Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hood River, Oregon

Sunday, July 20, 2008 - This was a family get together for my Mother-in-Law's 80th birthday, and it was a good one!

I’m a “tad bit” late on putting this up. The other weekend, friends Greg Fischer and Keith Slaughter, visited this neck of the woods. When I was looking at Greg’s blog: Planes, Trains & Automobiles, I saw that their Portland trip also included Hood River. I thought, I’ll have to send them my Hood River pictures – Then I realized I’d never put them up! So here we are, better late than never!

We drove up there, with a stop in Ashland - one of my favorite places. Val's Mom - Joyce, and Joyce's sister Fran, traveled with us (Luke was going to school, and seeing the sights, in Italy for the summer). Fran's grandson lives in Ashland, and as luck would have it he's a big fan of the Standing Stone Brewpub - We met there for lunch.

Their location is perfect, less than a block from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Theatre. The brewery is right in the front, as you walk in, with the bar area on the left. The restaurant and patio eating area is in the back. The patio gives you a nice view of the surrounding mountains and town.

I had their sampler set of seven, and decided on a pint of delicious oatmeal stout. Val and I split a salmon sandwich. Great visit!

We walked off the lunch in beautiful Lithia Park, just next to the theater.

That evening we enjoyed "Our Town" at the Elizabethan Stage.

Monday, July 21, 2008 - We hopped on 5 and headed for the north end of the state. I'd planned this out, and lunch time "just happened" to find us in Tigard, at McMenamin's John Barleycorn. It was at this point that Fran said: "Another brewery!". Little did she know, we'd just begun!

I had a Terminator Stout, my favorite McMenamin's beer. We had a relaxing lunch on the back patio. One of my favorite things about visiting the McMenamin brother's brewpubs, is that virtually all of them are in neat old buildings (schools, hotels, and of course the classic 1911 Edgefield Multnomah County Poor Farm). This brewpub is in a new building, but they still did a great job with it.

I love their whimsical little breweries.

That afternoon we visited friends over in Beaverton, that live on a neat old farm.

Early that evening we rolled into Hood River. The Hotel (Best Western Hood River Inn) was outstanding - with our third floor patios overlooking the Columbia.

Val and Luke had found this place the summer before and reserved a bunch of rooms at that time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 - After a huge breakfast (that was another big plus with this hotel. Included in the room rate, was a complete meal, not some puny continental fare), we all took a hike to the top of Multnomah Falls (well, not the 80 year old sisters ;)

And a nice view from the top

After a good morning outing, it was time for - you guessed it....

Lunch at a brewery!

And this was my kind of lunch.

The view of the Columbia is spectacular from inside or on the patio.

Later that afternoon, while others were napping and such, I grabbed one of the free bikes (did I tell you I loved this hotel!), and headed downtown to the second of three breweries in this small town.

Big Horse Ales is a wonderful brewpub. I love their slogan: "If it doesn't have a big head or big body, it can't be a Big Horse".

I promptly ordered their sampler of 8. Here's the info I grabbed off their chalk board: "Horse Tail Pale (American-Style Pale Ale) 5.5%, Easy Blonde 5%, Nightmare (Oatmeal) Stout 6.5%, Psycho Billy Bock (German-Style Bock) 6,8%, MacStallion Scottish-Style Export Ale 6.9%, The Smoke of Helles (Smoked Munich Helles Lager) 5.2%, Evil Eye Rye (American Rye Ale) 6.0%, Pale Rider IPA (American Style) 6.7%, Hop Slop Series (single Hop Extra Pale Ale)". They were out of the IPA, but Hop Slop & the Stout were xlnt!

In addition to great beer (I've never had a chance to sample their food), they have a view of the Columbia that's even better then Full Sail's. A good portion of Hood River goes up into the hills, and Big Horse is right up there - Something you notice right a way, when you're on a bike!

This view is from the brewpub's back patio.

I left the bike tied-up and walked down the hill, a couple blocks, to the Double Mountain Brewpub. This brewery was started in 2007 by Matt Swihart and Charlie Devereux, brewers from Full Sail. And as they say: "in my humble opinion" I think they make the best beer in town.

As soon as I sat down I got a call from Jennifer (the oldest of our four kids) at the hotel. She met me in a few minutes to enjoy a beer with Dear Old Dad. She lives in MN, and I don't get to have her all to myself very often. Anyway, that's my excuse for poor photo coverage of this great little brewpub. Here's the write-up on the two excellent beers we had: "MOLTEN LAVA - Imperial IPA This is Hop Lava's bigger, meaner cousin -- a radiant orange-hued beer featuring more than six pounds of hops per barrel. The out-of-control hopping is barely balanced by a tight malt backbone and noticable alcohol notes. We used our Kolsch yeast on this one, which gives it a different type of fruitiness than the Belgian ale yeast used in Hop Lava. Brewed with organic Pilsner and Munich malt, imported crystal malt, Centennial and Cascade hops. 9.0%ABV, 95+ BU. ÜBER BROWN - This big, chocolately dark ale made a short appearance in the summer of 2008 [and we got some!]. Look for it to re-emerge in early '09 after a long summer vacation in bourbon barrels....Brewed with organic Pilsner malt, imported crystal and chocolate malts, and Brewers Gold hops. 6.8%ABV, 35 BU"

Jen's Frank met us and we enjoyed a nice sushi dinner at Sushi Okalani, just a block or so away. I'm a real novice on this stuff, but they are experts - It was a fun meal!

My ride back to the hotel was beautiful, just the right time of the early evening. You can see how the town just goes right up the hill.

And a shot of a Columbia tributary.

That night we had a pretty routy get-together on our two adjoining balconies. Good time!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 - This morning we headed out on another hike up the mountains of the Columbia River Gorge.

This is part of the gang: from the left, Ronda, Val, Reid (Joyce's brother & Ronda's dad), Frank, Jennifer, our older son Jason & wife Kristen. Then, Reid's two grandkids, each from his two other kids.

Just a little way up the trail, this view reminded me of Woody Guthrie's song: "Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through - Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew - Canadian Northwest to the oceans so blue - Roll on Columbia, roll on".

Up towards the top was a great view of the river and the state of Washington.

That afternoon we all piled on the Mt. Hood Railroad for the "Odell Excursion". A two hour round trip from downtown Hood River, with a short lunch stop in the tiny town of Odell. This is the historical fruit capital of the valley.

A nice view of Mt. Hood, through the orchards, from our train car.

We enjoyed a quick little lunch at a small Mexican cafe in Odell, a block away from our train stop. I could tell I was in Oregon - A Deschutes Black Butte Porter, with my taco!

And back down the mountains, to the station....

I love cabooses!

Later, a few of us visited the classic 1920 Columbia Gorge Hotel. I could never afford to stay in a place like this, but it was sure nice to have a glass of wine and enjoy their scenery!

This opulent hotel is right on the edge of the gorge, with a 208' water fall in the back.

That night was the big birthday party. We had it at Three Rivers Grill, and everything was perfect. They did a great job with our group of sixteen, and the dinner and wine was outstanding.

This was on the way out, after the party.

If all those people weren't in the way, you could see the River in the background!

Thursday, July 24, 2008 - Our last day in Hood River. Some of us took a walk along the river, west from the hotel.

A beauty of a small marina.

And a cute little float plane.

Well, it was time to go and we all said our good byes. Everybody, but us, were heading back to Portland to fly home. Although, Jason & Kristen got to spend a couple of days in the City of Roses, and were able to attend the annual Oregon Brewers Festival. I was way jealous!

We headed further east along the Columbia, crossed over into Washington, and visited Walla Walla. But, that's another story.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Western Pacific Brewpub, Old Town Oroville

Here's some quick pictures of this great brewery & resturant that opened this last February. I first visited 9/20, with son Luke. I'll add the pics from that day a little later. My second trip there was this last Sunday, just by my lonesome. At this time I took iPhone pictures, and I'm now using an iPhone App (BlogPress Lite) for the first time to upload this all - We'll see! I'm in Woodstocks enjoying a "Tu/Th $2 Pint" of SN Oktoberfest - So let's see how this works!

Ahhh, that was easy to grab one of my shots! Delicious Oatmeal Stout, with the brewery in the background. On my 1st visit I got a nice personal tour of the brewery, and I'll upload those shots in the normal fashion - I took'm with a regular digital camera.

Great IPA that went with my delicious burger. Not as hoppy as the brews SN has on now, but very nice.

A view of the RR tracks from the back patio eating area.

The brewery through the window, as you enter the brewpub.

What was on tap....

The entrance.

And a train actually went by!

There happened to be this neat old car in the lot - I love classic old cars (and airplanes, trains, houses, buildings.....).

On the way home, I stopped for a cup of joe, just a couple blocks away on Montgomery St.

This place definately met my criteria for great old buildings - and the coffee was good too!

And one of the classic homes of Old Town Oroville, along Montgomery. A great Sunday afternoon trip!

(now let's see if this uploads!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

San Jose & Sunnyvale

May 3-4, 2009

Val was heading-up a CalCPA meeting in downtown San Jose, and I got to go along to make sure her Power Point presentations were working and to see what the craft brewing industry of the Silicon Valley had on tap.

The meeting was at the Fairmont Hotel, and we arrived at noon on Sunday (damn, I missed church again!).  This is one high rent place,  so.... we stayed at the Wyndham, down the road, for a fraction of the price.  

After two hours of dealing with three female accounting professors, all telling me at the same time, the changes they wanted made in their PPTs, I was ready for.....

Fortunately, the brewpub is only a block away.  

This is a classic setup, where they've taken an old building and turned it into a brewpub - well done!  

I'm not a big fan of Blonde Bock , Czech Style Pilsner or Hefeweizen, so I stuck to two of my favorites - Märzen  (below) and Schwarzbier (black lager) - Delicious!

The place was full, with a very lively crowd.  You can see the brewery tanks in the background.

On that way out I caught this shot of the top tower of a classic old office building (I thought it must have been a church!) on the corner of 1st and Santa Clara, one of the landmarks of downtown San Jose.

Early that evening, back to the Fairmont for a nice reception and then down the street, to the Sainte Claire. for a delicious Italian meal (these folks know how to do it right!).

Monday 8:00, another crunch to get the day's presentations set, then I was out'a there...

Coffee outside at a nice little cafe next to San Jose State...

Then onto the business of the day.  

Drove up 101 to Sunnyvale, and first visited the Fire House Brewery.  This location, on classic South Murphy Avenue, use to be Stoddard's Brewpub.  I'd been there about six years ago, with son Jason, when he was doing an internship with AMD.  That was a Friday evening and I never got any further then the back patio.  This was 11:30 Monday, and I pretty much had the place to myself!  I even got free parking out front.

Classic bar, with the brewery behind the glass - Life is good!

As usual, I had their sampler set, and there was definitely some good ones here.  

Not a very steady shot of the board (below).  I can honestly say it was low light with no flash - I had not even got into the beer yet!  All of them are their beers, except of course the Trumer Pils (which reminds me, I need another Berkeley Road Trip!).  

Usually, I'm not a big fan of Pale Ale (spoiled by the hoppier beers), but this was an exceptionally good ale.  The stout and porter also really caught my attention.  

Had one of the best hamburgers (don't tell my office partner!)  I've had in a long time - and then the Barleywine for dessert.  This was a nice lunch!

A view of the skylight inside the pub.

Brewmaster, Steve Donahue, stopped by and asked how I liked the beer.  One of the advantages to visiting these places during "off hours". 

Turned out Steve graduated from Chico State, back around the time we started working there - 19 years ago.  What a nice guy - he gave me a little tour of his domain - A one man show, every homebrewer's dream!

He had Scotch Ale, aging in the oak barrels

Steve was the brewer for Stoddard's, so he has a lot of history here.  

The kegs go to their Palo Alto location, and a couple of other spots in the bay area.

I took a peek out in the back patio...

These are a tad bit higher then mine.  Must be because they are further south!

I then migrated over to Faultline Brewery, also in Sunnyvale...

They use to have a few other locations (Sacramento, etc), but now they are just down to this brewery.  But what a beautiful location....

One of the regulars...

When I sat down and saw the beer list, I got all excited to see they had a cask brown (last one on the list).  

Well, there was a reason it was at the bottom of the list.  After taking my first sip, I asked the bar tender how long this cask had been on tap.  "Oh, a month or two".  I said to myself "Oh shit!". 

I tried to explain to him that it was all down hill after one or two days.  Fortunately he was good enough to dump it and get me a delicious hoppy IPA.  Saved by the hops!

What a great venue, but where are the people at lunch time?

Got a kick out of this sign, as I exited the parking lot...

Back to downtown San Jose to hit the Tied House Brewpub.  I'd been to their Mountain View location, that same evening with Jason, six years ago.  I'd really liked that brewpub, so I was looking forward to this one.

This San Jose location is on the historical San Pedro Square.

I stopped by on Sunday, but they were closed.  I was suspicious because San Jose had a huge Cinco De Mayo celebration downtown that day.  Not a logical time to be closed?   

Well on Monday they had a sign up: "Closed for remodeling, will open May 19th".  I read that as just plain old "Closed!"  It had been at least two days and there was no sign of any work going on. Bummer!  [Although, as I'm writing this, I checked their Web site and it does say; "Closed for remodeling, open May 15th".  That's better then the 19th! Hopefully, they'll be back]

Down the street was a classic necessity on a street full of bars!

This is part of the arch to the entrance of San Pedro Square.

Well, it was time to pick up Val, so I headed on back.  These are the fountains in front of the Fairmont, with the Marriott in the background and a jet on final for SJC.

The Fairmont - a classic!  

3:15 and we headed out'a Dodge, before the traffic got too bad.  It was a great two days!