Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dogfish Head Red and White

'Tis the taste big bottles of beer, I guess. Stopped by my neighbor's for a holiday open house tonight and got a chance to try Dogfish Head's Red and White. Once again, let me go out on a limb and give you some tasting notes BEFORE I check out the pros...

First thing was the head -- very Belgian-like -- tight bubbles, almost creamy. Color was nearly cherry lambic. Slightly cloudy. First taste had a lot of fruit in it as well, but then the sweetness of some serious alcohol hits the tastebuds and you know this puppy is not fooling around. I check the bottle -- 10% ABV... Oh yeah. No hops, no malt, no spice. All fruit and very Belgian sweetness to the nose and palate.

Okay, what do others say?

From Dogfish Head:
A big, belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice. After fermentation a fraction of the batch is aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels, and another fraction is aged on oak staves. The beer is blended together before packaging.

This has been one of our most popular Limited Edition beers at both our Rehoboth Beach, DE brewpub and at festivals. It successfully marries the refreshing citrusy qualities of a Belgian-style white beer with the robust complexity of a bold red wine.

From "gusler" at Beer Advocate:
The beer leaves the 750ml bottle a fuzzy incarnadine color with a reddish pink head that crowns the body, lacing provides a tight skirt to surround the glass. Nose has a tart oak like aroma, combined with coriander & orange peel, also hints of red wine and amazingly only very little of the 10 percent ABV shows through. Start is vinous, with a nice bit of toasted grain sweetness, top is light to medium in feel. The finish has a unrelenting acidity, the wine like traits along with the oak make the end sweet and somewhat sour with the parched aftertaste long lasting, another amazing brew tis’ true.

From JustBeer:
This beer is much more mild than I expected it to be. I was thinking it would be one of those that reaches out of the bottle and lets you know it has arrived, but not the case here. The color and head really aren’t red… more amberish orange, but that is ok. The nose is clean and crisp and the overall first tastes confirms the noted orange peel. The body definitely has hints of the Pinot and serves the mellowing purpose, I believe. As we continued to take it through, the alcohol levels hit us a bit and Dave and I had a great evening… :) By the last glass, this beer looked as unfiltered as it tasted… almost made you want to chew the last bite… I mean drink. :) But still, good stuff that is highly recommended.

I'm not as impressed as others with this beer -- a little too much alcohol for me. And it's a little too sweet. That doesn't mean it's not good, it just means it doesn't fit my taste profile. I do like Dogfish's Chicory Stout, if that counts...

Happy New Year!

Anchor Christmas Ale 2008

I never got the chance to post a review of this beer, which was one of the highlights of this year's Christmas Party at Gibby's Pub.

I got a magnum of this at Binny's. That was impressive enough...

I cracked it open a little late in the party, so I'm not completely clear on the taste, although I remember it was nice. After splitting the magnum 10 ways, we all got a little taste.

I remember it as medium to dark reddish ale, a slight taste of spices, with a nice malt finish. I don't remember any specific spice. Now, let's read other people's tasting notes:

Ginger, allspice, cinnamon, caramel, liquorice and orange peel all make an appearance. All the smells mix well together, though some are a little harder to distinguish then others.

In the mouth the beer is surprisingly light, and a hint watery. The beer goes down quick and smooth. There is a nice toasted malt presence mid-tongue, with a spice bouquet finish. Much like the aroma, the spice finish is well mixed and not overpowering. If anything I notice a hint more ginger then any other aspect.

This Anchor beer is a smooth drinker, and to me has medium body. It was a little bitter, but no hop-action until the finish where there’s a bit that comes through. Overall, this beer tastes very malty, and just a touch of whatever spices are in the secret mix come through so it isn’t like ‘mulled beer’ or anything over the top like that. If I had to guess, it might be a little bit of ginger (or something similar) in there that sort of prickles the tongue for awhile after. It has a slightly bitter aftertaste, and left my mouth feeling a little dry and a bit sticky. Not bad though.

And back at Gibby's, the reviews were generally positive -- Nice! Drinkable! Got more?

Congratulations Anchor -- 34 years of Christmas Ale and counting!

Nuclear Reactor Operator

That's a picture of the Navy Nuclear Reactor Training Facility outside of Idaho Falls, ID in 2006. It looks like a bunch of buildings, but some of those buildings used to house operating nuclear reactors. When I was in the Navy from 1973 until 1975, I was stationed for 6 months in Idaho training on the S1W nuclear reactor prototype at this site. It's the building in the right center of the picture. Here's a closeup on the right.

Idaho Falls in the mid-70s was a weird place. I remember it as a combination of Native Americans, Sheep herders, Mormon women, cowboys and sailors. Kind of like the back lot at Universal Studios while they were filming It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Life for the sailors training on the reactors was tough.

If you were doing well in school, you worked one of three shifts -- that rotated -- for 8 hours per day. You took a bus to work that took about an hour and a half to make it to the reactor site. It was through the desert, so your lips would chap by the time you got to the lab.

At the lab, you went to class and worked on the reactors and continually went through testing. Written tests, practical tests (you had to actually do something) and boards. The boards ran the gamut from tough to bizarre. I remember one question being "Where is the purple valve and what is it for?" Turns out, the purple valve was a remnant of some early fire protection system that had no use currently, but some goofy instructor had painted it purple and they used it as a way to see if you were paying attention.

Other board questions could be "How many bolts are there on the Condenser cover?" or even "Who was FDR's vice president?" No kidding.

If you fell behind on your studies, you'd get stuck pulling 12s instead of 8 hour shifts. That meant you stayed out at the site, since by the time you got home, you wouldn't have enough time to sleep. For the single guys, that sucked because it deprived you of the chance to hang out at the clubs in town, or go dirt bike riding, or rafting. For the married guys, it could doom a marriage. The Navy wives could get very lonely out there in the middle of nowhere.

A few notes about where I lived. I lived on 1st St. if I remember correctly, next to one of the irrigation canals. You can see it in the center of this map (you'll see "100" right by it):

View Larger Map

In the summer time, people used to float down the canal in inner tubes with 6 packs of beer. Great fun! Of course, in other times of the year, people would fall into the canals and drown due to the amount of water running through them. Not so much fun. be continued.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Clutch Cargo

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Backroads Ephemera

Click on the video clip above for a special inside joke and personal memory... "Backroads" was the name of the band Bob, Don, Greg Ray and I had just after high school. We practiced in Don's basement and garage. We had a few other band members -- including the world famous Neil Diamond/Elvis impersonator Gary Pointer on lead guitar and vocals, and Keith Moon's doppelganger Danny Thelin on drums.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gibby's Christmas Card

A special Christmas wish from all the gang at Gibby's Pub to all of you! If you weren't here this year, we hope you will be next year!

Steve Gibson

Click here:
From Gibby's Christmas 08