Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chico USA

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
Saturday morning, Izzy, her aunts & I drove up to the city of Chico about three hours north of San Francisco. This small college town is the home of Sierra Nevada Brewing since 1980. For those who don’t know, Sierra Nevada is HUGE in the craft beer industry and is currently the 3rd largest craft brewery & 7th largest brewery overall in the United States with about 1.2 million barrels produced annually now. They even opened a new brewery in Mills River, North Carolina last year to help out (future visit?). Chico is home to their main brewery that makes about 80-85% of their current production though… and it’s a VERY impressive facility.
 
After trying a few beers, we took part in their Sustainability Tour where they took us on a people mover around the facility and showed off their 10k+ solar panels, recycling plant, bottling plant, then gave us a can of beer to enjoy in their garden complete with hops, tomatoes, herbs, flowers and other things. The whole place is very well run (at least according to the figures provided on the tour, which I’ll take since I’m not auditing) and quite admirable in trying to eliminate their carbon footprint as much as possible. Now, the water footprint may be another story but they’re working on that as well. Well done, Sierra Nevada!
 














 

After a few more drinks during lunch, we then took their actual Brewery Tour where they gave us the backstory of the owner starting in a small garage in the early 80’s and basically growing exponentially since then, took us to the mash tun & fermenters, and then to their taproom where they had us sample… of course… all of their brews. That’s right… we were pretty well paced with our beverages throughout the day… but yeah, lots of fun… more pictures…
 
Sunday morning, we woke up and went to see Bidwell Park… but unfortunately California has been drought ridden… but there’s still some pretty beautiful scenery with golden fields…
 
We then headed over to Bidwell Mansion to see this palatial estate of former California senator/congressman/farming tycoon John Bidwell and his midget wife Annie (look it up!). Though made in the late 19th century, the house is pretty damn sweet… and even had indoor plumbing back then… but you know, when one basically own half of the Central Valley aka America’s Breadbasket… one does not sh*t outside… and yes, one also has people in his employ to handle pans that may or may not be located near their beds. Anyway, it’s pretty fantastic… here are some pictures…










 

On the way home, we stopped by Heretic Brewing in Fairfield again and introduced Izzy’s aunts to their wonderful brews… and I bought a pint glass bearing their logo at a fairly great deal. We also tried some sliders from the food truck Sip ‘n’ Slide which specialize in Southern fried sliders… and it’s pretty fantastic.
 
Anyway, that was our weekend… hope that you all enjoyed it… and there are plenty more adventures to come in the following weeks… so stay tuned! In the meantime, have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stuffies & Kentucky

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
Sunday… we were kinda lazy after our Saturday at Yosemite… but eventually we got around to transferring our Kentucky Common when my roommate Clark got home from work. He helped us two weeks ago and we made an extra gallon for him to get into homebrewing on a small scale, so we figured that we’d wait for him to show him the process… and frankly, transferring is pretty easy & quick compared to other parts of the process… but here are some pictures…
 






 
Sunday evening, Izzy was hosting a Stuffy Party where some of our friends showed up with their stuffed animals… and we would watch some children’s classic movies from when we were kids. The two movies that we ended up watching this party were both new to me… but yeah, I’m kind of glad they were. More on that later though. Basically the party went great with a few people showing up, bringing their favorite stuffed animal, and we basically shared the story behind their names or whatever… and I found that a LOT of people REALLY like their stuffed animals. I’ll admit, I have a few from my childhood… stored away at my mom’s house for any future offspring that I might have (even after giving some to my niece & nephew years ago) and Izzy has convinced me to get a few with our visits to the zoo… but I think they’re mostly for her to play with… and I’ll play back. What can I say? They’re fun as hell… and pretty damn cute. So yeah, we had some pizza & popcorn… and watched some movies…
 
First up was “The Brave Little Toaster” which came… let’s just say during Disney’s lull during the 1980’s. For those who don’t know (or don’t care), Disney was not producing the good, juggernaut movies in the 80’s like they do today… and Don Bluth was making more visual remarkable movies like “Secret of NIMH”, “Land Before Time” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven” but… they were pretty dark when compared to Disney’s usual stuff. This movie came out in 1987 and I just completely missed it because I was too busy watching Don Bluth movies on VHS ad nauseum. You know what… I’m getting ahead of myself… this is the story of a toaster, an electric blanket, a vacuum, a radio (voiced by Jon Lovitz) and a lamp going on a magical journey from a summer home cabin that has laid vacant for a few years… to meet up with their Master (a child who is now going to college & has a surprisingly hot 80’s girlfriend) in the City of Lights. Along the way there’s… well, there’s nightmares involving a firefighter clown out of a slasher flick, the AC unit (voiced by Phil Hartman) blowing a fuse & exploding, a vacuum having a seizure, the equivalent of animated torture porn where a living radio has it’s innards torn out by a pawnshop owner, a truck committing suicide while singing a song called “Worthless” and some key characters being absolutely destroyed along the journey… but never die… you know, like Goonies. Aside from that… it’s still not a totally uplifting story… but yeah, it’s not my demographic. It’s a cute little story most of the time… but yeah, then it takes a weird turn here & there… but yeah, go ahead and check it out. We had fun watching it as adults… and it explains so much about Izzy… just kidding, sweetie! However, you can see this movie as basically setting the framework for later movies like “Toy Story” in a way… where inanimate objects have feelings or whatever… so that was kind of cool.
  
Next up was the 1975 flick “Escape to Witch Mountain” starring… well, Donald Pleasance (“Halloween”) was in it. This is the story of two young orphans (a boy& a girl) whose foster family of five years had just died (lots of dead parents for the first few minutes) who start to realize that they have superpowers like telekinesis, telepathy and being able to foresee the future… and they start uncovering repressed memories about where they came from as toddlers. Well, a wealthy man finds out that the girl can see the future… and decides to adopt them (via having his right hand man Donald Pleasance pose as their uncle with falsified yet verified documents) and treat them to a life similar to Annie when she’s adopted by Daddy Warbucks. I half expected them to break out in song… and instead there was a creepy telekinetic puppet show. Well, for some reason, they decide that’s not the life for them (not even knowing what his plan is) so they escape his palatial estate to get chased by dogs… then meet with a crotchety widower in a Winnebago who assists them on a journey to a destination on a map they found. The effects are a little dated… but it’s 40 years old. The story… has loopholes. Overall though, it’s just a harmless children’s flick… and spoiler alert… the crotchety old guy turns a new leaf & falls in love… oh and they’re aliens. That’s not really a spoiler alert since there’s a flying saucer on the case art & posters… so yeah, go ahead& check it out if you want… but not the great flick ever. Still kinda fun though to watch with friends… like most movies.
 
This weekend, Izzy & I are celebrating our 2nd Beerversary… you know, two years since we took the big leap & started making our own beer. How are we celebrating? By going to up Chico & visiting the legendary brewhouse of Sierra Nevada Brewing… with Izzy’s aunts, who actually went to college there 40 years ago! Also, the chef from our favorite brewery (Elevation 66) is opening up a new brewpub in the Presidio (ten minute walk from my house) called Sessions… and it opens up Monday, so we’ll definitely check that out next week! I’ll obviously keep you posted… have a great weekend everybody!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Black Yosemite

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
Saturday morning, Izzy, my cousin Alicia & I woke up early and headed out to Yosemite National Park, our nation’s FIRST national park… and some may say our best. It’s definitely one of our most iconic & one of my favorites being a mountaineer. The drive was… interesting thanks to random ass construction just outside of the Bay Area… but overall not too bad so we got there around 11 AM… and we lucked out with a pretty sweet parking spot, since Gretchen (my Jeep) is quite the nimble parker… so we started with selfies against probably the most photographed mountain in the park, El Capitan
 



Then we explored the Yosemite Village area where they have souvenir shops and some pretty nice museums…
 




We also did the short hike to Lower Yosemite Falls… but please keep in mind that we’re in the middle of a pretty serious drought…







 

We also caught some great shots of the iconic image of Half Dome
 
We followed that up with a little mile walk to the Hotel Ahwanhee and a river a few yards from our parking spot
 





…and then topped off the visit with Bridalveal Falls on the way out of the park around sunset…
 



…and on the drive back, we stopped for some Mountain Mike’s Pizza & Baskin Robbins in Oakdale… because we had earned it on this warm, beautiful day. I hope that you enjoyed our quick day road trip to Yosemite even half as much as we did! More on the rest of the weekend coming soon… but this was a LOT of pictures to load. Have a great day everybody!!!

Where Should I Go Next?