Monthly Archives: January 2009

New Music: Ezra Furman & The Harpoons

Well, they’re not too new, only new to me, they’ve been around for a couple years now. But I just heard them.

Their song Take Off Your Sunglasses was the song of the day KEXP’s Podcast yesterday.

Something about the song just stood out to me, a good combination of lyrics, vocals and interesting sounds all blended together.

They’ve got some music on their myspace page you can stream. They did a Daytrotter Session not too long ago. And they’ve been on NPR’s World Cafe show not once, but twice.

Here’s their official website.

My First Ever White Christmas

Photo by Kinsee Morlan

As close as I came to a Snowman. Photo by Kinsee Morlan

I spent my first ever white Christmas in Bayfield, CO with my fiance and future family-in-law.

It snowed quite a bit before we got there, and kept snowing for almost two days straight after we arrived. Even though it was about 25F outside most of the time, it didn’t feel like what I expected that to feel like. It was cold but I thought it would feel colder.

We spent some time in downtown Durango, which has a nice main street that reminds me a lot of Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. I also got my first taste of one of the many Durango craft breweries, we had lunch at Carver Brewing Co. Quite fine beers indeed. I got to meet a ton of Kinsee’s old high school friends and spend time with her family.

I also acted like a small child playing in the snow much of the weekend. I think I had only seen snow fall once before this. I shoveled the driveway quite a bit (I’m told the novelty wears off soon), made a snow angel, went sleding and tobaganing and even made a face print in the snow (that was cold!).

I really wanted to build a snowman and have a snowball fight, but the snow was far too powdery and soft, it crumbled in your hand as you tried to ball it up, it was nothing like the icey hard snow I’ve played in before.

Kinsee shot some video of my playing in the snow, I’ll post some of that soon.

Nortec Collective: Brown Bike video

Nortec Collective just posted the video for Brown Bike by Bostich+Fussible, one of my favorite Nortec songs. The video is awesomely hip.

Sadly I still haven’t gone on a Tijuana bike ride. Maybe I’ll hook up with these folks soon.

Dogfish Head Brewery

It seems like I’ve been blogging a lot about beer recently, not quite sure why that is, but there’s more to come…

I don’t read The New Yorker too often, when I do sit down to read it I find myself flipping through the pages, barely skimming the articles and unless an article really catches my eye I’m done about 20 minutes later. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy The New Yorker, its just really hit or miss for me. Every once in a while I come across an article that I really enjoy. Such is the case for the article, A Better Brew, The Rise of Extreme Beer by Burkhard Bilger in the November 24th 2008 issue.

The article talks mostly about the modern craft beer movement and focuses primarily on Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware. They do delve into beer history a little bit, explaining the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law) and the differences between German beers and Belgian beers (and where American beers fit in). I was amazed to learn that before prohibition and the industrialization of the 1950’s American beers were actually good.

In 1878, Maureen Ogle notes in her recent book “Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer,” Busch’s St. Louis Lager took on more than a hundred European beers at a competition in Paris. The lager came home with the gold, causing an “immense sensation,”.

The history part of the article was fun to read about, but I got really excited reading about Dogfish Head. I’d heard of them before, seen their beers at the liquor store, but never paid them much attention. They’re pretty pricey and with all the good quality local beer for lower prices I never got around to trying anything they make. But this article portrayed them as wildly experimental, exciting and from the sounds of things, making great beers.

It told the story of their Palo Santo Marron, a 12% brown ale aged in Palo Santo wood containers. This wood is some of the hardest in the world and has been used to make wine before, but never beer. The brewery liked it so much they made the largest wooden brewing containers out of it in American since prohibition. They also talked about the Midas Touch Golden Elixir, made of barley, grapes, honey and saffron they claim it is the oldest known fermented beverage recipe in the world. The beer sounded so good I had to go out and try some.

I got lucky at the liquor store, they had both of the beers I just mentioned, what wasn’t so lucky was the price. A four-pack weighed in around $13, less than $4 a beer after tax and CRV, its cheaper than drinking at a bar, but still pricey for bottled beer. I decided to go with the Palo Santo Marron, they had less of it. I got home, chilled it and gave it a try. I poured it into a pint glass and immediately noticed how thick and dark it was. It poured slow and heavy like a viscous dirty motor oil. It left almost no head at all in the glass. Luckily when I tasted it the taste was anything but motor oil. It was still thick and heavy but good. It tasted like most brown ales, a little nutty, maybe a little vanilla, only stronger, much stronger. After one 12oz bottle I could feel a buzz, it was a good thing I wasn’t drinking this at a bar because I wouldn’t have been able to drive for a while.

As with most “extreme beers” this isn’t something I’m going to drink all the time. Even if I could afford to, I don’t think it would be as good if drank everyday, but every once in a while this beer is quite the treat. I’m looking forward to trying plenty of other beers from this brewery.

TJ Beer – Cerveza Tijuana: The Video

You already read the story, now you can watch the video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

TJ Beer – Cerveza Tijuana

It’s pretty obvious that Craft brewing is a big deal in San Diego, with plenty of microbreweries in town you can find quality non-mainstream beer at nearly every liquor and grocery store. Despite how close geographically San Diego and Tijuana are, the craft beer craze hasn’t caught on south of the border, Tecate still owns this town. When I got to a bar I’m happy if they have Bohemia Obscura. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a beer tap down here, everywhere you go its bottles or cans. But that’s not to say that Tijuana is totally devoid of craft breweries.

Yesterday we stopped by La Cervecería Tijuana, the only Microbrewery in the city. Located just a few miles south of the famous Avenida Revolucion, Cerveza Tijuana brews six lagers and has Tavern attached with views of the brewery. We went hoping to get a tour of the brewery and see a bit of the brewing process in addition to sampling beer, but were told that they were shut down for the holidays, so we grabbed a seat and got down to sampling.

We were immediately offered a sample platter of all six beers for $5 US. When they came out the server identified each for us and arranged them in lightest to darkest sampling order.

  • Tijuana Light
  • Bronca
  • Guera
  • Brava
  • Morena
  • Bufadora

I typically don’t like lagers as much as stronger more hoppy ales, but I was excited to give these a try. Tijuana Light was far too light for me, better than Tecate but nothing I’d drink again. Bronca is the unfiltered version of Guera. I liked the Bronca a bit better, but neither really impressed me. Brava was a bit better, but still lacking a lot of hops. It was very malty, almost like eating a slice of bread. Morena was the one TJ Beer I’d tasted before, I found a six pack at the grocery store and gave it a shot, it is a darker lager, but has a sweet aftertaste which I didn’t like too much. Bufadora the last, is the heaviest of the lot, it had an amber color with quite a bit of head. It is the newest beer, not even on their promo material yet. It was also my favorite. It had a bit more flavor to it.

To compare TJ Beer to all my favorites in San Diego is unfair. Sure I’ll take most SD beers over TJ Beer every time, but when compared to the rest of the beers I can buy down here, Tecate, Bohemia, Sol and imports such as Miller and Coors Lite, I’ll take Tijuana Brewery every time. And just because they’re not my favorite, doesn’t mean they’re not good, they’ve won some awards.

As for the Tavern, I loved it. The food was typical pub fare, with a bit of a Mexican twist, and the space itself was perfect. Wood paneling everywhere, dark but not too dark, loud but not too loud. It wasn’t crowded, in fact we were one of only three couples in the place, but it was early, too late for lunch too early for dinner and TJ isn’t attracting a lot of tourists these days.

According to their website, you can find TJ Beers at a lot of liquor stores in San Diego as well as some Costco stores.

The Union-Tribune did a story on Mexican beers mentioning TJ Beer a few years ago. And here is Beeradvocate’s page on TJ Beer, where you can read reviews by some real beer snobs.

UPDATE: We made a movie of our trip to the brewery! You can see it here.