The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

(Almost) Everything Else I Did In December January 3, 2009

Eeeek! It’s already 2009, and I still have at least three posts to write from last year, plus all those activities I never got around to blogging! December was actually quite a busy month – we went to four concerts, did a lot of cooking, had a creole-chocolate dinner, and drank some fun beers! Here’s a pictorial tour through December, not necessarily in order:

Serpent’s Stout, another great beer offering from The Lost Abbey:

Serpant Stout from The Lost Abbey

Serpents Stout from The Lost Abbey

We saw Po’ Girl in concert for the second time this year, again thanks to Acoustic Music San Diego:

Po Girl

Po Girl

We ate a dragon fruit!

We ate a dragon fruit!

We attended the Creole Christmas chocolate tasting dinner at Eclipse Chocolat (I’m definitely looking forward to future dinners there!)

Smoked Tomato-Crawfish Bisque

Smoked Tomato-Crawfish Bisque

Truffles from Eclipse

Truffles from Eclipse

We saw Kenny Eng, Dave Booda, and Veronica May (an awesome musician AND Take Lessons music instructor!) at Lestat’s :

Veronica May

Veronica May

Dave Booda

Dave Booda

We drank another of our Bruery beers:

Saison Rue - The Bruery

Saison Rue - The Bruery

I made a cornbread recipe from Red Sage for our Christmas dinner:

Cute little corn sticks!

Cute little corn sticks!

We visited the Main Tap Tavern in El Cajon (yep, East County finally gets a good beer bar AFTER we move!)

Sampler at Main Tap

Sampler at Main Tap

Chuck got a new tapir:

Chuck and his new stuffed tapir

Chuck and his new stuffed tapir

With our sourdough pizza, we drank Nørrebro North Bridge Extreme IPA, one of my picks from our trip to the Bottle Shop at Pizza Port Carlsbad (and possibly the first Danish beer I’ve had!)

Northbridge Extreme IPA

North Bridge Extreme IPA

I tried to chase Athena out of my gym bag:

Athena in the bag

Athena has a New Years resolution to hit the gym!

Went to Lestat’s (again!) for Josh Damigo’s birthday concert, with Rob Dees and Bushwalla:

Rob Dees

Rob Dees

Josh Damigo

Josh Damigo

Bushwalla

Bushwalla

Drank Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout:

Lagunitas Cappucino Stout

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout

And to top it all off and ring in the new year, we went to an awesome concert at the Casbah: Steve Poltz and the Cynics, Gregory Page, the Truckee Brothers, and the Rugburns!


Photo from Flickr member: Soaked In Sin

 

To the Bruery and Beyond! September 11, 2008

Last weekend, we spent some time in Orange County, hanging out at The Happiest Place On Earth with Chuck’s family. During my ritual pre-trip beer scouting, I noticed that The Bruery (whose beers we had sampled at the Stone Fest) was opening its tasting room that same weekend – what incredible luck!

So on Friday afternoon, we snuck away to the Bruery, only six miles away from our hotel (seriously, with such good beer SO close, how could you even think of going to Disneyland and not visiting the Bruery?):

I’d only learned about the Bruery at the Stone Anniversary festival, so I wasn’t sure what to expect at the opening of the tasting room – I was picturing an Alesmith-like, no frills tasting bar, crowded into a corner and surrounded by brewing equipment, with just a few people hangning around..the Bruery blew those expectations away! The place was hopping with people, and the tasting room was well appointed in a rustic  elegance way, almost as if a wine bar had been dropped into the middle of a brewery. It was also quite well attended – if opening day was any indication, the Bruery is well on its way to craft beer success.

They had a full menu of beers available for tasting, as well as a cheese pairing, growler fills, and bottles to go. We didn’t have time for a full tasting flight, so Chuck got a glass of Humulus Bruin, and I got a glass of the Cask-Melange#1, plus we snagged some bottles of the Saison Rue and Tripel (but haven’t tried them yet!). The Cask Melange was brilliant! A combination of Russian Imperial Stout and a Flemish Red, it was sweet, sour, velvety, fruity, creamy, roasty, and soooooo good! Between the Melange #1 and my Hoppy Okapi adventure, I’m all about beer blends! Sometimes the sour Belgians (which are all the rage this year and last) are a little too sour for me, but combining the bright sour flavor with the smooth dark Imperial Stout, and it’s a perfect pairing – the best qualities of the sour still come through, and the stout takes the edge off and allows me to enjoy the flavors without grimacing with every sip!

I’ll be trying to visit the Bruery again when they release the “Autumn Maple” (made with yams!) later this month – it’s fast becoming one of my favorite breweries.

On our way back from Anaheim on Sunday, we also managed to visit Pizza Port San Clemente, our final leg of the Pizza Port trifecta! I had a Pier Rat Porter and a Double IPA (I think it was Dana Point Double? – I don’t remember the name quite so much as the uber-bitterness!), and Chuck had a Way Heavy Scottish Ale. The beers, and the delicious pepperoni and garlic pizza, were the perfect end to our weekend road trip.

As a bonus (or was it an ulterior motive all along???) I managed to make some progress on my 101Things list with both of these breweries – #65 (visit a brewery (Bruery!) I hadn’t been to before), and #62 (Pizza Port San Clemente) are now complete!

 

Stone 12th Anniversary Party August 18, 2008

On Saturday we went to the Stone Brewing 12th Anniversary Party at the Cal State San Marcos campus. It was the fourth time we’ve been to the Stone Anniversary party, and I think yesterday’s event was the most enjoyable of the four.

We started our morning with a hearty breakfast from the La Creperie booth at the Little Italy mercato: eggs, bacon, cheese, and guacamole wrapped up inside a fresh crepe, it’s like a breakfast burrito with a French twist:

mmmmm, breakfast crepe

mmmmm, breakfast crepe

We then headed over to San Marcos, arriving at the campus about 25 minutes before our session began. The line was very long but well organized, hugging the walls of the buildings for shade, and once the gates were open we slowly wound our way down into the courtyard where the party was held. With more than forty breweries attending (typically with 2-4 beers each) and ten tasting tickets each, we set out to find beers that we’d never had before or that we rarely find on draught.

We started out at the Avery Brewing tent, where there’s always interesting beer to be found. I got Ale to the Chief, a “Presidential Pale Ale”, and Chuck had Fifteen, Avery’s unique anniversary ale in a slightly sour Belgian wild ale style.

After Avery we headed to Brew Dog, a brewery from Scotland that’s just over a year old and making their debut in our consciousness. At their booth I tried a double IPA, which was incredibly malty and smooth for an IPA, and Chuck tried their Imperial stout. Both of these beers were quite good, and I’ll definitely have Brew Dog beers again if I get the opportunity.

We then headed over to Port Brewing, where Chuck tried “Just Another Barrel“, a sour Belgian style ale from the Lost Abbey, and I sampled the Barbarian Barley Wine (from Pizza Port San Clemente according to Beer Advocate reviews). The barley wine was sweet and a little less strong than some barley wines – highly drinkable but perhaps not a rich as expected.

Somewhere along the way, Chuck picked up a fan club (maybe they’ve heard rumors of his homebrew prowess?):

We also tried Double Dead Guy and Imperial Red from the Rogue tent, which were both strong and good, but which I didn’t take very good notes on. The Rogue brewpub in Portland is one of our all-time favorites, with a great atmosphere and a great variety of beers, definitely worth a visit.

Nearing our halfway point, we sampled some of the European beers: I tried Urthel Hop-It, a Flemish interpretation of a West Coast IPA, it was one of the highlights of the day. Hildegard, the head brewer at Urthel, brewed a collaboration beer with Tomme of the Lost Abbey – read about it here; I think we bought a bottle of this earlier in the summer, but haven’t tried yet. Chuck tried an ale from La Trappe, also known as Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven, the only trappist brewery in the Netherlands.

In case you’re suffering from beer fatigue by now, let me tell you about Mike’s Beer Cheese… a much-cherished tradition of the Stone Anniversary parties is the opportunity to sample Mike’s Beer Cheese in several flavors. These are soft, spreadable cheeses, each made with a different stone ale and other seasonings – and they are good! My favorite was the sun dried tomato/Stone Pale Ale one, followed by the Ruination IPA/mustard cheese. The others are Napalm Double Bastard (it’s spicy, did you guess?), and one with Smoked Porter and garlic .

Alright, back to the beers! We got to try some beers from The Bruery in Orange County for the first time: Black Orchard, a black belgian wheat beer, and Humulus Bruin, a Belgian brown with good hoppiness and bitterness.

Also: A trippel from St. Feuillien (which tasted hoppier than a typical trippel); a double brown from Oceanside Aleworks, which Chuck has fond memories of; Scrimshaw Pilsner from North Coast Brewing. an IPA from Rubicon in Sacramento, which looks like a fun place to go if I ever find myself in Sacramento; and the Heirloom Blend Cider from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, Oregon, which I highly recommend – not too sweet, not too dry, a good cider.

Another favorite tradition at the Anniversary parties is the Onion Ring tent – it always has a long line, since you can get a free sample or a whole plate of delicious Arrogant Bastard Ale-battered onion rings for only $3, but they’re well worth the wait:

These were also a great way to sample some sauces from Carlsbad Gourmet – there was a really good strawberry barbeque sauce that was my favorite, and several more flavors that were good as well.

Of course, no trip to the Stone Anniversary Party is complete without sampling some of Stone’s own brews, and this year was no exception. In the spirit of sticking with the more unusual beers, we visited their cask tent, where we tried Smoked Ported with Chipotle and the 12th Anniversary Ale.

I think having these beers on cask really brought out their flavors and unique characteristics. The porter with chipotle was quite spicy, with the chipotle adding a dryness to the usual smokiness of the Smoked Porter. The 12 Anniversary Ale on cask was the most impressive beer that we had on Saturday. We’d tried this, a Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, before at Stone World Bistro and in bottles, but the cask brought out a richness and depth of flavored that transformed this to a truly extraordinary beer experience.

See you next year for lucky number 13 :)

 

 
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