Your good news for the day.
Ramblings on shooting sports, craft beer, whiskey, cigars and other simple pleasures.
"You're welcome to step away if you like."
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Beer and Health
Friday, March 26, 2021
One of the non-medical casualties of the Chinese Virus in 2020 was the number of times I was able to hit the range, outside of an IDPA match. I dropped my indoor range membership due to their feel-good-only "health" restrictions. That significantly cut my shooting opportunities. This year I am going to make an effort to shoot at the local "conservation organization" range more often, despite the erratic, ever-changing, and often secret rules imposed by the range director.
Now that we are in Daylight Saving Time, the range is open past 4:00 so it's easier to find time to shoot. Given the price of ammo, it's likely fewer folks are using the range. Hopefully, this will lead to more rounds downrange in 2021.
On a recent afternoon, I blocked off my calendar so I could spend a little time refreshing my shooting skills. Putting up a cardboard IDPA target, I spent most of the time shooting from the 10 yard line. A lot of my rounds were fired aiming for the head of the target, or doing body to head transitions. That's a frequent pattern in IDPA matches. Sadly, we not allowed to fire more than two rounds in a string, before pausing for an as-yet defined period. No movement is allowed either, so it's really just trigger pull practice.
I also expended some valuable rounds shooting from 15 and 25 yards. I was surprisingly pleased with the results there. I did stare at the 50 yard berm, remembering some successful longer range pistol shooting from a few years back. Maybe I'll try my luck there on a future visit.
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Long Weekend Getaway
The Shot Tower State Park provided a brief respite from the drive on the trip home. The 75 foot tower was visible from the highway and we saw it on the drive down, so vowed to check it out. There appeared to be a nice walk along the New River adjacent to the park, which was noted for further exploration on a future visit.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Another Trip Around the Sun
A year ago I celebrated my first "Chinese Virus" birthday. In what would quickly evolve into a political agenda, we were just beginning the "two weeks to flatten the curve." This past weekend, a full year later, another birthday has come and gone, with little change in how we marked the occasion.
The day started with Holy Mass, after which Colleen prepared our usual Sunday bacon and eggs breakfast. Our dinner plans were for an assortment of smoked meats from a local BBQ place. Picking up our to-go order mid-afternoon, we stopped by the Starbucks to claim my free birthday froufrou coffee. Those errands complete, as we did last year, we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the fire pit.
I had loaded up fire pit earlier in the day, so it was a simple matter of lighting the kindling. We enjoyed the coffee while the fire progressed. About the time the coffee was consumed, the fire was going strong and I broke out the beer and a cigar.
I selected a Padrón Black No. 200 Natural to enjoy for this afternoon celebration. This particular stick was a limited release included in the 2020 Cigar Rights of America variety pack. The tobaccos used in the 5½ x 56 Robusto Gordo are undisclosed. The wrapper is dull brown and on the dry side. The draw was extremely loose, with copious smoke production. The predominant flavors are dark chocolate, espresso, and a robust level of spice and black pepper. When I made the comment that I wasn't expecting the level of pepper, Colleen remarked that she could smell it in the smoke. The cigar burned well, even when I left it to run inside the house. The wrapper began blowing up heading into the last third, though I suspect that may have been caused by setting the cigar down several times on the edge of the fire pit while tending to the fire. It continued to smoke well until the final splitting near the end at the under two inch point.Our beer selection for the day was Legend Brown Ale. This English Brown Ale is, in my opinion, an easily overlooked ale. It's the Legend Brewing beer most often seen on draft around here, but I pass it by due to its ubiquitous nature. However, I recently picked up a six-pack and, again, questioned why I don't enjoy it more often. The brown ale features a malt and nut aroma. Mildly sweet caramel, molasses, nuts and some roasted malt come out in the sipping. The finish is short and clean. It's an easy sipper and at a moderate 6% ABV, just right for an afternoon of relaxation. The slight sweetness of the beer offset the robust spiciness in the cigar.
The cigar finished, we headed inside for an early dinner. The smoked pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and chicken, along with sides of green beans, coleslaw, and potato salad made for a fitting feast. And we still have leftovers for a meal later in the week!
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
It's the Feast of St. Patrick
It's that time of the year when a Saint revered by many, especially in the Irish-Catholic community, is adopted by people of all descent. As a Catholic of Irish decent, I can find little fault with people bettering themselves. :-)
I don't drink green beer, and am very confident that neither did St. Patrick. But do as you wish. For my celebration I will stick with a dark Stout or a good Irish Red Ale. And surely a wee pour or two of Irish Whiskey will be enjoyed.
So, celebrate the memory of St. Patrick. Enjoy a drink or two and some good food, hopefully with friends. There's nothing wrong with bringing a little revelry into the world, we certainly need it. I like a good party as much as the next guy. And I certainly appreciate a good Irish drinking joke. Drink your green beer if you must. Dress up in silly clothes. (But, remember St. Patrick was a man, not a leprechaun.) Then remember the reason for this feast. Take a moment to honor the man and all the good he did. In our house we'll raise a drink of uisce beatha, "the water of life," and a prayer, to St. Patrick in honor of his deeds and his country.
Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Old Beer, Cigars, and the Fire Pit
Sunday afternoon was sunny and the spring allergies were tingling, but the temperature still needed "tweaking" to enjoy the outdoors. We decided to "de-winterize" the fire pit with the first fire of 2021. After clearing out some leaves, I got a fire going and settled in to enjoy a drink and a cigar.
I dug out a couple of bottles of aged Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout for Colleen and I. These were bottles stored from 2008. We were putting away a lot of high ABV beers in those days for aging and they are most delightful now. I really should get back into that habit. The aroma coming off the glass was rich chocolate and coffee. I could detect it coming up from the glass on the table next to me, despite the smoke from the fire. The flavor was simply delicious. Creamy, dark chocolate, a touch of bitterness, with no alcohol detectable on the palate. I am going to miss these old bottles when they are gone.
The cigar selected was the Tatuaje Great Pumpkin. This stick was part of the 2020 Cigar Rights of America sampler I picked up over the winter. It is an attractive 6 x 52 Belicoso version of a cigar that Tatujae typically produces for events only, and consists of a Mexican San Andrés wrapper with Nicaraguan binders and fillers.
I was looking forward to smoking this cigar and had been awaiting warmer weather, and the time to enjoy what would likely be a two hour plus smoke. Initially, I got some nice but mild milk chocolate notes, with just a touch of pepper. I struggled to get a lot of smoke through the cigar, so the flavors were muted. I tried relighting its few times, but the tobacco never really got going. Sadly, after about 20 minutes I tossed the cigar into the fire. I've smoked plenty of Tatuaje cigars, and have always enjoyed them. One bad stick is certainly not a condemnation of a brand or line. These are hand crafted items, made from leaves, and every now and then one will be not be right. It's a disappointment, not a condemnation. Life's too short to fret or struggle over one cigar, so I simply moved on to another selection.
Still having plenty of afternoon left, I grabbed an Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial from the humidor. This blend is one of my (many) favorites, especially in the Torpedo vitola.
Like the Tatuaje, this full-bodied cigar has a Mexican San Andrés wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder and fillers, and is spiked with Nicaraguan Jalapa Valley ligero leaves in the filler. It produces notes of rich, creamy chocolate, with a touch of spiciness. Cedar and nutty undertones add to the flavors enjoyed. The ligero leaf serves to contribute a bit of strength. The aged beer and rich cigar made for a very flavorful and enjoyable pairing.
We enjoyed the fire for several hours. A lot of that time was spend watching the numerous birds flitting around in the woods. There were quite a number of bluebirds catching insects in the leaves, and a pair of red tail hawks possibly nesting nearby. Ah, the signs of spring…
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Even More Repetition - ThisTime It's Okay
As we begin the second year of "two weeks to flatten the curve," life can seem a bit repetitive. How many times have you thought, "What day is it?" But sometimes more of the same, isn't necessarily a bad thing.
After doing a bit (a very small bit) of pre-spring yard work this weekend, I enjoyed a relaxing cigar on the deck. After opening each drawer in the humidor several times, I finally selected a Foundation Tabernacle to smoke. More indecisive searching followed in the beer fridge, before I grabbed a Lost Colony Hatteras Red Ale. The Red Ale was a leftover from our fall trip to the Outer Banks.
Both the beer and the cigar have been mentioned in these Musings previously. The Tabernacle is especially persistent in its appearances. Knowing I've mentioned these things previously, I looked through previous postings and came across this post from December. That's when the déjà vu hit me and I did a double take. That picture…
As I've lamented often of late, "I really need to get out more." One other interesting note, the temperature during that December outing was actually warmer than it was for the March setting.