Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

At the playground

I have not posted family pictures on the blog in awhile, so I will do so today. We went to a playground today. After playing, we had a picnic lunch and then played some more.

After the playground, we went to see Despicable Me.

video

Facebook users: If you want to see the video, you will have to go to http://blog.ericshepard.com/2010/09/at-playground.html

Monday, September 20, 2010

GABF Final Session and Random Thoughts

Thanks again to Mr. Beer for inviting me to attend the GABF.  I had a great time, and I hope that I helped them out a bit as well.  If invited next year, I would not hesitate to accept the invitation again, but I do understand if they would like to give someone else a chance next year.  Even if I do not get tickets from them, I will use them as sort of a "home base", because I really thought a huge part of the fun was hanging out with the Mr. Beer employees and talking to the people who came by.  Oh!  I cannot forget to mention the pleasure it was to meet D-Rock.  He was the other Mr. Beer customer who got free tickets from Mr. Beer.

If I were to pay for tickets, Saturday night would not be the session that I would choose to go to.  The line to get in is longer.  The crowd is bigger and many of the beers have run out before that session.  There are also more drunk people, and someone stole a couple of my hats at this session, which was the only negative of the whole weekend.  Considering I got over $255 worth of tickets, and a few free goodies from Mr. Beer, the loss of $25 or $30 worth of hats is disappointing, but not that bid a deal.

If I have to buy tickets next year, my first choice of sessions is going to be the AHA members only session on Saturday afternoon.  It just is not as crowded, and it is just a bit easier to take things easy and enjoy yourself.  I went and paid for an AHA membership in anticipation that this might be something I want to do next year.  While making the AHA intern give me the sales pitch, I ran into Erin Glass (the one who sat next to me flying home from TN back in June).  She remembered me after I mentioned that her baby had spilled wine all over me.  She introduced me to the great Gary Glass (her husband).

I never made it to Dogfish Head or Stone Brewery.  The line by Dogfish Head was just too long when I went by and I actually never figured out where Stone was (yeah ... I know ... what kind of craft-brew fan could I be if I didn't even find Stone?).


The brewery which I thought had the best line-up of beer was Sierra Nevada.  The only time I got close to them was during the member's only session, and I got samples from all their taps at that time.  They have a "project" type beer (small release, not on their web site) called Hoptenium (or at least that is what I wrote down ... it was close to that, anyway) which was just amazing.  Torpedo also stood out for me as really wonderful.  They won a gold for Sierra 30 Jack and Ken’s Ale in Category 11: Other Strong Beer, and a silver for Estate Homegrown Ale in Category 12: Experimental Beer.  Yes, I enjoyed those both.

I was really impressed with Alaskan Brewing Company's Smoked Porter, which is something I would not have even tried had it not been on my list.  I also had another Smoked Porter, called SUE from Yazoo Brewing Company  which was also fantastic, but not quite as good as Alaskan's.  The problem with "smoke" as a flavor is that if the brewer over-does it, it can be easy to ruin a perfectly good beer.  These two had the perfect amount of smoke, and as a result were very tasty.  Turns out the judges agreed with me.  Alaskan's won a gold and SUE won a silver in Category 23: Smoked Beer.

I had quite a few sour beers during the time there.  The sour style is not one I've tried at all until Thursday evening ... and the first one was accidental.  I just walked by a booth and asked the volunteer to pour me "some of that".  Surprisingly enough, I really do like sour beers.  Who knew?  The only ones I specifically remember were Eric's Ale (won a silver in Category 16: American-Style Sour Ale) and La Folie Sour Brown Ale, both from New Belgium Brewery.  Raspberry Tart, which is more of a fruit beer, I guess, but had the same pucker-your-lips feeling as a sour from New Galarus was good too.  It won a bronze in Category 3: Fruit Beer.  I really enjoyed all the sours I tried (probably about 6 or 8), and I wish I could give credit for them all ... I just did not take good notes.

Another style ... or actually more of an ingredient, I sought out was rye in beers.  I really like what rye can do to so many styles.  It sort of smooths out some of the flavors and helps give a nice full body.  It is very similar to what wheat can give you, I think.  I even had my Beer Model try a few Friday Night.  She has always been afraid to try rye in a beer because she doesn't like the taste of rye bread.  I think I might have broken her of that prejudice.  I'm not even going to mention any of these, because I'm going to leave most of them out.  Again, I need to take better notes next year.

I had a lot of IPA's (of course).  Both Lagunitas's IPA and Hop Stoopid were wonderful (I tried the IPA Friday and called it the best IPA on  my list and went back Saturday and thought Hop Stoopid was even better.  I also really thought the Hop Project from Yazoo was wonderful as well.  What really stood out to me on the Hop Project is the sign said it had 100+IBU ... and I tasted almost no bitterness (ok .. no bitterness compared to other IPA's).  The beer was also slightly sweet.  The brewer was not around to ask "how did you pull that off".  Apparently, Hop Project is a different experiment every time they brew it.  I wonder if I will like it as much next year.  None of the award winners in the American IPA were ones that jumped out at me.  I would not be surprised if I had them, just do not remember them.

Rahr & Son's was all over my list.  They only brought two of their beers to GABF.  Neither really stood out to me.  They were both fine beers, but sort of disappointing considering how many of their beers were on my (AHA's) list.

I tried mead.  Thought it tasted a lot like the mead I made awhile ago and dumped out.  Turns out it is not that I am a horrible mead maker.  I just don't like mead.

I also tried a Super Chili Pepper Madness from Mad River Brewing Co., which was just amazing.  Diane had me try one of Wyncoop's Chili Beers when Mr. Beer bought me lunch on Thursday.  It was great.  I came across this Super Chili Pepper Madness beer Friday night and immediately had another (and then another).  Then, I got one more to bring back to Diane.  We both agree that this beer was much better than Wyncoop's.  It did win a Bronze in Category 5: Herb and Spice or Chocolate Beer.

Surprisingly enough, there was only one beer that I thought "wow, that sucks!"  I won't mention the brewery or beer name (the other beers I had from this brewery were fine), but this one was an imperial stout.  I don't know if I just got a taste from a bad batch, but the flavor was dominated by a heavy (fusel) alcohol taste.  They needed better fermentation temperature control on their beer.  And, maybe that is what they are going for.  Imperial Stouts are supposed to be somewhat intense, after-all.

For those of you who come here because of links from the Mr. Beer forum:  Peter, Eric, and Diane tell me there are some pretty interesting things planned as far as expanding the product line, the brew club, and the overall web site and order placement system.  A bunch of the things that people have been asking for just are not possible with the software as it currently exists.  They are going to spend some time and money building a more reliable / function-filled system.  It sounds within the next year or so, they product line will be much bigger.  A bunch of the brew-club suggestions that have come up on the forum will be implemented.

Oh, and I also know what strain the Mr. Beer dry yeast is.

Here is a list of the other GABF blog entries I made this year:

GABF Session 1
GABF Session 2
Members only line (video)
Sierra Nevada (video)
Once the line starts moving (video)
GABF Session 3
GABF: Random crowd video (video)

So, all-in-all, it was a great time.  Thanks again to Mr. Beer, especially Eric, Peter, and Diane.  Thanks to D-Rock for pointing me to some really amazing beers.  Thanks to Tracy who let me go and even accompanied me to one of the sessions.  And, of course, thanks to my buddy Charlie and everyone else who worked so hard to put on the event.

EDIT ... thanks especially to my sister who got me started on this whole homebrew obsession.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

GABF: Random crowd video

video
Saturday night crowd.

If you are reading this as a facebook note, the video will not come through.  Go here:  http://blog.ericshepard.com/2010/09/gabf-random-crowd-video.html

GABF Session 3

Session 3 I think is the best (so far). Since it is "restricted" it is much less crowded. It is amazing to me how many of the AHA members stopped by with interest in Mr.B.

Once the line starts moving

videoThis is what the line looks like once it actually starts moving.  


If you are looking at this on facebook, you won't see the video.  You'll have to go here:

http://blog.ericshepard.com/2010/09/once-line-starts-moving.html

Sierra Nevada

videoBetter look than my photo yesterday.

If you see this as a Note on Facebook, the video is missing.  You'll have to go here to see it:  http://blog.ericshepard.com/2010/09/sierra-nevada.html

Members only line

videoThe line moves fast.

If you are seeing this as a note on facebook, you don't see the video, so this post won't make sense to you.  You can look at it here:

http://blog.ericshepard.com/2010/09/members-only-line.html

GABF Session 2

So, here is the real beauty.  Not only did I get tickets for myself, but Mr. Beer also let me bring my wife to the Friday session.  Actually, when I met them for lunch Thursday, they had enough left-over tickets that I probably could have brought her to all the sessions, but it would have been real hard to get baby-sitters for that many days / nights in a row.

Here are some pictures from session 2:

The SheppyBrew Beer Model in her new BN Army hat, drinking something from Oskar Blues

The Beer Model in from of a model of a brewery

Me with my buddy, Charlie.  RDWHAHB!

I think the best beer I had was Alaskan Brewing Co's Smoked Porter.

This is a picture (not a very good one) of Sierra Nevada's peddle-powered bar.  Eight people sit around a bar and peddle.  There is a bar-tender in the middle with a few taps.  Someone has to drive.

Hop monkey.  Not really the Beer Model's favorite, but she looks cute, doesn't she?

Pretzel necklaces are pretty fashionable at GABF.

 Blogger brought these pictures in a random order, and I didn't bother rearranging them.

During this session, I concentrated on finding as many of the beers from the 2010 Zymurgy Best Beers In America Poll. I stayed away from long lines at Sierra Nevada, Stone Brewery, and Dogfish Head, but I did check to check off:  Rahr & Sons Brewing Co's Ugly Pub and Blonde ales;  Bear Republic Brewing Co's Racer 5;  Alaskan Brewing Co's Smoked Porter; Victory Brewing Co's Prima Pils; Lagunitas's IPA; Deschutes Black Butte Porter.  The only real notes I made was that I thought the Alaskan Brewing Co's Smoked Porter was the best beer I had last night.  I noted that I thought the Lagunitas's IPA was the best IPA I've had on the list so far.  The Deschutes Black Butte Porter was pretty nice as well.

Now, I have had 7 of the top 10, and 20 on the list.  Not too bad.

I tried a mead last night.  Didn't much care for it.

I have also "discovered" sour beers.  Never really had one until two nights ago, but D-Rock steered us to a couple more last night, and I really liked them.  The beer model didn't care for the one she tried (not really much of a surprise there).

As I was writing this blog, my wife called my cell phone from the bedroom asking me to go get her some McD's breakfast.  I think they over-served her last night.

I'm half-way through GABF.  Two more sessions today, and then it is all over.  It is so much fun.

Friday, September 17, 2010

GABF Session 1

I brew beer because my little sister got me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas a year and 3/4 ago. I've had a lot of success brewing with Mr. Beer and think it is a great product.

Recently, I got another reason to like Mr. Beer. Eric G, the brew master there, offered me an all-session pass to GABF this year. The only thing he asked in return was that I hang out in the Mr. Beer booth for awhile each session.

Of course I said "yes". I do not know the exact value of the 4 tickets, but it is over $200.

Well ... I have a bunch of pictures. No real commontary on the experience other than I drank a lot of nice beers.

This is my first beer of the night.
Mr. Beer Booth.

Why doesn't AB have any customers?
Blue Moon looked to be pretty popular
GCB:  the 2nd largest brewery in Golden.

I do have to say, the whole thing was awesome.  It is a little overwhelming to have hundreds of breweries to choose from, but you just have to let yourself go with the flow.

I really enjoyed spending time in the Mr. Beer booth, too.  I got some "inside scoop" from Peter (marketing guy at Mr. Beer) and Eric G.  It was pretty cool to talk to people who either were already using Mr. Beer or interested in starting with Mr. Beer.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

LMAO

This is just my opinion, but I think "LMAO" is way overused.  Quite often, I'll read something on Facebook or some other online forum type site that I find mildly amusing (or sometimes not assuming at all), and someone else will have responded with a LMAO.

I almost always want to tack on another response:  "Really?  You found that SO funny that you started laughing uncontrollably and your butt was in danger of falling all-the-way off?"  I never do, because I do not want to be the kind of troll that attacks people on online, and I have a feeling that some people would consider that question an attack.  I am certainly not qualified to judge what people laugh at, and so it is completely possible that I just do not get the joke once in awhile.  So, maybe I am wrong and everything is much more hilarious than I think it is.

But be the judge for yourself.  Here is an example:
I posted on my facebook status that I had been offered a free all-session pass to GABF.
My brother-in-law (Tracy's actual brother) responded with, "Is that the Gay Amish Biker Festival?"
My sister-in-law (the wife of one of Tracy's step brothers) responded:  "LMAO @ Ted!"

To be perfectly honest, I thought what Ted wrote was funny.  I would almost have given it a LOL if I was in the right mood.  But, LMAO?  Not even close.  And, this particular sister-in-law is an extremely fun-loving cheerful, good-natured, good-humored person.  She has a better sense of humor than I do.  But, in all the time I've known her, she has never laughed uncontrollably at anything that I thought was strange to laugh at.  I do not think I've ever seen her laugh her ass all-the-way off (or even close), and we have been together at some very fun events where laughing was going on.

I am not trying to pick on Tracy's step-brother's wife here.  She (at least) made the LMAO at something that was funny.  There are lots of times that it gets used when even the "L" is in question.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x1--MA7BSE

It probably goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that I have similar issues with ROFL ROFLMAO.  Only, more so.


But, even considering my dislike of the overuse of LMAO (and ROFL ROFLMAO), you know what REALLY drives me crazy?  When someone uses "your" despite the fact that what he/she really means is "you're",  THAT annoys me. 


By the way ... Ted, I know that you know how to Google and so you probably already know this (or don't even care), but GABF stands for Great American Beer Festival.  I'll let you know if I see any confused Amish Bikers (gay or not) while I'm there.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

2nd Wind Fund of Metro Denver

You may recall that last year, the Colorado Shepards participated in a Run / Walk / Ride event to support the Second Wind Fund of Metro Denver

In case you don't know (and can't figure out how to follow the link in the last sentence, The mission of Second Wind Fund of Metro Denver is to decrease the incidence of teen suicide by removing financial and social barriers to treatment for at-risk youth.

Last year, you helped me raise $840 and Tracy another $170 for the cause.  Thank you so much.

This year, we are doing the Walk again.  Unlike last year, Tracy and I are sharing a page rather than competing (really was not much of a competition last year ... now was it?)

If you would like to donate this year, here is our donation page:

http://www.runningguru.com/RunWithMe/EricShepard605
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