Monday, February 20, 2017

Beer and Bruce

We went out for 'romantic' Valentine's Day beers at Brew Nation. They turned out to be like any other beers, but with a rose. 

The following day we went to Manuka Oval to watch the cricket as the Prime Minister's XI took on Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka won convincingly by five wickets, and we got to see Lasith Malinga doing his stuff. 

Kevin of Pact was launching his new L-Yeah Hoppy Lager at The Durham and he requested that Him Outdoors wear the brown flowery shirt I bought him, as he felt it was appropriate for the brew. There was also a tap-takeover by Akasha Brewing, and the owner Wesley White was there representing his brewery.

Three Brewers
Later that evening I went to the Open Air Cinema to see Collateral Beauty, in which a successful NY advertiser (Will Smith) suffers personal tragedy and tries to come to terms with it by writing letters to Love, Time and Death. His friends are all very concerned for him and try to help him deal with his grief and loss. Sure, it’s full of mawkish sentimentality, but it was released at Christmas so what do you expect? The stellar cast (Helen Mirren; Ed Norton; Kate Winslet; Naomi Harris; Keira Knightley) are all under-used, and doubtless won’t be giving it top-billing on their acting CVs, but the film is perfectly adequate and in no way deserves the hateful criticism it received. I was, however, distracted by the bats flying past.

At the weekend I went to see The Boss with my boss. Bruce Springsteen was in concert at Hope Estate and we had free tickets so we drove up there to enjoy the spectacle.

Some Cafe at Collector on the way up
Hope Estate is a winery, so the wine and food was excellent. They do their own beer too, which is pretty good, but only a dodgy mid-strength lager was for sale that day. We got some smoked salmon salad and, as there was no shelter and a massive downpour, we also got drenched. 

Posh nosh at the gig

Jet played the warm-up set beneath glowering skies. They were pretty good and got things going with crowd favourites She's a Genius, Are You Gonna Be My Girl and Look What You've Done among others.

And then the sun came out and we danced and sang along with Bruce.

He did all the stadium rock stuff of getting audience members up on stage to do a number with him (No Surrender, Waiting on a Sunny DayDancing in the Dark); holding out the microphone for the crowd to sing along with the chorus; incorporating lots of instruments; and jamming with his band.

Up close and personal with E Street Band guitarist, Stevie Van Zandt

The fans loved it, there was lots of dancing and singing, and it all went on for three hours as he played his working-man-driven music and people punched the air with feeling. The River, Youngstown and Glory Days were highlights for me, as he seemed to give them meaning and roots. 

We slept in the truck (although it was hot, uncomfortable and full of mosquitoes so not much actual sleeping was done) and in the morning we examined the state of our feet.

Outdoor gig feet
The truck gathered some of the forest's bounty and the grille looked like it had been festooned with potpourri, which I thought looked pretty cool. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Art Inside and Out

Some friends bought a house a couple of weeks ago and they have moved in and put up their artwork. We have been living here for quite a while and our pictures are still in boxes, so they shamed me into hanging at least a couple. 

Ceremonies by Yulawirri artist

199 Steps, Summer Sunset by Dennis Bromage
Framed Hilda Ogden T-shirt
And to prove there is beauty wherever you look, here are a couple of shots from my runs and rides around Canberra.

View from Drake Brockman Drive
Pinnacle Nature Reserve

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mud Wasps and Graffiti

These nests appeared on the outside wall of the laundry. I asked friends what they were and whether I should get rid of them (what with this being the land of Everything Wants to Kill You), and they said it was fine - they were just mud wasp pupae. Apparently they are good to have around as they control spiders, aphids and other pest insects. So I didn't bother them and they hatched into wasps and flew away and left me alone. I wish all species could co-exist so amicably.

This is a mural I run past regularly at a local playing field. I just love the colours, the combination of young and old, and the detail in the child's eyes. It seems friendly and approachable (and it's near the end of the run, so I'm always pleased to see it).

Monday, January 30, 2017

Drinking in the Sun

A friend has a new camera with a wide lens, about which he is very excited. We met for coffee and chocolate to examine the camera, and he pointed out its features.

Wide angle Koko Black

We went round to Mr & Mrs Lovely Bonkers and sat on the patio of their new house admiring the sunset, which grew ever-more impressive over the course of the evening.

Sunset reflection

They have bought some solar-powered outdoor lights so we played with them and drew pictures with light (yes, that's photography).

Several of us have been studying the BJCP guide to learn more about the different styles of ales. A couple of people were keen to take the exam at the end of the month, so we had to cram in a couple of sessions in  a week. That's a lot of beer, especially as the last two categories are Belgian strongs and specialty beers!

Leffe Blonde - smells sweet and malty; tastes of orange peel and bananas with hints of phenols and a mild, bitter finish
La Trappe Blond - orange notes and spicy yeast
La Trappe Dubbel - dried fruits and caramel malts; ruby colour; mellow, balanced alcohol. Raisins and sweet sherry characteristics; well attenuated; malt loaf
Trappistes Rochefort 6 - Floral aroma; perfume notes; light brown colour; full-bodied; smells like Turkish delight; tastes like Turkish delight; isn't Turkish delight
Westmalle Trappist Tripel - pale colour; spicy strong alcohol peppery taste; dry orange pith finish; grainy malt impression - bitey
St Bernadus Tripel - Tinned pear aroma; retentive mousse head; rhubarb and pear compote flavour; desert/ cake beer; soft fluffy mouthfeel
Duvel - The classic example of Belgian Golden Strong; earthy hop character; crisp, dry finish
La Guillotine - Caramel biscuit malt aroma; almond finger biscuit flavour
Trappistes Rochefort 10 - Belgian Dark Strong; mousse head; dark, complex and rich, fruity (figs), light vanilla aroma; moderately malty; alcohol heat; dry
St Bernadus Abt 12 - Dried fruit aroma; well-rounded full mouthfeel; damn, that alcohol is smooth - well tasty
BJCP Session #9
Prickly Moses Blueberry Hefeweizen - Not as fresh as previous bottles; lacking in fruit punch
Lost Coast Raspberry Brown - bitter chocolate notes; raspberry aroma and flavours strengthen as the beer warms/ settles
Founders Spectra Trifecta - Clean, delicate Kolsch with floral chamomile, citrus lemongrass and spicy ginger. Soft and gentle mouthfeel; great bedtime beer
Stone Mocha IPA - Chocolate and coffee in an IPA clash badly. Milky coffee taste, but it's all a bit of a mess
Renaissance Tribute Barley Wine - Like a boozy Christmas pudding tasting of sherry, dried fruits and treacle. Sensationally rich!
Ridgeway Imperial Barley Wine - 'A fusion of Russian stout and traditional barley wine'; this seems light for style with unexpected hoppy bitterness - disappointing
De Molen Bommen & Granaten - Bready and fruity armoa; malty sweet marmalade flavour; very palatable
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (2016) - Burnt toffee aroma; aggressive piney resinous hop character; bitter and hoppy
Rough Draft Freudian Sip Strong Ale - ultimate beer; caramel aroma; chewy, soft mouthfeel; bitter finish - kitchen sink beer with everything: malt; hops; sweet; bitter
Stone Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard - Slightly woody; strong and vegetal; bitter - instant heartburn
BJCP Session #10
Post-exam beers at The Durham