Preview: Telluride Blues and Brews

The crowd was getting larger, but no one was sitting on the far bank of the creek yet. I held tight to my koozie containing a can of Palisade Brewing Hula Hoppy as I steadied myself across the rocks. The dirt was warm, with just enough space to sit before the canyon wall started rising high above the campsite. My feet were no longer caked with beer and dirt from the Grand Tasting, as the icy water had cleaned them. This beer tastes amazing right now.

Happy Place

Sounds of the waterfall to my left were drowned out for a brief moment while the fiddle player for Mohead turned her instrument. I didn’t look up though, as I was too busy watching a guy in Keens build an intricate tower of rocks. Balancing each one carefully on top of the next. The river was filled with rock towers of all shapes and sizes. A couple, laughing and slipping across the river knocked down the most delicate of them all. It was so small they probably didn’t see it.

I leaned back against the hill and closed my eyes. The hot sun on my face prompted more sips of my Hula Hoppy. It felt good to sit down and relax after 2 days of dancing and hiking. The moment was perfect. A splash of water across my legs and face prompted me to open my eyes.

“Hey, hows it goin?”, he said as he sat down next to me, not on the bank but right in the creek. His friend soon joined us on the other side as I found out he job as a wildland firefighter explained his sculpted arms. “Want to smoke a joint?”, his friend asked, just as the crowd began cheering the start of Mohead’s set. I couldn’t believe how perfect this moment was

Check back for a 3 part series on our adventure to the 2014 Telluride Blues and Brews Festival

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Beer Festival

Fall Harvest Brew Festival

A Photo Album

By Julieanna Jalonski and Lauren Hoff
Photos By Julieanna Jablonski

The 6th annual Fall Harvest Brew Festival took place this month at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins. This brew fest benefits the Animal House Rescue, a large no-kill shelter. Over 30 breweries, cideries and distilleries sampled their wares to help save the animals. They are apread out through out the Lincoln Center, on patios, in ballrooms and lining hallways. It was a bit rainy this year, which kept the patios sparse. Last year, over $16,000 was raised at the festival.

JulieannaD_140905_JLD_5295

JulieannaD_140905_JLD_5250

JulieannaD_140905_JLD_5280

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6217

JulieannaD_140905_JLD_5374

JulieannaD_140905_JLD_5387

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6259

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6249

 

VIP Guests received a mug to sample their beers in

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6312

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6397

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6613-Edit

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6495

 

Josh Green of Verboten Brewing Company

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6468

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6424

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6384-Edit

 

Shannon Westcott of Equinox Brewing

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6634

 

Odell Brewing Company sampling a new seasonal

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6151-Edit

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6272

JulieannaD_140905_JDJ_6282

 

Leave a comment

Filed under New Beer

The Colorado Craft Beer Round Up

After I moved to Frederick, Colorado I started to become disillusioned with beer. I just couldn’t find the same passion and joy in the art of fermentation as I once had.. Logging onto Facebook, which I have to do for work, would just make me agitated seeing all the awesome beer tappings and events my friends attended but I was too far to join. It even got to the point where I would go a couple weeks without sipping a 20140816_180654sud, despite the overflow of beer from our fridge and working at a brewery. Was I subconsciously hoarding my small cellar of beer in case of another flood and I wouldn’t be able to get out of town to get more? Was I losing my taste for it? Could I actually- in a land of 10,000 beers- be BORED? What is going on!?!?

And then I saw it. A poster for the Colorado Craft Beer Round Up. A small festival put on by the Carbon Valley Chamber of Commerce, and walking distance from my house. A beer event that I didn’t have to drive 40 minutes to Denver, Boulder or Fort Collins to attend. Now, I don’t want you to think that I am totally deprived of beer out on the plains. I have found a hang out at Echo Brewing Company and thank whatever god you pray too that Georgia Boys Smoke House has 20 taps of beer other than bud light, but 2 places won’t give you that awesome of a bike tour.

The 20140816_155907night before the festival I perused the list of breweries serving. A few new breweries who I haven’t had a chance to make it to would be pouring, but the rest of the bunch were the usual suspects; City Star Brewing, Pateros Creek, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse and others. Live music was supposed to play all day, and knowing the lay out of the park I was excited for some dancing barefoot in a skirt possibilities.

Despite the advertisements that promised a taster glass with your ticket purchase, everyone was handed a clear plastic cup at arrival. As a collector I was disappointed they didn’t at least spring for a $.75 per person tiny plastic beer mug. However, I was surprised to see so many unusual beers to fill my cup with. So often small festivals just showcase a breweries standard beers, but I was able to sip on barrel aged, fruit & floral infused, double hopped 20140816_153844and more. Walking up to the Grimm Brothers tent, owner Aaron Heaton pulled a growler out of the cooler and poured me a serving of their new Gose. It was amazing. It is hard for me to find a Gose that doesn’t illicit salted vegetables on my palette, but this one had a malt sweetness to balance the perfect salty bite.

There was even a Grist style ale! This is a style I search out with little results. It is such a historic style, yet it is incredibly diverse in its execution. Very Nice Brewing out of Netherland brought theirs out and I am glad they did. The cloudy golden amber ale had a such complex taste, from sweet malt and spicy rye to an earthy finish. Lauren and Heather from Disposabowls kept going back for more. The “beer” I kept going back for more was the Pumpkin Cider from Wild Cider. A local cidery here in Frederick, I was all about their spicy sweet concoction available in a 16 oz. can.

Drinking beer was about it as terms as things to do at the festival. While they didn’t follow through on their advertising for the festival glass, they did follow through on it being family friendly. A family friendly beer festival is good in theory, but having half the festival grounds dedicated to the entertainment of the maybe 20 children in attendance was a bit over kill. The paying grown-ups 20140816_165725would like entertainment, too. And the lone guitarist who nearly ruined my favorite Tom Petty song with the worst cover I have ever heard didn’t count.

Towards the end of the festival Echo Brewing Company was presented with an award for “VIP Choice Beer”. There was no earlier mention of a voting or judging, or even a formal ceremony to present the award. Even the brewery reps who won the award didn’t know how the contest was won or why they won. “Some dude just gave us this”, was how they described their hard earned win.

The festival offered most of what it promised, lots of family friendly activities with an20140816_163016 unlimited amount of beer. Without the Brewers Association and the help from brewers (an owner of Echo Brewing paid $100 out of his own pocket to fill in a contract disagreement between the musician and the chamber), I don’t think the chamber could have pulled this off.

Despite the numerous signs at the festival declaring “for children 12 and under only” restricting me from most of the area, attending this festival helped renew my passion for beer. It helped me discover why I was becoming so disillusioned with beer. It reminded me that the thing I love most about beer is the social aspect and camaraderie. Drinking an amazing, barrel aged, bottle conditioned, rare hopped whale isn’t as fun by yourself as it is with others who also appreciate the craft. It was great to catch up with Aaron from Grimm Brothers and Paul from Pateros Creek and meet so many new people.I learned that there is indeed life outside the brewery mecca that is Fort Collins.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer Festival, Beer Review

Sunday Brunch at The Mainline

When The Mainline opened in 2013, it wasn’t with too much excitement from the beer community,  despite the huge marketing attempt made by the Breck-Wynkoop group.  They gave us huge promises of a unique space with upscale food with a southern comfort flair. A list of those involved with menu creation from the Denver Westword lists a half dozen people, none of which I could point out enjoying a pint at another local bar. It was a faceless, corporate business, giving the typical reaction of “meh” from local residents about their experiences.

I went a few times in the first couple months. The massive space was indeed unique. Reused piping creates a “tree- house” effect throughout the building that really brings character to the space. The upstairs bar is filled with all kinds of random things encased in resin that help start some great conversations. A rooftop patio is a not to miss feature of The Mainline. Just try to count the number of unique light fixtures here, just try. But that was where the awe stopped for me.

From sub par food like a shrimp po’ boy containing only 3 pieces of shrimp on an 8″ bun, to poor service from a waitstaff who preferred to chat with each other than work, the first few months at The Mainline was rough for everyone. While I 20140615_102310never all out avoided the place after the first couple negative experiences, I never strive to go there either. I would accompany a friend now and then for drinks on the rooftop, occasionally indulging in the Angry Mac n Cheese as that was all I trusted from the menu.

But I wanted to like them, I really did! So when I received an email from a company handling their marketing, asking me to come try out their brunch menu, for free, at first I ignored it. I typically don’t do reviews on this blog anyways, and something about offering me free stuff reeks of desperation. But he was persistent. Even though this person worked for a marketing group, he was excited about the restaurant and the menu. He kept emailing me, which put a face to a business I had considered faceless for so long. Then, a friend posted a photo on Facebook of her drinks at The Mainline stating “I am giving them one more shot, but only because of the Fort Collins Passport“. This opened a whole conversation about The Mainline and why people choose to go there or not. I figured I should give them another chance, too.

We finally found a time that would work and headed out for an early brunch at The Mainline. We were the first one’s in that day. The boyfriend was worried about getting seated and out the door in time for his job that afternoon. He didn’t realize how large of a space The Mainline is and that finding a seat is not going to be a problem. We snagged 20140615_101724a seat overlooking College Ave on the rooftop. It really is gorgeous up there, plus you get a good view of some ghost signs you can’t see from street level.

I went in looking for one thing that day, person-ability. I wanted to feel a connection to the people who worked here. I wanted to continue attaching faces to The Mainline and distance it farther from the corporate world of Breck-Wynkoop. I had barely even sat down yet before I got what I asked for. One of the bartenders from the first floor saw me walk in, and made the journey all the way to the rooftop to greet me, “I saw you come in, and had a quick break so wanted to come say hi!”. He had served me previously before a couple times, and remembered me, and going out of his way to say hi is exactly the personable experience I was looking for.

Our server was amazing as well, chatting with us about the different menu items she liked. Our service was quick and the food was original. I ordered the Buttermilk Chicken and Waffles, that came with a giant pile of maple bacon to go with the spiced rum infused syrup. I loved the melted slices of brie on top of the perfectly cooked waffles, the cream helped to blend all of the flavors together. The dish also featured watercress and orange marmalade. If I wasn’t still working on my bloody mary (maybe the service was too quick), my plan was to order a coffee stout to go with this rich dish.

20140615_102739

The boyfriend ordered the Pulled Pork Hash that came with their homemade tater tots. The dish looks like a colorless mass, but was actually damn tasty. Some of the color was lost, as it normally comes with eggs and he took them off. It was a mix of pulled pork, sweet potatoes and red peppers that had a kick to it. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the texture of the potatoes, as they were a bit mushy.

20140615_102810

We finished out the meal with a Pateros Creek Mainline, made exclusively for the restaurant, and a Pimm’s Cup. We may have enjoyed the Pimm’s Cup a bit, as we fought over the last few sips of its very short existence. I had planned to pair the brown ale aged on bourbon barrel staves with the Chocolate Beignets, but unfortunately there was an issue with the fryer and they weren’t able to cook them properly.  I am going to assume the fryer wasn’t hot enough yet. At a year old, this is kind of a silly issue for a restaurant to have. I was disappointed I didn’t get to try either of my anticipated beer pairings choices, but still satisfied in my meal.20140615_105048

All in all, I think The Mainline has gotten a bad rap from their rough get go. Aside from this brunch visit, I also scheduled a meeting with Kim from Grouse Malting and Brewing here. We both enjoyed our experience that day, with delicious shrimp tacos on special and a couple beers over industry chatter. The food is more innovative than what is offered at most places around Old Town. Their mixed drinks are delicious, but expect to have most of your beer choices be Breckenridge and Wynkoop. Plus, their rooftop patio is my favorite in town.20140615_105639

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer Bar, Beer Review

A Plea for Fair Compensation in Beer

If you are reading this article, I am sure you are aware that the craft beer industry is booming.  Every day, new recipes are being created, never been tasted beer is tapped and new employees are hired to make, serve and sell the beer. The economic impact is one of the greatest things about the beer industry. $1.6 billion was contributed to the economy in Colorado in 2013, a huge portion of that coming from jobs alone.

Lately, I have noticed a trend that is putting these jobs in jeopardy. This isn’t a trend that is new, in fact, you probably participated in this trend at some point in your life. But you were called an intern, and you probably got college credit for it. It is even a trend that is affecting other industries too, the use of free labor. The problem is this trend is changing. No longer are breweries asking their relatives and childhood friends to help ‘em out, but are now asking for highly qualified candidates to work FOR FREE for their brand.

It’s no secret that smaller and newer breweries often rely on very-part-time employees and volunteers. The money just isn’t there yet for a fulltime marketer, sales rep or assistant brewer and there are too many events and not enough people. There is nothing wrong with utilizing your resources in most cases. In fact, my first position in a brewery was volunteer. I volunteered in the Pateros Creek Brewing Co. taproom, making only tips. But I nannied for them as well, they were my family, and I didn’t mind helping out family when they needed it to make their dreams come true.  Just like the family of Loveland Aleworks, and West Flanders Brewing Co. My fellow volunteers at Pateros Creek included the brewer’s mother, sister and brother-in-law, who all helped fill in the slots until they could hire someone trained to handle it.

These newly funded positions are opening up every day in production, packaging and sales with more than enough applicants to fill them. People have moved to Colorado in search of a career in beer. Not to mention, if you asked someone who already lives here if they would work at a brewery, the answer would probably be a loud “when can I start?. I even get several emails a month even asking if my blog is hiring (Sorry folks, I don’t even get paid for this). Clearly, there is no shortage of labor in this industry, and in most cases it is passionate, dedicated labor. Some breweries are now starting to take advantage of that with more and more volunteers.

There was recently an “incident” that made this issue weigh on my mind for over a week, until I just had to write this post. The Fort Collins Brewery recently sent out a call to staff a “Street Team”. I use the word staff because they sent out a full job description asking for highly qualified candidates to help rep and sell their brand. The kicker, there is no compensation for this job. But wait….there’s more! If you call right now, you get free beer and shwag as “bonuses”! Plus, the best workers might possibly, maybe, in the far future, get a REAL JOB! That’s right folks, they are throwing in a free carrot, just for you.

I have often referred to Fort Collins Brewery as “the forgotten brewery”. Their community involvement just isn’t there. Their sales prove it, with the majority of their money coming from out of state (SOURCE: Doug SMith, Operations Managers Fort Collins BRewery, Beverage Business Institute Presentation, 2013). But, they have been trying in the last couple years to change that. They hired a new marketer, Charles Stanley, who reached out to me and the groups I was associated with, and his efforts made me and my groups stop by the taproom more often, even just to share a chat with Stanley. But then something changed again, and Stanley left, and I am not cool with this new direction, especially the “street team”.  I can see how Fort Collins Brewery can see this as a way to get involved with community, create a following, and be more visible. But by doing this you are hurting the industry as a whole, as well as yourselves.

You may or may not know, but I get paid to do the exact same job Fort Collins Brewery has posted for their “street team”, as do many of my friends who I get to see on a regular basis at beer fests and other events, repping other brands. Unfortunately, now our jobs may be in danger. Why would a smaller brewery with less income pay us to do our jobs when Fort Collins Brewery, a much larger company, is getting the labor for free?

Let’s take this out a step further. Why would the consumer pay $6 for your premium beer when they know the person serving it is working for free? Not paying your employees goes as far back as that economic impact study. You are not providing jobs for our community. You are not part of the cash flow through our economy. You are simply taking when you ask for free labor. Taking time, money, and community away from the craft beer industry.

This is my plea to all breweries, not just Fort Collins Brewery, to fairly compensate your employees. Many are highly trained, whether it be Cicerone, the BBI or other fermentation programs. They deserve to be compensated for their time and talents. Spreading the word of your brand for free is YOUR job, not theirs. They have homes to pay for and families to feed, and unfortunately, one cannot live off beer and and t-shirts alone.

 

POST EDIT: I added in some sources, as so many of you have come forward saying I am making this up. It is hard to make up something that I can link directly too (the job description). I would also like to thank the FCB employees (and their SOs) for their harassing emails, prank phone calls and facebook status messages. You see, I did my research and traced your emails and phone numbers so you are not as anonymous as you think you are. My intention was to open up discussion on an issue that is effecting the industry as whole, something you have a huge part in, and you choose to respond in the most inapproriate way possible. Just because we are in the same industry doesn’t mean I have to agree to and bow down to your way of business. Rather than agree to disagree you have chosen to take a sad path and hurt the industry even more with your actions. How are we supposed to say our industry is open and collaborative when you viciously attack at a moments notice?

As far as the mean, hate filled emails from FCB employees (and their SOs), I have received more than double “thank you” emails from industry (and many former FCB employees) for being willing to speak up on this issue and tell someone what they are doing it not right. And it is no secret why these people are afraid to speak up, because doing so gets your head on a steak by immature people unwilling to open lines of discussion, but rather act hatefully and rashly.

 

9 Comments

Filed under Beer News