Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vacation 2010

Our big adventure took us to Tybee Island & Savannah this year.  We stayed in the Savannah Beach House, a B&B on Tybee Island.  A beautiful home that sits on Officer's Row.  A series of impressive homes built for the officers of Ft. Screvin.
The unusual weather that usually precedes our arrival actually came with us this year as the Savannah area was hit with a cold snap that left us a bit unprepared for the 40 degree temperatures.  However with some clever layering of most of what we brought along to wear, we were able to wait out the warmer weather that was to come.
Our trip down didn't start out too well as we had to go to Chicago from Indy to get to Savannah.  Our schedule only gave us about 30 minutes in O'Hare between flights.  Then when our plane left about 15 minutes late for Chicago, we knew we had no time to spare.  That was actually an understatement.  We deplaned in the B terminal, and when we found the board telling us were our next flight was, it was panic time.  It was in the E terminal!
We ran through the majority of the airport when we met a courtesy cart taking an elderly lady our way.  As we kept up with the cart, the driver asked where we were going & when did our flight leave.  He told us to hop on & he hit the gas & the horn taking us right up to the very empty gate.  As we hopped off, the attendant at the gate asked "are you the Barnharts?  I can't believe you made it!"  They held the door for us and we were the last two on the plane.
Upon arriving in Savannah, we decided to treat ourselves to a haunted pub crawl that evening.  Our guide wasn't the most lively we've had, which you would think would be good for a haunted tour, but he was a bit boring.

Sunday we spent mostly exploring what the island had to offer.  We took a tour of the lighthouse, and met a very nice couple.  Carol & Don along with their friend Glenn were doing a lighthouse tour and Carol was a bit leery of climbing the stairs.  Don & Glenn started up, and Susie told Carol we would be glad to go with her at whatever pace she wanted and stop as often as needed.  She made it to the top, and once we all got back down found out she is an artist too & Susie & her swapped info.
Monday we spent the day being shown around Savannah by one of Susie's oldest friends Cindy.  Cindy has lived in Savannah for about 12 years and her expertise on the finer points of historic Savannah were questionable.  She did introduce us to the best bar I have ever had the pleasure to be in called the Distillery.  Any bar that has a personal approval by Sam Caliogne of Dogfish Head Brewery has got to be good.

 They had beers on tap that I didn't think you could even find on tap.  Avery Kaiser, Marahaja & Czar.  Stone Vertical Epic '09'09'09...I was in heaven!  We ended up the day in the Crystal Beer Palace, another fantastic selection of beers I've never seen.  It was a good day!

Tuesday we spent almost the entire day on the beach.  Walked it pretty much from end to end & back again. You never know what you may find washed up in the sand.    
fish head
no idea 

Susie was even attacked by a horseshoe crab.
Wednesday was spent at Ft. Pulaski and got a very interesting lesson in the Civil War.  It was the first time "rifled" cannons were ever used in battle.  The fort that was designed with the help of a young Robert E. Lee, was built to be "bomb-proof" by the technology of the time.  And when the Union army went to lay siege to the fort, they were fairly confident that it would stand anything that could be thrown at it.  Everything would change in 36 hours.  The new rifled cannons would change the face of military defenses.  Forts would become obsolete.
the beginning of a "box" to be blown away

Due to the increased accuracy of a spinning projectile, the Union cannons could carve out boxes in the walls and blow great breaches in them allowing access to the inside if the fort.
The fort is completely surrounded by a moat that comes complete with an alligator.

There are still some cannon shells sticking in the walls of the fort.
After the history lesson ended, we went back to Tybee for a dolphinless cruise with Captain Howard.  It was a pleasant backwater cruise on his boat that unfortunately didn't produce any dolphin sightings, but we got to see parts of the island we normally wouldn't have got to see.
We did however find the cottage and car we will get as soon as we win the lottery.

As an afterthought, its not good to leave Susie in the salt water too long.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween 2010

The Halloween season was a record setter this year.  The party, themed "2010 A Space Idiocy", brought 42 friends over for a fun filled night.  We saw some new faces, and missed some old friends who were unable to make it this year.
The invitation this year went without the list of rules that it usually has, and boy were we sorry for that!  A couple of cross dressing aliens were in atttendance.  Frank N. Furter from the planet of Transexual, and Java the Slut from who knows where.
Others in attendance were several Star Wars & Star Trek characters, a couple of Arthur Dents, killer clowns, time travelers, a space cowboy, flying saucer & our hostess, a 4 eyed, 1 horned flying purple people beater.
Tom was thrilled to finally win the costume contest with the most outrageous, shocking costume he has yet to come up with.  Theresa, a killer clown from outer space shared the award for woman's costume.
Pam took the best food with her shrunken Nabu mushrooms and Chris got the best alien food for her alien eyeballs.

The Tin Whisker was never empty, and with the addition of Jeff's new traveling tap hooked up to his Borg Bitter, it was usually filled to capacity.  It was the first room to fill up and the last room to empty as the evening wound down.

During the "Beer Connoisseurs" portion of the evening, Larry brought out the newest edition of Sam Adams Utopias and Terry opened a bottle of Coffee Petron tequilla as a counter point.

Halloween night set a new record for Trick or Treaters.  In a compressed 2 hour session this year, we had 383 people come up to the porch.  The smoke bubbles were a big hit as usual.  Some kids even forgot about getting any candy once they got to the porch.
Nancy once again helped with traffic control on the starirway.  The biggest herd that came up for the night was a crowd of 27 that somehow arrived all at once.
We only had 2 criers who were a bit overwhelmed by it all.  Our favorite costume of the evening was a real retro Pac Man Ghost.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010 Indiana Brewer's Cup

This year's Indiana Brewer's Cup awards brought yet another shock.  My Oktoberfest, calle Marzen Dotes and Dozy Dotes too 1st place in its catagory.  Even though my "year of fame" for winning Best of Show last year has drawn to a close.  I can rest comfortably in knowing that as long as I keep brewing new styles of beer, I will always have a chance to place in this competition.
This year's ribbon winner, like the last two year's winners were all first time batches.  I guess its all just beginner's luck.  So now the question arrises, what to do for next year?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tapping of Susie's Sweet Stout at the Half Moon

Thursday, May 20th was the tapping of the award winning Susie's Sweet Stout at the Half Moon restaurant & Brewery.  It was the featured beer of the evening and was paired up with a dinner designed to go with it by chef John Comancho. 
He chose Galumpkis, a traditional Polish dish of stuffed cabbage rolls, Au Gratin potatos & green beans.  Then to top off the meal, a piece of their decadent Chocolate Porter Cake that matched perfectly with the stout.  It was all very good!
The Half Moon sent out a very flattering Email to their Mug Club members announcing the event. 
It read;
Suzie's Sweet Stout
Suzie's Sweet Stout is an oatmeal/milk stout created by Howard County Homebrewer Larry Barnhart. It won Best In Show at the Indiana State Fair Brewer's Cup Homebrew Competition. We had Larry come in and brew his recipe at our brewery to show our appreciation and support for the local craft beer/homebrew culture. We are celebrating American Craft Beer Week this week, with the release of this delicious craft beer collaboration from Half Moon brewer John Templet and homebrewer extraordinaire Larry Barnhart.
We started to gather friends and put the booth to the test as we attempted to see how many people it could hold.  We maxed it out at nine, but throughout the evening we had a total of 11 people in it.  Those in attendance at our booth were;
Nancy, Lee, Jim & Connie, Mike, Joe, Jon, Ken & Mary Ann.
The Howard County Homebrew Club was well represented too, but had to fill another table.
Jeff & Jean, Brent & Tammy, Matt & Andrew were all spotted there.
Others seen that evening were Yves & Chris, Fran & Mike, Blake, Gary & Babs.
Thanks to everyone who came out to help celebrate the final weeks of my one year of fame as state champion homebrewer.

For a glimpse into the making of this beer, Erik Markov has posted a video of the brew day on the Howard County Homebrew Club website.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Most Amazing Evening

Susie & I got to have one of the most exciting nights we've ever had.  Thanks to the generosity of Caroline and Howard Kaufman, we were given access to the inner sanctum of the Verizon Music Center on the night of Jimmy Buffett's concert.

Caroline is a daughter of Nancy, our good friend and neighbor.  She is married to the man who has HK Productions and represents an amazing number of some of the most famous names in music.

We arrived several hours early to enjoy the festivities that take place in the parking lot of every Buffett concert.  Apparently the bean bag tossing game called corn hole has become the official sport of parrotheads.  A very slight sprinkle began to fall, but did nothing to dampen the spirits of the crowd.

At 6:30, we met Nancy inside the main gate and she ushered us inside the very well protected backstage area. We were greeted there by Caroline who gave us a quick tour of the patio party area and into the dressing rooms.   We were instructed that while in the hallway we were to be very quiet as Mr. Buffett likes to have it quiet while he prepares for the show.  He also likes to ride his Lemond Spinning bike that we got a glimpse of as we passed his room.

Caroline took us to Howard's room where we received a warm greeting and offered anything we wanted to eat from the tables or drinks that the personal attendent would get for us.  After a few nervous minutes, I finally got up to get some snow crab claws that were excellent and ordered a margarita.  Susie had a glass of wine that apparently was VERY expensive!

Caroline then gave us a tour of the backstage area, where we could see the stagehands preparing everything on stage before we went out to our seats in the 4th row center of the stage.  She told us she would come back for us at intermission.

The concert was fantastic as usual, and its nice to know that the "elite" that sit in the pavillion seats don't behave any differently than the "lawn" people.  Just before the break, Caroline appeared and took us behind stage again and lead us to an off-stage area where we could see the band from stage level.  Her sister-in-law took some pictures of us with the band behind us.

It was back to the dressing room where, being a bit more at ease, we had some gourmet hotdogs and another margarita.  We were also given a bag of concert gear that including a personalized autographed shirt from Jimmy.  We then went back to the seats as the show began again and watched the rest of the concert. 
It was a most amazing experience.  We are "lawn" people at heart and not used to this kind of royal treatment.  Not just sitting right up to the stage, but being able to see the inner workings of of a concert like this was unbelievably cool.  Truely an experience of a lifetime!

Friday, April 30, 2010

2010 National Homebrew Competition

The first round of the 2010 NHC is over, and much to my surprise, my Dr. Pavlov's Salivator took 1st place in the bock catagory.  It was first among 15 other entries, and scored a 37 out of 50 possible points.  This makes it eligible to move on the the national finals in Minneapolis in June.
The winner there is crowned Homebrewer of the Year.
For the complete listing of the first round winners from the Great Lakes region copy and paste the address below in your web browser.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Susie's Sweet Stout Double Brew

In getting ready to finish up my 1 year of fame, I brewed up the double batch of Susie's Sweet Stout.  This is the 2 kegs worth of 2009's Best of Show that will be the featured beer at the 2010 Indiana Brewer's Cup award dinner.
I've never done two brews in one day before, so this was something new for me.  My equipment is set up to do single 5 gallon batches of beer.  But because I'm using the yeast built up from a batch of Thistle Dew Scottish ale I made last week, I had to get both batches done in relatively short order.
I took detailed notes in the brewing of the Thistle Dew.  Things like how long does it take to heat 4 gallons of water to 170 degrees, and how long does it take to drain 6 1/2 gallons of sweet wort from the mash tun.  I was then able to put together a time line of when to start the second batch while still working the first without ending up with two critical events happening simultaniously.
I sent out an invitation to the Howard County Homebrew Club to join in on the event.  4 members came by to share the day.  Jeff G. was first to arrive with a couple of his own beers.  Eric M. began his Homebrew Tour as he is looking to document the different methods of brewing the members of the club uses.  Jon S., who donated the use of some of his equipment to help out in the heating of muliple pots of water, stopped by to have a beer.  Matt D. drove up and unloaded his brewing equipment to do up a batch of his own beer.  He also brought a keg of beer to share as well.
Then the non-brewers began to show up.  5 other friends & neighbors came over to enjoy the beautiful spring day, and have some wonderful homebrew and brats that were grilled by Jeff in the back yard.
Eric filmed the process throughout the day, and everything went quite smoothly with onle one minor spill that he caught on tape as the transfer hose of the first batch went astray spraying beer all over the floor of the kitchen.  Eric showed signs of a mild panic like he'd never seen anything like this before, which he hadn't.  I kept my cool, having seen this kind of thing before and got it quickly under control and began the clean-up.
The transfer of batch #2 went much smoother and with the insertion of the airlock, my brewing was done.  Now all that was left was the clean-up.  Interestingly enough, it was also about the time everyone decided it was time to leave too.  It was a good day, and though I don't think I'll be doing another double brew anytime soon, I enjoyed the company for my Big Brew Day.