Sunday, December 31, 2017

More With Less

If you haven't finished with last year's resolutions, you'd better hurry. There will be NO leap second inserted at the end of 2017.

My resolution for last year was to get rid of any clothes I didn't wear in the course of the year. I have a pretty good pile going and I had better get it donated today because I probably won't be able to claim the deduction next year. (I expect a lot of people will be making donations today for that reason.)

Next year, I want to get rid of even more stuff. The idea came to me the last time I went on a two-week trip and lived quite comfortably out of a small suitcase. I know people who have to pack large suitcases for short weekends just so every contingency is covered, wardrobe-wise. Yet, it seems to me that with some planning, one can cover the bases with fewer, more versatile wardrobe selections.

I've found a couple of websites that offer advice on what constitutes the perfect wardrobe. The secret seems to be having a theme - basically, a color scheme. Stick to the theme and you should be able to make endless combinations with fewer pieces. Plus, less thinking.

Egads! With the clock ticking on the rest of 2017, my goal should really be to get off my rear end and do - well, something. I've been enjoying my day off today with some abandon - as in, I've abandoned getting anything done. Tick, tock - before the year is over, there are a few things left to do. None of them worth mentioning but all necessary to the function of living one's life.

So, without further ado, since we've had far too much of that, Happy New Year! May your resolutions for the new year be far more interesting and energetic!

Friday, December 29, 2017


This year's holiday festivities included a Secret Santa who was to be our favorite fictional character. My brother-in-law drew my name and I selected Monica Geller as my fictional character sometime early in December. I figured I might get some coffee or, more likely, a Swiffer but in any case, I wanted to select a character that was difficult for my Secret Santa.

As the month wore on, and I got grumpier and grumpier, I changed my fictional character to The Grinch. My brother-in-law was saved. He had no idea what to get me as Monica Geller.

Before I even opened the box, he told me I could thank him now or thank him later. As soon as I saw the green furry material, I had no doubt that the joke was on me. From the box, I pulled a full-body Grinch onesie.

I put it on immediately and modeled it for the entire family and I thanked my brother-in-law with a great, big hug.

But the joke may be on him because I've worn it every day since then. It's cozy and comfortable, comes with a hood, and scares little children and neighbors alike. (We currently have no window coverings in our living room.)

I've thought about joining the Run, Grub and Chug Club for the sole purpose of having an excuse to wear it. (They often wear costumes.) I will undoubtedly wear it every day next December on the Vancouver waterfront for my morning walks. And, I can promise, dear, sweet brother-in-law, I will wear it to your house next Christmas Eve.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Like a sigh, it's over.

Warm memories linger, relatives gone. Nothing left but paper and ribbons, shredded and discarded. Leftover food for a week in the refrigerator, cookie crumbs in the couch cushions.

We had snow. Just enough to be pretty but not enough to be troublesome. A fire in the fireplace - two of them. Classic movies on TV. Coffee in our pajamas long past the time of lounging. Consuming more calories than outputting.

And, now it's time to go, to resume normal life, the everyday. Pack, hustle, travel. Trying to delay the inevitable, we look forward to another celebration before launching, hurtling, into a New Year.

Best to all.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

'Tis two days of waiting

'Tis the afternoon before the day before Christmas

And all through the house not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse;
"Thank goodness, she's asleep," we declared
As we each found our spot for our own peaceful rest
In this crickety and drafty, rickety old house.

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that this dwelling,
(Beautifully built in 1888)
Doesn't become ashes - POOF! - in the air.

While our little one slept,
Dreaming of sugar, not doubt,
I sat alone in my room not wanting to come out.

Outside I can hear there is such a clatter.
I'd spring from the bed to see what's the matter....
Here from the window I can see a flash,
The windows are frozen, I can't open the sash.

The helicopter has been circling since morning, I fear
That a convict has escaped and is alighting on foot
From the regional justice system,
Or maybe with loot.

Egad! I thought, when will we be through
With being merry and all this "to do"?
When will the fat man appear with his stuff
Of way too many goodies for enough is enough!

What to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
Oh, no, that's the egg nog playing tricks in my head.
Perhaps I am done now. I'm going to bed.

For silence is golden, we are rich now indeed
But very shortly again we necessarily will head
The needs of a little one fueled and excited
O'er the wonder of Christmas in two very short nights.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mailing it in

I don't know what happened to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Just a second ago it was Monday and now it's Friday. I have vague memories of tape and red ribbon, a dust storm of flour, and restless sleep. And where did these extra pounds come from?

Suddenly, I'm in our sleigh which is stuffed full with all the necessities: suitcases and packages, extra hats and mittens, and cookies. This time, I didn't forget all the food.

Over the river and through the woods we go along with everyone else, slogging through fog and rain. My expectations are blissfully low. Not that I'm expecting disappointment, I'm just grateful for what I have. I don't need more.

I'm happy to see family and missing those who can't be with us for one reason or another. Feeling blessed and joyous, I assure you I have not been into the eggnog.

In an uncharacteristic mood of good cheer, I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Craft Beer is Serious Business

The best thing about craft beer, besides the beer, is the people. Beer people are laid back, non-pretentious, and friendly. This goes for consumers and brewers alike. Consider, also, the names of beers: Chasing Fluffy Pink Unicorns by Ghost Runners Brewery, for example. There are so many more great names but I have chased fluffy pink unicorns and cannot call them to mind.

But craft beer is serious business. There are conferences addressing beer marketing and tourism, beer blogging, and every facet of growing and producing hops. There are more certifications and college level degrees relating to beer than I can name (although one such list exists here).

Occupations in the beer business go far beyond brewing which is serious enough. If you really want to get technical, you can become a brewing chemist. (The American Society of Brewing Chemists has a great website full of good brew news, btw.) You can get paid to buy beer as a Alcohol Compliance Auditor. There are also brewery auditors with the Department of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Doesn't get more serious than that, does it?

You could be a beer historian at the Smithsonian but that job's been filled.

Less serious, but just as real, are "Drink It Interns." Job requirements: drink beer, travel, use social media. (Check, check, and check.)

Also real are these news items: Taco Bell will now be offering beer and Dunkin' Donuts will offer beer on the darkest day of the year. While Dunkin' Donuts won't actually be serving beer, Wormtown Brewery in Worcester MA will be serving DDark Roasted Brew, a stout made with the Dunkin' Donuts coffee beans. Meanwhile, Taco Bell will actually be selling beer (from Four Son's Brewing) in their Newport Beach location.

But, seriously?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Phoning It In

As you can see, my phone's camera lens has finally been repaired.

As many of you know, I often commute between Portland and Seattle and often by train. I was not on the Amtrak train that derailed today. Thank you to those of you who contacted me.

The train was on the inaugural run of Amtrak's new route between Seattle and Portland, designed to improve service. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Journal Entry - 12/17/17

We are decidedly off schedule. I spent all of Thursday cooking Curry and baking cookies but work obligations kept us from driving to the coast. We packed Friday and got all the food organized and ready to go but work again kept us from getting on the road. Packed and ready to go, we stayed at home. The ultimate staycation.

We finally got on the road Saturday morning. We got about an hour into our three-hour drive when we realized that we had left ALL THE FOOD AT HOME. Lamenting our stupidity at Gilgamesh Brewing over a Vader Black IPA, we considered whether to turn back or to continue onward. We pressed on, leaving a gallon of vegetable Curry behind.

Guess what I’m serving for Christmas dinner?

Got to the beach where friends were waiting with a meal of homemade pasta and from-scratch tomato sauce. Fritos were served as the appetizer.

What if your spouse spoke like your navigation app? “In one hundred feet, take out the trash.” Never raising his/her American/British voice, “When possible, sleep elsewhere.”

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Brew News - Dilly! Dilly!

Amid the adversarial relationship between craft breweries and Big Beer, Bud Light delivered a cease-and-desist letter to Modist Brewing Company in Minneapolis with class and humor. At issue was the December 1st release of a Mosaic Double IPA which they named Dilly Dilly. About two weeks prior to release, Modist invited the public via Facebook to their release event.

There, Modist describes the beer as "massively dry hopped with three forms of Mosaic" (pellets, oil, and powder) . . . "and a dilly of a good time." The event started at noon and by 2:30 pm a representative of Bud Light arrived dressed as a town crier who read from a scroll:
" ‘Dilly Dilly’ is the motto of our realm, so we humbly ask that you keep this to a limited-edition, one-time-only run. This is by order of the king. Disobedience shall be met with additional scrolls, then a formal warning, and finally, a private tour of the ‘Pit of Misery.’ " [video]
King? Of Beer? Not for long if Take Craft Back, a tongue-in-cheek crowdfunding campaign, gets its Christmas wish. Their goal is to raise $213 billion to purchase Anheuser-Busch InBev. Nearly 12,000 beer lovers have pledged support, drawing attention to growing disparity in marketplace influence between small and independent brewers and Big Beer. [2017 Craft Beer in Review | Brewers Association]

In Brooklyn, there was no Dilly Dilly for Lineup Brewing who received a cease-and-desist letter for their Oktoberfest Pilsner release named Bïeryoncé. While Modist received two Super Bowl tickets for their compliance, it is unknown as to whether Katarina Martinez, Lineup's owner, head brewer, and Beyoncé fan, received tickets to one of Beyoncé's concerts.

The 2017 Craft Beer in Review also provided an update on the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA). (Not as catchy as "Dilly Dilly," is it?) While it might not be interesting, I learned there is a federal excise tax of $7-$18/barrel depending on production volumes. Under CBMTRA, the excise tax would be reduced to $3.50 on the first 60,000 barrels for brewers producing less than 2 million barrels per year, and reduced to $16/barrel on the first 6 million barrels for all other brewers and importers. (The amount would remain at $18 for amounts over 6 million barrels.) [Federal Excise Tax Overview | Brewers Association]

Originally a freestanding bill introduced to the 114th Congress, the 2017 bill has been attached to the Senate version of the Republican tax reform bill. The CBMTRA "may now enjoy wider support in Congress, but it's unknown if the overall tax reform bill into which it was inserted has wide support among craft breweries." [Kendall Jones, Brewers Association Releases Annual Craft Beer in Review Report | Washington Beer Blog]

Unknown, indeed.

Overall, 2017 was a dilly good year for Craft Beer and pretty dilly for me, too. I visited 131 breweries in the state of Washington in 2017 alone,  five in Arizona, two in California, two in Hawaii (Maui), 20 in Oregon, and three in Ohio. There was something to like about each and every one. (Mostly the beer, but always the company.)

There's still a week left.

Have a Dilly Christmas and a Beery New Year!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Not coming to a Book Club near you . . .

. . . is Economist's Books of the Year 2017. A description for "Austral" by Paul McAuley in the Fiction category reads,
" A chase thriller set in late 21st-century Antartica that combines elements of Jack London, J.G. Ballard and William Gibson. A significant contribution to writing about the anthropocene. "
I found the non fiction categories to be much more thrilling.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Journal Entry 12/14/17

So far, so good on the Holiday To Do list. I’m on schedule with the exception of the baking of cookies. I didn’t bake them on Monday so will bake today along with making the vegetable curry.

While I was at the grocery store, getting this week’s supplies, I came across a particular package of grated cheese. The labels of most grated cheese packages show measurements of 2, 3, or 4 cups. This one measured 1 ⅞ cups. Good to know, if I ever have recipe that calls for “almost two cups.”

Yesterday, I baked several dozen cookies in Bellevue and replenished my jolly. Even with the six-hour round trip commute, I was left with enough jolly to decorate our tree (really, a leafy plant) and hang the stockings. The stocking hangers which normally spell PEACE now spell APE EC but close enough. (Hubby hung them and he's not ever jolly.)

On my commute, I came to a traffic light behind a car with a bumper sticker that read “I (heart) Taxes.”

What doe the phrase, “spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss” mean? If they weren’t authorized, why were they speaking? Whoever that guys is speaks out of turn a lot.

Today, I saw a house being pushed by a tug up the Columbia River.

In a rare, non self serving move, Hubby washed my bras. (He's more fond of hiding them.)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Keeping my cool, momentarily.

Woke up this morning realizing how very little time is left before Christmas and how very over-scheduled this week is. I had a slight moment of panic. More than slight, really. I don’t know what I was thinking, scheduling so much.

We will have a nice weekend at the coast, a three hour drive from here, but I have a lot to do before then. Then, next week, I only have a few days left to get ready for Christmas which, at this point, entails buying a gift for my granddaughter, and meal planning for incoming relatives.

I’ll leave next week's worries to next week (why rush?) and focus on what needs to happen in the next couple days:

Mon - find recipes and make grocery list (Curry; cookies, breakfast casserole). Look for wrapping supplies.

Tue - grocery shop; bake cookies

Wed - 7am drive 150 miles to Bellevue; 2pm drive back

Thu - am make Curry; pm drive 150 miles to coast. Bring Curry, rice, breakfast casserole, cookies.

Notice that Holidailies is not listed so I need to find time to wedge that in somewhere. You might also note that “locate brewery near coast” is also not on the list but I found time for that already. In fact, ahead of everything else on the list. Perhaps, there will be time for Holidalies as well. (Matter of fact, I used this post to delay attacking this list so the answer is yes, at least for today.)

One might note that “work” is not on the list either. This presents a problem as I will fall behind in a project assigned to me if I don’t make this a priority soon. This stresses me out more than Holiday preparations. (At this point, it should.) A little every day should keep things moving. (I hope.)

(Also not on the list is “return emails.” Sorry, if you haven’t heard from me lately. I’m sure to get around to it.)

Now that the list is complete, it doesn’t look so daunting (until I read the small print). I have a plan and it seems reasonable. (Don’t read the small print!)

However, I reserve the right to panic at any moment.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What to Get the Beer Drinker in Your Life

The short answer is: beer.

You could get a funny t-shirt or a mug with something clever on it but if you're wondering what to get the beer lover in your life, consider getting them beer. That's what they really want. If you're traveling, bring cans, bottles or crowlers of your favorite local craft beer, especially if it's something that haven't had before. If you or your beer drinking recipient are not yet into craft beer, head to a bottle shop for advice on what to try. You could buy a six pack of their favorite beer but it's Christmas, after all; try something new and different. Your local bottle shop, and even larger places such as Total Wine and BevMo!, have experts who can guide you. (But I'm for keeping it local whenever possible.)

If you're flying, check whether your airport has a brewery - right there in the airport! If you find something they like, they will look forward to the annual treat. (For my friends in Phoenix, please bring Morning Brew from O.H.S.O. Brewery!)

If you're long distance but can't travel, look into whether your beer drinker's local brewery or tap house offers gift cards. They're easy to mail and fit nicely in a stocking. You might also consider beer making kits which are available online. You can find a good selection on Uncommon Goods. You might be able to locate a local home brewing supply shop such as Bader Beer and Wine Supply (Vancouver WA). A starter kit there runs $40 and makes one gallon of home brew. (Refills are $16-$19.) Or check into a beer making class for $25.

At $450-$2,000 a PicoBrew will make beer and virtually clean up after itself. As an added feature, it can also cook your food when it's not brewing beer, sous vide style. (That's what we used to call boil-in-bag.)

Learning more about beer is always good. A subscription to a regional brewing news source can be found at Brewing News Store where a one-year subscription is $20. I also like Sip Northwest which also covers wine, spirits, and travel, in addition to beer. That subscription is $19 or free with a subscription to Washington Beer Lovers (WABL) which is an excellent gift in itself at $30. Another excellent publication is BeerAdvocate for $30. The ultimate beer resource may be The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth. You can get that on Amazon for $15.

Glassware that helps you enjoy the beer does not require a logo. The official glass for beer judging competitions is actually a plastic cup. But in your living room, you can use a glass. Glassware that leaves room for a tall head, allows you to swirl the beer, and allows you to smell the aroma without inhaling the beer is what to look for. A Bordeaux glass works just fine.

BeerAdvocate offers advice on different styles of glassware specific to different styles of beer which you can find online at a variety of sources (Amazon, KegWorks, Crate & Barrel, etc.) Reidel offers a few choices but if you want to boil it down to a single, all-around glass, consider this one from Teku available from True Beer.

For glassware that keeps on giving, find a local brewery that still has openings in their mug club. Prices vary but can be as high as $100 (or more). Mug club benefits include discounts on beers, growler fills, and/or merchandise as well as invitations to private events. Check into your beer drinkers favorite local brewery for details and availability.

There's nothing wrong with funny t-shirts but if you really want to score this Christmas, buy your friend a beer or something that allows them to enjoy it more. Drink, be merry, and be of good beer.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Beer Stories

(or A Dork Who Drinks Beer)

I almost met my idol last weekend, although idol probably isn’t the right word. Carol Burnett is an idol. I found myself in the same room with her once and I almost fainted. I got so nervous, I had to leave the room.

I wasn’t much better when I ran into ABV Girl (aka Kimberly), now owner of Final Draft Taphouse. I didn’t faint or leave the bar. But I didn’t introduce myself either. She’s doing what I fantasize about doing. She loved beer and wrote about it. And then she turned that passion into a career in opening Final Draft. Although she has a blog, I was first introduced to her on Twitter (@ABVGirl).

Owning a bar is not for me. I wouldn’t mind learning how to brew but I’m not about to become a home brewer. No, I’ve been thinking about pursuing a Cicerone Beer Certification or becoming a Certified Beer Judge because I’m the type of person that starts to run and then runs marathons. But there are two problems: work and work. As you know, that's something to be avoided.

I already have a job and to get a certification of any kind will take not only money but work. So I have to consider why I would do such a thing. To what end? I have given thought to creating a blog devoted to beer and certification would give it cred and improve my writing. Certainly, there are plenty of blogs around but none dedicated to SW Washington. The Columbian has food and restaurant reviewers but it doesn’t have anything devoted to beer or SW Washington wines.

Beer judging, whether I do it professionally or not, appeals to the geek side of me - getting technical about a thing, becoming an expert in one’s field. For me, part of enjoying beer is understanding what’s in the glass.

But will the craft beer industry continue to grow? I think so and I think there’s room for beer education, beer tastings, and beer tourism along with it. All of that sounds exciting to me.

That’s why I was excited to almost meet ABV Girl. She’s already doing it and I think that’s awesome.

Next time, I’ll try to say hello.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Goodbye, Ethan.

Today would have been Ethan’s due date. He was our grandson who, born July 24. He died July 25. He was born at 21 weeks, too young to survive. Too young, even, to save. He was born to our youngest son, Chad, and his girlfriend, Allison, and we happened to be visiting them when it happened.

The pregnancy was high risk from the beginning. She was in her mid-thirties and got pregnant even though she had an IUD. The IUD could not be removed after she became pregnant and threatened both Ethan and Allison. It was possible we could have lost them both.

I haven’t talked about it much. There was enough grief going around at the time and I didn’t need to add to that. Plus, most of my friends have never even met Chad. Yes, it was sad - super, super sad - but the loss was theirs, not mine. I had only met Allison the day before. I was not invested like they were.

I got to meet him but I will eternally regret that I didn’t hold him. I was afraid to. I had literally just met Ethan’s mother and witnessed Ethan’s death. It seemed too intimate a time to ask if I could hold her baby. I should have, though. I should have.

Today might have been Ethan’s birthday. Instead, it’s his Memorial.

Goodbye, Ethan. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Journal Entry 12/6/17

I hired a house cleaner yesterday. The first twenty minutes, she told me her story. When she started crying, I worried I had made a serious mistake. The house got clean eventually. I’d recommend her as a cleaner but you might not want to be home.

I also put granola on my yogurt and made a half-decaf latte. I NEVER drink decaf and I only put granola on Hubby’s yogurt. It was a weird day.

I’m thinking about giving up my Blue Apron subscription. I love to cook but I hate to meal plan and grocery shopping is like housecleaning. I can do it, but I’d rather do something else. One thing I would change about the service is the way the boxes are put together. I suppose if they are making 100 boxes with the same meal in them, it makes sense to put the same ingredients in each box. Less to go wrong there. But I would like to tell them which ingredients I already have and don’t need included in my shipment.

So far, the meals have been delicious. The problem I’m having is, again, I’d rather be doing something else. It’s cold here but it hasn’t started to rain in earnest yet, here in the Pacific Northwest. Going out is way more fun than staying in a cooking. There’s always something going on in town. Plus, my freezer is full of food, meals I made previously that provided leftovers.

Maybe I’ll just put Blue Apron on Pause and resume service when it’s just too dark and wet to go out. Right now, I need to head to Ghost Runners Brewery. I haven’t been there in a while and I hear their sales are slipping. My bad. Plus, I want to show them my support. And then the Christmas Ships are sailing tonight. (Maybe not, high winds are predicted.)

See? So much to do!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Journal Entry 12/5/17

Went to a local taphouse yesterday. A man came in by scooting. I first noticed him as he entered - the door opened and a man appeared in the doorway, sitting on a chair. He was recognized by another patron who greeted him and pulled up another chair. I thought it was so the man in the doorway could put up his feet. Perhaps he was hot and didn’t want to come all the way inside.

Instead, the seated man moved from his chair in the doorway to the new one provided and the standing patron put the doorway chair outside. Was someone else coming via chair? He then positioned another chair near the sitting man a little further into the bar.

The seated man then used his chair as a walker pushing it before him to the next chair which he sat in. He thusly made his way to the bar pushing his chair to the next chair which had been positioned by the standing patron. I don’t know if the seated man made it into a barstool which was behind me or if he just sat at a regular chair to order his beer.

We left after that.

Is there a grocery store rule about how to wrap cheese? It’s always in plastic wrap secured by a sticker that tells you how much the cheese costs. The ends of the plastic wrap are hidden under the sticker so there’s no way to open the cheese other than to rip at the sticker in hopes of finding one of the ends before the whole package is destroyed.

The kitchen sink is a metaphor for life. A mess in continual need of cleanup.

Do you ever call customer service and find yourself on perma-hold just when you desperately need to pee?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Well, I should live forever then.

On November 24, 2017, Don Sweeney reported in The Sacramento Bee, That extra cup of coffee can help you live longer, research shows.
" At least, that’s the finding from a new meta-review of scientific literature on the topic in the British Medical Journal. The review shows that drinking three to four cups of black coffee a day can reduce a variety of health risks and can decrease your risk of death by 17 percent.
" “Coffee consumption seems generally safe within usual levels of intake, with summary estimates indicating largest risk reduction for various health outcomes at three to four cups a day, and more likely to benefit health than harm,” the report says. "
Imagine my joy at reading "three to four cups." Unfortunately, they mean, literally, a cup as in 8 ounces so I measured my cup. 10 ounces! I can have another one!
" Also, adding lots of calorie-rich creams, sugars or flavorings to your coffee can cancel out the health benefits and raise your risk of diabetes and other problems, the review says. "
Again, score one for me. It's not real coffee if you put all that other stuff in it. Black is just how I like it. But it can't hurt to have something sweet on the side, can it? I hope not because it's National Cookie Day and what could be better than that?

Coffee and cookies - no better way to make a Monday better.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Is it December already?

So far, the holiday season has been relatively stress free. I just don't have the need for it anymore. Stress. Besides, I have enough stress the other eleven months of the year. Why should I heap any more upon myself?

The last few years, I tried desperately to meet everyone's expectations - what I imagined them to be, anyway. This year, it isn't that I care less. It's more an attitude of "it's going to be whatever it's going to be." I'm happy. The rest is up to you.

I still have travel plans. I still have gifts to purchase. I still need to decorate the house but it will all happen in due time. And what if it doesn't? Travel is already planned and paid for. Gifts - well, I still need to figure that out but that's what Amazon is for. And, right this moment, I don't care if the house gets decorated or not.

Does that make me a Scrooge? I don't think so. You should see me when I'm stressed. Trust me, it's better this way.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Craft Beer - Phoenix

On the first day of  meteorological winter, thoughts of warmer climes nag. While winter beers - dark, malty, and alcohol high enough to warm one's soul - beckon, the sun promises warmth of a different kind.

We recently escaped the cooler temps by fleeing to Phoenix although it was hardly a beer expedition. With over 30 craft breweries, there simply wasn't enough time. We were there to see family and friends. We also went to a NASCAR race (two day's worth) and watched the Seahawks/Cardinals game. Nevertheless, we found some time for beer.

Phoenix Ale Brewery - located near the Phoenix airport, this brewery was launched by former owners of Pyramid Brewing in Seattle. As their staff shirts helpfully point out, you can find Phoenix Ale Brewery between stops 19 and 20 of Phoenix's light rail. I tried their Cranberry Oatmeal Stout, a seasonal offering with notes of oatmeal and a hint of cranberry on the back end - an excellent way to start a visit to Phoenix in the Fall. (After all, it is still Astronomical Fall.) The flavors became smooth and mellow as the beer warmed making it a delicious pint from start to finish. We also tried the Orange Peel IPA, a west coast IPA as citrusy as the name implies. A mouthful of fruit flavor with just enough bitterness for balance. We had a taste of their flagship beer, the Camelback IPA. This one was an English style IPA which, typical for the style, had more of a malt presence than the Orange Peel providing an earthy, herbal, and dry beer. If you want a beer with a little more malt and a little less citrus, this is the one to try.

State 48 Brewery - located in Surprise, this brewery has it all - good beer, a full menu, outdoor seating, and corn hole. Plus, $2 off draft beer during Happy Hour (M-F 3-6). You can't beat that! The only criticism I can offer is their website doesn't provide any information about their beers. That makes it hard for me to recall what I sampled unless I take notes while I'm there. I remember I had their Vanta Black IPA. Dark and hoppy, it provided a mouthful of roasted malts and plenty of hops (70 IBU) for a dry pint of flavorful Fall goodness. At 7% ABV, I limited myself to one and paired it with the Roasted Beet Salad and a side of Brussels Sprouts. I don't remember what everyone else had at the table (should have taken notes) but everyone seemed happy with their selections of both beer and food. (Portions were big enough to share.) We've been to State 48 before and will definitely back.

Camera still busted...
Saddle Mountain Brewing Company - closest to where we were staying so we visited more than once and (between four of us) sampled nearly everything on their menu. Venessa, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, served us. (Seek her out.) Their 15-barrel brew house was built by Marks Design and Metal Works, located in Vancouver, Washington. My favorite was the Night Raid Schwarzbier, a seasonal offering - a dark lager with dry, mild roasted malts. At 5% ABV, it was easy to drink.

Problem Child DIPA  - at 8.5% ABV, this beer was dangerous because: A) 8.5% B) A big mouthful of sweet citrus with see A). I have an Uber promo code if you need one....

The four of us shared a Chasing Tail Amber Ale which was happily and enthusiastically consumed. From their website, "...copper in color, with a malty body that is tamed by the toasty flavor of roasted barley, keeping the sweetness in check." Entirely accurate, easily recommended.

I also liked their IFR Oatmeal Stout. It was slightly sweeter and creamier than the Schwarzbier. It warmed up nicely and is easily a gateway beer for the newly initiated. Dark and rich. Perfect for cooler temps.

Tuskegee Red Tail - deep red and malty, but not too sweet, it has a nice hop finish. At 5.5%, a nice, warming fall brew.

Both their IPAs, Ray’s Gold and Hop Snob were nearly the lightest beers on the menu, in terms of color. The lace on the glass was as beautiful as the clean, crisp brews.

OHSO Brewery & Distillery - standing for Outrageous Homebrewer's Social Outpost, they had one such outpost at the airport. Three others are located in Arcadia, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley with a fourth to open in Gilbert in 2018.

I had the Morning Brew since it was still morning and because the description included the word "coffee." I asked the waiter about it and he said if I liked coffee and beer, this was the one for me. He was absolutely right. It's a light blonde beer, aged with coffee and vanilla beans. With 4.5% ABV, I didn't feel too guilty about drinking (slightly) before noon. Hubby sampled the 89Ale. This beer balanced caramel, toffee, and roasted malts with gentle hops (24.5 IBU). In the mood for an IPA, this beer didn't fill Hubby's desire for something hoppy but it's caramel color and balanced flavors made for a satisfying alternative that paired well with The Gobbler turkey burger - outstanding!

If you're feeling chilly, seek out something to keep you warm.  Cheers!

So hip.

I am not hip. Dude, I'm practically invisible. Luckily, perhaps, I might be confused as hip living in the most hipster city, in the most hipster state, in the United States.

If you're considering a move and hipsterness is a factor in your decision, you should consider the scientific research of MoveHub which concluded Vancouver WA is the most hipster city in the nation. A close second place is the entire Pacific Northwest. Surprise! We are no longer "in the middle of nowhere."

Definition of hipster aside, hipster rankings were based on microbreweries, vegan stores, thrift stores, and tattoo parlors per capital plus rent demand. Vancouver ranked second for microbreweries, fifth for tattoo parlors, and first for rent demand. I'm not sure what that says about Vancouver, or hipsters for that matter. (Locals drink to find - or escape - their roommates while contemplating body art?)

Vancouver, Tacoma, and Spokane hold three of the top ten most hipster rankings, making the state of Washington the most hipster state in the country. You could replace your button down shirt with flannel and move here if it wasn't for the rent. Nearby Portland ranked #12, making the Pacific Northwest a hipster Mecca.

A front page article of The Columbian ("Vancouver tops ‘most hipster’ cities list" by Scott Hewitt,
November 29, 2107) also reported that Vancouver boasts the second best children's library as well as being the sixth best place to retire. Youngsters, oldsters, and hipsters - I'd say Vancouver has it all. That's cause enough to walk to the closest brewery and have a beer.