Monday, August 31, 2020

I Offended The Twitter

I don't read Twitter that often. For me, it's mainly a consolidation point from which to share blog posts, my beer check-ins on UnTappd, and the cigar pictures I upload to Instagram. As such it took me a few days to realize something was amiss.

I got an error when I tried to share the Glenlivet post but didn't think much about it at the time. Then I kept seeing the same posts at the top of my feed. At first, it didn't stand out, as there is a lot of repeated sharing on the platform. Then I noticed that the timestamps of the posts I saw had stopped on August 26. That's when I noticed that my Following count was zero, down from about 400. Well, that would explain why I saw no new content, but not why I was locked out from posting.

The mystery remain unsolved until I mentioned the issue to Colleen and she tried to view my Twitter feed. That's when I learned the account was "restricted."

I am not sure what caused the outrage. This is a screenshot of the last post Twitter allowed. Do the censors dislike Rocky Patel cigars or scotch?

After that post Twitter blocked me from posting anything further. They also will not allow me to follow anyone. Apparently alcohol, tobacco and firearms melt the Twitter-flakes. Of course, no notification came from Twitter, and my profile page gives me notice of the restriction. I've inquired via their customer support form, but expect no support whatsoever.

Truth be told, for the past week I haven't really missed Twitter either.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Thursday Evening at the Lounge

Ever have one of those weeks? Yeah, I know, every week.  By the time Thursday rolled around I was ready for the weekend. Yet, there I still had Friday to navigate, but I was ready to pretend for a bit, so I headed over to 1781 Brewing for a beer or two and a cigar at the lounge. It had been a few weeks since I relaxed at one of my favorites spots away from home.

Even before left home, I knew my choices for the evening. I had seen posts online from both the brewery and Olde Towne Tobacconist (at the farm) that had peaked my interest.

1781 Brewing Sea Monkey IPA is in the mug, even though you can't see it. This is an annual release and one I remember enjoying last year. I recall last year's version was more of a New England Style IPA, slightly hazy and bitter. The version this year still has a pleasing hop bitterness, but there is some citrus juiciness as well from an infusion of tangerines. Quite delicious. I think I'll have another.

The smoke for the evening was a CAO America, in a big 6" x 60 format. The wrapper is a dark Connecticut Broadleaf with a thin barber pole accent of Connecticut shade. The Brazilian binder encases Dominican Republic, Italy, Nicaragua, and USA Connecticut fillers. The medium bodied smoke produces a creamy flavor with notes of vanilla and cedar. Some pepper spice shows up near the end. 

It was a quiet, cool evening at the farm. I enjoyed the beer and the cigar immensely. The brief respite will help get me through just one more day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Glenlivet 15 and a Rocky Patel

My preferences in distilled spirits lean towards bourbon, but I do enjoy a variety of alcoholic beverages. In addition to the bourbons, the liquor cabinet is well-stocked with a variety of whiskies. On a recent relaxing evening I grabbed a bottle of The Glenlivet 15 to enjoy with my smoke. 

The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve features sweet fruit, nuts, and moderate spice on the palate. I find it quite smooth and syrupy. 

This evening's cigar choice was the Rocky Patel Winter Collection. The new cigar from Rocky Patel brings dark espresso, nuts, with a touch of sweetness to the flavor pairing. Aesthetically, the dark Mexican San Andrés wrapper contrasted beautifully with the golden amber of the scotch.

The cigar and scotch complimented each other quite well. Sipping the beverage and enjoying the smoke was a pleasant way to relax after a long day, forget about the Chinese virus, and watch the sun set.

Monday, August 24, 2020

August IDPA Match

Range time was extremely limited in August and I was only able to find range time once in the past month. Four weeks from the last outing, I returned on Saturday to the Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club for the monthly IDPA match. What has seemed like days of endless rain let up for the morning and we got in five very fun stages.

The first stage our squad shot was a simple stage, perfect to warm up on. Two strings of fire were shot while stationary, and both involved two nearby target arrays. Nothing fancy, although a stage that could tempt you to rush ahead of your sights, but I shot it clean.

On the next stage we started standing behind a table, then engaged a single target in the open on the way to the first cover point. From there, we saw a distant, and partially blocked by a non-threat, target. Moving forward there were three more targets to engage from cover. Following that we had a sprint to the final shooting position. Along the way there was ample open space to reengage any targets that needed it. A hard lean around the wall allowed the shooting of the final targets. Another -0 stage.

Moving to the next bay, we saw a four target stage, but one that included a swinging target. The swinger was activated by the shooter pulling a rope at the start. If your timing worked, you could shoot the swinger while transitioning between targets, or wait and shoot at the end. Or both. Rushing my first two shots on the left target caused me to make up two -1 shots and then mistime the exposed swinger. I moved on to engage the other two targets. That left me three rounds on my return to the swinger; I would have liked one more. I ended -5 for the stage.

The next course of fire was probably my favorite of the morning. There were six paper targets placed so that only one was visible from any angle. Shooting the stage meant lots of short, quick moves to find the next target. We started facing a stack of barrels. At the beep we dropped to a crouch to engage two targets through low ports, one to each side of us. Next were two targets to be found by leaning around the front of the barrels, and shooting through a narrow opening. Again, we had to move to both sides of the barrels to see both. The last two targets required backing up to the end of the enclosing wall to one side, then moving to the other side for the last target.

The match progressing quickly, we moved on to the last stage. This one had a seated start, with the loaded, but not chambered, gun set in a backpack on the table. After retrieving the weapon, we engaged two close targets to the left and one in the distance to the right. Getting up from the table, we were presented with two options for engaging the next target. One option involved a shorter movement distance, but a longer shot. Most folks picked the shorter shot. Moving across the course, we were presented another choice; engage two targets through a narrow opening, or take a longer route and engage the same targets with open but more distant shots. Again, the former seemed to be the favorite. The stage ended with a run to a close target from cover. Another fun stage, but another where I rushed the first two close shots.

Most of my shooting felt smooth and I was pretty happy with my performance. I ended up shooting three -0 zero stages, but two with -5 scores. That earned me an 18th out of 46 Overall, and 9th of 28 in SSP. It still would be nice to get in some range practice, outside of a match someday.

It was another super fun match on a beautiful late Summer morning. The temperature climbed to near 80°, but the humidity was only moderate. I enjoyed the stages and the people. It's always good to spend time with people doing what they enjoy, instead of sitting at home cowering in fear because the government tells them they should be sitting at home cowering in fear. We finished shooting by noon, and soon I was enjoying a pleasant drive through the country side on my way home, thinking about my afternoon cigar and beverage choices.

Monday, August 17, 2020

National Rum Day

Never one to miss a celebration, I was happy to lend my support to National Rum Day on Sunday. After we enjoyed an afternoon hike through a local Battlefield park, I decided to pair a rum with my Sunday cigar. I had a bottle of Don Q Oak Spiced Rum in the cabinet, which was paired with a Hamlet Tabaquero Solomon from Rocky Patel Cigars.

I'm not a regular rum drinker. This bottle was purchased for a specific recipe we were trying, but I've since enjoyed it occasionally on the rocks with a cigar. The spiced rum has notes of brown sugar and cloves, over a sweet vanilla and oaky base. The 90 proof bottling is smooth and eminently sippable.

The uniquely-shaped 7⅝" x 58 perfecto is always a pleaser. I had it a few times and enjoy both the flavor, and the fact that is is simply a nice looking cigar. The cigar is tapered its entire length, and sharply closes to a small tip at the head. The first bit hits with a kick, and then the flavors open up as more filler comes into play. The blend consists of a San Andrés wrapper, a Nicaraguan filler, and a combination of San Andrés and Brazilian Mata Fina double binder. Creamy sweetness, milk chocolate, cedar, earth, and oak all come through. Nearing full body by the end, the two hour smoke is a pleasure.

The smoke, and a few pours of rum done, I marked the weekend complete. I was as prepped as I can be for another week of "the grind," all in anticipation of the next weekend!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Themed Cigar and Beer Pairing

It was a long week at work, er, at home, no, it's work, at home. Anyway, when Friday finally came, my phone became a little quieter, and I could relax and rejuvenate. After dinner, I grabbed a smoke I've been eyeballing in the humidor, along with one of my favorite bourbons, and retired to the back porch to unwind.

The cigar for the evening was Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Maduro. The drink was the Henry McKenna 10 Year Bottled-in-Bond selection. 

The Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary was created to celebrate the 20-year history of the brand. (Yeah, I'm confused too.) The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro featuring a six-year-old Cuban seed wrapper which was aged in bourbon barrels for 14 months. The binder and fillers are described simply as more six-year-old Nicaraguan gown Cuban seed tobaccos.  

I had selected the 4¾" x 56 box-pressed figurado when I shopped. I was drawn in by the unique shape and the attractive, dark, slightly shiny maduro wrapper. This is a medium, bordering on full, bodied smoke. Rich earth and cocoa is balanced with a touch of sweetness. Despite the strong flavor, the smoke is smooth with an added hint of spice.

It wasn't until I was sipping the Henry McKenna, that I realized I was drinking a 10-year aged bourbon to go with the 10-year anniversary cigar. The caramel and vanilla sweetness, and oak flavors of the whiskey made a perfect accompaniment to the cigar. The 100 proof bourbon is smooth and goes down easily. Like the Buffalo Trace mentioned previously, this is another once ubiquitous bottle that has surged in popularity and is now hard to find on store shelves. 

The small cigar gave me a good 90 minutes of enjoyment. The temperature outside was quite mild, thanks to yet another storm passing by. I held on to the nub to the very end, squeezing out every bit of joy from the smoke that I could. 

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Martyrs of Otranto

Today, August 14, is the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Otranto. These faithful Christians were victims of muslim brutality and conquest in the Italian city of Otranto in 1480. On August 11, the town, which had been under siege for two weeks, was finally overrun by the Ottoman invaders. Subsequently, all men in the town over the age of 50 were slaughtered, and women and children under 15 were sent away into slavery. (Islam has actively engaged in slavery since its inception and continues to do so to this day.) The leader of the invaders, Pasha Ament ordered over 800 surviving Christian men brought before him and commanded them to convert to islam or face death. The faithful refused to cave in to his barbarous demands.

One of the men came forth and spoke in a manner that we should all pray we could emulate,
My brothers, until today we have fought in defense of our country, to save our lives, and for our lords; now it is time that we fight to save our souls for our Lord, so that having died on the cross for us, it is good that we should die for him, standing firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we shall win eternal life and the glory of martyrs.
Angered that they would not renounce their faith, Pasha Ament ordered all the men killed. On August 14, 1480, the prisoners were brought to a nearby hill and beheaded, while their families and friends were merclessly forced to watch. The first to be executed was names Antonio Primaldo. According to tradition, his body refused to fall over until the entire group had been executed.

The destruction of the town complete, and its population decimated, the moslem invaders continued their march toward Rome. Due to the two-week delay in their conquest imparted by the resolve of the faithful Christians, the forces of Italy were able to mobilize in defense of Rome. Christianity was saved from the barbaric forces of Islam once again. 

A year later, in October 1481, the bodies of the martyrs were found to be uncorrupted and moved to the Otranto cathedral. On December 14, 1771, Pope Clement XIV beatified these brave men. On May 12, 2013 their cause for Sainthood was completed when Pope Francis declared the Martyrs of Otranto to be among the Saints in Heaven.

Martyrs of Otranto, Ora pro nobis!

Relics of the Otranto Martyrs

The islamic war on Christianity, and civilized people as a whole, continues to this day. The scimitar remains the conversion tool of choice. Throughout the world, Christians are slaughtered for their faith every single day. (That whole "religion of peace" meme notwithstanding.)

Even as the global religious persecution of Christian continues, Christianity in the United States faces new threats at home. The newly "woke" have become the useful idiots of anti-Christian Socialist and Marxist organizations. These groups mask their agenda with faux outrage over real injustice, leaving mayhem and destruction in their wake. Churches are ransacked and burned. "Peaceful" protestors brutally attack Christians in the streets. Leftist politicians under the guise of health precautions put forth unconstitutional mandates restricting citizens' freedom to worship. Churches are closed for "safety." All the while, rioting, shopping at Walmart, and abortion clinics are deemed safe.

During these times, may we remain as strong as those holy citizens of Otranto. We can take inspiration from these brave men and pray that we will remain as strong in our faith in the face of evil. I often pray that when the religious persecution comes, there be enough evidence to find me guilty.

Also see "How the 800 Martyrs of Otranto Saved Rome" for more on the martyrs and their place in the history of Christendom.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

A Saturday Afternoon the Brewery

I was looking through my photo journal recently and noticed it had been nearly month since I had been able to get out to 1781 Brewery to enjoy a beer or a cigar at the Olde Towne Tobacconist lounge onsite. This past Saturday presented a long-awaited "free" day so, after some chores around the house I headed out for a pleasant afternoon, to forget about the Chines virus and the government machinations to control the populations.

The first stop was to grab my drink. The brewery had several new beers on the menu since last time I was there. I eventually settled on Red Wolves IPA. I also picked up my new mug club member's mug.

There were plenty of new selections added to the shop's humidor since I last visited. Eventually I settled on a Crowned Heads Las Calaveras. This was a cigar I had actually smoked at my last outing, but since it's a limited annual release I figured I might as well grab another. I do have a few of these, in the smaller Robusto format, in my humidor so chose the larger 6" x 56 vitola.

I enjoy a good red ale, and the Red IPA was very satisfying. There's a moderate bite of hop goodness, backed by a strong malt backbone. It paired well with the sweet earthiness and mild spice of the cigar. Fortunately the larger cigar provided time for a couple pints of the ale. It was time well-spent in enjoyable conversation with folks in the lounge.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Mornings on the Porch

It's a rare Saturday morning when I get to laze around the house. That's not necessarily a bad thing, often it means I'm off doing something fun. But last Saturday there were no other plans, so after breakfast I retreated to the screened porch for a decadent coffee and smoke.

It had rained in the early morning, but the humidity and lower temperature presented a pleasant atmosphere. I prepared a creamy coffee and perused the humidor, grabbing a Rocky Patel Vintage 1992. The medium bodied cigar has earthy and leathery notes, which paired well with the creamy coffee.

Putting on some soft jazz, a pleasant hour hearing the last rain fall from the trees, and the birds waking up. The peacefulness was only interrupted by the sound of a tree falling in the woods. I'll have to investigate that sometime.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. I was indeed looking forward to getting some chores done around the house, so heading inside was only mildly regrettable.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Devils Backbone O'Fest

I am an unabashed fan of American craft Oktoberfest beer. I looked forward each year to trying as many of these "local" interpretations as a I can. Sure, the official Oktoberfest doesn't start until September 17, but the beers start showing up on store shelves around here in July. The first Oktoberfest I grabbed to enjoy this season was Devils Backbone O'Fest. After a false start earlier this week, the beer was finally cracked open after the last teleconference on Friday to kick off the weekend.

This year's O'Fest is markedly different from previous releases. Instead of the traditional Märzen-style, this year's version is a modern "festbier" brewed with Munich malts and traditional Hallertau hops. The lager pours a golden-yellow with a short live white head. The aroma has notes of bread and a mild floral sweetness. The flavor follows with lightly toasted bread, with only a hint of bitterness. The finish is clean with a light mouthfeel. It's quite a refreshing drink. While I typically gravitate to the maltier Märzens, I enjoyed this style quite a bit.

Naturally I grabbed a cigar to enjoy with the beer. The evening's choice was a La Aurora 107 Belicoso. The cigar features a brown Ecuadorian wrapper, a Dominican binder, with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The flavor profile included coffee, chocolate, and leather. I found this to be a mild to medium bodied cigar. For my tastes, it came across as somewhat bland. It was a pleasant smoke, but unremarkable.

The evening was one of few lately when we experienced no storms. The temperature was unseasonably moderate, hovering right around 80°, making for a very pleasant start to the weekend.

Friday, August 7, 2020

IPA Day: Beer and a Cigar

I almost missed this. I was getting ready to enjoy my first Oktoberfest beer of the season, when the reminder of IPA Day crossed my social media feeds. The social media "holiday" is celebrated on the first Thursday of August. Figuring I might as well join in, I grabbed a bottle of Stone Brewing Mojay IPA and headed for the back deck.

This beer is the result of a collaboration between Stone and Burgeon Beer, created for the 10th American Homebrewers Association Rally held in 2018. It is said to represent an amalgamation of a New England-style IPA and a West Coast IPA. 

Admittedly, the bottle of beer had been sitting in my beer fridge since Stone's marketing folks sent it last year. The date stamp on the bottle was January 18, 2019 and I hoped the beer had maintained its hop profile. While I hadn't tried this beer before, it seems to have held up. The beer pours a hazy, dull orange color with a thick white head. The aroma is fruity and sweet. Sipping brings notes of bitter citrus rind, fruit sweetness, and some dank pine. Mouthfeel is sticky and the flavors linger on the palate. The name comes from the included Mosaic hops and orange juice resemblance; Mosaic + OJ = Mojay

I had also selected a cigar for this Thursday evening, but taking a sip of the beer before lighting up, I realized I needed to consider a more bold cigar for the pairing. I returned to the humidor and grabbed a newly acquired (literally that afternoon) Rocky Patel Winter Collection in Robusto.

The cigar is a new release from Rocky Patel, and is a continuation of a season-based series released in 2008. The 2020 release features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. The bold cigar features dark espresso, nuts, with a touch of sweetness. While it's probable the bitterness of the beer muted the flavors somewhat, I found this to be an extremely flavorful and enjoyable smoke. Despite the wind from my deck fans and the approaching storm, the excellent construction resulted in a razor burn all the way through.

My timing of the smoke was perfect, as I approached the end of the cigar, and the bottle of beer, the summer storm rolled in. My music was soon drowned out by the sounds of rain and thunder, and the blowing rain began coming through the screens. At the same time I was struck by the juxtaposition of the Winter Collection in the midst of the Summer storm. I'll look forward to lighting up another soon.

I'll get to that Oktoberfest beer soon enough.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Evening Bourbon and Rocky Patel

Warm evenings on the deck are the norm for the summer. For one recent after-dinner repast, I faced the warm air with a favorite cigar from Rocky Patel and a tasty rye whiskey in my glass. 

Redemption High Rye Bourbon is a easy sipping whiskey. The flavor profile is not all that complex. There are notes of oak, honey, and a touch of dark fruit. A bit of pepper comes in at the finish, but it's mild for a rye. This is a bottle I reach for often, and at under $30 a pop, it's easy to enjoy regularly.

The Rocky Patel Tavicusa is a smoke that's been mentioned in these Musings previously, and is a favorite. It's a stick that starts with a quick pepper spice and then mellows to coffee and cocoa, with a touch of sweetness. The remaining sticks in my humidor have a couple years age on them, and I get the impression they are mellowing a bit. I might have to finish them soon and restock.

The bourbon and the cigar, and some jazz from the speaker, got me through the evening wind down just fine.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Bell's Hopslam and A Balmoral Cigar

Not too long ago, I found a lone can of Bell's Brewing Hopslam Ale hiding in the back of the beer fridge. I was excited as I thought I had consumed the last of the supply I acquired in Spring 2019. Those cans were some of the last available after Bell's announced they would no longer ship their beers to Virginia

Hopslam is an annual release from the Michigan brewery. The Double IPA at one time seemed like it had almost a cult following, and the retail price reflected the demand. In more recent years, my impression is the price had moderated somewhat. The newer distribution in cans helps to preserve the beer so those cans that get lost in the recesses of the fridge stay pretty fresh.

The beer pours a golden amber with a sticky white head. The aroma bring citrus and honey to the nose. The taste is bitter grapefruit, with a honey and fruit background. The mouthfeel is sticky and oily. It's not a beer to guzzle, but one to sip and savor.

My cigar pairing this time was the Balmoral Anejo XO Nicaragua Rothschild. The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper encased a Brazilian Cuban seed binder and a blend of Dominican Republic Olor, Nicaraguan, and Brazil Mata Norte fillers. The cigar's flavors are somewhat muted by the beer's lingering remnants on my palate. The smoke brought notes of milky coffee, toffee, sweet fruit and a touch of pepper. My glass of ale lasted for about half the smoke, at which time I switched to simple water. The flavors of the medium-bodied cigar stood on their own a bit more once the beer remnants faded. Throughout the smoke, I found this to be a quite enjoyable cigar.

It doesn't appear we will be getting Bell's in Virginia again for awhile, as the legal battle around Virginia's three-tier system stretches on.