Saturday, December 31, 2011

Creating Criminals

Men have lived and children have died over this simple product. Families have been supported and babies fed from the money made off of it. Marriages saved and marriages lost from a natural chemical compound (C2H5OH) that happens in nature whenever wild yeast in the air gets its grasp on the simple sugars in fruits or sprouted grain.

Hailed by many but cursed by a (very vocal) few, alcohol comes in many formes. Beer, wine, mead, whiskey, rum, vodka, absenthe, ouzo, Tequila, moonshine, bitters, brandy, Scotch,  and Liqueurs of all shapes and sizes, and even ready-to-drink hard lemmonaid is all derived from, and consists of, the very same thing. The byproduct of Yeast eating Sugar.

When Yeast eat sugar, they Fart Co2 and pee C2H5oH. It is that simple.

When the sugar that the yeast eats is from grain and hops are added, it's called beer. When it comes from grain and no hops are added then distilled, we call it Whiskey. If whiskey is made within a certain Kentucky County, it's called Bourbon! Make it across the Atlantic, next to the ocean in a certain country,  age it for a minimum of 8 years and you've got Scotch!

Let the yeast get hold of the molasses or sugar in your baking cabinet and concentrate the alcohol from that, and all the same ingredients that make your sugar cookies and gingerbread have been turned into Rum.

Let the yeast attack grape juice and you've got wine. Distill your wine and you'll have brandy. Make your wine in a particular region of France and carbonate it.... We will call it Champagne!

Do you see how stupid this is? It's all about words that may... or may not mean things. And when they do mean things, it's a subtle, regional variance in detail about a product that does not differ greatly (at least from a legislative standpoint) from the one next to it.

When the government allowed us (Thanks for granting us permission to do something that happens every minute of every hour, wild, in nature....) to brew 200 gallons of beer or wine, we have been allowed to make alcohol. If it's an 8% beer, you are going to produce 16 gallons of alcohol. If you make wine that weighs in at 14% ABV... You could make 28 gallons of pure alcohol.

Here is the kick in the  nuts: IF you remove 1 iota of the water contained in your beer or wine, via ANY means, including freezing or distilling, you are a no good law breaking criminal and you will do time!

(I hate this phrase, but it seems to fit!) WAIT.... WHAT?

How the HELL does that work? Take the water out of something... and go to jail? Sell Pot in Colorado... Get rich as a Congressman and be on the news promoting your store every other night!

At what point did we decide this was OK?

I don't know either! But I'll tell you what I do know! 2012 is the point at which we say "THIS IS NOT OK!"

It is time to stop the pissing match about 75 year-old liquor laws and let homebrewers distill a portion of their products without fear of impending jail time from their government!

This is America, and I understand that it takes money to keep our country free. Distillation laws are purely a tax issue! Don't forget that Tax evasion is what brought down Capone! But homebrewers are not going to put the country in a budget crisis by making a few gallons of liquor at home. Just like beer, we are going to buy commercial examples, and pay our taxes.

I am not talking about allowing unregulated commertial sale of moonshine, I am talking about home distillation.
And I am saying that it is time to LEGALIZE IT!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Down Slope Distilling

While I was running my mouth the other day about how much I wanted to tour a distillery, a twitter pal (Peep) of mine suggested that I might check out Down Slope Distilling in Centennial.  

As luck would have it, I had planned an over night date with the wife (sans kids) to the area, and was able to drive by the place the very next day. No time to stop as we were Christmas Shopping.

What I did get was a bottle of their Double Diamond Whiskey for my very own.

Craft Spirits
Down Slope has a business model that I greatly respect. The three guys that run the place are homebrewers at heart and they focus on local availability. What does that mean to me? Their products should be of above average quality and you might not be able to get any. Their web page says that their only goal is to "Produce and sell the highest quality distilled spirits available, to do so locally, and to make those products first available to the local community."

That's pretty damn cool! They even get a "Colorado Proud" sticker for their bottles. That may not mean much to you, but it's a big deal to Colorado Ag. It's a promotional campaign by the Colorado Dept of Ag to help consumers readily identify "Colorado" products.

Being small is both a blessing and a curse to a small distillery.  They say that "the still is custom designed, the wash production is more artisanal than state of the art and the space is limited. " Which in my book translates to "We make what we want, how we want and don't ever compromise quality." 

I was very excited to get my fingers on some Colorado Rum, but the only thing I could find on the shelf was the vanilla. I wanted something that would show a bit more of the pure nature of their distillery than an infused spirit, so I was happy to find the whiskey. Their web page says that it's only available at the distillery, but that info is obviously a few weeks out of date. They also make: Cane vodka, Grain vodka Pepper vodka White Rum Gold Rum, Spiced Rum, Vanilla Rum and Wine Barrel Aged Rum. They hint at something that I will be most anxious to try, and that is a whiskey made with a malt bill consisting of 100% Marris Otter!

I must say that I was most pleased to find the whiskey very fresh tasting. The oak is relatively subtle and there is a very young flavor to the spirit, although it isn't harsh in any way. I found it so intriguing, that I drank more than half the bottle alternating between ice and neat. Do NOT go into a bottle of this craft spirit thinking you've got a bottle of Jack Daniels, and don't thing that when I say it tastes "Young" that I mean Moon Shine! This is a top shelf spirit, and was a very nice introduction to Down Slope.

I am hoping to take advantage of another product that they offer at the distillery in Feb. Well, a service more than a product. Jessica suggested that perhaps going to distilling school would be a fun weekend away from the kids. 

This will go great with my new mission to do what I can to help legalize home distilling. There is no reason that as home brewers we should be considered criminals for distilling our products. Even making a true EisBock by freezing the beer to remove some water... Is ILLEGAL... And that is ridiculous!

Obviously, with one bottle of their whiskey, I can't be an expert on the entire product line. Judging by the one bottle I do have,  I would say that if you see Down Slope spirits on your liquor store shelf, you'd be pretty safe buying it. 


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Health story of the year: Salt vindicated

Well, Jimmy Buffett fans the world over have appreciated Salt for years.  Now, everyone can enjoy this wonderful little mineral that keeps us alive.

Whether on your fries or the rim of your margarita, a little bit of salt is good for us all... and this article doesn't even take into account the benefits of iodized salt!

(ARA) - Paul T. Meagher sometimes gets disapproving stares when people see him sprinkle his food with salt as he has done since he was a young lad growing up in Ireland. He has a response for such people.
"I tell them you can take my blood pressure right now, or we can have a run around the block, and I guarantee you I'm in better shape than you," said Meagher, 68, who now lives in Westport, Mass. "I'm fit, at least for my age, and I use salt every day in volume. Hasn't done me a blind bit of harm, which is the way we put it from where I come from."

Recent research quantifies Meagher's experience. In 2011, half a dozen medical studies showed the health benefits of salt or revealed the significant risks of low-sodium diets -- providing vindication for this essential nutrient and the people, like Meagher, who love it.

"The vindication of salt is probably the biggest health and nutrition story of the last year," says Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute. "Everyone knows salt tastes good, but the latest research published in leading medical journals confirms that salt is good for you, too. The medical studies underline what we have been saying for years: science is on salt's side."

The new data raises questions about the federal government's effort to put Americans on a low-salt diet. The Food and Drug Administration is inviting online public comments about ways to reduce sodium consumption. In the past, such invitations have foreshadowed the rollout of new regulations.
The six peer-reviewed medical studies documented:

Type 1 Diabetes risk: In a study of patients with type 1 diabetes, low sodium intake was associated with renal disease and premature death.

Type 2 Diabetes risk: In an Australian study of type 2 diabetes patients, lower sodium was associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

No benefit to salt reduction: A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension showed eating less salt will not prevent heart attacks, strokes or early death. On the contrary, low-sodium diets increase the likelihood of premature death.

Risk of death: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that lower salt intakes resulted in higher death rates.

Other negative effects of low-salt intakes: An analysis published in the American Journal of Hypertension showed individuals placed on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines-recommended salt levels experienced significant increases in cholesterol and other risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Risk with current U.S. Dietary Guidelines: An analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people who ate salt at the levels recommended by the U.S. government were at greater risk of cardiovascular events.

The research has prompted new scrutiny of the government's attempts to put all Americans on a low-salt diet. Scientific American reviewed medical studies over several decades and concluded in a headline: "It's time to end the war on salt." The respected magazine also said, "The zealous drive by politicians to limit our salt intake has little basis in science."

Meagher remembers when the federal government told him eggs could be bad for his health. He ignored that advice, too.

"I would rather the federal government stay well away from my kitchen altogether," Meagher says. "I will continue to eat my boiled eggs from an egg cup, with an egg spoon, and with plenty of salt."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How do YOU see it?

What do you see when you look at this picture?

Do you immediately notice that the bottle is filthy? Looks like something out of a French wine cellar doesn't it? Do you notice that the carbonation is bubbling away despite the very small head?  Did you notice that the beer is super light colored for a Kahuna Homebrew? Do you see that the glass is half empty?

Or do you see that it is half full?

Well, it looks like it does because it's right out of the cellar.

I figure that this beer is... Maybe a 2007 or 2008 vintage. I really don't know for sure because it was made before I kept extremely detailed records on the computer, and the only markings are the PS on top.

What I do know about it is that it was an extract only SmAsH. That is to say that it was made with a single malt and a single hop. I do remember that those were a Pilsen malt and Fuggle hops. I don't remember how much of either, but this is a pretty mild pilsner by my judgement.

Knowing full well that this brew would not be one to age gracefully, I still decided to put some back. The whole point of the project in the first place was to learn something, so why not learn all that I could.

This is not the best beer that I've ever brewed. This is not the best beer I've ever aged!

What this beer represents, is a very clean old ale. It's got nothing specifically wrong with it. There is a bit of a "dirty flavor" that has appeared over time. There is no apparent oxidation, which is a nice note because these bottles were capped with the cheap "Store Brand" caps that were 500# for a dollar or some crazy cheap price at the LHBS.

I wish I could remember how I primed the batch. I do remember that it was only a 3 gallon brew, but the method escapes me. I may have used extract to prime. Either way, the bottles are over carbonated and tend to foam over a bit when opened.

Initially, this prompted concerns of infection, but the clean aroma dispelled those worries. There isn't really a hop note left in the nose, and it really isn't malty because of the Pilsen malt used. There isn't much flavor, and the bitterness is subtle. I is very interesting to see what parts of the hop profile stick around and what parts are lost to father time.

I wouldn't call this brew "Dank" as it's still fairly bright and refreshing. I would even call it's light flavor a bit "Complex" for a Pilsner.

This was simply an experiment to see what would happen. I like setting myself up with these little tastings, but they do take some thinking and effort. With the new year just around the corner, this is a great time to take on such a project if you are so inclined. Just brew up a batch, keep stellar notes and keep some for five or six years. Simple!

I hope this little success story has inspired some of you to try cellaring beer. Even beer that isn't really considered suitable for cellaring is an opportunity to grow your personal knowledge and expand your palate!

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Paulaner Salvator

Do you have any sayings or phrases that you can hear people say when you close your eyes? I can hear my Dad telling me “Some day you’ll understand” (And he was right) I can hear Dana Carvey doing his President Bush Impersonation saying “Nope, Not gonna do’t” and I can hear Kai Troester saying “PAULANER”.

We had finished recording an episode of Basic Brewing Radio when Kai, James Spencer, Chris Colby and I started talking about great German beers.  Kai kept talking about Paulaner. Over and over again, he kept talking about Paulaner. Enough that now, when I see a bottle or a sign in a liquor store, I hear in the back of my mind, Kai’s thick German accent saying “Paulaner.”

Today, I am drinking a Paulaner Salvator Double Bock. The “Original” Paulaner brew. This is the one that the Monks drank during Lent. They have also been brewing it since 1773 when Brother Barnabas originated the recipe that is still used today.

This double bock weighs in at 7.9%ABV and pours with a thick, extremely light caramel head. The nose is of bread and yeast with a nearly sweet aroma that fills your nostrils like fresh bread from the corner bakery.

The head dissipates quickly after becoming rocky then retreating to a thin lace and eventually disappearing altogether.

The color is a dark copper caramel color which hides a majority of it’s medium carbonation from sight.

The Flavor is of malt and bread. The hops seem completely lost in the sweet malt, but there is a bit of citrus bitterness  that balances the huge malt flavor and keeps it from being too sweet, that I assume is from the hops.

As this brew warms and I continue to chew on it (Quite literally chewing each sip) I notice that the mouth-feel is a bit lighter that I originally detected. There is also a very bright, refreshing quality to the finish. It’s almost like it’s telling you that it’s OK to be done, and it’s OK to have more.... Up To You.  I Choose MORE!

This is a beer that I would recommend to almost any craft beer fan, and anyone looking to experience a more advanced German style beer. Paulaner is certainly as “good as gold” when it comes to style and technique. That is not to say that you can’t find a better double bock on the market, it is just to say that they are the monks that were pioneers of the style and have been doing this for 200+ years.

If you have a chance to try Salvator, I’d say go for it! Pick up two... Because a pint just doesn’t seem like enough!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Apple Pie and Moon Shine

Everyone around these parts seems to have their own idea of what moon shine is. There is a small, quiet group of folks that I'm pretty sure are operating their grand pappie's copper pot still on Sundays after Church. The drippings from which that they make... I'll call shine.

Then there is the younger, more vocal group that likes to mix Everclear with anything from Kool Ade to Motor Oil and call it their "Moon Shine".

I'm calling Bull Shit on the second group, because words mean things. Moon Shine is a reference to the old kodgers working by the light of the full moon to run their stills in the back woods during prohibition. What they produced was clear as water, nearly tasteless and full strength! Now-a-days the city folk call it E-85... They called it "shine!"

That being said, I guess if you make it, you earn the right to call it whatever the hell you want!

This is Apple Pie Juice at my house. I don't call it apple pie shots because it's not really strong enough, when I make it, to be a shot. It's wine strength, and good over ice, warmed up or even poured over some Peanut Butter Cap'N Crunch first thing in the morning. If you want to make it true shot strength, tripple the alcohol! Pretty easy.

The way I make it, it's easy drinking and smooth as silk. A true "panty dropper" if you will. A term that I've always hated, but especially now that my mother-in-law has taken such a liking to this stuff. (Me and the FIL get along great recently!)

Ok, On-to the show!

You will need:
1 Gallon Apple Juice
1 Bottle of Everclear
4 Cinnamon Sticks (4" each)
6 whole cloves
1 1/2 - 2 Cups Honey

Mix apple juice, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and half the honey in a pan and bring to a boil. Skim the scum that will form on top, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce at this time. If you are adding a lot of alcohol, you will want it cloyingly sweet. This is what helps cover a bottle of Everclear. If you are adding a half bottle (making wine strength... Roughly 9%) Then just a tad sweeter than southern sweet tea is good.
Let your pan cool, then add any remaining juice and 1/2 to 1 bottle of Everclear and re-bottle. If you add more than a bottle of Everclear, remember that it's going to taste like it, and you'll want to do shots of it rather than pour it over ice.

Some notes on this recipe from the Big Kahuna!
I have really enjoyed a few shakes of Nutmeg in the boil of this drink. I am also fond of adding some mace once you turn off the fire. 

For a real treat, use a good 151 Rum instead of the Everclear. This drops the ABV% but definitely adds to the flavor and quality of the end product.

I like to filter the finished product through a reusable brass screen coffee filter. It just makes things nicer in the glass and is totally NOT necessary!

This evening, I used some of my home made "Root Juice" in a glass for tasting and I was blown away! Learn about Root Juice from Bahama Bob HERE

If you make this, people will love it. If you make it sweet as hell, the ladies and folks that don't drink much will be very silly in no time! But the trick is to be sure that you take enough to the party!

Hope this helps get you through an evening with the In-Laws!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Distraction

Well, I don't have a brewery tour to share with you, and I don't have any wonderful tasting notes from an exotic brew fermented in the wombs of Maltese Elders while chants of fertility are sung by monks!

What I do have is a minor success.
After hearing all day about how the Father-in-Law had a beer from Canada... "You know, the reel good kind that's supposed to be kept in the frigerator but ya gotta let it warm up buffor you drink-it? Man that was NASTY! Spit it out right then and there! Dumped the bottle too!", I was about finished with beer for the day.

But as luck would have it, we were in town long enough to eat a second meal. Fortunately, food is usually something we can all agree on, and we landed at the Edelweiss German Restaurant! MMMM! MM!

The place is nearly food mecca for a fat guy with German heritage! The food and bread and beer and atmosphere and the waitress who speaks English nearly as poorly as I speak German.... MECCA!

There will be a post some day from the same block, as Edelweiss is litterally 2 doors down from Bristol Brewing. LOVES ME SOME BRISTOL!

When we ordered our beer, I opted for the Warsteiner Dunkel.  (Untappd Check in here: ) and advised the FIL to try the Spaten Pilsner. How the hell do you go wrong with Spaten right? Especially on tap?  In this case... You don't!

He tried it and loved it. WO-Fucking-OT! FINALLY! This is, after 10 years of trying, the first time I've seen him enjoy a beer other than MGD or Old Milwaukee.

Here's a toast to the hopes that it can expand from there! Every one of us had a beer that showed us that it can be better right? Well... Let's hope that this is the one for him!

In other news, I got to fly on Thursday evening. The pumps were down and the wind was much higher than expected, although not any where near my personal limit, but it turned out to be a really nice flight.

I didn't do anything with it... other than edit out 45 minutes of the super boreing crap, but here is 11 minutes of video from a Go-Pro cam hung off the left wing strut. If it bores you, just fast forward till the landing!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tis the Season!

Tis the season for crap that we don’t like!

Whether it’s your grandma Gertrude's pound your head against the wall fruit cake, or spending time with your fruitcake uncle, there are a lot of things that we would rather not think about for the rest of the year.

But one thing I look forward to is finding some sort of holiday spiced cider to warm my belly and numb my senses when the family gathers.

This week, I found J.K.’s Solstice cider.  Made from Michigan apples and USDA Certified organic, this spiced hard cider is pretty palatable for the novice.

It pours with light carbonation and the color of Motts Apple Juice. The nose reveals the secrets of the season. Cinnamon and apples dominate, but with time and warming, a vanilla background appears. I sensed a pronounced cider vinegar that Jessica did not. There is no alcohol bite, no pronounced yeast character and very little body. This is like drinking lightly carbonated apple juice with a tiny bit of Vodka.

I don’t much care for the surprising flavor of the maple mixed with the apple and cinnamon. It creates a bit of funk that I simply am not enjoying.

It is not very often that I can not find something to enjoy in a drink, and this is no exception. While I would rate this cider very low on a scale of 0-100, it isn’t all bad. There is a aura of sophistication that I can only wish I could accomplish in a cider. There is a complexity that reveals masterful blending of the source apples and the end product is something that most people will very much enjoy... Jessica included. She enjoyed this more than she does most.
Jessica tends to like some things that I have a hard time with. She dearly loves the funk, and I think that may be my biggest complaint about this cider.  While it isn't sour or bitter, the nose is screaming at me that it should taste like vinegar. There is something unsettling to me about having my nose tell me one thing and my taste buds saying something else.

Another thing that I must admit to disliking is saison style beers. There are certainly some that I very much enjoy, but as a whole, it is perhaps the only style that I can say that I do not like. 
I wonder if it isn't that same set of flavors that are coming together to help turn my opinion of this cider. There is certainly a warm fermented farm house feel to this drink, and so it should be. Hell, the label says right on it "FARMHOUSE"

A quick google search reveals that gives this cider a whopping score of 97! I would put it much closer to 60, but I tend to rate on a thumbs up or down scale rather than a numbers and structured system.

This cider became much more enjoyable as I drank, and perhaps the third or fourth would be spectacular.

While I have no serious or specific complaints, I simply did not enjoy this one. I did not find it particularly offensive,  it is just not for me!
 It is times like this that I am very glad that there is homebrew on tap, and a cellar full of second choices!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want!

First, let me make again to you my apology for not having provided any stellar photos! Jessica had asked me if I was going to blog about anything we did this weekend, I told her, “No.”

Not because I didn’t think what we were doing was fun, but because I was pretty leery of posting too much about food and restaurants on a blog that is supposed to be about BEER and RUM! With that in mind, I left the camera in the car.

As the story line, that was my Friday evening and Saturday in the city, progressed, It became clear to me that food is a very big part of what we do. Not just Jessica and I, but all of us on the quest for the best that life has to offer.  You can drink plenty of rum on an empty stomach, but you’ll feel a lot better if your belly has something to help buffer it!

Post Saltgrass disaster from a few posts back, I was ready for a good steak and the Outback was just across the street from our hotel. A wait time that exceeded the estimate by 150% was irritating, but the customer service of the manager more than made up for it. Free food is the best food! But still, had they paid me to eat that Rib Eye, I still would have left it. YUCK! Maybe I just don’t like steak! It has been since early summer that I’ve had a steak that I really thought was on the money!

The appetizer was pretty good, and the drinks were stiff, but the overall atmosphere had me thinking more along the lines of a bad episode of Seinfeld rather than “World Class Steakhouse!” Just not a really great experience for nearly a day’s pay!

A late night lead to our missing breakfast at the hotel, so on to a destination that I have been wanting to try for some time!

Jimmy John’s Sammaches make great breakfast at 11 a.m. And Yes, I CAN see you all smirking at the poor hillbilly kid that lives in the country that never had a JJ’s! So quit!
Let me just say, “I APPROVE!”  Let me also say, “I’ll Be Back!” (You read that with Arnold’s accent didn’t you?

A 5 year Barbados Rum certainly makes things better!
As far as the liquor store shopping went, I found a special bottle for a friend that is dying to make a decent Caipirinha. The Caipirinha is Brazil's national cocktail and is made with cacha├ža which isn’t exactly common fare here in “Bud Lite and Jack Ville!” I also scored a bottle of  Grande Reserve, Plantation 5 year Rum from Barbados. This one is for me!

The day took a long detour and my mood sailed south (Not in a good way) as we searched for the second meal of the day. After several hours of shopping, I was ready to refuel!
I spent 30 minutes driving without cause across Denver thinking that the wife was looking for a place to eat as she merrily poked at the buttons on her phone. As it turns out, she had agreed that it was time to eat, and then retreated to a silent text conversation with someone else, assuming that I had a plan!

After driving for a full hour across Denver, we called for reservations at Cinzzetties Italian Buffet on 104th near I-25 in Northglenn. Traditionally, they have a fairly long wait, but excellent food and fair prices make it worthwhile... if you’re not in a hurry or starving. We were told that there was no need for a reservation, come on over. 15 more minutes of the worst traffic in America and as it turns out, the first 2,457,562 cars in front of us were headed there too!
We were quoted an hour-and-a-half wait.

Luckily, Jessica went in, as I may have built a small fire, cracked a bottle of wine and roasted their receptionist over the fire and shared with everyone in the lobby!

Frustration level at 11, hunger  at a solid 10, and patience GONE, We lucked upon a sports bar called LODO’s at 3053 W. 104th Ave in Westminster!

An empty parking lot at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday? At a Sports Bar? This can’t be good. But at this point, I didn’t care! I was ready to dig the bird out of the car’s radiator that we had hit on the way to town and see if it had cooked through!

Our waitress was attentive, there were about 300 TV’s on around the joint, but the music was low, the beer was cheap and the food was great!

Hazed and infused from the Boulder Beer Company was first on the table, at 4.8% abv and plenty of  Crystal and Centennial Hops, I could have skipped dinner and sucked these down all night long! (See above comment about no food and RUM)... but alas, I was starving. 
Baja Fish Tacos! Just the way this Kahuna likes!
 I was a shadow of a menahuni compared to my usual self by the time my Baja Fish Tacos arrived.  But they were worth the entire stress of the day that lead me to that very point in my life! Just as a fish taco should be! Fresh, Crispy, Tropical, and plenty to eat!

Yearning for something, a bit more, as I approached the last taco on my plate (and the bottom of my pint glass) I thought I remembered seeing a tap handle of  a New Belgium Belgo IPA, and it didn’t take long for the waitress to have one in front of me!

Another really good brew from New Belgium, I love the texture and Carmel flavor that the Crystal 120 bring to this party. Also hopped with Centennial hops (and simcoe, cascade and Amarillo) this beer followed the Hazed and Infused nicely. A bit more assertive at 7% ABV, and certainly more interesting with the Trappist yeast esters floating around, this beer paired much better with my Fish Tacos!

All-in-all, LODO’s provided the most pleasurable dining experience in recent memory!

There was no $90 Lobster, not an oz of over priced crap quality beef, and the beer I chose was local not loco!

The best things in life are what you enjoy, not what you are told they should be, or what others may like! It’s a personal thing. Find happiness where you can and drink it up!
*Image of Belgo courtesy of New Belgium Brewing, Ft. Collins Colorado. 

UPDATE 12-18-2011
We returned to the scene of the crime and I picked up five more bottles of the Plantation Rum. After getting some advice from Carl at Coast Lines and Tan Lines And reading Mike's writeup about Plantation Rums at Rum Connection I simply could not resist!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Book Review for the masses!

OK, So I'm not my Mother... Mother in law... Wife.... or Best Friend's Wife. It takes me 2 weeks to read 100 pages of anything.

Those ladies I just mentioned... 100 pages takes them less time than it takes me to make a margarita, and they are wondering why it took me so long.

That is not to say I'm illiterate! For crying out loud I'm a publisher during the day! I read plenty... and sometimes for fun! But that is usually in the form of around 2,500 tweets and about 300 Google + Posts per day. Oh... And the weekly paper.

But books... Meh! It's hard for me to be any more indifferent about anything! I just don't like them. I like the idea! I love the thought of settling in with a good book, but the fact is, when you are a manly man with hair on your chest, there are not many "Good Books" IMO. (Notice I don't say IMHO... )

Most books are BORING! Don't care about snow covered whatever and your lusty romance in the hills of Whogivesacrapistan! I want easy to read when I'm drunk or tired, interesting, action packed adventure and general attention to detail! Those just don't exist.... very often!

There are exceptions, and that's what I'm here to tell you about today.

Red Right Return, by J.H. Cunningham is, what I would call, a good book. Not because it follows along in the first person like I write, or because it is set in Key West, or because it has rum and airplanes and FBI and on and on and on...... OH! Yes... It is! Exactly! For every single one of those reasons! And because it is real.

In the first few pages, I found a typo! That doesn't happen to me! But because Cunningham puts enough time and research into his product, the details in this book are so accurate that only a short few SCUBA divers will notice that the 19 PSI tank that is used in the book should be a 19 Cubic Foot tank. I know this seems silly, but this shows me that Cunningham really poured a lot of time, effort and research into entertaining me! Job well done!

I like books I can follow. I am not stupid, I'm capable of reading complex things, but when I read for entertainment, I do not want to take notes just to keep from getting lost!

I don't do well with Steven King books that take 500 pages to link chapter 1 to chapter 3,967.  I want page 1 to lead to page 2, Chapter 3 leads to Chapter 4. And I'll be damned if this book doesn't do just that!

As I read, I put faces to names, but this book is set in my minds eye. The places are real, the writing is compelling (as in, Compelling you to turn the page!) and the style is simplistic! THANK YOU J.H. Cunningham! This is exactly the book I would write if I could keep my mind focused on one thing at .... Look At the pretty flowers.... Oh! Sorry... One thing at a time!

There have been very few books over the years that have caught my attention the way "RRR" has.  Jimmy Buffett of course, can capture my imagination without even trying. This book, in much the same way, takes me away to the places that I love with people I have met and circumstances that I've endured... at least to some extent.

A tropical escape for anyone who has ever looked at the sky, yearned for a beach, gotten drunk on rum, smoked a cigar or wondered what was under the waves, Red Right Return is a book that you will not regret spending $3on. Heck, it's less money on than a McRib! (Which I hear is back?) Get the E-book like I did for a few dollars, then be ready to order a dozen of the paper back versions for stocking suffers!

Check out Red Right Return on E-Readers or Paperback here: John H. Cunningham

It is worth noting that if someone ever gives me something as compensation for a review, You will be made aware of it ahead of time. 
I purchased this book without prompt from publisher or author, although I do follow the author on Twitter.  This is my honest opinion and anything less would be dishonest of me! I won't always say what you want to hear, but I will always be honest here at Big Kahuna Brew!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Will I be A Warrier?

Wednesday came and went without incident. Wednesday is the big day of the week here at Casa De Kahuna. It's the day we deliver the newspaper that we have worked so hard all week to produce!

The big challenge of the week has been met and we are able to start again fresh. And the best part is that we have a weekend on the way!

The question is simply whether or not I'll be a weekend warrior or a couch potato... Or BOTH?

One thing that is for sure, the very minute this blasted cold departs my hop sensory organs, I'll be drinking a beer to celebrate. What will it be?
Something funky or fresh? Hoppy? Malty? Rum and Coke?

Guess we will have to wait till Saturday to see!

Oh, And leave a comment if you have a guess as to where in Eastern Colorado this photo was taken.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

At Least We Eat Good!

Even the Texas Longhorns have the Christmas Spirit!
It’s December, and that means many failed shopping trips to the city for the Kahuna family! We will leave with the best of intentions and return the sourest of souls. We will eat at real sit-down restaurants hoping to revive our weary bodies before the crowds break our spirits and send us back to the country with our tails between our legs and without completed shopping lists.

The first of these trips this year lead us to the Saltgrass steak house in Colorado Springs. An eclectic decor of Texas road-side bar, 1980’s style Cattleman’s Club mixed with a healthy dose of hunting lodge, the restaurant is certainly fun.

Bread made with Shiner Bock Beer and drinks.
Drinks are a chore amidst their plethora of house made frozen specialties and punches served in mason jars. I opted for the Texas Tea. Basically a very smooth and refreshing Long Island Iced Tea, but served in a 24oz mug. If you order 2, you’d better be a big boy or have a driver! This is potentially my favorite of all Long Island style drinks, so I always skip the beer for this monster refresher!

Also making it’s way to our table was a tall slender glass filled with a frozen concoction called the Loan Star Swirl. Very tasty with Midori and Strawberry puree.

They say that Insanity is repeating your actions exactly and expecting a different result. Well..... GUILTY!

I have loved the steaks at Saltgrass since day one. I rave about how juicy and tender they are. They have the ultimate flavor and so on and so forth. But something was amiss this snowy day in December. My steak was nearly raw, of unrecognizable cut and tasted like.... Well... A Denny’s steak. Really not good! Damn sure not worth $20.

The Saltgrass T-Bone. As good as it looks!
 Being a Landry’s branded restaurant, I expected better than.... wait. The last steak I had here was awful too. What gives?

“I just know I like the steaks here,” I told Jessica.
“You always like MY steak,” She said. “You keep ordering those damn RibEyes and you never like them here.”

Ahhhh. She had a point! I’m insane!

The atmosphere, the appetizers, the drinks and the food are all great, just not MY food!

This almost NEVER happens to me! I always order well. That is to say I nearly always end up with what I want on my plate.

We will return, and likely soon. But I will be ordering something other than a RibEye and we will see what happens! gives us this recipe for Texas Tea. (It’s darn close to the Saltgrass)
1/2 fluid ounce vodka
1/2 fluid ounce amber rum
1/2 fluid ounce gold tequila
1/2 fluid ounce triple sec liqueur
1/4 cup sweet-and-sour cocktail mix
1/4 cup cola-flavored carbonated beverage


Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Repeal Day

The 21st amendment to the Constitution of The United States is one we should all know by heart! Ratified December 5, 1933, our freedoms have been returned to us!
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
These words should be held near and dear to the hearts of Craft Beer drinkers and Rum lovers everywhere! These words give us the freedom to enjoy alcohol as responsible adults!

Enjoy my special edition video in honor of "Repeal Day!"


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Stocking your Christmas Party

With the snow falling and December officially here, I'm thinking less like the Grinch every day!

Christmas Parties are a great time to let loose with friends and families. Office Christmas parties are typically uncomfortable at best, at least until the egg nog takes effect! So just exactly what do you provide at the bar for your Christmas party to provide a festive selection without breaking Santa's budget?

I have a few must haves. While Egg Nog is certainly NOT one of my favorite holiday drinks, it is on the must have list. I always keep a bottle of Evan Williams nog on hand and in the ice. I prefer to drink it cut about 3:1 with milk to thin it down a little, but some folks will like it just fine over ice.

Beer is easy. There is a veritable cornucopia of holiday beers available to liven up your holiday event.
I keep my selection hoppy with Sierra Nevada Celebration ale. This seasonally available IPA is always a treat that I look forward to. Most people will enjoy this beer at a party even if they are not typically craft beer drinkers.

Celebration is an ale EVERYONE can enjoy!
I use parties as an opportunity to open people's minds to craft beer. I have seen people that are died in the blue Bud Lite can fans convert in one evening. Mental blocks are usually more to blame than flavor when it comes to craft beer. People get it stuck in their head that they do not like "Dark" or "Heavy" beers... Whatever that means, and they simply refuse to like a craft beer. After a few stiff Christmas drinks, I offer a bottle of Celebration (Against my better judgement) without a glass. Drinking from the bottle mutes the hop aroma and the previous drinks tend to mute the bitterness and guess what? A beer with holiday scenes on the bottle tastes pretty damn refreshing.  That person will leave your party with good memories of that beer and will almost certainly try it again, but more importantly, they will be more likely to try other craft beer when the opportunity presents itself.

I like to mix up the selection with Avery Old Jubilation, Great Divide Hibernation and Odell Isolation. You don't really need a lot of any, just a nice mix. Supply more of the less costly brews and spike the ice tank with just a few of the more costly. I always throw in a box or two of the Full Sail Session Lager because it's cost effective and most people like it just as well as any other brew you could provide.

If you are not providing wine (I use a box of Franzia White Zin and Merlot) you could consider a fruity sour ale for the wine drinkers. It's pretty expensive for parties, but again, it gets people talking. Every year we buy a case or two of Lindeman's that will not come out until the following year because I simply like it better with a year of age on it.

As I have said, you cannot live on beer alone, so we need cocktails right? RIGHT!

The names on the bottle change, but the format does not!
First... RUM! I keep three rums on my bar for the holidays. I keep a bottle of spiced rum, an aged rum, and a bottle of white rum, all better quality than bottom shelf, but none that are high dollar. Right now, the lineup is The Kraken ($21-1.75L), Cruzan aged ($23-1.75L) and Margaritaville White ($9-750ml). The Margaritaville is a coconut rum, so it is fun to play with and it keeps people trying new things, although it presents some challenges. If someone asks for a daiquiri, I just make it with the Cruzan. They mostly don't ever notice.

I like to keep some Bourbon on hand, usually a bottle of Jack Daniels for mixing and either Makers Mark or Knob Creek for those that want something over ice.

Svedka Vodka does a fine job for the vodka and tonic as well as the very rare request for a vodka martini. A small bottle of gin goes a long way at these events, but it's nice to have if someone is interested.

This is a pretty big list, and it'll feed a lot of people but it certainly isn't comprehensive, and really not an extreme list by my standards. But the great part is that you don't need to go to any sort of extreme for a Christmas Party! To hell with any sort of pretentious expectations, just let loose and have a fun... Make sure that the company is good, the music is low, the drinks are strong and have a good time.

Just make sure that when you decide to copy your ass your name written in your underwear isn't showing!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The End Of The World!

The end of the world? Not quite, but damn close.

I must first start by admitting that I am a sucker for anything in a Belgian bottle with a cork and cage. Like glassware, I think that presentation of the bottle is a nice intro to any beer. It is what gets you excited! If your mouth isn’t watering by the time you get the bottle open, the brewery hasn’t done a very good job of  presenting their beer.

Between the allure of the bottle and the smell while I photographed this beer, I was definitely drooling by the time I got a sip.

La Fin Du Monde is a Belgian style tripel brewed by Unibroue Inc. in a little town on the outskirts of Montreal Quebec Canada.

Growing up with the likes of Molson and Labatt, there was a time not too long ago that I’d have laughed at the possibility of a Canadian brewery producing any kind of Belgian beer, let alone a world class variety. But that time has long past and proof is in my glass!

Pouring an effervescent straw color that you would expect from a tripel, the head is a glowing white but dissipated rather quickly to a miniature lace atop the golden nectar.

A fruity almost acidic sour note sings at your nose as you plant it inside the glass trying to figure out what that wonderful smell is.

There is a malty goodness that can not be mistaken for a Belgian tripel backed by a tint of banana and spice all carried by a medium light body that seems a bit too thin due to the carbonation. As the beer warms and degasses a bit, it seemingly thickens up to a perfect consistency. As the beer warms, there is a wonderful spicy yeast character that becomes quite apparent.

The nine percent alcohol is completely hidden behind the flavor of this beer. In a blind test I would put this somewhere between five and seven percent. This is a real treat for me in a world of beers that are rushed to market with apparent alcohol presence approaching that of E-85!

Maybe because of all the spicy seasonal beer and IPA traffic my beer glasses have seen lately I am calling this a very clean flavor and finish. It is not clean like a lager, it has a very gentile finish that lingers just enough to leave you longing for another sip.

I would have to say that La Fin Du Monde has earned a spot on my shopping list for the foreseeable future. It is ultimately an enjoyable beer that is true to style with plenty of it’s own character and certainly stands out from the crowd.


The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series