Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I haven't posted anything here about hiking or walking for exercise in a while. That's probably because I'm getting more and more serious about hiking. The more of it I do, the harder it is for me to find words to describe how much joy I get from it. But it might be fair to say that I've begun to annoy and even alienate many of my loved ones with my obsessive preoccupation with the topic.

That worries me for a number of reasons. The obvious reason is that I don't want to alienate my loved ones. As much as I love my new hobby, I love my son and my girlfriend and my mom and my friends much more. I don't want to get to the point where they can't stand to be around me because I won't shut up about hiking. I may be close to that point now.

It's a constant source of planning, hoping, and daydreaming for me. I hike at Douthat whenever the weather is decent. For me, that means whenever it's above 20 degrees and not pouring rain. If it is pouring rain, I'll still put on a poncho and walk the hills and byways of my home town. I've also started hiking the Appalachian Trail some. Recently I hiked the AT near Roanoke, and you can see my pictures from McAffee Knob at this link, or take a look at my pictures from Daleville to Hay Rock at this link.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kelso Industrial IPA is sticky and heavy. It's one of those "extreme beers" that I almost always like immediately. This beer pours from the can an almost opaque golden tan with a brief head. The aroma is grapefruit and sweet malt, and the flavor is more of that with a bright, very bitter finish. I can't taste the alcohol, which is surprising at 10% ABV. I liked this quite a bit. I got it on a beer trade in a shipment from Long Island. I'd love to see this brewery distribute further south. But at 340 calories for twelve ounces, I wouldn't drink this often.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jack's Abbey Brewing bills Mass Rising as a Double IPL. The beer review sites call it an imperial pilsner. It's strong and bitter enough for an IPA fan, and I enjoyed it. Mass Rising pours hazy pale yellow, with a mountain of foam. The thickest and clingiest head I've seen on a beer in a while. The aroma is lemon, bread, and a little honey. A strong, bitter grapefruit hoppy finish dominates the flavor. It's crisp, but with noticeable alcohol vapor on the exhale (8% ABV will do that). Most pislners are too delicate for my palate. This one takes a sledgehammer approach that I'm very comfortable with. Damn fine beer.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I like the regular version of Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA, but I like this variation a lot more. It pours a hazy gold color, the tall head leaves lots of lace to the bottom of the glass. The aroma is buttery malt, floral hops, and grapefruit. The flavor is a rich malt up front, and then really, really bitter, strong grapefruit on the swallow. Warm malt returns at the finish. Outstanding.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Belgium's Skinny Dip is a light beer, and I don't like light beer, and I'm never going to like light beer, and I need to just accept that. New Belgium bills this as a Belgian ale. If I understand correctly, it used to be called Loft, and the current name reflects a slight change in the recipe. This stuff is a clear amber color with no head and no aroma to speak of. It smells like a watered-down version of a watered-down, nondescript Belgian ale. It doesn't taste bad, but that's because it hardly has any taste at all. On the exhale there's a little hint of something, like maybe I had a Belgian ale several hours ago and noticed something on my own breath when I burped. I will never drink this again.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I like experimental beers, and this one really qualifies. Two Roads Rye 95 is a Belgian Tripel that's made from rye malt and hopped with American Mosaic and Amarillo hops. It pours a really hazy dark orange with a brief head that fades quickly. There are a lot of different notes in the aroma, including grapefruit, bananas, butterscotch, grass and straw. The flavor is mild up front and then very bitter, strong, and astringent. Lots of vapor and rye in the whiskey-like aftertaste. The 9.5% ABV is a huge component of the flavor. Strong stuff.

Monday, December 1, 2014

I really like Boomerang, the new seasonal IPA from Sierra Nevada (available only in the Snowpack seasonal sampler). This IPA is one of Sierra Nevada's driest and most acerbic beers, and ought to satisfy serious fans of bitter brew. It pours clear golden yellow with medium carbonation and a fairly thick and foamy head. The aroma is dominated by pine and floral hops. There is a mild, buttery malt on the front of the tongue, and then this big wash of strong, very bitter hops. There is a hint of lemon zest in the finish. I'd buy this year-round of they'd sell it to me.