Monday, February 25, 2008

How far we've come, yet how close we are...

You know, I miss my Babcia. She passed away oh, about 10 years ago, and I still think of her and the times we shared. I inherited a lot from her and it amazes just me how deep that goes. For example, my great-grandfather (her father) loved to build and a house he built still stands going out of Mocanaqua towards Glen Lyon. It's the house beside the diving bell--it's hard to miss--it's the one with the plumb walls and level roof.

I used to sit in awe of the stories she told about how she had to pay kids in grade school to tell her what the teacher was saying--she only knew Polish and no English. Tales about their family constantly moving to find work--Mocanaqua, Gary Indiana, Kentucky, back to Mocanaqua. I miss those recollections.

I inherited her love for travel--going with her on Greyhound to visit my Aunt Charlotte and Uncle George in Michigan. Taking the Greyhound from Shickshinny to Wilkes-Barre for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Flagging down and riding the Greyhound (again!) to Bloomsburg for the Fair, then coming home by myself on said bus (at the ripe old age of 8) after getting separated from her for what seemed like the Fair, a perennial occurrence.

I inherited something else from her too. We both brought and I continue to bring growlers of beer for our fathers. Can you believe it? I remember her telling me how after a hard day in the mines, her father would give her a nickle to go to the beer garden and bring back a bucket of beer. I would imagine he felt out of place there, probably only knowing Polish, and probably too dog-tired to go himself. But at the same time knowing that he needed a beer to relax after the tenseness of working underground all day. These days, I do the same thing. I, being fortunate enough to usually have a couple of beers on draught, usually fill a gallon sun tea jug for when I go see my Dad (except during Lent). Right now, he's building a house and a gallon of whatever I happen to have, goes a long way to cool the frazzled nerves.

I didn't know my great-grandfather but I think I'd have loved him. Just like my Dad.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Free Meal at a nice Bar and Grill

Who says there's no such thing as a free beer? I don't know of any--I usually just borrow it for a while until I drain the brain if you know what I mean. Well, in this case the beer's not free but the food is (almost). The Arena Bar and Grill at 380 Coal St. in Wilkes-Barre PA has an excellent beer menu and serves fairly good pub grub. If you go and sign up for mailings, they'll periodically send you a postcard that you can bring in to save $10.00 on your next meal. It's not valid after Penguin games. They have a lot of imports and domestic microbrews on tap--I would say at least 20--and they change pretty often. This placed used to be the lamentable Black Rock Brewing Company (Brewpub).

Oh. I don't have any financial interest in the Arena Bar and Grill. I just like it. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Head Topping

What do you call it when you pour your favorite beer into a glass and the head tops the rim and overflows down the side? Is there a word for that event? Depending on your general outlook on things this could be viewed as a happy or unfortunate occurrence. Happy since that image of a slightly overflowing beer is one of legend and also unfortunate as this equates to wasting.

Let's try out a couple for size. Wasteage? Sounds too toxic. Spillage? Seems too mundane--like the expense a bar might incur by too-hasty barmaids filling shot glasses. Rimming? Too much like child-birth. How about these: ``storming the Bastille'' or a ``bishop's defrockment''. In context: ``Joe, stop pouring otherwise you'll storm the Bastille.'' Or ``Sebastian, slow down or that bishop's gonna be defrocked!''

The ``bishop's defrockment'' is kindof a play on the opposite of the term ``a bishop'' which is what you would call a beer that was poured short and less than what you paid for. I hate getting a bishop when I'm out anywhere and I usually send it back to get topped as I'm paying for a full glass. If there's no line on the glass, I expect it no more than 1/2" from the rim say, on a pint glass. Am I being anal on this?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

I admit it--I like Blue Moon Belgian White. It's a nice thirst quenching beer and I've found that people who wouldn't otherwise like a craft beer take a liking to it. While it's not a craft beer per se, it is in that Twilight Zone of beers that serves to get people out of the Miller Light conundrum (mine not theirs) and into a more flavorful beer. It reminds me of ummmm, Cheerios. Do you have any beer that you hate to admit you like?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beat the high cost of Hops. Grow your own!

Here's a link to a place where you can order Hop rhizomes in many varieties. And it looks like ordering opens up March 20, 2008. I don't have any financial interest in this place, nor have I ever purchased anything from them before--it's just something that I found after doing some research.

I suspect that Hop will grow here where I am in NEPA as my father told me that some grew wild behind the farmhouse where he grew up. Further, I read somewhere that up-state New York was a huge producer of Hop at one time (1800s) before the industry moved out west.

Has anyone grown them successfully in NEPA and can you give some gotcha pointers?

S, how long until this gift drys up?

It's mostly never appropriate to quiz a gift-giver how much a certain gift cost them. Especially if it's you who received the gift. Closeness to the giver may make it possible to ask but be careful as the risk assumed is like reaching across a field of dead soldiers after you've had one too many. One slip and the wrath of the Hop Devil could come tumbling down upon thee--no matter the good intentions. Most gifts are a known entity. That is, you open it, you see it/feel it/taste it/touch it/sense it. You either love it or hate it, and that's that. If you want to know further about the gift you can look up the cost behind the giver's back (unless it's a hand-made one like my revered homebrew beer gifts--shameless plug inserted here). Over and done. Bye Bye Baby Bye Bye.

The reason I ask this is because my friend S gave me a magnificent gift for Christmas and I don't know when this gift is going to end. I'm lucky huh? A bottomless mug of beer if you will. But, why should I even care as long as it's a gift that keeps on giving? Well, for one I hope this gift never ends, but to receive the gift I need to be home when this gift arrives with a rap on my door around lunch-time, once a month. This gift requires me to sign, no not as in for-the-deaf but an actual signature proving that I am indeed the rightful recipient of said gift. How many gifts have you received that you have to sign for? I feel special. I am the recipient of a domestic microbrew beer of the month club if you haven't guessed it already.

I've decided not to ask S about the extent of this gift. She meant it to be a surprise on the day she gave it and then every month thereafter. That there's no stated end to this gift serves as a reminder of all that is good in the world and that maybe, just maybe, this gift goes on forever.

Lurch and Libation

Where I work, let's just say a major telecommunication equipment provider, there has been a recent push to develop employees' careers. This after decidedly negative survey results were returned to management from the perennial make-the-employee-think-we-care-and-thereby-make-them-feel-good employee engagement survey. What is possibly meant by engagement is best left to another discussion, but in any event one of the career development possibilities offered was to either give or attend so-called lunch and learn sessions. For the inebrated, a lunch and learn is a way to impart some wisdom from one person or many to another or many, over lunch (thereby not creating any expense for the employer), usually in a conference room. Everyone brings their own lunch but this is not mandatory. I bet many companies do this or variations on this theme. There's also a social aspect as we get to meet perhaps new people and network. The first thought that came to my mind when I heard this suggestion was, hmmm, can we bring beer and if so who is the designated driver who guides us safely as we lurch back to our cubicles after libation?