Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chief O'Hara, Turn on the Bat Signal

The Penguin is afoot! According to reports,
Police are still on the lookout for a man dressed up as a penguin. The New York Daily News reported on Monday that a man dressed in a “fancy penguin onesie (that’s a mascot-like costume to you and me)” took it upon himself to enter into a northern England convenience store early this week and steal 10 cans of beer.
Give the cartoon thief credit though. Unlike the Budweiser thief, this entrepreneur stepped it up a bit and walked off with a case of Stella Artois lager.

See "Thief dressed in a 'fancy' penguin suit steals 10 cans of pseudo-fancy beer" for more on this caper.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Full Moon Brewery

Located in the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island, the Full Moon Café & Grill, and Brewery, is a hidden craft beer destination on the Outer Banks. We first visited last year, and declared it a "must stop" during our vacation this year. After a tour of the nearby Elizabethan Gardens, we stopped at Full Moon for lunch. The café itself is quite small, and there actually seems to be more outdoor patio seating than indoor. We did choose to dine inside and were seated right away.

Rather than sample a flight of beers, we opted to focus on full servings of a single beer. Interestingly, we all selected beers that we did not try in our initial visit last Summer. Glasses of Lost Colony English Brown Ale for Checkered Flag, Charon Stout for Colleen, and Over Time Pale Ale for me soon appeared on our table. The English Nut Brown Ale was well done, with a slightly nutty flavor and a mild chocolate hint. Colleen's Irish Stout was equally enjoyable. The bitterness of roasted malt and caramel predominated, with a hint of smoke. The beer finished bitter and slightly dry.

The Over Time Pale Ale seems to be a newer addition to the lineup. Golden amber with a thin white head, the beer has a mild citrus aroma. The flavor leans towards grapefruit citrus, with a touch of pine. It was a well-balanced Pale Ale that finished clean with little aftertaste. I rather enjoyed it, and when my glass was empty, instead of changing beers mid-meal, I opted for a repeat pint.

I started my meal with a cup of a very thick crab bisque. Full of crab meat, and flavor, the soup was a fitting accompaniment to my first glass of Over Time Pale Ale. For the main part of my meal, and to go along with that second beer, I enjoyed a Hunter Wrap — chunks of grilled angus ribeye along with onions, tomatoes, and a white cheddar and horseradish sauce. The wrap was served with tortilla chips and a very spicy salsa. The Pale Ale was a fitting, and cooling, foil for the spice of the wrap and the salsa.

If the Full Moon Café and Brewery was just a bit closer to where we were staying in Southern Shores, I am positive we would have eaten more meals there. The combination of fresh craft beer, tasty food and fast, friendly service is hard to beat. It's become one of my favorite stops in the Outer Banks. We'll be back again the next time we're in the area.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weeping Radish Farm Brewery

During a recent trip to the Outer Banks, we made a lunch time visit the Weeping Radish Eco Farm & Brewery in Grandy, NC. The brewery is just a short drive from the Outer Banks. Arriving for a late lunch on a Sunday, we had about a 30 minute wait for a table. The dining area is surprisingly small given the overall size, at least in appearance, of the operation. We frustratingly stared at two large, but empty, tables. Two tables with seating for at least 8 were empty our entire wait, presumably saved for large parties. I was tempted to introduce myself to another waiting party of four to make a group to qualify for an empty table.

We passed the time looking at the display of sausages, and perusing the menu with the current beer offerings taped to the checkout counter. When we were seated, the well-tattered food and beverage menu we were handed did not have a complete beer listing. The server informed us that the Hefeweizen was not available, but offered no other information. If we had not noticed the lone 8.5x11" paper taped to the counter, we would have had little info on what beers were being served.

These initial "trials" resolved, we got our much anticipated food and beverage orders placed in short order. Colleen and I both opted for three-sausage platters, served with sauerkraut with a soft pretzel. Between our two platters we tried Bratwurst, Apple Brat, Beer Brat, and Andouille. We were left to our own devices to sort out which was which, but the flavors are unique and easily distinguished. The sauerkraut was cut very fine, and cooked to an almost creamy state, with a very sharp "sauer." It was surprisingly tart for being so thoroughly cooked. In enjoyed it, Colleen found it a tad "too much." I think I was the only one to use the accompanying Curry Ketchup, into which I dipped my soft pretzel. We all shared some spicy Lusty Monk Mustard as well. Our son and Checkered Flag both selected Grilled Bratwurst on a roll, served with fries. All of the food was delicious. The servings were quite ample, and neither Colleen nor I managed to clean our plates.

Tasty food aside, I was there to try the beer. Our first round consisted of Corolla Gold Helles LagerBitter Bee, and Ruddy Radish. The Helles that Checker Flag ordered was the only one of the three I had tried previously. It was light bodied, with mildly sweet caramel malt and a toasted cereal grain base. Colleen's Bitter Bee was one of the beers that interested me. It is described as an IPA made with tulip poplar honey from the Shenandoah Valley. The beer was very floral in aroma and flavor. The overall flavor is mild with just a hint of citrus. It was an enjoyable, if unusual flavor. I did very much enjoy the Ruddy Radish Red Ale that I ordered. I've long felt that Red Ale is an oft-ignored style, even by myself. The Weeping Radish version is predominately caramel and toffee malt flavors, with a touch of citrus.

I had finished my pint of Red Ale before I had eaten much of my meal so ordered a glass of one of Weeping Radish's classics, the Black Radish Dark Lager. It took a while to get my beer. The waitress let me know it was coming during her stop by to refill our water glasses, and I saw her speak to the bartender several times, I assumed to check on that order. She finally poured the beer herself and brought it to the table, though I was halfway through my meal by then. This was one of the first Schwarzbiers I tried, many years ago, and looked forward to revisiting it. The aroma and flavor of roasted caramel and a hint of sweetness make this a smooth and easy sipping beer. It is still my favorite from the brewery.

Beer fans with a taste for the boldness of American-style craft beer may be let down by the Weeping Radish beers, which focus on a milder European-style, but the beers are solid. My impression from this visit is that Weeping Radish is set up for the take-out customer, be it beer, sausages, or farm produce. The seating and service left a little to be desired — the lack of a beer menu was telling. The food however was excellent, so it's definitely worth stopping in for the locally produced sausages.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shooting Videos - The "Pole Cam"

Watching other shooters is a great way to learn, but watching yourself is even more beneficial. At just about shooting match, there's always a plethora of video cameras in use. I occasionally use first-person video to analyze my shooting. This viewpoint is limited in usefulness. A handheld video camera, or most often a smart phone, used to record a third-person POV is preferred but still doesn't offer the "big picture." At the recent Cavalier USPSA match I benefited from another option, which I'll dub the "pole cam." My friend Alex had his video camera mounted on a monopod with swivel mount, and a few of the shooters were using it to record each other shooting. Alex asked if I wanted to be recorded, and I eagerly accepted his offer.

With the camera mounted on the monopod, and angled down slightly, it can be raised above the shooter for a birds-eye view of the action. This allows a complete picture, from head to toe, to be captured. This is great of for seeing footwork and body positioning. Even when the course of fire has walls, the camera is easily held over the walls, all the while staying out of the shooter's and RO's way.

This point of view also makes it easy to see an entire course of fire at once, and even if not the entire course of fire, at least the surrounding targets. This is very useful especially when analyzing your movement to the next target. With all the targets in view, it's easy to see how efficiently you got the gun on target, and how you moved through the course of fire. Of course, when things aren't done smoothly, it's quite apparent as well.

During the classifier stage, Alex stood behind me, off to the side, and was able to extend the pole out to my side. This gave a point of view that would have been impossible otherwise. It was great for watching the "turn and draw" movement. Of course, for some of us, having a belly height camera at your side can present a less than flattering profile.

When Alex shared the videos with me, I was very happy he made the offer. Perhaps it's a bit narcissistic to want to watch yourself shoot, but a bit a narcissism is assumed with being a blogger. (And of course, I made my family watch them too.) But most importantly, watching yourself shoot is a great learning tool. There's no hiding mistakes or poor performance from the camera. I spent a lot of time stepping through the videos and making note of the good, as well as the things I need to work on. We all like watching the "pros" shoot, but the way to get better is to watch yourself shoot.

This may not be a new idea to many, but I don't recall seeing folks recording other than from "ground level" in the matches I've been too. Other than having a drone hovering overhead, this may be the most useful tool I come across in some time. I may have to add this to my took kit in the near future. There's still the problem of having to implore another shooter to hold the camera, but I think the offer of returning the favor, and sharing the videos, may be a sufficient bargaining tool.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five O'Clock Friday: Old Timers Bar

Four old retired men are walking down a street in Yuma, Arizona. They turn a corner and see a sign that says, “Old Timers Bar – ALL drinks 10 cents.”

They look at each other and then go in, thinking this is too good to be true.

There’s a fully stocked bar, so each of the men orders a martini.

In no time the bartender serves up four iced martinis shaken, not stirred and says, “That’s 10 cents each, please.”

The four guys stare at the bartender for a moment, then at each other. They can’t believe their good luck. They pay the 40 cents, finish their martinis, and order another round.

Again, four excellent martinis are produced, with the bartender again saying,”That’s 40 cents, please.”

They pay the 40 cents, but their curiosity gets the better of them. They’ve each had two martinis and haven’t even spent a dollar yet.

Finally one of them says, “How can you afford to serve martinis as good as these for a dime apiece?”

“I’m a retired tailor from Phoenix ,” the bartender says, “and I always wanted to own a bar. Last year I hit the Lottery Jackpot for $125 million and decided to open this place. Every drink costs a dime. Wine, liquor, beer it’s all the same.”

“Wow! That’s some story!” one of the men says.

As the four of them sip at their martinis, they can’t help noticing seven other people at the end of the bar who don’t have any drinks in front of them and haven’t ordered anything the whole time they’ve been there.

Nodding at the seven at the end of the bar, one of the men asks the Bartender, “What’s with them?”

The bartender says, “They’re retired people from Florida.They’re waiting for Happy Hour when drinks are half-price, plus they all have coupons.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Spencer Devon Brewing Fund Raising

I know I posted about a craft brewery fund raising project very recently, but as the number of Virginia craft breweries grows, we'll probably see more news like this. (Remember, these aren't recommendations, I'm just reporting.) That said, this one is close to home, and that makes it of special interest. Spencer Devon Brewing, which we first learned about last December, has joined the crowd sourcing movement with a CrowdBrewed-based project. Brewer/owner Shawn Philips explains his dream in this video which is posted on his CrowdBrewed project page.

The location for the brewery in downtown Fredericksburg is just on block away from Capital Ale House, an establishment we are known to visit frequently. We certainly won't need to travel far afield to visit the brewery. 

The CrowdBrewed project runs through September 18. An October 2014 opening is currently planned. The Spencer Devon web site is under construction, but you can follow the brewery construction progress at their Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We Are The Church Militant

Unless you get your news from MSNBC, you know about the genocide of Christians currently taking place in the Middle East. Recently, the exiled Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, Archbishop Amel Nona, made an impassioned plea,
Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive. 
Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles. You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.
Archbishop Nona's warning is chilling. Read it again. Let his unsettling warning sink into your heart. His flock is decimated. We must not allow complacency to be our end as well. Heed the warning.

See "Archbishop of Mosul: 'I have lost my Diocese to Islam - You in the West will also become the victims of Muslims'" for the message from the exiled leader.

Note: This sobering topic is expounded upon further over at the Gabriel Possenti Shooters blog.

Black Bear Bistro

I was first introduced to Black Bear Bistro when Chef Todd offered me an Oyster and Beer Shooter during a visit to Old Bust Head Brewing. The Warrenton, VA eatery was serving food at the brewery the day I visited and I promised myself that Colleen and I would visit the restaurant soon. I followed through on that promise with an early dinner after the Old Bust Head tap room grand opening this past weekend. Interestingly, we saw several people in the restaurant who we had also seen earlier at the brewery.

Naturally, the restaurant's beer selection was my first order of business. In an admirable showing of support, Black Bear Bistro has only Virginia beers, plus one Virginia cider on draft. That's right, all eight tap handles are "native"; Starr Hill, Old Bust Head, Lost Rhino, Legend and Bold Rock Cidery were offered. There are also bottled selections listed on the menu, though I frankly paid that list no mind. Since I had just come from Old Bust Head, and had been enjoying their beer two weekends in a row, I opted to drink another Virginia beer, Lost Rhino New River Pale Ale. That particular beer also has a special place in our hearts, and I raised a silent toast to an old friend.

We perused the dinner menu for a while, and decided to start with an appetizer plate of Fried Oysters. The breaded oysters were browned on the outside and just cooked enough to not be considered raw. The meat was juicy and tender. Three dipping sauce options were offered; Regular, Habanero Bacon, and Sweet Thai. Our server used the adjectives "spicy" and "hot" for both of the first two. Undecided, we asked for both the Regular and Habanero Bacon, for research purposes. I first tasted the "regular" sauce and found it to be deliciously "warm." Next I popped an oyster dipped in the Habanero version into my mouth, and for a moment didn't notice anything. And, then. Bam! There it is. Habanero heat, and a bit of smokiness. There's some serious heat going on there, all the while still quite flavorful. After the oysters were gone, I continued dipping my bread into both sauces.

Yea, that was a whole paragraph on the Fried Oysters. They were that good. Frankly, I might just make a meal out of them someday. But not this time. For my main course I selected the Bistro Crab Cake entrée. This was a fried "pancake" of crab meat set on a serving of Wild Rice, with Broccoli Rabe on the side. The crab cake was meaty and very tasty. I had no problem cleaning my plate thoroughly. Colleen opted for a Grilled Pork Flat Iron Steak set on Mashed Cauliflower and topped with Sautéed Spinach and Mushrooms. The thick pork steak was moist and set on a heaping serving of mashed cauliflower. Colleen must have enjoyed it very much, as there was no offer to share. ;-)

We lingered over our meal for a while, enjoying time together and the delicious food. There doesn't appear to be much happening on a Sunday afternoon in Warrenton, but as it got closer to the dinner hour, the curbside parking started to fill, and folks began coming in for dinner. As we headed out for our drive back to Fredericksburg, it was clear that Black Bear Bistro was a popular place with the locals. I know for sure that we'll be back.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Old Bust Head Tap Room

Old Bust Head Brewing celebrated the grand opening of their new tap room this weekend. Even though I had visited the brewery just last week, Colleen and I made plans to go see the new tap room, as well as enjoy the good beers. We initially thought about going on Saturday, but I arrived home later than planned, and very tired, from Saturday's USPSA match, so we postponed our visit until Sunday. That was fortuitous, as I later learned that the crowd Saturday was so large they were turning people away! Sunday at the brewery was crowded as well, but we had no problem getting seats or beers.

The Old Bust Head tap room is huge, with seating for 200 plus people, as well as a small stage. Seating is at heavy wooden benches and tables. Outside tables are also available. There are hooks at the large walnut bar for purses, a feature that Colleen always looks for, so I suspect they will eventually provide seating at the bar as well. And there's free Wi-Fi too. It's immediately obvious that Old Bust Head is set up to deal with large crowds. There is an exceptionally long line of tap handles behind the walnut bar, as well as multiple chalk boards listing the current beers on tap. Even though the line was long, both times I stood in it, the wait was surprisingly short. It reminded me of an airline check-in line, you waited in one line for the next available agent server, and moved forward when your turn came. Of course, the reward at the bar was much more pleasant than what awaits at the airport line.

Since I had tried most of the beers last weekend, I opted for a glass of Gold Cup Russian Imperial Stout, a beer that was released for the grand opening. As an added treat, the Stout was served on nitro. Colleen opted for a flight of four beers; Bust Head Old English Pale Ale, Chukker Pilsner, Wildcat IPA, and Chinquapin Chestnut Porter.

The Gold Cup Stout was exceptionally well-done. The bittersweet chocolate and espresso flavors made a rich-flavored beer, with a creamy, smooth mouthfeel. A mild roasted bitterness stayed behind on the palate. The 10% ABV was masked and not noticeable in the flavor. I enjoyed this beer very much, but opted to have just one. I enjoyed a pint of the lower ABV Shorthorn American Pale Ale while Colleen continued on her flight tasting. As I was last week, Colleen was very enamored with the Chestnut Porter.

We had plans to enjoy dinner at Black Bear Bistro in Warrenton before heading home, so after we finished our beers we headed out, but not before Colleen won an Old Bust Head koozie in one of the free raffles. I expect we'll be making regular visits to Old Bust Head, the beers are excellent and the drive not that long.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August Cavalier USPSA Match

Fifty-five degrees. That's what the dashboard thermometer read as I started my drive down towards Montpelier, VA for the Greater Richmond Blasters USPSA match at the Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club. Hmm, better check the calendar, it is August, correct? The temps did eventually get into the 80's but still, there were no complaints about the weather. I took an even more rural route to the range than I did last month, but got there in about the same time, and avoided any roadway that was wider than two lanes. (And I probably couldn't tell you how I got there.) Some of my squad mates arrived late due to traffic on the abomination that is I-95.

The first stage our squad shot, Stage 5, started with the shooter's hands on the edge of a wall that divided the stage. After engaging some paper targets and steel poppers that were strategically placed behind barrels, you had to retreat back up range, around the wall and engage similar targets from the other side. New shooters were cautioned about muzzle awareness while retreating up range.

Stage 6 had the shooter starting on the left side in mid-bay, and engaging four paper targets while backing up range. The right side of the course consisted of a zig-zagging path downrange, stopping mid-course to push open a door, through which more targets were engaged. A quick squeeze around another wall and the course ended with a quick finish engaging four close range targets.

Stages 1 and 2 shared the end of the club's rifle range. Stage 1 was a quick stage with 4 paper targets engaged from one side of a barricade, then from the opposite side, two forward falling steel poppers and 2 more paper targets. Stage 2 was the classifier, CM-03-11 "El Strong & Weak Pres."

Stage 3 was a simple stage, offering many options of engagement. A barrel stack was positioned at the center of two walls in a wide "V". The barrels partially obscured 5 pepper poppers, along with 6 paper targets with varying amounts of hard and no-shoot covering. A couple of outlying targets on either side were engaged from the start position up range. Most shooters were assured of a standing reload at the barrels — the decisions came mostly with the steel targets — engage some of the steel from near the start position, or from near the barrel, and from what side? For a seemingly simple stage, the options were many.

The final stage we shot was probably the most fun, and quite unusual. The shooter started seated in a chair, facing up range. The unloaded gun, along with all ammunition to be used, was placed on a table behind the shooter. At the start, the shooter rounded the barrels behind him, loaded whatever magazines he needed onto his belt, loaded the gun, and ran the course. My plan had me shooting ten rounds between reloads, which meant shooting to slide lock. All reloads were planned on the move, so that wasn't a time loss issue. My problem came after my first reload, when I had a feed issue and had to run the slide to get the gun back in battery. Fortuitously, I had decided at the last moment to take the time to pick up an extra mag off the table, which I now needed due to losing a round here. The stage finished with five close and fast targets, four of which were mostly obscured behind a barrier, forcing shots over the wall for two and then a drop to the knees to shoot under for the last two.

It was a fun match with some interesting challenges. I didn't shoot as well as I would have liked, finishing 14th out of 28 Production shooters. Still, it was a great time shooting with some old friends, and meeting a few new ones as well. I'm looking forward to next month already. Perhaps I'll even settle on the right country roads for the best route. I've now gone to the Cavalier USPSA match twice, and have not managed to take the same route in either the drive to or from the range. I think I've now found my preferred route to take, so perhaps next month there will be no stress, at least for the drive.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tin Cannon Brewing Kickstarter

Yes Virginia, there is another brewery coming. Tin Cannon Brewing is a nano-brewery located in Gainesville, Virginia. Brewers Aaron Ludwig and John Hilkert have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to build out the taproom.

The brewery is planning a November 7 opening. Visit the Tin Cannon Brewing web site to keep up with the progress. You can also follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

More information on the Kickstater campaign is here.

Open a Beer With a Banana

It's easier than you think.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Martyrs of Otranto

Reposted from August 14, 2013.

Today, August 14, is the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Otranto. These 800 faithful Christian Martyrs suffered and died under muslim brutality in the Italian city of Otranto in 1480. The brave men refused to renounced their faith, despite the threat of certain death for not giving in to the invaders. Pope Francis canonized the men in May of this year [2013].

See the previous post, "Martyrs of Otranto" for more information on these remarkable men.

Relics of the Otranto Martyrs
Let us pray that we all may be as strong and as faithful in the face of persecution.

Update 2014: History does indeed repeat. Today we are seeing muslim barbarians once again slaying hundreds of Catholics and others in their quest to expand satan's rule. And just like in 1480, the mohammedans are capturing women and children as sex slaves. The tenents of islam remain consistent over the centuries.

Beer Law Absurdity in Florida

A Florida law restricting beer bottle sizes is a battle between common sense and the greed of factory brewers and distributors.

Beer Battle
from Hunter J. Truman on Vimeo.

It all started because petty legislators had a beef with Miller Brewing Company. Now it's just about stifling competition.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Brewery On Terrorist Target List

It's no surprise that muslim terrorists would hate breweries. The Carlsberg Brewery in Kuala Lumpur was pegged as a future target of terror.
Danish brewer Carlsberg was on the target list of the Islamist militant group Isis, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. 
The outlet reports that a Carlsberg facility in suburban Kuala Lumpur was among the attacks Isis planned to carry out in Malaysia.

The South China Morning Post reports that Isis, or the Islamic State (IS) as it is now known, has expanded into Malaysia and Indonesia, picking up local followers inspired by its declaration of an Islamic caliphate. At least 19 Malaysians suspected of being linked to the terror organization have been arrested this year.

How odd that they preach the evils of alcohol, yet rape, female genital mutilation, decapitation and child abuse are all deemed acceptable.

See "Isis planned a terror attack against Carlsberg" for more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bud Drinkers. Sheesh.

Police in Bluffton, S.C. have released surveillance video of a convenience store break-in. The thief obviously has low standards.
"He made entry through the rear of the building, we believe using a crowbar or sledgehammer, some type of instrument to break through the brick wall," said Beaufort County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Robin McIntosh. 
Once the man got inside the store, he crawled to the front of the store in an attempt not to trigger the motion sensor cameras. That did not work. 
He also didn't get very far in the store. Something spooked him, so he grabbed some Slim Jims and ran out. However, he makes a return and spends some time trying to figure out what kind of beer he wants. He ultimately settles on a $16.99 12-pack of Budweiser.

Breaking through a brick wall for a 12-pack of Bud, that's a pretty low ROI.

The Blood of Christians

Whenever I see a car like this, I go on alert for my and my family's safety. I must be aware that a supporter of immorality and anti-Christian sentiment is nearby. Recent events, enabled by 0bama's policies and his desire to appease his voting base, at any cost, have shown us the horrific results of his allegiance to those enemies of Christianity. The blood of Christians stains the hands of this president.

Islam is a direct threat to not only Christianity, but America as a whole, and still this president is not shy about his love for this barbaric ideology. If there's any doubt as to his leanings, President Barack Huessein Obama's own statements on islam will clear any confusion.

Sadly, it appears we Christians will have to fend for ourselves if we are to survive. If it's a Holy War they want, it's a Holy War they might just get.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Old Bust Head Brewing

On Saturday I headed into Faquier County to visit Old Bust Head Brewing. The brewery is an easy drive from here, and I can totally avoid the I-95 mess. Construction and summer traffic on that feat of urban non-planning has kept me from making visits to other breweries, but this drive was actually pleasurable. When I arrived at the brewery, just a little after opening time, there was already a small crowd inside, and I saw a stream of people arriving and leaving with growlers. I got a brief intro from one of the friendly employees and opted for a flight of all six beers being served.

Old Bust Head opened earlier this year, holding their first public event in February. They have been distributing in bottles and kegs in the local area since around March. In fact, Old Bust Head beers are quite well-distributed, especially for such a new brewery. I was very surprised when I walked into the building and saw the size of the operation. The owners did not take the "start small and grow" approach, something that seems to have worked out well. 

But it takes more than shiny equipment to be successful, good beer is the primary requirement, so let's get to those beers.

First up in the flight was Bust Head Old English Pale Ale. This is a classic English Pale Ale, and the only one of the beers I've had previously. Deep reddish-brown in color with a toffee and caramel malt and lingering hop bitterness make this the brewery's most popular beer. Chukker Pilsner was next up. The toasted bread and noble hop crispness made for a refreshing beer. 

As I worked my way down the jockey box line, the European influence continued with Wildcat IPA. This English-syle IPA was rich in sweet malt with a hint of fruitiness. A subtle hop bitterness kept the sweetness in check and provided a pleasing bitter finish to the flavor. I heard many folks commenting that they enjoyed the balanced nature of this IPA. 

The newest Bust Head beer, Shorthorn American Pale Ale was making it's debut this weekend. This APA was the most hop-forward beer being offered, breaking away from the English styles and bringing on the citrus hops favored in West Coast style Pale Ales. Shorthorn has a crisp citrus rind bite along with a piney bitterness. I suspect this one might just compete with the English Pale Ale in popularity.

Next on the list was Vixen Irish Red. I was looking forward to trying this, as I enjoy a good Red Ale, but frequently find them lacking. I was not to be disappointed. Roasted malt and sweet caramel combine to make a full-flavored ale. The lingering bitterness remained on the palate, enticing you to yet another sip. I was seriously considering getting a pint of this Red Ale, even before I finished my flight. 

Chinquapin Chestnut Porter was the last beer in my tasting exploration. This robust porter was a change from the medium to light bodied beers to this point. This one had flavors of dark coffee, bitter cocoa, roasted malt, along with the roasted and mildly sweet nuttiness from the chestnuts. I found it richer than the average porter, and worthy of further consideration. 

All six beers I tried were very good. In fact, when I finished the flight, I had a long period of indecision trying to decide what to order to accompany my much needed lunch. I was tempted by beers outside my usual style preference, especially the Irish Red and Chestnut Porter. I wandered outside the table where they were selling food, to see if the menu would aid in my decision making.

The afternoon's offerings were from the nearby Black Bear Bistro in Warrenton. I was immediately asked if I liked oysters by the chef. "Of course," I replied. So Chef Todd proceeded to prepare a complimentary "Oyster Shooter" for me to try. A fresh shucked oyster was joined by a bit Chimichurri in a shot of Shorthorn Pale Ale. Despite my lifelong fondness for oysters and love of craft beer, I've never had such a concoction previously. Boy was I missing out! The saltiness of the oyster, the spicy Chimichurri, combined with the citrus of the Pale Ale made for a delightful appetizer. After chatting with the folks from Black Bear, I headed back into the brewery for a pint of Shorthorn Pale Ale, to go along with a Lamb Gyro for lunch. A generous serving of lamb, in a toasted flatbread with local yellow tomato slices proved a filling and hearty lunch. I was told they also keep a selection of Virginia craft beers, including Old Bust Head, on hand at their restaurant. I've since checked out the online menu, and reviews, of Black Bear Bistro, and am looking forward to a visit there soon.

I talked to a number of Old Bust Head employees during the course of the afternoon, and to a person, they were friendly and truly excited to share information about their beer and the brewery. Many were also excited about the grand opening of the taproom next weekend. This weekend was the last chance to stand and drink in the production brewery. "No more setting up in here" one server excitedly told me. Once the 200 seat taproom opens, there are plans to add more fermentation tanks in the brewery space. 

The tap room opening this coming weekend will also feature the debut of Old Bust Head Gold Cup, a Russian Imperial Stout joining the lineup. I sure would like to make that event. Even if I don't, I plan to visit Old Bust Head again, very soon. I was tremendously impressed with the beers and the friendly folks. It's a sure bet too, that we'll follow up the tap room visit with a meal at Black Bear Bistro.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

This Is How I Do 3-Gun

The sport of 3-Gun is growing in popularity. Many of the folks who I shoot with at USPSA matches are also shooting multi-gun matches, and enjoying it. I often joke that I'm going to be the last "1-Gun" shooter in USPSA. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy hitting the range with a shotgun and AR-15. Last Friday I made it out to the range and took all three weapons options with me. I figured at least one of the ranges would be available

To my delight, the park was mostly empty, save for one dad and son sighting in a rifle at 100 yards. So I set up my clay stands on the shotgun range and put a box of shells through the gun. This was the first time I've shot the shotgun since the Tom Givens class back in May. Setting the target clays out a bit further then we shot in the class, I concentrated on mounting the gun quickly, with a rapid and smooth reload as I moved to the next target. Even though it's been three months since the class, Tom's instruction came back and I got fast hits on the targets, feeling much smoother than I recall the last time I did this drill, back in April. Note to self: Get more stands to set up larger arrays.

Next I moved over to the pistol bay, with a couple of USPSA targets, and a steel target. It's been a long time since I've brought the steel out. My Nevco steel targets have been approved for use by the club's Range Master, but that doesn't stop the busybodies from meddling and harassing me about them. Many of the ol' timers seem to think that the bullets will hit the steel and bounce back directly into the barrel from whence it was fired. Of course we know that's not what happens, but I'd rather avoid the hassle. I spent all my time with the pistol working on transitions between the steel and paper, as well as that often elusive first shot on steel.

Finally, it was time to move to the rifle range for some scary black assault modern sporting rifle fun. I was really looking forward to this, as my range journal tells me the AR has been sitting in my closet untouched since April. Setting up a single silhouette target, and starting at 10 yards, I worked my way back in 5 yard increments to 50 yards, shooting 5 or so rounds at each position. I was very happy to keep most of the shots in a fairly tight group, or at least "on dude," especially with these old eyes, fogged up glasses, and iron sights. I finished with some close up shooting on the move.

It turned out to be a very pleasant evening on the range. I've been shooting only pistols for several months so it was quite rewarding to get some trigger time behind the other weapons. Both the rifle and the shotgun are intended for home defense, and not the fancy hardware designed for competition. The chance to refresh my skills aside, it was also just plain enjoyable to get in a variety of shooting fun. Of course, now I have 3 times the guns to clean.

Since my wife and son are enjoying time in Montana with my in-laws, I had plans to head out for dinner and some good beer in the evening. However, after working up a sweat over several hours on the range, I was ready to relax at home. It's all good, there was plenty of beer to choose from here.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Three Kinds of Fun

I've been having a craving for mussels recently, and for several weeks have been teased by the Capital Ale House Facebook postings about "all you can eat" mussels on Thursdays. Alas, my schedule didn't allow me to take advantage of that special, until this week. When "Checkered Flag" and I hit Capital Ale House for dinner this week, my menu selection was predetermined.

In addition to the two regular mussel selections, Garlic and Herb, and Smoked Gouda and Bacon, the chef had created a spicy version, with a sauce prepared with Orkney Skull Splitter Scotch Ale, Duck Rabbit Stout, and copious red pepper flakes. I started out with a large bowl of these spicy mussels and enjoyed them immensely. The dark sauce was smoky and sweet at the same time. (And I brought home plenty of it down the front of my shirt too.) Despite the robust sauce, the flavor of the mussels still came through. It wasn't long before had good burn going in my mouth from the red pepper.

Fortunately I had a good beer to cool my palate. Not only is August Virginia Craft Beer Month, Thursday was also being promoted as National IPA Day. (What's next, craft beer Hallmark cards?) Keeping with the theme, I ordered a Missile IPA from Champion Brewing in Charlottesville, VA.

I don't recall having tried any Champion Brewing beers, so it was also good to try out another Virginia brewery. Missile IPA is a bright orange color with a thin white head. The aroma is full of citrus goodness. The flavorful hops leaned towards the bitter, with grapefruit rind and pine leading the way. The bitterness was balance by a sweet caramel malt. I rather enjoyed this one.

In keeping with the Virginia beer theme, "Checkered Flag" stuck with his favorite style and ordered a Starr Hill The Love Hefeweizen.

Eventually, both my bowl of mussels and my glass of beer were empty. But, it's "all you can eat" so I opted this time for the Smoked Gouda and Bacon Mussels. These were covered in a thick, smoky cheese sauce with lots of bacon thrown in. I enjoyed this version too, but the heavy cheese sauce did mask the mussel flavor a bit too much for my tastes. I ordered another Virginia beer, Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale to accompany this batch of mussels. I was sorely tempted to call for a bowl of the Garlic and Herb version as well, but decided to save that for another day

Mussels ✔
Virginia Craft Beer ✔

Yea, it was a fun evening.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Red Alert: Israel

Earlier this week I downloaded the Red Alert: Israel app to my iPhone. Installing the app coincided with the latest ceasefire between hamas terrorists and Israel, so I forgot all about it. That is until early Friday morning when I was awoken by an alert from my phone. Rolling over I saw that Red Alert was announcing rockets being launched into Israel. All through the morning, my phone sat on my desk, the alerts going off with alarming frequency.

I'm in no immediate danger from the muslims launching rockets while hiding behind children. Nonetheless, each alert leaves me with an unsettling feeling, knowing that Israelis, at that very moment, are hoping that their Iron Dome defenses are again successful. 

Each alert is also a reminder of the anti-Semitic leaning of the leftist media and the current occupant of the White House. I feel a slight rise in blood pressure knowing that there are Democrats in Congress like Representative Beto Rourke who think it's an "atrocity" to stop the rockets from hitting Israeli citizens. Meanwhile, the Israeli forces tie their own hands by striving to avoid civilian casualties, even among those who wish to see Israel destroyed.

The free Red Alert: Israel app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Irish Problems

Apparently, if you are posting bond in Ireland, you better bring your own pen to sign the paperwork.
The lack of biros at one of the busiest garda stations in the country has been blamed for a number of recent public order incidents. 
A number of people have been prosecuted in recent weeks for engaging in a threatening and abusive manner at the public office of Henry Street garda station in Limerick. 
During one recent case, the court was informed the offence happened after the defendant had attended the garda station to sign on as a condition of his bail relating to a separate matter. 
Judge Eugene O'Kelly was told when the defendant got to the public counter, he was informed there was no biro and he was told to go away and return with his own biro.
It was at this point the defendant became aggressive and began to verbally abuse gardai who were on duty at the time.

In Limerick. There's a joke in there I'm sure.

See "Warning for gardai over biro shortage" for more.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Richmond Incentives for Stone Brewing

We've known for awhile that Richmond, VA is on the short list of locations for future Stone Brewing location. This week the Richmond City Council took action to help make that happen.
In a meeting that lasted just a few minutes, the Richmond City Council introduced legislation Tuesday intended to smooth the way for a major craft brewery eyeing Richmond as a location for its East Coast facility. 
The sheer volume of beer that California-based Stone Brewing Co. wants to produce at the prospective facility requires the city to make an exception to its light industrial zoning rules, which limit beer production to 100,000 barrels per year.

This is good knows for the Virginia beer scene, and even though other Virginia cities are reported to be in the running, a Richmond location would suit this beer fan the best.

I don't know exactly what Stone envisions for their East Coast facility, but their West Coast Bistros are beer-tourist destinations, and would certainly be welcome here!

See "Council introduces legislation tied to possible brewery project" for more information.

It's Called a Clue

Reportedly from the mouth of a muslim terrorist after a sudden wind blew the missile aimed for Israel off course.
“We do aim them, but their God changes their path in mid-air.”

Take the hint, barbarians.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Glassware, the Old and the New

It's no secret, we're fans of beer glassware around here. That fondness is based more on fun than anything else. Yes, I agree that there is truth in the idea that certain beers are better served in specific glasses, but in the end it all comes down to overall enjoyment. Some glasses feel good in the hand, other glasses bring back memories, and others are more utilitarian and good for parties.

I was struck recently be a couple of articles on glassware the seemed to be at opposite sides of the spectrum.

First, there is this high-end glass from Spiegelau. Designed specifically for Stouts, the glass is "precision-engineered for maximum enjoyment when you’re drinking a stout, thanks to a combination of high-end glass, strategic curves, and the inherent deliciousness of beer itself."

But, there is always room for a classic. According to this BBC report, the old dimpled mug is making a comeback.
But having stared extinction in the face, the dimpled glass is returning. And not just to traditional pubs in the north and Scotland. Take the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston in east London. The clientele can fairly be described as hipsters - replete with rolled-up trousers, lumberjack shirts and woolly bobble hats. Rose Dennen has been general manager there for six months and the pub has had dimpled jugs since then. They offer a choice to bitter drinkers - there's straight glasses as well. But everybody chooses the dimples.

I haven't seen the dimpled mug used much here in the U.S., but having hoisted large, heavy mugs at a local Oktoberfest, I can tell you there is something satisfying about hefting a solid and heavy mug of beer. Coincidently, I was recently given a couple dimpled mugs by a friend. I think I'll put them to good use very soon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ego Crusher

Just as soon as I'm feeling pretty good about my shooting, I come across this video.

Yea, that's a 1,000 yard shot, off hand. With a revolver. On the second try. 

The man is a machine. I'm pretty jealous of his ammo shelf too. 

Get Bent Mountain IPA

After a quick visit to the range, it was time to enjoy a good beer. (I say that a lot, don't I?) The selection for the evening was Get Bent Mountain IPA from Parkway Brewing in Salem, VA. This was one of the beers I picked up specifically to mark Virginia Craft Beer Month.

Get Bent Mountain IPA pours a bright marmalade-orange color with a thin head. The appearance is slightly cloudy. The aroma is syrupy, but not cloying, with resinous and pine notes in there as well. The bottled version didn't smell as citrusy as I recall when I had it on draft previously, but that may or may not be an accurate memory. The flavor is a hoppy blend — a mix of bitter citrus, pine hops, along with a hint of fruit. In the mouth, the beer feels creamy and moderately "thick." The finish is dry, with some lingering bitterness.

Parkway Brewing Get Bent Mountain IPA is an enjoyable IPA. It's got enough bold hops to keep it interesting, but doesn't overwhelm the tastebuds. In fact, even at a moderate 7.2% ABV, it's deceptively smooth. I won't have any issue finishing off the rest of the six pack during Virginia's craft beer celebratory month.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It Was a Good Sunday

After Mass on Sunday morning, we headed to the grocery store to pick up a few odds and ends for the week ahead, not the least of which were a few more Virginia craft beers. An inventory of my beer fridge had revealed a shortage of beers for Virginia Craft Beer Month. For now, the grocery store selection will do. Then we headed out for the annual Knights of Columbus family picnic at a local park.

I opted out having any beer at the picnic, as I was planning to get my gun back from the gunsmith in the afternoon, and knew I would want to hit the range to test it out. (My non-drinking decision was made easier by the selection of factory beers I saw being offered.) You know it's going to be a fun afternoon when you are approached by a priest who says "I hear you are a big fan of beer." (Quick, think, this could be a trick question.) Father and I proceeded to have an enjoyable conversation about local breweries, as well as his experiences drinking beer overseas.)

After the picnic, I met up with my armorer friend, and returned home to grab my gear for the range. With a bit of dry firing, I could clearly feel the difference in the trigger pull. I hadn't really noticed how mushy the trigger had gotten. Even the easy, single action trigger pull felt noticeably more solid. Thirty-thousand (plus) rounds without a spring replacement might just be a tad excessive!

As I began shooting, the effect of new springs was obvious, and the trigger felt solid. My first quick 10 rounds from seven yards were nearly all touching. After that I spent time shooting from various distances, shooting not quite at match pace, but certainly not all that slow either. (Even in practice I don't have the patience for slow, aimed shots.) I didn't do any movement, but did shoot a lot of controlled pairs from a draw.

It was a fun afternoon, but it was obvious I was under no match pressure:

5 shots, 10 yards, Strong Hand Only

7 shots, 10 yards, Weak Hand Only

Those are the hits I need to make when I'm shooting a Classifier stage at a match. I felt much more in control of the trigger press with the new mainspring. And I saw no light primer strikes like I've been experiencing recently at matches again and again. I'm looking forward to getting some more range time before the next match. A big thanks to Mark at Immortal Arms for a quick turn around on the work too.

Good shooting aside, a quick trip to the range is a great way to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon. The sun was low enough that the bay was in the shade, which made an already pleasant day even nicer. But all good things come to an end give way to other good things, and after cleaning up at home, it was finally time to enjoy that Virginian beer. Parkway Brewing Get Bent Mountain IPA was my pre-dinner choice. But that's a story for another post.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

August Is Virginia Craft Beer Month

It's Craft Beer Month in Virginia. Any excuse for a party, I guess.

There are lots of events planned around the Commonwealth to celebrate the great beer brewed in Virginia. The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild is the driver behind the month-long recognition has a list of scheduled events events here.

It doesn't appear that there are any "official" events in Fredericksburg. That's okay, we recognize the quality of Virginia craft beer all year long. For my part, during the month of August I'll make an effort to concentrate my beer consumption on Virginia-brewed beers. That shouldn't be too onerous of a task. Who knows, I might even discover some I haven't tried yet!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Happy Birthday, Faithful Companion

Our faithful family canine, Colonel Mulholland of the Irish Brigade, or Colonel for short, turns 12 years old today. He's a Brittaney, and as such a natural hunter, though he's been solely a house dog. He is however quite adept at catching moles and voles, and there's not a blue-tailed skink near our house that has a complete tail. He is also an impressive stalker of birds, rabbits, squirrels and turtles in the yard. Colonel's an old dog with a very young heart.

As a pup, his energy was boundless, often bordering on manic. But he's mellowed with age, and now spends most of his time sleeping. He often insists on resting with his paws on top of the feet or arms of one of his humans. After all these years he's now claimed, with little resistance, couch privileges. Colonel's still a tough old dog, having survived the years with a heart murmur, erliychia, numerous wasp stings, uncountable scrapes and cuts from running through the woods, and even two copperhead bites (the most recent just two weeks ago). Yet, he just keeps on going! He rotates his time equally among family and friends, allowing everyone the opportunity to scratch his chin.

Best. Dog. Ever.

His play time is less frequent these days, but he'll still greet you at the door with noisy exuberance. Well, if he's awake that is.

Day of Prayer, Adoration, and Solidarity for Persecuted Christians

Please take some time today to pray for fellow Christians who are being persecuted, driven from their homes, and slaughtered for refusing to deny their faith by converting to islam.
Friday, August 1, 2014 is the day chosen by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) for a worldwide day of Public Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in supplication for our persecuted brethren in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East...

Read more at New Liturgical Movement.

After our silent prayer, we must realize it is also time for worldly action. It's not just Christians in the Middle East who suffer from islamic oppression. This tenant of genocide extends to our Jewish brethren, and reaches even our own homeland. Christians and Jews the world over are victims of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the moslems. This is not a new phenomena, "convert or die" has been the mantra of islam for 1400 years. Religious and civil leaders, lay people and clergy alike, must speak up and stand strong against this barbarism.

It's time to fight back. I can't emphasize it enough, this is not an issue relegated to a far off land. Genocide and jihad is being preached and carried out right here in the United States. And it's all happening without objection, and even with tacit praise, from the current administration. Remember Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman condemned to death for marrying a Christian? When she was finally released, it was the Italian government that provided the transportation. The U.S government, despite the fact that her husband is a U.S. citizen and was also detained by the islamic government, did nothing to help this family.

My Christian friends, "Turning the other cheek" does not mean acquiescence.

"I am a Nazarene too."

"Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, and on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan and the Christian religion would be exterminated."
--Theodore Roosevelt, writing at the start of the 20th Century