Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cold Cycling

Well winter is surely here when the shoe covers, arm warmers, gloves and wind jackets come out of the ole kit bag and bicycling becomes a bit more of a winter sport than anyone desires. There is actually nothing better than a unseasonably mild and calm winter day to stretch out some miles, but those are the days you enjoy but never remember years later. The days where over heating is never a problem and the layering system works wonders.
It's more likely you'll recall the briskly brutal wind blowing rainy days that leave your feet feeling like solid blocks of ice and your nose running like you just finished a two week cocaine binge in the middle of a hay fever lab experiment.
Any even semi-dedicated cyclist knows exactly what I'm talking about.
And low and behold that season is upon what the hell.....grab hold of it with gusto, try to avoid driving headlong through any swirling fallen leaf water spouts and above all watch out for slimy piles of wet leaves. You don't want to do an Omar.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Soccer? Oh please......

Yes, I am the typical crass American that just doesn't get Soccer at any level. I've tried to watch it. Really I have. I've even pretended to be 'politically correct' and put up with, and maybe even join in some World Cup banter and discussions when that special year comes around.
But I just have to face it...I much prefer going to web sites like and reading about how truly insignificant and un-American soccer really is.
The quotes are hilarious and right on the money.
No one that actually likes the activity, and no I don't even think of it as a sport, will read the comments and it's too bad...there is some funny stuff on there.

I say just leave it for the communists and third world countries that are unfortunately unable to afford anything more than a dust plot of ground, a ball and a makeshift goal to punch it through. I mean who thought it up "Hey lets play a game and not use our hands"

This attitude will naturally leave people dismissing me as just another ignorant American, but I'm not (well about this anyway) I've checked it out over an extended period of time, I've tried it...It sucks, it's boring, it's as much fun as watching a copier jam. Even Jim Rome gets this one right.
People actually KILL each other over the outcome of matches. Can you imagine? Not even Yankee or Cowboy fans are that ignorant and rabid.
For all those that love it and consider it some sort of huge do-or-die National or Internatural cultural icon that signifies the greatness of ones country.......I am sad for you, just sad. How did you ever get this crap into your head?
With all the great sports we have in America why oh why do people waste their time on such drivel.
And why do I waste my time writing about it?
Because..I'm a cycling fan and what could be more un-American than that?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cream isn't Clapton's Back up band

I recently was loaned a copy of Eric Clapton's autobiography, which as of this morning I have finished reading. As several of my friends, and some acquaintances, over the years have come to know I have always been a ardent Cream fan yet not really that big a fan of Clapton in particular.
Sure sure, he's a truly great guitarist and has dwarfed Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in record sales and popularity since their breakup in 1968 but the guy just annoys me. Or rather more precisely his FANS have always really annoyed me and I'm afraid I have always layed the blame on poor ole Eric's doorstep.
In fact the very person that was kind enough to loan me Clapton's Autobiography was overheard telling her 7 year-old child something to the effect of "Oh listen to this song dear...It's Eric Clapton singing White Room". every knowledgeable Cream fan knows..that's Jack Bruce singing that particular song, and most of Creams songs for that matter. Jack and his lyricist collaborator Pete Brown also wrote the tune. A tune that Eric often plays live in his concerts to this day. And good for him, it's a fine tune and he does it pretty well even without Jack's superior vocal range.
So there I go again I guess, lobbying for all three of Creams members to be recognized equally rather than the ridiculous notion that Jack and Ginger were just Eric's sidemen. Clapton's book...he'll tell ya...he was virtually intimidated by the skills of his band mates and reached musical heights in that band that he never again achieved.
So ole Eric ain't really such a bad chap...even if he did steal George Harrison's wife Patty (Boyd). But then she has her own book out now as well and you can read all about it from her angle. I did, thanks to Terri's thoughtfulness on my birthday, but frankly I'd rather just go put on my old LP of Disraeli Gears and listen to that at maximum volume.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

An evening in Roseville

Too hazy, lazy and tired to make the hour and a half drive down to San ramon to pick up our BBQ and visit our youngest son and his fabulous bride Oralia we decided perhaps we should stave off couch potatoism and venture forth to finally sample the new IPA at the Roseville version of J's brewing company.
And as DRAFT beer magizine's newest editor type person told me last week.....this beer doesn't suck!!
Also on the menu was Sierra Nevada's "Harvest Ale". Mannnnnn oh man I continue to love this beer. I have ran into it now in three seperate locations and everytime it just ROCKS!
We also managed a short visit to Vino's, and despite the fact that Sean and Toby are now history...they still were able to provise us with pints of HOPSTOPID and Avery's HOG HEAVEN!!
We also grabbed a few bottles of specials to help stock up the Saturday Thanksgiving event. I heard it was gonna be "Beyond Epic" this year...I hope that's true....
Ohh..oh oh I remenber now....there is a hilaroius story from BJ's that I need Terri to help me with. Perhaps next time...because ...naturally...she nodded off.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Next stop... Thanksgiving

Every year here at the Soberment we host a Thanksgiving type food and drink fest gathering for family and friends on the Saturday after the traditional Thursday. We've been doing it now for the past 5 years and it is growing and growing. We have a humble and rather smallish three bedroom/2 bath abode that simply bursts at the seams on that festive occasion. It spills into the garage and onto the back patio and if the weather is nice (it usually is) even into the front yard. We roast one turkey in the BBQ on the back patio and another in the oven. We also do a ham and Ralph tells me this year he's coming up and bringing a massive side of beef and a BBQ/smoker to cook it in.
But as usual there is also a large focus on the Beer.
I am in the process of trying to talk (begging) Brian Ford of Auburn Ale House fame to pull me off a 5 gallon cylinder of his great "Isotope Pale Ale ,weapons Grade IPA" for the occasion. We are also still hording our left over supplies of and Alpine products from our trip South for the surprise party last week and have managed to hold on to some Russian River growlers as well. Oddly we also have a growler of Jack Russell Brewing IPA in my fridge who's origin I'm still wondering about. (Terri knows I'm guessing)
I also hear that Sacramento Brewing is releasing it's fabulous Imperial Red on 11-16-07 at the Oasis Site in Citrus Heights.
And who knows what goodies some of the guests will bring. Did I mention that my good buddy Rick plans to brew that day as well???? Got himself a new beer sculpture I hear

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Surprise, Surprise Surprise

Well...Ralph was definitely surprised and fine time was had by far as I know anyway.
Jimbo showed up with some Alpine "Duet" which is just one of the finest IPA's I've ever known. The first time we came across it a couple years ago on one of our Alpine safari's they had it listed on the Brewers board as being a Pale Ale with 5.6% alcohol. Naturally we bought copious amounts due to it's outstanding hop aroma and fine balanced drinkability. Thinking of course that if we can find this nice a beer that was that low in alcohol.......well... turns out either we can't read or the fine folks at Alpine just made an error that time and it's really closer to 7% ABV than we'd hoped. Nonetheless it is a rare and wondrous day when you can get your mitts around a pint of....or three of it.
Fortunately Jimbo also brought along some Pure Hoppiness, which at times, for me anyway, seems the only beer even in the same class as Vinnies "Pliny the Elder". He also made a last minute stop at Green Flash for some West Coast IPA and Imperial. We can get both beers up here at the local Nugget Markets and/or BevMo but the glower product always seems a bit of a step above.
At the surprise party Ralph, Jimbo, CP, Terri and I shared our growlers of Sacramento IPA, "Auburn Ale House 'Isotope Pale Ale" West Coast IPA, Pliny the Elder, Duet, Pure Hoppiness and a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid with the other party revelers, but there were but a few sippers and even fewer takers of the fine assortment of California Hop products.
The next evening Ralph, Terri and I made short work of a Blind Pig, Pliny, a Moylans Hopsickle and a rare growler of Avery Brewing Hog Heaven Barleywine.
On the way North on Monday Terri and I stopped at Sequoia Brewing in Fresno and had lunch. They had a really nice seasonal Hefeweizen and a 8% Dopplebock. I had hoped for the Log Splitter or the Buzz Saw but my luck was poor.
We also noticed that they have changed the name of their IPA from "Mineral King IPA" to "General Sherman IPA". When I asked our wisp of a bartenderess about the change she muttered something about "New investors wanting it changed". Fortunately they hadn't altered the recipe as far as we could see and we opted to bring home a growler full of it. Naturally I had my Sequoia growler stashed in the trunk of the Crown Vic for just such an occasion.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Hop Inventory

Ralph, who has been a good friend of mine since before I can hardly remember, turned 50 years old on Tuesday November 6th. His wife Penny decided that he needed to be surprised about it ... so she organized a party on the Saturday following the actual big day and invited dozens of his friends and acquaintances.
Since learning about the party a couple weeks ago I have been diligently collecting beers that I know the quest of honor will be happy to enjoy that evening.
Here is the list of Growlers I have accumulated so far.

Sacramento Brewing - India Pale Ale
Auburn Ale House - Isotope Pale Ale (Weapons Grade IPA) (2 growlers)
Russian River Brewing - Blind Pig (2 growlers)
Russian River Brewing - Pliny the Elder (6 growlers)
Moylans Brewing - Hopsickle
Lagunitas Brewing - Hop Stoopid
Avery Brewing - Hog Heaven

The surprise party is being held in my old home town of Hesperia, which is still Ralph's home town despite the fact that he has totally bought into the reality that my nickname for the place "The cultural Wasteland" is indeed quite apt. Unfortunately for me and Terri Hesperia is 437 miles from Roseville. But since my parents, and Terri's, still live in the town the trip is always worth the effort

We'll leave Saturday morning early and be there in time for a late lunch with David and Lauren in Oak hills. I would call them by their real names of CP and Meal-Ticket but that might lend some to believe this is a less than totally factual account.
The crux of the biscuit, so to speak, is that my caustically clever brother-in-law Jimbo has also been collecting a fine array of beers in his home town of San Diego. He planned to visit Alpine Brewing, Coronado Brewing and Green Flash before heading up to the desert for the planned event. Stay tuned for the report when I get back . . . I'm looking forward to it myself!
As I recall Sequoia Brewing in Fresno and Lengthwise in Bakersfield are pretty much right along our return route as well...hmmmmm

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Isotope Pale Ale "Weapons Grade IPA"

A nice evening was spent on the patio of the Auburn Ale House sampling Brians latest creation...The IsotopsePale Ale.
It was an exceptional day in the life of a dedicated Hop Hunter ......a perfect, yet somewhat chilly post daylight-savings-time evening spent in the company of great friends knocking back the latest version of Brians brewing genius.
Essentually the Isotope is a well balanced IPA+ with a killer aroma, a great mouthfeel and a finish that just makes you imediately pour another one.
Which we did, along with bringing a couple of growlers know...just in case.
If you find yourself in the Auburn area anytime soon steer clear of the AAH and avoid at all cost the Isotope Pale Ale.........I really need as much of that nectar as possible for myself!


Since I'm in the process of changing Terri's Trex from a 11-34 to a 11-28 I figured I better get some advice on whether or not to shorten the chain. I contacted Sheldon Brown at and he told me one should always replace the chain at the same time. Seems like sound advice but since this chain doesn't have many miles on it..........
I also asked Calvin Jones at and he said it was no big deal, however if the chain was originally the correct length removing 2 links should make it shift better. I'm all for that. Two links it is. I guess I can go for the new chain if/when I screw it up.
Sheldon recommends I purchase a SRAM PC-951 from his company
Man, I sure hope my new Dura-Ace, CXP-33 Black Rear 700c comes pretty soon from I'm in need of a ride...or 10.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Well...nothing like a good flogging to get the soul in line........
"Oh...what?'s called Blogging?...uuhhhh nevermind. we go with some flogging of the English (or is that American?) language in the hopes of hops, or at least of the hope of passing on some interesting information about my personal quest for all things hoppy.
My goal here is to keep a bit of a record on my wife and I's hop travels and latest finds no matter where that might take us. Breweries, stores, festivals or back alley entrances of mad scientist home brewers.
There is likely to be some cycling and music related blathering as well...I won't be able to help myself there.
Hope it works out....but mainly I hope it Hops out.