Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Need of a Geography Lesson

Overhead at the pub...

Scene: Sitting at a local pub during a Heavy Seas Brewing event. Guy #1, drinking a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, pontificating to Guy #2 drinking a Blue Mountain Dark Hollow Stout.

Guy 1: "They don't serve domestic beers here."

Tactical 1st Aid & Collapse Medicine Course

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to take the Tactical First Aid and “System Collapse” Medicine course put on by Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training. Greg was in the area putting on two classes hosted by FPF Training. The day before, Greg taught his Extreme Close Quarters Gunfighting course out on the range. We weren't able to do that class, but after experiencing Greg's teaching, it's on my list of things to do now. Greg is a 19-year veteran police officer, including 13 years as the full time tactical training officer for his agency. He has a hobby of third-world travel, and as such has developed extensive knowledge on surviving outside a "civilized" medical system.

Greg starts the class by going over how the tactical first aid taught in this class differs from the "standard" Red Cross or EMT first aid procedures. Those are highly valuable skills too, but for  different situations. Think about the typical issues seen by our EMT and paramedic squads; car accidents, falls, and illnesses are probably the most common things seen. Treatment in these cases typically involves stabilizing the patient until he can be transported to a hospital. For shooters on the range, wilderness hikers, or for warriors on the battlefield, there may be no hospital nearby. There could be multiple injured persons, or gunshot victims needing treatment while the bullets are still flying. In these situations, the injury is most likely to revolve around blood loss, the circulation system, and respiration. In addition, this course covers survival during a short or long term break down of our medical system. Imagine your local hospital filled with pandemic victims. Are you willing to go to the hospital when you slice your hand open in the kitchen? Will doctors and EMTs report to work when people start dying of widespread disease? It's not hard to imagine scenarios where one might have to deal with a serious injury of a family member, or oneself, without the benefit of the local EMT responder and emergency room.

We spent a lot of time going over how to stop massive blood loss. Starting out with Israeli bandages, and other compression bandages, we learned the differences, along with how and when to use them. More importantly, we practiced applying various types of compression bandages to others and to ourselves. (It's not so easy to properly apply a pressure bandage on your own strong-side arm.)

We also covered tourniquets in depth. There's a lot of misunderstanding, and downright outdated and incorrect information regarding the proper use, safety and effectiveness of tourniquets. Much of what we know now comes from experiences in Vietnam and the Middle East conflicts. Once the pariah of emergency medicine, studies have shown that significant numbers of lives could had been saved in Vietnam by the proper application, rather than avoidance of tourniquets. After covering some of the main types of tourniquets available today, including C-A-T, SOF-T, and TK-4, we practiced their use. And again, we practiced both on partners and on ourselves. It wasn't the most pleasurable experience, but it's important to know how to apply these life-saving tools quickly and properly. We also covered the use of hemostatic agents such as Quikclot and Celox, including how to use them to transition from extended-term tourniquet use.

After lunch we moved on to respiration issues, including basic airway clearing procedures, as well as more advanced topics. Clearing a throat obstruction with an emergency cricothyroidotomy was covered. Chest cavity wounds and treating the "sucking chest wound" or tension pneumothorax was discussed next. We also covered how to relieve the pressure on the lungs by "burping" the wound or doing a needle decompression. Greg emphasized that these procedures are considered medical procedures, with related moral and legal complications, and should be considered only in emergency situations.

Moving on to circulation, we covered wound treatment including proper cleansing and disinfecting. Emphasis was placed on the difference between a quick rinse in the kitchen sink before heading to the local doc-in-a-box for treatment, and thoroughly cleansing and closing the wound in the home or field. We learned basic suturing, which we practiced on chicken thighs. Stapling and other (preferred) alternatives for closing wounds were also covered.

The final portion of the class was devoted to drugs, both over the counter and prescription. We talked about what medicines should be included in a emergency medical kit. We discussed alternatives for common drugs, as well as benefits and drawbacks. Greg also shared his experiences on how to legally obtain the discussed medicines, including prescription drugs, to prepare for travel or a collapse situation.

As a shooter, I am often at the range by myself. In the event of a serious injury, I may very well be the first responder, or the only responder. Even without the threat of a zombie apocalypse, this is important information to know and I feel better equipped after this class. Greg constantly challenged us to think about alternatives to the treatments and supplies we covered. We talked about how many of the first aid supplies, and even the packaging they come in could be multi-purposed. In fact, improvisation was a constant theme throughout the day. (Which reminds me I need to add duct tape to my kit.) After all, this is also a collapse medicine course. There are a few adjustments to be made to the contents of my range bag and my car med kit, and those fixes will be done very soon.

Greg is an excellent and highly qualified instructor. The material is presented in an interesting and engaging manner. The class was never boring, despite the heavy subject matter. There were several students in our class who were taking the course for the second time, there's so much information in the class, it's hard to retain it all at once. After the class we were given a CD with over 150 medical references as well as documents summarizing the class material. I've not even had a chance to go through that material.

As with other course reviews I've done, I've only given very high-level information here. There was much, much more information shared than is covered in this post. I'm not qualified to explain the material in detail, and it would be unfair to both Greg and the reader. Take this course if you can. For local readers, FPF Training will be hosting this and other classes from Greg next year. If you can't learn from Greg, get the training from another qualified instructors. In a tactical or collapse medicine situation, this is the stuff you need to know.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wild Wolf Brewery

Colleen, Checkered Flag and I head down to Nelson County on Saturday to take in the scenery, and breweries on Route 151. I had heard that the fall leaf viewing season was underway, so we expected crowds, and indeed they were there. When we drove past Blue Mountain Brewery, the first brewery on the "trail," we were shocked by the number of cars, but since we had other plans, we continued on. In addition to the expected fall foliage sight seers, it seemed every stop we made had wedding party celebrants in house.

We made this same trip last year, so this time were focused on the places we did not stop last time. Our first stop was Wild Wolf Brewery for lunch. Despite the lunch time crowd, it took no time at all to get a table in the outdoor seating area.


Naturally, the first decisions were regarding beer. I've only had a couple Wild Wolf beers, and they had at least 12 on tap this day, so I was a bit fraught with indecision, and I didn't want to try a bunch of tiny samplers. Eventually I settled on the Wee Heavy, and out of curiosity added a taster of Folktoberfest, the brewery's seasonal Oktoberfest beer. Colleen went for the Blonde Hunny, while Checkered Flag selected the Dry Stout.

For food, we all ended up going the BBQ route; a BBQ platter for Colleen, the House Smoked BBQ Ribs for Checkered Flag, while I strayed off the traditional path a bit with Pulled Pork Tacos.

The Folktoberfest beer was created as the official beer of the annual Richmond Folk Festival. It's a classic German Oktoberfest beer with the addition of Columbus hops, giving a crisp finish to the beer. The Wee Heavy was especially delicious and flavorful. At only 5.7% ABV, it's a mild Wee Heavy but quite enjoyable. The aroma brought forth caramel malt and dark fruit. The flavor was slightly sweet,  a little earthy and nutty, and finished with a pleasant smokiness. It was a fitting accompaniment to the BBQ Pork and spicy jalapeños in the tacos.

My dining companions shared sips of their beers as well. The Blonde Hunny is a Belgian style Blonde Ale. The refreshing unfiltered ale has some honey sweetness, along with a mild citrus and pepper spice kick to it. The Dry Stout is also quite good. It's got roasted coffee and dark chocolate, with a pleasant bitter and dry roasted finish.

All of the beers we enjoyed at Wild Wolf were very well-done. Also, the food was great. The house-smoked BBQ, in all forms, was quite tasty. We enjoyed ourselves very much sitting outside, enjoying the good food, great beer, and beautiful Autumn air. We had other stops planned, and a lot of driving to do, or I probably could have lingered at Wild Wolf for quite some time. We do look forward to going back.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday Night at Adventure Brewing

Each Friday evening there's a special treat in store at Adventure Brewing. It's Randall night! Dave, who also frequently tends the bar at Capital Ale House, dons an Adventure Brewing t-shirt and pours one of the Adventure beers infused with special ingredients. This weekend, we finally had a free Friday, so Colleen and I, along with Checkered Flag, spent it at the brewery. We arrived right at opening time, even before Dave, and listened as just about every one asked, "Where's Dave?" as they entered. This is apparently a popular and anticipated event.

This evening's special was Sweet Innocence Stout, which is Adventure Stiletto Stout pushed through vanilla beans. While we eagerly awaited that, I enjoyed one of my Adventure favorites, Second Ascent Double IPA. And food, of course we needed food too. Fat Mike's Gourmet Grub was set up outside, offering a variety of delicious fare. I opted for a Cheeseburger topped with Fried Pickles, and a side of Jalapeño Poppers. It was the perfect combo to stand up to the Double IPA.

The Randall set up, we eagerly waited as the Stiletto Stout steeped in the vanilla beans. Dave took frequent "test sips" to see if the flavors were ready. Eventually the pours began. The aroma and flavor of the vanilla, combined with the coffee and chocolate flavors of the Stout, made for a tasty and quite enjoyable drink. As the evening wore on, Dave tweaked the set up, a little more bean, more or less steeping time. We also tasted a sample later in the evening and noted the vanilla flavor, while more noticeable, had taken on a "softer" tone.



On previous Fridays, they've served Super Power Pale Ale through varied ingredients such as Cucumber, Jerky, Hops or Jalapeños. They've done an IPA with fresh hops, and Stiletto Stout with habanero and coconut. Who knows what tasty combinations will show up next!

We had a very enjoyable evening, chatting with the Adventure folks, and other friends who happened to stop by. Each time we visit Adventure, I'm struck by the "neighborhood" feel, and the friendly atmosphere to go along with the good beer. We have a bit of a trek to get to the brewery, but it's always been worth the drive.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Virginia Brewery Expansion

We've heard recently about major craft brewery expansion into Virginia. However, it's not just the big guys, our local craft breweries are growing as well. As excited as I am to see Stone and Green Flash coming to Virginia, the successes of our local brewers is even more exciting.

This week Adventure Brewing posted a help wanted ad to their Facebook page, looking for a full time brewer.
As Stafford County’s first brewery in over 250 years Adventure Brewing Company is dedicated to bringing quality craft beer to our local area. We are a small do it yourself style brewery operating on a three barrel self-engineered brewing system. Although we have been in business for only a short time, demand for our beer has been high and we find ourselves in need of a full time brewer to help meet that demand. We are looking for someone who has a creative entrepreneurial spirit who doesn’t mind rolling up his or her sleeves to accomplish whatever needs doing. The potential candidate must be someone who can operate and fix self-engineered systems and assist in the transition to a larger automated distribution sized system in 2015. We offer a competitive salary, a great working environment and the opportunity to flex your creative muscles. 
Just last weekend we were at Capital Ale House and I saw Adventure Expedition IPA on the menu, and I was very happy to see their beer being distributed. That help wanted ad also points to expanded brewing capacity. Which means we'll be seeing Adventure beer in even more places, soon.

Also this week, BadWolf Brewing posted on their blog news of a future larger location. They have located a space on the east side of Manassas City and plan a Spring 2015 opening. On Facebook they recently reported that a new 10 barrel brew system has been ordered for expanded capacity.

And BadWolf isn't just looking out for themselves. After being deterred by zoning laws in nearby Prince William County, they are being proactive in helping to change the laws to allow for other breweries to come to the county.
This time last year, we began the search for the new space and for one reason or another, it did not work out. There were several options and ideas thrown about. One of the particular jurisdictions we had considered was Prince William County, a place we grew up in and knew well. We almost picked a neat little spot in Woodbridge, which the biggest obstacle were the laws pertaining to breweries in the zone we had our eyes on. I guess "pertaining to" would be incorrect; the issue was the zone would not allow our particular business model to work. We wanted to place a brewery (just like little BadWolf) in a B-2 space. Sadly, we did not have time to wait for the process in working with zoning officials and the county to change the legislation. It was disappointing but at the same time, we had another idea. Why not pave a path for other breweries to make it easier for them to open in the B-1, B-2 zones? 
So, we proposed that they refine and update their code to help other breweries to open up in the future. Jeremy was asked to speak with several local municipalities to clarify our own business practices and current zoning in the City of Manassas. This talk, along with suggestions to the Prince William Zoning Board about ordinances pertaining to breweries is now showing results! They are moving forward with a new proposal to make it legal for a brewery like our little BadWolf model to open up in commercially zoned areas within Prince William County. This is very exciting news!!

Exciting indeed. Virginia craft beer fans are very fortunate that we have so many successful and passionate brewers providing us with good beer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Another West Coast Brewer Setting Up in Virginia

Last week we heard the news about Stone Brewing Company's expansion to Virginia. This week, San Diego based Green Flash Brewing Company broke ground on their new facility in Virginia Beach.  From the Virginian-Pilot:
The shovels that kicked off construction of a $20 million brewery in the Corporate Landing business park on Monday symbolized more than an economic development achievement for Virginia Beach.

When San Diego-based Green Flash Brewing Co. is finished building its second facility in early 2016, Virginia's craft beer output stands to increase nearly 40 percent over what specialty brewers produced last year in the commonwealth.

Couple that with Stone Brewing Co.'s announcement last week that it will build a brewery in Richmond, and the state's craft production capacity could quadruple.

We first reported on Green Flash's Virginia plans early last year. But it was still surprising news when I saw the report of the ground breaking ceremony yesterday. I guess I'd forgotten about them. Green Flash plans to build  a 7,400-square-foot tasting room and an outdoor beer garden on the site.



See "Craft brewing locally, statewide shows heady growth" for more on the Green Flash expansion and it's affect on the Virginia craft beer industry.

Photo courtesy the Green Flash Facebook page

Infantilism Has Replaced Liberalism

The trouble with the left.



Buffalo burgers, "damned delicious as well."  Heh.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Founders Pale Ale on Nitro

Sunday evening, Colleen and I decided to grab a quick dinner at Capital Ale House. Early Sunday evenings at the pub are generally quiet and we enjoy sitting at the bar and chatting. This evening it was so quiet that we both commented on the enjoyable background music and wondered if it was always playing and we missed it on our numerous previous visits.

After enjoying our meals and accompanying beers, Colleen treated herself to dessert. The desserts at Capital Ale House are made for two people (at least) so I helped a little. However, my "dessert" was a glass of Founders Pale Ale served on nitro. I generally associate Porters and Stouts with nitro servings, though using the gas on other beers is not unheard of, so I ordered a glass, strictly out of curiosity.



As I saw the server bringing my glass over, I immediately thought of a pour of Boddington's Pub Ale. The beer had the unmistakeable creamy appearance from top to bottom, and the glass was topped with fine foam. I said to Colleen, "Quick, get a picture" since the beer was rapidly clearing as the bubbles rose to the top. The Pale Ale doesn't hold the creamy appearance for long. The bitter citrus flavor of Founders Pale Ale is muted somewhat by the nitro serving, but it is still quite flavorful. As expected the mouthfeel was smooth and creamy. The nitro-induced creaminess lasted throughout the glass, even as the liquid cleared in appearance.

I rather enjoyed the Founders Pale Ale on nitro, and will look for it, and other Pale Ale's served that way in the future.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Beer and Flies

A recent study has shown a mutually beneficial relationship between fruit flies and beer. 
The familiar smell of beer is due in part to aroma compounds produced by common brewer's yeast. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports, have discovered why the yeast, formally known as S. cerevisiae, make that smell: the scent attracts fruit flies, which repay the yeast by dispersing their cells in the environment. 
Yeast lacking a single aroma gene fail to produce their characteristic odor, and they don't attract fruit flies either. 
"Two seemingly unrelated species, yeasts and flies, have developed an intricate symbiosis based on smell," said Kevin Verstrepen of KU Leuven and VIB in Belgium. "The flies can feed on the yeasts, and the yeasts benefit from the movement of the flies."

As a graduate student, the researcher had been studying how yeast contributes to the flavor of beer and wine. (Sure, it was all for science.) After discovering that yeast cells produce several pleasing aroma compounds similar to those produced by ripening fruits, he came across a yeast culture that had attracted a swarm of fruit flies which had escaped from another lab. That early experience led to this study years later.

And that's why beer steins have lids.


Picture from Texas Celtic.

Guest Wi-Fi: Not So Much

I was enjoying dinner and beer at a local pub recently and attempted to use their Wi-Fi, something I had done in the past at this same location.


Locked Wi-Fi access sort of defeats the whole "guest" thing, don't you think?