Friday, February 27, 2015

Feast of St. Gabriel Possenti

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners, St. Gabriel Possenti. We have a fondness for the Saint around here, and have even organized the occasional range trip in his honor. Our "sister blog" Gabriel Possenti Shooters, is devoted to building fellowship among Catholic shooting enthusiasts and to promote awareness among the faithful of the natural right self defense.

Today would be a good day to hit the range. Here's hoping...

See this post from February 27, 2013 for more on our affinity for this Saint.

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The ISIS Shooting Drill

I got a chuckle over this picture making the rounds on Facebook recently.

The target on the right is a popular design, and one we use often. I found the picture below, taken during a range trip last fall.

With just a few more props we could run an "ISIS Drill." You never know when it might come in handy

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stay Holy With Drink

Some Lenten advice.

Who drinks, sleeps
Who is sleeping, do not sin
Whoever does not sin, is holy
Therefore, he who drinks is holy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Drink More Coffee

The report of the government's 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is good news for caffeine addicts. Coffee, and lots of it, might be good for you.
Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more. 
The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 
"We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits," said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. "Specifically when you're drinking more than a couple cups per day."

The emphasis is mine. The committee's report concludes that three to five cups of coffee a day is considered "moderate" consumption. Reports indicate most American probably drink much less than that. My own intake might be a bit above average some days.

Combined with the reported health benefits of beer, I'll happily continue to take my medicine. You might want to drink your coffee while sitting though.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Polish Porter, Popcorn and a Movie

Saturday evening, as the day-long snowfall transitioned into freezing rain and sleet, we settled in for a family movie night. Searching the beer fridge for a suitable, cold evening ale, I selected a bottle of Black Boss Porter. The beer from Browar Witnica in Poland, was a Christmas gift from a friend.

The porter pours a deep black color with a thin beige head. Coming direct from the fridge, we let the beer warm a bit before sipping. The aroma of caramel, molasses and chocolate was surprisingly strong and quite pleasant. The flavor was mildly sweet with rich notes of dark chocolate and coffee, with a hint of smokiness. The 9.4% ABV is noticeable, providing a semblance of bourbon barrel aging to the flavor. Drinking the Black Boss Porter made me realize that it's been a while since I opened a Baltic Porter style ale. I enjoyed this one very much.

Not surprisingly, the Porter went quite well with a bowl of buttery popcorn enjoyed with the movie.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Bell's Brewing Break From Cabin Fever

Friday Night was the "Bell's Dirty Dozen" tap takeover at Capital Ale House, so Colleen and I headed downtown for some good beers and a meatless dinner. The roads were clear from this week's snowstorm, and with more snowfall headed our way Saturday, this was likely to be the only break from the Winter doldrums we'd have this weekend.

Before we got to the beer menu, we needed to order food. We struggled a bit with the menu during this Friday in Lent. Perusing the appetizer menu we paused at the tasty Fried Pierogies; Fried potato and onion pierogies topped with applewood smoked bacon bits. And the soup special on Fridays is Scallop Chowder, with bacon. We finally settled on the Spinach, Crab & Artichoke Dip appetizer and Fish & Chips as our main course. Now on to the beer.

Twelve Bell's Brewing beers were offered, some new, some we've enjoyed before. We selected a few that we planned share during the evening. I had already decided I would start with the seasonal Hopslam Double IPA. This is an intensely hoppy beer, one whose popularity I believe is enhanced by its limited availability. I refuse to pay $20-$30 for a six pack, but do try to enjoy it on draft each year. Colleen ordered the Third Coast Old Ale Barleywine. This one has some nice dark fruit and is mildly flavored, as Barleywines go, but quite enjoyable. 

Also on tap this evening were some interesting beers from Perennial Artisan Ales of St. Louis, Missouri. When we were handed that menu, our decision making was thrown for a loop, since we now had more options to process. (A good problem to have.) Colleen ordered Perennial's Vermilion Barleywine. This one was a little more robustly flavored than the Bell's version, with rich, dark fruit and molasses notes. After much thought, and a recommendation from a friend, I opted to stick with Bell's and ordered Roundhouse IRA, an "India Red Ale." Slightly sweet and resinous, the flavor of the hoppy red ale was at first hidden by the lingering flavors of the barleywines. After a few sips my palate "reset" and I enjoyed the full flavors of the beer.

There were still many interesting beers to try, from both menus, but one can only do so much in a sitting. I decided to wind down with a Bell's Kal-Haven Ale. This Rye Ale is fermented with Brettanomyces yeast giving it a funky, sour flavor. The sourness worked well with the breadiness of the rye. It was certainly a switch from the evening's previous beers. I lingered on this glass for quite a while, sipping slowly and enjoying the interesting flavor of the sour ale.

It was an extremely pleasant evening, and a great relief from being cooped up by work and weather. As I write this post on Saturday morning, the snow is falling steadily. (And another planned trip to the range cancelled.) I guess as ProudHillbilly noted, February is hibernation time. But hey, I don't have to like it!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Is This Thing On?

Hello? Tap. Tap. I figured I'd stop in to say we’re still alive. Blogging has been sparse lately, I know. To those who actually stop by everyday, I apologize. There just hasn’t been much to write about recently — no interesting beers to share, no trips to the range. Just every day life and work. It’s not even interesting to me, and much less to you all I’m sure. 

Soon, the weather will warm, and we’ll be out more trying new beers and enjoying making noise outside. Standby. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ending the Week on a Loud Note

I finished up some projects at work early on Friday, and since I just happened to have my range bag in the car, I headed up to the Indoor Range for some trigger time. I briefly considered hitting the outdoor range, but that would have involved a trip home to load up more gear. And it was cold outside!

There were a few shooters on the line when I arrived. I was struck by the noise level in the range. I've never paid much attention to it, but after a few visits to Elite Shooting Sports, the lack of sound dampening at this older facility is obvious. It's not something that bothers me though. One might even consider it good conditioning to be shooting with loud guns going off around you.

I don't think it was very much warmer inside the range than out! Despite that, I had a good time putting lead downrange for a half an hour or so. And it's confirmed, the Rx in my shooting glasses is due for updating. Even so, I had few complaints about where the holes were appearing on the targets. After the busy couple of weeks at work, this was a great start to the weekend.

Now, to get this weekend really rolling, I'm sure there's new beer in the fridge I need it try out...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's Been One of Those Weeks

I caught myself singing the chorus of this song at this at work the other day. I think my co-workers were concerned.

Yes, I actually own the original 45, the one with the "B" side recorded backwards.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Those Sensitive Craft Beer Drinkers

Even if you didn't watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, you've probably heard that the craft beer community has its collective knickers in a twist over a Budweiser ad that poked fun at craft beer fans. In case you missed it, watch now...

Within just seconds of the ad running, social media lit up with outrage from insulted craft beer drinkers. "Outrageous," "insulting," along with other exclamations I can't print here, hit my Facebook and Twitter feeds. The indignation continues still. Seriously people, that's all it takes to offend you? Sure, they mocked (some) craft beer fans for their constant tasting and sipping and pontificating over beer. But don't we do the same to ourselves? Just a few days ago, this article on "The 19 Types Of Beer Snobs" was making the rounds. I can't count the number of my craft beer connections on Facebook who shared the article. I shared it myself. Why did we share it? Because to some extent it's true, and we can laugh at ourselves. Or can we?

Craft beer drinkers regularly poke fun, or worse, at Budweiser, and Bud drinkers. This time the advertising team at Anheuser Busch turned the tables and lobbed a zinger back. And frankly, I thought it was funny. To some extent, they are right. Beer, including craft beer, is for drinking. Shouldn't all brewers want to people to like their beer "for drinking, not dissecting"? Don't check in on Untappd, skip the note taking and photo shoots, and just enjoy it.

Budweiser's mocking example of a "pumpkin peach ale" was somewhat ironic as they recently purchased a craft brewery that actually makes such a beer. Or maybe it wasn't ironic, but another deliberate tweak at craft beer fans. If that's the case, it worked.

The "battle" between craft and factory beers will go on. There will always be people who prefer Bud over Flying Dog, Miller Lite over Stone. We won't change that. But we don't have to be so sensitive, and hypocritical, in the quest for converts.

Monday, February 2, 2015

I Needed That Too

Each morning during the aforementioned week, I loaded my range gear in the car as I headed to work, hoping that perhaps, this day, I'd be able to sneak out for a lunchtime break. Alas, it was not to be. (Once I got as far as setting my status to away, before the phone rang.) However, on Saturday, our son had a swim meet in Manassas, so with memories of a few weeks ago, I put the gear back in the car. Just in case...

To my amazement, traffic on I-95 was amazingly light that morning, and we arrived at the swim venue with time to spare. After dropping off Colleen and our swimmer, I headed over to nearby Elite Shooting Sports. I had not been able to get in any time shooting since that range date with Colleen at the start of the month. I was sorely in need of the relaxation and diversion from the business of life that trigger time provides.

I started out with some slow fire with a couple different pistols, and then moved onto to more rapid fire. Interestingly I was getting tighter groups while shooting faster, rather than with slow, carefully aimed fire. (Thinking too hard perhaps?) I couldn't pick up the front sight in the lower indoor light as quickly as I can outdoors, but was still pleased with the hits. Due to limitations at my usual outdoor venue, I've not gotten in any rapid fire practice of late. I finished my session by burning through three full 15 round mags as fast as I could. (Talk about turning money quickly into smoke and noise.)

Boy, did it feel good to get some trigger time. I put about 250 rounds downrange. It was good practice time spent on multiple follow shots and grip consistency. And it was simply fun. Everyone deserves a little mental health fun every now and then.

Soon it was time to head back over to the swim meet. I was refreshed and ready to face the long long day ahead at the hot and humid indoor pool, perched on less than comfortable bleachers. Admittedly, I was ready for a refreshing beer by the time we got home. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Feast of St. Brigid of Ireland

Today is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland, one of our family's favorite Saints. Her legendary association with my favorite beverage often overshadows her deeds of charity and compassion.

Previous musings about St. Brigid can be found here.

I Needed That

It was one of those weeks. Late nights at work. Early mornings at work. Little time for anything else, except sleep. By Thursday evening I was running on fumes, but I managed to meet Colleen and our friend Checkered Flag for dinner at Park Lane Tavern. My energy level peaked a bit when I saw the top listing on the pub's rotating draft menu — Heavy Seas Winter Storm. One of my old long-time favorites!

It's been a while since I've enjoyed this excellent Extra Special Bitter-inspired beer. And it was on draft even! I used to pick up a case each winter when it came out but haven't for a couple years. I sipped my pint slowly, savoring the roasted and caramel malt flavors, and the citrus hops at the finish. Park Lane has added a few new menu items recently, and I opted for the new jalapeƱo burger topped with sriracha sauce and pepper cheese. The Winter Storm was a perfect foil to the flavorful and very spicy sandwich.  

I've often said that a pint of ale is a great pick-me-up after a tiring day. This evening was no exception, and soon I was feeling revived. Unfortunately the invigorating effect is not cumulative, so I enjoyed just one pint of this old favorite before heading home for a brief rest to prep for another day.