brewery

Breweries | New Glarus Brewing Company

Breweries | New Glarus Brewing Company

During our stay in Milwaukee, my wife had an all day class to attend. So I decided to take the opportunity to head further west and stop in at a few breweries. One of which was New Glarus Brewing Company of New Glarus, Wisconsin. New Glarus is widely known in the brew world, and has very limited distribution. By very limited, I mean nothing out of Wisconsin. So this stop was very important and a must. My journey started late morning and I arrived around lunch time. I figured there may be food at the tasting room, so with my stomach growling I pushed on, deeper into the farming country. Heading south on State Highway 69, I saw an old building resembling something from the Alps on the left side of the road. It had New Glarus Brewing written on the side, yet my GPS told me to keep going.

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The original New Glarus Brewing location.

I would later find out that this was the original location. Currently still producing beer, mainly the fruit varieties, and though there is still an ample parking lot, I was told that beer tours are not possible here anymore. On my way out of the area, I did stop to snap a photo though. As you drive deeper into town, more of the Swiss Alp decorations pop up. Not surprising as the name is from Glarus Switzerland. It is even home to the Swiss Center of America. Fun fact, they make Jack Links beef jerky in the area as well.

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New Glarus Brewing road sign.

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Small Hop yard.

Taking a left off of State Highway 69 again, a multi-faceted Wisconsin Thumbprint for New Glarus welcomes you. Once you turn in, a small hop yard is located on the left. The driveway was longer than expected, so best to keep going straight. I got side tracked with excitement and pulled into the first right thinking that was the parking lot. After a few bends there is an opening in the trees, and a Swiss Chalet appears, with a clock tower and decent parking lot. For those coming in to pick up some beer, there is a beer depot adjacent to the parking lot. It even has a convenient loading zone if you end up picking up more than expected. Due to the cooler weather and being the middle of a week day, the tasting room wasn’t open at the moment. So I continued up the stone stairs to the Gift Shop. They have taps inside the Gift Shop and access to the brewery, so you can order a flight and take the self guided tour while sipping. They provided bracelets to keep track of how many samples you ordered, which was something I hadn’t run into at any other brewery. The flights come with a taster glass, a nice memento, and a coupon for a free pint from one of the local bars.

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Parking lot

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Sampling bracelets, three beers each.

During my first sample, I decided to check out more of the gift shop. It had a lot of Wisconsin related items, such as cow decorations, cheese, kid’s books and toys, snacks, and other items. There was also plenty of beer related items, like the Beermap, New Glarus swag, and a decent amount of clothing. With my second, I headed into the brewery. You first past the Micro Lab and Quality Assurance rooms before the corridor ends in a medal and display room. I’ve seen many other breweries display their medals, but this was one of the nicest set ups I have seen. After the display, there is a door that enters into the brewery. After a brief corridor, you enter a room with four large copper mash tuns. They don’t let you get to close, though it seems a private tour may allow for closer access. Side note, trying to take a good photo while sipping a taster can prove difficult.

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Beer Medal display.

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Mash Tuns

The tuns span the width of the building, and at each end are long corridors. The beginning of one corridor starts at the yeast propagation room, and runs down past a pilot/small batch system adjacent to stairs with a sign declaring “The Stairway to Heaven”. Heading up the stairs gives you a great view of stainless steel fermenters, however continuing higher to heaven was roped off. Continuing further down this corridor there are many other smaller rooms to each side, demonstrating various phases and processes integral to brewing. At the end of the corridor, it opens up to the bottling line. This is blocked by glass, but allows for plenty of video opportunities. The corridor begins to loop at this point and head back to the tun room. The corridors are simply decorated, some areas with glass windows, others with painted walls. There is floor tile throughout, and in one area, a cool stone etched with the New Glarus logo. The beauty of these corridors is the amount of stainless steel plumbing you see throughout. These lines are the true veins of the brewery, and it’s amazing to see the vast amount of them.

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Pilot/Small Batch system.

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Plumbing

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More plumbing, glass wall viewing area.

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Bottling line

During the course of the tour, I made sure to head back and move on to the next sample. Figured it would work best that way. However, I still had a couple of samples to finish outside of the brewery itself. The gift shop also has access to the beer garden. There is a large patio area with what look to be castle or church ruins and trellis’ covered in hops. Plenty of picnic style seating and an awesome view of farm land. There are a few other levels, and a lot of room to spread out. They even used an old brewing station to act as a water dispenser and glass cleaning station. It was pretty empty while I was there, however I could see how it would be packed during nicer days. If I visit again, I’ll make sure to bring some snacks to grab a table to hang out for sure.

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Beer Garden area.

The weather may not have been delightful, but this was a great visit. The beer is top notch (the Serendipity was phenomenal), and the brewery itself is definitely worth a visit. On my list of favorites for sure out of the many tours/breweries I have visited. For some, being self guided may be tough, but if you understand the process, its nice to be able to wander through at your own pace. I was also surprised at the size of the facility considering the limited distribution, was expecting something much smaller, and more like the original location. I made sure on my way out to head to the beer depot to stock up. The beer depot allows for make your own six packs, and since the samples didn’t cover all of the beers available, I made a few sixers to go. I also picked up a few bombers of the specialty beers, such as the Serendipity, Raspberry Tart, and Belgian Red. Seems I may have gone overboard a bit, as I had to pull up in the loading lane.

Beers Sampled: Totally Naked, Spotted Cow, Two Women Lager, Moon Man, Coffee Stout, Serendipity

New Glarus Brewing
2400 State Highway 69
New Glarus, WI 53574
608.527.5850
http://www.newglarusbrewing.com/

Breweries | Ballast Point, Intergalactic, AleSmith, & Saint Archer

Breweries | Ballast Point, Intergalactic, AleSmith, & Saint Archer

We were visiting family for the holiday, and as normal always try and hit a few breweries while in the area. This trip had the addition of family from Germany so four of us headed out for some sampling. One of our party wasn’t feeling so well, so we had our designated driver. We decided to head north of Miramar (this is the base where Top Gun was based off of), as there is a cluster of breweries in the area, some of which are consider craftbrew leaders.

Our first stop was at Ballast Point. Driving up the road, it appears as a beacon. Finding road parking, being shared with the other industrial buildings adjacent has the potential to be more daunting on other days, but we found a spot not too far away. The smell of roasting malts hit us while still in the car, and after a quick walk, we were inside. The space inside is a bit smallish, with a keg pickup and merchandise area off to the left, and the tasting room off to the right. The outdoor seating area is larger, and on nicer days, the best place to post up. They had just had their Victory at Sea event, with a lot of specialty brews on tap (all of which were 10%), but we decided to hit their standard offerings. They did have a few snacks, such as nuts for purchase, but we didn’t see any food. It was a bit chilly for us, so after hitting the sampler and picking up some swag, we carried on.

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Ballast Point Brewery

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Ballast Point – Samples

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Ballast Point – Brewery

Beers Sampled: Longfin Lager, Even Keel Session IPA, Wahoo White, Pale Ale The Original, Grunion Pale Ale, and Calico Amber Ale

Our next stop was Intergalactic Brewing Company. This is a smaller brewery, but had some great reviews so we threw it in the mix. Located a short distance away we initially thought we may be able to walk. However, that would have required crossing a highway, so driving was the best option. Took us a minute to find the location, as it was hidden on the back of a maze of industrial/office buildings. Luckily there are many flying saucer signs pointing the way. This is a small brewery, open to the public by a roll up door leading directly into the tasting room. The tasting room has a bar and some bar tops, and is covered in plenty of space themed decoration. The propane heaters weren’t working this day, so the chill crept in the entry. They had a large fun assortment of beers, so we requested some recommendations to help build our flight. Cake is A Lie truly smells like cake by the way.

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Intergalactic – Building

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Intergalactic – Entry

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Intergalactic – Samples

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Intergalactic – Bar

Beers Sampled: Terran Sour Plum Ale, Galactic Milk Stout, The Cake is A Lie, Space Oasis and Coconut Porter

Onward and upward, after a quick drive down the road, we ended up at AleSmith. I’ve been familiar with their beers, but was in for a surprise when we pulled into their facility. It is always nice to see a brewery take design seriously, and AleSmith definitely does. They even had renderings located throughout showing some of the plans for the future. Walking up, you are first greeted a large outdoor patio with plenty of heaters and a food truck (Gwynn Gourmet Food Truck was there this day). The main entrance takes you into their retail space, where you can buy bottled beers and merchandise. Continuing through brings you into the large high ceiling tasting room. The volume of the space truly has a bit of an awe-inspiring effect, with the tasting bar anchored by the fermentation vessels behind. There are a variety of seating options, from the more loungey to bar tops. They have a kids area in the back, and even allow dogs to come on in. Surprisingly, with a volume such as this, it still felt cozy. The flights are broken up into a variety of profiles, for example, if you are into Belgians, they have a flight for that. We picked up a couple extras in addition to the Belgian flight, as they had some Xmas Specials going on. We were starting to get hungry, so the food truck provided a nice sustenance boost. It was a bit harder to leave our comfy couch seating, but we knew we had a few more stops.

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AleSmith – Building

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AleSmith – Tasting Room

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AleSmith – Samples

Beers Sampled: Lil Devil, Horny Devil, Grand Cru, Quad, Lemon-Ginger X, Nut Brown Ale, and Old Numbskull.

Another brewery that I have run into is Saint Archer, since it was nearby, we made sure to stop in. In a typical industrial building, and somewhat assuming (at least it was at night) is the entry. To the left of the entry is a small outdoor seating area for sampling. Inside comes off as a raw brewery space with a tasting room in the middle. There are some partial height walls and bars, clad in a mix of metal and rustic reclaimed wood. One bar sports some of the merchandise options, and there are a few bar tops for seating. The look is one that I have seen replicated a decent amount. They had a good mix and line up for options to sample, with one side being more pale malts and the other more roasted. Seemed to be a lot of stout and coffee options.

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Saint Archer – Signage

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Saint Archer – Brewery

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Saint Archer – Samples

Beers Sampled: Nelson IPL, Hoppy Pilsner, Wee Heavy, Gose, English Brown, and Coffee Brown Ale

At this point, we were ready to call it a night, but since we were in this great mix, figured we would try and hit Green Flash. We arrived a couple of minutes after 8:00 pm, and they were closed. Parking lot was already pretty empty by then. Was a shame, but I guess we can save it for the next time. It was a good time hitting this breweries, and offered a good mix of options and styles. I believe my family enjoyed exploring this wide variety of flavor profiles, some of which are not at all what they are used to. We picked up an updated Brewer’s Guild map, and will continue to check off more as we visit.

Ballast Point
10051 Old Grove Road
San Diego, CA 92131
858.695.2739
http://www.ballastpoint.com/
Intergalactic
9835 Carroll Centre Road
San Diego, CA 92126
858.750.0601
http://www.intergalacticbrew.com/
AleSmith Brewing Company
9990 AleSmith Ct
San Diego, CA 92126
858.549.9888
http://alesmith.com/
Saint Archer Brewing Company
9550 Distribution Ave
San Diego, CA 92121
858.225.2337
http://www.saintarcherbrewery.com/
San Diego Brewers Guild Map – https://www.sandiegobrewersguild.org/maps?b=y&p=y

4Runner – Timing Belt & Water Pump

4Runner – Timing Belt & Water Pump

Started 8.16.2015, finished 8.20.2015

The 4Runner has some miles on it, a little over 180,000, and so I want to make sure that I’m doing some preventive maintenance.  This rig was very well taken care of before, but I enjoy knowing everything that has been replaced.  Gives me piece of mind. It is recommended to check the timing belt after 60,000, and replace at 90,000.  I believe we were pushing the latter on the current belt, so I am replacing it.  While in there, might as well take care of some of the other items that tend to have similar life expectancy, such as the water pump, and other belts.  It was recommended to change out the thermostat, but I didn’t read that till after tear down begun.

There are a ton of posts on forums (www.t4r.org and www.yotatech.com to name a couple, though I’m sure there are many other forums that have this as well) and plenty of videos on YouTube.  I found this post most useful though:

http://www.4x4wire.com/toyota/maintenance/timing_belt/

I also referenced this video on YouTube more than the others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Xv11NRc5Xg

Because there is so much already posted on doing this work, I don’t want to provide a step by step, but did want to mention a few hardships and tricks we figured out.

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Getting to the spark plugs and wires.

Before we launched into the timing belt and water pump, we changed out the spark plugs and spark plug wires.  This is just part of the maintenance that I wanted to do, and has nothing to do with the other project.  I picked up some NGK Iridiums and NGK wires.  I’m a bit partial to NGK, but that may have to do with me being an Amsoil dealer and NGK having a past relationship.  I’ve also used them in my motorcycles and are pretty happy with their performance. Toyota recommends the use of double electrode plugs, but after reading through a bunch of threads, figured the single Iridium would be fine.  There is also a bunch of discussion on using a mix of Denzo and NGK, as that is how it came stock.  However, there is a bunch of evidence pushing towards this theory, that the engine each half of the engine was manufactured in a different factory, and each factory had its own preference.  I pulled all Denzos out, so obviously the previous spark plug change by a Toyota dealership didn’t warrant a mix.  This change was fairly easy, the passenger side especially.  The driver side required a little wiggling of parts out of the way, but wasn’t an issue either.  We cleaned up the coils and added some dielectric grease.

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Plugs and wires all done, nice and clean.

My dad was in town for my son’s first birthday, so I luckily had a helping hand to tackle this. The tear down to get to the timing belt and water pump started easy enough.  Drain the radiator, remove fan shroud, fan, hoses, radiator, belts, timing belt covers, etc (the link above has a nice step by step).  The part that got us was the crank nut.  In posts and videos alike, there is a reference to a specialty tool.  I have yet to see a manufactured tool though, and many look like some welded scrap metal put together.  This tool is supposed to hold the crank pulley while the nut is loosened.  This nut requires 250 pounds of torque, so it’s on there pretty good.  We of course didn’t have the tool, or scrap metal and a welder to make our own.  My pneumatic impact wrench couldn’t shake it, and we bent many screw drivers and allen wrenches trying to hold the pulley while using the breaker bar.  My friend Will came over to see if he could help, but it wasn’t budging.  After speaking to another friend of mine Jazz, who was a mechanic back in the day, he recommended isolating the flywheel.  I’m chicken when it comes to sticking screwdrivers into flywheels, or many other parts of vehicles that screwdrivers are not supposed to be stuck in. So the project grounded to a halt.   Sadly, my dad had to fly back home and couldn’t help me finish this project.

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Removing the fan and belts.

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Removing the covers and exposing the timing belt.

The next day, Jazz was able to stop by.  We first tried to access the flywheel by going through the transmission access plate.  However, he wasn’t able to get a good enough angle.  So he took the starter off.  My shop is a bit limited on tools, so we headed to the auto store to pick up something a bit more substantial.  He was able to jam a tie rod separator tool (think hefty tuning fork) into the flywheel.  It was amazing how little effort it took now to get the nut loose.  With the nut and pulley off, Jazz had to head home.  It was already late, and I spent the majority of what little time was left in the evening putting the starter and access plate back.  Apparently, putting the rig in 5th gear and e-break on helps loosen it too.  I can’t say that it would have worked, as I didn’t see that till later, but worth a shot.

With the nut now off, the following day saw a lot of progress to some degree.  With everything off, it was easy to remove the old water pump and replace it with the new one.  I changed the o-ring seal for the thermostat and cleaned up the hose connections.  I made sure to scrap off the old gasket.  It was recommended to use a 400 grit sand paper.  I did so, but also used a razor, as it was a pain to get your hand in there to scrap.  Carefully putting the water pump back on as to not mess up the gasket and sealant.  One note here, when putting the thermostat back in, make sure you have the little whole at the top, in the “noon” position.

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Water pump removal.

With the water pump done, it was time for the timing belt. I removed the idyler pulleys, timing belt, and covers.  Comparing the timing belts, I realized that the new one didn’t have the marks to align TDC.  After I slight freak out and some research, this apparently isn’t an issue.  I also noticed that one of my cam pulleys had shifted and was no longer aligned.  I was able to adjust it back into place.  If you have the “special tool”, you can use it for that adjustment as well, but since I didn’t, I just used a ratchet.  I’ve heard that’s not the best thing to do as you can loosen the pulley if you aren’t careful, but I didn’t have many other options.  Once aligned, I tried to put the belt on.  This was near impossible, as I couldn’t slip it over all of the pulleys.  I tried to sneak it through with the top idyler pulley off, but it just wasn’t budging.  Looking back at the instructions I posted, I remembered that a bunch of other items needed to be removed to make this easy.  I was hesitant, as some of the posts and videos I saw, showed people doing the whole operation without removing all these additional parts and pieces.  Looking back, I should have just followed his very thorough instructions.  Not sure how some of those other peopled pulled it off, but I’m obviously not them.  In order to loosen the tensioner idyler pulley, I had to reduce the tension.  In order to get there, I had to unbolt the power steering pulley and the AC pulley, and remove a few other plates to gain access.  Using budgee cords to hold some of these parts in place so that tubing and other connections wouldn’t stretch or deform.  With the tension low, I was able to get the timing belt on, aligned correctly, and ready to go.  After putting all that I just had to take off back on, it was late again and time to call it quits for the day.

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Releasing the tension.

Now going into my fifth day of this project, which some say was a three hour job, I was happy that this was just a finishing day.  Time to put everything back together.  This was the least crazy day, as it was just bolting everything back in, adding coolant, and reconnecting everything.  While the radiator was out, we made sure to spray it with water to clean it.  There was a significant amount of dirt build up, so a good idea if you wheel with your vehicle.  We also used a brillo pad to clean the hose connections, since you want a nice tight seal for those areas.  Once all back together, I crossed my fingers and started her up.  So far she is running well.  I have had a couple of Check Engine Lights (CEL) come and go, but she had that issue before hand (the O2 sensors are playing games with me at the moment, and I’m steadily changing them out as well).  The only thing that I have noticed so far is the power steering belt squeaks.  It’s pretty tight, so need to look into that a bit more.

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All put back together and clean.

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Finished

It was great to get to know my rig more by doing this process.  Luckily I’ve bought myself 90,000 more miles before having to do it again.  I’m sure doing it a second time will be easier, but hopefully that will be a while.  If you aren’t very handy and haven’t done any work on a vehicle, I would definitely recommend you take this somewhere to be done.  There were a few moments where I found myself severely concerned about having messed up the engine (if the timing is off, things can go very bad).  I would also do the water pump, thermostat, and belts while in there.  Glad that’s done, so now onto the next thing.

Second Annual VT Alumni Beer Fest & Hiking

Second Annual VT Alumni Beer Fest & Hiking

June 26-28, 2015

We headed down mid afternoon Friday to Blacksburg, Virginia in preparation for an early morning before heading to the Beer fest.  The drive down saw some periods of rain, and plenty of traffic.  Seems many are getting a jumpstart on their Independence Day Holiday, lots of RVs and roof packed vehicles.  After a bit of baby uncomfort on the way down, we pulled into town around 8pm.  We grabbed a quick dinner and settled for the night.  Only main disturbances were my disagreeing stomach from something eaten previously, and a over tired little one.

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Heidi taking a break on the Virginia Tech Drillfield.

The next morning, we were up early, the norm now, so grabbed some breakfast and headed to campus.  Decided to throw the ball with Heidi a bit in hopes of tiring her out.  Eli was onto his nap at this point, so we just kept throwing.  There was a dampness in the air, and an occasional sprinkle but not the rain that was forecasted.  After a quick visit to a university bookstore to update our school swag and an additional umbrella, we dropped Heidi off at the hotel and headed to the beer fest.  We met Mark and Virginia in the parking lot and were admitted early.  There were only about twenty breweries there, but a decent mix of locals (Bulls & Bones, Roanoke Rail) and bigger craft names (Sierra Nevada and New Belgium).  We did spot a ShockTop tent and there was plenty of Bud and Miller advertisements.  Only a few food vendors.  One of which was a pizza vendor, we ordered the Jack & Balls, a pizza with all meats and veggies available, topped with meatballs.  It didn’t last long and inspired our partners to grab one for themselves.  The souvenir glass was a shaker pint, and there was plenty of stickers, bottle openers, and other merch up for grabs.  With entry, the bracelet had 15 samples on it.  Some of these pours however went above the 4 oz line (helped slightly by our new free beer coozie covering up part of the glass) resulting in Linda and I having to pass our bracelets on.  Time for another nap.  We met up later at Mellow Mushroom, for yup, more pizza.  The app showed up late, but everything was pretty good.  A little on the pricey side, especially for Blacksburg, but worked none the less.  We were headed for an early night.

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Cool Natty Greene draft handle and excited beer volunteer.

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View of a portion of the beer fest.

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Jack & Balls Pizza

Sunday morning was another early morning and breakfast.  After running some errands around town, we met up with our partners and headed north.  We decided after a few nap time hours on Route 11, we would hit a hike.  The day was beautiful with perfect skies and a nice breeze.  We stopped at the Belfast Trail outside of Natural Bridge.  Parking was minimal, but pulling up on the side of the road is not a concern for the 4Runner.  The trail heads to the Devil’s Marbleyard, which exposes itself after almost a mile and a half of gradual and then more extreme upward slope.  It literally looked as if someone’s dump truck accidentally tipped over or something.  I stayed at the base with Eli as the others explored further.  Seems I’ll have to try this one again based on the pics.  Eli and I played with tree bark, dirt, and leaves after a snack.  The downward trip was much simpler and went smoothly.

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The start of the hike.

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Made it to the top.

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Lots of rocks heading up.

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View from the top.

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Linda and Heidi posing with the Marbleyard.

We decided during the descent that lunch and beer were in order, hopefully together.  Sadly, Devil’s Backbone lodge was a bit out of the way, so we grabbed burgers, shakes, and donuts at Pure Eats in Lexington.  Great little joint and we got to eat outside.  Then we stopped in at Devil’s Backbone Outpost brewery for a flight.  Since we had Heidi, he took advantage of their beer garden, which has a great shaded view of the mountains.  I picked up a couple of bottles of 16 Point IPA for the cellar and this was where we parted ways.  The remainder of the journey proved to be quiet, and we got home in time for buddy’s bed time.

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Fermentation tanks.

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Flights in the beer garden.

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View from the beer garden.

Was a nice little trip, though journeys like this leave me yearning for more.

Info:

VT Beer Fest
Holtzman Alumni Center Lawn & Terrace
http://www.alumni.vt.edu/beerfestival/

Devil’s Marbleyard
106 East Washington Street
Lexington, VA 24450
http://www.hikingupward.com/JNF/DevilsMarbleyard/

Pure Eats
107 North Main Street
Lexington, VA 24450
www.pure-eats.com

Devil’s Backbone Brewery (Outpost)
50 Northwind Lane
Lexington, VA 24450
540.452.6200
www.dbbrewingcompany.com

 

Still keeping busy

Currently, we are still waiting for a space. We have a couple of leads, and in fact are visiting a space sometime this week.  We have had a lot of questions about when we are producing and about the space, and we are anxious ourselves (especially since we are getting some of the equipment and supplies, and are running out of space).  It’s been a slow last couple of months, and we are looking forward to get moving, we still have hopes to be in production before the end of this year (hopefully still by Autumn). In the meantime though, we have been busy.

1. On February 20, 2012, Steven Sorrell become a Cicerone Certified Beer Server through the Cicerone program. If you are not familiar with this program, feel free to check out their website (www.cicerone.org) for more information. We felt that this was a great addition for our program.

2. We are still picking up new merchandise and working on our online shop. For beer glasses, we have a logo shaker glass available, which will be one of our standard offerings, and a weizen glass which will be a limited release. We will be offering two types of stickers, the Low Brau Brewery vinyl and the logo vinyl. We have a logo bottle speed openers, just added patches, and are working on t-shirts. We hope to have all of this available online shortly, and if you are interested before that happens, please feel free to contact us.

3.  We have started planting a couple of rhizomes of Hallertau in our garden and Tettnang in our neighbors garden.  Though the first year probably won’t yield much, we are looking forward to future harvests to be used for limited special releases.

4.  Testing continues on our Totten Bock, and we have looked at other possible flagship beers.  Another possibility that we are bringing into testing is a raspberry wheat.  We will have some photos of our test batching process here shortly, and will also be able to elaborate more on what these beers aim to be.  We are looking into the possibility of having a sampling of these and Heidi Weiss as home brews sometime soon, so that everyone can see which direction we are heading in.

5.  We also have another large project, which will be more along the marketing lines, but exciting none the less.  We hope to document this project and be able to share it with everyone else.