#58 100 Beers

On 9/16/17 I completed my long journey of experiencing 100 beers. It took over a year and a half to achieve the goal. I was very open-minded in tasting beers I had never thought I would try. Sometimes I would be in a microbrewery, trying a flight of 6 or 7 beers. Sometimes I would pick up a six-pack of some beer I knew I liked as well as some beer that I was unsure of. I also found at several stores I could get 6 singles at some special six-pack price.

(For the complete list of beers, I recommend selecting the following link:
https://937experiences.wordpress.com/beers-100/ )

Of the beers I tried, I liked a lot of them. I tried and liked many of the wheat beers, Hefeweizens, Farmhouse Ales, Saisons, Brown Ales, and Helles Lagers. There were a few that I did not like at all, mainly cheap beers, IPAs (India Pale Ale – usually high in alcohol and off the scale in IBUs), gimmick beers (e.g., #21: Shock Top “Honey Bourbon Cask Wheat” or #36 Flying Dog “Sea Salt Carmel Brown”), and heavily fruity beers. Some seasonal beers were good, but you need to be in the mood for them (e.g., #37: Harpoon “Winter Warmer” and pumpkin ales).

I sampled beers that were national brands and local microbreweries. I tried beers from several states, especially when on vacation. Many I had never heard of before.

What I concluded is that I like several types of beers. My favorite type is a wheat beer / Hefeweizen. I also still like some of the old reliable beers – the big factory domestic beers (e.g., Budweiser, Coors Lite, and Bud Lite Lime.) Also, I was surprised that I liked so many of the Sam Adams brand beers (except for their best-selling “Boston Lager”). I also noticed that my tastes change over time. I sometimes need to have another one at a later time to confirm that I really like it.

Here is my current top 20:

  1. Guinness
  2. Budweiser
  3. Sam Adams “Hefeweizen”
  4. Harp
  5. Bud Lite Lime
  6. Coors Light
  7. Boulder Bend “Dark Wheat Ale”
  8. Blue Moon “Harvest Pumpkin Ale”
  9. Port City “Optimal Wit”
  10. Sam Adams “Fresh as Helles”
  11. Waredaca “Little Dam Honey Wheat”
  12. Waredaca “White Flag Belgium Wit”
  13. Hoegaarden
  14. Sam Adams “Cold Snap”
  15. Sam Adams “Summer Ale”
  16. Leinenkugel “Summer Shandy”
  17. Omme Gang “Witte Wheat Ale”
  18. Black Hoof “Bears Den Nut Brown Ale”
  19. Black Hoof “Island Pond Hefeweizen”
  20. Workers Comp “Farmhouse Ale”

While I stopped at 100 (and added one I forgot), I will still try new beers. That may be the best part of the experience of beer drinking.

I don’t know if I will update the list each time I try one. However it would be good to update the list of those beers I do like so I can just pull out my phone, bring up this blog and look up the rating.

#57 Harvest Grapes from Vineyard

Today, September 5, 2017, we drove up to Thurmont, MD, to volunteer to pick grapes at the Catoctin Breeze Vineyard. The deal was to work 4 hours picking grapes and receive a lunch and a bottle of wine in return.

I thought this would be an interesting retirement experience. I would have the opportunity to see some of the workings of a vineyard and what it was like to harvest the grapes.

We started at 8 a.m. and stopped at 12:30 p.m. As none of the other volunteers took breaks, we didn’t either, working almost the entire time. I kind of felt like a migrant worker or laborer as it was continuous work, hour after hour. Put your head down and keep clipping those grape bunches and load them into the bins. It didn’t help that it was hotter than expected, near 90 degrees. We were sweaty and dirty. By the end of our harvesting time, we were beat. (And when we got home, we both napped).

The grapes we harvested today were Chardonnay grapes. These were particularly difficult to quickly remove as they grow in tight bunches close to the vine. Also, the grapes grow at the bottom of the vine. That meant getting down low, bending down or on our hands and knees to cut the grape bunches off the vine.

Afterwards we received our rewards. The owners prepared a home cooked lunch for the volunteers and the staff. Along with the good food, we tasted as much of the many wines they offered. The wines were very good, especially the reds. While we were eating we talked to the owner and the wine maker, learning more about wines and the process.

Finally, before leaving each of us was offered a complimentary bottle of wine of our choosing as a ‘Thank You’ for helping.

All in all, it was a good experience. We left with a greater appreciation of some of the hard work needed to make wines. Given the incentives they offered, we might repeat this experience. Hopefully on easier grapes, like the Syrah.

Updated 10/17/17:  I did go back to harvest other grapes.  On 9/8/17, I helped harvest Viognier grapes.  On 9/18/17, I helped harvest Syrah grapes.  Both were easier to pick than the Chardonnay grapes.

Updated 10/2/18:  I did go back again to harvest grapes again this year.  In September I helped harvest Viognier and Albarino grapes.  In early October I helped harvest Cabernet Franc grapes.

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#56 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts with Grandkids

On August 22 I had an experience with my grandchildren. It was a day where we were watching the kids. While Mary Ann had a doctor appointment, I had the responsibility to watch the kids. Nearby there was a Krispy Kreme store. They made the doughnuts and sold them there – walk in and drive through. Since I was greatly outmanned (or outkidded in this case) 3 to 1, I did the best thing I could do. I got them into the store, bought them doughnuts, and kept them in the store until it was time to retrieve the cavalry (grandma). This was a great plan. It created an experience for them and me. I had never seen doughnuts being made and they hadn’t either.

To start out, we each bought a doughnut. The best order was for George as he ordered a simple glazed doughnut. The server didn’t take it from a tray of premade doughnuts, rather she simply took a warm, fresh one off the assembly line. George loved it. Of course, Grace, Annie, and I (Hey, I need some reward, too!) loved our choices, too. We liked them so much that we went back and bought a second one. The kids loved it. Now, that by itself was a pretty good experience.

To top it off, all four of us watched the doughnuts being made. The machine cooked one side of the dough in the hot liquid then the automatic flipper turned them over to cook the other side. At the end, all the doughnuts went through the glazed waterfall (mouthwatering to witness). The kids were so intrigued that we spent about a half hour watching these being made. We saw hundreds of doughnuts being cooked.

In the end, Papa was a hero. Watched the kids for an hour, all by himself, gave myself and the kids a memorable experience, and kept them happy with doughnuts.



#55 Photographing Hummingbirds

While visiting my sister-in-law in New Mexico in late July, I had the opportunity to experience hummingbirds up close. It is rare for me to see them. Jane and Merl have a few feeders so several hummingbirds hover around all day drinking. I just sat back and took about 80 photographs of them over the few days. Even with a 300mm zoom, the birds (about 3-5 inches tall) that were about 20 feet away showed up tiny in the resulting photographs. The fast shutter speed (1/800 second) froze the 50 per second wing flapping rate. I cropped them to make the birds visible, which results in some loss in quality.

A few of the best are attached. I hope you enjoy.

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