Friday, February 28, 2014

Five O'Clock Friday: Time For a Beer

And 5:00 Friday is an exceptionally right time.

Have a great weekend!

H/T Planet Beer.

Heritage Brewing Kings Mountain

As we waited for a few seats to open at the Capital Ale House bar earlier this week, I perused the tap line and noted a tap for another Heritage Brewing beer, Kings Mountain. I had missed this one last week. As I finally took my seat, the conversation with David the bartender was short and to the point.

"What are you drinking?"
"What style is the Heritage beer?"
"Scotch Ale"
"I'll take it."
"Small or large?"
"Large, please."

It was an easy decision as I do enjoy the Scotch Ales. And I was excited to try another beer from a new Virginia brewery. Kings Mountain pours a deep copper color with a think beige head. The aroma is toasted and sweet malt with hint of dark fruit. The flavor brings forth toffee, caramel, dark fruit and lightly toasted bread notes. The finish leaves some lingering sweet malts. Kings Mountain is on the lighter end of the Scotch Ale scale, but it's fully flavored, and at a moderate 7.4% ABV it's no slouch.

That's three Heritage Brewing beers I've tried in the past week. And I've enjoyed each one of them. If there's a commonality, it's that they are all rich in flavor but not over the top. Just the thing for enjoying several in sitting, or along with a meal.

I really need to get that visit to Heritage Brewing on my schedule. Really.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Saint Gabriel Possenti

[Originally published February 27, 2013]

I am often struck by how the Saints work themselves into our lives. One Saint with whom I am feeling a growing connection is St. Gabriel Possenti. Today, February 27, is the Feast Day devoted to this interesting Saint.

St. Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laughed at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the "tradition" associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense.

A couple of years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the name St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners.

When some local Catholics were looking for a name for a blog devoted to Catholicism and self defense, we were naturally drawn to honor the Saint by creating Gabriel Possenti Shooters. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy shooting are familiar with the Saint and his story.

Recently, I was looking at my Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit when I was struck by the anniversary date printed on the permit — February 27. Wow, my permit was issued on the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners! That's some "coincidence." It would appear the Saint has been watching out for me longer than I have been aware of him.

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Smoked Beer Sensory Misdirection

I'm a fan of smoky beverages. Be it tea, beer or whisky, the peaty and smoky aroma and flavors always delight. If there's an accompanying peat fire on a cool evening it's an added pleasure. I recently sat down to enjoy a bottle of Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock. The flavor of this and other Rauchbiers seems to be one that folks either love or hate, and I fall among the former.

This beer pours a deep, dark brown with a thin beige head. The peat and smoky aroma with sweet with hints of vanilla and molasses is immediately noticeable. The sensory treat continues in the flavor with peat, brown sugar, and molasses smokiness. The smoke flavor lingers just a short time, along with a bitter, dark beer finish.

I've been enjoying the occasional drink of Lagavulin Distiller's Edition (2013) Scotch recently. This single malt whisky is known for it's rich peat flavors. I think this was confusing my senses as I drank the Schlenkerla Urbock. I deeply took in the aroma as the glass of beer approached my lips, and without fail, my mind expected the warmth of a whisky. I was holding a cool glass of dark beer and yet my mouth kept expecting a different drink. It was quite the sensory misdirection.

There was no accompanying peat fire, but it was still an enjoyable drink, even if my senses were a bit confused.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Two Beers From Heritage Brewing

Heritage Brewing Company is a new brewery that opened this fall in Manassas, VA. I've not been able to get there yet, even though I have a coupon for a free beer from my Kickstarter contribution. I've been eagerly looking forward to trying out their beers, so I was very excited when I spotted their "revolutionary" tap handles recently at Capital Ale House.

I was informed that a Pale Ale and and IPA were available, and I could not resist trying both. I started out with The Teddy Pale Ale. The color was amber-gold with a thin head. The aroma was mildly toasted with hint of pine hops. The flavor was predominately pine and fruity hops with a mild citrus bitterness. I found this to be a clean, crisp, and mild pale ale.

Next up was the Ironsides IPA. When my glass arrived I saw a clear, yellowish liquid with a mildly sweet biscuit and citrus aroma. This doesn't really look like an IPA I thought, and Colleen even made a comment about the light appearance. Upon tasting it though, I found the flavor to be more of what was expected. There was a nice balance of bitter citrus and sweet malt, albeit in a light bodied beer.

I was intrigued by this odd IPA and had to get out my smart phone to do some research. It turns out Ironsides is described as a "session IPA." The beer checks in at an easy-drinking 4.8% ABV. While not as strongly flavored as a typical IPA, Heritage Brewing Ironsides is a full-flavored beer in a small package.

It was a nice surprise to find the Heritage beers on tap, and now I'm even more determined to make the trip to Manassas to visit the brewery in person and try out more of their beers.

Why I'm Anti-Social at the Range

I like people who shoot, and who understand the 2nd Amendment. I find they are typically friendly and intelligent. In spite of that, I prefer not to shoot with unknown persons, especially at an unsupervised range. Shortly after I arrived at the range this weekend, a trio of shooters pulled in and, without a word, began setting up on the same bay. The male shooter was going to be helping two ladies shoot. Typically I would have packed up and gone home, but they said they would only be a short time. I made the decision to be neighborly and share the bay with other members. However, in retrospect...

After I finished loading my mags I waited while this group finished getting ready. One of them turned to me and said I could go shoot —all the while he's loading a revolver while one of the ladies was handling another pistol. I replied I'd wait until they finished loading, and reminded them that guns are not to be handled at the bench while someone was downrange. Eventually we all went downrange to shoot. I was even more neighborly at that point and provided cardboard to them and helped hang their targets.

I was feeling a little more comfortable. Until, back at the bench...

I looked over and the guy was standing on the downrange side of the bench, holding his .22 revolver with the barrel pointed away from the berm; pointed directly at, and less than a foot, from the face of one of the women on the other side of the bench. I couldn't take it! I walked over and told him he could not be pointing that weapon at another person. He had at that point set the gun down, but with the aimed barrel at her stomach. I picked it up and turned it to a safe direction. I also reminded him he needed to stand on the uprange side of the bench when loading. He apologized profusely (to me not her.) Since that was three safety violations in about 10 minutes, I was preparing to pack it up but they decided they were done for the day. I guess they didn't want to share the range with such a busybody. :-)

After they were gone, I set out a couple more targets and enjoyed myself putting a couple hundred rounds downrange and practicing target transitions from various distances.

I think I'll stick with being anti-social.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

More Hardywood Park

I routinely check the Facebook pages of my favorite local pubs to see if there are any particularly interesting beers being tapped, or foods being served. Last Friday I saw that Capital Ale House was tapping a pin of Hardywood Park The Great Return IPA, dry hopped with Apollo hops. Coincidently, when I got home from work, Colleen asked "Do you want to go somewhere for dinner?" "As a matter of fact, I do" was my reply. What's that they say about great minds and long-married couples?

First, I did some research on this unfamiliar hop variety. Apollo hops are used for bittering and are apparently somewhat rare. A pin is a small, approximately 5 gallon mini-keg, so I knew this was a limited opportunity. We arrived too late to witness the actual tapping by the Hardywood rep, but did score a nice Hardywood keychain later in the evening.

Bourbon Sidamo Stout & Great Return IPA

The Great Return pours a hazy marmalade color with a thin beige head. The aroma is mostly grapefruit with some grassiness. The flavor is full of fresh grapefruit citrus. There's a bit of the expected green grass of fresh hops, but the beer was not as bitter as I had envisioned. There was a refreshing, "juicy" mouthfeel to the beer. This glass of beer was served at a proper, not-too-cold temperature so I was able to get started on enjoying it right away. 

Colleen spied another Hardywood Park beer on the menu, Sidamo Coffee Stout. We had tried the Sidamo a few weeks ago, and knew it was an excellent Stout. I took a couple sips from Colleen's glass, but sadly the citrus-rich flavor of my IPA made it hard to get a proper taste of the Stout's flavor, though Colleen reported it was quite tasty. However, it just so happens that Capital Ale House is tapping a pin of Bourbon Sidamo Coffee Stout next Friday. Perhaps we'll make a return trip then in order to provide a more complete report. 

I was ready for another beer when our dinner entrées arrived. Since I knew there are always a few beers available that are not on the printed menu, I made a information gathering walk down the tap handle line. I didn't get very far before I spied two taps with the distinctive handles of a new Manassas, Virginia brewery, Heritage Brewing Company. But that's a story for another post...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Conference Calls

Thanks to the east coast snow storm, I'll be experiencing a lot of these for the next day or two.

The concept of a snow day no longer exists.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Oh, Canada! Free Beer!

A recent Twitter post from the Winter Olympics has gotten a lot of attention this week. According to the post, the Canadian Olympic team has a unique beer fridge that can only be unlocked with a Canadian passport. The only reports I've seen on this supposed beer fridge are repeats of that lone Twitter post. I was skeptical at first, not seeing any pictures of beer actually being vended. But I recently came across this commercial Molson posted last year.

Assuming it's the same fridge, I'm sure it's a big hit with the athletes.

I recall (way) back when I was in high school. I worked at an auto parts supply store. There was a soda vending machine in the store that always had one selection marked "Out of Order." What I later learned was that the owner stored his beer in the machine to keep it cold. If you were to put enough quarters in the machine, and pushed the "Out of Order" selection, a cold can of beer would be dispensed. It's too bad I didn't like beer back then!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brew Cutlery

It's no surprise that we're fans of at-the-ready bottle openers. I keep a Blue & Gray bottle opener on my keychain at all times, and I'm often the only person with a handy opener. While others are digging through kitchen drawers, I'm enjoying my beer. I recently received an email promotion from Brew Cutlery announcing their Kickstarter project.

Brew Cutlery provides a stainless steel knife, fork and spoon with a built in bottle opener in the handle. Having three openers at your place setting might be overkill, but one can never be too prepared I suppose. I recall the wisdom of the late Justin Wilson, who always wore both suspenders and a belt; never leave anything to chance he said. 

I did make a contribution to the Brew Cutlery Kickstarter program. I'll look forward to adding the openers to my collection and posting a review later this Summer.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Government of Thugs

Elections have consequences. We're not talking about the country hosting the Winter Olympics, this is happening here. Listen to this damning testimony regarding the thuggery of the current administration.

We would do well to remember the words of Catherine Engelbrecht, "I will not retreat. I will not surrender. I will not be intimidated. I will not ask for permission to exercise my Constitutional rights."

Blessed José Sánchez del Río

[Originally published February 10, 2013]

Today, February 10, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Blessed José Sánchez del Río. On this date in 1928, this 14 year old boy was killed for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith during the Cristero War. The story of this period of Catholic persecution led by Mexican President Calles was told in the movie "For Greater Glory".

After José was captured by government forces, he was forced to witness the torture and execution of fellow Catholics, yet he never wavered in his resolve. He was himself was tortured and urged to shout "Death to Christ the King" with the promise his suffering would be over. On the day of his torturous execution, the soldiers cut the soles of his feet and he was made to walk barefooted to the grave they had dug for him. He was repeatedly stabbed with bayonets as he made his way to the place of his martyrdom.

Even after he had been shot he continued to cry out "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!") The commander of the soldiers was so furious that he was able to resist the government barbarism, he finally shot the boy in the head. As he died he is said to have drawn a cross on the ground with his own blood. Blessed José Sánchez del Río was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005.

During the Cristeros War many Catholics were killed by the Mexican government for their faith. This tragic part of recent history is pointedly ignored by the history books in both the United States and Mexico. It is a story that needs to be told and learned by all free people. The people of the United States shared in the tragedy, as our own government supplied both arms and air support for the Federales in their battles with the Catholic faithful.

As the attacks on the Church increase in the United States, with the aggression led by our own government, we would do well to remember the resolve of this strong young man, and pray that we too will remain faithful through whatever trials await us.

Blessed José Sánchez del Río, Pray For Us!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Reminds me of my first cell phone.

Yes, we Christians can laugh at ourselves.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Beer On a Hot Frying Pan

A post with no point whatsoever.

But I bet you're now dying to try it for yourself.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Raising Responsible Pets

Browsing the mobile phone store recently...

How old should your dog be before he gets his own email and text accounts?

And Finally, Beer

It's been a week since I bemoaned the recent "all work and no play" trend, but we finally got in a visit to one of our local pubs to enjoy some good beer and food. As our friend Checkered Flag recently lamented, "We need to get back into our fun routine." To that end, Wednesday evening we headed over to Park Lane Tavern for their Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, on nitro, Steal the Glass event.

It's been a while since we visited Park Lane, and I was pleased to see they've expanded their "rotating taps" list, now with 5 beers, plus a cask selection. As much as I was looking forward to the nitro Porter, I was tempted by some of the other selections. Well, maybe I'll have a second beer...

The Breckinridge Vanilla Porter poured a deep chocolate color with a think mocha head, with the attractive nitro carbonation slowing rising to the top. This was a very handsome looking beer. I could hardly restrain myself while Colleen grabbed a photo. The aroma is very faint, with vanilla and milk chocolate notes. The flavor is mainly sweet milk-rich coffee and vanilla. The mouthfeel was extremely smooth and creamy. The beer goes down easily and quickly. At just 4.7% ABV that's not a problem though. 

I've had this popular beer before, both from a bottle and a standard tap. I've found it a touch too sweet for my tastes typically. It's not a beer I could drink more than one of in a sitting. It seemed to me however the flavor this time was less cloying that I recall. Perhaps that's the effect of the nitro, but in any case it was quite tasty and indeed. If there weren't other beers to try, I would have had another!

In the food area, I had my mind set on Fish & Chips for dinner, planning to combine it with the nitro-poured Porter for hint of Ireland. (I've sworn off Guinness in the U.S. after enjoying it in Ireleand.) However, Park Lane was featuring a Wild Game Bangers and Mash entrée that was especially tempting. The bangers were made with elk and venison. So I switched food plans and went that dish. I'm glad I did. The meat was very tasty, as was the accompanying "mash" and other vegetables. 

To go along the Bangers & Mash I ordered a pint of Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale. This reddish-copper colored ale had a rich caramel malt flavor enhanced with subtle spices. The spiced ale was a very nice compliment to the herbs and spices in the sausage. Colleen and Checkered Flag both ordered glasses of the cask selection, New Holland The Poet. Poured into a large snifter, the from-the-cask serving came out at just the right temperature. (Sadly, I've accepted the fact that most beers served in America are set out too cold and require patience before enjoying.) I stole a couple few many sips from Colleen's glass. This Oatmeal Stout was rich in roasted coffee and copious oatmeal, along with a hint of citrus hops in the background. I may have to order this one for myself next time.

We had a very enjoyable evening at Park Lane. We're frequent, but not regular visitors to the pub, but it seemed to me they've stepped up their beer game a notch, and my entrée was one of the better meals I've enjoyed there. Oh yea, those infamous "kilts"? They seem to be gone. I realize the "mini" kilts on the girls were a gimmick, but neither those nor the usually-too-long kilts on the guys were very authentic. The black pants on most of the employees we saw this week gave a much more professional look. I can't say I will miss the "kilts." I do realize from reading the comments on the Facebook that I'm probably in the minority with that opinion. I look forward to visiting again and seeing what happens next.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Those Pesky Terrorists

All eyes will be on Sochi as the Winter Olympics begin tonight. After two terrorist bombings recently in Volgograd, Russia, there's rightful cause for concern over the security of the venue. Well, at least many folks are concerned. The 0bama administration however sees the situation as perhaps no more disconcerting than a bunch of high school boys TPing trees on Halloween. This was the wisdom recently uttered by State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf:
"In terms of security for Sochi, U.S. citizens planning to attend should remain alert regarding their personal security at all times. I think our security experts have said that criminal activity in Sochi is similar to other cities of comparable size. Obviously, major events such as the Olympic games are an opportunity for thieves or for other folks who want to cause mischief," Harf said.

Wait, what? Mischief? Watch below. I know it looks like a Saturday Night Live skit, but it's real, or at least reality according to the current administration.

Maybe if we just sent the terrorists to bed without their supper they'd learn their lesson.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Students Support Execution of Gun Owners

Activist Mark Dice recently visited a California college campus passing around a "petition" calling for the abolishment of 2nd Amendment. What happened next will leave you shaking your head.

Taken by itself, one might be inclined to dismiss reactions of the clueless students, as, well, the actions of clueless students. However this isn't the first time we've seen anti-gun crowd call for violence against law-abiding gun owners. In fact, these inclinations are far from uncommon. And these students probably do, and will, vote. It's disconcerting how the idea of imprisoning and even executing innocent Americans doesn't raise an objection.

Recently Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently told law students, regarding the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW II,
“That’s what was going on - the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot. That’s what happens. It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification, but it is the reality,” he said.
The anti-gunners are also hinting at punishing guns owners because they might commit a crime in the future. According to Kristen Rand, legislative director at the Violence Policy Center in Washington, "Just because you're a law-abiding citizen today doesn't mean you're going to be one tomorrow."

Sort of gives new meaning to the term "war on guns."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Beer Delivery Drones Grounded

Lakemaid Beer thought they had a great promotional gimmick to promote their brewery. They'd use drones to fly beer out to ice fishermen on a Minnesota lake. Unfortunately the government has nixed the idea, according to this ABC report:
An ingenious new drone beer delivery service proposed by a Minnesota Micro Brewery to rush beer to thirsty ice fishermen across frozen lakes has had its wings clipped by the feds. 
Less than a week after the company posted a buzzy promotional YouTube video chronicling the first test flights across mid-sized lakes, the Federal Aviation Administration called Lakemaid Beer to immediately pull the unmanned beer from the skies. 
"As much as they thought it was a funny idea, it was a violation of all sorts of codes," Lakemaid Beer Company President Jack Supple told ABC News, adding that he's determined to keep pushing to get his idea off the ground.

The FAA cites the dangers of flying drones over "dense urban locations" as a cause for concern. According to officials the use of drones for commercial reasons is a "serious matter."

The irony runs deep here.

See "FAA Slaps Down Drone Beer Delivery Service to Ice Fishermen" for more on the drone grounding.