Sunday, June 30, 2013

No Smoking At Starbucks

Saw this sign at the Starbucks recently.

That could present a problem for smokers. I'm pretty sure there's a Starbucks at least every 25 feet in most cities.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five O'Clock Friday: I'm Outta Here

There are guns to be shot, beers to be drank, and naps to be had...

Have a great weekend!

Virginia Cider Maker Expanding

Posting this video for our friend, and cider lover, "Checkered Flag."

After just one year in operation, Bold Rock Cider in Nelson County is embarking on a $4 million expansion project.

Owner John Washburn says, "Our tastings are free because we know if people taste it, they'll come back" and given Bold Rock's success, he's right. Construction of the new facility is expected to be complete by January, and it will be open to the public by May.

Field trip CF?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Herculean Memories

Several years ago my job required me to travel to Denver on a regular basis. As annoying as air travel was, and is, spending a few days in a great craft beer city made those trips tolerable. Without fail, I'd pay a visit to the Taproom at Great Divide Brewery to enjoy pints of their beers, including Great Divide Hercules Double IPA. The fact that Hercules is a favorite of mine is obvious from its frequent mention on these Musings. The beer was available, sporadically, in Virginia. I rarely bought it locally though. Why bring home well-traveled bottles when I was drinking it fresh, on draft at the source so often? However, I spied six-packs of Hercules on a store shelf recently, and since I'm no longer making those trips, I picked some up, for old times' sake.

Great Divide Hercules pours a deep copper color, with a thin but persistent beige head. The aroma is rich with pine and citrus hops, with some sweet malt thrown in. It's one of those beers that I spend as much time inhaling the aroma as I do tasting. And the taste follows right along with the aroma. The citrus and bitter hops are strong and intensely flavorful. There's a bit of sweetness in the background, but it serves only to balance and is not cloying. The mouthfeel is syrupy and sticky, and the bitter, resinous flavors linger in the mouth, for a long, long time.

This beer is as good as I remember. Digging out the Great Divide glass I brought home from the brewery helped to enliven those fond memories. Interestingly, during my visits to the brewery I'd often enjoy more than one pint of Hercules before heading off in search of dinner or to visit other breweries. These days, one glass of this 10% ABV drink is enough for the evening! I've still got five more waiting in the beer fridge to be enjoyed soon. I just have to find another evening with nothing else to do.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rusty Beaver Roy's Big Bad Brown Ale

We picked up this growler at Rusty Beaver last week, and finally had the chance to open it up on Sunday. Even after years of success, I am always a bit apprehensive when opening a new growler after it's been sitting in the fridge for a week, or more. I need not have worried, the flip top was sealed tight and opened with a reassuring "pop."

Rusty Beaver is a new nano-brewery that opened up in Ashland, Virginia on June 15. The combination brewery and home brew supply shop is run by Virginia Barbeque owner Rick Ivey and his son Austin, the brewer. Plans call for Virginia BBQ to be available onsite eventually.

Roy's Big Bad Brown Ale pours a deep cocoa brown with a thick and frothy beige head. It's a pile of foam that just begs to poked and prodded with a finger. Colleen remarked, "It looks like a root beer float." The aroma is fairly mild, with hints of sweet chocolate and vanilla. The flavor profile is much more robust than the aroma would indicate. Bitter chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla are accompanied by a significant bitter hop presence. The descriptor "American" Brown Ale would certainly be applicable. I was reminded of the seasonal Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale.

As I've noted in previous posts, I typically do not order sampler trays, or "flights" when visiting a new brewery. I don't feel they are a good way to taste beer. Too many flavors at once combined with small samples can hardly give a proper impression of a brewery's beers. The Rusty Beaver flight we ordered during our visit, after the long day we'd already had, didn't allow me to fully appreciate this, or any of the brewery's other beers. I am very happy that we opted to grab the growler of Roy's Big Bad Brown Ale to go. I'm looking forward to going back for more of this, as well as the other Rusty Beaver offerings.

I'm also quite confident that Rusty Beaver's hoppy Brown Ale would go exceptionally well with a tasty platter of Virginia Barbeque.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

If You Use Google Reader

This is an administrative reminder for readers who follow these Musings via Google Reader. You are hopefully aware that Google is killing off Reader on July 1. Be sure to save your RSS subscriptions before that day.

I follow nearly 300 RSS feeds daily, so keeping things synced between my laptop and mobile devices is very important to me. I have switched over to Feedly, which offers a web-based interface as well as an iOS app. I'm glad I made the switch in advance, as it took me a few days to get used to the changes in the interfaces. If you move before July 1, Feedly will automatically import your Google Reader subscriptions and folders. (Note, I hold no interest in Feedly other than as a user.)

If you don't want to miss any Musings, or other feeds to which you subscribe, it's best to get ahead of the Google Reader shutdown and find a replacement before July 1.

As noted in the sidebar, there are feeds for both new posts and comments for Musings Over a Pint.

Dinner and a Beer. Or Two.

After a fun USPSA match, Colleen and I headed out for a relaxing dinner and a few beers at Capital Ale House. Our decision and timing proved excellent, as not only did I capture the prime parking spot right out front, but the sidewalk billboard announced that our favorite CAH meal, the Schnitzel Sandwich on a Pretzel roll, was a featured entrée.

Meal choice already made, we were left to peruse the beer menu. The Capital Ale House menu is arranged, generally, by beer style. When I'm hoping to try something new, I prefer a brewery-based listing myself, but we muddled through and found a couple of beers that were both new to us. Colleen opted for Lost Rhino Final Glide Hefeweizen, and I selected Rye of the Tiger from Great Lakes Brewing. We also selected a plate of Deviled Eggs topped with crab meat as an appetizer.

The Deviled Eggs were delicious. The crab meat topping added an additional flavor treat. I stole a few sips of Colleen's Hefeweizen and it was very tasty. I believe it is a new release from the Ashland brewery. Colleen even texted a picture of her beer to our friend Checkered Flag, who's a big fan of the style. We had recently visited Lost Rhino with him, but this particular beer wasn't available at that time.

Rye of the Tiger is a moderately hoppy IPA. The aroma is semi-sweet with both citrus and floral hop notes. The bitter and citrus hops in the flavor are moderated by the sweet, caramel malt base. I was also struck right away by the creamy mouthfeel of the beer. I found it to be a tasty IPA, that did not overwhelm with any strong one-sided flavors.

When our Schnitzel Sandwich platters arrived, the sides of frites were accompanied by spiced mayonnaises; Colleen's plate had spicy, peppery blend, while my meal came with a dill version. Colleen preferred the more moderate condiment so we swapped, although sharing was still allowed. However, my now extra spicy meal called for another beer, and one that would hold up to that red pepper flavor. For this purposed I selected the Devils Backbone 8 Point IPA. Even though both my beers were technically American IPAs, the beers could not have been any more different. 8 Point IPA is brewed in the "west coast" style, with an intense citrus hops in both the aroma and taste. This robust flavor profile was surely exaggerated by my having just enjoyed a more moderately flavored IPA.

It was an pleasant and relaxing evening spent enjoying good food, beer and conversation. But soon the recent late nights, the early start to the day, not to mention driving and shooting, would catch up to bring an early retirement to our Saturday. But what an enjoyable day it was.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June Walnut Creek USPSA Match

Saturday I headed out the door early, heading to Summit Point, West VA for the monthly Walnut Ridge USPSA match. I was looking forward to the day, not only for the interesting stages I knew awaited, but because a large number of a local shooting friends were all attending as well. It was going to be a fun day of visiting with friends, and meeting new ones, and of course shooting. It meant an early start to the day, but that's what weekends are for!

The match consisted of five field courses and one classifier stage.  The stages at Walnut Creek are generally compact, but packed full of interesting twists and turns. Literally. Most stages make use of the full 180° allowed. Often they require changes in direction of movement, wide swings, and tight shots. A single target visible at only a small point, might force the shooter to come to a complete stop when moving between two other target groups. We also saw larger groups of targets all shootable through a single opening, but not without a lot of bobbing back and forth to see them all. All this made for lots of discussion, decisions, and planning. And then remembering the plan once the buzzer sounded.

A few of us often joked that the course designers had something against Production shooters, with our 10-round limit. Now I know how the revolver shooters must feel at times. The challenge sometimes became finding the best point at which to do a standing reload. Or being alert that you will go to slide lock at a certain point. I realized just how much I was unaccustomed to slide lock reloads. I knew that I would be at slide lock as I moved to the last target array on one stage. Yet, when I changed the magazine and went to shoot the final target I realized the slide was still locked back; I had inserted the new mag but not released the slide. Dropping the slide while reloading on the move just wasn't "normal," since I would typically be reloading a gun that was not empty.

Another stage had lots of steel targets as well as paper. For the Production shooter, not going one-for-one on the steel poppers meant doing a standing reload. One popper I hit too low and it didn't fall, which meant time lost to reloading. I may have missed the first makeup shot right after reload. During the classifier stage I also dropped the first shot after a required standing reload as well. Patience reacquiring grip and sight picture after a reload might be something to work on during future practice sessions. [Note to self.]

I was pretty happy with how I shot the five field courses. I had no misses or no-shoots, although I had some D hits which might as well be misses. The classifier stage, was a different story for me, and others, and was a point of good natured ribbing for our squad. "Nuevo El Presidente" is essentially a "go fast or go home" stage. Unfortunately a large number of us fell to the no-shoots. But it was all still good fun.

Although I am still partial to my "home match," Walnut Ridge is becoming my other favorite place to shoot. I enjoy the variety of shooting challenges presented, as well as the stage analysis and planning challenges. I also am very appreciative of the Saturday schedule, which seems to be a rarity among USPSA clubs. I can devote Saturday to shooting, and still attend my regular Mass on Sunday and have a day with family before starting the work week. The two hour drive to the range, and then back, is but a minor inconvenience. The drive is pleasant, and mostly not on Interstate. Coffee gets me there in the morning, and the 80's satellite radio station, playing at maximum volume, makes the drive home fun and fast.

I'm looking forward to next month. I've got the July match on my calendar, and most importantly, an alarm set for the opening of the online registration.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wild Wolf Pilsner

We've been following and reporting on Wild Wolf Brewing in Nelson County, VA for a couple of years. Unfortunately, I've not the opportunity to actually try any of their beers. Finally, I picked up a six-pack of Wild Wolf American Pilsner during our recent trek to Norm's Beer and Wine.

Friday evening, while the rest of the family was out on their own adventures, I was left at home to ponder my beer selection for the evening. I was planning a very early start on Saturday for a USPSA match, so I passed by the many Double IPA's and other "big" beers filling the beer fridge, and grabbed a can of Wild Wolf's 4.5% ABV beer to enjoy with my book.

The beer pours a very clear, straw yellow color. A hard pour raises a thin white head. The mild aroma was bready with a hint of citrus. The flavor profile was similarly mild. Lightly toasted grain with a hint of faint lemon zest. A bit of sweetness comes through in the finish and lingers. Otherwise the beer finishes clean. Mouthfeel is thin with moderate carbonation.

My overall impression of Wild Wolf American Pilsner is that of a clean, easy-drinking beer. In fact, this might be a good gateway beer to get your BMC-swilling friends to step up their game a notch. There's enough going on to be interesting, but not so extreme as to scare off a factory beer drinker. The mild flavor profile would surely be most welcoming as a cool, refreshing drink after some Summer-time yard work.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Three Girls & A Beach House

Gotcha. :-)

However, that is an accurate summation of the beer sampler sent by Old Dominion Brewery last month. The three "pin-up series" beers have already been covered; here, here, and here. However, this first day of Summer seems the perfect occasion to post comments on the remaining bottle in the package, Beach House Golden Pilsner.

Beach House Pilsner pours a translucent straw-yellow with frothy bright white head. The aroma is grainy, with a hint of lemon citrus. The flavor is bitter at the start, with distinct grassy and floral notes as well. A citrus zest follows that lingers in the finish along with a very dry bitterness. The flavor profile is distinct and rich. The moderately low ABV of 5.2% makes Beach House Pilsner a flavorful option for Summer enjoyment.

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, June 20, 2013

Moonshine Bust

The revenuers have been hard at work in Danville, VA. A four-month investigation led them to a modest moonshine operation.
A Danville man faces multiple felony and misdemeanor indictments after Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents and the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office raided his moonshine operation. 
Special agents seized 339 gallons of moonshine, 18 weapons and $617 in cash from the ranch of 63-year-old Ronald Wayne Bray on Monday.
The illegal booze "was packaged in clear one-gallon containers with blue tops" according to the report. At least the entrepreneur wasn't filling the landfills with plastic.

No word on the still used to make the moonshine, or if the ABC agents will return next year to re-discover the operation.

See "339 gallons of moonshine, 18 weapons seized from Danville ranch" for the complete news report.

Gun Grabber Vileness II

I've said it before, that those who clamor for "gun control" are no more than accomplices for the criminal segment of the population. They press their agenda in order to create a defenseless victim pool. Just this week, the most vocal of the anti-rights groups again showed their support even the most vile of criminals. At a stop in New Hampshire, among other venues, members of New York Mayor Bloomberg's MAIG memorialized Tamerlan Tsarnaev as a victim of gun violence.
At a June 18 gun control rally in New Hampshire sponsored by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns group, the name of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was read aloud as a recent victim of gun violence. 
Throughout the rally, organizers read a list of names of people who had been killed with guns since the Dec. 14 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. 
When they read Tsarnaev's name, pro-gun supporters who were at the rally to counter Bloomberg's group began shouting, "He's a terrorist," according to a report by Tim Buckland of the New Hampshire Union-Leader.
That's right, the depravity of the hoplophobes runs so deep that even a islamic terrorist who killed and maimed dozens in an attack on innocent people, is to be mourned and remembered as a victim of gun violence after being shot and killed by law enforcement.

The gun-grabbers continue to expose themselves for what they truly represent. They care more for keeping criminals safe than they do about keeping innocent people alive. The level of depravity exhibited by such people is disgusting and deserves no place in a free and civilized society.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bitter American

IRS targeting critics of the administration, Benghazi abandonment, eavesdropping on reporters, ATF gun sales, Holder perjury, Solyndra, attacks on the Church, Africa vacation ...  Oh wait, this post isn't about why alert Americans are angry and bitter, today were talking about another Bitter American, the beer.

So, starting over...

Bitter American from 21st Amendment Brewery pours a cloudy, marmalade color with a frothy white head. The head is persistent and leaves behind a sticky lacing. The beer has a citrus and biscuity malt aroma. Starting out with a pleasing grapefruit citrus, the flavor also brings some fruitiness in the background. The moderately thick mouthfeel is mixed with a tingly carbonation.

21st Amendment Bitter American is very low in alcohol, checking in at just 4.4% ABV. However, that does not mean it's lacking in taste. I found it to be an exceptionally flavorful beer, and the sessionable nature of the beer is a bonus. I cracked one open after an afternoon at the range, while waiting for the grill to heat up for our Father's Day dinner. I took advantage of the low ABV and poured another to accompany the Jalapeño cheese topped burgers. It was a delicious pairing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Father's Day On The Range

Colleen and I decided to take a chance on the range crowd to do some Father's Day shooting. I packed up the new clay targets stands and the shotgun, in addition to the pistol gear. We set up the stands and spent about 30 minutes busting clays. Although the stands were an impulse purchase, they proved to be handy, and a lot of fun. They were easy to move around to different places. I think I'll pick up a few more in the future to expand the course of fire.

We went through several boxes of shells before moving over to a now open pistol range. Setting up a couple targets we spent the rest of the time putting holes in cardboard. I didn't really work on any specific drills, it was just fun to be outside and shooting with Colleen. (Okay, I did work a bit on my neglected strong-hand shooting, but that's it. Well, and weak-hand shooting. And a few heads shots. But that's all. The rest was just fun plinking, I swear.) After a few hundred rounds we packed up and headed home, just as it started to rain. Perfect timing.

The rain was short-lived and had stopped by time we got home. Father's Day concluded with opening a couple of good beers and grilling burgers for dinner. Surprised? It was a perfect ending to a fun weekend. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

I See A Sticky Phone

And a lot of spilled beer.

The Salve Jorge Bar in Sao Paolo has altered their beer glasses in an attempt to keep patrons' eyes off their cell phones, and on their friends.

See "Specially Designed Beer Glass Prevents Phone Use In Bars" for more on the "offline glass."

Last Pint Poured

It was with great shock and sadness that I learned of our friend Greg's passing this weekend. Musings readers know of Greg due to his recent win in the preliminary round of the National Homebrew Competition. I chatted with Greg a couple weeks ago when I dropped off the growler of Lost Rhino New River Pale Ale. Greg was an avid home brewer, who was inspired to get into the craft after enjoying the original release of that beer. He was surprised and excited to have the chance to try it once again. Over the years, Greg became an unabashed hop head, but still appreciated his "roots."

Greg always wore a smile and was a genuinely kind human being. His love for his family and his faith was obvious to all. He was an active volunteer at our parish school and with the community swim team. He was an Army veteran who never lost his drive to serve others. Last weekend, Greg was doing what he loved most, spending time with his son. They were camping, along with another father and son, when he apparently succumbed to a massive heart attack.

Greg leaves behind his son, who just graduated from 8th grade last week, and a loving wife. Words cannot express the sorrow felt at this unexpected loss. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family. I hope all the readers of this blog who are so inclined, will also pray for Greg's eternal peace, and especially for his wife and son as they face this difficult time.

Greg named his home brewery "Hunting Run" after a local waterway, and his many friends were privileged to enjoy the quality beers he brewed and shared. I still have a bottle of a Munich Helles that he sent over just a few weeks ago. Soon I'll open that bottle and raise a special toast to the memory of this fine man. Rest in peace friend.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Road Trip

As an early Fathers' Day celebration, we spent Saturday on the road, taking in local gun shops and local breweries. What else would you expect?

Our first stop was the recently opened Airsoft GI Tactical store in Richmond. Our son frequently participates in air soft games so this stop was ostensibly for him, but I wanted to look around too. No sooner did we walk in the door did I spy an air soft replica of the SIG P226 I use in USPSA competition. Knowing little nothing about these guns, I spent just about the entire visit chatting with the store employee about it. I was sorely tempted when he offered me the chance to try it out in the store's range, but I declined. Next time perhaps.

Next we moved on to the iconic Green Top. I was simply interested in browsing, and also picking up another NEVCO target stand to add to my assemblage. (Like ammo, one can never have too much target paraphernalia.) While looking at the stands, I spied some clay stands, designed to hold clay pigeons for shotgun practice. We typically prop the clays up on tree stumps and other assorted pieces of wood, but these metal holders would add some height and variety. So my family decided a few of those would go along with the other stand for a Father's Day gift. Ties are cliché, shooting accessories make the preferred gifts around here!

That done we headed up the road to Bass Pro Shops. Again, just for more window shopping, but first, food. We decided to eat at the in-store restaurant and I jokingly pointed out the fried alligator appetizer featured there. Except I wasn't joking, I fully intended to order it. (BTW, it doesn't taste like chicken.) The appetizer, along with a tasty oyster po-boy made for a filling lunch.

Browsing through the shooting sports section followed the meal, and then it was time to move on to the beer-focused part of the day. The first stop on this leg was Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland. There I enjoyed a pint of Ray Ray's Pale Ale. This ale has a fresh, almost green, bitter and citrus hop profile, and was very tasty. Colleen went the malt route with a Main St. Altbier. I took a couple sips from her cup, and could detect the rich malt flavors, but my palate was too tainted from the lingering bitterness of the pale ale to get a proper impression. I enjoyed my beer very much, though I was a bit taken back by the disposable plastic cups being used. Perhaps that's a choice made in deference to the outdoor patio service. We arrived at the brewery just a few minutes after the 3:00PM opening time, and watched the place fill with people quickly. It seems to be a popular Saturday afternoon stop and there was soon a long line for beer. I did pick up a bottle of Homefront IPA to bring home, which will be the subject of a future review.

The final stop on our day trip was Rusty Beaver Brewery in Ladysmith. This micro-brewery opened just this Friday. Located in a strip shopping center, we actually drove right by it twice before realizing where the combination home brew supply shop and brewery was. (GPS guidance is not always that helpful.)

I typically prefer to pick just one or two beers at a new place and enjoy a full-size serving, however I was undecided on what beer to try, so I broke from my usual routine and opted for a flight of all five beers. Of the five, Colleen and I both enjoyed Roy's Big Bad Brown Ale and The Quake Stout the most. The Brown Ale had a subtle chocolate and brown sugar flavor with a mild bitterness. The Stout had a mild espresso flavor. There was nothing extreme about the Rusty Beaver beers, and they were all drinkable. Since we only had small tastes of each, I brought home a growler of the Brown Ale for a more in-depth review in the near future. I spoke to brewer Austin and his plan for the future is to brew larger batches at the nearby family farm, and use the small system at the store front for small batches of special beers. I wish him the best of luck and I look forward to stopping in again.

It was a very enjoyable trip. We at some good food, looked at some firearms, and enjoyed a few new beers. The fun will continue soon at the range with the new target stands, to be followed by even more beer to enjoy. Thanks to my wonderful family for a fun day!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Caffeine Withdrawal Is A Mental Disorder

Here's another reason why I refuse to give up my other favorite brewed beverage. The American Psychiatric Association has listed caffeine withdrawal as a recognized mental disorder in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A member of the working group that put together that manual says, 
We feel that there is enough data to support a caffeine-withdrawal syndrome. There are enough people who go into withdrawal — that if they don’t get caffeine, it becomes a real syndrome and can affect work, sleep, or whatever they need to do. So we’re suggesting that it ‘make the big leagues’ and become part of the DSM to make sure everyone is aware of it.
If you enjoy your morning, and afternoon, and evening, coffee. Keep it up. There are enough crazy people in the world already. 

See "Caffeine Withdrawal Is Now a Mental Disorder" for more on the report.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bar Tabs For Dummies

Tip #101: When running a bar tab, it's probably not a good idea to use a stolen credit card.

Crime Report: Two Men Run Up Bar Charge With Stolen Credit Card

So these geniuses started a tab, using a pilfered credit card, and sat at the bar while the system tracked them down. No word on their beverage of choice.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Quantico USPSA Match - Gunfire and Cicadas

It was a tough weekend for practical shooters in the area. I know of two matches that had to be cancelled due to poor range conditions from the heavy rains last week. Fortunately, I had signed up for the Quantico Shooting Club match, which came off as planned. This Sunday's match was a classifier match with 6 USPSA Classification stages, and just one field course.

Two of the stages, "Night Moves" and "El Strong and Weak Pres" required single handed shooting. The latter was especially challenging as the three targets all fanned out from behind a single no-shoot target. Not sure if it's indication of the challenge involved, but by time our squad shot this one, our last stage of the match, the supply box had been emptied of white pasters! And, if there's a lesson to be taken away from the match, it's that I really need to work on my strong hand and weak hand only shooting.

I didn't hit this no-shoot.
The lone field course was a 32 round stage with paper targets and steel plates hidden, quite well in places, among copious walls and vision barriers. Several targets were visible only through narrow openings. Shooting the stage involved a lot of bobbing and leaning back and forth to see all the targets. The final two targets were placed beyond a building and could only be engaged by lining up the shots through openings in opposite walls. Imagine standing on your front porch and shooting through the front window and out the back door. It was a very fun stage to shoot, and I was very happy to keep my plan in mind so as to not miss shooting any targets.

There are targets are back there. Somewhere.
It was a noisy day on the range too. There were busloads of Marines shooting on the next range over, and letting off large barrages of gunfire which drowned out conversations at times. The 17 year Cicada "swarmageddon" was still going quite strong on the base, and their amorous song was a constant presence. They were also frequently found hanging on targets, and people. I even pulled one out of my range bag.

Alas, I never got into a good groove with my shooting and I did not put in a good performance. I think just one of the classifiers will help my percentage. Nonetheless, it was a fun time and I enjoyed the time shooting and chatting with friends. There's always the next match...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

More Beer, More Mad Fox

We spent another Saturday morning in NoVA while our son finished his Life Guard certification classes, so we killed the time doing "beer stuff." First stop, Norm's Beer & Wine in Vienna. I always feel like a kid in a candy store when I'm at this store. So many beers, so many decisions.

Two large boxes of goodies loaded into the car and we were off for lunch at Mad Fox. In a switch from the "big" beers I enjoyed during our visit last week, I opted for "lighter" fare this time. I started off with The Elixir Maibock. This lager pours a dark golden in color with a bready, toasted aroma. The flavor is a rich, sweet malt with toasted and caramel notes. The finish is pleasantly bitter with just a hint of sweetness. I enjoyed it very much, and finished it quickly so I needed to order another beer to accompany my lunch. For that round, I opted to follow our friend Checkered Flag's lead and ordered the Kölsch that he was enjoying. Crisp, citrusy mild hops, with a faint malt sweetness, made a good foil to the spicy meats of "The Mob" pizza I ate for lunch. 

Dining with family and close friends who also appreciate good beer is always an advantage as we get to try out more variety through shared sips. Colleen opted for another beer that I had wanted to try, Mason’s Dark Mild. This is a true "session beer" at just 3.3% ABV. Dark in color with a rich roasted coffee aroma, the taste does not disappoint either. It's a flavorful blend of roasted espresso and dark chocolate. Mason's Dark Mild packs a big flavor in an extremely low alcohol beer.

His Life Guard certification complete, I wonder if I can convince the boy to take more classes that require us spending time wandering Northern Virginia. The past two weekends provided a great excuse to visit some new, and old favorite, beer stops!

Now That's Fast Shooting

A Grand Master duel.

And I was thrilled just to get the gun out of the holster in .7 seconds.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Heritage Brewing

Who knew that Manassas was becoming such a hot bed of brewing? In addition to BadWolf Brewing, which we recently visited, there's another craft brewery setting up a Manassas, VA base.

Heritage Brewing Company is planning a Fall 2013 opening for their 20 barrel brewery. In order to raise additional startup funds, the brewery has launched a Kickstarter project.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did make a small contribution to the project. The world can always use another brewery. Besides, they have a great logo! I'm looking forward to trying the beers too.

Update: I gotten to try a few of the Heritage beers at a local pub. They are indeed quite tasty. Click the Heritage Brewing link in Related Topics below.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Face Plant Delight

As noted previously, we picked up a six pack of Lost Rhino Face Place IPA when we visited the brewery last weekend. I couldn't resist it long, so Colleen and I cracked a couple open the other evening.

The beer pours a hazy, dark amber color. It's a thick looking, but attractive beer. The off-white head is short-lived and leaves behind persistent lacing. The aroma is grainy with hints of apricot and caramel. The dominant flavor is that of citrus, like grapefruit rind, more bitter than citrus, with a caramel and bready malt base. Face Plant is not a hop bomb, and has a very palatable richness. It has a creamy, thick mouthfeel with lingering bitterness in the finish. To quote Colleen after her first sip, "I like this."

As I sipped my beer I enjoyed the rich, yet not overbearing flavor of this American IPA. As usual, I finished it much too quickly but resisted the urge to pour another. After all, it was a "school night."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No-Shoot Practice

Just for grins, this week's range session was devoted to "no-shoots." We often joke that the no-shoot targets are bullet magnets. And I seem to hit my fair share of them, so I decided to practice not hitting them. Stated more accurately, I decided to practice hitting the smaller scoring area, as opposed to missing the white no-shoots. As my friend Alex says, "What no-shoots? All I see are alphas ..."

The "before" picture.
Covering two targets as commonly seen in USPSA, I was able to work on a wide variety of scenarios to simulate situations I might encounter in matches. Even with this simple setup, there was practically an unlimited ways to shoot the targets, and I tried to change it up after each magazine. Draw and put 2 hits on each, alternating which target was shot first. Sometimes I would put just one shot on a target, and transition repeatedly back and forth. Changing whether I stood lined up on the left of right target, or stood in the middle added even more variety. And, of course, the drills were done from different distances as well. This gave me a good feel for sight alignment and speed of the shots required for the different scenarios. I learned my preferences, and my weaknesses.

All in all it was a good practice session. Hopefully it was 200 rounds well-spent. This weekend's match will be a classifier match, so I expect I'll see similar situations to what I just practiced. What would be great is for these lessons to stick with me until then! :-)

Lost Rhino Brewery

Despite the GPS in my car seemingly working against us, we found the Ashburn, VA industrial park where Lost Rhino Brewing calls home. As we pulled around the corner, I could see a steady stream of folks going in and out, most all carrying growlers. Lost Rhino was doing a brisk growler-filling business. Once inside I learned that Sunday means discounted growler fills — something I would take advantage of before our visit was over.

The giant chalk board listed a large selection of beers to choose from. To make it easy to try a variety of beers, the brewpub offers three different serving sizes of most brews. I was looking forward to trying the "historic" Lost Rhino New River Pale Ale, so I opted skip the smaller tasters for a full 16 ounce serving. The beer pours a bright orange color and has mild citrus aroma with a sweet malt background. The flavor is a refreshing blend of the citrusy hops, as well as piney sweet notes. Nothing overly complex, but refreshing and flavorful.

Colleen opted to try small glasses of Pretty in Pink Saison and Holy Brew Honey Blonde Belgian-style ale. The Saison was very well-done and much enjoyed by Colleen. I think only our time constraints prevented her from ordering another. The yeasty notes of the Saison were nicely complimented by the tartness of the added pomegranate. Another beer tried during our visit was the Lost Rhino Altbier, which was Checkered Flag's selection. I stole a couple sips of this one and would have liked to order one myself if we weren't on a tight schedule. The flavor was that of sweet, toasted malts with just a hint of citrus with a creamy body.

Lost Rhino has a limited, but interesting, food menu to go along with the wide range of beer available. For our food selection consisted of a Bavarian Pretzel basket, served with some very spicy mustard; a Charcuterie platter with a local sausage assortment; and BBQ chicken nachos made with Woody Stout BBQ sauce and Face Plant IPA cheese topping. We nibbled in delight as we enjoyed our beers.

I couldn't resist picking up a six-pack of Face Plant IPA, in cans, to take home. Seriously, could there there a better name for an IPA? Look for more on that beer in a future post. I also grabbed a growler of New River Pale Ale for my friend Greg. I knew the original New River beer was the beer that inspired him to get into home brewing. Of course, I had to deliver that to him right away, lest I'd be tempted to keep it for myself!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beer Fridge Knocks Out Network

From the Melbourne Heritage Sun:
WANGARATTA'S backyard beer swillers are marvelling at the magic of their chillers after one man's fridge played havoc with Telstra's mobile network. 
The faulty unit shooting out freak electric signals was believed to have caused interference in the mobile data network across several neighbourhoods of the town. 
A team of the telco's crack black-spot cops tracked the rogue beer fridge to a garage in Wangaratta.
It seems that one beer lover's cooler was putting out electrical impulses that interfered the mobile phone system. Says the fridge's owner, "I'm amazed something like that could knock out part of the network."

Never underestimate the power of a well-stocked beer fridge.

See "Fridge fault causes Telstra mobile network blackouts" for the complete story.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Spring Opening For BadWolf Brewing

After our extended visit at Mad Fox in Falls Church, we headed west to Manassas to meet up with Jeremy Myers at BadWolf Brewing. (No, I didn't plan the canine theme.) BadWolf is Manassas' first brewery. Between the necessary lingering at Mad Fox, and the Northern VA traffic, we arrived at the brewery about 2 hours past our scheduled time. Fortunately Jeremy and Brian were still there working on the brewery.

BadWolf's ABC and business licenses were both granted last week and first "official" batch of BadWolf beer was being brewed. There was no beer yet available for tasting during our visit, but a Saison with Sorachi Ace hops was in the pot, so we were able to enjoy some deep breaths of the aromatic hops awaiting addition.

BadWolf Brewing is a classic nanobrewery, with a one-barrel brewhouse, but they expect to have a variety of beers served through six tap lines. Colleen and I visited for just a short time, and I can tell you, Jeremy is passionate and excited about what he's doing. He's planning to have at least four beers ready for opening day.

The grand opening is scheduled for June 19 at 4:00PM. Jeremy said he has been telling folks the brewery would be open "this Spring," and he is determined to keep that promise. (June 19 being the last day of Spring.) They will be putting in a popcorn machine for snacking while drinking, and there is a pizza shop nearby for those fans looking for more filling fare. The brewery will offer beer for onsite consumption and growler fills to go.

BadWolf Brewing is uniquely located. It sits in a small strip mall that also houses a homebrewing supply store, and to my delight, Virginia Arms. So when I visit, I'll be able to combine my two favorite subjects. First, some window shopping at the gun store, and then it'll be over to BadWolf to enjoy a pint or two of craft beer. It's the best of both worlds!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mad Fox: Perfect For a "Non-Productive Afternoon"

While spending the weekend in NoVA, we headed out for an early lunch as Mad Fox Brewing in Falls Church. We arrived about 11:30 for an early lunch and got right to work on enjoying some of the house beers. (After all, it's noon somewhere.) I had received the Mad Fox email newsletter the day before so my choices planned already. My first selection was Oaked Leonidas Batch 300. The beer was a tribute to the brewery's 300th beer. Dry-hopped with Citra and Simcoe hops, this very dark beer was more Double IPA in taste than appearance. A nice piney aroma was followed by a citrus and malt flavor. The oak aging contributed some earthiness, but added minimal additional flavors. It was a tasty accompaniment to my menu perusal.

Colleen ordered a snifter of a lovely Saison. The beer had a spicy, bready aroma. The flavor with tart fruit, honey and cloves. A dry Belgian yeast finish rounded off the flavor. Our friend Checkered Flag ordered his usual, the Kölsch. Sharp, crisp hop and malt flavors, with a mildly bitter finish. After stealing a sip, I always consider a glass for myself, but there's always some other beer to try.

We all opted for house pizzas for our meals. Both the "Garlic Pig," with pepperoni, bacon, shaved garlic, and mozzarella, and five-meat "The Mob," made for flavorful meals.

It was now time for one of that "other beer." The email promotion mentioned an offering that was a barrel aged blend of Mad Fox's Wee Heavy and Crazy Ivan Russian Imperial Stout. That sounded just too good to pass up. When our server brought my drink he warned, "Be careful with that. It started out at 11.8%, and we don't know how much more was absorbed from the barrel." He then added, "You'll have a non-productive afternoon!" This was one of those beers that makes you say "Woo-hoo!" The aroma is deep, dark malt with some toffee and roasted coffee. And the aroma of the bourbon barrel was unmistakeable. The flavor followed suit with a very rich bourbon and oak flavors. The dark malts and roasted flavors came through as well.

While it didn't lead to a totally "non-productive" afternoon, we did linger at Mad Fox for a bit longer than we had originally planned — not that that's a bad thing! It was a very enjoyable lunch with some really tasty beers. But eventually all fun things must end, so we ventured out into the Saturday traffic to head to our next stop, a visit of the soon-to-be opened BadWolf Brewing Company. And that's a story for another post.