Sunday, March 31, 2013

"He is Risen"

AND on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared.And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre. And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were astonished in their mind at this, behold, two men stood by them, in shining apparel. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead? He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee, Saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words. And going back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. And it was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women that were with them, who told these things to the apostles. And these words seemed to them as idle tales; and they did not believe them. But Peter rising up, ran to the sepulchre, and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths laid by themselves; and went away wondering in himself at that which was come to pass --Luke 24:1-12

During the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening I found myself thinking about the sense of awe and wonder experienced by those women and men at the empty tomb that morning. Fear and sadness was replaced with joy as they witnessed first hand the reality of the Resurrection. Two thousand years later, the truth of the Resurrection of Our Lord stills bring us joy and the promise of eternal life. The Resurrection of Our Lord gives hope of better days ahead. The hope of salvation that Easter brings is sorely needed in these troubled times. While it may seem as if the world around us is failing into chaos, as we reflect on the events of Easter we are reminded that the biggest battle has already been fought and won on our behalf.

Hope you have a joy-filled and blessed Easter!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mad Fox Irish Red

Last weekend we joined our friend, aka "Checkered Flag" for dinner at Mad Fox Brewing in Falls Church. This time I remembered to bring along an empty growler in order to take some beer home with me. After enjoying a couple of pints of Rock Star Irish Red Ale with dinner, I had my Blue & Gray growler relabeled and filled with the Irish Red Ale.

Mad Fox's Irish Red Ale pours a very attractive mahogany red with a thin, short lived head. The aroma of bready malt backed is mixed with a hint of nuttiness. The taste is rich with sweet and caramel malt flavors. A mild hop bitterness comes through in the finish. The mouthfeel is lightly carbonated with a slightly oily finish. 

I don't bring growlers home too often. Once you crack it open, it's best to finish the beer off within a few days, if not sooner. Fortunately, with Mad Fox Rock Star Irish Red Ale, that won't be a problem.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bell's Hopslam

Colleen and I headed down to Capital Ale House Wednesday evening for their Hopslam Ale tapping. This seasonal beer from Bell's Brewing is very popular and six-packs on the store shelves go quickly. So quickly in fact that I never even bother trying to claim one. The CAH event was a great opportunity to enjoy this sought after beer.

Hopslam pours an attractive translucent golden orange color with a white, sticky head. The extreme clarity is atypical for a Double IPA. The aroma is a blend of citrus and honey sweetness. It's pleasant enough, but in the taste is where this beer truly shines. So many Double or Imperial IPAs tend to extremes; either towards bold hops or very sweet malt. Not so Hopslam, which is extremely well-balanced.

There's a blend of citrus and pine hops provide a bitter start which is quickly mellowed by the sweetness of the malt and honey. The 10% ABV is carried well, showing its warmth respectably. Mild bitterness lingers in the finish, but is short lived. In the end, the palate is left clean. A sticky lacing remains behind on the glass.

We ordered an appetizer of Rauchbier Cheese Dip served with warm pretzel bread to enjoy with our beer. The smoky, slightly bitter dip and salty bread complimented the beer nicely. When I finished my glass, there was still plenty of dip and bread left. I had no choice but to enjoy a second glass of Hopslam while we finished the food.

There's a mystique that surrounds Bell's Hopslam that gives it the reputation of being a "flavor bomb" or "palate wrecker." Personally, I find all the flavor components to be in balance. This is a big flavored beer, but hardly overbearing. However, it is one of those beers where you just keep repeating, "Wow, this is good" through the whole glass. The Hopslam "legend" and reputation is well-deserved. Who knows, maybe one year I'll make the effort to acquire some for my home refrigerator.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday

Oh, what these olive trees have witnessed.

The Garden of Gethsemane, Israel, August 2010

And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. --Luke 22:43-44

Taste Is Subjective

Seen on Overheard in DC:
Beer nerd facepalm  
At the Iron Horse Taproom: 
Girl: "Can I have a Blue Moon?"

Bartender: "We don't have that but I do have something similar."

Girl: "Ok!"

Girl sips beer

Girl: "Yes! This tastes just like a porter, thanks!"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Who loves ya, baby?

That was the message I received from Colleen via Facebook yesterday afternoon. I clicked the alert and saw this:

I think we all know the answer to that question. :-)

The Starr Hill Jambeeree! is a rarity among beer assortments. All of the beers I am looking forward to enjoying; no filler beers are included. Northern Lights, The Gift, and Cryptical have all been mused over previously. I guess I owe you readers some notes on the Amber Ale. Stand by...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

About That Ammo Shortage

I'm long overdue for some range time. Between a busy schedule and inclement weather, the opportunity for live fire practice has been nonexistent. However, Sunday afternoon I found time to load up the car and head over to the range. Despite Spring "officially" arriving, it was cold outside. A rain and snow storm was approaching, and there's a widely reported ammunition shortage, so there would be no problem getting on a range. Right? Wrong!

As pulled up to the gate I heard rapid fire of something large caliber coming from the rifle range. In addition I could see several cars at one of the pistol bays. Okay, I thought, looks like I'll use the small, and often muddy, pistol bay. No sooner did I unlock the gate when I heard the crack of a .22 from that range. Pulling through the gate I could see a bunch of cars parked at this bay as well. I drove through the park and saw the waiting lines at each bay and came to the disappointing conclusion that there would be no shooting for me today. Interestingly, there was no one using the shotgun range, despite shotgun ammo being in plentiful supply. (Note to self; always pack the shotgun heading to the range.) As I exited the gate, there was a long line of cars still streaming in.

I've been answering a lot of questions recently regarding ammo sources and availability. Fortunately I've had fair success in finding reasonably priced pistol ammunition, and in building my stock. Nonetheless, I was still shocked by range attendance on Sunday.

In summary,
It was quite cool outside.
A rain and snow storm was approaching.
There's that widely reported ammunition scarcity.
And still the ranges were filled beyond capacity.

It just goes to show, those who desire to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights are a dedicated, and resourceful, lot.

Monday, March 25, 2013

National Medal of Honor Day

This doesn't seem to getting any coverage in the media.
March 25, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of the first Medal of Honor awarded.
Our nation’s greatest war heroes – Medal of Honor recipients – will personally present awards to four unsung citizen heroes who’ve saved lives in extraordinary circumstances, during a special ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Approximately 20 Medal of Honor recipients are expected to attend the ceremony.
The recipients will first commemorate Medal of Honor Day, on the 150th anniversary of the Medal’s first presentation, with a wreath-laying at 2:00 at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The recipients will then present the Citizen Service Before Self Honors (CSBSH) awards at 2:30 to four honorees selected from a nationwide campaign for going above and beyond for their fellow man. 

The Medal of Honor was first awarded on March 25, 1863 to 6 Union soldiers for their actions in the "The Great Locomotive Chase." 

Sic semper tyrannis

I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom.
--Mayor Bloomberg of NYC

Any questions?

This is the same mayor whose policies ensured that 80% of New York City high school graduates can't read or write at high school level. I guess there's more than one way to keep the citizenry oppressed and under control.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Poverty Alleviation Programme

It's tempting. Don't you agree?
Kind Attn: Sir/Madam,

Congratulation Your email address has won you sum of Six Hundred Thousand Great British Pounds in the ongoing UN Poverty Alleviation Program, To Promote and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, including the overarching goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015.

However, Your email was attached to ticket number (7PAPZ2013) and ballot number (UT: 12052006/13 

To claim your UNDP Donation award fund, Kindly fill your claims by contacting the concern UN Poverty Alleviation Processing Manager.


Contact Person: Mr. Havvlin Berthod
Phone: +44 871 915 6062
Fax: +44 871 237 9590

Congratulation Once Again.
Yours Sincerely,
Mrs. Helen Clark.
Chief International Administrator. 

United Nation Development Programme (UNDP).

Seems legit. It's from the U.N. after all.

Friday, March 22, 2013

An Authentic Irish Red Ale

While waiting for our traditional St. Patrick's Day meal of corned beef and cabbage to cook, we decided to open a bottle of an authentic Irish Red Ale; the Dungarvan Copper Coast Red Ale I had recently received.

Dungarvan beers are unfiltered and bottle conditioned, as God intended, and that was readily apparent in the bottle. There was a copious yeast remnant both at the bottom and around the rim of the bottle. I poured the beer into a couple of St. Patrick's Day glasses from the previous day's Blue & Gray Brewery festivities. The beer pours with a thin head over a cloudy, dark copper base. A moderately strong aroma of yeasty malt was quick to arise. The flavors of caramel and biscuit, and lightly toasted malts make up the taste. A bit of bitter hops comes in the finish. This is a very well-balanced Red Ale, and I lamented my supply was limited to the one bottle.

We broke out a chunk of Kerrygold Aged Cheddar to enjoy with the beer. The sharpness of the cheese paired very well with the toasted and bitter flavors of the beer. Alas, my glass was emptied much to soon. Even though I was watching the snow fall outside, I was transported back to that warm afternoon in Ireland when I was first introduced to Dungarvan Irish Red Ale.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cheaper Than (Gold Bearing) Dirt?

I was doing my morning Internet ammo scavenger hunt when I came across this gem:

Cheaper Than Dirt earned the ire of many shooters when they pulled online gun sales and raised their prices manyfold in the wake of the Newtown shooting. I bid them farewell based on their new ammo pricing structure alone. However, I am a firm believer in capitalism, so it's their right to sell for what they want, and for what they can get.

People are free to spend their money as they wish. It's that "can get" part of the equation that really irks me. I'm still buying ammo, and I spend a lot of time looking for it. However, I refuse to pay such exorbitant prices. And I hold those who do partially responsible for the ridiculous prices. $1.09 per round for 9mm target ammo is pushing the envelope, even in today's market, in my opinion. I've long held that if people would stop buying products promoted via spam email, the spammers would stop sending it. The same thing applies here.

I'm going to check back on this link in the coming days. I really hope I don't see a sold out message anytime soon. (And yes, with some diligence, you can still buy 9mm ammo for less than $20 for a box of 50.)

UPDATE: In the 24 hours since I wrote this post, Cheaper Than Dirt has RAISED the price by $5.00, to $59.59. (New screenshot)

Birthday Freebies

Today marks another milepost on the road of life; 55 years under my belt. Having a birthday that falls during Lent tends to put a damper on the celebrations, but at least this year the day doesn't fall on Good Friday. But it's still a "school night" nonetheless.

It's been interesting to note, and enjoy, the birthday deals that so many businesses offer. That's certainly a plus from the proliferation of social media. I've got a free coffee of my choice coming from Starbucks. I think I'll take advantage of that today, and get some large, overly-complex drink with extra caffeine and flavoring. I've already enjoyed the free dinner entrée offered by Park Lane Tavern.

I didn't claim my free birthday burger during a recent visit to Red Robin, but there's still time for a return visit. I wonder if sitting through the birthday song and dance routine is required. Mad Fox Brewing Company also sent a coupon for a free dessert. Unfortunately it arrived just after our recent visit.

The non-food companies get into the act as well. MidwayUSA sent an email alerting me to "special Birthday Pricing on nearly every product" in the online store. That one expires today, so I better check it out to see if there are any shooting supplies I simply must have. ;-)

Not all the offers are as welcome though. One annoyance is the latest rash of mailings from the leftist, pro-obummercare, and anti-Constitution AARP. The contents of their mailing went right into their postage paid envelope, and was returned to them at their expense. Of course, the mild satisfaction I get from that action is a gift in itself.

Oh yea, the next time I register for a USPSA match, I'll be checking the "Senior" box on the form. I'm not sure what that gains me, but it's mine to choose now. Speaking of shooting, maybe I'll hit the range and use up a few rounds of precious metals today.

At the end of the day, if I stay awake long enough, I'll enjoy a good beer and read a bit. Today's not so different from any other day really.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Irish Beer Milkshake

When I first read about the Red Robin Irish Beer Milkshake, I assumed it was just another St. Patrick's Day gimmick. But then I got to thinking; Guinness Draught, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and chocolate ice cream. How bad could it be? We've been known to serve beer and ice cream floats ourselves. So we recently headed for Red Robin to try out these shakes for ourselves.

The shakes looked like one would expect, the creamy shake topped with a heaping pile of whipped cream. The initial flavor was sweet chocolate, and then the whiskey comes in to play. I was pleasantly surprised by how apparent the whiskey was. The Guinness aspect was not noticeable beyond a faint roasted malt, but that may be more attributable to the chocolate and whiskey combo. The shakes were quite tasty. Of course, that shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Guinness Beer. Jameson Whiskey. Chocolate. Need I say more?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013


The annual St. Patrick's Day celebration sponsored by Blue & Gray Brewery was held Saturday. This year we arrived after the kickoff parade, to take in the food and the beer. There was a brief moment of sun when we first arrived, but soon, to make the Irish feel right at home, it began to rain. The rain stayed for about a long as we did; and we saw the sun once again soon after we arrived home.

I enjoyed a couple pints of Blue & Gray Stonewall Stout. I considered once again that this may well be my favorite among the brewery's beers, but one that I don't order all that often, outside of this annual celebration. Stonewall Stout has a nice balance of roasted malts and mild sweetness, with a creamy mouthfeel and very low carbonation. It's a great midday beer, especially when there's still more activities to get to. And just 5% ABV to boot! The falling rain didn't help my plate of bangers and mash, but the celebration was fun despite the weather.

Each year it occurs to me just how much the Irish love of the pub and pint is twisted by the "American" St. Patrick's Day festivities. Perhaps that's why I enjoy the Blue & Gray event so much. It's a family oriented time to enjoy a few pints and visit with friends. There's definitely no green beer, and the green wigs are few. That's a proper way to celebrate the day; tasty beer, food, family, and friends make for a good time. 

Glac bog an saol agus glacfaidh an saol bog tú
Take the world nice and easy, and the world will take you the same.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Ah, St. Patricks Day. Such a confusing day. To the Irish, the day honors a great Saint. For too many others, it's a day dedicated simply to green beer and debauchery. Our family has long had a devotion to St. Patrick. Our admiration was made all the more tangible when we were blessed to take a pilgrimage to the Emerald Isle last year. During that visit I was reminded just how much the Irish love Patrick. To honor this day, and St. Patrick's memory, I'll share these depictions of St. Patrick from our trip.

The Black Abbey, Kilkenny, Ireland

Tapestry, Knock Shrine

Ballintubber Abby

Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

St. Patrick Cathedral, Dublin

And finally, since St. Patrick is also our parish patron, one of our church window.

Bishop Patrick

Photos courtesy of C. Turley

Saturday, March 16, 2013


It's not found in green beer.

From Catholic Memes.

Double D Double IPA

Originally a one-time release, Double D IPA is the latest addition to the year-round list of beers from Old Dominion Brewing. The promotional package I received recently also included another beer in the brewery's "pinup" series, Morning Glory Espresso Stout, as well as a sample of Cherry Blossom Lager. It should be no surprise to regular readers that I opted to try out the IPA first. I look forward to sharing my experience with the other two beers in the near future.

A fairly robust pour builds a small, but persistent head over the dark orange beer. Copious creamy lacing is left in the glass. The aroma is sweet malt, grass and a hint of alcohol. The flavor profile combines a sweet malt base, with grapefruit pith and resiny pine. The sweet malt predominates and overtakes the citrus notes at the end, leaving an astringent and sweet finish. The 9% ABV provides some warmth. The overall impression tends towards a mild Barleywine, though in my mind, there is a blurry line between a Double IPA and a Barleywine Style Ale.

The artwork for both the Double D and Morning Glory packaging is based on the WWII practice whereby a pilot would embellish the nose of his airplane with a very personal piece of art. Though often frowned upon by the upper echelon, these paintings were intended to inspire and motivate with their provocative nature. Also in the package I received were two 17" x 11" heavy paper posters of the artwork for Double D and Morning Glory. They'll make nice additions to the breweriana corner in the basement.

Bottles of Double D IPA are showing up on store shelves now. And, in good news for craft beer fans in Ohio and Michigan, your states are included in the Old Dominion distribution range.

The beer reviewed here was a promotional sample from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will and mind. The only outside influence being the beer itself.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Virginia Gains A New Brewery

Green Flash Brewing Company announced today that they will be building a new brewery in Virginia Beach, VA. From
The co-founders of San Diego-based Green Flash Brewing Co. had settled on a seaside city in North Carolina for the site of their second brewery, but a last-minute trip to Virginia Beach changed their minds. (emphasis mine)

"Frankly, I was so close on another city that I was really going there with the mindset just to cross it off my list to make sure I had done my due diligence," said Mike Hinkley, who co-founded Green Flash with his wife, Lisa, in 2002.
< ... >
The Hinkleys wanted to build a brewery in the mid-Atlantic so they could deliver fresh beer to about two-thirds of the U.S. population. About a third of Green Flash's beer is sold on the East Coast. 
The Virginia Beach site will include a tasting room, an event center, a store, a pavilion and a nearly 1-acre beer garden. Food trucks and caterers will be invited to sell to customers, but the brewery will not operate a restaurant.

After seeing New Belgium, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada all make plans to build their East Coast breweries in our neighboring state to the south, it's good to see Virginia put one in the win column. I think I'll need to pick up a six-pack of Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale this weekend to celebrate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Breckenridge Evening

Our dishwasher is broken, so being a thoughtful husband, I felt I should lend a helping hand on the dishes, or, we could go out to eat. Tuesday happened to be "Steal the Glass" Night at Capital Ale House, featuring Breckenridge Brewery, so...

Two beers were featured this evening, 72 Imperial Chocolate Cream Stout and 471 Small Batch IPA. Each beer came in its own glass; the Stout in a logo shaker pint, and the IPA in and attractively etched snifter. I started off with the IPA, while Colleen kicked off the evening with the Stout.

The Breckenridge pub was a regular stop for me when I was traveling to Denver on business, and I've enjoyed many a pint of the Small Batch IPA, although I seem to recall it being served in a full "pint" rather than the 10 oz snifter. The beer is technically an Imperial, or Double, IPA. Checking in at 9.2% ABV, the beer is full of rich malt, and pine and citrus hops. At the opposite end of the flavor spectrum, the Imperial Chocolate Cream Stout was quite tasty as well. This flavor is am enjoyable balance of coffee and dark chocolate without bitterness. The 7.2% ABV earns it the "imperial" designation, but the alcohol is well-hidden in a smooth and creamy beer.

We enjoyed our beers with an appetizer of smoked salmon and hash brown potato cakes drizzled with dill sauce, from CAH's special St. Patrick week menu. All of us, our son included, remarked we could have each enjoyed ordering that dish as our main course. Instead, we ordered another round of beers and our entrées. This time we each chose the "other" beer; after all we needed a matched set of glasses!

For the main course, two of us had seared flat iron steak marinated in a Guinness and malt sauce, served with a spinach soufflé and potatoes. It was quite tasty, and I found it went quite well with the Imperial Chocolate Cream Stout. Our son enjoyed a classic cheeseburger, with Capital Ale House's frites.

All in all, it was a enjoyable and tasty dinner, and as Colleen noted, "No dishes!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quantico USPSA Match

I finally made it up the monthly USPSA match by the Quantico Practical Shooters this past Sunday. The half-day match is held at the Quantico Shooting Club ranges on Marine Base Quantico. I admit I wasn't so enamored with the idea when the alarm went off Sunday morning, thanks to that "Daylight Savings Time" switch. However, an extra cup of coffee got me on my way to the range. I wasn't sure what to expect getting on the base, with a gun, but the process was hassle free; an ID check and I was on my way.

The morning started out cool, around 32°, and I was glad for the last minute decision to wear an extra layer. But, as is typical for Virginia, four hours later when finished up the temperature had gone up 30 degrees!

The first of four match stages required the shooter to start with an unloaded gun, with all magazines set on barrels around the stage. It was a fun stage and something a little different than usual. It took extra concentration to remember not to try to reload from the belt. I had my best hits on that stage, so maybe the extra thought process involved was a help! Stage Two consisted of an array of six targets in a line along the berm, with some no-shoots interspersed. The shooter shot two strings of fire; the first was one shot on each target, reload, then one shot on each strong hand only. The second string was the same except the weak hand was used.

Stage 1

Stage Three, in addition to the usual paper targets, had 5 bowling pins placed at distances ranging from very close to "slow down and aim." The paper targets were also placed at wide-ranging distances. It was a fun stage requiring some extreme changes in shooting speed and aiming techniques. The final stage was the USPSA classifier Melody Line 99-08. It consisted of 6 targets, each engaged once, followed by a mandatory reload and 6 more shots.

As a "bonus," the club had set up a final optional stage with two plate racks. The shooters could shoot three strings, and the fastest time won bragging rights; no divisions or classifications taken into account. My times were nothing to brag about but it was good shoot the stage solely for the opportunity to get in a little practice on the plate racks.

I enjoyed the match very much, although I didn't shoot as well as I would have liked. I found myself shooting low a bunch, so will need to focus on correcting that for the future. I've been wanting to get up for one of the Quantico matches, and was glad it finally worked out. It was good to see some old friends again, and make some new shooting friends as well. The match was fun, relatively close to home, and didn't consume the entire day. I'm definitely looking forward to shooting this match again.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom

I'm thinking about my mother even more than usual today. March 11 would have been her 76th birthday. The picture below greats me on my desk each morning. I think it's my favorite picture of her; despite her suffering, she still managed to smile. Thanks mom, for giving us that joy to remember you by.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I miss you but I know you're still smiling.

Jacqueline Turley
March 11, 1937 - September 28, 2010

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Starr Hill Cryptical on Cask

Friday evening we headed out for dinner at Park Lane Tavern. I had decided on a malty Scotch Ale when our server let us know the evening's cask selection was Starr Hill Cryptical. I initially could not remember what style that represented, nor could the server. However, by the time she returned with a sample, I had looked it up (yea, smart phones) and had made my decision. Imperial Stout. Served on cask. Yea, that's just the ticket to go with our Fish & Chip entrées.

We were taken by surprise when the beers arrived. They was served in larger than expected, two-hands needed, snifters. The Cryptical Imperial Stout is pure black with a moderate beige head. As the glass is emptied, a very sticky lacing is left behind. The aroma is faint, mostly roasted malt and mild coffee, with some floral hop notes. Dark roasted malt, bitter chocolate and earthy hops make up the taste profile. A hint of citrus comes through in the finish, but the roasted, bitter malts linger as the mainstay in the dry finish

Served from cask, the beer was low in carbonation and served at just the right temperature. There was no need to wait for the beer to warm to release the rich flavors. We enjoyed sipping on our beers during dinner, and while lingering long after we had finished eating.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dungarvan Black Rock Irish Stout

Sitting around anticipating the approaching winter storm, and waiting for the very slow decision to cancel school, the time seemed right for a glass of a good stout. I retrieved the bottle of Dungarvan Black Rock Irish Stout I had received from a coworker a few months ago. We were introduced to the beers of Dungarvan Brewery during our Ireland pilgrimage and I was excited to be able to try another beer from this relatively new Irish craft brewery.

Black Rock Stout pours pitch black with a creamy, thick beige head. The head persists and also leaves behind a coating on the sides of the glass. The aroma of coffee and roasted malt come with a touch smoke. The flavor brings to mind coffee, roasted malt and cocoa. There's a hint of sweetness and black licorice in the background. The finish is dry with the taste of roasted coffee lingering behind. A thick and creamy mouthfeel completes the picture.

As much as I was looking forward to this beer, I enjoyed Dungarvan Black Rock Irish Stout even more than I expected. Currently, Dungarvan beer is available in Ireland, and is also exported Italy. I hope someday the brewery's bottle-conditioned beers will be imported into the U.S. Meanwhile, I'm going to have to convince my Irish coworker to pack an extra suitcase on his next trip to the States.

It's odd to think, less than four months ago I was sitting in an Irish pub enjoying some Dungarvan beers. Drinking this bottle of Irish Stout brings back fond memories. I look forward to cracking open the others.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Three From Mad Fox

After I finished shooting that exhausting pistol match, we made our way to Falls Church to join a friend for dinner at Mad Fox Brewing Company. I always look forward to a visit to Mad Fox, both for the tasty beers, and the good food. I actually debated quite a while before making my drink selection. All the beers sounded good, but I had a long, and late, drive home. One of these days, I'm going to get up there with enough time to enjoy more of the offerings, especially the wonderful sounding Barleywine Ales that Bill Madden is creating. Of course, we all would share tastes of our selections and that helped to ease the frustration of needing to limit my consumption.

I finally opted for Dingo IPA. This is described as an "American style" IPA, which means I could expect plenty of citrus hops in both the aroma and taste. And that's what I got! The aroma was citrusy with some fruit notes, and the flavor had a rich malt base with the citrus hops.

For her selection, Colleen ordered Diabolik Belgian Strong Ale. The flavor is ripe with yeast and citrus flavors. At 8.8% ABV, the small snifter glass full was plenty to get Colleen through her dinner.

Our friend picked Mad Fox's signature Kölsch. This is a crisp beer with a drying finish. There's a hint of grassiness and tartness in the flavor that results in an enjoyable, refreshing beer.

A Tasty Trio
Photo by C. Turley
Dinner started with the Frickles and a Soft Pretzel Twist. Both these appetizers were served with side "sauces" that were especially enjoyable. The fried pickles were accompanied by a spicy ranch dip. I found myself scraping the last bits off my plate after the Frickles were gone. The whole grain ale mustard served with the pretzel was especially zesty, and brought out several delightful exclamations as we ate.

Our group, as is typical, feasted on burgers and "Beer-BQ." The food was delicious and filling. I had finished my IPA just as the food was served, and was considering ordering a glass of Schwarzbier to accompany the "Bacon Jam" burger. Alas, the burger was so tasty, I had pretty much finished it before our waiter returned so I skipped trying the black lager on this visit. It probably made for an easier drive home at the end of a long tiring day. I'll have to go back.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fredericksburg USPSA Spring Opener

Though you'd never know it from the temperature, or this, Spring is apparently at hand. I know because the Fredericksburg Practical Shooters put on their first USPSA match of 2013 this weekend. And, if that match was any indication, it's going to be a great year!

I helped with setting up the match on Saturday, even though at the time I had some doubts I'd actually shoot it, the expected duration of the match conflicting with other commitments on Sunday evening. However, once I saw the cool challenges to Match Director had devised, I knew I had to work it out. (My apologies to family and friends for the late dinner date Sunday.)

Sunday morning was quite cool, and the temps were barely above freezing by the time we got started shooting. I laughed when I went to paste a hole in a target and my hands were shaking so bad I missed the hole with the sticker. I hoped that wasn't a sign of the shooting to come!

The match consisted of 7 field courses, a speed stage, and a classifier. All the stages were fun and a few I found especially intriguing. Stage 2, "Bookends," began with the shooter hanging with one hand from a bar while leaning far around a wall to engage targets shooting one-handed. The course of fire ended in a similar position, using opposite hand. The start, for this right-handed shooter, involved drawing the gun, transferring the gun to my left hand, grabbing the bar with my right hand, engaging three targets, transferring the gun back to my right hand, performing a reload, then moving to engage the next target array. I spent a lot of my walk-through time just rehearsing that portion of the course. Some "gamers" (which is perfectly legit in USPA) realized they could lean thru a gap in the walls and hit the last array without being forced to use the one-handed hang. I opted for the more fun way that the course designer had intended.

Stage 3, "Hit 'em High," was a typical field course with all the targets lined up along the berm and visible from multiple gaps between the wall sections. What was interesting was all the paper targets had no-shoots covering their lower portions, the two steel plates had no-shoots below them, and the falling popper had hard-cover steel in front. This forced me to pay close attention to the front sight. I did not hit any no-shoots and actually claimed a third place finish on this stage, my best of the match.

Stage 6, "Rock 'n Roll," had a pair of moving targets that rolled down an incline after being activated by shooting a falling popper. I've shot swinging and turning targets in matches, but never a target that was "running." It was a lot of fun, and if I recall correctly I scored 3 A's and 1 C one that pair.

There was falling steel and several swinging targets throughout the match, as well as quite a few no-shoot targets strategically placed. It was fun to finally get out and shoot a match, my first since October. I had a range of finishes on the stages, doing well on some, and not as well on others. I had a strong start but fell in the second half, due mostly, I suspect, to getting complacent and not paying as good attention as I should to that bump on the front of the gun. I was also admittedly distracted by the late hour and the need to get away to my other committment. However, overall I was pleased with my shooting, and I had a great time. It was also fun to shoot with friends I hadn't seen in a while.

It was a long, and tiring day. I arrived at the range around 8:00 AM, the match started at 9:00, and I finally headed for home a little before 5:00PM. I've spent the winter months working on dry fire and movement, but I realized Sunday evening that I may need to better prepare myself for standing for 8-9 hours too! Despite the aching muscles, I'm looking forward to next month! Given the current ammo shortage, and ridiculous prices, I suspect the majority of my live-fire practice will be in the context of matches, rather than standing on the practice range.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Two From Blue & Gray

Colleen and I decided to have dinner Friday evening at Blue & Gray Brewing. I had heard about two limited beers being served, Franklin's Crossing IPA and Fred Red Reserve, and I didn't want to miss them. We dropped our son off for a youth activity at church and headed off on our date.

Franklin's Crossing IPA pours a deep marmalade color with just a ring of foam at the top. The aroma exhibits grassy and citrus hop notes. The beer is dry hopped with whole Cascade hops after fermentation, and the fresh "green" flavor is apparent. The juicy citrus flavor is balanced by a bit of sweet malt. If not for the 8.5% ABV, one might pick Franklin's Crossing as an extra hoppy Pale Ale. The beer is not bitter or overbearing and I enjoyed my second pint as much as the first. As an aside, this beer takes its name from Franklin's Crossing, a Civil War pontoon site located just a few hundred yards from the brewery.

Colleen opted for the Fred Red Reserve. This beer is a once-a-year release of Blue & Gray's Fred Red Ale that is aged for 7 months in oak bourbon barrels. The color seems a tad darker in color than the parent beer. The aroma is mostly sweet malt though the effects of the bourbon barrel is detectable. The change imparted by the aging is readily apparent when the beer is tasted. The beer has a rich, dark malt flavor with a distinctive sweet bourbon flavor. The oak aging gives a richness to the beer, but does not overpower the flavor of the red ale. Frankly, I am skeptical of the trend to age everything in bourbon barrels, but the Fred Red Reserve proved a good use of the time spent in the barrel.

Franklins' Crossing IPA an Fred Red Reserve
We finished dinner in time to head back across town pick up our son, and then take him to a Boy Scout activity. While we waited for that function to end, we headed over to a nearby Starbucks to enjoy some brewed beverages of a different sort. It was a busy Friday night but we still managed to get in some good food and beverage.