Sunday, March 31, 2013

Reflection and Sierra Nevada Tumbler

Happy Easter everyone; we made it.

The Penguins did too. Get better Sid.
I'm not super proud of the some of those mid-week posts, but I am proud of fulfilling the overall commitment. Here is the spreadsheet I used to plan out the month; I changed each day to gray (or orange for  motorcycle mondays) after posting. As you can see, there are still topics I didn't get to. mostly because they'd demand more thought and research than I felt I could spare. Maybe you'll see those topics sometime soon. As of tonight, 30 minutes before the Walking Dead season finale, these are the 5 most popular post I made in the last month:
  1. Schott 585 and Brooklyn Local #1
  2. Ruck March and Flat Tire
  3. Slippers and Blind Ambition
  4. Reenlistment and Unibroue Éphémère
  5. Jurassic Park and Monk's Cafe
Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale

This was a great American-style brown ale. The head lingered more than traditional brown ales, and it had a slightly higher hops profile, but I found those to be welcome improvements. It's a autumnal brew from Sierra Nevada, so unfortunately it may be quite a while before I can get it again. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Modern Dandies and Pilsner Urquell

There is a movement gaining momentum that encourages men to dress "better." At least, it appears that way to me. Perhaps the inter-connectivity of these voices is just more visible to outsiders in the blogger/wordpress/tumblr age. Or it's possible I'm just reaching a stage in my personal/generational development where one's sartorial decisions have greater consequences.

Image pulled from Pinterest. Originally from
I am at once feeling pulled to move beyond my college-inspired, t-shirt based wardrobe and repulsed by what the high and low ends offerings of the fashion industry are telling me. The high side is browbeating or shaming folks into overspending on low-batch, boutique, and heritage goods while the low side is churning out cheaply constructed, shapeless, and under-functional garments. It feels like they're both trying to make a buck reversing cultural expectation on how and how much men should invest in their clothing. This concern beyond basic functionality is foreign and burdensome to me. I don't want to look like a schlub, but I also rile at the notion of "you mush spend XX on a non-functional item to be presentable" attitudes. I know some people revel in that; in the minutiae and creativity and honestly, good for them. Everyone needs a hobby. But I don't want to see it go mainstream, I don't want that advertising attitude to take root and compel people to spend more. On one hand I'm fortunate that most of my out-and-about time is spent in outfits designed at the Pentagon, but I also recognize this will not always be the case.

Pilsner Urquell

This is the Original Pilsner, as in from Pilsen, Czech Republic. Unfortunately, the Pilsner that started it all bears that old-world hops profile that I've never developed a palate for. Still, it's like tasting a bit of history. I'm sure the light head a super-clear body were innovative marvels at the time. Like a historical tour, once is enough; I wouldn't get it again.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cadence and Honker's Ale

Cadence, in it's most basic sense, is a call-and-response work song that sets the pace of a running or marching formation. While there's no manual or regulation for these, they serve to keep people in-step, but the shouting also serves to enhance the aerobic difficulty of the task. The cadence caller can gauge how strenuous a run is by how loudly and clearly the group calls back. Cadence calling also serves another purpose, though.

Once upon a time in the Honors College at Pitt, I attended a lecture by William Marcellino, a professor visiting from Carnegie Mellon. He described the tradition of cadences and illustrated how they serve as oral cultural transmission and reinforcement within those populations. It's amusing in retrospect that I was part of such cultural analysis from atop a literal Ivory Tower.

Some time later, I joined the Army. This gave me a participants' view of the oral cultural transition. I had become part of the intended audience as well as a potential editor and propagator. Marcellino's focus was on the Marine Corps (where he'd served) and their "Jodie" cadences. The Jodie cadences are about esprit de corp, but also about betrayal and alienation from the population they serve. Army cadences, in my experience, are less like this in theme, but the delivery and impermanence is the same. I've decided to record some here for posterity: these are simple repeat-what-I-say running cadences.

I wanna be a Sapper-Ranger
Live that life of sex and danger
Sex and Danger
rollin' rollin' rollin'
along; my knees are swollen

I wanna be an SF Medic
Shoot that funky anesthetic
Sex and Danger
SF Medic
rollin' rollin' rollin'
along; my back is swollen

And one day when I retire
Here's the job that I desire:

I wanna be a forest ranger
Chipmunks are my only danger

Sex and danger
SF Medic
Forest Ranger
Chipmunk Danger
rollin' rollin' rollin'
along; my neck is swollen

I wanna be a UPS man
roll around in an ugly brown van

Sex and danger
SF Medic
Forest Ranger
Chipmunk Danger
Ugly Brown Van
rollin' rollin' rollin'
along; my hips are swollen

When I get to Heaven
Saint Peter's gonna say
"How'd you earn your livin' boy?
"How'd you earn your pay?"
I'll reply with a whole lot of anger
"I earned my livin' as an Airborne Ranger."

When I get to Hell
The Devil's gonna say
"How'd you earn your livin' boy?
"How'd you earn your pay?"
I'll reply with a boot to his chest
"I earned my living laying souls to rest."

Goose Island Honker's Ale

I've read only good things about Chicago's Goose Island brewery. So, I couldn't pass up trying Honker's Ale when I saw it on sale. I really liked this. It's clear with tasty malts and a hop profile that lures me to drink more. This 6-pack disappeared far too quickly. To my memory, this is the first English Bitter I've had, so I can't say how true-to-form it is, but it's definitely intrigued me to try more varieties.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Quadrophenia and Well's Bombardier

After seeing the Who's set during the 12.12.12 fundraising concert, I added Quadrophenia to Netflix que. Last weekend it arrived and today I finally got a chance to watch it. I'm not sure what I expected.

Image from
I don't have any nostalgia or connection to 1960s working class England, so a lot of the ambiance was lost on me. I did enjoy the music and spotting the different British motorcycles the Rockers rode.  Jimmy's just and angry little shit for most of the movie. Maybe that characterization is supposed to show how his constant pill-popping affects him. All the roles are really well cast, especially Sting as a vaguely Nazi style icon. The Criterion commentary revealed that Johnny Rotten was almost cast as Jimmy, but the studio wouldn't assume the financial risk. So, while I'm not lining up to become a Mod or a Rocker, but I'm glad I watched it.

Well's Bombardier

This is a tasty ESB with a distinctive British character. Malty, but less than a brown or Scottish-style one. I had it on-tap at BJ's Brewhouse some time ago and I've been meaning to try it again.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reenlistment and Unibroue Éphémère

Today I committed to extending my enlistment until March 27th 2015.

It wasn't a decision undertaken lightly, but this is a solid course for Sarah and me. I've been researching and considering alternatives since January and this will be good for both of our careers. My speech was unimpressive and our names were misspelled on the certificates, but I got an extra day and a half off of work.


This is an unfiltered apple brew from the fine folks as Unibroue. It's cloudy, with subtle tartness, and a strange flavor. Not bad, but not to my tastes, and certainly not apple-y. I don't know. I've tried it 3 separate times hoping I somehow remembered it wrong.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Army Terms to Know Part VI

I'm pretty tired and the evening is ending fast. Here's some Acronyms!

COTS: Commercial Off-The-Shelf. Equipment that's designed and produced for non-DoD purposes.
ASAP: As Soon As Possible but also Army Substance Abuse Program
AWCP: Army Weight Control Program
RCCC: Reserve Component Career Counselor
ADSO: Additional Duty Safety Officer. Company officers and NCOs responsible for teaching various safety requirements.
BOSS: Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers. A volunary program to engage single soldiers in social activities.
CPOF: Command Post Of the Future. Fancy battlefield command tool.
RFI: Rapid Field Issue but also Request For Information
COA: Certificate of Achievement but also Course of Action
BFT: Blue Force Tracker. Fancy battlefield networking tool.
NAI: Numbered Area of Interest. A building or compound that has tactical value. Allows forces to discuss topography cogently without having to learn complex local names.
TA: Training Area but also Tuition Assistance

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Engine

On a motorcycle, the engine is everything. It's not like a car where the works are hidden behind a hood (or two)the physical attributes of the engine dictate frame geometry, cooling, fuel consumption, powerband, acoustics, and of course appearance. People can develop strong opinions. 

Photo from Cycle World
Above is the new Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin made by Polaris for their re-created Indian marque. On it's own, it's a pretty gorgeous engine. I'm sure Polaris will build a big, heavy, expensive, Harley-imitating cruiser around it. It's unfortunate, but for now we can hope something better, lighter, more unique to cradle that engine and put the 111 cubic inches to work. I've assembled some inspiration:

1930 Indian Scout. Photo from
1953 Vincent engine in a 1973 Ducati frame: Vincati
Walt Siegl Harley-Davidson Shovelhead "Rivera"
Odometer: 13459

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sam Adams Winter Classics

I like what the Jim Koch has done with Sam Adams' brewery and ad campaign. It takes some institutional commitment to stand toe-to-toe against the Coors/Miller/Bud media presence with a fraction of the revenue. If there's gonna be one craft/regional/good brewery to fly the flag in the national spotlight I'm glad it's them. With dinner, ice cream, The Walking Dead, and a haircut the evening kind of got away from me. Here's a review of the whole Sam Adam's Winter sampler I had back in December.

Old Fezziwig Ale
Beeradvocate tells me this is a "Winter Warmer," which I don't think I've ever had before. I can't say how true to style it is, but I like this one. It's mostly malty with hops flavors, but no hops bitterness.  I can feel the alcohol and spices; it makes me wish it was cold here.

White Christmas
The holiday spices really pop on this Witbier. It's not bad, but it's a little floral for me, especially for just watching football. This is well crafted and certainly palatable, but not something I'd get outside of a sample pack.

Photo from
Winter Lager
It's a dark wheat bock with a deceptively simple name. I was searching for adjectives, but I ultimately ended up just telling Sarah "this is a good beer." Maybe I've been living in Shiner Bock country for too long, but this style is becoming my ideal all-arounder beer. Flavorful the way beer ought to be, but not too bitter, heavy, or boozy. A hint of seasonal spices blended well. I'm sad to finish this one.

Photo from
Chocolate Bock
It's no secret among those that know me that I'm not a fan of chocolate (with notable exceptions). However, I've never had an aversion to chocolates in brews. This is a pretty chewy and sweet bock; good for slow drinking after a meal. Kind of like a rich dessert; I don't think I'd ever have more than 12 oz at time, but it's nice to let it linger.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Schott 585 and Brooklyn Local #1

In January 2012 I made a post about my then-new Schott 585 jacket. Since then I've been wearing it a lot. It goes on every time I ride on the highway; about 300 miles a week for work plus whatever pleasure riding I get in on weekends. In addition to that protective duty, it's my go-to jacket for errands around town or going out with Sarah.

I still love the color and cut, but the antiquated design does make it hotter in the summer months than modern ventilated jackets. I would have liked to try out something like the Roland Sands Ronin or the Icon Chapter jacket, but I couldn't take a chance on those without trying them on. I'm very happy with this Schott, but it is showing some wear from the heavy use:

The arms are more weathered than the torso chiefly from riding. The torso has a measure of protection from the sun, wind, and rain thanks to the high-visibility vest Uncle Sam requires me to wear on the motorcycle. The arms also bear some cat-scratches and scuffs from leaning on brick walls.

One of my photos from last year made it to a thread on The Fedora Lounge, possibly taken from my query on Some of the Fedora Lounge folks had disparaging things to say about Schott, but I can confirm that there's no foam, plastic, or felt fused to the hide. I don't have an appropriate caliper to measure the leather thickness, but it's as-thick or thicker than anything I've come across in the motorcycle shops I frequent.

The thin lining might have taken the greatest beating. I'm sure it wasn't intended to be worn over Army uniform tops with coarse nylon and laden pockets. This tear in the right shoulder is most definitely a result of the notebooks and such I have to keep in my right shoulder pocket.

I think that whenever Sarah and I move back north I'll get it re-lined with something sturdier. Maybe flannel or fleece with those wear points reinforced. But until then, I'm still happy with the purchase, significant as it was.

Brooklyn Local #1

Photo from
I first had Brooklyn Local #1 with my dad at Kelly's Steakhouse in Boalsburg, PA many moons ago. This is not another retro-review because it is delicious and I've got it again several times since. What we have here is a Belgian-style Golden ale weighing in at 9% ABV, though the alcohol is deftly blended. I never bothered to take notes on the flavors and scents, but the brewery itself only describes it with vague description of alluring aroma, a dynamic complex of flavors. Their bottle conditioning gives it a higher internal pressure than others in the style, so be careful with the flying cork and overflowing froth. Such hazards are worth it; this is one of my all-time favorite beers and a welcome treat even on a weeknight. I drank a 22oz bottle Thursday night and still won the team relay for Company PT Friday morning.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Star Trek & St. Ambroise Scotch ale

You may have heard I'm trying to post something everyday fro the month of March. Today I discovered that Hulu is offering every episode of every season of Star Trek for free for the remainder of the month.

If and when I struggle to pick something to write about, I suppose I can just review an episode or 2 or 693. I rewatched Encounter at Farpoint while making dinner tonight. The narrative was encumbered with the introduction of so many characters and concepts, but it's still a classic and you can see how TNG became a juggernaut.

St. Ambroise Scotch Ale

So far it's my favorite product from McAuslan Brewing. The taste was true to style with stone fruits and some smokiness. It felt lighter than other Scottish ales I've had; I didn't even feel the 7.5% ABV either. I'd definitely get this again.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Philosophers and Moylan's Kilt Lifter

I don't know how I feel about being a cog in their social marketing schema, but I stumbled across this trailer earlier today and I want to see this film. IMDb doesn't offer much. Maybe coming out this year? Maybe direct to DVD, maybe limited release?

Moylan's Kilt Lifter

Sarah: "So what are you gonna write about this beer you don't remember?"
Excellent question.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hobbit and Mead

It was way back in 2011 that I put my 2nd ever batch of Mead together. The ingredients were of a higher quality than my first attempt, but it was probably subjected to more changes in temperature with all of the moving I did in those two months.

It was undeniably smoother than my first attempt summer 2010, but still retained a pickle-ly bite I couldn't get past. Adding a bit of extra honey post-fermentation and -filtration definitely helps, though. Regardless, it was strong enough and my squadmates definitely enjoyed trying it.

Much more recently, Sarah and I got some Melomel from Walker Honey Farm. The lady running the shop was helpful getting me raw beeswax, evasive when I asked about details of their mead brewing operations, and then helpful again when we decided to get a bottle of mead. Their Blackberry Melomel had won some awards and had an appealing description, so that's what we chose.

This was a good instructional drink for me, highlighting the differences between wine in mead. Mead is deceptive of course; it looks like wine, it's priced like wine, but it should be taken more like an aperitif or dessert wine than a table wine. When sipped, the sweetness and flavor is not overpowering.

Sarah and I got the Hobbit today. I can't remember if I've ever got a DVD on the day it was released before, but we both liked it.

Image from

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mustache & Corona Familiar

The first time I grew a mustache was at Timberlock in the Adirondacks. It wasn't deliberate; I just let my facial hairs grow for the first few weeks and when I got tired of the mountainman scruff, I shaved everything but the mustache and sideburns.

Mustache version 1.0
Since then I've had one off and on and I've noticed some things.
People who knew me before I had a mustache think I look weird with it; those who met me while I wore one think I look strange without. Sarah has been the most constant observer throughout and, while she seems to like me with lip both hidden and exposed, she definitely make more comment about my being 'handsome' when I'm clean shaven.

my icon from SBNation
Wearing the mustache in a military setting is fascinating. When I first arrived at the engineer unit, it was explicitly not not allowed. Not because it was out of regulations, but it was just too ostentatious for a new private; I was strongly encouraged to shave it. I shaved it to avoid making waves, but the legacy of showing up with it is still brought up in certain company. During and after the deployment, that attitude relaxed and no one gives me the hard-talk about shaving it so  long as I keep it trimmed. The interpersonal affects are interesting; I'm regularly called "sergeant" by mistake. People tend to think I'm older or that I've been in the army for longer than I have. And then there are the spontaneous compliments. A corporal stopped me on the street to say I have "the best mustache in the army." Which is flattering, but also a bit awkward especially during PT or when you're carrying something.

Basically it's something I have the genetic ability to do and I'm at a point in this profession where it is a greater benefit than detriment. After I shaved for Christmas, I was told by the company first sergeant and captain that I'd have to grow it back if I wanted to re-enlist. Joking, but serious.

Corona Familiar

So the 1 quart bottles of Corona labeled "Familiar" only contain the same brew as the standard Corona Extra. However, they're in brown bottles instead of clear, so you don't find them skunked as often as regular ol' 12oz clear bottles. It pours with about a finger of fizzy head that settles quickly. It doesn't taste bad, but there's not a lot to taste. Almost everyone reading this has had a Corona, so you know what I mean. And anyone who's had a skunked Corona can vouch for the benefit of brown glass. When I want a good mexican beer; I go for Negra Modelo. When I want a cheap beer, I see what's on sale or go for Pabst cans. But if I want a large bottle that light on flavor, alcohol, and price; it's hard to beat Corona Familiar.

No limes were harmed in the making of this post.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Free Range Beef

I navigate about 10 miles of open range almost every day coming home from work. And by open range, I don't mean bullets or mortars; I mean cattle.

Photo from Wikipedia
To understand why, we have to go back to 1942. In January of that year, the War Department decided they needed some tank destroyer units to counter the crazy death machines the krauts were using. They selected a lonely chunk of land in the middle of Texas and named it after John Bell Hood and his Confederate Texas Brigade. However, the land wasn't quite empty and the communities of Clear Creek, Elijah, and Antelope got uprooted in the name of Eminent Domain. The War Department was surprisingly charitable and struck a deal with the displaced ranchers; they could continue to use the land for cattle grazing. To this day most of Fort Hood is open range for longhorn cattle.

What does this mean for motorcyclist? Most of you have seen what a deer can do to a car; just imagine what  an even bigger animal could do to a motorcycle. Now, the beef walking around seem generally more wary of traffic than deer so I'm not really scared of the adult cattle. Even with those death-prongs jutting out, they're pretty sedate and even-tempered. It's the jittery calves that get my adrenaline going. They're 'only' 200 pounds or so, but they sometimes jump out of the underbrush and it wouldn't take much to ruin my ride home. I've shared a single lane with a spooked calf twice and that is too many times. I try to ride the center line when I see cattle, especially around turns or when there's brush by the roadside.

Odometer: 13145

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Science Of Beer and Murphy's Stout

I came upon this video the day after St. Paddy's day last year, so I've been waiting 364 days to share it with you all.

Murphy's Stout
I guess it's technically an Irish-style Stout, since the cans I got this year were brewed in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I first had Murphy's Stout at the Irish festival in Pittsburgh and taking a sip brings me right back. Climatologically, Texas in March feels about the same as September in Pittsburgh as well. These nitro-can pints give a great cascading waterfall as the stout settles. There's a thick, creamy head than lingers through the whole pint. It's almost completely black, with some mahogany colors around the edges. It's just a good-looking brew. As for the taste, it's very roasty without getting acrid, full-bodied without getting chewy or heavy. Probably my favorite nitro-can stout.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Oh, Pioneer! Levi's & Old Chub

A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain. Photo from Oh, Pioneer!
I've been wanting to write about this for a long time now. Back at Pitt, well before this blog existed I was watching tv at a friend's house when this came on:

At first, I was angry. How could Uncle Walt be used so blatantly to sell jeans? It should be said that my only relationship with Walt Whitman's work was from his reputation of visiting troops during the civil war, O Captain My Captain, and Dead Poets Society. I'm not exactly a disciple of Leaves of Grass. It was an editorial on Slate made me think being offended on his behalf is a little ridiculous. And now, years later when it's time to get new jeans, what do I do? Get 2 pairs of Levi 501's from Dillards, of course. Damn marketing.

I should be more clear about using the Oh Pioneer! tumblr. There are not-insignificant qualms about giving credit to tumblr curators who do not produce any of the photos they display. But I use Pinterest in a somewhat fashion, so I feel obligated to give credit to tumblr curators I enjoy. Here it is: "Josh Abe, I like the stuff you post on your Tumblr. Keep it up."

Old Chub Scottish Style Ale
Photo from
"It's like Sputnik" the can proclaims. Oh yes, this is a high end craft beer than comes in good old aluminum cans. This is a bit of retro-review because all I had saved was "8% ABV MALT." Let me begin by saying I like it a lot and I've had it several times. My guys at the wedding reception party had some during our rehearsal (except for Sean) and it was the primary inspiration for my to try a Scotch ale with maple syrup for my second batchBeeradvocate says very good things about it, but I'll temper this enthusiasm by saying it's not for every occasion. Malt flavors dominate (hence the capitalization in my notes) and the flavor and sweetness they carry limit the drinkability. I don't have the urge to put down a bunch of these, but I savor the ones I do. To me, this is the perfect camping beer. No glass to worry about, higher alcohol-to-pack-weight ratio for hiking, pairs well with the campfire foods, and can be drunk at warmer temperatures.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Left Hand Brewery

Apparently the battery warning light doesn't actually warn you of much; our Civic gave no indication before it refused to start back up in the parking lot of Indian Bistro in Killeen. I thought it was the immobilizer failing to recognize our keys, but no; it was just the original battery from 2008 finally kicking the bucket. We got a jump from the tow truck guy, the reset code from the Honda dealership, and a new 65-month battery from NTB. Overall, not the worst way to spend an afternoon, but Sarah didn't get home from Boston quite as fast as she'd planned.

Left Hand Brewery Party Pack

Stranger American Pale Ale
I think I like American and English Pale Ales better than IPAs. I'm not sure what it is; the hop flavors?  The more manageable bitterness?

Polestar Pilsner
This is a specifically German-style brew and for me that's no bueno. Continental pilsners and hefeweizens are distinctive, but I'm not a fan. I get like a cabbage flavor coming through? Kudos to the Left Hand folks for aping the Teutonic brewers so well.

Sawtooth Ale
Beer Advocate tells me this is an example of the ESB style, but it feels more malty and well-rounded to me. Bonus points for still tasting good after brushing my teeth. Definitely the highlight of the sampler.

Milk Stout
This was a normal bottle, not their nitro-bottle. The only 'extra' flavor I've gotten out of a stout or porter is vanilla; maybe my palate hasn't reached the point where I can get the milkiness. Not terrible, but nothing special for me.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Helpin' Hamburger & Guinness Black Lager

On the last night before Sarah returned, I realized that I'd only had either leftovers (that she'd made the prior week) or sandwiches while she was gone. It appeared that my self-concept as a creative bachelor-chef extraordinaire was in jeopardy. Taking stock of the fridge contents, I began to cook.

1/4th Onion, chopped
1/3rd bell pepper, chopped
1 lb ground beef

Chop and sauté the bell pepper and onion with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Throw the meat in and brown it.
Then add:

11.2 oz Guinness Black Lager
1 cup water
2 healthy dollops of sour cream
1 box Kraft macaroni and cheese (noodles and cheese-powder packet)

Mix and heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender. Remove from heat, allow to cool. Kit kinda of turned into a DIY Hamburger Helper

Beginning and end of the simmering stage
Well it doesn't look great, maybe adding something like peas or using red pepper bell pepper instead of yellow would make it pop more. Oh well; I thought it was decently tasty.

Guinness Black Lager

I got this six-pack because I like schwarzbier, but also because it was actually brewed in Ireland. A huge percentage of the Guinness and Harp you've seen on shelves this week with prominent "IMPORTED" labels is brewed in Jamaica or Canada. It's a solid, if unremarkable schwarzbier. But what's interesting to me is that you'll never hear the marketing out of Dublin use that term. These commercials are targeted toward a different sort of beer drinker, one that's more concerned with image and justifying his beer choice to others. It's quite the contrast to, say, Sam Adams' advertising campaign that revels in independence and attention to brewing specificity.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mini-Mil and New Belgium Trippel

A month ago, to the day, I sent BC this message
I think I've found my next pair of boots.
I just didn't think it would happen so fast. On Monday I had the misfortune of using a broken oil dispenser and managed to get LMTV transmission oil all over the McRae Desert boots I got issued in Kuwait. Oil doesn't hurt the boots functionally, but it does permanently change the appearance of the tan, flesh-out leather. If I were deployed, I wouldn't sweat it, but in a garrison environment, around as much rank as I am, they had to be relegated to PT and personal use only.

My oily old McRae Hot Weather Desert Boots, after attempts to clean them
These are a great example of the standard combat boot; I wouldn't be surprised if Uncle Sam has over a dozen companies churning these out. They're pretty good once their broken in, but not exceptional in any way. As you can see, they have a thick sole with 2 different types of rubber glued to the upper.

I had intended to get some cheaper Panama-soled version of this standard combat boot at a surplus store when I discovered they carried the Tactical Research Mini-Mil I'd read about in February. They seemed just as cool as the article and only 10 bucks more than the best price I'd seen online. How could I say no?

Tactical Research Mini-Mil TR101
They came with strange tubular laces like you'd find on cross-training shoes. After switching those out for more standard military laces they fit even better. The hand test says they're the same weight as the Nike combat boots that a lot of guys wear, but with a very minimal sole not unlike the Merrell Sonic Glove Barefoot Running Shoes I use for PT. I got 9.0 wide and there's plenty of room for my foot to spread out without feeling lost. I've only worn them for a day, but I really like them so far. They've got my recommendation if you've already got some experience with minimal footwear.

New Belgium Trippel Brewed With Coriander

Good, but not great. I appreciate the inventiveness that drove the New Belgium brewmasters to say "Hey, let's throw some coriander in a golden trippel" but this recipe isn't anything special for me by itself. Maybe the right food pairing would wake it up?