Friday, April 04, 2008

march 35th

Some folks go wine tasting. I've done it before, and it can be fun and all, but this past weekend, my buddy N and myself decided to go beer tasting. It was to celebrate his b-day and for me, certainly serve as a mini daddy-needs-a-break-for-his-sanity trip. So last Saturday morning with bikes on the roof rack, we wandered on up to Anderson Valley and procured a camping spot in Philo to leave the car and gear behind at. At only about 5 miles away from the Anderson Valley Brewing Company (AVBC) in Boonville, and seeing the route while driving in, we were confident our plan would work. Taking only the essentials, we mounted our two-wheelers and rolled on over for a few pints before the tour. It was a splendid way to spend an afternoon.

The tour begins here, where the mashing of the malted barley and boiling of the wort happens. In this case, that means the big-ass, old-school, rescued from a defunct German Brewery, kind-of huge-normous copper kettles. Four in all. They gleamed. Rumor has it the head brewer came across these while on vacation. What a bitch to lug these babies through as a carry-on for the trip home huh? No, really though, it must have cost a fortune to dismantle and ship these babies from across an ocean and then a continent too, as well as reassemble them, but tasting the beer, I sure appreciate it. After this, it was all stainless steel tanks, frothing drums acting as blow-off valves, bottling equipment and quick-connect hoses. Pretty standard fare for a brewery these days. But the shiny copper was stunning and testament to a certain kind of commitment, and the folks running the show behind the bar were as kind and generous as it gets. This place is awesome.

Your ticket for the tour can be turned into cash toward merchandise at the gift shop. Since they have a disc-golf course on the property (30+ acre lot, not really typical of a micro-brewery) I applied mine toward a "putter." We grabbed a beer for the thirst we would work up walking through the calf-high grasses. The course was ours alone, the skies were mostly sunny, and maybe most importantly, I didn't lose my only disc. We made it to the tee for the 17th, when a small car appeared on the gravel road nearest us. It was the bartender.
"Oh, hey, I gotta lock up the front gate there fellas."
Thinking through the haze of a few beers, sunshine, and a full gut from the nice sandwiches we had earlier, it took a while to realize it was 6pm already and officially closing time.
"Sorry 'bout that one guys, but if you wanna come back tomorrow and finish up your round you can."
Like I said, kind and generous folk.
We walked the few hundred yards back to the front gate, and got back on our bikes, feeling quite refreshed from the physical activity and B-vitamin sports drinks. With our bearings figured out and sobriety check done, we pedaled our way back to camp for some further "tasting" of a few bottles from the cooler.

The following morning after catching a nice breakfast at a local cafe, we made our way down to Barney Flats. If you look at the map you'll see the area called Hendy Woods State Park. As witnessed here, there are at least a few trees that are really frickin' big. This tree ain't no Giant Sequoia from the Sierras, but it's probably a bit taller and still quite a specimen at some 12 feet in diameter. This place is worth checking out, as it is only part of a tiny bit of remaining virgin-growth coastal redwoods. It is but a taste of what probably filled most of the river banks around southern Mendocino County some 150 years ago. Tons and tons of thick, dark, spongy soiled redwood groves that just oozed clear water back into the goundwater table, supporting healthy salmon bearing streams, with big hogs for salmon.
Used to be, that is.
God damn, as a species we can really, really suck.


Sorry 'bout that tangent there. Caught me off guard too.

Anyway, I arrived home to Lemon curd, Irish soda bread and english muffins on the way. When these were all done, seeing the muffins made me think of it as a full wallet; that I have to do some shopping with some more muffin money soon. Before the night was over, everything just had to be tasted.
Mmmmm......lemon curd on soda bread. Who the hell am I kidding? I had gobs of it.
Mmmmm.....muffins. And heaps of marmalade. I'll take three. Sweet!

I love coming home!

Oh, and the weekend beer spoils? How's a new beer glass for them Belgian kinds and a new growler filled with one zany good double IPA.
Mmmmmmm, and a growler. That there is a 1/2 gallon of beer.

So, like, seeing that it has taken me 5 extra days to post this (after what is now last weekend) it would appear that it takes 3 days to consume this much beer and another 2 to get much anything done. 'Tis a nice way to suffer I suppose.........

So this year, today, on my calendar, it is officially March 35th, 2008. So in advance for tomorrow, April Fools!


kat said...

Anderson Valley is the bomb! So beautiful and many great adventures to be had. I'm carefully avoiding talking about AVBC to my friends because it just happens that our wedding is on the same day as their big beer festival...and we don't want to lose the guests!!!

K & S said...

what a great save the sanity trip! I think we all need one of these once or twice a month :)

Susan said...

Lurker comes out to say hi! Sounds like an awesome trip :) I actually wandered over to read your muffin money post and I am seriously considering it. I remember seeing the asparagus man getting some meaty treats from Taylor at the Fatted Calf booth, but just thought it was a vendor never occurred to me to give it a try!

Rev. Biggles said...

Holy crap !!! I need that. Also need to find my camping gear, man I don't even know where to start. Mebbe the barn ...

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