RECIPE: West Coast Jambalaya

Made this for New Year’s Eve

2 lb chicken breast, cut in 1 inch pieces
12 oz Andouille sausage (4 links), cut in rounds
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp creole seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Louisiana hot sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire
12 oz IPA (I used Seabright Brewing‘s The Blur)
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups long grain rice

Heat oil at medium-high in a big pot.
Brown chicken and sausage.
Add onion. Stir frequently.
Stir in creole seasoning, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire, IPA, water and rice. Bring to a boil.
Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
Let stand for 5 minutes.

Note: Adjust spices to your taste.



FAR NORTH: Siskiyou County

The last day of our year-end beer trip started out with a quick stop at Caldera Brewing Company in Ashland.

It was too early for me to drink, but I grabbed a couple 22s to go and added this brewery to my “must visit” list.

I loved the bottle covered walls!

20140101-102035.jpgCaldera’s bottle covered walls

Our only real beer stop would be in Weed, CA at Mt. Shasta Brewing Company, home of Legal Weed.

Since I had a long drive ahead, I skipped the 8-beer sampler and opted for a pint of Mountain High IPA with my lunch.

This was the best beer I had on this three day trip. Perfectly hoppy!

I loved the feel of this “joint.” Weed only has 3,000 citizens and I imagine this place hops on a regular basis.

My only criticism — I felt the food was good but overpriced.

20140101-102151.jpgInside Mt. Shasta Brewing

Well, it was a fun few days on the road but we had to get back home for New Year’s Eve.


GOLD COUNTRY: My first Father-Son tasting

My oldest son, Nick, finally turned 21 this month. I was able to go beer tasting with him this afternoon.

We went to New Helvetia Brewing in the Land Park area of Sacramento. I’ve been before, but this was his first time.

We got a sampler of eight beers consisting of:

  • Buffalo Lager
  • Saison Solon
  • Red Wheat Ale
  • Zeppelbrau
  • Thunderbeast IPA
  • Rough & Ready Red IPA
  • Homeland Stout
  • Mystery Airship
  • What a pleasure it was to sit down an enjoy a few handcrafted beers with my son. We talked about beer styles, music, living regionally rather than globally. It’s amazing how we connected over beer and conversation.

    I am really looking forward to more experiences with him (and my younger son, Tony — once he hits 21).



    20131228-181749.jpgMy son Nick

    Hello, again!

    It’s been months since I blogged. In case you didn’t know, a job change took me from my native California and moved me to Shreveport, Louisiana. I’m enjoying the job, but the beer scene is practically non-existent (although two new craft breweries, Red River Brewing and Great Raft Brewing are just about up and running).

    When I moved here I was able to bring with me 180 great California IPAs, thanks to the generosity of family and friends. After four months that supply has dwindled and I’m restocking. That’s not an easy task.

    The only place that really has a good supply of craft beer is Brewniverse, a bottle shop and brewers supply store. Still, the selection of CA beers exists of North Coast, a Green Flash and some Anchor.

    Dallas has some good shops, but that’s three hours away! I think distribution is the issue in Louisiana as it seems to be controlled by the majors. I wonder how one could start an independent craft beer distribution company…hmm.

    I found a few good brews…Deep Ellum Brewery in Dallas and Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis. Both have good IPAs.

    NORTH COAST: Moylan’s releases new collaboration

    Moylan’s Brewery in Novato is releasing an American version of “Our Dark Secret Double Black IPA,” a collaboration between the Moylan’s, Norway’s Nøgne Ø’ and Australia’s Hargreaves Hill.

    The Black IPA starts with specially selected barley malts like Cara Pilsen, Weyerman Munich and Black malt, but finishes with the finest hops from downunder. The star of this hop show is a new crop of “Victoria Secret” hop flowers from Australia, along with Stella, Galaxy, and Summer hops from the fields of Tazmania.

    8.0% ABV, 92 IBU, 1.072 Original Gravity.

    “Our Dark Secret Double Black IPA” will be available on draft, in growlers or bottles to go at the pub, and on draft at select locations.

    Dark Secret '13-2

    California Coastal Beer Trip, Day 2

    We explored Santa Barbara in the morning. What a great town!

    Our first stop was unplanned in Pismo Beach. I remembered there was a brewery, Pismo Brewing Company, there. We arrived just as they opened at 2 p.m.

    Our bartender was extremely attentive and engaging. My sampler included:

  • Pismo Pale Ale
  • Roadster Red Ale
  • India Pale Ale^2
  • Bolina Brown Ale
  • Beachcomber Bock
  • Oatmeal Stout
  • Guest beer Firestone Walker 805
  • My favorite of these was, as expected, the IPA.

    No food here (well, pretzels).

    Overall, a nice discovery in a sleepy, working-class beach town.

    Next, we headed up to San Luis Obispo and SLO Brew.

    If I was a college kid, and 25 years younger, I’d be hanging out here at this beer and music venue.

    The beer was decent, but not memorable. My flight was comprised of:

  • Honey Blonde
  • Nitro IPA
  • Reggae Red
  • IPA
  • Oatmeal Stout
  • Pilsener
  • No surprise here – I liked the IPA (oddly, I thought the Nitro IPA fell flat). My wife really liked the Honey Blonde.

    The food was good. We had an order of fries (the house made catsup was great) and chili (good heat).

    The service was what I expected here…efficient, restaurant service.

    I’m sure this place rocks at night judging by their music lineup!

    There are several other beer stops in San Luis Obispo, including Creekside Brewing Company and Tap It Brewing Company, but we chose to check out Central Coast Brewing Company as Sara saw they had a Chai beer. What a great discovery!

    This small taproom, located away from the main downtown action, has been around since 1998. They bottle a small amount of beer by hand and only distribute to a few local bars, so this is the best place to enjoy their beers.

    We sampled three:

  • Chai Ale
  • Lucky Day IPA
  • Terrace Hill Double IPA
  • I loved the Lucky Day IPA. Citrusy, hoppy goodness.

    The service was outstanding. Both gentlemen were engaged with us as patrons and answered all our questions (note to self – remember to ask for names, d’oh!)

    No food here, although they were expecting a food truck in the evening.

    Check out this gem if you’re in the area. I hope they can expand enough to distribute bottles soon.

    We headed up to Paso Robles to Firestone Walker.

    I’m familiar with their amazing selection of beers, as they are widely distributed.

    We arrived at 5 p.m. and ate dinner in their taproom bar.

    I ordered a sampler:

  • Unfiltered DBA
  • Union Jack IPA
  • Double Jack
  • Wookey Jack
  • All wonderful beers. Note: they give you a $2 gift shop token when you order a sampler.

    I had macaroni and cheese, Sara had a Cobb Salad and we shared a cheese and fruit plate. All very good.

    The servers were all very friendly.

    We ended our day by driving up Highway 1 from Cambria to Pacific Grove, a long, winding, isolated coastal road. Amazingly beautiful, but I after three hours of driving it I was relieved to get back to civilization!

    Such a nice day.

    Art, Beer and Food in The City

    Wow, it’s been over nine months since I blogged. So, here goes:

    I woke up Saturday morning and I says to my wife, Sara, I says, “Let’s get out of town. Let’s head to The City.”

    I had a vague plan of “Art, Beer and Food.”

    de Young Museum

    First and foremost on our excursion to San Francisco we wanted to see the special exhibit at the de Young Museum, “The Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

    What a beautiful show, with Dutch paintings on loan from the Mauritshuis. “The Girl” reminded me one seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre — the painting was simple, beautiful, haunting and much smaller than its larger-than-life reputation. My other favorite painting from the exhibit was Jan Steen’s “As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young,” a painting so full of life you feel like you are partaking in the celebration.

    Accompanying this exhibit was “Rembrandt’s Century,” which explored the printmaking of the era. I never knew Rembrandt was such a prolific printmaker!

    “The Girl” exhibit runs until June, so if you’re in Northern California check it out.

    Southern Pacific Brewing Company

    We crossed The City for our next stop, Southern Pacific Brewing Company. (Truth is, we crossed The City many times on this day!)

    The brewery is housed in a 10,000 square foot warehouse building in the Mission district and is named for the Southern Pacific Railroad line which once ran down Harrison Street in the early 20th century.

    They’ve created a fun party space in the bi-level brewpub. Sara and I sat in the balcony to enjoy the meal we ordered at the bar. I had the Macaroni and Cheese with Pork Belly and an Extra India Pale Ale, while Sara sampled the House Burger with Sage Fries and a Belgian Wit. Both the food and the beer were tasty. I really enjoyed the XIPA.

    City Beer

    City Beer is the premier beer shop in The City. They have an amazing selection, although I was a little disappointed with the selection of Bay Area/Northern California beers today. I left with only three bottles.

    In addition to the bottle shop, you can also sit and have a pint or two in the tasting room which features fourteen beers on tap (no tasting here for me today).

    Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

    I wanted to check out the new Speakeasy Tap Room, which debuted during the recent San Francisco Beer Week. It is fashioned after a prohibition-era speakeasy (naturally!), complete with the sliding-peephole on the door. It’s dark inside, but once your eyes adjust they’ll feast on the era-appropriate decor.

    I was so excited to find they still had Green Death on tap, a brew the San Francisco Brewer’s Guild created for SFBW. It wasn’t as hoppy as I had imagined, but still a damn good beer.

    I purchased several bombers (22-oz. bottles) of Speakeasy beers, including a barrel-aged Scarface Imperial Stout (I’m saving that for a couple years down the road).

    Tartine Bakery

    I’d never heard of Tartine Bakery, but apparently it is one of the best in San Francisco. It’s located in a sign-less shop at 18th Street and Guerrero (we knew that was the place by the line around the block).

    Parking was very difficult to find on this gorgeous Saturday afternoon in The City. I think it took almost a half hour, but my persistence paid off.

    We waited our turn in line to get inside the shop. Funny, I expected it to smell more like, well, a bakery. I didn’t get those bakery scents.

    We were there at 5 p.m., so unfortunately they were out of some of the treats we were interested in like the Coconut Cream Tart and Double Pain au Chocolat. We settled on a Lemon Tart and a Chocolate Tea Cake (both delicious). We shared them at a sidewalk table outside the bakery.

    I love having dessert before dinner.

    Pizza Orgasmica

    Dinner time! We headed across The City (again!) to Cow Hollow and ordered pizza at Pizza Orgasmica. We ordered a half Menage-a-Trois, half Serpent’s Kiss (or half Cheese, half Garlic & Chicken). All their pizzas have sexy, sinful names.

    I enjoyed their award-winning IPA. Nice and hoppy, but not too overpowering.

    The pizza was good, but not extraordinary.

    Bay Bridge Light Show

    We decided to end our day with another dose of art. I had heard about the new “light show” on the western span of the Bay Bridge so we headed down The Embarcadero toward the bridge.

    It took us 75 minutes to get from Cow Hollow to the Bay Bridge. Apparently everyone else decided to do the same thing (how rude of them!).

    It was definitely worth the wait. Sara said it looked like The Matrix. It reminded me of seeing the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for the first time. Millions of beautifully programmed LED lights forming different patterns and motions. Amazing. And the energy only costs $30 per day!!

    I kept anticipating seeing the lights while we crossed over the bridge, but, duh, we were underneath going east!

    It was such a great day for sharing art, beer and food in the company of my lovely wife.

    Sara beside “The Girl”
    Lunch at Southern Pacific Brewing Company
    Green Death at Speakeasy