Monday, January 31, 2011

Beer of the Month - January

The beer of the month for January is St. Bernardus Christmas Ale {10% abv}. I know what some of you are thinking, "'s too late for a Christmas Seasonal Beer to make BOTM." Fools! With the recent parading of Belgian inspired beers, we now have a genuine Belgian Family Brewers product. St. Bernardus Brewery was founded in 1946 in Watou, a Province of West Flanders in Belgium. What makes beers from this part of the world special is the brewing technique; once the finest ingredients and water are combined and brewed, the beer spends an additional three months time in tanks to mature before prep for bottling. This process results in a naturally produced carbonation, which is noticeable to the palette. The most important benefit of this carbonation technique is it allows you to age your bottled beer for up to 15 years. I know from personal experience, that bottle aging beer (that's capable of being aged) over a year or two's time smooths out the texture tremendously.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is dark and full bodied; flavorful is an understatement. Malty texture resides up front with hoppy tones singing backup. Familiar holiday spices finish the experience. This Abbey Ale is a brew to be sought out; accordingly, I give this authentic Belgian 4 stars. The tricky thing is if you want to try St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, you need to get your hands on a bottle or two now. Thankfully for me, I got it as a gift from my buddy Matt last month. Good news is you can age a few bottles in your home in case this ale is hard for you to get. Who said only wine aficionados can take advantage of affordable in home aging? And if you couldn't tell by the abv, this ale packs a left hook. Slow sipping is highly recommended...but when isn't it?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Playing with strobes.

After many years of ignoring my photography needs for automotive needs (ahem), I've been able to get some equipment together so I can take on more commercial projects. I'll still offer natural light portraiture of course, but controlled environments are a great thing. I'll update/link on here as I begin to advertise and take on new clientele, but in the meantime it's been fun dialing in my new setup for future work. I've had the privilege of assisting several young entrepreneurs I know personally get better images of themselves and products, for website, performance career and business promotion, and I'm very happy to now keep even more work in house.

Erin, a good friend of mine who runs a few blog-based websites like myself, was in need of some material. While the in-house studio space is still under construction, I got creative. A multiple hour evening shoot ensued, and a great start was established. I can't share samples from this set, but look for behind the scenes posts in the near future.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Change of scenery.

After this past weeks sleet storm, I finally got the motivation to wrap up this last trip of 2010. Something about a vista of evergreens slumped by frozen water weight makes you think about the Spring which is getting closer than ever. But not so fast, April isn't that close.

This past November we snuck a quick vacation in to finish out the years' festivities. We went to a familiar place, Myrtle Beach SC, but decided to stay a bit closer to the strip than the year before. I spent plenty of my extra doe this past year on hobbies so I was looking for a great off-season deal...and boy did I find it. came through this time around, putting us in a hotel claiming 40 bucks a night. It got decent reviews online so I jumped on it. Showing up at the entrance of the Palmetto Shores after driving 8 hours into the morning was quite interesting. There was no parking lot to speak of (temporary only), and the 'ocean view' was more of a 'side' ocean view, but it fit the bill in every other way; cost, location, cost, etc.

The weather down in SC was sweet. I mean, we got there on the best week of November ever. It was about 70+ degrees all week, but in typical Fall non-daylight savings time fashion, it cooled off quickly at night; a 20-30 degree swing in a matter of minutes. Given days were an extended Summer, we took advantage of the beach as much as possible. Apparently consuming beverages on Myrtle Beach(es) is 'frowned upon', but we were still able to enjoy some afternoon watercooler time with a few old friends of mine (albeit after Casey led a short southern conversation with the beach patrol) that moved back down to NC when work pulled them from Maryland. It was great seeing Renee and Casey down there.

I didn't shoot a ton, on purpose, but here's my set from Myrtle Beach. I think the biggest tease of the whole trip was that New Belgium Brewery beer is sold in SC, but not in MD (or PA for that matter). Accordingly, we bought them out of their stash of 2* Below and Fat Tire, then hit the road. We're now down to about a six pack in real time. It'll be sad to see them go. Delicious, but sad.

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