A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon has a gift as a writer. His writing is so approachable, so thoughtful, so compassionate, but still highly readable and thought-provoking. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a touching and heartfelt book, and I really wanted to see what else the author had to offer. I was very excited when I spotted this at the bookstore.
A Spot of Bother tells the story of George Hall and his unique and hilarious family. One day George discovers a "spot of bother" - a lesion on his leg which he is absolutely convinced is cancerous. His daughter Katie is marrying the wrong man - Ray, his wife Jean is cheating on him with his ex-business partner - David, his son Jamie is in a torrid romantic love affair with another man - Tony, but all George can focus on is his lesion.
After the first boring 100 pages, the book really takes off, and hilarity ensues as the wedding progresses. The characters and their development steal the show, but it's as if the moral of the story they were all looking for was a bit lost and out of focus in the end. That said.. this is a really good book! Once it gets in its groove, the plot just twists on and on, and you wind up feeling as if you're one of the quirky Halls yourself - cheering at their victories and sympathizing at their losses. As the book progresses, the author really makes you love these characters, despite their growing list of faults.
This is a great book that everyone should read, but I can't help but feel disappointed seeing as how this was written by the guy who wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - a book that defied what I thought a novel could be. In the end though, this is a hilarious, well told, fun to read story, and I'm really glad I read it.


Honey Ale

Well I've been a lazy blogger, as I predicted I would be. I brewed my honey ale Saturday, and it went damn well. Lots of fun, as usual. It's bubbling away as I type.

Specialty Malts:
10 oz. Honey Malt
4 oz. Special B
2 oz. Aromatic
2 oz. Biscuit
2 oz. Caramunich

5 lbs Extra Light DME
3 lbs Wheat DME
1 1/2 oz. East Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1/2 lbs Crystal Candi Sugar

@ 45:
1/2 oz Saaz Hop Pellets
1/2 oz Fuggle Hop Pellets
1/2 oz East Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1/8 tsp Crushed Coriander

1 oz. East Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1/2 oz. Fuggle Hop Pellets
1/2 oz Sweet Orange Peel

@ Flameout:
1/2 oz Ginger Root
1 1/2 lbs Orange Blossom Honey.

I'll keep ya'll updated. Have a good week..


Update: Exclesior Stout

Well I cracked a bottle of this tonight and it seems to be doing much better. Carbed up nicely, finally. The sweetness really died down, and it didn't give me a headache. I'm actually really happy with how this is drinking!

Thanks to Dave and Justin for letting me join in on brewing festivities- good beers, good people, good time. All in all, a good day.

Well, goodnight..


Victory Baltic Thunder

I should have known better than to get my hopes up thinking this would be Perkuno's Hammer. Of course it's not, and nothing ever will be. That brew is on a freaking pedestal for me. My first sip of the Hammer was life changing. I never knew a porter could be so awesome. That said, this beer is freaking fantastic. It's very reminiscent of Perkuno's Hammer, but just doesn't have the perfection that it did. Beautiful color. Wonderful sweet and roasty aroma. Full, creamy taste, but a bit over carbonated.

We've been very lucky lately in Indiana - 2 great Baltic Porters: this one and Otter Creek's Sea Otter. Oh, I love me a good Baltic Porter when it's done right. The lager crispness adds the perfect element to the porter profile, instead of just making it overly clean. Lagering a porter really plays well with the styles natural flavors, giving them a platform to shine on. The crispness is the stage, and the roasty, sweet, coffee flavors are the band. Better yet, the crispness is the rhythm for the band to get in to, to get on top of, and to get down with. The lager aspect is the beat, the ale aspect is the melody. Too metaphorical given the fact that I'm describing a beer? I'd say yes.

Ok, I'm done publicly making an ass of myself. My beer is not a band. My beer is tasty, and keeps me very warm. My beer is my friend. Is yours?


Evergreen Valley Vineyards 2002 Baco Noir Vintner's Reserve

Hmmm. Wine. Gotta admit I don't know jack about it. All I know is that I like it dark and dry, and this one fits the bill. Look at the color of that!! It's a super dark burgundy with the most beautiful purple hues. The smell is insatiably oaky, with sweet, fruity, and slightly acidic notes. Semi astringent, with big, bright aromas. The taste is absolutely out of this world. Super creamy, almost butterscotch notes with amazing orange and juniper hints. The barrel flavor is not as pronounced as it was in the nose, except in the finish, where it takes over with a puckering, lemony acidity that leaves a long, clean, dry finish. Easily one of the best Baco's I've had.

This place is awesome. It's a small joint nestled in a beautiful valley in Luthersburg, Pa. The folks there are fantastically nice, and truly genuine in their love for wine and the tradition behind it. All of their creations come from small batches, and are delicious. One of the coolest wineries in the area, and with arguably some the best wine around. I've been sitting on this bottle for about a year now. 2002 vintage huh? I was, um, 17 then. Don't tell anyone.

Wine is kinda strange to me. I dig some wines a whole bunch (Baco Noir, Marichal Foch, Cabernet Franc, Gew├╝rztraminer, to name a few), but for the most part they all taste the same to me. Maybe it's just my beginner's palate, but there's so much more complexity and possibility in the broad flavors and ingredients of beer than there is in wine. Don't get me wrong - I'm not an anti-wine kinda beer nerd. I just think the world of beer is so much larger than the world of wine - not any better or worse.


2006 Revisited - Allagash Dubbel & Heavyweight Perkuno's Hammer

Allagash Dubbel - This has been in my collection since early 2006. I'm really amazed with how well this one has aged, and I'm sad that this is my last bottle. Pours a deep brown with a rich, tan head. The aroma is intensely complex, with notes of chocolate, port, caramel, mint, toffee, plums and dates. The taste is fantastic, with huge dark fruit notes, combined with sweet chocolate and caramel, with a strong, dry, grainy finish. A great, authentic tasting Dubbel that ages like a champ.

Heavyweight Perkuno's Hammer - God do I miss Heavyweight. I mean, for real! They were always one of my favorite American breweries. Their beers were always so interesting and special, and focused much more on the malt, the yeast and the fermentation of beer, and not the crazy hops. I've had this since in my cellar since May of 2006, and thankfully have one bottle left, which I may save for my deathbed. Pours a still black with no head. Smells funky and sour, almost like a brett stout, with strong cherry and berry notes. The taste is heavy on the funk, with loads of complexity everywhere. Surprisingly carbonated, with lots of dark fruit notes and a port/sherry feel. Super clean and slick, with a long, sour, bitter, roasty, hell.. perfect aftertaste. I haven't had chance to try Baltic Thunder, but I can't wait. And, I'll be sure to check out Tom and Peggy's new place once it's up and running. I wish I had a case of every one of their beers left. .Brewing legends..

Espresso Part 2

How cool is this?

That's all.