Opening the pub doors

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It’s been an exciting last couple weeks.  For years I’ve been hoping for a mountain profile of the Palisades in the Alpinst Magazine.  The Palisades are a region of high, steep and intimidating mountains just outside of Bishop. You can’t see them from town, but they’re close.  We’re the closest brewery to the Palisades as the Clark’s nutcracker flies.  It’s an amazing coincidence that our brewery opened on the same weekend that the article about the Palisades came out.  Doug Robinson did an excellent job of capturing the beautiful essence of the Palisade region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the passionate characters who spend time up there.  Some of them inspired the name of our brewery.

photo by Jeff Deikis

photo by Jeff Deikis

We “quietly” opened our doors on the 14th of November and it’s been a busy last couple weeks.  We’ve had a great turnout and gotten good feedback on how to improve and be more efficient.  The kitchen staff have been doing an amazing job of providing prompt service and great food.

One often heard complaint has been that the space is too loud.  I’m happy to announce that our new sound panels will arrive this Friday and we’ll install them next week.  This will make for a much quieter and more pleasant experience in the pub.

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It’s awesome to be open, but the operation feels incomplete without our beer.  We’ll be brewing our first batch this Friday, which will be a simple pale ale.  Yeah!  We’ve spent many hours in the last several weeks preparing for the first batch.  In the photo above, we’re filling our glycol chiller, which helps keep the beer fermenters cool.  We’re looking forward to having our first beers available in mid-January.  Our grand opening is scheduled for late January or early February.  Stay tuned.  Thanks to everyone who has stopped by in our first weeks of being open.  Cheers, – Joe

A photo from opening night on November 14th.

A photo from opening night on November 14th.

Kitchen update

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A lot’s been happening this summer in the various surrogate kitchens of the Mountain Rambler Brewery. From visiting local farms, to planting cucumbers and herbs for our kitchen, to developing recipes, we are getting closer and closer to our goal of giving Bishop a menu that matches the mission of our business and fills a void in our community. Our goal at the Mountain Rambler is to support our local farmers, cook with the freshest and tastiest ingredients, and make from scratch everything we can. When we can’t, we will source from local partners that can. Cooking from scratch allows us total control over what goes into our food, and perhaps most importantly, how it tastes. With these intentions in mind, we hope to provide an opportunity to give thanks to the land while sharing a delicious bite and a cold beer at the end of the day. What better way to celebrate the mountains?

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Earlier in the season we had a great day out at Banner Springs Farm, checking on the hop plants that will eventually make it into our taps, and preparing to stock the shelves of our future brewery kitchen. With the help of friends, we harvested, pickled and canned bushels of hop shoots, which are delicate asparagus-like growths that must be cut back for the benefit of the growing hop vines. Now we anxiously await the moment we can crack open our first jar and top a salad with the beautiful pickled shoots. Throughout the summer, we’ve been pickling Bishop-grown cucumbers for topping hamburgers, as well as dehydrating apples and tomatoes for the winter.

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We’ve been working hard to find a way to purchase high quality ingredients, while keeping prices down for our customers. This is a tricky balance, as growing food on a small, sustainable scale is expensive. Generally, you get what you pay for. One solution to the problem is growing some of our ingredients ourselves; literally cutting out ALL of the middle men. At the beginning of the summer, Hillary Behr began planting greens for our salads, as well as herbs, in various garden plots around Bishop, including in her own yard. We hope that this experiment will be successful, and that we will find that by having our own brewery gardens, we can offset some of the costs of buying locally.

We would like to thank you in advance for your patience as we work to create a stable menu, and form relationships with local sources that we can depend on; these things will take time. We also hope that our loyal community can come to appreciate our different way of doing things. That no, we will not always have tomatoes for your salad or hamburger, but when we do, we can guarantee that they will be worth the wait. Instead of expecting tomatoes in the winter, when they are colorless and mealy, how about trying out a different veggie instead? Or, perhaps sun dried tomatoes that keep all winter long? We hope that our delicious, seasonal-dependent menu will gently push these questions, and make us all consider a different attitude toward food and dining.

THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO. Here’s a sampling of what’s to come.

Parmesan Polenta Tots. Our twist on classic “tater tots,” these cheesy polenta nuggets are fried to a crispy golden perfection and served with a pesto dipping sauce.

Falafel. Served with made-to-order pita bread, house-pickled veggies and tzaziki (yogurt) sauce, our falafels will please vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Bratwurst. Your choice of a classic or spicy cajun brat (both locally crafted), served with two types of homemade sauerkrauts and dijon dipping sauce.

Cheers,

your local rambler chef, Katie Ryan

Brewery update

The brewery has really been coming together during the last month.  After 10 months of demolition, plumbing, drywall and dust (lots of dust) the place is really starting to feel like a cozy brewpub.  Here are some of the recent highlights:

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Our kitchen is almost complete and looks beautiful.  It was designed to be small, efficient and functional.  I think we accomplished that.  We’ll release the menu soon on our website.

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Our bar top turned out better than expected. Meaning I really didn’t know how amazing it could look. We lucked out on a slab of Western white pine that was blown down during a huge storm several years ago, which locals still refer to as “The Blow Down,” and as what one local official called a “Thirty-year storm.” It came from the Lakes Basin near Mammoth Lakes and was milled at Drake Wood Milling. We chose not to stain it because the color was already perfect. I’m sure the color of the wood will also compliment the color of whichever beer style you choose to order.

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The brewhouse is almost fully operational. A week ago we successfully heated the brew kettle with steam from our boiler which was really exciting. Yes, I know it’s easy to boil water in your kitchen, but it’s a whole other thing to boil approximately 500 gallons using steam. We’re about two weeks away from brewing our first batch. Of all the recent developments, I’m most excited about our first brew, which will be a golden ale. Nothing crazy, just a simple beer to test out the system. photo4-stage How can I end a post without mentioning our stage? Good music compliments good food. We won’t have any TVs in our establishment, so you’ll be pleasantly forced to talk with one another, or if you’re lucky, you’ll be at the brewery on the same night as some musicians. Ask any local and they’ll agree there are few good places to watch a band in town. That won’t be a problem once we’re open. Stay tuned for more updates.

Cheers!

- Joe Lane

Desert Wandering

 

Happy New Year!

For our resolution, we resolve to open the doors to the pub and serve beer in 2014!

desert stickerOur first ever MRB merchandise came in the mail recently!  What do you think of the new stickers?  This one immediately got put to the test driving the back roads of Death Valley to go celebrate the turn of the year by camping near the Racetrack.  I think it looks great with some dirt on it!

 

Mountain Rambler Brewery Construction Part 1

Last week we were awarded our building permit from the city.    We set out to get right to work – opening a space for the front door, digging to find the sewer lines, and sawing through the floor in preparation for the plumbing to go in the ground.  With the new door in the front, it got a lot easier to bring big equipment inside the building.

Removing windows and stone to open the door.

Removing windows and stone to open the door.

Big fans helped clear out the dust from sawing and jackhammering the concrete.  The team did the heavy loud work over the weekend so that it wouldn’t stress out the animals in the vet office next door.

Large fans to help move dust out of the building.

Large fans to help move dust out of the building.

 

 

MRB Plumbing Layout

Above is the area of the floor that got ripped out for the plumbing lines.  Next big phase of destruction is ripping out the entire floor of the brewing area so it can be re-poured to enough depth to support our tanks when full and with a nice slope so that liquids will drain off the floor.

In other news, our brewing vessels are ready and waiting – and they are beautiful!  The brewers can’t wait to get to work with these.

Mountain Rambler BreweryCheck back every Monday for the newest construction updates!  Also leave comments below if you’re excited to have a brewery in Bishop.

Cheers!

 

Brewery Sustainability Pursuits

 

Hey Brewery Fans, this is Julie.

Julie climbing long ago in KY.

Julie climbing long ago in KY.

If you haven’t heard yet, Joe hired me a number of months ago to help get things up and running.  Joe and I became acquaintances through the Inyo County Search and Rescue Team over the last few years.

I moved to the East Side about three years ago while working for Yosemite Trails.  I used to visit Bishop as a climber, but it was the people I met here that made me stay.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this project and looking forward to that first beer on the porch of the brewery.

It’s been a great summer in the Eastern Sierra.  Steady, warm temps in the valley have made a great garden season for the fruits and vegetables, while in the high country the wildflower season was short but no less prolific than other years.  Joe and I each got to get out on a few trips this summer to feed our mountain appetites.

Ritter Lakes on a recent backpack trip.

Ritter Lakes on a recent backpack trip.

We’ve been making a lot of progress on the brewery works… getting loans and investors, finalizing construction plans and looking into sustainability projects.  A friend in town put us in touch with the guys over at the Green Brewery Project and we are really excited to be working with them officially now.  They are a small non-profit aimed at aiding breweries (startups or already up and running) to analyze and evaluate energy and water usage to help reduce environmental impact as well as the financial costs of beer production.  Brewing can be a very energy and water intensive project, and one of our goals in setting up Mountain Rambler is to make a company that will support not only the community but the resources that the community is based on.  Being in a location with a long history of resource drama, we feel that we should be particularly sensitive to the issue!

From the Green Brewery Project

From the Green Brewery Project.

So, the three major issues that we are focused on are propane use, water use, and electricity use.  The propane will mainly be used for our boiler, which in turn is used to heat our water that gets boiled with the grain in the first stage of making the beer.  If we can install solar water heating that will preheat the water by running it through pipes on the roof, we can potentially save lots and lots of propane.  Since the cost of propane in Inyo County is among the highest in the country, we may have a very strong financial incentive to pursue this.

Water use in brewing beer can exceed a 10:1 ratio.  That is, for every gallon of beer produced, ten gallons are wasted.  That’s pretty excessive!  Our goal is to reduce that number down to about 5:1.  We can install a system that will allow us to re-use cleaning water in different stages of cleaning, and perhaps even have a grey-water system for used water to grow a small (non-edible) garden on the south side of the building.

Finally, electricity rates are reasonable in Bishop, but we don’t find that to be a reason to not try to save anyway.  We will have solar tubes in the building to bring natural light in during the day, and LED lights in many of our fixtures will keep our electrical use low, as well as keep extra bulbs out of the landfills.

Of course, the Mountain Rambler effort to reduce our impact and bring you awesome, sustainably produced beer won’t end at these three points.  If you have suggestions for us though, let us know!

Cheers!

Julie