Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Continuing Saga of a Wandering Beer Hound: The Mountain Goat Weed.

It’s very strange, being away from home, and away from San Diego, but still being so close. With all the out of state travel lately, I’ve started to think of being Californian as a novelty. When asking locals what there is to do, or where I might find good local beer, they ask where I’m from. Lately, the response has been “Oh, I’m from California.”… but this week finds me in Mount Shasta, California, and my response now has to be more specific. It’s strange to feel like a foreigner in your home state. I’m not quite accustomed to moving around so much, but it has presented me with an enjoyable opportunity. I don’t care to find the local night-life, or find and talk to the natives… but I do like tasting local beer and barbecue. Which is why I was excited when one of my co-workers (whom I had not worked with before) said he liked, “I don’t know… all kinds of beer. Blue Moon, Fat Tire, Stella, I like dark beers, strong beers, light beers… just not Budweiser, Miller, Coors, or any of that kind of crap”.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our first day in Mount Shasta was long and tiring, as most of them tend to be, so we asked the employees of the store that we were working on, “Is there anywhere around here where we can get really good local beer?” “Well… there aren’t really any bars around here… It’s a pretty small town.” I told them I had heard there was a place called Mount Shasta Brewing Company, and asked if they knew anything about it. “Oh, Yeah… well that’s not right here in town. If you go about fifteen minutes North you’ll get to Mount Shasta Brewing, if you go about fifteen minutes South you’ll get to Dunsmuir Brewery Works. They’re both really good. But if you’re talking about stuff here in town, your best bet is The Billy Goat Tavern.”

The co-worker I just met (who is snoring in the next bed as I type this) had to leave early, to take care of some prescriptions or something, so Jared and I decided to go to the tavern without him. It was a nice little place, but I won’t waste too much time on it because the real beer adventure comes later. I started out with a glass of Boont Amber Ale, by Anderson Valley Brewing, in Mendocino county, and a carnitas style pulled pork sandwich with sweet spicy mustard and bacon on top.

The ale was decent, and had some sweetness from the malt and wheat, but the flavor and mouth feel were slightly watery to me. I moved on to Raging Rapids ale, by Feather River in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was a dark golden color, and clear. It tasted like sweet, delicate, flowers dipped in honey. The taste hung around in my mouth for a long time, and I was not at all upset about that. It made my sandwich taste better. The ceiling was covered with over 200 decorative taps, which are put there when they’re not in use.

The whole “vibe” (to steal a work from these mountain hippies) of the place was comfortable and relaxed… but it would not have suffered from the use of an Air Conditioner or a fan.

So, the next day, when our other co-worker rejoined us, it was settled. We would be going to Mount Shasta Brewing Company after work for a couple of drinks, and maybe some food if they had it.

Mount Shasta Brewing Company operates out of what had been the abandoned Medo-Bel Creamery, and doesn’t seem to have changed much about the building as far as appearance. The Brewery itself inhabits a large room adjacent to the bar, and can be seen through a set of large windows.

I would like to come back some time when they’re brewing to get the full experience, and maybe meet the brewers.

I was honestly a little surprised by the beer selection. Since it’s kind of a small operation, I expected they might have two or three varieties on tap, and then perhaps a sampling of other relatively local beers, since it’s not just a brewery, but an Alehouse and restaurant. However, when I looked at the eight taps behind the bar, I found that every one had a different Mount Shasta beer, and no other Brewery was represented. Faced with such a spectrum of potential delights, all made locally, I really only had one option: Try them all.
Challenge accepted
The Tour de Weed. Clockwise, from the front: We have their Seasonal “Stout of Jefferson”, “Skip and Go Naked” specialty lager, “Lemurian” golden lager, “ Weed” golden ale, “Shastafarian” porter, “Abner Weed” amber ale,  “Mountain High” IPA, and Jalapeno ale. I’m sure you can guess which one I was least excited about trying.

Oh, and I also got a ham and swiss panini with sliced black olives, and honey dijon mustard and tortilla chips. Though I didn’t think it warranted a picture, it still deserves mention because it was delicious. I had to work at not eating it all before I finished my beer, because I wanted to not only see how good their beer is, but how well it pairs with their food.

I decided on the order in which I would taste them, lightest to darkest, leaving the jalapeno ale for last for fear of it being so spicy that it would ruin the flavor of everything else. However, for the purposes of simplicity, I will tell you about them in the order they were listed above.

Stout of Jefferson: As you can see, and should assume, because it’s a stout, this was a thick dark colored beer. Since I decided not to look at their descriptions on the menu, so my impression wouldn’t be tainted, I expected this to be like Guinness, or Murphy’s, and feel like a dark beer… I expected it to have a sort of roasted coffee bean taste… so I was surprised when it tasted kind of like a cone of soft-serve ice cream where the vanilla and chocolate are swirled together. I was impressed with how it managed to be sweet and dark without being syrupy or cloying. I think it would go well with blueberry scones, or raspberry lemon tarts. It’s sweetness, apparently, comes from the use of local apples and pears.

Skip and Go Naked specialty lager: When the bar tender (who kind of looked like if Ed McMahon had a baby with the bar tender from Boondock Saints, complete with sporadic and random facial twitches) brought my tray over and told me which was which, he simply called this “Skip and Go Naked”. When I asked him what kind of beer it was he looked at me for a moment with a surprised expression… as if no one had ever asked him about beer styles before, and he’d never thought to wonder. Then he said, “Well, I think it’s a lager. I don’t know… I don’t really like that one.” If you ever go, and he’s there, you should ask for his opinion on what to order, and then get something other than what he tells you. This was, perhaps, the best lager I’ve ever tasted. It smelled like cinnamon and honey, and had a slightly spicy taste. While it was crisp, like you’d expect a lager to be, it was by no means weak or watery, but did not err in the other direction by being too flavorful. I would enjoy this with honey-baked ham, Christmas cookies, or a cold juicy apple while laying in a hammock under a shady tree on a warm day.

Lemurian golden lager: This was the first one I tasted, and it’s a good thing too, since it would have tasted weak after the Skip and Go Naked (I’m interested to see what Google AdSense does, with me saying “Naked” so many times in this entry). I’m not sure why, but this pilsner is named for Lemuria, a theoretical continent (which never actually existed) that people used to believe had sunk into either the Indian or Pacific ocean, depending on who you talk to. It had a very warm flavor from the yeast. I would drink it before getting to the main course at a barbecue… with sweet corn on the cob, potato salad, hawaiian rolls, fruit salad, or baked beans. More than that, however, I would like to drink this while eating a ham sandwich, sitting atop Mount Shasta in spring time, looking out over this whole beautiful landscape.

Weed golden ale: Named after Weed, California, which you probably remember best from the first chapter of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, where it’s mentioned that George and Lenny had recently worked on a farm there, but had been chased off because Lenny was accused of rape. This ale was nothing like that, and really doesn’t have anything to do with that though… but it does bring to mind images of vast golden wheat fields surrounded by rolling hills which steadily grow greener as they climb up into the sky and become tree covered mountain spires and rocky snow covered peaks. It had a zesty scent, and a crisp, delicate flavor. Perhaps I should have started with this one. This would go well with a cold turkey club, or something of the like.

Shastafarian porter: Named after Ras Trent, this had a predictably coffee-like scent, and a subtle chocolate malt flavor. It would probably pair well with special brownies, Bob Marley, and/or The Dark Side of Oz.

Abner Weed amber ale: Contrary to popular opinion, the town of Weed is not named after weeds, or marijuana, or even Jeremiah Weed (the alcoholic beverages)… it is actually named after Abner Weed, once California Governor and founder of the town. This ale, which bears his name, honors him more than the actual town does, I believe. It had a sweet, hoppy scent, and a caramel flavor. It tasted a bit like an Irish red ale mixed with Newcastle brown ale. This is a good backbone drink for the brewery. It’s a good representation of its type, which they could produce in large quantities, to fund some of their more experimental beers. I would pair this with the panini I was eating, or maybe some baked beans, or a beef burrito.

Mountain High IPA: So named because the town is surrounded by mountains… and since it is in Weed, they like making drug references. It was deceptively light tasting for being 7%abv. the hoppy flavor was somewhat muted at first, but had a pleasant tangy kick afterward, and the flavor stuck around for a while, which made my sandwich even more enjoyable. I would have this with pizza, or chicken wings, or garlic bread… or all three of those things.

And finally…..

Jalapeno ale: It smelled exactly like you’d expect it to… like tabasco sauce. Yet (and if you knew either of the guys I was there with, you could ask them), I actually did try it. At first, it tasted like tomato vines smell… but that quickly gave way to something more like flamin’ hot cheeto’s with a slight hint of beer flavor. It burned my throat a bit, but was not actually entirely intolerable. I think that anyone who likes spicy food and beer would actually really like this. This was the only one I didn’t finish. I would have this with milk.

I finished my sandwich, finally, and went back to the bar for a pint of Abner Weed, which I enjoyed while briefly talking to my girlfriend before my piece of crap phone died for the second time that day, then went out to the parking lot and talked to a guy from Michigan who had ridden his bike out to Oregon, and was on his way down California to ride back across the southern part of the country before heading back up to Michigan. I told him he needed to go see some giant sequoias while he’s out here, because there’s nothing else quite like them in the world. Sadly, he said, he didn’t have the time… Hopefully, he’ll see some on his way south. It would be a shame to make that kind of a treck and not see them.

I do hope to come back here some day, in the not too distant future, when I’m not working. A leisurely trip up though these mountains, without a schedule, would be damn near perfect.

Picture dump

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tapped Out

I had the good fortune, this week, of being in town for a special event at Stone Brewery, which, given my recent work/travel schedule, was surprising. They were having something called a "Fresh Tap Night", which means they were pouring a variety of local beers (not just their own) which had been kegged that very day. In addition to this (and, perhaps, most importantly) they were offering the chance to drink a glass of their 15th Anniversary Imperial Black IPA.... which may be the longest name for a beer that I've yet encountered. The way it works is you buy a token at the bar, which you then redeem in the store before being led through the brewery to the IPA. We bought our tokens, I took the picture you see above, and we went to the store, and started the line for the first group of the night. I was in front, my beautiful girlfriend was behind me, and some woman who insisted on trying to make conversation with the backs of our heads was behind her, followed by two other men. We were led through the gleaming towering brewing equipment, and down an aisle that the tour we'd taken before had not brought us down, actually between all of the fermentors. When my liver dies and goes to Heaven, it will find itself somewhere like this. We were met by a man with a rack full of glasses who, when asked how long he'd been working there, said, "Oh, about five minutes.... oh, you mean years?".

I was the first person in line, in the first group of people to taste the first batch of this beer.... straight out of the fermentor.
Other than the people who actually made the beer, and probably tasted it to make sure it was suitable for sale, I was in line to be the first person to taste it. However, I am a gentleman, and let the two ladies behind me get their glasses filled first.

Despite being called a Black IPA, it was more of a dark chocolaty brown. In fact, the color and the feel of it (since it had not even been carbonated yet) reminded me of the river of chocolate in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. I took a sniff, and then a sip, and imagined myself as Augustus Gloop, falling head first into the river... a fate I don't think I'd be bothered by. It was, almost needless to say, strong. It's Stone Brewery after all. It was intense, though not over-powering, hoppy and malty in turns.

We took our glasses out to the patio while another lucky group was led in. I wanted to savor my drink, so I sipped on it while we waited for a waiter to come around. Besides, I thought, this is much too heavy of a drink for someone to just guzzle down.

Or so I thought, Erika.
We ordered some tacos (I got barbecued duck) and chips, and spud buds. And Erika, not content with the strong beer she'd just chugged down, ordered two glasses of Cali Belgique (though she will tell you an entirely different version of the story which will include some nonsense about the waiter taking too long, and the bartender giving her an extra one or something)

The girl in the background is whispering to her friend about Erika being an alcoholic.
The Food and beer were all delicious, and you should all be very jealous. The thing about Stone is this. This is the thing: Their beer is very strong, and their food is very spicy. I've heard Stone accused, a number of times, of relying too heavily on hops for character, and I believe the same could be said of their use of spice in the food. It's almost as if they designed their food so you could still taste it over their taste-bud numbing beers... or they designed their beer so that it could over-power the intense burning sensation nearly every item on their menu causes.

Pictured: Just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, fire chili death chips.
The moral of the story, though, is that no one should ever let Erika near their brewing equipment, because she will drink those tanks dry.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The truth revealed

Many people have probably wondered, at some point, why Kirsten Dunst is such a terrible actress. Admit it. You don't understand why anyone puts her in movies, do you? You may also have wondered why she has such a weird face and voice. If you haven't, you should have... because she's absolutely terrible. However, I have the answer to those questions, so you don't have to wonder any more. The reason that Kirsten Dunst looks and sounds so bad, and is so terrible at acting.... is......

Please, spread the word.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Colorado Springs Eternal

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come. - Alexander Pope
I am now in Colorado Springs, as you may have guessed by the title of this installment. While it has only been a few days, it does feel like it's been longer (though not actually eternal. That is exaggeration). I would like, very much, to be done here and get back to my girlfriend, and/or see my family, but I can't do either yet. There is still work to be done. However... instead of boring you with information about work (since I basically do the same thing every day... except that I got to do some painting today), I will devote this particular blog entry to my experience at the bar tonight.
Across the street from the hotel we are staying in here, is a grill and bar called Buffalo Wild Wings, which my roommate (we'll call him Jared, for legal reasons) said was "a pretty chill bar. They've got a decent beer selection, and basic bar food"... which is really all that I need. Raymondo decided to stay back at the hotel for the most part (he stopped by the bar for about 30 seconds, and miraculously vanished.), so it was me, Jared, and Rick (which, I imagine, is short for Ricardo) whose beer horizons I am intent on broadening. I was confident I could convert him from Bud Light and Corona until the other day when I ordered a Fat Tire with my lunch and he cringed. CRINGED! literally winced, and pulled back, as if the thought of Fat Tire was so repulsive that his body could not stand to be near the words. After that, my confidence in his likelihood to change has waned, and I am less determined, though I will still, whenever possible, show him how much I am enjoying my delicious beer for it's taste first, and it's inebriating properties second.
Today, after work, we stopped by Wal*Mart. I bought a six pack of Shock Top to bring back to the hotel. Perhaps my fan in Maryland will understand my aggravation here... and perhaps have even felt it to a stronger degree... though most others may not. I got back to the van and looked at the label, and found that this particular variety (though otherwise marked the same as any other) was only 3.2% abv. I was told at this point, since the rest of the crew has been here before, about a difference between Colorado and California. Whereas California Grocery Stores and Liquor Stores sell the same alcohol (though not always the same brands or varieties necessarily), Colorado Grocery Stores and Gas Stations cannot sell beer that is higher than around 3.5% abv. For those of you who don't know what that means, in California, an average beer will be around 5.5% abv (alcohol by volume), wine tends to hover around 14%, though both can often be found in higher percentages. This means that Colorado Grocery Store beer is less potent than cough syrup, which is often around 4-5%.
Knowing that we would be going out, I wasn't too upset about the beer. Besides, it would be a good experiment. Does changing the alcohol percentage in a beer effect the flavor of the beer in any noticeable way? They don't water it down (I'm guessing) to change the alcohol percent, so the recipe should be about the same... yet, and I can't exactly place what it was, the flavor was different. It was, somehow, less interesting, less flavorful. Fortunately, as I finished the bottle, I was on my way out.
The bar section of Buffalo Wild Wings wasn't exceptionally large (though it had an inordinate number of tv screens, all of which were showing sports of some kind), and didn't have an unusually vast beer selection, but it did have a surprising number of beers I had never heard of, let alone tasted. I ordered a plate of ribs and popcorn shrimp, and a 16 ounce glass of Agave Wheat beer. I chose 16 ounces instead of 20, because I wanted to make sure I had room for everything I wanted to try. Agave Wheat is made by Breckenridge Brewery, here in Colorado, and is an American Hefeweizen. It was cloudy all the way through, and about the color of good honey. Rick, who was drinking a bud light, said, "what is that?! Look, you can see through my beer all the way, but I can't even see through any of yours." That, Rick, is because your beer is crap, and mine is delicious.... though there's probably a more scientific reason for it. Honestly though, if I ever went to a bar that only had three beers to choose from, and those three were Widmer Hefeweizen, Franziskaner weisbier (the two great beers of which it most reminded me) and Agave Wheat... I would choose Agave Wheat all night. The only thing that kept me from revisiting it was the number of beers I'd never tried.
So, I reluctantly soldiered forth... and had an IPA from Compass. In my time as an amateur beer connoisseur (an expensive thing to be an amateur at, admittedly), I have tasted a fair number of great IPA's... but I may have found my favorite. Maybe it was the way it complimented the honey barbecue sauce on my ribs, or maybe it was the fact that it was powerful enough to distract from the burning sensation from the peppercorn and garlic on my popcorn shrimp... or maybe it was the fact that it could pair with the sweet tangy sauce, and be strong enough for the spicy shrimp... but this hoppy beer would prove a hard act to follow. It had a floral aroma, was roughly as intense as any California IPA I've had, and followed with a very distinct lemon and lime zest after-taste.
Moving down the line, and still snacking on french fries and popcorn shrimp (having sucked every bit of sauce and flesh off of the bones of the ribs), I ordered a Barrel 5 Pale Ale. Not as strong as an IPA (since IPA's originally had to be strong and bitter to last through the voyage from India to England), this was, certainly out of order. Had it gone between the hef and the IPA, I'm sure this would have been more than acceptable... but following the IPA left the flavor of the Pale Ale wanting desperately.
At Jared's suggestion, I tried the 1554 Black Ale from New Belgium, another Colorado company. This, at the risk of sounding like an alcoholic, is definitely a beer I would suggest you drink with breakfast. Or, breakfast-for-dinner. It was like Fat Tire, Guinness, and a little bit of coffee got mixed together. Very smooth, not thick or syrupy and it kept it's head.
Intrigued by the tap design (it had a picture of a dog on it), my next order was a glass of Laughing Lab. This Dark Scottish Ale is not only local in that it's brewed in Colorado, but it's local in that it's brewed by Bristol Brewing, here in Colorado Springs. It was not exceptional, but was an extremely fair representation of Scottish Ale. It is dark red in color, both bitter and sweet... but it lost it's head faster than any subject of the Queen of Hearts. At this point, I thought I'd order a glass of water, since I have work in the morning, and it is (apparently) a good idea to be hang-over free while doing construction.
At this point, a young black woman came in and sat up at the bar, and ordered take-out, and a Blue Moon. She and my co-workers made conversation which caused me to think about how little I envy single people. Granted, I'm not married, but I'm also not looking for love (or whatever people look for) in all the wrong places. She wanted to get home, because she had a bag of food, which her room-mate was waiting for her to bring back, but Rick said, "You don't have to rush home to bed.", "Well, my bed's pretty cold, so I'm not rushing." She said, looking at Jared. I can't even imagine how demoralizing, degrading, and depressing it must be to go out looking for a cheap hook-up, for someone to show you some kind of affection... and it makes me even more glad to have the meaningful, committed, and respectful love that I have with my girlfriend, even if I am far away from her.
Since I was still working on my water, and my Laughing Lab, but wanted to know more about the one remaining untested beer on tap, I asked the bartender, "What is that one with the Bison head?" Oh, that's Buffalo Sweat. "Which is?...." It''s made by Tall Grass Brewing Company, and is ridiculously dark. Like... if Guinness had a baby with Emperor Palpatine... and very smooth. Like a real ale. It had a very promising thick head, but that faded to a thin film within a minute. It reminded me of Mikkeler, and a Stone beer (the name of which I can't remember)... the one they serve with the ice cream on people's birthdays, only not as heavy and with a slight caramel flavor. It would make a fantastic beer float if you dropped some French Vanilla ice cream in it.
I've been reluctant to refer to myself as a "Craft Beer Enthusiast". Partly because I find the idea of enthusiasm somewhat laughable, and partly because it kind of sounds like a self aggrandizing way of saying I like to drink beer, and have instead just referred to myself as a beer drinker... But I have realized there is a difference. A craft beer enthusiast has a love and appreciation for the art, and science, and variety of beer. A beer drinker wants to get drunk, but doesn't like hard liquor. I spent a few hours drinking seven different beers, and never intended to get drunk. I didn't get drunk. By the time I paid my bill I wasn't even buzzed. I don't know whether to thank or curse my genetics and BMI. I am not a beer drinker. I.... am a craft beer enthusiast.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rocky Mountain High Hopes

As many of you know, I recently started working for a company that specializes in retail construction. Our clients are corporations with a multitude of locations, which they pay us to make presentable.

 As soon as I filled out the paperwork and accepted the job offer, I was nervous. I've never done retail construction... I've mostly worked within an hour of home. Now, I have a job where I never actually meet the client (hell, I have yet to actually meet my boss), and am states away from home. My preparation for this first venture out was one day of work an hour and a half away from where I'm living, with two guys I'd never met, one of whom had to leave halfway through the day for a company meeting about how to deal with new hires who are having trouble keeping pace with people who've been working there for a while. It seems that almost everyone I'm working with specializes in painting... which kind of sucks for me because I, allegedly, specialize in finish carpentry, but painting is easier. So, while I'm building framing for store signs and figuring out how to fit these signs over pre-existing shelving units without leaving any of the mounting visible, the guys who have been working here longer will be rolling paint on the walls and helping me while it dries.
This is not to say I'm the only carpenter. Actually, I've been, for the past few days, sort of assigned to follow one of the guys who everyone seems to go to for answers. A Mexican Wizard of Oz of retail construction, if you will. But this brings me back to my first day of work. Actually, it brings me back to a few days before my first day of work. To protect the (possibly) innocent, I will slightly change his name. When I turned in my paperwork, and was given my work assignments for the coming weeks, the women in the office told me I would be working under this guy, and that I would have to pay attention (which, if you know me well, you will know is my strong suit.... getting distracted and thinking about how awesome it would be if I could shoot spider webs out of my wrists is not), because he would just do his work and expect me to learn. The guys in Hemet, where I spent my first sweat drenched day told me, "Oh, you're working with Raymondo? Haha... watch out, he will work right over you. He doesn't stop to explain what he's doing."... so... I was obviously excited to chase after Raymondo trying to figure out what he was doing and why, so I could duplicate it on the next job. Add to this the fact that Raymondo tells me, "Every job is different, so you have to always figure things out as you go, but do it the same way.", and perhaps understand how desperately I am trying to convince everyone (including myself) that I know what I'm doing.
I admit, this all sounds more dramatic than it actually is. The work is really not as stressful as it seems, and it's not like the work that I'm used to, where (if I do something wrong) people could perhaps die, or be injured, or have their house flooded or burned down. Basically, what we do is fix as many things as the corporate office (of whichever store we're working in) thinks necessary in order to please as many customers as possible, while spending as little money as they can. "Oh, a thousand linoleum tiles are cracked or severely stained and need replaced, and it will take a week to get that all done?... well, how about you replace the cracked ones with whatever color tile you have as long as it's close enough and we call it good?". My work is to what needs done as lipstick is to pig.
They had told me, also, when I was turning in my paperwork, that there was the option of going to either Colorado or Arizona. Having been to Arizona, I knew two things: 1) It's July, Arizona is going to be somewhere near the temperature of 95% of a Hot Pocket fresh out of the microwave (but not the 5% in the middle which is somehow still frozen after two minutes on high), and 2) going somewhere I've already been won't give me the chance to shade in another state on my map of America. I told them I'd take Colorado, and began researching Colorado breweries that weren't Coors as soon as I got back to my computer. I decided that I would go to at least two breweries while I was here, possibly three if time allowed. 1) Great Divide Brewery whose Yeti Imperial Stout is ranked #44 on the American Home Brewer's Association's list of the best beers in America for 2011, 2) Breckenridge Brewery, which I have heard very good things about ( here), and possibly 3) Oskar Blue's brewery whose Dale's IPa and Ten Fiddy Imperial Stout ranked 16th and 31st, respectively. I also thought, time permitting, I would like to get close enough at least to touch part of the rocky mountains. While I do not care to taste the Rockies (if they taste anything like that bland, fizzy, yellow beer that defiles their image), I would very much like to see and feel and smell them.
The first day we were here was spent at two different stores, and we did not get back to the hotel until after nine. Just enough time to heat up some dinner (purchased at Walmart), take a shower, call some people (you know who you are), and go to bed. After having flown out here at 6:35 am, I was all too eager to get to bed. Today, the second day, we stayed in one store, trying to finish as much of it as possible. What with waking (alliteration is fun) up at 6 to get the free hotel breakfast and get to home depot, and all the rain flooding the streets... oh, and the fact that I don't actually have my own transportation... today turned out to be a bad day to try out any of those breweries. And, since I've found out that tonight is our last night in Denver before moving on to Fountain, and Colorado Springs, I'm guessing that I won't be able to try those beers in the brewery where they were made, and cross them off of my list. All is not lost, however, in my quest to taste good beer in Colorado. After getting to the hotel at a decent hour tonight, we decided to go to a little bar across the street for dinner and much deserved drinks. Though it's close enough to walk, we chose to drive because none of us counted on all of this rain, and failed to bring anything waterproof. Raylondo doesn't drink, so he stayed at the hotel and watched futbol while the other three of us went out. The guy I'm rooming with is young... and white (since I know you're all wondering if I only work with Mexicans)... and appreciates craft beer. The other guy likes Bud Light, and Corona; and as my room-mate for the weeks said, "People who like that stuff.... they'll never learn what good beer is.". At the bar, I had a bacon cheeseburger calzone (so damn good), a pint of some beer called "hazed and infused", which the bartender told me was "a really nice ale which is dry hopped, so it's more like an IPA", a pint of O'Dell's IPA, and a pint of "Colorado Native" Lager. The bartender told me that Colorado Native is brewed by Coors (which is not entirely true. It's brewed by AC Golden Brewing, a micro-brewery owned by Coors which operates out of Coors' headquarters). With the knowledge that Colorado Native is brewed by Coors, I immediately decided not to drink it. That is until my room mate had one and said it was really good. I had one. Then another. It's a lager, which I generally don't like... but somehow it tastes more like an amber ale got mixed with a honey wheat ale. It's really very delicious. I kind of wish that Coors would stop making it's signature lager and just start making this, but then I would have to like Coors, and I'm not ready to do that. Afterward, when my co-workers wanted to go out to another place, I (being the party animal that I am) opted instead to go next door to the liquor store to see if they had any interesting Colorado beers, and walk back to my hotel room... where I am now blogging. The liquor store had cans of Oskar Blue's Dale's IPA, which I bought and plan to share with my co-workers (it is my mission to convert the Corona Drinker to a Craft Beer drinker). While I have not been able to do all of the things I would like to do here in Denver, I am content in the fact that I was able to taste O'Dell's IPA (22nd on the top beer list), buy a pack of the 16th best beer in America in the state where it was made, and find a good beer made by a bad beer company. Perhaps the rest of the week in Colorado will bring more excitement. And maybe, if they ever have me come back out here (as I'm told is likely), I will have enough time beforehand to drive here myself and camp in the Rocky Mountains, and go experience these breweries which are trying to redeem Colorado's name in the beer drinking world.