Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Brewer's Alley: A Return Visit

We were up in the Frederick, MD area on Sunday to drop off our son and three of his friends at a camp they are attending this week. After three hours on the car with four active teenage boys I was ready for a beer. Last year when we made this same trip, we visited Brewer's Alley and we decided to repeat this year. Since we had more time to spend this visit, we were able to try a few more beers. Colleen ordered a pint of the Hefeweizen, while I opted for a sampler tray of six beers. The hardest part was deciding which six!

I was pleased that the beers, both the cask and "standard" servings, were served up at a nice temperature. Carbonation was low across the board as well, which made for proper tasting. First up was the Kölsch. The flavor was mild, with a grainy aspect, and little bitterness. The next beer was the India Pale Ale, served from cask. It was well balanced, with a sweet caramel base with bitter and piney hops. I enjoyed this English IPA very much, and for a moment, regretted not having a full glass to drink.

Next up, the Oatmeal Stout. This one has a nice roasted grain flavor with a lingering sweetness at the end. A smooth mouthfeel capped it off. 1634 Ale is a Rye Ale, and was next up in the rotation. Described as a "celebration ale" by the brewery, the beer had a sweet molasses base, with mild spices in the background.

New Moon Ale was another cask selection. This was a very flavorful American Strong Ale. The rich caramel sweetness at the start, was followed fruity and pine hops. There's a hint of alcohol at the end, but it didn't overwhelm the other flavors. I really could have enjoyed more of this one too.

Our final selection was Bad Old Man Gose. This beer was released to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Ransom of Frederick. The beer started off with a fruit tartness that gave way to a distinct saltiness. It was an interesting beer, that we both enjoyed, but found hard to describe.

Along with the beers, of course there was food. Colleen ordered the plate of Fish Tacos. They looked quite tasty, and the accompanying Roasted Jalapeño Salsa made a zesty dip for my fries as well. Since we were in Maryland, I went with the Roasted Jumbo Lump Crabcake Sandwich. The thick patty of lumpy crab meat, seasoned with OLD BAY® naturally, could barely hold itself together - there was little in the way of filler! Quite tasty indeed.

We lingered for a while to let the dinner and beer settle, before setting off on the three hour drive ahead of us. The drive home was pleasant, and with just the two of us in the car, the conversation was very enjoyable.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Shooting and Craft Beer

Visitors to these Musings, know that we frequently follow our shooting range time with the enjoyment of good beer. In fact, we encourage it, in the right order. During our recent visit to Old Ox Brewery, we saw that the Silver Eagle Group indoor range was a neighbor of the brewery. I recently learned that the brewery and the range have teamed up to bring the opportunity to others, with a "Date Night hosted by SEG & Old Ox Brewery":
Have you been looking for the perfect excuse to hire a sitter and get some quality time with your honey? We’ve partnered with our new neighbor, Old Ox Brewery, to give you an exciting date night!  The evening will start with classroom instruction before heading to the range to practice your skills.  SEG staff will be on the range to provide assistance and recommendations.  Once everyone has built up an appetite, we’ll head across the parking lot to the tasting room at Old Ox Brewery for pizza and beer. 
Each person will get to sample four different craft beers and select a pint to enjoy over pizza. Additional pints will be available for purchase. Old Ox Brewery will only be open to date night participants so you can skip the lines and receive personal attention. 
Best targets of the night will earn the winning couple SEG swag and an additional free pint!

This event will be held from 6:30 to 9:30PM on Wednesday, August 13. Sounds like a fun evening. I hope it's successful. We once tried to organize an event at Blue & Gray Brewery after a Fredericksburg USPSA match, but there wasn't enough shooter interest to make it worthwhile.

Note: I am not connected with the brewery or the range. I'm just sharing news on what I think will an interesting event. Though if anyone wants to invite me on a "date," I might be persuaded. ;-)

Deutschland Downtown

Downtown Fredericksburg that is. Deutschland Downtown is a soon-to-be-opened German restaurant in Old Town Fredericksburg. Even before they open, there's a strong local following as the proprietors have been running a mobile food cart, serving German fare locally for some time now. In fact, we've been anticipating the opening of this bier garden and restaurant for a couple years.

The past two weekends, Deutschland Downtown has been hosting a "soft opening," announced via their Facebook page, in order to help train the staff. On Saturday evening, Colleen and I eagerly stopped in. There was a crowd in the dining room when we arrived, and we took one of the last available tables. They were serving a limited menu, and also had three beers on draft. There was some wine listed too, but I paid it no mind.

The beer selection this evening included two imported German beers, Warsteiner Premium Verum, König Ludwig Weiss, and an American, but German-founded beer, Yuengling Lager. I started off with the Warsteiner, a German Pilsner, served in a proper, brewery labeled, Pilsner glass. A classic Pilsner, the light bodied beer had a mildly sweet, biscuity malt with a sharp, crisp and clean hop finish. It went down easily. With my meal I tried the König Ludwig Weiss. This beer was also served in a proper Hefeweizen glass, complete with the brewery logo. The aroma is banana and wheat, with a hint of citrus. The taste is a delightful balance of sweet honey, banana, and clove backed by a yeasty malt. The mouthfeel is creamy with a dry finish. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I opted to skip the Yuengling.

For our meal, Colleen selected Wiener Schnitzel, served with Sauerkraut and Spätzle. I went with the Currywurst, which was served with Sauerkraut. I didn't try anything off of Colleen's plate, but she was very impressed with her selection. She declared each dish "very good" repeatedly and was very impressed with the Schnitzel. I heard raves about the Schnitzel on the drive home, and regretted not stealing a bite. My sausage was very tasty, although it was missing the spicy ketchup-based sauce described in the menu. The crispy Sauerkraut was well done; not overly bitter, and mixed with tiny bits of sausage. I would have liked a side of Spätzle or perhaps German Potato Salad, to go along with the meal, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

We also opted for a dessert of Apple Strudel, mine topped with a vanilla sauce, while Colleen had hers with hazelnut ice cream. Both provided a deliciously sweet finish to the meal.

We had a very enjoyable evening, doing our part to help the restaurant prepare for its opening. They have a few kinks, as expected, to work out in the service, but nothing that greatly detracted from our pre-opening dinner. The food was all quite tasty, and we're very much looking forward to experiencing the full menu. Hopefully, they will expand the German beers menu too. I predict Deutschland Downtown will be a popular addition to the Fredericksburg dining scene. And I expect I'll be raising a Maß or two in the outdoor biergarten soon.

Good news! According to a Sunday evening posting on Facebook, Deutschland Downtown will be open for business on Thursday of this week.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Well-Stocked Beer Fridge

After our trip to the range the other day, it was time to enjoy some good beer while a delicious dinner was prepared by Colleen. Our beer fridge is kept well-stocked with a variety of beers, which doesn't make the decision any easier. It's a long-running joke here that goes something like this:
"What do you want to drink?"
"What do you have?"
"We have everything."
The "we have everything" line is a reference to hearing a waitress make the claim despite having only a full "factory beer" menu, which set up the challenge for me to prove her wrong.

"Checkered Flag" is a Hefeweizen fan, so I offered him a Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen that I knew I had in the fridge. I got Colleen's order, Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night, and headed for the basement. After the folks upstairs heard me digging through bottles for a long time, they asked "What can't you find?" "The Gordon Biersch," I replied. As I climbed the stairs, I was ribbed that apparently I didn't have everything. True, I didn't have the Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen, but I went one better, and brought up Ayinger Bräu-Weisse, an authentic German Hefeweizen. I countered the retorts with "No, but I can still fill your style request."

Yes, I know that's not the "proper" glass.

This bottle of Ayinger Bräu-Weisse from Brauerei Aying in Germany was a gift from a non-beer drinking friend. I'd actually been saving it to share with "Checkered Flag" since I knew he'd enjoy it. And enjoy it he did. Colleen and I both stole a small portion of the bottle as well. Pouring with a thick head over a cloudy body, the beer has the aroma of spice and wheat. A "thick" wheat and yeast base is suffused with banana, clove, and mild peppery spice. This is an excellent Hefeweizen. In fact, Colleen subsequently declared that we should keep this one on hand all the time. I guess I'll go beer shopping this weekend.

Friday, July 25, 2014

If it ain't raining...

After a month away from the practice range, I finally made it back this week. Adding to the fun, I was joined by Colleen and "Checkered Flag." I realized it had been two months since we'd all been to the range together. We had made plans to go after work a week ago, but when the time arrived, so had the rain. In fact at times the rain was best described as a "deluge." We loaded up the car anyway and headed over, "We'll see what happens when we get there." We're seldom dissuaded by weather, although this winter the range began closing when it snowed, much to our disappointment.

Since it was raining, I grabbed some well-used USPSA cardboard targets. I figured they'd get trashed and we'd just throw them away afterwards, though not in the range trash cans. Sure enough, the targets we're soon drooping over from the water. At one point, the tops of the targets fell over so far I was making head shots into the back of the target. I also had some Shoot-N-C Targets in my range gear box, a Christmas gift from my son, and we made use of those to help see our hits.

Since my usual range and match gun was in the shop it was a good time to get in some good practice with my carry gun. I shoot it occasionally at the range, but not a lot. On this day I got 150 rounds through it. I worked on shooting on the move, shooting strong hand and weak hand only, also on the move, in the 5-7 yard range.

I even got in some "bad breath distance" practice, getting fast, point shooting hits while transitioning to a two hand grip and moving "off the X." This is something I think most folks, myself included, fail to practice regularly. Yet, it is probably the most likely scenario in a self-defense situation. Also, if you've never shot your weapon at a point blank target, you will be shocked at the difference in what you hear and feel from the percussion off the target. I suspect many folks will also be surprised that getting a rapid draw, and good hits, while moving requires practice — practice that's best done before your life depends on it.

It was a very rewarding practice session. The rain, combined with my aching muscles from taking a tumble down the stairs the day before, helped keep it "real." On top of that, it was simply fun to get back out with Colleen and a friend for some range time. I also remembered how much I enjoy shooting that SIG Sauer P239. Often when I write these range journal posts, they conclude with my leaving the range just as the foul weather is moving in. This time it was different; as we finished and began cleaning up to leave, the rain stopped and the sun began peeking through. However, in keeping with tradition, we arrived at home to relax with some craft beer before dinner.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shooty Car Accoutrements

These came by way of a Kickstarter project. Figured I'd put them on the car for the drive to last weekend's match.

.40 S&W.  And now my vehicle is illegal in D.C.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Old Ox Brewery

We headed to Ashburn Sunday afternoon, our targeted destination was Old Ox Brewery. Opened just three weeks now, I've been seeing many references the brewery on various social media and wanted to check them out. We made our way to Ashburn, the "back way," to avoid the interstate. Arriving in an industrial park full of non-descript and similar looking buildings, we drove around for awhile before finding the brewery. Old Ox is located at the end of the street, and is not easily visible until you arrive in front of it.

The Old Ox facilities are quite spacious. There's a large brewing area visible behind the tasting room. Seating is provided both indoors and out. Old Ox is located next to the W&D Trail, and we saw numerous bike riders taking a short break before continuing on their ride.

The brewery offers three serving sizes; 2 ounce toasters, as well as half and full pints. That's a great option I'd like to see at more brewery tasting rooms. Four beers were on tap this day, so Colleen and I both opted to start out with flights of tasters. Our friend "Checkered Flag" made his final beer decision right away and opted for a pint of a Saison.

The first beer in the flight was Alpha Ox, a "session" IPA. This IPA checks in at just 4.5% ABV. At the first sip I struck by the "green" hop bitterness and slightly oily mouthfeel. I asked at the counter and got confirmation that the beer was dry-hopped with Amarillo, Centennial and Simcoe hops. The dry-hopped profile is quite evident. I enjoyed this IPA, though my companions found it too bitter.

Moving on to the next beer, Golden Ox, a Belgian Blonde. At 6.5%, this was the "biggest" beer of the flight. The flavor is mild with a pleasing Belgian yeast and sweet malt profile. Despite a more conservative profile than the previous beer, the crisp flavor refreshed the palate and made itself known even after the bitterness of Alpha Ox.

Black Ox, a Rye Porter was next in the lineup. The 6.0% ABV, the Porter has a slight cereal graininess to it. It's smooth with a mild roasted malt base. We all enjoyed this one very much, and especially after it had warmed it evoked exclamations of "Ooh, that's good" from us and others around us.

Finally I moved on to the Saison d'Ox, which "Checkered Flag" had already been enjoying. He was very enamored with the beer. Colleen had also "tasted ahead" and liked it. When I got to my sample, I was impressed as well. Easily drinkable at 5.7% ABV, it had a wild yeast flavor along with a fresh citrus tang. Despite my affection for IPAs, this one was my favorite of the four.

When all the preliminary tasting was said and done, Colleen and I both opted to enjoy a full glass of Saison d’Ox. A half pint for her, a full pint for me. The tasting room sells snack sized bags of chips and pretzels. No other food is served, though delivery from some local food places is available. I grabbed a couple bags of chips for us to munch on while we all enjoyed the Old Ox Saison. One of those snacks was a very spicy, red pepper flavored chip that the beer cut through nicely and made for a very simple but enjoyable pairing.

We had a great visit at Old Ox Brewery and were impressed with all of the Old Ox beers. I look forward to trying more from them when I get a chance. We also appreciated that the beers were all relatively low in ABV.  Perhaps that's a nod to all the bicyclists stopping in for a refreshment during their ride. :-) Even on a Sunday afternoon, there was a steady flow of folks stopping by for a beer, as well as growler fills. Last call came at 6:00PM and that's when we headed out in search of dinner before beginning the trek home.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cavalier USPSA Match

For the second weekend in a row, I headed off to a new (to me) USPSA match. On Saturday I shot the monthly match put on by the Greater Richmond Blasters, at the Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club in Montpelier, VA. The trip to the range took just over an hour, with most of the drive being on tree-lined country roads. I attended an IDPA match at Cavalier a couple years ago and don't recall the drive being as easy. I'm guessing I had better directions this time.

The first stage we shot consisted of a short winding path past groups of targets, many of which partially covered by white no-shoots. At the end of the path was a Texas Star that was partially obstructed by a wall.

And No-Shoots

Another fun stage started with the shooter's hands on a barrel in the center of the free fire zone, and required moving to both sides of the course at the start to engage targets while leaning around walls. A Y-split in the course tempted the shooter into a corner to engage falling steel. In what was a common theme at the match, even on shorter courses of fire, there were many options on how to engage the targets.

And No-Shoots

The next stage was a long L-shaped course with target arrays strategically placed behind vision barriers. On this course too, the theme of copious no-shoots continued. I succumbed to the allure of the "hoser stage" and ran the course a little too fast. Although I avoided all the penalty targets, I dropped too many shots into C zones.

And No-Shoots

Next up was a fun stage that began with hands on a wall on either side of the course. The stage finished with the shooter taking a knee or squatting to engage the final targets under a wall.

The final bay held both a "speed shoot" and a Classifier. The former consisted of three steel poppers, one of which activated a drop turner and a popup target. Both were disappearing targets, so any misses meant points not earned, but there was no added penalty for the miss. I was first up on this stage, and even though I had seen the action of the targets once during the walkthrough, I was surprised just how much time one had to make the shots once I was behind the gun. I rushed my shots on the first target and found myself waiting for the second target to appear. If I had it to do over, I would have shot the targets in a different order and taken more time for better hits.

The last stage was the Classifier CM 13-02, "Down the Middle." Shooting last this time, I saw lots of folks get hits on the black, so I prepared myself to make carefully aimed shots. And I got decent hits on this one, but a light primer strike on the first shot cost me time for remedial action. Still, this stage saw my best stage finish of the match, placing 4th out of 18. Yet, as in the last match, the high stage finish on the Classifier was still not good enough to help my overall classification. And, that's misfires on the last two Classifiers I've attempted. As of this posting, my gun is in the hands of my friendly neighborhood gunsmith for a long overdue refurbishing.

This was a very fun match. Despite the generous use of no-shoots by the course designers, I walked away from the match with no penalties or misses, and a 9th place finish. I've been hoping to get to the Cavalier USPSA match since they started up last year. I'm glad I finally made it. The match is well-run, fairly close by, and held on a Saturday. A Saturday match is a plus in my book. The (hopefully) temporary suspension of events at Walnut Ridge, a match I enjoyed very much, has left a gap in the calendar. Another Saturday match, even closer to home, is a welcome addition. Next month's match is loaded into my calendar. I look forward to going back to Cavalier soon.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Genocide Against Christians

In solidarity with victims of Christian genocide in Iraq whose houses are marked with an Arabic letter "n" for Nazarene, this is my mark and your mark, too, in witness together with them and all Christians in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 
Muslim Terrorists,
I'm a Christian, too.

Numerous sources are now reporting, that for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is empty of Christians. Genocide has been completed:
This evening, our brethren the Syrian (Syriac) Catholics and Chaldean Catholics, who worship in the language of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and all other Christians are gone from Mosul. There may be some hidden in various places, but all public signs of their presence are gone. The seat of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy of Mosul was completely burned down by the terrorist "Islamic State" this very evening, July 18, 2014, several converging reports seem to confirm. 
After two thousand years, it is finished. It's over.
Such has been the fate of Christendom wherever islam spreads. To believe that the oppressors don't intend the same for our own country requires a willful ignorance of history.

You can show your solidarity by making the symbol above your profile picture on social media.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nothing Significant To Report

It's been a long week. Work and family commitments kept us busy. No good beers were consumed. No lead was put down range. Hence, the dearth of blog posts.

But, have no fear. I've got range time and brewery visits planned for the weekend. There will be fun times to report soon.