Thursday, January 29, 2015


 My last blog ended with me starting to prepare a "Best Of" beer list for the year.  As I was getting it together, I noticed many other bloggers and beer writers were doing the same thing, so I decided to leave it to them and enjoy the holidays.

The last few years, my parents have rented a cabin for the weekend so we can all get together for the holidays.  It gives us a chance to catch up with each others families, without many outside distractions.  There's no wifi, no TV, not much for stores around either.  It's just a time to come together and enjoy each other. In that spirit, I thought I'd write less about the beer rating and more how I felt in the moment.

 Pictured to the right is my father, Dick, rocking the rare double 'stash.
 Every year, my brother in-law Dale, and myself, bring a variety of beer to share for the weekend.  We sampled many good brews while watching a family talent show.  Luckily, the spirits also helped us enjoy my mom's version of Willie Nelson's Pretty Paper.  We heard stories from my dad, a dance from my niece, and saw a puppet show amongst other talents.

There was no snow this year, so the kids couldn't go sledding, so they had to find other things to keep them entertained.  Below, My son, Joseph's displaying a scar drawn by Malia in her effort to entertain herself and keep the boys calm.

Fresh from Germany
Christmas eve, we usually go over to the in-laws for supper and few drinks.  Pictured to the right is a few of the better brews from the evening (even though Larry may not agree.)

My boss recently went to Germany to visit her son.  While there, they toured a brewery and brought me this 22% ABV gem.  It drank like a whiskey, but had the taste of a sweet IPA.  I found it similar to Dogfish head's 120 minute IPA.
My Christmas Haul (Tonya is getting very good at buying beer)

Larry, Gary, Pam, and Sherri
 Saturday after Christmas we went over to Tonya's aunt Pam's house for their annual Christmas gathering.  As usual, there was too much food, beer, wine, and whiskey.  I always enjoy going over, it's always a fun time, and you never know what specialty beer or whiskey will be passed around.

 The last holiday gathering is always at my in-law's house the weekend of New Years.  There's always plenty to eat and drink there too.  We all bring interesting beer selections for sampling, some we've been saving for months to share.  Anchor Christmas Ale changes every year, and we always sample the current one.  Some are better than others, but they've all been good.
 A newer tradition we've been doing is a "Chopped" contest.  The women get 3 ingredients to cook with, and the guys get another 3 to try out.  This year, the women had raspberry yogurt, Triscuts, and mangos.  They made cheesecake, smoothies, pie, and taco casserole.  All of them were very good, but I was partial to Tonya's taco casserole (she was also the overall winner of the night.)
 The men cooked with cottage cheese, Funions, and Tobasco Sauce.  We made a cheese ball, a cheese dip, a cottage cheese cup, and fried cheese balls.  Jared and Chad tied for first for the guys, but I was still pretty proud of my cheese balls.  I liked them, and I hate cottage cheese.
 After all that food, we needed a keg of Christmas beer to wash it down, right?  Seems like we barely even put a dent in it.  Larry and I are still drinking from it.  The rest of the weekend we enjoyed games, presents, watching football, and of course, more food and beer.

Below, is a picture of my homebrewed Amber Ale, and another Christmas must from Schlafly.

My Nugget Galaxy Amber Ale

This is my dog Toby.  This has nothing to do with beer, but he is my constant companion.  Working at a veterinary office, he gets to come to work with me nearly every day.  This is him showing off at the office after getting groomed.  Toby is a goofball, that loves attention, treats, and playing with our cats.  Too bad the cats don't enjoy him as much.  He's a bit bored this time of year, since it's too cold for playing fetch so I try to get him plenty of toys and rawhides to distract him (although, earlier this week he did destroy Joseph's foam football.)  For him,,Spring can't get here soon enough!
Family is what keeps us going.  Beer is there to join us on our journey.  I think of it like music.  There are songs that come on the radio and take you back to a specific time or feeling in your life.  For example, every time I hear Everclear's Santa Monica, I think of the road trip to Delaware with my friend Waylen in is Mustang convertible.  Having a good beer can evoke those same feelings.  Take this Dogfish Head 61 Minute IPA, it's a typical Dogfish Head brew, but I'll never forget the first time having one at their brewpub in Delaware with my sister Amy, and my wife Tonya.  So don't forget to enjoy those moments with those who are important to you, and give your dog an extra scratch on the head to remind them you love them,
The holidays are over, and it's time to brew more beer.  Larry came over to help me brew a coffee porter (a gift he received last Christmas.)  And since we were brewing, we might as well enjoy a good brew too!  A few days later, the porter is happily fermenting away, I'll have to find some good coffee to add at kegging time in a few weeks.
I can't believe it's been that long, but 5 years ago, Tonya and I lost our twin girls.  They died pretty far along during pregnancy.  We were both so excited about her being pregnant again.  I was a bit nervous about twins, but I was up for the challenge.  Unfortunately it didn't work out that way.  After they passed, we had to go to Iowa City so they could be delivered.

Tonya, myself, and my mom got to spend about an hour holding them before we had to say goodbye.  It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life, but I will always cherish that hour I had with my little girls.

And along the lines of the little things we remember, I'll never forget the text I got from my friend Dan that day as we waited for the doctor.  Dan had recently had a heart attack, and that day had a pacemaker put in.  His text simply read "anyone need a jump?"  A little levity was welcome on such a draining day for us.

I'm not sure why, but this week has been particularly emotional for me.  I don't know what makes this different than other years.  I do sometimes think how are lives would be different with them around.  I can almost picture the two of them in princess dresses singing Let it Go, and annoying their older brother (who would secretly love it.)  I think about them every day, and can't express my sadness for not having them in my life.  I also try to do my best to appreciate what i do have, an amazing wife, and unbelievable son, and great friends and family.  To me, that is what the holidays and life is all about.

Sorry this post got off topic and is written a bit choppy, but sometimes, I feel writing can be a bit therapeutic.  Anyway, I'd love to know what drink you enjoyed most during the holidays, post it below in the comments, and i may feature it in my next post.  To see what I'm drinking and how it rates, follow me on Untappd, search for Crinkletalk, or follow me on Twitter - @Crinketalk.  Until next time, Prost!

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