Preamble by Steve Siciliano
A cold rain was falling and the tops of the mountains surrounding the tiny burg of Konnarock, Virginia, were covered in mist. I zipped a rain jacket over my fleece, put my beat-up old rain hat on my head and took a mug of coffee out to the covered front porch. While I sat sipping coffee and smoking my pipe, Bella, the scrawny bluetick hound that hung around the scattering of houses on Azen Road, spotted me and let loose with a cacophony of howling bays.
“Did I hear Bella?” Barb asked a few minutes later when she walked outside.
“You did,” I told her. “She went down by the creek.”
“Poor dog,” my wife said. She put her coffee down and when she came back out she was carrying a paper plate. “Do you think she’ll eat cheese?”
“I’m sure she will.”
We had been given the low down on Bella when we had stopped at the gas station down the road a couple of days before. Her owners, the clerk told us, had left her chained up in the yard when they moved. “I feed her every morning when I come to work,” she said. “She sleeps in one of the car wash bays. I named her Bella Blue. There’s a special place in hell for people who abuse animals and children.”
Barb put the plate of cheese on the lawn then sat next to me on the porch. It began raining harder and while waiting for our Southern gentleman guide Brian to show up we watched water streaming off the metal roof. “I’m sure glad I’m not fishing today,” she said.
“You made the right decision,” I told her. “Here comes Brian.”
“Morning Miss Barb,” Brian said after parking and walking up to the porch.
“Barb won’t be going with us today,” I told him.
“Can’t say as I blame her,” Brian said. “Here, Miss Barb, I brought you some elk steaks.”
“Thank you,” my wife said doing her best to look excited about being handed a package of wild game.
“That’s awful nice of you, Brian,” I said. We’ll grill them up tonight, right Barb?”
On the way to the first cascading mountain stream, Brian told me about a harrowing close encounter he recently had with a bear. “My wife and I were hiking around Mount Rogers when I spotted two cubs about fifty feet off the trail. Don’t move I tell her. Why she asks me. Just stay still I tell her and then I see the sow standing in front of us not ten yards down the trail. The bear starts snapping her jaws and I tell my wife to run if it charges. Well, the sow charged all right but then she stopped about ten feet from me, smacked the ground with her paw, let out a loud whoof then walked towards her cubs. I just about crapped my pants. Don’t worry,” he said after looking over at me and seeing the consternation on my face. “I always carry bear mace now.”
Thankfully we didn’t come across any bears that day. In spite of the nasty conditions Brian put me on some fish, among them some beautiful brookies and a fat wild rainbow that I plucked out of a shallow plunge pool. At two o’clock the rain stopped, the sky cleared and the sun glistened off the wet, autumn-colored leaves. But trekking cross country and climbing over rain-slicked boulders had worn me out and after another hour I called it quits.
Later, after warming up with a hot shower and a big tumbler of bourbon, I was ready to grill up some dinner. “We’d better throw on some burgers too,” Barb said. “I have a feeling Bella will be getting the elk.”
Actually, the elk steaks were delicious and we devoured every morsel. Bella ended up with the burger. She didn’t seem to mind at all.
New and Returning Beer
Brewdog Jack Hammer, $2.19/12oz - "Get ready to hammer it. Press the button. Take the ride. Hop overload awaits. Kick-start with massive grapefruit aroma. Then accelerate hard into mind bending bitterness. Ride the spike of caramel craziness until the end of the line. And let the bitterest of bitter finishes nail your taste-buds to the floor. Don’t say we didn’t warn you" (source).
Dogfish Head 75 Minute, $2.79/12oz - "Now in our latest iteration, this classic IPA is again brewed with maple syrup from Sam’s family farm in Massachusetts, while being continually hopped throughout the boil, and then dry-hopped with a slew of cascade hops. The result is a malty and earthy brew with citrusy-pine aromas, balanced by subtle maple notes" (source).
Golden Road Get Up Offa That Brown, $1.99/12oz - "First in a series inspired by the iconic fruit cart vendors of Los Angeles. A light Wheat Ale bursting with lots of fresh mango flavor and aroma, finishing crisp and refreshing" (source).
Grand Armory Wee Kilt Kyle, $2.69/12oz - "This complex Scottish Wee Heavy is highlighted by it's rich, malty, and sweet caramel flavors. Eloquently balanced to showcase it's malt profile" (source).
Great Divide Mexican Chocolate Yeti, $12.99/19.2oz - "A very special, and very limited, entry in our venerable Yeti Series, Mexican Chocolate Yeti is a sensory delight. We’ve added a variety of spices, vanilla and coffee to Yeti Imperial Stout to create our version of a traditional champurrado drink. Spiced chocolate drinks have been part of Aztec and Mayan cuisine and culture for centuries, but they have yet to be paired with a Yeti" (source).
Great Divide S'more Yeti, $12.99/19.2oz - "Reach for S’mores Yeti and find yourself transported to a cozy campfire setting without ever leaving the comfort of your home; though enjoying this decadent treat fireside is definitely encouraged. Enjoy all the tastes of the classic campsite dessert blended with the rich, roasty malt flavor of Yeti Imperial Stout. A beer for telling tales and creating new ones" (source).
NIP Batch 36, $2.99/12oz - "This is the second black sour we have made. The first one turned out so well we decided to take another spin at this style. This beer is refreshing with mild yet juicy peach flavor. Salty and tart on the finish, with a slight malt character and light in your mouth, this is a perfect beer to crush! Get out and enjoy the sun with this patio pounder, and as always drink promiscuously friends" (source).
North Peak Euphoria, $2.79/12oz - "Brewed with toasted coconut, lactose sugars and vanilla beans" (source).
North Peak Mango Stormy, $2.79/12oz - "A take on our classic Stormy Juicy IPA with a Mango twist. Brewed with generous amounts of totapuri mango puree and dry-hopped with MI Centennial, Mosaic, Crystal, Simcoe, and Cascade, for a hazy, balanced, and juicy IPA. Mango Stormy is packed with hoppy notes of tangy mango, dank guava, candied pineapple, and sweet papaya, co-mingling with citrus fruits and melon, and a slight note of berry" (source).
North Peak Piney, $2.09/12oz - "This seasonal IPA is aromatic, earthy and bold! Amber-hued and bright with complex aromas of pine and citrus from the Chinook, MI Cascade, Cascade, Simcoe hops and spruce tips. The hops and spruce tips combined with sweet and bitter orange peel create bold, citrus, resinous flavors. The mellow malt character with the addition of maple syrup and towering hop profile of Piney create an effervescent IPA as stately as a spruce tree" (source).
One Well Tequila Barrel Aged Lime Gose, $7.79/16oz - "A traditional German-style sour beer, infused with sea salt, coriander and lime peel, goes on holiday to the home of the blue agave, sunny Mexico. The aroma offers assertive notes of oak, vanilla, caramelized banana, and coconut. A malty sweetness is balanced by tart lime and hints of lively tequila, tapering to a slightly salty finish" (source).
Perrin Clear Coast Fall Mix, $15.99/12pk - "Perrin Brewing Company will coast into the change of seasons with a fresh new variety pack of Clear Coast Fresh Hard Seltzer featuring three new fall-inspired flavors. The limited release 12-pack offering will be available at the Perrin Pub starting October 10, with Michigan-wide distribution to follow. The new pack will include Cran-Raspberry, Dark Cherry and Grape Pomegranate seltzer flavors – a lineup designed to pair perfectly with crisp Michigan weather, hayrides, raking leaves and picking apples. The fresh, effervescent fruit flavors provide a pleasant contrast to warm, spicy autumnal dishes" (source).
Perrin Winter Warmer Mix, $18.69/12pk - No commercial description.
Surly Darkness, $23.79/750ml - "This massive Russian Imperial Stout brings waves of flavors; chocolate, cherries, raisins, coffee, and toffee. We add a touch of hops to make this delicious brew even tastier" (source).
Upland Tropical Vortex, $1.99/12oz- "Southern Hemisphere IPA" (source).
Video fo the Week | Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA is available now at Siciliano's.