Archive | January, 2011


26 Jan

Yes, I’m aware of how obnoxious the post title is. Can we just call it ironic instead of, “I can’t think of anything better”? Ok, good.

So, I had a party, a party for beer. After my first homebrewing experience, I felt really accomplished and I wanted to celebrate that accomplishment by hosting a soiree to present it to the world. I did the two things I always do when I host a party: make way too much food, and forget to use my camera. In between bites I did manage to remember to grab some short video of people trying my beer for the first time. Watching it over again, I noticed the look of surprise that people experience when they taste it. Makes me wonder what they were expecting. Something else apparently. BUT I did get an overwhelming “It’s good!” response, and my guests drank pretty much all of it. We had a great time, and I plan on doing it again when my next batch is finished. You wanna come?

 So, here’s the little bit of video I managed to snag. Please to enjoy:

Bar Sheview: JL Beers

21 Jan

The Taps!

In the few weeks leading up to my trip to Fargo for Christmas, my mom had mentioned a new-ish bar in town that “Had a lot of really weird beers” and I immediately knew that I would be making this a stop during my arctic travels. One day I was craving a beer and my mom wanted a burger; so she, my dad, and I all piled into the family truckster and headed to downtown Fargo. When we pulled up outside JL Beers I would have assumed it was a small specialty shop, the storefront doesn’t give much indication of the wonders that lay inside this teeny bar. And I mean teeny, the maximum seating is 24. The extent of the furniture is a bar and two tables. It doesn’t seem cramped for how small the place is, actually I’d call the atmosphere cozy. There is an entire wall showing off the available bottles and merch, the cooking stating is at the end of the bar, and no one really seemed to mind waiting a minute to get a seat. We were lucky enough to find 3 barstools together, sat down perused the beer list. They’ve got a tap list 32 beers strong and a bottle list 40 bottles long, granted there are still the usual domestic lights in there but I didn’t see one person with what looked like “fizzy yellow beer” in their glass. Hooray!  

The Humpty Dumpty

Having ordered our beers, it was time to get to grubbin’. One of my favorite things to eat in the world is a cheeseburger with a fried egg on it, so imagine my delight when I saw the Humpty Dumpty, and my delight was furthered by the extremely reasonable pricing: burgers range from $2.99 to $4.49. They spiral cut potatoes for fresh-cut chips. $1.99 gets you plenty, and $2.99 puts a mound of chips in front of you. Needless to say, the burger was delicious.

Besides the yummy food and nice beer selection, there were a few other points of interest:

that's 1/2 of the small order of chips

-They have cool merch. The tshirts available have sassy little beer sayings on them, they have growlers and growler coosies with a shoulder strap.  I found it interesting that you can get growler fills at the bar. I’m used to California law only letting you take growlers home from the site that brewed the beer.

-Beer Mail. You can mail a post card from the bar.

-Flights. There are a ton of flights to choose from, which I appreciate as a way to get people exposed to new beers without having to commit to whole pints at a time

*from jlbeers.comSo, next time you find yourself in Fargo, ND check out JL Beers:

518 1st Ave N

 Fargo, ND 58102

(701) 492-3377


The coolest dad ever

Mom and I after chowing some burgers

Looks like I’m having a party

20 Jan


Friday. Stay tuned for a recap.

So, How’d your first homebrew go?

18 Jan

As I have mentioned in the past, I decided to expand my knowledge and appreciation of beer by making my own. Out of my first experience the biggest lesson I learned was that doing as much reading and research will only get you so far, actually getting in there with your hands is where you learn the most. I went in to making my first batch thinking, “I’ve got it handled, it will be perfect, I read How to Brew!” Well, that’s not exactly how it went. I made a few mistakes along the way, but we’re calling them learning experiences.

The whole event started at American Home Brewing Supply in Kearny Mesa. It happens to be RIGHT by my office so I tootled on over there on my lunch break one sunny Thursday afternoon, list in hand. I emerged 30 minutes later, after some helpful instruction from the owner, with a bag full of grain, yeast, hops, and hope.

That evening I laid out all of my purchases, put on my Bowie playlist, and got busay.

Totally legal substances

This is the recipe I went with (thank you, American Home Brewing Supply!):

8 lbs. Pale Malt Extract
1/2 lb. Crystal 90L
1/4 lb. Crystal 120L
1/2 lb. Victory grain
1/2 lb. Chocolate grain
2 ozs. Black Patent
1 oz. Northern Brewer Hops (boil)
1 oz. Cluster Hops (mid boil)
1 oz. Cascade Hops (late boil)
1 oz. Fuggle Hops (finish)
Burton Ale yeast


So I made a nice little wort tea with my grains, and stirred in the sticky ass malt extract. I got some on my hand and was like Clark Griswold when he was covered in sap.

The Wort bubbling away

 After a good scrubbing, my wort got a nice ice down in my bathtub while I cleaned and sanitized the equipment I would need next. I think I might have gone a little overboard on sanitizing, everything went in there. But better safe than contaminated, right? Here’s where one of my rookie mistakes made an appearance, in my excitement to transfer my wort to the carboy I forgot to take my Original Gravity reading. Oops. Also, I didn’t pour it through a strainer, so there will be a few errant hop leaves hanging out in my beer. I’ll just tell everyone it’s a new high fiber beer. Healthy! But, those few little snafus aside, I think things went really well. Then I woke up on Saturday morning. Foam was everywhere! I guess there was some very vigorous fermentation going on Friday night. But, being the MacGyver-like chick I am, I fashioned a quick blowoff hose with siphon tubing and an older airlock; and took care of that business.

Aren't we cute?

Two hours later, I was on a plane to Fargo for Christmas. When I dragged my huge suitcase upstairs 10 days later, I was pleased to see my beer right where I had left it, slowly bubbling away into the big bowl of sanitized water. I switched out the blowoff hose with a new airlock, and a few days later my lovely assistant, Darcy, came over and helped me bottle. Bottling went pretty smoothly once I showed the siphon that it was not in fact smarter than me. With Darcy’s amazing help, we got a little assembly line going and next thing you know, I’ve got a bunch of beer hand made by me. Hurrah!

Ta DAAA! Beer by me!

The best part is coming up, I’m having a party on Friday to celebrate my latest project, and actually taste it. I hope that my guests will enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’ll let you know what they say.

The first post of 2011

10 Jan

Alright. 2011. Lets do this.

I’ll start the year by saying thank you to everyone who’s been reading up to this point; I hope you all had a happy and fun holiday season! Lets start this year with how I ended last year. December brought on yet another bout of tonsillitis, and a recommendation from a pretty foxy ENT to have my tonsils removed. At the beginning of February, there will be another two weeks that I won’t be able to drink beer. I think my tonsils have life ruining ulterior motives, so I will be taking them out. That will show them!

On the few rare days that I was actually able to swallow and communicate normally, I did get some awesome beer stuff done. I brewed my first batch of beer in my kitchen (stay tuned for a post about the experience), and then two days later hopped on a plane to the frozen tundra of my hometown also known as Fargo. It turns out that the craft beer idea is slowly starting to hit the Midwest in a real way. I started seeing more of a selection in bars than the three “Light Beers” and there were two awesome surprises for me: JL Beers and Happy Harry’s pick six section. There’ll be a Sheview coming up on JL Beers, so I’ll just say Humpty Dumpty, and leave you with that for now. Happy Harry’s is the big bottle shop in Fargo, and they have an immense selection of wine and liquor so it wasn’t a huge surprise for me to see the Import Beer section to house some Chimay and Lindemann’s Lambics, but I was pleased to see some craft beers that aren’t readily available in Southern California (and some that are) broken up for me to pick 6 for $9.99

So, I made it a point to try beers that I hadn’t had before. Here’s what I grabbed:

-Goose Island IPA

-Summit IPA

-New Belgium Trippel

-Widmer Brothers BRRR

-Redhook Ale Brewery Winterhook

-Boulder Never Summer Ale

I’d say that was a nice little mix of new beers. I think I liked the Trippel from New Belgium the best. With the coriander and having a higher ABV (around 7%) it was really pretty perfect for a snowy Christmas with the family.

I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season! Here’s to this year being better than the last, and tonsil free.