Thursday, February 28, 2013

Crabbie's Ginger Beer

A few weeks ago a package arrived with a sample of Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer, along with a logo glass. Alcoholic Ginger Beer is a beverage that's to new me. It's not a "beer" in the traditional sense, but we're alway open to trying new brewed beverages. I had a bottle of Bundaberg non-alocholic Ginger Beer during our pilgrimage in Ireland, but given the food and drink sensory overload of the trip, I recall little about it.

According to the promotional materials, Crabbie's is served over ice, with slice of lime or lemon. Well, anyone who knows me, knows I don't do ice or fruit in my beer. However, since the marketing folks were kind enough to provide a tall glass for the sampling, I decided there was room for ice. Alas, no limes were found in the fridge.

After the sample bottle arrived, I went out and picked up a four-pack at the store so that Colleen and our friend Checkered Flag, who is an avowed cider fan, could participate in the review as well. We shared our reviews via text message as our friend was unable to be with us in person. The text messages flew fast as everyone shared their impressions.

In my head, I had imagined the beverage to be similar to a cider. But the rapidly developing white head changed that impression, and slowed my pour. The aroma is rich in ginger, along with some honey and floral notes. The flavor is refreshing and rich, not the artificial sweetness often found in ginger "sodas." The flavor matches the aroma in ginger richness, it's exactly what one would expect. And the flavor of the ginger lingers, along with a stickiness and mild tartness in the finish.

We were all in agreement that this is an enjoyable beverage. Everyone's thoughts immediately turned to enjoying the Crabbie's on a hot summer day. At just 4.8% ABV it's certainly suitable for a summer refreshment. The beer has a unique flavor, one that will probably appeal to fans of both craft beer and hard cider. Colleen, who prefers her beer before or after, rather than during, a meal decided she could indeed enjoy this with her food. As it happens, our friend was enjoying his drink with a cheeseburger topped with that U.K. classic, HP Sauce, and said the beer held up nicely.

There are still a couple bottles left in the refrigerator that we'll be enjoying soon. I read that Crabbies' can also be used in cocktails such as a Moscow Mule, made with vodka, ginger beer and lime. I've never been intrigued by beer cocktails, but since I'm trying new things, maybe the time is right for that experience too.

Crabbie's Ginger Beer, a product of the United Kingdom, made its appearance in the U.S. last year, imported by St. Killiam Importing. It's currently available in 23 states. In Virginia, Crabbie's can be found at all Total Wine, Wegman's, WorldMarket, and Farm Fresh stores.

One bottle of Crabbie's Ginger Beer, along with the Crabbie's glass, was an unsolicited gift from the promoter. The beer was reviewed of our own free will.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

St. Gabriel Possenti

I am often struck by how the Saints work themselves into our lives. One Saint with whom I am feeling a growing connection is St. Gabriel Possenti. Today, February 27, is the Feast Day devoted to this interesting Saint.

St. Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laugh at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the "tradition" associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense.

A couple of years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the name St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners.

When some local Catholics were looking for a name for a blog devoted to Catholicism and self defense,  we were naturally drawn to honor the Saint by creating Gabriel Possenti Shooters. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy shooting are familiar with the Saint and his story.

Recently, I was looking at my Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit when I was struck by the anniversary date printed on the permit — February 27. Wow, my permit was issued on the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners! That's some "coincidence." It would appear the Saint has been watching out for me longer than I have been aware of him.

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Senile Joe Biden

If he was just some unknown bumbling fool, Biden's moronic ramblings might be amusing. But this bumbling fool is the Vice President of the United States for crying out loud. His "self defense" advice is if unknown persons are breaking into your house, you should fire off two indiscriminate blasts from your shotgun into the air outside your home. Never mind you didn't know who or what the threat may have been, now that your gun is empty you'll be safe he claims.

Apparently, it wasn't enough for the Obama administration to sell guns illegally to Mexican drug dealers, they have now taken to encouraging private citizens to break gun laws. It should not be surprising that Joe's advice would be blatantly illegal to follow, in his home state as well as just about anywhere else in the country. But then again, the leftists in the current administration have never been concerned with the law, placing themselves above the rules that bind the rest of us. If some innocent person on the street was injured by Jill Biden's blast, I seriously doubt she would be held responsible.

Someone should probably do a psychiatric evaluation before the Bidens are allowed to own guns.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Flying Dog Single Hop Centennial

After fueling up on coffee in preparation for a Lenten lecture at church Saturday evening, only to find out the announcement in the bulletin was in error, I came home looking for a beer with which to counteract the evening caffeine. I pulled out a bottle of Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA with Centennial that I had received from the brewery a couple months ago. (No, I don't know how I missed it for so long.)

I poured the beer into a cervoise-style glass, just because glassware can add to the fun. (Despite the rants of some curmudgeons.) The beer has a deep marmalade color and the thick head drops to leave behind lots of hop-induced sticky lacing. The aroma is enticing with honey and sweet fruit notes. This is a strong, citrus flavored beer. The taste isn't the bitter citrus rind of which I am so found, but more like the juicy meat of the citrus fruit; lots of grapefruit and orange here.

The mouthfeel of the beer is slightly syrupy, and the descriptive "soft" popped into my mind as I swirled the beer in my mouth. I noted a strong alcohol presence when I reviewed the 2011 version of this beer, but the 10% ABV seems more muted in this 2012 version.

Like the long names on the labels, the Flying Dog single hop series beers are a mouthful. Not for every palate, but for this fan of the Double/Imperial IPA, they're fun and tasty beers.

Disclaimer: This bottle of Flying Dog beer was an unsolicited gift from the brewery. This review was written of my own free will.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

1500 Posts

According to Blogger, the previous post was my 1500th post on these Musings. Serendipitously, it was on the topic of the 2nd Amendment. The attacks on our freedom, especially those guaranteed by the 1st and 2nd Amendments, are especially prevalent and vicious these days. If we fail to turn back those forces threatening our rights, the freedom to write another 1,500 posts may not long exist.

2nd Amendment Common Sense

When you live in a society of wolves, you do not fight back by creating more sheep.

Daniel Bongino is a Maryland Senatorial candidate. If common sense like this was more prevalent in Maryland, I might be inclined to visit the state of my birth more often.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rusty Beaver - New Local Brewery

Rusty Beaver Brewery is new micro-brewery coming to the area. The brewery is the brainchild of the founder of the Virginia Barbeque, Rick Ivey. It will be located in a former Virginia Barbeque location at 18043 Jefferson Davis Highway in Ladysmith, VA.

The plans call for beer to be sold by the growler or glass, four or five days a week. Some food service is also expected, to include Virginia Barbeque sandwiches of course. A report at lists five beers in the works, described by the brewer:
Smashed Bastard (Alcohol By Volume, 5.2): Named for Single Malt and Single Hop Brews (SMASH Brews). Brewed with 2 row Barley malt and German Hallerton hops for an easy drinking beer that works for the common Bud Man. 
Buck Tooth “Big Bite” IPA (ABV, 6.5): A classic IPA with fruity aroma and a bitter finish. Brewed with Pale and Caramel Malt. The hop bill includes Citra, Galaxy, Green Bullet and Chrystal. 
Old Dominion Brown Ale (ABV, 5.7): A rich brown ale with deep chocolate tones. 2 row malt, Belgium Chocolate malt and 40L Caramel Malt with Cascade and Northern Brewer hops. 
The Quake Stout (ABV, 9.9): Named for the Louisa quake during which Austin and I envisioned the Brewery. We brew it with English Muttons Pale Malt, Black and Chocolate Malt with a hop bill of Magnum, Summit and a little Williamette at the finish. 
Zen (ABV, 7.5): Our Stout and Bastard brew mixed (black and tan style) to a yin and yang perfection. Our favorite!

The Rusty Beaver opening is planned in the next couple of months. I'll be sure to pay a visit and report back, as a service to my readers!

See "Small brewery opening in Ladysmith" for more information.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five O'Clock (Catholic) Friday: Lent

Have a great weekend!

How Times Have Changed

Nowadays, we have teachers getting their knickers in a twist over the word "gun" used in a high school essay.

Funny, when I watch this video I keep thinking about the benefits of concealed carry.  :-)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lucky S.O.B Irish Red Ale

Just other day we were discussion the upcoming St. Patrick's Day Feast, and I was thinking about finding some Irish Red Ales to enjoy. Not long after that conversation I arrived home to find a sample of Flying Dog Lucky S.O.B. Irish Red Ale sent by the brewery. I enjoy this malty style on occasion and was looking forward to trying out the Flying Dog version.

Poured into my Flying Dog glass, the beer is a clear, reddish-copper color with a frothy off-white head. The aroma of bready malt and caramel is quite strong. The flavor is rich in toasted malt with a very faint sweetness. The finish brings on a lingering bitterness which remains along with the toasted malt flavor. The flavor profile is simple, but what is expected for the style. It's a clean, smooth beer and at just 5.5% ABV I could have easily enjoyed another.

Flying Dog says they brew Lucky S.O.B. with "real four-leaf clovers" so I guess it's a natural for toasting our favorite Irish Saint, St. Patrick, next month. The brew has previously been distributed only on draft and is released in bottles for the first time this year. It should be showing up on the store shelves through March. I'll be looking for it.

Disclaimer: This bottle of Flying Dog beer was an unsolicited gift from the brewery. This review written of my own free will.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reinventing the Beer Can

The proper glass for the proper beer is a popular topic of conversation among craft beer fans, as well as a frequent topic on these Musings. Just a couple of weeks ago, I told you about a new glass sais to be designed specifically for drinking IPAs. Not to be content with their popular Sam Adams-specific glass, the folks at Boston Beer claim to have perfected a new beer can style specifically for their beers. From The Boston Globe:
The project’s code name — Bunker Hill — hinted at the formidable challenge Boston Beer Co. faced: could the craft brewery that revolutionized American beer put its Sam Adams lager in a can without sacrificing the taste millions of consumers expect with every sip? The journey to build a better can took the Bunker Hill team to a plastic coffee lid collector in New York, a museum of beer cans in a Taunton basement, and tailgating parties at Gillette Stadium. The two-year effort cost more than $1 million, including the hiring of a renowned design firm and professional beer consultants, as well as the purchase of expensive canning equipment. Now, Boston Beer founder Jim Koch is finally ready to release his precious Boston lager in a patent-pending can he claims is superior to the regular metal vessel most people drink from.
The article goes on to describe the newly designed can that Koch and his team came up with. The changes included altering the slope of the curves near the top of the can, the size of the lid, the shape of the lip, and the placement of the opening. Koch claims the new design allows the flavor of the beer to  come through and make the experience as close to drinking from a glass as possible.

The new can is said to enhance the flavor the brewery's signature beer, Boston Lager. That leads me to wonder if we'll be seeing beer style specific cans promoted in the future.

See "Sam Adams founder’s quest for the perfect can" for more information and pictures of the new can. (Subscription may be required.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Today in History - Executive Order 9066

One of the often repeated accusations of the gun control movement is that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from the government. Tell that to the estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans, the 11,000 people of German ancestry, and the 3,000 people of Italian ancestry, who among others were removed from their homes and locked up in government camps without charges or trials during World War II.

Executive Order 9066 was enacted on February 19, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was finally rescinded by President Ford in 1977. It's an eery similarity that we now have another democratic party president who is claiming for himself the right to imprison or kill Americans, again without the benefit of charges or trial. Among those the president deems a danger today are supporters of the U.S. Constitution.

Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it...

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Craft Brewery in Downtown Fredericksburg? is reporting that a Fredericksburg City property owner is developing plans to use his property as micro-brewery or brewery co-op. The current owner former Reddy Ice plant has had conceptual drawings made to show how the property is suited to housing a brewery; with existing loading docks, electrical connections, natural gas and cold-box. Interestingly, owner Alex Long doesn't want to build the brewery himself. Instead he is offering the property, and idea, for sale to interested parties.

There are some interesting comments being made online regarding the idea. "Isn't there a micro brewery in Fredericksburg already?" one poster writes. Technically, the answer to that question is "No." Both local breweries are in Spotsylvania County. Nonetheless, the more the merrier. Variety works for cities like Denver, Philadelphia, Portland, and even Nelson County, Virginia for that matter.

See "Property owner envisions downtown microbrewery" for more from Business Reporter Bill Freehling on

Bigfoot Sighted and Captured

I look forward each winter to the release of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Ale. I saw a notice that it had arrived in Virginia a couple weeks ago, but it wasn't until this weekend that I was out shopping for beer that I ran across it. Actually, Colleen spotted it first, and a 4-pack was added to our cart. Needless to say I was excited to enjoy the ale and opened a bottle that same evening.

I enjoy craft beer foremost for the flavor, but there's a visual aspect to the pleasure as well. A glass of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale is a feast for the eyes. The translucent mahogany liquid is topped by a thick  cap of beige foam. The head drops to a thin persistent layer leaving a lot of lacing behind. I could pick up on the aroma of sweet malt and some dark fruit as I was grabbing a blog photo.

The flavor is strong with a start of bitter and piney hops followed by sweet, caramel malt and dark fruit notes. The 9.6% ABV does not overwhelm the flavor but the alcohol warmth is noticeable at the end. A bit of stickiness remains in the mouth with the lingering bitter finish.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot is a big beer, perfect for sipping on a cold winter night. Fans of Double/Imperial IPAs will appreciate the copious hops in this Barleywine. I've got bottles of prior year's releases set aside for aging, but to best appreciate the robust bitter hops, Bigfoot is a beer to enjoyed right away.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Misdirection and Distraction From Senator Kaine

I received this canned, and unsurprising, response from Virginia Senator Tim Kaine regarding my mail to him regarding the current push for gun citizen control. I've posted the letter in its entirety below, with some comments inline.
Dear Mr. -----: 
Thank you for contacting me to share your views on proposals to reduce gun violence. I appreciate hearing from you.  
No one can deny that gun violence is a serious problem in this country today. We owe it to the victims of the growing number of mass shootings to vigorously debate specific and comprehensive proposals that can keep our communities safer.  The right approach focuses on many issues - improvements to the mental health system, better security protocols and common sense rules about gun use, including keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
What exactly is "gun violence?" If the Senator's doublespeak is referring to the need to reduce violence committed by people using guns, I have to ask, why are we not equally concerned with violence committed by hammers and fists, which account for more deaths each year than guns? Obviously, no one thinks hammers should be subject to government regulation, this reference to "gun violence" is meant to use emotion to distract from the real agenda. Senator Kaine then tosses out a comment about "the growing number of mass shootings" without any support to support his claim. In fact, mass shootings are NOT increasing. Even the leftist mouthpiece ABC News had to grudgingly admit to that. Kaine also uses the buzz words "common sense," implying a less-than-favorable judgement on those who might disagree with his as yet unnamed proposals
When I was on the Richmond City Council in the 1990s, our city was mired in an epidemic of gun violence that included the city having the second-highest homicide rate in the United States.  The most successful step we took was implementing Project Exile, a program that involved federal prosecution and tougher penalties for gun crimes that were previously treated more leniently in state courts. Celebrated by diverse groups engaged in the gun violence debate - including the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign - the program helped drive down Richmond's homicide rate by nearly 60 percent within a few years.
The Senator rightfully lauds his efforts to reduce the homicide rate by enforcing existing law. This is a notable accomplishment for sure, but let's re-emphase what his efforts brought about; increased enforcement of existing laws.
In 2007, the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech revealed glaring weaknesses in campus security protocols at colleges and universities, in our mental health system and the gun background check system for gun purchases. In a bipartisan spirit, I worked with then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell to immediately improve our background check system and issued an executive order ensuring that those adjudicated to be mentally ill and dangerous would be entered into a national database and barred from purchasing weapons. We also changed standards for mental health treatment and increased funding for community health programs while dramatically improving campus security and efforts to assist college students suffering from mental stress.
Once again, the Senator is pointing out improvements where made in existing programs, with a positive effect. But he's really just setting the reader up for a "bait and switch."
In January I attended a round-table event in Richmond with Vice President Biden on gun violence, to talk about the lessons learned in Virginia and the need for a comprehensive approach to these problems.  As your U.S. Senator, I will work to bring that kind of comprehensive approach that will strengthen the safety of our communities, while protecting our Second Amendment rights. As a gun owner who worked with others to constitutionally guarantee Virginians the right to hunt, I know that you can be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment without tolerating the gun tragedies that are too often a part of our daily lives.
I was wondering how long it would be before the Senator got in his "I support the 2nd Amendment, but..." line. I've not yet heard from a politician who wanted to restrict the Constitution who didn't preface his attack with a claim of support for the very thing he was attacking. He attempts to distract with the red herring of a constitutional right to hunt. In fact, there exists no such constitutional right. One would expect our Representatives to have a better knowledge of the Constitution they swore to uphold.
Concerning specific proposals, I am a strong supporter of universal background record checks.  This is the only way we can enforce existing laws that prohibit dangerous individuals from purchasing guns.  I am open to supporting legislation placing reasonable limits on high capacity magazines, combat-style weapons and gun trafficking if they are carefully drafted. 
The misdirection of referring to past accomplishments complete, Senator Kaine finally gets around to hinting at his current agenda. The Senator throws out the liberal sound bite "reasonable limits in high capacity magazines." The gun grabbers love to toss around the term "reasonable" without defining it. Thirty rounds is too many they say. So 29 is okay? Some suggest no one needs more than 10 rounds. So 9 rounds in a gun is safe, but adding one more makes the carrier dangerous? The "reasonable" restriction appellation, as well as "combat-style" weapons, are nothing more than attempts to distract an uninformed voting population with meaningless terms. The Senator also attempts to draw attention from the real issue by calling for restrictions on "gun trafficking," an obvious attempt to mislabel the transfer of legally owned weapons between private parties.

After reminding us of the good that was accomplished by enforcing existing laws and improving existing systems, all of which were implemented to keep criminals from committing more crimes, Senator Kaine cunningly segues into expressing his support for creating new laws to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. His agenda is a reimplementation of laws that were done away with because they were proven to be have no effect in reducing violent crime. In fact, not a single item the Senator says he is "open to" will have any effect on a criminal's actions. What Senator Kaine actually wants to do is impose further State controls on the law-abiding citizens of this Country. Coincidently, his restrictions specifically target a portion of the population that is, in general, opposed to his liberal policies, and not the criminal population. Convenient isn't it?
Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind as Congress continues to debate strategies to reduce gun violence.  Thank you once again for contacting me. 
Tim Kaine
I have little doubt that the Senator will keep my "views in mind" as he works to increase limitations on the Constitutional rights of American citizens. However, I am not naive enough to believe he will take them into account or change his agenda. Of course, Senator Kaine's response is not surprising at all. He is after all, an unabashed cheerleader for the president as well as the former Democratic National Committee chairman.

See also the similar dangerous response from Virginia Senator Warner. Compare the leftists' responses to that of Congressman Robert Wittman.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Those Ammo Hoarding Feds

From Overheard in DC:
Don't mess with Feds 
During the afternoon commute from the Navy Yard on a northbound Green line train:

A mixed group of federal employees gets on the train, continuing the conversation about how hard it is to find inexpensive ammunition these days, what with everyone buying out the stores' supplies these days, etc. 
The nicely-dressed woman in the group says "it wouldn't be a problem if you idiots packed your own damn ammo."
Is the ammo hoarding by DHS creating tension on the metro?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Revisiting An Old Favorite

One of the joys of keeping a lot of beers on hand is that I never know what forgotten treasure will work its way to the front of the refrigerator shelves. Recently, Colleen and I were standing in front of the open fridge, trying to decide just what we beer we were in the mood for. She spied a bottle of Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, while I grabbed a New Belgium Snow Day.

I carried the bottles upstairs and poured the stout first. As much as I have been enjoying the Snow Day recently, as soon as I saw that rich dark beer and creamy beige head, and took a good sniff of the aroma, I changed my selection. Fortunately there was another bottle to be had.

As noted, Oak Barrel Stout beer pours jet black with a beige head. The aroma is that of dark chocolate and roasted malt, with faint vanilla notes. The taste is rich in roasted malt and espresso with a touch of smokiness. The mouthfeel is creamy and there's a lingering, and pleasing, mild bitterness left behind.

I recall Dominion Oak Barrel being one of my early "discoveries" when I started exploring the world of craft beer. Of course, that was when Old Dominion Brewing was still in the "Old Dominion." I can remember distinctly enjoying draft pints of this beer, and a huge plate of nachos, at a local pub many years ago. It's interesting what memories, and distinctly vivid memories at that, can be invoked by a simple glass of beer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Brew Flying Dog Beer At Home

Press release from Flying Dog Brewery:
Flying Dog Brewery Launches “Stove Toppers” Series of Clone Kits for Homebrewers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 7, 2013 
Frederick, MD – Good people brew good beer, in and outside of Flying Dog Brewery. 
Giving homebrewers a chance to brew Flying Dog beers at home, Maryland’s largest brewery is launching Stove Toppers – a line of clone homebrew kits. Stove Toppers are all-grain kits designed for advanced homebrewers that include the brewery’s exact ingredients and brewmaster’s recipe, all scaled down to a 5-gallon home brewery.
“Like many brewmasters, I started out homebrewing,” Flying Dog Brewmaster Matt Brophy said. “Homebrewers spread the gospel of craft beer through their craft and ours, so I think breweries have a responsibility to foster and inspire the homebrewing community.” 
Flying Dog will launch one kit per month in 2013 and each kit will be on sale for that month only. Beginning Friday, Single Hop Imperial IPA with El Dorado will be on sale at the brewery’s gift shop and the Flying Barrel Homebrew Supply Shop, both in Frederick, Maryland. 
“The El Dorado hop variety is extremely limited in availability, especially for homebrewers,” Brophy said. “It’s an ideal hop for our series of Single Hop Imperial IPAs because it imparts tropical and stone fruit notes and great bittering without any harshness.” 
The Single Hop Imperial IPA with El Dorado Stove Topper is $55 and will be on sale through February 28. The remaining schedule of kits is as follows: 
·      March: Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA
·      April: Woody Creek Belgian White
·      May: Single Hop Imperial IPA with Citra
·      June: Snake Dog IPA
·      July: Dogtoberfest Marzen
·      August: The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale
·      September: Single Hop Imperial IPA with Sorachi Ace
·      October: Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout
·      November: Single Hop Imperial IPA with Simcoe
·      December: Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter

It's no secret we like Flying Dog beers at the Musings. I am not a home brewer, but if I was...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lent. Here it comes.

Shades of Brown at the Range

I made it over the range for a while last weekend. It was a sunny, but still cool afternoon. Despite the relatively nice weather, I didn't expect a long wait to shoot. It seems to me that folks are shooting less, and holding on to what ammo they have available. The small pistol bay was open when I arrived so I set up a couple of USPSA targets in the dappled shade of the leafless trees. The berm dirt pile was recently refreshed and the dirt blended well with the targets and the trees in the background.

I had packed just 100 rounds so that I was not tempted to go through a large quantity of ammo. Rationing and wise usage are the keys to getting through the current scarcity. I know that if I have the rounds with me, I'll shoot them. I began stocking up for this season's matches before the shortage turned extreme, so I'm in pretty good shape for at least the start of the local USPSA season but still mustn't be frivolous. Gone are the days of blowing through 200-300 rounds in an afternoon at the range.

Most of the shooting I did was from about the 10 yard line. The majority of time was spent working on target transitions; shooting both the lower and upper A zones, both while standing still and on the move.

My solitude was briefly interrupted when another club member come up to talk. We chatted a bit about ammo supplies and prices. I noticed he had a bucket in hand, and eventually he wandered over to where my brass lay, and remarked "You don't want your brass, right?" Well, as a matter of fact, I do. Move along friend.

I noticed during my visit that work is progressing on the long-awaited third pistol range. That's a welcome sign. I am sure the current ammo supply shortage will turn around eventually and the ranges will once again be crowded with happy shooters so more space will be a good thing.

As I emptied my last box of ammo, I noticed I did have a couple of partial boxes in my range bag, so I gave in and shot just a little more. I was having a good session, so extending my session was certainly justified.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Truman Cox, R.I.P.

From the A. Smith Bowman Distillery Facebook page, Saturday, February 11:
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Truman Cox, Master Distiller of our A. Smith Bowman Distillery. Truman passed away on Saturday, February 9 after a short illness. Truman joined the company in 2004 as Lead Chemist at Buffalo Trace Distillery and in 2011 realized his dream to become the Master Distiller at A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Truman’s passion for our industry was evident to everyone who knew him and he left a notable and positive mark on our company in the time he was with us.  
Truman will be sadly missed by his many friends at Sazerac and in the industry. Please keep Truman, his wife Susan, and daughter Emmy in your thoughts and prayers. Funeral arrangements have yet to be determined. The A. Smith Bowman Distillery will be closed for tours on Monday, Feb. 11th.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Truman, but he was doing some very interesting things with distilled beverages. Our prayers go out for him and his family.

Charge Your Phone With Your Beer

Has your phone ever gone dead while you're sitting in your favorite pub? Did you ever run out of power while enjoying coffee at the airport during a layover? The Epiphany onE Puck promises to be the answer to these problems. Set your cold beer, or hot coffee, on the pad to charge your iPhone, iPod, or Android phone.

Using technology called a stirling engine, onE Puck uses heat disparities to produce enough power to charge a cell phone battery. The product is currently in development and Epiphany is soliciting funding via a Kickstarter project.

Note: I am not connected with the project, I'm simply reporting.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blessed José Sánchez del Río

Today, February 10, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Blessed José Sánchez del Río. On this date in 1928, this 14 year old boy was killed for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith during the Cristero War. The story of this period of Catholic persecution led by Mexican President Calles was told in the movie "For Greater Glory".

After José was captured by government forces, he was forced to witness the torture and execution of fellow Catholics, yet he never wavered in his resolve. He was himself was tortured and urged to shout "Death to Christ the King" with the promise his suffering would be over. On the day of his torturous execution, the soldiers cut the soles of his feet and he was made to walk barefooted to the grave they had dug for him. He was repeatedly stabbed with bayonets as he made his way to the place of his martyrdom.

Even after he had been shot he continued to cry out "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!") The commander of the soldiers was so furious that he was able to resist the government barbarism, he finally shot the boy in the head. As he died he is said to have drawn a cross on the ground with his own blood. Blessed José Sánchez del Río was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005.

During the Cristeros War many Catholics were killed by the Mexican government for their faith. This tragic part of recent history is pointedly ignored by the history books in both the United States and Mexico. It is a story that needs to be told and learned by all free people. The people of the United States shared in the tragedy, as our own government supplied both arms and air support for the Federales in their battles with the Catholic faithful.

As the attacks on the Church increase in the United States, with the aggression led by our own government, we would do well to remember the resolve of this strong young man, and pray that we too will remain faithful through whatever trials await us.

Blessed José Sánchez del Río, Pray For Us!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

High Capacity Clips

Picked up some high capacity clips yesterday. Paid cash so they couldn't be traced. I got twelve since they often get broken at the range.

Not registering them.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I have an article entitled "The Catholic Church and Beer, An Intertwined History" featured in the February issue of Catholic Insight magazine. Originally, the editors were interested in an article focusing on Saint Brigid and beer. I've made a number of blog posts on this interesting Saint as she's dear to our family. Interestingly, her Feast day February 1, is one of the busiest day for this blog each year as folks search for information on St. Brigid and her famous prayer.

The article I submitted went beyond St. Brigid and provided, if I say so myself, an interesting retrospective of the Catholic Church's relationship with beer — from brewing monks to the patron Saints of brewing. Unfortunately, the print edition does not have an online version so I am unable to link to the article. Hopefully some blog readers are also subscribers.

The Church has a long and interesting relationship with my favorite brewed beverage so it was a fun article to research and write. I even received a small honorarium that will go towards the beer fund!

Do We Need Another Glass Style?

Interesting glassware adds to the fun of this craft beer hobby. We own a wide selection of glassware, logo-ed and otherwise that we use frequently. (As an aside, the post about the Sam Adams glasses is one of the all-time most popular posts on these Musings. I don't hold prejudices against any glassware style, as long as the serving is not frosted.

I came across news of a new glass style that is the result of a collaboration between Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, and Spiegelau. The glass is designed specifically for drinking India Pale Ale (IPA). The Dogfish Head web site lists the specific features they say will bring out the best in hop-forward beers:
  • Thin, round walls to maintain proper temperature longer.
  • A slender, bowed shape to amplify hop aromas.
  • Wave-like ridges to aerate beer on its way in and out of the glass.
  • A wide mouth, allowing drinkers to comfortably nose the beer.
  • A laser-etched logo on the bottom of the bowl to sustain carbonation and head.

Both breweries are offering the glassware on their online stores, with the respective brewery's logo for $9.00. Here are Sierra Nevada's Ken Grossman and Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione discussing the new glass.

Do we need another beer glass style? It's got nothing to do with need. It's about enjoyment. Given my fondness for IPA, I'm looking forward to putting these to the test.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hitting the Range While It's "Warm"

It's been a few weeks since we were able to get out to the range for a little ballistic therapy. I think the last time I did any shooting was at the Steve Anderson class. I am ashamed to admit that I even skipped an opportunity to shoot a couple weeks ago when the temperature climbed to a mere 21°. Cold has never stopped us before but that time I cried "Uncle" and stayed indoors.

This week we were joined by friend "Checkered Flag" for a short range session. We've had a spell of extremely cold weather recently, so when the temperature rose to a balmy 48°, I expected the outdoor range would be very crowded. I was pleasantly surprised that the entire park was empty when we arrived. Perhaps the ammo shortage is affecting folks' plans to shoot. In our case it did indeed affect how long we stayed and how we practiced.

We set up these colorful paper targets to give lots of options. We started out doing a bit of shooting on the move. Instead of the typical movement forward or backwards, and left or right, we concentrated on oblique movement. Aiming for the center zone, we moved forward and back, at an angle, repeating in all directions. With all the stationary dry fire I've been doing recently, it was good to refresh a bit with some movement typical of what I'll encounter in USPSA matches.

Next we moved onto one of our favorite drills, color shot calling. Colleen was the "caller" and she would call out a series of 2-4 colors; "red blue" or "yellow blue yellow" for example. We would draw and put one shot on each as directed. There was no time limit but we would shoot as fast as we could get an acceptable sight picture.

After one of our breaks to reload magazines, I suggested we try some long distance shooting. This time to used the lower black squares and shot from the 25 yard line. This was the first time I've done any long-distance shooting since I put new sights on my gun and I was pleased with the results.

We ended the day with everyone doing some free shooting on their own. I decided to work on strong hand and weak hand-only shooting for a bit.

Soon we were all looking at empty ammo boxes. I had purposely brought only a limited number of rounds. Despite firing less than 200 shots, I was very happy to get in a good, if short, practice. It was more of a refresher session than learning anything new. We made good use of the time and limited ammo, but fun the fun certainly wasn't limited!

Bacon, and More Bacon

Earlier this week, Colleen decided to try out a couple of new bacon recipes she had recently come across. While a late night bacon taste test is not a regular occurrence around here, it was looked forward to with much anticipation.

The first recipe was called "Millionaire's Bacon." Thick cut bacon is coated with a rub of sugar, cayenne and black pepper. The coated bacon strips are baked until they are crisp and crunchy. In this test batch the bacon was cooked until "almost burnt." All the tasters decided the extra charred bits were the most tasty. The peppery rub was applied heavily and the flavor was intense. It hit the palate strongly, but, interestingly enough, quickly faded to not burn out the taste buds.

Millionaire's Bacon

The second recipe was for "Beer Candied Bacon." In this case the bacon is brushed with a brown sugar and stout glaze. As the meat is baked, it is repeatedly brushed with more glaze. After cooking, the bacon strips are allowed to cool and the glaze hardens into a candy-like coating. Colleen used a Dogfish Head Chicory Stout in the glaze. The recipe called for just 1/4 cup of the beer, so I enjoyed sipping on the rest of the bottle while the bacon treats cooked.

Bacon Candy

Of the two, the taste testers were unanimous in their selection of Millionaire's Bacon as the best of the two. The spicy strips provided an intense flavor treat in a crunchy, fun form. Both bacons were also tasted as condiments for a molten chocolate cake. We dipped pieces of the bacon in the hot, gooey chocolate. Again, the Millionaire's Bacon reigned supreme. The combination brought out the bacon flavor, and reined in the warm spiciness a tad.

The Millionaire's Bacon is a keeper. We are already discussing using it in the annual beer tasting we'll do this Spring for our son's school fundraiser. Of course, we'll have to taste this treat again in order to figure out the best way to use it in a beer and food pairing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Juxtapositions and Conflicts

I've frequently commented in these pages about how we are always conscious that our shooting and beer drinking interests don't overlap, or are enjoyed in the proper order. It takes planning, and sometimes sacrifice. I often get a kick out of how often that items of two of my favorite interests show themselves at the same time. Some of the juxtaposition is of my own doing, such as my dry fire setup. Some of it happens serendipitously, such as the time an ammo order and a beer trade package arrived the same day.

A couple weeks ago the delivery pairing happened again. I went to the door to grab a box of target pasters the UPS driver had dropped off and I spied an unexpected package as well. That sight gave me a smile as I recognized the shape immediately. It was another sample from our friends at Flying Dog Brewery.

Have no fear, we'll put them both to use, in the proper order, soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What Difference Does It Make?

What difference indeed...

Malfeasance. Betrayal. Wickedness. Deceit. Need I say more?

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” --Edward R. Murrow

Monday, February 4, 2013

Drinking The Seasons

Sunday, after Mass, after a trip to the grocery store, after a quick pizza lunch, after doing my dry fire practice, I decided I wasn't doing anything else, except relax with a few good beers. I went to the fridge and dug around to see what suited my fancy on a cold snowy afternoon. I spied a bottle of Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale. This hoppy brown ale has a rich caramel malt flavor with a sweet finish. At just 5.5% ABV, it was just right for a mid-afternoon treat.

Later that day, it was time for a beer to enjoy with a pre-dinner snack. Colleen whipped up a batch of the classic Ro*tel and Velveeta queso. (Watch out arteries!) I had just been thinking about opening a New Belgium Snow Day Winter Ale when Colleen mentioned she'd like one. We discussed if the malty beer would go with the spicy dip, and decided to try it anyway. As we stood around the table snacking, it was decided the answer to that question was "just fine." The beer was flavorful enough and had a sufficient hop component to stand up to the warm "cheese" dip.

The Snow Day enjoyment continued with a dinner table full of nacho fixins. Traditionally I'll go for big hoppy beers with spicy foods, but the malty beer paired up well with the spicy beef, guacamole, salsa and salty chips.

If I had not run out of day, I suspect I could have found something with Spring in the name to enjoy next.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Legitimate Right to Self Defense

A post over on Gabriel Possenti Shooters addresses the dual issues of the right to defend oneself and the importance of protecting our individual freedoms, from both the religious and secular viewpoints.
Self-defense and the Second Amendment; there has been a lot of talk about these subjects recently. After the horrific murder of the school children, politicians and media celebrities have aggressively dominated the world of communication with calls to curtail the individual's right to self defense, a God-given right, by taking away our liberty. 
Rather than overreact with emotional "quick fixes" of more legislation stripping us of our freedom (which has not proven to be effective with the current slate of laws already covering gun ownership) a few orderly thoughts as to what is True and how to best proceed are in order. There are two parts to consider: the right to defend oneself and the importance of protecting our individual freedoms. They go hand in hand.

Go read the whole thing.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Shopping For Scissors

The Department of Homeland Security let us know that if we encounter an active shooter, we can protect ourselves with scissors. Since then, I've been trying to find the right tool to add to my EDC (Every Day Carry) gear.

It's confusing, there are so many styles of scissors to choose from. And then there's also the problem of how to carry this weapon. Should I use a Strong Side or Inside the Waistband holster? I think Appendix Carry is probably not a good idea. What about "BUS" (Back Up Scissors)? Is one pair enough? Plastic or metal grip? How does one balance blade length and concealability? Of course, concealment brings up the legal questions. Can scissors be carried concealed or must they must be open carried? Virginia's Concealed Weapons law doesn't specifically mention scissors so it's unclear in this regard.

And I thought firearm selection was confusing. Decisions, decisions.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Finally, More Insanity

After a false start last week, Park Lane Tavern put on the rescheduled Steal the Glass* night earlier this week, featuring Blue & Gray Temporary Insanity Stout. Despite having had dinner out three of the previous four nights, we couldn't resist taking part. (Hey, Lent starts in less than two weeks; I'll make up for it!) It's also fun way to support our local brewery.

The beer was served in tall 20 ounce pilsner-style glasses with the Blue & Gray logo. I was expecting the usual shaker pints, of which I have many from the brewery. The nicer glass was a pleasant surprise. The intense roasted, espresso flavor of the stout is enjoyable and hides the 13% ABV well. I enjoyed a small bit about Temporary Insanity at the brewpub recently, and there's not much more to add to the review. It tasted great as usual. This time I was happy to have the time to sit for a full glass of the beer, instead of the quick half pint of the previous serving. I have a couple of bottles in the beer fridge as well, so when I next enjoy Temporary Insanity, I might even pour more than one glass!

It was a good looking beer.
*Steal the Glass is a bit of a misnomer. I'm pretty sure we paid for those glasses.

Thanks to Colleen for getting a picture in the low light.

St. Brigid Pray For Us

February 1 is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland. Our family has long had an affection for this great Saint. During our recent trip to Ireland I came to realize just how popular she is in that country, second only to St. Patrick it seems.

This revered Saint has a most interesting association with beer. According to tradition, Brigid was working in a leper colony when they ran out of beer. Since beer was an important source of safe liquid refreshment and nourishment, this was indeed a serious issue. Brigid is said to have changed her bath water into beer to nourish the lepers and visiting clerics. In another miracle attributed to St. Brigid, she provided beer to 18 churches for an entire Easter season, all from a single barrel of beer in her convent.

A well-known prayer attributed to St. Brigid begins "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." Perhaps we'll all get to see that great lake some day.

Ballintubber Abbey, County Mayo, Ireland

Ring of Kerry, County Kerry, Ireland

Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland

The Black Abbey, Kilkenny, Ireland

Photos by C. Turley