Saturday, June 28, 2014

The "Whole Box" of Beer

Sometimes the Saturday morning grocery shopping chore has a bright side. As I made a casual glance down the beer aisle, expecting more of the usual factory beer stock, I spied the bright yellow and orange boxes of Flying Dog Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale. This has been an elusive quarry since we reviewed the beer last month.

Scanning the case of beer at the self-checkout set off the alert that someone was buying beer and we dutifully waited to show proof of age. The clerk couldn't get the scan to process, so he and I walked back to the beer aisle so I could show him the price sign. The conversation then progressed like this:
Clerk: "It's $10.99 a six pack."
Me: "There's four six packs in the box."
Clerk, incredulously: "You just grabbed a whole box?!"
Me: "Of course."
He then proceeded to carry a single six pack back to the register to run through the scanner, and down the conveyer belt, four times. I'm sure he'll have a story to tell about the drunks that bought a "whole box" of beer.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five O'Clock Friday: Albert Collins

Have a fun, and safe, weekend!

A Burger and A Beer

Due to various commitments and time constraints, I've found myself eating fast food-style burgers on several occasions this past week. Despite all the "hamburger" meals this week, I told a friend I was still craving a "real one." So on Thursday evening, when Checkered Flag and I met at The Pub for a quick dinner, there was little doubt what I'd be ordering. The Pub's burgers are long-time favorites.

The Pub is also home the Battlefield Brewing, so a house beer was in order as well. I selected Austerlitz Czech-style Black Lager. The beer was served much too cold, as The Pub seems to do with all their beers. There was no actual ice on the glass, although it was quite wet with condensation, indicating the glass was likely freshly removed from cold storage. I let the beer sit for awhile to come up to a reasonable temperature.

Austerlitz Czech-style Black Lager is a dark beer a thin beige head. The aroma is mild coffee with an earthy and mildly fruity note. The flavor had very prominent roasted coffee and espresso notes, with a mild bitterness. Light bodied, the beer checks in at 7% ABV. The roasted flavor lingers for an extended time after sipping, leaving an astringent bitterness behind. I enjoy black lagers on occasion, and this one, while not exceptional, was an acceptable accompaniment to my highly anticipated burger. Unlike the week's previous meals, this burger was topped with fresh lettuce, tomato, and pickles — so I got my salad in too. Mom would be happy.

While tasty, I didn't think my burger was up to The Pub's previous standards. We used to hit The Pub very regularly but haven't been there in a while. Sadly, the service and quality has diminished in recent years and the reviews online are hit or miss. Despite this, the meal and conversation with a friend made for an enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bartender's Choice

After my extensive practice session at the range last weekend, I headed down to Capital Ale House for dinner and drinks. When the bartender queried, "Something hoppy?" I nodded and replied, "What do you suggest?" It's good when the staff knows your preferences. He suggested Road Warrior, a Rye IPA from Green Flash Brewing, a new beer to me, and to which I had no objections.

I was somewhat surprised to see the snifter of dark beer set before me. Road Warrior pours a dark garnet color with a thick, persistent beige head. The aroma is that of dark fruit and caramel, with citrus and pine as well. It was an aroma that was very enticing and a foretelling of the flavors to come. The taste is only slightly sweet, with rich citrus and pine flavors taking dominance over the rye and caramel malt base. The 9.0% ABV gives a bit of warmth, but for the most part is well-hidden. Though a big hoppy beer, it was surprisingly balanced for a Green Flash creation. I was sorely tempted to order a second glass to accompany my Chicken Tostadas.

However, my enjoyment of variety led me to place my trust in the bartender to pick yet another round for me. This time he arrived with a glass of Stone Brewing Enjoy By 07.04.14 IPA. This is one I enjoyed when the keg was first tapped last week. In contrast to the evening's first beer, this one is a bright, translucent golden color. Also in contrast to the malt richness of Road Warrior, this one features pure citrus hops. Enjoy By is a brash, highly citrus hopped beer — balance isn't a word I'd use here. It's for the hop head pure and simple. And I enjoyed it, again, immensely.

I was having such a good run at not selecting my own beer, I opted to try for one more. There was a new bartender on duty, and I requested she continue the work started by her co-worker and pick another IPA for me. She came back with Shipwrecked Double IPA from Mission Brewery. Another excellent selection, Shipwrecked returned to the malt-rich side of the IPA spectrum. Though not as dark as the Road Warrior, the aroma and flavors are full of pine and citrus hops with a sweet caramel base. This one could almost be taken for a Barleywine.

I had a fun, and tasty, evening under the direction of the Capital Ale House experts. By this time in the evening my tastebuds had been through a workout, but an enjoyable one at that. As it got later, the crowd at the bar started trending to the 20 and 30-something crowd. Though entertaining, the arrival of a large after-wedding party made me decide it was time to call it a night.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Range Trip: Brass and Rain

I had not made it out for shooting practice in several weeks. All my practice between matches has been dry fire, so I was thankful for some free time, and coolish weather on Saturday. It had been raining off and on all day, but I managed to time my trip just right to get in a good and varied workout.

The only other people on the property were a couple putting down seed on one range, and a guy on a backhoe moving some timber. I set up in the large bay and got to work, starting off with some non-firing drills to get warmed up, before moving on to the live fire. Shooting from different distances, the first drills were mostly single shots on one or two targets, adding in some movement between shots. Soon, I no longer heard the sound of the backhoe and realized all the workers had left. That meant I could now move on to multiple shots on multiple targets — all without worry of harassment for violating the club's very subjective "rapid fire" rule. I only regret I had not brought along my steel targets, which are legal but still irritants for the curmudgeons

Since I had the place to myself, I took advantage of the wide bay to also get in some defensive shooting practice too. Drills were run "getting off the X" while shooting; moving left, right, forward and backwards. Deep furrows were dug in the gravel making rapid direction changes. While getting hits on target is the goal in both competition and self-defense, rapid movement gets more erratic, and more critical, when a life is on the line. 

My well-worn targets taped again, I changed gears and worked on shooting slow groups. At the Cedar Mountain match last week, the last target of the day was a head-only target. I made two accurate upper A zone hits, but not feeling confident I decided to take a third shot. That one was also an A, but that decision weakened my score by adding another two seconds to the time. I decided I'd get in some practice to increase my confidence in those tight shots, from varying distances. Single handed shooting made it into my drills this time.

Near the end the session a light rain started falling. By the time I was picking up brass, the rain was falling steadily. Since this session had made good use of the entire bay, picking up the fired brass was a challenging treasure hunt in the gravel, requiring multiple passes around the bay. However, having to spend extra time picking up brass in the rain meant just one thing — it had been a great day on the range!

By the time I arrived home, quite soaked from the rain, the clouds were clearing and the sun was peaking through. Gear stowed and a long hot shower later, it was time to head off for dinner and some good beer at the local ale house. But that's a tale for another post.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Overheard At The Pub

I enjoyed dinner and a few beers at my local watering hole last night. It was an interesting evening watching the crowds roll in and out, and most especially overhearing the conversations of the 20 and 30-somethings.
"Oh God, I'm going to be forty soon."
"Girl, you still have four years."
Two friends looking at their "selfie"...
"My nose looks big. I should have been Italian."
"I really want a cigarette, but I don't want to get wrinkles on my face."
"Do e-cigarettes cause wrinkles?"
When a wedding party came in, I knew that was my cue to head out. But not before one of the groomsmen pushed his way to the bar proudly announcing he was going to take care of his friends,
"Five Fireball shots, please."
Then after 3 of the five are poured...
"Wait, how much are they?"
Seriously, if you have to ask... 

Now That's Telemarketing!

But poorly targeted, I'm happily married.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Agave Cerveza - a refreshing surprise

The promotional sample Agave Cerveza arrived earlier this week from Flying Dog Brewery. It's the latest in their Brewhouse Rarities series of limited releases. Opening the package, I was a bit surprised, as I don't recall hearing about this beer previously. Or, if I did, I ignored it. I don't do the lime and Corona thing and that was the first thing that came to mind. However, as I sat down on Friday afternoon, ready to wind down from a long week at work, something called to me from the fridge...

Flying Dog Agave Cerveza pours a clear, light yellow color with a thin head. Brewed with flaked maize, the beer has a corn and grain aroma typical of Mexican-style lagers, though it's actually a Pale Ale. There's a hint of lime zest detectable with my nose stuck deep in the glass. The lime flavor stands out more in the sipping; the crisp, bready beer benefiting from that added bit of zest. A slight fruitiness completes the picture. The finish is dry with little evidence of the flavors left behind.

I was quite surprised I enjoyed this beer as much as I did. I've often noted that people wouldn't need to drop fruit in their beer if the beer tasted good. It's my opinion the lime in a Corona is there to cover the skunked flavor. However, Flying Dog Agave Cerveza combines a crisp Mexican Lager-style flavor with a hint of lime, for a refreshing combo, all without the skunk! The flavor, and the mild 4.3% ABV, make this an easy to drink, tasty beer. So easy in fact, my glass was empty before I had finished writing down the flavor notes above. I could get used to a beer with lime on a hot day if they all tasted as good as Flying Dog's version.

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cedar Mountain Practical Pistol

On Saturday morning my friend Greg and I headed out to the Cedar Mountain Youths pistol match. I was looking forward to a quick morning of enjoyable shooting in a low-pressure match, with a fun group of people. And that's what I had.

This month's match seemed to focus on getting the shooters into some less-than-comfortable shooting positions. On the first stage, there were three targets to be engaged; first while standing, then by dropping down to shoot through a low barrel while kneeling. Stage 2 was shot leaning around both sides of a barricade, with a mandatory reload in the middle.

"Make ready"

Stage 3 was a bit of a memory stage. Two shooting boxes were set out, with eight targets to be engaged, some of which were strategically placed behind barrels so they could only be seen from one or the other position. The next stage was a habit breaker, with four targets and four shooting areas. You had to shoot all four targets, with just one shot each, from each of the four positions. I saw several shooters put two shots on a target from the same spot (and earning penalties.) I had to catch myself several times from firing off that second shot.

Stage 5 put our flexibility to the test again, as well as our shooting skill. Three groups of three targets were to be engaged from three somewhat awkward positions. The first position required kneeling to shoot under a barrier while leaning around the left side of a wall, then moving to shoot though an exceeding small low port, and finally another kneeling position from the right side of the wall. The final course of fire was another stage requiring shooting three different target arrays while moving between three shooting boxes. The first array had two targets, one with partial hard cover. The center array consisted of four simulated steel plates represented by paper plates. The final array paired a close in, wide open target with a more distant, head shot-only target. The stage was a challenging combination of targets that required different focus and speed.

The match was, simply put, a lot of fun. The varied stages were good representations of individual bits and pieces one might encounter at larger sanctioned matches, but on a smaller scale. Getting new shooters interested in practical pistol shooting is one of the benefits of the Cedar Mountain matches. There's no pressure and the courses of fire are challenging, without being intimidating. Besides new shooters, there are folks that just want a chance to do something a little more exciting than what's possible at a "square range." Experienced USPSA shooters can get in some fun practice time too. I always get a kick out of a new shooter experiencing practical shooting competition for the first time. This was Greg's second time trying his hand at practical pistol shooting. On the drive out we talked about kids and college; on the drive home we talked about guns and USPSA Divisions. I think he's hooked.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Beer Preferences: To Each His Own

My personal preferences aside, if someone wants to pay for flavorless, or flavor-skunked, factory beer, that's their choice. But that doesn't stop me from chuckling over a conversation like this one overhead recently.
Patron: "I'll have a Coors Light."
Bartender: "We're all out of Coors Light. We have Bud and Bud Light."
Patron: "No. Umm. Hmm." (Spies Stella bottles in the cooler.) "I'll have a Stella."
Bartender: "We do have some similar beers on draft."
Patron: "No, I'm the world's pickiest beer drinker. I'll have the Stella."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Don't Look in the Mirror

In recent weeks, we were once again faced with drug-addled, psychotic mutants going around killing innocent people. And once again, we see the usual suspects screeching about the dangers of guns, and ignoring the real issue.

But then again, it's not really that surprising that the left fears a focus on mental illness.

It is my belief that we're seeing the result of a decade of the progressive ideal of "everybody's a winner" and a move away from personal responsibility. No longer do we teach that there exists absolute truth in morals, and actions have consequences. It's no wonder we have a generation in despair.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there...


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Those Rights Are Not Granted by the Constitution

I was engaged in a Facebok conversation recently regarding the carrying of firearms in a church. Specifically, the discussion centered around the Virginia statute that vaguely states that carrying a weapon "without good and sufficient reason" in a church is not lawful. I reminded the participants that former Virginia Attorney Cuccinelli opined that "carrying a weapon for personal protection constitutes a good and sufficient reason under the statute to carry a weapon into a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held there."

That evoked a reply from another who stated "Our CWP [concealed weapon permit] and the 2nd amendment should be a valid sufficient reason!"

While I applaud the sentiment, I felt obliged to remind the commenter that it's natural law, not the 2nd Amendment that provides our rights to self-defense. The Bill of Rights only affirms rights that we already posses. That document is meant to protect our God-given rights from those who would seek to restrict them. If anything, the need to obtain a permit to exercise that right directly infringes on the "shall not be infringed" clause.

This is a detail that many in the pro-2A movement often overlook. The anti-gun crowd seeks to disarm law-abiding Americans by focusing on invalid interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. We should take care not to fall into their trap of relying on a man-made document to defend that which exists naturally.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Five O'Clock Friday: Lock Me Up!

It's time.


Bloodline Blood Orange IPA

Along with Flying Dog Easy IPA, Bloodline Blood Orange IPA is a formerly limited release beer that has now graduated to a full-time member of the brewery's lineup. Unlike the almost sessionable Easy IPA, reviewed here, Bloodline is a full-on hoppy, big IPA.

Flying Dog Bloodline Blood Orange IPA was originally created for the Washington, DC Brewers Craft Brewers Conference in 2013. It became available full time, on draft, in April of this year and in six packs in June. In what was perfect timing, Colleen visited a local beer shop last week, just in time to pick up the only six pack left on the shelf. (Ironically, she was there in search of the still elusive Flying Dog Dead Rise OLD Bay Summer Ale.)

Bloodline Blood Orange IPA pours a clear amber color with an off-white head. A persistent and sticky lacing is left behind in the glass. The enticing aroma is citrus and fruity, which is an accurate summation of the flavor as well. The orange citrus flavors are fresh and "juicy" with just a hint of bitterness. In fact, I was struck by just how un-bitter the citrus profile was in the beer. The finish is dry. Despite an ABV of 7%, it's a fairly light-bodied beer.

Like the English band so good they had to name it twice, Flying Dog Bloodline Blood Orange IPA has a bit of a redundant name. But fortunately the beer lives up the extra effort required to order it. We don't often manage to bring home a new beer so soon after it's made available, but the finding of this IPA was a tasty happenstance.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Storms and an IPA

We went over to Park Lane Tavern for a mid-week dinner last evening. There were severe storms in the area but we avoided any issues during our travels. We did see a bit of excitement as a fire alarm had been sounding outside of the shops prior to our arrival, but had ceased by the time the fire department arrived. Apparently there is no central control as the fire fighters were walking from shop to shop looking around, as well driving their trucks around the area, trying to find the source. A group of them came into Park Lane to look around and we joked that the fireman with the pike pole looked like he really wanted to tear out a ceiling somewhere. Fortunately, no fires were found.

Park Lane was having a "Steal the Glass" night featuring Widmer Brothers Upheaval IPA, so I opted to pay the glass premium and try out a new-to-me beer. Widmer Brothers is known for their ubiquitous Hefeweizen, but I don't recall trying anything else from them. But of course, an IPA always intrigues.

Upheaval IPA pours a cloudy caramel orange color with a decent white head. Grapefruit citrus and pine aromas are moderately strong. The beer itself is rich with bitter grapefruit citrus. It's a pithy and resinous combination. A slightly sweet malt base peaks through, but the bitter citrus notes linger in the finish. I was surprised at just how strong the flavor profile was in this beer. I've generally written off Widmer as just another "grocery store" beer. Honestly, I didn't even think about them beyond their flagship Hefeweizen. I know now, they have a pretty decent IPA too.

Park Lane keeps a rotating cask beer on their menu, though the wait staff should really stop introducing it as "warm and less carbonated." This evening's selection was RJ Rockers Son of a Peach, a wheat beer made with peaches, which Colleen selected. I had a small sip, and stated, "Wow, fuzzy peaches." I expected syrupy sweet, but I tasted peaches. It's not my choice in beer, but still interesting, and Colleen enjoyed it. The other beer in the picture one of Checkered Flag's favorites, and a staple at Park Lane, Belhaven Scottish Ale. And that's our son's glass of water too.

It was an enjoyable evening watching the storms pass through, while partaking in some good food and beer with family and friend. That's always a nice way to celebrate getting halfway through the work week. It's all downhill to the weekend from here!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What's in a Name?

What does "Musings Over a Pint" mean? To me, it brings forth thoughts of sitting around with friends, good beer in hand, talking, laughing, pontificating, about anything of interest. It's not wholly unexpected that one thinks first of beer when hearing the blog name. In fact, the first three years or so of this blog was devoted almost exclusively to that topic. And frankly the task of writing on a single topic became, well, boring. Those that read regularly know that besides good craft beer, it's God, family, country, and the shooting sports that top my interests.

Recently, one of my long-time Twitter followers dropped my feed. He's a passionate craft beer fan, and frequently "retweeted" my beer-related posts. Personally, I would still enjoy his conversations even though we are of different political views. However, his leaving is not an uncommon reaction among craft beer-only fans. Though frankly, I'm not aware of any shooter who's ever gotten upset over my choice in beer (though they frequently don't understand it.) The header at the top of this page was created specifically as fair warning to the more sensitive types. Staying around to be offended by these Musings is self-inflicted.

Selfishly, these Musings are written by me, for me. I enjoy the reminiscing that happens while writing the posts. Very frequently I go back and read older posts just to relive a good time. I don't see that changing. The craft beer reports aren't going away. The shooting range reports aren't going away. The Catholic commentary isn't going away. The occasional right-side commentary isn't going away. More often than not, those subjects even come up within the same post.

Sitting at a pub with family or friends enjoying a beer is still one of my favorite pastimes. And if I'm sitting around with true friends, those are the topics we're most likely discussing. So have a seat, and a pint, and join in the musing.

As a side note, it's interesting to me, that the leading all-time most popular post in these Musings is the Starfire .380 Ammo Review from 2012. Something ammo distributors might take note of. ;-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And the Two Shan't Meet

I've mentioned frequently how we are very adamant that shooting firearms and enjoying alcoholic beverages have a relationship that must be properly ordered. Often I find myself skipping a chance for a beer, simply because I might shoot later in the day. However, I firmly believe a good beer tastes even better after a day at the range.

Recently I was enjoying a beer at the pub with a friend and he lamented, "I have a project I wanted to work on today, but table saws and beer don't mix." I could empathize with his quandary.

Our choices made for the day, we opted for another round.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Beer and Crab Cakes

We've made several trips to Adventure Brewing since they opened, but had not actually planned a visit this weekend. Then I read on their Facebook page that their Stiletto Stout was back on tap. Colleen had gotten only a taste of it during our visit a couple of weeks ago. Then, after Mass on Sunday, Colleen mentioned that the Beach Fries truck would be at Adventure from Noon to 4:00PM. (Such is the power of social media.) Well, that's just too good of an opportunity to pass up. So on the spur of the moment we decided to hit the brewery for a beer and lunch before grocery shopping.

We headed up to the brewery and ordered our pints of Stiletto Stout. (Trivia: I didn't know how to spell Stiletto before now.) Simply put, this is a good Stout. It's moderately light bodied, but with a rich roasted flavor. The flavor profile is pronounced, but not overwhelming. The ABV is up there at 7.5% or so, but it's well hidden. Each sip brings back the roasted malt flavor, but the palate is soon ready for another sip.

Soon folks around us were enjoying the Beach Fries signature Crab Cake Sandwich and we decided it was time for our own lunch. I ventured out to the parking lot and ordered two Crab Cakes, along with an order of Sweet Potato Fries. I've reviewed the Beach Fries Crab Cake Sandwich before, but I swear it gets better every time. I grew up in Maryland and have enjoyed many a crab cake in my days, but this one I think tops them all. Thick and full of real crab meat, with barely enough filler to hold the thing together, it's topped with tomato, lettuce, onion and a wonderfully delicious, and spicy, rĂ©moulade sauce. It's served as a sandwich but they wisely include a fork. As far as the Sweet Potato Fries, well what else can I say: Sweet. Potato. Fries. Any questions?

We both opted for another Stiletto Stout to enjoy with our meal. Colleen and I enjoyed our food and beer, and some rare downtime just chatting about life and enjoying each other's company. Soon my beer was empty. Colleen had mentioned earlier that she might try a slice of the Beach Fries Key Lime Pie. Still thirsty for another beer, I headed back to the food truck for a slice of dessert for Colleen, while I treated myself to another pint of the Adventure Brewing Stiletto Stout.

Grocery shopping will have to wait until another day.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lazy Afternoon: Mussels and a Brown Ale

After a morning of yard work, a little dry fire practice and a light lunch, I realized I still had an afternoon ahead of me, and my son and Colleen were both out for the day doing other things. How should I spend my afternoon? Then I remembered I hadn't visited the Blue & Gray brewpub for several months, and it seemed like a pleasant afternoon to head over for a bit. I had hoped there would be folks sitting outside, but alas the patio tables were empty, so I joined a few other folks at the bar and ordered a pint of Garryowen Brown Ale.

This was a new beer for me. Blue & Gray describes this beer as "a hybrid English Brown and American brown ale." I admit I'm not really sure what that means, and interestingly, none of the usual beer rating sites have it listed. Garryowen Brown Ale is transparent reddish-brown color with a faint malt aroma. The taste is a nutty, roasted flavor with a dry finish. There is but a small hint of hoppiness coming through.

As I sipped my beer, I had the urge for a bit of food, and ordered an "appetizer" of Bacon and Gorgonzola Mussels. The generous portion of mussels were covered in bacon pieces and grated cheese, and swimming in a bowl of a red pepper spiced sauce. It's a good thing the dish came with a big chunk of bread too, I used it to sop up the tasty sauce. (And still had plenty left over in the bowl.) I opted for another glass of the brown ale with the mussels, rather than switch beers mid-stream. The roasted profile of the beer did indeed stand up to the spicy mussels and sauce.

After finishing my beer and food, I had an enjoyable conversation with one of the long-time brewers at Blue & Gray, as well as the new brewer, who was learning the ropes from the older hand. We chatted about the Blue & Gray beers and other Virginia breweries for quite some time. It turned out to be quite an enjoyable, and relaxing, Saturday afternoon.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fredericksburg Practical Shooters June Match

Last Sunday was the monthly USPSA match held by the Fredericksburg Practical Shooters. This month's match made use of many of the walls and props left up from the VA/MD Sectional Championship Match the club hosted last month. I didn't shoot at that event, so it was good to get to play on some similar stages. In addition to the interesting courses of fire, the weather couldn't have been nicer, with warm temps and occasional cloud cover. There was even a cool breeze later in the afternoon, a pleasure often absent from the Fredericksburg range!

I started the day off on "Red Dawn" which featured targets in either side of a path down the middle of the bay which led to a door. Going through the door activated a swinger to be engaged, along with a few other targets. The final two targets were low and close, but engaged over a wall which hid them from view. (I saw one shooter totally forget those two targets.) There's a first-person video here of that run. Stage 2, "You Don't Know Jack" was a similar set up, engaging targets on either side while moving down range. There was a popper-activated swinger near the end, which I managed to time just right — after hitting the activator and engaging a static target, I swung over to find the swinger right there at it's peak extension. I've also posted a video of the stage here.

Next, "Gladiator" started with an empty gun and some magazines left on a barrel at the starting position. Additional magazines could be left on other barrels around the course of fire to be retrieved as needed. At the start, you loaded the gun and engaged two distant poppers which activated a swinger and a caused another stationary target to swing into view. About halfway through the stage I went to engage that appearing target, and it wasn't there! The equipment malfunction meant I shot it over again. More "bang for my buck" even though I got off my plan slightly on the second run, which proves the importance of going over the stage in your mind EVERY TIME!

Stage 4 was the Classifier, CM 03-18 "High Standards," requiring both strong and weak hand shots. Even though I had recent successful practice time on those skills, I managed to have two misses on the stage. Despite the frustration of following some good classifier scores with a poor one, which will have an adverse affect my average, it was a fun stage.

"Hanging Gardens Of Babylon" was an interesting setup that seemed to have as many no-shoot targets as scoring targets. The array of white there just to mess with your mind I think. The opposite ends of the course were mirror images, and included a poppers at either end which exposed a couple of drop turners in the center. This forced the shooter to both ends of the course before returning to the center of the stage. It was a fun course, that seemed to go quicker than it does in the video.

Stage 6, "The Graduate," was a large U-shaped course that covered a large part of the bay, requiring the shooter to move quite a bit to hit all the targets. During the Sectional, there was apparently a wall down the center forcing the shooter to travel down both legs of the "U" but for this match, the barricade was gone and we could take a short cut across. At the end of each leg was a bear trap disappearing target which was set in motion by shooting a popper at the opposite leg. It made for good fun trying to hit the distant target and swinging back to score the disappearing target before it was covered by a no-shoot.

The final stage, "Dodgeball" had the shooter running down a central path that had staggered walls intersecting the free fire zone at right angles. This forced you to zigzag back and forth down the path while engaging targets on either side. A steel popper activated a swinger that required, for me, a brief pause while it came into view. The close targets gave an opportunity for some fast shooting on the move, video of which is here. (Yes, I am enjoying the new camera.)

With the exception of the Classifier stage, I was pleased with my shooting. Unlike last week, I had some misses, but still finished 11th out of 31 in the Production division. It was a pleasant Sunday morning, and afternoon, shooting fun and interesting stages, with fun and interesting people.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Stone Brewery in Virginia?

According to Veer Magazine, three Virginia cities are on the short list of East Coast locations under consideration by Stone Brewing Company for a future brewery. Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke are all under consideration.
Stone Brewing Company President and Brewmaster Steve Wagner and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Tiernan visited Norfolk on Tuesday. 
Norfolk is one of 10 cities under consideration for Stone’s much coveted East Coast facility. Other finalist cities include Philadelphia, Charlotte, Roanoke and Richmond. While many speculated Asheville, NC might be a top tier choice, according to Wagner, Asheville was never a consideration. 
The Stone team visited O’Connor Brewing Company for lunch, enjoyed a helicopter tour of the region, cruised down the Elizabeth River aboard the American Rover schooner with Norfolk city officials, Smartmouth Brewing Company and O’Connor personnel, and then ventured to Olde Town Portsmouth’s Bier Garden for beers and Still for a late night dinner.

According to the report, Stone will narrow the list down to three cities in the coming days. Construction is planned to begin in January.

See "Norfolk a Finalist for Stone Brewery" for the complete report.

From Grain to Growler

From Grain to Growler - The Virginia Beer Story is a short documentary film focusing on the explosion of craft beer culture across the State of Virginia. Take a Penny Productions has started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the film.

The project has a Facebook page where you can follow the project as the crew travels around Virginia visiting our many great craft breweries.

Note: I did join the Kickstarter campaign, but am not associated with the project.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mobius ActionCam

For quite some time I've been interested in trying out a hat-mounted camera. One of the problems with many popular cameras is their size and weight. Although the popular cameras are relatively small in size, there's still added weight and bulk attached to your cap or hearing protection. A couple of months ago, a friend told me about the Mobius ActionCam. This is an amazingly small video camera that is popular with the RC model aircraft crowd.

The Mobius ActionCam measures just 1 3/8 x 2 1/2 x 3/4 inches and weighs 1.4 ounces. Videos are stored on a 16GB micro SD card. There are also a number of mounting options available which add slightly to the bulk. I selected the visor mount which makes use of the camera's standard magnetic base. The magnetic base is part of the "Pro Mobius mounting package" which includes a variety of mounts and a wet weather cover. The visor clip and magnet mount combo provide a stable attachment to a ball cap, although I did discover that a fairly tight fitting cap works best.

The camera controls are very simple. There are just three buttons; Power, Mode, and Shutter. Two tiny LCDs are used to indicate status. All configuration is done by editing a text file on your computer. There are also GUI applications for Mac and PC to simplify the configuration process. The Mode button is used to rotate between two video modes and still photography. The video options are 1920 x 1080 HD at 30fps, and 1280 x 720 at 30 or 60fps. There are also narrow and wide field of view settings. Additional options such as motion detection, record on power on, and color editing are available, but untried by me. I have found that 1920x1080 at 30fps, with the narrow FOV setting, works well for the 1st person action shooting videos. 

The biggest issue I have encountered so far in using the Mobius camera is human error — remembering to turn it on before I shoot, and then off when I finish the stage. On numerous occasions I've forgotten to turn the recording off for several minutes, which has led to capturing some interesting, and often humorous post-stage banter. 

I've been very pleased with the Mobius ActionCam so far. When trying to analyze where we can improve our performance in shooting, or just about any sport, being able to watch a video of ourselves in action is an excellent training tool. Unfortunately, getting a squad mate to hold hold a video camera for us is not always convenient. I am typically hesitant to ask, for fear of disrupting another shooter's own preparations. First person video is a good compromise. It's easy to notice things like hesitations, flinching, not having the gun on target when coming into position, or seeing times when I had to look around for the next target. It's also good for showing when you don't do those things! Reviewing the video after a match is just plain fun too and I've enjoyed watching and re-watching the videos following a day of shooting (and forcing my family to do the same.) The camera also makes it very convenient to record your friends' shooting; all you have to do is stand and look in their direction, which is much easier, and more enjoyable, than watching through a view finder.

I've used this camera during my last three matches, and I always get questions about it from other shooters. Folks seem to be intrigued by the device, especially its small size. I do literally forget I'm wearing it at times. For a small lightweight camera to help capture the fun of my shooting activities, Mobius ActionCam is a relatively inexpensive tool that serves the purpose well.

Standing and Shooting

Shooting on the Move

Note: I purchased this Mobius ActionCam myself. No compensation was received for this review. I'm just a satisfied customer sharing my experience. Head shot photo by Paul Begovich.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Another Use for Those Beer Bottles

With a few hundred empties downstairs, I could probably start an orchestra.

That is, if I had any musical talent.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Catholic Cheer

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!
--Hilaire Belloc
It is my design to die in the brew house; let ale be placed in my mouth when I am expiring, that when the choirs of angels come, they may say, “Be God propitious to this drinker.”
 –-St. Columbanus
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.
--St. Brigid of Ireland
"From man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world."
--Saint Arnold

Cheers! Have a wonderful Sunday!