A Crazy Idea

I have a crazy idea.

I think this is the part where I say “Just crazy enough to work.” But I don’t know if it will work.

I also don’t know if it’s just boredom. I don’t know if it will help me find whatever it is that I’m looking for.

I do know it’s scary. I do know it’s the kind of thing that parents advise against. And the kind of thing that friends encourage, or at least until they realize you’re serious. And I do know that I’m so beyond restless.

I have a crazy idea.

In a few months I get to celebrate the wedding of two friends who are awesome and I wish I could see more. I get to go all the way to DC for the wedding and then head to New York to visit another friend and just enjoy the city. While looking at flight and train plans for getting there and back, a thought popped into my head.

What if I didn’t come back to work? What if I left my job, took my vacation pay and spent some time exploring? What if I took trains, took my time, meandering my way back to the West Coast? What if I did all that and wrote about it and took photos and video to share and to remind myself of it all later?

Then the serious questions appeared: could I really leave my job? What would my family say? What would I do when I got back? Could I afford it? What would my roommate do? Where would I go? How long would I spend? Am I just trying to escape? Will I be able to keep up my half marathon training? What would I do if I don’t come back energized? What would I do if I couldn’t find a job when I got back?

I don’t really know the answers to any of those questions. Despite that fact, I have started formulating a plot. A plan. An itinerary?

I’ve always found the best way to approach a crazy idea is to answer the questions you want to know the answers to and avoid the ones you don’t.

A month.

Philadelphia – DC – Atlanta – New Orleans – Chicago – Denver – Salt Lake City – Sacramento – Portland – LA?

Philadelphia – DC – Atlanta – New Orleans – Chicago – Minneapolis – Portland – LA?

Philadelphia – DC – Atlanta – New Orleans – Houston – San Antonio – Tucson – LA – Oakland?

I have a crazy idea.


The Brew Review: Five

This is The Brew Review: a new beer review every week. I may not be a beer expert but I think I’ve had enough cerveza to be able to give you an honest opinion and some ideas for great beers to try.

Green Flash Brewing Co. Imperial IPA


Heeeeey sexy laday!

Brew: Green Flash Brewing Imperial IPA (AKA San Diego IPA)
Imperial India Pale Ale
9.4 % ABV, 101 IBU
 22 oz. bottle
About $6

This week’s brew is Green Flash Brewing’s Imperial IPA, straight out of one of my favorite and one of the fastest growing craft brew areas in the country – San Diego. This is one of Green Flash’s most popular brews, so popular it’s often called the San Diego IPA and I can definitely see why. Light in color and heavy on hops, this brew has a distinct flavor that sticks in your mouth.

This brew’s got a light citrusy scent and a smooth feel with a bitter and flowery finish, this Imperial IPA packs a heavy hoppy punch but is still very drinkable and tasty. IPA fans will love the lingering finish.

Verdict: Among my favorite Imperial IPAs for sure. I can’t recommend it enough for IPA drinkers, but those who aren’t big on the bitter taste won’t want to go near this one. At 9.4%, you’re also getting plenty of bang for your buck as far as alcohol is concerned so don’t be afraid to share this one with a friend. There’s also something about Green Flash itself that I really love. Perhaps it’s their awesome use of social media, or their Flash of Genius campaign featuring awesomely designed and super informational posters for each beer. Again, any brewery that strives to connect with its consumers and be an advocate not just for their own brews but for craft beer in general is a brewery that is going to become a favorite for me and that’s exactly what Green Flash is doing.

Related: Last month the California Craft Brewing Association announced that craft breweries in the state contribute 22,000 jobs and $3 billion to California’s economy. That’s 1.5% of the state’s economic output! Pretty interesting stuff to read and definitely awesome to see how great an impact awesome craft breweries (like CCBA President Steve Wagner’s Stone Brewing) can make on the economy. Many of these are small businesses and the craft brewing industry is still growing – 13% in 2011 and 12% in the first half of 2012.

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise indicated, beers reviewed were purchased by me (or my friends) and were in no way sponsored by the brewery or any retailer. If any brewery wants to give me free beer, they should feel free to contact me.

The Brew Review: Four

This is The Brew Review: a new beer review every week. I may not be a beer expert but I think I’ve had enough cerveza to be able to give you an honest opinion and some ideas for great beers to try. 

Stone Brewing Co. Ruination IPA

Stone Ruination IPA

Hello lovely!

Brew: Stone Brewing Ruination IPA
Imperial/Double India Pale Ale
7.7% ABV, 100+ IBUs
22 oz. bottle
About $6 per bottle

I’m back in the brew game (not that I ever left) and this week’s brew is bringing this feature back with a bang! Last night I sat down for a delightful evening with Stone Brewing Company’s Ruination IPA. Stone is one of my favorite breweries and not just because they are located in the San Diego area. You may recognize them from their Arrogant Bastard brews or because they’ve been around for 16 years. I like them because they make great beers, give a ton of money to charity, have made efforts to become more sustainable and are just generally awesome (not to mention super-active on social media). 

Anyway, after a particularly frustrating day at work there was nothing I wanted more than to sit down with a delicious beer and some dinner. I’m sure no one has ever thought it was a good idea to pair an egg scramble with beer but I did it anyway because I’m anti-grocery shopping or possibly just lazy. Regardless, the food wasn’t what was important here.

The Ruination was a nice golden color with a very hoppy smell (my favorite). The taste is all bitterness and hops with a touch of citrus to keep things light and smooth. The best part comes in the finish, which is clean and bitter and lingers for what seems like forever (or until you take another sip). This brew is basically unstoppable and definitely kept me wanting more.

Verdict: Probably one of my favorite double IPAs of all time. The lingering finish just serves as a reminder that you want to drink more. Extra bitter and all-around delicious, Ruination is perfect if you are as obsessed with IPAs as me. From the moment I popped off the top and was hit with the super hoppy aroma, I was hooked. Next time (assuming I actually hit the grocery store), I’ll pair it with something much bolder to match Ruination’s dominant taste: something spicy like jambalaya, curried chicken, jalapeño poppers or some really strong cheese (I’m drooling just thinking about these things).

Related: In case you aren’t the type of person to just sit down and drink 22 oz. of beer by yourself on a Tuesday, then you should definitely try this Garlic, Cheddar and Stone Ruination soup that sounds awesome but I haven’t made yet because I can’t ever convince myself not to drink a whole bottle. So if someone does make it, let me know how it turns out!

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise indicated, beers reviewed were purchased  by me (or my friends) and were in no way sponsored by the brewery or any retailer. If any brewery wants to give me free beer, they should feel free to contact me.

On Love and Cancer and the Universe

It’s amazing how quickly a day can change.

This morning I woke up thinking about how great it felt to decide to make time for the things I want to do (build this space, gain experience, make a transition) and how quickly the internet can make things happen (Doni really is a Fairy Blogmother). I was looking forward to that plus my trip with AOhDub back to Tennessee for football and friends and food and fun this weekend. Things were honestly looking up (in spite of some eye-rolling revelations I had today about a boy thing that now seem beyond stupid).

Then, during a meeting my phone went off. It vibrated, then again, and again, signaling not the usual text from AOhDub but an actual call. A quick check told me it was J, one of my favorite people and my best friend in Tennessee. I didn’t think much of it– we’re staying at her and T’s place this weekend – until I listened to the message to find that they won’t be in town. Instead I found out that they’ll be down in Atlanta because T’s mom is being put on hospice care.

The news was a surprise but not a complete shock. She has been battling cancer for over three years. 15 months ago she was doing pretty well at J & T’s wedding but I know how quickly things can change with cancer. And part of the problem with living far away and not doing a good job of staying in touch is not knowing these things before they sneak up and cut you to your core.

Regardless, this is an amazing woman who laughs a lot and loves so hard it’s not even funny. I moved to TN and became T’s roommate sight unseen and before I knew it I had another mom there to keep an eye out for me while I was below the Mason-Dixon Line. While I lived in Knoxville she doted on me and J like her own daughters and when J and T got engaged and then married, she was over the moon to finally have a kid who would call her back and listen to her stories every time. This is a woman who scolded T for exclaiming “Dude!” to me on the phone because “she’s not a boy” (even better is the fact that he didn’t ever say dude before the Californian moved in). You won’t meet a sweeter lady and although she might gasp at my language the only thing I want to say is fuck cancer.

Life gets turned upside down sometimes. But those moments are often the only times we allow the universe to remind us of our own mortality. Of our own complete inability to make plans. Of the need to tell people how we feel and to get rid of toxic people and things from our lives.

So, I guess all I can say is, thanks universe, I hear you loud and clear. And everyone else, think of J, T and his parents this week (I know I will be, even while I’m willing the Vols to crush the Gators) and give everyone you love lots of hugs.

Back in Action

I haven’t been around lately. Brew Review got off to an awesome start and then fizzled as a result of complete slacking (both in drinking new beers and writing). I have about 12 half-finished posts but can’t seem to find the words to conclude them.

My life is weird lately. Or it always is, but the weirdness and complexities and lack of direction have been much easier for me to see lately. Either way, it seems like just when I think things are going the way I’d like or I’m getting into a routine things immediately change or I unconsciously self-sabotage whatever thing I’ve been building. Like my latest foray into running, I’ve run more (and longer) races this year than I ever have before but I haven’t run in almost 3 weeks at this point and can’t convince myself that I should. And then there’s this space, which I felt like I was getting a real handle on and ready to take it to the next level with weekly features and more posts and possibly self-hosting and cool designs and whatnot, and then didn’t write for more than two months.

A lot of times I feel like writing but more times than not I convince myself that I don’t have time right now or I should be going to bed or working or doing dishes or that if I stare at a computer screen for another 20 minutes today, I might lose my vision or my mind.

But here I am deciding to be back. Deciding that it’s the right thing to do for my sanity and my career and myself. Deciding to make this space better and to create time for it. Doni’s latest newsletter has inspired me to make writing and posting and sharing things that I have to say a priority. And to make it easier for myself to write whenever I can.

And that’s where you come in, not only do I want to write more here, but anywhere. Not only do I want to do social media and web content for fun and as a part of my job, I want to do it as my whole job or my side gig or my volunteer position because this is where I think I’m headed, although I know the universe finds plans (especially mine) utterly hilarious.

Regardless, this is me putting it out there on the internet (like my favorite wizard-panda Amber recommends) that anyone who wants this kind of help or needs an unpaid intern or a volunteer or a guest post or just someone to send crazy emails to or knows anyone that does, then let me know.

What have I been doing since July, you ask? Let’s see, infused some bourbon, went to San Diego, drank a habanero IPA, ate a lot of Pizza Port, found out how many craft breweries exist in San Diego and decided I never wanted to leave, came home anyway, pined for living near the ocean and riding a beach cruiser again, got a promotion-ish, hired an employee, ate all the wrong things, continued to wish I lived somewhere else, drank a lot of whiskey, ran a couple 10k races and kicked off our nine-month busy season at work.

So basically, nothing of note unless you count the part where my new favorite beers are any beers made with hot peppers. Or maybe the part where I might have a drinking problem.

The Brew Review: Three

This is The Brew Review: a new beer review every week. I may not be a beer expert but I think I’ve had enough cerveza to be able to give you an honest opinion and some ideas for great beers to try. 

Underworld Brewing American Style IPA

underworld IPA collage

I’m a sucker for cool labels. Also, check out my kick ass bottle opener!

Brew: Underworld Brewing American Style IPA
India Pale Ale (American Style?)
22 oz. bottle
About $3 per bottle

This week’s brew was one I bought randomly at the local Fresh & Easy market because it was cheap and I needed some beer in my life. Upon further investigation (looking at the bottle), I found that Underworld Brewing is owned by Rhinelander Brewery and really has no presence anywhere on the web, other than being reviewed by people like myself. Not sure what that means but I tried it anyway.

As is often the case, I picked out this one based on the label art (who doesn’t love a good rendering of Cerberus?) which is pretty sweet. This IPA is medium brown and has a mildly hoppy, light citrusy scent. My first impression is that it has the classic IPA taste but without the strong bite you find with most other IPAs. The finish is smooth but the whole taste is kind of lacking.

It’s not to say that this isn’t a decent beer, but decent is exactly how I’d describe it. There isn’t anything particularly remarkable about the taste or the brew, which might explain why there isn’t much about the brewery or its beers anywhere to be found.

Verdict: I am pretty indifferent about this beer, which is never a good sign. Is it a beer that tastes kind of like an IPA? Yes. Would I recommend it to anyone who wants to drink a good IPA? No. I might recommend it to someone trying to wade their way into IPAs but not really to anyone else. All in all I was pretty unimpressed. Sometimes the cost is directly related to the quality of the beer. Note to self: cool label art does not always equal delicious beer.

In other brew news: While we’re talking about things you probably shouldn’t drink, BeerUniverse shares that Coors Light is coming out with Coors Light Iced Tea, which (thanks to its acronym…waaaaait for it…yup) is gaining momentum as a running joke on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise indicated, beers reviewed were purchased  by me (or my friends) and were in no way sponsored by the brewery or any retailer. If any brewery wants to give me free beer, they should feel free to contact me.

The Brew Review: Two

This is The Brew Review: a new beer review every week. I may not be a beer expert but I think I’ve had enough cerveza to be able to give you an honest opinion and some ideas for great beers to try. 

Allies Win the War

allies win the war can

Love the can art!

Brew: 21st Amendment Allies Win the War (Special Edition)
Ale (Brewed with dates)
12 oz. can
About $9 for a 4-pack

This week’s brew is from a local brewery: 21st Amendment, which is based in San Francisco but available in cans in many cities across the country. 21st Amendment is probably best known for its Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer but personally, I prefer their hoppier beers to the watermelon brew. 

We picked up the Allies Win the War on a recommendation from an employee at BevMo, who, after finishing chewing whatever it was he was eating, told us that it was similar to Fat Tire, but that he actually liked this unique brew better than the New Belgium standard. Relying on his advice and also basing our decision on the awesome can art and packaging, we grabbed a four pack on a hot Saturday in the Bay.

To give this well-endowed (8.5% ABV) ale its unique taste (and its name), 21st Amendment teamed up with Ninkasi Brewing in Oregon to create what they describe as “a traditional English-style Strong ale,” but with a twist: the ale is aged with California dates and uses hops from the Pacific Northwest.

Medium brown in color with a smoky taste, this brew definitely has a unique flavor. Although the BevMo guy compared it to Fat Tire, I’d liken it more to a brown ale in the English style, like Newcastle. The dates gave it a bit of a different flavor, but I promise this beer didn’t taste like dates and I wouldn’t have known dates were used without seeing it on the can. A bit malty, a little nutty and slightly creamy tasting, I liked this brew well enough, plus the clever title and art were awesome (another part of the 21st Amendment experience). Despite her interest in history jokes, Anna, on the other hand, described the flavor thusly, “It’s like a porter had sex with an expired Fat Tire.” Not really how I’d describe it, but we have different palettes for a reason.

Verdict: It wasn’t my favorite to drink on a hot day, but I think it’d be something I’d drink if it wasn’t 95 degrees. It was a bit heavy for Anna and we didn’t pair it too well with our spaghetti sandwiches (we’re very adult), but I imagine it would be great with maybe a beef stew, meatloaf or salisbury steak. Not my favorite of 21st Amendment’s offerings but still a good beer, especially for brown ale fans who want something with a twist on the classic taste.

In other craft brew news: Check out this awesome article from 7×7 on why craft breweries (including 21st Amendment and New Belgium) are starting to put their beer in cans.

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise indicated, beers reviewed were purchased  by me (or my friends) and were in no way sponsored by the brewery or any retailer. If any brewery wants to give me free beer, they should feel free to contact me.