Friday, August 31, 2012

Certified Evil (Lucky Bucket Brewing, La Vista, NE)


Pitch black beer that appropriately represents the darkness of Evil. CE has a single tone tan head that drops rather quickly. Chocolate, light burnt roast and spice in the nose. Nose is not assertive but that could be the fan in the bar. Flavor jumps out strong with a heavy burnt chocolate and malt taste with earthy hops spreading along the side of the tongue.

 The beer lingers nicely and has a bit of a punch, betrayed by the light legs on the side of the footed glass from the 9.1% alcohol. Very good beer and is better on site than the bottles I've tried in the past. Fine beer to be the top of the line for Lucky Bucket.

Lucky Bucket Brewing (La Vista, NE)

Lucky Lager draft with distillery in distance.
Playground fence clearly splits brewhouse from
distillery, I assume to meet licensing requirements. 

Warning--google maps sends you the wrong way. After a bit more research on my cell phone, I found myself in a nondescript warehouse district rather than a nondescript housing complex in La Vista, Nebraska.  Lucky Bucket is in a large commercial space with a handmade tasting area in the front of the open brewery. Lack of AC on what the Bug said is a 105 degree day makes a tour a bad choice at 4:30 in the afternoon, but that's how it goes when beer hunting.

Walking in the door, aging barrels greet me along with a cooler of beer to purchase. Can't see the boil kettles from my table, but there's a view are least eight large fermenters that speak to LB's expansion.  I've had a bottle or two before (thanks Linda from work who is friends with the brewer Zack), but have also seen them in beer stores that I frequent. Linda said the brewer was interested in starting a distillery, which the kettle for that can be seen clearly from the bar.

The place reminds me of Amnesia Brewing in Portland, minus five IPAs, a veggie dog and a life-sizes My Little Pony head on the wall: Lucky Bucket was clearly built lovingly by hand in the space available.  As I'm sitting here, several business types, a couple looking like they met her to do business and three that seem to be young bucks in ties meeting after work. Later, more T-shirted locals showed up as well and the placed filled up quickly right before the tour. Not bad for a Thursday afternoon.
First stop---check out the full tour.

Talked to the bartender and he's hoping to bring in food trucks and have football fans come in for Cornhusker games to drink Children of the Corn (cool name and sadly not on tap today). Free pretzels is the only food on site, but Jimmy John's and a pizza place will deliver to the tap room.

$3 for the tour with a free sample of the lager in plastic glass. Might want to bump it up to a pint in a glass glass for a better taste.  Groupon seems to be why many are here.  Most didn't pay for the tour and worked on the $25 credit through pints with friends. Good marketing idea.  Crazy busy tour and can't believe I was almost the only person in the bar 45 minutes earlier.  

Certified Evil with brewery in distance. 
The tour guide was a recently hired employee and very enthusiastic in his explanation of the brewery.  Standard chat for a non-geek crowd, but fun to walk around hearing the details and drink fresh beer samples from their kegerator styled cooler half way through the tour.

I learned a bit about LB, enjoyed the stop and the good beer on site. No surprise that Certified Evil, an oaked strong ale, was my favorite.  Not quite a top tier national beer, but a very respectable brew that packs a punch in spite of it's smooth character.  A close second for me--and a bit of a shock if you've discerned my taste for big and/or hoppy--was the Lucky Lager.  A pre-prohibition style lager, this is a very clean full malt brew that's dry hopped in the west coast style that makes it a unique and sessionable, an American lager to be proud of the label.

Lucky Bucket is clearly a hard working brewery that is passionate to grow, and I wish them well and hope that they continue to have success.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lucky Bucket Lager (Lucky Bucket Brewing, La Vista, NE)

Lucky Bucket Lager with distillery in background

On the tour at Lucky Bucket Brewing, a free pint came along with the tour.  I'd had a bottle of the lager before with positive results, so tried a draft for comparison.

Tightly bubbled, thick, creamy head that lingers nicely as the effervescence builds the head from the bottom of the orange-amber lager. Bit dark for the stereotype of a lager, but, if I remember correctly, this is a pre-prohibition lager and fits a different style than the typical American macro-lager.

Clean malty nose with light spice, and, with a deep breathe, a hint of apple underneath. Smooth and full bodied, the spice, caramel and sweetness jump out on the tongue and linger--not typical lager characteristics, but a reason why I like this one. Refreshing on a hot day--a perfect reason to drink a lager.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New glass from Bruges

We rarely take home souvenirs from our trips.  They take up space in a backpack and take time to find.  As a result, a souvenir needs to find us.  While in Bruges, I found my new daily drinking glass and liked it enough to carry around Belgium and France for over a week wrapped up in paper and a plastic bag.

Walking around central Bruges after closing down De Halve Maan (don't be too impressed--they closed at six pm, along with much of the town for the Ascension Day holiday), we found our way to 't Brugs Beertje and discovered that it is closed on Wednesdays.  I missed that in my prep.  Thanks to my new friend--free wifi, some fast research sent us back past the clock tower to Staminee de Garre.

The house tripel was served in this heavy based glass with bubble buried in its heart.  Solid walls curve to a small top that focuses the aroma, a trait I value with an under-performing nose.  Heavy in the hand, it's very solid and stable, more than the initial impression of the narrow base.

Like traffic in a rear view mirror, it's larger than it appears and big enough to hold a full beer, a tallboy of Tallgrass Velvet Rooster in this case, and leave room for a full, frothy head.  It has very similar qualities to my previous favorite glass, a Dogfish Head snifter that broke a year ago.  However, it is far more sturdy, which gives me hope that it will last as my daily glass for a while.

Thankfully, Gloria told me to get the glass after I kept admiring it.  A final characteristic in favor of taking it home is that there is print on only one side of the glass.  The Duvel glass I picked up at the Blue Nile that has appeared in many of the pint sized pics is a great glass, but the dark decoration distorts the perception of color a bit.  I think this new glass could be a work horse that will also accurately show off the beauty of each beer.

Not bad for a six euro souvenir.  Cheers.

Note: One week later, a sad accident washing cracked the rim of the glass.  Oh well.  There will always be a new cool glass.

Monday, August 13, 2012

On learning to travel blog

Getting prepared for this summer's blogging trips to Colorado, France and Belgium, I set myself up to blog live. I'm typing from a new iPad using the updated BlogPress program to connect easily to Blogger, and I even carry around an Apple wireless keyboard so I can type more efficiently than using the pop up.

However, two weeks into the trip, my conclusion is that I am on vacation and I need to focus on being a tourist and merrymaking, which is, at times, a job that fills a day from morning until night. When traveling alone around Brussels, writing was a way to fill the time. It was fun to be able to drink and focus on the words. However, with my wife and nieces here, I find that it gets in the way of the connection we are aiming for.

The real deal breaker is final drafting. While I clearly have some errors in my writing, I do work to revise my posts and proofread before going live. On vacation, the mental reserves needed to final draft are absent with our style of adventure tripping. I confess to my students that I'm a lousy rough draft writer who covers his weaknesses with strong revision. Even if I'd take the time to do it, I'm not sure I'm clear headed enough to revise well.

So, I've given up on posting for now and will continue to rough draft and take notes on all of the cool places I've had a beer this summer. Not an excuse--just a realization that I didn't achieve until actually trying to write on the run. I started this post on Sunday morning and finally finishing before going to bed on Monday night--prima facie evidence of my conclusion.

Cheers and I will post again as soon as I can.