Saturday, October 13, 2018


A friend of mine shared this story with me earlier this week, and I thought it was too good not to be shared with more people.  What this kid has already accomplished is truly amazing.  The fact that Nike has recognized it and rewarded him for it is incredible.  I know how hard he had to work his entire life for this, how difficult it is to stand up and walk to the other side of the house, to put on your shoes when your muscles spasm, the pain/discomfort/exhaustion of every step he takes, and wanting people to see you for who you are, not for having Cerebral Palsy.  His determination and will power are unbelievable. 

I don't talk much about living with Cerebral Palsy, not because it bothers me, but because it just is.  I don't know any other way of living.  It has shaped who I am throughout my entire life, just as it's shaped who my friends and family are.  They also had to work harder and deal with things I may never fully understand all because I was a part of their life. I may not have been aware that it was difficult for them to deal with a son, brother, or friend with Cerebral Palsy when I was younger, but the older I get, the more I understand their patience, sacrifice, and strength they had/have as well. 

I'm not going to lie, I cried when I watched this video.  Tears of joy for Justin, tears of pride for what I've been able to accomplish, and tears for my family and friends for supporting me while dealing with their own struggles.  I don't write this for you to feel sorry for me, or for Justin.  We are all dealing with our own struggles, and mine aren't any harder or worse than anyone else's.  To be honest, I'm not really sure why I'm writing this.  Maybe it's a bit of therapy for myself? A small way to say thank you to all those in my life that have been there for me?  Maybe it's a way to help make us aware of other people's struggles?  We all need to try to be more understanding of other people.  I know I need to work on this, but I am becoming more aware of it as well.  Maybe we just need to celebrate a win?

I was going to write something short on Facebook and share this story there, but then I realized I have the perfect platform here.  Sorry this story isn't about beer, maybe my next post will get back to that, but for now watch these videos about Justin.  Think of what he's overcome, think of what you've overcome, and think about the struggles and victories we all have on a daily basis.

Congratulations to Justin for all of his hard work, to what he has accomplished, and what he will accomplish in the future, and thank you to Nike for acknowledging and celebrating it. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Beer School

J. Wilson prepares the off flavor beer samples under Cory O'Neel's watchful eye

 Have you ever had a beer that tasted "off" but you didn't know why?  There are a lot of factors that can cause those off flavors in your beer.  Maybe the brewer needed to boil the wort a bit longer?  Maybe there was too much oxygen in the beer when they packaged it?  Maybe the beer was bottled in clear/green glass and was exposed to sunlight?  There are so many things that can make a good beer go bad, and the brewery doesn't always have control of them all.

The Iowa Brewers Guild held an Off Flavor Beer Class for both professional brewers and beer enthusiasts alike.  I was lucky enough to sit in on the brewers class (although I was told they are basically the same class.)  The class was taught by Brewing QA/QA Microbiologist Cory O'Neel.  Cory has worked in the brewing industry for many years for both small and extremely large breweries.  After a quick hello with him before class, it was obvious why J. chose him to teach the class, he know his stuff.

We all tried 12 different samples that were spiked with off flavors.  Some off flavors I didn't taste at all, some were very subtle to me, and were very obvious.  As it turns out, I'm more sensitive to the off flavors that come during and after packaging, but I'm also pretty sensitive to different acids.  The final sample of the afternoon was butyric acid, and Cory described it as "baby puke" to the class.  I heard one brewer ask, "how would anyone even know what that tastes like?"  Obviously he's not a dad yet!  Of course, that probably was the strongest flavor of the day too.  All in all, it was a good class that I would recommend to anyone who's into craft beer, and to everyone that home brews.

This class was hosted at the Quarter Barrel Arcade and Brewery in Cedar Rapids.
This was my first time here, but hopefully not my last.  It's in an older industrial brick building with classic brewery signs on the wall, and classic arcade games everywhere.  Not only did they host the off flavor class, but they made a few pizzas for everyone to enjoy after the class was over.  They were top notch.  Not to put anyone down, but I ate at a very popular Cedar Rapids pizzeria earlier in the day, and this was better.  When you visit, I would plan on taking a taxi or an Uber as parking seems to be an issue around the brewery, but that just means you get to enjoy a few more of their beers responsibly!

While the beer class was very educational and a great experience, it was just a bonus for me.  The main reason I drove nearly two hours was to record a podcast with J. Wilson.  J. is the Minister of Iowa Beers for the Iowa Brewers Guild.
In the podcast we discussed what the Iowa Brewers Guild does for both Iowa breweries and craft beer fans alike.  We talked about the Iowa Beer Army, you can sign up on the Guild's site, and a special event just for the Iowa Beer Army later this summer.  He even talks about being named "Beer Drinker of the Year."  We also discussed the Iowa Craft Beer Festival, happening in Des Moines on June 16th.  I urge everyone that can go to do so, you will be amazed at how much great beer we have in Iowa.  Click on the link to get your tickets while you can.  The VIP tickets have already sold out (that's OK, there will still be more beer than you can possibly try in a day.)

You can find my podcast with J. Wilson on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, and Patreon.  Just search "Crinkltalk"  Once you find it, you can click to subscribe so you never have to search for it again.

Don't forget to check out Uncle Medard Outdoors at  Dan will have up new inventory soon!!

Friday, May 4, 2018


 By now everyone's heard of Toppling Goliath and Pulpit Rock breweries in Decorah, IA, but less than 15 minutes south of them in the little town of Calmar, IA there's a new brewery in town called Pivo.

I recently sat down with Craig, the owner of Pivo Brewery to record a podcast (more on that later) and share a few beers.  The first thing I noticed was the warmth in the huge beer hall.  It was very open and inviting.  I immediately wanted to grab a beer and sit in the courtyard (coming soon) in the sun with friends to relax.  After talking with Craig, this seems to  be exactly the kind of feel he was shooting for.  A gathering place for the town and travelers to come and enjoy each others company while also enjoying a beer from his gigantic tap list.  Craig currently has nearly 30 Pivo beers and ciders on tap with another 9 guest beers and even a rootbeer on tap.  I've been to a lot of breweries over the years, and this may be one of the largest tap lists I've ever seen.
 During my tour I quickly noticed the planning and attention to detail that went into opening Pivo.  Little things like saving old church pews for 10 years, or patches, bottle openers, stickers and other knick knacks that became the bar top under a hefty layer of lacquer.  To larger things like space for 6 more tanks (already plumbed) to go into the brewhouse, and even room for an event center.

Then of course, there is the beer.  Even with the large tap list, Craig wants his beer to be approachable by all.  Styles ranging from Czech Pilsner, to Saison, IPA to Milk Stout.  How about a Chipotle Pumpkin Saison (great chile flavor with a good amount of heat, but not so much that you don't want to keep drinking to,) or a Cucumber Pale Ale?  This may have been my favorite of the afternoon.  A nice solid Pale Ale with loads of fresh cucumber flavor and aroma.  I could see enjoying a few pints of this in their courtyard, or even getting a growler or crowler (yes they do have both if you would like some beer to go) fill to enjoy in my own backyard.
 Craig hasn't gone through the process of starting a brewery on his own, his wife and business partner Sara has been with him the whole time, while creating a business of her own to complement Craig's in the same building.  Sara is an artist that uses ceramic tiles to display her talent as well as creating incredible Baltic Eggs.  She also do several art classes in her art studio located in the second floor (I'm told there's a free beer for every class.)  You can check out more of Craig's and Sara's creations on their website  Or just stop in for a beer and check out their gift shop.
The giant homemade bar with 40 taps behind it
As always you can find my podcast on your favorite carrier, iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, and Patreon, just search "Crinkletalk" and enjoy Episode 4, recorded with Craig from Pivo Brewery.

Don't forget to check out the great designs from my good buddy Dan on
He'll have new inventory up soon!  Dan has been designing since before I knew him (and that's over 20 years now!) I encourage everyone to check out his website.  You can take a look at some of his awesome designs on Instagram "unclemedardoutdoor."  He even created my awesome new podcast logo.
This is going to be a big year for the Crinkletalk podcast.  I have some exciting guests line up and some things in the works to make the podcast bigger and better than ever.  Thanks to all that have given me their support and help along the way.   I hope you enjoy listening to the podcast as much as I enjoy creating it.  Cheers!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fat Joe

In the craft beer world, beer releases are the "in" thing at the moment.  For those of you that don't know, a beer release is when a brewery makes a special/limited quantity/and highly sought after beer.  They set a date and time, and people line up around the block (literally) just for a chance at purchasing a bottle or two.  Some times these release are about the prestige of getting said bottle and posting pictures on social media, sometimes it's about sharing a few beers in line with others who share your interest, and sometimes it's all about the beer.  Pulpit Rock Brewery in Decorah, Iowa is quickly becoming known for all their beers, and is starting to draw huge crowds for their beer releases.  This release was no different.

Fat Joe, a 13% abv Imperial Barrel Aged Coffee Stout had people lined up overnight, over 12 hours early on a cold, Iowa winter night so they could get their hands on a few bottles.  But that wasn't all, why release 1 beer, when you can release 4?  Aside from the highly sought after bottles of Fat Joe, they released 3 other beers in crowlers.  Barundi Pour Over Porter (6.7% abv coffee porter,) Bu-Bear-ee (7% abv blueberry pastry sour,) and a collaboration with Mikerphone Brewing out of Chicago, Rock the Mikerphone (an 8% abv Double IPA brewed with Fruit Loops.)
If standing in line for twelve hours in the middle of winter for a bottle of beer isn't your thing, that's alright.  I missed the morning release, but stopped by the brewery early afternoon to enjoy their fantastic tap list (same as the morning) and there were still plenty of crowlers available.  When I got there the taproom was fairly calm, closer to an average Saturday, although, by the time I left it was standing room only again.  With that tap list, I'm not surprised.

I met with one of the Co-Head Brewers, Bob for several beers, and he was kind enough to record another podcast.  The first was recorded in August 2016 and can be found on YouTube at

Before I add the latest link, I'll just share a few thoughts on some of the beers.  Barrel Aged Pudgy (13% abv barrel aged stout with vanilla) is thick, chewy, decadent, and loaded with smooth vanilla.  This is an outstanding beer that I could drink all the time.  Fat Joe had a little thinner mouth feel, but had a huge coffee flavor.  it also drank dangerously smooth.  Neither of these beers felt like a 13% abv brew, making them both delicious and dangerous!  Also shown below is the Mixed Bear-ee, a 7% Pastry Sour made with blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.  One of the things that stuck out about this beer was how you could taste each type of berry in it, but also how well they all blended together.  Their Pastry Sours are a good mix of sweet and tart, making them extremely easy to drink them.
Mixed Bear-ee, BA Pudgy, and Fat Joe
It's easy to see why this little brewery in NE Iowa is making a huge name for themselves in the craft beer world.  They make world class beer, and are also world class people.  A special thanks to Bob for taking time out of a busy day to share a few beers and record a podcast with me.  Also, thanks to Justin and Mike for working with Bob at making some of the best beers we can buy, and everyone at Pulpit Rock for hosting another great event.

A few things about my podcast, I will be putting forth more of an effort to make this a regular thing, releasing no less than 1 a month.  Soon, you will notice a new logo (Thanks Dan,) a sponsor, Uncle Medard Outdoors, and I'll be working at having the podcast released on iTunes and Google Play.  For now, it is available on Patreon,  It's OK if you don't have that app, you can stream it or download it from their website. or click below

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Iowa Proud

I'm going to take a departure from the norm today and not write about beer.  If you'd like to read more on Iowa beer, including my latest review of Single Speed Brewery in Waterloo please check out my friends website   Check out the Iowa beer stories page.

Today I wanted to take a moment to talk about former Iowa Hawkeye basketball player Chris Street.  It's been 25 years since his death, and the loss still resonates for the citizens of Iowa and the Hawkeye fans.  Obviously losing such a great talent at a young age is awful, yet he was more than that.  He was the typical Iowa kid, working hard, being a good person, doing what is right, and he was succeeding.  I think losing not only his talent but someone with his character is why we all still remember him.  I'm not going to lie and tell you I was his biggest fan, I don't watch much basketball. My dad is the Hawkeye basketball fan of the family. Instead, I thought I'd share a short story of when I met him when I was 12 years old that may help show, why his memory is still with us.

I used to go to a summer camp for handicapped kids in Iowa City that was hosted by the University of Iowa's Hospital Schools, a place where I spent a lot of time recovering and rehabbing from surgeries.  For a few years they had this great idea of getting kids together to help them feel more normal.  We'd live in the dorms for 2 weeks with a dedicated counselor that would do fun activities with us, but we'd also have physical therapy and group counseling sessions to help us deal with day to day issues.  It really was a big step in becoming independent, and I was very lucky and glad that I was a part of it.

So what does this have to do with Chris Street?  One of the activities we did was go and watch a summer basketball league game.  Christ just happened to be one of the players.  This was a fun yet competitive league meant to help college players keep up their skills in the off season.  Some of the other kids recognized Chris right away. He came over to our group and talked with all of us and signed some autographs.  This was pretty cool of him, right? Absolutely, and for most of the other players, that's also what they did.  Chris took it a step further.  He invited our group to set next to the players on the bench.  I ended up right next to him, and I don't remember what we talked about, but I do remember him making jokes, being really friendly, and feeling like he really cared.

It came time for him to go back into the game, and he asked me what I'd like to see him do, so of course I asked him to dunk the ball.  A few minutes later he had the ball around the 3 point line, he charged the basket, I missed what happened next because my roommate asked me a question, but the small crowd in the gym went nuts.  Christ runs by with his arms out and asked what I thought.  I told him I missed it!  I was so embarrassed.  He just smiled, turned around, and immediately stole the ball and dunked it again.  It was awesome!  After the game he came back over to us and gave high fives and said his goodbyes.

I know this is a small and silly story, but in that hour and a half that I saw him, he gave me and the other kids in the group something to smile about.  It's this small act of kindness he gave me and the group that made him special, and why 25 years later he's being honored at an Iowa basketball game.  Thank you Chris for being kind, and giving us a good example.  This story is something I think about from time to time and smile, a small moment in his life, but a big memory in mine.

Saturday, October 21, 2017


 A busy Summer has already given into Fall that is half way over! We spent much of our Summer running Joseph to and from swim team practice and meets. In his first year, he not only made it to the conference meet, but won a couple of medals while he was there! There was a get together in Des Moines and a podcast with some of the guys from Strange Men Brewing (basically some guys that like to drink good beer and harass each other on the internet.) We did do a 2 part podcast that you can listen to on Patreon, just search Crinkletalk.  Now we just wrapped up football season, but more on that later.

First, let's get to some beer!  After missing the last bottle release from Pulpit Rock, I made it a point to get to the latest release.  Two kettle sour beers aged on fruit, Peaches and Cream and Pillow Talk (pictured to the right.)  There's a reason I've written about them before, and I will continue to do so.  They make fantastic beer and they are also wonderful people.  I love visiting the brewery as much for the beer as for the conversation with the brewers, Bob, Mike, and Justin.
 1982, their latest DIPA (pictured to the left) shows that these guys are leading the way in NE IPA's (or NE IA IPA's as they like to call them.) I've had a lot of DIPA's from the East Coast to the Midwest, and they consistently make my favorite ones.  They can make a beer balanced more than any other brewery I've had that are making this style. Of course they are juicy, and they can be dank, but they still have solid malt profile, and a good amount of bitterness to make them dangerously easy to drink. This is where Bob, Justin, and Mike really shine.

That being said, their stouts, porters, and sours are all great beers as well.  Pillow talk really let the natural raspberries be the star of this brew. The lactose smoothed the beer out so the tartness wasn't overpowering, instead it lent itself nicely to this delicate beer.  I'm really looking forward to trying my bottle of Peaches and Cream too.

Thanks to my friends Lisa and Rick, I have a few beers from Narrow Gauge to enjoy.  And a big thanks to my uncle Mike for flying some crowlers of Weldworks beer to Iowa for me.  I really can't wait to try those!

In August I started coaching Joseph's YSF 5th/6th grade Football team.  I was the Defensive Coordinator and assistant offensive line coach.  We had 12 5th graders and just 6 6th graders making us the youngest, and smallest team we saw all season.  Luckily we had a great group of coaches too, Shain, Scott, Jason, Cory, and Jon were all a pleasure to work with, and I feel we gave these kids a good understanding of the fundamentals and what it means to be a team. 

Joseph had a great season at defensive tackle again, recording a few sacks, several tackles for loss, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, and numerous other tackles.  On offense he was a blocking tight end, sealing the edge for his running backs to rack up the yards. He even caught a 14 yard pass in our last game. His upbeat attitude, and willingness to work hard has really paid off for him this year, and I'm incredibly proud of him.

I'll leave the offense write up for Shain or Scott, but as for our defense?  I couldn't be more proud of this group either. They all worked hard, learned a lot, and really worked as a team.  That was especially evident in our last, thrilling game of the season (we won 20-19.)  We faced a passing team, the only one we saw all season. Our kids not only adjusted, but many of them really stepped up. From Bob and Kevin shutting down the middle of the line (our two girls that rocked by the way,) to Kallen and Joseph putting pressure on the QB, to Colton stepping up at safety, getting a huge interception and nearly running it in for a TD, to Brady the middle linebacker, who sealed the win with an interception over the middle. All of these kids came a long way since the beginning of the season, and they way they worked together and supported each other was awesome. It was truly and honor coaching this team, and I'm going to miss working with these kids.
Check out my last podcast at  Or download the Patreon app and search Crinkletalk
Follow me on Twitter @Crinkletalk
Our family is now on to winter swim league, so lots of travel in in our future.  Luckily many of the places we will travel to, has some good local breweries to check out.  The Iowa Beer game is strong right now, and we are all spoiled and lucky because of it.  Cheers!

Saturday, June 17, 2017


 This spring has flown by.  From selling our house to buying another, busy times at work, Joseph finishing the fifth grade and joining the swim team, a great vacation to Maine, and of course all the wonderful beer along the way.

The first I'll mention is Narrow Gauge out of the St. Louis area.  Thanks to Lisa and Rick (my profession beer mules) for bringing me a few crowlers back with you.
These guys have quickly made a name for themselves in just one year, even being named the best new brewery in Missouri.  After having this IPA, I can see why.  I know a lot of people are jumping either on or off the NE IPA craze, but I love it (when done correctly.)  This is done to perfection.  Some haze from the massive amount of hops used, huge citrus aroma and flavor, balanced nicely with the right amount of bitterness to keep it from being too sweet.  Honestly, it reminds me of  Pulpit Rock IPA, and that is a very good thing.  I have another in the fridge that I will be enjoying very soon.
 Sometimes, when life is insane, the best thing to do is get away with the family for a bit, and that's what we did.  The three of us took an amazing trip to Maine, spending our time in the Bar Harbor area and exploring Acadia National Park.

The scenery was absolutely incredible, unlike anything I've seen before.  The rocky shores were stunning, and it's always great to be by the ocean.  Of course fresh Lobster, crab, and haddock was on the menu daily while we were there.

However, I wasn't impressed with the local beer scene.  These NE breweries are getting a lot of hype, but I'll take our Iowa beers over most of what I could find in the Bar Harbor area.  Since I'm a nice guy, I won't list the so so breweries I encountered.

 Instead, I will list a few notables.  I have to start with Maine Beer Company.  This is a very hyped brewery so I really wanted to try them.  While I was there, I had 2 of their beer and brought back a 3rd.  The guy at the store told me "Lunch" was the best beer he ever had, so of course I had to try it.  Well, it wasn't close to the best beer I've ever had, but it was a very good beer.  A nice, clean IPA, that was well balanced and brewed with skill.  I would certainly buy this beer again and again, but to say it's even in the realm of best beer I ever had, would be a big stretch.

Peak Organic Brewery was the other highlight for me, with The Juice and Crush being the beers I'll remember.  Both solid IPA's with loads of citrus aroma and flavor, and more bitterness than I expected.  That also made them very easy to drink, and the few I brought home will be great to enjoy on a hot Iowa night.

We had a night stay in New Hampshire before flying back, so I made one last stop at a local store to bring back a few more beers.  Unfortunately, I only bought single cans, but I sure am glad I at least bought some.  Ransack the Universe from Collective Arts Brewing out of Canada was actually the best beer that I bought while I was there (even though I enjoyed it back home.)

This is a brewery that I will seek out whenever I travel.  I was immediately hit with loads of citrus, mango, and orange aroma when I opened the can.  The flavor matched perfectly with the aroma, and was dare I say "juicy."  It was also extremely well balanced both with the malt profile and the perfect amount of bitterness.  This beer was fantastic.  I also recently drank IPA #2 from them and it was nearly as good.

I'll even give an honorable mention to Hose Krusher APA from Strange Men Brewing.  Unfortunately the bottle I had was flat, but it was another well balanced beer with great aroma.  Hopefully I can join these guys in the future to brew (and drink) some beer with them.

I have a few more random NE beers to try that I've brought back with me and a few crowlers of Pulpit Rock's Loopy Lynn (possibly my favorite DIPA of all time) that I'll be enjoying soon and while they are fresh.  I plan on enjoying them even more on my new backyard patio while the dogs run around our big yard.  Until next time.  Follow me on Twitter: @Crinkletalk
and on Untappd: Crinkletalk