It’s become an annual San Diego Comicon tradition: HopCon, at Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station. We release W00tstout, have a big old party, and tap a bunch of rare kegs and interesting casks for fans of great beer to enjoy … and the whole thing is a fundraiser for The Hero Initiative!
This year, something special is happening, and I’m turning it over to Mike Palmer to tell you exactly what that is:
Among the über-cool upgrades we have in store for Hop-Con 3.0, we’re taking the giant plot behind building 12 (aka the garden bar) and turning it into the HOP-CADE! Our dream of creating an outdoor arcade and beer garden from last year has been realized. We’ll have only IPAs on tap, our oversized lawn games (Jenga, Connect Four, etc), two pinball machines (Twilight Zone and Theater of Magic), Donkey Kong, Miss Pac-Man and a Skeeball machine. Not enough? How about an arcade game with a 25 foot screen driven from a used beer barrel converted into a vintage arcade console? This last feat will be created by our friend Hunter Bond, Troll Slayer and resident Pinball Mechanic at J!NX, with custom metal routing by San Diego’s ReproHaus. This is all in addition to the five vintages/variations of Stone Farking-Wheaton w00tstout, exclusive beers we brewed with Aisha Tyler and Kevin Eastman, epic food and all-around geeky good times. See you on July 8th!
I think this is pretty great. This year, HopCon is not just for people who love great beer, it’s also for people who love great beer and classic arcade games, which is basically a Venn Diagram describing me.
Tickets are going fast, so if you want in, go get yours today!
Newcastle teamed up with Caledonian Brewery in Scotland to make a Scotch Ale, and they hired me to tell you about it. We made a pair of really funny videos together, and this is one of them. I’m super proud of this, because I helped write it, and got to improvise a lot of the silly bits. I hope you enjoy it.
One of the great joys of my life, the hobby that relaxes me and keeps me sane when the world is threatening to turn me into a pile of goo, is homebrewing my own beer.
I document all of my homebrew adventures at my homebrew blog, the Devils Gate Brewing Company, but this bit of news is so exciting to me, it’s getting its very own post right here on the mothership.
Northern Brewer and I have teamed up with Stone Brewing Company to make an official homebrew version of w00tstout!
This is an official recipe for w00tstout, converted to homebrew specs with the help of Stone Brewing Company’s brewmaster, Mitch Steele. It is released with the blessing of all the collaborators, and I can’t wait to make it myself next week. It’s available in both extract and all-grain kits.
This is a huge beer, and not something I’d recommend for a first time brewer (if you’re looking to get started in homebrewing, you can get your feet wet with my #VandalEyesPA 1-gallon kit).
I was the very particular kind of tired, bordering on exhaustion, where I felt dizzy, disoriented, a little nauseous, and clumsy. It was like being drunk without any of the fun.
I stumbled from my bedroom to my kitchen in the predawn darkness, and somehow made myself a cup of coffee. I stood at the back patio door and watched the glow of the sunrise begin to touch the eastern sky, sipping my mug of wake-up-Wil-it’s-going-to-be-a-long-day juice.
I’m sure normal people get up before dawn every day. I’m sure normal people sleep less than five hours a night all the time. It turns out that I am not a normal person, and after less than ten hours of sleep over the previous 48 hours, as well as back-to-back 18 hour work days, I was a little sideways.
It would all be worth it, though. I was up so early because Anne and I were heading down to San Diego to make a special beer with my friends at Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station.
We drove to Union Station to catch our 6am train. We got there so early, the parking lots hadn’t even opened up yet. That seems like something Amtrak may want to look at.
Once we were in the station, we noticed that it has been vastly improved since we were last there, about a year ago. It’s clean, it’s well lit, and there were a number of good food options that had never been there before.
We found our train, boarded it, and I fell asleep before it even left the station. During the nearly three hour trip, I woke up a couple times when my head did that “fall down onto your chest and wake you up” thing, and when we got to San Diego around 9am, I was delirious and had a sore neck. Awesome.
Our friend Tyler, who works for Stone, picked us up and took us to Liberty Station, where I was introduced to Kris Ketcham, who is the head brewer there. Liberty Station is a little different from the main brewery in Escondido. It’s a smaller, 10 barrel system, and Kris can create and brew beers that are quite different from the things Stone is typically known for releasing. Later this month, we’re having a beer celebration at Liberty Station called Hop Con, and in addition to releasing w00tstout 2.0 there, we’re also releasing three special collaboration beers that Kris made with Rileah Vanderbilt, Bobak Ferdowsi, and me. I can’t say with Rileah and Bobak made, but I made a white sage IPA, inspired by Craftsman Brewing’s legendary Triple White Sage.
While Kris prepared some of the things we’d be using, I drank approximately sixty-one gallons of coffee, and ate a little breakfast. The caffeine, food energy, and overwhelming excitement I felt about brewing gave me access to an energy reserve that I didn’t know I had, and I didn’t feel even a little bit tired, once we started milling our grains.
When I’ve brewed at the Escondido brewhouse, it’s been really fun, and brewing on such a large scale is vastly different from what I do when I make beer at my house. I’m not as intimately involved, because I don’t need to be; computers and the equipment handle most of the work. But at Liberty Station, we worked on a 10 barrel system (that’s about 3500 bottles of beer if I did the math right) that was much more like epic level homebrewing.
Kris and I hauled something like sixteen 55 pound sacks of grain up some stairs and poured them into the mill so we could mash them. Then we collected all the various hops we’d be using, and weighed them out by hand. Finally, while we were mashing in (adding hot water and milled grains to the mash tun, where we turn water and grains into beer wort), I got to use a giant mash paddle to stir it all around. One of the things I love about brewing is how little the process has changed in hundreds of years, and I genuinely loved standing over a big kettle, stirring water and grains the same way a brewmaster would have in the eighteenth century. I was also grateful to not have to worry about that century’s infectious diseases.
Over the course of the day, I made beer with Kris exactly the same way I make beer by myself or with friends on my patio, but instead of making 5 gallons of beer, I made several hundred gallons of beer. The experience was really awesome, even though it was physically tiring to move so much heavy equipment and ingredients around.
When we were done cleaning up everything, we sat outside and had a celebratory beer with a light dinner. About halfway through our meal, my lack of sleep and days of intense work caught up with me, and I felt like I was going to fall asleep at the table. Kris drove us back to the train station, and I again fell asleep before the train even began to move.
I’m very lucky that I get to do the things that I do, and I’m grateful that all the hard work I’ve put into my life allows me to do these super fun and awesome things.
I’m super excited to announce this today, because it’s one of those things that’s been in the works for almost a year, but I had to keep secret.
I’ve partnered with Northern Brewer to design and release some homebrew recipe kits this year (and hopefully beyond, if people like them enough). I don’t get into business partnerships with just anyone, but I’ve been a fan and customer of Northern Brewer for almost two years, and I am delighted to partner with them because they have high quality ingredients, incredible customer service, and genuinely love the homebrewing community.
Some of the marketing language in the announcement is a little much (I don’t think I’m a master brewer, yet), but I love how excited and enthusiastic everyone at Northern Brewer is to work together with me.
Our first kit is the #VandalEyesPA that I designed for my wife, about a year ago. It’s a big IPA with lots of hops aroma, but a big caramel malt backbone to balance it out. Think of it as an IPA that drinks like a double IPA, I guess. It’s available in extract and all-grain versions.
As the year goes on, I’ll release more kits. I’m thinking about doing a sage saison, a coffee stout, a nice pale ale, and maybe a #w00tstout clone.
I’ll be blogging about my homebrewing adventures at devilsgatebrewing.com, and when you make these for yourself, you can even check in on Untappd because I’ve been entering Devil’s Gate brews there since I started almost three years ago.
Attention Pasadena and surrounding villages! Tonight, I’m joining my friend Greg Koch for a special tap takeover at the Stone Company Store!
We’re pouring a bunch of very special and rare Stone beers (2004 Double Bastard, anyone? How about the 03.03.03 Vertical Epic?) including our very own Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout. I’m going to get behind the bar and pour beers, and I’ll probably drink some beers, too.
It’s going to be a whole lot of fun, it’s going to benefit the Pasadena Humane Society, and Anne’s going to be there with some of our 2014 celebrity pet adoption calendars for sale and autographing.
We’re doing our thing from 6-8pm tonight at 220 South Raymond. You can take the Gold Line to the Del Mar station, or if you’ve wanted an excuse to use Uber, they’ll give new customers $20 off your ride if you use the code “PHS” when you sign up.
I made really yummy squash on the barbecue/smoker tonight. Here’s how:
Get whatever summer squash you like. I love zucchini and the yellow squashes that sort of hook at the top and if you try to talk to them they look at you like you’re stupid because squash can’t talk, you idiot.
I wash them, then cut them more or less in half. I take each half and slice it, longwise, into four pieces. I pretend I can’t hear the horrible screams from the yellow squash when I do that.
Then I put them all in a shallow bowl or something, and toss them in a very tiny bit of olive oil. You can try tossing them in wimpy, but you won’t get them back until Tuesday, and by then you probably don’t want them.
Now the spices. This part is more art than science, so just use your best judgement and be careful not to overdo it.
I use some black pepper, pink Himalayan salt, and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning, which is a grinder with mustard seed, coriander, sea salt, onion, garlic, paprika, and chili pepper. Grind all that stuff up together, and then toss it over your squash. When the yellow squash makes weird porny noises, just ignore it, unless you’re into that thing. Wash your hands when you’re finished, weirdo.
Spread the veggies all out on either the grill, or one of those veggie basket things. The important thing is that each piece of squash is touching the grill with its skin, so its seeds are looking back at you like “you monster we were going to be more plants!”
You want this to be over VERY HIGH HEAT initially, for about 4 or 5 minutes. After that, you can move them to another part of the grill for a little bit while the coals settle down. What you’re trying to do is get some of the skin to heat up a whole bunch and get blackened.
Let them sit on the grill for another few minutes, then turn them all over so the seeds are like wait this is much worse now we’re staring into the “fiery fires of the barbecue and oh god it is burning us into deliciousness!”
If you have wood chips (I use mesquite) throw them onto the coals now, and let the fires leap up and kiss the squash. Play some Barry White if it helps. After a minute — and no longer than a minute — close the lid of your barbecue, so it fills up with smoke. Now you’re going to smoke the squash for about six or seven or eight or whatever minutes. Play some Grateful Dead or Phish if it’ll get them into the mood.
Take the squash off the barbecue and give it a couple minutes to cool, because HOLY FUCK WILL IT BURN THE EVERLOVINGSHITCOCK OUT OF YOUR MOUTH IF YOU DON’T, which is how it gets its revenge on you.
Some people like the squash to be crunchy. I don’t, and I won’t judge those clearly insane people. If you know one of those mentally-challenged people, just have them reduce all the times by a minute or two, and then secretly laugh at them while you enjoy your cooked-to-perfection barbecued summer squash.
I realized this morning that I didn’t have any oranges or orange juice to make my world famous (inside my house) port wine cranberry sauce to go with dinner tonight, so I grabbed a bag and prepared to walk up to the grocery store.
“I need you to get blah blah blah blah blah,” Ryan said.
“I have no idea what you just said, so write me a list,” I said. Ryan tore a page out of his notebook and started writing things down on it.
Anne came out of our bedroom, and asked me where I was going.
“I need some things from the store,” I said, “so I’m walking up there to get them.”
“How about we walk Seamus and Marlowe up there? They can use the exercise, and then they’ll be calm for the rest of the day.”
I thought that was a fine idea, a fine, fine idea, Stuart, and I said as much. I went to the closet to get their leashes and harnesses. I imagine that the following went through their minds:
Seamus: THE DOOR TO THE CLOSET IS OPEN! A WALK IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW AND WE ARE ON IT!
Seamus and Marlowe ran to the closet, and showed their excitement to get at what’s inside the closet by making it impossible for me to open the closet. You know, like dogs do. This is when Riley realized what was going on.
Riley: OH SWEET DOGGIE JESUS A WALK IS HAPPENING AND WHEN I GO ON A WALK I GET TO SMELL THINGS AND SOMETIMES POOP ON A YARD AND THEN THERE’S A BIRD AND I BARK AT IT AND IT FLIES AWAY BUT I KNOW THAT I COULD CATCH IT IF I REALLY WANTED TO BUT I DON’T WANT TO BECAUSE ANOTHER DOG PEED ON THIS BUSH AND I HAVE TO ALSO PEE HERE BECAUSE OH MY GOD IS THAT A DOG IN THAT WINDOW? BARK BARK BARKBARKBARK!
Seamus: Welcome to, like, an hour ago in dog time, Riley.
So I found myself surrounded by three very excited dogs who were determined to show exactly how much they can jump and bark and generally turn my nice, quiet living room into a maelstrom of fur and jumping.
It took a minute or so (an eternity in “I-am-ready-to-go-on-a-walk” dog time) to get them all leashed up and ready to go.
“Okay, so you guys need to walk Riley,” I said to Ryan and Nolan, “because she can’t make it all the way to the store and back. Also there is no way the two of us can handle three dogs plus a bag of groceries on the way back.”
You’ll note that it never occurred to me to drive to the store, because it’s a gorgeous day here and walking places is usually better than not walking places, for distances under 5 miles.
Anne and I headed up to the store, and the kids took Riley around the block. About ten minutes into the walk, I realized that I’d forgotten my phone and Ryan’s list.
“Ryan wanted me to get things and I forgot the list,” I said.
“Call him,” Anne suggested.
“I also forgot my phone,” I said. We looked at each other. Seamus growled at something that only he could see. Marlowe wagged her tail so fast I briefly wondered how wagging dog tails could be employed to power small villages in the developing world.
“You’re on fire this morning,” Anne said.
“Yeah, I know. I’m awesome.”
We got to the store. Anne told me she needed mayonaise to make the wasabi deviled eggs, and waited with the dogs while I got the things I needed. That’s when I discovered that there is pretty much a wall of mayonaise options in our grocery store, in amounts ranging from “I need a little mayonaise” to “GORGE MYSELF ON GALLONS AND GALLONS OF DISGUSTING STUFF MADE FROM EGGS AND OIL AND SHAME.”
I completed my purchases, in the process reaffirming my superpower of wrecking whatever line I’m in simply by the act of choosing it: I got behind two guys who had two things: Pedialyte and Tums (clearly recovering from a hangover). Instead of it taking them less time to pay for them than it’s taken me to write this paragraph like it should have, they paid with a combination of dollar bills, grimy handfulls of change, a little bit on a debit card … and then remembered that they really needed cigarettes so the whole thing started over. Then we got to wait for the cigarettes to show up from wherever they keep them locked up in the store.
I met Anne and our dogs outside the store, and we began the walk home. Seamus and Marlowe were very excited to see children out with their parents, squirrels everywhere, and something on a yard that couldn’t be seen, but required enthusiastic rolling around and grunting to fully appreciate.
We got home, and Ryan met us at the door.
“You didn’t take my list!” He said.
“I know, I was distracted by dogmageddon when we were trying to leave.”
“I tried to call you and your phone just rang and rang!”
“That’s because it was left on the kitchen counter. Didn’t it raise any suspicions when you called my phone and then something playing my Doctor Who ringtone made noise in the house while I wasn’t picking up?”
That’s when I saw his list, which made me laugh so much, I wrote almost a thousand words just to introduce it on my blog:
I am always thankful for my life and the people who are in it, especially my family. This morning’s walk to the market is just one small reason why.