Saturday, October 31, 2015

Winning stuff is beary cool!

I'm known within my inner circle of friends and beyond as someone who wins more than my fair share of stuff in raffles. Sadly, someone absconded with my joo-joo a couple years ago and I haven't won a stinkin' thing in quite a while.

Still, I am not deterred; I continue buy raffle tickets and participate in contests.

Recently, I entered a contest on Facebook.

It wasn't a chance to win beer; that would have been awesome. It was a chance to win pipe smoking paraphernalia. It was a typical Facebook contest; like this, share that, tag some person.

It wasn't the first Facebook contest I've entered, but it's the first one I've won. Yay me!!

I got picked as first runner up in the Bear Pipes contest.  I was hoping to win the first prize which was a pipe, but I'm not complaining.

I was beary excited when my prize arrived in the mail. It was a lovely hand crafted wooden tamper capped with a .45 caliber brass casing.


I immediately took it out for a test drive.

Yes, I know this is a blog about beer. So, how is winning a pipe tamper related to beer? Simply put, there are few things up find as relaxing as sitting out on the porch with a good pipe filed with a lovely aromatic tobacco and a delicious beer. That, my friends, is how me winning a pipe raffle relates to beer.

I went with a theme for this smoking "event".  The Bear Pipe tamper, Honey Beary tobacco, and my favorite bluebeary beer.

All-in-all, a good pairing of tobacco and beer. And, my new tamper did it's job quite well.

Good stuff!

Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Drink 'em, too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Don't talk to strangers

When I saw this post show up in my Facebook feed today, it immediately reminded me of something that I experienced recently.

For more than 10 years, nearly every Wednesday night hubby and I have gone out to the same bar for wings and beer.

Typically, it's our 'date night' and it's just the two of us gazing lovingly into each other's eyes while swilling cold beer and gobbling hot wings.

Last week we had a couple of friends join us. They arrived before we did and snagged a table. As hubby and I arrived, I noticed them exchanging words with a young man at a nearby table. A young man who looked, oddly enough, much like the man in the post - with a thick scar etched across the top of his crown from ear to ear but without the massive dent.

"Who's this?", I asked our companions.

The guy looks at me and says, "You owe me a drink."

Me: "What?"

Him: "You owe two drinks."

Me: "Do I know you?"

Him: "You owe three drinks."

Me: "Whatever."

Him: "You owe four drinks."

I proceed to ignore the guy but clandestinely asked our bartendress to give him four shots - of water.

She delivers the "drinks" to his table and the guy says, "What's this." "You said I owed you four drinks." He was like, "Wow that's a lot. What is it? Vodka? Tequila? I really like tequila." So, I sat down at his table and said, "Here, I'll help your out with those."

Meanwhile, hubby and our friends are pissing their pants and falling off their chairs with laughter.

We clinked glasses and slammed down a "shot". Needless to say, he was gravely disappointed. "This is water!" "Yup!" I said, "Let's do the other one!!" So we clinked and drank.

To mitigate the guy's disappointment, I asked the bartender to bring us another round; this time tequila.

While we waited told me about how he got his scar. Some number of years ago he had consumed an unhealthy cocktail of booze and prescription drugs and got into a horrific car accident and nearly lost his head. Literally. Kind of like the other guy in the article.

Okaaaay. The guy was clearly well on the way to an unhealthy state of intoxication. So keep on keepin' on doin' the same stuff that nearly got you killed.

Whatever, I'm not his keeper and he said he wasn't driving, so we did our shot of tequila. Then I returned to my table, and terminated contact.

A few minutes later he appears beside our table with a plate of half eaten wings - literally with a pile of bones on the plate - and said, "You can have these, I'm not going to eat any more." And he wobbled away.

Uhm . . . okaaaaaaaay.

I ditched the plate of masticated wings without touching nary a one and focused my attention on my hubby and our friends.

He stumbled back a little while later, totally blitzed. He mumbled some nonsense about I don't know what and wandered off into the night.

I know that *I* didn't drink enough with him to put him into that condition. But I suspect he earned that wicked scar on his head.

The moral of this little tale . . . listen to your mama and don't talk to strangers. Seriously. Just don't do it. Ever!!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Smoke in the Valley

Smoke in the Valley is one of my favorite beer festivals. There are hundreds of different beers to sample; definitely a beer for every taste. There is music, food trucks, and more. A good time; even in the pouring rain like last year.

I was humbled and honored to be selected as a guest judge for this year's Smoke in the Valley.

The requirements for my duties were complex and daunting. Uhm . . . not really. All I had to was taste beer and decide which one I liked best.

Okay, it sounded super easy. It turned out to be not as easy as it sounds.

I along with my co-judges - Seymour's first selectman Kurt Miller, fellow beer blogger Will Siss, and SITV sponsor Mountain Road Liquors' brew gurus Jeff Dirzius & Jay Maguire  - were faced with very difficult choices. Judging the home brew competition was seriously anything but easy. Very tasty but wicked difficult.

We each were assigned seven brewers who had the opportunity to showcase just one of their offerings. We were then tasked with picking our favorite beer out of those selections. Then we got together and sample each judge's favorite and picked the favorite from those.

Whew! Not easy, I'm telling you. So, I started out with a bribe.

Not really - I have more integrity than that! I wasn't even judging this guy's brews.  Good beer though - a yummy maple porter.

I got to sample an English Old Ale called Boat Flipper which was good representation of the style.

An American Brown Porter dry hopped with salemme chili peppers brewed by Blue Collar. Mildly hot and nicely hoppy.

Ooo, then a hopped hard apple cider aptly named Sock Hop - lots of hops, no socks - made by Stafford Tavern and Cidery, Sock Hop had a big Mosaic hops in a crisp dry cider. NOM!

A Scottish Ale aged with rum infused oak chips brewed by Betters Beer; a tasty twist on a classic style.

'tis the season for spiced pumpkin beer. So done to death. I would never have thought this would have been my favorite. But it was. Rich warm flavors, smooth, cream, and wonderful.

Then Irish Car Bomb stout by Man Cave Brewing. Sadly disappointing. Thin and acidic. 

Finally, a wild fermented pinapple cider called Tepache. Tart, fresh, and super tasty. A close second to the pumpkin ale.

And there was more of this. Because why not?

That was my seven. I went around and sampled some other brews while I waited for the other judges to finish being judgmental.

The highlights of those were . . .

Peanut Butter Cup by Third Stage was amazing with a fantastic peanut finish.

Steiny's  Last Cup of Sorrow - wowzers! Hot peppers through and through!

And Pine-Apple Bottom  brewed by Nothing Sacred. Pineapply goodness!

Finally, it was time to taste the other judges' favorites. Again the decision was super difficult; they were all so very good.

First Place went to Awesomesauce an American IPA brewed by nothing Sacred. A bright, fresh, seriously hoppy brew that could compete with any of the big guys.

Second Place went to Toasted Pumpkin Brau brewed by Fermentation Faction. A nice UNspiced pumpkin beer that was nicely sweet and freshly pumpkin-y.

I sampled a lot A LOT of beer at Smoke in the Valley. Of all the beers I tasted, I can honestly say the the best of the best was in the homebrew tent. These guys and gals try really hard to make the best beer they can and they ROCK!  I am so happy that I could be a part of it all and contribute my ever so humble opinion to help decide which was the very best.

I love beer.  Just sayin'.