Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kara Anne Lang 2007-2009

Kara Anne Lang 2007-2009 

Things have been quiet on the blog since Christmas because of a family tragedy we are still coming to grips with.  Kara, my brother Tim’s daughter, died unexpectedly on the day after Christmas.  She was 2 1/2.  Tim and his wife, Kathy, adopted Kara from birth in 2007.  They have chronicled every minute of her short precious life since the day they found out she would be a part of their family.

To have a child filled with the joy of Christmas one minute, to a family suffering an irreplaceable loss the next, puts grief in to a category rarely experienced.  Tragically, Sunday was the day Tim and his family were traveling to Dayton to spend Christmas with the rest of us.  The Sunday evening gathering at Mom & Dad’s was subdued, with Kara’s unopened gifts under the tree serving as an immediate reminder of the pain we were all experiencing.

Although we may never know the exact cause of Kara’s death, we know her spirit and smile will live on forever.  Tim, Kathy, & Samantha gave every minute of themselves to Kara’s life.  It is devastating their time together was cut so short. 

Professionally, tragedy and death are no strangers to me.  This blog was set up to be an outlet for the good things in life.  Unfortunately, as we all know, life is not always good.   This post is a reminder of the balancing act life is.

Kara will be missed, and she will always be loved.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May your heart be warm and your grill be hot!

Merry Christmas!

A co-worker of mine gives me a new grilling ornament every year. I post them the Christmas after I get them. This is last years. These things absolutely rock!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1 Beer to Christmas

Noel de Calabaza. I saved the biggest, most interesting bottle Zoe selected, for tonight. This brew comes from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.

Noel de Calabaza

Although a pumpkin figures prominently on the label and in the name of the beer, it's not a pumpkin ale. On the contrary, it's a strong Belgian ale. The nose is sweet, and the taste of the oak fermentation barrels quickly asserts itself in the the first taste. After the oak gives way, I get the wonderful taste of raisins, and something slighly sour I can't put my finger on.

Not what I was expecting...

This is another high ABV beer at 9%, and it is simply wonderful. Only one slight problem for the evening. The bottle was over carbonated. I popped the cap and the beer shot out like a fountain. It wasn't just a little burb, it was like a continuous pump. Unfortunately, it took about 15 minutes for it to settle, and another 10 minutes to fill a pint glass. In the end though, the wait and mess was well worth it.

Well here's the roundup:

12 Beers to Christmas

It's been a crazy 12 days. I now know why I don't/can't blog daily. Suffice to say, drinking a beer is a lot easier than cooking a meal, and I'm having trouble with just the beer! This year has been a nice collection of beers. It certainly is fun to branch out and try new things. Some I will rush back to and others...maybe a slow skip, with some subdued jazz hands. I hope you have enjoyed the ride, I know I have!

2 Beers to Christmas

Founder’s Double Trouble!  My countdown beers typically start the night.  Tonight, it ended the night, which presents its open unique set of obstacles.  After work we met with the guys, as well as my brother and sister who had flown in for Christmas, at Boston’s.  It was tapping night, and Dave tapped a Stone Dry Hopped Double Bastard (which I didn’t have) and a St. Bernardous Christmas Ale (which I did have).  The St. Bernardous was really excellent.  From there we sojourned down to Jay’s Seafood in the Oregon District.  Besides typically having a good meal (I say typical because my blackened mahi-mahi was a little too dry for my liking), I always look forward to the Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold they have on draft.  It is so much better from a keg than a bottle.

Double Trouble

By the the time we got home, I knew I had to squeeze in the Founder’s so I asked Matthew to share it with me.  Double Trouble taps in at 9.4%, so I didn’t mind the sipping company.  When I think of Founder’s, my mind immediately goes to their Breakfast Stout or Old Curmudgeon.  These are two great stouts.  I totally missed the “IPA” on the bottle, because when I made my pour it was obvious this wasn’t a stout.  Although the bottle says IPA, it is really an Imperial IPA.  It packs a punch.

For an IPA, the hoppy-ness one would expect is drowned out by the power of the alcohol.  I don’t know, my mouth was exhausted by the time I had it and I most likely didn’t give it a fair shake.  It just didn’t move me and my recollection is slim.  I will shelf my final judgment on Double Trouble for the future.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 Beers to Christmas

Altenmünster Winterbier Dopplebock. Say that three times fast! Who would guess the difficulty it takes to drink a beer, describe it, and then photograph it uniquely 12 nights in a row? I guess there are greater things to worry about in the world, but right now this is serious stuff!

Altenmünster Winterbier Dopplebock

Anyway, tonight's beer was picked solely because it was German and had a swing top bottle. Tonight, I'm shallow. Fortunately, my shallowness paid off in spades. How often does that happen?

This dopplebock poured with a brown, slightly reddish body, with a rather large head. Those nose was sweet and the taste was all malt. It really had a warm sensation, as the beer made it's way across my tongue. The warmth of the alcohol really stood out, even though this beer is just over 7%. The finish tasted of toffee.

A nice cold evening sipping beer. This was a good choice and better yet, I now have a new swing top bottle for homebrew.

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 Beers to Christmas

What would Christmas be in the beer world without your Bad Santa's, Santa's Butt, and Insanely Bad Elf brews? Probably slightly less scary and perverted than usual. Whereas most of these beers are more gimmicky than enjoyable, Troegs Brothers' The Mad Elf is both scary and good.

The Mad Elf Ale

This beer poured with a single finger head and had a light red straw color. If you are not a fan of cherries, you will not like this beer. This nose is cherry, the taste is cherry, the color is almost cherry. This Mad Elf, outside of some most likely anti-social behavior, also has a cherry fetish. For 11% ABV, this sweet ale is deceptively strong. The warmer it gets, the better it gets, which is good. You will want to take this one in stride.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

5 Beers to Christmas

Heavy Seas Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I have been all over pumpkin beers this year. I even went as far as brewing my own, which although good didn't exactly turn out the way I imagined it. The pumpkin puree proved a little difficult in my mash. OK, not a "little" difficult, "very" difficult.

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin

This Heavy Seas "Mutiny Fleet" ale was a real treat. As expected, the predominate taste was of sweet pumpkin with a real spicy finish that hung around (nicely) for a real long time. Although this Imperial Ale had an ABV of 8.5, it didn't taste of it, which in my book gives high marks. I found this to be a great beer and look forward to trying some of their other styles soon. Highly recommended.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

6 Beers to Christmas

Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA.  I do enjoy IPAs and frankly, I thought this one would have more of a hop hit.  Especially with such a “stingy” name as Twisted Thistle.  Although completely drinkable and enjoyable, I was just expecting a little more from this one.

Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

7 Beers to Christmas

Bateman’ Combined Harvest.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this.  At first glance, because of the label, all I could think of was multigrain bread.  I mean beer is already healthy, so this must be like super-healthy beer!  Right?

Bateman's Combined Harvest

My notes on this are slim.  Quite drinkable.  Straw colored with a slightly fruity nose.  I’m not so sure how much of the multi malted grain technique hit me.  I do know I would have it again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

8 Beers to Christmas

OK, a little bit of a different direction tonight. Although I am staying across the pond, I am moving up to Scotland in terms of geography and down to a pale ale in terms of style. Tonight's beer occupying the number 8 spot is Bateman's XXXB or Triple XB for those who don't want to say X, X, X, B. Besides having a fancy name, Triple XB is also "classic" and "premium". Clever marketing, as I really don't like things that are new and cheap (ie: most things at Wal-Mart).

Bateman's XXXB Pale Ale

Alright, snark aside, this is actually a pretty good beer. As a pale ale, hops are much more front and center compared to the other styles I have had so far. XXXB poured with a really nice head and when held to light had a ruby red color. The sweet taste was quickly followed by a peppery hop finish which quickly took over. I found the pepper really interesting and quite good. Tonight was a smashing success.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

9 Beers to Christmas

Alright, looks like my slightly date skewed beer advent calendar is back on target.  This evening’s bevy is Wychwood’s Bah Humbug! Christmas Ale.  For the record, I am huge fan of Wychwood’s brews, especially Hobgoblin (It was in last year’s countdown). Unfortunately, Bah Humbug sort of lives up to its name.

Wychwood's Bah Humbug!

Don’t get me wrong.  This is a good beer.  It is just not super memorable.  Bah Humbug has a nice caramel color with a malty nose.  The sweet malt flavor is the predominant taste, with a rather spice filled finish that sticks around (in a good way).  I rather prefer St. Peter however.  Plus, the St. Peter bottle doesn’t scare me as much.

10 Beers to Christmas

I turn to the land of beer and in-laws for beer #10: England and St. Peter's Brewery's Winter Ale. I have enjoyed some of St. Peter's other styles and have yet to try one I have not liked. They are easy to find on the shelf with their distinctive shaped bottles too.

St. Peter's Winter Ale

The Winter Ale poured with a real nice 2 finger head. I detected a little bit of hops in the nose and a sweet taste that reminded me of raisins. The finish had a hint of spice that lingered in the back of my mouth. I am fairly certain come the first of the year I will head back down to Belmont for more. Tonight, St. Peter's was a welcomed treat.

Monday, December 14, 2009

11 Beers to Christmas

My 11th beer on the journey is Old Leg Over from Daleside Brewery in England. Knowing the English like I do (i.e. marriage), I figured the name had more of cheeky meaning. According to the fine folks at Daleside, it doesn't...or so they say.

Old Leg Over

Old Leg Over is a traditional English Ale. In fact, the only thing missing from it is the pub to drink it in. The beer poured with a minimal head. It's nose was sweet and had a strong sweet malt taste with a nutty finish. In my book, Old Leg Over is a really enjoyable session beer.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's on the Grill #156

Brisket! On Saturday, we hosted a Christmas party. Outside of having the opportunity to spend a wonderful evening with friends, it gives me a chance to cook for a lot of people. In order to fill the menu, I opted for brisket and pulled pork.

Early morning brisket

I realized it has been some time since I grilled/smoked a brisket and I haven't grilled a brisket when it's been this cold.

Dropping the Butts

With about 20 degree weather (I know this may not be cold to everyone, but it is to this hairless griller!), I prepped the Performer for the brisket and the 26 for 2 Boston Butts. The brisket was grilled using this recipe. The only variance was the brine time. I upped it from 2 hours to 10, as I let it brine over night. I was a little concerned about the meat turning out too salty, but my worries were needless, it wasn't.

Sliced to Serve

The brisket was ready to go after a little over 8 hours at 250. After a rest, it was sliced and served. I must say, it was great. The pork, however, could have stood a few more hours. I had some trouble with the coals on the 26 and with such a large amount of meat, I should have given it more time. The pork was good, but not great.

Regardless, the food set the backdrop for a wonderful evening. In my book, a fine night starts with food and ends with friends. We are blessed to have enjoyed both.

12 Beers to Christmas

Thanks to Zoe, I am once again celebrating 12 Beer to Christmas. After a quick run to Belmont Party Supply, the hands down best location for craft beer in Dayton, I have 12 (mostly new to me) beers to document on the way to Christmas.

Vanilla Java Porter

First up, Atwater Brewery's Vanilla Java Porter. Now in full disclosure, this was the first beer I had before a party we were hosting on Saturday. My memory is shall we say...hazy. What I do recall is a an average Porter, with a little too much vanilla and not enough java for my liking. Much better brews would be Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter or Bell's Java Stout.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas 2009

After having so much fun with last year's Christmas card, it was hard to sit on this year's for the past 10 months. Once again Qoop came through and printed up some really nice cards. It also pays to have a Mother-in-law who can make Santa hats that fit a head 26 3/4 inches in diameter. From our grill to yours, Merry Christmas!

Christmas '09

What's on the Grill #155

Standing Rib Roast! I never get tired of red meat. My body, on the other hand, probably has. For now though I shall live in blissful red meat ignorance. My cholesterol is great (at least as of 4 years ago).

Rib Roast in  Wait

This meal is actually from about a week ago. I had this huge rosemary plant in the herb garden that I wanted to use and figured what better way than smearing it (along with a healthy amount of garlic) all over the outside of the roast.


You see, I love rosemary. I mean really, really love it. Now not to get all herb-weird on you, but some days I like to walk buy the herb garden and just touch the rosemary. Those wonderful oils that transfer to your fingers is simply wonderful to smell. Uh, yeah...that last bit was kind of weird. Sorry, but you get the idea. I like rosemary.


A rib roast is super easy to grill. Pre-heat the grill to indirect medium. Allow your meat to sit at room temperature for about 20-30. Rub the outside of the meat generously (like Scrooge at the END of A Christmas Carol) with your choice of herbs. For mega super accuracy, use a digital thermometer and cook to about 125-130, then remove the grill, and allow to rest.

Right down the middle

A little effort and a lot of love can produce a great meal.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

What's on the Grill #154

Grilled Pan Fried Mahi Mahi with Tequila Salsa! Well winter has arrived in southwest Ohio. Although I grill year round, I certainly enjoy the grill more when I can hang out by it in shorts, a t-shirt, and a rum based cocktail with a small umbrella versus mad dashes in and out of the house dressed like I'm on a North Pole expedition. Does cold weather stop me from grilling? No. However, a gas grill that doesn't light does. It was only in the mid twenties last night, but for some reason I could not get the Summit to light. It's on natural gas, so this wasn't a case of an empty LP cylinder. Needless to say, I had no time to start charcoal, so it was back into the house (and the warmth) I went.

Fortunately, this recipe was easily adaptable to my second favorite cooking surface: the cast iron skillet. But wait, before the fish, we have to knock out the salsa, which was a mixture of diced pineapple, red pepper, onion, cilantro, mint, and essence of Sammy Hagar, to wit: tequila.

Tequila Salsa

The cast iron skillet was pre-heated to medium. The Mahi Mahi filets were rubbed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. With the skillet at temp, I dropped a dollop of butter which melted across the surface. I then placed the fish. The filets cooked for about 3 minutes a side, until they flaked with a fork...or in my case, the side of a spatula.

Grill down, pan up

The filets were served up on warm plates, topped with the salsa and a side of rice. In the end, the meal worked out great and I stayed warm. Better yet, today the grill fired up with no problems. I guess Mahi Mahi was destined to be pan fried after all!

Pan fried mahi mahi with tequila salsa

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Friday Food Faves


My thanks to Curt at Livefire for awarding me this week's Friday Food Fave for this picture:

Carrots + Melted Butter = Fire

Every Friday, Curt takes submissions through Twitter for entries and awards the winner at the end of the day.  I am excited to have made the cut.  Thanks Curt!