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Moving sucks

My wife and I are just about settled into our new place. After about two and a half weeks of being displaced, I can happy to be done this process. Now if our apartment complex could fix our AC everything would be ready to go. I probably will not get back to normal updates till this weekend, but they are coming. A few highlights on the new apartment:

  • Gas stove (hooray quicker boils for homebrewing)
  • A large walk-in hall closet that my wife has already designated as “the place were all of your stupid beer stuff is going.”
  • There is a brewpub down the street
  • A beer store exists in the same shopping center as the brewpub, I am going to check out their selection today
  • While not beer related, this place is super nice compared to our last place and has a lot more room

I am looking forward to having everything fully settled, but we are close. On another note I have a job, which is awesome. So far everything about the east is better than Texas. To make our move to Delaware official I think a trip to Dogfish Head is in order.

San Antonio Breweries: Blue Star Brewery

This is my first full day back from my trip to San Antonio. I really enjoyed the city, did not enjoy the heat or the humidity. As with any new place I go, I look to see what breweries are around so that I can visit them and taste what they have to offer. The first stop on San Antonio’s brewery list (of 2) was Blue Star Brewery. The brewery opened in 1996 and is located in the Blue Star Arts complex, which is essentially converted factories.

The general vibe of the place is pretty simple. There is a simple menu, none of the decorations are super complex, and the staff’s attire isn’t fancy. It is the kind of place I dig. My wife and I walked there as it was only 3/4 of a mile away from our hotel but my wife swears it was over a mile. All I have to say is that the GPS doesn’t lie. Win! When you walk into the place you are greeted by a line of stainless steel tanks and a seating area to the right. Behind a glass wall at the back of the building is the actual kettle and all of the “hot” parts of the brewery. The bar is backed with the stainless steel tanks.

The had eight different beers on tap when we were there, including one on cask. They had everything from a pilsner to a stout to an English IPA (cask and keg versions). Each sample glass we had came in at about $1.25 with a few of the higher ABV beers costing up to $1.99. Pretty standard prices from my experience.

The pilsner was solid with a nice light but flavorful body and a slight hop crispness at the end. The pale ale was on the more pine side of the hop flavors but it was solid. It also leaned a bit more towards the hop end of the balance. The amber was my wife’s favorite beer and was a solid amber with a nice malt component an a bready aftertaste. The stout was a real treat, very straightforward but balanced and a great, smooth roast flavor on the backend. The English IPA was more hoppy than what I was expecting. If was an American IPA it would of fit in better, but it did have a wonderful malt backbone that fully supported the hops. They also had a cask version of the beer which was excellent and really toned down the hops and brought out a nice malt complexity. The final beer was the King William Barley Wine which rocked in at 11% ABV. It was good, but I think there was too much heat in there to make it a smooth drinking barelywine.

Overall I really enjoyed the Blue Star Brewery. Since I have lived in Texas I have noticed that service at restaurants has been lackluster to say the least. The Blue Star staff was wonderful (our server was Allen) and always made sure that we had what we needed. My only real complaint was that their menu is very limited. We did commit one crime in ordering according to The Naked Pint, and that was that we ordered a pitcher of their amber. According to the book you should never order a pitcher. I don’t think it really matters and that’s why we did so. The beers were solid, the food was pretty good, and the service was outstanding.

San Antonio beer tasting

My wife and I are going to be taking a little trip to San Antonio soon to celebrate our one year anniversary in the coming days. We are planning on doing a  number of things while in the city, but I am looking forward to doing two main things; visiting the two brewpubs the city offers and going to  Schlitterbahn Waterpark. While not related at all,I love beer and I love amusement parks. For the past eight years or so I have also run a roller coaster related blog in addition to Brewery Reviewery.

The two brewpubs we are looking at visiting are Freetail Brewing Company and Blue Star Brewing Company. Looking around the internet, both seem like solid brewpubs and I am excited to visit them. I just hope that the town is similar to Portland where public transportation is the perfect designated driver.

One of the most surprising things in my mind is that a well known city like San Antonio should have more beer related things. The do seem to have a number of good beer bars, but I would of thought that they would have more brewpubs or even a production brewery. The city is over one million strong and two brewpubs seems pretty low. I don’t know if it is a southern thing or not, but I could name a dozen or so breweries or brewpubs in the Philadelphia area. Even here in Lubbock, a city of a quarter of a million people, there is one brewpub. Portland has over half a million people and they have a place called the Brewer’s Blocks where there are a handful of brewpubs in those four or so blocks. I really wish I liked Texas more as it is a gold mine waiting to be tapped in terms of breweries or brewpubs.

More thoughts on the brewpub

While I haven’t posted about in some time, the gears are still turning as far as my brewpub is concerned. If you haven’t read about it yet check out the link on the top right of the site or the image over to the right hand side there. Anyway I have been reading a lot of business things. Some related to beer, most not. And after months of reading about and studying business type things, what did I find? Well I need to do a lot more studying and that I am not going to have all of the answers.

In all honesty, opening a business is a big risk. A calculated one, but really who knows how it is going to turn out. Sometimes have a solid product and the smartest people are not enough. A lot of successful businesses have a lot of luck on their side. I don’t want to take anything away from a successful business becasue sometimes smart people or a great product is enough, but luck does play a role in everything in life to some extent. I’m sure by now you are getting an idea in your head that some post college kid is getting the idea that life is tough, not fair, and full of disappointments. You would actually be dead wrong, I love this stuff. Maybe it is the eternal optimist in me, but I get all jazzed by a new idea or possibility. The threat of failure is a moot point becasue as long as some good comes of it, there is no failing at anything.

I was recently reading an article about Five Guys Burgers and Fries. If you have never been to one, you are missing out. Fantastic food, especially the fries, and not a bad price. There were a couple of things that struck me in the article.

Three days before we opened, I was still working as a trader in stocks and bonds and was in a hotel for a meeting in Pittsburgh. I found a book in the nightstand, next to the Bible, about JW Marriott — he had an A&W stand that he converted and built into the Hot Shoppes chain. He said, Anyone can make money in the food business as long as you have a good product, reasonable price, and a clean place. That made sense to me.

We figure our best salesman is our customer. Treat that person right, he’ll walk out the door and sell for you. From the beginning, I wanted people to know that we put all our money into the food. That’s why the décor is so simple — red and white tiles. We don’t spend our money on décor. Or on guys in chicken suits. But we’ll go overboard on food.

The whole food aspect of the brewpub is something that I kind of sort of know about, but really don’t have a lot of experience in. Not only am I going to have to find someone who knows that they are doing, but also someone that I can bring into the business who has the same goals as I do. But the formula of good food + reasonable prices + clean place = success does seem pretty simple. In the brewpub world I would love to keep the food prices on par with any sit-down restaurant and make sure that the food is solid. As solid if not more solid than the beers.

My wife, parents, college roomates, and anyone else who has lived with me might find the next statement shocking, but I really do care about have a clean place when it comes to food. My former co-works or managers at the retirement home I worked at for half a decade could attest that I like things being clean and am not afraid at getting dirty to make the place clean.

The customer really is the biggest advocate. I plan on making sure every customer is satisfied with the product that we gave them. That product is much more than just the food and beer. It is everything from the building, service, and meeting their needs. Without those basics I do not feel that any business can succeed. The article also talked about quality control. I have been to dozens of brewpubs in my life and when I think back on them I think in terms of the quality of their beer, food and service. I’ve gone to more than a few that lacked in all areas. I want to make sure that my brewpub puts out quality everything. We don’t have to put out an awarding winning beer or dish every time but we cannot afford to have any clunkers in there. A quality product builds a following and stands for something.

There was a whole lot I had on my mind and I got just a tiny drop of it out there. I told you all on the original post that this series is serving as more of a creative outlet than anything. Sorry that it is so sporadic, I just haven’t had a chance to empty out the idea bucket in awhile. The idea of what I want the brewpub to be and not be is developing into something more distinct. I wouldn’t call it a philosophy or anything yet, but I do believe there is a right way and wrong way of going about things and I want to ensure that we do it right. Thanks for reading, any comments, questions, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

05-31-02

Flying Dog Brewery review week

It has been awhile since I have had a variety case. Pennsylvania has weird laws concerning six pack sales and all of that. You have to go to a state store to get liquor and/or wine. Go to a beer distributer if you want to get a case or a keg. And finally go to a bar or a few select grocery stores with “restaurants” inside of them that have a liquor license if you want to get a six pack or a single bottle. I have a feeling that these laws will be changing within the next few years, but living in Texas is a whole different story.

When I first moved here Lubbock was completely dry. A month an a half after living here they legalized alcohol sales in the city limits. Now any place that sells food mostlikely sells beer and wine as well. A side note, Lubbock has a minimal beer culture but a very large wine following. Go figure. I like to attribute Lubbock going dry to wet to myself, because, let’s face it, before I moved here it didn’t happen. After I moved here it did.

Anyway I was browsing in the local upscale super market and came across a variety 12 pack (half a case) of Flying Dog beers. Inside were five different examples of there beer. For $13.99 I grabbed the case right up. Flying Dog started as a brewpub in Colorado but has since shifted to a production brewery in Frederick, Maryland. Weird, and they will be the first ones to claim that as well. Anyway, in celebration of getting to try a whole bunch of new beers for one low price. I am dedicating this week as Flying Dog Brewery week here on Brewery Reviewery. For the next five days I will review each of the five beers that came in the case.