind all my kind readers that there will be a Worldwide Toast to Michael Jackson on Sunday, September 30 at 9:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm PST. Many brewpubs, taverns and breweries are taking part with charity events.

Click here to read about the Toast, and find out where local events will be held. There is a scroll-down list in the right column at this link. At the bottom of the page of this link are comments where establishments also list themselves.

To add your public toast to the scroll-down list, the website asks you to "Post your local toast on Upcoming; add the "MJBeerHunter" tag to have it distributed here."

I apologize for getting behind in my posts: I did not have Internet access in St. Louis. Today I pick up my husband Jon at the Kansas City airport to join my family for a weekend Memorial Celebration in honor of my beloved Father-in-Law, Ken Graber, so if I don't get completely caught up on posts right away, please check back.

Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Visit to Alltech's Lexington Brewery, Alltech, Analytical Services & Woodford Reserve Distillery

"What we hope ever to do with ease we must learn first to do with diligence." ~Samuel Johnson

Photo above, L to R: Jim Larson, Ursula Thielen and Christopher Bird.

September 20-22: Overslept my alarm clock. Easy to do with the earplugs in. Wrote up my directions and hit the road hard. Today's drive from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Lexington, Kentucky took me about 11.25 hours. Fortified myself with Diet Dr. Pepper, Peanut M 'n M's, and a big peanut butter cookie. My drive took me through parts of four states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Just missed the tip of Ohio where Hwy 64 passes from West Virginia into Kentucky. I left at 9:45 am, and arrived at about 9:00 pm. Long day!

Arrived at Ursula Thielen's home in good shape but wired. Ursula's boyfriend is fellow brewer Christopher Bird, formerly of Goose Island and the Siebel Institute. For the last several years Christopher has been Brewmaster at Alltech's Lexington Brewery.

The next morning (Friday), Christopher gave me a tour of his brewery. In the photo below Christopher is shown in front of a display wall of Bourbon barrels that had been used to age and flavor his Kentucky Bourbon Ale. Christopher has a very nicely laid-out 20-barrel system producing 3,600 barrels a year. He makes three beers (Kentucky Light - a Kolsch, Kentucky Irish Red, and Kentucky Bourbon Ale - the red aged for 6-weeks in Bourbon barrels), all available only in Kentucky, and 60% consumed in Lexington.
This area of Kentucky is Bourbon and horse racing country. Lots of beautiful horse farms with horse barns that look like they could be churches.

The next tour of the day was at Alltech. Alltech is a multinational fuel and feed company based in Lexington. The owner, Dr. Pearce Lyons, emigrated with his wife from Ireland and founded this company in 1980. Alltech currently has offices in 80 countries. I toured Alltech's extensive headquarters. Dr. Lyon's wife designed the impressive building. The DNA double-helix is a motif here. The photo at right shows the smaller of two wooden double-helix staircases.

Alltech was on my tour circuit because I mistakenly believed that it still ran a brewing and distilling school. At one time Christopher, Jim Larson, Dr. Gary Spedding, and a few other brewing industry professionals worked for the Siebel Institute brewing school in Chicago. A complication arose when conflicting deals were inked. Somehow Lallemond ended up with the Siebel Institute, but Alltech ended up with Siebel's instructors. That was a long time ago. About five years ago Alltech sold its entire Alcohol Division, including its brewing and distilling school, brewing enzymes and yeasts, and any other brewing products to Lallemond.

Christopher brought Alltech's brewery online and continues there as Brewmaster. Gary Spedding departed after the Alcohol Division was sold and created his own company called, "Brewing & Distilling Analytical Services." He's busy helping breweries and distilleries of all sizes to "keep it clean!"

We visited Gary in his laboratory (photo at left). Gary was kind enough to give me the full tour, and showed off his nifty laboratory equipment.

I believe the only other former Siebel instructor currently working for Alltech besides Christopher is Jim Larson. Jim has a long and colorful history in the brewing industry, having worked in brewery engineering for Rainier and various G. Heilmann breweries all over the country. Jim gave us a tour of his current project: fermenting biomass, cellulose, and corn solids to energy.

Okay, it's not quite as easy as all that, but Jim runs a pilot plant designed to wring ethanol from whatever sources of waste or crops he finds efficient and expedient to wring fuel from.

At left is a photo of Alltech's proposed Biorefinery project. Jim and facilities tour guide Doug had my head spinning with the possibilities that Alltech's founder Dr. Pearce Lyons and his scientists have ingeniously cooked up.

Now, lest you think that this Alltech information is too far off the brewing map, please keep in mind that Dr. Lyons began as a brewing yeast research scientist. He just discovered other purposes for brewing yeasts and enzymes. In addition to alternative fuels, Alltech is involved with animal feeds, especially with increasing animal nutrition through enzyme enhancement. This is where Christopher's fabulously beautiful and intelligent girlfriend, Ursula Thielen comes in.

Ursula hails from Chicago and has an undergraduate degree in Biology with all the animal science coursework required by a Pre-Veterinary program. Ursula's father is a big-game hunter, and a few years ago Ursula accompanied her dad on a South African wildlife safari. Suffice to say she held her own. It's hard to picture Ursula, a petite young blonde, as a big-game hunter but I get the feeling she's strong enough to hold her own in just about any situation. I think she'd make a great brewer!

In fact both Ursula and Christopher are enrolled in the graduate program in Brewing & Distilling at Herriott-Watt University through its distance learning program. You go girl!

Ursula and Christopher took me to a local joint for lunch where I ordered a side of fried green tomatoes, since I'd never had them. They were breaded and fried, and reminded me of eggplant, although the flavor was fruitier than eggplant.

On the way to somewhere, we dropped into Village Liquors in Lexington where Christopher's friend, Ed Bullen, is the Beer Steward & Buyer. Some of you might remember Ed from when he was a brewer for Hops Restaurant Bar & Brewery in Tampa, Florida. Ed lives in Lexington now, to be near family. He's stocked Village Liquors with an interesting supply of USA and imported beers. Ed says "Hi" to his old brewing pals, and says he misses brewing like crazy. The photo at right shows Ed in front of his aisle of beer.

The next day Christopher took me to nearby Woodford Reserve Distillery. I'll continue this post later when I have time, but here are the photos. I'm sitting at Panera Bakery using their free wireless and my laptop's battery is about to die...

OK, I'm back. We drove to the Woodford Reserve Distillery and had the full tour. The photo below is of the top-half of a very tall cypress wood fermenter. The grain is in there along with the "wash" or wort. If I remember correctly, the grain is 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley. We watched the fermentation bubble away. It was a lopsided fermentation, with more bubbles coming up on one side of the tank, so it looked like the mash/fermentation was turning over and over.
From there we went to the distillation room. If I understand it correctly, the whole mash/ wash/ contents of the fermenter are transferred into the first pot still. Woodford Reserve is the only Bourbon maker that uses the Scotch-style pot stills. It takes about 4 hours for the first distillate to come out of the first pot still and get transferred to the second pot still. All together, the future-bourbon goes through three pot stills, one after another, spending four hours in each still, for a total 12-hour day of distilling.

The three stills are shown in these photos are all three of Woodford Reserve's pot stills.

Then we were off to the big barrel shed (photo below left). Carolyn, our tour guide instructed us to "smell the Angel's Share." Yum! The barrels are moved into place by rolling them, and taking them up on an elevator, then rolling them across the beams and into place. They were not in any particular order by date. Most barrels are ready after about seven years, give or take. If the Master Distiller wants to retrieve one, he has to roll a few back and out of the way to then roll out the one he wants. They take samples by drilling two 1/4-inch holes on the butt-face (top and bottom), and allowing gravity and air-intake to trickle an ounce into a glass. Then they deftly pound a 1/4-dowel piece in to plug the holes. I didn't see this demonstrated, but I did see some dowel plugs in some of the barrels.

After our tour, I ran ahead to the front of the line to taste my half-ounce pour. In my haste I didn't notice that my camera had slipped from my grip, and I left it on the bus. I quickly sipped my taste and ran out to where Christopher waited in the car. He had a 1:00 pm appointment to give a tour, and we were a long drive from his brewery. Just as we left I discovered my missing camera, so I asked the tour guides to look for it on the bus and call me when they found it. We got the call about two minutes later, but we were on a mission to get Christopher to the brewery on time.

While Christopher worked tour magic, I worked on computer and Internet tasks, like this lovely blog that everyone is enjoying so much. Christopher gifted me a case of his Kentucky Bourbon Ale. Then it was back to Woodford to retrieve my camera, then Christopher dropped me off at a Panera Bakery to use their free wireless Internet. Once my computer battery ran dry, Christopher picked me up and we relocated to Ursula's house where Christopher grilled us hamburgers for dinner.

The next morning I repacked the beer cases I'd been collecting into mixed 6-packs so I am ready for my next future brewery visits.

Ursula has two dogs, named Max and Molly. After I finished my shower, as soon as I opened the bathroom door, Max, a stocky Jack Russel Terrier, yelped and bolted for the bathtub. Over the edge of the tub he scrambled and there he stood, in the wet tub, licking the water at the bottom. He's a character!

Christopher was thoughtful and brought me a blueberry muffin for the road, and off I went, headed for Bloomington, Indiana.

Pink Boots at Troegs & Visit to Appalachian

“The farther behind I leave the past, the closer I am to forging my own character.” ~Isabelle Eberhardt

September 19: Last night I rebelled against my own schedule and stayed up reading a novel until 3:00 am. Sometimes you just have to do that. Slept in and after my shower and a nice chat with Lauri Lebo, I got on the road toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which was about 15 minutes away.

Troegs Brewery Sales & Communication guru Ed Yashinski was my contact at Troegs, but he was so busy getting ready for a Beer Dinner in Philadelphia that saw him only once.

Troegs is owned and operated by two brothers, John and Chris Trogner. Chris was out of town on a sales trip. John gave me the grand tour and then set me loose with brewer Chris Brugger for a few hours.

“Brugger” is really enthusiastic about Troegs’ BrauKon brewhouse. From what he tells me, among the German brewing equipment manufacturers, BrauKon seems most willing to work with Americans regarding our propensity for using huge quantities of malt and hops. Thus Troegs has an appropriately oversized mash tun and a hop jack. Interestingly, the Germans told Troegs that hop jacks are illegal to use in Germany. If you add hops after the kettle, you would have to label that beer as, “Beer Flavored With Hops.” I liked Troegs’ intelligently designed five-vessel brewhouse that combined new automated German BrauKon vessels with their manual JV Northwest system.

I walked around a bit to observe what the other crew members were up to. Troegs recently took over a new section of their building after the local hospital moved their storage to a larger unit elsewhere. John is enjoying the sudden luxury of space by experimenting with wood-aged beers, including a brettanomyces beer.

At about 3:00 pm, John had hamburgers cooking on a grill off the dock. The crew has had a crazy production push the last two weeks, and he wanted to reward them with a barbeque. (Photo below.)

We sat on stacks of pallets and enjoyed burgers and pulled barbeque pork and a few beers. Most of the crew was done with their shift. It was a hot sunny afternoon and we tried to stay cool in the shade of a small beer festival canopy.

I tasted several beers, including Troeg’s famous “Mad Elf,” at 11% ABV (alcohol by volume). The starting gravity was 22 degrees Plato – and that’s before the cherries were added. Troegs’ Mad Elf is so popular that they began brewing it in August in order to satisfy demand. John assures me that demand will not be completely satisfied this year, in spite of beginning production so early.

After the barbeque respite, the brewers and I lined up for the photo at the top of this page, L to R: Brooks Miller (whose wife had just begun labor, with first baby due tomorrow), John Trogner, Chris Brugger, Andy Dickson, Teri and Whitney Thompson.

Most of the crew departed right after that. I worked on emails while Whitney finished up the paperwork on the third and final brew of the day. It was nice to hang out with another woman brewer again. I was the first other woman brewer that Whitney had ever met. I added her to my Pink Boots Society list and we counted up the women brewers: Whitney was the 34th woman on the USA portion of the list. (There are six women former boots-wearers on the Emeritus List and eight women brewers on the International List.)

After work, at 7:00 pm, Whitney took me to nearby Appalachian Brewing Company where we met up with Chris Brugger. Appalachian's Head Brewer Jonathan Reeves and Assistant Brewer Jeff Jerman (photo right) set me up with a sampler set of all 18 beers that were on tap tonight.

They don’t brew all 18 here: Appalachian has two additional locations: a 7-barrel system in Camphill, PA and a 10-bbl system in Gettysburg, PA. (Yes – that Gettysburg.) This system in Harrisburg was huge, and Jonathan gave me the quick tour. If I remember correctly (and I rarely take notes, so I have to memorize the information, often under the influence of good craft beer), the system here had a 30-barrel brewhouse and they just took delivery on a whole bunch of 125-barrel fermenters. That’s pretty aggressive for a 2,500-bbl per-year distributing brewpub.

After our Appalachian beer sampler, Whitney, Chris and I moved upstairs to "The Abby," Appalachian's Belgian bar. We ordered some Oktoberfest seasonal dishes, grabbed a couple of Belgian beers, and moved to the patio.
Whitney’s boyfriend, Larry Horowitz, brewer at Iron Hill Brewery in Philadelphia joined us. The photo above shows the four of us posing and “doing the Garrett.” Left to Right: Teri, Whitney, Larry and Chris Brugger. After lots of laughs, it was time to head back to the brewery parking lot where I was camped for the night.

Had to wear earplugs as Troegs’ neighbor is a trucking company. Semi-trucks idled their motors and came and went all night. It sounded like a truck stop but I slept through it all.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Drive and Visit the World's Largest Beer Can Collection

"It is best to do things systematically, since we are only human, and disorder is our worst enemy." ~Hesiod

September 18: Worked on computer work at Dogfish Head. Finally left about 4:00 pm. That gave me a sunset view drive west from Milton, DE to York Have, PA. Yes, I am finally heading westward, and like a horse at sunset, I know where my home is and I want to go there.

As I drove from Oregon to Maine, beginning this trip on June 4th, I've watched the corn grow taller along my route. Now I am watching the corn stalks dry out, fall down, get burned down, or turned under. Driving from Vermont down to Connecticut I've watched the Fall colors pop out on a few trees here and there. Now I'm seeing the pumpkins along the road.

I drove from Delaware into Pennsylvania, and as soon as I entered Lancaster County, the air reeked of manure. Not the city of Lancaster, just the countryside. This is Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch territory. I drove across Lancaster County of Route 30, before it turns into a freeway. I saw five Amish buggies, each different from the others. One was open and held an old man, old women, and two children. The blonde-haired black-bonnetted little girl turned around as we were all stoped for a traffic light. I waved at her and she waved back. All the other buggies were closed with roofs, and a few had glass windows. I wondered if Amish teenagers have to get a buggy driver's license when they get 16? They need to know the rules of the road just as much as any other driver.

I continued westward as the sun set. I passed a big field of yellow large-leafed plants being harvested by an extended Amish family, kids and all. It was a field of tobacco. The Amish are considered hard workers. They seem to work from sun-up to sun-set, rain or shine, and can put up a whole building in about a day.

I passed a highway entrance marked, "Oregon Pike," and I thought, Oh wouldn't it be nice if I could zip onto that highway ramp and be home in an hour? I miss home.

I arrived at the homes of Jeff and Lauri Lebo well after dark. Luckily they had given me good directions as I sure don't like driving after dark in strange territory. I pulled up the darkened driveway and saw a soft glow through the windows of the big house, reflecting off the colorful beer cans lining the walls. A teaser for what was to come. Jeff stepped out of the house to greet me.

Jeff's father worked for American Can Company for 40 years. Visiting his father's place of employment as a child, Jeff developed an attraction for the colorful utilitarian storage vessels. Jeff began collecting beer cans at 14, and stored his steel and aluminum treasures in his mother's attic. Once he and Lauri got engagaged, Jeff began drawing up designs for a house to display his cans. He poured the foundation the week of their wedding. Jeff and Lauri built "the can house" themselves. It's a big house in the country right next to the little house they live in.

As you can see in the photos on this page, nearly every inch of wall space is used to display Jeff's 56,000+ can collection. I asked Jeff if he has documented each can in a computer database or something, and he replied that he keeps track of which cans he has, by knowing which cans he doesn't have yet. In other words he has nearly complete sets of every variation of every beer can ever made anywhere. OK, maybe not every single can in the world, but he's working on that.

The photo below was taken in the guest bedroom, "The German Room." The sliding display walls are typical of the house, and there are up to two levels of sliders in front of the actual wall. The guest bed in this room is parked in the middle of the room and not pushed up against the wall. You wouldn't want to squish a can with your pillow, and you need to be able to see each can.

There are five can rooms upstairs, as well as a bathroom. Every room on the first floor contains cans on the walls except the bathroom and the big country kitchen. The kitchen contains an antique squat-sized coffee can collection. Jeff must be good at math: All the cans are displayed on exactly measured shelves. Cans of similar build and height and width are displayed together by country and brewery. There are no gaps, so I know he measured well!

By day Jeff is a landscape contractor. Jeff is also a professional musician who records under the moniker "Jefferson Pepper." His CD "Christmas in Falujah" is available on, and he is in the middle of his next musical project, a 3-CD set called, "American Evolution."

Lauri is also a passionate artist; she's a journalist by trade and an author. Her book, tentatively titled, "The Devil in Dover," will be published in Spring of 2008 by The New Press, an alternative non-profit press out of New York. While she was an investigative journalist, Lauri documented the "Intelligent Design" legal case in Dover, Pennsylvania. She travelled to and researched the many Creationist "Empirical Evidence" pseudo-scientific Museums in the south, and was duly inspired to get her first tatoo at the age of 42: of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (May his noodly appendages reach out and touch you!)

Lauri and Jeff are shown in "The Scandinavian Room" below.
While enjoying the colorful can-filled ambiance of "the big house," Alan Edwards, Brewery Sales Rep. for Appalachian Brewing Company joined us. I especially liked Appelachian's malt-driven "Jolly Scot" beer, which was named after an old Pennsylvanian beer. The photo at the top of this page was taken in the "Big Can Hallway." L to R: Jeff, Lauri and Alan.

We all stayed up too late, chatting around the big farmhouse table that Jeff made from old barn siding. The "Can House" looks like an old antique farmhouse, but it's actually new, built by Jeff and Lauri themselves. It incorporates lots of old barn siding so it looks old, but it was designed just for Jeff's can collection. Now, that's what I call dedication!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pink Boots at Dogfish Head

"Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day's work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition." ~Sir William Osler

Photo above, L to R: Andy Tveekrem, Jon Talkington, Teri, Brent Baughman and Bryan Selders.

September 16-18: Drove from Mount Laurel, NJ to Milton, DE, where Dogfish Head has their production facilty. Milton has a population of about 1,400 people, with 2,000 more houses going up outside of town soon. Milton is a really cute little town. I drove down Chestnut Street to get to the brewery and there were lots of cute old houses along the way.

Lead Brewer Bryan Selders met me with a mixed six-pack and got me set up in their parking lot. Bryan also let me into the brewhouse so that I could work on the Internet for awhile.
Then I walked down to one of the two good restaurant/bars in town, called Irish Eyes. There I met up with Bryan, Dogfish Head's National Sales Manager Claus Hagelman, and Jim Boyd who is General Manager at the Rehoboth brewpub. Jim will also be G.M. for Dogfish Head's new restaurant that will go into the production brewery in about a year. Some of you may remember Jim Boyd from his hoppy Yakima Chief days. (Photo above, L to R: Bryan, Jim, Claus and Teri.)

The next morning I joined brewer Brian Connery in the brewhouse. Brian has brewed all over the country including stints in San Francisco, Colorado and Las Vegas. Dogfish Head's brewhouse office is a well air-conditioned room with the largest process monitors that I have seen so far. Brian told me that he's seen larger screens at Coors in Shenandoah.

The photo above shows Brian monitoring six processes on two giant screens at once. And the brewhouse office is at the top of an ivory tower inside the big old cannery that Dogfish Head occupies. I kid you not.

The brew ran into a spot of trouble when the cold liquor back sent some ice crystals into the heat exchange, and I got to help by monitoring the flow meter and reporting back to the brewhouse office via walkie-talkie.

After hanging out in the brewhouse for most of the day, and seeing how the hops are added to the boil using the "Sofa King Hoppy," I wandered around to visit other departments.

Cellarman Jon Talkington demonstrated dry-hopping a 200-barrel fermenter using the "Me So Hoppy" unit and CO2. These Dogfish Head boys are very clever. Oh, and "Dogfish Head" is named after some headlands on the coast of Maine where Owner/Mastermind Sam Calagione spent his summers as a child.

Then I hung out with QC Supervisor Chad Collier in the lab, or should I say "labs." Chad demonstrated a nifty $32,000 testing machine that sucks up beer through a straw and spits out a receipt with O.G., F.G., Calories, and other information printed on it. (Chad, if you email me the name of this machine, I will post it here.) We tested my Calorie Calculation formula against the machine and Chad was impressed with how close the numbers were.

We discussed the importance of brewpubs and other small breweries doing basic labwork like HLP (Hsu's Lactobacillus & Pediococcus media). Click here for my pre-publication Brewpub HLP Lab Manual. Chad showed me some nifty machines that may be cheap enough for a brewpub to afford, including the Spectrophotometer and the Bio-Illuminator. Very cool!

A few weeks ago "Joe Sixpack," also known as freelance writer Don Russell, interviewed me for his article on Collaboration Brews that will be published in the Philadelphia Daily News and in Draft Magazine. Don arrived in the afternoon and Brewmaster Andy Tveekrem gave us the detailed tour of Dogfish Head's facilities. Dogfish Head is in a continual state of expansion, and Andy leads all the brewery expansion and construction projects. (Photo at right is of Sam Calagione and Don "Joe Sixpack" Russell.)

A contingent of eight Canadians, all employees or owners of Toronto's famous Beer Bistro arrived and Sam gave them his VIP tour. Chef/Proprietor Brian Morin and his staff had driven about 12 hours from Toronto to Milton in order to convince Sam to come to Toronto to do a beer dinner at the Beer Bistro.

Sam was so impressed with their passion and perseverance that he hosted a mini beer dinner for them at Dogfish Head's Rehoboth Beach brewpub. "Joe Sixpack,"Andy Tveekrem, and I joined the boisterous bunch upstairs. I rode with Sam, which was a treat, and we talked about marketing, Steelhead, and Michael Jackson.
Sam was instrumental in arranging the world wide Toast to Michael Jackson that will occur on September 30th at 9:00 pm EST, 6:00 pm PST. Be sure to get a pint or bottle of something that Michael could appreciate in your fridge so you are ready for your toast that Sunday night!

Upstairs at the brewpub is where Dogfish Head's distillery is. Sam and General Manager Jim Boyd showed me their homemade system. I just love little distilleries. I tasted the Chocolate Vodka and it was good.

The tables were set up in a T-shape. Andy and I sat across from Brian and "Tweedy" from Canada. Tweedy wants to become a professional brewer. Andy and I were happy to have him pick our professional brains and we filled him to overflowing with all the advice he could handle.

We tasted most of Dogfish Head's standard beers, like the 60-minute IPA, and some of the unusual beers, like the Midas Touch with 1/3 honey, 1/3 Muscat grape juice, and 1/3 malted barley. We also tasted a very smooth and silky Chicory Stout, and Chateau Jiahu made with honey, hawthorn, grapes and malt. The food was good and I managed to drink moderately in spite of the strong beers that were served.
Claus Hagelman gave me a lift back from Rehoboth Beach to Milton. The night was warm and humid. Claus drives a classic 1968 Buick Riviera. It's a big car and with front and back windows down, there's a huge open space where the air can flow in. Riding in a big Buick like that makes you step back in time and enjoy the ride for the sake of the ride. Claus espoused his marketing philosophies and I enjoyed his input.

The next day I worked on scheduling my trip, photos and this blog until about 4:00 pm. A big Thank You to Dogfish Head for letting me take over a corner of their brewhouse office (and trip the brewers with my ethernet cable) in order to work on the Internet. Dogfish Head also gifted me a mixed case of their yummy strong beers, including a big bottle each of Fort (with raspberries) and Chateau Jiahu. Sam himself signed a hardback copy of his book, "Brewing Up A Business" for me. I can't wait to devour every word!

Weekend in Mount Laurel, NJ

"One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes.- Friedrich Nietzsche

September 14-16: Drove from Stoudt's in Pennsylvania all the way back to New Jersey again. Like I said, it's best to visit breweries during the work week, and relatives on the weekend.

My cousin Gail lives in Mount Laurel with her husband Tom and daughters Michelle (16) and Allison (11). The last time I visited them was in 1996 when Gail was pregnant with Allison. Gail's dad, my Uncle Fritz lives about two miles away.

In the photo at the top of this page, L to R: Teri, Fritz, Tom, Allison, Gail and Michelle.

Gail is a Real Estate Broker and Instructor at Long & Foster Real Estate in nearby Moorestown, and that's where she had me meet her. I followed her to her house and backed my rig up her driveway. Even did a decent job of backing up.

Gail grilled giant t-bone steaks for dinner and we enjoyed them with some craft brewed beers and sodas that I had picked up in Maine. Then I packed my overnight stuff and went to Fritz's house to stay with him for two nights.

The next day Uncle Fritz, known as "Popsie" to the girls, was kind enough to chaufeur us to the local Mount Laurel Fall Festival. It was smaller than I expected, with lots of booths staffed by local real estate and dentist's offices. Gail (photo left) was stationed at the Long & Foster booth handing out free helium balloons.

Allison ran off to join her friend Olivia on the kiddie rides. Do you know those rides where there are round twisty-cars that go around like a ferris wheel, but each of the cars spins and each car contains four people? Well, they didn't have that. Instead they had a single twisty car and four kids were spun in place. I wonder if the operator hand-cranked the ride or if it ran off a lawnmower engine? All the rides were tiny versions of standard County Fair rides. It was sort of comical, yet economical, as $5.oo bought a kid all the rides they could stomach.

More than bored with the booths and too big for the rides, Michelle and I went in search of food. Not as much choice as I'm used to on the west coast: No Thai noodles, burritos, enchaladas, or Indian curry. Just hotdogs, sausages, softserve ice cream, sno-cones, and hamburgers. The longest line had the most interesting food: Crab cake on hamburger bun and deep-fried oreo cookies. The oreo cookies tasted like greasy chocolate doughnuts. Now you know.

I played the usual games with Michelle, Allison and Olivia out of my game bin. I told Jon on the phone that when Olivia grows up she won't need to drink coffee. Both 11-year olds had more energy than ten adults, but especially Olivia. Then I tried to work on photos and my blog. Not easy among the chaos of Michelle and Allison and four of their friends.

Back at Popsie's place, Uncle Fritz (photo at left) and I attempted to wade through about 150 or more old black and white photos that his mother had left him ten years ago. I wrote names on about eight before we gave up and enjoyed some dark chocolate together.

Uncle Fritz lives alone. His wife, Gail's mom, has Altzheimers and lives with Gail's step-sister three hours drive away. I could feel Uncle Fritz's sadness. It's very hard when your beloved wife of 52 years no longer remembers who you are. All I could offer Uncle Fritz was a little company for a little while. I wish I could have offered something more. He was very sweet, and in addition to offering his whole day up to act as chauffer for us girls, he gifted me $100 toward my gas expenses. Thank you Uncle Fritz, XOX!

Back at Gail's house, I repacked my trailer and hooked it back up to the van. After we had our fried chicken and watermellon lunch, we said our good-byes. Gail asked if it's going to be another 11 years before we see each other. I said I hope not - you guys come and visit me in Oregon! Then I drove south toward Delaware.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pink Boots at Stoudt's

"Dive into the sea of thought, and find there pearls beyond price." ~Moses Ibn Ezra

September 12-14: Basil T's Brewpub & Italian Grill had a very nice bathroom with a shower upstairs in their offices, so I was able to catch a shower there before I left.

My 12-Volt invterter had broken, so since my van and trailer were disconnected, I drove off in search of a new inverter. An inverter has a cigarrette-lighter plug that leads to a box, and on the box is a standard 3-prong household current outlet. I run DeLorme GPS Street Atlas on my laptop while I drive, and with a working inverter I can keep the computer battery charged. I found Automotive Electronics in Red Bank and bought a 400 Watt unit.

Rehooked my trailer to my Astro van and soon I was on the road to Pennsylvania. Thank you to Gretchen Schmidhausler for gifting me a Basil T's t-shirt.

Adamstown, Pennsylvania is in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch territory. That means the folks there are mostly of German heritage. (Dutch is a misnomer for "Deutsch," which is German for "German.") Also there are lots of Amish folks of various sects in this area.

I arrived at Stoudt's midafternoon on a beautiful breezy and sunny day. Head Brewer John Matson got me hooked into electrical, and then Carol Stoudt arrived. Carol showed me around the expansive grounds.

Stoudt's quite a family enterprise. Carol and Ed started the brewery in 1987, and Carol was the boots-on Brewmaster for the first two years. Ed is an entrepreneur and has been Chef/Owner of Stoudt's restaurant since he was 22 years old. John Matson is their son-in-law, married to Carrie, Stoudt's Art Director. Son Eddie is Sales Manager and he's engaged to Jodi Andrews, a very experienced brewer who used to work at Boston Beer Works. Daughter Elizabeth is the Head Baker in the bread department, and she also administers the weekend Antique Shows. Even the grandkids get involved, helping where they can.

After the tour, Carol set me up with several beers to taste. Then we went up the street to "Stoudtville," where Eddie and Jodi live. Stoudtville is an actual town just up the street from Stoudt's large complex. It was Ed's vision to develop a European-styled village where the homeowners lived upstairs and had shops on the first floor. Ed's vision was a bit ahead of its time, and he needed cash for a brewery expansion, so now other developers are continuing the exapansion of Stoudtville. Most of the residents are second-career folks or semi-retired, and their shops may be open every day or just on weekends when most of the antique-hunters and tourists visit. There seems to be more antique shops per capita here than anywhere I've ever seen. Carol says its because the local folks are so thrifty they never throw anything away, and they fix the old stuff and keep it in good condition.

We visited Jodi at home, above her vintage clothing shop. Jodi (photo at left) began collecting gnomes when a friend of hers who owned a tavern in Boston gave her a LaChouf gnome. It's been gnomes ever since.

After tours of my trailer, we settled down with the whole family and a few grandkids outside on the new patio for dinner. Ed is famous for his steaks. He's so particular about his steaks, that he won't allow any one else to cut them. Carol laughs as she explains that they can only go away for ten days at a time, because Ed has to be back to cut the steaks.

The next morning I met up with Ed in the kitchen to watch him work his steak-cutting magic. Ed cuts the "chain" off the tenderloin, which many steak restaurants don't do. He also cuts the tendon sheath off the sirloins, so he's got the tenderest sirloins around. Photo at right is Ed cutting and weighing the steaks. When Ed and Carol do go away, like to the upcoming GABF in Denver, Ed vacu-packs the steaks and cryo-preserves them on ice in the cooler.

The first night I had the Filet Minon for dinner, and the second night I tried the Sirloin, and I have to agree: Ed knows his steaks. They were tender, juicy, and perfect at Medium-Rare.

After cutting steaks, Ed and I went to their house in downtown Adamstown where Carol whipped up a batch of her famous sourdough pancakes. Ed is a big believer in sourdough. He claims he lost 30 pounds on his beer and sourdough diet.

In the afternoon I hung out with the brewers. In the photo below, L to R, Top Row: Gary Gagliardi, Teri, John Matson and Matt Krasst. Bottom Row: Brett Kintzer and Joe McMonagle.
We tried plenty of beer my first night at Stoudt's. (I held off on starting "Happy Hour" too early on the second night.) In the photo at the top of this page, Ed is pouring their wood-aged Fat Dog. Their big bottles are rare and tasty treats. Photo at top of page, L to R: Ed, Jodi, Teri, Carol and Eddie.

On the second morning before my departure, I was able to spend some time in the bread bakery with Elizabeth. (Photo below.) Elizabeth is a self-trained bread baker, like myself. She has an instinct for it, and knows how much liquid to add be squeezing the flour and poking the dough. There is a very nifty bread mixmaster in the bakery. It's much slower than your standard huge Hobart restaurant kitchen mixmaster.

Elizabeth says she likes to start her day by mixing up some dough and she came in early that day and had some loaves proofing for when I worked with her. All of her breads use a sourdough culture that Ed procured from a restaurant friend in New York. I was told the culture is over 100 years old. It is the same sourdough culture that Carol used in her sourdough pancakes.

As soon as we got there, Elizabeth heated one of the three ovens to 450 degrees. She scored each loaf with distinctive cuts, and she put sunflour seeds on the Multigrain loaves and flour on her Rye loaves. The Beer Bread goes naked except for a wheat-patterned score cut into the top. With these distinctive cuts and toppings, the customers (and gift shop employees) can determine at a glance what type of loaf it is.

Elizabeth deftly popped each of the loaves into the oven and filled the oven right up. She shut the door, set the timer, and hit the steam button. Steam filled the hot oven and hissed out around the door's edges.

At this point the dough had been kneaded in the machine to the right texture. Elizabeth plopped a big wad in front of me on the wooden work table. It looked like about three gallons of dough! It was all Beer Bread dough, and she had put crushed Crystal malt and Scarlet Lady ESB beer into it. She handed me the table scraper and told me to cut off two pound hunks of dough. That's me in the photo below following directions. Elizabeth is in the background transferring finished loaves from the oven to the rack.
Elizabeth showed me how to roll the dough for the first rolling. It's all done by hand, and you roll the dough like you're rolling up a wet beach towel. She threw plastic over the loaves and we let them rest for 20 minutes, then we rerolled them longer and thinner. Elizabeth said I was a pretty decent roller. (My loaves were a bit too long at first, but we fixed them.) After the second rolling, we transferred the loaves to wooden boards covered with cornmeal, six to a board. Elizabeth put all the boards on a rack, and then they were rolled into a big proofing box to rise. Elizabeth favors a three-day proof at a cool temperature (36-38 degrees) so that the loaves can develop their sour flavor.

Believe it or not, we were so fast and Elizabeth is so organized, that I only spent just over an hour in the bakery!

After my bread baking experience, I rode with Carol back to their house for a shower and sourdough pancake and eggs breakfast with Ed. Whew! A full foodie experience at Stoudts' in Adamstown!

Then it was back to my trailer, pack up, and head back to New Jersey to visit relatives for the weekend. You probably already figured this out: I try to schedule breweries during the week when the brewers are working, and my relatives during the weekend when they are not working.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pink Boots at Basil T's Brewpub & Italian Grill

"In attempts to improve your character, know what is in your power and what is beyond it." ~Francis Thompson

September 10-11: OK, I overslept. What can I say? Aunt Pat is such a party animal - she hardly goes to bed before midnight!

Then I realized I'd better do some laundry, and...

Michael and Ellen helped me plan the next driving section of my route. This is not as easy as it seems. On the west coast, if there is a highway, anybody can drive on it. Not so on the east coast! There are highways called Parkways, and sometimes only passenger cars can drive on them.

Because of the trailer I am towing, I can only go on the Parkways where commercial trucks can drive. Finding out which are which is not as easy as it should be. It's not on the maps and the Internet is not always accessible.

Michael called about four New Jersey state police offices and they kept passing the buck and telling him to call some other police department. Finally he called the local AAA office and we got the answer.

FYI: I know for sure that in NY a van and trailer cannot drive on the Bronx River Parkway nor the Hutchinson River Parkway. In NJ I couldn't travel on the Pallisades Interstate Parkway.

One funny thing with this situation, is that when I used my DeLorme GPS system that runs on my laptop, there is no option to force it to avoid these routes. Therefore the bloody system kept yelling at me all the way from Brooklyn to Scarsdale, and half of the way from Scarsdale to Red Bank, NJ. (And if you go to Basil T's, you want the one in Monmouth County, not the other Red Bank in New Jersey.) There is another Basil T's brewpub in Toms River in Ocean County that is not related to this one.

Luckily you can drive on the Garden State Parkway with a van and trailer, although I didn't see very many semi-trucks. It must cost a ton of money to ship stuff from New York to New Jersey because the truckers have to go so far out of their way.

Found Red Bank easy enough, but Basil T's is lacking in their signage. I finally spotted the brewing tanks as I rounded a corner, zooming right past the entrance to their parking lot. No left turn allowed and I was suddenly routed back over the river I just came over. It's not so easy finding a place to turn around when you're towing a trailer.

So what signage does Basil T's have besides tanks showing through windows? A letter "B" on the awning. That's it. That and a very cool photo of an Italian deli with an old bicycle and wine bottles, but how the heck would you know what that photo means? It's on a huge back-lit sign out front - with no words. If it weren't for those brewing tanks I never would have found the place. Luckily lots of locals know where Basil T's is - it's a very popular restaurant. They also apparently know this snazzy photo is "sign language" for Basil T's.

Parked across a few parking spots while I called Brewmaster Gretchen Schmidhausler to see where I should park. (It's a small lot.) Manager J.J. had me park in the corner in one parking spot, and disconnect the van and park that in the next parking spot. Luckily business is quiet for about one week between the busy summer season, and the busy rainy and winter season. It didn't look so quiet to me, but I didn't get kicked out of the parking lot either.

J.J. is a personable young manager, and he was most helpful in getting me set up at the bar with their ethernet cable. Basil T's free wireless Internet is more than spotty - it hardly registers. With a good ethernet connection, I blogged for several hours with some beers and lots of football fans to keep me company. Then I had a delightful lemon-caper-chicken dish and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

The next morning, I met Gretchen at 8:30 am to brew Basil T's 1000th batch of beer. Today is a milestone for me too: Basil T's is the 50th brewery that I have visited on my trip - the 27th I've brewed at, and I've also visited 23 others.

Because of the timing for Gretchen's GABF entries, she couldn't brew something wacky or unusual for the 1000th batch, just her regular Maxwell's Dry Stout. She's already won two GABF gold medals and one bronze medal with this Stout. She's hoping for another gold.

Most of the beers I've participated in brewing along the way I will never taste. However I will be attending (and judging at) the GABF this year, so I plan to visit Basil T's booth and taste Gretchen's 1000 beer that I was witness to.

I'd like to take a moment to clarify something. When I wear pink boots at a brewery and "help" them brew a beer, I'm actually not doing the brewing. Sometimes I participate very little. It depends on how automated the system is, and how much the brewers feel comfortable letting me help. I'm mostly there to observe, ask questions of them, and answer their questions. It's more about an interchange of brewing information and techniques. Generally I job shadow one or several people during the day. I find it fun to hang out for a little while in each of the departments. Every brewery has a specific way to "skin that cat," and far be it for me to tell another brewer that they should brew with my procedures on their system!

The interchange of ideas and brainstorming of solutions has been mind-expanding for me, and hopefully will turn out to be career-expanding for me as well. I think most all the brewers I've visited have found these conversations at least enjoyable, and hopefully a few found my suggestions helpful and on-target for solution finding.

So, Gretchen mashed-in her 1000th batch of stout, assisted by Leo the resident handyman and all-around most-helpful guy. I watched and tried not to get in the way.

That's not as easy as it seems. Gretchen works on a Pub mono-block system. Pub is on record as saying the Basil T's installation was installed into the smallest space they've ever put a system. Her combination brewhouse and fermentation room take up 10 x 20 square feet. There are walk-spaces that are 3-inches wide. I kid you not. Luckily several glass walls are actually glass doors, and they open to allow passage if needed.

In the middle of the afternoon Ale Street News editor and publisher Tony Forder dropped in to say, "Hi" and have a beer. Photo at top of page, L to R: Tony, Gretchen and Teri. Former brewer and owner of Heavyweight Brewing Company, Tom Baker, joined us for a beer. (Tom is in the photo at the bottom of this page.)

After Gretchen put the beer to bed in one of the four fermenters, she wrote on it with dry-erase marker. See photo above right.
While Gretchen worked on a few things in the brewery, I wandered around and took pictures of Basil T's impressive mug club mugs. They are up to over 1,300 mugs now, and they're shooting for 2,000 mugs before May 2008. They're already out of room behind the bar, so if the owner, Vic, reaches his goal of 2,000, then they will have to remodel the bar!

Their mug price is so cheap, I can't imagine that anybody in Red Bank wouldn't be a member. For $24 a year (for 2007), you get to keep the mug (you get a new mug each year), plus you get about 4 extra ounces, so instead of $5.75 for 16 ounces, you pay $3.75 for 20 ounces. And there are special "mug nights" where the price of a 20 ounce mug of beer drops to $3.00. The photos below barely register the impressive impact the sheer volume of matching mugs make on the bar scene.

At the end of the day, while Gretchen did "clean up," I borrowed a spot at a desk upstairs and actually connected to the upstairs wireless router. I spent several hours in the afternoon (and after dinner) finally catching up on blogs and photos. Yes!

Gretchen left for a few hours after work to go home, shower, and check her dogs. Gretchen is a newlywed - only three months. Unfortunately her husband Kevin couldn't join us for dinner.

Gretchen and Tom Baker returned at 5:30 pm, and we had a lovely early dinner next to a window beneath a beautiful mural in the dining room. Basil T's really is a classy Italian restaurant. We enjoyed several of Gretchen's beers with our meals and laughed a lot.

Then with Gretchen's award-winning Maxwell's Dry Stout in our hands, we posed for the photo below. L to R: Teri, Gretchen and Tom Baker. Unfortunately Tom's wife Peggy had a work committment and couldn't join us. Peggy contacted me a long time ago when I first announced this trip on the BA Brewers Forum. Even though her and Tom's brewery, Heavyweight Brewing Company, is now defunct, Peggy wanted to make sure that I was coming through Red Bank to visit Gretchen. I had met Gretchen as a GABF Judge, and I had definitely planned to visit her. After some late night blogging up in Basil T's office, I headed out to my trailer to talk to my husband to get an in depth rundown of how his first two days at his new job have been. I sure miss him! Good night.

Weekend in Scarsdale, NY

"Live so that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip." ~Will Rogers

September 9-10: Woke up early and began to rearrange the beer I've collected in my trailer. One bottle of everything is heading to Oregon so I can share it with my husband. The rest I repack into mixed 6-packs that I will distribute as I continue on my journey. Hopefully every brewer that I visit will find something special that they can't get locally in their gift 6-pack from me.

Ellen made a lovely Sunday morning breakfast of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and a very nice cinnamon coffee cake. Then it was time for Valerie to dress up in a fancy black party dress and head off to another local Bar-Mitzva party. I guess boys can invite girls to their Bar Mitzvas. The theme of this party was rock and roll. While she was gone I taught her twin Brian several games from my bin including Cathedral, Quoridor and Loot. That was fitting because yesterday when he was off partying at a Bar-Mitzva I taught the same games to Valerie.

Then I spent a few hours going through a stack of old photos with my Aunt Pat (photo above). She's my father's eldest sibling and is still pretty feisty at 88. As we went through the photos, I wrote on the back of each photo who was in the photo, and where and what year the photo was taken.

We called my Pop when we were finished to see if we were supposed to send the photos back to him or if Aunt Pat was supposed to keep them. He said we weren't done with our homework: we had to put all the photos (about 40 of them) into chronological order and slide them into a little photo book. We did, and now Aunt Pat has a small picture book of her life story to show to any and all visitors.

Then it was time for the weekly Sunday dinner at Ellen's mother's house. I got there a bit late because Michael's brother, Peter and his wife Denise showed up at the last minute after being away for the weekend. We literally had 30 minutes to visit. Peter asked me a few questions about my trip and I pretty much spoke at top speed for most of the 30 minutes. I hadn't seen Peter and Denise since 1996, so it was nice to visit, even if briefly.
Ellen's mother is a charming woman with a charming house. Ellen's brother "Uncle Bill" joined us for turkey, mushroom pasta, veggies and salad. Photo above, L to R: Michael, Bill, Ellen, Valerie and Brian.

Photo below, L to R around the table: Ellen, Valerie, Brian, Mother, Teri and Michael.
Back home and time for bed. School for the kids tomorrow. I planned to get up at 7:15 am and get ready for the next leg of my trip.

Morning in Manhattan & Drive to Scarsdale, NY

"Go to your bosom. Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know." ~William Shakespeare

September 8: I'd left a phone and email message last night with Jon's cousin, Cathleen, who lives in Manhattan. She returned my call about 8:30 am this morning, just as I was checking my email messages.

In the middle of Brooklyn Brewery's warehouse in the middle of Brooklyn, I found an unsecured wireless network available, so I "borrowed" it. Nice to have an office right in my trailer!

Cathleen told me which subway trains to take to catch up with her on the edge of Central Park. We went for a nice brisk hike past the folks camped since yesterday trying to snag free tickets to the last "Shakespeare in the Park" of the summer. Then we walked around the reservoir. I'd never been to Central Park. It's a very spendy neighborhood. I really liked it! If I lived in New York City, I'd be lusting after some digs nearby. (Photo of us in Central Park above. Note Manhattan skyline in the background.)

After our hike, Cathleen treated me to lunch at a trendy bistro called "Nice Matin." She picked the place because it had a great beer menu. How thoughtful!

During our walk, Cathleen had told me what her favorite beers were: Several brands of imported lagers that come in green bottles. She's a foodie, so I thought I could turn her on to some more interesting beers. Since she already liked bottled beer, I ordered two draft beers from Belgium. (Photo of us at lunch below.)
Cathleen enjoyed our Wit and Belgian Golden ales. But she was intrigued by the Saison DuPont stories I told her; how it played a role in Jon's and my courtship. Since we were talking too much to eat quickly (okay, that was me), we ordered the bottle of Saison DuPont to enjoy with the second half of our meals. Cathleen liked the Saison DuPont best of all. Score!

After lunch I got a quick tour of the apartment Cathleen shares with her son William, and then I took the train back to Brooklyn.

Back at the warehouse, I got the trailer and van road-ready, then the warehouse manager directed me as I backed my rig at an angle out of the warehouse. Whew! I did it. I sure didn't want to have to disconnect the trailer to push it out.

The drive from Brooklyn to Scarsdale, New York, was like a roller-coaster ride. My knuckles were white from clutching the steering wheel; the lines painted between the lanes were 50% closer together than they are on any freeways in California or Oregon, so I had the added thrill of wondering when that semi-truck in the next lane would shear off my trailer mirror-extensions. The highways seemed to be under construction so the lanes were rerouted with sharp turns that wove in and out of what should be the road's shoulder. The van and trailer bounced up and down over the bumps of the road's zig-zag transitions. They sounded like a squeeky bed.

Arrived in Scarsdale in good shape. Not me - the van and trailer. My cousin Michael expertly backed my rig into his narrow driveway. I met his twin children, Brian and Valerie, both 13, whom I had not met before. The last time I saw Michael was when he and Ellen were married in 1984. They have an extended family, as Michael's mom, my Aunt Pat also lives with them. Michael grilled big juicy BBQ ribs for dinner, Ellen made home-made German potato salad with vinegar and bacon, and we sat down to a fine dinner.

Brian missed the feast. He was dressed to the teeth and off to a Bar-Mitzva party, a type of event that happens quite often in Scarsdale. The Bar-Mitzva's theme was Monte Carlo gambling, and I don't think Brian missed our little feast one bit.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pink Boots at Brooklyn Brewery

"Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future." ~Charles F. Kettering

September 8-9: Ah yes, he's still the champ: Nobody can do "The Garrett" as good as Brewmaster Garrett Oliver can. Point proven in the photo above.

After my shower and mash-in at Southampton Publick House on Long Island, I was off for Brooklyn. I took the photo at right while just driving into Brooklyn. I liked the pink graffitti heart on the back of the semi-truck!

I arrived at Brooklyn Brewery without incident. Garrett had a parking spot all picked out for me in their warehouse. He rode with me as we circled the block, waiting for a big truck to leave after loading up with Brooklyn's beers. Garrett had me pull straight in, between the rows of kegs.

The photo at left shows where I was parked for two nights. The warehouse got really hot at night, so luckily the warehouse guys were able to hook me up, and I had electricity so I could run my trailer's air conditioning. If not for Garrett, where would a nearly 30-foot Road Brewer rig park in Brooklyn?

Garrett gave me a full tour of the premises. The detail at right is the old carved concrete ceiling in the delivery entryway of the warehouse.

Garrett set me up with a full line-up of all his tap beers, plus his famous (or soon to be famous) "Local One," a medium-bodied Belgian-style beer. Garrett didn't shoot for any particular Belgian style with this beer. In fact, Garrett likes to ride the line between American and British with his straight ales, and he likes to be a little un-style-able with most of his beers.

I had generous pours in front of me, and I'd skipped lunch, so I was feeling pretty good by the time we jumped in Garrett's car to head to Manhattan for dinner.

Garrett only learned to drive about ten years ago. When you grow up in Manhattan, you hardly need to have a car. Garrett must have attended the "Italian Taxi Driver School of New York Driving." He's good in a scary way. Many years ago I attended the "Wisconsin Country-Bumpkin School of Small Town Driving," so I would never attempt the professional driving moves that Garrett was able to pull off. I took the photo at left as we drove across the bridge into Manhattan.

Garrett took me to The Spotted Pig, a highly popular dive foodie bar where Garrett's buddy, Mario Batali is an investor. I think Garrett knows every famous food, beer, and wine person in New York City. Garrett's beer was on cask so we ordered glasses of that and some Local One too. Garrett suggested the Gnudi, which were like Gnocchi, but stuffed with cheese. I said let's go easy on the cheese as I'm allergic to it. We ended up with several cheesy dishes but I didn't make a fuss. Sometimes in the name of gorgeous and delicious food you have to suffer with allergies just a little.

After dinner Garrett suggested we walk to the Blind Tiger, one of his favorite New York beer bars. (Photo at right.) We enjoyed 4-ounce tastes of a very strong English beer that had been aged in a Port wood barrel.

At that point I was hankering after a sour beer, and Garrett surprised me with an oak-aged Belgian-style sour red ale made in Italy. Who'da thunk it?

I took a photo of the bottle's label so I could remember it. I wanted to recommend it to Chip Hardy, the proprietor of Eugene's multi-beer "The Bier Stein." The name of the Italian oak-aged sour Belgian was "Panil Barriquee." The photo turned out as blurry as I felt, so I'm not posting it here.

The next morning I meandered across the street to the brewery and met up with Tom Villa who was about to mash off the single brew of the day. Then I hung out with lab guy Dan Peterson. Christopher Basso was busy with Brooklyn Brewery's current Intern, Kristoph, who was visiting for 5-weeks from Weihenstephan's brewing school in Freising, Germany.

Some of the guys brought sack lunches, but Garrett will often do a lunch run to fetch lunch for himself and the other brewers. His call today? Half-pound hamburgers from the famous Peter Luger Steak House. Wow! Yummy. And filling.

After lunch I took over one of the computers in Brooklyn's offices upstairs to work on my blog and emails.

Popped down just as all the brewers were about to head home. They'd already changed out of their work uniforms. Kristoff took the friendly photo at left and the photo at the top of this page.

Garrett helped me figure out my route to Scarsdale for tomorrow, and also told me about the closest train/subway station.

Soon it was 6:00 pm and time and time for the weekly "Brooklyn Happy Hour." (Photo below.) It was slow at first but heated up quickly. Garrett stuck around for a few hours, a rarity for him, and the other brewers came back to hang out for awhile.

Brooklyn Beer's Happy Hour is a happening Friday night hot spot for this up-and-coming neighborhood. Folks of all stripes and tatoos bring their babies and their thirst for $3.00 pints of Brooklyn's best.

Where else in Brooklyn could you get a pint for $3.00? After the crowd and noise surpassed my tolerance level, I retired to the peace and quiet of my trailer in the warehouse across the street and read a book.
Thank you to Garrett for gifting me a mixed case of Brooklyn Brewery's beers.