Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Twelve Days Ain't Over Yet, notes from the Rogue

Deck the Woody



  Another Christmas come and gone.  Very anticlimactic, this holiday.  Almost 2 months of celebration.  YES! that's what it is...even if some feel a little bombarded.  Ya think?  Whiners...Doubters!  All of the music, the decorations, the lights, the commotion that leads up to Christmas Day.  Even the Day itself.  Like a class, or seminar.  If you retain at least ten percent of what happened it was memorable (great for me, hopefully good for all or at least most).  Then all over.  Done.
          Christmas in Chicago with My Girl...
          skating, skyline, and a fire by the tree.  Sweet!
   Or is it?  The song says twelve days.  The Bible, history, and yes Wikipedia says they begin on Christmas Day (25th of December).  A festival known as Yuletide. So I ain't gonna undeck those halls just yet!


   Ok then, a nice ale to drink in the Yuletide with.  It's been an above average December, tempwise.  Daytime in the mid-40's.  As well in Chi-Town, the snow's been scarce (1.5in. so far compared to 16+ this time last year).  Hell, the coastal water temps have been hovering around 50deg. most of the month.  Still, have I mentioned the wind chill?  Wind kills, man!  Has kept that "feels like" temp in the high 20s to 30s.  Hence we need a sturdy warmer.  Breckenridge Brewery's Christmas Ale. 22 IBUs and 7.4% ABV.  A six of these, and you'd spend a couple of those days in a blur.  Poured a deep mahogany with a single finger tan head.  Decent lacing left as I drank.  Nice carbonation and I liked the cinnamon and molasses overtones.  Some hops were there for balance, but still a little on the malty side for me.  I rate this one a B as in But I'd drink another.
"There's nothing like a cold beer on a hot
Christmas morning."
  - Homer Simpson

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not a Winter Solstice Fan, notes from the Rogue

"I was just thinking... of a flaming rum punch.
No, it's not called that and it's not nearly cold enough anyway.
Wait a minute, wait a minute, I got it.  A mulled wine, heavy 
on the cinnamon and light on the cloves.  There we go, off
with you lad and look lively!"  
                         - Clarence Oddbody, It's a Wonderful Life

Last Stand, 12/18
  I went down to the beach with every intention to grab a few thigh-hi's in a last ditch December run.  The rubber was loaded including boots and gloves, towel, change of clothes.  Water temps right around the 50 mark which for me is just barely tolerable sans repeated submersion.  But this day was not rough, not big.  The sun sat beckoning in the west, but little warmth.
Come on in an' feel the clean, Holidays at 66th.
   The offshore winds out of the northeast brought in some serious frigidity.  I can do cold water but the wind, especially during this time of year, kills.  Killed my session for real.  I don't do hoods, and I don't do well with the requisite ice cream headaches the next season features.  I'm done for the year.  Winter is settin' in.  It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Even the local dives leave no doubt of the season


I see signs 'o the times constantly.  I try to ignore but alas, not to be.  Closed, see you next year, open again in May, Seasons Greetings, Christmas sales, Winterfest of Lights.  I mean really. Hard to overlook. Once my season is over, I don't see the beach much.  Dream of it, catch the surf watch during storms, but even now the Hurricanes have passed, and most storms are outta the north, or west.  Days are too damn short!  Not a Winter Solstice fan at all.

   The night's beer was appropriate.  New Belgium's Snow Day Winter Ale, an American Black Ale weighing  in at 6.2% ABV and 55 IBUs.  Pours a deep dark brown, with a hoppy pine nose, tastes of light chocolate and roasted nutty malts.  The lacing clings picture perfect left behind following a finger and a half cream colored head. With a silky feel, this beer goes down sooooo smooooth.  Nice spot on winter warmer; all ya need is a fire.  Giving it a solid A.
"Hey look mister - we serve hard drinks in here for men who want 
to get drunk fast, and we don't need any characters around to give 
the joint 'atmosphere'.  Is that clear, or do I have to slip you my left 
for a convincer?"  - Nick, It's A Wonderful Life

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shoot the Lights Out, notes from the Rogue

   A long weekend full of stress and company layoffs, ending in speedy fashion as time does when you're able to relax mind and muscle.  A Saturday day trip to St. Michaels, MD.  An area surrounded by more waterfront property than anywheres else on the Right Coast, a Christmas celebration in a town that for 200 or so years has prided itself in its resourcefulness in fooling the British.
Big property makes for Big displays.  St. Michaels Road- 12/10.
   The long and short of the legend is that during the War of 1812 as a British fleet moved up the Chesapeake Bay, St. Michaels was targeted for its shipyards (built a schooner known as the Baltimore Clipper, known for evading blockades and outrunning foreign vessels).  After neutralizing the local battery, the fleet began bombarding the town.  

   Return fire from militia artillery batteries resulted in the fleet moving off.  Little damage occurred with the results owed to an ingenious ruse engineered by the town.  The light's were dimmed and lanterns hung in the trees beyond.  As a result of the British attempt to shoot the lights out, the town was overshot and thus spared.  The British were fooled, a claim vaunted on every piece of town literature to this day. Niiiice.
  Very cool, very quaint Eastern Shore town.  Full of history, plenty to do (including a winery and brewery which earns it many stars!), and not brought down by tourist drawing commercialism...yet.  Ya got shops, ya got bars, ya got some decent bistros.  Ya got life by the water, which is always a plus.  The town has done a nice job promoting itself, and the local businesses keep to the Eastern Shore traditions of graciousness and down home welcome.

  Did I mention they have a brewery?  Eastern Shore Brewing, located in an old Mill building, does a lot with a little.  They've won several medals in the Maryland Governor's Cup, but has not yet expanded outside their Shore sphere of influence. Talkin' with the owner, Randy Moritz, he is taking his time being careful not to expand too quickly.  Give him credit...taps are always flowin.'  They promote the beer, and they promote St. Michaels.  Always good for business.

BEER!  Git It!

The brew house stays busy behind the scenes


   Later in the evening...the beer chosen was Full Sail's Wreck the Halls Holiday Ale. Brewed as an American style IPA, this one pours a cloudy orange with plenty of hops (68 IBUs) to provide a citrus/pine intro.  A 1 finger head and well carbonated...nice lacing.  The taste was a combination of your usual clove and allspice and sweet caramel like tones but with a peppery zing that seemed to boost the 6.8% alcohol content.  The hoppy finish left me wanting.  Another sip of course!  On point holiday offering.  I give it an A-.
"I'm off for a quiet pint - followed by
fifteen noisy ones."
 -Gareth Chilcott, Athlete

Shoot the lights out?!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chillin' n Drillin', notes from the Rogue-

Chillin' n Drillin', 12/4
     I've always had this surf of many I can assure you, that Christmas Eve or Christmas Day would have OCMD waters warm enough for me to surf; swell included without sayin'.  In case I've never mentioned it, that would be a 50+ degree central-east Atlantic waters and corresponding air (ie. 55-65F).  Hasn't happened yet. Yeah that's right, I hate the cold.  I have a hood.  Don't like the hood...any more than I'd like being in a headlock, which is what it feels like to me.  But, I digress.  Yesterday's surf was still low to mid 50's.  The air temps started around 60, but as the sun dropped so did the air.  Regardless of the chillin' between sets, I was in a lineup of about a half dozen with semi-clean waist plus highs barrelling thru.  Mostly left breaks. And while I saw the non-kooks grab a few rights, mine was apparently reserved for my last ride (no matter how hard I tried).  Not yet cold enough to ice-cream me so I dealt. If Lady Atlantic gives you lefts, you take lefts.  Drilled 'er...a nice neck-high backside. My first was the best of the evening...that's a good thing.  Even if my backside does suck.
Clean-up Set

The OC lit up for a Birthday Celebration


   Today got up to 66 degrees.  19 shopping days 'til Christmas.  Let's see if the trend continues, and my piece of the Right Coast can maintain.

  The evenings sampling was Sierra Nevada's 2011 Celebration Ale, an IPA for the holidays fur sure!  I tried last year's...felt it was too bitter with no balance.  Don't know if I've become more hop happy or what, but this year's was much better in my opinion. Specs read 6.8% and 65 in ABV and IBUs respectively.  65...that's a nice hop hit. Pours a deep burnt orange with a finger and a half head.  Ya got that characteristic piney/citrusy hop nose.  Some caramel malt taste with a crisp hop and somewhat surprising almond-like finish. I need a cracklin' fire is what I need!  I give this one an A-.
"I never drink water.  That's the stuff that
rusts pipes."
 - W.C. Fields

Friday, December 2, 2011

Florida Highs, notes from the Roque

Colours of the Intercoastal
     I am truly blessed with the family I have.  Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that I appreciate it the most.   At my brother's we experienced the Florida Highs. We had the Intercoastal.  We had the beach.  We had the ocean.  We had wake boarding.  We had food.  We had drink. We had football.  Most importantly, we had Family.  A pictorial essay of a Florida Thanksgiving:


In Loving Memory - Chloe, Thanksgiving 2011