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Pumpkin Beer Blind Tasting

September 8, 2013

If you know me, you probably know how much I love all things pumpkin in the fall. Pumpkin spice coffee, waffles, pancakes, and pumpkin beer.

On Saturday, Matt and I hosted a couple friends for a blind tasting of 14 different pumpkin beers. Fourteen may sound like a lot, but there are still more pumpkin beers I want to include, so there may be a part two later on.


One through seven of the lineup

The lineup (with my score out of 10):

  1. Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin (10)
  2. Uinta Punk’n (4)
  3. Foothills Cottonwood Pumpkin (8.5)
  4. Southern Tier Pumking (10)
  5. Anderson Valley Fall Hornin’ (4)
  6. Dogfish Head Punkin (5)
  7. Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin (8, tasted some gingerbread)
  8. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin (9)
  9. Southampton Pumpkin (3)
  10. New Belgium Pumpkick (7.5, a little sour but didn’t make me pucker)
  11. Terrapin Pumpkinfest (7.5, tasted notes of ginger that I’d never noticed before)
  12. Starr Hill Pumpkin Porter (4)
  13. Rogue Pumpkin Patch (7.5)
  14. New Holland Ichabod (5)

We opted to leave Pumking out of the official rankings because we absolutely love it, and we all knew immediately which one it is — so much different than any other.

Overall, I wasn’t surprised with how I rated most of them, whether toward the top or bottom end. The most surprising, however, was that Sam Adams was rated so highly by everyone. Weyerbacher has long been one of my favorites, so I’m glad it was justified blindly.


From a trip to The Porter Beer Bar on Friday night

Most of all, it was a lot of fun to sample and rate these beers with all branding stripped away. For part two, I’m hoping we can take the top selections and compare them with a few others. Based on overall rankings from three people (Matt was the moderator) and omitting Pumking, the top three fell as 1) Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin, 2) Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, 3) Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin.

On another note, I’m starting my new job at a major university tomorrow, and I’m excited for a fresh start! My last day at my previous job was on Tuesday; afterward, I drove straight to Charlotte to spend a few days with my mom — we had a great time shopping (new work clothes), walking with Kolby the dog, and relaxing. Today, I’ve been cleaning house and organizing to get ready for tomorrow. Cheers to a new beginning!


Never stop learning

August 3, 2013

I collect skills.

Several of my New Year’s resolutionsshooting a gun, learning to play guitar, and taking a photography class — revolve around learning new skills.

Back in March, I took a basic two-hour one-on-one photography class with Ingrid Owens of CameraShy. Because I shoot many event photos for work, I was able to use some of my professional development funds for the class.

Focal point practice

Focal point practice

The one-on-one setup was ideal because I was able to explain what I already knew and what I wanted to learn, and Ingrid picked up there. She even gave me some handy slides to remember what I learned.

I chose to learn basic photography for a couple of reasons. One, I like being able to take better quality photos on trips. And two, graphic design and photography go hand-in-hand. Good photos are needed to work alongside good design in most pieces. When I’m able to capture quality photos myself, I can then use them in my designs.

What is a new skill you’ve learned as an adult?

Channeling the Tube

June 12, 2013
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Yesterday was the season four premiere of “Pretty Little Liars” on ABC Family. Do you care? Probably not. Do I? Not anymore.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I watched the show through the end of season three this spring. Guilty pleasures, ya know? I almost cut the show from my regular line-up sooner, but I went ahead and finished out the season.

Shared on Instagram in January.

Shared on Instagram in January.

With winter premieres in January, I realized I had accumulated way too many TV shows to watch. Incidentally, we got our first DVR in January making it easier to keep up with my stories. However, as the DVR quickly piled up, cuts had to be made.

I started “Nashville” and was enjoying it, but it got cut — maybe I’ll catch up later. I picked up “The Americans,” but I’m hooked so it stayed. (If you don’t watch this, do it now.)

That left me with “How I Met Your Mother” (which will finally end next year), “New Girl,” “The Mindy Project,” “Parenthood,” “Modern Family,” “Community,” “The Office” (which was finally put out of its misery), “Parks and Rec,” “Big Bang Theory,” “Glee” (debating cutting this one), “Happy Endings” (which unfortunately has been canceled), and “Being Human” (which I’m still working on via DVR).

Yikes. That’s a lot of shows. Too many?

In addition, Matt and I  like to watch a Netflix or DVD show together — most recently “Veronica Mars” and now “Arrested Development.” Next up is “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

How many shows do you keep up with? How many is too many? Am I missing something I should be watching?

Has Facebook made us lazy in friendship?

June 4, 2013

In a word, yes. In a few more words…

MjAxMi1jZjZlYzAxZjEwODQwOWY2Gone are the days when we have to pick up the phone or set aside time to catch up with old friends. Now we frequently know TMI about a random friend from third grade.

Our parents’ generation constantly had to update address books and touch base every so often or risk not being able to find an old friend. The fact that I know I can always reach an old friend by typing their name into Facebook — should I need/want to — has made me lazy in maintaining friendships.

Maybe it’s because I moved and started over so many times as a kid, but it almost feels normal to have completely different groups of friends at different times in life. In fact, it feels strange to have a couple friends who I’ve been close with for about 15 years now.

I realize how many people I’ve lost touch with when I see Facebook photos from an get-together, such as a wedding, where a bunch of people I used to be close with were in attendance.

New mission.

To use Facebook to my advantage — rather than as a hindrance — each week, I’m going to try to reach out to an old friend with whom I accidentally lost touch. Now, where to begin?

Have you ever sent someone a message out of the blue? How did they react?

Beer of San Diego

May 31, 2013

When we arrived in San Diego on Thursday, it was just after noon there so we headed straight for lunch at a restaurant called Neighborhood. There we finally got to taste our first Russian River beer — Pliny the Elder. Yum.

After dropping our bags at Thomas’ apartment, we headed to the first brewery, AleSmith. I love when breweries offer sample sizes. We grabbed a bunch of $1-2 samples to share so we could taste as many different beers as possible. My favorite was the Speedway Stout with Vietnamese Coffee.

At Lost Abbey

At Lost Abbey

Post-Torrey Pines hike, we stopped quickly at Green Flash. Most of their beer is distributed to Georgia, so we’d tried most before. Green Flash is a nice facility, but the staff starts preparing everyone to leave at least half an hour before they close; and they close about 15 minutes before the posted time. I realize it was a Thursday night, but it was annoying to be told every couple of minutes to finish up and head out.

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Coast to Coast

May 28, 2013

Wait, I have a blog? Whoops.

May has been a whirlwind of both hard work and fun. I work at a school, so the month of May consists of everything winding up before it winds down.

But on the fun side of things, I’ve been grateful to take some time off for a couple of very different, very fun beach trips.

At the beginning of the month, Matt and I traveled to San Diego to visit our friend Thomas, see the sights, and sample the local beer.


Sunset over the Pacific at Torrey Pines State Beach

San Diego sights:

We stayed with Thomas whose apartment near UCSD is on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. The view was amazing to see every day. On our first afternoon (Thursday), we hiked (on a road) up the sandstone cliffs at Torrey Pines State Beach right before sunset. The sun set over the ocean while we were there; then we hiked down the beach side (not on a road) and walked back on the beach as the light faded. Gorgeous.

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Why I went to the shooting range

March 5, 2013

No, I haven’t suddenly become pro-gun. I don’t ever intend to own a gun, and I’d prefer a society without them. But the fact is, we live in a country where the right to bear arms is protected by the Constitution. Plenty of people own and use guns safely and for different, legitimate reasons.

But plenty of people also own and use them illegitimately.

You see it in the movies all the time. The bad guy has a gun. There’s a skirmish. The gun slides across the floor, and the protagonist picks it up and gains control of the situation.

If for some reason I’m ever in that situation, I want to know what I’m doing. That’s why I picked learning how to shoot a gun as one of my New Year’s resolutions.

On Sunday, my friend Kevin, a former police officer and current parole officer, went with me to a shooting range and taught me the basics.


Going in, I had no idea what to expect. Would I enjoy it? As it got closer to time, I grew more and more anxious.

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