Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Archangels, Intercede for Us

September 29 is the Feast of the Archangels — St. Gabriel, St. Raphael and St. Michael. These are trying times for Christianity and freedom in general, both at home and abroad, with attacks coming from many directions. Governments around the world, sadly our own included, are creating laws to restrict the free practice of religion. Unbelievably, people actually stand in the street proclaiming how proud they are to have killed their own children. The satanic forces of islam continue hundreds of years barbarism and are relentless in attacking and killing Christians around the world, including right here at home. The list goes on. To anyone paying attention, it's obvious that evil has a foothold in this world.

There's no more important time implore the intercession of these powerful warriors, the Archangels. We should ask especially for the protection of St. Michael the Archangel.

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.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Remembering Mom

Today marks the five years since my mother passed away. Though another year has passed, her smile is still fresh in my memory. I still have those flashes when I get excited to share news of our lives with her, and then know I can't. I think of her a lot, especially now that our son has headed off to college; she'd be as proud of him as we are. At those moments I pray just a little more that she knows and is smiling.

So today I will relish all the memories. The sadness will be there, and a tear or two, but I will try to focus on her smile, her love for her family, the countless dog toys delivered at every visit, and the never-forgotten cards and calls on birthdays and holidays. And the hugs. Mom never missed a chance to give a long, hard hug to those she loved. Those I miss the most.

I love you mom, and miss you still.

Requiescat In Pace

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

St. Wenceslaus, Patron Saint of Brewers

Reposted from September 28, 2012.

Today is the feast day of St. Wenceslaus, who is regarded as a patron Saint of Czech brewers.
St. Wenceslaus, duke of Bohemia, was born about the year 907 at Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). His father was killed in battle when he was young, leaving the kingdom to be ruled by his pagan mother. Wenceslaus was educated by his grandmother, Ludmilla, also a saint. She taught him to be a Christian and to be a good king. She was killed by pagan nobles before she saw him king, but she left him with a deep committment to the Christian faith. 
Throughout his life he preserved his virginity unblemished. As duke he was a father to his subjects, generous toward orphans, widows, and the poor. On his own shoulders he frequently carried wood to the houses of the needy. He often attended the funerals of the poor, ransomed captives, and visited those suffering in prison. He was filled with a deep reverence toward the clergy; with his own hands he sowed the wheat for making altar breads and pressed the grapes for the wine used in the Mass. During winter he would visit the churches barefoot through snow and ice, frequently leaving behind bloody footprints. 
Wenceslaus was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father to the throne. Without regard for the opposition, he worked in close cooperation with the Church to convert his pagan country. He ended the persecution of Christians, built churches and brought back exiled priests. As king he gave an example of a devout life and of great Christian charity, with his people calling him "Good King" of Bohemia. 
His brother Boleslaus, however, turned to paganism. One day he invited Wenceslaus to his house for a banquet. The next morning, on September 28, 929, as Wenceslaus was on the way to Mass, Boleslaus struck him down at the door of the church. Before he died, Wenceslaus forgave his brother and asked God's mercy for his soul. Although he was killed for political reasons, he is listed as a martyr since the dispute arose over his faith. This king, martyred at the age of twenty-two, is the national hero and patron of the Czech Republic. He is the first Slav to be canonized.
According to BeerHistory.com, the Saint's protection of local hops earned him much regard.
Because Bohemian hops were so valued, Wenceslas ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting the cuttings and obviously endeared himself to the local hop growers and brewers. He became the patron saint of Bohemia and Czechoslovakia and his crown became the symbol of nationalism for the Czechs. By extension he became a patron saint of Czech brewers.
King Wenceslaus is the inspiration for the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas.

So let's raise a glass of fine beer to the Good King, Saint Wenceslaus.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Virginia Winners at GABF

The Great American Beer Festival was held this week in Denver, and as usual, Virginia breweries walked away with numerous awards. There are some familiar beers on this list, as well as some new beers we're just going to have to try.

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA Port City Brewing Team

Category: 8 Chili Beer - 79 Entries
Silver: Heir Apparent, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Goochland, VA

Category: 22 American-Belgo-Style Ale - 71 Entries
Bronze: Salad Days American Saison, Pale Fire Brewing Co., Harrisonburg, VA

Category: 34 Bohemian-Style Pilsener - 62 Entries
Gold: Shower Beer, Champion Brewing Co., Charlottesville, VA

Category: 39 Vienna-Style Lager - 46 Entries
Gold: Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. - Outpost, Lexington, VA

Category: 52 English-Style India Pale Ale - 42 Entries
Silver: Monumental IPA, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA

Category: 61 English-Style Mild Ale - 40 Entries
Gold: Mild, Brothers Craft Brewing, Harrisonburg, VA

Category: 74 Belgian-Style Witbier - 82 Entries
Bronze: Optimal Wit, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA

Category: 75 French- and Belgian-Style Saison - 132 Entries
Gold: Siren’s Lure, Fair Winds Brewing Co., Lorton, VA
Coincidently, Colleen enjoyed this one last week at Capital Ale House. I'll need to go back and order a pint for myself!

Category: 83 Robust Porter - 102 Entries
Silver: Porter, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA

Congratulations to these fine Virginia breweries, and to all the brewers across the country who walked away with medals. We appreciate your hard work and dedication. View the complete awards list here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Capital Ale House is Open

Just under three months since a catastrophic roof collapse, Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg reopened this week. We didn't visit on opening day, but Colleen and I did make it downtown for dinner and a few beers on the day after the reopening. Taking seats at the bar, we were greeted by familiar staff faces, and began perusing the beer menu. After quickly making our beverage selections, it was time to look over the food menu.

Capital Ale House has added some new options to the menu, while keeping many, but not all, of our favorites. A couple of Virginia beers, Blue Mountain Brewery Humpback Oktoberfest and Fair Winds Brewing Siren's Lure Saison, along with a new Crispy Artichoke appetizer occupied us while we perused the menu further.

We eventually decided to try out two new items on the menu. Colleen opted for the Pork Belly Tacos, and I ordered the Hub Cap, a Schnitzel Sandwich, served on a Pretzel Roll with Caramelized Onions and a spicy mayonnaise. To go with the flavorful sandwich I opted for a Great Dismal Black IPA from O'Connor Brewing in Norfolk, VA. The roasted and hoppy flavor comibation of the ale went quite well with the sandwich. As it turned out, there were a few O'Connor pint glasses left over from the previous evening's "Steal the Glass" night so I ended up with a souvenir glass as well — not that I really need anymore beer glasses.

We even opted for a celebratory dessert of the Giant Carrot Cake, while we enjoyed our beverages. It's good to have Capital Ale House open again and back on our list of options to visit when we're heading out in search of good beer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spencer Devon Mug Club

Spencer Devon Brewing held a fun event this week to support the MANARC Thrift Store and Veterans Moving Forward. Proceeds from the event will help support these two organizations which provide support and assistance to veterans in the Fredericksburg area. 

One of the highlights of the evening was the launch of the Spencer Devon Mug Club. Attendees were entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of only 30 custom mugs created by D.D. Lecky at Liberty Town Pottery, and membership in the limited mug club. Those lucky enough to be selected made a donation to MANARC to join the club. The mug entitles the owner to 20 ounce fills for the 16 ounce price, as well as discounts on food and invitations to future special events.

Colleen and I attended the event and held our two tickets in anticipation as we enjoyed a long dinner and a couple of new Spencer Devon beers. During the drawing, the ticket Colleen held was called, and she generously gave me her winning ticket. We held our breaths for the other ticket to be drawn, but we weren't that lucky. Since we generally visit Spencer Devon together, I am sure she'll enjoy some beer from the beautiful mug as well. 

As mentioned, the brewery also had two new beers on tap that we hadn't tried before. The first, Ellerslie Harvest Ale is Spencer Devon's first fresh-hopped beer. The Chinook and Cascade hops were grown at Ellerslie Hop Farm in King George County. The low ABV ale had a pleasing bready malt base with a mild hop bitterness. The fresh hops added a bit of green "zing" to the finish. It was very easy-drinking and I enjoyed a couple of pints, including a mug full in the new "Mug Club" mug. I'll be sure to look for the Harvest Ale again.

The other new beer available that evening was Center House Association Ale. The beer was brewed for the Marine Corps' Center House Association. It's available at the brewery for a limited time, but will be brewed specially for the Officer's Mess at the Marine Barracks at 8th and I in Washington. Norway Spruce boughs were used in brewing the Mild Ale, which is based on an old recipe. The beer has notes of caramel malt with a low hop bitterness. I was unable to detect the presence of the spruce, though Colleen felt she could pick up some pine-like notes in the aroma. Like the Harvest Ale, this was also a mild, and seemingly low ABV beer.

Live music, a worthy cause, and good food and beer made for a fun evening. We were lucky to snag a couple of seats at the bar before crowd really picked up, as the brewpub was packed for the evening. I look forward to returning to Spencer Devon soon and enjoying more great beer, in the new mug of course.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Blue & Gray Brewing Oktoberfest

The 14th Annual Oktoberfest celebration at Blue & Gray Brewing was held this past Friday and Saturday. After I got home from the IDPA match Saturday morning, Colleen and I headed over to the event to enjoy some good beer and German food.

The Baron von Steuben Oktoberfest is a beer I look forward to each year. It's one of my favorites from Blue & Gray. The Märzen-style beer has a bready malt aroma. Bready and caramel malt notes continue in the flavor, with just a hint of sweetness. There's a bit of hop bitterness in the finish to round out the flavor profile.

After we finished our beers, we realized that neither of us had eaten lunch and we were quite hungry. I didn't feel like hitting the food truck, but since the email promotion for the event stated "German Specials inside the brewpub too" we opted to endure the short wait for a table inside, where I had another pint of the Oktoberfest. Alas, it turned out there were no "German Specials" served inside, so we opted to go multi-cultural; Colleen ordered Shepherd's Pie, while I opted for Fish Tacos.

Despite the lack of Schnitzel we had a pleasant afternoon. We hadn't been to Blue & Gray for quite a while, and I was glad to have enjoyed a couple of pints of a seasonal favorite.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September IDPA at Rivanna

The monthly Rivanna IDPA match in Charlottesville was held this weekend. After several practice sessions this past month, I was looking forward to getting to a match. Unfortunately the benefits of my practice didn't quite show themselves at this outing.

The first two stages were stand and shoot stages, with lots of non-threats and reduced target zones. Stage 1 had seven targets; the front three offering essentially head shots only, the rear four visible between the front non-threat targets. Unfortunately I hit two non-threats trying for the rear targets. Not a great start to the match! The five targets on Stage 2 all had copious amounts of hard cover, and required three shots on each. I spent too much time getting the hits I needed.

The third stage of the match got us into the scenario stages with a card game scenario. We started seated at the table holding playing cards in our hands. There were three "friendlies" right in front of the shooter, and six targets to be engage near to far. All shooting was done while seated, and required leaning back and forth to see all the targets. I was happy on this one until I saw the SO leaning to look closely at one of the far targets; apparently I went too fast and had a miss, although given the narrowness of the gap we were aiming through, I'm not sure how I missed but didn't hit the non-threat!

The final stage had us shooting around, and through, a vehicle. Starting leaned over with hands on a tire iron, there were three targets to be engaged over the bed of the truck. Moving towards the front of the vehicle, two targets were engaged through the cab. Another target was shot over the front, before engaging the final two shooting under the open hood. There was a lot of joking about shooting out the side mirror or the hood support rod, but it was a very fun stage. It seemed I finally was "warmed up," with just three points down on the stage. I had found my rhythm, but unfortunately there were no more stages to shoot.

Despite a disappointing finish, it was still a fun match. A day on the range beats a day off the range anytime. In going over it in my head on the drive home, I hit on a couple of things I was doing wrong and need to work on. Nothing like picking up new bad habits! So now I have an excuse to get out and hit the local range for more practice.

I did however get home in time to make it to the Fredericksburg Oktoberfest at Blue & Gray Brewery. That's a pretty decent consolation prize.

Friday, September 18, 2015

An Afternoon on the Range

It's been several months since Colleen, our friend Checkered Flag, and I spent an afternoon at the range. It's always fun to shoot as a group, but I was really anxious to get out as I've missed my last couple of planned practices; last week I took a new shooter to the range and helped him instead of getting my gun out, and this Wednesday all the ranges were in use and unavailable when I showed up. Coincidently as I was heading home from not shooting, CF sent a text message that he picked up a new gun so we planned a trip to the range for the next day.

This time a range was available. There was a slight breeze blowing, and combined with the mid-eighties temperature, made for a pleasant couple of hours. We set up the "colored dot" targets and played our Calling Colors game for a bit. I eventually hung an IDPA target for myself, while the rest of the group switched to splatter targets. We shot at various distances from 3 to 15 yards while CF got used to his new gun, and I used that time to practice head shots, SHO and WHO shooting, as well as some draws from the holster. My focus was on my grip pressure and carefully watching the sight alignment through the whole trigger press. I've gotten a little sloppy in those areas recently. I was extremely pleased with my hits throughout the afternoon, but still reminded myself — it's all so much easier when it's not a match day.

Of course, we had lot of brass to pick up when we were done. It always seems a lot hotter when you're leaning over finding brass in the gravel. When we got back to the house Colleen grilled up a bunch of panini for a late lunch which we devoured quickly, suddenly realizing just how hungry we were. After satisfying my hunger I had to put in a few more hours of work, and that's when I realized that the afternoon had really worn me out. I was ready for a nap before our evening commitment, but alas there was little time. (Okay, maybe I closed my eyes on the couch for few minutes.) A cup of coffee would have to suffice. But a few extra yawns in the evening is a small price to pay for a fun time outdoors on the range.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rosie Parks Oyster Stout

This bottle of Rosie Parks Oyster Stout was part of a sample package received recently from Fordham Brewing. I had received a press release previously from the brewery and was looking forward to trying the beer. The brewery has partnered with Ryleigh’s Oyster Food & Spirits to add Avery’s Pearls oyster shells to the Stout. The oyster is a proprietary variety from Ryleigh’s and is farm-raised in Hog Island Bay, Virginia. A portion of the sales of Rosie Parks Stout will go to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum to support the restoration of the famed oystering boat, the Rosie Parks.

Fordham Rosie Parks Oyster Stout pours a deep cola color with a thin mocha head. The aroma is faint, with roasted malt and a hint of sweetness. Roasted coffee and dark chocolate combines with slight earthiness to complete the flavor profile. As the beer warms it gains a slight brine aspect that gives it a unique flavor. The carbonation is moderate and tingles the tongue. The roasted flavor and a faint salty brine note lingers in the mouth at the end.

Some folks consider "oyster stouts" to be a bit of a gimmick that adds little to the beer, or even detracts. The inclusion of oysters, at least in this region, is often done as a means of supporting the restoration of the oysters and their habitat. If the beer gets a unique and enjoyable flavor as a result, that's even better. I did enjoy the flavor of Rosie Parks Oyster Stout. It's a decent stout and the oyster shells used in the brewing gives the beer a flavor twist that is interesting and rather enjoyable. I'm looking forward to opening the second bottle I have on hand; I'm thinking with some stinky cheese or oyster chowder perhaps.

The beer reviewed here was a promotional sample from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

31 Years!

It seems hard to believe that it's been that long. Thirty-one years ago Colleen and I started our life together. Wow, that time has really flown by. I think about those wonderful years, and all we've been through, the good and the less good, and it just doesn't seem to add up to 31. I am truly blessed to have shared so many years with such a beautiful, faithful lady, and I look forward to many, many more.

Thank you God for bringing us together. Thank you Colleen for the many blessings you bring to our family. I love you with all my heart and soul.

!!! Happy Anniversary !!!

She's more beautiful each day

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Visit to South Street Brewery

Looking for something to do on Sunday, we decided to take a drive out to Charlottesville to visit South Street Brewery. We had never been to the landmark brewery and it was a nice afternoon for a drive. We arrived mid-afternoon and there were only a few other folks in the brewpub at the time.

Not being in any hurry, we started off with a couple of beers and the Meat and Cheese Board appetizer. Colleen selected Anastasia's Chocolate Fantasy Imperial Stout. This was a rich tasting stout with dark roasted espresso and bitter chocolate flavors. My selection was Land of Milk and Honey Old Ale, a collaborative brew with Brothers Brewing in Harrisonburg, VA. The light bodied ale had a smooth caramel malt flavor with just a hint of alcohol detected. We lingered over our beers and appetizer trying to decide on our next course of action. There were a dozen beers being offered, with several very tempting options. We also had tough decisions to make regarding our food selections.

Eventually we decided on a couple of the South Street sandwich offerings and beers to accompany; the Turkey Club and Slippery When Wit for Colleen, a Pot Roast Grilled Cheese and Spelter Skelter IPA for me. Slippery When Wit is described as a Gose/Witbier hybrid. The predominate flavor of this beer is that of a classic Witbier, but there's also a moderate tart fruit twist thrown in.

Spelter Skelter is a bright orange ale with a strong grapefruit aroma. I'm a fan of bold citrus flavors, but after the smooth malt of the Old Ale, the first sip was somewhat of a shock. After a few sips, my taste buds were "reset" and I found the beer quite enjoyable. Once I started into my jalapeño-spiced sandwich, the bold flavor of the ale was most welcome.

We enjoyed our afternoon outing very much. The drive through the countryside was fall picture perfect, the food was tasty and the beer excellent. There were a few other beers on the menu I wanted to try out. Fortunately, South Street is not too far off the path of other trips that take us past Charlottesville, so there's a chance I'll be checking those other options in the near future.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Back to Civilization

I've often felt this way myself.

From Overheard in DC...
On the Yellow Line coming out of the tunnel and on the bridge toward Virginia: 
Two middle-aged women are talking. 
Woman 1: "Ah, we're finally heading back to civilization."
Woman 2: "Well, we're heading into Virginia."
Woman 1: "Like I said, heading back to civilization."

Naturally, the editors at DCIst took offense, but this map shows the civilization picture quite clearly.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Governor McAuiliffe: Hypocrite-at-large

A tireless elitist, he brought his armed guard to an anti-gun rally in DC. "Guns for me, not thee."

By the way Governor, even with a background check I cannot have a gun for my own protection in DC. I guess telling the truth is not convenient to your agenda.

Notice also the Governor's cowardice in running from the questioning. Typical of the leftists. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five O'Clock Friday: Wha'd he say???

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlll­lantysiliogogogoch is a real place.

Liam Dutton, a weatherman for British TV station Channel 4 News casually nailed the name of the Welsh village, during a recent report.

The village name translates to "Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave."

September 11

Lest we get distracted by White House fostered racial tensions, the gun control attempts of the leftists, and other news of the day...

See through the smoke and know the threat continues...

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

1781 Brewing Company

It's a brewery at the winery. Pinch me. 1781 Brewing Company is part of the Wilderness Run Vineyard in Locust Grove, Virginia. We first heard about the plans for a brewery at the winery a couple years ago. They've been pouring beer in sort of a soft opening for a couple months now; one beer is typically available on the weekends during winery hours. Colleen and I finally had a chance to visit over the Labor Day holiday.

This weekend the brewery's Kölsch was being offered. Since it was a beautiful, late Summer afternoon, we took our glasses outside to enjoy in the outdoor seating area overlooking the vineyard. The beer was served in a snifter and was unfiltered and cloudy in appearance. Typically a Kölsch is very clear, bright yellow, and filtered. Despite the appearance, the ale was very tasty. There is a faint grain and fruit aroma. The beer has a smooth mouthfeel, with biscuity malt flavor and mild hoppiness. Flavors of bready malt and mild bitterness linger in the finish.

Pictures the brewery has posted to their Facebook page match what we were served, so I don't believe there was a tap mixup. Although the beer being served did not look like any Kölsch-style ale I've seen, the beverage was enjoyable enough. I had a second serving, while Colleen enjoyed a glass of a Wilderness Vineyard red wine.

It was a beautiful, late Summer afternoon and we really enjoyed the time spent sipping and talking. The winery/ brewery is just a few minutes from our home so I'm looking forward to seeing what other beers the 1781 Brewing Company has in store.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Buy a Priest a Beer Day

September 7 is "International Buy a Priest a Beer Day." This annual holiday serves to remind us that priests are real people who can also enjoy a good beverage to. This recognition is the brainchild of the folks over at The Catholic Gentlemen.
This festive holiday traces its origins back to the pious deed of St. Hopswald of Aleyard, the first man to buy his priest a beer. The legend goes that St. Hopswald, a master brewer by trade, was a Teutonic pagan who was converted and baptized by a zealous Catholic priest.

One day, St. Hopswald committed a grievous sin. Without wasting a moment, he ran quickly to his priest and confessed. Later that day, as he was particularly enjoying the peace of a clean conscience, St. Hopswald was so filled with gratitude for his priest’s sacramental ministry that he rushed to the rectory and offered to buy his priest a beer.

Okay, if you haven’t figured it out by now, St. Hopswald wasn’t real, but your priest is, and without priestly ministry, getting to heaven would be well nigh impossible!

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.

Even if you aren't able to buy a round or two for your favorite priest today, raise a pint today in honor of the men who devote their lives to the Church.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI celebrates his birthday last April

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Media Bias: 1979

This is an interesting profile of Jeff Cooper, done by NBC in 1979. It's notable not only for the shooting techniques shown (and the clothing styles) but for the obvious anti-gun bias shown by host and longtime liberal mouthpiece Linda Ellerbee.

Cooper states, "You are morally entitled to save your own life." He surmises that the concern in self defense is "not how much you are going to hurt [your attacker], but how much he may hurt you." Nonetheless, Ellerbee ignores those lessons of self defense and wraps up the segment with "Those people pay Jeff Cooper $300 a week to teach them to shoot people." Hardly surprising.

Some things never change.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Red Dragon Brewery Kickstarter

There's another brewery in the works for Fredericksburg. Red Dragon Brewery has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for their brewery project.
The Red Dragon Brewery gets its name from the red dragon which appears on the national flag of Wales, which has symbolized this Celtic nation for more than a millennium. The brewery is inspired by the owners' ancestral roots in Ireland, Scotland, England, and in particular, Wales. So, it is with pride in this heritage that the Red Dragon Brewery is committed to producing the very finest of craft beers.

The Red Dragon Brewery team, with your support, has decided to take it to the next level and share the Red Dragon Brewery with you. The brewery will sell beer directly to the public in an onsite taproom. The taproom will be a warm, welcoming place where customers can enjoy beer in a relaxing atmosphere. Beer will also be available in bottles and growlers “to-go”, along with other promotional items such as Red Dragon logo t-shirts and glassware. Tours of the brewery and beer samplings will also be offered.

The Red Dragon Brewery will initially offer you three different styles of beer for its flagship releases:

- St. David’s Stout
- Road Rash Red IPA
- Counting Fireflies Belgium Blonde

In addition, Red Dragon Brewery will produce many traditional styles as well as a variety of experimental beers, creating a different twist on traditional beer. At any given time, the brewery plans to have five to six different beers available on tap for your enjoyment in house or to go.

The folks behind Red Dragon have been brewing beer locally and planning their endeavor for several years. I have no affiliation with the brewery, and to my knowledge, have never met any of the guys involved, although we do have some mutual friends. I look forward to the opportunity to change that in the future and also try out their brews.

You can follow Red Dragon's progress at their Facebook page.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Progressive Colors

I picked up a catalog at work the other day and saw this...

I don't get it. I suspect some PC-influence from the marketing department.

Another Award for Spencer Devon

The Summer awards list for the United States Beer Tasting Championships have been posted and there's a familiar local name on the list. Spencer Devon Brewing was named a National Grand Champion in the Bitter-ESB category for their Bittersweet IPA. Beers that first win regional competitions go on to be judged against other regional winners to determine the National Champions in each category.

Spencer Devon lists Bittersweet IPA as an English-syle IPA. On a recent visit to the brewery, owner Shawn shared the story of his entry being moved into the ESB category for judging due to a lack of an English IPA category. Despite that unexpected transfer, the beer won the category!

After admitting I hadn't tried the other recently awarded Spencer Devon beer, Rocko's Milk Stout, I am happy to say I have enjoyed Bittersweet IPA on many occasions. Call it an English IPA or a ESB, it's a fine tasting libation worthy of recognition.

I suppose I'll need to return to Spencer Devon soon to enjoy another Bittersweet IPA and make a congratulatory toast in honor of this award. If the folks at Spencer Devon keep winning awards, I may never leave the place!

Congratulations to Spencer Devon owners Shawn and Lisa, and brewers John and Mariah. Keep up the great work!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Wednesday Workouts

It's been a couple of months since I've been out to practice at my local outdoor range. However, the past couple weeks I've made an effort to get out and focus on particular skills to supplement the dry fire work. I head to the range on the way home from work, with 100 rounds of ammo, and a plan.

Last week I went with the purpose of focusing on longer shots. After dropping a lot of points on the 20 yard shots on Stage 3 of the IDPA classifier recently, I felt I needed to work on concentrating on the sights and trigger press. On that trip I shot exclusively from the 25 yard line. My eyes are such that I can see the sights sharply, but any targets beyond 15 or so yards are blurred. I have to aim at the blurry brown blob against the blurry brown berm. As I was checking my hits, it occurred to me that in the excitement of a match, I tend to rest on the center of that blob. That was the years of USPSA shooting habits coming through. The "down zero" zone on the IDPA target is located in the upper portion of the target so I needed to adjust where I indexed on the target. Let's hope that epiphany sticks in the next match!

For this week's trip, the practice focused on strong and weak-hand only shooting. The IDPA rules state:
6.19 No “strong-hand only” strings of fire may require the shooter to engage targets more than ten (10) yards (9.1 meters) distant.
6.20 No “weak-hand only” strings of fire may require the shooter to engage targets more than seven (7) yards (6.4 meters) distant.
I decided to do the SHO shots at 15 yards, and the WHO shots at 10. I figured if I can hit them from those ranges, the match distances should feel easy. (One can hope!) The right handed shots were hitting well, but I was initially shooting to the right when using my left hand only. There are many opinions on the best stance when shooting one handed; for me the best position seems to be standing squared to the target with the gun mostly vertical. By the end, I was fairly satisfied with the hits I was getting.  (I'm aware that last month's Area 8 USPSA match had WHO shots at something like 18 yards, but that's just silly.)

This might be a handy training tool

It was another quick, but I think beneficial, practice session. After 50 strong hand and 50 weak hand shots, I found a couple dozen extra rounds in my range bag and did some shooting just for fun. I did feel the effects of all those one-handed shots later in the evening.

After shooting, there was still time for a good exercise session as well. The two activities made for a complete "workout Wednesday" and an excellent diversion from the work week.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bishop Flavien-Michel Malké - Victim of Islam

On August 29, a brave Christian warrior moved one step closer to Sainthood when the Church beatified Bishop Flavien-Michel Malké. Bishop Malké was martyred in 1915 for refusing denounce his Christian faith and side with the "religion of peace." From National Catholic Register...
Bishop Malké will be beatified Aug. 29, the 100th anniversary of his martyrdom, during a liturgy celebrated by Ignatius Youssef III Younan, the Syriac patriarch of Antioch, at the convent of Our Lady of Deliverance in Lebanon. It is expected that thousands of Syrians and Iraqis displaced by the Islamic State will attend the beatification.

“In these painful times experienced by Christians, especially the Syriac communities in Iraq and Syria, the news of the beatification of one of their martyrs, will surely bring encouragement and consolation to face today's trials of appalling dimension,” read an Aug. 9 statement of the Syriac Patriarchate of Antioch.

“Blessed Martyr Michael, intercede for us, and protect especially the Christians in the Orient and all the world in these hard and painful days.”

Malké was born in 1858 in the village of Kalaat Mara, a village of the Ottoman Empire in what is now Turkey, to a Syriac Orthodox family. He joined a monastery of that Church and was ordained a deacon, but then converted to the Syriac Catholic Church. (Both the Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholics use the West-Syrian rite.)

After his conversion, he was ordained a priest in Aleppo in 1883. He was a member of the Fraternity of St. Ephrem and served parishes in southeastern Turkey, near his home.

Ottoman persecution of Christians began in earnest with the Hamidian massacres of 1894-1897. Malké's church and home were sacked and burned in 1895, and many of his parishioners were murdered, including his mother. In total, the massacres killed between 80,000 and 300,000 Christians.

He was selected to become a bishop in the 1890s, serving as a chorbishop and helping in the rebuilding of Christian villages. In 1913, he was consecrated bishop and appointed head of the Syriac Diocese of Gazireh (modern-day Cizre, 150 miles southeast of Diyarbakir).

A second round of persecution of Christians in the Ottoman Empire began in April 1915. Known as the Armenian Genocide, it targeted the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christian minorities in the empire. The Assyrian genocide (the portion of the mass killings directed against Syriac and Chaldean Christians) is also known as the Seyfo Massacre, from the Syriac word for sword.

Some 1.5 million Christians were killed, and millions more were displaced during the genocide.

During the summer when the genocide broke out, Bishop Malké was in the Idil district, near Gazireh. In June 1915, hearing the Ottoman forces were preparing to massacre Gazireh's people, he returned.

According to the Syriac Patriarchate, when his friends and acquaintances urged him to withdraw from Gazireh to a safer location, he replied, “Even my blood I will shed for my sheep.”

Together with four of his priests and the Chaldean bishop of Gazireh, Philippe-Jacques Abraham, he was arrested and imprisoned for two months.

Bishop Malké refused to convert to Islam, and on Aug. 29, 1915, he was martyred.
Of course, we are well-aware that muslim persecution of Christians and other non-muslims continues unabated today. May Blessed Flavien-Michel Malké intercede for victims of islam the word over.

Update: YouTube video of the Divine Liturgy, in the Syriac Catholic Rite, for the Beatification of Bishop Flavien-Michel Malké.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spencer Devon Rocko's Milk Stout

As I often do when I'm headed out to enjoy good beer, I contemplated my beer selection during the drive downtown for Sunday brunch at Spencer Devon Brewery. In this instance, my choice was going to be easy. At last week's Virginia Craft Brewers Cup, the Fredericksburg brewery was awarded a Bronze medal in the Stout category for its Rocko's Milk Stout. I had realized that was the one Spencer Devon beer I had never ordered. There's no specific reason for that oversight, other than I'm typically an IPA or Pale Ale kind of guy.

Rocko's Milk Stout pours a very dark brown color with a thin beige head. The aroma is mild, with roasted malt and a touch of sweet chocolate. The flavor profile brings crisp toasted malt and dark coffee. A bit of chocolate sweetness in the background smooths it all out. The mouthfeel is creamy and full-bodied. The finish is very clean, leaving behind a hint of dark, slightly bitter coffee.

I sort of regretted not trying this one in the past. To make up for that, I enjoyed a second pint with my delicious Blackened Catfish Po'boy topped with Cajun Remoulade & Pickled Jalapeño Slaw. The slightly spicy sandwich and flavorful beer made for a delightful meal on a relaxing Sunday afternoon.