Looking Back at Sac

On June 30, 2008, in Brew Pubs, Craft Beer, Family and Friends, Food, Travel, by Mark Ranes

We had a really nice trip to Sacramento.  After we tried to check into the hotel, we headed over to Rubicon Brewing Company for lunch and ales.  I was worried about parking, but we were able to park on the street about a half-block away.  The place was pretty busy, with no tables available outside, and only a few inside.  Hop Sauce at RubiconI started off with a Hop Sauce, an imperial IPA.  It comes in a 10 oz goblet, and they’ll only serve you two.  They claim that it has ten different hops in it and is a smooth, easy drinking IIPA.  It was very good.  After one Hop Sauce, I had one of the their stellar IPAs – their flagship ale, with my Cajun cheeseburger.  Finally, I had a cask stout, that was also very good.  This was my first trip to Rubicon, and I was very impressed.  Rubicon BarThe bar is pretty nice and the service was OK (but they were busy).  Stephen and I will be going back to Rubicon in August when we go see Dave Matthews at Raley Field.

We went back to the hotel, checked in and than headed over to Old Sacramento, to have a beer on the Delta King.  The Delta King is a permanently moored river paddle wheel boat that has been converted into a floating hotel and restaurant/bar.  Brenda and I stayed overnight on the Delta King about four years ago.  It was very nice and the restaurant was wonderful.  Their bar had nothing on draft, so I had a Newcastle brown ale and we watched the boats go by on the Sacramento River (man – there are really a lot of stupid twenty-somethings with boats…)

Next it was back to River City Brewing for an ale on the patio.  Brenda\'s wit and my WoodenheadThey were out of their Kolsch, so Brenda had a wit and I had a Woodenhead.  I tasted their cask ale again, but found it to be watery and flavorless.  We watched the world go by at the head of the mall and I made dinner reservations for 7:45.  We went back to the hotel and chilled until dinner time.

We shared a Brewmaster’s pizza and a Caesar salad for dinner.  The food was very good – so good to forgot to take a picture:)  We had originally planned on seeing a move, but decided to head back to the hotel after dinner, since there were no movies playing that we really wanted to see.Mark and his Woodenhead

We slept in the next morning, and headed over to Johnny Rockets for lunch, before heading out of town.  All in all, it was a very relaxing trip.

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28 Glorious Years!

On June 28, 2008, in Brew Pubs, Craft Beer, Food, Travel, by Mark Ranes

Today, June 28th, Brenda and I are celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary.  There’s no trip planned as adventurous as our trip to Belize (photo gallery) three years ago, but we’re heading up to one of our favorite local escapes, Sacramento.  We always have a great time in Sacramento, and we’ve decided that if we had to live in a larger city, Sacramento would be near the top of our list.  They have great dining, craft beer, shopping and lots of different social and cultural activities.  When we go to Sacramento, we can be as busy or as laid back as we want to be.

We usually stay at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza.  It sits at the head of the Westfield Downtown Plaza Mall, near state capitol, and is just a hundred steps from one of my favorite upscale brew pubs, River City Brewing Company.  I like their ales – I just wish they had an IPA.  I really do enjoy their Woodenhead Ale and Kolsch, though.  Their food is second to none as far a pub food goes.  Their wood-fired oven pizzas are fabulous, and they have a wonderful rib eye steak with a huge dollop of blue cheese and crisp onion strings.  Mmmm!

Right above River City Brewing Company is Johnny Rockets, easily the best burger chain in America – even better than In-N-Out!  Their meals are expensive, but after you have one of their bacon cheeseburgers, half rings – half fries, and a vanilla malt, you’ll pay twice what they ask:)  We hit Johnny Rockets at least once every trip for either lunch or dinner.

If you head out of the hotel and go west, instead of going east into the mall area (which has really great shopping opportunities – Brenda can attest to this:), you immediately go into a walking subway that passes under I-5 and drops you directly into Old Sacramento, with more dining and shopping than you can take in in a single day.

We really like this hotel as the rates are pretty good (and we belong to their rewards program – this stay is completely free for us:) and the surrounding amenities are second to none!

Right after we check in to our hotel, we’re going to visit Rubicon Brewing Company for an ale or two and lunch.  Their IPA is easily in my top ten IPAs on earth.  It is such an easy drinking IPA – very representative of West Coast IPAs without being over the top.

Black DiamondsShhhhh!  Zales recently had a special on black diamond earrings, so I got a pair for Brenda as an anniversary gift.  I think she’ll like them:)

TAFTBD IPA Chugging Along…

On April 23, 2008, in Brew Pubs, Craft Beer, Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

The Teach a Friend to Brew Day IPA is happily fermenting away.  I started the ferment cool and it has picked up a few degrees from the fermentation process, but it is still working at a nice cool temperature.  My beer might as well enjoy the cool weather while it can.  Soon the summer heat in California’s Central Valley will make for problematic fermentations.  I was surprised that  the TAFTBD IPA didn’t ferment wildly and come shooting out the blow-off tubes.  It did slightly trickle out of one of the BOTs, but nothing like I’ve been seeing in recent months with my ale fermentations.  The krausen has peaked right at the top of the 6.5 gallon carboy’s neck, so I know things are going well.  The difference in this fermentation might be the White Labs Pacific Ale yeast.  It does attenuate less than the Cal Ale yeast I usually use.

I have several brews on the horizon.  I need to brew my Klassic Kolsch again, an English Bitter, a standard Pale Ale and finally, I want to brew an American Style wheat – possibly with some fresh watermelon in the secondary.  I have the yeast for all of these brews, so time is ticking on their shelf life.  Unfortunately, the Kolsch will require the use of my conditioning fridge for the necessary cool fermentation, so I’ll need to find a home for those five kegs for a month – or have a party and drink down the brews that I have on hand:)

River City Brewing\'s Woodenhead Ale Pint

I recently found this picture I’d taken with my cell phone while waiting for my daughter’s plane to arrive at the Sacramento Airport.  Her flight was delayed for an extra hour (and I arrived early anyway), so I dropped by one of my favorite pubs in Sacramento, River City Brewing Company for a pint of Woodenhead Ale.  They’ve had a cask ale the last few times I’ve been in, and I’ve tasted it each time, but it always seems thin and lacking the body I like in an ale.

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