2011 has passed us by and we now venture into 2012. A new year and here on my birthday (I’m an old lady!), I reflect on the many moons of the last year and look forward to the future.
2011 was full of personal growth and community building. The start of the year was turbulent. I learned more about the ugly side of humanity and my trust in people was challenged. But as a result, I was embraced by the absolute lovely side of humanity. I met beautiful people who I now cherish and consider part of my pack. I grew with old friends who encouraged me through a rough time. My community is strengthening, one that is full of positivity, hope, love, and a keen eagerness to make this world a better place.
Beer, too, is about community. It is a central gravity bringing people together. As early as 6000 BC, people were brewing and sharing beer. In Sumarian culture, people prayed and sang to the goddess Ninsaki, passing on the tradition and process of brewing. As cultures evolved, beer (along with its cousin bread) is credited with allowing for the advancement of technology and uniting communities. There was a strong connection between the brewery and the farm, a vital link in health of our society. Grains and hops grown on farms are provided to breweries who in turn produce food for livestock with spent grains and merriment for the farmers with a tasty, fermented beverage.
Somewhere along the line, we may have grown distant from this connection, as big box breweries dominated the American drinking scene and our grocery stores became stocked with foods grown in far away places. But we are human. We have a yearning for community, a general desire to support our neighbors. We now have more local breweries and farms providing for us and strengthening our communities. I am excited for this change towards a more local, community-driven society.
I am not going to make any resolutions for the new year. But I believe 2012 will bring about great positive change and I will continue to be bring enthusiasm and support for my community. I am so grateful to be a part of it at every moment in my life. The hype over 2012 is that the world is coming to an end, but others view it as a time when humanity changes and for the best. I’m just getting started in this world and see no ‘end’ in sight.
So this is my new year toast to my community, to the great friends and family that have supported and loved me. I adore each and every one of you. Thank you for being such a positive influence in my life. And let’s look to the future with renewed optimism and passion.
Happy New Year to those of our readers who use the same calender as me! I hope that the first headache of the new year was WORTH IT! Granted, some of you might be professionals like me and stumbled to your sleepspace at 3AM and woke at 8AM wishing that you packed your running shoes. Really!! I sometimes make myself sick.
We roasted a pig at a friend’s place, went through two kegs of Yuengling, discovered that Fresca and box wine is really not as bad as it sounds, and set off hundreds of dollars of fireworks. We’re having a lovely afternoon on 1/1 of watching the Steelers win (yeah, we’re by Pittsburgh). So now we’re sitting, watching rom-coms, drinking Victory Smokin’ Oats, and eating delivered sushi. And I have no idea what to post, so I’m asking the crew for their music video suggestions. Here’s what the great minds have put together. And it’s legitimate because they have local flavah.
Pittsburgh State of Mind – Michael E. Moats and Addi Twigg
A Good Life – Joe Grushecky
(and because it was played last night a BUNCH OF TIMES)
Captain Jack Sparrow – Lonely Island
So this is possibly one of the more personal posts you’ll see on this blog, but it will circle back to beer, I promise! I’ve had a seriously intense year, between personal crises, moving, changing jobs, and wrecking the Gexx-mobile in the middle of all of that. I am so glad that I met amazing people on this journey, like Bear.
This year, I want to get my life to a point where I don’t feel as frenetic, powerless, and stressed like I spent this last year. In my new (albeit temporary) home, I’ve gained quite a few friends, thanks to home-brewing. It makes for an engaging introductory conversation topic, and other home-brewers love finding their own folk. Also, as I’m trying to rebuild my career and it is stressing me the heck out, I don’t really like to talk about it, so “I brew my own beer” is an appropriate distraction and conversation topic change. Also, home-brewing and exploring local breweries has evolved into a wonderful side project where I can build a new social media community and unwind from my other attempt at professional growth.
Read the rest of this entry
Hope everyone had an amazing weekend! Bear and I felt like putting up some Christmassy music for you this week.
Christabel and the Johns – The Best Kind of Friend
(I LOVE the first line of this one – “Christmas time is here, can I get you another beer? Because you’re the best kind of friend, can you believe it’s been a year?”)
John Lennon – Happy Christmas (War is over)
Have a great new year!
(we have some posts lined up for you, don’t worry!)
Ok, let’s get started on our BJCP studying! I’m using the Interim Study Guide, and we’ll start from the beginning:
List three primary purposes of the BJCP as listed on http://www.bjcp.org and in the BJCP Study Guide.
1. to promote beer literacy
2. the appreciation of real beer
3. and to recognize beer tasting and evaluation skills
Grid with the 7 principal BJCP Judge Levels, excluding honorary ranks, and the requirements to earn each of them.
BJCP Level/ Minimum Exam Score / Total Experience Points / Minimum Judging Points / GM Service Requirements
Apprentice / less than 60% / none required / none / must remain active
Recognized / 60% / none necessary / none / none
Certified / 70% / 5 / 2.5 / none
National / 80% / 20 / 10 / none
Master / 90% / 40 / 20 / none
Grand Master I / 90% / 100 / 50 / A total of 240 GMSR credits gained through testing and BJCP Committee Positions
Grand Master additional levels / 100 point increments / A total of 240 GMSR credits gained through testing and BJCP Committee Positions
answered within study guide
I’ve recently moved up to the area (and luckily met with Bear) from East Tennessee. One thing that I miss is the amazing local music scene. There is *some* here, don’t get me wrong, but driving 45 minutes to a venue, going to a coffee house in the early evening, or Sunday afternoon jazz just isn’t the same as being able to head out any night of the week, traveling five minutes to a downtown and picking one of five, ten, or fifteen shows ranging from prog-rock to americana to punk to blues to metal.
I’ve excitedly followed some local bands as they made their way beyond the area and into regional and national tours. I’ve been exposed to some amazing artists on their own tours. Some have even made it to the elusive, striven for, capital B and T Big Time.
One such band is the Black Lillies. The frontman of the band, Cruze Contreras was once the CC part of Robinella and the CC String Band. After they broke up, Cruze went on to start the Black Lillies, who ended up doing quite a few wide-spread tours. About a year ago, I went to a friend’s bachelorette party the night of a BL concert, and we ended up at the same bar. Cruze was a sweetie and bought my friend a drink. To make it even more personal (granted, sometimes it seemed that everyone in East TN played an instrument), Trisha Jean, the female vocalist in the band, is my best friend’s mom’s best friend’s daughter.
Right now, the Black Lillies are an independent band and have a music video on CMT! Now before you deride it as ‘country’ I will put my reputation on the line to let you know that they aren’t your conservative C&W band. The Black Lillies come from the East TN culture of subversive, anti-The-Man americana that Appalachia tends to produce. The following video, Two Hearts Down, is up for one of CMT’s best videos of the year. So, if you like it and want to show the big companies that little folks can make it (I’m sure you can think of a beer-related parallel), vote for them here:
Black Lillies – Two Hearts Down
And a few other favorites from the region:
Phil Pollard and the Band of Humans – Land of the Living
Christobel and the Johns – More than Friends
A good example of how the music scene just *happens*:
Jon Worley / Fox Hunt / Cutthroat Shamrock jam
A short while ago, Bear and I took a reprieve from our typical weekend activity of training orphaned penguins to rescue shark attack victims. We procured a designated driver who didn’t mind dodging the horse and buggies or remaining sober enough to dodge them in the dark on the return trip, which also involved that he stay sober. And put up with us. And maybe hold the camera if we ask him nicely. Truly we found a noble individual. Buy the man a beer!
Our trip deep into the quasi-powered farmlands of Pennsylvania was spurred by an announcement that Elk Creek Aleworks was tapping their Prince’s Porter (a bourbon barrel aged version of their Poe Paddy Porter) and having a PROHIBITION THEMED COSTUME PARTY!! And anyone who knows Bear and me knows that we rock beer and costume parties like they’re the shist. (I should warn you that we are punnaturally funny over here).
Take Halloween for example:
That’s what I’m talking about.
So Sunday December 4, 2011 us get all dolled up with keen hats and pearls and a little help from the Costume Closet in Sunbury PA and headed out for some fortified giggle water.
While there we learned of a local moonshiner: Prince Farrington who apparently not only had a rather large and complex operation, but had won the hearts and minds of the locals with his rather philanthropic donations to schools and churches.
The Beer of Honor was AMAZING! I’ve always enjoyed the Poe Paddy Porter as a solid, full porter, and allowing it to age in a Bourbon barrel was an amazing idea. Rich, sweet, vanilla flavor was imparted with a good boozy (definite whiskey) background, and it melded well with the PPP. We’ll get into the beers a bit more win our video, and I would love to thank the brewer, Tim for taking the time to give a great interview back in the brewing room. So here are some pictures of the participants! If I have any attributions wrong, please let me know.
Ok, let’s just stop being late and make Music to Quaff to a Monday thing. Whether you’re like Bear with a job that’s more-or-less a regular 40 hour thing or like me with a serving job that gives me odd days off, you certainly need a soundtrack for chilling on the beginning or end of your work week.
So this weekend we had a 90s party. While typing this up on Sunday evening, I’m still recovering from that, 11 hours of table waiting (in one day), and a 5 mile run to support the local Special Olympics so let’s have a 90s themed dance party … or a 90s themed night of sitting in your room writing bad poetry with a stout that is as dark as your misunderstood soul, your choice!
Before I joined this blog with the lovely Elizabeth (Gexx), I attempted my own blog with just a couple entries. Check them out: http://brewgal.wordpress.com/
That is all.
Bear here. This may be coming a little late, but now is the time for detox and reflection on a successful Thanksgiving in the 2011 year. I started this blog a couple weeks ago and with a busy life comes little time to post one’s beer thoughts, so here I attempt to bring this back to life.
This was the second year my family spent Thanksgiving at Broadkill Beach in Delaware. Space is a little tight, but the faint ocean spray and brilliant sunsets over the Prime Hood Wildlife Refuge make this the perfect place to be reminded of all for which we should be appreciative. It is here the little things seem so clear, even monumental. From the waft of an herb-buttered turkey made with love to the nail-biting finish of a family card game to murmurs of snow geese in the distance to a brilliant early morning view.
And let’s not forget that little thing, good beer, here where it thrives in Delaware!
I arrived on Wednesday and immediately went to the brew store to stock up for the weekend, for my home. I hoped to find a few lingering Southern Tier Pumkings, a pumpkin imperial ale (one of the best I’ve tasted), but alas, no Pumking, instead a good smattering of holiday beers, not my favorite. I did find Unibroue’s Ephemere, a brew a friend told me about. I thought the apple beer would be a great compliment to Thanksgiving dinner, so I picked one up, along with a few other big beers to be tasted at a later date and a case of Victory’s Headwaters Pale Ale, perhaps my favorite session ale. I find the brew stores in Delaware refreshing, always something new and intriguing. Why can’t we have this selection in Pennsylvania? Why do the stuffy Germans have to impose such strict beer laws to not even allow my local beer distributor and fellow hop-lover offer a selection to be proud of, to ponder over, to tempt one’s curious tastebuds? Perhaps a rant for another post.
Thanksgiving was full of good blessings and good food. My parents sampled the Ephemere. Rather than scrunching their noses as they usually do to my beer tastings, they complimented the apple-infused Belgian. ‘It tastes like a hard cider’, my mom said. But it is not cider, it is beer and it is good. The Ephemere is dry, retaining a Belgian character with a hint of green Granny Smith apples. This brew went great with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and all the goodness we savored (or devoured) over dinner. The Ephemere now has its place in my beer tome, welcome.
Black Friday. Buy Nothing Day. Buy Nothing but Local Day. Go to Dogfish Head Brewery and Taste Local Day. Yes! My mom and I went to Dogfish Head, remembering last year they featured their ‘black’ beers on black friday. But this year were amber ales, rich ales, still all goodness. To be brief, as I tend to ramble, the tastings:
– Raison D’Etre, a little sweet and a brew I consider ‘ok’. Made with beet sugar, green raisons and Belgian yeast. Being a Belgian and full of raisons, this brew is definitely unique and comes on strong, but to ‘candied’ for me. Always willing to taste though!
– Hellbound Ale = simply great. Brewed with lemons, which come on first, it still retains the hoppy character of a good pale ale. My mom even liked this brew.
– Burton Baton, LOVED this brew. Very hoppy, very citrusy, something I wanted a full pint of, but a little dangerous at 10%abv. I would love to find this in bottles and enjoy sparingly.
– Old School, a barleywine for the masses at 15%abv. Very sweet smelling, but the strength of the alcohol kills it upon the first sip, which works in its favor. I enjoyed this beer, it was a nice finish to the day’s tastings.
Saturday morning began with a trip to Rehoboth Beach to run in the ‘Huff, Puff, and Race for Pumpkin Pie’ 5k! I was a little nervous about this run, considering I hurt my ankle a few weeks back and haven’t been on the same running streak. But give me a beautiful day, good energy, and anything goes! I kept a steady pace, but completed the run a little over 30 minutes. Even with a dead iPod, I was able to knock this race out! Now for the celebratory beer. But wait, nothing in Rehoboth opens before 11? And I would have to wait ’til noon for Dogfish Head??? Yep, headed back up the strip, my folks and I did, to stop at Bethany Blues where I not only found a good beer for celebration, but a 21oz Dogfish 60 Minute IPA. Ah… succuess! No need to describe this brew; I simply love it, the hop complexity, the amber color, the rich flavor, the replenishing of electrolytes after a good run.
And on the road again to Baltimore, to visit with good friends among good tidings. First stop, 13.5%, a new wine bar in Balmer, where yes, I was the only one to order a beer. And a decent selection of beer too! I wanted Oskar Blues’ Imperial Red Ale, but was saddened to learn they were fresh out. So a Southern Tier 2X Imperial IPA on draught it was. Very yummy and definitely strong (although I’m not sure as strong as the wine samples my friends tasted), faint citrusy/piney hops, but not as forefront as I like my hops. A sweet maltiness seemed to carry this beer more than the hops, which sometimes happens in doubles – much sugar is needed to turn up the abv volume!
We stumbled through the rest of the night. A walk to 34th, where the Christmas lights draw crowds, reminiscent of the working class 1970s that continued a long-standing tradition or a reincarnated northern New Orleans (but the streets are much more narrow in NOLA!). Back in the cab to the college district, bouncing around to a few bars, the most notable Brewers Art, famed for its strong Belgians. Again, I’m not big on Belgians, but give me a good one and I’m happy. Their Resurrection Ale is a flavorful, drier brew with fruity characters making this a nice sipping beer. I also tried their seasonal St. Festivus, definitely a winter warmer that I was not ready for… after first taste, whoa! This brew’s got some spice. Winter seasonals aren’t really my cup of tea, but I managed to sip this down, appreciating a little of the holidays to come.
Sunday morning was met with bit of a headache and a much thirsty body. We gathered ourselves from the evening before, brushing off the dust from the Baltimore Streets and faced the day. A tasty hipster brunch down the street with my friends’ dad (who smiled at our ‘condition’ and chimed in with an early morning mimosa) and soon after, back to Selinsgrove I went. The weekend was full of things to remind me to be grateful. For all the love and caring I’m surrounded by, for the ability to spend quality time with those that mean so much to me, for my strength and health, and of course, for a good brew. I have been very fortunate. I am grateful, thankful, appreciative. Until next time, folks and much ‘beer love’ for you all!