Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Next To "Belgianize"?

There's a trend among brewers to create new beers that are a blend of traditional styles. The cider makers are picking up on that too. The folks at Woodchuck Cidery have added a new product to their Private Reserves lineup. They've added a belgian yeast strain to cider to create Private Reserve Belgian White. We've previously look at other "Belgianized" styles, such as the "Belgian IPA" from Flying Dog Brewery, Raging Bitch. I've recently come to enjoy ciders, and have written about a couple from Woodchuck already, so this is intriguing.

There was a time when the thought of adding belgian yeasts to disparate beer (and cider) styles would have turned off this fan of hoppy beers. However, there's something about the sharpness of hops and the funk of Belgian yeast that makes for a good mix. I'm pretty sure I'll like it in a sharp cider too.

We seem to be limited to finding the basic Woodchuck ciders in our area so I don't know if I'll get to try it or not, but it does sound interesting.

Of course this trend will probably only serve to increase the enormity of the beer styles guides.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gnat Shooting

Now this looks like fun. In a twist on shooting clays, "Gnat" shooting lets participants take aim at a specially designed remote controlled airplane. The sport was developed in, of all places, the United Kingdom. The target plane, which flies at speeds up to 80mph, has 10 flash pads attached to its underside that explode when hit. Hitting three pods at the same time can even bring down the plane.

"Real planes. Real Shotguns." Sounds like real fun.

Monday, February 27, 2012

There Goes Your Tip

At an Ash Wednesday celebration meeting, a waiter accidentally spilled several beers down the back of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Chancellor appears to have taken it in stride. The waiter was reportedly serving the beer as a favor for a nervous colleague. You know what they say about "No good deed going unpunished."

Complete story here.

Feast of St. Gabriel Possenti

February 27 is the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti. The Saint is honored as "the gun Saint" due to the marksmanship skills he is said to have displayed when rescuing his Italian village from a band of violent soldiers in 1860. Tradition states that as a young seminarian, Possenti faced the marauders after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. He took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town.

The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting St. Gabriel Possenti as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense.

When young Gabriel joined the Passionists in 1856 he was given the name "Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows." He died from tuberculosis at the age of 23 in 1862 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920. I was pleased when our parish was recently presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti.

A previous post on St. Gabriel Possenti, with more details of his meeting with the soldiers can be found here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Great Lakes Beer Dinner

It's finally here! The much-anticipated entry of Great Lakes Brewery into the Virginia market officially begins on February 27. There are several "tap takeover" events taking place around Northern VA. The first official Great Lakes Beer Dinner will be held on March 1, right here in Fredericksburg at Capital Ale House.
Welcome Beer - Eliot Ness Amber Lager 
1st Course - Chestnut Soup topped with Sourdough Sage Croutons paired with Dortmunder Gold Lager 
2nd Course - Tapas plate of house made Bread n Butter Pickles, Polish Kielbasa, Sauerkraut Balls, Fontina Cheese and Smoked Cheddar paired with Burning River Pale Ale 
3rd Course - Jerk Seasoned Walleye stuffed with Roasted Red Peppers and Baby Spinach over Wild Rice paired with Commodore Perry IPA 
4th Course - Blackberry stuffed Pierogies finished with Coffee Infused Porter Reduction paired with Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

There will also be tasting events held around town that day, at Wegmans and Total Wine.

Tickets to the dinner are available at Capital Ale House. The dinner will be held from 7:00PM - 9:00PM and tickets cost $35. As of this writing they were not available online.

Saintly Wisdom

From Saint Josemaría Escrivá:
It is not true that there is opposition between being a good Catholic and serving civil society faithfully. In the same way there is no reason why the Church and the State should clash when they proceed with the lawful exercise of their respective authorities, in fulfillment of the mission God has entrusted to them. Those who affirm the contrary are liars, yes, liars! They are the same people who honour a false liberty, and ask us Catholics "to do them the favour" of going back to the catacombs. (Furrow, 301)
Saint Josemaría Escrivá died in June 1975. Many years later we still find truth in his wisdom. First published in 1986, Furrow is a compilation of the Saint's spiritual reflections and meditations.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sunday Liquor Sales

In Virginia, liquor cannot be sold on Sundays. Well, except where it can be sold. In an inexplicable twist of logic, Sunday liquor sales are allowed in urban areas, but forbidden in the rural parts of the state. Fredericksburg is one of those rural areas where the residents apparently cannot be trusted with such Sunday responsibilities. But, Virginia lawmakers have voted to correct that prejudice.
State-owned liquor stores in Virginia have the OK from the General Assembly to start selling booze on Sundays.
The Senate voted Thursday to allow the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board to keep any liquor store it chooses open on Sundays. Currently, only urban areas and localities with a population greater than 100,000 people are eligible to sell alcohol throughout the entire week.
The bill previously passed the House but was hung up in the Senate when an effort to give that authority to localities gained momentum and passed the chamber earlier this week. But the Senate voted again Thursday and passed the House version of the bill 25-15.
Governor McDonnell has said that he will sign the legislation.

See "Va. Senate approves Sunday liquor sales for state-owned stores".

Friday, February 24, 2012

Redneck Lent

Each Friday night after work, Bubba would fire up his outdoor grill and cook a venison steak. But, all of Bubba's neighbors were Catholic. Since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating meat on Friday.

The delicious aroma from the grilled venison steaks was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their priest. The Priest came to visit Bubba, and suggested that he become a Catholic. After several classes and much study, Bubba was converted. At the Mass, as the priest sprinkled holy water over Bubba, he said, "You were born a Baptist, and raised a Baptist, but now you are a Catholic."

Bubba's neighbors were greatly relieved, until the first Friday night arrived, and the wonderful aroma of grilled venison once again filled the neighborhood. The neighbors called the Priest immediately. As the priest rushed into Bubba's yard, clutching a rosary and prepared to scold him, he stopped and watched in amazement. There stood Bubba, clutching a small bottle of holy water which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meat and chanted: "You wuz born a deer, you wuz raised a deer, but now you is a catfish."

Seasonal Changes

Yesterday I made a run to the "candy store" to pick up the newly arrived Tröegs Nugget Nectar. I look forward with much anticipation to this intense citrus hop delight every year. Not only do I immensely enjoy this beer, for me, it's also my sign that Spring is not far behind. (The 72° temperature was also a hint on this day.)

As I made my way to the register to check out I spied a stack of New Belgium Snow Day. The "out of season" beer was marked down in order to clear it out. We tried this beer for the first time a few months ago, and enjoyed it very much. So how could I resist? Interestingly, the first time I bought Snow Day it was an impulse purchase, and it was again this time. Do you think I need to work on better impulse control? I don't think so either.

So there it is — a beer run that resulted in both a replenished supply of an excellent Winter beer to get us through the remaining cool days, and the first (at least) case of my favorite Spring beer to herald the approaching warmer weather.

There was a side benefit of the impulse purchase as well. Adding in some other random purchases, my beer store tab was actually greater than my gas bill to fill up the car later that day. That sort of takes some of the sting out of the rapidly increasing price of gasoline.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Razor! Or Not.

Over at Gadgets and Gear they're offering a uniquely shaped bottle opener. The 4 1/2" x 2 1/4" brushed stainless steel tool is designed to look like a double-edge safety razor blade. It's cool looking but what popped into my head was this; how do you think the TSA would react to this in a traveler's bag? The agency's list of prohibited items specifically indicates such a blade as forbidden in carry-on luggage.

But it's not a real razor blade you say. Surely the men and women in the police costumes can recognize that. Don't be so sure. These are the same people who detained a teenager because she had a gun-shaped pattern sewn on her purse.

When traveling I'll stick with my trusty, and obvious, Blue & Gray keychain bottle opener.

Tool or Weapon?

Humor Diversion

Jack Daniel's Fishing Story
I went fishing this morning but after a short time I ran out of worms. Then I saw a cottonmouth with a frog in his mouth. Frogs are good bass bait. 
Knowing the snake couldn't bite me with the frog in his mouth, I grabbed him right behind the head, took the frog, and put it in my bait bucket. 
Now the dilemma was how to release the snake without getting bit. So, I grabbed my bottle of Jack Daniel's and poured a little whiskey in its mouth. His eyes rolled back, he went limp. I released him into the lake without incident and carried on fishing using the frog.

A little later, I felt a nudge on my foot. It was that snake, with two more frogs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Varieties of Gun Control Advocates

I recently mused about the trustworthiness of a person who objects to the right of self-defense or who advocates "gun control." Over at JFPO, there's an article which looks at the mindset, and motivations of the propagandists who work against our rights.
The right of decent private citizens to personally possess, transport, and responsibly use arms without government interference is the ultimate freedom and the main pillar supporting all other liberties. Few cultures have allowed their general population access to weapons, the tools of power, to the same degree as the United States. Instead, most societies have restricted the keeping and bearing of arms to a select few power brokers and their agents, often resulting in oppression on a grand scale
Despite a massive amount of historical evidence to the contrary, there is a substantial body of Americans, many occupying positions of influence, who contend that the abrogation of the Second Amendment is the quickest path to domestic tranquility. Since this is as absurd as advocating blood-letting as a cure for anemia, it would seem advisable to question the motives and mentalities of the gun control advocates themselves.
The author goes on to list seven categories these oppressors fall into.
  1. Elitists
  2. Authoritarians
  3. Criminals
  4. The Fearful
  5. Ideological Chameleons
  6. Security Monopolists
  7. The Dysfunctionally Unworldly
I found the divisions, and the accompanying descriptions, to be frightenly accurate. Go read the article. It makes for a good defense to know the enemy.

Here: The Seven Varieties of Gun Control Advocate


And so it begins. This period of prayer and penance before Easter is so often dreaded by some of my fellow Catholics. But this is a period of renewal. A chance to begin anew. It goes well beyond giving up chocolate, or beer. While those choice are not by themselves wrong, I feel that it may miss the point. Sure, sacrifice is the theme of the liturgical season, but sacrifice can be a means to joy. It's a path to a permanent improvement in our lives, not a change lasting merely 40 days.

I will sacrifice more of my time for prayer and spiritual reading. I will sacrifice my enjoyment of some pleasure for the sake of joining myself to the suffering of Jesus on the cross. Sure, on this Ash Wednesday I'll be hungry as I willingly meet my obligation of abstinence and fasting. But what a minor suffering that will be. These sacrifices are not meant to punish myself, they are intended to make me stronger.

Lent should be a time after which we find ourselves better than when we started. I pray that my additional time spent in prayer will continue. I pray those extra efforts to help others will inspire me to continue that charity year-round. I pray that you find the same renewal.

May you have a wonderful and growth-filled Lent.

Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. -- Matthew 6; 1-6

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Back At The Range, Finally

Between some inclement weather, family commitments, and range crowding, we haven't been able to shoot for a a couple of weeks. Finally the planets aligned Monday (ie, I finished work on time and it wasn't snowing) so we headed out late in the afternoon. We set up the "shooting gallery" of the day with a variety of targets; 2 USPSA paper targets, 2 - 10" steel plates, and the previously mentioned 3" spinner array.

We rarely just "stand and shoot," though that's certainly fun at times too. Our regular shooting companion is especially adept at coming up with challenging tests of our skills. I like to practice drills and exercises that may help in competition and/or self-defense, while still keeping it fun. This day we certainly did just that. We warmed up on the paper and the small spinners. While we did a variety of drills this trip, but most of our shooting was done on the move. In one drill we started back at about 15 yards and sprinted to a mark around 7 yards and then made attempted 2 head (upper A zone) shots on the USPSA targets. This was a "race" we ran in pairs for some extra pressure.

And then it got interesting. Starting at the 10 yard line, we shot at the 10" steel plates, while walking backwards and shooting weak-hand only. The shooter would fire 8-10 rounds while walking backwards, finishing at about 15-18 yards. We then repeated the drill while advancing. I always try to spend a bit of time single-hand shooting, but I don't recall expending so many rounds weak-handed, and definitely not on the move at those distances. Now if this would only carry over to the competitions after the buzzer! I like using the steel for these repeated, multiple shot exercises as it gives instant feedback, and there's no pasting targets. 

Before we knew it, the sun was setting, and it was getting cold(er). We packed up, policed our brass and got out just before dark, with fingers numb from the cold.

It was a really fun day, and a bit humbling at times. But the fun wasn't over. After dinner we remembered that Carl's was now open for the season, so we made a dessert run for hot fudge maple nut sundaes. That was about the only fitting way to top off a great time at the range!

Monday, February 20, 2012

George Washington's Distillery And Other Tidbits

Here's a bit of trivia in honor of the Washington's Birthday holiday.

First, officially it's NOT Presidents Day. That's a name apparently adopted by the retail industry to promote sales. The official federal holiday is Washington's Birthday. In Virginia, the day is known as George Washington Day.

George Washington established a distillery at his Mount Vernon estate. He was once the nation's largest distiller in 1799, making over 11,000 gallons of whiskey. The distillery has been restored and is open for tours. Our first president was also a brewer of beer.

Colloquially, this day is called Presidents Day in order to also honor other U.S. Presidents. Some states, and most retailers include Abraham Lincoln in today's celebration. Abe Lincoln it seems had a connection to the distilled spirits as well. At one point in his life Lincoln operated several taverns in Kentucky.

Even Thomas Jefferson got into the act. At the President's historic home Monticello, visitors can buy a beer inspired by a recipe created by Jefferson.

Unfortunately the other denizen of that great presidential monument, Mount Rushmore, Theodore Roosevelt, worked hard, though unsuccessfully, to restrict the sales of alcohol during his term as Police Commissioner of New York City.

In addition to guns, our great country has had a long and successful connection with alcohol production. It seems we've done okay, until the prohibitionists started interfering in both industries.

I Got Nothing

Long, fun, and busy "family stuff" weekend. No shooting. No interesting beer. Sleep deficit. And now it's Monday.

But, here's a rabbit with a pancake on its head.

Back later.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blog Roll Additions

Here are a few recent additions to the blog links found in the Shooting & Freedom tab, found at the top of the page.

Way Up North
Posts by Rev. Paul way up in Anchorage, Alaska. He remind us that "God, guns and guts made the Union the greatest in the world - we forget that at our peril." Well said.

The Silicon Graybeard
Graybeard writes on a variety of subjects. He describes himself as "an older engineer, leaning toward liberty, firearms, radio, home machine shops and other techno-geeky activities." Interesting and timely.

"Og" says he mistrusts "any human being who will not have a beer (unless he/she is a recovering alcoholic)." I find his posts insightful and he shows no tolerance for fools. I like that.

Take a few minutes and check out these interesting blogs. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beer, Food, Fireplace: Mental Illness

Imagine you're writing an article on substance abuse and mental illness. Does a craft beer dinner in front of a roaring fire spring to mind? Apparently it does to the publishers if the Officer View - Law Enforcement web site.

While summarizing a Reuters report on mental illness, they selected the bucolic image in the screen shown above. The Reuters article, which does not use the beer picture, mentions, in passing, a higher rate of substance abuse among those with mental illness.

Friday, February 17, 2012

XS Flashlight For iPhone

I admit it, I'm a bit of a nerd geek, especially when it comes to new "apps" to add to my iPhone. I posted about a flashlight app for the iPhone last year. That utility has been on my phone since, and used fairly frequently. Recently I was introduced to another iPhone flashlight utility — XS Flashlight.

Unlike Flashlight reviewed previously, XS Flashlight does one thing, and one thing only. It turns on the iPhone LED. Period. The app is designed to come on instantly when you tap the application icon. The developers claim to have minimized the code and removed all unnecessary graphics. In fact the only interface is a button to turn off the light without leaving the app, and a screen for developer contact and social media sharing. The accompanying screenshot is admittedly pointless. There's no brightness setting (the LED is turned on full blast) or color blinking options. The social media tie-in is a bit superfluous, but the developer can be forgiven for building in a little promotion. The app checks in at a mere 0.3 MB.

Granted, it could be said that one should always carry a tactical flashlight. But there are times that's not convenient, or when I'm negligent. For those times, taking advantage of the iPhone's bright LED is a handy option to have. I think I'll be keeping the XS Flashlight on my phone.

XF Flashlight is available in the App Store for 99¢

Note: I received a free copy of the XS Flashlight from the developer for possible review.

A Priest Walks Into A Bar...

And then into a garden.

The Reverend Andrew O’Connor of Holy Family Church in the Bronx is a fan of craft beer. He recently met up with the brewers at Bronx Brewery and a partnership was launched. The brewery supplied 20 hop starter plants for the Priest who will grow them in his rectory garden. The brewery will use the fresh hops in its beer.

Says Father O'Connor, "There’s a lot more to be done with beer. It has immediate satisfaction. And the religious connotation is wonderful, too."

Read more at "A Bronx priest walks into a local brewery...and decides to grow hops for them in his parish garden".

H/T to Stan Hieronymus via Twitter.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Media Prefers To Aid Criminals

A bill to keep newspapers from publishing the personal information of Conceal Weapons Permit holders was killed by the Virginia Senate.
RICHMOND—A state Senate committee has killed a bill to close concealed-weapons permit information to public view.
Del. Mark Cole, R–Spotsylvania, said he brought the bill because he doesn’t think concealed-carry permits should be public, the way marriage licenses and divorce decrees are.
“This would treat the concealed-carry permit info similar to how we currently treat things like driver’s licenses,” which are not open to the public, Cole said.
His bill, which had already passed the House, was supported by gun-rights groups, which say publicizing the information could endanger those who get concealed-carry permits for protection.
News organizations, including the Virginia Press Association opposed the privacy measure. It's interesting how the newspapers won't report the full addresses of violent criminal and child molesters, citing "privacy." However, they adamantly fight for their supposed "right" to publish the addresses of legal gun owners. That speaks volumes about the motives of the mainstream media. Not only do they regularly hide the personal information of people who are a threat to the general welfare of society, they demand the right to inform that same constituency of where they might find a valuable burglary target. The media simply could not care less about the safety and privacy of women who might need to arm themselves due to threats on their lives.

The press claims they only publish the personal information of gun owners when it relates to a story. That's a choice they currently make, and one they could choose to change anytime. Fredericksburg's own Free Lance-Star also chooses to publish the personal information of those applying for concealed carry permits on a regular basis.

In squashing the stereotype that Republicans are all in the pocket of the NRA, Republican Senator Tommy Norment, R–James City, sided with the press in their disdain for the privacy of law-abinding citizens.

See "Weapon-permit secrecy bill dies".

Virginia Out Of The Running For New Belgium Brewery

Despite previous hints that New Belgium Brewery was considering Virginia for an East Coast facility, it appears the state is not on the short list, according to the Denver Business Journal.
Colorado's New Belgium Brewing Co. has narrowed its list of potential East Coast brewery sites to two: the Philadelphia area and Asheville, N.C.
Fort Collins-based New Belgium, which produces Fat Tire Ale, said the facility would create 100 to 120 jobs. It would produce up to 500,000 barrels a year, in kegs and bottles, and serve as an East Coast distribution center, New Belgium spokesman Bryan Simpson said.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported last November that New Belgium was considering four potential East Coast locations.

The brewery's beers are available in Virginia and surrounding states, but supplies and selection are somewhat limited. An east Coast brewery would help eliminate that issue.

A decision on the new location is not expected before June.

See "New Belgium Brewing narrows choice of East Coast sites".

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Painting With Beer

We've all heard of the myriad of claimed uses for beer; as shampoo, as a slug trap, furniture polish, even in a massage. But here's one I've never heard before, as paint. Oregon artist Karen Eland uses different beers as the medium for her artwork. With amazing results.

Eland gets inspiration from historical photos involving beer, as well as classic art and vintage beer ads. She began by painting with coffee before moving to beer. Says Eland, "People always wonder if I drink and paint at the same time. Just like with the coffee, I can..."

For more on the artist and her work see her website at

More here too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Gun In Starbucks

Not shown:
At least 2 3 responsibly carried guns
They warned us it was going to happen. Sure enough a bunch of gun clingers armed themselves with all manner of handguns, and headed into Starbucks all over the country today. They were there to make a point.

What happened next? They purchased expensive flavored and cream laden coffees, and left. That's it. Despite the warnings of the untrustworthy, there was no violence. Spilled coffee did not result in bloodshed.

Point made.

By some counts, more than 23,000 supporters of the Constitution were expected to take part. I wonder how many new names the FBI gained for its "terrorists pay cash for their coffee" list.

Northern Virginia BrewFests - Save the Dates

5th Annual Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest
Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2012 - 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM 
Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia

6th Annual Northern Virginia BrewFest 
Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
 Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM 
Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, Virginia

My Valentine

It's a stereotype we've all heard. Husbands who have to sneak beer into the house. Or new gun purchases. I've long gotten a kick during such discussions of reminding folks that I don't have to sneak around, that my wife knows and appreciates good beer. And she shoots too! I love the incredulous looks when someone asks her about "my" interests in craft beer or shooting and they find out and that she can hold her own in both those areas as well. And I enjoy a chuckle at the ones who are a little bit intimidated by that!

That's my valentine! She's a great wife and a loving mother. And my best friend.

Happy Valentine's Day Colleen!

Yea, it's kind of like that.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fortunately The Mailbox Didn't Explode

As anyone who grew up watching Star Trek knows, you don't mix matter and anti-matter together carelessly, without dire consequences. Fortunately the same reaction cannot be said of pro-gun and anti-gun matter. Both of these mailings were delivered to my mailbox today.

For anyone who isn't aware, the AARP is staunchly anti-gun and anti-2nd Amendment. They will never get my money.

Something Warming From The Cellar

Winter finally came to Virginia this weekend. A high of about 32° and blustery winds made for a fine Sunday to stay inside. But of course there was lots of outdoors time to come. After Mass in the morning I stood around outside visiting with a friend. Once back home, those Christmas lights had to come off the bushes (finally). Later that evening, Colleen and I did a shift at the Scrip sales table outside the church for the Sunday 5:00PM Mass. Needless to say, by Sunday evening I was ready to get, and stay warm.

How to warm up at the end of the day? Colleen made a great start with a hearty, and delicious, spicy Italian sausage and pasta dish. But still more was needed. I decided it was time for a "big beer." I went to the basement and started looking through the bottles stashed away. I settled on a 2009 Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.

The beer poured pitch black with a frothy mocha-colored head. The head quickly dropped leaving behind a thin ring. (I was unable to resist a sip or two before I took the attached picture.) The aroma is that of dark bitter chocolate, with a hint of alcohol hitting the nose. The flavor is mix of dark chocolate and roasted espresso. There's a touch of bitter hops as well. In the finish that sought after alcohol warmth is felt, starting in the back of the throat and continuing down.

My impression is that some of the roasted and bitter hops notes have decreased slightly with age, but are still quite prominent. Interestingly the alcohol taste and aromas are still quite evident, perhaps even enhanced by the lessening of the masking bitter hop flavors.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate is a very enjoyable winter drink. I pick some up each year when it hits the shelves. At 10% ABV it's not an everyday beer, but rather a special treat when the occasion, or weather, warrants. I'll be enjoying many vintages of Black Chocolate Stout for many years in the future. I started putting away several bottles each year starting back in 2006.

I also posted a review of a "fresh" bottle of this excellent beer from Brooklyn Brewery back in December 2007.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Governor McDonnell Improves His Beer Choice

A couple of years ago we learned that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has a preference for Miller Lite. Now it appears he is learning a bit about good beer. Really good beer in fact.

Nelson County Life is reporting that Governor McDonnell and First Lady, Maureen McDonnell took a tour recently of the Devils Backbone production brewery in Lexington.

©2012 : Photo By Yvette Stafford : Jason Oliver (left) head brewmaster at DBBC, gives Governor Bob McDonnell & VA first lady Maureen McDonnell a tour of the new outpost production facility in Lexington this past Friday 2.10.12
See "VA Governor Bob McDonnell Tours Devils Backbone Outpost In Lexington" for the story and more pictures.

Beer Bottle Chandelier

I guess this qualifies as one of those gifts for the beer fan who has everything. makes beer bottle enhanced sconces and chandeliers. The lights are decorative frames that hold beer bottles which are illuminated from behind. Since you supply the beer bottles, I suppose the colors and designs are limited only by your beer preferences.

They're a little rich for my bank account, but if any of my friends decide to order, I'll be happy to help you furnish it.

See more designs here.

(I have association with the company. Simply reporting what I find interesting.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cover Me

When Colleen and I are shooting together, we'll occasionally include scenario and verbalization drills in our training. Some of those involve providing cover while the other reloads.

Who knew?

And vice versa.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Start 'em Young

Saw this on Overheard in D.C.
Beer snobbery starts at home

In the beer aisle of the Adams Morgan Harris Teeter, 1:00 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday:

A 30-something mother has her two-year-old son in the seat in the cart facing the fridge.

Child: (pointing towards a row of Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPAs) "Fish!"
Mom: (laughs, to self) "Haha. Fish. (To child, slowly enunciating) Dog-fish-Head!"
Child: "Dogfish Head."
Well, okay then.

2012 Beer Style Guidelines

The Brewers Association has released their 2012 Beer Style Guidelines. Frankly, it's a bit overwhelming and bewildering. I am an admitted craft beer fan. I like trying out new beers, and I enjoy (attempting) to speak intelligently about them. But, the guidelines by which beers are judged in the United States lists 140 unique categories of beer!

The publishers base their guidelines on historical significance, authenticity or a high profile in the current commercial beer market. Each entry includes a detailed description of the beer giving information such as ABV, aroma, appearance, along with historical notes where appropriate. All of this is of great importance to brewers and judges. For the rest of us it does provide some interesting, even if superfluous, information.

Did I mention there are 140 different styles?

See the 2012 Beer Style Guidelines for all the gory details.

PSA For Men

You're welcome.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Lines Are Drawn

There's a battle over religious freedom brewing in the United States. Currently the aggressors are focusing on the Catholic faithful. However, people of all faiths should be concerned. While the opening volley happens to focus on the Catholic church, this is ultimately an attack on all Americans and on the freedoms we treasure. Russell Shaw opined last year that religious persecution in the United States "will be a tight-lipped campaign of secularist inspiration in which the coercive power of the state is brought to bear on church-related institutions to act against conscience or go out of business."

The declaration by President Barack Hussein Obama ordering the Catholic Church to violate its fundamental beliefs was only the first wave of an assault that shows no sign of letting up. The president's declaration was met, thankfully, by indignation by the Church in the U.S. Over most of the country last weekend, Catholics heard statements from their Bishops, read during Mass, condemning this attack. Here in the Arlington Diocese, we heard a statement from Bishop Loverde.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of Military Services also issued a statement to be read by chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces. In an unmitigated attack on religious freedom, the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains told Catholic chaplains they could not read the statement. Think about that for a moment — a branch of the United States military ordering the silencing of the Catholic chaplains. Not only is the Obama administration telling the Church it must implement polices that violate the First Amendment and that are directly contrary to teachings of the faith, the administration is now invading the sanctuary by trying to control what is preached from the pulpit. If a politician opens a meeting with a prayer, the left, and the ACLU, get their knickers all in a twist. Yet when the federal government tries to control what a Priest says from the pulpit the silence is deafening.

The freedom of religion in the U.S. was once sacrosanct. No more. This administration, aided by the leftist media, has drawn a line in the sand and is daring the faithful to cross it.

This is not the first time the Church has faced a state-sponsored war. If this battle is to be won, it's time for the 25% of Americans who claim to be Catholic to stand up and be Catholic. Stop supporting heretical "catholics" like Biden, Pelosi and Sebelius. Learn what the Catholic Church really teaches and speak out. We must not stand idly by while the Church is attacked, and ultimately freedom is destroyed. Remember the words of Pope Pius XI"Let us thank God that he makes us live among the present problems; it is no longer permitted to anyone to be mediocre."

Virginia Moonshiner Busted

Last month, the diligent agents of VA Alcoholic Beverage Control busted a Roanoke County man for running an illegal still.
Special agents with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) have apprehended a man for manufacture of illegal whiskey in Roanoke County. 
Last Friday, Jan. 27, agents located two active distilleries and said they witnessed a man manufacturing illegal booze.
The agents arrested James Ricky Lyle, 61, of the 2000 block of Sunnyvale Street, in a bust that they said started 18 months ago. 
They seized two active copper stills,--one 75 gallon still and one 50 gallon still—four firearms, $11,000 in cash, and lots of mason jars.

I added the emphasis in the third paragraph. The State spent 18 months investigating and then confiscating 200 gallons of moonshine. Since the VA ABC exists to generate revenue for the state, was that a good return on the investment in tax dollars? You decide.

See "ABC agents bust Va. moonshiner for more on this story.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's A Major Award

Well, maybe not major, but I'm flattered nonetheless. Two bloggers who I read regularly nominated Musings Over A Pint for this award. I'm not sure where or how it started, but the Liebster Blog award is sort of a chain letter of mutual admiration passed among bloggers.

First, "TinCan Assassin" who blogs at Nine Pound Sledgehammer sent it my way. TC is a fellow Catholic and gun enthusiast. Soon after than, Andy over at In Search of the Tempestuous Sea passed on the nomination. Andy is a fellow Virginian, gun enthusiast and computer geek. I read both of these blogs regularly and I'm humbled that they thought of me.

But here's where I fall down on the job. The "rules" that go along with the award is that I'm supposed to nominate 5 other bloggers, who have less than 200 followers, and then comment on their blogs to let them know. I started going through my blog list and found that so many of them have already been awarded, often more than once. Of course, the two bloggers mentioned above would have been at the top of my list.

Instead I offer this for my readers. First, visit Nine Pound Sledgehammer and In Search of the Tempestuous Sea and read what these guys have to say. Then click on the tabs at the top of top of this blog and visit the many blogs listed therein. These are all blogs I read regularly. If they all weren't worthy of an award I wouldn't be reading them.

That's Not A Solution

I have a friend who drinks Miller Lite exclusively. And he adds salt to it before he drinks it. I once asked him why and he replied it improved the taste. Huh? Naturally I suggested he simply start with a better tasting beer in the first place. He was unconvinced.

Now there's a new product called "Hops Drops" that was developed as a flavor enhancing addition for cheap beer.

Which brings me back to the question I asked of my swill-salting friend, "Why not start with good tasting beer in the first place?"

As an aside, I was once told the idea of putting salt in beer came from WW II vets returning from Europe who were disgusted by the taste of mass-market swill available in the states. In the 1940's they may have had an excuse. With the abundance of good breweries today, there's no excuse.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cash & Coffee Terrorists

If there's any doubt of the direction President Barack Hussein Obama and his cooperators are taking us, one just has to look to the administration's own words.

The FBI and the Department of Justice have issued a series of pamphlets to promote spying and suspicion among U.S. citizens. An instructional guide for internet cafés is especially onerous. According to the FBI, paying cash for your cup of coffee while you suck down free internet is deemed "suspicious." If you also happen to have an email account with a "home provider" such as AOL or Comcast, that adds to the possibility that federals will deem you a possible terrorist.

What could possibly go wrong?

I suspect that heading to Starbucks on February 14 will earn you a few more demerits from the new order guards too.

Music Of The Day I Was Born

This was the Number 1 song in the U.S. on the day I was born.

Does it mean anything? No, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.

Thanks to my sweet wife for pointing out this bit of trivia.

Overcrowded Range Saga Continues

You may remember back in December I posted about a day we were unable to shoot due to overcrowded ranges. There have been numerous times since then when waited while other folks finished, but we usually, but not always, got to use the range after not too much of a wait.

On Monday I had one last day of leave time to burn and had made plans to spend some time at the range with my wife. We headed over before lunch and found both ranges already in use, each with multiple folks shooting. So we went home, had lunch and came back. We missed the shooter switch at one range, but the other was still occupied by the same folks. They'd been there over 2 hours. Still sitting in the same chairs, shooting a .22 rifle from a bench rest at a target 7 yards downrange.

One of the conditions exasperating the crowding issue is that the club sets no limit on the number of members they accept, yet there's been no expansion of the facilities to handle the growth. Over the past few months we've noticed a significant increase in the number of folks using the ranges, and a corresponding increase in wait times, or times we can't shoot at all. I had a conversation with one of the club officials recently concerning the increasing crowded conditions and he agreed there was an issue. He said perhaps they would need to set a time limit when other folks were waiting. I don't know what the answer is, but I'm hoping I can attend next month's club meeting and speak to someone about the issue.

I find it noteworthy that this increase in the range use has taken place despite it being the winter months.

I'm spoiled. I've grown accustomed to using this range with little or no waiting time. Unfortunately there's no way to know, until after we've loaded the car and driven over there, if we'll actually be able to shoot.

I'm somewhat adverse to paying good money to stand in a lane at an indoor range. I find them very restricting; no holster draw, no rapid fire, no movement, no multiple targets, no clue who's next to you...
I am admittedly jealous of you folks who have backyard ranges.

For now, I guess it's time to settle for dry fire practice.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Flying Dog Wildeman Tasting

We saw the promotional video for Flying Dog's Wildeman last month. This weekend I got to satisfy my curiosity and actually drink this new beer from the Frederick, MD brewery.

In brewing Wildeman, Flying Dog Brewing continues in the tradition of its Raging Bitch IPA. Described as a "Farmhouse IPA," Wildeman takes its cues from two (so we thought) distinct styles of beer, Saison and India Pale Ale.

The beer pours a cloudy peach-orange color with a frothy white head. I chose to use a Flying Dog pint glass for my drink but a Chimay-style glass would be most fitting. Mild carbonation continues to feed the foam, though it eventually drops to a thin layer. The aroma is fruity with a hint of yeast. The flavor is initially reminiscent of a funky Saison, as expected from the aroma. That is followed by tart fruit and citrus notes. The mouthfeel is sharp and drying. A mild bitter flavor lingers in the end.

I drank the beer without having any food to go along with it, but it did make me long for a sharp cheese, perhaps some Irish Dubliner. Wildeman will be available year-round in the mid-Atlantic region. Flying Dog Widleman Farmhouse IPA is an enjoyable beer. I'd place it closer to a Saison, but the IPA influence is there. If you're looking for something a little different, this would be one to try.

Note: This bottle of Wildeman was an unsolicited sample from the brewery. I drank it and reviewed it of my own free will.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blue Mountain Featured in Nelson County Promo

Blue Mountain Brewery was featured in the "Live Where You Love: Nelson County, Virginia" promotion from Nest Reality.

It's a cool sign of the times see a Virginia craft brewery being shown as a highlight of the community.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

5 Beers No Man Should Drink After 25

I came across this tongue-in-cheek (or not?) article that lists the beers you should give up after college. The writer opines:
You had your fun in college. Now it’s time to stop drinking crappy beers. Pour yourself a good micro brew from Vermont or Colorado and take a few lessons here. If you’re 25 or older and drink any of the following beers, you’re simply stuck in the past. You’re one of those hangers-on. All your friends are talking behind your back and speculating about when you’ll get a job and get on with your life. Some are even placing bets. It may also help if you stop crashing on the couch of the fraternity house and get a real apartment, you deadbeat.
Here they are:
  • Milwaukee’s Best
  • Keystone Light
  • Budweiser
  • Busch
  • Schlitz
Whew, I'm good.

See the article for the not-so-tasty details.

Pub Food At Home

Check out these easy, and very tasty sounding recipes, perfect for Super Bowl feasting. They come courtesy of Mad Fox Brewing Executive Chef Russel Cunningham.

View more videos at:

The recipes are available here

That Buffalo Chicken Pizza sure looks good. The Frickles too. And the Baked Brie. And...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snow in Roma!

It was an exciting Friday in Rome. They experienced their first snow since 2009. I've only been fortunate enough to visit Rome once, but since that trip I've felt a special love for the Eternal City. I even keep a live web cam widget of St. Peter's on my desktop. The folks in Rome sure seem to have enjoyed the unusual weather.

Range Day

I had a few days of "use or lose" leave time built up, so I took a couple days off mid-week. Fortunately, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were unseasonably warm, and dry. Just perfect for a trip to the range on Tuesday. A friend was visiting for the day who is also a shooting enthusiast. He had just purchased one of these spinner targets so we were looking forward to trying it out as well. We loaded up the care with target stands, shooting gear, and lots of ammo and headed out mid-day.

I've lamented previously that the range where we shoot is getting crowded and the ranges are more and more frequently in use. When we arrived this day, I noticed a backhoe working on one bay and the other bay was already in use. We stopped at the bay being worked on and were told they'd be done in about 15 minutes. That was great timing.

So we were the first people to shoot at the newly re-built bay. While the bay floor was still loose dirt, the berm was now higher and wider. I was told reseeding will happen this week. It was great to see the work being done as the berms were getting a bit worn. I also learned that the club is reviewing the possibility of adding a third pistol bay.

We set up our three target stands with paper USPSA targets and the new spinners. As always we took a few minutes "just shooting" before moving onto the new spinner target. Wow. The circles on the three hanging spinners are just 3 inches across. Slow down, work on a good trigger press, and watch it spin.

We got out the shot timer for some friendly competition. Buzz! Two shots on the right USPSA paper, moving left two more on the next, then slow down and one shot at each spinner, and finish with two on the last paper. We casually checked time, but the main point of the "competition" was whether or not your three shots at the tiny steel were all good. We did another game were we just timed hitting all three spinners once. Good natured ribbing and laughs were the order of the day.

Sufficiently warmed up, we decided to mix in some short bursts of running. Start at 15 yards, at the buzzer sprint to the 7 yard line and then put take the predetermined shots — 2 center mass, or 2 head shots, or 2 body, 1 head, etc. It was a great drill to work on getting the gun on target quickly at the same time as stopping your forward motion.

Shooting on the move is something we are fortunately allowed to do here as well. We spent time shooting both while and advancing and retreating, with both slow and fast movement.

I am sure we threw other fun activities in there too but I wasn't taking notes. At the end of our range visits, we typically expend a few magazines shooting at will, when each person just does whatever they feel like doing. For me, that meant tacking a paper plate to the well-shot target and simply working on a smooth draw from the holster followed by two hits on the plate.

I ended up putting about 250 rounds down range. (We're going to need more ammo.) With the running and moving I really felt like I had shot a match that afternoon, but it was a good sort of tired.☺

A beautiful afternoon spent shooting with my lovely wife and a good friend. It was a wonderful way to spend the day, and it only got better as we headed off to the local pub for good beer and food.

The Bark Side - Friday Funny

Let's hope all the Super Bowl commercials are as entertaining.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Beer for the Bishop

New York Archbishop Anthony Dolan is visiting the Holy Land prior to going to Rome where he will be elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. As we did when we visited Israel, the Bishop is testing out the local fare, including the beer.
His visit is a spiritual pilgrimage, with 50 priests in tow, but he said he hopes to return to Israel again to “get more into the social, demographic issues and politics.” 
The leader of New York’s Catholics is making time to socialize, though, and he raves about the local beer. 
“I am drinking Maccabi; you have to try it. It even has a biblical name!” he said.
"Maccabi" is a commonly seen spelling of Maccebee from Isreal's Tempo Beverages. By our standards it may be considered a fairly bland lager. But, I can attest it can be quite refreshing in the desert heat.

See "Archbishop Dolan’s Holy Land tour stops at crucifixion site."

That reminds me,
Q: What beers are named in the bible"
A: He-brew and Israel-ite.

Devils Backbone and the 5th Tuesday

I've previously posted about the new Devils Backbone production brewery. This week I got to experience the benefit of the expanded distribution of the brewery's beers. Devils Backbone was the featured brewery for Tuesday's Steal the Glass Night at Capital Ale House. I rarely get to take advantage of this weekly event, as I have prior and regular commitments on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Tuesday evenings of every month. But the January calendar had five Tuesdays! On top of that, I was taking a couple days of vacation this week. And, on top of that again, Devils Backbone! What more could I ask?

Two beers were featured, Vienna Lager and Eight Point IPA. I opted for the IPA. It was served in a nice looking logo glass, which I "stole." The beer was a golden amber in color with a small head. Copious, and very sticky lacing was left behind on the glass as I enjoyed my drink. The mild aroma was floral hops and malt. I was suffering with a head cold, so my perceptions were likely a bit muted. The flavor was well-balanced. The beer was not too bitter but had a refreshing citrus and floral hop bite to it.

Needless to say I was excited to get a chance to try the Devils Backbone beer, and to enjoy a rare Tuesday evening at Capital Ale House's STG Night.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Obama's War On Catholics

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Pretty damn clear isn't it? Apparently not to President Barack Hussein Obama. Not to the heretical Kathleen Sebelius. Not to the C & E "catholics" who voted for Obama with full knowledge that he intended to attack the Catholic Church.

If you only get your news from the MSNBC and CNN, you're probably ignorant of the war Obama is waging against Catholics in the United States. Abortion, contraception, and sterilization are anathema to faithful Catholics. Now, Obama has issued a mandate, ignoring the Constitution, that faith-based institutions must provide birth control and reproductive services in health insurance plans. And if that wasn't enough, not only do they have to provide it in their health plans, they have to wave any co-pay and provide it free of charge.

Obama "graciously" informed the Church it has one year to find a way to violate it's moral standards. Conveniently that's after the next Presidential election. He's hoping real Catholics forget. It's not going to happen. The Church has fought worse enemies in the past 2,000 years, and prevailed.

And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. -- Matthew 18:16

The Catholic Church is the largest provider of health care services in the United States. Despite that, Obama made no secret before the presidential 2008 election that he would attempt to break the back of the Church and remove the freedom of religion for Catholics. Faithful Catholics were mocked and laughed at when we spoke out in warning. Sadly, schismatics who call themselves Catholics, voted for Obama in droves. They actually showed support for a man who considers pregnancy to be punishment for "a mistake." They may regret it now, but there is no denying their complicity in enabling Obama's assault on religion. Those voters share moral responsibility for this outrageous attack on our freedom of religion.

We would do well to remember Hitler and the Jews in Germany. We must remember the Mexican government's murderous attacks on Catholics in the 1920's. History does indeed repeat itself. This is not just a Catholic issue. This is an issue for people of all faiths. Obama's move is an act of government intimidation of religious institutions. It's an issue for all freedom-loving Americans. This administration has made it clear that they will rule by decree and slowly chip away at the freedoms of the people in the U.S. in the name of "progress." Will you stand idly by or will you speak up?

I will not violate my faith to support the treasonous edicts of an immoral president.

St. Brigid of Ireland

Today, February 1 is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland. Few beer lovers would disagree with the Saint's prayer "I'd Like A Great Lake Of Beer For The King Of Kings. I Would Like To Be Watching Heaven's Family Drinking It Through All Eternity."

Interestingly, my original post on St. Brigid of Ireland remains on of the most popular posts on the Musings.