Dust Bowl Beer Dinner

On March 14, 2012, in Brew Pubs, Craft Beer, Family and Friends, Food, General, by Mark Ranes
Caesar Salad paired with Son of Wrath IIPA

Caesar Salad paired with Son of Wrath IIPA

I had the privilege of attending Dust Bowl Brewing’s first beer dinner Monday evening, where they paired five courses of food with beers brewed by Don Oliver, Dust Bowl’s head brewer.  It was also a privilege to share the evening with our good friends, the Josts and the Verscheldens:) We decided to meet at the Josts and take a fifteen minute stroll to Dust Bowl’s Taproom, to avoid any possible issues with driving and multiple ales.  We arrived at 6:30 and were greeted by Don and co-owner Brett Honoré at the door.  I loved that Brett mentioned my recent homebrewer profile in the Turlock Journal, that ran alongside a great article about Don and Steve at Barley & Wine, our local homebrew supply store.

We ordered up a starter ale for the evening and I got my favorite, Don’s Red IPA.  Sadly, this ale will probably be going away soon as it relies heavily on Galaxy hops that are just not available in the quantities Don needs to brew this beer (or the Galaxy Pale Ale as well).  Get it while it lasts!

Wild Mushroom Soup paired with Buckwheat Ale

Wild Mushroom Soup paired with Buckwheat Ale

Don was the Master of Ceremony for the evening’s event, and before every course, Dust Bowl’s chef, Abel Larios, came out of the kitchen and described the food we’d be seeing shortly.  That was followed up by Don describing the beer, and the nuances of how the beer and food flavors would either complement (sweet to sweet) or contrast with (bitter to sweet or salty) each other.  He announced the first course, a Caesar Salad, paired with his Son of Wrath Double IPA.  The saltiness of the anchovies in the salad paired beautifully with the aggressiveness of the hops in IIPA.  This pairing was a hit!

The second course was an amazing wild mushroom cream soup – chock full of chunks of mushrooms, paired with Don’s Buckwheat Ale.  When I broke the skin (cream soups do this:) an aromatic burst of mushroom assaulted my nose, and a taste followed, by the Buckwheat Ale, proved to be a truly wonderful experience.  I’ve always like the Buckwheat Ale, as it is one of the signature ales that Dust Bowl puts out there.  I’m hoping to see this in bottles for retail sales some day!

Crab Cake paired with Red IPA

Crab Cake paired with Red IPA

The third course was an amazing, piping hot crab cake, smothered in Hollandaise sauce, with perfectly cooked asparagus arranged on top.  This was paired with my favorite, the Red IPA!  I mentioned to the ale server that the Red IPA was my favorite of the Dust Bowl brews, and he returned with an additional Red IPA after serving all of the other guests.  A very nice touch indeed!  The crab cake was perfectly cooked, and the Red IPA was a great paring to go with the flavors the course offered.

The fourth course was the main dish, an amazing filet mignon, covered in an mushroom sauce made with Don’s Stock Ale.  This was paired with a Scotch Ale that complemented the steak well.  The filet was cooked rare, to perfection, and the sauce made for an culinary orgasmic experience when paired with the Scotch Ale.  I savored this course and lingered over each bite.  I take great pride in my ability to cook beef at home, and rarely order red meat when I dine out, but this was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in a restaurant.

Filet Mignon paired with Scotch Ale

Filet Mignon paired with Scotch Ale

We had yet to see a previously unreleased Dust Bowl ale, hinted at by Don in the weeks leading up to the dinner, so I figured we’d see it in the dessert course.  Sure enough, Don announced that we’d soon be enjoying a new beer to Dust Bowl’s line-up, a Russian Imperial Stout, paired with a raspberry drizzled chocolate lava cake.  The RIS was nice and dry, and paired beautifully with the sweetness of the chocolate cake.  It was a perfect final course to an amazing dinner!

Overall, for a first attempt, these folks hit a home run!  Don’s beers are a given, but the food we were served was amazing.  Cold dishes were cold, as they should be, and all four cooked courses arrived at the table at the appropriate temperature.  That’s no small task considering they were serving sixty plus diners.  Most amazingly, Abel’s filets were spot on!  I could tell there was much thought put into the beer and food pairings, and the result was exceptional.  Portion sizes on both the ales and food were perfect.  I left the taproom pleasantly full, not feeling bloated by a overdoing it on either.  The service by the Dust Bowl staff was top notch.  All of the servers worked the entire room, always there when you needed them, without being pesky:)

Raspberry Drizzled Lava Cake paired with Russian Imperial Stout

Raspberry Drizzled Lava Cake paired with Russian Imperial Stout

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Dust Bowl.  It doesn’t hurt that I met Don through our love of homebrewing, and he has a following of us that realize he’s living the dream many of us homebrewers have.  These folks brew great ales, and have brought some much needed life to Turlock’s downtown.  They are exactly the kind of business we need to revitalize our beautiful historic downtown area.  I’m looking forward to more of Dust Bowl’s special events, if this is any indication of what is to come.

Here’s a photo gallery of the evening’s fun!  Warning – lots of toasts!

Well done, Dust Bowl, well done:)

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Yeast for a Year!

Yeast for a Year!

So today was a Charlie Sheen day at NHC.  Winning!

At tonight’s Pro Brewers night, the lovely Mrs. Lazy Brewer won a year’s worth of yeast from White Labs!  There were twelve certificates, each good for two vials of White Labs yeast!  Two raffle tickets were called, with no one responding and the third call was her ticket!  Life is good:)

Today I attended the following breakout sessions:

Brewing on a Budget with Chris Graham of MoreBeer

Hop Boil Chemistry with Colin Kaminski of Downtown Joe’s in Napa

Choosing the Right Yeast with Chris White of White Labs

Brenda and her (my:) Yeast!

Brenda and her (my:) Yeast!

All the sessions were good, but I really enjoyed the brew nerdiness of the hop chemistry and yeast sessions.  Very good info:)

On a sad note, the Town and Country Resort Hotel shooed the gourmet food trucks off their property.  Seems like a money grab move to capture the conference attendees food dollars.  Very very uncool…

The Hospitality Suite Brew Board, beers 17-30

The Hospitality Suite Brew Board, beers 17-30

30 handles at the Hospitality Suite

30 handles at the Hospitality Suite

The Three Beerscateers!  Onf for all and all for beer!

The Three Beerscateers! Onf for all and all for beer!

The conference opening toast!

The conference opening toast!

My Twitter beer buddy @BrettGlenna

My Twitter beer buddy @BrettGlenna

What the hell? A line for the mens room?

What the hell? A line for the mens room?

Incredible Hospitality Room Portable Cold Box with 30 handles!

Incredible Hospitality Room Portable Cold Box with 30 handles!

The Floor of Pro Brewers Night

The Floor of Pro Brewers Night

Me, Vinnie Cilurzo, a big-assed bottle of Temptation and Steve

Me, Vinnie Cilurzo, a big-assed bottle of Temptation and Steve

Mark, Maggie, Steve and Brenda

Mark, Maggie, Steve and Brenda

Mr. & Mrs. Lazy Brewer

Mr. & Mrs. Lazy Brewer

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Conference Flyer

2011 NHC Conference Flyer

Yesterday was a travel day to the 2011 National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego.  The drive was long, but uneventful, other than me just about dozing off while driving in Fresno.  I haven’t had an issue staying awake while driving for probably 25 years, but this morning I was just wiped out.  Brenda took over the driving from Fresno to Bakersfield, and while I didn’t actually sleep, I drifted on the edge of consciousness for about an hour and a half.  We got to the Town and Country Resort Hotel, the conference host, just before 3 o’clock, checked in, went and picked up our NHC registration materials, beer schwag and three lovely bottles of ale:)  Shortly after that we were enjoying our first complimentary ales from the conference hospitality room.  We visited with Steve and Maggie for a bit and then decided to head out to check out Green Flash Brewing’s new tasting room.  This will also be their future brew house in the coming months.

Green Flash Brewing Tasting Room

Green Flash Brewing Tasting Room

While the Green Flash tasting room doesn’t actually serve food, on the evenings they are open, one of San Diego’s gourmet food trucks parks outside the tasting room and serves up incredible fare.  Tonights food truck was Devilicious.  We enjoyed lobster and cheese sandwiches, fabulous burgers, BBBLTs ( the extra Bs were for all the extra bacon they throw on the sandwiches), truffled parmesan fries and some Fried Yumminess (tonight’s rotating Fried Yumminess was deep fried cheeseburger and pickle balls:)  The ales at Green Flash were incredible.  I had a Hop Head Red, a Green Flash Imperial IPA, a West Coast IPA and a taste of something they call Palate Wrecker – another IIPA.  All in all, it was a great way to ease into a three day beer conference.

The opening toast for the 2011 National Homebrewers Conference takes place at 1:00 pm today.  After that, there are three breakout sessions, and at 8 o’clock, the Pro Brewers Night starts, where over 45 craft breweries will be providing unlimited pours of their best.  Additionaly, the conference organizers worked with many of the San Diego gourmet food trucks to provide a mobile “food court” each evening of the conference.  Yum!

Green Flash Tasting Room

Green Flash Tasting Room

Having two of my beers in the final round of the National Homebrew Competition will make Saturday night’s Grand Banquet (a beer dinner – go figure:) and National Homebrew Competition Award Ceremony a special event.  Cross your fingers for my Beanilla Porter and annual barleywine!

Fun times ahead!

Fried Yumminess!

Fried Yumminess!

Green Flash Imperial IPAs

Green Flash Imperial IPAs

Green Flash Ales

Green Flash Ales

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30 Glorious Years!

On June 28, 2010, in Family and Friends, General, Stuff..., by Mark Ranes
30th Anniversary!

30th Anniversary!

Today marks the 30th anniversary of my wife, Brenda, and I. Mrs. Lazy Brewer doesn’t read this blog, so this post isn’t really being written for her eyes. But, today is a landmark day. Many people don’t reach their 30th anniversary, even with multiple wives/husbands. We did it with just each other – and a couple of kids!

Brenda puts up with all of my quirks, obsessions and hobbies. She keeps our lives in order and is the foundation of our home. She is the glue of our family. And I love her:)

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