Foothills August 2014 IPA of the Month

A few days ago a bottle of Foothills August jumped into my shopping cart while at a bottle shop. The beer comes in at 5.5% ABV and 90 IBU which are at least partially attributed to Bravo and Jarrylo hops. They named the girl Coral and it is somehow fitting. Quite a nice smooth session IPA with juicy fruits all around from the hops. Just a tad hazy and decidedly yellow the beer was tasty and enjoyable. Somehow I have missed picking up bottles in their IPA of the Month series and I will definitely not do that anymore. Everyone is scrambling for other drink by offerings, I’m going to make this series my must have. Get some if you can!

Ezra B

Ezra Brooks (Heaven Hill) makes a divine little Bourbon named Ezra B and you should run out and get yourself a bottle when you have a chance if you like to keep some variety in your Bourbon stash. It’s a 12-year-old single barrel and I decided to open up the bottle and put it over ice last night and my gosh that is a nice glass of Bourbon, nice enough that I poured myself a second glass. I don’t recall it being too expensive, perhaps a $35 price point. I probably should have tried it neat before posting, but I last night I just wanted a bit of ice. The aroma was subdued, but the flavor was spot on. Not too harsh, not too sweet, nice character of aging with hints of smoke and smooth as silk. It rings in at 99 proof and is nicely toasty and a pleasure to consume. Now at $35 there are Bourbons I might prefer more, but I like variety and to mix it up by having something different with each glass so I can see keeping this one around to keep it lively.

Arizona Instructor Incident

Earlier this week a firearms instructor in Arizona was accidentally shot by a 9-year old firing an Uzi submachine gun and he died. Let me start my comments by saying I don’t instruct children and don’t advocate children shooting firearms without parental supervision. I assume the parents were nearby, but I believe they should be involved. I also don’t advocate anyone shooting automatic weapons without firearms training. What I mean by that is basic safety training, training with firearms, and then eventually working to an automatic weapon if desired. That training would prepare the student for recoil and to be able to handle the firearm. I’m not sure anyone can be fully prepared for the recoil from an automatic weapon until they have shot one, but at the very least the recoil would not be a surprise.

This tragedy could have been avoided in several ways and I know most of you are thinking I mean if the girl had not been so young. That is not my point at all. Young people are able to fire pistols and rifles very well…with training. So what was lacking to start was proper training. Another thing which could have been implemented was lower round counts in the magazine. He shot with her one round and then put the firearm on continuous-fire. I believe the original Uzi magazines were 25 round so he could have loaded 10 rounds, shot 5 to get her accustomed to the recoil and then switched the setting from semi-automatic to continuous-fire and at most the number of rounds would not have exceeded 5 rounds. In that way the student can become accustomed to the firearm, but their round count is limited. I often do that with concealed qualifications so I know exactly how many rounds are in the magazine and how many have been sent downrange. Another safety measure which could have been implemented would be a strap or series of safety straps to keep the recoil from overwhelming the shooter. I’ve seen these before, but I don’t believe they are as common as they should be especially with smaller shooters. A young boy accidentally killed himself three years ago with an Uzi and the reason was he was unable to manage the recoil.

Of course the best way to avoid tragedies such as these is to not put automatic weapons in the hands of minors. Hopefully parents and instructors will take note of this tragedy and use it as an example of how quickly things can go wrong without proper training.

No Shelton Bros in NC

I’ll be honest with all the beer flowing in NC I had not been paying attention, but I’m jones’n for a particular Fantome collaboration and so I started looking around to see if I could locate it. Turns out it ain’t coming. Apparently when the Westvleteren was distributed through Total Wine back in 2012 it caused an uproar with the distributor in NC and Shelton Bros pulled out of NC. I knew I had not seen Cantillon or Drie Fonteinen in a very long time and had also noticed a shrinking of the Belgian offerings on the shelves. My understanding is people were ticked with Total Wine was selected as the retail point instead of craft bottle shops and the aftermath was a falling out between the distributor and Shelton Bros. I may be missing a key element of the story, but I’m thinking everyone should unwad their panties and pull up their big boy pants and just get along. It was one beer and in truth the pack I got was not as stellar as what generally is procured across the pond.

So Shelton Bros I’m asking you to return to NC. I’m not sure what that will entail, but I do want to see the products from those breweries return to our shelves and eventually to my fridge. I know there are a lot of personalities involved and I really don’t care about that, what I care about it beer. Help a brother out!

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel

I happened across a couple of bottles of Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel while sneaking across the border into SC and decided to bring them home to roost. The reviews have been very good and with a $36 price point they were on the affordable side. To be honest I actually got two bottles from two different stores. The rub is I believe they are from the same exact barrel. When first poured the nose had a fusel nail polish note which I found disturbing in a Bourbon with so many good reviews. I kept trying it neat and just could not get past that alcohol fueled aromatic. So I went to my back up plan which is over an extra-large single ice-cube. Turns out that combination is almost magic in a glass. The water added from the ice cools the alcohol and tames the aroma. The flavor becomes just what the doctor ordered without being too dry nor too sweet. It’s like Goldilocks found the bed which was just right. So if you find this anywhere out and about I would suggest you pick up a bottle and give it a whirl. At first I was disappointed I had purchased two bottles and now I’m so glad I did.

Note: Last week at a watering hole I had the Elmer T. Lee Commemorative 1919-2013 and to be honest this batch was far too subdued. Neat was the way I enjoyed it and it really seemed tame compared to some of the other Bourbons I had that night. You can recognize it by the black label instead of the stenciled clear lettering. I doubt you will find it at a store, but it might be lurking on the shelf of a bar near you.

Ice Bucket Challenge

At first you may be asking yourself what has an ALS awareness and fundraising campaign got to do with a firearms and fermentation blog. Well, let me tell you how they are related. I was challenged by an old friend from college who actually did not dump the ice water over his head, he made a donation to charity instead. That got me thinking about what I should do. I understand the bucket over the head is to raise awareness for ALS which is a terrible diseases, but it really doesn’t seem right to reduce the donation from $100 to $10 (or less) by accepting the challenge and dumping ice water on yourself. It is a bit of a cop-out to save $90 by wasting water. So I decided to donate to an ALS charity and to raise awareness by taking a glass and putting in an ice cube and pouring a nice Elmer T. Lee Bourbon. That way no water or ice was wasted and the charity is funded. Because cancer is also a cause I believe in I also donated to Stand Up To Cancer who provides 100% of the public donations to research.

Now the real question became which ALS charity to donate to so I decided to do some research. I think research is the key to finding future cures so I decided to focus there. Research typically does not help those afflicted with the disease right now, but it may help someone in the future. The big one is the ALS Association (ALSA), but they only give 47% of the money to patients and research. The real breakdown is 28% research, 19% patients, 32% education, 14% fundraising, 7% administration. Believe it or not the administration is the most bothersome. You can check the 990 and see the salaries of the 11 people who make up that 7% ($1.9 million). So I moved on to one which was beer related. ALES for ALS is actually ALS TDI and I’ll bottom line their amount to research which is only 58%. Finally I came across Project A.L.S. and 90% of their funds go to research and programs and so I chose to donate to them.

After I posted my video I was alerted to the Jim “Catfish” Hunter ALS Foundation. Had I known about this organization I would have donated to it. No one takes a salary and 100% of the funds go to help those afflicted with the disease and to research. Now it can get a little confusing. The NC Chapter of ALSA is called the The ALS Association Jim “Catfish” Hunter Chapter. Their financials are different from the main ALSA, but their 2012 990 has a salary total that leaves me scratching my head so I would be leery of donating to them without an explanation. The 2011 990 is no better so I have to wonder with only one person listed is there more staff who take home the rest of the money? They show 12 employees in 2011 with 11 being paid nothing and 11 employees in 2012 with 10 being paid nothing so call me skeptical. Seems reasonable to me to wonder where the $493,214 went in 2012, that line other salaries and wages is bothersome to me when it is over 30% of the organization’s bottom line.

Anyway, if you choose to dump water over your head to raise awareness and still donate I think that is grand. I chose to donate and to skip the entire waterboarding experience, but I do want to raise awareness. When you donate, do a little research, all charities are not created equal. Find one with goals which mirror your own and donate to them.

Kajieme Powell Video – St. Louis County

The video below is disturbing, please use discretion in viewing.

I happened upon the video of Kajieme Powell and his confrontation with the St. Louis County Police Department. There can be little doubt Kajieme was looking for a confrontation, was off some kind of medication, or was self medicated. He asked the officers to shoot him and they did, to death. It is clear he has his hand in his pocket, but I never saw a knife and in the back of my head I keep wondering just how big a knife in your coat pocket really is. In a few seconds the police decided to end the life of this young man and maybe I am in the minority, but I’m not seeing a situation which required deadly force. I would have thought one officer would be ready with a taser and the other with a pistol as backup in case the taser was not effective. Kajieme was definitely heading toward the officer and when the video is viewed full screen he appears to be about 15 feet or less away moving toward the officer when the first shots are fired. I question if it takes 12 shots to stop the threat and if a man shot 12 times really needs to be handcuffed.

I don’t believe this incident has any relevance to the situation in Ferguson, but it will be interesting to see if the officers face any charges for their actions in this situation. I know I have questions and if I do then others probably do as well.

Again, the video is disturbing, please use discretion in viewing.

Tap List Happiness

I’ve always said I’d rather have 20 well-chosen taps over 200 taps of crap. Last night at a local restaurant the list was small, compact, and well-chosen. There was nothing exotic or crazy, but something for everyone with a Kolsch, Scottish, ESB, IPA, etc. The taps were quality and there was no crap was on tap. I really appreciated having those options and it made the dining experience very enjoyable. More restaurants should adopt a similar strategy. I grow tired of only seeing BMC and Shock Top or Blue Moon available. It isn’t that difficult to devise a draft list that will please most everyone. Of course some restaurants only want to please the BMC crowd and I typically do not gravitate to them and their price points tend to be lower. With a nice craft beer list the quality of the food and prices tend to be higher and I’m willing to pay for quality and flavor.

Old Blowhard’s Rhetoric

Last night I was lucky enough to find a watering hole with both Old Blowhard and Rhetoric from Diageo. You may recall earlier in the month I wrote about Barterhouse. Old Blowhard has come and gone and from what I understand will not resurface. Rhetoric will have several releases and this first is a 20 year release. Old Blowhard was interesting with oak, coconut, vanilla, char and a strong burn post consumption, but I certainly would be disappointed if I had spent $75 on a fifth of it. That coconut character was off-putting to me and the post consumption burn just didn’t cut it. Barterhouse was much better and as I mentioned I thought it was overpriced.

Move forward to Rhetoric which has a $100 tag in most liquor stores. To me it was all sherry, all the time and just didn’t cut it. For $100 I could buy five bottles of Buffalo Trace or three bottles of Four Roses Single Barrel. I’m not sure I’d want to pay $30 for a bottle of it. It just lacked depth and character and was kinda boring. At least Old Blowhard and Barterhouse were not boring. Life’s too short for boring. So my $0.02 on the Diageo Orphan Barrel series thus far is skip it unless you find it on sale. It is certainly nice to be able to sample some 20+ year-old Bourbon’s, but somewhere in the back of my head I remember 20 years ago was only 1994 so it ain’t that old. ;)





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