Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame

I have been to Paris three times and visited Notre Dame Cathedral each time.  The immense cathedral is the heart of Paris, sitting on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the Seine*.  My claim on this beautiful church is no more special than the millions of others awed by its massive presence.  When walking into Notre Dame you are dumb struck by the sheer scale of the church, and by its serenity, even when full of tourists.  The noise of Paris evaporates inside the stone cavern.  Built more than 800 years ago in the midst of the middle ages, Notre Dame was not just a symbol of the magnificence of God, but must must have intimidated all who saw it, from peasants to fervent believers.  It still intimidates and inspires today.

My favorite parts of Notre Dame are the huge, beautiful stained-glass Roses, one each over the church's three main entrances, and the protective gargoyles keeping evil from the church.  Once I got over the size of Notre Dame, I would just stare at the Roses and all the light rippling through the different colored glass.  I did not try to read the Biblical story on each Rose, preferring to enjoy their awe instead.  I took pictures, but no picture can capture the true beauty of the Roses on sunny day, and the picture below of the South Rose proves my point.

I did not know that Notre Dame's gargoyle statues represented good until I first visited the Cathedral. Gargoyles are hideous looking, but are symbols of protection and are located outside Notre Dame, on its walls, its roofs, and in its corners, to ward off evil.  Gargoyles as a symbol of goodness is one reason I like Stone Brewing's use of gargoyles.  I now find gargoyle statues comforting, like Stone beer.

I don't know the full fate of Notre Dame's Roses after yesterday's fire, but the North and South Roses are near the spire that collapsed, and where the fire raged.  I read this morning that the Roses survived the fires, but suffered some damage.  I want to think the gargoyles' presence provided the Roses some safety. 

I know this is an off target post, but any visitor to Paris can appreciate the majesty of Notre Dame, whether Catholic or not.  It's a cold soul that walks away from Notre Dame without a lasting impression.  I think this is why the story of yesterday's horrible fire at Notre Dame has produced such a world wide reaction of sadness.

*The following is from 1953's Notre Dame of Paris, by Allan Temko, and give a sense of Norte-Dame's importance to France:

"Notre Dame, more than the Louvre, incalculably more than Versailles, is France.  Every distance from Paris to the borders of the nation is measured from the parvis of the Cathedral and not, significantly, from the Opera or the Arc de Triomphe, or even from the second most important monument in the city, the Tour Eiffel, the earliest tower of steel.  Every road in France centers inwardly on the Cathedral.  One may start walking to Notre Dame on the green roads of Normandy or in sun-driven Provence." 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Dirty Birds Gets Little Missed

The ABC has denied Dirty Birds Bar and Grill's new Ocean Beach location its liquor license.  The Ocean Beach planning board voted 9-2 to approve a recommendation for the license after Dirty Birds agreed to stop selling liquor after 10:00 pm, but the ABC nixed the license anyway.  Dirty Birds has already completed a partial build-out of its space in a new building at the corner of Santa Monica Avenue and Cable Street.  The ABC pulled a similar move on Little Miss Brewing's Ocean Beach tasting room in late 2017.  It looks like Dirty Birds has stopped construction and Ocean Beach is not listed on Dirty Bird's website.

What is going on?  Like the new fish restaurant, Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill, which apparently received its license to sell beer and wine, Dirty Birds would have attracted a more family-oriented crowd, at least more family-oriented than most of the bars along Newport Avenue, especially as Newport gets close to the beach.  Dirty Birds would have been good for Ocean Beach.  Mr. Moto's Pizza, which is right next to Dirty Birds in the same new building, also has an alcohol license pending, and it too, will attract a family crowd, not angry drunks.  Good luck Mr. Moto, but don't order any fresh mozzarella.

This decision makes me mad, and many of the comments on the OB Rag discussing the decision show the closed-minded thinking that pervades Ocean Beach.  Stopping Dirty Birds, and probably Mr. Moto's, is not going to stop the problems at the west end of Newport Avenue, not only that, it'll be two less spots for families to venture.  Instead, the big, elevated decks along the new, vacant building are going to make nice spots for the homeless to sleep.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

BeerAdvocate Magazine Shutters

BeerAdvocate has mailed its last magazine. Its final issue, Issue 134, will be released as a PDF in April.  I am a founding subscriber and always liked the magazine.  It did a good job promoting the craft beer industry and never shied away from tough issues.  BeerAdvocate is not going away and plans to focus its resources on its website, its festivals, and a new app.  In looking at BeerAdvocate's website, I don't see much current news, just articles from the past issues, so I guess Good Beer Hunting is now my place for general industry news, while West Coaster and a few local reporters (Brandon Hernandez, Beth Demmon and Peter Rowe) remain my source for local beer news.

I am not sold on the beer app concept.  I have the TapHunter and the San Diego Brewers Guild apps, which I never open, and I deleted Untapped years ago.  I am open to suggestions or pointers on how I can use these apps to make beer drinking better, easier, or more fun.  I hope the Alstrom brothers have an idea for a relevant beer app

Thanks BeerAdvocate magazine for twelve years of quality beer news.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Ketch and Release

I have some back reviews I need to write.  Late last year, I had a Vienna Lager from Ketch Brewing, the Brigantine restaurant group's new brewery.  The beer was Alta Mar Vienna Lager (my notes list it as a Mexican lager). The beer looked good, clear, amber and without much foam.  You could smell its yeast.  The heavy malt and yeast gave the beer a whole grain bread character.  I caught some initial pepper, too, which was the beer's highlight.  Alta Mar had a mineral quality that became more noticeable as the beer warmed.  The beer had a solid mouthful and it drank above its 5% abv. 

I found Alta Mar a fine enough beer that went well with the Mexican food at Miguel's, but it's not a beer I would go out of my way to drink again.  We sampled Ketch's Klosch and IPA, too, and Alta Mar was superior to both.  Ketch Brewing has the benefit of being sold through the Brigantine's group of restaurants.  Without this captive audience Ketch would struggle in San Diego's competitive beer market, but even with this assured distribution, Ketch needs to focus on brewing better beers. 

We like the Brigantine's restaurants, so I will have more Ketch beers to see whether there is any improvement.  Ketch has a Kearny Mesa tasting room (see link above).  The Ketch Grill and Taps is a place I want to visit, but if the beers are not improved it's good to know Eppig Brewing's waterfront tasting room is only a short walk away. 

I had a hard time finding much in the way of a website for Ketch Brewing.  Its Facebook page is the best place for information, but, like Ketch's beers, it's not great.