Thursday, September 10, 2015

515 Show Dogs

 Arson, our 7 month old Welsh Springer Spaniel, was old enough for his first dog show.  We took him to Des Moines the day before the show to leave him with his breeder and co-owners Dee and Peggy.  When he wasn't at the show, he was able to play with his sister, two other Welsh Springer Spaniels, and  a whole litter of adorable Clumber Spaniels.

After we dropped him off, we went to Jethro's BBQ and had a fantastic dinner.  We shared a basket of fried pickles, and I feasted on a brisket sandwich and tater tot casserole.  Extremely filling, and probably the best meal of he weekend. After some swimming to wear off the meal, we called it a day, and went to be early so we could get up for the dog show the next morning.

Although he didn't win his first show, he stood great for the judge, and pranced around the ring like he's been there before.  His next show will be in October.  As you can see from above, Joseph was very excited and proud to see him in the ring.
Arson in the ring with Dee
OJ IPA, Mediocre Pale Ale, Reaper In the Rye, Dart Dodger

What do you do after a dog show?  You get some beer, of course!  A quick drive to Ankeney to visit the best HyVee there is, and it also an amazing Craft Beer selection.  If you're visiting the area, this is a must visit.  I picked up an 8 pack sampler (some listed below,) and after a few more stops, we made the best stop of the day.  515 brewing. 

After hearing about their OJ IPA and Mediocre Pale Ale for months, I needed to try them for myself.  The staff behind the bar was excellent.  Friendly, and very knowledgeable, they gave me some great recommendations to fill up the remainder of my beer flight.  I won't go into the wonderful hoppy flavors, or great malt backbones, or even the spicey rye in the Reaper, because I think this is something everyone needs to experience for themselves.  I'm so glad I stopped to try a few of their beers, and really wished I would have filled up a growler before I left, because some Dart Dodger sounds perfect about now.  In short, this place is the real deal.  They have amazing beers, that are as good or better than advertised, and I can't wait to go back to try more.  Cheers to everyone at 515!!

New to Iowa, and to me, is Six Point Brewing.  The Iowa beer groups seemed very excited by the arrival of the New York brewery, and after my first beer, I can see why.  Resin is a 9.1% ABV Double IPA, and it's deceptively smooth.  This is exactly what I look for an a Double IPA.  Big, sweet, not too bitter, but still a ton of hop flavor.  This is a brew that I will be drinking again.

Also fairly new to Iowa is Funkwerks.  Raspberry Provincial was a nice way to end my evening after a few IPA's.  Sweet and tart, this Berliner Wiesse beer is loaded with raspberries.  It reminded me of some of the Belgian style raspberry and cherry beers from New Glarus.  A perfect beer for a humid Iowa day.  This seems to be the theme of this entry, but again, I need to try more of their brews, because this one was delicious.

Another great beer weekend in Des Moines, and I didn't even get to some of my favorite places like Court Avenue Brewing or El Bait shop.  Of course, with 515's beer being so good, I'll be hard pressed not to spend my visits with them every time I visit the area.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hops and Ska

 I can't believe it's that time of year to pick hops already.  I went out back to check on my plants to see how soon they'd be ready, and they were ready.  It was an odd growing season, and I wasn't expecting much, but to my surprise, they actually grew pretty well again this year.  Now, in years passed, I've picked anywhere from 5-7 pounds, and that wasn't the case this year, but I'm still pretty pleased with the 3 pounds that I ended up with.  Thanks to Tonya (my wife,) and Larry (my father in-law) for helping me pick this year.

This is my end result, 3 pounds bagged up, and into the freezer.  These will come out of the freezer shortly so I can brew an Imperial IPA with them and the other 3 pounds that's still frozen from last year.  I'm told that I will also have 3 pounds of honey and some white grape juice to add to it, so it will be an interesting beer to brew.  As long as I can keep it in the fermenting bucket and not on the floor, it should be good!
 My brother in-law Jared has been telling me to try this Woot Stout, another Stone Brewery collaboration.  He said, it may be his favorite beer of all time.  At $8.99 this 20oz bomber of 13% ABV goodness was a steal.  I can see why Jared likes it so much.  There is so much complexity in every sip.  Rich, thick, roasty and sweet all come into play with this very smooth full bodied stout.  This is a must have beer, and if I see it again, I may have to get another bottle or two
 The past few years, I've had an annual work trip to Kansas City for some Continuing Education classes.  I also meet up with an old friend of mine from my time in the Quad Cities.  This year was no different, except when we get ready to leave the bar after some food and a few beers, he mentions there is a band playing about a block away for free, called Reel Big Fish.

 I've been a fan of them since the mid nineties, and loved them the first time I saw them over 7 years ago.  So how could I pass up seeing Reel Big Fish again?  The answer, is I didn't.  They put on an amazing outdoor show in the rain.  This is the kind of music that makes you want to get up and dance, but since I don't/can't dance, I just bobbed my head enthusiastically and sang along to all of their songs.  As a former trombone player, it's always been a dream of mine to play a few songs on stage with them.  Being about 4 feet from the stage was good enough for me that night.  As luck would have it, we met Derek (bass guitar) and John (trumpet) a few bars later in the evening.  They were both extremely friendly, and as much as I wanted to talk music with them, after a few minutes, we left them alone so they could enjoy the rest of their evening.

So I know this is mainly a beer blog, but other than a few of Boulevard's Tank 7's, the downtown beer scene was pretty forgettable.  Seeing one of my favorite band of all times, now that was truly amazing!

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