Friday, November 24, 2017

All I want for Christmas is a colonoscopy.

I received one of those medical maintenance reminder letters from my healthcare provider and after having put it off for a reasonable amount of time, I phoned in to order a stool sample kit per the instructions. "Oh, no," I was told. "You don't need a stool sample kit. You're overdue for a colonoscopy."

She was right, of course, but I was hoping the rules had changed and I wasn't due until next year. Or maybe five years from now.

I was tricked, I tell you.

While the year has had it's ups and downs, it's official: 2017 was shitty in the end.

Standing in line?

Are you one of those people who gets up at O'Dark Thirty to find holiday bargains before the sun comes up? Not me, that's what online shopping is for. I'm still in bed. Right now. With coffee in one  hand and my Washington Beer Lovers map in the other. I have all morning to plan my afternoon.

But if you're one for standing in line, hustle over to Binny's in Chicago to buy Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout. This Beer Could Be the Biggest Black Friday Deal of All - says Fortune.

Breweries all over the country have special releases on Black Friday. Food & Wine's Black Friday Is a Big Beer Shopping Day, Too:
" Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery will release Black Friday Imperial Stout on, fittingly, Black Friday. Seattle’s Fremont Brewing will release its bourbon barrel-aged winter ale, B-Bomb, on the same day. Athens, Georgia’s Creature Comforts will release three limited-edition beers on, yup, November 24. Akron, Ohio’s Hoppin’ Frog will release its Barrel-Aged Gavel Slammer 17.4% Monumental Dark Ale . . . ."
If I'm going to stand in line today, getting a beer at the end of it sounds just fine to me. A black ale, even better. As for the rest of you, good luck out there. I hope you find what you're looking for.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving and beer.

If you're considering pairing beer with your Thanksgiving meal, The New York Times offers helpful suggestions in To Pair With That Thanksgiving Bird, Consider Beer 
" In all the meticulous course planning for Thanksgiving, wine tends to get top billing on the beverage list. But beer — with its versatility, approachability, carbonation and broad range of flavors — may be just as happy a pairing. "
Their simple explanations and easy to follow pairings makes trying beer with this traditional meal an appealing idea. However, I might try a Porter rather than an Imperial Stout with dessert, as they suggest, as it might be less alcohol, less sweet, and incorporate more coffee notes to offset the sweetness of pumpkin or pecan pie. Besides, it starts with "P...."

GQ offers a different take, offering beer pairings for everything on your Thanksgiving table. If you're considering serving mash potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce as separate courses, check out GQ's Thanksgiving Beer Pairings.

Of course, why serve food at all when you can serve beer that tastes like food? How to Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner Entirely in Beer Form from Food & Wine sets out to create a Thanksgiving feast entirely in beer form. Their results included this:
" . . . . Brussels sprouts. Only one example popped up from a small Canadian brewery called StoneHammer Brewing in Guelph, Ontario. Wurst Idea Ever Brussels Sprout Sour was a one-off experiment from way back in 2012, and the name might explain why other brewers haven’t delved into Brussels sprouts as an ingredient. Though the people behind that wild idea are no longer with the brewery, a current representative said that the next year, they went so far as to brew a beer called “Soury About Last Year” for the same event. "
While I can imagine a beer that tastes like cranberries, I have a tough time fathoming a beer that tastes like turkey gravy - much less Brussels sprouts - or a reason why anyone would want to drink it.

Cider might be an excellent way to go for Thanksgiving - a happy middle ground between wine and beer but I lack any suggestions here. Seattle Times Surprise family with something new for Thanksgiving: craft cider offered some beautiful and enticing suggestions but left my head spinning. Best to find an expert at a local bottle shop or head to your favorite cidery for suggestions.

In any case, eat, drink, and be merry. And be thankful for whatever's in the glass.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Almost there

As you can see, the living room is getting better while my camera phone is not. Genius Bar appointment is Saturday. We'll see....

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Had hardwood floors installed while we were away, recently, and they turned out nicely. The rest of the house, unfortunately, was destroyed. The contractors were very nice to drape the kitchen cabinets but they didn't drape anything else. Dust was everywhere. They ruined the carpeting in two rooms (that they weren't even supposed to be in) and one Persian throw rug. It took me three days and countless loads of laundry before it was habitable again.

Wednesday, we start Round 2 - an electrician is coming to install canned lights, then painters, followed by a carpenter to install new baseboards. It'll be worth it in the end, it'll be worth it in the end, it'll be worth it . . . .

Meanwhile, I'm on to my third iPhone in as many months. Not exactly but almost. I went swimming with one in July. It didn't survive so I got a new one on July 26. The new one stopped working - just died - so it got replaced with a replacement on September 7. I started noticing that my replacement phone wasn't taking very good pictures. I was disappointed because I thought the new iPhone was supposed to take awesome pictures but I didn't know what the problem was. More than a week ago, I noticed the replacement phone's camera lens has a hole in it.

Maybe I dropped it. If I did, it wasn't one of those spectacular, yard sale, kind of things. Nothing notable. The rest of the phone is in perfect condition. Not a scratch on it. Anywhere. Looking at my photos, the lens broke around September 17-19. The last clear photo is the 17th and the first fuzzy one is the 19th. I was in Seattle on the 17th, Portland on the 18th, and home on the 19th.

I went to the Apple store in Portland and they told me the camera lens can't be repaired. The phone has to be replaced. A quick internet search indicates otherwise.

In other news, I've spotted the first ugly holiday sweater of the season and it wasn't even mine. Also, a neighbor already has holiday decorations up. For Christmas, not Thanksgiving.

Finally, if you're near a McMenamins try a Black Spider Porter if you can still find it. It's generally available from October 15-31 but we were able to find it just this last weekend (on tap and in cans). With Black and Roast Malts, it's a robust and eerily delicious brew.

Monday, October 30, 2017

What We Tried

On this trip to Maui, we tried to venture out a little, beer wise. We usually opt for locally sourced food* and drink, when available, whether we are traveling or at home and Maui is no exception. Beers from Maui Brewing can be found in most places offering beer as well as those from Kona Brewing (from the Big Island). My personal favorite, though, is Talk Story Pale Ale from Koholã Brewery (Maui). Light tangerine flavor, subtle malts, and 5.1% ABV makes it an all-day sipper.

This time, we focused our attention on beers from some of the other Hawaiian islands. They are not always easy to find and they are sometimes expensive (compared to the mainland). And, most places don't offer tastes which means you have to commit to a full pint, can, or bottle. This allows for a better experience of the beer but limits how much you can actually taste at any given time.

There is a whole lot more Hawaiian beer to explore but this is what we tried in the time we had:

On draft:

From Kona Brewing Company enjoyed at Hula Grill Ka'anapli
  • You can find their Longboard Lager at almost any establishment, as well as in bottles at various retail locations. It is very popular. Very light malt flavor and low hops, it drinks easy at 4.6% ABV. After two or three, though, I'm ready for something more robust. For many others, however, this is their beer of choice while on Maui.
  • I'm no expert (yet) but I thought the Fire Rock Pale Ale drank more like an amber than a pale ale. It's copper color and 5.8% ABV lent to that experience. More robust than the Longboard, yes, but not more refreshing, imho.
  • Their Hula Hefeweizen is a traditional Bavarian-style weissbier. Try it with a slice of orange or pineapple, or both. This one registers at 5% ABV.
We also sampled Barefoot Brew which is specially brewed for Hula Grill by Maui Brewing. It is a honey amber incorporating Macadamia Nut Blossom Organic Honey with tettnang hops. Slightly sweet, and full of honey flavor.

From Waikiki Brewing Company enjoyed at Ka’anapali Grille and Tap Room
  • Ala Moana Amber - light, smooth roasted malts, slightly hoppy. Very drinkable at 5.6% ABV. This was our second favorite of the Waikiki beers we sampled on draft. 
  • Eee Pah IPA - at 7.65% ABV, this one is hoppy with a strong malt backbone. Flavorful in all dimensions.
  • Hana Hou Hefe - this was our favorite. Equal parts malted barley and malted wheat with noble and tettnang hops. Orange peel and strawberry purée added a soft and refreshing sweetness. At 6.55% ABV, it might be a little dangerous as an all day sipper but it's definitely worth a second pint or a growler fill at the very least. (Yes, Ka'anapali Grille sells and fills growlers.)
  • Jalapeño Mouth - a well balanced amber with jalapeño spice. Its bark is worse than its bite so don't let it scare you. A strong chili aroma at hits you right up front but the jalapeño flavor is mild enough to keep it highly drinkable. I liked this one very much, easily enjoyed at 5.36% ABV.
  • Skinny Jeans IPA - don’t let the light hoppiness fool you. This beer is 6% ABV. Mosaic and simcoe hops create a light, classic West Coast IPA flavor profile. We were offered a taste but didn't drink a whole pint. My impression is that it's well worth coming back for. (Sounds like a good pre-shuffleboard plan to me.) We also found this beer available in cans from Island Grocery Depot at a good price.

By the bottle:

Hanalei Island IPA from Kona Brewing is POG forward, meaning the fruit flavor profile is made from passionfruit juice, orange juice, and guava concentrate (POG). You can't get more Hawaiian than that.

Overboard IPA by Big Island Brewhaus is an award-winning beer for some award-winning shuffleboard. "Men's Journal included this beer in its 2016 list of 101 Best Beers in American, it won a 2014 World Beer Cup Bronze Award, and was Gold Medal winner in the U.S. Open Beer Championships in 2013 & 2011." [Big Island Brewhaus | Beer] As for the shuffleboard, Hubby is ahead in the scoring. Yesterday's match ended in a tie, however, under the stadium lights**. Grudge match will be held later today at 5pm. (Note to self: get more beer.)

By the can:

Aloha Spirit Blonde by Waikiki Brewing - hoppier than the name implies with perle, tettnang and cascade hops, and a strong malt backbone. (Know your hops, know your beer.) Easy drinking at 4.6% ABV, we found this beer at Island Grocery Depot.

Bikini Blonde Lager and Big Swell IPA by Maui Brewing Company are fairly ubiquitous on Maui in the can or on draft. The Bikini Blonde is a "clean, crisp & refreshing Helles, perfect any time" - a pretty spot on description. Big Swell is citrusy, refreshing, and easy to drink but at 6.8% ABV you might want to be careful about how much you drink. Delicious, nonetheless.

~your faithful beer researcher on Maui

*SPAM is not locally sourced. "Spam that is sold in North America, South America, and Australia is produced in Austin, Minnesota (also known as Spam Town USA) and in Fremont, Nebraska."[Wikipedia] So, if we're talking about family reunions, Austin MN could be a good spot. Just saying.

**Also known as, cell phone flashlights propped up on nearby lounge chairs.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Beer, here

... on Maui

Since researching Hawaii breweries, I've discovered a quite a few places in Maui that offer beers from neighboring islands. This is by no means an exhaustive list but I will endeavor to continue my research. Now that I know what to look for, I'm finding more and more Hawaiian craft beer.

The Cheeseburger Nation franchise owns or is in partnership with Waikiki Brewing Company. All three of their Maui locations feature a wide selection of beers from Waikiki Brewing as well as other Hawaiian and international beers. Cheeseburger in Paradise (menu) is located in Lahaina, Cheeseburger Grille and Tap Room (menu) is in Wailea, and Ka'anapali is host to Ka'anapali Grille and Tap Room which has, by far, the most extensive beer menu.

Island Grocery Depot had the lowest prices I've found so far on the island. This week, they are offering two beers from Waikiki Brewing Company - Aloha Spirit Blonde Ale and Skinny Jeans IPA - available for $7.99 in six-pack cans. They also had 22 oz. bottles from Big Island Brewhaus ($7.49) and Lanakai Brewing Company. (Don't quote me on these prices!)

Longhi's in Wailea offers one selection from Aloha Beer Company on tap. I neglected to get a price as we were still eating breakfast.

The Mill House doesn't offer inter-island beer but they do have an international selection and some very fine cocktails. The Mill House is a category all it's own. In fact, it doesn't really belong in this post. I just wanted you to know about it since it's a new discovery for us. Put on a nice shirt and make a point to stop by this place for lunch, happy hour, or dinner. Or, just stroll the grounds. It's a beautiful place.

Merriman's in Kapalua offers inter-island beers in cans and bottles although they can be expensive. A 22 ounce bomber is $18. The outdoor deck and happy hour food menu are amazing.

Pacific'O offers selections from Oahu and the Big Island for $14-$17.

Safeway at Lahaina Cannery Mall had three selections of Hawaii Nui Brewing - Kauai Golden Ale, Sunset Amber Ale, and Haps Brown Ale - available in six-pack cans for $8.49-$8.99-ish. (Darn, I should write these things down!)

Tamura's Fine Wine & Liquors offers a small selection of Hawaiian craft beers at decent prices. By no means, the least expensive however. You can find Hawaiian, Japanese craft beer, and many West Coast beers in addition to major brands and other international beers here.

Many establishments offer craft beer from Japan. Tamura's, Star Noodle, and Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar come to mind. Hitachino Nest Beer is one to try.

We bought a few of these selections. I'll get back to you after I've had a chance to enjoy them. And as I find more Hawaiian beers available on Maui, I'll keep you updated.

~your faithful beer researcher on Maui

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Minit Stop Stormed for Coffee

A storm blew through the Hawaiian islands earlier this week knocking out power to nearly all of Maui early Tuesday morning. The Maui News reports the outage was due to high winds and multiple lightning strikes around the island. Power was restored by 4 pm for most people.

Apparently, the biggest risk during the power outage was a shortage of coffee. While the airport continued to operate, the rest of the island was in a panic over where to get their morning joe.
“It looked like Black Friday,” Kihei resident Arthur Criste Jr. said of Piilani Village Shopping Center. “This parking lot was crazy busy. People were trying to get gas, Starbucks was closed and everybody was going to Minit Stop for coffee.
Now, that's an emergency. Luckily, we had brewed our coffee the night before and stored it in the refrigerator. Sure, we might have lost all our food if the power hadn't come on early, but at least we had coffee.
Donna Tabulinar, store manager of the Minit Stop, said her store sold five to six times more coffee than she has ever sold in a day — even surpassing free coffee promotions. 
Maui unplugged | The Maui News
We went for a drive around 8:30 Tuesday morning. Any place that had power and was serving coffee had a line out the door. Gas stations were especially busy. In Lahaina, people were milling around a darkened Starbucks looking lost and confused. Cheeseburger in Paradise, one of the few places in Lahaina with power and serving breakfast, had a line down the street.

Further down the West Maui Coast, the Starbucks in Kihei was open with a long line out the door. The parking lot for the nearby Safeway was full as people were stocking up on - I don't know. I would think batteries but maybe it was coffee.

By the time we got there, nearly all The Shops at Wailea were fully functioning. By then, I was ready for another cup of coffee myself so I set about looking for a quick cup to go. Lappert'sHonolulu Coffee, and Island Gourmet Markets all had long lines. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf remained closed altogether. I gave up.

By Wednesday morning, the island of Maui was able to get their regular cup of joe at their favorite establishments. And a sense of calm prevailed.

15 to go!

According to my brewery app, there are 17 breweries in the state of Hawaii:  two on Kauai, two on Maui, four on the Big Island, and nine on the island of Oahu.

  • Koholā Brewery - located in Maui Brewing's previous (non air-conditioned) brew facility, they received the Bronze Medal for their Lokahi Pilsner at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival. "Maui's best kept secret." 
  • Maui Brewing Company - the brewery and tasting room is located in Kihei with happy hour daily, and an awesome outdoor patio. They also have a brewpub located in Kahana (and Waikiki, Ohau). The brewpub has a food menu while a rotating array of food trucks currently serve the brewery although the brewery plans to add a restaurant.
Big Island:
  • Big Island Brewhaus - beer, locally sourced food, and live music. Hawaii’s highest brewpub at 2,764 feet above the sea.
  • Hawaii Nui Brewing - one of Hawaii's largest independent breweries, they brew all-natural beers.
  • Kona Brewing Company - with distribution to all 50 United States and 26 countries, Kona Brewing is the top selling of Hawaii's breweries. With two brewpub locations (Big Island and Oahu), brewery facilities are located in Portland OR Woodinville WA, Memphis TN, and Portsmouth NH in addition to its main brewery facility in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
  • Mehana Brewing Company - owned by Hawaii Nui Brewing, their Tsunami IPA won a Gold Medal in the 2012 World Beer Championship held in Chicago. Their Hapa Brown, Volcano Red, and Southern Cross all won Silver Medals.
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery - claiming to be Honolulu's first brewpub, they are located in the Aloha Tower Marketplace on the Honolulu Harbor. Gordon Biersch operates 35 restaurants all over the United States as well as four restaurants in Taiwan. Offering food and beer daily.
  • Home of the Brave Brewing Company - aims to remember, honor, and salute the US Military with commemorative beers such as Remember Pearl Harbor Mighty American Ale, D-Day India Pale Ale, and Zamperini Extra Special Bitter. They are host to the largest collection of WWII memorabilia in the Pacific in their museum, Home of the Brave Tour Company, and a Brewseum -"Kaka'ako's best kept secret."
  • Honolulu BeerWorks - located in the heart of Kaka'ako, they produce 1500 barrels per year. Offering lunch and dinner menus, they are open Monday through Saturday.
  • Lanikai Brewing Company - open Thursday through Sunday, they are located in Kailua. "Paradise in a bomber bottle, best shared with friends." Follow them on Facebook for more information about the brewery.
  • Square Barrels - craft burgers and beers in downtown Honolulu, they also feature a happy hour menu. Closed Sundays.
  • Stewbum & Stonewall brewing Company - currently closed for expansion, they are due to reopen in 2018. Beers to look forward to include Low Elf Esteem  Spiced Winter Ale, and The Days of Our Wives Bitter Ale.

I have been to the three Maui locations but it looks like I have some work to do. Most of the bars on Maui feature both Maui breweries on tap as well as beers from Kona Brewing but the only time I've seen other Hawaiian beers is at a liquor store with a good beer selection which speaks to the high cost of distribution between islands.

Well, if the beers won't come to me, I'll just have to go to them. Beer tourism, anyone? If I plan the trip, will you come with me? It's time to do some inter-island beer hunting!