When I was standing outside on Wilshire Blvd near the entrance to the La Brea tar pits I was happy- happy that is, until I took a bite of a gyro to find, that despite the lunch truck's lack of listing,- feta cheese was all up in my food. (I hate cheese)
I took a deep breath and spoke aloud-
'This gyro has set the tone for today....'
And unfortunately I was correct.
After spitting out my food into a plastic bag and rinsing my mouth out with Hawaiian Punch, I ventured into the Page museum in an effort to pass time until BJs Brewhouse Stone Dinner.
Now, I haven't been incredibly active lately with going to beer events because I've been doing my own- among other things. My friend Sandra invited me and I accepted with the hopes of mingling and meeting new people and keeping my face out there.
The dinner was held at the BJs location in Rancho Cucamonga.
This dinner was the worst event in the history of events that compile my life.
This isn't an overstatement- this is fuckin' scientific fact.
Now let me try to go over this with you all without fear of flashbacks from all the trauma I experienced.
Once seated I was faced with a menu that was 4/6ths cheese. (I hate cheese) Normally, I would've walked out of the place but not before spitting on something and possibly sexually assaulting a server. (Only as a means to display my anger)
Instead- I looked over at the missus and decided that I should wait it out and all I needed to do was to drink a beer and relax.
My attempt to grease my wheels failed. Upon being asked, the server looked at me with zombie eyes and said "Let me ask..."
Alright, I'll be a sport- but why is this something to be questioned? Is BJs in a position where they no longer wish to profit? What the hell is going on here?- I received an answer of "no."
I felt like the Incredible Hulk. I'm sure this display turned the missus on, but it hardly did anything to bring me pleasure. But I remained open minded (at least relatively speaking given that this is my version of open mind)- my next effort would be to inquire as to whether or not I could simply purchase a flight of beers to be tasted instead of having to ignore the food served while paying an exorbitant sum.
The server's answer was- "We don't serve each individual- everyone shares."
This didn't answer my question nor the overall concern of paying for something I do not wish to have. There was no accommodation at all...but there wasn't enough competence to understand the accommodation necessary. (Anger rising even more)
I took a deep breath and imagined every woman without a top on. I felt slightly better and decided to keep going. The missus was clearly concerned with my comfort at this point. And I thanked her for it. I felt I needed to see this through just the same despite my intuition and better judgement.
I was sitting there awaiting the first beer and while doing so was accosted by a young man. He walked up to me and asked if I used to work in a bar. I told him I did, and the fellow recognized me and mentioned he was also a reader of my blog. I didn't remember him and I felt so bad.
I love people that enjoy what I do, and I, frankly, do it for them. I usually remember people, but this dude looked like a lot of other dudes I've seen. So therein lain the problem, I suppose. That- and I used to drink a lot more than I do now. I apologized to the dude and I meant it. I wished I could remember him- but wishing did me no good. He told me that he only met me once. I felt better about that revelation but it didn't excuse my poor memory just the same. Everybody deserves acknowledgement and here this dude is complimenting me since I've obviously made an impression on him after one meeting- and I have nothing in return for him.
Well dude- if you're reading this- I sincerely apologize and if you see me out and about again- I will gladly buy you a beer and talk shop with you.
Could this night get any worse for me?
The beer was being poured and out of a table of six- I was short poured by a good two oz. That doesn't seem like a lot, but visually it is demeaning and even emasculating. The servers obviously had no guidelines or instruction in pouring other than- "hey, don't fill their glasses." I understand getting less than a pint, but it should be uniform and consistent. I could go on and on as to reason why, but what's the point?
All I know is that I am spot on when it comes to the art of the pour. I actually obsess about such details. Since beer's packaging in respect to on premise sales sites is based on the glass- it is imperative to respect it and do the beer, the establishment and the culture justice.----Right?
Many times this escapes the entire chain- and it leaves people like myself in a lurch. I make it so important to love what I do that it infuriates me when I see people above me not taking adequate time to love what they do as well. This is beer- what more can anybody ask for? I would love somebody to walk right up to me and offer me a job because they respect what I do and how I do it. I love beer- she's my wife.
So back to the menu-
This menu was the most half assed approach to a tasting yet. If a business wants to do a beer and cheese pairing- do it. There's a category for that- but shit, not everybody wants cheese on everything- this is why America is not a culinary power and also why everybody admires Belgium's approach.
But allow me to come up with a better Stone pairing using the menu provided
Levitation Ale- with Garlic Parmesan Kettle-Style Chips
Not a bad pairing- but the Levitation displayed some oxidation and lacked the usual carbonation. (This problem could not be helped, so I don't fault anybody)
Stone IPA with Santa Fe Blackened Chicken Salad
I believe Ruination should've been spotlighted instead merely because the IPA was so flat (product quality) it didn't crispen the salad upward- thusly complementing it.
Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale with Gourmet Mac & Cheese
This was appropriate, but the whole Gourmet Mac & Cheese thing is fuckin' played out.
Arrogant Bastard Ale with Salmon Teriyaki
This teriyaki was great, but I would have switched beers and used the Oaked for this dish and the regular Arrogrant for the mac and cheese. The reason being is the presence of Umami- it just overworks the palate and I felt the Oaked would be more mellow to such a salty, Umami laden dish. But good nonetheless.
Stone Smoked Porter with Bjs Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza
Should have been Ham and Pineapple Pizza.
Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale with BJ's famous Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Pizookie
Where the hell is the Stone Russian Imperial Stout with this one? Self-Righteous was a great idea, but would have paired with something less bland.
Have you guys noticed I have yet to mention any discussion about the beers/pairings?
There was no explanation or guidance during the entire dinner by anybody to help me understand why these choices were made or if any feedback from the customers existed.
Toward the end a very cocky young man walked over to the table and described himself as a beer seller and pretty much just talked about himself and asked if we had any questions. In fact- he exhibited signs of being a few pints over the recommended operating protocol. And he had the nerve to say everybody else was drunk- How professional....
My question- "Why are you employed by Stone?"
This dinner should have been guided by someone trained to incite some kind of excitement for the products sampled. I would have done so and I would have engaged the audience and gauged the experiences of each customer- for marketing purposes later.
I would have used a small PA system and guided everyone through each pairing- at least that would have distracted everyone from the horrible service provided by the BJs staff. You could be served your beer and dish 20 minutes apart.
In fact, we received our check- without having received our last beer- our server didn't know we hadn't received it. What the hell? How did she not know? She was supposed to pour it for US!!!
I wanted to get up and grab everyone's attention and educate them myself- nobody learned anything at all, and as my own table begged me to educate them myself- I did not pay thirty dollars a head to teach- at least not without some kind of peace of mind.
I feel very embarrassed- I love Stone brewing and I expected so much better. I Still love them and endorse their products, but I cannot recommend another beer dinner like this- at least not without assurance of better operation.
And I'll be the first guy to throw it out there-
Let me do it. This is what I do anyway.
I really wish things had been different and I didn't want this bad taste in my mouth- I only wanted a smile and the awesome aftertaste that Self-Righteous Ale provides.