So, I guess it really has been two weeks since my last post. There's lots of catching up to do...
- Tuesday, March 27
Cleaned the draft lines. Ordered a couple of pallets of malt. Tried to order six different varieties of hops, but only two of them were in stock. (The conversation sounded a lot like the Cheese Shop Sketch.) Ordered root beer extract. Drove out to Duncan to pick up a pallet of sugar. Did all that and still made it to my allergist appointment at 2:00pm.
- Wednesday, March 28
Cleaned and filled kegs. Cleaned, sanitized, and pressurized bright beer tank #2. That's where the Märzen will get filtered when I get back from California. Our flight leaves Omaha at 7:00am tomorrow, so Paris and I are going to spend the night there rather than get up at 4:00am. We stopped, of course, at Crescent Moon for beer, and dinner, and more beer. We should have headed to the hotel, but someone at the bar talked us into going down the block to Sullivan's Bar. Paris karaoked, I didn't, and we left at closing time.
- Thursday, March 29
The alarm went off plenty early, after about two hours of not-very-refreshing sleep. But just before it did, the phone rang; it was the front desk, telling us that the airport shuttle was about to leave. We quickly got our shit together and got out the door and on the bus. The shuttle company offers parking services at a much lower rate than the airport garage $4.50 vs. $11.00 per day so our plan was to give them our keys and let them park the car. That plan was shot down when we arrived at the airport and realized that we had left half our luggage in the car. I got off the bus and into a cab and went back to the hotel, then parked our car in the airport garage after all.
The flight to Minneapolis left on time, as did the flight to San Jose, but we didn't get our usual first-class upgrade on either leg. We landed in San Jose around 11:30am, rented a car, and stopped by the hotel to come up with a plan for the rest of the day.
Paris, Choo, and Richard celebrate their reunion
- Friday, March 30
We found a prime game-watching spot upon arriving at Jack's Brewing in Fremont. There are at least eight million televisions in the place, the beers are good, and the barbecue smells fantastic.
Jack's Brewing, Fremont, California
The Pleasanton Main Street Brewery is just up I-680 in Pleasanton, of all places. Paris and I had a quick snack here, along with a set of beer samples and a pint apiece.
Pleasanton Main Street Brewery, Pleasanton, California
Our next stop was an old favorite just on the other side of town. In the early 1990s, you could find me at The HopYard just about every day. It's not a brewpub, but it's an excellent alehouse with a fine kitchen and good people. I hadn't been there in more than eleven years, but Rob still recognized me!
The HopYard, Pleasanton, California
Game time was approaching, and we decided to head back to Jack's to watch the game. A couple of phone calls convinced Choo and another old friend, Brian, to join us there. (Brian and I were colleagues during my pre-brewer life.) We got a table, we got beers, we got dinner, and the Sharks got a win! A good time was had by all.
- Saturday, March 31
We got to sleep in a bit this morning before heading over to Campbell's Sonoma Chicken Coop. (They changed their name the following week, and are now known as The Roost Brewery.) Paris' friends Karen and Court met us for lunch at this unusual self-service restaurant. They actually open at 8:00am for breakfast, but the bar doesn't open until 11:00am. The ESB and the Pale Ale were very good beers.
Sonoma Chicken Coop (Roost Brewery), Campbell, California
I checked my email while we were there only to find thousands of "Undeliverable" bounce messages. I thought I had plugged the security holes in my brewery update form, but it got hacked again. Not only was I forced to inconvenience the site's users by shutting down the script again, but it now appears that beerme.com has been blacklisted by some ISP's.
Our afternoon was spent at the original Gordon Biersch location in Palo Alto, a favorite hangout of mine back when I worked in the area. We were joined for dinner by Paris' friends Tricia and Rudy, whom we hadn't seen in many years. Back in the day, Gordon Biersch offered just three beers, Export, Dunkles, and Märzen. Now there are more like six beers on tap.
Gordon Biersch, Palo Alto, California
- Sunday, April 1
Finally, the day we've been waiting for! A couple months back, our friends Matthias Krümberg and Janine from Germany told me that they were planning a trip to the USA, but would only be able to visit California. Paris and I decided to meet up with them and take them to a Sharks game. Choo pulled some strings and got us tickets just a couple of sections over from where Paris and I used to sit. (I'm pretty sure she'll be reading this, so I'll leave it up to her to tell her heroic tale.)
We instructed Matthias to park in the garage across the street from the Tied House and meet us at the brewery for lunch.
Tied House, San Jose, California
After lunch, we walked over to the arena and waited for Choo to deliver the tickets. Some people from the old days, Doug, Jim, and others, recognized the "Go Man 107" jersey, and we shared some laughs.
Game Day at HP Pavilion, San Jose, California
Once inside, we headed for the Gordon Biersch taps. Seven and a half bucks for a cup of Märzen! (That's $30 every time I made a beer run, and I remember making four such runs.) Thus armed, I went up to my old seat, 209/15/20, for a bit of nostalgia.
Section 209, Row 15, Seats 19 and 20
Matthias and Janine get set for the game
OK, this is supposed to be a beer blog. I'll stop raving about the game (although I've always considered beernhockey to be one word) except for one more thing: the aforementioned Jim Walsh, who still sits in Section 209, rearranged Row 15 so that we could sit in our old seats! Jim, you absolutely made my day. I owe you a beer.
After the game, we swung by a local Beverages & More! store to stock up mainly with Gordon Biersch Pilsner and Märzen for the evening's barbecue at Choo's house.
- Monday, April 2
Matthias and Janine wanted to spend a couple of days in San Francisco before their flight home on Thursday, so Paris and I offered to be their tour guides. We dropped off their car and stuff at their hotel and headed north on 101 for pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, the City, and the Bridge and the City. Just a bit further north is Muir Woods, where we worked up a nice thirst by means of a three-mile hike through the redwoods.
Moylan's Brewery, Novato, California
On the way back to the City, we swerved over to Fairfax and the Iron Springs Pub & Brewery. A few years ago, I got an email from former colleague, hockey player, and chess maven Ben Skrainka telling me that his cousin, Michael Altman, had opened a brewpub in the Bay Area. Now I finally had the opportunity to pay him a visit. Mike is just about the friendliest, most enthusiastic person I've ever met in the beer business, and if you've met many brewers, you know that's saying something. He found the time to give us a quick tour of his brewery despite it being the height of dinner rush, not to mention needing to hurry home to his ten-day-old son. I highly recommend this fun place, full of good beer and good people!
Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, Fairfax, California
Michael Altman, Paris, and Richard in the Iron Springs brewhouse
- Tuesday, April 3
I wanted to hit a couple of brewpubs in San Francisco on our last day in town, but the Giants' home opener is today, and the 21st Amendment Brewery is within spitting distance of the ballpark, and traffic is diabolical, so we decided to head to the coast instead.
Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz, California
The plan was to visit Coastline Brewery, also in Santa Cruz, but upon arriving around 1:30, we learned that they don't open until 4:00 in the afternoon.
Coastline Brewery, Santa Cruz, California
Finally, the last brewery of the trip was Half Moon Bay Brewing, which despite the name is actually located a mile or three north of Half Moon Bay in Princeton-by-the-Sea. The Sandy Beach Blonde Hefeweizen and the Paddle Out Stout were quite good, as was the Illuminator Doppelbock, the first lager ever brewed here.
Half Moon Bay Brewing, Princeton-by-the-Sea, California
- Wednesday, April 5
The flights home were uneventful, except we did get our first-class upgrades this time. We left San Jose around noon, and got home just after 10:00pm. I don't think I even had a beer all day.
- Thursday, April 6
Back at the brewery, catching up on everything. Monthly state and federal tax returns and operations reports. Fill kegs. Answer phone messages. And most importantly, filter the Märzen so I can keg it and tap it tomorrow!
- Friday, April 7
Kegged three half-barrels of Märzen and hooked them up for the pub. Drove three half-barrels of root beer to Council Bluffs and picked up seven empty kegs from same. This was quite a feat in my PT Cruiser, which I had to use because someone took the van. While I was in the Omaha area, I stopped by Beertopia to pick up a dozen or so new beers.
Whew. It's taken me two days to type all this up, and I'm still two days behind. The day-at-a-time posts will start again now, beginning with Monday, April 9.