Monday, September 24, 2012

A Place I Live: Oktoberfest

Last week I was invited by Greg and Barbara Gerovac of the Anaheim Brewery for a preview of their Oktoberfest lager and was thrilled to attend the intimate tasting. They shared the history behind the recipe of their Oktoberfest, beer label design and their planned festivities for their 2nd Oktoberfest including sausages, pretzels, and of course, polka.

I must confess that I have never been to an Oktoberfest celebration. Barbara did mention that Oktoberfest is very new to America – before the 1970s you wouldn’t find too many beer gardens celebrating the Bavarian beers in the states. That made me feel a bit better about being an Oktoberfest virgin, but then again Anaheim was settled by Germans…

Although I might not be the best person to talk about Oktoberfest celebrations, I am no stranger when it comes to the Oktoberfest beer. It just happens to be one of my favorite beers. The lager, red in color with a slight bitter taste is delicious! Anaheim Brewery’s Oktoberfest is no different and having a fresh pint at the brewery makes it even better. Oh, and did I mention you can have your beer in a commemorative pint glass or stein?

When Anaheim Brewery served their Oktoberfest last year, I remember Greg telling the story of how their recipe came from a 100 year old recipe found by Greg’s old boss. In Germany. During his apprenticeship, Greg was asked to modernize the recipe for a 50 barrel system and a fantastic Oktoberfest he did make. Nowadays the recipe has won Greg and Barbara a first place, second place and gold medal.
Courtesy of the Anaheim Brewery
Anaheim artist Kevin Kidney is the designer behind Anaheim Brewery’s most modern label. Kevin explained that he initially wanted to use Anaheim’s German roots for inspiration, however Greg and Barbara wanted something that showed the beer’s roots in Munich. Having recently returned from a trip to Germany, Kevin had personal photos that inspired him to use Munich’s New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) and Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) as the label’s center piece.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have the brewers and label designer in one room while tasting the result. I bet if you get your lederhosen or dirndl ready you just might have the chance to, while celebrating Oktoberfest with Anaheim Brewery on October 13th from 4 to 10 PM.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Place I Live: Endeavour in the Sky

Today was a fantastic day. Historical really.

It isn’t every day that you can look up into the sky and see a space shuttle flying over you. But today I did. The California Science Center in Los Angeles will be the new home to the space shuttle Endeavour. Embarking on her 26th mission, the shuttle flew from Florida to the California Science Center in Los Angeles today. After hearing that the Endeavour would make a fly over Disneyland we packed the car with water, chairs and our cameras and headed out to find the perfect viewing spot.

We thought Disneyland would be too crowded with others hoping to catch a view of the shuttle so my dad suggested Ross Park and I am glad he did. We set up our chairs under the shade of some pine trees in the outfield of the baseball fields and waited. With about a dozen other excited locals, we waited and then began to get a bit anxious. Did it already fly over? Did we miss it? Via cell phone calls and news reports, we heard that the shuttle had just flown over the Hollywood sign and was traveling toward Orange County.

Two little girls pointed toward the horizon and shouted, “There it is!” At first we didn’t see it because we were looking up into the sky. Endeavour was flying low, so low that it was right there in front of us! It was such an exciting moment to look up and see the space shuttle escorted by two fighter planes. The sight of the Endeavour so close was astonishing.

We snapped some photos and as fast as Endeavour was in our sight, it was gone.

Lucky for us this isn’t the end of Mission 26. Next Endeavour will travel 12 miles through urban Los Angeles from LAX airport to the California Science Center. We’ve seen the city’s preparations on the news from removing trees, electric and light poles and anything else that might get in the way of the shuttle's 78 foot wing span. Fingers crossed that we will be able to see Endeavour during her urban journey a little closer mid October.

Not only was it fabulous to see Endeavour’s last flight, but reminded me of my trip to Kennedy Space Center when I was 7.  I never wanted to be an astronaut because flying F-16s sounded more exciting, but I hope that the dispersal and display of the US space shuttle fleet helps to inspire young dreamers from coast to coast.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Place I Live: BARBEER Shop


After growing out my beard and hair for almost a year, it was time for a change. Besides making my wife happy, getting a haircut and shave gave me an excuse to visit the new barbershop on the Center Street in Anaheim, BARBEER Shop.

Located in the middle of a shop trio geared towards men’s fashion, between THE GOOD Californian Haberdashery and HEART & SOLE, BARBEER Shop is a new take on the classic barbershop specializing in haircuts and straight razor shaves. Having enjoyed the treatment before in other similar barbershops, I was excited about having those services close to home. So excited that I made a weekly habit of checking in on the other shops to find out exactly when they would be opening. 

The big day finally came. My beard was out of control and my hair was long enough to require a ponytail to keep my neck cool so on their opening day, I strolled in hoping to be their first customer. It turns out I was a little too late, our friend Bradley already in a chair getting the finishing touches on his new haircut from Luis, the manager and one of the two barbers who work in the shop. I was greeted very warmly by both Luis and Kevin, the other barber, and took a seat at Kevin’s station. Both of them in bowties and suspenders with neat haircuts was awesome and gave the place a feel of authenticity like nothing else can. To be honest, I am not sure which of us was more excited about me getting a haircut, the barbers eager to show off their skills and new shop or me for a chance to let them do that!

Kevin and I took a couple minutes to talk about what sort of hairstyle I wanted and then what to do with the beard. I decided on the gentlemen’s cut similar to what they both had, and at the suggestion of Luis gave the beard a pass until the haircut was finished. I knew I wanted a change, but as to how drastic that change would be was still up in the air. We both took some ‘before’ pictures and then Kevin went to work.

And boy did he have his work cut out for him. After getting rid of the bulk of my hair we talked some more about how long I wanted to leave it in the back and on the sides, whether I wanted a fade or a taper, from the skin or a clipper length. These are a lot of decisions for a guy used to saying “short on the sides, a little longer on the top”. Kevin and Luis were both there with suggestions, explanations and Kevin even pulled out his phone with some pictures of examples. I don’t remember exactly what I decided on, but I do remember being very well informed on my options.

With the haircut finished, it was time for the shave. Because of the fullness and length of my beard, I literally had all the options in the world to choose from. My haircut was awesome so after agreeing on keeping some sweet chops, I told Kevin that he should do whatever he wanted to have in the ‘after’ picture to show off. Even if I didn’t like it, my facial hair grows pretty quickly so it would only be a temporary problem for me, something I was completely willing to do to try something different.

Again Kevin went to work, this time shaving away my beard. First the heavy clippers (let’s face it, my beard was pretty bushy), then the smaller ones and finally the hot foam and straight razor treatment. And this is what it turned out like:
I have never worn just a mustache in my life and it was a little bit of a shock to be honest. But, I liked it. It has a classic gentleman feel and it was totally different which was perfect.

BARBEER, as the name implies, has a bar along the back wall which will serve up refreshing beers. Right now they are still waiting for their ABC license and ironing out the last few details of operations, but are open for the business of giving great haircuts and shaves. I should mention that BARBEER is not just for men like other similar barbershops I have visited. I brought my wife Natalie along a few days later to stop in and say hi, take some more pictures and just chat about how their first week of business went. There is a lot of excitement in the place and I look forward to checking out their Grand Opening for a beer and going back in a couple months to try something else new!
165 Center St Promenade
Anaheim, CA 92805

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Place I Live: Apples, Apple Cider and Apple Donuts

September means one thing for our family: Apple Picking. For years we’ve made the drive out to Oak Glen to be met with orchards of apples ready to be picked. If we are early enough in the season like we were this year, there are a larger variety of apples and even sweet, red raspberries.

We pick at Los Rios Ranch, where they had Spartan, Gala and Red Delicious orchards open for picking. We collected half a bushel of apples with some of each kind and two baskets of raspberries. It was opening weekend when we went out this time and although it was a bit hot, the crowds weren’t too big which really nice.
When we were done picking we headed over to Riley’s Store for some apple cider and to pick up some tasty pumpkin butter and preserves. If you prefer not to pick, you can purchase your apples there, have some BBQ and listen to the band. For the animal lovers they have a small petting zoo with a llama, cow, sheep and angora goats which are super cute with their soft coat.

On our way back down we stop in at Snow Line Orchard for some apple donuts made right on site. They also have three kinds of cider: apple, raspberry apple and cherry apple. This orchard is a bit smaller but they have raspberries you can pick, apples for purchase and a small antique shop in the back.

Our last stop is at the Oak Tree Village where there are a few unique shops to walk through including one that recently has a good selection of Pyrex. If you are a fan of apple pie they serve slices with ice cream.

Do you and your family have any fall traditions?
Lovely Links: Eat, Make, Grow

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Place I Live: Anaheim Brewery

At our house we only drink craft beer. We have an appreciation for the details that go into the brewing process, are generally amazed by the different techniques used to create flavor varieties and for the most part beer just tastes better when crafted by hand. Last year in the Fall we found out that the Anaheim Brewery had just opened up in a restored building that my parents remember from their childhood as having been the Packard Building.

Our first visit to the brewery was pretty cold and we all bundled up and took the short car trip over to The Colony to sample Anaheim Brewery’s beer flight. When we arrived we found ourselves in a simple tastingroom with white walls, industrial ceiling and light fixtures with a long wood bar and wood stools. Facing the bar, the view is through large windows that open to the brewing floor’s shiny steel and copper tanks.
While enjoying our beer flight we met Greg Gerovac, who along with his wife Barbara are the owners and brewmasters of Anaheim Brewery. They hold 20 years of brewing experience including some time spent in Germany. On that visit we not only met new people and drank new beer but we also began to learn about the brewing history of Anaheim and the people who used to live there.
Barbara explaining the brewing process at the ANA Home and Beer Tour

Last year was not the grand opening of Anaheim Brewery but instead the Grand Re-Opening. Brewmaster Friedrich Conrad was the original owner of Anaheim Brewery back in the late 1800s. It was actually one of the three breweries in the Anaheim city limits until they were all closed during prohibition. None reopened until 2011.

Packard Building on Anaheim Blvd
While working with the city to find the perfect building to hold their brewery, Greg and Barbara were offered what is known as the Packard Building for a temporary location. Built in the 1920s, the building housed a Packard dealership that closed with the falling economy during the depression. The building was not in its original state since during street widening the front 12 feet had been removed, but with the help of the Anaheim historical librarian, a photo was found of the original building and the restoration commenced to make the new facade resemble the original building as much as possible.  

During the grading process of the renovation 400 license plates were found. Specifically, 200 sets of California license places dating back to 1929. They were found in bundles and it was discovered that the ones in the middle of the bundles were well preserved. The sequential license plates are thought to have belonged to the Packard dealership and were for cars that did not sell before the dealership went out of business with the crash of the stock market and beginning of the depression. Back then cars came off dealer lots with license plates.

In an effort to use the found license plates, an artist in Colorado was commissioned to create chandeliers and art installations for the Packard building. You’ll find them hanging at the front of the building inside the Umami Burger restaurant. After discovering the rich history of the building, Greg shared that the Packard Building would remain the home of Anaheim Brewery, saving it from being torn down.

Greg behind the bar

Greg was kind enough to take Jeremy and I on a tour of the brewery where we learned about their brewing process and about the history that went into making the new Anaheim Brewery brand. The brewery keeps six beers at a time; four constants and two seasonal. They are Anaheim Gold, Anaheim Hefeweizen, Anaheim Red, Anaheim 1888, Old Pacific IPA and Anaheim Stout . My favorite is the Hefeweizen. It is unlike any other Hef I’ve ever tried before and has a bit of a banana flavor that comes from the yeast used during fermentation. Jeremy’s favorite is the Anaheim 1888 which is the breweries flagship beer. It is brewed based on the original brewing style from Friedrich Conrad’s days.

The beer labels for the Gold, Hefeweizen, Red and 1888 were designed by wood cut artist and Anaheim resident Chris Maya. Greg explained that they wanted to capture the history of Anaheim including the brewing on the labels so they feature two old people and two old buildings from Anaheim. Friedrich Conrad is the face of the Hefeweizen and Helena Modjeska on the 1888. Modjeska was a Polish actress who immigrated to Anaheim in 1876 and was among the first settlers. The Sunkist Packing House, which is currently being renovated, is on the Gold label and the Red label has the Woelke-Stoffel House, a Queen Anne Victorian that was a farm house and then used by the American Red Cross.  The Old Pacific IPA features a 1902 Packard Old Pacific which really bonds the history of the brewery and the building.

If you stop in to sample Anaheim Brewery’s beers take note of the little touches they’ve added too. Their bartenders are known as flight attendants who deliver each flight sized beer one at a time so that your next beers don’t get warm while you enjoy the one before. The flights are served in beer glasses with the jingle “One for a nickel, Two for a dime. Get your beer in Anaheim.” Since each flight sample is poured one at a time you are given wood coins with the same jingle that you trade your flight attendant for your next beer.
Aside from very much enjoying Anaheim’s beers, we love the care that Greg and Barbara have taken to make their tag line “Where the Past has Presence” come to life. I know we will keep enjoying their beers and hopefully earning our place as regulars.

For more about the beers visit Jeremy’s blog!

Anaheim Brewery
336 South Anaheim Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92805
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