Pumpkin – The Good

Earlier in October I expressed my thoughts on pumpkin beers. Last night I decided to fill the glass with a few and decided there are really two types of pumpkin beers being served. Those that taste good and those that suck. I was lucky enough to have both last night and smart enough to leave the sucky one on the table when I left the establishment. Pumpkin doesn’t have much flavor by itself so breweries rely on spices to get their message across. The second beer was a muted mess of just ok and I didn’t feel like wasting my time to finish it. The first is arguably one of the oldest pumpkin beers although it wasn’t brewed for a while. The beer came about between 1992 and 1999 and I would guess that makes it one of the oldest pumpkin beers in the US. That beer is Cottonwood Pumpkin and it has always been a great beer. I won’t waste your time talking about the other beer I had last night. The recipe was devised by King Don Richardson who is now at Quest in Greenville, SC. For awhile a similar beer was brewed by Catawba when it seemed Carolina Beer & Beverage was no longer going to brew it. Finally Foothills purchased all the brands and resurrected the beer to former glory. If you get a chance to get some Cottonwood Pumpkin that would be worth your time, otherwise it will be a crapshoot whether you will get good beer or not.

Zupfen Gose

I wish that Zupfen Gose had not been my first beer from Steel String Brewery. I wanted to give it some love, but sadly I could not. It wasn’t atrocious or anything and I did drain the bottle, but when cold the flavor was watery and oversparged with tannins in conjunction with an overuse of salt and under-use of coriander. As the beer warmed the flavor improved, but not enough to push this into a new realm. Gose is the hot trend right now, but that doesn’t mean everyone does an awesome job. It was good, but it was sub par as a Gose. Their version was 3.8% ABV and was bottled on 9/22/14 so freshness was not the issue. If they want to make it better, don’t oversparge, lower the salt a skinch and up the coriander a tad. The sourness was just about right, but the tannic nature of the beer just didn’t do it for me. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I’ll make it a point to try a future batch of it for comparison, but I wouldn’t suggest you rush out to find it based on my single bottle experience.

There Goes The Neighborhood

Yesterday I happened upon a story of a woman in Rochester, MN who was so incensed by a man taking his daughters to school with a concealed firearm she took his picture and posted it on her lawn in front of the school. As it turns out the man broke no laws and had even been the head of the school PTA. I think I can read between the lines enough to know that the woman, Kim Edson, has some personal vendetta against the man other than the fact he is legally carrying a concealed firearm. To me it sounds like bullying tactics by Kim. If I were the man I’d post a photo of Kimmie on my lawn and say this woman tried to bully me into doing something by posting my photo on her lawn.

BJCP Electronic Score Sheet?

I saw someone post on Facebook regarding their effort to create a BJCP Electronic score sheet. It appeared the person had taken a few minutes and created a Google document where info could be entered. Reading between the lines it seemed as if they expected judges to run this on a smartphone.

At first this sounds interesting until you start to add a significant number of judges use the guidelines on their smartphone. That means a judge will have to switch between a browser app and the guideline app. It’s certainly not impossible, but it does take time. The other issue I seem immediately is the time required to type into a phone. Maybe it’s just me, but typing in a phone or tablet is slow going. I can type on a keyboard in a flash so a laptop makes sense, but on a phone just seems like a recipe to slow a competition to a crawl. My MO when judging is to keep the beer in my left hand and a pencil in my right and to not put down the beer until I finish the majority of the sheet. I guess I could pull that off with a smartphone in my hand, but that one-handed typing is slow and two-handed for me isn’t much better on a phone. Somewhere in the back of my mind I see that 10 min per beer average extending to 15-18 min.

Another concern is liquids and electronics. I’ve never been to a competition where a gusher or two didn’t occur. Sure you can open those off the table, but sometimes keeping the beer in the dump bucket is next to impossible. Another issue is spillage and that typically happens as well. Someone is reaching across and taps the edge of the glass and all of a sudden that iPhone 6 becomes waterlogged. A more recent item which has been happening in our area is our cup supplier is shipping cups with vertical cracks. It is at least 25% of the cups and may be as high as 40%. You pour a beer into a cup with no apparent issues, and a second later you have a dribble from the bottom. Most of the time that is minor, but at the competition I judged on Saturday a few times it was a major leak.

I’ve judged in many, many competitions in all kinds of environments. What I have found is most have little to no internet service and some have even had spotty cell service. To me this means any electronic score sheet needs to be able to operate without a web interface. I believe the gentleman on Facebook is only looking to do a Google form, not a true application or program which could be downloaded or shared. Without the internet this form is kaput and saying the internet is everywhere is short-sighted. I routinely travel to places where cell service is spotty to nonexistent and if a competition was held in one of these areas a hotspot connection would be a nonstarter. Another concern is the ability to charge devices. Does the competition have enough outlets near the judging area to handle 40-50 chargers? It sounds like a minor thing until you have everyone burning through a battery trying to complete the form.

I think an electronic sheet is a good idea, I’m just not convinced the one described on Facebook has taken all the potential scenarios into consideration.

Stone 18 Anniversary IPA

I decided to pop the top on Stone’s 18 Anniversary IPA beer last night and let me tell you it was a yawnfest. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting anything was off with the beer, it was just boring. The 8.5% ABV brew was nicely bittered, but muted and muddy in the flavor to the point of being nothing special, more of a brewpub beer. This was the second time I’ve had it and the first time I noted it wasn’t anything to write home about so I’m not surprised to find it underwhelming on my second venture. I like the fact Stone takes chances, but I find it disappointing when they don’t deliver, especially on those special releases such as this.

Looks Like Asheville Came In Third

USA Today held a reader’s poll for Best Beer Town and Asheville came in third behind winner Grand Rapids, MI and runner-up Tampa, FL. I was just in Grand Rapids and for sure it is a great beer town, but I still prefer Asheville. Tampa is a place I have not been in forever and a day, but it just doesn’t sound like a beer destination until you look at the list of breweries and brewpubs. I wonder if they have a surrounding beer community which rivals Asheville, but I seriously doubt it. Congrats to the winners, but to those USA Today readers who feel Tampa trumps Asheville, you need to get out more.

I have the solution!

The news is covering Ebola currently 24/7 and they should be. It is a very serious virus with a high rate of fatality. We have taken it for granted far too long. With that in mind, let’s solve the problem quick and easy. First step would be to pass legislation banning Ebola. That would work right? Next step would be to put up signs to stop Ebola from entering. That would certainly nip it in the bud!

Signs and laws only stop those who choose to obey them, if the Ebola virus doesn’t care what makes you think a criminal will?

Sometimes I Wonder If I Am Speaking Another Language

Last week I found myself at a Sake brewery and they had four offerings available. Their taster flight is three Sakes for nine dollars. So I asked if I could get a fourth so we could try all four. To this day I am still scratching my head over that conversation. The initial response was our board only holds three. I’m thinking then carry the other shot glass in your free hand or make a second trip. Later I pondered if she thought I was asking for a freebie, when in reality I was thinking add-on the last taster and charge me another three beans. Ultimately we settled on three and let it ride, but it made me wonder if I just don’t articulate well at times.

Typically I get a beer and water at the same time and try to more or less consume the same amount of both when I am having a beer. On more than one occasion someone has asked me if I am asking for them mixed. I have noticed over the years that is less and less, but maybe I should just tell them yes to see what they bring me to consume. ;)

Looks Like Troxler Needs To Go

NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler according to ABC11 came out yesterday and said, “We want to thank Judge Stephens for upholding the longstanding policy banning weapons at the State Fair and for issuing his decision so quickly. The fair-going public will now know what to expect as they make plans to attend the fair. As it always has been, the State Fair is a place for families to come out and have fun, learn about agriculture and enjoy themselves.” I never expected the Commissioner of Agriculture to be front and center in a gun control conversation, but here he is. The law is actually quite clear on the matter and if Steve cannot uphold the law as part of his duties we need to elect someone in 2016 to take his place. It seems like Steve and Larry Wooten must be collaborating and both of them need to find something else to spend their time on. Larry can be put out to pasture just as Steve can and hopefully will be in the next election. I’m just some dude writing a blog, but if these gentlemen cannot understand what the law states then both need to find new employment. I’m not sure what it will take to show Larry the door, but Steve can certainly feel the boot in the bum on November 6, 2016. I’m long on memory and short on patience at this point so if we need a grassroots effort to make it so Number 1 show me where to sign on to the cause.

The NC Statutes are clear, concealed permit holders are permitted to legally carry on the NC State Fairgrounds. If Larry B. Wooten and Steve Troxler cannot read and comprehend the statutes perhaps neither of them is qualified to hold the positions they currently have and should be replaced!

PS: If I were Judge Donald W. Stephens I might think about retirement instead of another term when his office is up for election in 2020.


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