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