Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer isn't over yet

It's been quite a busy Summer this year so far. There have been activities and fun times just about every week so far - Beer sessions and tastings at Sugar Maple, special firkin tappings at Stubby's, golf, beach volleyball, Lakefront Festival of the Arts, concerts, Summerfest, beer festivals, and much, much more. The weather has been fantastic. Sure we had the several days in July where the temperatures hit over 100 degrees, but I'll take that over sub-zero temps any day. 

A couple weeks ago, I went to the Milwaukee Firkin Craft Beer Festival and had a great time. This festival is geared toward highlighting some of the finest breweries and brewpubs that Milwaukee and Wisconsin have to offer - Milwaukee Brewing Co., Lakefront, Ale Asylum, Tyranena, Central Waters, and Big Bay, to name a few. Other breweries from around the country that were also on hand to share their beer with the attendees included Lagunitas (Petaluma, CA), Bell's (Kalamazoo, MI), Founders (Grand Rapids, MI), Sixpoint (Brooklyn, NY), Left Hand (Longmont, CO), and Oskar Blues (Longmont, CO). A couple great things about beer festivals like this one are that you are surrounded by other people who truly enjoy good beer and the breweries use these opportunities to experiment with new styles or flavors. They brew smaller batches, put them in firkins, and allow consumers to taste them. They do this to see if this new one-off brew is a hit with consumers. If it is then sometimes they decide to brew it in a larger batch for distribution. Tasting these one of a kind beers is what I enjoy doing. Wait...what's a firkin you ask?  A firkin is actually an old English term that refers to a small wooden keg, though they aren't wooden anymore. It's much smaller than a quarter barrel. Breweries use firkins for the special beers that I've mentioned. SO, my favorite firkin at the Milwaukee Firkin Craft Beer Festival was a beer that isn't even for sale. It was called Jazz Hands and was brewed by Brouwerij Von Hotcrackers. Jazz Hands is a braggot style. A braggot is a centuries old recipe that is made by blending spices and herbs with mead and beer. Let me tell you it was fantastic!

The calendar just flipped to August and that means the Summer is not quite over yet. August is also the month of my birthday. This year is a milestone as I turn 40. I'm hoping to make this a very fun and special birthday month. Not all fun though...I've got the obligatory 40-year physical this week. I'm not worried about that as I do my best to exercise and eat healthy.  Coming up I'm seeing Trapt  on Friday, August 10 and running the Friends of the Hank Aaron State Trail 5k the following morning. Suppose I should take it easy on the beer the night before. The following week friends and I are running in the Warrior Dash for the second year in a row. Such a great time. I'm looking forward to attacking the obstacles and throwing the axes. The very next week is my birthday weekend and it should be a great time. My plan is to get as many of my friends as I could to go on the Riverwalk Boat Pub Tour on Saturday, August 25. It's a fun boat tour that starts at a bar, then you travel by boat along the Milwaukee River to two other breweries and finally back to the originating destination, where I hope that we'll be able to stay and have dinner. To be honest, the only sure thing so far is the boat tour. Maybe brunch on Sunday, which is my actual birthday. Sunday afternoon is another beer school session at Sugar Maple. Should be a great weekend. Stay tuned!

In other news, all the while that these fun and games have been going on, I have been house hunting. I started a couple months ago and have been taking my time trying to find the right place. I've been living in WI for 12 years now and figured it was about time I settle in and plant some roots. I really do love Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area.  I can, and will, still visit my homeland back in Connecticut. Maybe now friends will come visit me. 

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