Monday, 30 March 2009

Palm Springs 2009

Last week I was in Palm Springs for what seems to be an annual pilgrimage, apart from last year when I was between jobs. I won't bore you with details (unless you're a big fan of ESRI's ArcGIS family of software). As far as beer highlights go, well, I managed to try a couple of beers I hadn't had before, including a Rogue Dry Hopped Red whilst visiting the Yardhouse in Rancho Mirage. A dark amber with a slight haze, this gave off the classic American C-hop aroma with slight fruity undertones. But yeah, the hops are dominant, with a grapefruity, very dry finish (no pun intended). It's hard to get past the hops on this one, but there's a slight roastiness and a toffee base. Did I mention it had a dry finish? Not quite what I needed after getting sand-blasted out in the desert, but an interesting pint.

Another night I returned to The Village Pub (yes, I know, classy) where I first tried New Belgium's Fat Tyre a couple of years ago. With a lovely toffee-malt base and a fine hop edges, this hit the spot. Unfortunately although the Village had an interesting beer list, they had sod all in stock, so the poor server was going back and forward and coming back empty handed after my orders for Stone Arrogant Bastard and IPA. I had to settle for a Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, which impressed my colleagues no end, although one thought it tasted like liquidised tyres. I quite liked it.

Later that same evening we popped off to a bar, J Dee's Landing, where a company band was playing for the night. A bit of a hole, but absolutely crammed, the beer selection wasn't up to much. Starting with a Fat Tyre, it was a million miles away from the flavour of the one we had at the Village Pub. This was muck, as if all traces of hop had been removed and the whole thing was stale. Redemption of sorts came in the form of some Firestone Pale Ale. Big citric hop action on a grainy malt base, it was certainly better than the Bug, Bud Light, Coors Light, Corona, Corona Light etc... that was on offer.

Speaking of which, the most fun was slowly converting my colleagues to drinking Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at the hotel bar. A few die-hards stuck to Corona with a wedge of lime for the whole week, and the converts would roll their eyes every time an order was placed. Yay! I'm turning them into beer snobs! The bravest soul had to be Markus, and I have photos of him with each new beer he tried. He remarked that the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale smelled a bit like Klostein, as in, toilet blocks. This gradually morphed into Klosteiner, so that's what SNPA is now known as. Indeed, anything with the big citric hop aromas is now being referred to Klostein. I will name my next homebrewed pale ale Klosteiner in his honour. The funny thing is, he liked it! He's not too brave though, as he's not signing up for the Rauchbier tasting I'm running next Wednesday. But I digress...

A real beer highlight was having a few bottles from a brewery truely local to ESRI's head office in Redlands, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery. A group of us went along to have a meal in Redlands with a colleague who moved there last year, and six packs of their Orange Wheat and Pale Ale were produced. The Orange Wheat was just the right thing after a hot day. Somewhere between a German weissbier and a Belgian Wit, it had a little bit of a bite under a slightly bubblegum, banana front end. The real surprise is when the bottle is swished, the yeast kicked up, and a fresh orange flavour released. Very subtle and quite tasty. Their Pale Ale has the expected citric, grapefruity hoppiness (yes, Klosteiner was mentioned) but I found it had a more pronounced, grainy malt base than most American pale ales. It gave it a little more foundation and, although I wasn't sure the combination worked 100%, it's a fine beer. I was really glad to have something so local, as it seems like it's only available in a few bars and restaurants in Redlands, and the oranges used in the Orange Wheat are also local, Redlands being famous for it's old orange groves as well as it's quality GIS software.

Now I have San Diego to look forward to in July. I reckon I'll be getting some Stone beers in there!

Photos may be added later, as I kept forgetting my camera. I'm a bad tourist...


E.S. Delia said...

Love the Klosteiner reference! I almost want to lift that in some form or another for a homebrew in the future.

As for your trip, the funny thing is you're here tasting American beers that some snobs here would scoff at (but are still worthy of praise in my opinion - i.e. SNPA). It's good to get the perspective of someone from the outside, like seeing the same beer with fresh eyes, if you will. A reminder to all the too-cool-for-school geeks in the audience.

And, for geography's sake, tell me you didn't have to come all the way to the States to try Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout... (also another good one, by the way!)

Barry M said...

Ya know, I'm not too worried about whether I'm drinking the cool beers, although if I could, I would have gone for more beers I hadn't had before (I had 5 new ones this trip). The Hangar 24 beers made me especially happy in that regard. For me it's about trying new tastes myself (and my colleagues this time), so I tend not to look at BA or Ratebeer except in rare occasions, and usually to check details like the brewery name, or places to go.

As far as I'm concerned, SNPA is a bit of a classic, at least coming from an Irish perspective, where it was one of the first commonly available APAs there. As for the rest, well, Palm Springs isn't precisely an oasis in the beer desert :D

Which also partly explains the falling back to the Oatmeal Stout after other options were exhausted. But bear in mind that as I currently live in Germany, where it's almost impossible to get non-German beers, yes, I did have to go thousands of miles to get it! And actually, I hadn't had it before. Never saw it in Ireland either.

Of course, I'm off to Brussles on Thursday again, where I picked up a few bottles of Westvleteren a couple of weeks ago. Take that too-cool-for-school geeks! I bet I won't like them. :D

Unknown said...

Probably going out to Palm Springs soon-ish. Any local brewers out there? Or is it too hot?

Barry M said...

Hi Pat,

As far as I am aware, there are no actual breweries in Palm Springs itself. The Village Pub does sell an "own brand" beer called the Village Idiot, but I doubt it's brewed on the premises. It's a nice place, but quiet...

There's certainly lots of breweries in CA, so if you're travelling you could look at