Saturday, September 28, 2013

Remembering Mom

It's been three years now since my mom passed away. As cliché as it sounds to say, it doesn't seem that long. That's good, the memory of my mother is still fresh in my mind. I hope it stays that way.

The last day I spent with mom was just 10 days before her unexpected death. I recall standing in her kitchen chopping an onion for her. We were enjoying a laugh over my pain. How ironic that a short time after that my eyes would be filled with tears for a different reason.

That visit with my parents three years ago was to enjoy a backyard cookout with family and friends. I recall how joyful mom was that day, despite her aphasia. That's a memory I'll always cherish. It seems appropriate that today we'll once again gather at my parent's house for a family cookout, not to mourn, but to celebrate and recall mom's life. Especially her smile.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Range Time: It started out as fun

After being off the practice range for six weeks, I finally had a chance to get back out after work this afternoon. It's getting harder to get over there with the shortening days of Fall. (Is it any wonder I don't like Winter?)

I set up three USPSA targets and worked on some shooting on the move from 15 yards to the 7 yard line. After a bit of that I got to work on target transitions, from both 15 yards and 7 yards. I was enjoying getting the splits down and accuracy up, putting two hits on each target. It was a lot fun and I was having good success. I was hitting times of 3.68, 3.45, 3.78 seconds for the six shots, in the A zone. Hardly world class, but I was pleased.

I was having fun too. And then the range official showed up. Apparently there's yet another new rule; "no rapid, controlled or uncontrolled, fire." There's no definition of "rapid," it's all subjective. I was told I was fine, in his opinion. He was just warning me that other RO's might rule otherwise. And the penalty is removal from the range, and possibly loss of membership. So there's no exact definition of "rapid," but the penalties are quite specific. I guess that's the risk of belonging to a club run by "preservationists."

It was fun while it lasted.
Maybe that Powerball ticket I picked up this week will hit and I'll buy my own dirt berm somewhere.

Heavy Seas, and Heavy Seas

I've mentioned previously that I look for Heavy Seas beers when I travel outside of the Fredericksburg area. Heavy Seas, formerly Clipper City, is one of my favorite breweries, but sadly few of their beers are available locally. One of my most sought after souvenirs from the Outer Banks of North Carolina is beer from the Baltimore, MD brewery. Go figure. During our recent vacation, the beaches were closed to swimming on many of our days there due to rough water. Since I had brought along my old Heavy Seas pint glass, I frequently enjoyed Heavy Seas beer in the matching logo glass while watching the heavy seas from the deck.

I shopped at both Chip's and Trio while we were in the Outer Banks since both stores have extensive, and varied, craft beer selections. We brought home several Heavy Seas beers. (Truth be told, I brought back so much beer I couldn't fit it all in the beer fridge.) One of those beers was Heavy Seas Powder Monkey, an English-style Pale Ale. Powder Monkey the new Pale Ale in the brewery's lineup. The beer pours a hazy amber-orange with a slight head. The aroma is grain and sweet malt, with a hint of fruit. The flavor leans towards the caramel, with honey and some nutty notes.  The hop profile is grassy and bitter. Mouthfeel is doughy and slightly oily. A mild bitterness remains in the finish.

I found the flavor of this Pale Pale to be on the mild side, with the sweet malt and bitter hop aspects vying in good balance. This Heavy Seas beer might not intrigue those looking for a more hop-forward Pale Ale. However, if you like a malty influence in your Pale Ales, Powder Monkey will be to your liking.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blue & Gray Oktoberfest

Colleen was out of town this weekend catching up with friends from college, and our son was spending Saturday with friends doing airsoft. So what's a guy to do when left to his own devices? The 11th Annual Fredericksburg Oktoberfest at Blue & Gray Brewing of course!

I ended up arriving at the brewery before kickoff time, but I ran into some friends who were there to man a table for the Ancient Order of Hibernians. I laughed at the juxtaposition of the Irish having such a strong presence at the German festival. Of course, the Irish organization's table was right next to the beer wagon, which meant I was also well situated to get my much anticipated pint of Blue & Gray Baron von Steuben Oktoberfest right at the start!


One of my favorites from the brewery, this year's batch didn't disappoint. The aroma was sweet bready malt. The flavor is exactly what I look for in a Märzen/Oktoberfest beer. The taste is rich in caramel and bready malt, with the sweetness and bitterness in just the right balance. The finish is dry and clean. Very well-done; I think I'll have another!

I spent several hours of listening to Oompah music, watching the stein holding and beer barrel bowling contests, and talking to friends. Of course there was plenty of good food too. Frankfurters, Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Sauerbraten, Bavarian Pretzels were available for purchase. I grabbed a lunch of Weisswurst and German potato salad. Later, a large warm pretzel with spicy mustard made a tasty snack.

An afternoon rain shower didn't dampen the fun. Folks moved under the tents and continued to enjoy the activities, food and drink. The events at Blue & Gray are always fun, and family-friendly. The Oktoberfest was a great way to spend an afternoon. And I think I'll try to hit the brewpub later this week for some more of the Oktoberfest before it's gone for the season.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Starbucks Kerfuffle

There's been a lot of chatter in the past week on the recent Starbucks statement on guns in their stores. I've read much discussion, from both the anti-freedom forces as well as the differences of opinion from gun rights advocates. I delayed posting to give the matter serious thought. Now, after absorbing it all, I find my initial reaction is unchanged.

Asbestos suit at the ready

I think Starbucks statement is offensive, undoubtedly pushed by an attorney, and sadly an attempt to be "politically correct." Those who know me, know my opinion on PC. I firmly believe we have a right to carry where, and how, we wish, and we should not be questioned while doing so. That said, I strongly feel that the "demonstrations" at Starbucks were ill-advised and did more to harm the cause than to help. Good tactics can win a battle, bad tactics can lose the war.

Showing up en masse, carrying rifles and shotguns, is really not a way to win hearts. "Because I can" might be true, but it's an excuse, not a reason. I hear comments about "normalizing" the sight of a gun in public. But face it, we had a known libtard company, and even though they really don't agree with the 2nd Amendment, they publicly stated that they would follow the law of the land with regard to guns. That's pretty much normalized right there. As thanks, a group of "activists" went out of their way to make other customers of the company feel uncomfortable. As irrational as the hoplophobe's fears are, their money spends at Starbuck's too. Frankly, I wouldn't feel comfortable walking into that "pro-gun" crowd myself, for the same reason I generally avoid gun shows.

I have no objection to "open carry," I do object to "carry for protest." I choose to carry a gun for my personal and my family's defense, and for no other reason. It's not a show. Despite the claims of "I prefer open carry as a tactic," it's obvious the "appreciation" groups showing up at Starbucks with rifles slung over their shoulders were not doing so for any self-defense needs. Heck, if someone told me they need to be in a group, armed with rifles and shotguns to buy coffee, my response would be they should find a safer place to buy coffee.

For all intents and purposes nothing has changed, other than a pointless statement, and a lot of bad publicity for gun owners. Of course this move by Starbucks will only embolden our foes. Starbucks has never specifically allowed or disallowed guns in their stores. They have said all along this not their battle, they take no sides and made following local law their policy. Some gun owners weren't happy with being allowed to carry like they always could, so they decided to make Starbucks their pawn. As expected, and as they warned, Starbucks got fed up and issued an admittedly weak and PC message. The company has not banned guns, they essentially said, again, please, leave us out of it. They have asked gun owners to refrain from opening carrying, but did not forbid it on their stores. They specifically say in their employee direction accompanying the statement that employees are NOT to ask any one to leave for carrying.

So now the anti-gunners get to play it up as a win. All because a bunch of gun advocates decided to make a "statement," instead of simply carrying their guns as they always did, to which Starbucks never objected. Why would anyone go out of their way to antagonize someone who was not restricting their rights? That's not defending your rights. It's just stupid.

Now the calls for boycotting Starbucks have switched from coming from the hoplophobes to coming from the gun rights side. I've never been much on boycotts in general. I do buy Starbuck's coffee on occasion, and will probably continue to do so. It's convenient to my travels. I happen to like my coffee on the bitter end of the scale anyway. And, I will continue to exercise my rights as I see fit. My right to self defense does not come from the 2nd Amendment, nor is it mitigated by a sign.

The pro-gun crowd can rant and rave about the new Starbucks attitude, but our side owns this one. We all know the four rules of gun safety. But some have forgotten the first rule of gun ownership, don't act like a fool.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Plumbed for Beer

With friends like this, it's never a dull day.

I suspect it's part of an advertising campaign, but looks like fun nonetheless.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Stone Tap Takeover

This week's Tap Takeover & Steal the Glass event at Capital Ale House featured the beer of Stone Brewing Company. A total of nine Stone beers were offered; Levitation Amber Ale, Pale Ale, Cali Belgique Belgian IPA, India Pale Ale, Sublimely Self Righteous Black Ale, Double Bastard Strong Ale, R&R Coconut IPA, W00tstout Imperial Stout, and 17th Anniversary IPA. The first six were also available as a flight of four ounce pours. While I've had both the Pale and IPA frequently, all the other beers intrigued me, so I opted to start off with the flight.

The first one I tried was the Levitation Amber Ale. This surprisingly hoppy beer was a very good red ale, the extra bit of pine and citrus hoppiness making for a very tasty brew. I commented several time wondering how I've missed this one in the past. Sessionable, at just 4.4% ABV, I think this one will be showing up in our beer fridge with some regularity. I skipped quickly through the Pale Ale and the IPA, since they were familiar. The remaining beers in the flight didn't disappoint, and I especially enjoyed the Sublimely Self Righteous and Double Bastard. However, I was quite ready for a full sized glass of *something*by this time. After tasting my samples, Colleen opted for the Cali Belgique, and our friend Checkered Flag chose a glass of Levitation.

Capital Ale House is serving some special Oktoberfest menu items this month. For my dinner I ordered a sausage platter of bratwurst with curry sauce, red cabbage, German potato salad and fried apples. German sausage and curry isn't something that I would have thought of putting together, but the spicy red sauce was an extremely tasty garnish to the sausages, and I sopped up every bit of it I could get off the plate.

Oh, and I did decide on a beer to go with my dinner, the W00tstout Imperial Stout. This 13% ABV beer is brewed with pecans, wheat, and rye, with one quarter aged in bourbon barrels. After taking a sip of this pitch black brew, the only thing I could say was, "Oh my!" It was all it was hyped up to be. Notes of brown sugar, molasses, dark fruit, and some nuttiness made for a complex beer. It was a fine sipper to wrap up the meal.

We had a very enjoyable evening of good beer, good food and fun conversation. And the Stone logo glasses we took home were pretty nice too!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Anniversary Road Trip

To celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary, we took a drive down to Nelson County to visit a couple of brew pubs last Sunday. Our main destination was Devils Backbone Brewing Company. We arrived with the Sunday lunch crowd in full swing, and even though we couldn't get a table outside, we were seated right away indoors. Naturally, the first order of business was to peruse the beer menu. No less than twelve house beers were on tap. This was going to be a tough decision, especially since the majority were ones I've not had the opportunity to try. Devils Backbone also offers their beers in sampler flights consisting of four predetermined selections. We opted to start out with two flights, in order to try eight of the beers. The samples are small, just 2 ounces, so at the end, there's no issue ordering a full serving of your favorite.

Once the flights arrived, Colleen and I had fun sipping and comparing. The beers up for our discussion were Spider Bite Wheat Black IPA, Ale of Fergus Scottish Ale, Pear Lager, Ramsey's Draft Stout, Smokehaus Rauchbier, Blue Ridge Hop Revival Pale Ale, 1949 Lager and Ichabod Crandall Pumpkin Ale. The decision wasn't made much easier by the tasting; they were all very good beers. Interestingly, and thankfully, the beers were all moderately low in ABV too, ranging from 4.4% to 6.8% ABV. Among our favorites were Spider Bite IPA, Smokehaus Rauchbier, Ale of Fergus, Ramsey's Stout, and Hop Revival. I vacillated between the Rauchbier and Hop Revival, and only making my decision at the last moment as I ordered.

At the end of the tasting exercise, I selected the Blue Ridge Hop Revival to enjoy with my lunch. This beer is brewed with 100% Virginia grown Cascade hops, added to the brewing process while still fresh. The beer is slightly cloudy, orange-marmalade in color, with a frothy white head. The aroma is grapefruit and floral. In the flavor, the malt base and citrus and resinous hops are in good balance. The finish has some pleasant lingering bitterness. I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

For her selection, Colleen went with the Ale of Fergus. The beer was a deep, dark red color which appeared nearly black. The taste was mildly sweet with a tasty, roasted coffee and smoke flavor profile. Ale of Fergus makes a very nice session beer at just 4.0% ABV.

Oh yeah, there was food too! The food at Devils Backbone is worth the drive alone. The menu is heavy on smoked meat, all of which is smoked onsite. We started out with an appetizer plate of fried pickles. The spears were lightly coated in a spicy batter and very delicious. So good in fact, that we ordered as second helping while waiting for our main dishes. For the main course, Colleen and I both opted for "Rob's Bonedipper," a sandwich made on Toasted Ciabatta bread, with shaved house-smoked Prime Rib, bacon, Muenster cheese, and Smokehouse mayo. A cup of "jus" was set on the side for additional dipping flavor. Highly recommended! Our son chose the DB Pulled Pork Samich. This sandwich was piled very high with smoky pulled pork. After a leisurely lunch, we got back on the road to start in the direction of home.

But first, there was one more stop to make. We could have easily made three along the way stops. Route 151 in Nelson County is home not only to Devils Backbone, but also Bold Rock Cider, Wild Wolf Brewing, and Blue Mountain Brewing. Not wanting to overdo it, we passed by the first two and pulled into Blue Mountain Brewery for a quick dessert. We'll hit the others on a future outing.

Not that we were in any way still hungry after the Devil Backbone meal, but Colleen and I both had a hankerin' for something sweet. And a chance for another good beer is always welcome. We took a table outside on the patio. I saw the brew pub had their Oktoberfest on the menu, and decided it was time for my first Oktoberfest beer of the season. Alas, when I ordered I was informed they were out of the Oktoberfest. Not sure how that happened so early. (So I'll have my first Oktoberfest of 2013 at this weekend's Blue & Gray Oktoberfest celebration instead.) I was a bit let down, but not wanting to go with any of the higher ABV beers offered, I opted for the Kölsch 151 that I've been enjoying in bottles recently. To me it seemed the draft version had a slightly more citrus profile. Colleen opted to get a glass of Rockfish Wheat. The beer is a refreshing summer wheat beer with nice bit of spiciness; once she remove the lemon slice that was incongruously perched on the rim of the glass.

We shared a couple of desserts with our beers. Colleen picked the Creme Brulee, which was a cup of tasty vanilla bean custard, with a thick, hard candy-like caramelized crust. It's hard for me to resist bread pudding, so I ordered the Evil 8° Bread Pudding. The Blue Mountain twist on this classic is interesting. The thick slices of a cake-like bread were layered with caramel sauce, chocolate, pecans and whipped cream, and served with fresh strawberries. While none of us *needed* anything more to eat, we certainly enjoyed the extravagant treats.

After a food and beer filled day, it was time to finally make the drive home. A quick stop for overpriced chain coffee gave us fuel for the pleasant drive through the countryside. It was a great day and a wonderful way to celebrate our 29 years together.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy Birthday to Our Endangered Freedoms

On September 17, 1787, delegates from thirteen states gathered in Philadelphia to sign the Constitution of these United States. The Constitution was then sent on to the states for ratification. This document, and the freedoms and rights it expounded, is greatly valued by most Americans.

Sadly, these freedoms are under assault by those who seek to restrict and control others. Just last week, a Senate committee sought to rewrite the 1st Amendment by redefining the freedom of speech as a "special privilege" granted to a select group. Barack Hussein Obama's attack on the Church in America is long-running and ongoing. The attacks on the 2nd Amendment come with renewed vigor every time a deranged criminal uses a gun, usually in a place where guns are already outlawed, to commit his crimes. After the Boston bombings we saw a large part of the population put under a police state, contrary to all the protections of the Constitution. The State schools are bastions of leftist propaganda, where they strive to indoctrinate future generations by teaching false interpretations of the Constitution. The list goes on and on. Our founding principles have gone from "We the people" to "We, Your Government, for the Right People…"

Happy 226th Birthday to the United States Constitution. May we ever strive to preserve the freedoms confirmed (not granted) by your words.

"The Forgotten Man" by Jon McNaughton

Anniversary Date Night Beers

Colleen and I took advantage of our anniversary falling on a Sunday this year to squeeze in an extra Saturday evening date night. We headed downtown to J. Brian's for an early dinner and a couple beers. Perusing the beer menu I saw a listing for Honker's Ale, a beer name I couldn't place. A quick Google search on the phone informed me this was an English Bitter from Goose Island Brewery in Chicago, IL, so I gave it a shot.

The beer pours a bright, translucent copper color with a thin head. The aroma is mild with caramel and biscuity notes. The flavor is earthy, slightly sweet malt. A mild hop bitterness completes the flavor profile. The finish is clean with very little lingering bitterness. Mouthfeel is thin. At just 4.3% ABV, Honker's Ale would be suitable for multiple pints. I enjoyed my glass, but had gotten tempted by Colleen's choice of Oberon Ale from Bell's Brewing Company.

I'm generally not one to select a wheat-style beer when ordering, but after stealing a few sips of Colleen's pint, I opted to get one for myself. Bell's Oberon is a slightly hazy, straw-yellow color with a thin head. The aroma is wheat with a hint of citrus thrown in. The flavor is a subtle blend of wheat and earthy yeast, along with some hints of pepper, banana and a grassy hoppiness. Bell's Summer seasonal checks in at 5.8% ABV.

Both beers I enjoyed this evening where relatively mild, especially compared to my usual preferences. However, they both proved to be ample accompaniments to the flavorful crab drip appetizer, as well my "white pizza" entrée featuring goat cheese, sautéed onions and bacon. Good beers, good food, and most especially, the company of my beautiful wife of 29 years, made for an exceptional dinner date.

Monday, September 16, 2013

CMYI Practical Pistol Match

After a break of nearly four weeks, I finally had the opportunity to do some shooting again. The occasion was the monthly practical pistol match at Cedar Mountain Youths. Between vacation, family commitments, and time for beer tastings, I've not touched my gun for a month, not since the North Mountain USPSA match; no matches, no practice time, not even dry fire. Needless to say I was looking forward to this event.

As I headed out Saturday morning, the car thermometer read 56℉, and the temperature never got above 68℉ through the morning. With clear blue skies and low humidity, it was a near perfect day to hit the range. The match consisted of 6 relatively small stages, for a round count minimum of 80, with a mix of paper and steel targets. The majority of the stages this month were shot from a single shooting location, but with one or more mandatory magazine changes stipulated.

The first stage I shot was fairly simple, with six paper targets arranged in a "V", with a mag change required after the first three targets. It was a good warm-up stage, to get me back into the groove. The next stage had three target groups, each consisting of two paper and one steel plate, with a mandatory reload between each group. The stage was also shot from a single shooting box with no movement. A mix of no-shoot and black "miss" zones, along with the staggered plates meant careful aiming.

Next up was another simple stage with two paper targets and 3 steel plates set in a group, and a second group of one paper and two steel plates. The two groups had about a 90° swing between them. Adding to the "fun," the single paper target had only the head and a small slice down the side that was not covered by a "no-shoot." As a twist, the stage requirements stated all three paper targets had to be engaged first, followed by the five steel plates, with of course, a mandatory mag change between the two groups. The fourth stage I shot consisted of a row four paper targets, with a falling popper set at each end. After engaging the steel and each paper target with one hit each, the shooter made the mandated mag change and put one more hit on each paper. It took a bit of concentration to break from the habit of putting two hits on paper before moving to the next target.

The remaining two stages required movement. The first started with six targets to be engaged, three from either side of the barricade. Next the shooter moved forward to an exceptionally wide barricade, that had a falling popper on either side. Some of the more nimble shooters shot the two steel targets from one side of the wall. I opted to take the slower, but less back-stressing option, and take my shots one from each side. The stage description mandated at least one reload during the course of fire.

The final stage added an IDPA-ish twist into the mix. The shooter started seated in a chair, and upon the start signal ran to the opposite end of two folding tables where the "911 phone" was placed. This was a box with three buttons that had to be pushed, switching on three lights, before the shooter could begin shooting. After engaging a group of three paper targets, the shooter moved back to the position where he started and engaged another three targets. The final movement was downrange to a third position, where three targets where required to be engaged under a low bar. In keeping with the theme of the day, at least one reload was mandated sometime before the last target.

Between the interesting, out-of-ordinary stages, and the beautiful weather, it was a very enjoyable morning on the range. The events at Cedar Mountain are not sanctioned USPSA, or other, matches.  Being an independent event, the match directors have the opportunity to set up some scenarios that don't fit USPSA, or IDPA, rules. They are however run according to all the usual strict safety requirements, and use USPSA targets for scoring.

The point of these matches is to have good, safe, fun while raising money for the Cedar Mountain Youths programs. It's a low-pressure match with fun folks who are also there to enjoy themselves. There are always a few new shooters in attendance, since it's a great opportunity to introduce folks to practical pistol shooting without the stress, and expense of a larger match. For me personally, it's close to home and I enjoy sleeping in (it's all relative) and getting home in time for lunch. I've been to several Cedar Mountain matches and I look forward to the next one.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

29 Years!

On September 15, 1984, a beautiful and loving lady agreed to be my wife. To this day, I still remember kneeling at the altar and feeling my legs and my feet shake with nerves and excitement. And to this day, twenty-nine years later, I still feel that same excitement whenever I am with her. She's a true blessing to my life and to the life of our son.

♥ ♥ ♥

Thank you Colleen for completing my life. I don't always show it, but I love you each day a little more than the day before.

"For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." --Matthew 19:5-6

Friday, September 13, 2013

Blue & Gray Oktoberfest

One of my favorite events is just a week away! The Fredericksburg Area Oktoberfest will take place Friday, September 20 (4:00 PM-10:00 PM) and Saturday, September 21, 2013 (12:00 PM-7:00 PM).

The original Fredericksburg Oktoberfest celebration, held at Blue & Gray Brewery, is now in it's 11th year. Family fun includes sing-alongs, stein holding contest, beer barrel bowling, Oompah music, ginger bread walk. And of course, the ever delicious Oktoberfest Beer from Blue & Gray Brewing. This is a family event with activities for the kids too.

Blue & Gray beer will be for sale in 12oz or 16oz mugs, or 33.8oz (maas) commemorative stein, and well as food will be available under the tent. (Hint: Sign up here to receive a discount coupon for your commemorative mug or stein.) Inside, Lee's Retreat Brewpub will be serving a special Oktoberfest menu with wider variety of authentic, delicious German fare.

I look forward to this fun event every year. I'll see you there!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Somber Anniversary

September 11, 2001. Never forget. Never forgive. Never submit.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

One can only wonder why certain people are so anxious to pander to those responsible for imparting so much evil on the world.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

AleWerks Red Marker Ale

Six years ago when I started writing these Musings, I had in the back of my mind that I'd get around to trying all the beers from all the Virginia breweries. Well, I've long forgotten that goal — I can hardly keep up with the ever growing list of breweries, much less their beers. Despite that, I'm often reminded that I've missed even the "easy" ones.

I was looking through photos from our recent vacation and I came across this beer picture I had taken at a lunch stop and was reminded of another tasty Virginia beer I enjoyed recently, one that I don't recall trying previously. We had detoured to the Dog Street Pub in Williamsburg on our drive back from the Outer Banks. I was looking forward to a light lunch, and hopefully a good beer. The pub has a fairly extensive draft beer menu, but I was drawn to a bottle of the locally brewed Red Marker Ale from AleWerks Brewing Company, right there in Williamsburg. This American Red Ale checks in at just 5% ABV, which made it ideal for the quick lunch stop.

A hard pour into a classic nonic pint glass created minimal head but released the rich caramel and bready malt aromas. The beer is a deep red-amber color. The initial flavor is slightly sweet and bread-like. Some mild citrus bitterness comes through at the end. The overall flavor profile is balanced and mild.

Admittedly, I haven't had too many AleWerks beers, probably due to the fact that they are readily available locally, leaving them to be overlooked. However, I've always enjoyed the ones I've tried. Coincidently, the last AleWerks beer I drank was during my last visit to the colonial city.

So many breweries, so little time.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Birra Nursia Marks One Year of Brewing

The monks at St. Benedict's Monastery in Norcia, Italy recently celebrated one year of beer making at their brewery, Birra Nursia.

Not only is the brewery successful, beer is apparently a great tool for evangelization. The monks take  Theology on Tap to a whole new level!

See "Beauty and beer: Monks' outreach is part of new evangelization" for more on the monks and their beer. Also, a previous Musings post on Birra Nursia is here.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Two More Local Breweries

Our area will soon be home to two new microbreweries. Last Tuesday, the businesses cleared a major hurdle, when the Stafford County Board of Supervisors approved zoning changes favorable to breweries wanting to open in the county. Adventure Brewing Company and Short’s Branch Brewing are now moving forward with their plans to open their breweries.

For more on the zoning law updates, see "Microbreweries coming to Stafford" and "Breweries cleared to tap a keg in Stafford" in the Free Lance-Star.

That's a Good Looking Beer

We went out last night for an evening of beer, food, and Irish music at Blue & Gray Brewing Company last night. I've been enjoying the brewery's Summer seasonal, Kirkland's Kölsch. I knew it was getting near the end of it's season, so was happy it was still available.

As my beer was set down in front of me, I was struck by just how appetizing it looked. (Despite the iPhone photo.) Our enjoyment of good beer, and good food, is enhanced by its appearance. And my eyes weren't deceiving me, it tasted as good as it looked.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Buy a Priest a Beer Day

From The Catholic Gentleman:
Did you know that this coming Monday, September 9, is International Buy a Priest a Beer Day? On this festive day, faithful Catholics all over the world take their priests out for a beer and get to know them better. It’s a beautiful Catholic tradition that goes back to the time of St. Hopswald of Aleyard, the first man to take his priest out for a beer. 
Okay, if you’re getting suspicious by now, there’s a good reason. Buy a Priest a Beer Day is not a real holiday. But I would argue that it should be! 
Believe it or not, priests are real people, and they enjoy socializing over good food and drink as much as anyone. They also have a thankless and difficult job, a job that we couldn’t get to heaven without. Priests are the lifeblood of the Church, and they deserve some appreciation.
This sounds like a movement I can get behind. So, I'll make this offer right now, if you're a Catholic priest in my local area, get in touch. The beer is on me. If you're a factory beer drinker, and I can't convince you otherwise, I'll even buy you that "beer." I'll offer it up.

Actually, even if Monday doesn't work out, the offer is open ended. I'm always up for raising a pint with the good and holy priests I've come to know. Cheers!

See "International Buy a Priest a Beer Day!" for more.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

There's Snake In Your Beer

As if the snake isn't scary enough, he's drinking Bud Light too.

Serves him right for drinking bad beer.

Via CNN.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Treaty of Paris

While July 4, 1776 is celebrated as Independence Day, the birthday of the United States, world recognition of our Nation was formalized on September 3, 1783. The Treaty of Paris was signed by David Hartley, of Great Britain, and three American negotiators, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, and brought the American Revolution to a close.

It's interesting to note that the Treaty begins with the words, "In the Name of the most Holy & undivided Trinity."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Full Moon Café & Brewery

A few months ago I was in a local grocery store and I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt from the Full Moon Brewery in Manteo, NC. I'd never heard of it, and since we were planning a trip to the Outer Banks, I made a note to find out more. The small restaurant and brewery is located in old town Manteo. We've driven down the main drag through the island on the way to the aquarium, but have never veered off into the village. It's a charming town that we'll have to check out further on a future trip. But this trip was solely for the brewpub.

The lunch rush was in full swing when we arrived. Both the restaurant area and separate pub are quite small, and there is also an outdoor seating area. Despite the crowd, we got a table pretty quickly and service was friendly and prompt throughout our stay. 

Of course, the first order of business was to review the beer menu. Nine house beers were listed, along with one guest tap from Weeping Radish Brewery. Full Moon focuses on British and Irish style beers. I was impressed that, despite their outward size, they had that many house taps. This was going to be a tough decision so I opted to start out with a flight of four beers.

The first beer I tried was the Baltimore Blonde, a British-style Pale Ale. The flavor and aroma was mild caramel and honey, which carried over into the flavor. A barely noticeable citrus bitterness come into play at the end. I suspect this is a popular draft for less adventurous drinkers. Next up was the Devils Own IPA. This tasty British-style IPA had a golden color with a thin white head. The taste is a nice balance of citrus and bitter. It's a light flavor with a clean finish. 

Up third, I tasted the Paddy Wagon Red. Deep red in color with a malty aroma, the flavor is toasted caramel and barley. The mouthfeel is somewhat creamy. This was a well-done Irish Red Ale that I enjoyed quite a bit. At just 4% ABV it makes a good session beer. Finally, I moved on to the Vitamin O, an Extra Special Bitter. ESB's are one of my favorite styles, so I was looking forward to this one. The reddish-brown beer had a very thin white head, and a nutty, caramel aroma. The flavor was slightly sweet, and nutty with some mild bitterness. Caramel and toffee lingered in the finish. The beer was nicely balanced. I ended up ordering a pint of Vitamin O to enjoy with my food.

Colleen and Checkered Flag decided to go big and they both ordered glasses of Stone of Destiny, the brewery's 9% ABV Wee Heavy. The beer had an earthy, malty aroma. The flavor brought forth molasses, dark coffee, some dark fruit and a touch of smoke. Those two glasses of beer received rave reviews from their drinkers.

Speaking of food, we were quite impressed with what we ate, and saw, at Full Moon. Colleen and I both ordered Shrimp and Grits. The sautéed Shrimp are accompanied by andouille sausage, peppers, tomatoes, onions, black beans and Creole spices, and served in a creamy sauce over grilled polenta. The dish was very flavorful and had enough kick to live up to the Creole label. It was also quite filling. The rest of our party ordered bacon cheeseburgers made with Angus beef, and real chunks of crispy bacon. Their sandwiches were huge and quickly devoured. The other food dishes we saw looked good, and like our selections, appeared to come as generous portions. At one point we all turned longingly to watch attractive platters of Fish and Chips being carried to other tables. Full Moon seems to do "pub food" quite well.

In proper Irish (or British if you prefer) pub style, Full Moon's beer repertoire also included a Stout, an Imperial Stout, and a Porter, but I was unable to get to them this visit. I regret that we didn't visit earlier in our trip so we'd have time for a return visit. I'm thinking those Fish and Chips would go quite well with a pint of Manteo Porter. Next time, for sure. 

I am glad I spied that Full Moon T-shirt as it led us to a great new beer destination. We bought a couple shirts ourselves, maybe we'll lead some other fans to good food and beer in Manteo. The next time we visit the OBX, we'll definitely be back.