I had the MOST fun the other evening! I drove out to Thousand Palms, a small community just north of the I-10 and Bob Hope Drive to the CVB – the Coachella Valley Brewing Co. Their logo looks like the Inter-state Highway sign but instead of the Highway number, it says CVB just like the picture above!
Believe me, it was NOT what I expected. My thoughts as I drove up were – this can’t be it….I’m looking for an old building; sort of an old English pub or desert structure that was fixed up; or something else old. But what I found was a clean, modern building that housed a good sized – yet intimate feeling – place where everyday people came to enjoy “micro beers”.
Frankly, other than knowing that “micro beers” were artisan beers rather than those put out by the huge breweries, I knew little or nothing about them. So I was fortunate in meeting Chris Anderson, COO and Brewmaster for CVB.
Chris is a fountain of knowledge and quickly filled me in on the basics. I understood the brewing process of alcohol and he said it was just like making any alcohol product – except: it stopped just before the distillation process. At that point, the mash (of grain and water) was set to ferment. Depending on what type of beer was to be made at that point, hops, honey, and/or other natural herbs were added. Heat was applied carefully and the resulting brew was carefully stabilized to ensure the alcohol content was sustained at the proper level (ABV = Alcohol by Volume). The higher the ABV, the higher the alcohol level (or proof for you hard liquor drinkers). Computers were set to maintain the accuracy.
Something that really impressed me was when Chris told me they use locally sourced products wherever possible. I tasted their “Dubble Date” beer, using locally grown Medjool dates from the Hadley orchards exclusively. Hop pellets are used mainly because fresh hops are extremely expensive and have a very short shelf life – so beer made with fresh hops is also more expensive. Hops are bitter so honey is used to sweeten the flavor and guess where the honey comes from: drum roll please: Africanized Killer Bees! There is a bee keeper here in the Coachella Valley that collects bee hives and the honey produced and CVB buys ALL its honey from him. They use fresh sage leaves which they obtain from the Living Desert in Palm Desert and in return, make a sizeable contribution to the Living Desert.
Tours are available and the one I took was led by Dave, the President & CEO. He was a great tour guide, answering questions and explaining the function of all the equipment – even letting us poke our heads inside some of the huge stainless steel tanks. He told us that every single piece of equipment is sanitized after each use so that not only is it clean, but there is no chance of anything from one batch getting into another. In fact, he said the place was so clean, we could eat off the floor! I was eating one of their house made pretzels and mustard (and I saw them making their mustard, using their beers), and was tempted to call his bluff.
Above the service bar is a chalk board listing all the available beers, and the prices for the “tasters” (2 ounce); glass (8 ounce), and “growler” (32 and 64 ounce). For the uninitiated (like me), a “growler” is a refillable bottle they sell so the customer can take home their favorite brew. They charge $10 for the 32 ounce and $20 for the 64 ounce but it’s yours to keep – to bring back (washed with soapy water and dried, please) to be refilled next time! Filled growlers must – by law – be sealed before being removed from the premises.
If you’re planning a party, kegs are available as well as 22 oz. and 750 ml. bottles. Chris told me they have plans to begin traditional size bottling operation within the next 30 to 60 days – just in time for the holidays!
If you like a particular beer, tell them. If you don’t, tell them that, too. If too many do – or don’t – it will definitely influence whether to continue or stop making that specific one! Plus, they have been striving to introduce a NEW beer every week so the menu is always being refreshed (get it? refreshed? OK, OK!).
CVB will be at Oktoberfest Palm Springs this Saturday, October 19 at the Spa Resort Casino. Stop by and say hello to Chris, Dave, Tasha, Devon and the gang. They’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.
Beer Brats in Mustard Sauce
For the Brats
- 10 brats – any brand you like
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 light beers
- 10 brat buns or hot dog buns
- Condiments such as ketchup, relish, chopped raw onion, cheese, etc.
- 1 extra beer of Grillmaster’s choice (for the Grillmaster!)
For the Mustard Holding Sauce
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 beer
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 c spicy brown mustard
- 1/3 c crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tsp. cayenne pepper (more of less, to your taste)
- 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
You can make the Holding Sauce before you start, or while the brats are simmering, or while they are grilling. I suggest you do it first (or have someone else do it) so you’re not rushing from one thing to another!
Sauté the onions in butter in another saucepan over medium heat. When the onions are translucent and just beginning to brown, add the beer, black and cayenne peppers, brown sugar, mustard, garlic and tomatoes. Stir the mixture and heat to simmer – do not let it boil. *When brats are done on the grill, reheat the mustard sauce if necessary and add the brats and simmer for at least 15 minutes before serving. Brats can remain in the mustard “holding” sauce for 1 – 2 hours
For the Brats
In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, place the chopped onion, black pepper and 2 bears over medium heat until steam starts to rise, stirring constantly. Don’t let it boil. This is a good time to start the grill.
Place the brats in the pan and simmer for 20 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure all sides are evenly cooked. Remove the brats to a plate and discard the onion-beer mixture.
Place the brats on the grill about 7 – 8″ above the coals and grill on medium heat for 15 – 20 minutes, turning occasionally so they brown evenly. Watch for flare-ups and if you see any, spray with water. Flare-ups cause the grill to get too hot and char the brats, causing them to burst and you lose all the flavor, and the fat released causes more flare-ups! Grillmaster may drink beer as necessary! If your grill has a cover, use it except while turning the brats.
Your brats should be completely cooked and evenly brown on all sides. They will continue to cook in the “holding” sauce. * Add evenly browned brats to mustard holding sauce and simmer at least 15 minutes.
Serve alone or on buns with condiments of your choice
Note: If you don’t like your mustard sauce spicy, reduce or eliminate the cayenne or use regular or dijon style mustard – or add additional sugar.