Friday, September 30, 2016

Strangeways Brewing Expanding to Fredericksburg

Big news! Strangeways Brewing posted this exciting announcement to their Facebook page...
Strangeways Brewing Opening Production Brewery and Taproom in Fredericksburg 
Richmond, VA, September 29th, 2016 - Strangeways Brewing, a three year old business based in Richmond, announces today the opening of a second production brewery and taproom at 350 Lansdowne Road, Fredericksburg, VA.  The facility is located near the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds.

The 10,100-square foot building sitting on almost 3 acres will feature a 10-barrel brewhouse, a large taproom, live event space, private event space, retail shop, arcade, and outdoor beer garden.

As a native of Virginia who was born and raised in Fredericksburg, it has always been part of owner Neil Burton's plan to expand into his hometown.  The chosen location has personal meaning for Burton, a James Monroe High School graduate. "This is the exact same building where we previously headquartered my families’ clothing operation, Burton’s Menswear, which I helped operate for nearly twenty years.  That just makes this even more special and personal."

Strangeways was twice rated Virginia’s Best Brewery Taproom by users, listed by bon appétit magazine as one of “10 New U.S. Breweries to Watch, from D.C. to California”, and noted in Southern Living magazine as one of the “South’s Best Breweries”.

Burton is excited to bring his passion for craft beer and Strangeways’ signature array of beer styles to Fredericksburg.  He anticipates the tasting room being a community gathering place for folks to meet and socialize, as well as be a tourist destination.

More than 100,000 Virginians and tourists from around the world visit Strangeways in Richmond each year.  The Richmond location opened on May 29, 2013 with two flagship beers that remain on tap today, Albino Monkey Belgian White Ale and Woodbooger Belgian Brown Ale.  The brewery quickly grew into a fan favorite with its large variety of options, including Überlin Berliner Weisse Sour, which took a gold medal in the Sour European Ale category at the 2016 Virginia Craft Brewers Cup Awards.

The Fredericksburg taproom plans to feature nearly 50 Strangeways draft beers, making it the production brewery tasting room with the most taps in Virginia.  The 10-barrel brewhouse is half the size of the Richmond system, giving the brewery the ability to produce a large variety of smaller batch offerings.  In its three years, Strangeways has always been the largest producer of sour and wild beers in the Commonwealth.  The Fredericksburg facility will continue this tradition, including aging beers in wooden barrels that previously were used in the production of bourbon, rum, tequila, scotch, gin, red wine, white wine, sherry, grappa, bourbon maple syrup, etc.

“Brown Distributing has done an excellent job of distributing Strangeways beer in Central Virginia,” stated Burton, “and we’ve learned that our tasting room is an integral part of effectively sharing the Strangeways story, which then translates to demand for our products at our retail partner accounts.  This is a blueprint we hope to emulate in Fredericksburg.”

The new event space will host happenings such as live music shows, festivals, and holiday celebrations, and the private event space will be available for meetings, receptions, and other special occasions.

Light fare, including snack flights and locally sourced charcuterie will be served, and menus from local restaurants will be available for patrons to order delivery.

The new Fredericksburg location will create 27 new jobs for the local economy. Opening for the new Strangeways facility is anticipated for the first half of 2017.

Needless to say, I'm excited and looking forward to visiting the new taproom next year.

See also this review of a Strangeways event in Fredericksburg a couple years ago.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Archangels, Intercede For Us

September 29 is the Feast of the Archangels — St. Gabriel, St. Raphael and St. Michael. These are trying times for Christianity and freedom in general, both at home and abroad, with attacks coming from many directions. Governments around the world, sadly our own included, are creating laws to restrict the free practice of religion. Unbelievably, people actually stand in the street proclaiming how proud they are to have killed their own children. The satanic forces of islam continue hundreds of years barbarism and remain relentless in attacking and killing Christians around the world, including right here at home. The list goes on. To anyone paying attention, it's obvious that evil has a foothold in this world.

There's no more important time implore the intercession of these powerful warriors, the Archangels. We should ask especially for the protection of St. Michael the Archangel.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

St. Wenceslaus, Patron Saint of Brewers

Reposted from September 28, 2012.

Today is the feast day of St. Wenceslaus, who is regarded as a patron Saint of Czech brewers.
St. Wenceslaus, duke of Bohemia, was born about the year 907 at Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). His father was killed in battle when he was young, leaving the kingdom to be ruled by his pagan mother. Wenceslaus was educated by his grandmother, Ludmilla, also a saint. She taught him to be a Christian and to be a good king. She was killed by pagan nobles before she saw him king, but she left him with a deep committment to the Christian faith. 
Throughout his life he preserved his virginity unblemished. As duke he was a father to his subjects, generous toward orphans, widows, and the poor. On his own shoulders he frequently carried wood to the houses of the needy. He often attended the funerals of the poor, ransomed captives, and visited those suffering in prison. He was filled with a deep reverence toward the clergy; with his own hands he sowed the wheat for making altar breads and pressed the grapes for the wine used in the Mass. During winter he would visit the churches barefoot through snow and ice, frequently leaving behind bloody footprints. 
Wenceslaus was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father to the throne. Without regard for the opposition, he worked in close cooperation with the Church to convert his pagan country. He ended the persecution of Christians, built churches and brought back exiled priests. As king he gave an example of a devout life and of great Christian charity, with his people calling him "Good King" of Bohemia. 
His brother Boleslaus, however, turned to paganism. One day he invited Wenceslaus to his house for a banquet. The next morning, on September 28, 929, as Wenceslaus was on the way to Mass, Boleslaus struck him down at the door of the church. Before he died, Wenceslaus forgave his brother and asked God's mercy for his soul. Although he was killed for political reasons, he is listed as a martyr since the dispute arose over his faith. This king, martyred at the age of twenty-two, is the national hero and patron of the Czech Republic. He is the first Slav to be canonized.
According to, the Saint's protection of local hops earned him much regard.
Because Bohemian hops were so valued, Wenceslas ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting the cuttings and obviously endeared himself to the local hop growers and brewers. He became the patron saint of Bohemia and Czechoslovakia and his crown became the symbol of nationalism for the Czechs. By extension he became a patron saint of Czech brewers.
King Wenceslaus is the inspiration for the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas.

So let's raise a glass of fine beer to the Good King, Saint Wenceslaus.

Missing Mom

My mother passed away on this day in 2010. After six years, remembering the loss still invokes a fresh pain. There's so much I want to tell her, so many things about her grandson's life I wish I could share with her in person.

But still, her ever present smile remains fresh in my memories. Even in her suffering, she always had a smile for her family and friends. I pray that the joy she found in life is always part of me.

Requiescat In Pace, Mom.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: The Curse of Social Media

A funny commercial from IKEA.

Enjoy the weekend. Hold the pics.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Didn't Empty My Pockets After Shooting

Received this text from my dear wife...

Oops. Sorry honey, I thought I emptied my pockets. Love you!

And it was a quality round too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

So Much Stupid

Just when you think liberals can't get anymore ridiculous...

It's hard to imagine anyone reaching that level of stupid without serious drug abuse or inbreeding.

Perhaps Hayes is joining Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in being "grateful that nobody got hurt." 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rivanna IDPA and Weapons Master Match

The Rivanna IDPA club put on it's "Weapons Master" match this weekend. In additional to the usual IDPA match, there were two stages each for shotgun and rifle. The rifle and shotgun stages were optional, and shooters could shoot either or both. Even though I have shot neither the rifle nor the shotgun competitively, I signed up and was looking forward to the fun.

I opted to start with the shotgun stages. The courses of fire required shooting birdshot, buckshot and slugs, both while standing and on the move. The ammo types were mixed throughout the stages, and only three rounds max could be loaded in the gun at any time. Keeping the ammo straight was to be the most challenging, and frustrating, part of shooting the stages.

The first stage started with a single round of buckshot in the gun. After engaging a paper target, three rounds of birdshot were loaded and three clay targets were shot on the move. Arriving at the next position there were two falling steel targets, one requiring buckshot, the second a slug. Next, three more clays engaged on the move with birdshot. The final position had a paper target requiring two buckshot rounds. 

The second shotgun stage was of similar setup. One of the positions had a steel target that activated a drop turner. This is where that stage went wrong for me. With two rounds of buckshot in the gun, I hit the steel and turned to the drop turner — which wasn't moving. Thinking I missed the steel, I lowered the gun to load another round of buck. As I did, the steel completed its fall and the drop turner dropped. So not only I had a missed target, there's was a round of buckshot to eject before I shot the next targets. Any plan I had was gone from that point on!

I was happy with my shooting, though my reloading could be timed with a sundial! I have no "muscle memory" built up with the shotgun. As fate would have it, I was also the first shooter on the squad for these stages, so did not have the benefit after watching anyone else first. Never having shot a tactical shotgun match before, I was not expecting to be jumping between ammo types throughout the stage. I had different ammo staged in a side saddle on the gun, in a vest pocket, and in a pants pocket. I'm not a fan of "memory stages" in general but still enjoyed the shooting aspect of the stages.

After the fact, I thought of a number of things I should done differently, especially with regard to how I carried the ammo and reloaded the gun. Despite the slow runs, and the missed target issue, the stages were a blast. I learned a lot and am looking forward to getting to the range for more work with the shotgun. 

Next up were the two rifle stages. The first stage consisted of eight targets at increasing distances, four on each side. The targets were to be shot near to far down the left side, then far to near on the right, with three hits each. The rifle started unloaded on a table along with a magazine loaded with twelve rounds. At the start, we got up from a chair, loaded the gun and engaged the left targets from low cover. Moving to the second position where a second mag was located, the remaining targets were engage from a kneeling or seated position.  

The second rifle stage was pretty much a typical IDPA stage, but shot with a rifle. Targets were engaged from cover and from multiple positions. Each target required two body shots and a head shot. As opposed to the distance shots on the first stage, the targets were moderately close, necessitating changes on aiming, especially on the head shots. 

While I didn't win any races, I shot better on the rifle stages than I actually expected. It was great to get in some "real world" shooting rather than simply shooting while standing still at the range. 

After those fun long gun stages, it was time to return to more familiar territory and shoot the three pistol stages. The first stage was shot from a seated position, with the unloaded gun in a box and all magazines on a table. Six targets, partially hidden by non-threats required three hits each.

The next stage started with engaging three targets while backing up. Then we moved to a prone position to shoot through a ground-level opening. Behind the opening were five more paper targets, and two steel plates. The steel targets were placed directly in front of non-threat targets. I cleared the steel successfully despite the challenging shooting position.

The last stage was a quick course of fire set up in the plinking range. There were eight paper targets, arranged in pairs. They were set at an angle to each other, with a non-threat in the front. The targets were engaged from the outside of two barrels set on either side of the bay. Only four of the targets were visible from either side. This was a fast and fun stage to shoot.

This was an extremely enjoyable and well run match. We shot seven stages total, and I was on the road home by 1:15PM. I was pleased with my scores in the pistol match. I learned some things on both the rifle and shotgun courses, and am especially looking forward to getting out with the shotgun more. I had forgotten how much fun it is to shoot, especially when not shooting an extremely high number of rounds in one day.

Now I have three weapons to clean, and a lot of ammo boxes to sort out. But that's not an awful problem to have.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Anniversary Range Trip

Since our wedding anniversary fell on a "school night," we opted to delay a celebratory dinner out until the weekend. Instead, Colleen and I planned an outing to the range in the afternoon. After I finished my last teleconference for the day, we headed out. (Since it was a special day, I carried both of our ammo stocks to the car.)

Late Thursday afternoon has been a good time to find the range empty of other shooters, and so it was this visit. I’ve been wondering if folks are preserving their ammo, or the intrusive ROs have been driving people away. In any event, it’s a win for us.

We started out shooting slowly at 7 and 10 yards. After a bit we moved back to 15 yards. Colleen was shooting a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, and wanted to improve her accuracy at the longer distance with the small gun. So after each round, we checked our targets, and she would announce “Let’s do it again.” We spent quite a bit of time doing slow fire at the 15 yard line.

30 rounds, 15 yards, David

I found that exercise to be beneficial myself. It’s good to spend time really concentrating on maintaining sight alignment and an even trigger squeeze. My eyesight is such that the edges of the sights are generally sightly blurred, and the targets very much so, so the concentration was good, and I was pretty pleased.

“Checkered Flag” had also joined us for the fun, so eventually we started working on his favorite “precision” exercise; shooting out a black paster. We did this from both 7 and 3 yards. Why does it always seem to be the last shot of an 8 or 10 round string that goes astray? After seeing Colleen’s target, I suspect she’ll be challenging us to the Dot Torture Drill in the near future.

8 rounds, 3 yards, Colleen

When it was my turn to pick the drill, we got in some single handed shooting. I try to dedicate at least a magazine to both strong and support hand shooting at every range trip.

While it may not be the “traditional” anniversary celebration, it works for us. We had a very fun couple of hours outdoors doing something we both enjoy. Most of my range visits I make by myself, so it really was a special “date.” On the way home, Colleen treated us all to overpriced coffee at the local Starbucks too.

And we’ll do that dinner this weekend.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

32 Years!

Thirty-two years ago on this day, this beautiful lady and I professed our lifetime commitment to each other. And I hold that promise dear today. I have been blessed beyond words by having Colleen in my life. She’s a loving wife, my best friend, my confidant, and a wonderful mother to our son. Those who know me, might even say she’s a living saint. On top of all that she appreciates good beer and she can shoot too!

Thank you for saying yes, Colleen. I can’t imagine life without you and thank God daily that He saw fit to put you in my life. I love you more than I can ever express.

!!! Happy Anniversary !!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fairfax IDPA BUG/CCP Match

Once again, I headed north on I-95 Saturday morning to shoot the IDPA match at Fairfax Rod & Gun Club. For this month's match, participants were encouraged to shoot in the BUG or CCP divisions. I decided to enter the CCP (Compact Carry Pistol) division. I've only shot in that division in a Classifier match previously, but I do enjoy shooting the SIG P239, even if I shoot it infrequently.

After the safety briefing, the match kicked off with the playing of our National Anthem. (No one took a knee.) We hiked over to the range where our first two stages awaited. There's a moderate walk between the ranges at the club, but I was surprised by how many people drove their cars between the ranges. The first stage I shot had three groups of three targets arranged across the bay. The first group was shot on the move, the next two from behind cover. As I would soon realize, the day's stages were geared to the six shot BUG guns. I finished the stage down zero.

The next course of fire had three t-shirt covered targets, with non-threat targets placed in between. Shot while stationary, each threat target required six hits. Since the targets were covered, no perforations were visible, so the shooter had to judge carefully where to aim. I learned the lesson long ago that the -0 zone on an IDPA target is in the upper half, not the center. All my shots hit within the -0 zones.

Moving over to next range we found two more fun stages waiting. The first was shot while seated, and had two paper and two falling steel poppers. Starting with just six rounds in the gun, we were required to engage one paper target with three rounds WEAK HAND ONLY, followed by three shots on the other paper STRONG HAND ONLY. A quick reload while seated and the two steel targets were engaged.

On the second stage in this bay, we started in front of a swinging target, holding the activation rope in our strong hand. Pulling the rope and drawing the gun, we engaged the swinger with four rounds, and then moved to behind a barricade to shoot four more targets. After the first three stages I was still down zero for the match, but alas, finished this stage -3.

The final stage of the match consisted of two strings of fire. Starting on the left side of the bay, there were two targets to be engaged with three rounds each while moving to the right. Then from behind cover, another target required six hits. For the second string, we repeated the scenario, this time moving from right to left. Two deviously placed non-threat targets added to the challenge. Start shooting too soon as you moved, and your hits on the targets would pass through and hit a non-threat. Move too fast across the course and your shots on the second target would pass through onto a non-threat. I didn't hit any of the non-threats, but shot a little hurried and finished the stage -5 points. That meant a total of 8 points down for the match.

The match went quite quickly due to the quick and straightforward stages. We finished shooting around 1:00 PM. The quick match was welcome as the temperature was in the mid-90's with the typical Virginia humidity. 

As an added treat, the club provided a free lunch for the shooters at the match. Volunteers were grilling burgers and brats, and chips and soda were also included. I downed a quick venison bratwurst when I finished shooting, which held me over for the drive home. Even though the drive to the match is the shortest of any of the matches I attend regularly, the same cannot be said for the afternoon drive home. Google Maps did present me with a quite scenic drive which avoided the south bound congestion on the interstate, but was still 20 minutes longer than the morning leg.

The match was a lot of fun, with interesting, but not overly complex courses of fire. I enjoyed shooting the compact gun, and was pleased with my performance despite not having shot it for many months.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never Forget

On this fifteenth anniversary of the deadliest islamic terrorist attack on our country, let us pray that this ever encroaching evil is soon defeated, and that we may someday live in safety and peace.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

History shows us that never in its 1400 year history has islam been able, or willing, to coexist in peace with the rest of the world. And by its own barbaric doctrine, never will.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill

Sunday afternoons often find us relaxing with good beer and food at a favorite local restaurant. Even when we're traveling, we just might be doing the same. During a recent stay in Blacksburg, Colleen and I found ourselves with some free time so we headed over to Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill. We had visited Bull & Bones just once before, and I looked forward to getting back. There was a wait for a table, so we took seats at the bar, where we had immediate service.

We were informed that three of the house beers were not available. That was disappointing, but may have been related to equipment issues — the beers were being poured via jockey boxes and not the permanent wall taps. Fortunately, The Lunch Pale Ale was available to fill my glass. Colleen ordered a pint of Maroon Effect Ale.

We opted to start out with an appetizer of Candied Bacon Lollipops, because, well, bacon. The hickory smoked bacon strips are flavored with maple syrup, brown sugar and cayenne, and served on skewers. They are amazingly delicious! After a big breakfast in the morning, and indeed a weekend of heavy meals, though we were hungry, none of the big meat entrees that Bull & Bones specializes in fit the bill. We decided to pull our “main courses” from the appetizer menu. A plate of nachos and a dozen wings suited us well. The restaurant offers dry rubbed flavors of wings in addition to the usual sauces. We opted for a Jamaican Jerk rub on half the platter, and spicy garlic sauce on the rest. Besides providing for neater eating, the dry rubbed wings were very delicious and something I’d definitely try again.

The Lunch Pale Ale is a crisp and hoppy Pale Ale. It has a pleasing floral aroma, and a juicy, citrus hop flavor. Dry hopping adds a bit of “green” freshness. There’s a hint of bitterness in the finish as well. My two pints paired well with all the spicy foods we were eating. Maroon Effect Ale is a brown ale with rich chocolate and caramel notes.

A lot of customers stopped by the bar while waiting for their table, and the waiting crowd never seemed to go away. The restaurant was definitely short staffed at the time. I suspect the holiday and the opening weekend for VA Tech football combined in a “perfect storm” for the restaurant. We enjoyed a couple hours of good food, beer and conversation before heading back to the hotel to relax. On a future trip perhaps I'll get to try out some of the other beers offered by Bull & Bones, and perhaps I'll save room for the house-smoked ribs too.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lefty's Grill and Right Mind Brewing

It’s always fun to discover a new “good beer stop.” During a recent weekend in Blacksburg, I was searching online for a place to have dinner and found a listing for Lefty’s Main Street Grill. Reading further I learned that Lefty’s was also home to Right Mind Brewing. It sounded like someplace we should check out.

This was the opening weekend for VA Tech football, and there was an obvious post game crowd at the restaurant. We had a short delay waiting to be seated, but frankly it was less than I expected. I’ve since learned that Lefty’s accepts reservations, so we may go that route in the future. We began our visit, as usual, by looking over the beer menu. There were five house beers listed, as well as a large selection of drafts and bottles from other breweries. There’s definitely something for everyone.

I was disappointed to see that the Right Mind Mosaic IPA was crossed off the menu, as that’s my usual go-to style. However, I was also pleased to see Right Mind brews a Scottish Ale, Tommy Dinkus 80 Schilling Scottish Ale. I ordered a pint of that, and Colleen opted for Right Mind's Emerald City Saison. We also ordered an appetizer of the house-made Guacamole, served with chips and salsa.

We enjoyed our appetizer while looking over the extensive menu. Lefty’s offers a variety of food options, from sandwiches and burgers, soups and salads, to full dinner entrees. For the early birds, they also have a breakfast menu. (Huevos rancheros and pancakes!)

My Scottish Ale was quite well done. It had a nice balance of slightly sweet caramel and bready, toasted notes. A slightly nutty malt flavor lingered in the finish. Moderately bodied, and just 4.6% ABV, it was easy enough to enjoy a second pint, even after a long day in the sun watching football. Colleen gave her Saison high marks as well, and ranked it favorable to some of her favorites.

We both opted to order from the sandwich section of the menu. Colleen selected the Lefty's BLT; bacon, lettuce, tomato, monterey jack cheese and pesto mayo on grilled sourdough bread. I went with the Spicy Pimento Grilled Cheese. This version of the classic is made with homemade spicy pimento cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickle chips on grilled sourdough bread. I also selected the "add bacon" option for my sandwich. I found the addition of the fried pickle chip to be an unusual, but welcome twist. The platters were served with mildly spiced fries. Both sandwiches were well-stuffed and flavorful.

Despite the crowd, the service was attentive and friendly. We found the food, and the beer, to be very enjoyable. Lefty’s Main Street Grill and Right Mind Brewing are no secret to Blacksburg locals. How this stop failed to come up on our radar on previous visits escapes me. However, I am sure that going forward this will become a regular dining and drinking venue for us when visiting Blacksburg.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: Optimism

It's Friday. Here's to your next beer...

It's all about perspective.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Shotgun Time

It occurred to me recently that I haven't taken the shotgun to the range in a long time. When I looked through my range journal, I realized that it had been just over two years. That's simply unacceptable. Sure, the defensive shotgun is not as pleasant to shoot as the AR-15 or the pistols, and range sessions are shorter, but I was shocked that it had been so long.

So one day after work this week, I headed over to the range with the Remington 870 Express to make sure I still remembered how to handle the weapon. I started out on the shotgun field, setting up the clay target stands. I ran through the array of five targets multiple times. My aim was good but I had to work a bit on racking a new round into the chamber immediately after shooting. Soon I had regained that important rhythm. 

Next I moved over to the rifle range, to shoot with buckshot and slugs. Starting out at 10 yards, I shot buckshot rounds in a couple of five shot groups onto some USPSA targets. I concentrated on running the gun as fast as I could, while maintaining a good sight picture. 

After finishing with the buckshot, I loaded up the slugs, and moved back to 25 yards. Shooting slowly at first, the intent was getting a consistent sight picture and accurate hits. Gaining confidence, I started running the action a little faster, but still watching the front bead, with acceptable results.

I shot for less than an hour, including cleaning up the spent shells. It was an enjoyable outing, and I felt good about getting in some overdue time with the shotgun. I also made a promise to myself that practice with this weapon will be more regular going forward.