Thursday, January 31, 2013

In Response to Thuggery

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has penned an awesome letter in response to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's thinly veiled threats.  

We need more politicians like Senator Cruz who are willing to stand up to thugs like Rahm Emmanuel. Apparently the Chicago mayor is incapable of learning from the past.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Utility Ring

Here's a high-end multi-purpose tool that's a fashion statement as well. The Titanium Utility Ring features a bottle opener, a straight blade, a serrated blade, a saw, and even a comb.

I wonder if the security theatre team at the airport would catch this. At $385 I'm afraid I won't be testing it out anytime soon. You can order your custom sized ring at Etsy.

Breakfast Stout. For Dinner.

It was one of those rare fifth Tuesdays, and there was a cool beer featured at the Capital Ale House "Steal the Glass Night", so Colleen and I decided to head downtown for a quick beer and a bite. Our intention was to perhaps grab an appetizer but then come home for dinner. Well, we all know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.

Capital Ale House was featuring three beers from Founders Brewing; Porter, Centennial IPA, and Breakfast Stout. We both decided to have the seasonal Breakfast Stout. After delivering our beers, the server told us about the evening food specials. One of these was a Schnitzel Sandwich, consisting of a breaded veal patty, served with sauerkraut and spicy mustard on a pretzel roll. It sounded so good that we decided at the same time that we'd have dinner too.

The Breakfast Stout was pitch black with a frothy beige head. The aroma was that of bitter chocolate and espresso, but was surprisingly mild. The flavor is rich, dark coffee with a hint of bitter chocolate. There's a bit of sweet chocolate that rolls in at the end. The finish is dry with lingering bitterness. The beer is moderately carbonated with a thick mouthfeel. Founders Breakfast Stout is a rich and complex beer, and quite enjoyable.  Even at 8.3% ABV, it's easy to drink and the alcohol is well masked.

We very much enjoyed our food as well. As with most Capital Ale House entrées, the sandwiches were serve with frites accompanied by a variety of seasoned mayonnaise. The flattened veal cutlets were a generous size, with a light breading and topped with a crispy sauerkraut that was tangy but not overbearing. The pretzel roll was sweet and light. I added a large helping of the spicy and sweet mustard to my sandwich as well. Colleen declared the dish one of the best meals we've had at Capital Ale House and I would agree.

A fun time out with Colleen, good food, good beer, a couple of "stolen" pint glasses made for an enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wednesday Weather Forecast

I feel (cough) a bit of a bug coming on. I'm sure I can beat it in 24 hours. (cough)

You Have A Duty...

... to protect yourself and your family.

Despite the shrills of the hoplophobes, Sheriff Clarke did not call for vigilantism or for people to take the law into their own hands. He merely reminded people that they have a responsibility and a duty to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Sadly, there are those who will refuse to take responsibility for their own safety, and even work to take away that natural right from others.

Monday, January 28, 2013

One Dog Night

After spending the day in the cold, I did what only seemed natural, I warmed up with a good beer. This time I opened the beer fridge and spied a bottle of Flying Dog Road Dog Porter right in the front. The bottle has probably been hiding in there for a while, but it worked it's way to the front at the opportune time.

Road Dog Porter pours a translucent dark brown, showing ruby-red at the edges, and with a prominent beige head. The aroma of coffee and dark chocolate is backed by citrus notes. Tasting the beer brings roasted coffee and bitter sweet chocolate. The mouthfeel is on the thin side, with bitter hops and a hint of smoke left in the aftertaste.

I enjoyed sipping on the porter as we discussed the events of the day. However exhaustion was creeping up on me faster than my glass was emptying. I soon found myself nodding off while holding my not quite empty glass of beer. A few last sips and it was time to head off the bed. Sleep came fast and deep.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How Many Is 55 Million?

Forty years. Fifty-five million. Just numbers?

On Friday we braved the cold and snow, to join 500,000 other Pro-Life supporters in the annual March for Life in Washington, DC. This is the eleventh year our family has done this. In the 40 years since  Roe v. Wade, 55 million Americans have been killed in their mother's womb. A huge number of those babies were killed, for profit, by tax-payer supported Planned Parenthood. This is genocide that is championed, and even cheered, by our current president. Think about it for just a second — 55 million Americans.

Why did we go to DC? Do we think that the president is going throw open the window in the White House and say, "What was I thinking?" Of course not. Will legalized abortions be overturned any time soon? Doubtful. The March for Life is a movement to change hearts. It is wake up call that civilized people don't sacrifice children on the altar of convenience. And it's happening. The huge percentage, even possibly a majority, of the participants in the march are young people. As one speaker noted, the young are not the future of the Pro-Life movement, they are the Pro-Life movement.

Just as young people today realize the importance of the 2nd Amendment to preserve life and liberty, they are also refreshingly Pro-Life. The old guard which supports the oppression of both liberty and life is fading into the past.

55 Million.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Give a Physicist a Guinness

And you get this. Fascinating.

As I discovered during our pilgrimage to Ireland, a pint of Guinness is indeed a mesmerizing sight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Disappointing Menu Change

I was perusing Facebook earlier today and I saw that Park Lane Tavern has listed an exciting "Steel the Glass" selection for this evening. Blue & Gray Temporary Insanity Stout was to be the featured beer. As soon as I saw their announcement I began making plans to get over there after work.

Fortunately I checked back later and saw that they had deleted that post and announced a different selection for the evening; Heiniken & Newcastle. Well, that's disappointing. Neither of those will tempt me to visit. I think I'll visit my refrigerator instead.

What also caught my eye in the Park Lane Facebook post was the photo they had found to use in their original promotion. Look familiar?

Seriously, I am glad they found the picture and am happy they wanted to use it. (Though attribution is considered polite.) My dismay is that they cancelled a tempting craft beer selection, for something this is, well, less than tempting.

This Beer Is For Sipping

After enjoying the Temporary Insanity Stout recently, I decided I also needed to pick up it's even more robust cousin, Minor Dementia. Blue & Gray Minor Dementia Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout is born from aging Temporary Insanity in oak bourbon barrels for 4 months. While Colleen and I were out this weekend, we stopped by the brewery to pick up a couple bottles, one of which we opened and enjoyed with our friend Checkered Flag.

The beer poured "thick" and dark. There's no head to speak of, just some large, clear bubbles at the edge. The aroma of espresso and dark bitter chocolate predominate, along with the sweet smell of alcohol. Tasting the beer invoked many exclamations of "Ooh!" and "Wow" and "Mmmm." There's a mixture of bitter chocolate, roasted espresso, dark fruit and molasses. Oh, did I mention there's alcohol? Minor Dementia checks in at 13% ABV and that sweet, bourbon flavor is well-presented. The mouthfeel was best described as "chewy.

We lingered over our glasses for quite some time, sniffing and tasting and enjoying the extremes presented by this unique beer. While not something I could drink every evening, or as quick thirst quencher, a little Minor Dementia can be just the thing to help one relax, and prepare for a good night's sleep.

More on the beer's namesake, William Minor, can be found in a previous post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Phoenixx Double ESB Hits the Spot

After a long and exhausting day on the range, I was looking for a beer with which to relax, and sooth a few aching muscles. I was in the mood for malty, and robust, so I opened the door to the beer fridge and started looking. I spied a bottle of Real Ale Phoenix Double ESB. This was one of the beers I received from blogger 45er last Spring. Frankly, it had gotten lost amongst the other bottles and forgotten. Hmm, that sounds like just the ticket. What could be better to celebrate a great day at the range than a beer from a fellow shooting and beer enthusiast?

This ale from Real Ale Brewing Company pours a brownish copper color, with a thin but persistent beige head. The aroma is strong. I picked up the sweet malt and toffee notes immediately as I was "staging" the beer for a photo. I was really looking forward to tasting it at that point.The flavor is a sweet blend of toffee and caramel. There's a roasted, almost burnt, aspect that is especially appealing. The brewer also made sure the hops were rich as well. There is also a respectable level of bitter grapefruit rind citrus present. The finish is bitter and dry.

I really liked this beer. It reminds me of one of my perennial favorites, Winter Storm "Category 5" Ale from Heavy Seas Brewing, but with more citrus notes. I checked the Real Ale web site for more information and learned that Phoenixx is a Winter seasonal. I am going to have to remember to beg more of this from 45er next Winter. Maybe we can even make a trade of our local Double ESBs.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Another Class With Steve Anderson

I spent Gun Appreciation Day in a competition shooting class with Steve Anderson and 7 other local USPSA shooters. This is the second class I've taken with Steve, and this session was just as informative as the first, if not more so. I went into the first class essentially new to dry fire and the techniques being taught. This time, I was well-practiced in the Anderson drills and was able to use the class to get more tweaks and pick up on things I missed the first time. I was also hoping for confirmation (or not) of the benefits of my many hours of practice. It was an exceptionally fun day since almost the entire class was comprised of folks I shoot with regularly, so there was a lot of good-natured ribbing thrown in. I also expect that we will all be watching each other in the future to make sure everyone is sticking to their practice commitments.

The day was cold, around 34° when we started, and it probably didn't hit 50° at the warmest. But once you start shooting, who notices? We started out with everyone running a field course to get a baseline of our skills. It represented a cold run on the first stage of a match. Steve recorded notes on everything we did; our mental preparations, our execution of our plan, (and if we had one) and how accurate we shot, etc. My own plan feel apart and I didn't run that stage well. But, I learned a lot in those 18 seconds.

We moved on to the shot calling drills. This is a drill I want to do more on my own. You fire 5 shots at the target and then immediately turn around (without peaking at your target) and mark the location of your hits, in order, on a target behind you. It's harder than it sounds! The point is that you should be able to score your stage as soon as you finish shooting, before you look at the targets.

Then it was on to the dry fire tuneup portion of the day. I have been practicing the drills in the Anderson book regularly and I was excited to run them in class to confirm that I had been doing them right, and to get any needed refinements from Steve. I was very pleased to be able to show that practice does indeed work. Steve gave me some tips on my turn and draw that I had been struggling with. I picked up a number of other refinements as well that I will now go back and practice.

We eventually moved to the live fire portion of the day. I had specific goals in mind for this too. The class was mainly focused on classifier skills so I was excited to see how the dry fire translated to live fire. One of the exercises we did was to draw and put 2 shots in the A zone from 7 yards. 1.17 seconds was my time on that. Not world class but I was very pleased. Later we shot 2 shots each on three targets. My time was 2.35 seconds, with the first shot from draw at .99 second, and a score of 5 A's and 1 C. What was most satisfying was that my split and transition cadence was pretty consistent and equal across the six shots. These results really inspire me to stay devoted to my practice schedule.

Of course, there were things I didn't do as well as I hoped, but each time it was a learning experience. I'm currently (re)reading "With Winning in Mind: The Mental Management System" by Lanny Bassham. One of the points he makes in his book is to not focus on the negative. In fact, he says to not even record a poor performance in your journal. (or blog, ed.) Steve Anderson gave us the same admonition to not focus on failures. As such as I've already forgotten most things that I didn't do well.  :-)

Finally we ran the field course again. My goal was to call my shots this time. I completed it a little slower than I did in the morning, but had much better accuracy. If I hadn't had to make a couple extra shots on the steel, the times of the two runs would have been closer. (I blame the fading light.) We ended the day in the dark; the last couple shooters finished by the light of car headlights.

It was a great day and I am very happy I decided to take the class again. Of course, we did a lot I don't mention here. If you want the full story, take the class. If you want to shoot better in competition, take the class. Even though it was ostensibly the same class I did in November, Steve adjusts for both the current skill level of the students and specific skills we desired, or needed, to focus on. Everyone in the class was concerned about ammunition availability in the current political environment. At the end of the day, I ended up putting a mere 117 rounds down range. That proves that you can get in a great practice and see instant improvement without going through boxes and boxes of ammo. It's all in how smart you practice. After this weekend, I have a many takeaways I can use to make better use of both my dry fire and range practice sessions.

Soon the USPSA season will begin in our area. I'm looking forward to more opportunities to put these new skills to use. Even though I can get to a range fairly often, there is little opportunity to shoot full USPSA-style field courses. This weekend's class gave me some exciting confirmation that I'm working in the right direction.

Now back to the dry fire dojo...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mass Shootings Can Be Stopped. Now.

Listen. Just 4 minutes.

Okay, maybe it's harder than I thought. After all, it would require common sense and personal responsibility. Those commodities that are apparently in short supply these days.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saving Gas By Visiting the Pub

Our son had a swim meet Friday evening. Since the school hosting the meet was in the opposite direction from my home, but in the direction of Lee's Retreat pub at Blue & Gray Brewery, I had a decision to make. After work, I could either drive home in one direction, and then turn around to go back across town to the meet, or drive to the pub, and kill a little time before heading over to watch the swim meet. Not wanting to waste precious fossil fuels driving back and forth across town, I decided to stop by the pub first.

I treated myself to a half pint of the seasonal Blue & Gray Temporary Insanity Imperial Stout. The stout has a faint aroma of roasted malt and caramel. The taste has bitter chocolate with a hint of molasses and citrus hops. The 8.8% ABV is well-masked and my small glass was emptied about the same time my appetizer plate of spicy wings arrived. Needing something to cool the spiciness of the food, I opted for a pint of the Falmouth Pale Ale as a lower alcohol accompaniment.

Before I knew it, the time had come to leave for the swim meet. Feeling good having made a fuel-conserving choice, I grabbed a bottle of the Temporary Insanity Stout to go. I look forward to enjoying it when I have time to linger over a full pint, and then some.

Going down too fast

I previously posted a complete review of Temporary Insanity, and the story behind the name, here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Frosted Glassware Is Not Cool

I've been ranting on this for years. Now the Brewers Association has created a brief public service video we can use to help educate beer servers and bar managers.

Frosted Glassware is Not Cool from Brewers Association on Vimeo.

I think I'll bookmark this on my phone and show it the next time I get a quizzical look from my server

That Plan Sounds Familiar

Tam hits right at the core of the obama-drones' blind adoration:
Wayne LaPierre goes and says we need to worry about crazy people with guns, fund better school security, and enforce existing laws & prosecute the people who break them, and the Anti-Gun crowd mocks him as a disconnected pro-gun zealot tool of the firearms industry. 
Barack Obama commissions a study group headed by the vice president, and then holds a press conference stating that we need to worry about crazy people with guns, fund better school security, and enforce existing laws & prosecute the people who break them, and the Anti-Gun crowd acclaims him as a charismatic visionary taking a bold and sweeping step forward.

It makes you wonder if they care more about saving lives or simply worshipping The One.

Maybe LaPierre just didn't choose the right props.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Assault Weapons

We hear the leftist media and power-hungry politicians talk about them all the time, while a clueless population nods in agreement. But just what is an "assault weapon?" And more importantly, why was this term created? Watch this presentation and find out what an "assault weapon" really is, and what it is not.

Gun Appreciation Day

Saturday, January 19, 2013 has been set aside as "Gun Appreciation Day." It's a time for law-abiding Americans to stand up and say that we will not be bullied or shamed into giving up our Constitutional rights. It's a day to declare that we will not be intimidated.

Whether you carry a gun self defense, or for hunting, or enjoy competitive shooting sports, or you just like to plink for fun at the range, your rights are under attack. There is a certain segment of the population, small but annoyingly vocal, that wants to take your freedoms away from you. Using lies and innuendo, they push laws to punish you for the actions of a few madmen. No matter how horrific the crime, law-abiding citizens share NONE of the blame; the guilt belongs solely with the people who commit these heinous acts. So on Saturday visit a gun store, spend time at a range, buy some ammo (if you can find it), take a new shooter to the range, do whatever you can to tell the public that you are standing up for your rights. Show that you are standing up for freedom and against the tyranny of the "gun control" politicians.

For my part, I'll be at the range talking part in another dry fire/live fire class from Steve Anderson. If I'm not too tired afterwards I might even stop on the way home and pick up a box of overpriced ammo somewhere, just because. What will you do?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bright Colors!

"It's a dreary day so I got out the colorful targets." That was Colleen's announcement as we began our afternoon lunch break at the range. Indeed the weather was dreary, gray and wet. But rain has never stopped us from enjoying the range.

It was a day for testing and trying out new ammo, and even a new gun. Checkered Flag brought down a recently acquired Taurus .38 Special. It was a lot of fun to shoot that snappy little revolver. The main goal of the day was to check out a bunch of new ammo purchases. Like many shooters, I have my favorite ammo, but given the current shortages, I've been picking up different brands; whatever I could find at a (comparatively) reasonable price. I had four different 9mm I needed to check out. Colleen also was trying out a new .45 ACP range round. I was pleased that all the ammo shot without issues. That means I can save my favorite rounds for those spring USPSA matches.

We ended up wet and cold, but we left the range with smiles. At least there were no crowds to deal with!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Watching You Watching Me

I grabbed the log entries below this morning. At least four different computers, with four different IP addresses, from the United States Senate network were used to view my rebuttal to Senator Warner. It appears someone in DC is taking notice.

Click to embiggen
Should I be keeping an eye to the sky?

Congressman Wittman Gets It

In contrast to the pathetically weak and anti-Constitution message I received from Senator Warner, the response from my Representative in the House was much more encouraging. Obviously, Congressman Wittman remembers the oath he swore. I'm reprinting his entire response here.
Dear Mr. ------: 
Thank you for contacting me in regards to your support for the Second Amendment and gun rights. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I value your views on the important issues facing our Commonwealth and the Nation. 
As a gun owner and strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, I believe that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms must be diligently protected. Additionally, I do not support a national gun registry. Such a registry would only put an unnecessary mandate on law-abiding citizens. Gun registration and owner licensing do not help police solve crime as criminals do not register their guns or get licenses. 
Moreover, I believe the right to keep and bear arms is an individually possessed right, as are all rights protected in our Constitution. The Founding Fathers, the Framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights could not have been clearer about the nature of the right and the purpose of the Second Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized it as an individual right in several landmark cases. 
Rest assured that I am committed to preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes. I will continue to defend this sacred right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as a member of the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress. 
Thank you again for sharing your views and opinions with me. I am committed to serving you to the best of my abilities. If I can ever be of assistance to you or your family, please do not hesitate to call me at (202) 225-4261 or contact me online at:

Robert Wittman
Member of Congress

BTW, it's important that we contact our representatives frequently, and keep these issues at the forefront. Ruger has provided a way of contacting many of them in one fell swoop; President, Vice-President, your Senators, Representative, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State-Level Elected Officials and State Attorney General. Of course, you need to also contact them individually and directly, but I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this handy tool.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Troubling Response From Senator Warner

Like most Americans who still believe in the value of the Constitution, I have been writing my representatives about the current push towards gutting the 2nd Amendment. I received a form letter response from Virginia Senator Warner. It's the same letter he's sending everybody, it's pretty generic, and true to the Senator's form, non-committal. I am pleased that he did not use those leftist terms of misdirection; "assault weapon ban" or "high capacity magazine." His reply does however contain a very troubling line. As politicians frequently do, he prefaces it with a claim of being pro-2A.
"I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. I own firearms and I have an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. However, I also recognize that, like with many of our constitutional rights, our Second Amendment rights are not without limits.  It is unfortunate that a tragedy of this magnitude is what is needed to prompt action, but we need to have a serious discussion on how to best avoid these kinds of mass shootings in the future. The status quo is not acceptable."
Hold on just a minute Senator, perhaps you could elaborate on the "many" rights that you feel "are not without limits." We already know Senator Warner supports limits on the 1st Amendment as it pertains to the freedom of religion. Does this "serious discussion" he proposes include limits to other parts of the Bill of Rights as well? Maybe we could place limits of the 4th Amendment in order to make sure the government finds all those guns folks have hidden in their homes? Does he also support limits on the 5th and 6th Amendments to speed up the prosecution of those unwilling to obey unconstitutional gun ban laws? Perhaps limiting the application of the 8th Amendment might make it easier to set up camps in which to house those pesky patriots?

Even when a politician tries to camouflage his agenda, his words often belie his true feelings. Senator Warner has shown he has forgotten, or perhaps never believed, the oath he swore to uphold the Constitution.
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."
Nowhere does the oath say "support and defend the Constitution with limits."

Update, January 15: Contrast this with Congresman Wittman's response here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Next, The Water Ban

Based on what passes as "logic" by those who are pushing for "gun bans," it can't be that far off.

Friday, January 11, 2013

When the Water is Bad, Drink Beer

For a couple of weeks now, we've been dealing with a water issue at the house. So like people throughout history, I must turn to beer for my liquid sustenance since the water can't be trusted. Besides, after days dealing with multiple contractors, with no resolution in sight, I just really needed a beer!

My choice this evening was Devils Backbone Vienna Lager. I poured my beer into one of the "stolen" Devils Backbone glasses. The beer begins with a robust off-white head. So much so that I initially slowed my pour, and was thankful for the oversize glass. As it turned out, the head dropped quickly so no overflow was encountered. The color is a very attractive copper color with a mild aroma of caramel and roasted malt. The flavor is slightly sweet malt with a toasted, nutty character. The finish is dry and mildly sweet, clearing off to leave behind a lasting hint of bitterness.

As reported previously, this was the most popular of the beers we served at a recent gathering. It's easy to understand why folks kept returning to it. I selected this lager for the menu in the hope that it would appeal to both the adventurous and non-adventurous palates. And it was very successful in meeting that requirement. Devils Backbone Vienna Lager is a refreshing, enjoyable beer that I suspect I'll be picking up regularly — even after we get clean water flowing once again.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Delivery Guy Knows

I often wonder what our UPS and FedEx delivery drivers think when they drop off cases of ammo. We tend to order in batches, so when deliveries come, they come in volume. Fortunately for us, our UPS driver has been a regular for many years. He likes our dog and usually stops to toss a stick around. He never says much, but has been known to yell "More bullets!" as he comes up the walk.

Recently the FedEx truck pulled up to the house and the driver honked the horn a few times. As I got to the door, he was on his way up the walk and said, "I've got two boxes of 'bullets' for you." As we walked to the truck he pointed to our garden and remarked "I like your Gnomes." I figured we were okay at that point. He then started telling me about the .22 pistol he received for Christmas.

I recall an incident a while back when an ammo order got "lost" on it's way to us. It turns out it had been delivered, with a damaged label, to the house across the street. The neighbor, who I had not yet met, had been in touch with the supplier to try and determine where the package was destined. He brought it over to me one day, opened. I sheepishly thanked him, and remarked about it being an odd way to meet. He replied, "It doesn't bother me. I'm FBI." Nope, that didn't make me feel any more at ease!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

When the Balloon Goes Up! Affiliate

When the Balloon Goes Up! is one of the blogs I visit regularly. It's a good source of informative and interesting articles related to firearms and associated gear, both for self defense and competition. There is a new online store over there too, offering a variety of items for competition, self defense and general preparedness. From holsters to flashlights to knives to ear protection to first aid kits to waterproof note pads and everything in-between, the store's inventory is growing regularly.

This week I was invited to add Musings Over a Pint as a WTBGU! affiliate. That's why you'll see a new logo over in the right hand column. Clicking that logo, or the one in this post, will take you right to the store. Yes, I will get a small commission on any purchases generated from these links. By using the link you'll be supporting this blog, and helping out with that ever important ammo fund. And all at no extra cost to you! I will be most grateful for your support.

After you get your gear, be sure to stock up on ammo from Lucky Gunner too. If it's listed, it's in stock. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Celebrating Epiphany

Sunday evening we marked the end of the Christmas season by hosting our annual Epiphany open house. It was a fun-filled evening with good friends, good food, good conversation, and of course good beer.

As she always does, Colleen loaded the dining room table with copious delights for the palate. Each year she makes a point to find some new dishes for the feast, and this year was no exception. Two dishes we deemed "keepers" will definitely be making return appearances soon. The Sausage and Pickled Onions, and a new version of Spicy Buffalo Wings, were definite hits. Our guests contributed many sweet desserts too. I wish I had remembered to take pictures of the table full of tasty treats.

This year I decided to focus the beer selection on Virginia breweries. Specifically, I picked out Devils Backbone Vienna Lager, Port City Optimal Wit, and Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA. With a few dozen other beers always available from the beer fridge, some non-Virginia beers also made appearances. For a friend who requested a "dark beer" I pulled out a few bottles of Dominion Oak Barrel Stout. Of course, we always have Sierra Nevada Celebration on hand this time of year. The wine flowed freely as well for guest who preferred a grape-based beverage.

The Lager from Devils Backbone seemed to be the most popular libation during the evening. I think I'll be picking up more this week. Look for a review soon.

Apparently there was a football game going on at the same time as the party so we were convinced to have the television tuned on (but no sound) during the evening. (I admit to being wholly indifferent to professional sports.) This did have the effect of spreading the crowd out a bit, instead of everyone congregating in the kitchen as is typical. The folks watching game thinned as the evening wore on though. A smaller hearty group gathered outside on the deck where the beer cooler was stationed.

This is, I believe, the ninth year we've been marking the Feast of the Epiphany with a grand celebration. The days leading up to the event are exhausting; the hours leading up to the event are stressful; and the recovery and cleanup afterwards is tiring. However, the chance to celebrate with friends is looked forward to with much anticipation. Although the conversations did include the current issues we face as Catholics and Americans, the good times and true hope that filled the evening overrode all that. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Common Sense. Where Is It?

I am not one for blaming the victim, but there's also something to be said for using common sense and taking responsibility. I was skimming through the local "Police Blotter" and noticed a recurring theme.
900 block Cornell St, 1/3 – 1/04 7:30 a.m.  A resident reported that an unknown person rummaged through her two unlocked vehicles and stole a laptop computer from one of them.  No suspects or witnesses at this time. 
800 block Sylvania Ave, 1/3 – 1/04 7:50 a.m.  A resident reported that an unknown person stole her purse from her unlocked vehicle.  The purse was later found inside a storm drain in the 1000 block of Littlepage Street, but the cash was missing from it.  No suspects or witnesses at this time. 
900 block Cornell St, 1/04 12:05 a.m. – 6:00 a.m.  A resident reported that an unknown person rummaged through his two unlocked vehicles and stole an iPod from one of them.  No suspects or witnesses at this time. 
Marstel Day, 2217 Princess Anne St, 12/27 – 1/02 8:00 a.m.  A manager reported that an unknown person entered the unlocked office and stole a computer and other electronic equipment.  No suspects or witnesses at this time. 
1100 block Prince Edward St, 1/3 – 1/5 11:00 a.m.  A resident reported that an unknown person stole loose change and other small items from both of his unlocked vehicles. No suspects or witnesses at this time. 
800 block Cornell St, 1/3 – 1/04 6:30 p.m.  A resident reported that an unknown person rummaged through his unlocked vehicle and stole a camera.  No suspects or witnesses at this time.
There were 5 other larcenies report that did not specifically mention unlocked vehicles or offices. However we are still looking at greater than a 50% rate of making it easy for the bad guy. In addition, there were two thefts from apparently unattended student backpacks.

Get your heads of the sand people!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Obama: He won't take your guns.

Some people will say anything.
Some people will believe anything.
Together, they make a dangerous combination that will destroy our Nation.

By the way, The American Hunters and Shooters Association is a front organization for gun control advocates, presenting themselves to a gullible public as gun rights supporters.

Porter, No Ice

Just because you call your beer a "Winter Porter," doesn't mean it should come on ice.

Colleen and I were out doing some shopping Saturday evening, and decided to stop in at The Pub and take advantage of the Saturday "Burger Night" special. I wasn't sure if I'd have a beer with my dinner, but I was informed one of the house beers was Cold Harbor Winter Porter. That was a new one to me, so decided I would check it out.

As the beer arrived I could see the shimmer of frost on the side of the glass. Shoot! I thought they were over that. I should have remembered to specify I didn't want the beer "iced." It was all I could do to hold the glass in my hand, it was extremely cold. Fortunately, by the time our food arrived the beer had warmed somewhat and I could begin enjoying it.

This Battlefield Brewing beer was a dark ruby color with a thin beige head. There was mocha and a mild sweetness in the aroma. The flavor was a mocha and chocolate with a hint of roastiness to it. The mouthfeel was on the thin side, with a lingering roasted malt flavor, with some stickiness left on the lips and tongue. While it was not exceptional, the flavor was certainly not unpleasant. When our server came by later, the conversation went something like this:

"Would you like another beer?"
"Sure, if I can have it in a non-frosted glass."
"A non-frosted glass?"
"Yes, a non frosted glass."
"A non-frosted glass? Umm. Okay."

I could well-imagine the conversation going on at the bar after that. Despite having a brewery onsite, The Pub caters mainly to the BudMillerCoors crowed, which by necessity demands beer be served tastebud-numbing cold. However, my beer arrived quickly, served as requested. And despite the beer itself still being overly chilled, I noticed that my empty glass was still colder to the touch than the new serving. I enjoyed the second glass much more than the first; the mocha and roasted bitterness was more apparent without the extreme chill.

Oh, and the burgers? Excellent as always. And that of course was the reason we decided to eat there in the first place.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Oh, The Absurdity

It's no secret our nation has been infested with a population segment that abhors personal responsibility. They blame others for their failures, and they allow, and even expect, the State to make basic life decisions for them, such as what and how much they choose eat and drink. The absurdity of blaming others for one's own failure and lack of self control reaches a new level with a lawsuit by a group of Idaho criminals.
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Five inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution have filed a lawsuit against national beer and wine companies, alleging that alcohol led to their crimes and that they should have been warned alcohol can be addictive. 
The U.S. District Court confirmed that a civil suit was filed Dec. 10 by inmates Keith Allen Brown, and co-plaintiffs Jeremy Joseph Brown, Cory Alan Baugh, Woodrow John Grant and Steven Todd Thompson. 
The inmates claim that the beer companies should have warned consumers that the alcohol they sell is habit forming and addictive.

See "Inmates sue beer companies, want $1 billion in damages" for more on the idiots in Idaho.

Yea, hearing the bleating of the sheep often makes me feel like this. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ringing In The New Year

After enjoying some fun at the range with friends, it was time to ring in the New Year with my family. Our "ring" is typically more muffled than clanging, but certainly still enjoyable. I poured a couple of glasses of Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA for starters. I enjoyed this beer a few weeks ago at Capital Ale House and when we saw some bottles at the local grocery store this weekend, we decided it would be our New Year's Eve libation.

The beer pours a deep copper color with an strong white head. The citrus aroma of grapefruit is noticeable as soon as the cap comes off the bottle. The flavor is full-bodied and rich in citrus fruit mixed with pine resin. The sweet malt comes through at the end. The mouthfeel is thick with a clean finish. I enjoyed this bottled version just as much as the draft I had previously.

After we finished our beers, accompanied by some pickled herring and crackers, Colleen poured us a wee bit of Jameson Irish Whiskey. A quiet evening, but a fine celebration indeed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome 2013

It's a bit cliché, but I really do feel like I just wrote the 2012 New Year post. It's been a fun and interesting year to the say the least. The 459 Musings that I posted in 2012 covered a wide variety of topics, as promised last January 1. I want to thank everyone who stopped by. To those who came back repeatedly, and especially all of you who took the time to leave comments, I am indebted. Thank you friends.

I'll post no reflection on the trials of 2012. (Believe me, I drafted a number of attempts.) I won't make predictions, or resolutions for 2013. Suffice it to say, I've got plans to enjoy more good beer and food, devote myself to shooting better, and as often as possible. And of course, I'll continue to rely on God, not government, for my needs.

I wish the best for all of you. I hope 2013 brings you many blessings and much joy throughout the year.

Happy New Year!

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
--Ronald Reagan