Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Cheer On A Sunday Afternoon

Colleen and I headed down to Capital Ale House for lunch Sunday afternoon. Just before we left the house I saw the pub's update to their Facebook page noting that they had the Redskins - Cowboys game on the TVs behind the bar. Crud, I thought, I hope there's not a crowd. I shouldn't have worried, few people were there watching the game. (And for good reason it seems.) We heard the list of "seasonal" beers from our bartender and settled in to enjoy some holiday cheer.

One of the beers was Hardywood Park Gingerbread Stout, served on nitro. I've had this beer previously, and despite the hype around it, found it good, but not exceptional. Colleen particularly enjoys the nitro serving, so opted for a glass of this seasonal. It was actually quite enjoyable; the nitro seemed to soften the astringency we noted in the past.

My beer of choice was Delirium Noël. I saw this one get tapped during a recent visit to Capital Ale House but didn't have the chance to order a glass. The ruby-red beer has a faint caramel and spice aroma. The flavor is surprisingly mild, with dark fruits and raison, some caramel and bready notes, with a touch of sweetness. The 10% ABV is extremely well-masked.

After what seemed an exceptionally long wait, our food arrived. By then I needed a refill. I decided to  keep with the holiday beer theme and try a glass of N'Ice Chouffe. Darker than Delirium Noël, this Winter Warmer also checks in at 10%ABV. The flavor profile is a bit bolder; with more robust dark fruit flavors, more malt and a tad sweeter. The alcohol was more prominent than the previous beer, but still unsettlingly hidden.

N'ice Chouffe and Gingerbread Stout

Coincidently, another couple sat down next to us, and I heard the gentleman tell the bartender he was "debating between the Noël and the Chouffe." As he was handed two samples, I offered my opinion that the Delirium Noël was the better of the two. That was the one he selected, and he must have enjoyed it as before too long he ordered a second.

Soon we had had enough of the football game (there's a reason I not a fan of professional sports) and Cialis ads, so we headed out into the rain to head home. Despite the wet weather, I remarked to Colleen that it was odd to be walking out into 60° weather at the end of December. Not that I'm complaining. The holiday beers provided good start to another week of vacation.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Day After Christmas, At the Range

A good time was had by all...
Sitting around Christmas evening, I got an email from a friend who was arranging a trip to the range for Friday morning. He had included a few fellow parishioners from our church as well. The temperature was expected to be in the unseasonable 50's the next day, making the range trip all the more attractive.
Read the rest at Gabriel Possenti Shooters.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Afternoon Libation

I pulled this bottle of Gouden Carolus Noël out of the cellar. It's dated from 2011 and has aged nicely. Only moderately sweet, with dark fruit and caramel notes, the 10% ABV is well-muted. I think I'll dig out some cheese to nibble on too.

Likely to be followed by a nap. Very likely.

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas Day and now begins our celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord. We kicked off our celebration with the Vigil Mass last evening, after which the final tree decorations were hung and last minute gifts were wrapped. Then it was finally time to relax and enjoy some snacks (Pickled Herring) and a good beer (vintage 2008 Tröegs Mad Elf). I always look forward to the peacefulness of Christmas Eve evening, however brief it may be. Finally the hectic preparations are done (or finished as well as they are going to be).

I wish you and your family a most blessed and holy Christmas. I pray that the joy of this season continues for you throughout the coming year. While it seems to the world around us is in turmoil, and frankly I fear the worse is yet to come, at least for a bit we can stop and reflect on the promise of peace that will come to us in time, perhaps not now, but in eternity if we prepare well.

Here's wishing you and yours a year of peace, prosperity and happiness. And of course, a year filled with good friends, tasty beer and fun times on the range too.

Merry Christmas!

Birthplace of Jesus, Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Photo by C. Turley, August 2010
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Elite Shooting Sports

Our son had a swim meet in Manassas on Saturday, which gave me the much-anticipated opportunity to make a visit to Elite Shooting Sports. After dropping off my car load of swimmers at the pool, I drove over to the new state-of-the-art indoor range. Since it was a Saturday morning, I didn't know what the crowds would be like, but it's a big place so I figured there'd be a good chance of getting a lane.

My first stop was the reception desk to complete the initial registration and waivers. Everyone is also required to watch a short safety and orientation video. That completed, I headed over to the sales counter with my new membership card to get a shooting lane. Immediately upon entering the range area I was impressed by the well-lit, temperature controlled, and clean shooting area. I was also struck by just how quiet it was, despite being in active use. The spacious area, modern soundproofing, and thick dividers between each lane all contribute to noise reduction. Each shooting lane features an electronically controlled target system. There is even the option to have your target turn at timed intervals.

Elite Shooting Sports has two 25-yard 12 lane ranges, one 50-yard 10 lane range and a 100-yard 8 lane range. That's 42 shooting lanes! With that many shooting areas, even on this Saturday morning there was no wait to shoot. There is also a shoot house and simulator range available. The range sells targets and ammunition, as well as some shooting-related gear. The facility has classrooms, lounges and even a café. In a very nice touch, right at the exit from the shooting ranges, there are even sinks where you can wash your hands after shooting.

The amazing facilities aside, I was very impressed by the professional atmosphere and the friendliness of the staff. Elite provides a classy place to shoot, but without pretentiousness. Shooters are expected to be safe and well-behaved, and likewise are treated as mature, responsible people. There are no silly signs directing you disarm before entering the building. Of course no gun handling is allowed outside the ranges, but this also means there aren't folks sitting in their cars in the parking lot trying to unload their weapons either. As opposed to many shooting ranges, indoor and outdoor, drawing from the holster is allowed at Elite. Rifles and shotguns are also permitted.

I had a great time during my short visit to Elite Shooting Sports. I only used the 25 yard range this time. I'm looking forward to returning soon and taking advantage of the longer ranges, and bringing along my rifle, and maybe even a shotgun. It's an awesome facility. I am definitely planning to get in some practice drawing from the holster against the timed targets. It's probably a good thing this new range is an hour plus drive from my home, or I'd be spending way too much time, and money, enjoying the facilities.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Flying Dog Plans Farmworks Brewery in Virginia

Flying Dog is one of my favorite breweries, and I always look forward to trying their new beers. I've reviewed so many of the Maryland brewery's beers, I've often wished they were a Virginia brewery! Soon, that wish will have some basis in reality.
Flying Dog Announces Plans for Farmworks Brewery, a Unique Farm Brewery Destination in Virginia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2014

Frederick, MD – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was on hand at Shadow Farm, a 53-acre farm in Lucketts, Va., last month for a historic announcement on plans for Lucketts Mill Hopworks, the State of Virginia and the mid-Atlantic’s first commercial-scale hops production and processing facility.

Building on that announcement, Flying Dog Brewery out of Frederick, Md., is nearing the final stages of a partnership to create a separate and unique farm brewery destination on that same property. The project, Farmworks Brewery, is set to open in summer 2015.

Jonathan Staples, who launched James River Distillery in Richmond earlier this year, purchased Shadow Farm with the hopes of growing hops and other ingredients necessary for brewing and distilling. The property sits on the north side of Lucketts, just west of Rt. 15. Staples’ unparalleled vision for local agriculture attracted Flying Dog to add a brewing dimension to the operation.

“We are really excited to have Flying Dog on board at Shadow Farm,” Staples said. “They are a world-class brewery and they are the perfect partner to bring Virginia’s agriculture to life through a different and distinct experience that will offer a new array of fascinating beers.”

Farmworks Brewery, which will be owned and operated by Flying Dog, will be situated on approximately 5 acres of the property and will include a 15-barrel brewhouse, cellar, coolship and tasting room and hospitality area, along with an extensive barrel-aging and sour beer facility. With a selection of beers unique to Shadow Farm, it will be a separate and distinct experience than Flying Dog’s existing brewery, which is located just 17 miles north of Lucketts in Frederick.

“At Farmworks Brewery, we plan to bring the same brewing energy, passion and talent that our fans have grown to love from Flying Dog,” Flying Dog COO and Brewmaster Matt Brophy said. “Agriculture is such an important part of brewing, and having access to the resources at Shadow Farm will allow us the freedom to experiment and innovate with a whole new collection of beer styles. It’s a unique setting, and we plan on brewing some pretty unique beers.”

Flying Dog will focus its energy on highly-experimental beers at Farmworks that will include robust barrel aging, wild fermentation and sour beer programs. Farmworks will also utilize the onsite hops and farming resources to craft recipes for beers made with local Virginia ingredients.

Lucketts Mill Hopworks, which will be operated by Cumberland, Md.-based Organarchy Hops, will be supplying Farmworks, as well as other regional breweries, with annual crops of Virginia-grown hops. It will also provide a central location where growers will be able to bring their crops for processing and packaging. The 10,000-square-foot facility will house top of the line equipment and handling procedures required but out of the budget for the small grower.

"Creating this facility opens up the door for all growers to focus on their crop and expanding their yards instead of shelling out thousands of dollars for their own equipment," Organarchy owner Solomon Rose said. "We are now able to assist new growers with processing and supply chain management, as well as work hand-in-hand with area universities on how to grow quality hops in this region." 
This will be a great addition to the Virginia beer scene. The brewery, to be located just north of Leesburg, is set to open in Summer 2015. I'm looking forward to visiting.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stealing the Flying Dog Glass

Tuesday evening the Flying Dog RV was spotted outside Capital Ale House. The occasion was a Flying Dog "Steal the Glass" night, featuring four Flying Dog beers served in an attractive etched glass. How could we resist going in?

The four beers featured were Bloodline IPA, Hoppy American Wheat, Kujo Coffee Stout and Gonzo Imperial Porter on Nitro. All excellent beers that we've had before. I opted for the Bloodline Blood Orange IPA and Colleen selected Hoppy American Wheat.

Bloodline IPA seemed to be the most popular selection, based on comments I heard at the bar. It's a bright, citrusy IPA that's quite refreshing. I posted a full review of the beer previously. Equally enjoyable was the Hoppy American Wheat. A blend of a bitter IPA and a wheat beer, this member of the Brewhouse Rarities series is a unique take on the traditional wheat beer. More info can be found in this previous review.

Flying Dog beer peddlers Adam and Pete were there to talk about the beers. I got a chance to chat with them a bit about Flying Dog's plans for the upcoming year. Let's just say I'm looking forward to enjoying some interesting beers from the brewery in 2015.

And those cool etched logo glasses? We decided we really needed a set of four, so we enjoyed another round of our selected beers with Capital Ale's tasty, and huge, Lamb Gyro Burger. It was a fitting finish to a fun day that included a fun visit to the range.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lunchtime Smoke & Noise

Astute readers would rightly assume by the dearth of posts recently that my time for "fun stuff" has been painfully limited. Being unable to enjoy any trigger time since my range trip on Thanksgiving Day has been especially frustrating. In search of relief, Tuesday afternoon I decided to head up to the Indoor Range in Stafford during my lunch hour. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get in; I had the same idea last Friday, but when I arrived I saw 16 cars in the parking lot, at a 14 lane range, and gave it a pass! On this day, I was in luck as there were only a few other folks there.

I spent about 30 minutes shooting at various distances and speeds. Even with the light turned on above the bench, the shooting booths are still dark. Seeing my black sights against the black target was difficult at times, but it was fun and I was pretty pleased with the holes in the paper.

Given the lack of range availability at the local outdoor club, I'll probably start making the indoor range a regular stop. I am not a fan of being unable to see what's going on in the other bays, but it beats not shooting at all. The range is close enough to my office that I can get there, shoot, and be back at my desk in an hour. (Well okay, a padded hour.)

Smoke, noise, muzzle flash. It all makes for a fun lunch break.

And brass at my feet.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Isley Beer & Cheese Pairing

Thursday evening Capital Ale House set out a Cheese & Beer pairing featuring Isley Brewing Company. Three Isley Beers were paired up with three cheeses; Tall, Dark and Hopsome Black IPA with Lusk Gouda, Off the Boulevard Irish Red Ale with McClure Swiss, and Choosy Mother Peanut Butter Oatmeal Porter with President Brie.

Also included with the cheeses was a couple slices of a very delicious bread with a salt and herb crust. We enjoyed the side of bread as much as the cheese and beer. The bread and cheese platter would stand on its own as an appetizer.

This event was originally advertised to feature four beer and cheese pairings, with an Isley rep in attendance to talk about their beers. We think there was a logo glass included as well that we missed getting. That said, we're quite capable left on our own and enjoyed the beers and making our own commentary.

The first pairing, the Tall, Dark and Hopsome IPA and Gouda, was quite good. I took a few sips of the beer before the cheese plate arrived and really liked the beer. The pine and citrus hops with roasted malts was a tasty combination. It's a beer I'd have again. Interestingly, adding in the Gouda, the flavor of the beer took on a slightly sweeter tone. The flavors were noticeably influenced by the cheese.

Next up was Off the Boulevard Irish Red Ale and Swiss. The Red Ale had a distinctly fruity aspect along with the biscuity malt. After sipping, Colleen and I at the same time remarked, "I taste pears." The ale had a decidedly malty cider slant, in appearance, aroma and flavor.

Finally, we came to the Choosy Mother Peanut Butter Oatmeal Porter and Brie pair. In all frankness, we didn't care for the aroma of this one. In the taste, there was some oatmeal and a hint of sweet chocolate. It was however, the peanut butter than dominated. Mixing our sips with the brie and bread, the peanut flavor was muted somewhat. Choosy Mother is a popular and highly rated beer from Isley. But this unique flavor is like smoked beers I think, you either like them or you don't. The beer grew on me as I sipped, but a full pint probably isn't in my future.

Our beer and cheese tasting completed, Colleen and I settled into a few more good beers and the Thursday special of "Endless Mussels." We took good advantage of the all you can eat aspect of the menu. It was a tasty and enjoyable, if somewhat decadent, evening.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Forcing the Options Towards Good Beer

Twice a month I head off to a meeting of like-minded Catholic men who serve the community and Church. After the business of the evening is completed, food and beverages are set out. The kitchen crew prides itself on the good food, but he beer selection is often lacking. It typically consists of the usual suspects one sees at such a gathering; Miller Lite, Stella Artois, and the occasional Yuengling Lager. I can get by with the Yuengling but would enjoy something different. I am sure many of the other men would as well, but the "buyer" is stuck in his ways.

This week I had a last minute thought before I left for the meeting and filled a six-pack carrier with some beers from my fridge. I opted to stick with "easy" beers such as New Belgium Fat Tire and Brooklyn Lager. My thought was to stick with a similar style, but introduce some new labels.

When it came for the social part of the meeting, I found myself near the end of the line. I watched as other men were digging through the beer cooler and grabbing the bottles I had added. I feared there wouldn't be any left for me. I did eventually retrieved the last bottle of Fat Tire for myself.

I overheard comments like "Where did this come from?" and "Good beer!" I've been thinking it would be worth donating a six pack or two for a few weeks to continue to build up the demand. Eventually, folks will come to expect it, even though there will always be the hard core Miller Lite fan.

The one wrench in the works is I was told the existing stock of Lite and Stella would need to be finished before the supply was restocked. Might be time for a little more subterfuge.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A "Soulful" Evening of Beer

I went out for a quick dinner last night, heading over to Park Lane Tavern. When I arrived I learned they were having a "Steal the Glass" night featuring Green Flash Soul Style IPA. The glass with the premium price point was a simple logo shaker pint, so I wasn't really interested in the glass, but opted to try the beer nonetheless.

Green Flash Soul Style pours a clear and bright copper color with a thin, short-lived head. The aroma is sweet fruit and somewhat resinous. The initial flavor is bitter citrus and pine, with a touch of sweetness showing up as well. The finish is slightly bitter with some lingering resin coating in the mouth. Green Flash beers are typically bold and brusk on the palate. Soul Style while tasty, might be a let down for Green Flash fans used to beers like Road Warrior and Green Bullet.

My glass emptied, but still some food on my plate, I recalled the tasty Starr Hill Soul Shine I enjoyed recently at Park Lane. I opted to continue the evening's "soul" theme with a glass of that cask conditioned beer. At first the flavor seemed somewhat muted, after the more intense Soul Style. Of course, my tastebuds soon adapted and I enjoyed the smooth cask beer while finishing my meal.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Ale at Adventure Brewing

Historically, I simply don't go out on "Black Friday." I prefer to spend the day with good leftovers, and good beer, perhaps preceded by a trip to the range. However this year, Adventure Brewing was celebrating the start of the holiday season with extended hours and the release of their Christmas Ale. This was worth venturing out for. Colleen and I headed up mid-afternoon, and after the tortuous drive through the local shopping mall area (What's wrong with you people?) we found the two-exit drive on the interstate to be quite easy.

Adventure was serving twelve different beers this weekend. They had all eight wall taps going, along with two jockey boxes. For those who are new to Adventure beers, they were offering a 12 beer tasting fight! We'd been to Adventure enough to have tried most of the beers, so we started right into the reason for our visit, the Christmas Ale.

The beer pours a cloudy, copper color with a thick beige head. Brewer Stan told us the beer was still young and would clear up with more time in the tank. Frankly, I expect a spiced Christmas Ale to have a bit of cloudiness to it. The aroma was pretty mild, with cinnamon and allspice over a biscuity malt. The spices revealed themselves more in the flavor. Some bitterness of citrus rind hangs in with the spices. It was quite tasty and I remarked to Colleen that maybe I should have remembered to bring along an empty growler for filling.

But, the real test in my book, is how I feel at the end of the glass. Would I want another? So often with spiced ales, as with pumpkin beers, I enjoy them initially but quickly tire of the unique flavor. Not this time, the ale is flavorful and well-balanced. When my glass was empty, I definitely wanted another pint. The moderately low ABV, I think it was around 6%, made it easy to enjoy a couple in the mid-afternoon. I thought this was one of the most enjoyable spiced ales I've had in some time. I'm already checking my calendar to see when I can fit in another visit to enjoy another pint. Or two.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thankful For a Little Range Time

Cloudy. Sporadic rain. Temperature in the low 40's. Thanksgiving afternoon. That all led me to think it might be a good time to hit the range. And it paid off as I had the place to myself. Due to poor planning I had only brought along one target stand, and a stack of B-34 targets, thinking I would need to be quickly in and out between shooters. Instead I found myself with the freedom to do as I pleased.

Just me

The events of Ferguson fresh on my mind, I decided to set up the one stand in the center of the berm and spent my time shooting on the move. I worked with the entire width of the bay, from around 15 yards out, and in to five. Shoot a magazine of 10 or 15 rounds, reload, move some more. Replace the target and repeat. The only regret is that I didn't have multiple targets to set up.

It was a good way to spend an hour or so. The hits were good, most inside the scoring rings. I had a few that were merely "on paper" but better to work that out in practice than real life. I was happy to get in some self-defense themed practice, without any warnings about "shooting too fast."

My ammo used up, I probably spent as much time finding my fired brass as I did creating it. There was no squatting and picking up a neat pile as the brass was spread all over the bay. At least the sun peaked through creating some sparkle to make finding it easier.

It may seem a bit odd to be at the range thinking self defense on a day devoted to remembering all the good things in our lives, but that's the reality of the world we live in. And I'm thankful I still have the freedom to be prepared.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Starr Hill Soul Shine

We headed out Thanksgiving Eve for a quick meal at Park Lane Tavern. The beer menu at Park Lane is fairly static, but it's the rotating tap list that typically gets my interest. This evening the cask selection was Starr Hill Soul Shine, a Belgian-Style Pale Ale. I find that with this style, it's hit or miss if the beer tends towards "Belgian" or "Pale Ale." Though either end of that spectrum is fine with me.

The beer was served in 20 ounce snifters, and sported a thick creamy head. Copious bubbles were still rising to the top as the glasses were set before us, and we thought at first it was a nitro pour. Reaching for the glass I could tell that it was coming out at a good temperature as well.

The aroma was that of citrus, with some earthy Belgian yeast. There was also a hint of peppery spice. The flavor brought forth more of the Belgian yeast spiciness, but the citrus notes certainly came forward as well. A bit of sweet biscuity malt rounded out the flavor profile. The finish was clean with very little aftertaste.

A prominent feature of the beer was the creamy mouthfeel. Despite this being a Summer seasonal from Starr Hill, it was my first time drinking the beer. I don't know how much of the creaminess was from the cask serving or if the beer has a naturally smooth mouthfeel. It certainly merits further research. In any event, we enjoyed Soul Shine quite a bit, and the cask serving seemed especially well-done. I expect it'll show up again, as Starr Hill beers seem to make the rotating cask list frequently at Park Lane.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Now It's Really the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving Day traditionally marks the start of the Holiday Season. But for me, like many craft beer fans, there's another marker of the season. It's that first glass of Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA. I had mine a few days before Thanksgiving.

Celebration Ale pours an attractive glowing orange color with a thick cream-colored head. The aroma of grapefruit and pine preps the palate. Grapefruit and orange pithiness hits the taste buds first, followed by just enough breadiness in the malt to round it all out.

This Winter release is one we look forward to each year. It's one of our favorite beers and "this is so good" is my frequent comment as I'm sipping. We'll be enjoying a lot of it in the coming months.

You Are On Your Own

I purposely have avoided writing on the breakdown of civilized society in Ferguson, MO and elsewhere. Frankly, anything I start to write, quickly turns into a rant of vile disgust at what we have witnessed. But, I would like to make one point. (Calming breath now.) If Ferguson teaches us anything, it's the fallacy of "The police will save me" and "Just dial 911" mindset so many people have when it comes to self-defense. The past few days should make it plainly clear that you are on your own when society breaks down. You are your own "first responder."

The riots in Ferguson were not a surprise. That violence was eminent was known for weeks leading up to the grand jury decision. Federal and local law enforcement were put in place. The night of the announcement, we saw pictures of police in riot gear standing at the ready. And what happened? For two days there was widespread rioting, looting and arson. Unimpeded rioting, looting and arson.

Sure there were a few arrests, but look at the pictures of the city now. It's very obvious that peace keepers were unable to prevent the widespread destruction. Indeed it now appears the lack of protection for citizens may have even been by design. In the aftermath of an unexpected event, like a natural disaster, or even another politically or racially charged crime, the violence would likely be far more widespread and be met with the same lack of resistance.

Watching TV Monday evening, we saw first hand just how fast the breakdown in civilized society happened. We are constantly reminded that the violence was from a small minority of citizens. But numbers and percentages mean little to those in danger. If law enforcement cannot protect a small area when the violence is planned openly in advance, how effective will it be when unexpected trouble arises, or spreads over a wider area?

Indeed, when citizens stand in defense, violence can be averted. That's been proven in the past. But we live in a time when many in government are openly hostile to the right of self-defense and few people are prepared to protect their property, themselves, and their families. We should certainly be asking "WHY" the violence in Ferguson and elsewhere was allowed to happen. But the more important concern is "WHAT" are we as private citizens going to do to avoid being victims of the same sort of violence in the future?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

To my American readers, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. To the rest of you, well, happy Thursday. No matter where you are, or what your beliefs, it's good to take time to reflect on the meaning of the day.

Today I am thankful for my loving family, my faith and the freedom to practice it, for my health, for my friends, and for all the freedoms I enjoy as an American. Even though it seems so often that we're barely hanging on to those freedoms. In these troubled times we are reminded frequently just how tenuous they are. Let's not forget those who serve us at home and abroad.

I hope that the meaning of this day is not forgotten or lost in the hunt for good deals at the big box stores. If shopping is your thing this holiday, take time to think about why you are able to do that. In the days leading up to this holiday, it always strikes me how we hear little about Thanksgiving, only about "Black Friday.

I won't be shopping for "deals" this holiday weekend. I look at these days as a time to relax and enjoy life, before the hectic Christmas season arrives. I do have hopes to hit the range and a local brew pub. Maybe I'll even write some long-overdue blog posts. I hope everyone is able to spend time with family and friends, and doing what you enjoy.

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me 'to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.'"
-- George Washington, National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1789

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fireside with Wicked Nymph

After getting through some chores around the house Saturday, I made a run up to Adventure Brewing to grab a growler of their Wicked Nymph Imperial Stout. I hadn't had the beer yet, but it seemed a good match for the evening outdoors by the fire we were planning. (Of course I lingered to enjoy a pint of Super Power Pale Ale while I was there.)

The temperature was a mere 28° when I started the fire but I was looking forward to both the fire and the beer so I persevered. I quickly had a small but warming blaze going and poured a couple glasses of the Stout for Colleen and I. A hard growler pour in the dark produced a thin, but short lived head, and released a pleasing roasted aroma. The taste had mild roasted malt and bitter chocolate notes. The ABV is listed at 10.4%, but while slightly warming, did not overwhelm.

Wicked Nymph is enjoyable beer. There's no mistaking it as an Imperial Stout, but it's quite approachable and could be enjoyed by "big beer" fans and the less adventurous alike. I alternated between refilling my glass and feeding the fire, and had a very relaxing time chatting with Colleen. This weekend we're celebrating our son's 18th birthday, and he joined us by the fire for bit, before we headed inside for some late evening birthday cake.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Weihenstephan Steal the Glass Night

The beers of Weihenstephan Brewery in Germany were featured for this week's Steal the Glass event at Capital Ale House. Six different beers were on tap. Fans were able to order any of the six in a tall Weihenstephan glass, or try a flight of small tasters of all six, which also included a glass to "steal." I opted to do an exploration of all six beers.

The beers in the order I tasted, and pictured above from left to right, are Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Weihenstephaner German Pilsner, Weihenstephaner Original Lager, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel, and Weihenstephaner Korbinian Doppelbock.

The beers are all moderately low alcohol beer. The Doppelbock checks in at 7.4%, while others range from 5.1% to 5.4%. This made enjoying the beers quite easy, and I ran through them fairly quickly as well. None of the beers were new to me. Weihenstephan's Hefeweissbier is considered by many to the original and authentic Hefeweizen. The Dunkelweizen and Dopplebock are both long-time favorites of mine. In fact, all of the beers are well made and great examples of classic German styles.

It was a great opportunity to try a range of beers from the world's oldest existing brewery. And apparently many others were looking forward to the event as well. When I first arrived at Capital Ale House for the event, there was not a single seat open at the long bar, and there were many groups waiting for tables. Fortunately a seat at the bar opened up without too long of a wait. I had a tasty dinner of a lamb gyro "burger" while tasting the beers. I enjoyed all the beers, but decided to cap off the evening with a hoppy American-style beer, which is a story for another post.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Flying Dog: Cookies and Beer

Why not? Beer is practically a liquid cookie anyway. Flying Dog Brewing has teamed up with Otterbein’s Bakery in Baltimore to brew some beers specifically to pair with the bakery's cookies. Flying Dog kindly sent over samples of the beers, and the cookies, for review.

Four beers make up a special holiday pack, each bottle labeled with the recommended pairing.
  • Imperial Hefeweizen, inspired by and meant to be paired with Otterbein’s Sugar Cookies
  • Oatmeal Raisin Stout, inspired by and meant to be paired with Otterbein’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • Oak-Aged Hazelnut Scotch Ale, inspired by and meant to be paired with Otterbein’s Ginger Cookies
  • Roasted Peanut Brown Ale, inspired by and meant to be paired with Otterbein’s Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Earlier this week, Colleen, Checkered Flag, and I sat down before dinner and tried out two of the pairings and found them quite enjoyable. (Yes, we had cookies before dinner. Sorry Mom.)

First up was the Imperial Hefeweizen with Sugar Cookies. The Hefeweizen poured a cloudy straw yellow with a rich yeasty aroma. The flavor was rich in banana and wheat, and somewhat spicier than a standard wheat beer. All three of us declared it to be quite a tasty beer, even before we got to the sugar cookies. The cookies too were very tasty. The sweetness of the cookies seemed to bring out a bit of sweetness in the beer as well. The flavors were very complimentary.

Next we selected the Oak-Aged Hazelnut Scotch Ale and the Ginger Cookies. I was looking forward to this one since I am a fan of Scotch Ales, and Ginger Cookies. The dark brown ale had a nutty flavor, backed by mildly sweet toffee and roasted malt. Lots of "oohs" and "aahs" over this one. The Ginger Cookies were crisp and mildly flavored. The cinnamon and ginger spice of the cookie seemed to linger into the taste of the beer, contrasting and complimenting at the same time. This was an exceptionally surprising pairing, and one I'm tempted to recreate the next time we host a beer and food tasting.

Even though we were splitting the beers between three tasters, a planned dinner and late evening activities limited us to choosing just two at this session. I am very much looking forward to getting to the next two in the group very soon.

The Holiday Collection is available only in Maryland, and for a limited time. The Otterbein's cookies are available only in the MD/DC/VA region and online. If you enjoy tasty sweets and good beer, and are living or visiting in Maryland, you should put together these pairings and try them for yourself.

I'll report back when we try the other two pairings.

The beer, and cookies, reviewed here were promotional samples from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cheap Wines Reviewed By An Irish Brewer

This is quite funny.

If you must drink wine, stick with the good stuff.

H/T to Weer'd World for the link.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Repurposing the Back Yard

Time passes. Kids grow up.

Around thirteen years ago, we put up this great swing set in the back yard. Our son and his friends spent many joyful days swinging and having adventures in the towers. What boy doesn't enjoy a pirate ship tower complete with ship's wheel and spyglass? Even the dog made many trips up the tower and down the slide. I'll admit to enjoying many relaxing swings myself.

However, other interests attract a growing teenager. (And his 6 foot 2 frame doesn't easily fit up the tower these days.) The swings sat unused for many years, even the dog is too old to climb up the slide tower now. So a few months ago the play set was dismantled and hauled away for use by a younger family. This weekend, that empty space was filled with a fire pit.

Soon the sounds of squeaky swings will be replaced by the sounds of a crackling fire. I am sure many a good craft beer will be enjoyed, by the adults, during the upcoming cool winter evenings.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Randall Night at Adventure Brewing

Last Friday, Adventure Brewing loaded the Randall with orange peel, lavender and vanilla beans, and was pouring their Pale Ale through it. Colleen and I made the short drive up I-95 to try it out. Before we go to the evening's special, though I ordered a glass of Pumpkin Patch Adams. Adventure's seasonal pumpkin ale has a very nice pumpkin flavor to it. The pumpkin pie spice component completed the picture with hints of ginger and allspice. It's one you'll want to try before it's gone.

Next we ordered glasses of the enhanced Pale Ale. The orange peel contributed significantly to the aroma. Almost to the point of making me wary of taking that first sip. However, I needn't have worried. The orange flavor was more balanced in the flavor, with the vanilla softening the citrus. The lavender provided just a touch of floral the profile. The mouthfeel was almost creamy with low carbonation. The beer reminded me very much of the Orange Creamsicle pops I enjoyed as a kid.

STEVE-O's BBQ, Burgers & BACON was also on hand to keep us fed. We opted for Steve's burgers, accompanied by his popular tator tots. Steve was introducing a new variation this evening, bacon wrapped tator tots. Of course we had to try them — because, bacon. The tots were topped with a bit of BBQ sauce creating quite a tasty side dish. After some discussion, it was our opinion that the sauce was superfluous, so later in the evening I ordered another serving, and asked Steve to skip the BBQ sauce and just use his regular tot seasoning. To my palate, this was the ticket. The bacon wrapped tator tots were quite popular, no matter how you preferred them.

I capped off the evening with a pint of Bookworm Brown Ale, to go along with that second tot order. The nutty Brown Ale finishes with a hint of brown sugar sweetness. As usual, we had a great time enjoying good beer, good food, and good conversation at a fun "neighborhood" brewery.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Mental Health Day

Sometimes you just need to do it. I was reviewing my leave status on Wednesday and realized I had a whole bunch of leave banked up. And some of that was in the "use or lose" column, so I decided I was going to partake in some "ballistic therapy" on Thursday, as well as get some chores done around the house.

I got up at my normal time Thursday and after breakfast did a bit of office work that needed handling. After that, I did nothing work related — though I did see that my inbox was filling — and cheerfully ignored it. I spent the morning drinking coffee and doing some cleaning and straightening of my "personal space" in the house.

Checkered Flag showed up at the house late morning, as his day off is Thursday — though he too has to work a bit before the "day off" actually starts. We prepped the car for a trip to the range, loading lots of targets, ammo and guns. The ranges were all unoccupied when we arrived, and we broke from tradition and started on the pistol range. It was a leisurely couple of hours, just plinking. We spent a lot of time trying precision shooting at tiny targets. It was an interesting exercise when even from close range the target is smaller than the sites. (And remind me not to challenge Colleen to a strong hand only shot at a paster square at 7 yards.)

After couple hundred rounds each, and some 600 pieces of brass to police, we headed over to the long gun side of the park. The rifle range was now being used so we set up the clay target stands on the shotgun field. We each only took a couple of turns since were all getting very hungry, and Colleen had already mentioned the panini she was preparing for lunch. Our timing was spot on as it started raining right after we had arrived home and unloaded the car.

As promised, the panini grill was warmed up and a delicious lunch was enjoyed. Since it was a fun day, I grabbed some adult beverages from the beer fridge as well. By the time we finished eating, the rain had about stopped. It seemed timing was working out just right on this day.

Last week we had stone block delivered for a fire pit we're building, so after lunch Checkered Flag and I went to work moving the block and digging the foundation trench. There's no free lunch around here! (Seriously though, I appreciated the help!) It was getting dark as we finished up, but the project is ready for the gravel and block placement this weekend.

Food being one of the major themes of the day, I soon had the grilled fired up and loaded with lamb chops. While I watched the grill, Colleen fried up some falafel and we soon had a fitting feast to enjoy. We enjoyed the rest of the evening just being lazy, while bemoaning our aching muscles. I went to bed with memories of a fun day, and also having gotten some much-needed chores done. I congratulated myself on having actually ignored my work email for the day too!

Another nice thing about taking a day off on Thursday is as I drove to work this morning, I realized IT'S FRIDAY! I think I'll take a few more of these days. In fact, according to the company leave policy, I'm required to.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Smuttynose Steal the Glass Night

We went down to Capital Ale House Tuesday evening for dinner and the Smuttynose Brewing "Steal the Glass" event. They were featuring four beers this evening, Finestkind IPA, Big A IPA, Cluster's Last Stand IPA, and Tripel. Note, that's two American IPAs and a Double IPA in that list — I was in for some tough decisions.

Cluster's Last Stand is the result of a collaboration with Stone Brewing Company. The beer is described as a "post-Prohibition" IPA recreated from the Ballantine IPA recipe of the 1930's. That piqued my interest so my decision was made. Colleen opted for the Tripel.

Cluster's Last Stand & Tripel

Cluster's Last Stand has a nice malty aroma backed with floral and citrus hops. The flavor is well-balanced with an earthy,  slightly sweet malt base with pine and citrus hops in the forefront. There's a bit of bitterness that lingers in the finish, but overall it's clean with little hint of the 8.8% ABV. Simply put, I enjoyed this beer. A lot. It was also a fine accompaniment to the Gyro Burger with lamb, red onions, tomatoes, baby spinach, feta cheese and tzatziki on grilled flat bread. Once I finished my meal and drink, I was torn between enjoying another glass of the same, or trying another Smuttynose beer.

I eventually ordered a glass of the Finestkind IPA. The difference between the two beers couldn't have been more distinct. Finestkind IPA is focused on the bitter end of the spectrum. There is plenty of grapefruit zest and grassy bitterness in the flavors. The finish was dry with a lingering bitterness.

It was actually quite interesting to drink the two IPAs back to back to see the differences between two beers of technically the same "style." I am an admitted fan of the bitter, and Finestkind was a beer I've had in the past, so I had no complaints. That said, I did tell Colleen I'd like to get back for another glass of Cluster's Last Stand before that keg is kicked.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fredericksburg Monster Match

The monthly USPSA match held by Fredericksburg Practical Shooters was a "Monster Match." Not only were there fitting stage themes for the Halloween season, the stages were "monster" in size. Six stages, averaging around 50 rounds each, made for a fun and tiring day of shooting.

The match directors put together some interesting stages for this special match. This wasn't a matter of standing and hitting a bunch of targets from a single spot, the stages were just like normal USPSA field courses, but bigger. A lot bigger. The course of fire were a combination of paper targets and falling steel. I believe the smallest number of targets on a stage was 17, but each target on that stage required 3 hits per target.

Stage 5 - The Mummy

Stage planning was very important in this match. That went especially for folks shooting in limited capacity divisions like Production and Single Stack. The stages had a barrel or two placed on the course of fire for staging extra mags, which could be retrieved either from the belt or the barrels. I admittedly went into a couple stages with a not quite firm plan in my head for the final targets in the course. That really only burned me once when I skipped a target and earned Failure to Engage (FTE) and miss penalties. (I couldn't convince the RO to give me credit for engaging another target twice.) I heard from other shooters who also ran past targets without engaging them.

While I've shot more than this number of rounds in a day of training on more than one occasion, shooting 50 rounds in a single string lasting under a minute was a new experience. I found that I had to concentrate even more on my grip as the day wore on. I also found myself going a bit too fast at times, perhaps subconsciously trying to speed through the already long course.

Stage 6 - Nightmare On Elm Street

The weather was certainly a factor in the match and a topic of discussion all day. It was a classic cold and windy fall day. The sun came out only for brief moments, though cloud cover was the order of the day. It wasn't unusual for a shooter, about to start his run, to be delayed by a sudden gust of wind that would knock over the steel targets, and often more than once before the starting beep. As someone remarked, "All the targets are moving targets today."

This match format proved to be very popular as many shooters travelled from out of the area to participate. I followed a truck with Delaware tags into the range, and was told that someone had come from all the way from Tennessee for the fun. Everyone I shot with or talked to afterwards seemed to have a great time.

Stage 3 - Casper The Friendly Ghost

I was moderately pleased with my own shooting, though I certainly wasn't shooting my best. Besides the aforementioned FTE, I earned a few misses by putting my shot through the edge of a wall before it hit the target. In a defensive situation, shots through a wall might count, but in this game they do not. Despite the final scores, it was an exceptionally fun match. It was surprising just how much the challenge changes by doubling or even tripling the number of shots in a stage, compared to what is typically seen at a "normal" match.

The match ran smoothly, at least from the competitors' point of view. It was a long day on the range, but still a much shorter day than I had feared it might turn out to be. Shooting started about 8:00AM and we finished a little after 2:00PM. With most folks staying to pitch in, the stages were broken down and everything put into the storage containers before 3:00.

The match directors are to be congratulated for putting together a challenging and exceptionally fun match. It was clear to me that a lot of thought was put into designing the match and providing the shooters more than just an excuse to throw a lot of lead downrange. Of course, thanks also to all the folks who worked to put it on the ground too. I certainly wouldn't want to shoot a "monster match" every month, but I look forward to doing it again. I was tired and more than a bit sore by the time I got home. Even so, I hope this turns into an annual event.

Note: Click the pics to see them full size. The panoramic format doesn't preview well. Also, one of guys on the squad posted a compilation video of some of us shooting the match that you can watch here.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween and Beer

We loaded the candy bowl, poured a couple glasses of Southern Tier Pumking, and waited. Since Halloween fell on a Friday this year, we assumed there would be larger than usual crowds, and the Trick or Treating would go on later in the evening. Not long after I poured the beer, the doorbell rang and it began.

Pumking pours a bright orange color with a thin head. The aroma of pumpkin pie and sweet malt is apparent immediately. The expected pumpkin pie spices are present, but to my delight, the aroma of pumpkin flesh is there as well. The flavor is that of real pumpkin pie — the bready crust, the sweet pumpkin flavor, and just enough cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla to complete the picture. There's a moderate amount of carbonation to liven things up. The 8.6% ABV is well-masked but gives just a welcome hint of warmth in the finish.

For the first part of my glass I was up and down answering the door. But as quickly as it started, the candy-hunting visitors stopped. There were but a few busy moments, everyone coming in groups. Apparently the latest thing is to decorate your car with Christmas lights and drive from house to house with a carload of kids. Even for driveways twenty yards apart the cars were reloaded to drive to the next stop. At one point our cul-de-sac was so backed up with cars that some had to back out of the street. It seems to me that walking, as we used to do, for Halloween would be a dangerous prospect due to the vehicle heavy traffic.

The beer glasses empty and the candy bowl still half full, the festivities ended earlier than expected. And there's a lot of candy left to tempt us in the coming days.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Five O'Clock Friday: Bacon Blessing

We already know about the blessing for beer, but there's also a Catholic blessing for another of our favorite food groups — bacon! While it might not be very useful on a (meatless) Friday, it's a good tool to share with your favorite priest.

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord

R. Who has made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your spirit

Let us pray. Bless, Lord, this bacon which You have made, that it may be a healthful food for mankind. Grant by the invocation of Your holy name that all who partake of it may receive health of body and safety of soul, through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen. (Then it is sprinkled with holy water.)

H/T to The Catholic Gentleman.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oktoberfest Beer Tally

Oktoberfest officially ended a few weeks ago, but that didn't stop our enjoyment of Oktoberfest-style beers. I decided this year I would concentrate on trying as many Oktoberfests as I could. I didn't drink them exclusively, but I did look for them when I was at a pub, and also picked up a selection to stock the beer fridge.
  • Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen
  • Warsteiner Premium Oktoberfest (draft)
  • Legend Oktoberfest (draft)
  • Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen (draft)
  • Bell’s Octoberfest (draft)
  • Weihenstephaner Festbier (draft)
  • Sam Adams Octoberfest
  • Blue & Gray Baron von Stueben Oktoberfest (draft)
  • Great Lakes Oktoberfest
  • Sly Fox Oktoberfest
  • Harpoon Octoberfest
  • Shiner Oktoberfest
  • Schlafly Oktoberfest 
  • Wild Wolf Folktoberfest (draft)
  • Brooklyn Oktoberfest
  • Flying Dog Dogtoberfest
  • Dominion Octoberfest
The American brewers do a great job with the style, even when they apply their own interpretations. As much as I look forward to the Oktoberfest beers each year, and enjoy them very much, I admit now that I've grown tired of them. For a while anyway. It's time for some IPAs!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Clueless Shooters Shorten Another Range Trip

Regular readers are aware I shoot at a semi-unsupervised range conservation organization. There are RO's that pop in regularly to enforced the latest iterations of the range rules, and I've been told numerous times the rules are to keep the "less safe" shooters under control. My response has always been, if they can't be safe and can't follow the rules, kick them out!

Sunday afternoon my friend Greg and I were at the range getting in some practice. We were having a fun time and enjoying the beautiful fall afternoon. At one point we turned back up range from pasting targets to see three new arrivals setting their gear on the bench, AND handling and setting out firearms while we were down range. I look at Greg and asked, "You done?" to which he replied in the affirmative. We proceeded to police our brass and pack the gear, but as we were loading our gear into our cars the new arrivals began shooting — without a warning. We were caught off guard when as we had taken off our ear protection.

After getting our ear protection on quickly, we watched them for a short time. I remarked to Greg that I was glad to find he was as anti-social as I was when it comes to shooting with people I don't know. I prefer unsupervised ranges, but only when it's just me and folks I know. We watched as they continually swept each other with firearms. I get really nervous when I see someone unholster a firearm while standing directly behind another person at the line. Apparently maintaining muzzle awareness is difficult with a cigarette in your hand.

Over the years, I've found that shooting enthusiasts are by far the most friendly, safety conscience, and courteous folks I've met. That's why incidents like this are so exasperating. There's been chatter lately about limiting or even ceasing the range use at the club. In fact the hours they are open have already been reduced. It's because of people like this. When I take new shooters to the range, I make sure they understand they have a dangerous weapon in their hands. Unfortunately even some long-time shooters seem to forget that when they head out to the range. Just because it's fun doesn't you can ignore the safety rules.

And unlike the time we were admonished for shooting at three targets instead of just two, there wasn't an RO to be seen.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Flying Dog Hoppy American Wheat

A few weeks ago we received a couple sample bottles from Flying Dog, which were promptly stuck in the beer fridge, and life went on. This weekend I remembered getting that package, but couldn't recall what beers were included. I dug around and pulled out this bottle of Brewhouse Rarities: Hoppy American Wheat Ale.

The small batch American Wheat Ale pours a very cloudy deep gold color. The quickly building white head is think and creamy, though it pretty quickly drops to quarter inch thick and persistent layer. The aroma is that of tropical fruit like pineapple and mango. I might get a hint of bready wheat, but the tropical fruit dominates.

The flavor of this beer is an interesting blend of a bitter IPA and a wheat beer. The "hoppy" side definitely predominates the flavor profile though. The tropical fruit and citrus is topped with bitter rind and hint of grassiness. The "wheat" background comes through in the medium bodied mouthfeel and tingling carbonation. The finish is a lingering zesty bitterness.

Flying Dog Hoppy American Wheat Ale is a refreshing late Summer release, that might be better described as a low ABV "session" IPA than a wheat beer. But that's just fine with me.

Coincidently, or perhaps by design, the other bottle in the sample package was Galaxy Single Hop Imperial IPA. Since Galaxy is also the dominant hop in the Hoppy American Wheat Ale, I'll try to get to the IPA real soon, while the flavor of this one is still fresh in my mind.

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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Your Second Amendment

Bill Whittle breaks it down in terms "even a progressive could understand."

Refuting "crybaby progressive whininess." Heh.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Range Time Found

After I posted that I may need to take some time off from work to rectify the lack of range time, I realized that actually was wonderful idea. So, I did just that one afternoon this week. After days of cold, wet weather, a fall day in the low 70's was too good to pass up.

Colleen, our friend Checkered Flag who also had the day off, and I loaded the car and headed over to the range. Colleen was lamenting that she hadn't used the shotgun since our class with Tom Givens last May, so we started on the shotgun field. We set up our five clay stands and took turns running the array of targets.

After a few runs at that drill, we moved over to the rifle range. There we set up two targets with multiple color aiming areas. We shot standing at various distances, and a bit while on the move. Despite it's effectiveness as a defensive weapon, every time we take the AR to the range, Colleen remarks it's also really fun to shoot. Perhaps there's an additional rifle in our future, since we're sharing just one at the moment.

Finally it was over to the pistol bay. We spent the next hour simply enjoying the time shooting. Checkered Flag has a collection of what we refer to as "Little Man" targets that he uses for his precision shooting practice so we also put them to use.

A plethora of targets
It was an exceptionally enjoyable few hours. I've not been out to the range a lot recently, and Colleen has been even less. It's still one of the best diversions from daily stress I know, and it's a fun way to spend time with my lovely wife. We should really make it part of the regular schedule of life.

A sign of a good day - a full brass bag!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Five O'Clock Friday: Beer On the Brain

Thought for a Friday...

H/T to The Feral Irishman (Possibly NSFW).

Has VCDL Gone PC?

A recent email from the Virginia Citizens Defense League contained an essay entitled "Firearm vs weapon, CHP vs CCW - words mean things." Within that post, VCDL President Philip Van Cleave made this comment,
Avoid the use of the word “weapon” when referring to your firearm.  Weapon has a negative connotation, referring more to something used in an aggressive or offensive manner.  The military carries weapons.  You and I carry for defensive reasons only.  Instead use the words firearm, sidearm, handgun, or the firearm type, such as Glock, Sig, etc.

I was taken aback. What is this PC nonsense? Van Cleave claims that "weapon" has a negative connotation. He posits it is because the military carries "weapons." Does that mean the military has a negative connotation, or is deployed only for offensive purposes? A weapon can certainly be used defensively, as one was just this week in Canada, and also 100's of times each year, by civilians in the United States. I carry a defensive weapon. In fact, I carry a dangerous defensive weapon. If it wasn't so, I wouldn't stake my life on it.

I agree with the VCDL in that "words mean things." That is why we should not cede the language to the hoplophobes. The enemies of freedom have already usurped words like "tolerance" and "liberal." We see it everyday in the news when mass killers are described as "shooters" or "assault weapon" is used to refer to just about any semi-automatic gun that's black.

Do I say "weapon" every time I refer to my gun? Of course not. Will I avoid the use of the term for political correctness? Certainly not.

On the other hand, maybe VCDL is on to something.

 I suppose my "pistol" would be allowed wherever this is posted.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

That's 2,000 Musings

The previous post was number 2,000 for these Musings. I find it appropriate that the subject was reminiscing over one of my long-time favorite beers. Now to get to work on the next thousand.

The post announcing my 1000th post, not the post itself, is consistently in the most popular post listing in the sidebar, though I'm not sure why. It will be interesting to see what happens with this one!

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon

It was like visiting with an old friend. This week's "Steal the Glass" event at Capital Ale House featured beers from Heavy Seas Brewing in Maryland. One of the beers was an old favorite of mine, Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA. Also available were Cutlass Amber Lager and Small Craft Warning Über Pils. Naturally, I started with the Loose Cannon.

Two different glasses were offered for "stealing," a Belgian-style glass and a standard "shaker pint." I opted for the stemmed glass, as did Colleen for her Cutlass Amber Lager. Loose Cannon on draft has long been one of my favorite beers. It's not uncommon to find that a beer on draft tastes better than the same beer from a bottle. However, I've repeatedly found that Loose Cannon is significantly better on draft. So much so that I rarely bring it home, choosing to enjoy it whenever I find it on draft (which is infrequently in my local area.) The pine and fresh citrus flavors, caramel malt, and mild bitter finish brought back memories of the many pints enjoyed through the years.

I noticed that shaker pint glass offered sported an updated logo, different from the Clipper City/Heavy Seas pints I acquired years ago. So, in the interest of completeness, I opted for another helping of Loose Cannon, this time in the logo pint glass. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Quest for Range Time

There's been no shortage of beer blogging recently, but time for the second topic listed up there in the header has been sorely lacking. I've been lamenting about this situation with family and friends, but this evening I was reviewing my shooting and practice journal, and it really hit home — I need to get out to the range more!

There was a time when I'd manage two or three matches in a month, and at least one range trip for practice each week. Just this past July I squeezed in four matches! Then in August, I did one match, and hit the practice range just twice. September faired slightly better when there was time for not one, but two matches. However, there was but a single practice session at the range the entire month, although we did take a fun class in September so that counts as practice too. 

So here it is, the waning days of October, and I've been to the range just twice. They tell me shooting is a perishable skill, so I fear there may be cobwebs on more than just my range box.

I think I may need to take a little time off from work to rectify this situation. Yes, that's the ticket...

Bold Rock Cidery

After our great lunch at Wild Wolf Brewery last Saturday, we headed over to Bold Rock Cidery. Just last year we drove past Bold Rock but did not have time to stop in. At the time, it was just a small barn by the side of the road. Well, things change in a year and it's apparently been a very good year for cider. We walked our way up the hillside along a winding boardwalk, arriving at the 12,000 sq. ft. building that houses the cider making and bottling operations, a cider museum, and a large rustic seating area in which to enjoy the cider. Numerous tasting stations are set up where visitors are treated to free samples of the four ciders being produced. There is also a multi-level deck where one can sit outside and take in the view.

After standing there, and probably looking lost for a few moments we were directed to a tasting station where we tried out the four ciders. Bold Rock Virginia Apple is light, crisp and slightly sweet. Next we tried Virginia Draft. This cider is darker than the first, and drier with a bit less sweetness. Crimson Ridge Vintage Dry is a sparkling cider with a mild flavor and dry finish. Crimson Ridge Vat No. 1 is a sparkling cider with hints of tart green apples.

After our sampling, we made our way the serving bar where we all opted for glasses of Bold Rock Virginia Draft. Carrying our glasses outside to the deck, which is built over the hillside behind the cidery. It provides a gorgeous view of a mountain stream and of the mountains covered in their fall colors.

We lingered quite some time while sipping our cider and taking in the views. The weather was extremely pleasant and perfect for sitting outside. After finishing our drinks, we went inside to see the displays about cider making, as well as the watch the bottling machinery visible through glass walls. Watching the constant stream of bottles going down the lines, to be filled with cider and then packaged, combined with the rhythmic sounds accompanying the process was very mesmerizing.

The new Bold Rock cidery is quite impressive, and shows just how popular cider, particularly Bold Rock Cider, has become. Next time we visit, perhaps we'll pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.