Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blog Updates

Blogging about your blog is sort of like setting up mirrors facing each other and standing between them. But, if we're honest, blogging is pretty much like staring in mirror anyway.

I've added some new blog links for you to check out. You can find them under the Shooting & Freedom tab:

The Smoothing Plane
Kerry blogs about wide range of subjects, from woodworking to self-defense to politics. All the while keeping his faith at the forefront.

Down Range Report
Duke posts his observations on guns, self-defense and politics, from the point-of-view of a retired combat vet.

Barrel Smoke
The blogger sums himself up thusly:"So, here's the thing: I love to cook and I love to shoot. Nothing like smoke on a brisket and smoke from a barrel." And he does the occasional beer review too!

Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership
No one knows the dangers of a government out to destroy a faith better than these folks. As Obama begins his open attacks on the Catholic faithful, we should be heeding the dire warning from Jewish history. See this post in particular.

In other news, there are a lot of new folks joining the Musings using the Google Friend Connect link in the right hand column. At last look the count was up to 80. Welcome to all my new friends! Those folks represent a wide range of interests. A lot of them have blogs as well, so check them out.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Earth, She Moves

This evening at 6:39PM central Virginia experienced a 3.2 earthquake. Mild in comparison to the 5.8 quake that hit last August, but still a subtle reminder that we are not the ones in charge.

And Twitter moves almost as fast.

What was really interesting about this event was how fast I got confirmation that it was indeed an earthquake. I had just sat down in a chair and could both hear and feel the rumble. About the same time my wife called down the stairs, "Do you feel that?" and I answered in the affirmative "Yes", a Twitter alert popped up on my laptop from a friend exclaiming "Aftershock!" I don't think the rumbling had even stopped.

Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

Table for Two
I was killing some time in the local beverage store Friday afternoon, looking for some interesting beers to bring home, when I spied Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. Ah, the memories this brewery invokes. There was a time when I regularly travelled to Denver. I always looked forward to visiting the tasting room at Great Divide, and in fact that would be my first stop each evening before dinner. I've long been a fan of Yeti stout and have enjoyed the "standard" Yeti, the Oak Aged Yeti, and the Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti. I've not had the espresso-enhanced version. Needless to say, a bottle found its way home with me.

Espresso Oak Aged Yeti pours as black as night with a thick, mousse-like beige head. The aromas of dark roast coffee and dark chocolate greet the nose immediately. The head fairly quickly drops leaving behind a thin layer, but lots of lacing on the glass. The flavor is what I've come to expect from Yeti — rich, roasted notes, mildly bitter with a lingering, mild bitterness. The espresso addition may have enhanced the flavor a bit, but it isn't as prominent as I expected, and even hoped for.

Despite Spring-like weather, with temperatures in the 70's, I was looking forward to this dark, Winter-like treat. The bottle never even made it to the basement, but was served the same evening at room temperature. We enjoyed relaxing with our snifters of Yeti Stout. It was a great way to unwind after a busy week.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Faulted For Full Pints

Not too long ago, I mused on the question "How Much Beer Is Enough?" Some folks measure "too much" by the pint. Apparently, at a pub in the U.K., serving too much beer in a pint can get you fired.
A pub landlord and ­landlady have been ­suspended and ­threatened with the sack for serving pints “too full” of beer. 
Pete and Debbie Gibson were ordered to close their Junction Inn pub on New Year’s Eve ­because brewery bosses said the heads on their pints of beer and lager were not big enough. 
Pete, 48, and Debbie, 47, say they have been told they owe brewing firm Samuel Smith £10,733 in lost stock for topping up customers’ pints 
The dispute centres on whether or not customers are entitled to ask for more than 95 per cent of their pint glass to be filled and get the pint topped up so there’s less of a frothy head.

At first glance at the headline I assumed that folks were upset that they weren't getting a proper head on the beer. As noted previously, a proper head on the beer is an important aspect to the full enjoyment of a good beer. As it turns out, the claims of the owners revolve around the servers being too generous with the product.

Interesting conundrum.

See "Pub landlord suspended for serving pints "too full" of beer".

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The 2nd Amendment Caste System

To anyone who looks carefully, it becomes obvious that gun control laws are really about people control. I wrote previously about the "projection" by anti-gunners of their own weaknesses onto gun owners. Coincidently, this week we learned of a vocal anti-gun politician who, when being booked on domestic violence charges, surrendered three handguns of his own. This is a case of "okay for me, but not for thee."

Gun rights proponent, Alan Korwin makes a thought-provoking observation in his essay entitled Diplomatic Carry.
Officials travel armed. When a contingent of our officials visits any other country, they bring armed personnel in classic right-to-bear-arms manner. Life is dangerous and the ability to protect yourself is a reasonable and prudent thing, a fundamental human right of existence, a moral imperative. So they go armed. It's only rational. Hillary and similar bring along enough firepower that if some of their group go one way while some head off in another, they're both covered. 
The same is true in reverse. When an ambassador from Trashcanistan comes to the United States, discreetly armed bodyguards accompany the party at all times, "laws to the contrary notwithstanding." That's lawyer-speak for "their right to carry supersedes any other rules," or in plainer English, "We're above those laws." The ambassador might decide to personally carry too. I'm guessing Hillary does not. 
There's this whole "second system" of gun possession and carry here domestically, another layer of rules on top of the common ones you must follow, operating quietly with people in the know cooperating. 
Korwin makes a valid observation that our government acknowledges the right to self-defense for some people. People who have no obligation to obey our laws, and in some cases have pledged to disrupt our freedom, get by with a nod and a wink. All the while the gun prohibitionists push efforts to restrict the personal rights of U.S. citizens.

The author states correctly that a person's right to life and protection "cannot morally be denied." Diplomatic Carry raises this responsibility to a new level of "personal sovereignty." Personal responsibility is something our current leaders fight against with every breath. They seek to make decisions for us, and force us to comply through regulations and edicts. Perhaps it's time for a new paradigm.

I can imagine that right about now, my anti-gun readers, and probably a few pro-gun folks are stammering, "But, but, wait..." However, think about it. A caste system really does exist in this country when it comes to application of the 2nd Amendment. Why should it? The Bill of Rights was written for all citizens.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Virginia Brewery Legislation

There's a bill being put forth in the Virginia House of Delegates that could be beneficial to Virginia breweries, and brewery fans. HB 359, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan (D - 71) will provide for brewery-to-brewery sales.
Alcohol beverage control; conduct not prohibited; leasing of licensed premises by breweries.  Provides that ABC law does not prohibit any licensed brewery from leasing its licensed premises and equipment located thereon to a person holding a brewery license for the manufacture of beer by such person at such times as specified in the lease agreement. Any such lease agreement shall require that (i) title to the beer at all stages of the manufacturing process be retained by the respective licensee using the licensed premises to manufacture the beer, (ii) the respective licensee maintain separate records as required by ABC law and Board regulations, and (iii) each licensee otherwise comply with Board regulations. This arrangement is commonly known as alternating proprietorship.
Essentially this legislation would allow a brewery to lease it's excess capacity and equipment to another licensed brewery. Start up costs for a brewery can be prohibitive. Under this bill, an established brewery with idle equipment could enter into an agreement with a new brewery and brew for them. It could also help out of state breweries enter the market with fewer shipping costs. More Virginia breweries means more jobs and more revenue for the state. And more local beer for Virginians!

You can track the progress of the legislation here.

Starbucks Valentine's Date

A group calling itself the "National Gun Victims Action Council" is calling for a boycott of Starbucks on February 14. The reason? Starbucks chooses to honor the gun laws of the states in which their stores are located.

As is so typical of the gun prohibitionists in the U.S., this group is offended by the Constitution, the laws of the land, and your right to self-defense. They want Starbucks, and all businesses, to impose their own policies to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. Frankly, I suspect the fear mongering of this group will have no adverse effect on Starbucks' bottom line. In fact, Starbucks might just have a banner day. There are many gun-rights supporters making plans to patronize the business specifically on that day. There's even a Facebook group dedicated to showing support.

I've already made a date to enjoy a coffee at Starbucks with my lovely wife on February 14. In fact, we might just go several times. Mark your calendars now. Even if you don't like the coffee, have a pastry or a sandwich. I think it will be a good day to visit Starbucks as the anti-freedom crowd, and the bad guys, will be avoiding the place.

I wonder if the NGVAC could be convinced to stick to their guns (sorry) and stay away everyday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sierra Nevada - Deal Done

We've been reporting for awhile that Sierra Nevada Brewing was considering a location in Virginia for an east coast brewery. Even as recent as last month, Virginia was seen as still in the running. Unfortunately, it will not be, according to this press release from the brewery.

CHICO, Calif. — Jan. 25, 2012 —Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is pleased to announce that it has chosen a site in western North Carolina for the future home of an East Coast brewery. The site, approximately 90 acres in the Henderson County Town of Mills River— along the French Broad River, 12 miles south of Asheville — will be home to the new production facility, as well as a proposed restaurant and gift shop. “We are thrilled to have found an ideal location in western North Carolina for our second brewery,” says Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada. “The beer culture, water quality and quality of life are excellent. We feel lucky to be a part of this community.”

The new facility will add much needed capacity for Sierra Nevada, and will allow for the quick shipment of brewery-fresh beer to consumers in the east. The East Coast brewery will start with a capacity around 300,000 barrels, with room to grow. The added barrelage will accommodate wider production of the myriad of seasonal beers and bottled specialties Sierra Nevada has produced in recent years, as well as an expansion of the brewery’s well‐known flagship product: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

The new brewery is expected to be up and running in early 2014 and employ 90 workers.

We can close the book on this story now. Congratulations to Asheville on the great addition to your community.

Given all the great breweries that already call Virginia home, we're still doing just fine.

The entire press release is here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do It For The Children

As noted previously, our son's school held their annual dinner and auction fundraiser this weekend. At our previous school, each year we donated a craft beer and food tasting event to the cause. Now that he's moved on to high school, we agreed to do the same for the new school. The event consists of at least  eight different courses, served for 6 people, in our home. We discuss the various types of beer, the signature marks of each style along with interesting brewing, beer culture or historical facts related to craft beer. Of course an appropriate food is served with each beer. The event has apparently developed a bit of a reputation as we have folks telling us well in advance they intend to bid it.

The tasting is scheduled be held in May. In order to give the winning bidder something to take home that evening, the package also included a cooler, a bottle opener, a six-pack of Starr Hill beer, a 750ml bottle of Gouden Carolus, 4 assorted specialty beer glasses, 2 Blue & Gray Brewery pint glasses, and copy of the classic "Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food" by Garret Oliver.

As the evening progressed it became apparent that folks had pooled their resources and two groups were engaged in a bidding war for the event. After the bidding ended, in order to further support the school, we offered to provide another dinner to the second place bidder, if they agreed to also match the winning bid. This offer was accepted.

So, now there will be two Saturday afternoons this Spring that we'll spend expounding on the goodness of craft beer and food, and of course tasting it too! It is a sacrifice that we'll happily take on. After all, we're doing it for the children.

Monday, January 23, 2012

CCW iPhone Reference

Legislation to make concealed carry permits nationally recognized between the states as been in the news of late. One push behind the proposals is to lessen the confusion and untangle the myriad of gun laws that states enact in ignorance of the U.S. Constitution. Gun owners have a responsibility to know the laws of their states, and of the states to which they travel. Even among non-travelers, having a handy reference can be a useful tool.

I've used a number of iPhone apps that provide references to these laws. CCW – Concealed Carry 50 State Guide is one of the newer such apps available for the iPhone. The main screen for each state provides a quick summary of the state's regulations. Links are provided for detailed information on reciprocity, transportation, restricted areas, and the duty to inform. Links to official state websites are provided where applicable.

The app also uses the phone's built-in GPS functionality to find nearby gun-related places such as shooting ranges and gun stores. Another feature allows the user to input the state or states where he (or she) holds conceal carry permits and the app will show a map and list the states that honor the user's permits.

Someday perhaps we will have elected representatives who actually follow the Constitution they swore to uphold and we will no longer need references like this.

Note: This app and others like it are for informational (or entertainment) purposes only. Be sure to check current laws, from official sources, before travelling. Be a responsible gun owner. 

And Then There Was Beer!

Saturday evening we attended a dinner and auction fundraiser for our son's school. I was looking forward to spending the evening with friends, and even meeting a few more of the parents. I wasn't really thrilled when I approached the bar and saw the beer selection was limited to Coors Light, Bud Light, and Heineken. In fact, a friend who was volunteering at the bar approached me first and said "Sorry, there's no beer." I sucked it up and ordered a Heineken. Oh, now I remember why I don't do that.

A short while later I saw that Jeff and Lori from Blue & Gray Brewery had arrived at the party. A short while later Jeff stepped out and quickly returned from his car with two pigs of beer; Blue & Gray's Fred Red and Classic Lager. I bowed to Jeff's awesomeness and was the first in line for the new arrivals. "I'll have the Fred Red please." I even took a few opportunities to help educate some folks on the beers.

It was a fun evening, made all the better by the unexpected arrival of good beer from my favorite local brewery.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Ultimate In Aged Beer

I've mentioned aged or cellared beers in the Musings previously, but for us, five or six years old is about as extreme as it gets, so far. A recent discovery in Great Britain shows what can be done under proper conditions. 2,000 bottles of a 75-year old Coronation Ale have been found in a brewery in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
It was made to celebrate Edward VIII’s first year as king, but when he abdicated the special royal beer was locked away... until now. 
Workmen renovating a brewery’s cellars uncovered 2,000 bottles of Coronation Ale which had been hidden for 75 years. 
Greene King created the brew to mark Edward’s first year on the throne – but he abdicated in 1936 after just 325 days to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

The beer was brewed at 12% ABV and apparently stored under proper conditions. The "rich fruit flavor" is reported to remain. A British ale fan was able to taste the beer and reports his impressions here.

Of course, there have been archeological discoveries of ancient beer. But those would be of more interest for study, rather than consumption.

See "Royal ale that's never been tasted found in cellar after 75 years" for more info and pictures.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Incompetent Working For Useless

"All of my senior managers are paper pushers. They won't be able to help you."

Verizon had just accidentally canceled one of my phone lines and informed me that it can't be reinstated due to FCC regulations. That's the response I got from a phone support supervisor when I asked to speak to a senior manager.

That's probably right out of the Communications Workers of America union handbook.

VA ABC Privatization Pessimism

Virginia Governor McDonnell has long been a proponent of the privatization of Virginia's liquor sales. After some intitial momentum, the proposal was killed last year before even being discussed in committee. Now it appears the Governor is less sure of seeing this goal accomplished during his term. The Washington Post reports:
"Whether it’s during my term or some other term, every state in the nation is going this way," McDonnell (R) said in a recent interview. "It’s coming eventually." 
McDonnell, as he continues to roll out policy proposals for the legislative session, declined to say whether the proposal would return this year or before he leaves the governor’s mansion in 2014. 
"I’m still committed to the idea," he said. "There are a lot of ways to get this done. At some point its going to happen in Virginia. I just can’t tell you when."

Perhaps Governor McDonnell is simply keeping his cards close to the chest. Only time will tell.

See "McDonnell may abandon his proposal to privatize liquor stores" for more.

In related news, McDonnell is seeking to allow all ABC stores to open on Sundays. Currently only stores in Hampton Roads, Richmond and Northern Virginia urban areas may open on Sundays. It is estimated the extended hours would generate $2.5 million a year in new profits and taxes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Those Crazy Italians

Don't get me wrong, I love Italy, but this video made me laugh out loud. And after visiting the country a few years ago, I'd say "Yea, that's about right."

For My Wonderful Wife

To an amazing wife and mother, I love you!

Happy Birthday, Colleen!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Beer Bottle Target

Okay, not really a beer bottle. I've seen these Do-All Outdoors Impact Seal "self healing" targets in various styles in catalogues but have always wondered how if they really performed as described. Well, when I saw one in the shape of a beer bottle, how could I resist? Nothing ventured, nothing gained so I figured why I'd try one out. Purely in the name of research of course.

First impression: Wow, it's small. The target area is about 10" tall and 2 1/2" at the widest point. The steel wire support is just tall enough to get the target off the ground to swing freely. The target itself is hard rubber about 3/8" thick.

When hit, the rubber does close in to a small hole. The picture shows a few hits from 9mm and .45 ACP from about 10 yards. The exit holes are no larger than pin holes. It does "heal" though I suspect after a few hundred hits the target may be ready for retirement.

Final impression: It's fun. That is what it's really about anyway. On the practical side, the small size will force you to slow down and take careful aim. A good hit will make the target swing, though it doesn't have the joyful noise of a hit on steel. I'll probably end up straightening out the wire support hoop and suspending it between the uprights of our normal target stand to raise the target off the ground a bit.

Any time spent at the range is great fun, and this target is one more way to add some variety to the day.

1000th Post

Not this one, the previous one.

While the Musings isn't the most prolific blog out there, I did reach a milestone with that last post. 1000 posts since the blog started in October 2007.

Now 1001, and counting...

Bowman Tours, Small Batch Bourbon, and a Parking Warning

The Tasting Table posted an article about the free public tours at the Bowman Distillery. We've reported on the news tours previously so that's not news to us. The article goes on to mention some interesting small batch bourbons from the Fredericksburg distiller such as the John J. Bowman single-barrel ($50 for 750 ml) with toffee and almond notes, and the Abraham Bowman Limited Edition rye ($70 for 750 ml). But it was the last paragraph of the post that gave me a laugh.
After your tasting, stop at nearby Lee's Retreat BrewPub for lunch and a snifter of molasses-rich Minor Dementia Imperial Stout ($5.50), which ages in Bowman barrels.

I wonder how the Bowman folks feel about Lee's Retreat at the Blue & Gray Brewery getting a mention in the same article. After all, Bowman did post these signs on the the buildings they own near the brewery.

By the way, Lee's Retreat is closed until February 9th while they do some improvements.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Party Game Product Placement

They're probably not promoting responsible drinking with this display. But, hey, this is a college town.

At least they hung the ping-pong balls near the factory beer, not the good stuff.

Great Lakes Coming To Virginia

This press release just in:
02.27.12: Great Lakes Brewing Company To Enter Northern Virginia
Virginia The Newest State For Distribution
January 18, 2012—CLEVELAND, OHIO—Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC), Ohio’s most celebrated craft brewer of award-winning lagers and ales, announces its plan to enter Northern Virginia with Hop & Wine Beverage on February 27, 2012. On the heels of rolling out Central Pennsylvania (February 1st) and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (February 20th), Northern Virginia is the latest distribution area in the company’s strategic growth plans. Hop & Wine Beverage currently distributes GLBC products throughout Washington DC; Virginia will become the 13th state to receive GLBC’s craft beers. 
Customers can expect to see GLBC’s year-round family of beers in package and draft, as well as the new “Taster’s Pack” (a sampler 12-pack). The new market rollout will involve multiple customer appreciation events, meet-and-greets, tastings and giveaways throughout the area. 
GLBC currently serves 13 states and Washington DC. Founded in 1988 by brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway as the first craft brewery in the state of Ohio, GLBC is nationally known for its exceptional family of beers including Dortmunder Gold Lager, Eliot Ness Amber Lager, Burning River Pale Ale, Commodore Perry India Pale Ale and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.  
Visit greatlakesbrewing.com/washingtondc-nova and follow @GLBCinDC on Twitter for exclusive updates and event announcements.

Great Lakes is a brewery I've been hoping to see available locally for some time now. I have a friend who occasionally brings the beers back for me his from hunting trips to West Virginia. Unfortunately my "order" is frequently consumed before it gets to me. Soon I'll be able to cut out the middleman.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lunch Alfresco

As noted previously, my time on the range has been, and continues to be, limited. However I noticed that the weather for Tuesday was predicted to be unseasonably warm, but wet. The hourly forecast at weather.com showed a predicted one hour break with sun, coincidently right around lunch time. So, it was decided, this was a good day to head out for another lunch at the range!

As we arrived the sun was shining brightly, but only for a short time. Quickly a cold wind came up, instantly dropping the temperature. Never ones to be deterred we shot anyway. It was a great joy to finally get back out and shoot for a bit, and to enjoy the outdoors and some nicer weather. I must say I was pleased to shoot fairly well too. No fancy exercises or bullseye shooting, just time spent behind the trigger. I did put in some strong and weak hand-only strings. We also tried out a new self-healing rubber target which I'll report on later. I got in about 100 rounds before lunch time was over and it was time to head back to the salt mines.

And talk about timing, as soon as we started picking up the brass the rain started up again.

Bought A Lamb

The good news is that it was butchered, packaged and ready for the freezer.

For at least the past 9 years, we've been getting our Christmas tree from the same folks. Each year Rob Clements from Misty Meadow Farms comes to Fredericksburg to set up his Christmas tree stand in the same location. Some years back we learned that Rob also raises special sheep and cattle. We're are big fans of lamb (on our plates) so we purchased a whole lamb, and a bit of beef, from him at that time. We enjoyed the meats but hadn't gotten around to doing it again. While doing our Christmas tree shopping this past December I inquired about the availability of another whole lamb. I assumed we'd make arrangements to get one in the Spring. But Rob let me had one ready to go. A few days later Rob's daughter brought our order into town from their farm in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

The sheep raised at Misty Meadows is a variety known as Katahdin. Originally bred in New England, these sheep have hair, rather than wool, which is shed naturally every spring. The meat is lean and mild in flavor. The cooler full of cryo-packed meat consisted of loin and shoulder chops, ribs, stew meat, legs and other miscellaneous portions. The individual packages are ready for the grill or stove or oven. I'm looking forward to getting to the enjoyment of the meats, and of course we'll be sure to report on some of the preparations here.

Visit the Misty Meadows web site to read more about the farm, and the naturally raised antibiotic and hormone-free, Katahdin Sheep and Scottish Galloway beef.

And the Christmas trees? Always fresh and well-grown. Our tree has been up since before Christmas and we're still enjoying it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

These Gnomes Will Keep the Goblins Away

It's never too early to start thinking about Spring gardening projects.

The seller's site on Etsy has more defensive Gnomes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Flying Dog Wildeman Introduction

Flying Dog Brewing released this video to promote the release of Wildeman Farmhouse IPA. I am not sure what a "farmhouse IPA" is but I'm curious to try it.

Okay, after watching the video, I'm really curious.

"Wildeman Farmhouse IPA cometh in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC January 30."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Who Would You Trust?

If you've been following the news recently, you know there's been a spate of traveler arrests in New Bloomberg, er, New York, for gun possession. Before I go further let me state categorically that gun owners have a responsibility to know the law. Just as when gun owners fail to act responsibly in safe handling of their weapons, I find it hard to feel sympathy for those who make themselves victims. However, that doesn't change my view of anti-gun laws and those who support them.

I've already mused over the natural right to self-defense. A gun happens to be part of the tool set. Why do so many people and states try to restrict our right to be armed? In my opinion it's a matter of trust. Not the prohibitionists' trust of me, but my ability to trust them.

Take the misnamed Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed up by the aforementioned Mayor Bloomberg. These politicians do not want citizens to be armed. Why? Could it have anything to do with the fact that so many of the group's members are convicted criminals? Criminals inherently, and rightfully, fear armed victims. Gun control laws are not about guns; gun control laws are about power and control over people. In the United States, gun control laws have their roots in racism. Today, we see that the self-proclaimed "enforcers" still are lacking moral or legal ethics. When Meredith Graves was arrested, the Mayor chose to falsely claim that she was in possession of cocaine in order to destract from the ridiculous gun arrest. In the now dropped case against Mark Meckler, officials refuse to return his firearm, despite having no legal right to keep it. The state in this case is committing a criminal act in the name of control.

The anti-freedom folks try to make gun owners out to be dangerous and untrusted. Deep down that reaction is not a reflection on the gun owner, it's a reflection of the person's own mistrust of themselves to behave civilly under stress. Their own bigotry causes them to link criminals using guns with law-abiding citizens. And it's not just with guns that the false association occurs. In Illinois a disturbed person attacked people with drain cleaner. Suddenly anyone who needs drain cleaner to fix a plumbing problem needs to show a photo ID and they will have their personal information logged by the state. It's not a coincidence that Illinois is also the only state in the U.S. that refuses to trust law-abiding citizens with guns for self-defense.

If someone doesn't support my right to be armed, I know that I must be wary of their true motives. While it's not an infallible character clue, it does warrant suspicion. After all, what does an honest person have to fear from a law-abiding armed citizen? Absolutely nothing. In my view it is perfectly legitimate to judge a person's integrity by their view on the 2nd Amendment.

It's a matter of trust.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blog Updates

First, here are a couple of recent additions the links tabs.

On the Shooting Links tab:
Standing Outside Looking In
"Southern veteran with a big streak of independence."

On the More Links tab:
The Daily Caller
Information and news the MSNBC refuses to report.

Secondly, in case you haven't noticed Blogger has updated their comment system to support threaded commenting. Now it's easier to differentiate between whether someone is making a general comment on a post, or responding to another comment on the thread. Don't forget you can also click the "Subscribe by email" link in the comment area to be alerted to new replies to an individual post.

Finally, in a concession to my own eyes, I'm made the default Musings font one click larger. I hope that works for you too.

A Bit Of Amazing For Friday Morning

I wouldn't do it. No way, no how. But it's amazing to watch.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Heavy Seas Ale House Beer Blessing

Hugh Sisson, founder and Managing Partner of Heavy Seas Brewing in Baltimore, gives his blessing of the new Ale House.

Tip o' the hat to Tom Cizauskas. See Blessings for Heavy Seas at Yours For Good Fermentables for Tom's informative perspective of the history behind Heavy Seas Brewing.

A previous post about a more traditional beer blessing is here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A gun! Or not.

Politically incorrect packaging. Of course I like it!

The Rohnert Park Coscto has these gun-shaped bottles of Old Carbine Tequila for sale. It gave me a chuckle that the store featured in the article is in California, a state that is not exactly known as being friendly towards guns, even toy ones. Although in other places, the bottles might not have even ranked a mention.

The big box stores in Virginia don't sell liquor so I won't see these at our local Costco. That's probably a good thing. The $49.99 price tag is better spent on ammo.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Celebrating With Friends

Last weekend we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany. We mark the end of our Christmas celebrations each year with an open house for like-minded friends. If I do say so myself, it's always quite a feast.

The greater portion of preparing for the event falls to the talents of my lovely wife. She spends a lot of time making and mailing invitations, creating a menu, preparing the food, decorating, and setting the tables. Me? I have the easy part. I'm in charge of the beer selection. Each year I select three or more beers for the beverage menu. I try to find a balance between satisfying the craft beer fan and also the less adventurous. For this year's open house the main beer selection consisted of New Belgium Snow Day, Sierra Nevada Celebration, and Sierra Nevada Tumbler. Yes, we served some wine as well.

As noted previously, I try to keep the beer cellar well-stocked this time of year. That made the preparations all the more easier, as I had more than ample supplies of all of these beers on hand. Wine aficionados and their cellars have no advantage over us. Of course, our guests who know me well are aware of the open-cellar policy too. They're welcome to any beer in the house.

I am happy to report that the beer options were well-received. I did make a late addition of some assorted ciders. I don't believe anyone was left wanting for a drink they enjoyed. Based on a quick survey of the empty bottles, New Belgium Snow Day proved the most popular. In fact, I heard many friends remark how much they liked it. Next in popularity was the Sierra Nevada Tumbler Brown Ale. Apparently we didn't have many IPA fans in the house as the Sierra Nevada Celebration supply was little touched.

Sharing good times and good beer with friends, and introducing them to new flavors is always a good feeling. This gathering held an added bonus as I learned that some friends had recently developed an interest in shooting. I think we'll have to schedule a range outing soon.

And now we can take down the tree.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Time Off From Shooting

An unfortunate confluence of a busy schedule and inclimate weather has conspired to restrict my range time for the past few weeks. Sadly, the situation doesn't appear to have much chance for improvement in the near future. I can't predict the weather, but I do see my schedule. I was lamenting recently about the possible detriment to my already limited skills. Coincidently just this morning Todd over at pistol-training.com posted about this very subject.
For many people, the holidays are a time to take a break from shooting. Whether it’s family obligations, weather, or just plain old burn out after a long season of dedicated practice, it can actually be good to step away from the gun for a little bit. 
What is often overlooked is the beneficial side to taking a break. Sometimes over the course of a year’s training we build bad habits: training habits, technique habits, performance habits. Walking away from the gun for a few weeks can reset the mind and allow you to come back along a better path. Too often, shooters try to force their way through burn out periods and at best it’s just a waste of time and ammo. At worst, they’re building up a lot of bad reps that will require that much more effort and practice to repair.

Looking at the bright side, maybe the break will be a good thing. I had been trying to get into a better habit of dry fire practice while my range time was reduced. That seemed like it was having a positive effect, at least until my recent Black Creek Steel match. Reading Todd's article makes me wonder if I was burning out, or at the very least starting to reenforce bad habits. I will admit that while I immensely enjoy shooting, a few of my recent range trips were influenced by "I must do this or I will get stale."

I think I'll continue working my way through Mike Seeklander's "Your Competition Handgun Training Program" that I received for Christmas and develop a better regimen for training, while at the same time keeping it fun. Going back and reviewing the basics seems like a good idea too.

My time away from the range is not by choice, but maybe there will be some good to come from it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Party Glassware

We're preparing for our annual Epiphany celebration and open house this weekend. The dining room table will groan under the weight of all the food and there will be plenty of good drink. When we're expecting a large crowd I typically turn to the ubiquitous shaker pint glasses for serving beer. The glasses are sturdy, and even though our guests are well-behaved, there's always a chance of a spill or break in a crowded room. Since I have a large collection of logo glasses there's the added benefit of enough variety to keep folks from confusing their drink with that of others.

But, I've been thinking. What about our guests that choose to drink wine? Don't they deserve a sturdy glass with less danger of spills? I wonder if these would be a good choice for red wine.

Redneck Wine Glasses
The glasses are available here. There's even a smaller version that I think would be good for the white wine. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Area's Best Selling Liquor

The Virginia ABC folks have released a report on the top selling liquors in the Fredericksburg area. The data is based on gross sales figures, not quantities, in 2011. The best selling alcoholic beverage in the area was Jack Daniel’s #7 Black. I am not totally surprised, to say the least. The next best seller, Smirnoff 80, lagged significantly behind. It's good to know that our hard-earned disposable income is going to an upstanding company that gives back to the community.

See the complete list of the top 50 sellers here.

Water Cooler Cannon

Ssshh. Don't tell the nannies. We've already seen what happens when they see someone misuse a household object as a weapon. Just look to Illinois, where trying to fix a clogged drain now requires a photo ID and your name recorded in a database. If the guardians of the nanny state realize that there's a cannon that will fire common water cooler bottles they just might break out in hives.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hunting Beer With BreweryMap

Here's another app that will allow you to use your iPhone to find new breweries on your trips. BreweryMap provides an interface to an online web site of the same name. The 99¢ app was created by the folks at Pint Labs. You can search for breweries by location or brewery name. The screenshot at the right shows hits on the two brewpubs in the Fredericksburg area, Blue & Gray and Battlefield. Selecting a brewery will bring up a page with more information such has website, business hours, address and phone, as well as a list of the brewery's beers. Searching by brewery name will bring up a list of similar names to from which to narrow. As expected the mapping function will give directions to the brewery from your current location.

There's also a function that allows you to find the breweries along your route when traveling. Entering your starting point and destination will give you a list of breweries you'll passing by. 

The creators claim the BreweryMap database contains over 3,100 breweries and more than 10,500 beers. Unfortunately our two local breweries only listed one beer each. However, the app uses the data maintained at BreweryDB.com. By heading over to BreweryDB.com beer fans can update the database used by BreweryMap. The same information is available from your computer at BreweryMap.com if you want to do some planning before you hit the road. With the contributions of craft beer fans, the database should get more complete over time.

The brewery database seems to current, even if the beer lists are limited. Even fairly new Virginia breweries such as Corcoran and Hardywood Park are represented. I think I'll keep this app on my phone for those times when I find myself in a new area and looking for a new brewery to visit.

Regional Beer News

Here's a trio of news articles local craft beer fans will find interesting.

‘World of Beer’ Coming to Ballston
According to this article, Florida-based World of Beer is planning to open a franchise in Arlington, VA. The business will offer a rotating lineup of 50 beers on tap and 500 beers in bottles for onsite consumption and carryout. A July opening is anticipated.

D.C. is fermenting a brewery culture
Greg Kitsock writes in the Washington Post about the growing brewery presence in Washington, DC. There are currently four breweries operating in the Nation's Capital. A fifth is expected to open in early 2012. Two additional DC breweries currently in the planning state would bring the total to seven.

Dogfish Head's Lead Brewer Ben Potts: A Week In The Life
Ever wonder what it's like to be a brewer for a leading craft brewery? This article tracks the activities of Ben Potts, the lead brewer at Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats in Rehoboth Beach, DE. It's not all fun and games, but Ben finds time for that too!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Words To Live By

Humans have a God-given right, actually it's a command, to protect themselves and those in their care. In fact this responsibility has been described as a "grave duty." Contrary to popular thought, the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution is not the grantor of this right, the Amendment exists as an affirmation of what man naturally possesses. For those of us fortunate enough to live in Virginia, we also have the Virginia Constitution as yet another written reminder. Specifically we can turn to Section 13. Militia; standing armies; military subordinate to civil power:
That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

There you have it. God, the U.S. Constitution, and the Virginia Constitution all standing united to reiterate the right to be armed for self defense. That's a pretty strong triad giving us words to live by. Literally, words to live by.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

VA ABC Having 'Morning-After' Regrets

I first caught Discovery's "Moonshiners" program over my Christmas vacation last week. The show gives a dramatized view of moonshining in Franklin County, Virginia. Also featured are, apparently real, investigations by VA Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) agents. I watched a couple of episodes but found the show a bit tedious and repetitive.

Now it seems the agency charged with enforcing Virginia's alcohol laws is having second thoughts about their choice to participate in the series. The producers of the show say the illegal liquor production in the the TV show is simulated and that no moonshine is actually being produced. However, that's not made clear to the viewer. And that is apparently causing some residents to question the state agency's cooperation with the show. The VA ABC claims it did not know that the documentary would portray the production process, and say they would not have taken part had they known.

The history of moonshine in Virginia is quite fascinating. I reviewed "The Wettest County in the World" a few years ago. This book gives an historical account of the Bondurant clan of Franklin County and their moonshine enterprise during Prohibition. If you have an interest in the subject, I recommend the book highly.

See "Va. agency objects to 'Moonshiners' portrayal" for more information on the VA ABC quandry.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Answer To Those "Coexist" Stickers

I've acquired a sticker that makes a more realistic point, and one I can support over the "Coexist" version.

The sticker is available here.

Note: I am not affiliated with the company in any way, and I paid for this sticker.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year Traditions

I don't know when they became traditions, but for as long as I remember Colleen and I have been enjoying our own New Year's food traditions. As midnight on New Year's Eve approaches, we break out pickled herring and crackers. Other than the occasional Christmas Eve, I think this is the only time we ever eat this tasty treat. And each year I wonder why I waited a year to enjoy it again. Of course, there's always a good beer or two to go along. This year we had Sierra Nevada Celebration and New Belgium 1554 on hand. Celebration is a Winter staple in our house. The New Belgium beers have only recently been available in Virginia, a development I've been enjoying recently.

Dinner on New Year's Day always sees a bowl of a cold black-eye pea salad on the table. This is one of those meals that we've been enjoying since the early years of our marriage. But again, rarely on any other day. I remember many years confusing the produce man at the grocery store with our requests for jicama for the salad. In recent years we've simply opted to leave that ingredient out of the preparation with no loss in enjoyment of the recipe.

Typically we have some form of pork to accompany the salad. This year a slow cooked Cranberry Dijon Pork Roast was the choice.

We have a lot to look forward in the coming year, but for the next few days I am especially looking forward to enjoying the leftovers of these two dishes.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cans (15 ounces each) black-eyed peas, drained, rinsed
2 green onions, sliced
1 each, diced small: red bell pepper, celery rib, small peeled jicama, peeled carrot
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1. Stir together garlic, vinegar, oil, juice, mustards, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Add peas, green onions, bell pepper, celery, jicama, carrot and cilantro; stir well.

2. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Serve cold over baby spinach leaves.

As mentioned above, we no longer include the jicama called for in the recipe. Besides the difficulty in finding it, the root crop is fairly labor intensive to peel and chop. This year Colleen substituted lemon juice for the orange juice which imparted a citrus kick to the salad.

Happy New Year!

Well, 2012 is upon us. It's time for the requisite reflection and prognostication post.

The past year saw major changes here at Musings Over A Pint. I decided that this blog would more accurately reflect my actual musings in real life. That change was marked by both support and admonishment. There were even some commentary made online on other blogs taking me to task. Apparently there is an unwritten rule among some craft beer fans that once the subject of beer is brought up, one is not entitled to speak of other subjects. That must lead to some boring parties. I have found readers who share my other interests to be much more accepting of a varied discourse. This new openness led to a record number of posts, and comments from visitors, over the past year. I gained many newfound online friends and followers, not mention learning of many new and interesting blogs. Interestingly, most of the referrals to this blog actually come from non-beer blogs. However, most google searches that send folks to these parts are still beer-related, and those searches overwhelmingly concern Virginia craft breweries.

Happily for the craft beer fan, 2011 saw the expansion of several Virginia craft beer breweries. I still feel Virginia might just be the most exciting place for a craft beer fan to live. Of course, nothing goes with good beer like good food and there's no shortage of good food experiences to share.

My experiences with pistol shooting were a big part of the posting this past year. Through those events I've made many new friends. I participated in 13 USPSA matches last year, including two Sectional matches and an Area championship. There were also several steel matches thrown in for good measure. I was very happy to meet my goal of earning a "C" classification in USPSA.

My church life reflects who I am as well. Some of the thoughts I shared on that aspect of my life were surprisingly popular. I've enjoyed musing on how that faith is related to enjoyment food and drink, and also the God-given right to self defense.

For all of you blog visitors, new and old, I'm glad you stopped by!

So what is in store for 2012?

More of the same I hope. I look forward to continuing with frequent posting here, on many subjects. The sub-heading at the top of the page, "Random musings about beer, faith, food, shooting sports, family, politics, and ..." will be honored in full. Political correctness, which I feel is a sign of weak convictions, will not be promoted. Whether anyone reads this stuff or not, the writing is cathartic for me.

So, there you have it, a totally non-specific look towards the future. I've purposefully not written any detailed goals. I find little value in "New Year's Resolutions." I have lots of fun and interesting things to look forward to in the coming year. I hope you do as well.

I wish you and yours a peace-filled and prosperous 2012.