Tex Wasabi’s All-Star ringers did not repeat as Grand Champion of the Wine Country Big Q Kansas City Barbecue Society barbecue competition last weekend in Santa Rosa. They aren’t Reserve Champions, either. In fact, the team finished seventh overall, a respectable finish for some but not for the New York Yankees of BBQ.
This team had Ray Lampe, known as Dr. BBQ for his unmatched precision on the grill, and Gorilla of the famed Gorilla BBQ of Pacifica (I can personally attest to the amazingness of Gorilla). But the Bronx Bombers of BBQ fell to six teams, including favorites IAB 30 (who finished second overall) and champion R&R BBQ, who will go on to compete in the KCBS Royal Invitational, the World Series of BBQ.
Tex Wasabi finished third in ribs, but out of the four categories that was their highest placement. They finished in the middle of the pack in pork, one of the most important categories.
This could kick Guy Fieri into high gear and prompt him to don a chef’s coat for next year’s competition, even if it is way more fun to drink beer in a tank top instead of sweat over the heat of a grill. Pride is on the line!
"It was a student project," says Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources Ganesan Srinivasan. "They wanted to try it for the first time."
Only 165 bottles were produced, currently on sale at the SRJC bookstore and the Wineyard in Santa Rosa for $18 per bottle. "This is not like the ones you can find at Costco," says Srinivasan.
Srinivasan joined the SRJC faculty a month ago from Fresno State, where he managed a 1,000-acre farm that produced similar products and won several awards doing so. With this trial run proving fruitful, the farm will be making its own olive oil each year. Srinivasan says the current operation has capability to make about 50 cases (600 bottles) of olive oil per year.
Only about three of the 365 acres on the farm are devoted to olives. That's small potatoes compared to the 70 acres devoted to grapes. Those grapes are used by students in the viticulture program, and finish their lives fermenting in barrels. The entire process is run by students, soil to palate, including marketing. The olive oil program is going to copy that model.
"Olive oil is getting to be like wine," says Srinivasan. "You have the bulk wine, and you have the fine wines. This is what you'd consider a fine olive oil."
Marketing and palate training are part of the program. Being able to tell the difference between a fine olive oil and a cheap olive oil may be easy, but try discerning if one's grown in Spain or Greece without looking at the bottle. "People are getting more understanding about the different varieties," says Srinivasan. "There are a lot of cheap imports, we want our students to be able to distinguish between good and cheap."
The farm is also providing ingredients to SRJC's expanded culinary program. "It's a growing industry, and we want to help it grow," says Srinivasan.
Students picked about 700 pounds of olives from 1,800 trees in December. A mixture of Arbosana, Arbequina and Koroneiki varieties were blended for the winning entry in the Sonoma County-grown, medium-flavored olive oil category. Two other entries in the category earned a silver medal.
Santa Rosa's Russian River Brewing Co. releases its 2012 Pliny the Younger today at 11am, and already, two hours before the opening pour, there are 100 people in line.
Via Boho pal Jake Bayless comes the photo above, showing that indeed, rabid passion for the consistently top-rated beer has not waned. Especially since this is merely a case of "firsties"—the judicious way in which Russian River rolls out the beer over the next two weeks, everyone (locally, at least) should be able to glug their share. From their site:
Younger will be served in a 10 ounce glass for the same price as last year and the year before- still a good deal! As you probably already know, there will be no growlers or bottles, as usual. . .
There will be a certain number of kegs allotted each day for 14 days, wrapping up 2 weeks of Younger on February 16th. . . . Last year we had a line out front everyday for 2 solid weeks, rain or shine! On the weekends (particularly the first weekend) the wait was up to 3 hours. And sometimes you could walk right in.
Kudos to RRBC for enacting measures that detract reselling the beer on eBay—the only way to take the beer off-site is in your stomach. Everyone else, get on down there in the next couple weeks! But take your time. After all, it sucks to be last in line.
This time of year, as the air turns brisk and icy, North Bay beer aficionados start hankering for dark, sweet ales that warm the body and soothe cold bones. With an ABV of 9.9% (hot damn!), the roasty, luscious Lagunitas Brown Shugga' ale has become a highly-anticipated go-to ale for the winter season. But this year, you can just forget about that whole deal. Due to a brewhouse working at full capacity churning out 80 gallon batches of in-demand IPAs and Pilsners, the popular Sonoma County brewery had to call it a wrap on Brown Shugga' for 2011. Lagunitas has a knack for names (Wilco Tango Foxtrot, Undercover Investigation Shut Down, The Hairy Eyeball) and the replacement beer is no exception. Welcome to the "Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale Brown Shugga' Substitute." The bottom of the six-pack contains what amounts to an awesomely self-deprecating short story explaining exactly what went down:
"This sad holiday season we didn’t have the brewing capacity to make our favorite seasonal brew, the widely feared BrownShugga’ Ale. You see, we had a couple of good years (thank you very much) and so heading into this season while we are awaiting a January delivery of a new brewhouse we are jammin’ along brewing 80 barrels of IPA and PILS and such every 3 hours. A couple of months back we realized that since we can only brew a mere 60 barrels of Shugga every 5 hours, that we were seriously screwed. For every case of Shugga’ brewed, we’d short 3 cases of our daily brews. The new brewhouse will help insure that this kind of failure never happens again. It’s a mess that we can not brew our BrownShugga’ this year and we suck for not doing it. There is nothing cool about screwing up this badly and we know it. Maybe we can sue our sorry selves. There is no joy in our hearts this holiday and the best we can hope for is a quick and merciful end. F*@& us. This totally blows. Whatever. We freaking munch moldy donkey butt and we just want it all to be over …."
Let's see if the lack of Brown Shugga' this year will create chaos on par with the Cabbage Patch Kid Christmas Shopping Frenzies of Yore when the beer returns to shelves in 2012.