Thursday, May 30, 2013

GiGi's Farmhouse Ale

I enjoyed a recent evening in the company of another of the Old Dominion "pinup girls" this week. (The beer series. What did you think?)

Gigi's Farmhouse Ale pours a copper-orange color with a frothy white head. The aroma is a yeasty, slightly funky malt, with cloves and a hint of citrus. Tasting the beer I was at first struck by the Belgian-ish funk and bitterness. Then the complexity of the Saison-style follows. I get hints of cloves, bitter citrus fruit, cinnamon, pepper, and tart apple, to name a few. The finish has a drying bitterness, with strong pepper and yeasty flavors lingering behind. The 7.2% ABV is well-masked allowing the spicy flavors to come through unhindered. 

Whenever I drink a Saison or Farmhouse Ale, it takes me a few sips to "get into" the beer. There's typically some spice or funky yeast flavor that takes my tastebuds by surprise. It's different, rather then unpleasant. But after a few sips, I've adapted and find the style quite enjoyable. I can still recall my very first bottle of Saison Dupont, right down to the place and the friends who were there. I wasn't so sure about that beer at the time! But now I enjoy these beers frequently, despite the initial sip adjustment. Likewise, I enjoyed my glass of GiGi's, despite the added distraction of trying to make notes on the flavors. (All for you, dear reader. All for you.)

GiGi's Farmhouse Ale is the summer entry in the Dominion "Pinup Pack" assortment, along with the previously reviewed Double D IPA and Morning Glory Espresso Stout. While the other two girls are available in stand-along six packs, GiGi's is available only in the variety pack or on draft. Candi, a Belgian Tripel, will replace GiGi in September. I'll be looking for a "date" with Candi this fall.

The beer reviewed here was a promotional sample from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will and mind. The only outside influence being the beer itself.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Schwartz Bier

Driving back from last weekend's USPSA match, I stopped at a roadside market to pick up a large cup of carbonated, sugar-laden beverage. (Take that Bloomberg.) I glanced over at the beer display and was surprised to see Devils Backbone Schwartz Bier on the shelf. I didn't pick any up at the time, even though it was one I'd never tried, and I do enjoy a good beer after a day of shooting. (Take that Becky Bond.) However the next day I did make a run to the local beer aisle and included a six pack of this dark lager among my purchases.

Schwartz Bier pours a very dark cola brown with a moderate beige head. The aroma of bready malt, roasted coffee and a touch of chocolate reminded me of a mild porter. The flavor has roasted coffee, mild chocolate, toasted grains with just a hint of sweetness. There is a subtle smokiness than comes in the end. A moderately thick mouthfeel and dry finish caps off the beer.

It was fortuitous that I spied this beer on my way home from the match. I was looking for something a little different from my usual favorites, and it filled the bill nicely. Not too heavy, and fairly low ABV (4.9%), it made a good mid-afternoon refresher while relaxing over the Memorial Day holiday. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Virginia Breweries Update

Tab clearing on some Virginia brewery news...

Rusty Beaver Brewery in Ladysmith will open soon

Rusty Beaver Brewery, mentioned previously, expects to be open and serving beer by June 7.

Devils Backbone embarks on $3.25 million expansion

Devils Backbone Brewing Company is expanding production at both the Basecamp Brewpub in Nelson County, VA and the Outpost Brewery in Lexington, VA.

8 Breweries Opening in NoVA within a Year

Northern Virginia Magazine follows up on eight new breweries planned for (Northern) Virginia this year. Smart blog readers know to add Rusty Beaver and Adventure Brewing to the Virginia list.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Walnut Ridge USPSA Match

Saturday morning I got an early start to the day and drove over to West Virginia for the Walnut Ridge Practical Shooters match. The monthly event is held at the Summit Point Motorsports Park near Charles Town. The half-day match consisted of six stages, five field courses and one classifier stage, set up at the ends of three, one hundred yard ranges at the facility.

If there was a common theme to the field courses, it was options. The targets were set up among strategically placed walls and free-fire zones. I think I saw as many approaches to tackling the stages as there were shooters. Just about every stage required careful planning to find the best way to shoot, taking into account the shooters' own strengths and any division ammo capacity limitations. Many times I thought I had my plan worked out, only to think "Oh, but if I did it this way..." I enjoyed the planning challenge of the stages as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Another common aspect of several stages at this match was that you couldn't simply proceed through the stage in one direction. In a number of spots, the stage designers forced you to go into a corner or corridor, and then you had to back out or change directions towards your next shooting position. There were also many target arrays where the targets where stacked vertically, something I haven't encountered often. The courses were generally contained to small areas, despite the number of targets, and were shot quickly with only short distances of movement.

The weather cooperated making for a pleasant, if cool, morning of shooting. The wind was kicking up at times, enough to blow over the steel poppers occasionally, which created a bit of chill. But the sun was shining to help counteract the strong breeze. The motor sports park was hosting a drifting event that day; the squealing of tires adding an exciting background to the sound of gunfire.

It's a two-hour drive from my home to Summit Point. A good part of drive is on country and secondary roads, which is not unpleasant. The enjoyable match and fun people made the drive worthwhile. I was happy with my shooting too, and that always adds to the fun! Coincidently, Saturday was our family's turn to help at our son's school bingo night. That meant I had barely enough time to arrive home from the match, take a fast shower, and head over to do my volunteer duties. It certainly made for a long and tiring day. But it's a three-day weekend, so there's plenty of time to recover play.

Memorial Day Prayer

As we enjoy the day with family and friends, let us not forgot those who have sacrificed to preserve our freedoms.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What Does Annoying Sound Like?


Trying to have a beer after mowing the lawn means suffering with the droning song of love-sick insects.

Hefeweizen and Spiced Shrimp

Collleen and I stopped by Blue & Gray Brewing on Friday evening while our son was at swim practice. We'd been wanting to get a taste of this year's Virginia Hefeweizen, but hadn't found the time to get over to the brewery. For those wondering, yes, I also had planned to try the Cicada Tacos or Cicada Chile special's planned in the brewpub. Alas, the nanny-state stepped in and put the kibosh on that menu, objecting that the cicadas weren't "from a registered source."

Virginia Hefeweizen is truly "local", using two row grain grown in the Northern Neck of Virginia and malted at Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville. The beer pours a hazy orange color, with a very thin and short-lived head. The aroma had some of the typical spice notes, a hint of citrus. There was some faint bready malt notes as well. The flavor did not have the strong banana or clove flavors of a typical Hefeweizen, trending more towards bready and sweet malts. The finish was dry with a mild bitterness at the end. Overall, this year's Virginia Hefeweizen is a mild drink, perhaps slightly off-style, but one I enjoyed nonetheless.

In fact, I enjoyed it well-enough to order a second round. The smell of spiced "peel & eat" shrimp hung in the air inside Lee's Retreat, so we succumbed and ordered a plateful to share. The shrimp were large sized, plump and tasty. The shellfish and hefeweizen went together quite well. Our brief visit to Blue & Gray was an enjoyable way to wind down the work week, and kick off the long Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Five O'Clock Friday: I'm Done

It's time for a long weekend.

H/T to my wife for sending the pic. She knows me, she really knows me.

High Capacity Magazines & Civilian Disarmament

Watch this powerful dramatization and think about your family's safety.

It's also worth noting that during the recent muslim terror murder of Lee Rigby, the jihadis had a gun, while the victim was left defenseless by government mandate. Others were left without help for 20 minutes before armed police arrived. That's reality folks.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Tough Job

But someone has to do it.

Last week my friend Greg dropped off some variations of his award-winning Pike Ale. He was seeking opinions on the three different versions in a blind taste test. So Wednesday evening Colleen and I sat down and "worked' our way through the beers.

Wow, it was a hard decision to pick a favorite. All three are quite good, and any of them I would have enjoyed without complaint. We based our "judging" on taste alone — how much we enjoyed drinking the beer. The beers were extremely similar in flavor, with just subtle variations. After our initial opinions were recorded, we walked away, snacked on some almonds and drank some water. Coming back to the warmed beers, we finished them off, and came up with the same ranking order. Despite having different "favorite" beer styles, Colleen and I both agreed on the same sample as our favorite.

A tough job, but one that I was willing to take on. After all, what are friends for?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sights and Sounds of Spring

Even though we've enjoyed some warm(ish) weather, it's often felt like the Spring, and all that accompanies it, would never arrive and stay. However, Tuesday the skies were clear, and the temps in the 80's. So we went out for some of this:

We worked up a sweat in the sun, so later we treated ourselves to this:

Yep, it was a good day.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ommegang Ommegeddon

After an exciting and exhausting day of shooting, it was time to sit back and enjoy a good beer. (So there you nosey hoplophobes.) I broke out an old bottle of Ommegang Ommegeddon Funkhouse Ale. This explosive-themed beer seemed to be just the thing for the occasion. The bottle was labeled Batch #2, March 2008, and was a gift from a friend some years back.

Ommegeddon is described as a Belgian-style ale with the addition of Brettanomyces yeast, along with dry hopping. The beer pours a bright amber color with a foamy white head. The aroma brings notes of sour apple, citrus, pepper, and bready malts, all with a musty undertone. The initial flavor is citrus and some funky yeast. There's an interesting juxtaposition of sweetness and mild sourness in the taste. The complex flavor profile includes hints of pepper, fruit, and toasted malt. There's copious tingling carbonation present and the beer finishes dry and slightly astringent. The 8% ABV is not readily apparent.

I didn't know what to expect from this beer. That hesitation might have contributed to it being left for so long in storage. However, we enjoyed this very much and found it to offer an interesting combination of flavors. We accompanied our drink with a bowl of fresh strawberries and bananas, and believe it or not, a chocolate bar. It all made for an enjoyable finish to the day. The Ommegang Brewery website lists Ommegeddon on their "historical ales" page, so I'm guessing that the beer is no longer being produced. But I'll keep an eye out for sure.

Monday, May 20, 2013

VA/MD Section Match

"That was fun!" "What a great match!" Those exclamations are the common theme of shooters I've talked to after this weekend's FNH Virginia Maryland Section Championship match. Held Friday through Saturday at the Fredericksburg Rod and Gun Club, the match drew some 300 participants from the around the mid-Atlantic region. The match was comprised of nine stages, requiring about 240 rounds to complete. In contrast to the large squads at a typical monthly match at Fredericksburg, squads at the Sectional had just 8 shooters, so things moved pretty fast, with very little down time.

I shot the match on Saturday morning. The weather forecast for the weekend was best described as "iffy." The prognosticators were calling for rain Saturday, in various forms ranging from scattered thunderstorms, to occasional showers, to steady rain. As it turned out, there was a light, sporadic rain most of the morning, along with one brief period of heavy and steady rain.

I always view the first stage of the match as the place to get the kinks out, get loosened up, and put the pre-match nerves behind me. I was happy that I drew a fairly straightforward stage as my first of the day. Fourteen targets laid out along an L-shaped course. I ran my stage plan without hesitation, made smooth reloads, and got my hits. With that, the nerves were gone and I was ready for the rest of the day.

One of the more exciting reasons for going to major matches is the opportunity to shoot unique courses of fire that don't come up in monthly matches. Stage 9, "Stan Hurley's Hallway" was one such course. The course was a narrow, curving roofed hallway constructed of plywood with narrow ports on both sides through which most of the targets were engaged. For this stage I wore foam ears plugs underneath my electronic ear protection to cut down on the inevitable echo. There were a few targets before entering the dark hallway, as well outside at the end. The rest of the targets were visible from narrow points in the tunnel. I had been looking forward to this stage since first saw the stage diagram, and it didn't disappoint.

There were a couple "memory" stages, where it was imperative that you had your plan down pat, otherwise it would be easy to miss targets, or shoot some twice. I asked one of the RO's how many targets were in one such course, and he jokingly replied "Eight. Or seven or nine, depending on how you shoot it." One of my goals this year has been to be able to visualize the entire stage, before shooting it. I was happy that this goal was realized for this match, especially for these memory stages.

There wasn't a lot of steel in the match. One stage had a couple of falling poppers that activated some clamshell targets. Hitting the steel then swinging to hit the rising target before it is covered is one of those challenges I enjoy seeing in match, but one that I do not get to practice.

All the other steel in the match was on Stage 6, "The Whole Nine Yards." This was the last stage I shot, and it was both challenging and fun — a good way to end the day. You started out facing a wall with two targets to engage on either side of the bay. It was then the shooter's choice to advance down either side of a wall that extended down range. There was a low port in the wall mid-way down, through which a single target was visible. It was at the end of the wall that the real excitement happened. Five falling poppers, and the oft-dreaded Texas Star, where waiting, along with more paper targets. Also there were strategically placed walls which blocked access to the entire group of poppers, the star and the remaining paper. Depending on how the shooter chose to engage the targets, there was some back and forth movement required to get them all. During the 5 minute walk through period, our squad was clustered at that end of the stage determine how we'd engage those targets. The challenge was increased by the Texas Star behind partially blocked, possibly requiring the shooter to wait for the plates to swing around again. (He writes knowingly.)

Despite a few misses and a couple "tactical" errors, I was very happy with how I shot and I enjoyed this match immensely. Even the one stage I shot in the pouring rain did not dampen the fun. After shooting well at the beginning, I found myself beginning to go too fast on a couple of stages and dropping points. I quickly calmed down and got back to focusing on making my hits. The courses of fire were all well-designed and offered a variety of shooting challenges. There were extremely close targets that could be shot on the run, long-range targets that required careful aim, wide-open shots, and targets visible only through small openings. And often all these aspects came together on the same stage. The course designers did an excellent job! The match flowed smoothly and was well-organized. Without a doubt this was one of the most exciting and fun matches I've shot. I came home with wet gear, wet clothes, and a smile on my face.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Homefront IPA

Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland, VA is announcing the upcoming release of Homefront IPA. Proceeds from sales of Homefront IPA will go to support Operation Homefront, a charity that provides emergency assistance to our military heroes and their families. The efforts of nine participating breweries are coordinated by Hops for Heroes, which was co-founded by Center of the Universe.

In a press release, Center of the Universe announced this year's Homefront IPA ambassador.

Baltimore closer Jim Johnson is proud to support “Hops for Heroes” and Homefront IPA and thanks Center of the Universe Brewing Company in Virginia for their efforts.  
Ashland, Virginia, May 2: Hops for Heroes and Homefront IPA are proud to announce the support of Baltimore closer Jim Johnson and name him ambassador for the charitable efforts in Virginia.  
Center of the Universe Brewing Company, located in Ashland, Virginia will release Homefront IPA on Thursday, May 23rd at the Richmond Flying Squirrels Stadium. They will also hold a special event in their tasting room on Saturday, May 25th with all proceeds benefitting Operation Homefront. 
Other baseball ambassadors will be announced in Washington, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

COTU founder, Chris Ray is a former pitcher for Baltimore, Seattle, Texas and San Francisco. Appropriately, Homefront IPA is aged on Louisville Slugger maple bats. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Flying Dog St. EADman

St. EADman Belgian Dark Ale is part of the Flying Dog Brew House Rarities series, and I believe the first one to be bottled. Frankly, I am not sure how the oddly capitalized name is meant to be pronounced. The bottle conditioned beer is named in honor of Ralph Steadman, the artist behind the brewery's edgy labels. The St. EADman label features a self-portrait of the artist.

Colleen and I shared the bottle with a guest on a recent evening. Even split three-ways, at 10% AB, the 750 ml bottle sufficed for all three of us during our late evening tasting. However our friend did remark, "Do you have any more like this?"

St. EADman pours a very dark, chocolate brown with a frothy and persistent beige head. The aroma is predominately dark fruit, raisins, with a hint of sweet cherry. The flavor has a mild sweetness with dark toffee and caramel. Hints of dark cherry, figs, raisons are some of the fruits that come in to play as well. The mouthfeel is creamy and slightly acidic in the finish. The alcohol is well-hidden, with just a bit of warmth showing up at the end. Overall a very enjoyable, but not overly complex libation.

I received this review bottle from the brewery late last year. I put it in the cellar and forgot about it until this week. That's too bad, as I would have liked to gotten more. It was a one-time brew, released in the mid-Atlantic area in November 2012. If you see any around, be sure to pick it up.

Note: This beer was provided by the brewery. It is through my own free will that I consumed and reviewed it. No compensation was received for this review.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

A group of hoplophobes, and possible neo-prohibitionists as well, this week launched a campaign designed to pressure daily deal promoter LivingSocial into ceasing deals that include firearms and alcohol. Not having any logical basis or facts on which to base their rants, these groups resort to innuendo and distortions.

The advocacy groups – including CREDO Action, The Gun Truth Project and MomsRising – say promoting deals that integrate shooting and drinking only encourages that combination at the threat to public safety. 
The groups are invoking December's shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School to argue that companies like LivingSocial should refrain from endorsing deals that glorify firearms, particularly in combination with alcohol. 
"In the wake of Newtown, I'd like to know how the people who own or work for LivingSocial can justify profiting from the packaging of AK-47 shooting sprees with an evening of bourbon shots," Becky Bond, CREDO's political director, said in a statement. 
The company, she added, "is endangering the public health by suggesting pairing assault weapons with alcohol binges is just good clean fun." 

Could Ms. Bond get any more inane in her comments; "threat to public safety," "glorify firearms," "shooting sprees with an evening of bourbon shots," "alcohol binges?" Talk about projection.

Curious about the offers that are causing these hand wringers such heartburn, I searched out a past LivingSocial Adventure, and found "AK47s, Rifles and Pistols Followed By 8 Drink Tastings." The deal included "55 Shots On a Rifle, Pistol, and AK-47." That's hardly a "shooting spree." I doubt there's even a mag change involved with any of the weapons. The shooting was done at an indoor range, under the supervision of expert instructors, who provide safety instruction and equipment. After shooting, the participants will travel to another location for "eight tastings of wine, beer, or liquor." The participants even travel to and from the event in a chartered bus.

It's well-documented that the busybodies who babble on about some imaginary danger from firearms are projecting their own inadequacies on to others. They seek to force others to relinquish rights due to their own inability to make responsible decisions. This is the same mindset that gives us large soda bans and school pencil suspensions. It's the same sort of meddling that caused the yentas in Queens to call the police on a dad playing with his kids in a park.

An afternoon of shooting, followed by drinks with friends. Sounds like a Tuesday to me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Practicing During the Ammo Shortage

If there's an "upside" to the ammo shortage, it's that it forces me to put in more efficient practice sessions. I know that I should have a plan in mind when hitting the range, but it doesn't always happen. Face it, shooting is fun, and it's easy to spend time "playing." Recently, I've forced myself to have specific drills in mind before arriving at the range. The upcoming VA/MD Section match is also inspiring some focused practice time.

A couple weeks ago I hit the range with 200 rounds in hand, and spent the entire session using a timer to practice a quick, reactive draw followed by two shots on target. I did this from 7, 10, 15, and 20 yards. My main points of concentration was a smooth trigger pull without losing sight focus. I paid a lot of attention to the difference in timing and acceptable sight picture at the various distances.
Goal: Better stage starts and accurate first shot.

Another recent drill was a shorter, 100 round session. Despite the low round count, I felt there were great benefits. I set up two targets and a steel plate. The first few magazines were used working on hitting the plate from the draw at 20 yards. I still need to do more work but I was very happy with the hits that day. The rest of the practice was spent transitioning between the two paper and the steel target from about 12 yards, which is a good median distance.
Goal: Accurate hits when moving between targets; on both the exit and arrival targets. And more confidence on steel.

Last week I had planned a session to work on movement, but the range was muddy and under water in places. So I again set up the two USPSA targets and a low 8”steel and found "high ground" at about 15 yards. The drill was run starting with a timer, putting two on each paper and finishing with one on steel. I did 30 iterations, firing a total of 150 rounds. It was an exercise in slowing to hit the steel. I had to concentrate on making that last hit. I purposefully went extra fast on paper to emphasize the change in focus needed for the steel. The holes in the paper reflected that; about a third of the hits were in the C zone.
Goal: Adjusting speed to reflect target size and better target transitions.

All of these sessions were low round count and were done in 30 minutes or so. They were fun and, hopefully, beneficial.

And yes, sometimes we still just play.

Gubernatorial Hops

The Washington DC Examiner is reporting that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is making a contribution to the local craft beer scene:
Virginia's craft brewers have an ally in Gov. Bob McDonnell, who will soon be contributing his own hops to the growing industry. McDonnell planted a total of about 15 hops vines on the grounds of the governor's Richmond mansion Monday and expects a harvest from the 2-year-old cascade vines this August. 
"Virginia was once a hotbed of hops production," Todd Haymore, Virginia's secretary of agriculture and forestry, told Yeas & Nays, citing Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as past growers. "We're coming back around to our history."
Haymore hopes the hops will be used in a commemorative beer to highlight the Virginia craft beer industry, and to recognize this year's 200th anniversary of the Executive Mansion.

The Governor visited Devils Backbone Brewing in Nelson County last year. I guess he liked what he saw, or tasted.

See "Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell joins craft brewing movement" for more information on the hops at the Executive Mansion.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Beer Excise Taxes By State

For your consumption...

H/T to Fr. Z.

Serendipitous Trip to the Range

Last Friday morning I received a short text message from Checkered Flag, "Still light around 7ish? Free to shoot?" I checked my phone and replied "sunset is 8:11, last light 8:40" and it was on! Colleen had a previous engagement that evening so my son and I had already planned an evening out for food, so we added shooting to our plans. So this was to be a full guys' night out. It's been a while since my teenage son has been shooting with us, so I was very excited about enjoying range time with him.  Needless to say, the rest of my work day dragged on, and on.

We finally met at the range that evening and had a very fun time. Even though he hasn't been to the range in quite some time, the boy was as accurate as always. He likes to shoot my carry gun, and even with the shorter barrel length he does quite well. He refreshed himself on the sight picture needed, and had no trouble, even with the head shots on the USPSA targets. We mixed it up with shooting on the move, multiple target engagements, and using the timer to challenge each other.

We even made use of some "natural" targets — our version of being "green." The range had lots of Sweet Gum balls lying on the ground, so we hung one from the target rope and took turns trying to hit it. That's an exercise that is both frustrating and rewarding.

Sweet Gum at 7 Yards
After we finished shooting, we went back to the house to clean up. Sneaking past the ladies' group that was meeting there, we quickly changed and headed out to a local pub for some spicy wings and burgers.

I had been to the range by myself the previous evening to try some shooting for the first time since the injury. I was not expecting to return so soon. This serendipitous outing left my hand a little sore but was great fun. Sometimes the most enjoyable times are not planned.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Martyrs of Otranto

This morning in Rome, Pope Francis canonized the 813 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 besieged town was overrun by Ottoman invaders. All men in the town over the age of 50 were slaughtered, and women and children under 15 were sent away into slavery. (That whole "religion of peace" meme notwithstanding.) 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, the Pasha 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 forced to watch. According to tradition, the body of the first victim, tailor Antonio Primaldo, refused to fall over until the entire group had been executed. The destruction of the town complete, and its population decimated, the invaders continued their march toward Rome.

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. Their cause for Sainthood is completed today as Pope Francis declares the Martyrs of Otranto to be among the Saints in Heaven.

Martyrs of Otranto, Ora pro nobis!

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

Mother's Day

Please forgive me for a very personal post to say Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful wife. Thank you for always being there for our family. You are a loving wife to me and also a loving and caring mom to our son. We are blessed to have you in our lives. We love you very much!

And to my mom, Happy Mother's Day too. Thank you for all did to raise me. I love you and miss you.

♥ To moms everywhere, Happy Mother's Day 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Practicing Like the Pros

Or more appropriately, making the same mistakes.

A couple weeks ago I was dry firing and noticed I was fumbling a lot of my reloads. Instead of the mag sliding smoothly into the gun, it was jamming and causing significant delays. So I started repeating the drill, increasing my speed gradually until I recognized the issue. It turns out that as I sped up, I was taking my eyes off the gun and looking back at the target, before the magazine was fully inserted. I realized I had gotten into a bad habit and it took a lot of concentration to work through that and make my reloads smooth again. I get excited when I am able to analyze and fix a problem. I came upstairs and regaled my understanding wife the my fascinating tale.

Fast forward to this week, and I'm reading a post by Caleb Giddings over in Gun Nuts Media, entitled Wandering Eyes. Caleb was discussing an issue he was having with bobbled reloads. If I didn't know better, I'd swear he had been listening in:

What’s happening is actually pretty simple – when I’m pushing for more speed, I take my eyes off the magwell before I’ve fully inserted the magazine because I’m trying to get my sight picture back as quick as possible. Because I’ve mentally defined “completing” the reload as getting a sight picture, I cut a corner with my visual focus if I’m pushing for more speed. 
< ... > 
After I realized what I was doing, I applied some mental discipline to force myself to look the mag all the way in, even under a tighter par time. Unfortunately, over the winter I did thousands of reloads using “sight picture” as the end goal, so I’ve developed a bit of a training scar as a result. However, the fix to a training scar is train harder and better; to that end I’ve changed how I’ll practice my reloads.

I guess I shouldn't be discouraged by my mistakes, especially if the former Top Shot competitor is making the same ones.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Silver Bullets

I haven't seen any werewolves in these parts lately, but these silver bullets are intriguing nonetheless.

The Northwest Territorial Mint offers Silver Bullion in 1 ounce .45 ACP "bullets." These bullets aren't actually live ammunition, but are investment-grade .999-fine silver. Larger calibers such as .50 BMG available as well. Be sure to watch the interesting video at the link on the making of the bullets.

Note: This post is not meant to be an investment recommendation, nor am I in any way affiliated with the seller. I just find this to be an interesting object of desire.

HT to zercool.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Third Brewery For Fredericksburg

I found out about this endeavor just last night through a mutual friend. Adventure Brewing is the dream of three local home brewers. I exchanged messages with my friend, who promised to make introductions soon. Coincidentally, this morning, the Fredericksburg Business Insider carried news on the brewery plans.

Three Stafford residents hope to open a microbrewery in the county by the end of the year. 
Tim Bornholtz, John Viarella and Stan Johnson, each of whom has been home-brewing for at least 10 years, are working on plans for Adventure Brewing Co. 

According to the posts on the brewery's Facebook page, the trio has met with Stafford County officials with the goal of changing some zoning laws to accommodate the operation. Another interesting tidbit picked up on Facebook is that Adventure Brewing Company was registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia on March 17, St. Patrick's Day! Be sure to "Like" the Adventure Brewing Facebook page to keep up with the latest news.

I wish Tim, John, and Stan much success! Hopefully I'll get the chance to report on the product soon.

See "Microbrewery planned in Stafford County" for the complete Business Insider article.

Real Bullet Bottle Openers

Face it, beer bottle openers made from ammunition are a natural fit for Musings Over a Pint. So when the folks at offered to send along some samples of their product, I was happy to open a couple beers with Real Bullet bottle openers to try them out.

The 50 Caliber Bottle Opener is made with a .50 BMG casing and bullet. This large opener makes quick work of opening a bottle with its hand-sized leverage. The .308 Bottle Opener does double duty as a keychain. I always keep a bottle opener hooked to my keys — just in case. I like the conversation starter aspect of these bullet bottle openers, so I think I'll add the .308 to my keyring. I just need to remember to remove it if I have the misfortune to get on an airplane!

Real Bullet also make bullet necklaces in a number of calibers, if you're a jewelry wearer. (Sorry guys, I posted this a little late for Mother's Day shopping.) There's also a 50 caliber pen available that might be just the thing for your range bag.

Note: I received the two bottle openers as review samples. No compensation was received for this post.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sunset and Sunrise App

With the lengthening days, and the time change, I often find myself wondering just how much daylight is left? Do I have time to get to the range, shoot, and still see to pick up my brass? Is there time for some yard work? Not to worry, "there's and app for that!"

Sunset and Sunrise for the iPhone provides the needed data in a easy to read, and interesting manner. The app uses iPhone's built-in GPS, or you can manually set a location. During the day, the main screen shows the time left until sunset, as well as how much daylight is remaining. The remaining light is based on "civil twilight," the limit at which terrestrial objects can be clearly distinguished. After dark, the app switches to determing first light and sunrise. Another screen provides information on upcoming solstices and equinoxes. You can also review future, and past, sunrise and sunset times.

One evening I sat at my window and watched the sunset and the app click down. It was interesting, in a nerdy sort of way. After official sunset, the app clicked down until last light, which was pretty accurate, even in our wooded location. I've used the app during an evening at the range to get the most time shooting and know I'd still be able to get packed up and leave before the gate lock became hard to see. Of course, if I had mistimed, my iPhone flashlight would have come in hand in working the combination lock.

Sunset and Sunrise provides a simple means to keep track of remaining daylight. It's available for $1.99 in the iTunes app store. Sure, it's not that hard to judge the sunset and sunrise without it, but where's the fun in that?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Stupid, It Burns

"A pencil is a weapon when it is pointed at someone in a threatening way and gun noises are made."
 --Bethanne Bradshaw, Suffolk Public Schools

Yep, a Virginia second grader was suspended for holding his pencil like a gun. I wonder how Ms. Brandshaw manages to dress herself each morning. Sadly, this is exactly the sort of mindlessness that we've come to expect from the State indoctrination centers.

Beer Delivery Drone

Partiers at a South African music festival could soon be ordering beer delivered "air mail."

Large crowds. Beer cans falling from the sky. What could possibly go wrong?

Read the details here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Injured Reserve

I had hoped to be sharing tales of two fun pistol matches from this weekend, but alas, it was not to be. Last week I ended up getting my left hand wrapped up in a spinning steering wheel on the lawn tractor. The radiologist deemed the x-rays "within normal parameters." But that status does come with swelling and intense pain from any finger movement or pressure. So I withdrew from the Cedar Mountain Youths match on Saturday, and the Fredericksburg Practical Shooters match on Sunday.

Mad? Disappointed? You bet! This past weekend was to be a shooting mini-vacation of sorts. The coming weeks and months are packed with other activities, to exclusion of the shooting matches. Our family stays busy with high school sports, school and church activities, and I devote many evenings and weekends to community and charitable endeavors. We're fortunate to live in a great area where opportunity abounds for shooting competitions. I could conceivably shoot at least one USPSA match just about every weekend, and throw in the occasional IDPA event. But family comes first, and one can't ignore chores too often. Okay, I really don't have a problem ignoring the chores; perhaps if I had ignored chores last week I wouldn't be in the condition I am now!

I've often written how the two main topics of these Musings are often mutually exclusive in a given day. If I'm planning, or hoping, to shoot or even dry fire at some point in the day, I won't crack open any beer until after the gun-related activity is finished. As so often happens, I'll then run out of time, or energy, for beer reviewing. Maybe this injury will give me time to get to more of those beers waiting to be enjoyed.

I'm confident I'll be able to get in some limited dry fire practice within the next day or so. Of course I'm anxious to be healed enough to do some live fire as well. The VA/MD Section match is coming up in less than two weeks. I would hate to miss that too!

Meanwhile, a good IPA will help ease the pain better than another Aleve® I'm sure.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Local Winners in the National Homebrew Competition

My friend Greg is an avid home brewer. He's shared a number of his beers with me over the years. (He also gifted me that bottle of Pliny the Elder last year.) Greg's also a devoted hop head — a kindred spirit.

Greg entered one of his beers in this year's National Homebrew Competition. His entry was awarded a Silver Medal for the India Pale Ale category in the first round of judging last month. That means he'll move on to the Final Round to be held at the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference in Philadelphia on June 27.

The beer Greg entered was a recently reformulated version of his tasty Pike Ale. As he puts it, "It's seriously hoppy." The recipe uses Cascade, Magnum, Simcoe, Columbus, and Centennial hops, and is finished by dry hopping.

Congratulations Greg! I wish you well in the competition. And I am looking forward to tasting the new Pike Ale.




Soon.  :-)

Perusing the first round results, I found two other Fredericksburg brewers who made the cut as well. Charles Arnold took a Bronze in Scottish and Irish Ales, and Mark Faller was awarded Silver in the Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer category. Kudos to all.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Capital Ale House LivingSocial Deal

A good deal on LivingSocial for fans of Capital Ale House.

Spend $15 to get $30 to spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks at dinner, or spend $10 for $20 to spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks at lunch. Coupons are available for all four locations; downtown Richmond, Innsbrook, Midlothian, and Fredericksburg.

Go here. Now.

Disclosure: If enough people purchase using this link, my deal purchase will be free. You still get to enjoy your half-price meal.

Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale

I've been looking forward to trying out this new summer seasonal from Starr Hill. Since Park Lane Tavern was featuring the beer in their "Steal the Glass" promotion this week, I decided that would be the perfect place to try the beer, and I'd pick up a new Starr Hill glass on top on it.

Grateful Pale Ale pours a clear pale golden color with a thin head. The aroma is full of citrus and grassy hops with a hint of an earthy background. The flavor is also a mix of tangy citrus and piney hops. There's a mild caramel malt base, with a bit of a toasted aspect providing a mild, bitter finish. The overall flavor is fresh and clean. The beer checks in at just 4.7% ABV, adding to the ease of enjoyment.

This new beer from Starr Hill was introduced as part of the brewery's summer variety pack, which also includes Northern Lights India Pale Ale, Starr Pils Lager and The Love. According to the Starr Hill web site, Grateful Pale Ale will also be available in six-packs starting in May. This is a seasonal offering which will be available only through July.

I don't bother writing about a beer unless I enjoy it, but Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale goes beyond that qualification. I really like this beer! It's got plenty of hop goodness, but is not overwhelming. The beer is light bodied, low in ABV, and quite refreshing. It's got all the makings of a great summer refresher. I suspect this will be a "go to" beer this summer.