Variety is the spice of life. Hand me a turtle!

Or so they say about things in general. And in looking at my fridge right now I’m one spicy kinda guy. I have at least 5 different beers in there and that doesn’t even count my home-brew that’s lagering.

But the one that has captured my palette tonight is Big Hoppy Monster from Terrapin Beer Co. A friend was visiting from out of town last week and brought this one over because her husband is friends with the brewmaster. I’ve been drinking a good bit of Dogfish Head lately so I wasn’t to hopped up about hops so I held off until this weekend and had another tonite.

OMG!!! What was I waiting for? At first glance when pouring it into the glass it had all the appearance of a mix between an amber and a porter with a lovely tone to it. And then… and I swear I’m not making this up… it seemed to be almost have texture just in looking at it. Ahh… and the first taste. Yep. Hoppy just like the name. But not overpowering like some IPAs are. It was just right and provided a perfect balance of malt and hops to top off the evening.

So, I have two thoughts I look at my now empty glass:

1) Gotta run to Whole Foods and pick more up (that’s where my friend found it)
2) I really need to go visit my friend and her husband so I can go visit the masters of this brew.

Smokestacks and Empty Promises

I was inpsired on a car ride over the Thanksgiving weekend and pulled out the iPhone to stretch the creative legs.


Smokestacks and Empty Promises

Silent smokestacks along the Ohio
Rusted metal paints the landscape
A barge pushes the remnants of a now silent economy
As dark skies magnify a disgruntled mood

Memories of a by gone era
When a hard days work provided a good wage
Good times, good living and good friends were once calling
But all that’s left are empty promises

Moving east across the highlands
A scarred earth is all that’s left
Where men descended into darkness
To provide the coal that fueled our lives

Rolling down from piedmont to plains
What passes for civilization rises into the sky
A generation who toils with hands dust free and clean
Forgetting the past we all left behind

Stretch Yourself

I’m not a tech person.

I know that surprises most people that know me.

I like technology and use it. But I don’t write code and open up the guts of programs to figure things out.  The extent of my knowledge of HTML has been copying a YouTube video into a blog post…. until now.

The designer who works for me left to take a new job a couple of weeks ago.  He’s a great guy and is helping out but I don’t have anyone else to do coding or update pages until my new designer starts.  But business goes on and guess who’s understudying the role of “Web Designer”.

I’m frustrated.  Stressed.  In over my head.  And guess what….. I LOVE IT!

Now, I’m not going to give up my strategic marketing and communications work anytime soon.  But I feel a bit more prepared to manage the process and appreciate the people who make it look easy.

You see, too many people stay in their comfort zones and don’t stretch themselves.

And I learned something along the way.

Hockey Beer – Ideas?

It’s hockey playoffs here in the Nation’s capital. (GO CAPS!!!)

Since my wife is from Pittsburgh it’s easy to pick a beer for her to drink while we watch the games (Iron City, of course. And yes, I do not let her sit on the couch if she’s going to root for the Pens).

But what beer should I have in my hand to symbolize our local team?

  • Old Dominion? Nope. Brewed in Delaware.
  • Clipper City? That’s Baltimore.
  • Dogfish Head? While that seems to be the emerging local favorite, it’s still Delaware

I could run to a local Brew Pub like Capitol City Brewing but it would be really nice to have a bottled beer available in my local stores to sip and savor while watching my local teams.

I’m open to ideas….

Learning to Home Brew

My wife loves me. Really.

How do I know that? For Christmas she got me my first home brewing kit. And since I’m a self-professed non-expert (just a fan) she kept it simple and got me the introductory kit from Mr. Beer.

I’ve spent lots of years drinking beer and watching the occasional show on Discovery on brewing and such. But I’ve never actually STUDIED brewing. So I poured over the instructions and read them over and over trying to make sure I hadn’t missed a step. And then over the weekend I meticulously followed the steps and brewed my first batch of home beer.

Of course, I have questions and here’s the realization. I’ve known there’s a community of beef aficionados and had heard of many people with home brewing as a hobby. But it’s fun to discover all the resources and help forums.

So for those of you who want to make the leap from consumer to producer, take a deep breath, pull a mouse up to the Home Brewing Wiki and feel confident that you’ll be able to figure it out… at least I’m hoping I’ll be able to.

Winter hits Northern Virginia

It’s gotten cold here in Northern Virginia.  17 degrees when I walked the dog this morning.  And the wind chill?  Let’s just say BRRRRRRRRRRR…….

So it was perfect night to come home and enjoy the butternut squash soup my darling wife had made for dinner.  I opened the fridge and looked for a hearty winter brew to compliment it.
And here’s where I have to take back my previous post.  I had picked up some of Old Dominion’s Baltic Porter.  Paired with some sourdough bread, savory soup and fresh sharp cheddar cheese it provided a smooth compliment to the meal and an even better after dinner beverage.   Dark in color, smooth, chocolate-like flavor and a pleasant aftertaste.
I have to agree with David over at Musings Over a Pint that this is a fine example of another good seasonal brew from Old Dominion – and I do hope they keep up the quality when they move to Delaware.  I just wish that a beer named after my state was still going to be in this state.

Beer gone to the dogs

Every now and then I find it’s fun to attach a theme to my beer purchases. For example from one of my earlier posts you could infer a summer/winter seasonal theme.

So I found myself examining the brews at Wegman’s a few weeks ago and looking for something that would catch my eye. And with thoughts of my 9 month old chesapeake bay retriever I was drawn to two 6-packs that prominently featured dogs in the name or artwork. Heck, there are worse themes to go with, especially considering on my favorite beers of late is Smuttynose’s Brown Dog Ale.

First up, is Ellie’s Brown Ale from Avery Brewing Company. Now it’s not just that the dog on the label looks exactly like my Chessie but I’ll definitely be heading back to pick up more of this. Fresh from the Rocky Mountains, this dark ale features a nice chocolate taste that is more reminiscent of a porter than what you usually think of as a typical ale. Smooth and fulfilling as an after dinner drink it’s been the perfect brew to chill after a hard day’s work and enjoy.

Now if one beer label looks like my Chessie, of course I also had to reach for the beer that reminded me of my 12 year old Black Lab – Black Dog Ale from Spanish Peaks Brewing.  And just like my Lab, this beer was smooth and calming on the soul like that big dog head resting on my lap.  There’s a very nice malty flavor to it that makes a pleasant and smooth drinking experience.

So the lesson I learned was what?  That beers that remind me of my dogs can’t go wrong? No, not quite.  But it did point out that putting together a “beer theme” can be a fun way to pair up beers you may not have thought of before.  Or at least it adds some joy to the shopping experience.

The choice formula changes

The hardest thing in life is choice.  And since I love a great seasonal beer there’s no better feeling than peering at the choice of brews in the beer aisle. My usual rule is to choose the small, local brew if I’m weighing an option of two similar brews.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently face with a choice of two seasonal winter brews. Either Old Dominion’s Baltic Porter or Michelob’s Winter Cask Ale.  Usually it would be an easy choice – my rules for local small guy would make me go with the Dominion.
But here’s the rub.  Old Dominion is no longer local.  With the recent news that Old Dominion is closing the Ashburn based brewery.  So now my math has changed.  A beer that’s local in name only or an attempt by a large St. Louis based brewery to try something different with better quality.
My decision?  You’ll need to read the previous post to find out :-).

Multiple Beer-sonality

Or as one might say “An Ale of 2 Seasons”.

I usually don’t venture to the Giant unless it is to explore the expanded beer section. And what a variety I had to choose from the other night.

The weather is getting colder which is an opportunity to put aside the light and refreshing taste of the summer ales and embrace beer’s dark and heavier side. So my taste buds were automatically drawn to the holiday porters. A choice had to be made between a holiday Dominion Porter and Michelob’s Winter Bourbon Cask Ale. Well since I no longer have any loyalty to Dominion it was an easy choice (more on that later).

Ahh… but as I walked back up the aisle, there was that last remnant of summer calling my name. Kona Brewing Company’s Longboard Lager. So I grabbed a 6 pack and pondered the dichotomy of the situation.

And you know what? It works! At the end of the day and during a dinner the lighter lager refreshes. And for an evening of relaxation the darker cask ale provides a satisfying respite. If this keeps up, I’ll have to find some other summer/winter mixes to enjoy. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.