Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chapter 7: Pumpkin Ale Tasting

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Friday was the big day… yes… the day that we were finally able to try our Pumpkin Ale for the first time, fully carbonated & ready for drinking… and it certainly did not disappoint. That night we were invited to a Halloween party by one of Dizzy’s coworkers… and after driving around the neighborhood trying to find a parking spot for about a half-hour, we decided to just get some grub (Subway) and head home to watch movies… and of course, drink our beer.

Basically it tastes like liquid pumpkin pie… only obviously not as sweet… and I loves me some pumpkin pie… so this stuff was dangerous. Because it was aged the full six weeks as well, it had a better aftertaste than our original Red Ale tasting two weeks ago… so yeah, it was pretty fantastic. I highly recommend that you find a way to try it.
Pumpkin Ale
Malt Extract Kit
5 gallons
3.15 lbs
Amber Malt Syrup (60 mins)
1.0 lb
Pilsen dried malt extract (60 mins)
3.15 lbs
Amber Malt Syrup (15 mins)
Specialty Grains
0.5 lbs
Briess Caramel 40
1 oz
Cluster (60 mins)
1 tsp
Pumpkin Pie Spice (0 mins)
Safale US-05 Ale Yeast
Cook Date/Primary Ferm
Secondary Ferm
2 weeks
4 weeks
First Taste
6 weeks
Like liquid pumpkin pie
Make MORE!!!
So when Sunday rolled around for football watching… this ale called for… DAS BOOT!!!

Some things that also made me smile this week...
Racist figurine at a thrift shop...

Dizzy & her cat with the stare of death...
Something I drew when I was bored one night...

Great sandwich that Dizzy made me...

What I made at work with 30 minutes &
three sheets of construction paper...
take that 3rd grade crafts!!!
Friday night, we watched “World War Z” starring Brad Pitt. Dizzy is a big fan of the book that the movie is based on by author Max Brooks (son of Mel) and I’ve attended one of his seminars a few years back on how to survive a zombie apocalypse… but we also know that this movie is basically just using the badass title& naming rights… and that’s cool… it IS a pretty badass title. Where the book is more of a compilation of first person accounts taken during the post-apocalyptic survival stages by those who made it, which would be a pretty interesting format in it’s own right (probably some kind of found footage thing if they could get past the whole lack of electricity & time-space rift so that you can see it), that format doesn’t really make for a big budget zombie flick starring The Brad. As for the movie that was made… I had a few major problems with it. First off, the zombies. What the hell? These zombies basically run around like f**king cheetahs with superhuman strength, agility & senses (THEY’RE DEAD!!!) and their preferred method of attacking or doing anything? Flying head butts! Is that a door? Flying head butt! Bulletproof glass? Cement walls? Flying head butt… and apparently their skulls are made out of unobtainium as well since they never crack or break despite a lack of integrity from BEING DEAD!!! Sigh… okay… regardless of that… they also attack in waves… literally WAVES of flying head butt bodies… and are attracted to sound… as all DEAD things are. I could say something like the waving masses of zombies is metaphorical to the natural disaster that it’s portrayal… like a tsunami or pandemic or something… but it’s really just so some guys with a new CGI program can jerk off all over themselves… at least that’s my opinion. As for the other parts of the movie, the plot had some major holes… the acting was okay, but definitely not great… the whole subplot with the wife & daughters wanting to be in constant contact and all of that is sweet but… let’s face it, you have bigger f**king problems than him answering the phone every few hours. Some of the action scenes were pretty intense in the way they were shot, though the zombie stuff kind of distracted me from really enjoying a lot of it… but yeah, an okay movie I guess… it was intriguing at some spots & frustrating at others… so maybe see it if zombies are your thing. It’s Halloween time.
Also, because it’s Halloween time, we searched Netflix for something to watch & Dizzy suggested a nugget from her childhood called “Pumpkinhead” starring Lance Henriksen& directed by special effects superguru Stan Winston (“Terminator”, “Aliens, “Predator”, etc). Set in a late 80’s rural area, the story is about a group of six young friends & lovers (typical horror setup) who go to the boonies to drive some motorcycles & stay in a friend’s cabin in the woods. Well, they stop to get some gas at a station… and then take the bikes out for a little ride before sundown since they’re near the cabin. Well, the shopkeep (Henriksen) and his son are there… and while the shopkeep goes to town for… what I assume is booze, the son chases after their dog & get accidentally ran over by one of the guys on the motorcycle… or course he’s not going to jail for an accident & he’s on probation, so he runs off to the cabin & basically holds the rest of them hostage once they get there. Well, the shopkeep comes home… finds “the nice one” next to the corpse of his son… he tries to explain that it was an accident… but VENGEANCE has taken over. He takes his son to a witch in the woods… and wants his son back, but she can’t bring back the dead… but she can unleash a powerful demon of vengeance whom the locals have deemed… PUMPKINHEAD!!! So that’s the setting… and then the demon goes after kids… but then the shopkeep has a change of heart… so he tries to stop it or die trying. Now, Pumpkinhead… looks basically like there was a spare prototype costume like if Stan Winston was trying to make the great Alien-Predator hybrid (Alienator?) and you know when it’s about to attack… because apparently it brings its own gale-force winds, strobe lights & loud hissing sounds before he pulls off your head & sucks the juices out (by the way, not really that R-rated violent by today’s standards so don’t worry, that’s just the legends). Basically it was a pretty good little horror flick that wasn’t too long, but some scenes just seemed a little awkward by today’s standard… but I think it was mainly so that they could show off how awesome their puppetry & bodysuit was for the main baddy… and in the 80’s, what’s the point of spending all that money on the suit & special effects if you’re not going to show it off? Check it out! Why not?
We then followed it up with the sequel six years later “Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings” starring… absolutely nobody of interest except Soleil Moon Frey (Punky Brewster) who was goth chick & directed by Jeff Burr who seems to have made a career of other straight-to-video horror flicks like “Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III”, “Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter” & “Frankenstein & the Werewolf Reborn!” Now, this story starts off back in the 50’s in the small town of Ferren Woods. A group of “cool kid” greasers basically hang a deformed child & drop him down a deep well… yeah… that’s basically the long story of it. Fast forward to almost 40 years later, they’re all cats in their late 50’s… and a NYC detective has moved back home to Ferren Woods with his family including a teenage daughter. Well, she gets in with the “cool kids” circa 1994 (including Punky all grown up) & they go out to the old well… and find a house filled with witchcraft stuff… and then there’s obviously a witch that lives there… and long story short, one of them knocks her out & the place gets started on fire. Well, this unleashes her demon friend… PUMPKINHEAD 2.0!!! Who basically takes over the spirit of the deformed boy killed back in the 50’s… and then goes on a killing spree of his killers first… and then the newer “cool kids” including the sheriff’s daughter. So yeah, it really is kinda separate in every way from the first one… but they use the exact same costume, so it all works out. It’s exactly what you would expect from a B-movie that went straight to video in the early 90’s… but yeah, it’s free-ish on Netflix. If you like the first one, go ahead & watch the second one. We did and it… we had a few beers by that time.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve got for this entry. Hope you enjoyed it… next time… we’ll probably be talking about Halloween antics, tasting Hefeweizen, bottling Nut Brown Ale, possibly making Mead… and whatever else happens along the way. Have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bad Movie Blogger for Hire

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
This past week or so has been pretty standard… Dizzy stayed at my place most of the time due to the BART Strike & it was just easier that way… I didn’t mind at all. Heck, at least she picks up after herself, that’s more than one of my roommates. I’ll give you a hint which one… not a new one. Saturday, we did go to her house to clean up a bit & feed her cats… and then on the way to get some lunch, we drove by a place called The Junket which we had eaten at before (German place in a strip mall) and they were having an Oktoberfest celebration complete with dancers in leiderhosen & other traditional garb, an accordion player, free pretzels for patrons & plenty of delicious beer… so obviously we stopped for a pretzel & beer. I’m such a bad influence on Dizzy’s diet. She also bought me a fantastic gift… DAS BOOT!!! It’s a wonderful one liter glass drinking vessel shaped like a boot. It’s not the largest you’ve ever seen… but definitely the best looking. Holds about three beers & I may just have to test it this weekend with the Pumpkin Ale to show it off… so until then.

That evening, we went to have dinner with Dizzy’s Mom & Aunts at the aunts’ house. They prepared a wonderful meal as always… and we sat & chat it up… sipping on some seasonal beers like New Belgium’s Pumpkin ale which… also has like cranberry juice & spices mixed in… wasn’t my particular cup of tea… but also wasn’t that bad. Just seemed like they were cramming an entire Thanksgiving dinner into one sip… there might have even been some turkey & gravy in there, I wasn’t quite sure. We also tried Widmer Brothers’ Okto fall seasonal… and it was what you would expect, a very nice Oktoberfest inspired ale from Widmer, who makes some very good beer. Apparently they would also like to test our brews when we get them done… so they may be visiting us for dinner & drinks one of these days… or at least I’ll be transporting my homebrew across the bay… either way, it should be fun. They’re a great bunch of ladies.
Last week, I watched “Pain & Gain” starring Marky Mark, The Rock, Ed Harris & Tony Shalhoub… directed by the legendary hit-or-miss Michael Bay. The movie is loosely based on the true story about three bodybuilders (Marky, Rock & Anthony Mackie) who want to get rich quick after being inspired by self-help guru Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong). To do so, they kidnap a wealthy prick of a Columbian accountant (Shalhoub) and force him to sign over his possessions to them. What? A loophole about a notary having to be present? Taken care of… as Marky Mark’s boss is a notary… and not a particularly decent one. Problems pop up once they get the money & realize that they’re not really the smartest criminals in the world. It’s an action-comedy that had a few funny moments… but was pretty predictable (except for how badly the police reacted & how they grossly overcompensated afterwards, which is the truest part of the story) and I’d say watch it once if you’re into seeing lots of gun butter on Marky Mark, The Rock & everybody else. By the way… I’m actually kind of hoping that this partnership of Michael Bay & Dwayne Johnson leads to the reboot of a movie classic in a few years… by which I mean… “The Rock” starring… The Rock in the role made famous by Nicolas Cage. I could totally see him doing a nervous chemical weapons supergeek… and absolutely nobody mentioning the fact that he’s built like a double-decker brick sh*thouse. In Sean Connery’s role, Dolph Lundgren… why the hell not? Wishful thinking? Anyway, movie was okay… but not great obviously.
Next up was “Movie 43” starring Liev Schrieber, Katie Winslet, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Richard Gere, Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Common & a whole bunch of other famous actors… but it’s basically a few sketches for quick movie pitches courtesy of the Farrelly Brothers. The premise is a writer-director at his wits end (Quaid) pitching movie ideas to a producer (Kinnear) and they’re all pretty f**king crazy… but the meeting is not stopped because the writer pulls out a pistol & basically holds the producer hostage to hear his ideas. Now… the movie’s not bad enough that somebody would have to hold a gun to my head to finish it (obviously) but I can easily see why it wasn’t a commercial success. It’s rated R… and basically all the worst aspects of a Farrelly Brothers flick on overdrive. Spoiler alert: Hugh Jackman literally has balls on his chin… for a good five minutes. You’ve been warned.
We also watched a comedy special called “Marc Maron: Thinky Pain” featuring, shockingly enough, comedian Marc Maron. It’s exactly what you would think… neurotic Jewish man rambling about life’s quibbles but he’s among the best & most insightful. I recommend it if you’re looking for a few laughs. That’s really about it. Shot on a stage, before a live studio audience, spoiler alert: No Hugh Jackman with balls on his chin.

Since it’s the Halloween season, I searched through the Netflix and found a Wes Craven directed nugget that I’ve never seen before called “The People Under the Stairs” starring Ving Rhames and a few people from “Twin Peaks” which Dizzy & I just saw. The story is about a young child living in the projects named Fool (guess the nationality) whose family has fallen on hard times & are about to be evicted ONLY because they can’t pay their bills. Well, the man whose around the house most of the time (Rhames) convinces him that he should help him & his partner rob the landlord’s house in search of a treasure of gold coins. Yup, that’s the plot. The landlords are very secretive & rarely leave the house… so they stake it out… and then one of them poses as a utility worker to gain access… by the way, God save any utility worker that comes to my apartment at any time of the day… because I’ll give you the 3rd degree while holding a katana that you can see & a gat that you can’t. There’s been a string of those robberies here in the Bay apparently. Anyway, the poser doesn’t come back… so now they have to go in… and they discover their horrible secret… they have a bunch of cannibals in their basement. Now for the review of the movie, I like Wes Craven. His movies are fantastic from a horror psychological perspective… and the “Scream” movies then poke fun at the genre… and he’s branched out into other things as well. This movie obviously is one that’s not referred to as much… but it’s still okay for what it is. Yes, there are some points in the movie where you going to go, “REALLY?” and some major plot holes… and some of the dialogue & noises that the landlord (Everett McGill) makes are laughable… and I still don’t know why he dresses up like a gimp when he’s running around with the shotgun (spoiler alert?) but I’m assuming it’s a prequel to “Pulp Fiction” since Marcellus Wallace (Rhames) is involved. Anyway, I’d say check it out… but it’s not the greatest movie ever. Not even close.
This next movie “The Future” was recommended to us a few months ago by one of Dizzy’s friends whose opinion I respect when it comes to movies. It’s an independent film from writer-director-actress Miranda July about a couple in their early thirties (hipsters?) who decide to adopt a stray cat… and basically they haven’t even adopted it yet… and it sends their lives down a self-inflicted rabbit hole of stupidity. They quit their jobs, cut off the internet (not that bad),  do nothing except ATTEMPT to make dance videos for YouTube & have affairs… or sell trees to homeowners in LA… throw in the ability to stop time & space for a minute and the narrations of the stray cat that basically have nothing to do with the story other than IT’S A CAT… and you have this movie.
It was pretty hard to watch honestly… and I checked a few of the metacritic scores to see if maybe I was missing something… and the overall score was like 28… and that’s because there were like 3 who rated it between 88 & 91… and I feel like maybe they need to have their critic licenses revoked. What? You don’t need a license to be a critic? SH*T!!! Then why aren’t I on the Hollywood payroll to support the lumps of sh*t that come out of there? I can give some quotes for the posters for the relative cost of my soul… and I’m fairly cheap with it. Heck, you could probably go back through a lot of my reviews of HORRIBLE movies and get a few decent quotes. For example…
The Room – “There are FIVE LOVE SCENES” or “It’s so bad that I almost wanted to watch it again…”
Freddy Got Fingered - “Maybe it gets better…”
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – “The movie wasn’t absolutely horrible”
Troll 2 – “Watch it with your friends!” or “It’s one of those movies that’s so horrible that it’s actually quite amazing in its mere existence”
The Core – I basically tore this movie a new one with semi-sarcastic text messages… but still fun to read
The Love Guru – “The great Stephen Colbert makes an appearance”
Battlefield Earth – “I sucked it up” or “I could go on & on…”
Those gems are without even trying… and you can always edit some things like “Watching to movie was about as pleasant as being led to a gas chamber on your birthday” and the edit would just be “A GAS” or something like that. Anyway, look me up Hollywood, I’m cheap & I speaks the English raw. You won’t be disappointed… and I hear there’s a real lineup of crap coming out next year with sequels & prequels & reboots. “Robocop” looks like it could use my help.
Anyway, that’ll do it for this entry. Hope you all had a wonderful time… and join us next time when I review Pumpkin Ale… FROM A BOOT!!! Have a great weekend everybody!!! Celebrate Halloween safely!!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chapter 6: Bottling Hef & Nut Brown Ale

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Welcome to another stunning & thrilling chapter in the Homebrewing Adventure!!! This week… we start off with…
Bottling the Hefeweizen!!! It seems like just the other week that we were cooking up the wort (because we were) and already to bottling day. If we had a kegging system in place, we’d basically be drinking it now… but alas, we’ll let it age a bit in the two week bottling phase with priming sugar. We bottled pretty late in the evening (more on that later) but during the whole process, the Hef mixture looked a LOT darker than one might expect after drinking the typically light, golden ales bearing that name… but we shall see once the process is complete if that’s the case. Here are some pictures…
Dizzy drowning a cat... oh wait...
this one is sanitizing bottles

See? That's pretty dark for a Hef, right?

Cleaning the carboy for the next batch...

By the way, magnet on our dishwasher...
I really enjoy my roommates...

Sunday night, we started our new batch… Nut Brown Ale, from a malt extract kit. While cooking this bad boy, there was a scent of chocolate in the air… kind of like smelling a batch of chocolate chip cookies… so yeah, pretty excited about this one too. It’s also another one of the fairly quick turnover brews like the Hefeweizen, where we will be bottling it after two weeks of fermenting… and then two weeks after that, we have brown ale along with our three other brews by that point. Anyway, here are some pictures of the Nut Brown Ale’s preparation…
Mmm... steeping a hefty sack of chocolately goodness...

Then chill as quickly as possible for fermentation...

Load some cold water in the carboy first...

Then mix in the wort...

Top it off & place it in a cool, dark place...
Don't forget to take a picture with FLASH!!!
BIG NEWS!!! Earlier Saturday, we also went on a bit of a shopping spree for our Homebrewing enterprise. A few weeks ago, my lovely mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas… so being a grown ass man who takes care of himself, I replied “Money’s cool… but you don’t have to get me anything. I’m a grown up.” I’ve chatted with her about the Homebrewing though… and she knows that Dizzy & I really enjoy it… so she gave us some cash for some additional equipment, because she’s the greatest!
We went to the Oak Barrel in El Cerrito and thanks to a discount with being new members to the SF Homebrewers Guild… we walked out with:
  • 10 Gallon Mash-Tun – For brewing all-grain brew recipes, which is the next step in devising our own unique recipes
  • Stainless Steel Wort Chiller – To cool the boiling wort as quickly as possible before fermentation to cut down in any possible contamination. Before we were just using the bags of ice in the sink, now… probably both?
  • Eight pounds of Wildflower Honey & Yeast - For making Mead & they gave us a recipe for quick mead (a few months as opposed to a year plus)
  • Five gallon glass carboy – A second secondary fermentation carboys so that we can have multiple batches fermentation at the same time, since a few of our upcoming recipes requires a longer secondary… we won’t have to wait until it’s done to start on a quicker batch
  • Another case of 22 ounce bottles – This may be the top reasoning for considering a kegging system in the next few months. We have a LOT of bottles in the apartment now, which is okay as long as we’re recycling & saving them… but can easily be replaced with a few 5 gallon kegs. One keg = about 2 cases... and this was my living room BEFORE we bottled the Hef... Don't worry though, the boxes on top are empty... roommates just may be moving out so I saved them.

  • One pound of Bottle Caps – So about 200 or so… again for the bottles
  • A few other odds & ends – Cleaner, replacement bubble chambers, etc.
We also picked the brains of some of the workers at Oak Barrel & they lent their expertise on a variety of subjects from mash-tunning to mead recipes to some of their favorite beers to their own batch routines and so on… really nice guys. I highly recommend that if you’re looking for any beer, wine or cheese making apparatus, consider the Oak Barrel on San Pablo Drive in El Cerrito. Tell them $teve sent ya… “Who?” “The tall guy with the hot chick who were asking a bunch of questions a few weeks ago… he wore a Dee’s Nuts T-Shirt.” “OH! $TEVE! Yeah… hahaha…”
Anyway, that’s pretty much the adventure this week… next week, Pumpkin Ale Tasting… and of course we always have a few other surprises. Have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pikachu, I Choose You

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
It’s been a busy time as usual… and of course with government shutdown, BART strike threats, Columbus Day Weekend (kinda the same as a government shutdown anyway) and all that it’s been a little trying… but we all maintain. Here are a few highlights of the past week:
Thursday night, Dizzy & I went to a special screening of “The Fifth Estate” starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan in “Star Trek Into Darkness”) and Daniel Bruehl (“Inglorious Basterds”) which is a dramatic representation of the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange and his main partner during the boom prior to their HUGE scandal in 2010 where hundreds of thousands of secret government documents were released to the public. The feel of the movie was very similar to “The Social Network” a year or two ago where it was a partnership that starts out good, then turns sour, and it kind of paints Julian Assange in a negative light as it’s based on the book by the other partner… but that being said, for what it is, it was a pretty good movie. Beautifully shot across Europe, it told a story, loosely based in reality, you know how Hollywood twists things, but yeah… it was okay. The movie did seem to be really long though it was just over two hours I think… we may have been privy to an early director’s cut or something though so I’m sure it’ll be trimmed by the time it releases nationwide/worldwide. The performances were really good… Benedict had all the mannerisms you’ve seen in the Assange interviews… and it’s always good to see a good German actor working like Daniel Bruehl. Anyway, if you like “The Social Network” it’s a lot like that… and if you didn’t, then you’ll probably pass on this movie.
Saturday morning, Dizzy & I woke up early to go assist with the Meals on Wheels FallFest Spectacular in Hermann Plaza near the Ferry Building. It’s an annual fundraiser where top restaurants & wineries come from all over the Bay Area to show off their goods & guests who purchase tickets via donation get to spend the afternoon enjoying the festivities, trying some fantastic hors d’ouevres, various wines from all over Napa & Sonoma valley & beyond… and basically just have a great time for a great cause. We were there to also sell raffle tickets for some the giveaways… and we had a pretty good time. Dizzy is quite the saleswoman… and I’m decent eye candy. We got to sample some of the foods & beverages towards the end… and it was spectacular… and most importantly for a good cause. Since the government shutdown, Meals on Wheels isn’t getting any funding… and they’re literally waiting payday to payday to maintain, there’s really no reserve. Luckily this fundraiser was planned for this time anyway… but they REALLY need your help if you could possibly donate.
That night, we sampled our Red Ale (discussed in earlier post) and then watched a documentary entitled “Killer Whales” about… wait for it… killer whales. I think it was produced by the Discovery Channel… but yeah, talked about Killer Whales as the vicious apex predators of the oceans that they are… including them eating dolphins & great white sharks… no joke… and they had them attacking seals, shaking them in their jaws until they went limp & then playing with their mangled corpses before finishing them off… so in other words, it was pretty f**king awesome!!! A children’s book may be coming out very soon based on these beautiful, terrifying creatures that I like to call… Sea Pandas. Anyway, I’d check it out. It was pretty interesting in my humble opinion.
Over the weekend, we also watched “Brew Masters” starring Sam Calagione & the rest of the crew at Dogfish Head Brewery of international fame based in Delaware. The show only lasted six episodes, one of which was never aired in the U.S. apparently, but the other five are on Netflix. The story is that… the show was cancelled because “Big Beer” may have threatened to take out their advertising… but whatever case, the ratings were kind of low too. I didn’t even know about it until a few weeks ago. Each episode focuses on the development of one of two of their unique beers… usually starting with the inspiration behind it or the (sometimes convenient) tie-in with another company or event in the industry… then going through the research involved, experimentation of various ideas, sometimes travels to different places around the world (must be sweet to be rolling in dough like that), some problems along the way… and then finally the end product, a craft beer. Regardless of whether I’d try the beer that they made (Chicha still makes me vomit at the thought) the whole process was pretty sweet to watch however doctored for TV it might be… and also, Sam’s a pretty charismatic guy to narrate a show like that… though I kept thinking of Zac Bagans from “Ghost Adventurers” for some reason. Not nearly as douchey though… so I really enjoyed the show. Too bad that “Big Beer” had to shut ‘em down… like they’ve tried to do with several of their most popular beers like Punkin’ Ale & Chicory Stout. Merciless in those billion-dollar industries… but still, check out the show if you can.
Sunday, Dizzy & I woke up a little early and drove to Pleasanton so that she could take part in the Pokémon Video Game Regional Championships. Dizzy loves the Pokémon video games… and this competition was the Nintendo DS version where the pocket monsters that range from adorable to just weird battle in teams against one another. Obviously I’m not well versed in this universe… but she was there to be my Sherpa when I questions. The event was held in the Commerce Building of the Alameda County Fairgrounds and what I was expecting was something out of “The Wizard” with giant screens showing some of the premiere battles featuring former world champions & possible children of Yakuza druglords trying to establish their turf in the western U.S. Instead… there were no screens to watch what was going on… and I had to contain myself from channeling my inner Ogre and yelling out “NEEEEEERRRDS!!!” every few minutes. Not really… but yeah, it was great people watching. Here are some pictures…

Yes, the smoking area was a tent basically in a beautiful sunny park...


She doesn't look nervous at all...
That guy was at nationals last year...
That's better...

The thrill of Victory!!!
Dizzy finished #72 out of 107 in the Masters division (18+ I think) but from what I understand, this was a pretty stacked competition. Being the first of five regionals, some of the former world champions & those invited to worlds showed up so that they would lock their invites to Nationals in Washington D.C. or wherever it’s held. That way… if they somehow finish just out of the Top 8 that advance, then they can try in Phoenix or Indianapolis or one of the other regionals. Who knew there was such a world? Also, I expected a little more sh*t talking… but most were very respectful. There was one douche who almost got his ass kicked… but he seemed to mellow out after Dizzy told him that he “should learn to be a better winner.” Now I’m trying to convince my brother to enter the Utah Valley VGC’s in Provo on October 26th so we’ll see if he goes. It’s actually about the same distance from his house as Pleasanton was for us… but I had a little determination. I’ll keep you posted. Congrats Dizzy!!!
After the VGCs, we headed into town to the Main Street Brewery and sampled their Raspberry Hefeweizen & all-day IPA which were on special… as well as their Cajun Fries & Nachos, which were all pretty amazing. We watched a little bit of the 49ers game… Yes, I gave up football for the VGCs because I’m amazing… but yeah, pretty nice place. I’d recommend it if you’re in the area.
Tuesday night, Dizzy & I went to the San Francisco Homebrewer’s Guild Meeting at Anchor Steam Brewery to meet some of our peers in this Homebrewing adventure. We showed up & they had some of the great Anchor Steam brews on tap… complimentary to attendees. Yeah… great beer too. We mingled & met a few of the members… and most of them have been doing it for 8… 15… 20+ years off & on. So then they asked how long we’ve been doing it, “Six weeks.” I think we got a little bit of credibility already coming to meetings like this when we’re so new to the game & so passionate about it… so yeah pretty sweet.
The Guild had some special guest speakers come to talk about “Sour Beers” (the purposely sour kinds) and a lot of the talk was more scientific than we have ventured into yet, but having read the books I was right there for most of it. I’m sure it’ll make even more sense down the road when we have a few brews under our belt. Afterwards, we mingled some more & tasted some of the other brews that members brought along for feedback (pretty good). Next time we may have to bring in our Red Ale & perhaps our Pumpkin Ale or Hefeweizen to get some feedback on how to make the beer even better. You know, whether it’s stuff like Irish Moss for clarity or maybe add a dash more hops or anything like that. These guys & gals seem to be pretty legit. Also, with membership, we get a 10% discount at brewshops… which is cool because we were going to go shopping this weekend anyway. BONUS!!! The meetings are monthly and we’re already pretty excited about going back.
This Thursday night, Dizzy & I met up with her aunts, mom & friend from school to watch a special preview screening of “Last Vegas” starring Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman & Kevin Kline in a premise that’s basically “The Bucket List” meets “The Hangover.” Four friends for life have grown a little apart over the last… 58 years but they reunite when the life-long bachelor of the group (Douglas) finally gets hitched to a woman less than half his age. So they meet up in Las Vegas to throw him a bachelor party, throw in a little internal conflict, some cold feet, a lounge singer of a certain age (Mary Steenburgen) and a lot of hilarious (if not a bit unrealistic) situations… and it’s actually a pretty hilarious little movie, especially if you’re… of a certain age. I thought Kevin Kline was absolutely hilarious… and everybody else was pretty good too. It’s exactly what you expect in all the best possible ways. Go check it out! Take your parents! They’ll love it! You’re welcome…
Aside from that, nothing much else going on with me… my brother & buddy Chris convinced me that getting “Grand Theft Auto V” was a good idea for some reason, so I will probably play it with them a few times before they get bored of it & I’ve wasted $60 on another GTA game that I’ll play a total of 10 hours over the past 7 years or so… but hey, I’ll get a little fun playing time in with my peeps back in Utah. By the way, did anybody catch that Utes pounding of Stanford over the weekend? First big win since the Sugar Bowl over Alabama for the Utes! Congrats! Have a great day everybody!!!

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