Thursday, December 22, 2011

MAXED OUT: Riehm Family Values Tour


Max and the Riehm clan Occupy Stone Brewery:

Sup chillins, how goes it? I know we are all deep in the holidays and you all have last minute Christmas shopping to do so I thank you for taking the time to join me on this, the second to last post of the year. I'm going to keep you all in anxious anticipation of my final submission of the BEST BEERS OF ALL TIME one more week, but let me just tease you a bit more. I just tried it again. Wow! But this week I'm here to talk about one of my favorite traditions that I have so humbly been invited to the past couple years: The Riehm Family Values Tour!

The past couple of years the Riehm brothers have gotten together at Stone Brew Co. up in Escondido in the middle of December with sons, nephews, friends, and, yes, last year an appearance by Papa Riehm, himself. I have infiltrated their family with my beer knowledge and unbridled charisma, and have been lucky enough to have been invited both years. This year Uncle Dean, Kent, B-Daddy, Nate, Orange County's Own Flying Tomato, Chris, Mr. Baugh, Toey, Justin and yours truly all made a man-date, crushed beers, grubbed on some deliciousness, some took a tour, and all had a great time (except for maybe Nate who was forced to Tebow several times throughout the afternoon.)

This is NOT a Stone bash. I'd like to start this next paragraph off by stating this emphatically. But now I am going to bash Stone. I've said it before and I'll say it again: $14.50 for Mac-n-Queso? You must be high! $15 for a BBQ Pork Sammy that barely has any BBQ, and the pork is dry? Shame on me. Duck Tacos where the meat could have just as easily have been chicken? Poo poo on you, Stone! I am grateful for the contributions that Stone has given to the community up there in Escondido but they are gougers. I just hope that when they open their brewery in Germany in a couple of years they don't destroy a schnitzel and charge 30 euros. That would look bad for all of us.

Their tap list was pretty good, not great. Oh, and once again they failed to offer any good Stone beers. Why is it that every time I go to the Stone Brewery I find myself drinking beers from every other brewery than Stone? That's like going to Alesmith and drinking a Pliny the Elder! Someone shoot me, now. No. Seriously. Shoot me.
Highlight: St. Bernardus Noel. St. Bernardus is a Belgian brewery and as with most Belgian breweries they call their winter beer a Noel.

After our time at the brewery Dean-o, Mr. Baugh, The Flying Tomato and I met up with a couple of our friends, Loren "Happy Hanukah"
Brent, and Cute Kimi at Churchill's up in San Marcos. This is known as one of the better beer bars in Southern California, and with their 50 taps, wasn't terrible. But I have to admit that I was expecting much more. I didn't find a single beer up there that I can't get at Toronado, and few that I can't get at my own bar, Hoffer's. Typically mediocre English style pub fare. The one highlight at Churchill's was the fooseball table! Yes. I am good at fooseball, and am glad that I played against Mr. Baugh before betting. He was ready to lay money down that he could beat me before we even played. Let's just say that first to 5 goals came quickly, and he wasn't the one to score 5 goals.
Not never. Now way. No how. Like I said, I'm good.

But all-in-all this is a tradition that I have been looking forward to since the last one. It was a bummer that younger brother Matty, bro-in-law Mark, and Papa Riehm couldn't make it out, but they had prior obligations, and hopefully they can make it to the next one.
Also missed Wayne and Jesse, but they were in Hawaii, so screw them.
I kid (kinda.)

A quick side note: It is the Christmas season which means Christmas beers are out there. They tend to have strong spices and woody (oak) characteristics. Belgian Noels will be sweeter, and typically higher in ABV. Notable XMAS BEERS! As mentioned before, the St. Bernardus Noel is great. As is the Delirium Noel. For American breweries I recommend looking for the Anchor Christmas. Also Winter's Folly by Green Flash is a slight change-up to the Christmas style, as it does what Green Flash does and throws a hoppy element to a Christmas beer, which I had never seen before.

Ok, I'm done. Join me next week when I round out my TOP TEN BEST BEERS OF AAAAAAALLLL TIIIIIIIMMEEEE!!!!!

Until next time my beer loving brethren, have a beer for me.

(ed. Note: We'll be perfectly honest: given our position as editor-in-chief of this blog, we have no idea what beer will be unveiled by Max next Thursday... And, yes, our love/hate relationship with the Stone brand continues: pretty mediocre tap line-up considering the Escondido locale is the mothership of the Stone empire and the prices they charge for their middling boutique-y fare is kind of a joke. So, why do we keep going back? Probably for similar reasons why we keep tuning in to ESPN. As much heartache as we have for a lot of their editorial slants and on-air talent, they're easy, accessible and we know what we're getting. There's something to be said for known quantities. Fancy that: Stone is the comfort food of the microbrew universe. Heh.)


MBaugh said...

Great article Max. Just so we are clear, I have never put money on pub games, I like to play for fun only. I was goofing around with you my friend. - Michael

SarahB said...

Thank you for spending your hard earned disposable income in Escondido. Especially since you know I share your frustration with the chow at Stone. Bread Pudding made from croissants tastes like sugary leather.

Breweries and arty food just comes across as winery envy.

There aren't a lot of great places to eat in Esco, but if you ever find yourself stranded there again, let me know, I'll send you in the direction of a really amazing pizza (with North County breweries on tap).

mike atkinson said...

sounds like good times. checked out el cajon brewery yet? much better food than stone. and great handles.

have a happy christmas, my friend. will see you next week at the hoff...

Dean said...

Mike, I went there on opening night and was completely underwhelmed.

Maybe it was just the opening night blues but the fare was pretty lousy and their own beer was very mediocre. Thank goodness they had other breweries handles on.

Maybe they'll get their act together down the road. After receiving $850,000 in grants and loans from the city of El Cajon, they had better get it right.

B-Daddy said...

Max, just sampled the Cocoa Chipotle Black Marlin at Ballast Point's sampling room on Linda Vista Rd. It's an amazing brew that you need to try. Unfortunately, no growlers today.

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