Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dominion Candi - Tasting Gold

I was going through the various newsfeed I follow yesterday evening and came across several headlines like this one, "Dominion Brewing Candi Belgian Tripel Takes The Gold." I then remembered that I had a couple bottles the brewery had sent last Fall and I never got around to trying out. After digging around in the basement a bit, I found them. What better time than now to open them and find out what the judges in Denver liked? Is there a better excuse to have a beer?

Dominion Candi Belgian-Style Tripel pours a bright copper-marmalade color with a thick, but short-lived white head. Immediately during the pour, I could detect the rich aroma of Belgian yeast, bread and honey. The flavor is a mix of clove, yeasty bread and sweet fruit with just a hint of alcohol burn. There's a hint of happiness that comes through near the end as well. Carbonation is on the low side. The mouthfeel is moderately "thick." The finish leaves a dry, lingering sweetness behind.

At 9.5% ABV, Candi is a sipper, especially on a "school night." During our tasting, Colleen asked if we were drinking a high alcohol beer. When I answered in the affirmative, she replied, "Huh, I don't get that burning aftertaste like so many high alcohol beers." It's true, while I could detect a bit of alcohol in the taste, it doesn't burn.

Candi is, as one can deduce from the label, part of Dominion's "Pinup" series. It's available seasonally on draft and in Dominion’s Pinup variety 12-Pack. Despite my lateness in getting to the review, you can still find the variety pack on store shelves.

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

April Walnut Ridge USPSA Match

I finally got in an actual, and complete USPSA match, my first this year.  I headed out in the early morning light for the pleasant, but long drive to Summit Point, West Virginia for the Walnut Ridge Practical Shooters April match. Rain was predicted (and arrived) later in the afternoon but it the morning squads were treated to great weather with temperatures in the upper 60's.

The first two stages our squad shot that day made use of the same course of fire. When first approaching the course, I thought "Wow, that's a lot of targets." Then we realized that I was looking at two stages in one— shoot all the steel targets for one stage, and the next stage is all the paper, with steel left laying down. Shooting the two stages required quite different plans. I was pretty happy with how I did both stages, and interestingly did significantly better on the steel version than the paper.

Next up was the classifier stage, CM 03-05 "Paper Poppers." This was going to be a good test of shooting fast with my new shooting glass Rx and seeing how well I've re-trained my brain to accept both eyes open. And, at least for this run, it worked. My time was 7.40 seconds for a hit factor of 6.4865. I'm looking forward to seeing what percentage that ends up in the USPSA system. I put a video of what would be my highest stage finish here. The next stage would involve shooting the same classifier targets again along with a bunch of other paper and steel targets set up across the bay.

Another all-steel stage was next. Shoot 5 six-inch plates, perform a mandatory reload, shoot (the oft dreaded) Texas Star, then another reload followed by five pepper poppers. It took me eight shots to clear the star, but I was very pleased to be able to catch (eventually) the moving plates without squinting my non-dominant eye.

The final stage was an interesting arrangement of 12 paper targets and 6 falling steel. Three tables were also placed around the stage. There was the stipulation that the shooter had to move a small "ammo can" to a second table sometime between the first and last shots. I had what I thought was a good plan for the stage. Unfortunately, when I arrived at my second shooting position I realized I had made an unplanned reload and that "plan" was now out the window. My brain was spinning to trying to recalculate and in my video I can see a brief pause between targets coinciding with the time I was thinking "How do I fix this?" Despite that, I finished okay, and have a lesson learned to have my plan firmly embedded in my head before the buzzer sounds.

Overall, I was quite pleased with my shooting at the match. Preliminary results show me 12th out of 29 Production shooters. I recently picked up a small hat-mounted camera and the reviewing the first-person videos gives me some ideas on what to work on during my next range visit.

The Walnut Ridge Practical Shooters match at Summit Point means a two hour drive, each way. That's at the edge of my limit for a monthly match, but it's well worth it. The stages are always interesting and challenging, and I find myself already thinking about the next match on my drive home. I shoot with a lot of the same shooters at whatever match I'm at, but folks always seem to be enjoying themselves just a little more at this match. Maybe it's the West Virginia air.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Easy IPA Fills the Fridge Gap

With a hundred or so bottles of beer in the basement fridge, and an equal amount in boxes nearby, it's hardly believable that sometimes there's just "nothing to drink." I'll occasionally stand at refrigerator digging through closely packed bottles, looking for the right beer to suit my mood — and come up empty handed. Such was the situation last evening. I was in the mood for a hoppy Pale Ale or IPA, and I couldn't find one. Despite the full fridge, it was obvious that a shopping trip was in order. Almost giving up, I remembered the sample bottle of Flying Dog Easy IPA that arrived earlier this week.

According to the accompanying flyer, Easy IPA is "session IPA" promising a "low-ABV hop bomb." This is the first beer from Flying Dog's Brewhouse Rarities series of limited release beers to make the jump to a year-round offering.

Easy IPA pours a clear light yellow color with a thin white head and lots of bubbles. Looks sort of like your standard American lager. But that's where the similarities end. The aroma gives off sharp citrus, fruit and spice aromas. Despite the mild appearance, the flavor is quite bold. The initial hit is bitter citrus; grapefruit rind comes to mind. That is quickly balanced by caramel malt and piney notes, and a hint of lemon tartness. The finish is a lingering, and somewhat sticky bitterness. As a bonus, all this flavor comes in a low 4.7% ABV package.

My glass was soon empty and I wished I had just one more bottle on hand. (These promotional samples are mere teases.) It's easy to see why Flying Dog Easy IPA was promoted to year-round status. This beer is bold and flavorful, while maintaining a "light" and easy to drink body. I like this one a lot. Now that I've noted the deficiencies in our beer stock, I suspect I'll be filling some of that gap with this one.

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When Is a Cube Not a Cube?

When it's an ice "cube" produced by Suntory Whisky. The Japanese whisky maker is running a campaign featuring what are billed as 3D Printed Ice Cubes.

While the computer engineered ice is certainly attractive, I'm not sure how practical it really ice for chilling your whiskey. But, hey, it's advertising!

Aren't ice cubes 3D by definition?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Adventure Brewing Opens May 15

Fredericksburg's third craft brewery, Adventure Brewing, will open Thursday, May 15. Brewers Tim Bornholtz, Stan Johnson and John Viarella have been hard at work doing construction on the brewery and developing their beers. The Adventure Brewing website describes their vision:
As a micro-brewery, Adventure Brewing Company is primarily focused on bringing full flavored beers to the local area. Initial plans are to produce around 1,000 barrels (about 30,000 gallons) per year. Adventure Brewing's initial lineup of beers will include four year round styles and a number of seasonal or special batches. The year round styles include an IPA, a Pale Ale, a Wheat and a Stout. Specialty and seasonal batches such as Double IPA, Pumpkin Beer, Smoked Ale, Christmas lager and others will, of course, invite more adventurous tastes. We plan to serve samples and full beers in the tasting room as well as fill growlers (64 oz bottles) to take home. We are also working with distributors to ensure our beer is available at many local restaurants.

The brewery's opening schedules will be Thursday, May 15 from 6pm - 10pm; Friday, May 16 fem 6pm - 10pm; Saturday, May 17 - from 12pm - 10pm; and Sunday, May 18 from 12pm - 6pm.

The Free Lance-Star recently made an informative report on the brewery.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Triumph Over Evil

AND in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you. And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, running to tell his disciples. And behold Jesus met them, saying: All hail. But they came up and took hold of his feet, and adored him. Then Jesus said to them: Fear not. Go, tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, there they shall see me. --Matthew 28:1-10

It's Easter. This is the fulfillment of Our Lord's promise of eternal life. It is the ultimate triumph over evil. We are reminded that our struggles are not for nought, that our final reward is eternal. The evil one refuses to give up. He knows that if we give in to despair we won't experience the promise of the Resurrection. He fears that we might reject his tricks and lies. He hungers for us to join him in his eternal torment. With his continual attacks on our faith, attacks on our freedoms, attacks on the sanctity of life, he continues in a battle that he's already lost.

So on this most glorious of days, we are reminded that we must continue to face oppression and persecution head on. Satan is hard at work in this world. His minions do his bidding willingly, if naively, deceiving with false promises, twisting the truth until evil passes for good. We are led to believe that evil doesn't exist, and that material happiness outweighs the value of human life. Government fiat replaces personal responsibility. We are tempted to live like there's no tomorrow. But today, the empty tomb reminds us otherwise. The promise of Easter gives us the strength to persevere.

Here's wishing you a blessed and joy-filled Easter. May the joy of the Resurrection remain in your life all year long.

Jesus' final resting place, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Photo by C. Turley, 2010

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Introducing a Friend to Practical Pistol

The first match of the year at the Cedar Mountain Youths range was this morning. The group has changed the format somewhat from previous years; the round count is low, there is little movement, and no steel. At first glance, an avid USPSA shooter might think "What's the point?" But giving it more thought, there's an excellent point; it's a good practice match, and also a great way to introduce new shooters to the sport.

To that end, I invited a friend to come out and try his first practical pistol match. Greg has been shooting for a little over a year, with much enjoyment, so I knew he would have a good time. We spent the 30 minute ride to the match going over some rules and procedures. For myself, besides having the pleasure of introducing a friend to the sport, I was looking forward to getting in a little practice. And, of course, just shooting. And what better way to mark Patriot's Day?

The match consisted of 6 stages, all shot Virginia Count, meaning no makeup shots. The first stage was a "Bill Drill" of six shots on the target as fast as you can. The next stage we shot had three staggered targets, each requiring three shots, two to the body and one to the head, with a mandatory reload somewhere during the string. I felt like my first shot was slow, but it was all A's in a nice group.

The next stage had a single target, with three shooting boxes in a straight line perpendicular to the berm. The stage description called for putting two shots on the target from each box, moving toward the target. I ran this one way too fast, and although all the hits were on target, they weren't all A's. We had some time waiting for the other squad to finish so some of us ran the stage again for fun. I did better the second, and realized that I was not slowing my forward momentum enough to get off accurate shots. This is a stage I can easily replicate at my local range to practice that a bit more.

The fourth stage we shot had three shooting boxes and three targets, and a twist. The idea was to put one shot on each target, and repeat from each of the boxes. The targets were widely spaced requiring a wide swing to hit all three. Next up was an unloaded gun start, with the gun and first mag on a table. On the start, pick up and load the gun and put 6 shots on one target, perform a mandatory reload and put 6 shots on the second target. For the final challenge, there were six targets in a wide, staggered array, ranging from 6 feet to 20 yards distant. Putting the required on shot on each target required constantly adjusting speed and focus.

The stages all basic shooting skills to the test, which is the idea behind the match. It's a great place to come out and get some practice with your carry weapon if you so desire, or have a chance to perhaps run a little too fast and test your limits —all without the pressure of a scored match or risking a low score on a classifier. We even had the opportunity to run a couple of the stages more than once. Future matches will provide for an hour or so after finishing for folks to practice even more.

It was a fast match, 48 rounds total. When I got back into my car, the coffee in my thermal mug was still lukewarm and we were on the road home by 11:00PM. This quick match was perfect for a busy Easter weekend. As for Greg, I dare say he had a great time, and he shot well too. I suspect I'll get him to a full USPSA match soon. On the ride home we were discussing other friends we could invite to come out to Cedar Mountain for an introduction to practical shooting.

Cedar Mountain practice matches will be held going forward on the second Saturday of the month, which, conveniently, doesn't conflict with local USPSA matches. I'll use them for practice, or perhaps to run some rounds through my carry gun. I'm also looking forward to bringing out more new shooters and getting them hooked. We'll have our Gabriel Possenti Shooters team before long!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ragland Road Irish Pub

The last stop during my trip to Orlando, was dinner at Ragland Road Irish Pub, located in Downtown Disney. Getting there required a ride on the free shuttle busses run between Disney properties; a ride complete with a vomiting kid who apparently overdid it at the theme park. That obstacle overcome, we arrived at our destination.

Ragland Road is a large place, with both indoor and outdoor seating. We had a table in front of the main stage. The beer menu included the expected Irish ales and a selection of American craft beer. The problem came we tried to read that menu. The area was so dark that we had to dig out our phones to use as flashlights. Now, I have not had a Guinness since our trip to Ireland. The ubiquitous Guinness just tasted so good there, it didn't have the same attraction once home. However, I decided to go with the flow, and selected the Guinness Stout as my beverage that evening.

Beer selection done, I turned my attention to the food menu. Again, out came the iPhone flashlight app. The food selection is quite extensive and my decision was a tough one. I finally decided on the Banger & Booz — Guinness & onion bangers on mash, topped with caramelized onions & beef stew. Due to the lack of lighting at our table, I really never got a good look at my meal, but I can report it was delicious. The sausage and mashed potatoes were served in a dish of hearty beef stew. It reminded me somewhat of the stew I had in Ireland. I also enjoyed some of the tender calamari appetizer shared by the table.

In an interesting twist, one of my dining companions and coworkers is a native Irishman and resident of Dublin. He busied himself with the American craft ales instead of the Irish selections. He enjoyed his Fish & Chips, though admitted he rarely ordered it back home. The musical and dancing entertainment was quite loud, and made conversation difficult, and limited to the person seated next to you. The banter from the Irish band came with such a deep brogue that it elicited one of the funniest comments of the evening when my Irish friend noted, "He's quite hard to understand isn't he?"

I started out with not high hopes regarding Ragland Road. I figured it would be a tourist trap made for Disney. The pub's draw for many is the music and dancing, with the lighting focused on the stage and the music loud. However, the food was well-done and even the Guiness was a treat. I'll go back when I am next in Orlando.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Big River Brewpub

As I strolled the Disney Boardwalk, looking for someplace to have dinner, I happened upon the Big River Grille & Brewing Works. I could see the brewing equipment from the street. Wow, two interesting finds in one evening! A line of people outside were waiting for tables, but I was able to find an empty seat right at the bar.

There was a range of house beers available, and even though I was interested in trying them all, I opted to not go for a flight. After all, the brewery was within walking distance of the hotel and I would be around for a few days. I decided to start with a beer labeled simply "IPA." This beer pours a brownish-orange color with a thin beige head. The aroma is mild, mostly citrus with a hint of grass. The flavor is moderately citrus heavy, seeming more Pale Ale-like than IPA. The finish was clean with little lingering aftertaste and the 6% ABV hardly noticeable. Paired with a large plate of Pepper Jack Chicken Nachos, I had the makings of an enjoyable meal.

With stamina left for just one more beer, I opted for Rocket Red Ale, which seems to be the bar favorite. I was debating between that and the Steamboat Pale Ale, but figured the Pale Ale might not be all that different from the IPA I just had. After all, I could come back another evening, I again told myself. Rocket Red Ale was dark amber in color, with a thin head, although the beer was moderately carbonated. The aroma has malt and toasted bread. The initial flavor is nutty and bitter. Surprisingly bitter. Perhaps due to just finishing the citrusy IPA, that profile stood out. There's also a strong malt base and a slightly metallic flavor. The bready and nutty notes lingered in the finish.

The next day, awareness of the HeartBleed Vulnerability was picking up steam, and we faced a busy day, and late night, focusing on gathering and disseminating that news. Plans were changed and dinner was brought in. Despite Big River being just a short stroll from the hotel, trying the other beers will have to wait for another trip.

Tax Day

Hat tip to MSgt B.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sundays at the Range

Lately, it seems to be how I end my weekend. Not that I'm complaining. The days are getting longer, and there's still time to shoot after most folks have left the range for the day. The last couple of trips out I've been getting used to my new eyeglass prescription. I've used this monocular Rx for a couple of years, buts it has always been more of a compromise than a solution. Until now. While I never would have wished for worsening vision, now that my distance vision has degraded further, the setup seems to actually work better. According to some, this technique works better when there's a greater difference between the two lenses. I don't know if I'll shoot any better in competition, but there is certainly more clarity when wearing the glasses, making for a more pleasurable time.

I was very pleased, and somewhat amazed, at what I was seeing at 25 yards. No more squinting one eye to find the long-distance target. Of course, I have to retrain my reflexes to not squint with the weak eye. To that end, I went through about 100 rounds at 25 yards practicing transitioning between targets. I also spent some time on closer targets to work on quicker sight acquisition. 

I had planned to do some shooting while running between shooting positions. That is until I saw the ditch running across the bay. A few weeks ago a drainage pipe was laid. Apparently it didn't work as planned, and the bay is dug up again. Larger pipe was being delivered while I was there, so I hope this is fixed soon. 

As I finished up, another shooter arrived and we talked while I packed up. He was very pleasant, and it turns out we have some shared interests, beyond shooting. At the end he mentioned he had written a book, so I looked him up on Amazon. Seems to be a very interesting fellow and I look forward to chatting with him again. I think I'll order the book too. I'm purposefully anti-social with strangers at the range, but I'm glad we started a conversation. You just never know who you'll meet. 

Another nice thing about hitting the range late on Sunday, is that I have no place else to go afterwards. I can come home and relax over a strong beer while reminiscing, and writing, about fun times had over the weekend.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Good Beer Sighted in the Hotel Lobby

I had to be in Orlando for a few days on business and I had low expectations for craft beer at the resort hotel. As I headed out for dinner the first evening, I peaked over at the lobby bar and spied some familiar beers on display; Great Divide Colette, Bear Republic Racer 5 and Oskar Blues Old Chub were recognizable even from a distance. I decided to have a seat and a beer before I went in search of food.

One of the beers on display was Pine Belt Pale Ale from Southern Star Brewing of Texas. I don't recall ever having beers from this brewery, so that was to be my choice. Poured from a 16 ounce can, the beer is deep orange in color with a beige head. Even in the low light of the bar I could see it was a very hazy in appearance. (The bartender was nice enough to ask if I wanted a glass.)

The aroma aroma was a mix of fruitiness and citrus hops. The flavor was a decent combination of citrus bitterness and piney resin, and a bit of sweet malt hung in the balance. The flavor profile almost crept into the IPA area. Slightly resinous and sticky in the mouth, Pine Belt Pale Ale leaves a lingering bitterness in the finish. The unfiltered beer had a thick mouthfeel. In fact, I could detect sediment in several sips. That likely came in as I emptied the 16 ounce can into the 12 ounce glass.

I enjoyed the Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale while engaging in an interesting discussion with another patron, inspired by the bar's Macallan Whiskey selection. Though at $90 a shot for the Macallan 25 Year Scotch, I opted for another serving of the beer.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Brewery Moving to Culpeper

A local nanobrewery is moving into downtown Culpeper. According to the Star Exponent,
A brewery is coming soon to Waters Place by the Culpeper Depot. 
Stanardsville native Kenny Thacker, brew master, said Friday he was in the process of moving Beer Hound Brewery from its current location along U.S. 29 in Greene County to downtown Culpeper with an estimated opening in June 
He has been running the nanobrewery — producing no more than three barrels of beer in each batch — for less than two years in a shopping center on the northbound side of U.S. 29 near the Ruckersville Sheetz.
The new Beer Hound Brewery location will have both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as growler fills to go. I'm looking forward to stopping by and trying out their beers. Perhaps, this will be a great place to relax after a morning of shooting at Cedar Mountain.

For more on the Beer Hound move see "Beer Hound Brewery moving to Culpeper."

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Don't Drink From Cans

Heavy Seas is one of my favorite craft breweries. Loose Cannon IPA was one of the first IPAs I drank, and I still enjoy it frequently. However, when I saw the latest Pyrate's Log newsletter from the brewery, I couldn't help but exclaim, "No! Don't do that!"

I was surprised to see the brewery advocating drinking the beer from the can and missing out on the full aroma, the full flavor and even the attractive appearance of the beer. The brewery's own description reads "The carefully cultivated interplay of Simcoe, Palisade, and Centennial creates a most fragrant IPA—its nose bursts with notes of grapefruit, herbs, and pine." You won't get that drinking from the can (or a bottle.)

Given the advances in canning technology, I'm fine with putting craft beer in cans. In fact, I'm starting to prefer it — cans keep the beer fresh longer, there's no chance of light damage, and the package is lighter and more compact than bottles.

But pour the beer into a glass. Please.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Function Testing. And Some Tylenol.

After work on Wednesday I ran over to the range to try out my new eyes. All I can say is "Wow!" I've accepted some lack of clarity in general when looking through two layers of plastic lenses, but I don't think I noticed how much detail I was missing, even up close. When I raised the pistol up, I paused, because I actually saw the horizontal striations on the front sight post. I guess I'm going to need a new excuse for my match performance. Well, I do still have those bad knees!

On Thursday afternoon, we spent some time on the rifle range. I had helped a friend make some mods to his "modern sporting rifle" that he wanted to test it out. So I also took the time to see how my new Rx worked with the iron sights on our AR-15. Even with the longer focus distance to the sights, I could see them okay. A minor problem came when moving back to 50 yards or so. I could not see the markings on the target well. The lines essentially disappeared, and the colored circles were blurs. I could hit the target fine -- knowing where on the paper to aim. I wouldn't win any bullseye competitions, but can still get the job done.

The final "test" of the day involved the shotguns. I've only fired birdshot from the Remington 870 Express. We're taking a shotgun class next month that will require many rounds of buckshot and slugs in addition to standard birdshot. I wanted to see how the light shotgun handled those heavier loads. After the first slug, I'm pretty sure I had a big grin on my face. Pretty intense, but fun at the time time. I can see where I'm going to be feeling it after a full day of heavy shooting. I also got to finally shoot the heavier Mossberg we picked up recently, which was moderately more pleasant to shoot. Colleen has claimed that gun for the class. :-)

It was quite a fun day on the range. We had a good work out, and it was the first time in many months that we didn't have to walk through mud to set up the targets. Of course the fun was followed by steaks on the grill and a cold adult beverage. I woke up this morning reminiscing about the smoke and the noise of the day before. But now I need to stretch my shoulder a bit, and find that bottle of Tylenol.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hardywood Raspberry Stout

It's dessert. In a beer bottle. That's what comes to mind when drinking Hardywood Park Raspberry Stout. I'm not a fan of "fruit beer" so I'm always hesitant when trying out a new beer that has fruit as a featured ingredient. However, when a brewery with a track record of good beers puts out a "Raspberry Stout," I'm going to try it despite any apprehension.

Hardywood Raspberry Stout is a February 2014 limited release from the Richmond, VA brewery. The beer is brewed with locally grown raspberries. The nearly black liquid is topped with a thick and frothy dark beige head. As soon as the cork came out of the bottle, I picked up the sweet berry aroma. Sticking my nose closer to the glass, the scent of dark cocoa was added. Already, my mind is forming an image of a German chocolate cake topped with raspberry drizzle.

Taking a sip of the beer, the raspberry flavor is at the forefront. It's not a sticky sweet, or artificial, fruit flavor either, this is the flavor of fresh raspberries. Raspberries spooned over a dark chocolate cake to be exact. There is a hint of espresso-like bitterness coming through as well. A mild sweetness lingers in the finish. We decided to break out a box of chocolates to enjoy with the beer, completing the dessert-like experience.

I enjoyed the Raspberry Stout very much. However, like that big piece of chocolate cake after a meal, one slice, er, glass, is enough. At 9.2% ABV, Hardywood Raspberry Stout is a treat to be sipped and savored.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Haz Eyes. Again.

My shooting glasses have a prescription insert that is set up with my normal distance lens over the left eye, and the right lens is adjusted to focus on the front sight. I've used this setup for a couple of years and have been very happy with it. However, I've been subconsciously aware for some time that I needed a new prescription, but the last few weeks it moved to my conscious level so I made an appointment with my Optometrist. Aging eyes confirmed, I ordered new everyday glasses, as well as new lenses for my shooting glasses. I picked them all up last Wednesday. As I attempted to attach the new Rx inserts into the glass the frames snapped at the bridge, leaving me with this:

I immediately went to the the ESS website, only to find out the inserts were on backorder. I also noticed that the stock photo of the insert looked different then the product I bought in 2012. I was fortunately able to order the insert from a third-party supplier. The replacement frame arrived a few days later and, sure enough, the lens shape was different. So now I was in the position of having brand new, unused lenses, that didn't fit the new Rx frame. On top of that, when holding the loose lens in front of my right eye, it didn't seem like the adjustment was quite right.

Tuesday morning I spoke with my eye doctor and we confirmed a further adjustment was needed on the closeup lens. A couple hours later I was surprised to get a call that the glasses were ready. The lenses I had ordered were not in stock, so the Optician had upgraded the lenses at no charge, so I didn't have to wait of the lenses to be ordered. "I know you're anxious to get out shooting," she told me.

A week ago I didn't know when I'd get out shooting again. I did indeed miss a couple opportunities in the interim. However, thanks to super service at my doctor's office, I'm ready to hit the range again. Now I just need to find the time to do that.

And, I think I'll be ordering a spare set of glasses, just in case.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Self-Refilling Beer Can

Shut up and take my money!

New Sessionable Beers From Fordham

Fordham Brewing Company has updated its year round lineup with trio of "session" beers. In a delightful coincidence, I received a sample package from the brewery on my birthday a couple weeks ago. Having previously seen the brewery press release, I was looking forward to putting the new lineup through its paces. Gypsy Lager, Copperhead Ale, and Route 1 Session IPA form the basis of the brewery's Rinse and Repeat series, created with a focus on sessionability.

Gypsy Lager is a Munich-Helles stye lager that was first brewed at the Annapolis Rams Head in 1995. The beer is straw-colored with very little aroma detected. It's got a crisp grassy, grainy flavor with a buttery malt base. Copperhead Ale is an American Red Amber that pours a hazy copper color with a beige head. With a caramel, slightly sweet aroma, the flavor has malt sweetness initially, switching to a mild citrus hop bitterness. Both of these beers check in at 5% ABV.

Route 1 Session IPA was the member of this group I was most eager to try out. At just 4.5%, I wondered, would it really be a full-flavored IPA? The beer poured a dark copper color thick beige head. I detected a faint malt aroma but little noticeable hops. However, that meek profile changed in the drinking. Route 1 IPA exhibits a bitter hop profile that is more intense than expected. Some sweet malt shows in the background. A moderately long lasting bitterness lingers in the finish.

There's a trend among craft brewers looking to create full-flavored beers without the high alcohol the so often accompanies bold beers. Route 1 Session IPA meets that goal especially well. I enjoyed all three of the "Rinse and Repeat" series beers, but the IPA was the winner in my book. The beers should be showing up soon on shelves in the mid-Atlantic region.

The beers reviewed here were promotional samples from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.