Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brew Tour: New Belgium, Ft. Collins, CO

A perk of learning to bartend at the Fort Collins School of Bartending is that we end up in Fort Collins, and our instructor offers a bit of insider advice about the craft beer and liqour markets of the Front Range. One such tip? Try to get in on the last New Belgium Brewery Tour of Friday - it's the bees knees!

So, we attended our final bartending course and then made our way to New Belgium where we threw our names onto the waiting list, ordered a couple sour ales (La Folie, specifically) and soaked up some sun on the outdoor patio, fingers-crossed that we'd make it on to the tour route. Low and behold, the brew-gods were looking down on us with mercy and we made it into the tour, and oh-what-a-tour it was!

Multiple stops are included along the path so that guides can explain the brewing process, the breweries histoy, stats, etc. More importantly, each stop includes a fresh pour of a fine New Belgium brew. By the time the tour came to a close we'd confirmed our love for this breweries products and discovered new loves for Trans-Antlantique Kriek (sour cherry ale) and Rampant (imperial IPA). We were impressed with the true depth and extent of New Belgiums commitment to sustainability and the pioneering role they have taken in such endeavors.
Prior to finishing the tour and having an opportunity to order a few more specialty brews (namely a S'more Porter that was literally made of dreams and perfection), tour participants are lead to the tightest little twirly slide so that any actual trade-secrets which may have been revealed will be launched from your memories and leave one feeling ridiculously giddy.

So, how exactly does a beer-loving couple follow up such an experience? Obviously by getting a hold of Fort Collins based friends, eating a monster burrito, trying more local brews, meeting up at a funky bicycle/coffee/bar establishment and enjoying more beer and a lemon-grass cider - it's all quite clear, if only you think about it!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Favorite Pup Moments: Winter 2013 #tbt4tht

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The winter with the pup has been a lot of couch cuddling and reading, dog-sitting and attempting to make Lady Annyeong become friendly toward other dogs, road-trips, family time including hanging out and attempting to share space with all the family dogs and even watching Lady get a bit active with some dog toys, which is not at all normal for this sassy pup.

After her initial distaste for Wyoming winters, she's come around and now happily makes her way into the bitter cold for her morning and afternoon walks, but don't let that fool you into thinking she LOVES winter, she just tolerates it and would always choose to curl up in a sunny spot on the carpet rather than expose herself to the elements for a long period of time.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Bubble 2-3-cut: Bartending School


When deciding to purchase a business that has a strong bartending component, Mike and Melissa recognized a whole in their knowledge set. While they knew plenty about good food and were well-versed in craft beer, they were lacking in cocktail knowledge. Sure, they'd gone out for a few cocktails and had enjoyed plenty of perfect, beachy-type cocktails on previous travels to Hawaii and Vietnam, but actually knowing what to do to make a cocktail and stock a bar was well beyond their normal set of knowledge.

Fortunately, a Living Social deal popped up offering a weeklong course in bartending, hosted by Fort Collins Bartending Academy. Since the couple was living in Laramie at the time and it was late enough in the spring not to feel too threatened by weather, the duo signed up and began a week of after work travels to learn the art and skills of bartending.

The course ended up being a private endeavor for Mike and Melissa, as their timing and that of the instrutors didn't align with other students. This suited the situation perfectly, as the instructor, Gina, had tons of valuable bar/restaurant business experience and was able to offer M&M additional insight into what their future lives would hold. So, while learning how to count the perfect shot for all the classic cocktail combinations and essential differences between each type of liquor; the couple also learned how to choose glassware, the importance of inventory and a few tips on managing employees.

The class revolved around practicing speed pours, memorizing basic cocktail combinations, learning to pour accurately every time, understanding the concept of well - call - premium - super premium, and all the little tips and insights unique to the trade. Highlights included visiting Dancing Pines distillery (where Melissa whole-heartedly fell in love with a Chai liqueur and the DP Gin), being in Ft. Collins and having the opportunity to meet up with good friends in the area, being in Ft. Collins and having the opportunity to meet baby girl Cooley right after she was born (!) and touring New Belgium Brewery (we've posted about that already).

Now, a few years into owning their bar business, the couple is extremely grateful for the lessons they received during this weeklong course and have used that backbone of information to keep themselves and their business standing strong and serving up fun, well-poured cocktails...that is, when a patron doesn't have a beer-lovers pallet (since that's still the drink of choice at The Burlington Place and in the private stocks of Mike and Melissa).


Spring Break 2013: A Lesson in Bourbon


While nearly 3 years has passed since touring the Wyoming Whiskey distillery in Kirby, Wyoming; some details remain clear: The crisp, Wyoming, spring air. The dull-glow of copper kettles. The bready-lively smell of the fermentation process. The intimacy of touring a facility as a group of four; long before the onset of tourist season. The balanced scent of oak barrels working their slow-sweet magic on Wyoming's first "legal" whiskey.

The tour and the facilities were truly an extraordinary and impressive experience. For Mike and Melissa, the tour was a perfect fit for their "Burlington-bar-purchase-focused-spring-break". Spring Break 2013 was the week in which Mike and Melissa took their finalized business plan to it's full fruition, looked over a ton of loan papers and made some kind of sense of what it would soon mean to own a small-town, Wyoming bar. Little did they know just how much Wyoming Whiskey would become an aspect of their liqour serving lives, the conversations that would rotate around this product which was so highly anticipated around the entire state.

Unfortunately, it has been painfully clear that Wyoming Whiskey has not won over the hearts of the people for whom Wyoming is home. Released before having had adequate time in a barrel, most Wyomingites first impression was that of paying too much for something too forceful and "green". Owning and more importantly, working a bar, the Harrington's have engaged in numerous conversations regarding this well labeled, poorly executed product. However, they've also had opportunites to try more recent batches and meet with members of the Wyoming Whiskey team - these have resulted in more positive experiences - a better tasting Whiskey (more time in a quality barrel is all it takes!) and down-to-earth sales reps that understand the value of ALL Wyoming beer, wine and liqour establishments.

Taking time to reflect back on this tour has provided a moment of grateful appreciation for the way the world works and the way things always come full circle, even the smallest of things.


Brew Tour: Neptune's Brewer of Livingston, MT

After stopping at Fat Jack's Tap Room and continuing forth on their journey to Gardiner, MT to meet with their friend, the Harringtons stopped in at the Thai eatery, sailor-themed Neptune's Brewery in Livingston, MT. 

Unfortunately, the couple arrived a little later than desirable, had only about half an hour to sample a few brews (likely something hoppy for the man and something dark for the lady) before the each drank a half pint of super strong Mead Ale and bought a growler to share with friends in Gardiner.

Brew Tour: Fat Jack's of Laurel, Montana

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Continuing forth with the Brew Tour and once again in route to see a dear Korean friend, the Harrington duo was thrilled to stop in at Fat Jack's Tap Room in Laurel, MT.

Set up to allow numerous home brewers in the region to develop recipes and brew them in professional equipment, Fat Jack's provided a wide array of brews and a great atmosphere in which to grab a drink. Friendly staff was eager to share some pulled-pork with the duo and a few others at the bar and had tangible love for their own brews as well as beer in general.

In a process of research, as all of the brew trips have honestly been in anticipation of opening The Burlington Place, the Harringtons picked up the idea to involve local home brewers and are looking forward to see what kind of participation they may drag forth out of the Big Horn Basin!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Favorite Winter Moments: 2013

Some days, the temperature drops too low, some days the snow falls and is purely inviting.

Regardless, winter always provides some cherish-able moments.

From playful pups to women's basketball.

Snowy city-scapes to cuddling up with a good book and sweet pup, winter is never that bad.

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