Friday, April 20, 2007

Of Houses and Beer

House buying, part 3:

Wait and wait and wait for things to happen. Builder finally says he's about finished. Get the inspector out to examine the house. Inspector finds fault with item. Examine item information from any and all available sources, while builder fixes item. Decide it's probably fine. Second inspector gets brought in by the sellers to inspect, says first item is fine, finds a second item. Builder fixes everything.

Go on walkthrough around the house with builder and realtors. Place blue tape on every little blemish (actually that was more the realtors than us; they're picky!) for builder to finish off. Admire house.

Get closing date and HUD form from title company. Jump back in shock at how many things have appeared on the form that need paying for (courier fees, preparation fees, lawyer fees, property taxes, flood insurance, title insurance, escrow fees, guaranty fees, recording fees, survey fees and HOA fees, amongst others!) On said date, go to closing. The title company have a large stack of papers, which all need signing. A nice man from the bank and the realtor are also present so it all turns into a jolly session which involves us spending a lot of money.

But in return for the money, they give us a set of keys!

We are homeowners again :-)

As it happened, we'd already got tickets for last night's entertainment before our closing date was fixed, so we went to the Alamo Drafthouse with some guys from Alan's work. The Alamo Drafthouse is a wonderful place; a cinema in which every second row of seats is replaced by a long bench/table, to which servers bring food and drink while you watch the movie. There's four or five of these establishments around town now, each with its own excellent chef and selection of microbrewed beers.

Last night's movie was 'American Beer', which tells the story of five friends visiting 38 microbreweries across the US in 40 days. This was to co-incide with the American Craft Brewers Association's annual conference which happens to be in town this week, so in the audience of the movie we had not only the film's director, Paul Kermizian, but a dozen or so of the finest brewers in the USA!

Offerings from these included: Real Ale Full Moon Pale Rye (one of our regulars), New Belgium Mothership, Dogfish Head 90 Min IPA (Randalled and therefore ultra-hop-tastic *) and Red & White (fermented with grapes, very wine-y), Independence Bootlegger (brown ale but not heavy), Live Oak Pilz (another of our regulars) Avery Maharaja (a doozer!), St Arnolds Elissa IPA, Rogue Brew 10,000 (brewed only once, an honour to try this), Victory Golden Monkey, Allagash Curieux and Sam Adams Utopias (whoah!). Independence, Live Oak and Real Ale Brewing are all local to the Austin area.

This was all very fine beer, some of which had been brewed purely for this week's conference (Prickly Pear beer, anyone? Made at Real Ale as a collaboration between all the brewers and very delicious it was too) and the menu was suitably beer-themed:

# Smoked Ribs w/ Dubbel BBQ Sauce
# Roasted Pepper Chimay Cheese Rolls
# Aventinus Mousse Pate w/ Beer Bread Toast Points
# Goat Cheese Puffs w/ Raspberry Doppelbock Sauce

# Gueuze-Cured Tilapia Salad w/ Witbieraigrette

# Cascade Duck Breast a la Orange w/ Wild Mushroom Barley Risotto

# Malt Creme Caramel

Taken from the Alamo show page which goes into more detail.

They finished the evening with very small samples of the Sam Adams' Utopias, which they have only brewed three times. This batch was the 2003 vintage. They leave it in whisky barrels where it picks up the colour and flavour of whisky, in fact to taste this stuff you'd think it almost was whisky, and by the way it's 25.6% and around $120 per bottle!

It was indeed a damn fine evening :-)

* Randalling is the process of pouring beer through fresh hops at the time of serving it, so the alcohol in the beer strips the oil from the hops and massively intensifies the hoppy flavour and particularly the aroma. The container sits inline with the beer tap and is known as Randall the Enamel Animal :-) This is a Dogfish invention...

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