Saturday, November 26, 2016

20ish games in

I'm starting with the beer this time.

Dry Dock Tenth Anniversary Quad. Malty, plummy, molassesy. And it's 10 percent. Which is why I chose it for this post. I needed the alcohol. 

Colorado, what are you doing?

I'll start simple, and on a positive note. Check this out:

That's a big fancy stat chart for this season. And if you don't know what it means, don't worry. It's not terribly important. All you need to see is that Difference column up there on the right. Do you see where Colorado is? 2nd. We'll come back to that but keep that in your head. I also want you to remember PDO 98.3. Got it? Good, let's continue.

So 20ish games in and things are....not great. I predicted this season would be rough,and so far I am exactly right. Below .500, our goalie getting lit up, teams making us look like amateur beer leagues. So let's muck on through the bad.

Colbourne hilariously vanished from game one. I knew his initial hat trick was a fluke, but holy cow, does he even play? My stats websites say yes, every game, but I haven't noticed him once. Is he playing with the wrong teammates? I don't know. He's great at getting in front of the goalie for the screen or garbage goals, but holy cow. I haven't seem him do anything.

Varlamov...just....what is happening? He used to be one of the fastest goalies in the game, and now he lets in soft goal after soft goal. 

Iginla, bro, you are a future hall of famer. But you don't belong anywhere near the top six. Sorry man. Your one-timer slapshot from the slot is lethal, but that's like all you have now. Every play dies as soon as the puck hits your stick. 

Passing. What does this mean? I know a pass should be tape to tape, professional players know it should be tape to tape. Why is almost every pass at someone's feet. Unacceptable. 

Goals. Yikes. 

Tyutin, Gelinas, fellas, I"m sorry but you are bandaids. I'm not sure why Sakic signed you, but ouch. You cannot possibly be part of the future plans. 

Grigorenko. Your experiment is over buddy. You have the tools, but nobody to use them. 

Okay, now that I got those out, let's move onto the good. 

AJ Greer is the future of the team. He's fast, he hits, he crashes the net. He looks for the garbage goals. He gets under the other team's skin without doing much of anything. I mean let's look at the tape:

So my footage of Greer comes from the Boston game, which was awful. But check this out.Greer slides behind the net with the puck while fighting off a defender, gets the puck to Bourque in front of the goalie and then crashes in for the rebound. And then notice 47 from Boston shoving Greer. Do you see that? Do you know what that means? Greer is getting under their skin. He has thrown no punches, has done nothing cheap or dirty. He's not even looking at the player. And he's getting the other team pissed off. 

That is no small feat. 

Let's take a look at another clip:

Again Greer slips behind the net (are you noticing a trend?) on the power play and miraculously, rather than continue the notorious Colorado Power Play Shuffle, elects to just throw it on net. It was a bad shot, but he at least went for it. He immediately crashes down to get the rebound, and again is crosschecked by a Boston player. Again, without throwing a punch or making a dirty play or even looking at the Boston defender. He's pissing them off without even trying. This is huuuuuuge. 

This is something Colorado is lacking right now. A feisty little bastard to get to the dirty areas. 

Moving on.



What a stud. Let's look at his first goal:

I'm calling him Dr. Rantanen, because this kid has patience. Look at his power play. He gets completely open, which is a rarity for Colorado, cradles the pass, looks at literally every option he has, and then then roofs it over a defender. The patience, the poise, the skill. He very well could have panic-shot it and ended the attack, but he went over every angle, every calculation and put it exactly where he wanted it. Beautiful. 

This kid is also the future. 

And now the final piece. Zone entry. 

When the pieces come together, it's beautiful. Here Landeskog battles off an opposing player to protect the puck. He flicks it up to Barrie who streaks into the zone. Barrie zips past the Jets defense and feeds it to Bourque, who has managed to plant in the opening behind the goalie who taps it in for a simple goal. 

This play is beautiful because the puck is constantly in motion, constantly attacking and constantly changing directions. It goes out, across, forward and across. Winnipeg never had a chance to set up, never had a chance to disrupt. It was perfectly executed. 

So why the cherry picking. Two reasons. One: I can only make gifs by what I find on Youtube, and a lot of highlights get taken down. Two, I chose these to show that the underlying system is there. 

Do you remember those numbers up above? 3.89 improved Corsi. Corsi is a very simple advanced stat, which sounds weird but bear with me. If you are on the ice and your team takes a shot from anywhere, even if it doesn't hit the goalie, it counts for your Corsi. If the other team takes a shot, it counts against your Corsi. All it boils down to is how well you control the puck. It doesn't necessarily mean much in terms of wins, but Chicago and LA have consistently been the best Corsi teams, and just look at the results. 

That 3.89 improved Corsi means Colorado is the 2nd most improved Corsi team from last year. Now, we are currently ranked dead flippin' last in Corsi, but the improvement is there. 

Now for the PDO. That is a silly advanced stat that basically puts a number based on how lucky or unlucky a team is. It takes into account shots and goals and assumes that every team will, over the course of an average season, fall to 100. We are currently ranked 26th in PDO, meaning we are one of the most unlucky teams in the league based on shots taken and goals, or lack thereof, scored. For reference, Columbus is sitting in 6th place with their multiple 10ish goal games. That is an anomaly, and they will come crashing down. 

So what does this all mean? Bednar's system is working. The underlying Matrix numbers are there. It's the players. The players aren't getting it done. Three coaches with this core and its been the same mediocrity. 

But this year is different. Our possession numbers have skyrocketed. Bednar knows what he's doing. The players just keep falling into old habits. 

So what do we do? I have two options as far as I can see. First, the simplest, get rid of the bandaids. Keep Duchene, Landeskog, MacKinnon, Rantanen, maaaaaybe Soderberg, Varly, Pickard, Johnson and Barrie. Maybe Bourque. I know he is lighting it up this year, but he is notorious for being a badass when his contract is on the line and then coasting when he's offered a multiple year deal. 

Get rid of the dead weight. We have no secondary scoring, and our secondary defense is laughable. Beauchemin, sorry man you are past your prime. Gelinas, Tyutin, Grigorenko, Mitchell, Martinsen, Soderberg, Iginla, Colbourne, you guys are donezo. Bring up the young guns and let them learn the system. 

Option two: blow the damn thing up. 

Keep Rantanen, Zadorov, Landeskog (2 way forwards like him don't come along very often), MacKinnon and Pickard and sell off literally everybody else.

Varly? Donezo.

Barrie? Donezo.

Johnson? You better believe he's donezo. 

Duchene? Yeah he's our leading scorer, but how many draft picks and prospects would he fetch? He's donezo.

Start from scratch. Bring up the young guns. Bring up Bigras and Greer and Meloche and Geertsen  and Compher. Hell, bring up Siemens.Tank a few seasons. Gather every draft pick you can get. Build up a prospect pool. Start over with the youngin's with Bednar's system and watch the future bloom. 

Burn it. Just like a forest needs fire to keep healthy, so too does our team. 

But that's just my opinion. 

Estes Park? More like Bestes Park

Belgian Porter


That scene in Wayne's World where they had backstage passes and are showing it to everyone

6 pounds 2 Row
.5 pounds black malt
.5 pounds chocolate malt
1 pound caramel 40

Belgian dark candi sugar @10 minutes

1 ounce Northern Brewer @60 minutes
1 ounce Northern Brewer @10 minutes

Belgian Ale Yeast WLP 550

The club (all two of us) were invited to the Fall Back Brewfest up in Estes Park. It was a small event but man, look at that view:

We were set up on the side in the homebrewer's section along with the Fort Collins based Liquid Poets Society.  And oh man, what a day. (What a lovely day!) We were there to answer questions and drink, and brew and drink, and help folks get into the hobby. And drink. Do you know how much they overpour you if you're wearing a brewer's badge? It got to a point where we missed the one ounce pours at other brewfests. 

By the way, how long have I waited for one of these?

Refer back to the Wayne's World gif.

That's a Brewer's badge baby. I was feared and respected, adored and congratulated. I had festival volunteers say, "Can I get you anything?" Rather than, "Sir, you're making a scene."

I'm a teacher by nature and profession, so getting folks excited and educated about the hobby was just about my dream day. Plus beer and brewing? Lovely. 

It was small. It was cozy. There were good food trucks aplenty. And there was a sweet folk country bluegrass band playing the entire time. 

I deviated a bit from my tried and true porter recipe because I wanted more of the Belgian candi sugar to come through with plum and molasses flavors. And it did, but the beer is way lighter than I expected. It has a hint of roast with a backbone of plum and molasses. But it's good, and it's easy to drink. And I'll be happy to drink it. I think next time I'll stick with my tested porter recipe and just add the candi sugar and Belgian yeast, but that's for another time. 

Until then, enjoy this picture of the brewclub:

Me, Ryan Marks, Joey Lechuga

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Avalanche Early Season Paired With Captain Bucky O'Hare Carrot Cake Brown Ale

9.5 pounds 2 Row
1 pound Belgian Pils
.5 pounds Victory
.5 pounds Caramel 45
.5 pounds Pale Chocolate
.5 pounds Biscuit Malt

1 pound Lactose @10 minutes

1 oz. Willamette
1 oz. Fuggle

American Ale Wyeast 1272

1 tbl nutmeg
1 tbl allspice
1 tbl coriander
2 tbl brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
At Flameout

1 Vanilla Bean
8 oz. Chopped Almonds
Soaked in rum (because I'm a pirate) and added in secondary

What a crazy early season, eh? I began the start of hockey season by watching my favorite sports movie of all time, Goon.

Ignore the terrible trailer. This movie is excellent. I liked it so much I ordered and proudly wear a Ross "The Boss" Rhea jersey from a shady online store who turned out to be a super friendly Filipino man who told me my purchase would help provide his family with clean drinking water. Sooooo I'm pretty much saving the world here guys.

But I digress.

The boys in burgundy opened with the offensive juggernaut Dallas Stars who were the highest scoring team last year. I came ready to get rowdy and left surprisingly positive. 

It was an absolute artillery slugfest. If Dallas had a decent goalie I would put money on them winning the Cup. Fortunately for us, they have Niemi and Lehtonen. Who are both decent goalies, but decent goalies don't win championships (unless you are Chicago or Detroit, who won multiple cups in spite of their goaltenders.) 

The good guys finished an absolutely brutal road trip by swinging through Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay and Florida, who are all basically guaranteed to make the playoffs this year. And you know what? It actually wasn't bad. Washington made us look like a 10 and under team, but they are my Stanley Cup favorites this year and are playing pissed off at an early exit from last season. That score could have been much worse. 

The bottom line is the optimism is there. There are flashes of Bednar's new system in every game; pucks are skated out of the defensive zone almost immediately with a short nouthbound pass or a quick bounce off the boards to get it to the neutral zone. No more absurd two-zone rockets that get intercepted. 

And even though we lost by a goal to Winnipeg, I again saw flashes of potential. The 1st period looked like the good ol' boys, lost in their own zone chasing the puck down and getting pushed out of the attacking zone after a single shot. But in the 3rd period Colorado shot 20 times (!), which is more than the good ol' boys used to shoot in the entire game. And as soon as I figure out how to make gifs out of videos, I'll throw up some highlights and go in greater detail.

So, let's recap with some Good Things and Bad Things:

Good Things
-More shots
-MacKinnon and Landeskog are playing like manimals
-Rantanen is back in the lineup, and playing in the top 6
-Zadorov is looking great
-Martinsen is hitting everything in sight and is great on the forecheck
-The Power Play is approximately a billion times better than last year
-Bednar's new defensive system is starting to show, which is good for Varly. Varly is a reactive goalie and likes to see the shots so he can react (and he can flash the pad in like a quarter second.) He's not like a say....Belfour or Brodeur who are able to set up perfectly angled without seeing the puck
-The defense is also more aggressive with the puck attack and getting their sticks in the passing lanes

Bad Things
-Duchene is playing his game only every so often. He needs to play his elite game every time. He's capable of taking over the game single-handedly when he's on
-Defense is falling back on old habits and collapsing in the defensive zone
-5 on 5 Colorado is still having trouble maintaining the zone and are falling back to being one and done
-Iginla, man, I love ya but you don't belong anywhere near the top 6. The play dies every time you touch the puck. I'd like to see him on the 3rd line and power play duty

So hey, it's early. I said before that it will be a long season. A deep strategic system like Bednar's takes time to implement, especially after about a decade of a nothingburger system with an extra side of nothingsauce. 

But the potential is there, and you can see a change in the wind. Or feel. Feel a change in the wind. Whatever, I'm expecting at least a better and more structured season.

Now let's talk beer.

This is my carrot cake brown ale. Back when I first started brewing, the pumpkin beer craze was in full swing and has only gotten worse (or better, depending on how much you like pumpkin beer.) Personally I like fall for the pumpkin beers if only because it is so saturated it forces breweries to try new things. 


In an effort to be a unique snowflake I chose to brew my own take on the fall spice craze and threw together a carrot cake recipe. The first 4 years were....not great. They ranged from offensively malty to hilariously overspiced to just plain mediocre and forgettable, which I think is one of the greatest insults to a beer. 

So try number 5 turned out.....


It's malty with a hint of spice and sweetness. The lactose gives it a creamy, foamy finish. The spice isn't overpowering or too subtle. It's nice and balanced if I do say so myself. And I do. I do say so myself. 

It's fall, it's window opening and patio drinkin' weather, hockey is back. What a great time of year. I'll pair it with a great spiced beer. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

GABF 2016

Let's start with how I felt for GABF 2016:

Just like last year, there were far too many beers for me to keep track of, so I'll give a rundown on what drunk J managed to snap a picture of.


I have a major fascination with the design of beer labels. In another life I'm a successful beer graphic designer, probably living in one of those tiny houses or vans converted into an apartment that seem to be all the rage nowadays.

So that being said, I did my best to capture some of the cooler labels and designs. Let's start local with Mockery Brewing.

I'm a sucker for flintlock pistols, what with my pirate obsession and all. And you add hops and barley in the mix? I'm yours. I tried their Redcoat Session IPA, because it was 5% and I needed to pace myself. I love me a good session IPA, and this was no different.

Next up was Lakefront, with their Brandy Barrel Imperial Pumpkin.

Now, I know pumpkin is played out, but bear with me. Every year in September, breweries big and small start rolling out their pumpkin selection (too early!) with great fanfare. And then there's Lakefront. They just sort of appear on the shelves one day with no huge marquis or sign. And I'm telling you it's the best pumpkin beer on the market. It's spicy and malty and just....well it's just the best. And the Imperial version is the

Oh yes I did.
Tin Man Brewing from Indiana, you're up next.

So anybody that knows me knows that I am terrified of the impending AI revolution, and subsequent robot wars. But I love me some robots in media. I loved watching giant robots punch giant aliens in Pacific Rim, I love shooting giant robots in MechWarrior Online, and I love watching Achilles fight Russia for the Alaska Territory in Robot Jox. As a result, I'm loving this label. It's simple, it's industrial, and it tells me their story. Seriously check out their website. I want a full poster of their Overlord.

I wanted to include MacLeod Brewing from California

because of one of my favorite Avs players, Cody McLeod.

Plus I told the rep I liked the name and he said I was the first person all day to pronounce it correctly. Sooooo we're pretty much best friends now.

I had to include my favorite hometown heroes, Great Divide.

With Yeti picture. I'm pretty sure we cut in line for that photo because some ladies yelled at us. Sorry ladies! I genuinely didn't know there was a line.

I tried their new Velvet Yeti, which is my favorite beer, Yeti, on nitro. And oh man. Just, oh man. Perfect.

Flix Brewhouse has these awesome movie-themed posters and beers:

I'm digging the logo for Illinois brewery Metal Monkey:

Florida-based Barrel of Monks was kind enough to pose for a wicked pic:

Oh, wait. I get it. Barrel of Monks. Like monkeys. But monks.
And I absolutely love Coppertail Brewing's logo here:

Seriously click the link. The whole thing is like that music video for Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins. 

Had to get a picture with the Modus Mandarina can naturally:

I see you Steve.
To wrap up, I ask a question. Do you remember the 90's pop band Hanson? Yeah, those guys. I know you know it.

Anyway, THEY BREW BEER NOW. Behold! Hanson Brothers Beer!

Seriously, check this out:


Wait, get out of the way, Marks.

Can you guess the name of their beer? I bet you can. Go on, take a guess. Did you guess this?

Blurry picture aside, it's called Mmmhops can you even believe it? Amazing.

So I saved these two for last, because they were far and away the best beers I tried. Where do I even beg...wait, no. I'm just so excited. Okay, deep breath.

Let's start with Mantra from Tennessee.

Yeah, TN. I know, right?

You see that beer listed as Goo Goo Gish? It's apparently based on a cookie, and I can't even describe how it tastes, but I'll try. It tastes like a chocolate cookie with caramel and toffee crumbles. That's it, that's the beer. I don't know how they do it. But there it is. If it ever emerges in the Denver market, I'm not joking when I say I'm going to buy up every bottle I see, if only to share it with the world.

I'm getting jealous just writing about it, so let's continue on to Insight Brewing from Minneapolis.

The Wild hockey club has made left me predisposed to hate everything from Minnesota, but I girded my loins and tried these guys because their setup was wicked:

Yeah, just some weird beat-up chest.
And oh my goodness, look at these labels:

Their whole website is this crazy troll/pirate/viking/mythology theme. It's just perfect, and the beer was a crazy surprise because I'd never heard of them before. Absolutely delicious.

Until next time GABF, it's been weird.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Hockey Countdown with Homebrew Citrus IPA

Patrick Roy Abandons Ship


Stop Me If You've Heard This Before

Lafitte Citrus IPA
8 pounds American 2 Row
4 pounds Maris Otter
1 pound Crystal 75
5 ounces Citra Hops
1 ounce Warrior Hops
San Diego Super Yeast

Jean Lafitte was a successful pirate and smuggler operating out of New Orleans. The Governor Claiborne, at one point, covered the port in posters offering 500 dollars for the capture or death of Lafitte.

Lafitte, in return, covered the port in posters offering 1000 dollars for the capture of Governor Claiborne.

Let's start with the beer today. 
No place like foam
Yikes, that's a lot of foam. 

So here's the deal on this one. It tastes amazing. The warrior hops come through right away with a ferocious bitterness, followed by a smoothing pineappley and tropical peach flavor. As you can hopefully see the color is a beautiful gold, and the foam, though angry, is light and airy and lacey. 

But man, what happened with that foam? I tried super charging it at 40 psi for 24 hours, then dropped it down to 10 psi for serving. And this is what happened. Believe it or not, this is way better than it was. At first pour it was 90% foam and a tiny sliver of delicious beer. 

I lowered the pressure, popped the cap and let it dissipate, angled the beer line and coiled it so it flows only up and there are still bubbles in my lines. Everything I've read says the co2 is escaping from the beer, and I've tried every solution. Soap and water have revealed no leaks.

So I'm at a loss. But you know what, there's a delicious beer in all that delicious foam. The base is there, I just need to tweak it. I'm good at that. Changing things on the fly. Adapting and using what I'm good at and just steering it in a different direction. 

Moving on. (This will be pretty gif-heavy, so if you are on dial-up, I apologize. Also, how is the year 1996? That Independence Day movie looks pretty neat.)

What in the world happened, Patty? 

Reminiscent of when St. Patrick got lit up in Montreal and vowed to never play for Montreal again, Roy once again took a hike when the going got tough. Here's the thing; the man is a legend, arguably the greatest goalie of all time. His ego and fiery temper and cockiness and unreal talent made him a champion four times over. And when he first arrived back in Colorado to helm the team, those qualities took him to the Jack Adams trophy. 

He was fiery. He was passionate. He was aggressive. The players, on multiple occasions, said they loved playing for him. He came in with a decade of minor league coaching, so it wasn't like they just called him up on the couch. He came in with a plan. 

And then Minnesota figured out how to stop the speedy underdog juggernaut that was the Avalanche. Colorado won the Western Conference that year with an obscenely aggressive forecheck and was backed by an outrageous performance by Varlamov in net. But the Wild figured out that the slightest bit of pressure on our defensemen would collapse the entire thing. The rest of the league took notice, and the rest was ugly history. Colorado's defensive weaknesses were exposed, and the team was never the same. 

I mean, just look at this:

Here we have Holden beating Vancouver to the puck behind the net and yet still losing the puck. Barrie covers literally nobody in front of the net, and the rest of the team collapses in the slot allowing Hansen to slide right in behind Barrie to receive the pass from behind the net surrounded by five Colorado players and score. 
This was essentially a 5 on 2 short handed goal. 
Let's try another:
Comeau forechecks two Minny players on their breakout, which is fine in itself except he completely removes himself from the play. For some bizarre reason, there is nobody covering the Wild player on our own blue line, allowing a huge and completely ridiculous stretch pass across the entire ice. For some reason, all four of the remaining Avs converge on that one player, suddenly I guess realizing the puck is in their zone, allowing number 10 to slip by completely untouched for a babysoft goal. 

Looks about right.

One more? One more.
Washington starts with two entering the zone followed by a pretty decent drop pass and shot. Nothing terrible there. The rebound goes into the corner and back to the top where there are exactly zero Colorado sweaters. Everybody wearing burgundy and blue inexplicably chase the puck and crash their own net, leaving two Washington players all by their lonesome on our point. 

I felt the same way.
I could keep going all day. But I won't because I'm making myself furious.

Enter Jared Bednar. Former coach of the AHL Cleveland Monsters and brand new coach for the Colorado Avalanche. 

"Who is Bednar?" you inquire, handing me a beer.

"I'm glad you asked", I reply. I probably refuse the beer at first out of politeness, but we both know I'll take it after one round of "Oh, you don't need to buy me a beer for my amateur hockey analysis."

Bednar took a fairly decent but ultimately nothing special and huge underdog Monsters team and led them to a 15-2 postseason to win the Calder Cup. He is strict, aggressive, and analytical. He preaches structured breakouts followed by an aggressive and creative attack with speed. 

Hmm, so literally exactly what our core of players is capable of. After two years of watching Roy's Avalanche I still don't know his coaching plan. In one press conference and exactly one youtube video, I know exactly what Bednar plans to do. I mean, here:

Break it down. Cleveland starts their breakout by streaking behind the net and drawing the defender towards the puck. A Monster teammate circles around, giving the puck carrier an extra out, but he doesn't need it because he immediately sends the puck up ice to the center. But instead of just dumping it in the zone, thereby giving up possession (coughHoldencoughGuenin), the original defender speeds through and takes another short pass to gain the zone. 12 enters the zone, giving another open option followed by 16. 8 is speeding through, though, forcing the defense back on their heels. 16 and 12 are still open, giving two options if needed, but 8 jams it in.

Here they give up possession, which I would normally dislike, but instead of peeling off and retreating to the blue line he attacks and breaks through to retrieve the puck. And since he draws the entire other team to him, 16 and 12 are still open to receive the puck. 

The other team had no time to set up, no time to react. They were on their heels the entire time. And it wasn't accomplished by chipping it up the boards or dumping it in. 
I couldn't find a gif of Bednar, so please accept Jean Claude Van Damme in the classic film, Sudden Death.
"But aren't you just cherrypicking those breakouts?" you ask as I finish my beer. 
"Of course I am," I reply. "I'm just a guy who loves hockey. Next round's on me, Julia Stiles."

I have a feeling that this will be a rough first year under a new coach. Adapting to a completely new system (or just suddenly going from no system to....a system) is not easy, especially at this point in the offseason. But man, we have some good players with speed and talent. Imagine them with the right structure. 

So let's take a lesson from beer. My IPA came out...interesting. The base, or core if you will, was there. I am confident in my skills to adapt and change, so I will try the recipe again but just tweak it a bit. I'm not so set in my ways that I'll just do the exact same thing. I like what I see and taste, but it's not perfect. So I'm going to adapt. And change for the better. And not just slam my glass to the ground and take my keg and go home. 


Also I don't know why the font changes halfway through and I can't seem to fix it. So, there it is.

Update: I have fixed the font problem.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Part Six of the Salty Dog Trilogy: Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly


We find ourselves in the same old mess, singing drunken lullabies

Let's just get that song out of the way, because if you know me at all, you know that is my jam. 

So Flogging Molly, the big show, the finale, the captains on the deck. I, of course, pair them with.....



That Guinness. 

Before you leave in a huff, just look at this:

Tell me that doesn't look delicious. Aside from the fact that Guinness literally flowed like water on the ship, I have always had a soft spot for the stuff. I love the way it looks, I love the way it tastes. I love the brewery tour in Dublin. It was my first nitro. Fact of the matter is, no matter how mainstream or huge or popular or unpopular or whatever Guinness is or becomes, I will always enjoy it. It's an old faithful. 

Kind of like Flogging Molly. 

I first saw them at the Ogden theater, which if you have ever been there, you know is a small venue for a seven piece celtic punk band. And now they play Red Rocks and headline cruise ships and play on late night talk shows. It doesn't matter how mainstream or big they get. I'll never forget the first song I heard from them:

I was hooked after the banjo intro. I saw them on my honeymoon in a small little pub venue in Dublin. It's kind of our thing. 

The show was incredible. Shows, I mean. They played on the deck one night and on the beach the other. A pirate celtic punk band on the beach. Guinness in hand. It was surreal, I'm not sure I can even describe it. It's energetic, it's emotional, it's fun, it makes you dance. Yeah, even you. You just can't help it. It's like a pub just decided to get up and start jamming all at once. 

I'm not even going to bother really going into Guinness. You either love it or you hate it. Personally I think it's creamy and roasty and delicious and smooth. Can smooth be a flavor? Sure, why not? 

And if you haven't had a Guinness, let me know. The first round's on me. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Part Five of the Salty Dog Trilogy: Pirate Republic Brewing

Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. 
- Mark Twain

Let's go back in time. J, age ten. I rent a game from Blockbuster (which, by the way, I miss terribly. Digital and modern gaming is awesome, but there was nothing like headed to Blockbuster after school and picking out a game to play over the weekend.) It randomly happens to be this:

That's Sid Meiers' Pirates! Gold for the Sega Genesis. It's the greatest game I've ever played. You can capture ships. You can seize ports and towns. You can trade. You can woo governors' daughters. You can clash swords with enemy captains. It is amazing. I start reading every book I can about pirates. Every essay I write in school is about buccaneers and scallywags. I play every waking hour, terrorizing the seven seas. And to this day I've never beaten the game. I think you had to find your lost father? I have no idea. I was too busy buckling swashes and hunting for buried treasure. And thus a life-long love of pirates, both the educational and bleak reality and the romanticized movie and video game version. 

Pirates are kind of my thing. 

Even the real versions were amazing. 

Benjamin Hornigold, mentor and captain to Edward Teach aka Blackbeard, once captured a ship, rounded up the captive crew, stole all their hats and sailed away without harming a single person because they had all gotten drunk the night before and threw their own hats overboard.

Jean Lafitte ran a pirate and smuggling operation out of New Orleans. The governor, tired of his shenanigans, put up a bounty of 500 dollars (aka all the money in existence back then) for his capture. Lafitte, in return, put up a bounty of 1000 dollars for the capture of the governor. 

Stephen Decatur led a raid, disguised as Maltese sailors to recover a stolen ship. Once he seized the stolen vessel deep in an enemy harbor, he just lit the damned thing on fire as a huge middle finger so that nobody could use it. 

Ching Shih was a female pirate in China and pretty much ruled the ocean commanding over 300 ships and 40,000 sailors. Any disobedience was met with a swift beheading. So what did Ching Shih do? Anything she wanted because she commanded 40,000 sailors. Nobody could stop her, so China offered her amnesty, which she took. She kept her earnings (pretty much all the money in the world) and opened a gambling house. LIKE A BOSS.

I can go on, and will happily go on over a pint when prompted. 

So anyway, we were in Nassau, which was I was already excited about as Nassau was once a pirate haven. I was walking the streets that Hornigold, Stede, Rackham and Teach walked. Most of the bars and restaurants were tacky tourist stops, which was expected since Nassau depended on tourism. We hit a few museums and touristy photo locations and headed back to mainstreet where we passed a pub with a pirate flag hanging over the front door. Which wasn't out of the ordinary; there were tacky pirate souvenirs everywhere (which I loved.) I imagined they served margaritas or something, which was okay because I like margaritas. 

We walked in, because again, pirates, and there it was. A microbrewery. A pirate microbrewery. With a full brewhouse and everything. 

Even their beers were named after pirates;

And they were delicious. We had four. And after four beers, I get in a spendy mood. I spied with my little eye a sweet Pirate Republic metal growler. 

I had to have it. Sixty two dollars. A fine purchase, I said. "I wish you'd told me you wanted that before your beers," said the bartender. Following my confusion, she pointed to a sign that said GROWLER COMES WITH FIVE BEERS.

Yes, let's do this I said. She brought out five more beers. "Would you like them to go?" she asked. Again, reading my confusion, she followed with "There are no open container laws in Nassau." I don't think she realized what I could do with five beers. In the heat. At sea level. That's like the equivalent of one and a half Colorado beers at altitude. But still.

I was home. 

All in all, Pirate Republic gets five Skull and Crossbones out of five. See you next Salty Dog, Pirate Republic.