You know that moment when someone finds out you are a Beer Geek and they have the best beer you have never heard of and have to try. Well that seems to happen to me quite often, and almost exactly every flipping time I am wildly underwhelmed and disappointed.
So recently one of our new clients found out I am brewing my own beer. She said her husband has always wanted to do that and just never got around to it. As soon as my beer was finished I made sure to get a bottle to them to see what a fellow beer conisuer thought of my new creation. The typical craft beer exchange happened the next time we met up where she dropped off "the best beer I have never had" by New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin. She handed me a six pack of mixed flavors and styles of bottled beers plus a can of a beer for good measure. I was stoked since I had just traded one large beer for 7 normal sized brewskis. All the while I was expecting to be underwhelmed. My first question was which of the mixed flavors were the favorites, as I wanted to save them for last. Over the next couple of days I made sure to make a fresh New Glarus my first beer of the evening. I wanted to guarantee I had fresh taste buds for these hyped up brews. I had also decided to work my way backwards from the described favorites so I could save the best for last.
Upon the first sip of the least favorite of the brews I immediately knew my stoke levels were going to be pretty high on this new Brewery. Each and every style of beer I have tried by New Glarus was bursting with flavor. I will say that the alcohol %'s could have been a lot higher, but the taste was amazing in each style. I tried everything from Double IPA's to Light styles, and there was not one beer I was disappointed in.
From what I have heard getting a tour can be a little tough, but I am down for the wait and the 7 hour 11 minute car ride from my front door to the brewery. The drive is not that bad, and I am thinking we can stop to do some sports betting in Iowa on the way. On the way back we can circle back via Chicago and then cruise back the next day. All this is obviously pending the wife's approval, but I like my chances. So if you are down for sports and great brews hit up ya boy. I am accepting all applications, but be aware your road trip skills will be evaluated and taken into consideration for acceptance.
Moving to Kansas City was a tough decision for Kristi and I, but has proven to be a great one. We love being close to her family, owning a beautiful home, and most of all, the ability to give our son Bryce a great place to grow up. That being said, there is still a lot that we miss about living in California - most of which is our friends. So, you can understand why we were so excited to have our friend and good chef, Gabe Pulido, come to visit us.
As much as Kristi will fight this... Gabe Is my friend. Kristi will say she was his roommate and that she is a sister to Gabe. All of which is true, but there is something different about a bond bros have. I don't mean Bros as in brothers, but bros as in the term often used in SoCal to describe your ride or die best friend that you would do anything for. Gabe has worn a lot of hats in our years of friendship. He was originally the guy I could not stand at work, but had to deal with because we shared a desk. His confidence vs my own confidence was a 7.0 earthquake waiting to happen. But eventually, he became my daily carpool buddy and then my tailgate companion, travel buddy, wing man, therapist, manager, bar fight savior (long story but a good one if you want to give me a call), roommate, best man and absolutely always my level ground. It seems that no matter what is going on, Gabe will be there to level me out.
Since moving, Gabe has come out once a year to visit. It started with Gabe wanting to see his Raiders play at Arrowhead. That game was under 10 degrees and all three of us watched the whole game. It did require hand warmers all over and a lot of jumping and yelling just to stay warm. We always base the trip around a sporting event and food, but this time we have no agenda. So here lies my problem. He has already been to all the best BBQ spots we have out here, and incase you are wondering the best is Kansas City Joe's. Last time he was here he packed some Joe's for his family when he got back home in Whittier.
Our first stop this trip was to a spot I have wanted to try since I first saw it on a drive to Strawberry Hill a neighborhood in Kansas City Kansas. Slap's BBQ @slapsbbq is located in an up and coming neighborhood that has some great views over the West Bottoms of Kansas City to reveal an amazing view of the downtown skyline. Upon arriving at Slap's you order at the front. Being a SoCal man these BBQ places always seem to confuse me on what to order. In this case the menu was actually really easy to read and my mouth was watering at the smell and upon reading the menu. I ended up with The Cattleman which was a great way to sample a lot of items on a first visit.
I would say the sausage, and the baked potato casarole were my favorite items. I honestly think I could eat a bucket of the casarole in one sitting. I have to say that the brisket is take it or leave it. On the other hand the burnt ends were savory, textured well, and had a ton of flavor. To my friends back home in SoCal, when you come visit this is a must try.
The next food stop was Lazia which is located in the new Crossroads Hotel in Downtown KC. This is the kind of place that you go to for the experience. The food will come out displayed like a piece of art. They have a great wine list, amazing decor, and a lively feeling. I am not sure if we just got lucky or if all of their waiting staff is simply amazing. Our entire meal was enjoyable and she even sat down and gave us a great bar suggestion to go to after our meal. She did make us promise not to tell all of our friends about this hidden bar, and I will make sure to keep that promise. What I can say is the bar was very much hidden in plain site. The first thing you will see once you walk in is a bon fire with a ton of people packed into a small area. There are two separate bars to order from, and there was not a big line at either one. If the main area is too busy for you then you can walk up a spiral staircase to a solitary room made out of a trains storage container. If you are one of my friends who can keep a secret and you catch me on a good night I just might show you this magical bar some day.
Our next dinner we decided to try Gate's BBQ located in downtown KC. This place is one of the BBQ spots everyone tells you that you have to try as soon as you get off the plane at Kansas City International Airport. Again, you walk in and order at the front and then take your food to find your own table. Everyone seemed to be ordering a slab or two of ribs, but again I wanted to get a good sample plate. So I ordered a mixed combo plate. There were ribs, brisket and ham in the plate along with french fries. I added a side of potato salad and bbq beans. The favorites were by far the ham and the bbq beans and I will be the first to tell you I did not order enough of these two. I am sure I will be back to Gate's soon, but not as quick as I will be back to Slap's. I am still thinking of that baked potato casarole right now and my mouth is watering.
On the way there we were talking about one of Gabe's friends who is a well known mural artist. Madman has done work all over the world, and seems to be in high demand. He specializes in superhero murals and amazing color combinations. Here in Kansas City we are lucky enough to have 3 of his murals, and after seeing them all I truly hope we are able to get some more.
Now I challenge all of you in KC to find these three murals and get back to me with a selfie in front of each one. There is a prize for whoever finds all three first.
The couple of days that Gabe was here just does not seem like it was long enough. We ate great food, drank just the right amount and had a lot of time to talk about life. Now he is headed back to LA to fulfill his dreams of becoming LA's greatest chef. In my opinion he is not far off. He will always be the most welcomed Raider's Fan in KC and Kristi and I can not wait to see him again next year.
Today is the day once again. This year's fantasy football draft is only hours away. 2019 seems to be more confusing than years past. A lot of stars in the NFL have switched teams over the off season, and who knows what that does to the chemistry for those players. Will they be able to put up the same stats as they historically have with their past teams? Antonio Brown is a great example, in years past AB has been a solid choice as far as fantasy goes. He's always on the field and each week is a TD threat. Now he has moved to the Raiders and has an extremely questionable QB tossing him the ball. Who knows if AB is even a deep ball threat anymore? The Raiders were one of the worst in the league last year for that stat. Seriously though he is worth the gamble and will definitely be off the board in the second round.
Andrew Luck... What the hell happened man? You were expected to be one of the top QB's this year and you just quit out of nowhere. What else can you expect from a Stanford millennial? I mean, I wish you the best but, wow did you mess up the fantasy landscape with one decision. Granted it was a big decision and good for you, but what does this do to T.Y. Hilton's draft stock? Does this make Marlon Mack a RB that's going to get a ton of touches?
The Cleveland Browns are stacked with talent. Let that sink in for a quick second. There's so much talent on the offensive side of The Browns team that I'm not sure it's smart to draft their players too early. I mean seriously besides Baker Mayfield, and that is because this dude has so many studs to toss the pigskin to that he should always have an open man, which player do you choose to receive the majority of these passes? Both WR's Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry are #1 in the depth chart on almost any other team. The TE David Njoku is knocking on the door of being an elite TE. The RB's Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are both poised for a great season and will be fighting each other for playing time. Well as soon as Kareem Hunt keeps his hands and feet to himself and just plays football. My thought process is stay away from all of them - besides Baker - who is the guy that truly gets to decide all of this.
Anyways, tonight is the night so wish me luck! Here's to hoping that whoever I draft first has a great year. Here's to hoping that I don't get one of the first three draft spots. I have a plan if I do get stuck with one of these spots, but wow does it get difficult to know what to do with that second round pick. Here's to hoping two or three people go in on a kicker or defense too early.
Here's to hoping I don't have too many brewskis at the Bennett house and make all these mistakes myself. If the past does a good job of predicting the future I will be in a safe place from drowning myself in I.P.A's. Although I have not yet figured out how many Truly or White Claws I can consume safely, so that might be a problem. By the way, what is up with this new wave of popularity for these kind of drinks? Aren't these equal to or lesser than a wine cooler? My bet is Andrew Luck is somewhere downing a White Claw right now.
I am starting to think this blog is the best idea I ever had. I went to a liquor store with Kristi today and she said I can get anything I want as long as I blog about it. Anyways I ended up with this Sierra Nevada beer that I had never heard of. My guess is it is a seasonal or experimental beer.
I chose this beer because I love hops and Double IPA's always seem to be my favorite. So why would you not choose a DIPA named Hop Bullet? I was sold on the name alone, but when I saw that it was 8% there was no question. I will say that I am very rarely let down by Sierra Nevada, but wow this beer is really standing out to me. It has a great blend of pine, hops and wheat. This beer is super smooth but still tastes and feels like a mans beer.
I will warn you that a couple of these hoptific brewskis later you will be ready to dance, talk the next person you sees ear off, and never want the night to end. I personally ended up taking on the town with a good friend. The first move once I was out was to switch to guns with tweeners. That is where you start drinking hard alcohol and tweeners. Tweeners are the beers you drink in between your real drinks. A good pro tip is that enough of this combo will make any kareokee sound tolerable.
Okay, okay back to the beer. I would say this beer is smooth but strong. The best weather to enjoy this is going to be fall or winter. The first sip I took I thought about enjoying this brew after a long day of snowboarding. To be fair I feel this way about a lot of DIPAs. The color is a foggy golden hue to match the refreshing feel the beer has to it.
As we creep up on the 2019 NFL season this beer has all the indicators to be a great tailgating beer. Not light enough to where you throw back 15, barely get a buzz and spend the rest of the game at the urination station. Strong enough to where you have a couple of beers (no need to buy beers in the stadium) and you will be just buzzed enough to cheer on your team extra loud.
Original Gravity - 17.7
Bitterness Units - 55 (yeah like junior)
Magnum Hops, Lupulin Dust, and West Coast Hops
Availability - Seasonally but not difficult to find
I don't know how many of you reading this know that I used to be a draft tech for Budwieser back in the day. Anyways I only did that job for a year, but it gave me a lot of experience daily drinking some great beer. When I worked this job I was living in San Diego County at the time. This was at the time a new brewery was starting up in the area. The company seemed to have a great culture and everyone I met in the company was amazing to hang out with and drink a cold beverage.
Stone had the most aggressive marketing I had ever seen in a beer company, and I loved it. I mean we are beer drinkers here right? We are not looking for the champagne of beers, we are looking for the beer of beers right? I don't know about you but I am choosing a gargoyle over a beer named after another liquor all day. Not only that, they also talk smack about all those yellow beers on their label.
They do not just talk that stuff they also back it up. Put it this way do you want three beers at 6.9% or ten beers at 4.6%? I personally take my drinking time seriously and do not like to spend a lot of time walking to and from the water closet.
I must admit Stone IPA was the first non yellow fizzy beer I ever tried, and it legitimately changed my outlook on beer. It must have been the feeling I got after trying a dark beer. Was I finally a man??? No way, I still need to go do two story beer bongs in college. Should I start training for MMA Competitions now??? Still naw, I am a lover not at fighter. Did my beer decisions just get a lot more difficult for the rest of my life??? Oh for sure. My level of stoke just went way up for a good hoppy beer and an aggressive label.
This beer is not going to be a favorite of the typical gym rat, but man is this beer perfect for your typical lumber-sexual. You know that guy with a flannel shirt, suspenders, skin tight blue jeans, boots, and a beard that makes Paul Bunyan jealous.
For those of you who have not tried a Stone IPA yet I am sorry, but don't worry you will get there one day. Don't feel like less of a human and know that everyone matures at a different rate. Accept the change when it comes naturally. To those of you who are reading this and thinking about what liquor store will be closest and has a respectable beer selection you are welcome. You are about to make a positive change in your life.
Years ago my friend Alex wanted to take me to "the best liquor store in town". My first thought was who needs a good liquor store. You can go basically to a gas station to get good beer these days. Now I am talking the typical I.P.A., pilsner, or malt liquor at this time.
As of today I realize this was the first real well run liquor store I have ever set foot in. They had a section dedicated to craft beers and there were 3 bourbon barrels in the middle of the store with product they were trying to highlight for consumers. One of the barrels was full to the brim with a beer that would change my outlook on beer forever. I remember asking myself why this beer was priced at least double all the other beer in the place. I know it is not the money they spent on marketing because the label is just a green background with a red dot and inside the dot it read Pliny The Elder in white letters.
Feeling brave, I pick up six of these beers (being sold separatly) and headed to the counter. The grizzly bearded hipster working tells me that they can only sell 2 of these beers to each customer per day. That magical day Alex and I both purchased 2 of these overpriced beers with no idea what we had just done.
Now they say that the first time you smoke crack you are addicted for life, and I have never understood that because I have never smoked crack. On the other hand I have had Pliny and I knew within the first sip I took that this was a beer I could never go without. Quickly I realized that I could only buy this beer two beers a day and that would not suffice. I went back to that liquor store a couple days later to find they were sold out of Pliny and the search began.
I knew for sure that I would not forget that before mentioned cheap marketing of the label. I also knew the brewer was Russian River located in Santa Rosa California. After looking it up I realized Santa Rosa was in Northern California (the bad half of Cali that us So Cal people do not travel to). That drive was 7 hours one way, and that was way to far to drive for a beer run or was it. I only needed to find a Dodger Fan willing to drive through the Bay Area with me. Well apparently my ride or dies were not willing to ride, so I was forced to wait for the elusive NorCal beer to show up in SoCal again.
There was no place in Los Angeles to buy this enchanting beer. Every couple of months I would hear about a bar across town that is going to have Pliny on tap for one night. I would fight the traffic and use every rediculous trick I knew to get across Los Angeles in a timely fashion (lets be honest this was hours each time). Then I would fight for a parking spot, and then eventually manuvere my way through a sea of beard lube wearing hipsters. Only to find out that they had run out of Pliny less than 15 minutes after tapping the keg. If you do not believe I did this for over 4 years I encourage you to ask my wife how obsessed I was with finding the golden keg of IPA at the end of the rainbow.
Was I really never going to find this beer again? I was working day in and day out with big goals at my retail job. Dealing with just "wonderful customers" on a daily basis (seriously 97% of my customers were amazing but wow that 3% will ruin your day). All I wanted was an ice cold bottle of Pliny to help me hit the restart button and hope I get a day of all amazing customers the next day. I go into work on a Tuesday and the phone rings. I am being promoted to the Bay Area.
Two weeks later I am a resident of NorCal and I will finally be able to find the great white buffalow when ever I wish. It is true that I could make the hour and a half drive to Santa Rosa from Oakland, but Pliny was still not something you could find at a liquor store or bar. So Kristi and I made the pilgrimige to Russian River Brewing Company on a consistant basis to get the nectar I had been searching.
Now when I say it was everything I had remembered that is an understatement. First it was the smell, Pliny was an old friend with a citrus and floral body odor that I have missed since moving to college. Then the fresh malty, hoppy, and balanced liquid brings back all of the memories those two beers never let you forget. This beer is the perfect mix of bitter and floral flavors. It has an original gravity of 1.066 and is 8% alcohol by volume. The beer is a dark copper color and has a velvet feel.
Over a decade later my life has taken me half way across the country to Kansas City. Kristi and I work together as a real estate duo and have a 7 month old boy. His name is Pliny and he is a tan boy who smells of patchouli oil and rocks a Patrick Mahomes cut (bros I am still a Chargers fan). Ok just kidding his name is Bryce and he is just another white boy and smells like dove soap. Although, he does rock a "Tiny Pliny" shirt from time to time to match my Pliny the Elder shirt.
On the move out here we first made one last pilgrimage to Russian River (in the wrong direction by and hour and a half). We bought an ice chest worth of Pliny and drove it out. This meant that every night and morning I was at the ice machine making sure my Pliny was well taken care of. I mean a few got consumed to make sure we got better gas mileage, but only after the drive was over for the day and only if there was a great view of the Black Hills to enjoy it with. I mean who am I to deny Pliny the Elder this view of one of our nations greatest parks?
Now it has been a long time since a Pliny. I know I can not make it another 5 year stretch. So what is the plan? I was able to find a Pliny on draft in Breckenridge Colorado, but again that is at least an 8 hour drive.
I guess this comes down to a couple of questions. Who really likes good beer in Kansas City? Who is willing to take that drive with me? I am asking for you to help with the gas, but do not think for a second that you are buying the first round. I am here to lead you to the promise land of beer. Now who's coming with me?
Hops used - Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe
Classification - Double IPA
Availability - Extremely difficult to find (and well worth the search)