Monday, December 29, 2008

Dominion Baltic Porter Winter Brew: The right kind of porter

I bought Dominion Baltic Porter Winter Brew at a Safeway in Reston, Va., this past Saturday evening.

Essentially a local beer, it was brewed at the nearby Old Dominion Brewing Co. in Ashburn, Va.

Porters and I haven't always gotten along. Sometimes they're too smoky for me; sometimes they're too bitter and dark, and I'm saying that as a fan of dark-roast coffees and dark chocolate.

Sipping the Baltic Porter this evening, I am relieved to taste one of the most agreeable roasted pine-nut flavors I've ever had in a beer.

The fine line between roasted nuts and burnt nuts is often crossed in brewing (and crossed in nightclubs, but that's another story).

This porter belongs in the rich, hearty, comfort-food category, as long as you like roasted flavors in your beers. Speaking of comfort foods, the Baltic Porter is a high-gravity beer, advertised at 7 percent alcohol by volume.

My six-pack of Baltic Porter was priced at $8.99.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Missing the CCU students

This past fall semester was my first time teaching as a college instructor. Did you really think the Beerman column paid all the bills? Ha!

I was teaching composition and literature classes at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC.

I taught five sections of three courses -- and drove to campus six days a week (that sixth day would be a three-hour long Saturday morning class).

I was never entirely successful at getting all my students to be quiet when I was lecturing --

Or to quit sending text messages from their phones during class periods.

And yet -- strangely enough -- I miss them.

Yeah, yeah -- I know -- they do NOT miss me.

They just wanted to get that English or humanities requirement out of the way.

And yet -- strangely enough -- I miss them.

And I wish them well this coming New Year and spring semester.

(P.S. I'm on Facebook!)

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Uncle Bill & I say: Bushmills for holidays!

A good man of Irish descent, and his grand-nephew (me), with Bushmills Irish whisky on Saturday afternoon in the home of a former CIA employee.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Croissants Bistro & Bakery: New Year's Eve Chef's Tasting Menu

Note the available wine flights, listed at the end -- and, at the very end, the phone number for reservations. -- Colin


Featuring Chef Bryan Bodle


Amuse Bousche
Chef's choice to get you started

your choice

Malpaque Oysters on the half shell, Bloody Mary Sorbet, Shaved Cucumber

Crepe Florentine, Light Tomato Cream

Preserved Duck Leg and Forest Mushroom Spring Roll, Sweet and Sour Au Jus

your choice

Classic Caesar, shaved Parmesan, Thyme Garlic Bruschetta


Organic Baby Spinach Salad, warm Shallot, Bacon Vinaigrette,
Baby Tomato, Honey Pecans, Crumbled Clemson Bleu Cheese

your choice

Pan Seared Yellow Fin Tuna "Au Poivre"
Nicoise accompaniments

Petite Filet and oven roasted half tail of Maine Lobster,
Saffron Potato Puree, Ratatouille Vinaigrette

Grill Roasted New Zealand Rack of Lamb
Soft herb creamy Polenta, fine roasted Bell Pepper- Olive Relish

Featuring Culinary Institute Student, Sara Johnson

Chocolate Hazelnut Crepes


Egg Nog Creme Brulee

Wine Flights available for additional charge:
Wine selections by Stephen Stroman
Champagne Flight
White Wine Flight
Red Wine Flight

call for reservations

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2005 Dancing Bull Zinfandel on Christmas Eve

Dancing Bull Zinfandel (2005) has got to be the spiciest, pepperiest zinfandel I've ever had. Even so, it has plenty of fruitiness to offer.

This might be the first time I've been tempted to call a wine "exciting." Boredom is impossible with this one.

It has all the versatility listed on the bottle -- you could pair it with spicy BBQ or pizza (or a dozen other dishes).

My wife's cousin works for a wine distributer based in Columbia, SC, and he's spending the night with us. He says it's a mid-list Gallo product. Dancing Bull zin is available -- when stores are actually open -- within the $8-$9 range.

Merry Christmas!

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Does CNN's Bonnie Schneider want to have a baby?

At about 8:30 a.m. today, CNN's meteorologist Bonnie Schneider was talking about airport delays and big winter storms while a sign, directly beneath her, proclaimed: I WANT A BABY.

A few seconds later, about the time I really started to believe that some CNN staffers were taking holiday liberties with their professionalism, the words scrolled over to: COMING UP.

A few more seconds, and it scrolled back to: I WANT A BABY.


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Me, as Santa

At the annual Briarcliffe Acres, SC, Christmas Caroling shindig, held tonight. My daughter Maggie, 8, on the right in the foreground.

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May your White Russians be tanned

I guess the colder air makes the richness of a White Russian more appealing.

Here's the recipe I've been using:

10-ounce glass filled about two-thirds with ice

1 ounce of Kahlua

2 ounces of Ketel One

Top off with half-and-half

However, you can go for more punch (and less fat) if you increase the liquors and decrease the half-and-half.

In other words, you can give those White Russians a tan.

Or a deep tan.

This Christmas, I think we can all agree: Russians are far too pasty-white.

But I'm thinking we'll want to skip the outright Black Russians -- we really want a little of that comfort-food factor, courtesy the half-and-half.

Let's go for the Deeply Tanned Russian.

The Deeply Tanned Russian offers the potency we need with a touch of comfort.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Season's Greetings.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Postmodernism-Postsecularism: a cursory report

Initial notes (I'm just beginning to understand this, I think):

Modernism or modernity was premised on the pretense of objective knowledge. Part of modernism's fuel was the scientific method and the quest for certainties about the natural world.

This placed religious narratives and myths outside the realm of fact, and fact became more important than value.

However, as postmodernism and postsecularism would insist, there is no purely objective reason or objective rationality within human beings.

We might be able to gather accurate data, but inevitably, that data is interpreted within a web of beliefs and values.

A big-picture story underlies every point of view.

Therefore, while the likes of Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins in the modernist camp have been able to say, in so many words, "We do not have enough objective knowledge to say that religious story is historically factual," the likes of John Milbank and others in postmodern and postsecular camp have been able to say, "We do not have enough objective knowledge to say that religious story is a myth."

This is more than merely turning the tables on modernity. It's a realization that beliefs and values cannot be trumped by facts, because facts are always understood within the context of beliefs and values.

While we function with some sense of foundational knowledge by which we make other decisions and judgments about the world around us, at some point, foundational knowledge is taken on faith.

If there is a foundational point of view within some of the theological postsecularists, it would be that there is a God who has all the objective knowledge, and we don't have it.

Clarifications? Better explanations? Denunciations? Additions? Please comment.

My sources for the above comments include this article:

"God's Own Knowledge," by J. Sharlet in Killing the Buddha

And these books:

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

The ambitious holiday reading list


The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing, by Richard Hugo

Shopgirl, by Steve Martin

Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, by Daniel L. Migliore

Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition: Creation, Covenant, and Participation, James K.A. Smith and James H. Olthuis, editors

Macbeth, by Shakespeare

Critical Theory: A User-Friendly Guide, by Lois Tyson

Reading the Written Image: Verbal Play, Interpretation, and the Roots of Iconophobia, by Christopher Collins

Finishing or Continuing:

The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 1, Lee Gutkind, editor

The Optimist: Poems, by Joshua Mehigan

The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis, which I've been reading with the kids

Tree of Heaven: Poems, by Jim McKean, who was my thesis adviser

Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy, by Dave Hickey

A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction, by Ron Hansen


Imaginative Writing, by Janet Burroway

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Michelob Craft Collection on shelves now

Michelob's Craft Collection has three 12-ounce bottles each of Pale Ale, Irish Red, Porter, and Marzen.

I saw it at the Bi-Lo on 38th Avenue North (in Myrtle Beach) for about $11.99.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

That song on the iTunes commercial

It's The Asteroids Galaxy Tour's "Around the Bend." Great song! The video -- full of old-school, 1980s era effects -- is available for viewing right here, thanks to YouTube:

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Drinking the 'Yellow Snow' at Longbeards

Sage advice like "don't eat the yellow snow" is not very meaningful on the Grand Strand, even if it lives on in the memory of some of our retired Yankee transplants.

Rogue Brewery, a left-coast beer maker with a sense of humor, offers us the opportunity to drink Yellow Snow, or Yellow Snow IPA, to be exact. I found it on tap at Longbeard's Bar and Grill, 5040 Carolina Forest Boulevard, which has one of the most incredible wood interiors I have ever seen in a restaurant.

IPAs, or India Pale Ales, can be a bit prickly for the novice beer drinker, and Yellow Snow certainly has its full-flavored impact. Fortunately, it's not as pungent as its namesake and accompanying pale, golden color would suggest - far from it. Like most brews from Rogue, I'll order it again.

Of course, we all know what "yellow snow" really refers to - it is snow that has turned yellow because either a dog took a leak or someone poured out a can of Busch Light.

Breckenridge Brewery's Agave WheatDuring my session at Longbeard's, I also tried Breckenridge Brewery's Agave Wheat. I haven't decided if I like it yet. It's an American-style unfiltered wheat beer made with the nectar of the Salmiana Agave, which makes for a distinctive taste.

I was treated to a taste of another Breckenridge brew on tap at Longbeard's, this one the Avalanche Ale, an American amber that goes easy on the hops and leans on the maltiness.

I enjoyed Longbeard's, its atmosphere, its beer, and its turkey melt. I'll be back.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Two unrelated philosophical quotes

Ludwig Wittgenstein, in the latter half of his career, offered this advice to philosophers who want to understand how words are used:

"Don't think but look!"

"...when investigating meaning, the philosopher must 'look and see' the variety of uses to which the word is put."
-- Anat Biletzki and Anat Matar in their article on Wittgenstein in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

# # #

I know little about Wittgenstein, and even less about Wilhelm Dilthey, but both have me intrigued lately.

Dilthey drew a distinction between natural science and (what is sometimes called) human science with this quote:

"We explain nature, humans we must understand."

Read a detailed article on Dilthey here.

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