March 31, 2010

Stone India Pale Ale

Ahh, Stone Brewery. Located in Escondido, California, a staple of American craft beer. Their offerings have been described as "brash and unbalanced," which is probably accurate. I like what I've tried. Today, their entry-level IPA.

Pours a clear deep golden color with a sticky 'rocky' head that dissipates a bit. Aroma is bitter citrus hops with a grassy, almost musty tinge. This beer is not as bitter as Stone's 'Ruination IPA' but it does have a pretty big kick to the palate. I would describe this as a very dry beer, which I like. Excellent all-around IPA.

stone ipa
Stone India Pale Ale
Price paid: $11.99/six pack
Freshness: Fair
ABV: 6.9%

March 30, 2010

Tröegs 'Nugget Nectar'

Tröegs is brewed in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, making it one of the more local selections in this series. The first time I tried a beer from them was at a Phillies game.

'Nugget Nectar' is described as an Imperial Amber. The term "Imperial" refers to higher alcohol content (7.5% in this case - at the lower end of the imperial spectrum). The bottle cites "93ish IBU's" or International Bitteress Units. It's certainly a bitter beer, but the syrupy sweet of amber maltiness makes it extaordinarily balanced and drinkable.

I think this may be a spring seasonal from Tröegs, all that I've sampled recenty has been bottled withing the past couple months. Pours a deep clear amber color, with a nice sticky cap of off-white head. The logo on the bottle (a giant hop bud being squeezed of its delicious resin) is very indicative of the taste: stick to your teeth hoppiness. It's like a big-hop IPA with toffee-malt backing, very tasty.

nugget nectar SM
Tröegs 'Nugget Nectar'
Price paid: $8.99/six pack
Freshness: Very good
ABV: 7.5%

March 29, 2010

Smuttynose 'Finestkind' IPA

Brewed in Portsmouth New Hampshire, Smuttynose's 'Finestkind' India Pale Ale is a strong start for this series of beer reviews.

I sampled from bottles dated for best consumption by August this year; I figured it was a pretty fresh batch. It's unfiltered, so there were quite a few yeast floaties. The label on the neck reassured the drinker that yes, all those little flecks are supposed to be there.

It poured a hazy bright copper color with a thick frothy head that stuck around and left laces of foam down the side of the glass with each sip. The carbonation was fine (dense and creamy, not big and raspy). The smell all citrus zest/rind and hops. The taste, especially afterward, was quite bitter - big hops with a lot of grapefruit flavor. The maltiness of the beer was not as much a flavor factor as it was a balance to the resinous character of the hops.

This beer looked great in the glass, I love that hazy golden-orange color with a frothy white cap of head. Taste was dead-on for a finely crafted American IPA, left me wanting more.

smuttynose finest kind
Smuttynose 'Finestkind' IPA
Price paid: $8.99/six pack
Freshness: Very good
ABV: 6.9%

March 28, 2010

Snowboarding and golf

Davis Love III does not strike me as the snowboarding type. He seems like a real square, even for a middle-aged professional golfer. Alas, his politician haircut and hyper-white triple suffix moniker belie an avid snowboarder. And on second thought, golf and snowboarding have a lot in common.

I tried snowboarding for the first time this winter. It was not pretty. A bit overconfident in my innate sideways sliding abilities, I spent every ounce of energy falling down the first run before whimpering back to the rental shop to trade for a pair of skis.

My big problem was balance, or lack thereof. I never got a feel for the proper weight distribution that is required to stay afoot (aboard?). The fear of tumbling face-forward down the hill had me repeatedly favoring my back foot, causing the board to spin out in front.

A few days later I was in the backyard chipping golf balls. It immediately occurred to me that there was a correlation between my catastrophic snowboarding experience and the havoc I typically wreak on the golf course.

Golf is a game of stability and repetition, and every swing requires a firm athletic stance (opposite to my goofy-footed snowboard position). I typically plant my feet haphazardly, hunch over the ball, and sway my hips leaving all the weight on my back foot. This ugly approach yields frequent shanks, gouges, and listless slices. Golf wipeout.

Flex in the knees, weight off the heels, and a subtle shift to the front foot during the downswing. I think the snowboard analogy will provide a firmer foundation for swinging the clubs more consistently this year.

I've hastily sworn so many times to never golf again (usually after a mental, if not physical, traumatizing). I might even give snowboarding a second chance someday.

March 26, 2010


Over the next several months I will be blogging about malt, barley, and sweet crispy precious hops. Expect upcoming reviews of what I've been bingeing on recently:
  • Smuttynose 'Finest Kind' IPA
  • Bell's Two Hearted Ale
  • Green Flash 'West Coast' IPA
  • Victory 'Hop Wallop'
  • Tröegs 'Nugget Nectar'
  • Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Aprihop & 60 Minute IPA
  • Stone Arrogant Bastard, Double Arrogant Bastard & IPA
  • Caldera IPA (can)
  • Lagunitas IPA & 'Hairy Eyeball'
  • Coors Light

March 23, 2010

Good start

The first hole at Clayton Park Golf Course (nine holes for $10 on the weekend) is marked 258 yards on the card, plays straight uphill with trees on both sides of the "fairway," i.e. the area between the tree-lines - because the whole course is evenly mowed (or not mowed, as the case may be). Sunday afternoon weather was perfect; bright, fresh, spring conditions. The course was crowded for March.

I teed off last in a group of three, stiff-arming a low draw with the 9° Callaway driver to about 65 yards from the elevated green. It had been a couple of days since the last rain and the ground was still plenty hydrated. Previous experience attempting full swings with my 60° wedge in this situation (especially with soggy turf) have yielded exclusively calamitous results, so a little 2/3 gap wedge it was. And was it ever - I couldn't see the ball land, but the early report was good.

When I got the top of the hill (walking only at Clayton International) my Titleist 1 was sitting pretty with only about three feet of shaggy green between it and the cup. Despite a scream of "Fore!" from someone teeing off in the group behind us at the exact moment I was attempting my birdie putt, the ball found the back of the cup and for the first fleeting moment of the season I grinned, "Par? What par?"

March 19, 2010

Crab cakes

bella evening

Originally served with roasted brussels sprouts, lime-ginger-avocado puree and, yes, a nice Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. No photos during the premiere, shown here in the inferior company of lime, cilantro, and ninety minute IPA.

March 10, 2010

Street view

For an impressively comprehensive walking tour, enter "Petit Trianon" into Google Maps and zoom-in until it snaps into StreetView mode. The gardens at A.I. duPont's Nemours mansion in Wilmington are purportedly based on this sub-development at Versailles, and are of similar scale.


March 8, 2010

Sweet album cover

the dark
Featuring Battery Steele, based on image and suggestion by adventphotography.

March 1, 2010

Driving and misanthropy

It is difficult for me to resist indulging my own neuroses at the expense of others. This disagreeable trait typically manifests in complaining. It's insensitive and almost always counterproductive. I can't help myself - like Larry David minus the funny.

Highway driving gets to me. When I'm alone in the car I consider my campy over-reactions to incidence of idiocy as schtick, but this is not exactly the case. My compulsive criticism can border on paranoid delusion, especially when it pertains to other drivers not doing what I wish they would, irrespective of reasonable expectations. What is at best a quirk when solo becomes a full-blown flaw when there's other people in the car. How can I not share my feelings when there's an oblivious slow-going dunce causing trouble in the left lane?

I missed a turnpike exit recently, and facing an 18-mile exitless stretch pretty much capsized me. The situation was no one's fault but my own, and though it's not unreasonable to expect more from myself, I just can't easily let that stuff go. But I should, especially when there's someone else present - sensitive to irascible moodiness.

What could be more conducive to misanthropy than self-criticism? The tendency to some degree of dislike or mistrust of humankind may occur from failures in two areas from above: reasonable expectations and letting go. My selectively high standards are bruised every time someone changes lanes without signaling, and I have the habit of stockpiling negativity from these moments, disproportionately weighting it when passing large-scale judgement. And ventilating angst to the effect of alienating other folks? Forget about it.

I might print out a little reminder to post on my steering wheel, and try to be more loving of all the jackasses on the road.