Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brand Loyalty

Craft beer fans can be passionate about their beer preference, but even factory beer drinkers have standards it seems.
Clarence Sturdivant, 64, shot his 66-year-old neighbor, Walter Merrick, said Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. 
The beer showdown occurred Saturday afternoon (March 7) at a complex of single-story apartment buildings in the 1500 block of Esther Street in Harvey. Merrick told investigators that he and Sturdivant were chatting in the parking lot when Sturdivant asked for a beer, a Sheriff's Office incident report said.

Merrick returned with a can of Busch beer -- apparently not Sturdivant's brew of choice. An angry Sturdivant declared his preference for Budweiser, according to the report.

The two men continued to quarrel over beer brands until Merrick said Sturdivant shot him and left, the incident report said.

See "Budweiser or Busch: Argument over beer brands ends with shotgun blast" for more on this beer debate among friends.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Adventure Blazing Trail IPA

We spent a pleasant weekend afternoon at Adventure Brewing in Stafford County. Sunday afternoons at this local brewery are a great time to relax with good beer and good company. The brewery currently has 10 beers on tap so there's something for every taste. Our choice for the afternoon was Blazing Trail IPA.

Adventure Brewing Blazing Trail IPA is made with all Virginia-grown hops. (I've seen the name listed as both Blazing Trail and Blazing Trails.) The beer pours marmalade in color with a pleasant citrus aroma. A thin head leaves behind moderate lacing. The Virginia-grown "west coast" hops give a fresh citrus pithiness to the flavor. A earthy malt base completes the flavor profile. This IPA is hop-forward but does not kill the tastebuds. And at a moderate 5.6%, it's well-suited for Sunday afternoon enjoyment.

Adventure Brewing food truck regular, STEVE-O's BBQ, Burgers & BACON was on hand to provide food to go along with the ale. We opted for Steve's signature bacon cheeseburger and tater tot side. It made for a tasty pairing.

One goal for the visit was to pick up some bottles of the barrel-aged Wicked Nymph Imperial Stout that was released on Saturday. Colleen and I had a tiny taste a couple weeks ago, and were excited to pick up a few bottles for ourselves. The brewery obtained three barrels from the Bowman Distillery which had aged bourbon since 2005, 2009, and 2010. The bottles from the 2005 barrel were sold out, but we picked up some from the other years. I haven't decided if we'll be enjoying them soon, or letting them age. Stand by....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

When Mom Needs a Quick Pick-Me-Up

Because it would be crass to drink directly from one of those single serving wine bottles.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Range Time - A Sunny Respite

A cool, rainy morning turned into a warm sunny afternoon, perfect for a trip to the range. Checkered Flag was in town so he, Colleen, and I spent an afternoon honing our skills in the 70° spring air. The warm air was accompanied by strong wind gusts, which played havoc with our targets stands. Appropriating a few logs from the fire pit (mostly) solved the problem. (No, I still haven't picked up those spikes.)

We spent most of our time at a close 7 yard distance. We often try to make a "game" of our range practice, within the restrictive rules of the club. The theme of the day became accuracy and trigger control. We warmed up on IDPA targets but soon switched to the more challenging Pincus "Balance of Speed and Precision" targets. Colleen was the "caller" and we reacted to her cues. "Three, Blue" she might yell out, and we'd draw and engage all of the target spots that matched any of the descriptors. Or "Round, Yellow" and we'd shoot all points that were either round or yellow. Not only were varying degrees of accuracy required, you had to analyze the targets to find the matches, geometric, numerical or color. It was quite a bit of fun and we went through many rounds playing that game.

Later we added some of CF's target cards he keeps on hand, with 1 inch squares and the even smaller "little man" targets and went for extreme accuracy trying to remove the pattern from the cards. When the target is smaller than the front sight, even at 7 yards, a smooth trigger press is critical.

A couple hundred rounds later we a good practice session, and a whole lot of fun, under our belts. It was good to get to the range on a beautiful afternoon, especially since the forecast is calling for more cold and rain over the next couple days.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Devils Backbone The Devil Went Down to Oregon

This is another of the beers in the March Collaboration Adventure Pack from Devils Backbone Brewing. I posted thoughts on another beer in the mix, Double Gooch IPA, previously. The Devil Went Down to Oregon Imperial Rye Ale is the result of a collaboration with Ninkasi Brewing Company of Eugene, Oregon.

The Devil Went Down to Oregon pours an attractive dark amber color with a persistent beige head. The aroma is mild and a mix of caramel and dark fruit with a hint of grassiness. In the flavor you get a bit of sweetness at the start, followed by toasted malt and nuttiness. The rye adds notes of pepper and grass. There's a earthy undertone to the flavor profile. A very mild hop bitterness lingers in the finish. The mouthfeel is creamy and moderately "thick."

This member of the Collaboration Pack is unique from the others in that the big hop flavors are not the main feature. The ale is more reminiscent of a English Brown Ale, but with a twist. It's a smooth, easy beer, and at 7.5% ABV, it goes down way too quickly. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Celebratory Gunfire

No, not that kind. I celebrated my birthday by shooting an IDPA match at the Rivanna Rifle and Pistol Club in Charlottesville on Saturday. I arrived early to attend the mandatory "new shooters" briefing that is required of first time shooters at the range. Even though I'm not exactly a new shooter, it never hurts to hear the reminders again.

One of the usual bays used by the club for matches was not available due to the rains last week, so the match directors set up three stages together at the end of one of the rifle ranges. Due to the space constraints, only one shooter could shoot at a time, and we alternated through the three shooters on three stages before scoring and pasting. It was as if we had a squad of 40 shooters, which meant it took quite a while to get through the match. But, despite the extra long day, any day on the range beats a day not on the range! And the people are friendly so the time passed easily.

The first stage had us seated in front of a spread of targets and a few non-threats. At the start, the four close targets all got two required head shots. (A hit on the "body" was a miss.) The remaining three targets were engaged near to far with two rounds each. Coincidently, the last stage I shot at the last match I attended was also a seated scenario — I guess it's not such a rare scenario in IDPA.

Next up was a challenging two-string stage that tested our one handed shooting ability. On the first string, after the draw you transferred the gun to the support hand and engaged the first two targets. After transferring the gun to the strong hand, the last two targets were taken care of. Moving back to a barricade at around the 20 yard line for the second string, you repeated the same pattern except this time you could use the "other" hand for support. I was actually pleased with my hits on this stage. However, I did earn a procedural penalty for failing to pie around the barricade and instead shooting the last two targets "inside to outside." Some USPSA habits are hard to break.

The last course of fire was a nine-target stage with the targets arranged among the walls. It was an interesting stage that offered numerous options for engaging the targets. There were quite a few different choices made by the shooters. You could engage the targets at 3 or 4 positions total, depending on the distance you were comfortable with, choose slide lock or tactical reloads, as well as where you did your reload, all the while keeping in mind to not expose yourself to any unengaged threats.

The weather was unexpectedly cool and damp for a good part of the day, the sun finally coming out late in the match. Nonetheless, I still came home with a sunburned neck. Despite the long time it took to complete the stages, I had a great time and it was a fun way to spend the first part of my birthday. My results were fair, 14th out 25 in my division and 23rd overall.

Of course, upon arriving home I quickly started my enjoyment of some tasty craft beers. And those are possible fodder for future musings. Later in the evening I put some thick steaks on the grill for dinner, after which we enjoyed a family movie night. And there was cake! A fitting celebration it was indeed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Flying Dog Supertramp

I admit it, I didn't want to like this beer. Last week when I opened the package from Flying Dog Brewery and saw the bottle of Supertramp Tart Cherry Ale, I thought, "Oh, a fruit beer." But, I was intrigued nonetheless, as I do enjoy the occasional sour ale. So despite my consternation, I was looking forward to trying it, for research purposes only of course.

As I poured the ale, others in the room exclaimed, "Oh, it's pink!" It wasn't really pink, but there was indeed a pink hue to the orange-amber color. The aroma has faint fruit notes and a hint of breadiness. The initial flavor that hits the tongue is the mild fruit sweetness that morphs quickly over to tart. The cherry tart and bitterness fade quickly to a clean finish. Moderate carbonation tingles the tongue and cleanses the palate, leaving very little behind in the aftertaste.

Despite my skepticism, in the end I had to admit I liked the Supertramp Tart Cherry Ale. Even though we tasted the beer on a cool, almost Spring evening, I actually think this would be a very refreshing summertime drink. The low 4.6% ABV, the tingling carbonation, the mildly tart flavor and clean finish seems a good combination with which to cool down after an afternoon of sweating in the garden, or after returning home from the range.

The beer reviewed here was a promotional sample from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Monica Lewinsky's Boyfriend's Wife

Too good not to share. 

There are members of the current administration who are probably thinking, "Cool, how do I order?"

If these offend, all I can say is "What difference does it make?"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Patrick's Day IDPA Match

While many folks were out celebrating with beer and good food, I marked the St. Patrick's Day Feast by shooting another Colonial Shooting Academy IDPA match.

As usual, three quick stages were set up for our enjoyment. The first stage started with a holstered and unloaded gun. At the start the shooter loaded and engaged two close targets with three rounds each, before retreating up range to finish with two final targets on the other side of wall, also with three rounds each. An added challenge here was a high non-threat in front of the last target that caused some folks to get on their toes to shoot over it and avoid a penalty.

Stage 2 consisted of a large group of barrels strategically hiding six targets. Not all the openings between barrels held targets so it was a bit of a search if you didn't have your plan of attack well in mind. The final stage started with four targets partially blocked by non-threats and shot in tactical sequence from a seated position. You then moved to engage the final two targets around a barricade. Shooting while seated isn't something I've done often so it was a welcome challenge.

After accumulating an abundance of points down last week, I made a concerted effort to slow down to get my hits. Accumulating just 3 points down this week, I again finished 9th in my division. And even more interesting, for the third week in a row, ended up 15th overall. There's something to be said for consistency I guess. Now to work on speeding up and keeping the hits in the "down zero" zone. 

These quick, weeknight matches are a lot of fun and don't require a large investment of time or ammo to shoot. The courses of fire are interesting but not overly difficult. Still, I wish it wasn't quite so far of a drive, but that's one of the things we accept living in Fredericksburg — it's a far drive to get most places! Now that the days are getting longer and I should be able to get to the practice range more, and also reinvigorate my dry fire practice, the weekly CSA IPDA matches will be a great way to confirm what I've practiced. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Round Up Your Mates for St. Patrick's Day

A humorous Guinness ad from a few years ago.

Have a Happy and Safe St. Patrick's Day celebration, however you choose to mark the feast day. Sláinte!!