Friday, November 16, 2007

One Whirlwind Week

Hard to believe that today is Friday.  A week ago I was on my way up to Oregon to see family and visit a brewery or two.  I made it back from Oregon about 14 hours before I would board my plane and fly to Phoenix, where I met co-workers and visited a brewery or two.  I arrived home from there on Weds night, and found myself on I-80 East going to the Noonan's Bar and Grill "Brewmasters Dinner", featuring beer from Moylan's and several courses of masterfully crafted food.  I made it back into my driveway about 1AM this morning.  As I sit here now, I realize that it is only a few hours before I am to again pack into my car and drive HWY 99 North to Chico, where I have a meeting set up with Sierra Nevada.  I'm tired.

A Few Notes from Along the Way:
  • Still impressed with Ashland, Oregon's, very own brew-pub, Standing Stone.  The place has simply grown on me over the years, as I remember once dissing it for its upscale looks and being unimpressed with their beer.  Now, I still remember the harvest ale and chocolate stout I had there nearly a week ago.
  • Papago's in Phoenix was a great little discovery.  I had dinner there on Monday with the Editor and Chief for DRAFT, Erika Rietz.  There you can finds hundreds of bottled beers from around the world, including offerings from Lost Abbey (which is NOT available here in Sacramento) and Cantillon (also not available here).  Enjoying a couple glasses of the Cantillon Kriek reminds you of the finer things in life, just an absolute treat.
  • Brendon Moylan's enthusiasm is catchy.  He had just installed new bright tanks in the Marin Brewing location, there in Larkspur, and was more than eager to walk me over to see them.  Along the way he stopped to say hello to patrons and employees, always genuinely excited to see them, making every hello special.  
  • Along those lines, Brendon has a lot to be excited about.  With his head brewers bringing home SEVEN medals at the GABF and an impressive staff of assistant brewers to lend a helping hand where they can, I suspect we haven't seen the last of the great things to come out of his breweries.  In fact, at the dinner last night we were given a Moylan's first, a lager!  Yes, as part of the feast we were treated to Denise's own Octoberfest/Marzen and, let me tell you, it was good.  
  • Something seems very right about a wet-hopped, barrel-aged Hopsickle, which we were treated to last night.  Actually, the dessert course came with THREE barrel-aged beers -  barley wine, hopsickle and stout.  While the Hopsickle was great on its own (didn't work with the dessert really), the Stout was simply spectacular.  
  • Tom Daldorf, Celebrator's publisher, should have a camera crew following him around for a year, a new reality TV show pitch.  I maintain that where you find Tom, you're bound to find great beer and the great people of the beer industry.  
  • Beer People are good people.  You know this already, I am sure, but it is just wonderful to travel around and visit new bars and new breweries and meet new friends along the way.  I met people at bars in Phoenix that I'd love to have another beer with, a guy on the plane to Sacramento that I had a great conversation with (all starting with beer) and another gentleman I met yesterday at Noonan's bar prior to the main event who was friendly and generous with his conversation.  And these are just strangers.  Brewers, themselves, are about the greatest folks you can meet, with interesting lives and entertaining stories to tell.  Even some of you, people I have yet to meet, have emailed me and it just seems friendly and warm.  As good as a beer may be, it won't ever hold a candle to the folks who make it, distribute it, sell it or enjoy it.
Well, I have a date with FedEx in 15 minutes.  I believe next week should be a bit less chaotic, and hopefully I'll have a bit more time to get something up worth reading.