Friday, Jan 25 2013 11:27 AM

THE DISH: Popular ale returning to Kern River, but expect a bottleneck

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The Kern River Brewing Company on Sierra Way in Kernville.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

If Kern River Brewing Company's Citra is the Moby Dick of the craft-brewing world, then we have some good news for the perpetually frustrated Ahabs out there: The award-winning ale will be offered for sale Feb. 1 through 3.

But there is a limited supply.

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There are restrictions on how much patrons can buy.

And you can't beg or bribe them to hold the liquid gold until you get there, so don't even try.

Experience has taught the brew pub's owners they have no choice but to be strict when doling out the popular Citra, a 2011 gold medal winner at the great American Beer Festival. Folks travel to Kernville from all over the state in pursuit of the classic, described by inventor Kyle Smith as "a really hoppy beer."

"We will be releasing 35 cases per day with a six-bottle per person limit," warns the microbrewery in an email announcing the Citra news.

"It will also be on draft, but there will be no growler fills since we tend to go through the entire batch in about a day and a half. The bottles will be handled in the normal fashion: first-come first-served. If there is a line outside the door before we open at 11:30 (and there probably will be) we will hand out tickets to those in line. Once you have your ticket, you are guaranteed your six bottles, so you can sit down and eat and enjoy yourself."

So why don't they brew the Citra more often?

"Because we can't," the email states. "If you give us $1,000,000 we will brew it all year round and you can bathe in it."

Kern River Brewing Company is located at 13415 Sierra Highway in Kernville; 760-376-BEER (2337); kernriverbrewing.com.

-- Jennifer Self, Californian lifestyles editor

A taste of Freddy's

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers hasn't been open a week, but that didn't stop us -- like many Bakersfield residents -- from descending on the new restaurant for a taste. And taste we did, sampling an assortment of the restaurant's sweet and savory items.

First up is the frozen custard, available in vanilla and chocolate. With an ice cream base, the custard pushes the boundaries of decadence (could be the extra butter fat and egg yolks!) while also maintaining an airy texture. In fact, not kept frozen, the custard quickly liquifies.

We sampled both flavors, although vanilla proved to be the favorite when we brought back samples to the newsroom.

The only real complaint might be its availability. On its second day of operation, Freddy's was out of chocolate at lunchtime and then out of vanilla that night. A plethora of toppings might satisfy some guests, but I'm still waiting to try a double dish with a scoop of vanilla and chocolate.

There's no worry that Freddy's will run out of its other namesake item -- the steakburger -- as at least a half-dozen employees stayed busy at the burger station on both dining room visits. The made-to-order sandwich, available as a single, original double or triple, is a must-try for any hamburger afficionado.

It's strange to describe a burger as flaky and crispy but appropriate for these patties. Standard toppings include mustard, onion and long-sliced pickles, with cheese for 50 cents extra. Although the menu states Freddy's uses butter-toasted buns, that's nigh on impossible to discern in the presence of any strong toppings.

With 17 toppings listed, options abound, but for a decadent meal, consider this month's special selection: the bacon blue cheese steakburger.

The special includes grilled onions, which cut some of the richness of the cheese and bacon.

The hot dogs don't fare as well. My dining companion tried the Chicago dog, which, when served laden with the traditional veggies, is described as "dragged through the garden." My companion's verdict: "This one looked like it was dropped in the garden, with some sadsack sports peppers, tomatoes and other toppings on a too soft (and non-poppy seed) bun." But even he admitted the hot dogs aren't the reason you visit Freddy's.

One reason to wait in the long drive-through line is the wonderful shoestring fries, which stay crisp even on the drive home.

If you're throwing calorie caution to the wind, order the chili cheese fries, topped with all-beef chili, cheese sauce and chopped white onion. Like your fries a bit more bare? Freddy's offers its fry sauce -- remarkably close to Thousand island dressing -- and seasoning (a mix of salt, dehydrated garlic and onion, sugar and other spices that is used on the burgers and fries). The sauce seems unnecessary but if you can handle an extra shake of salt, it's worth throwing on the seasoning.

Freddy's probably will remain packed for the next few weeks as residents flock to the newest food spot. Service was strong in the dining room, but you'll need an eagle eye to stake out a table at lunch.

Even if you hold off and wait until the crowd dies down, don't miss this unique burger-and-sweets experience.

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is located at 2649 Calloway Drive; 587-3374; freddysusa.com; open daily.

-- Stefani Dias, Californian assistant lifestyles editor

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