Monday, February 28, 2011

Beer Adventure: Sunday Feb 27, 2011

I had a most-awesome beer adventure yesterday.  It was a three stop trip that lasted most of the afternoon and featured a lot of Danish beer.  The stops in order: Lord Hobo in Cambridge,  Deep Ellum in Alston and Redbones in Somerville. 

Lord Hobo

This was my second trip to Lord Hobo and it's becoming one of my favorite stops.  I didn't eat on this visit but my recollection of my previous meal of pork belly hash with sunny side up eggs had me watching every plate go by.   I ordered a HaandBryggeriet Odin's Tippel (Imperial Stout).  I read it as Trippel not Tippel so was a bit surprised when I saw the super dark brew.  Even as I drank it I was thinking it was some sort of hybrid Trippel and Stout.  In fact they use a wild yeast so it had a bit of the Belgian funk that I love.  It also had tons of chocolate, coffee and dried fruit flavors that made it a perfect brunch brew.

We sat at the bar and the service was a bit slow but the bartender made up for it by being very friendly.  My crew all agreed it was great albeit short visit.

Deep Ellum

Mikkeller Limoncello
Our next stop was in Alston at Deep Ellum, a bar I've wanted to try for a long time.   Based on the name I was expecting a Grateful Dead motif but if there was one I didn't notice.  The place is both smaller and more worn than I expected but it had a nice vibe that was someplace between the College vibe of the Sunset Grille and the Young Professional vibe of the Publik House.  We grabbed a few seats at the center bar, right in front of the taps and were served by a really nice and knowledgeable bartender who bore a considerable resemblance to a clean and sober Lindsay Lohan.   For food we split a few appetizers:  the Charcuterie plate, Maple Habenaro chicken wings and fried Calamari.  I love Charcuterie and this was an awesome selection.   I know our bartender told me what each item was but I only recall them as yummy.   I thought the Maple Habenaro wings could have been spicier but they tasted good.

There are few taps at Deep Ellum but they don't waste any space on crap.   I had three great beers : Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck St Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition (A Belgian, dry, sour beer more akin to wine than what most people would expect from a beer. ) , Mikkeller Limoncello IPA (A Danish Double IPA brewed with lemon peel) and a Firestone Walker 14th Anniversary (A California Strong Ale)


I'm a big fan of Redbones but this visit wasn't their best hour.  We went down stairs to Underbones and snagged some stools at the mostly empty bar.  We then sat there and waited and waited and waited some more for the bartender to come over and talk to us.  When she finally did come over she was grumpy, unfriendly and so matter-of-fact it came across as short. To top it off the beer selection seemed weak given what we'd just seen at Lord Hobo and Deep Ellum.

When we finally did get to order the ribs were great - better than usual IMHO - and I had a very tasty Mikkeller USA Ale (Danish version of an American Strong Ale) to wash them down.

In contrast the last time I was at Underbones I had a fantastic beer-geek discussion with the bartender on the merits of various west coast IPAs.  He wasn't a fan of Green Flashes' West Coast which is one of my favorites and we had a friendly and fun argument about it (bar-gument?).

I don't know what the scoop was with our bartender yesterday but being inattentive, abrupt, and unfriendly is not the way to earn good tips. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Beer Labels - Wild America

I loved the show; I wonder how the beer is?  I imagine you're obliged to try and mimic Mr Stouffer saying "Why-eeld Ameri-cuu" as you drink it.  That, or follow a Mountain Goat over a ledge.

Just Watched: Winter Bones

Winter Bones

Some movies are beautiful to look at, some movies feature excellent acting and some movies have a great story.  This movie has all three.

As usual I wont describe the film since you can follow the above link and read a better description of it on Wikipedia.  I'm just going to tell you a few things I liked about it.

I was particularly impressed with the cinematography of this film.  The opening shot of a denuded tree branches set against the blue sky was gorgeous and I kept revisiting it in my mind as the film progressed.  It seemed to perfectly capture all the elements the film was laying out: people tied to the land they are born on, twisted family genealogy, people dormant but with potential.

I also enjoyed the use of animals in the movie.  There's a spectrum of wildness: squirrels, dogs, people and we are a lot closer to each other than you think.  There's an odd section where the film it changes gears and squirrels are featured in almost a trippy montage.  I can't really explain it but I think it's making the point that the actions of the film aren't that much different than a squirrel running around gathering nuts to survive. 

I've been watching the FX series Justified and this film reminds me a lot of it.  If you've not seen either do yourself a favor and watch them.

Diet week 8: Holy shit

The title tells it all.  I'm down 5 pounds this week to 283 for a diet total of 27 pounds and over the half way mark.

This week I ate a lot of Pinto, Black and Navy beans.  The Navy beans were new to me.  I didn't have a chance to cook them after soaking overnight the first day so they sat for an additional 24 hours.  I don't know if that impacted their flavor but they had a nice nutty taste that was reminiscent of Walnuts.  I used them as rice substitute under some Andouille, Tomato, Jalapeno and Onion saute.   It was fantastic.

The thing that's been the most eye opening to me is how eating healthier makes me feel.  I'm seldom hungry between meals and my energy levels are significantly higher.  I know that sounds like a cliche from a diet book but I've found it to be true.

For my cheat day I have plans with my sister in-law Karen and her husband Kerry to hit Deep Ellum in Alston.  It's been on my list of beer bars to try for ages and it looks like it will finally happen.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Today is my cheat day where I can eat anything I want.  For some reason I felt like sauteed cabbage for breakfast.  I can't explain it either.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Diet week 7: It almost doesn't feel like dieting anymore

I weighed in at 288 this morning.  That means I've lost two more pounds and am back in the 280s and almost half way to my first goal of loosing 50lb.    The fact is I'd like to loose a bit more than that but thought a goal of "50 by 50" had a nice ring to it. 

To motivate myself I dug out some old pictures this week from my late 20s when I was both jogging and hiking a lot.  I don't think my knees will ever let me be that active again but carrying this weight around is only making my knees and back worse.  I recall I weighed just about 205 when this picture was taken.  There was a short period during that time I managed to get below 200 briefly but I don't think this was it.

The above old-school panorama is from Mt St. Pirat near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta Canada; at 8600 feet it's the highest mountain I've ever summited.  I try to treat the dieting process like a difficult mountain hike.  It's really all about putting one foot in front of the other and persevering when the going gets tough.   

You may find it amusing to know that in my backpack on the above hike I had 2 Big Rock Brewing, Cock O' the Rock Porters with me and I drank them on the summit.  Some things never change. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Diet week 6: Steady as it Goes.

I lost 2 pounds this week for a grand total of 20lb.  Considering I cheated pretty good both when I shouldn't have on Saturday last week and when I could on Sunday it's decent progress.  Of course I wish it came off faster but at least it's coming off. 

It's been fun to be to pull out and wear a few items from the back of the closet that haven't seen the light of day in a couple of years.  If you see me wearing the modern equivalent of uncool bell-bottom jeans you will know why.  And if you haven't, the closet has some gems that still don't fit quite yet, so just you wait.

Of course, exercise is still my bugaboo.  I'm a lazy mo-fo at heart; I always have been, so getting my ass out from behind the computer and out on the road is always a challenge.   Today I'm doing something;  maybe snow-shoes.  I haven't snow-shoed in ages and who knows when we'll get another winter like this.  I might as well make the most of it.  

Monday, February 07, 2011

Beer Notes: Sunday Feb 6 2011

I brought my bottle of Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel to my friend's Super Bowl party.  It wasn't a big party so I knew there would be enough for everyone to try it.  I poured it and passed around the glasses.  For the most part everyone hated it - as I expected given their preference for light lager - but they all had a good laugh when I explained about the Civet Cat's involvement with the product.

I can't say much about the beer itself.  Because I was sharing it with so many people I only got a few inches of it and because it's not a style I drink very often I'm not one to judge its relative merits. What I can say is that it pours thick and tastes very, very roasty but it isn't cloying on the tongue.  I wished I had more.

Also at the party I had a couple of Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPAs.     I'm always torn between Belgians and IPAs so this style is perfect for me.  Besides Green Flash's Le FreakChouffe's IPA Trippel and Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Wild I don't know anyone who makes it.  I need to find this out because I can't get enough.

I found this list of Belgian IPAs at   I've had the Stone Cali-Belgique, Victory Wild Devil and Allagash Hugh Malone but none have scratched-the-itch quite like the ones I mentioned above.  

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Diet week 5: A leap forward

My shed and Chiminea
Lost 4 pounds this week.  I'm down to 292 from 310 for a loss of 18lb in 5 weeks.  I really can't complain.

This week felt pretty routine.  I didn't cook as much as I had previous weeks and instead ended up relying on some of the bean dishes I froze over the past few weeks,   I am getting a little tired of Chili but my love for homemade re-fried beans remains strong.

A typical day of food would look something like this:

     1 egg fried or poached.
     1 big glop of spicy refried beans.

     Can of Sardines.
     Green salad (Lettuce, onion, tomato) with black beans and regular Italian dressing. 

     Mid afternoon snack.
     A small portion of some beany leftovers like my quadruple bean Chili.

     Pork chop and cabbage.  Cooked with apple cider vinegar and spicy Sriracha (aka Rooster) sauce.
     Pile of  beans.

Exercise this week has been a mix of home gym workouts and snow removal.  Lots and lots of snow removal.

Last Sunday I woke up craving a chocolate doughnut.  It will be funny to see what happens tomorrow.  I don't have a horse in the Superbowl but am going to route for Green Bay.  My beer selection for the game is TBD.
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism