Greetings beer lovers. I must apologize for not posting a newsletter sooner – I know, I always say that. I need to get off my dead butt and produce more than I have been the last year or so. I beg your indulgence, and please forgive.
My last newsletter was almost 5 months ago, and a lot has happened since then, so I will attempt to bring you up to speed as quickly as possible. Here is what has been going on at Mac’s Brew since the last newsletter. Please read responsibly!
In February I went to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, CA, for our annual Pliny the Younger trek. On the way up to Santa Rosa (it’s 500 miles), we stopped for the night in Paso Robles. That afternoon Sheila and I went to Barrel House Brewing for beer tasting, then drove about 2 miles over to the Firestone Walker Brewery/Taproom/Restaurant, for dinner and more beer. If you ever have occasion to go through Paso Robles, you really need to visit these two breweries.
Now on to Santa Rosa . . . last year I went with my Dad, then met Uncle Kevin and my cousin, Jordan Schiller, at Russian River Brewing (refer to my newsletter of February 18, 2018 for details). This year, we had a party of 12: Mac, Bob, Sheila, Mike, Deb, Kevin, Steve, Jordan, Bryce, Ryan, Scott, and Ryan). It was absolutely a riot! We learned from last year about how to get in with the first wave of seekers, so we got in line at about 10:15 AM and were seated before 11:00 AM when they open (I think they wanted to impress the legendary Mac).
With a party of 12, one might think it would be difficult to get a table. Au Contraire!! We were given the table of honor – on the stage, under the PTY sign (see photo; again, this could be because of Mac’s reputation). They treated us like royalty, and the Pliny flowed!! Here are the details . . .
Bob, Sheila, Mac, Mike and Deb met for breakfast at a The Parish Café (a New Orleans style restaurant a couple of doors down from RR) at 9:00 AM (yes, we had beignets!!) and were in line at Russian River by 10:00 AM. The rest of our party joined us within a few minutes, and we were seated at about 10:50 AM. My sister, DEB, is not a beer drinker, but could not resist the mystique of PTY, so she joined us for the day (more on how that worked out in the next paragraph). My good friend and sometime brewing partner, Bryce Lowrance, also joined us with three of his friends (Ryan, Scott, and Ryan, aka, Rone). Uncle Kevin came from Seattle, his good friend, Steve, came all the way from Santa Rosa, and my cousin, Jordan, came from San Francisco. This was a memorable day with a fun group.
The food was good, and the Pliny the Younger was GREAT!! Now, about my sister, Deb. She does not drink beer, but wanted to participate . . . [Here is how the PTY thing works: when you get into the pub, they give you a wrist band with three tabs – you are allowed to have 3 x 10 oz. pours of PTY. The server takes a tab from your wristband each time a PTY is ordered.] Deb ordered her first (and only) PTY along with everyone else at our table. When it was delivered, she drank a few sips but couldn’t take any more (as I previously stated, she’s not a beer drinker, and PTY is not a novice beer). SOOOOOO, her husband (my brother-in-law), Mike, drank the rest of her PTY. During the course of the event, he also drank his own allotment of three PTY’s, plus Deb’s allotment of PTY. That means he drank about 5 ½ PTY’s that day. He then complained that someone was stealing his PTY and consuming it while he wasn’t looking. Nice try, Mike, but that’s not working here! NOW, I say all that to say this, Mike had (almost) twice as much PTY as anybody else at our table, but claimed that he only had about ½ as much. You’re killing me MIKE!! Oh, and even though Deb doesn’t drink beer (and didn’t like PTY), she had a sour ale that she enjoyed (Supplication). Cheers, Deb!
We ate lunch at Russian River Brewing while we drank our PTY and then we all went over to Cooperage Brewing a couple of miles away. The beer at Cooperage was also quite good. We spent about an hour there (I had a flight) then called it a day.
The quest for Pliny the Younger was quite involved – a long drive, waiting lines and coordinating our party to get everyone in line at the same time. But it was well worth the effort, and I plan to repeat this next year.
The opening of the Russian River facility in Windsor seemed to have a very positive impact on the event. The lines definitely seemed shorter. I do believe that going mid-week and arriving before the pub opens also helps to speed up the wait times. I considered going to the Windsor location to get The Younger, but decided against it after consulting with Kevin McCaffrey (we were both on the same page on this one, and the decision was an easy one). Good call, Kevin!
After saying goodbye to Santa Rosa, Sheila and I went to Pacific Grove for a few days, where we were joined by Mom and Dad. On Saturday February 9, Dad and I went on a little brewery tour in Monterey while Sheila and Mom shopped. We visited Fieldwork Brewing and Alvarado Street Brewing where we had flights of delicious beer. The taproom at Fieldwork is outdoors, and we got a bit of rain that morning; fortunately we had a table that was sheltered, so we managed to stay dry while we drank our beer. Due to the rain and the limited seating under cover, we were joined at our table by a delightful young couple from San Carlos, Nick and Stephanie Fustar. [Nick, and/or Stephanie, if you are reading this newsletter, you have a standing invitation to join me at Mac’s Brew Pub for free beer any time!]
After the rain let up, we walked to Alvarado Street Brewing, a popular brewpub just down the street. We enjoyed some appetizers and a flight of Alvarado Street beers, and then drove back to Pacific Grove. Yes, Dad and I missed out on a Saturday full of shopping with the women, but a few fine beers assuaged our disappointment.
After Pacific Grove, our next stop was Cambria. If you have ever travelled to the Central Coast area of California, then you know that Firestone Walker beer is ubiquitous and plentiful. It’s no different in Cambria, but we also found lots of other good beer in town. Dad and I went to the 927 Beer Company, a nano brewery and taproom. The Robust Porter and the Oatmeal Stout were very good. The West End Bar and Grill is always on our agenda when we go to Cambria – they have about 15 beers on tap, and their Halibut Fish and Chips are delicious. On the East end, the Cambria Pub and Steakhouse is the place to go for beer. They have a nice selection of local beers (including offerings from Firestone Walker and Barrel House Brewing) and reasonable prices.
After Cambria, vacation was over and so we returned home to regular life at Mac’s Brew Pub (but not for long – see details in the upcoming newsletter of our Belgium/Netherlands vacation in early April). I did a lot of brewing this spring, and I will provide details in the next newsletter, but this one is already too long, so I’m signing off before you lose interest. I promise to get the next newsletter out within a few short weeks, so stay tuned.