Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rüppell's Fox & Maple Nut Brown Ale

I haven't seen much wildlife here; just finches and pigeons and ants.  But a few days ago I was down in the Motorpool around dusk and spied a pair of small foxes snooping about.  They were smallish and shy but a google search later revealed that they are Rüppell's Foxes which range from Morocco all the way to Pakistan.

Today we have Maple Nut Brown Ale from the Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, Colorado.  This was a smooth nut brown ale with maple syrup added.  It's roasty and malty, but not as sweet as you might imagine.  The maple flavors are very subtle and perhaps less present than I hoped.  But this is still a good brown ale and a solid substitute for Newcastle because a) it's sold in brown bottles which help deter skunking and b) while it's a smaller production beer, but still American, so you can avoid the silly import mark-up that some stores add.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Caturday and Wrath of Khan

Darwin and Huxley sleeping on the floor in Sarah's new apartment.  Sarah and I decided to trade post topics today, with me posting a Saturday picture of the cats and her reviewing a craft beer.  What a crazy mix-up; I hope you are not too confused.

In other news, folks in my unit have begun receiving mail, so you can send me things if you wish.  Just ask if you want my address or if you think what you're sending may be contraband.  Do not send me booze.

I suppose the post title gives it away, but today I found a DVD of Wrath of Khan for a mere $3 at the Post exchange (PX) here.  Naturally I snatched that up.  The Moby Dick references were lost on me the first time I watched it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lunar Eclipse, Pitt/Penn State, and Avalanche Ale

Last night there was a total lunar eclipse on this side of the planet.  It was pretty cool, but slow and kept me awake later than I would have liked.  Sorry if you were on the bright side of the planet during the event, but if you were outside at the time, you were indirectly casting a shadow on the moon.
Picture from
Pitt and PSU will finally play each other again after a 15 year drought.  Or it will have been 15 years when September 10th, 2016 rolls around.  Special thanks to Miami for cancelling their home-and-home with PSU and leaving that hole in their schedule.  It's only a 1-for-1 deal and not a season ending game like the old series but I truly hope they are memorable and meaningful games.  I understand the fiscal sacrifices for both schools to have the game as a fixture in the schedule are not sustainable, but a 15-year gap is too much. If the ’16 and ’17 games are successful, I think it could be extended.  Ideally, we should play each other every 4 or 5 years so each graduating class can get the experience.  Hopefully Sarah and I will be in a position to attend one of these games down the road.

Breckenridge Avalanche Ale is an American Amber Ale that's solidly okay.  It was a mild Ale and I had it right after a La Fin du Monde, so it satisfied while failing to impress.  Beeradvocate has some scathing reviews that were unexpectedly harsh, though.  It's one I would definitely have again if offered but it's not a new favorite or anything remarkable.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Army's Birthday & Ommegang Witte

The US Army turned 236 today, which is amusingly older than our country.  10 companies of riflemen were approved by the Continental Congress in 1775 along with assuming responsibility for existing forces mustered by local and colonial government throughout New England and New York.  Sometimes I forget the genealogy of this service I spend my days a part of.  Organization and rank must have been much more flexible then.  No cake or any special ceremony or acknowledgement here, but a fun fact nonetheless.

While there is no Kindle service anywhere in Iraq, I can still buy new books through the computer and load them by USB.  We have about the same amount of downtime, but I am reading less on the Kindle thanks to the near-constant internet access and the real-time options it offers.  It's nice to be able to do searches and read the news again.  I am still missing a duffel bag that I packed way back in early April, but it is probably hiding on the base somewhere.  The day it was packed away was not the best display of Army synergy or organization so I am not terribly surprised.  Luckily, I have plenty of uniforms and such even if it doesn't turn up.

This is a “Belgian-Style Wheat Ale” brewed by the folks at Ommegang up in Cooperstown, New York.  They take their beer seriously and have formal relations with high-pedigree Belgian operations.  Despite the brewery's care and professional attitude, I was underwhelmed by this witbier.  It was bright and drinkable, but not worth the specialty price and swanky bottle when compared to all the other coriander and citrus wheat ales available.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

First Impressions & Shiner Blonde

It's safe to say I'm in Iraq now.
The food here is better than I expected.  Spacious dining areas, short lines, and as much variety in the menu as I saw at Fort Hood.  The fruit options in particular have been both ripe and abundant.  Excellent peaches.  I've also had an opportunity to try dates for the first time, which I enjoyed.

I'm sure no one is surprised to hear it's hot and dusty here.  An interesting manifestation of this is the dust storms I've seen so far.  Sometimes they roll in quickly like a thunderstorm with harsh wind and lightning, other times they linger and just fill the air with fine, silt-like particles that can set off smoke alarms.  A recent one actually had brief rain and winds strong enough to blow plywood structures about.  That was a good time to have one's weapon indoors.

There is a no-alcohol-while-deployed policy in reasonably strict enforcement here (for obvious reasons), so forthcoming beverage reviews will be coming from my archives until further notice.

Shiner Blonde is probably the next easiest Shiner product to find and certainly their longest running brew (sold under several names, but allegedly unchanged since 1909).  It's marketed as a "bohemian-style golden lager" with a "blend of European and American Hops."  It seemed like a very clean lager with a pale and light body.  A little hoppier than I usually like, but not bitter and certainly drinkable.  Better than Budweiser or Miller and I wouldn't turn it down if offered one, but I won’t be purchasing this on my own again.