Saturday, December 17, 2016

Before the After, from the Rogue's notes.

The end of it. Wades Point the day of departure. 11/28/2016

A snapshot before the drop. A rum distillery. A brewery's best. And after takeoff...St. Michaels and Chesapeake country. Downtown. Enjoying the ride.

Distillery tour, 11/25/2016.

   Lyons Distilling Company. Carrying on the colonial era rum tradition. An intro tour, help everyone get to know each other. Also able to put down one of the smoothest sippin' rums I've had. Lyons Dark, 90 proof. Notes of molasses and caramel with an intense, dark caramel flavor.
But not too sweet. An A rating.

The evening continued at
Eastern Shore Brewing
Practically around the corner.
 Pizza and Beer. Hard to have
a better combination to
finish the evening.

The signature beer was Eastern Shore Brewing's hometown namesake, St. Michael's Ale. An amber ale that pours a clear amber-brown with a 2-finger fluffy tan head. Aromas of toffee and wheat. Oddly, light chocolate and berry in the taste. Seemingly a session brew at 5.5% ABV, but a clean, not overly bitter finish at 35 IBUs. This would be what I'd call a go to, if there was nothing else. Not a stand-out, but it satisfied. The night, friends and family...rated an A. The brew, a B-/C+.
The Wedding...a hit. Everyone was stoked. The morning after, breakfast at Wades Point; an Eastern Sho' farm and bay to table signature. Congratulations around. Goodbyes. A downtown hitch. We stayed an extra night to take our time. Revel. Dot the I's.

Finished our last night with an app at Gina's Cafe, an uptown favorite of ours. and then lobster ravioli at Limoncello downtown. The beer of choice was served up on draft at Gina's (found a six pack out and about). Dogfish Head's Beer for Breakfast. A smoky stout brewed with breakfast scraps. Maple syrup, scrapple, oats, and coffee among others. Poured a deep black with a honey-brown two finger head. Thick lacing. Aromas of smoke and coffee with notes of espresso like coffee and chocolate with some spice (from the Rapa Scrapple) in the taste. Does not come off strong despite the 7.4% ABV. Light (30 IBU) hop bite in the finish. Rate an A-.
Limoncello & a lit up downtown St. Michaels. 11/27/2016

   Greeted on our last morning. A crab omelet made with local Maryland crab and farm fresh eggs. Bacon. Old style oatmeal. Fresh fruit salad with homemade granola and yogurt. Croissants. And, of course coffee. We didn't want to leave.

Closed the first night with a bonfire party  on the Chesapeake. Left the last day
as it was found. Like the ride out... peaceful and quiet. 

Chesapeake Country, 11/28/2016.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Making The Drop, from the Rogue's notes.

Chopped Chesapeake...15mph winds kept festivities indoors, but did not cap spirits.
Wades Point, McDaniel, MD. 11/26/2016

  Australian big wave surfer Mark Visser said it best..."Commitment is key." Marriage requires as much tenacity as any commitment. Now, I have to admit that this was not my first rodeo, but this ride required no second thought. I made the drop. We did it. My girl is now my Mrs. It's gonna be a helluva ride!

   SeaQuench Ale. Dogfish Head's brewed concoction of lime peel, black lime, and sea salt. A Gose. A Berlinerweisse maybe. Cloudy pale-gold pour. One finger head. Strong aromas of lime and citrus, wheat, and tart fruit. Very funky sour taste, like lemon-lime sour patch candy. Peppery zest, with a bare hint of salt. Dry and lightly bitter. Very refreshing in the finish. A collaboration with the Baltimore Aquarium to help in the conservation impact for a healthy Chesapeake Bay. Rated a B+. The festivities couldn't have come off sweeter. Still trying to nail down this sour thing.
"Fear is the thief of dreams. Take the drop."
-Jay Moriarity

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One Step At A Time, notes from the Rogue.

"Some people, they're just gonna be grumpy, liking 'how it used to be.' But nothing ever stays the same. You
can't build fences around life. It's just this ongoing process. All you gotta do is just keep paddling. It's simple"
--Gerry Lopez, A Brokedown Melody.    
Inshore late autumn colors. Cabin Creek... Secretary, MD  11/23/2016.                                   

   So, I made my return to the shoreline with life plans. Marriage. Big step. But one with no doubt. A future home in the beach vicinity. Big step. One with no doubts, but conditions. Sell the home in Salisbury. Find the new home closer to the beach. Get back into the job on the 'Shore...or an acceptable equivalent. Surf check...the most prevalent step. No doubt. We do this on Wednesday. Running around doing errands.
Time for the penquin rubber needed. Flatlined surf sesh, Roadways, 30th St. 11/23/2106

   The Shore was seasoned for the Thanksgiving holidays. The Coast was no exception. Conditions were model. Chest. Clean. Already formulating a plan as to how I could take advantage. Except they were not. And, I was not. Standing there, smiling...overlooking the deficient swell, salt in the wind, I realized the whole extended weekend was coming together as it should. No distractions. Like the evening's conditions...calm.
The water was semi-calm, in the mid-50's. Warm enough to charge into...with rubber. Real nice night. Light winds. But the swell was maybe ankle plus...near flat. Would remain so throughout the weekend. No seduction here. A sign, one I welcomed. All about focus. Life plans require focus, and God was watching over.

   Bonfires, food, family, and foosball. Thanksgiving this year. Also included 2 brews. The first brought from the Midwest. Two Brothers Brewing; Warrenville, IL...Cane and Ebel, a Red Rye Ale brewed with a buttload of hops for a bitter finish at 68 IBUs. Another buttload of Thai Palm sugar adds a lightly sweet, flavor of vanilla that goes well with the toffee of the malt. Combined with the spiciness of the rye gave this brew a unique top end aroma and taste. Poured a dark, almost opaque ruby red, with a finger and a half khaki head. Very dry finish of which I'm not a fan, but really a nice rye IPA. At 7% ABV, the third one took it's toll. Rated an A-.

   The other brew, a White IPA brewed to roll out during the fall by 3rd Wave Brewing in Delmar, DE. Now, I'm not usually a White supporter, but the can got me. Sundancer White IPA features the logo of one of Ocean City's legendary, but defunct surf shops, Sundance Brotherhood. Sweet rendition. A Belgo that poured a hazy, burnt yellow-gold with a finger plus head. Hints of yeast and pepper with stronger tones of coriander in the aroma. The taste further defined the coriander with the strong citrus bite of orange and a clean, bitter close. Brewed with 58 IBUs of hops and a stout 6.4% alcohol level. Bought a sixer on the coast. Put down a couple refreshers after the long ride back. Rated the beer a B; the can, an A.
"Life and beer are very similar; chill for 
best results."       -Circle of Life

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dry Spell, notes from the Rogue

"When will it rain, I feel the heat burning through my shoes
Soft shoulders are getting harder, adding to my blues."

   Really feelin' this dry spell I'm in. Watching the surf cams. Clean. Sloppy. Waist to head. Knee-hi's. Whether the surf's up or not, this distance...inability to even get wet...has me down. Now Standard Time has set in. Pretty definite that I won't see any action before the Spring. Hell, I'm fighting just to schedule a glimpse of Miss Atlantic's coastline this next trip. The distance is definitely felt. Don't get me wrong. I'm psyched about the wedding coming up. Right on the Chesapeake. Stoked. No second thoughts on this decision whatsoever. Gonna be a great time. We do this for us. We do this for family. But, I surf for me. Haven't done it much this year. Kinda bluesy. So I sit back. Contemplate. Cigar in one hand, Bloody Mary in the other. Chaser brew in the frig. Fade them blues away. At least fuzzy 'em up a bit.

  An appropriate brew. Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale. A Founders Brewing Company wee heavy that pours a very cloudy dark brown with ruby tints. Thick, one and a half finger brownish-tan head. Solid lacing. Aromas of molasses, almonds, and chocolate. Flavor has a nice combination of nuts and fruit. Malt, raisins, and toffee up front with a badass bastard's fill of hops to the tune of 50 IBUs, for a bitter-sweet resiny pine finish in the back. Stands up to it's discript "wee heavy" style. At 8.5% a little boozy...will blurr the blues in a heartbeat! Rated an A-.
Lonely break...the toll of Standard Time.  11/2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Haunted, notes from the Rogue

O.C.Toberfest, North Division St. OCMD. 10/22/2016  -Dispatch pic
   I can't help but be haunted by my last surf session. Frighteningly sub par. Just not gettin' wet enough. One more trip to the Sho'. And while I hold on to the slightest chance of pulling my stick out of storage and squeezin' the juice one last time before the cold really sets in, Thanksgiving festivities and a holiday campaign in the form of my wedding may chow down most of the time available. An off-season journey full of hurdles. Home still for sale. Bites have been at a minimum. Knot to be tied. Taxing, albiet runnin' to plan so far. Holidays gonna be hittin'. Chaos. Lot up in the air. But I feel in my heart of hearts, the pieces will fall in place. Belief in what you can't see. Faith. All about Faith.
North Coast smashmouth. Post Matthew, Fenwick Island, DE 10/18/2016.    -FSS pic

   So whadda I got? Beer. Four of 'em. Drank more than that on this fine Halloween evening. Lead off is New Belgian Brewing's Pumpkick. Tart. Brewed with cranberries. Poured a hazy red-orange with a finger and a half, off-white head. Fair lacing that dissipated quickly. Aroma whas light berry with cinnamon and nutmeg. Tasted the pumpkin and spices. Bready. Malty. A little tart. Not really a sour. Bitter and sweet. Couldn't tell if it was hops or the cranberries or a combo. But this was different in a good way. 6% ABV. 18 IBUs. I'd do it again. Rated a B.

  Goose Island. I fight to keep from calling 'em sell-outs to InBev. I tell myself "it's all about the distribution." Tough sell. Oktoberfest Marzen. 6.4% ABV. Brown amber pour with a light, finger head. Toasted malt smell with a slightly sweet, nutty, toffee taste. Light fruit background. Very bitter finish. More than usual for a 17 IBU brew. More than wanted in a Marzen. Rated a B-/C+.

   Double IPAs. Hard to lay off. Stone Brewing doesn't help. Ruination DIPA is a big beer. No surprise that it's brewed in surf mecca San Diego. Poured a deep golden orange. Tons of mango and citrus in the aroma. Flavors of resin and pine and a faceplant's worth of grapefruity, orange-citrus, hop bitterness. Bold. A gnarly 100+ IBUs. But, at 8.5% ABV a bomber of this gargoyle-faced brew will clothesline ya right off the back side of your board. Rated an A. Get me another! Tomorrow.

  Lastly, a brew I had rated way back when. Since I've already done three this post, I had to add this one that I downed last month on the Shore. It was excellent the first time I reviewed it. Still excellent now. And available in 6 pack bottles vs. the growler/tap when it first appeared. Evolution Craft's Jacques Au Lantern Pumpkin Ale. Hazy amber with a finger and a half beige head. Good lacing. Nice blend of pumpkin and pie spices. Complimentary bitterness at 20 IBUs. Very smooth drinking. One of the best pumpkin beers of the season. I look forward to it every year. 6.3% ABV. Be mindful Padawan. Rated an A+ again and again. 

Upset? Out of beer?! "That's nothing compared to the fury of a 
woman who has been cheated out of tricks-or-treats."   -LVP

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Joy 'N Agony, notes from the Rogue.

"You need the highs and lows, otherwise it's flat...kinda feels like you're not really doin' anything."  -J.Elway
Far from flat. Chest plus nor'east swell, 47th street lineup. 10/2/2016

"The beautiful violence of breaking waves. It is a constant. In small waves and
weaker waves, it's mild, unthreatening, under control. It's just the great ocean
engine that propels us and allows us to play. That mood changes as the waves 
get more powerful. Surfers call power "juice," and the juice becomes, in serious
waves, the critical element, the essence of what we are out there to find, to 
test ourselves with- to recklessly engage or cravenly avoid."
-William Finnegan, Barbarian Days

   It hadn't seemed like I'd get get out at all. This trip already looking like the last chance I'd have for the year. But here I was; Sunday morning about 8:30 am. Semi-clean waves chest to neck high. An occasional head here and there. Little bump, but the recent swirling nor'easter winds had finally lightened up to allow a bit of a lineup at the 47th Street break. Like to say I was stoked; watching the left breaking sets roll in two and three at a time while unwrapping the leash from the T&C and securing it to my ankle. The 7'6" Town & Country was not my board of choice, but it's what I had. Paddling out into the lineup I felt good about finally getting an opportunity to nail down a few rides before settling back into a long, potentially very cold Mid-West winter. But, I was fighting an uneasiness I just couldn't shake. Hadn't been able to surf since May. The swell was to my backside... weak even when I'm surfing regularly. I'd found I'd pulled the wrong board from storage upon arrival at the beach. And, I was on a clock. The joy to be back in the lineup. The agony of self imposed pressure. Recipe for a shit session.
Nor'easter sparring match, the Atlantic in chaos. 47th Street 9/30/2016.

   The start of the weekend return trip across The Bay gave premonition to the state of mind to come. Tropical Storm Lisa veered off in the middle of the Atlantic while at the same time Cat 3 Hurricane Matthew was coming up from the south. The combination of the two pulled in a stalled Northeast storm over the central Right Coast and dumped bookoo buckets of rain on the Shore causing flooding, sinkholes, closings. Thursday, we literally drove into the airport parking with a flat tire (driving 4 slow blocks prior), a delayed flight and slowed traffic created juggling within our schedule, arriving in the evening to water under the house still for sale (dishonest, shithead buyers-sore spot? Yes!). Friday, water from nearly a weeks worth of rain, pumped out from under, all day into the evening. 
Snow Hill Road  flooding.
31514 Spearin Road

Pocomoke River profusion. 9/30/2016

Rain, high winds, and mist most of the day ixnayed any PM surf. Saturday, our day with our Granddaughter...big plans vastly modified due to the continued nastiness of the weather. Sunday, a clearing.
Sunday clearing, 47th Street 10/2/2016

   Surfer and writer Bill Finnegan said it best, "defeats, humiliations- craven avoidance- burn into memory so much more deeply, at least for me, than their opposites." That is how Sunday's session felt to me. I was exited to be out there. And at the same time, I felt very anxious. Not scared. Hesitant. It was not overly big, or rough. But I tired more easily than usual. The T&C does not float as well as my 7'4" Shell...the board I preferred in these conditions. Took a bit outta me to get into the lineup. I was more easily winded. Did not relish the thought of wiping out and having to fight back into position. For the first time since I had moved to the Midwest I could tell I hadn't been surfing for a while, and I could feel the burn. Seemed to spend to much time backing off from the frontsides that wouldn't materialize and avoiding most left-handers. I only managed a couple of kook rides, the last of which was a rush job...the disintegrating wall of a late sloppy left grabbed my tail and with too much weight on my rear foot I fell backwards into the wash. The wind had picked up. The lineup emptied out. More mush now that earlier. I drifted in knowing it may be many months before I get back in the Atlantic O again. But I was happy to have gotten out. Happy to have returned to the Shore. Happy to have spent time with friends. Happy to have seen my Granddaughter for her 2nd birthday. And this afternoon we would be having dinner and spending the evening with my brothers and their families. Let the joy overcome the agony.

   Deschutes Brewery offers their own brand of liquid assistance to overcome, Hopzeit Autumn IPA, a hoppy take on the traditional German Marzen. I was out looking for the next best, and I snagged this as soon as I laid eyes on it. Poured a cloudy reddish-amber with a finger plus, foamy, khaki head. Nice carbonation and tight lacing. Aromas of toasted bread and herbal citrus which one might think would clash. But the tastes of the two together were complementary with the strong roasty malts melding well with the 60 IBUs of earthy grapefruit hop goodness. At 7% ABV, a nice warmer for the now cooler evenings. I rated Hopzeit an A-.
Williamsburg, Virginia's AleWerks Brewing does one of the best infusions of pumpkin, spices, malts, and light hops. This review is an ode to a memorable brew from a memorable destination. Pumpkin Ale poured a clear, dark red-orange with a maybe a pinky finger size, white head. Plenty of pumpkin pie spices...nutmeg, cinnamon, the smell. Taste is that of a heavier brew, but not boozy. Plenty of clove and nutmeg with a hint of vanilla. I like a strong, hoppy pumpkin, but this had just enough piney hop bitterness to properly finish off. Not enough action, sittin' in the cooling fall surf? Throw this back. 7.3% ABV will warm ya up and make the whole experience seem better. Adjust the 'tude. Forget the frustration. Rated this a B+/A-. Why? I missed my hops.
"Dinosaurs had no beer. How did
that work out?"  -Bar sign

The Big 2! Happy Birthday Little Girl! -Shannon Blythe pic