I haven't used my outdoor range membership all year. Since we recently paid the annual membership fee, I figured I'd go see if it's actually still there. I decided to take the Compact SIG P320. I had only shot that gun once this year, and that was for a pathetic attempt at the IDPA classifier in the summer. Between the cold weather and ammo shortage, I had the place to myself.
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
The cigar, which I held onto until it began to burn fingers and lips, lasted just over an hour. That was exactly the right amount of time given the weather. Though cold, the scenery was delightful to look at. And there wasn't enough snow to require any shoveling! I was thankful for the invention of the portable propane heater, but in the open space, there's only so much it can do. Looking ahead, it seems I took advantage of some of the "warmest" weather expected over the next few days.
Friday, December 25, 2020
|The Church at Shepherd's Field, Bethlehem|
Photo by Colleen, August 2010
When the angels went away from them to heaven,the shepherds said to one another,“Let us go, then, to Bethlehemto see this thing that has taken place,which the Lord has made known to us.”So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,and the infant lying in the manger.When they saw this,they made known the messagethat had been told them about this child.All who heard it were amazedby what had been told them by the shepherds.And Mary kept all these things,reflecting on them in her heart.Then the shepherds returned,glorifying and praising Godfor all they had heard and seen,just as it had been told to them.-- Luke 2: 15-20
Thursday, December 24, 2020
While the beer lasted only a short time, I smoked the cigar down to the very end. The days to follow are expected to bring a return to more typical winter weather. There's little doubt there will still be tasty beverages and smokes to be enjoyed, it will just require more bundling up for the outdoor portion.
Monday, December 21, 2020
It was so nice to enjoy a bit of warmth while I smoked on Friday evening, I decided to return to the lounge on Saturday. The morning was spent on chores around the house until mid-afternoon. I briefly considered heading to the back deck to relax but then remembered that the lounge would have a warm wood stove going. Truthfully, I did have an ulterior motive as well. I recalled from the previous evening that the shop had the newly released Black Label Trading Company Morphine 2020 Vintage on hand. That was a smoke I was wanting to try out.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
After another seemingly endless week, Friday finally arrived. I'd been looking forward to a cigar in a warm setting for a couple weeks. While I've enjoyed some smokes on the deck, at some point the propane and electric heaters just don't keep up. So after dinner Friday, I headed over to the Olde Towne Tobacconist lounge located at 1781 Brewing.
As usual, I stopped first in the brewery to fill my mug. This evening I selected Irish Hen Red Ale. This imperial red ale checks in at a moderate 8% ABV. It has a deep red color and appears nearly black in the opaque mug. The ale has a sweet roasted malt backbone with a hint of bitterness in the finish. I sipped as I perused the lounge's humidor for a fitting cigar.
After selecting a La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Maduro DL-700, I took a comfortable seat in the enclosed "front porch" of the lounge. This is a cigar I've enjoyed a number of times at the lounge and is popular with many of the shop's patrons. The big 6½ x 60 stick offers about two hours of pleasurable smoking. The good looking cigar features an Ecuadoran wrapper with Dominican binder and fillers. The DL-700 is a full bodied, bold smoke. Rich notes of dark coffee and chocolate are predominate. A hint of pepper persists throughout the smoke. Despite the large ring gauge, the burn was even until the very end.
The only inconvenience of the fun evening was the cold walk across the yard to the brewery when it was time for a beverage refill. A warming stop next to the wood stove quickly removed the affects of that brief outing.
The clear vinyl enclosed space was a little cool. Nonetheless, it was still much warmer than my back porch. As the evening progressed, and more folks arrived, the fun conversations, flavorful beer, and good cigars helped to move the chill from the mind.
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Saturday, December 12 was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The day honors the appearance of Mary to St. Juan Diego in present day Mexico City on December 9, 1531. Also, referred to as The Virgin of Guadalupe, she is the Patron Saint of the Americas. Among the traditions of the Feast, is a focus on the image of the Lady left on Juan Diego's tilma during the appearance. In honor of that, I selected an appropriately decorated cigar to enjoy that day.
Guadalupe 25th Anniversary Limited Release Miami Edition Blend is a new release from Regina Cigars. The Miami cigar company donates a portion of its sales to support persecuted & displaced Christians, especially those in the Middle East. This blend celebrates the founder's 25th anniversary in the cigar industry and the significance of the December 12 date in his family.
The 6 x 50 stick has a San Andres Maduro wrapper and an Esteli Criollo binder, hiding a Corojo/Criollo Jalapa filler. The large band features a beautiful image of the Virgin Mary. The smoke is medium to full bodied. It has dark chocolate espresso notes, along with a mild cooling citrus note. Unfortunately both samples I've smoked so far had some damage under the decorative ribbon foot band causing the wrapper to unravel. A touch up with PerfecRepair allowed me to smoke through the damaged section without too much disruption.
As an accompaniment, I selected a seasonally appropriate Hardywood Park Gingerbread Stout. This Imperial Milk Stout is part of a selection of "Christmas beers" released each year by the Richmond, VA brewery. The 9.2% ABV ale is brewed with locally sourced baby ginger and wildflower honey. The dark beer has a thin beige head and gives off but a faint sweet aroma. The flavor is predominately roasted malt and milk chocolate. The underlying spice kick of ginger and honey sweetness is mild. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. The flavor combination with the dark espresso notes of the cigar was a flavorful match.
The beer and the cigar made for a satisfying afternoon of relaxation on the deck. The mid-sixties temperature and bright sun was a welcome break from the doldrums of the cool, gray weather of the previous week.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
St. Nicholas died on December 6, in either 345 A.D. or 352 A.D. Inspired by this feast day, is Samichlaus Bier. Samichlaus is an 14% ABV doppelbock that at one time was billed as the world's strongest beer. The name means "Santa Claus" in the Swiss-German dialect of Zürich. Brewed only on December 6 of each year, the beer is aged for almost a year and released in time for the following year's feast day. Samichlaus was originally brewed by Brauerei Hürlimann, and later by Feldschlösschen Brewery. It is currently produced by Schloss Eggenberg of Switzerland.
Friday, December 4, 2020
One of the few things I look forward to with the advent of cold weather are the winter releases of some of my favorite seasonal beers. Starr Hill Snow Blind Doppelbock is one such delight. Snow Blind was first released in 2013, and I've not missed a winter without picking up at least a couple of six packs.
Snow Blind pours a deep brown color and sports a thin, short lived, beige head. Sunlight peaking through the glass gives the beverage a reddish tint. A rich caramel aroma with a hint of dark fruit greats the nose. The flavor is a bend of toasted malt, caramel and a touch of sweetness. There's a lingering malty sweetness that sticks to the palate for a pleasing finish. A moderate 7.7% ABV makes the flavorful beer easily drinkable.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Not being a cold weather fan, I immensely enjoyed the warm, sunny afternoons we were treated to over the long holiday break. The day after Thanksgiving was no exception. Mid-afternoon I once again found myself on the deck, enjoying the sunlight coming through the trees and the sounds of happy birds in the woods.
My cigar choice was the COA Pilón. I decided to start off with a little "pep up" in the form of a Chai Tea. I felt the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg flavors of the latte would make a good compliment to the cigar. The creamy cocoa, nuts, and honey notes of the smoke indeed made for a pleasing combination.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Two months. That's how long my range bag has been sitting untouched. Between family commitments, weather, and socialistic restrictions on freedom, opportunities to hit the range have been limited. In addition, I've been somewhat reluctant to dig into my ammo stash, given I don't expect the availability (and cost) to return to "normal" levels for at least two years. That said, I was excited to be heading to the Cavalier Rod and Gun Club for the monthly IDPA match on Saturday morning.
After a night of fitful sleep, due to excitement and some nervousness, I arrived at the range to greet friends and marvel at the sunny, warm morning. I also soon lamented dressing for slightly cooler weather. But it was time to shoot!