Monday, July 20, 2015

A brew pub in the mountains


We hope you caught the back story of how we ended up at Eddy Line Restaurant, if not, check it out HERE.

Back to the story, we landed in Buena Vista after ignoring Siri for a while and making her redraw our map a few extra times.

Now, the good, the bad and the Ugly, in reverse order, of Eddy Line Restaurant.

First, the ugly.
The staff was sporting a hectic scowl. I don't know if they were just busy and over worked (This happens to restaurant servers) or if there was a dragon master in the back who whipped each of them as they carried food out, but I never did see one of them smile. I will say that the service was sufficient and the staff was pleasant to the customers.

The bad: you think there is no parking (See the good for rebuttal to that). Half of the men’s bathroom was out of order. This is not a good thing in a place that is packed and serving their own beer.
The forks only have 3-prongs! I know this seems like an odd complaint, but how irritating. I understand it’s trendy and all, but if you’re eating pasta or salad, a smaller fork with 4 prongs is preferable. This was like eating with Satan's scepter.

They go as far as to brag that their beef is “grass fed.” I know this makes a lot of you hippies, greenies, granolas, tree huggers and cardiac patients happy. (That pretty much covers everyone here, right?) As for me, someone who really enjoys food and lives on a cattle ranch, it tells me that it’s not going to taste right. If you like grass fed beef, you are in luck, if you like choice or prime beef... There’s plenty on the menu to choose from. You don’t need a steak or burger at every meal!
The good, in short: The Food and the Beer!

I could leave it at that and figure it to be a complete statement, but I have to rave about a few things. First, start your meal with Green Chili Fries. Cheddar cheese and New Mexico green chili’s are mixed together in a rich and decadent sauce that will make you think, “Poutine” without the meat... But you can add pulled pork to the appetizer if you’d like.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Unexpected trip.


Last weekend, we took a quick trip to the lake with the family.We had a day on the boat, then planned on heading home on Saturday. But you can’t just “Go home” can you?

We had a great time out on the water and even got to see a Sage 17 sail boat at the dock. I will write about these one day!
 
What started out as a quick detour to check out a road we saw from the boat turned into a 340 mile long detour on our trip home. Now that is #KahunaStyle.

We traveled west on Highway 96 from Pueblo Reservoir for a few miles before SWMBO said, I’d like to go see Westcliffe. I said, okay, and we kept rolling west. Just before we got there, we stopped for fuel and the kids grabbed a few snacks.  The town was incredibly busy due to the fair and rodeo being held that weekend, and there were no dining options that looked viable.

SWMBO joked that the kids had just eaten a snack and we should head north and eat at a brewery she had found online a few days before our trip.

Using the free WiFi the town provides along Main Street, we checked the map and not but a few minutes later, we were headed up Highway 69 toward Texas Creek.


When we hit US 50, a decision had to be made. We could go left and travel a few hundred more miles out of our way, or we could go right and end up back where we came from.

 I turned left!

Highway 50 to Poncha Springs, Highway 285 north to Buena Vista. After a short battle with Siri we arrived at 926 S Main Buena Vista, Colorado. A little restaurant called Eddy Line Restaurant @ South Main.

With a little more than 150 miles on the afternoon, including the 20 miles we traveled off road around the lake, we were looking forward to a beer and some food! Especially since we are still almost 190 miles from home







Tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you about this little brew pub in a Colorado Mountain town!

~Cheers

Friday, July 10, 2015

A day trip to Clearwater.

When we travel to St. Pete’s Beach, we have a few standard stops that we make. One day of our vacation, we always travel up the coast to Clearwater. There are things to see and do along the way, and we love the drive. It is only 20 or so miles, but the trip can take well over an hour, not counting a
 stop at John’s Pass shopping district.

John’s Pass is one of my favorite places on earth. The boardwalk and restaurants are amazing, the spice shop always gets a visit and I pick up a few fresh rolled cigars for my humidor. The cigars are not great, but they are a memento that I like to keep and break out once in  a while, just to remind me of the good times with my favorite people! And to be honest, after a few years in a proper humidor, they are not bad smokes.

The trip north of John’s Pass is all about Frenchy’s! Specifically, Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill.  I could write about this restaurant every day for the rest of my life and never run out of good things to say!

The evening is always capped off by the sunset at Pier 60. This is a huge gathering of local vendors and artists selling everything from face painting to hand-made leather goods and jewelry. It’s very cool to see all the things that people can do and sell. Think of it as a mini Malory Square... For those of you who have been to Key West.

I am afraid to say that this post is likely the last one I’ll make about Clearwater. We have shown our kids, we have shown it to my mom, and now we have shown it to my in-laws. The problem is not the drive, and it is not that the area isn’t still very cool; it most certainly is VERY cool.


The problem is that the Clearwater community is building itself out of business.

Parking is such a cluster fuck that you will wish you’d have stayed home before you even get out of the car. New buildings are taking up old parking lots, and the popularity of the area has grown considerably over the last five years.

It took me over an hour to park when we went to Frenchy’s and I had to walk 6 blocks to get back to the restaurant.  I ended up watching the sun set at Pier 60 from the pickup because apparently another 60 minutes isn't enough time to find a parking space. That’s not a fun way to spend precious two hours of your vacation time.
The food tho... Oh My GAWD!

I ordered two meals, because I couldn’t get past the Four Kings plate with Jerk seasoning and the darn Grouper Reuben... you just have to go hungry!

Frenchy’s Rockaway is and always will be my idea of the quintessential beach bar and restaurant. They have great food, great service and the ultimate atmosphere! The oysters are fresh and the beer is ice cold. I don’t think I could ask for more in a beach-side restaurant!

Most of the rest of Clearwater is the same as you get anywhere else along the gulf coast. Mostly tourist traps and ice cream shops.  I am not saying that is a bad thing, I’m just telling it like it is. There isn’t anything there that you can’t get at any of 1,000 places along the gulf.


I will say that if you visit in the winter time... It Gets COLD! Don’t expect a tropical getaway at this latitude in February!  Average temps range from the 50’s to the 70’s. Not good enough for a Kahuna in the winter. But summertime is prime time! When the water temp and air temp are both in the upper 80’s... I am one happy fat man!

I know we have some readers and friends that live in the area, and I am sorry that we didn’t catch up with them... Again!

We would love some local tips for our next trip, perhaps the inside scoop on where to park (like behind the Crabby Bills at the Clearwater Municipal Marina) and when to avoid the abominable crowds?


Thanks for checking in and sharing our great fun.

Cheers!


One of my top 10 place on planet earth!

After sundown Ice Cream at Pier 60!

The Food at Frenchy's can't be beat!

Kahuna Swag and a full beer. Yeah Mon!

Spice so strong, the boy cannot focus!

Blurry, but freshly rolled.... Get Some!

So many colors from one sunset.

Looking at the pier after the sun goes down.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Staying at Guy Harvey's

The Guy Harvey Outpost on St. Pete’s Beach is a relatively nice hotel with cool gimmick... Guy Harvey!

First, let me tell you why we chose to stay at the Guy Harvey Outpost.

1. Pet friendly.
2. Our usual hotel was booked solid and even telling them that I am the Big Kahuna didn’t magically open up a room.

We absolutely love the area, and I don’t think it matters where you stay, the beach and the water is all the same. So when the Guy Harvey came up as an option, and the price was in line, we were on board. We were traveling with Kahuna’s Chick’s parents, and their dog. Guy Harvey has a separate area for pets, and you don’t have to be anywhere around them if you don’t want to be. 

The best part of the resort is the staff. I wish I’d had spent more time writing and taking notes, because the woman at the front desk, and our housekeeper were awesome! They both had the personality and sense of service that made me sad to leave them after the few days we were there.

Friday, July 3, 2015

One of my favorite parts about all of you is the diversity of people who show up around BigKahunaBrew.com. That makes it easy for me to find topics that someone will be interested in. 
This week, I’m going to focus on a few hard-learned travel tips.

We are very fortunate and get to travel a few times a year. We don’t travel as often as we would like, but a lot more than we used to.  Because of this, we like to make the most out of every trip, and that can mean getting creative with travel planning.

We often take the midnight flight out when we vacation. This means Two tired kids and Kahunas when we get where we are going. This issue is made slightly worse by the fact that most hotels cannot get you into your room until 2:30 or 3 p.m. Not usually a big deal, but if you cannot catch a couple of zzz’s on the plane, you could be in for miserable first day of vacation.

Our way of mitigating this travel trauma is to try and shower just before leaving for the airport and make sure we have blankets and pillows for the kids. Then just do your best to zonk out on the plane for a few hours.

We also think it is best to keep your first day of vacation fairly low-key. You don’t want to bottle-rocket on the first day and be too tired to enjoy the next few days.

Reduce stress by ensuring everything is taken care of BEFORE you leave. This means know how you are paying for all of the additional fees at the airport.

Often times we are sucked in by low fairs, but that can turn disastrous if you are not careful! On a recent trip, we were hit with nearly $1000 worth of fees at the airport. Frontier charges between $15-$50 for each seat at check in. Carry-on bags (Typically free) are $45 and checked luggage is $35 per bag. When traveling with a party of 4 or more, and two of them children, that makes for an expensive hit at the gate that could have easily been avoided by traveling on a better airline.
If you don’t know about these fees, they could put you in a serious bad mood to start your trip!

Travel as light as possible. Easier said than done... But you are on vacation, not a fashion show. You do not need 3 different outfits for every day.

If you are on a beach vacation, take two swimming suits so one can dry while you wear the other. Take some extra shoes and don’t worry about bringing high heals or your wing-tips. DO make sure that you have proven shoes. Blisters and sore feet are no way to enjoy your weekend trip!
Finally, don’t be afraid to put beer in your room. Buying some beer or a bottle of rum and some mixers sure helps the vacation budget over paying for all of your vacation drinks at a pool bar for $11 each.
If you have travel tips, let’s hear them! We can use all the advice we can get!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Look for more moonshine.


I’m sure you all have noticed the (sometimes) overwhelming selection of “Moon shine” at your local bottle stores lately.

First of all, I hate this term! Like I’ve preached several times before, words mean things! “Moonshine” is illegal, white whiskey made without Uncle Sam’s approval.

The jars you see in stores are white, unaged whiskey. Often times this type of liquor is called “white dog.” But it is not, at least in my mind, moonshine.

This type of whiskey is cheap, easy and fast for the distillers to crank out because there is no aging time. They simply go from still to bottle to store.

Bourbon is aged for a minimum of two-years in new barrels made from white oak. Kentucky Whiskey is also aged in NEW oak barrels which are essentially hand-made by craftsmen and use only fine white oak.


A recent article in the Wall Street Journal estimated that Bourbon sales are up 35 percent since 2010, and the harvesting of the white oak has been severely abbreviated. You guessed it... That means there is a shortage of barrels.

Overall, that’s an excellent thing for the spirits industry, and a great opportunity for brewers looking to age beer in oak. The “One and done” life cycle of Bourbon sales provides ample wood for brewing.

Other distilled spirits such as rum can be aged in used barrels and they are likely to an increase in their supply chain in the years to come.  Some distillery have increased production as much as 50% to try to keep up with future demands.

As this all comes back to the white dog, if a distiller only receives half of his order of barrels from the cooperage, I’m willing to bet the other half of the production run will end up on store shelves labeled as “Moonshine!”

As you might expect from craft distillers and the long term success of older distillers, the quality of some of these white whiskeys on the market is very good, often time the same distillate that is used for their flagship brands.

If you have a favorite white whiskey, we would love to hear about it!

Have a great week friends,

Friday, June 26, 2015

Age your hooch?

There are things that make us laugh out loud... Heck, that’s what LOL stands for! There are things that are simply amusing and make us smile for a few seconds then we move on... Insert Facebook Meme. There are things that bring us simple joys like a well prepared adult beverage or a cigar, and there are things that bring lasting joy to our lives, like family, friends and travel.

I think the marketing industry is taking advantage of some of our “Joy Button” moments and push them a few times too many over the course of a year!

One of the most interesting trends of late has got to be the home aging of spirits. This is where a distillery will sell you a liter of their “White Dog” whiskey (worth no more than a $10 bill) and an aging barrel (Worth $30) for the low low price of nearly $100. You take the bottle home, dump it into the barrel and take a snort every few days to see how it is coming along. After a few weeks (or days) your barrel is empty, and after convincing yourself that it was just getting good, you head back to grab another bottle for a second try!

As a guy with a burning desire to “Create” things, I have almost fallen into this trap many times. I have had several oak barrels in my life, mostly for aging beer, but a few have had wine and a few have had spirits... None have been as orgasmic as I had hoped. I will also say that none have been as effective as a handful of oak cubes from the brew supply store. 

One thing that a friend of mine, who has forgotten more about spirits than I’ll ever know, tells me, is that spirits don’t extract properly at lower proof (Percent alcohol).

We know damn good and well that an 80-proof spirit can blow the top off of your head if it isn’t properly cared for, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to do a good job of extracting the essence of your vanilla beans or the goods from an oak barrel.

http://www.1000oaksbarrel.com
Production spirits are aged at a very high proof to mellow and extract flavors in the commercial world, why would they act any differently in your home?

I am not saying that it does no good to age an 80-proof spirit on wood, far from it. We know that a 10% beer or a 12% wine can become amazing from its time on oak. But to market as if you are going to turn white “hooch” into fine spirits in your living room is almost laughable, yet it does give a lot of people a hands-on experience that could help them understand the world of aging spirits.

I would LOVE to see a few companies producing a high-proof “white dog” for aging. Some rum companies make an “Overproof” Rum or 151, as some call it. I would say this is a severely under-served market, and would give my right arm for a few new ones to hit the market.... HELLO Hemingway Rum Company.....

The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series