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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

the crow bar and kitchen

Front enterence
Having a daughter, while absolutely incredible, did somewhat hamper Bonnie's and my ability to go out whenever we wanted.  In order to still hang out as just us we try to get together for lunch a couple of times a month.  Our favorite place to do this is the crow bar and kitchen in Corona del Mar.

I first started going to the crow bar back in 2011 for their Pliny the Younger release. In fact one of the pictures I use as my rotating banner was taken during that event.  I had a great time and thought the food was incredible. I'd go off and on for a while, generally if I had people in town I'd take them there for the beer and food.

One day when Bonnie and I were trying to figure out where to go to lunch I suggested we go to crow bar.  Up till that point Bonnie had never been.  Well long story short, she loved it as well and we started going frequently.

Here's a quick breakdown -

Atmosphere - Standard upscale gastropub feel, which we like.  Nice tongue in cheek jokes about pig and pig products.

The menu (beer side of course)
Quality - The food is consistently good, a sign of a quality establishment. The only thing that bugs me in a quality aspect is that they have Craftsman 1903 lager on their menu.

Service - The service for the most part is knowledgeable (on food, wine and beer), fast and efficient. Our favorite waitress Kacie always remembers who we are and makes sure we get our favorite table. She also always lets my wife know if they have Pliny the Elder on tap one way or another.

Selection (beer) - The beer menu is divided into 3 parts; a regular selection of draft beers that stays pretty constant, a "guest kegs" draft selection filled with special beers and seasonals and a pretty decent bottle list which has been a oddly price in the past.

Food - The food is great.  The best item on the menu is the crow ‘black label’ burger ($19) is one of the best burgers in the OC. 8 oz signature meat blend which includes 21 day dry aged prime ribeye served on buttermilk bun w/bone marrow butter and caramelized onions. I save this burger only for special occasions.  Usually we get one each of the daily special, which is generally a taco, grilled cheese and a flat bread and split it, this tactic has never disappointed us.

I need to go check out the crow burger kitchen soon...



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Costa del Sol b3

Making her first starter -
and yes it boiled over
Two years ago I brewed a beer for my wife's birthday inspired by my travels in Mexico plus the availability of WLP940 Mexican Lager Yeast which I called Costa del Sol.  That batch was a hit and went on to place second in the OC Fair.  I followed it up a year later as a ten gallon batch which I split creating the second batch of Costa del Sol and its ale brother Coast of the Sun.

Considering that I brewed this beer originally for her, Bonnie has always consider it to be her beer.  It was therefore only logical that once she started brewing her own beers she would want to brew her own batch of it.

In her continuing brewing education I took yet another step back from the process.  While I provided her with the recipe it was up to her to order the lager yeast from the shop (long story) as well as pick up the ingredients.  

In previous batches I had used this beer to highlight that year's hop blend from HopUnion - b1 Falconer's Flight, b2 Zythos. This year however I decided to make it a canvas for Citra but seeing as how I don't like single hop beers I opted to use Centennial  for the bittering.

When it came time to brew it I was in and out, so she was really on her own with this one, this included making her own starter. Even during cool down I was out and about forcing her to figure it out on her own.

She's really picking it up fast and coming up with some creative solutions.  Plus all this extract is making me long for 2.5 hour brewdays again.



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