Holiday Spirits

I’m not a humbug, but I don’t effuse Ho Ho Ho’s either. I worked on the annual batch of Christmas / Holiday cards tonight. Rather than regarding it as a chore, I dove right in, “Seasonal Music” playing in the background and happy holiday thoughts bouncing around my head.

About half way through, I poured a bit of homemade peach brandy a friend gave me and added a generous splash of Crown Royal Black. It’s a great combination: a little sweet, a little smoky, and a lot potent.

Warmed by the spirits of Christmas, I continued writing out cards, affixing address labels for both return address and recipients. After everything was assembled, I started to seal the envelopes and attach stamps.

Remember when we licked stamps? I do and I don’t really miss it. I enjoyed just sticking them on. I had a bit of wistful nostalgia, though.

Things have changed. Some good. Some not so good. But all interesting. We don’t lick stamps. We send emails. I read from a tablet, not books. My car has seat warmers. I don’t have a home phone. My only phone is really a computer. Beer is better and stronger. My beard is thick, but graying. Music the kids listen too still stinks. I’m enjoying the holidays a bit more than I have in a while.

So many things have stayed the same, and they’re the most important ones. Family is still family. Friends are still friends. And it’s easy to miss them this time of year. This is a shot out to anyone I know and love.

Hey there!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Be good to each other.

May all of the blessings and joy of the seasons fall upon you with abundance. May the new year be fruitful and happy.

Lousy picture. Amazing beer.

One thing that I didn’t really think about before I moved to Colorado was the amazing selection of beer this state produces. Sure, there’s Coor’s which is my go-to for cheap un-challening beer. But if you want to step it up, there are hundreds of great choices all produced in Colorado. I’m still in discovery mode and that’s a good thing.

One of my favorite Colorado breweries is Oskar Blues. I was introduced to their beer for the first time last year at a local BBQ joint that had cans of “Old Chub” for sale. This is not beginner’s beer. It’s bold, in your face, and amazing. I loved it and was intrigued by Oskar Blues. You can see signs for their signature “Dale’s Pale Ale” in all sorts of establishments in Denver, but there are plenty of other great Oskar Blues brews to try.

Fast forward a few months: Sheri and I decided to tour the brewery up in Longmont, CO. Good choice. Brewery tours have tasting rooms. And I sampled the entire array of Oskar Blues brews they had on tap that day. Some were actually a bit far out for me, but I liked most. Oskar Blues really likes their hops. A lot.

Once exception to tons of hoopy flavor is Ten FIDY, an imperial stout with a “don’t have more than 2 if you plan to be coherent” 10.5% alcohol. It’s an amazingly strong beer both in alcohol content, but also in flavor. It’s also incredibly smooth and well balanced with wonderful and complex malty overtones with a hint of sweetness and chocolate. This is not the beer you chug a can or two of after mowing the lawn (see Coor’s above for that). This is a beer you pour like a fine wine with a great meal. You savor it. You revel in it.

12 ounces of pure awesome

So after touring the brewery in April and tasting a beer that danced on my tongue like little malty angels, I wanted to to get some. This was around April. I went to my favorite liquor store to get some. And … DENIED.

They had some for sale at the brewery so I figured it was readily available and did not grab some while touring. Apparently my beloved Ten FIDY is a seasonal brew and I had discovered it just after the season ended. Since my liquor store of choice is next to a grocery store I visit weekly, I’ve been checking back frequently to get me some Ten FIDY. (Fortunately the completely different but equally wonderful Gubna is readily available and had somewhat filled the void.)

Until today, I was denied Ten FIDY.

It is now officially Ten FIFY season in Colorado. I got me some! Oskar Blues is neither weak, flavorless or inexpensive. They sell the stronger brews in 4 packs. And the four packs of Ten FIDY are $13.99 each. Yep, that’s $84 for a case of beer.

Expensive! Worth. Every. Penny.

I didn’t get an entire case but let’s just say that my beerfridgerator is well stocked at the moment. I’ll be enjoying Ten FIDY season for a while.

One at a time.

Jehova Witnessed what kind of piracy?

Sheri and I are thinking about taking a trip to Singapore some time next year. Since I don’t chew gum, I didn’t think there would be any issues with personal habits. And then I had a memory that alcohol was forbidden there. It’s not that I have to drink while on vacation, but sampling the local brews and spirits is part of the fun for me. Rather than worry about whether or not prohibition exists, I decided to do some research and find out one way or the other.

This led me to the Singapore page on seached for “alcohol” and quickly found out it’s available, but pricey.

Then I found this found this paragraph (not my emphasis):

Pornography, pirated goods and publications by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unification Church may not be imported to Singapore, and baggage is scanned at air, land and sea entry points.

I can understand the first two prohibitions and really won’t elaborate on them. But what’s up with the other two? I will admit almost total ignorance of Jehovah’s Witnesses beyond The Watchtower and the friendly-but-annoying folks who go door-to-door trying to sell their brand of religion once in a while. I also know the Unification Church is the home of the Moonies and borders on cult status, but again, I’m mostly ignorant about specifics. I can’t imagine what would tie them into piracy and pornography in an otherwise religiously-tolerant nation.

What intrigues me is what about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unification church teachings can be so damaging to Singapore’s society as to have the same import ban as pornography. And they’re not specific about what pornography is, yet are all-inclusive about the religious literature that’s not allowed. Is a Playboy magazine OK? I’m pretty sure Hustler and Penthouse are out and that’s fine. I don’t ready any of those. I also don’t read The Watchtower or The Washington Times, so no worries there, either.

I’m not going to go grab some literature from either of the Singapore-banned religions, and I’m certainly not going to try to bring in anything “naughty” but I am still a little curious.

At least I can have a beer to two and not worry about it.

Beers to ya!

I like beer. In fact, it’s my preferred adult beverage of choice these days. Sure, I enjoy all sorts of hard liquor and the occasional glass of wine, but beer is my go-to beverage.

I’m also picky about my beer. Life is far too short to drink the crappy beer. Sure, I’ll have a Corona now and then, but if it’s got “lite” in the name, I don’t want it. I’d rather have water than Bud Light; at least water doesn’t pretend to be beer.

Fortunately, Colorado offers a lot of excellent beer choices. In fact, in the past three months, I have only purchased Colorado-made beers to store in my fridge. It’s not that other beers are bad, or unworthy. I just prefer to drink local. You know, when in Rome and all that.

Some of the local beers are just plain old beer. I’ve tried Coor’s. It’s OK, but lacks the personality I prefer in beer. I like ’em on the darker side and strongly flavored. Quirky, even. So here are a few of the local breweries and their offerings:

Upslope Brewing Company

Upslope has some great beers, but can be hit and miss.

  • Foreign Style Stout – really good. A poor man’s Guinness, but fresher. I don’t blame Guinness. It takes a while to ship beer across the pond. Foreign Style Stout is rich, creamy, and slightly nutty. If you like stouts, you’ll like this one.
  • Brown Ale – not a big fan. Upslope kind of misses on this one. It’s very bitter, but without enough personality to back it up. I got one six-pack and it will be my last. It’s not bad as a base for chili, though.
  • Craft Lager – great “every day” beer. This is a great lager with far more personality than the mass-produced stuff. (I’m looking at you, Budweiser.)

Wynkoop Brewing Company

I met a friend at their Brew Pub last year and sampled a few.

  • Cowtown Milk Stout – Oh my $diety I am in love. Smooth. Creamy. Slightly sweet. Rich and delicious with chocolate overtones. Nicely balanced. I wish I could find it outside of restaurants.
  • B3K Black Lager – Nicely balanced and very drinkable. Black lagers are hard to pull off well, but Wynkoop does a great job. If you can’t get your hands on Cowtown Milk Stout, this will help fill the void a little bit.

Oskar Blues Brewery

Oskar Blues is not a shy place. I’ve never been there, but the names of the beers alone are enough to let you know that this place is special. In the same way an insane asylum full of geniuses is special.

  • Old Chub – My first taste of this was at a BBQ joint near-by. It’s bold and strong, very hoppy, and very brown. About as subtle as a kick to the nuts. Unlike a kick to the nuts, you’ll want another one when you’re done with the first. Bonus points for “So I Married an Axe Murderer” quotes on the can.
  • Gubnah – Makes Old Chub seem subtle. This is one strong Imperial IPA. It’s strong in flavor but also kicks a helluva 10% ABV punch. It’s similar to Stone’s Arrogant Bastard, but better balanced. If you’re a beer beginner, stay away from this one. It’s PhD dissertation beer, not Beer 101.

The weird thing about every beer I’ve mentioned here (except Cowtown Milk Stout) is that they all come in cans. Cowtown Milk Stout is my favorite, but it’s only available on tap. As much as I like it, I’m not about to invest in the equipment necessary to get it at home. At least not yet.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the 12-ounce aluminum-wrapped flavor bombs mentioned above. I’m thrilled to live in a place where people are brewing beers with personality. I may not like them all, but I do respect them. Especially with good food.

Temperate confusion

We have a small refrigerator in the garage. It holds beer, mainly. Just before dinner, I went to grab a couple of brews to enjoy with dinner.

It’s was 29 degrees outside when I did this. That means our garage was probably somewhere in the low 40’s or even high 30’s. I’m pretty sure the fridge stays at around 45 degrees or so, give or take.

So my question is, why was the fridge running when I got the beers? If it’s colder in the garage than the fridge keeps its interior, why would it need to cold down? Or was it heating up its insides?

These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night. Wake me right out of a sound sleep. Fortunately, beer helps me sleep a little bit. So does scotch, and since I keep that at room temperature, I don’t worry about it at all.