Friday, December 30, 2016

Bye, 2016. It's Been Super Real.

We don't often blog on this blog, but when we do, it's to catch everyone up on our respective lives.

Kristen has been busy as all get out being a grad student, writing papers, and being published. If she wants to humblebrag about it (or just regular brag - it's her right, after all) then she'll probably do that.

So, what have the authors of this blog been up to in 2016? (Ignore the fact that we didn't post anything at all in 2015 even though we totally went to Peru together, which was kind of a big deal.)

Well, let me tell you about it with some pictures.

I got married and decided a destination wedding would be pretty rad, so we went to Morocco. Marrakesh, to be exact, but we also went to Essaouira and the Zagora desert.

 I also got knocked up the month after we got back from Morocco, so Kristen and Lisa threw me an awesome baby shower where they made me a children's book that was actually a guest book and they wrote what will surely be the seminal work of our time in the guestbook genre, "If You Give Mommy a Mimosa".
 Kristen and I hung out a lot. Mainly, she drove to Baltimore because she's a good friend, but also because my bladder shrunk and I couldn't walk 5 feet without needing to pee. I did, however, make it out to the Eastern Shore at least twice, where I ate her out of house and home (I WAS EATING FOR TWO, STOP JUDGING ME) and sweat profusely through her mattress.
I had a baby. Her name is Kerrigan, and she is feisty. Kristen not only came to the hospital to check on me, she was also in the room when they sawed open my midsection, used the full force of a fully grown man to push down on my ribs no less than 3 times, and then plopped (medical term) my uterus on my stomach and sewed it back together. Oh, and they also took a baby out of my body, but I felt like that was obvious from the picture. Unless it was someone else's baby and then we're both probably on a list somewhere for absconding with a child that didn't belong to us.

So, that's the year in 4 pictures.

It's 2016. David Bowie and Alan Rickman are dead, the nation elected an overly tan reality TV star as the president, and neither of the owners/writers of this blog are going to win our Great Read-a-Thon for this year. That said, 2016 was pretty good to me otherwise. As for Kristen?

Maybe she'll break out an end of year blog post and tell you the haps.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Time to Pick the Pumpkin Patch!

Well, things have been a little crazy lately, but we finally made time to drink all the pumpkin beer we've been stock piling. Mike affectionately calls it the pumpkin patch.

The pumpkin patch.
It started with one beer. I picked up a bottle of Southern Tier's Pumpking as soon as I saw it for the first time this year. I had remembered hearing very good things about it last year and that it was in short supply. I figured we could save it for a special occasion.

Next up, I happened to see Rogue's Pumpkin Patch and had to have it. I always get excited to see Rogue Ales out East and I have enjoyed most of their homegrown line, where they grow many of the ingredients themselves.

Once there were two, Mike took over. It grew to four, then six, then ten. I drew the line there, but of course two more managed to appear.

With twelve beers to drink over the course of a single afternoon, we decided we needed to call in some reinforcements. Our friend Blair also happens to be a big fan of beer, so we invited him over. 12 beers split between 3 people seemed much more reasonable.

It's a happy beer family!
Our twelve beers were as follows;

Evolution          --- Jaques Au Lantern
Rogue Ales       --- Pumpkin Patch
Weyerbacher     --- Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Heavy Seas       --- The Greater Pumpkin
Leinenkugel's    --- Harvest Patch Shandy
Shipyard           --- Smashed Pumpkin
Saranac             --- Our Pumpkin Ale
Southern Tier    --- Pumpking
Southern Tier    --- Warlock
Fordham            --- Spiced Harvest Ale
Troegs               --- Master of Pumpkins
Samuel Adams  --- Harvest Pumpkin Ale

We rated each of these beers in six different areas for a total of 100 points;

Appearance (10)
Aroma (10)
Finish (10)
Pumpkin Flavor (20)
Over all Flavor (20)
General Impression (30)

While we differed on the order of beers a bit, the top three over all beers were in everyone's individual top 4.

Rogue's Pumpkin Patch, sitting pretty.
The over all winner and everyone's first choice was Rogue Pumpkin Patch. With a total score of 259/300, it was the clear stand out of the day. This brew was the only beer of the twelve that was clear, with a nice amber color. It had honey and spice on the nose with a very smooth finish and scored the best out of all the beers on pumpkin flavor.

A Baltimore brew and one of Mike's
favorite breweries.

Second place went to Heavy Seas The Greater Pumpkin. At 10% ABV, it was the booziest beer in the pumpkin patch. This beer received 242/300 and scored the highest in the General Impression category. It had caramel and a strong whiff of booze on the nose with a creamy oak finish reminiscent of a good chardonnay.

Third place went to Weyerbacher Imperial Ale. This beer scored 237/300. It was only my 4th highest beer, but Blair ranked it his second highest and Mike ranked it his third. It had lots of spice on the nose with a hoppier, heavily carbonated finish. I think the hoppiness was probably why I didn't rank it as high.

Southern Tier Warlock took fourth with 220/300. I personally wasn't as big a fan simply because it was a very dark beer, the darkest and strongest in the pumpkin patch.

Southern Tier Pumpking took sixth place, even though it was my second highest ranked beer. I thought it had an awesome nose of popcorn, vanilla and caramel with a smooth, creamy finish.

Last place was Saranac Our Pumpkin, which was a big disappointment. It was my favorite pumpkin beer last year, and we probably went through at least four 6 packs of the stuff. I'm not sure what they did differently this year, but this beer is a pale shadow of its former self.

I took a buttload of pictures and we all took some notes on the beers, just so we could share our tasting with you. Because we care.

So there you have it; the pumpkin patch has been picked.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eastern Shore Brew Tour

My parents recently came for a visit. When I asked what sort of activities I should plan and what they'd like to see, all I was given was "beer."

Well, beer they had.

They arrived Sunday evening to a home cooked meal. Because I am just awesome like that.

Monday, I arranged for a tour at Evolution Craft Brewing (Evo), which happens to be our local brewery and where we eat at least once a week.

Usually on half price burger night. Or half price brisket night. Or $10 burger and a pint night...

Behind the scenes at EVO
Homemade pretzel and dip sampler.
Even though we had just eaten there Sunday, we took the family for lunch on Tuesday. Since my folks had the dogs with them, we made sure we could bring them along if we sat in the outdoor seating.

The food was fantastic, as always.

After lunch, we headed to Assateague and stopped by Burley Oak Brewing for a pint along the way.

Digging that logo!

Aside from having one of the coolest logos, Burley Oak also has some good beer and a laid back tasting room. It's a BYOF place, which means they don't serve food so you can bring your own. They also have stuff going on almost every night of the week from game nights to live music.

The new outdoor fountain at Ava's Pizzeria and Wine Bar.
Complete with Evo's Rise Up Stout!

Wednesday we headed up to St. Michael's to see the sites and have dinner with Mike's folks. That gave us the afternoon to walk around and explore town. Mike is friends with the couple that just started up Lyon Distilling so he arranged for us to stop by and do a tasting. Aside from being awesome people, the dark rum we tasted might be the best rum I have ever had.

Wait a sec...if that's the camera...
How'd I take a picture?
After rum tasting, we heading to Eastern Shore Brewing, another place where Mike knows the owner. We've been a few times, but were excited to be able to bring the dogs in. It was a hot day and they aren't used to the humidity.

First, we got a flight of all 5 beers on tap. Upon trying their Hefeweizen, I got a pint. It had the crisp wheat flavor and cloudiness that I love about Hefeweizens. It also had banana notes to it, giving it a fruitiness that I enjoyed.
Flights; all the beer minus the drunk.

For our final full day together, we headed across the bridge for some car shopping. Not exactly how we wanted to spend the day, but we still managed to hit a brewery so we could continue the one a day trend.
Flights a Ellicott Mills

We had some time to kill before we wanted to try and head into the city, so my mom and I took the dogs for a walk, while Tom and Mike grabbed a beer at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company. As it turns out, no pets are allowed in commercial buildings in Howard County.... Which is complete bullshit because the wine store in downtown Ellicott Mills has a dog. Maybe it's just food establishments, but I still think that's crap. Whatever.

While there are many other breweries we could have hit, we had hoped to make it to Dogfish Head as the sort of cap stone to our brew tour, but we just didn't have the time.

I guess it'll be a good reason for a return visit!