Our first month has come and went. As we softly opened on the 23rd, and July 23rd rolled around, it hit me that we'd accomplished a full month of what we set out to do, and I wasn't prepared. We had a quick short of ... I can't remember which draft, and went on with our usual 18 hour day... Now, Monday night or Tuesday morning, depending on whether or not you live by the clock, or by a sleepytime to sleepytime schedule, I've finally had a moment to reflect on exactly what it is we've managed to accomplish, what we've learned, and what we're going to do in the future.
I've learned that three back-to-back double shifts bumping us to over 80 hours a week are more than mere mortals can handle. Even though my blood contains about 30% caffeine at any given moment, and my shoes are fairly comfy, I'm snarking a bit with our hours so we can sleep, which is something I vaguely remember having to do with feather filled rectangles, or bears or acorns or something.
On the beer front, I have some newbies going on the list such as the venerable Fullers ESB which isn't particularly bitter, as with most bitters. I suppose a dry wine is fairly wet as well, so I should stop complaining. In addition, I've gotten some He'Brew Origin Pomegranate ale, which is basically a very balanced IPA with something in the background that turns out to be pomegranates if you think about it really hard, or look at the label which has the word "pomegranate" on it. Also, I have Tetley's English ale, which is a nitrogen can filled with a perfect pub ale, perfect for, you know, drinking and stuff. Hair of the Dog brewing is being a pain in my pomegranate, so no more blue dot for a while, and Maine's blueberry is out as well for not restocking. I've changed out Lagunitas IPA for the Lucky 13, which is their premium IPA, which means it's better. Whenever something is premium it's better. Ever had an off brand saltine? Then you know where I'm coming from. Which is here at my laptop at 1:30am.
I'd also like to point out that Mirjam has been kicking butt back in the kitchen. If you've eaten a good burger at BH Tav, there's a strong possibility it was made by her. Yeah, I said BH Tav. It's what ALL the kids are calling Barley and Hops Tavern. They're all "Yo, Troy, let's hit BH Tav, they have hella good pub grub", and then Troy is all "ok, that sounds delightful". And then I'm all "Welcome to Barley and Hops" and then they go "you mean... BH Tav!" and then we all laugh.
Oh, and so this band called "sound connection band" was in town. I'm not sure what a sound connection is, but apparently it involves a good-sized group of some of the most fun people I've ever met. It was one of those things where it made me cool to be around them. Earle did kill my keg of Rat Bastard, though. Thanks a lot Earle. He's the guy in the picture who looks like he killed a third of a keg of Rat Bastard pale ale.
Also, I'll be brewing a batch of beer soon. It's a bit of a secret project at the moment, so I won't go into details yet.
Starting a small Tavern in rural Northern California. Barley and Hops Tavern catalogs the trials and tribulations of the restaurant biz, and teaching wine country to love beer.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The recap of our grandest of openings had been further delayed due to certain relatives holding the photos cataloging this momentous occasion hostage. You see, in order to simultaneously pour 5-6 pints of beer like a sort of demented octopus, I ran out of appropriate appendages for camera operation. Luckily, family members, and a certain server documented the occasion with a camera of her own- but neither have provided me with photographic evidence, backing up my assertion that we were, indeed, slammin'.
For all YOU, my audience knows, Barley and Hops Tavern had not a creature stirring (not even a mouse...)
Alas, the opposite was true.
First, our friends, the A's showed up. The A's, Aaron and Amy, are married couple; a team of sorts. A Team. A-Team. See where I went with that? Yeah, the A-Team showed up. Let me tell you something about the A's - they are always there for the long haul.
Once, my lovely wife and myself went to Treasure Island for a music festival with the A's. For those of you from somewhere other than the greater San Francisco area, Treasure Island is an artificial island right smack in the middle of the Bay Bridge, and was built sometime in the 30's to commemorate the building of the Bay and Golden Gate bridge. But my point is that I'm not a big Heineken fan. You see, as much as we love music festivals, Aaron and myself, and the girls, really enjoy a fine sudsy beer. However, even after checking booth after booth, stand after stand, and tent after tent- the obvious became apparent: this was sponsored by Heineken, and if we wanted a beer, well gosh damn it, it would be a snarking Heineken. So we had a few dozen and stuck with it, all the way through the show, even though Heineken is the Budweiser of the Netherlands (which is, in turn, the Holland of Europe).
So the A's planted their respective asses on our extraordinarily comfy barstools and stayed for about 90 or so of our finest beers, from the early afternoon, until whatever time it was when we got home, which was some hour that we didn't realize clocks had, as we'd never been awake for it before. They stuck with it, which I suppose makes us a bit like Heineken, but with more hops.
In addition, my family and extended family came to wish us well, eat our food, and leave large tips. Dad is a musician. His name is Andy T, and I can only guess the T stands for turnip or maybe torque converter. He brought Howard, the bass player and my server, Rachel- her brother flew out to play the drum kit, which I supplied. I also sat in for a song and sucked. It was awesome, and by awesome, I mean rad.
The thing is, I really thought I had a lot of pub glasses. Mountains of them sit behind the draft faucets, waiting to be filled with beer and cider - but I ran out. Ohhh boy did I ever run out. I ran out to the point where I was pouring people beers in two little tiny short beers equaling one pint. I was expecting a crowd, but I wasn't expecting a mass of people filling my restaurant, filling the deck, wrapping down the stairs, and into the parking lot. And they all wanted beer. Except that some wanted wine. I did not have enough white wine, even though I had about a dozen bottles, and was pouring by the glass, it was not enough for the opening, which caused this review.
Afterward, we lay in bed staring at the ceiling, basking in what it was that we wrought with our own hands.
Monday, July 07, 2008
The post was going to be simple, a recap of our opening- the band bringing the house down, my landlord cutting the rug - line of people wrapping from inside the building, filling the deck, down the stairs, and into the parking lot. My parents and relatives flying from around the country to be there for support, our best friends driving up and spending all day at the bar. Completely running out of pint glasses, and having to sell beer in two short glasses. Selling out of most of the food in our kitchen.
I will do all of this in great detail, with usual festoonery, frills and embellishment.
But yesterday, something very special happened, which really defines and affirms why we got into this business.
A young couple from Finland walked in, and I instantly knew they were from northern Europe. He had a Rat Bastard, and she had a cider. Hearing "Rat Bastard" with a Finnish accent is a peculiar pleasure which I imagine won't come along again for a time. They shared an Occidental - our popular cheeseburger, which they really enjoyed and then came out into the bar. I decided to sit down and have a chat with them, and the hours slipped by, past closing, as we moved from Rat Bastard (a beer from the superb Stumptown brewpub, about 20 minutes away) to Oaked Arrogant Bastard, a very strong beer from Stone brewing.
We learned that Finland is a country which is a European melting pot of sorts, due to the various rule and occupations throughout the years, by Russia, Sweden, and others. We learned that the sauna is, in fact, a big part of Finish life, and that nudity is far less taboo, though not always to the benefit of the onlookers. We learned that they suffer from the same macrobrew shortfalls, yet good microbrew culture which an American will probably never get to sample. We learned that reindeer tastes game-y and has little fat, that heavy metal is popular, and that English is learned early on. We found out that it would be extraordinarily unusual for a bartender in Finland to converse with customers, and that religion and wages are taboo subjects, even among close friends.
What we learned is fascinating, but the idea that four people from opposite ends of the earth can sit down, crack an exceptional beer (or 5), and laugh, joke, talk, and learn really makes the world seem a bit smaller. Craft beer isn't just about the Barley and Hops. It's about the passion for life, and learning what all is out there. The restaurant will do well, the opening was phenomenal, and I will properly recap it - but this was the night before we'd finally get sleep (I slept 12 hours and woke up this morning) yet we stayed late to hang our with our friends which turned out to be quite a lot like us.