Saturday, December 31, 2011

THE SEVENTH BEER OF CHRISTMAS

Lozen Boer, an Abt/Quadrupel by De Proefbrouwerij.

750 ml bottle served in tulip glass. 10% alcohol by volume.

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As promised earlier, Lozen Boer is my New Year's Eve ale. I am excited to see if a full glass matches up to the anticipation and hope experienced in a tasting sample.

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The pour is a hazy dark brown body that has an eerie translucent "vegetable green" aura as it leaves the bottle.

The nose is anise and wallpaper glue. The flavors include the same in the foreground, with beef broth, earthiness, and sugary canned pear syrup in the background.

This isn’t as complex as some beers, but I like the simplicity and the strangeness of the aromas and flavors. They shouldn’t work but they do.

As it warms, a bit of apple juice flavor creeps in. A bit more warming and I'm also catching a faint hint of pizza sauce plus additional anise (although neither is brash or bold).

It’s as good in a full glass as in the small sample “taster” I had earlier. In fact, it's better because it had more time to allow additional flavors to blossom forth. Definitely recommended.

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It was good with red velvet cake. It wasn't a perfect match, but I'd pair them again.

THE LAST MEAL


Snow crab legs and pincers on a platter.

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We celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another with our annual "last meal." There are food items that knit the meal together—green salad, baked potatoes, buttermilk biscuits—and items that are special for each of us. This year, TWT enjoyed wood-smoked steak medallions and Infinium ale; The Wife enjoyed snow crab legs and sautéed mushrooms; and The Child enjoyed Kraft macaroni and cheese with a Frostie's Blue Cream Soda.

We toasted to the blessings of a good year, choosing to ignore the challenges and sorrows for a few moments.

Friday, December 30, 2011

THE SIXTH BEER OF CHRISTMAS

Doggie Claws 2011, a Barleywine by Hair of the Dog Brewing Company.

12 ounce bottle served in wine glass. 11.5% alcohol by volume.

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I love a good barleywine. I love Doggie Claws. I've had it many times in the past. As I took tasting notes this time around, I felt that I was catching a different flavor profile than I had before.

I was (and am) unsure about the flavors I was noticing.* Am I noticing particular flavors right now because I'm drinking beers that are heavier in flavor and body? Has my taste evolved to where I am discovering nuances that I couldn't before? For instance, why am I noticing notes of cherry in so many dark and bold ales right now?

Or, is the 2011 version just different enough from past vintages to be noticed?

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The pour is a dark brown body with half a finger of white head.

The nose is molasses, dark fruits, and a hint of mint.

The flavor is molasses, brandy, chocolate, figs, cherries, and a hint of mint on the finish. As it warms, I believe the mint grows in strength. In fact, I'm thinking mint M&Ms, even if the association is still rather faint and fleeting.

The alcohol is just on the cusp of being too much. Fortunately, it isn't. Some restraint has been shown as it sits right on the threshold.

As expected, this year's vintage is excellent. Some time in the beer cellar would make it even better.

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*Here is what I noticed two years ago, in 2009.

THE SEA


Pacific Ocean. Ocean Shores, Washington.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

THE FIFTH BEER OF CHRISTMAS

Thomas Hardy’s Ale, a Barleywine by O'Hanlon's.

8.5 ounce bottle served in a wine glass. 11.7% alcohol by volume.

2005 vintage from the beer cellar. Number P14372.

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Thomas Hardy's is my favorite beer. Unfortunately, it's been retired and is no longer in production. This was my final bottle, but a fourth day of Christmas prime rib dinner needed its traditional accompaniment. I savored this ale, sipping it and thinking about it and simply experiencing it throughout the meal.

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The pour delivers a plum-brown body with no head and no carbonation.

The body is smooth and strong, focused around alcohol, brown sugar, dark fruits (especially figs).

Words fail me* as I try to explain a beer that is "to die for."

For me, it pairs perfectly with prime rib and au jus.

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If you ever come across a bottle, I recommend that you pick it up and stash it away for a gray winter day.

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*Although that obviously hasn't stopped me in the past. 2009. 2006.

THE SEA


Pacific Ocean. Ocean Shores, Washington.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

THE FOURTH BEER OF CHRISTMAS

Ommegang Abbey Ale, an Abbey Dubbel by Brewery Ommegang.

12 ounce bottle served in wine glass. 8.5% alcohol by volume.

This abbey ale pours a slightly hazy red-brown with a finger-thick ivory head of tight bubbles.

The aromas are banana peel, yeast, cherries and broth.

The flavors are fruity, with a hint of yeast—starfruit, a hint of green banana, broth, cherries, brown sugar, and a bit of yeasty funkiness. As it warms, the cherry juice and brown sugar move forward from the background and become more prominent.

This is an excellent and enjoyable ale.

THE SEA


Pacific Ocean. Ocean Shores, Washington.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

THE THIRD BEER OF CHRISTMAS

Santa's Private Reserve, an Amber Ale by Rogue Ales.

22 ounce bomber bottle served in shaker glass.

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This ale was given to me last year by Santa Claus. I pulled it out of the cellar. It's style isn't usually a good choice for the beer cellar, but I forgot that it was there and recently rediscovered it. It actually held up quite well.

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It's a clear reddish-orange with a white head. The nose is caramel/brown sugar and bread/dough. The tongue is earthy/grassy, apple/tomato, candied sugar, and leafy hops.

It worked rather well as an accompaniment to meat-laden slices of pizza.

To state it simply: I liked it.

THE SEA


Pacific Ocean. Ocean Shores, Washington.

Monday, December 26, 2011

THE SECOND BEER OF CHRISTMAS


Infinium, a Bière de Champagne by Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company) and Weihenstephan.

750 ml bottle served in Champagne flute. 10.3% alcohol by volume.

$19.99 per bottle! (Listed as on sale, with an original price of $27.99 per bottle!)

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The pour is a slightly hazy gold with a white head.

The nose is honey, light fruit, sugar, and very light spices. The tongue is lightly sweet and spicy—honey, candied sugar, candied syrup, a hint of brown sugar, light fruits, apricot, light cloves.

This reminds me of a Champagne, but the barley rather than grapes makes it much more drinkable to me. Actually, I can drink this and enjoy it, where with sparkling wines I find the former debatable and the latter mostly lacking (even if I find it drinkable).

It has a light and airy mouthfeel, but is heavier than I expected.

It begins sweet then dries some as it finishes, although it is never overly sweet.

Infinium is rather pleasant, but I don't know if it's worth the price. I've had plenty of beers of similar nose/flavor that were less expensive and equally (or perhaps even more) pleasing.

There is a stealth alcohol content that isn’t noticeable while drinking but definitely makes itself known rather quickly in the brain and body.

All in all, this is quite good. If you have a chance to try it, then, by all means, do so.

GINGERBREAD MAN


Gingerbread man. Milton, Washington.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

THE FIRST BEER OF CHRISTMAS


Matilda, a Belgian Strong Pale Ale by Goose Island Beer Company (now owned by Anheuser-Busch).

12 ounce bottle served in miniature snifter glass. 7% alcohol by volume.

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The pour is an extremely clear orange body with a thin white head, which includes large bubbles.

The nose is leathery yeast, light cloves, flowers, and a hint of rum.

The flavors are similar with heavier cloves and other spices, apricot, and honey. The flavors are clean and clear. As it warms it has more of a citrusy rum character.

Matilda is very good. I've had it before during the holidays, and I plan on doing the same in the future.

CHRISTMAS DINNER


Christmas dinner. Bremerton, Washington.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

CHRISTMAS EVE


Stuck River Bridge. Sumner, Washington.

Friday, December 23, 2011

ZOO LIGHTS


ZooLights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Tacoma, Washington.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

WINTER SOLSTICE


One-hundred-twenty-second Avenue East, Edgewood, Washington. Solstice sunrise through fog, trees, and wetlands.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

HAPPY DONUTS


I did something completely out of character this morning. On many days, I show up with a single doughnut from Happy Donuts, my favorite doughnut shop. It's either a sugar doughnut or a chocolate bar (to accompany a cup of rooibos vanilla or chocolate puehr tea) and my coworkers drool over it. This morning, I picked up a dozen and left them out for everyone to pick through.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ORNAMENT


Fourth Avenue Northwest, Puyallup, Washington.

Monday, December 19, 2011

WAVES


Milwaukee Avenue, Puyallup, Washington.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

NEW YEAR'S EVE BEERS


I attended a recent tasting at 99 Bottles that allowed me to sample four New Year’s Eve beers. Each was a corked-and-caged beer that would be a wonderful ale to welcome in the new year.

I scribbled down the following notes in my miniature composition book.

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Timmermans Oude Gueuze, a Gueuze by Timmermans Brewery.
Clear light yellow, almost champagne-like bubbly. Sour, paper, lemon nose, followed by a tart lemon tongue. Good and sour.

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Delirium Tremens, a Belgian Strong Ale by Brouwerij Huyghe.
The same color and appearance as Timmermans. The nose is of fine paper and apple juice. The taste is a bit funky, with Seabreeze antiseptic (and perhaps the spice sage, but Seabreeze was my first impression). A trip to The Wife’s spice cabinet confirms the sage.

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Lozen Boer, an Abt/Quadrupel by De Proefbrouwerij.
A darker pour than the prior two, with a light brown body, but still bubbly. The nose is anise and (wallpaper) glue. The flavors are the same, with the addition of beef broth, freshly tilled soil, and sugary canned pear syrup. All in all, the most complex and my favorite of the bunch.

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Deus Brut de Flandres, a Bierè de Champagne by Brouwerij Bosteels.
A rather bubbly yellow-orange body. Clove and sage on the nose. Clove, sage, and tobacco leaf on the tongue. Not what I was expecting, and a pleasant surprise! A close second for me, right behind the Lozen Boer.

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While any of the four would be pleasing to explore further in a full tasting, rather than in small quantities, I decided upon Lozen Boer as the ale to welcome 2012. I will share those notes and thoughts after the cork is popped.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

WINTER LIGHT


Winter light, an hour before sunset. Watching squirrels.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

VÖLUSPÁ


"The sun will go dark, earth sink in the sea. From heaven vanish bright stars. Steam surges and life's warmer, high flame flickers against the very sky."
—from the "Völuspá," as found in the Poetic Edda and quoted in the Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Anthony Faulkes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

FROST and THORNS


One-hundred-twenty-second Avenue East, Edgewood, Washington.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

ALL THE HEROES ARE DEAD AND BURIED


"All the Heroes Are Dead and Buried," TWT's contribution to Les Sar'zine issue #4, the "Heroes" issue, is now printed, folded, cut, published, and ready for tomorrow's release date. 120 copies are available in five snazzy colors—Asgard (rare, 6 copies); Midgard (uncommon, 30 copies); Jötunheim (common, 48 copies); Niflheim (uncommon, 30 copies); and Ragnarök (rare, 6 copies).

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Eight new related poems from TWT:
"Just Another Day in the Life of the Pagan King"
"Dark Days Are Coming and the First Is Likely a Thursday"
"This Is the Slow Collapse Into Fire and Ice"
"Your First Glimpse of Hel Is Like a Gateway Drug"
"All the Heroes Are Dead and Buried"
"The Wolves Linger Just Outside Your Front Door, Growling"
"Heroes"
"The Colds of Hel Are Just a Foretaste"

Five new commissioned pieces of artwork from The Child:
"Mjölnir"
"Bifrost"
"Fork-moon"
"Spearflake"
"Fenris-wolf"

Plus "Heroes" books from eight other writers and original artwork from our "Heroes" artist in each issue.

$15.

Monday, December 05, 2011

THE WOOD


One-hundred-twenty-second Avenue East, Edgewood, Washington.

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"By the way, the town where Asklepios’ sanitarium existed, I read now, is up in the mountains. Probably the climate was and is cool and moist; I read it’s heavily wooded. I bet the stars are quite visible there. It’s the place I yearn for. Out of memory."
—page 37, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick by Philip K. Dick, edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem.

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"[Beowulf] went in front with a few men, / good judges of the lie of the land, / and suddenly discovered the dismal wood, / mountain trees growing out at an angle / above grey stones: the bloodshot water / surged beneath..."
—page 99, Beowulf, bilingual edition, a new verse translation by Seamus Heaney.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

FALL BERRIES


Red: One-hundred-twenty-second Avenue East, Edgewood, Washington.


White: Riverwalk Trail, Puyallup, Washington.


Red and Shadow: Riverwalk Trail, Puyallup, Washington.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

FOG


One-hundred-twenty-second Avenue East, Edgewood, Washington.

Fog, seagulls, frost-covered moss covering a roof, chimney—the same as last year, December 01—less poetic, perhaps.

Monday, November 28, 2011

ADVENT


Riverwalk Trail, Puyallup, Washington.

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"But nevertheless something shines in the dark ahead that is alive and makes no sound. We saw it once before, but that was a long time ago, or maybe our ancestors did. Or we did as small children. It spoke to us and directed and educated us then; now perhaps it does so again. It sought us out, in the climax of peril. There was no way we could find it; we had to wait for it to come to us."

—page 21, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick by Philip K. Dick, edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem.

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Thank you to JNQ and KSB for nudging me to see Advent in the above quote, when I could only see the monsters lurking in the shadows.

Friday, November 25, 2011

SUMNER BRIDGE LIGHTING


10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...


More than 100,000 white Christmas lights come to life on Sumner's Stuck River Bridge.

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2008.

2007.

2006.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

DUVEL


Five years ago, I had my first bottle of Duvel for Thanksgiving. I wasn't fond of it then. This Thanksgiving, I once again sipped on my annual holiday bottle with turkey and cranberries. It's grown on me. It still isn't my favorite, but I can appreciate it in ways that I couldn't half a decade past. And, now it's a tradition.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

FALL


Grayland Park, Puyallup, Washington.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

FALL


Meridian Avenue, Puyallup, Washington.

Monday, November 21, 2011

FALL


Puyallup Public Library, Puyallup, Washington.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

FALL


Fourth Street Northeast, Puyallup, Washington.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

BEOWULF

Robert Zemeckis, along with accomplices Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, has made a horrible mockery of an epic poem. He has taken communal, ritualized violence and transformed it into individualized hypersexuality. He has given Beowulf Freudian legs, three of them, as one of his cross-eyed wenches attests. He has transformed a tale of heroism into a narcissistic Dungeons and Dragons fantasy, trying to hang it on the lyrics of the original text. Unfortunately, this is animated action film and I am the worse for having watched it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OBSOLETE

"I have to somehow come to terms with the fact that so much of what has informed me, inspired me, and driven me is becoming, for lack of a better word, obsolete. Wait. Let me re-write that. Not inherently obsolete. Obsolete in the eyes of a free market that values frictionless shopping, portability, and digital content over everything else."
—Matt Kish, from his blog "Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a hook?" ("Nothing is the same: What will happen" on Wednesday 09 November 2011)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

FALL COLOR

A WIDOW'S STORY


"Too late, this is a sinkhole I have blundered into—the kissing, the hugs, the bright exclamatory voices—I am plunged in to a blackness ten times black—as Melville would have said the blackness of the soul without hope—staggering away seeing again with such hallucinatory vividness it’s as if I am there, again—I have never left..."
—page 351, A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates.

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Plain and simple, this memoir is sad. I found myself reading it slow and steady, absorbing it in small chunks and at a constant, consistent pace. I found myself meditating not only on the death of Ray Smith and the grief of Joyce Carol Oates as she mourns the loss of her husband, but of my own mortality. I fear losing The Wife should she die first, but fear more for her should I be the one to depart before her.

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Joyce Carol Oates spares us none of the madness, terror, suicidal thoughts, moments of remembrance and brief respite from the pain experienced during her journey through grief. She does leave us with a bit of hope toward the end of the book, although it is a strange and tarnished hope. She isn't done grieving.

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This book feels cathartic. As she writes down the darkness upon the page, I can almost feel a healing on the other side of the writing. This is what keeps me reading it. This is perhaps part of the slouching, trembling, less-than-perfect hope that shuffles along toward the book's conclusion. This act of writing, of defiance, of exploration and experience, is what keeps me engaged as a reader, even through the difficult passages, the pain of another.

Like Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, which covers similar terrain, you need to journey within this book's words and sentences, to learn from a fellow wanderer on this world, and to reflect upon your own life and love and death.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

HE'BREW GENESIS 15:15


As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.
—Genesis 15:15

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He'Brew Genesis 15:15, a Barleywine by Schmaltz Brewing Company.

8 ounces served on tap in a tulip glass at The Red Hot.

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This is not exactly a "hot dog" beer, but was excellent anyway.

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I've had a couple of the Jewbelation ales over the past few years, so I knew that Genesis 15:15 would be a treat. Looking at the beer board in The Red Hot, I also knew that it packed a 13.4% alcohol-by-volume punch. I was hoping that it would be served in a smaller glass since I would be driving after lunch. It was, which was a good thing because it was potent brew.

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It arrived with a black body and a sturdy, lasting, finger-thick light brown head. Intricate lacing was left behind.

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The nose is dark chocolate, malts, rye bread, dark fruits, and a wee bit of funk (yay!). The flavor builds upon these base aromas and expands—raisin, figs, dark chocolate, brown sugar, rum, as well as hints of lacquer, campfire, tobacco leaf, and broth.

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This ale is rich, rich, rich! It is dense and chewy. The mouthfeel is thick and dense, coating the tongue and palate, and leading to a slow, warm burn in the mouth and esophagus. The finish is long and sweet. This is an awesome barleywine.

The 13.4% abv isn't overwhelming. Instead, it sits in the background, peeking through here and there. However, its effects can definitely be felt at the end of the glass.

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As it warms, this ale smooths out, becomes more silky, mellows, and blends. I can only imagine what a cellared bottle of this holy nectar would taste like. My guess is that it would make it's ancestors proud in its "good old age," just as Abraham was promised by Yahweh.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

ART AT WORK


As part of Tacoma Arts Month, TWT and The Child headed out to visit a few artists in their natural habitats: their home studios. We packed up sandwiches (TWT's in the Weekly Volcano's Art at Work cover and The Child's in a fabric wrap) and began to wander.


First, we stopped off at Holistic Forge Works and Ms. Darcy's Woolly Cakes Studio, where The Child actually placed a quarter in the donation box. Then we went inside...


...where we encountered local political cartoonist wunderkind R.R. Anderson amongst his tools, toys, inventions, haunted machinery, artwork, Tacomic cartoons, and assorted curiosities.


Afterwards, The Child and TWT stopped by Tacoma's Wright Park for a picnic...


...and the W. W. Seymour Conservatory to warm up and look at flowers.


Then it was off to the studios of Springtide Press, Holly A. Senn, 2 Ravens, and Hilltop Artists. The Child had to eventually be dragged away from viewing the glass blowing of the youth of Hilltop Artists, exhibiting a patience rarely seen unless someone has a passion for what they are experiencing.

After a long day of being immersed in art and wandering, it was time for some brief napping before dinner.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

OCTOPI FROST PARK


Yesterday was the final Friday of season four (number 31 of 30!) of the Frost Park Chalk Off. It was filled with pumpkins and ghouls of various types. Troy's Work Table headed in a different direction.

TWT played homage to his various cephalopod pieces this season. He also played to the notion of it being the final chalking until April 2012, as well as to the "end-of-the-world" feel that permeates our metaphorical public square.

And, TWT won!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

CORN MAZE

The Wife, The Child, and Troy's Work Table braved the first real fall rain—drizzle, sprinkles, showers, full-on rainstorm, repeat in random order—to wander the UW and WSU corn mazes at the Carpinito Brothers Farm in Kent, Washington.


[1] Entering the UW corn maze.


[2] Corn, endless corn.


[3] Punching my map at one of the landmarks.


[4] "The corn is alive with the sound of music..."


[5] Corn, endless corn, and more corn.


[6] A completed corn maze map and a background of miniature pumpkins.