Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fest-I-Val, notes from the Rogue.

The coming Winter Solstice; sunrise over the St. Martin. The Point, Ocean Pines. 12/20/2017

   The season of Festival is upon us. Prepped the landscape. Literally. Brought in my buddy, Tommy the Eye, to eradicate the weeds. Sacrificed a few perennials. Flycut the decorative grasses. All for winter prep. Put up the lights (thank God Tommy the Eye was there!). Trimmed the house. Daughter and Grandmini joined Tommy and ourselves for grub. The Spirit was full on.

"Scrooge wakes up and starts freaking out because the clock makes it seem like he slept straight through the next day...but, you know, once you start messin' around with ghosts and stuff, the clock is the least of your problems."
                                         -Shmoop, A Christmas Carol, Stave 2 Summary
   Time passes by quickly this time of year. First snow of the year. Christmas lights and Santa (2nd try was a charm) with the Grandchild.
Brother and I "chaperoning" the wives on a mid-month antiquing and shopping spree in Berlin, MD. Finished up the evening with a few brews. Before I knew it the water was nearing the fifty degree mark. The chances of a last surf fading.

As with Scrooge, the clock has been puttin' a nail in the opportunity coffin. What can I say? Call it a crutch for the weak. An excuse that only satisfies me. Regardless, the Season of Christmas, like this year as a whole, has been busy. No worries. We're on the Right Coast. Life is good. Next stop, the Chicago-side Family. Gas up for the Ride! The stoke of Christmas Fest-I-Val only gets better.
Christmas ready at the Atlantic Hotel, Berlin 12/16/2017

   It's Fest-I-Val! Plenty of brews to go 'round. Drink local. Ya see it everywhere and we enjoy ours...Berlin's Burley Oak Brewery. Put out a top of the line Sour Stout this year. Winter Eclipse poured a murky dark brown with a thin off white head. Notes of fruit and malt in the aroma with sour-sweet plum and roasted coffee in the taste. Warming at 6.6% ABV. Tart and bitterly refreshing at 36 IBUs. Rated an A-.

I had rated one of this brewery's beers a few posts ago. Out of Virgina, O'Connor Brewing sliced out a fair Winter Wit. Sweater Weather poured a bright, pale yellow with a fizzy, finger-plus thick, white head. Notes of bananas, bread, and yeast in the aroma. Tastes of citrus and coriander, lightly sweet. Not bad. Not used to this type of beer this time of year. Easy drinking, snow blowing beer. Rated a B/B-.

   Finally (but never the last), Virginia Beer Company's Rob Your Head Imperial Red Ale. A bring-back from Williamsburg, this bad-ass crashed in at a defrosting 8.4% ABV and a whopping 72 IBUs. Brewed for the turn of seasons as the cold starts to set in. Poured a clear, burnt red-amber with a two finger, frothy white head. Aromas of malt and pine with juicy grapefruit. The hop forward resinous pine and citrus shown through in the taste. Call it an imperial red amber ale, a big red IPA...don't matter. This is how I like 'em. To de-ice, I'd take this over salt (but not salt water) any day. Rated an A.

Cheesin' at the OC's Winterfest,
Northside Park, OCMD. 12/9/2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Stoke Of The Season, notes from the Rogue

Racetrack Marine...ready to take on the high seas of Christmas. Rt. 589, 12/11/2017.

    Travel along Baltimore Avenue, Ocean Highway, or hit the Inlet and you are left with no doubt as to what time of year it is. The OC clearly has the spirit of Ho'okipa rolled out.  Christmas looming. Focus this time of year needs to be on enjoying the reason for the Spirit. Don't let the occasional choppy conditions stress.

The "List" still pretty much unchecked; always manages to take care of itself. Need to pull down those decorations and get the Point ready to be garnished up. This too will happen...with family. The coastal waters continue to hover just above 50F. It is their siren call for one last surf. Want to believe it will still happen. Days getting shorter. Opportunity to surf, fading. In the meantime, as I travel through town on the way to another surf check, I can't help but feel the Stoke of the Season.

   The dark days of Winter. Warmers to shake the on-coming cold of the season.For the most part. Chaos Mountain in Roanoke, Virginia brought in the three set Cocoborealis. Chocolate nibs on top of chocolate cocoa on top of roasted chocolate malts, brewed with hops and oats...a rich, filling Triple Chocolate Stout of a meal that weighed in at 6% ABV. Scents of coffee, plenty of chocolate, and light smoke. Poured an opaque black-brown with a less than finger thick brown head. More chocolate, coffee, and some cherry in the taste where any other flavor got lost. Slightly burnt/bitter, 31 IBU finish. Not bad. Rated a B-.
 Ninkasi has been showin' up quite a bit on my radar as of recent. Their holiday brew, Sleigh'r; a Winter Altbier that I had seen around enough to give the subliminal suggestion to add to my warmer arsonal. Nice chestnut brown pour with a finger-plus, creamy tan head. Aromas of nuts and toffee with a sweet chocolate and malt taste. 60 IBUs gave a refreshing hop tone to what is usually a heavy brew. At 7.2%, this was a heavy warmer to fight off the oncoming winter blahs. Rated a B+.

Heading to North OC. Love them lights Dude...Cheers!

Meli Kalikimaka!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sleep In, notes from the Rogue.

"I've been surfing a couple of the offseason. I'm not very good, but it's just something that to be out
 there in the water, no cell phone, no music...very few sports are as pure as that." 
                                                                                              -Troy Polamalu, former Steelers player
Post-Thanksgiving clean up, 7th Street & Malibu beach. 11/24/2017. (MSS Pic)

   I woke up Thanksgiving morning to my Wife doing the treadmill. What an example! One I did not follow. Should have. Kicked myself in the ass that I did not use the opportunity to grab that last surf of the year. Water has stayed the mid to upper 50's most of the month. Even the conditions, thigh to waist and semi-clean, screamed "carve me like a T-Day Turkey!" My sorry ass slept in. Add that I don't do much after the water drops below 50F. Didn't matter. Didn't go. Probably the last chance. 
OP Christmas Lights
Very busy weekend. Delaware dinner with my bros, both their  family and mine. Always cheerful chaos. 1st anniversary. Saint Michaels had our reservation all over it. Gettin'  the Point set up with Christmas stoke. December...another busy month coming up as we are heading to Chicago for Christmas. No worries. Back on the Eastern Shore. Keep telling myself...I will take advantage in the Spring!

Wades Point...still standin' after year 1.

Kemps' lookout.

   Two brews to further my apathy. O'Connor Brewing's Great Dismal. A Black IPA. Black, like it's namesake, the Virginia-North Carolina swamp that was once part of the Intracoastal. Actually poured a dark brown with thin lacing and a single finger tannish-brown head. Smelled of sweet malt, pine and caramel. Flavor included the characteristic citrus of the hops. Resinous. Roasted... almost burnt taste. The 65 IBUs made it dankish, which helped. Couple of these 7.5% 'ers and I could almost forget about the missed session. Almost. Rated a B/B-.
   Leinenkugel's Pumpkin Patch Shandy. Brother served this up with Thanksgiving dinner. Poured a pale orange with a finger plus white head that dissipated as fast as the thin lacing. My I could see why my brothers would like this. Low alcohol at 4.2%. Almost no hop presence at 11IBUs. A Wheat Beer with pumpkin pie spices. Could smell the pie, but tasted watered down. Very weak. Added nothing to the meal. Rated a C-/D+.
"If you want to save a species, 
simply decide to eat it. Then it
will be managed- like chickens,
like turkeys, like deer, like
Canadian geese." - Ted Nugent

Offseason at Lookout Point, 2017.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Island Drift, from the Rogue's notes.

Edge of an island adrift. Assateague, MD side. 11/18/2017

Island, I see you in the distance
I feel that your existence
Is not unlike my own
-Jimmy Buffett, Island

   Completely drifted into the next season without any water-time. Standing on the eastern edge of a skid of sand in constant permutation. Winds and tides join in a continuous assault on the barrier island. A western slide. Ever closer to the mainland. Could feel the pull of the ocean as land moved in the opposite direction. Blowin' a gale on Assateague. Waters, while still in the upper 50's, were chopped and sectioned depending on how far out your gaze might fall. Walking onto the beach, the wind-chill is what gotcha. Seeping through your jacket. Saturating bones.
Had to keep moving. Hovering around 50, but into the 40's with the wind. Know I sound like a broken, whining record, but it's the wind that gets ya. Tide was up, wind blowing from the east. Not conducive to a good surf. A beach- comber's day. Despite feeling the "lack of," I took solace in watching my Wife and Granddaughter scour the sand for shells. Every new shell our Granddaughter picked up seemed to trump the previous. Child's wonder. And the wandering Island ponies only heightened her buzz. We tend to lose it in the rush of the everyday, but the magic of the Island tends to help me catch a breath. Slow down time...if only for an afternoon. 

   Full Sail Brewing Company can relate to our way of life in these parts. Craft brews along the Columbia River in Oregon. Full view of SUPs, windsurfers, kite boarders, and Sailboats. Have had their beer in the past. Always good stuff. Full Sail Amber, one of the better amber ales I have had this season. 6% ABV makes it hearty and warming. Clear copper pour and a finger or so off-white head. Lacing that lasted. Tasted of malts and iced tea. With orange and lemon. Nice floral and citrus notes. Aromas of biscuit and spice. The 31 IBUs gives this a clean, dry finish. Rated a B/B+.

Mollusk excitement.

Windblown weekend. Whitecaps on the river...Sunday, 11/19/2017.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Down South Way, from the Rogue's notes

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel as seen from Fish'mans (Fisherman) Island. Cloudy, but mild (mid 60s) and
 this is the East-side, so...flat. Bad surf spot. Good fishin' venue. Hence the name. 11/4/2017.

   One of the vows upon the return to the coast was to head down south way. On a future day, for another surfing road trip. Last weekend, just a road trip. Eleventh hour provisions made. Wife and I even brought the pooch. Absolutely nothing to do with surfing. Like to try to tie in a break to each post. Somehow. Someways. Cruised across Fish'mans Island. Eastside facing the Ocean could argue some decent wave action from time to time. The con to that...accessible by boat only. Bayside west...facing the mouth of the Chesapeake...not so much. Pretty passive. Just passed by VA Beach. Nope, this trip was all about Williamsburg, VA. A hair inland. Sixty miles. Could argue a beer road trip. For the purposes of this post...that's my argument. That and a wee bit of history.  Especially the colonial era. Hard to find a more complete living example than Colonial Williamsburg. Wife gives me $hit because I get a tad carried away with the camera. Tend to get a lot of the same pics from trip to trip, so I tried to keep it original. Beer was! Gotta love it. We did.
Chowning's Tavern traffic.

Muzzle Flash, a hoppy amber ale from Williamsburg's Brass Cannon Brewing. Picked it up in the DoG Street Bottle Shop. Never made it out to the brewery...maybe next time. I liked this one. Nice hop bite (est. 50 IBUs) with a strong malt backbone. Big head on this, though I think it may have been a warm glass contributing. Poured a clear amber. Aromas of toffee and pine. Smooth finish. Sessionable at 5.8% ABV. Rated a B+.

Shops approaching the Capital Building

Wetherburn's Tavern

Merchant Square
Wethernburn's Tavern, where merriment was a specialty of the house. And no wonder with Bristol Ale on tap. Imported from bloody ol' England via Bristol, the beer at that time required high alcohol content and extra hops to keep it drinkable through the trip across the "pond."  Part of AleWerks Brewing's Historic collection; picked up at a colonial store in Merchant Square.  An English Strong Ale that poured a cloudy brown with sediment. Nice finger thick tan head. Smells of chocolate and malt. Tastes of vanilla and brown sugar. Smooth, slightly sweet, but crisp hop finish. This one is a strong hitter at 7.3% ABV. Rated a B.

 Discovered DoG (Duke of Gloucester) Street Pub on our last visit a couple years ago. Expanded since. Beer brings success. Success breeds expansion. Also within Merchant Square, we now had Hair of the extensive bottle back. This place supported local brewers...Virginia's specifically. Obvious they love their craft. Did a collaboration with AleWerks to develop Maizie's ESB. Extra Special Bitter named after Maizie, the owner's pooch. At an estimated 30 IBUs and 6.1% ABV, poured a reddish-orange with a tan, finger thick head. Bitterness with little citrus up front. Toffee-malt hit in the back. Not a big fan of this one. The company dog got the better deal. Rated a C+.

The Virginia Beer Company was on our radar from the start of this trip. Like an approaching set in the distance, it didn't take long to hone in on this ride. Finished off the opening night with their 8-brew flight plan, sampling all on tap. Couple of belgians, IPA, DIPA, a blonde, and a Wheat Ale. Downing a reuben at lunch, I washed it back with the Saving Daylight Wheat Ale. Apropos considering it was the last day of DST. This was the brew that led us to our evening break and the tasting sesh. Light, straw yellow in color. Drank this directly from the can as well as the tasting. Distinct flavor from the Belgian yeast. Additional aroma and tastes of banana and grapefruit. Ever so light hopping on the end (25 IBUs) to produce a crisp, refreshing finish. A real session beer at 4.9% ABV. A starter in the Flight. Rated a B-.
"Fall back, and have another."
Closing Fife & Drum Corps.