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Cheers! 2015 Resolution kept

January 6, 2016 Leave a comment

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I’m not usually big on New Years resolutions, but I entered 2015 with a specific desire for personal improvement. After a few years in Colorado enjoying a great local beer industry, I found myself in a bit of a rut. I generally defaulted to one of a few beer varieties and seldom wandered out of the mainstream. I despised IPAs, and rarely went with anything more adventurous than an amber or red ale or a Belgian blonde.

So with great enthusiasm I set about the task of drinking 52 different Colorado beers in 2015 that I had never had before. I tracked every one to keep myself going and to keep from accidentally repeating myself. I tracked my beers using Evernote to jot down a few observations, and so with great pride, here’s the roster of Colorado brews that helped me expand my palate in 2015:

  1. 1/1/15: Odell Loose Leaf session ale (Odell Brewing, Fort Collins)
  2. 1/4/15: Kannah Creek Red (Kannah Creek Brewing, Grand Junction) Really good red ale.
  3. 1/10/15: Red Rye Pale Ale (Black Shirt Brewing, Denver)
  4. 1/13/15: Colorado Kolsch (Steamworks, Durango)
  5. 1/17/15: Accumulation White IPA (New Belgium, Fort Collins)
  6. 1/20/15: Deceit Belgian golden ale (Funkwerks, Fort Collins) tastes very Belgian. Like Chimay, just a little more bite, not as sweet or as buttery
  7. 1/29/15: Runoff Red IPA (Odell, Fort Collins) Really nice. Not too hoppy; not at all bitter.
  8. 1/30/15: Polestar Pilsner (Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont). Really nice. Light but flavorful. Low IBU.
  9. 2/1/15: Lands End amber ale (Left Hand, Longmont)
  10. 2/4/15: Red Banshee (Fort Collins Brewery) A little hoppy. Nice color. Similar to isolation ale.
  11. 2/5/15: Prost Pils (Pale German Style Lager; Prost Brewing Co., Denver). Very mild taste; goes well with spicy food. Would also make good summer lighter beer.
  12. Farmhouse Noire (Colorado Farmhouse Ale, Paradox Beer Company, Woodland Park) very dark. Looks like 1554 from New Belgium. Very fruity. Don’t like it by itself; very powerful flavor.
  13. Sawtooth Amber Ale (Left Hand Brewing, Longmont) Perfectly serviceable Amber. A little sweet; not as good as 90 Shilling or other Odell ambers.
  14. 2/12/15: Monsieur Fleur (Mountain Toad, Golden). Very Belgian. Pretty sweet.
  15. 2/17/15: Sledge Hammer (Rock Wood Fired, Denver). Very hoppy, but not too bitter.
  16. 2/20/15: Charlie’s Golden Strong (Copper Kettle Brewing, Denver) Tastes very Trappist/Belgian. Not as sweet as Chimay but very rich.
  17. Vertical Drop Robust Red Ale (Kannah Creek Brewing Co., Grand Junction). DELICIOUS!
  18. Nomad Pilsner (Great Divide Brewing Co. Denver)
  19. Crossed Irons Irish Ale (Kannah Creek, Grand Junction) really nice. Good color, flavor. Hoppy but not bitter.
  20. 3/13/15: Psycho Penguin vanilla porter (Odyssey Beerwerks, Arvada) Reminds me why I hate porters.
  21. 3/21/15: Snow Drop Kottbusser Ale (Grimm Brothers, Loveland) Good Belgian beer. Not too sweet; pretty nice.
  22. 4/3/15: Ska Pinstripe red ale (Durango). I think it was a flat tap at Wild Game. I’ve had this elsewhere and it was pretty good.
  23. Left Hand Good Juju (Longmont). Very smooth with beautiful color and clarity.
  24. 4/29/15: Legendary Red Ale (Golden City Brewing, Golden) Kind of bitter but not bad. Not terribly memorable. Just a beer.
  25. 5/19/15: Legendary Red Ale (Golden City Brewery, Golden) I think this tap was flat.
  26. 5/29/15: Introvert Session IPA (Lefthand Brewery, Longmont)
  27. 6/3/15: Blue Paddle Pilsner (New Belgium)
  28. 6/8/15: Crank Yanker IPA (EddyLine Brewing, Buena Vista) Super hoppy, high IBU.
  29. 6/13/15: Laughing Lab Scottish Ale Bristol Brewery (Colorado Springs) Totally forgettable. Really kind of sucked.
  30. 7/31/15: Great Divide Hoss Rye (Great Divide, Denver). Kind of sweet, lots of flavor. Low bitterness.
  31. 8/5/15: Rock Steady Red (The Rock Woodfired, Belmar)
  32. 8/5/15: Suicide Blonde (The Rock Woodfired, Belmar) Meh.
  33. 8/5/15: Wild Thing clear wheat (The Rock Woodfired, Belmar) Meh.
  34. 8/5/15: Jump ‘n Jack Black English ale (The Rock Woodfired, Belmar) Not terrible, but not for me.
  35. 8/5/15: Lite my Fire (The Rock Woodfired, Belmar)
  36. 8/14/15: Mountain Toad Red IPA (Golden)
  37. 8/15/15: Odell IPA (Odell Brewing, Fort Collins) Odell does just about everything really well; hard to wrong with this brewery whatever style you like.
  38. 8/28/15: Naja Imperial Red Ale (Copper Kettle Brewing, Denver). Pretty good. Not terribly complex for me but decent hops.
  39. 9/3/15: Homefront IPA (Left Hand brewing, Longmont, CO)
  40. 9/5/15: Colorojo Imperial Red (Wynkoop, Denver) A little sweet, but still hoppy. Not bad.
  41. 9/10/15: Farm House Ale (River North, Denver) Really citrusy, borderline “lemonbeer”
  42. 9/12/15: Rumble Oak Aged IPA (Great Divide, Denver). This was the first IPA I fell in love with.
  43. 9/12/15: Roaring Fork Pale Ale (Roaring Fork Beer Co., Carbondale)
  44. 9/13/15: Titan IPA (Great Divide) Really liked this IPA. They’re starting to grow on me.
  45. 9/15/15: Whitewater Hoppy Wheat Ale (Great Divide)
  46. 10/13/15: Green Bullet IPA; (Asher Brewing, Boulder) Pretty hoppy & bitter.
  47. 10/20/15: Slope Style IPA (Boulder Brewing Co.) Really tasty IPA. Great hops in here.
  48. 10/21/15: Zeppelin IPA (Suds Bros, Fruita) Not bad, but not awesome. Not too complex hop profile.
  49. 10/22/15: Rocky Mountain IPA (Fort Collins Brewery)
  50. 10/28/15: Superdamp (Comrade brewing, Denver)
  51. 11/6/15: Oktoberfest Marzen Lager (Left Hand, Longmont)
  52. 11/7/15: IPA and a Half (Tommyknocker, Idaho Springs) Really hoppy, as the name suggests. Pretty good stuff.
  53. 11/10/15: Moirai IPA (Fate Brewing, Boulder)
  54. 11/12/15: Consilium Pale Ale (Renegade, Denver)
  55. 11/15/15: Incredible Pedal IPA (Denver Beer Co.) Very hoppy with high IBU. Gotta be ready for the punch to the taste buds.
  56. 12/2/15: Mirror Image IPA (Echo Brewing Co. Frederick)
  57. 12/4/14: Tempter IPA (Telluride Brewing Co., Telluride)
  58. 12/7/15: El Rancho I(70)PA (El Rancho, Evergreen) Okay IPA. I’d like to see El Rancho work on their beers a little.
  59. 12/7/15: Chief Hosa IPA (El Rancho, Evergreen) This IPA really kind of sucked. Very low flavor for an IPA. Poor hops but bitter = lousy beer.
  60. 12/10/15: Kindler IPA (Bonfire Brewing, Eagle)
  61. 12/13/15: Evolution IPA (Golden City Brewery, Golden)
  62. 12/16/15: Angry Elk Amber (Lariat Lodge, Evergreen) Meh. Once I developed the taste for IPAs a lot of the tamer ambers aren’t interesting enough for me.
  63. 12/27/15: Sun Drenched Exploratory Ale (Denver Beer Co.) A little cistrusy but not too much.

And so if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing more of it. I started with the intention of drinking 52 different beers and had at least 63. I only counted full pints, not just every taste and sample here or there.

I begin 2016 with a great fondness of IPAs and complex hops profiles. I still like a good pint of 90 Shilling on draught, and I still generally avoid porters and stouts. But my palate is indeed broader now than it was 12 months ago.

Resolution complete!

Home invasion… Rocky Mountain style

August 15, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s calving season in the mountains. Elk are on the move and this morning they were bedded down in the meadow across the road from us. We awoke to the sound of their squeaks and bugling – the soundtrack of late summer in the Rockies.

As the herd awoke and started stirring, they had apparently eyed our handsome stand of grass and figured that the buffet was open. With coffee in one hand and camera in the other, I just started snapping away.

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Categories: mountain life Tags:

Autumn, and Sabbath

November 15, 2013 1 comment

I have found no place on earth more lovely than the Colorado Rocky Mountains in autumn. The aspen leaves have faded and fallen, and we’ve enjoyed our first snows as the Earth moves toward a winter’s rest. The days are shorter, the elk and deer are preparing for their winter gestational cycles, to mature into the young calves of spring. The green grasses of summer crisps brown underfoot, and an occasional fog darkens the days, freezes to the trees, and shimmer like a billion crystals in the pine groves.

As the calendar ebbs and the daylight gets shorter, I find myself in a more contemplative mood, reflecting on another year nearly gone. This year, like many before, has been full of great joys and more than a few frustrations, but in the main it has been a good year. In the “personal improvement” category, I have been able to chalk up a few wins.

First, and perhaps least on my list, I’m ending this year with the best level of physical fitness I’ve ever had. This has been no easy task, as I will likely have ridden 4,000 miles on my bicycle and spent 3-4 days each week in the gym. Coupled with a healthy diet – some say borderline ascetic – I’ve kept a very lean, strong frame.

Second came in the form of a mixed blessing. In April I was replaced as CEO of the company I had run since 2008. I was asked (and accepted) to remain with the company that I have loved for nearly a decade (hired on in 2006) and was able to craft a role more aligned with my talents and passions. I hadn’t realized how much stress I had been under! While I work at least as many hours as before, I came to realize that I want neither the responsibility nor the stress that the guy at the top has to shoulder. I was replaced with a friend, and it’s an honor and joy to serve with him.

Third, and most important, I’ve been able to return to deeper reading and deeper thinking. Carrying less stress and adjusting my calendar a bit, I’ve created space in my life for scripture and other deep readings, prayer, meditation, and much thought. By creating a little margin in my head I’ve been able to get back in touch with some of the disciplines that have brought me much joy in years past.

I recently read a series of short books by Laura Vanderkam that have helped me begin to build the same level of discipline around my schedule that I have had in physical fitness and diet for years. My days start much earlier (and end earlier), but have more structure. The alarm sounds at 5:05 AM and I’m up within a few minutes. Three days a week I’m in the gym for an hour; two days I’m reading by the fire. I get a good two hours of important life done before the sun comes up and the schedule of the day imposes.

I also realized that I have blocks of productive time from 8:00 until around 10:30, which I block for work-related reading, writing, and production. I try and avoid meetings or calls during this period, and I don’t check email. (This has been a huge adjustment in a virtual company where we all work from home!) Around 10:30 or 11:00 I’ll check and process email for a while, and then shut it off when the burning embers of my inbox go back to a smolder. I return any calls, make lunch, and get back to production work or any conference calls I’m essential for.

The afternoon is more of the same, with a block of time followed by the niggling issues of email or phone calls. I hit a bit of a wall around 3:00, but that gives me a chance to pick up a kid from school and handle a few personal errands if necessary. I get another flurry of productivity between 4:00 and 7:00, and by then it’s time to shut down the day and do family time.

The overarching theme here is “rhythm.” Like the turning of seasons or the steady inhale-exhale, I believe we are creatures of rhythm. I also believe that this is part of the spiritual truth embedded in the practice of Sabbath. Wayne Muller notes that the world’s great religions all esteem the notion of Sabbath – or deep rest and rhythm – as a time of contemplation, centering, and removing our minds from the incessant crush of busyness. Whether we practice Sabbath because of a deep religious heritage or for a time of personal re-centering, I’ve become a firm believer in built in intentional seasons of rest.

An easy way I’ve started this is with a no-email-on-Sabbath rule. It may seem frivolous but for a guy whose business life revolves so much around email (plus all the social emails that come into personal accounts) I found it too tempting to check my email when I had no legitimate reason to do so. Sitting in traffic, during a commercial break on family TV night, bored in church, sitting on a chair lift on a snowy afternoon – I’ve bowed to my email inbox in all these places, some of which are too sacred to be interrupted by the shrill call of email. So now, from sundown Friday through sundown Saturday email is strictly forbidden for me.

The first few weeks I tried this I was surprised and disappointed at how addicted I am to my email. Not wanting to have someone else’s expectations sitting unmet in my inbox, I fretted over what is getting stale or how far behind I might be getting as folks continued to lob stuff to me when I wasn’t looking. But after a few weeks it has become not only my new normal; it’s something I eagerly look forward to.

I understand that for many this is milquetoast. “It’s not a REAL Sabbath” folks can legitimately say. I am not keeping a Jewish Sabbath, and I’m not avoiding many other forms of technology in which I can operate and still enjoy rest. But getting the constant stressor and distraction of email out of my life for at least a solid 24 hours each week has made a profound difference in my stress levels and in my mindfulness.

Sabbath is quickly coming on this autumn Friday here in the Rockies; the sun is all but gone by 5:00 PM. As my Cabernet muse beckons, I’ll begin Sabbath with a little reflection on this week nearly gone, and some loose thinking of the new week about to be born. And I’ll do it with a greater level of peace and satisfaction than I’ve had in a long time.

Join me in Sabbath.

Feeding the neighbears

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Alright. I’ve been quite deleterious in posting and I won’t try and cover too much history in this post. But since the last post way back in April we moved to a new place here in Evergreen. The new house is a little closer to downtown Evergreen but it sits on top of a hill above town. It’s a quieter setting than the last place, and best yet – it backs up to a forest.

We have a great deck that overlooks the forest and we often see a family of deer and a few foxes each week. We have seen evidence of bears – overturned and looted garbage cans and telltale bear poo, but had never seen them in the fur. UNTIL TONIGHT!!!

We were wrapping up dinner tonight just hanging out and chatting when I looked out the front door and spotted a young bear just standing at the end of our walk.

One of the new neighbors

He ambled down by Caroline (the green Bimmer) and we scrambled to various windows for a better vantage point. I figured he was headed right to the trash cans.

Sure enough, he got to the trash can and momma bear and another youth were already hanging out digging through our collection of cast off banana peels, coffee grounds, and old hamburger buns. I figure if I have to clean up after the bears (they’re not terribly thorough in their clean up efforts), I might as well grab a few shots.

Dinner time!

Categories: mountain life, Wildlife Tags: ,

Winter’s coming to the Rockies

December 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Just your everyday sunrise

After a pretty dry November we finally started getting some snow this month. Evergreen gets most of its snow in the spring, but we have been getting a little bit to get us ready for cooler weather. (Of course, our “little bits” usually come 8-10 inches at a time.) The lake downtown is almost fully frozen – folks have been ice fishing for a few weeks and the lake opened for ice skating a few days ago. We still have quite a few icy spots and a lot of grime on the road, so the bike will likely be hanging on the wall more often than not for the next few months.

  

Downtown at Christmas

We kicked off the Christmas season in the Rockies with the downtown holiday walk. The whole town turned out for hot cider and cocoa, live music, reindeer, and Santa cruising main street on a vintage BMW motorcycle with his sidecar filled with toys. (Wish I’d caught a picture of that!) We hit all the local shops and ran into a few friends.

Ellie’s Pom squad competed for the state competition. Unfortunately Ellie is out of commission on injured reserve until January, so she wasn’t able to fully enjoy the process of winning the overall state title with her team. But she will be fully recovered and ready for February when her team competes for the national championship.

Ashten wrapped up her first session of rhythmic gymnastics. It’s been an interesting shift to a combination of floor gymnastics and dance, with a hard core coach imported from somewhere beyond the now rusted-out iron curtain. It’s probably taking more getting used to for me because it’s very different from the graceful athleticism of traditional gymnastics. But Ashten likes the flexibility and coordination that “rhythmic” requires, so we’re giving it a try for now.

Next week we’ll head back to OKC for a week or so of Christmastime with friends and family. We’re disappointed to miss our first Christmas in Colorado but at least we’re not expecting a white Christmas in the front range this year. Next year school’s in session until Christmas Eve, so Christmas is definitely in the Rockies next year!

 

Looking toward the New Year we will try and start hitting the slopes. It will be our first time on skis for more than a decade, and the first time for the girls. Ellie will be driving soon we we’ll be in the market for another vehicle. I’ve also been increasingly concerned about clipping a deer or an elk in the Bimmer, so I plan on retiring her to the garage for sunny and fair weather treatment and we’ll pick up another 4Runner. The one we have has been the perfect vehicle for Colorado, so we’re going to try and find another one just like the one we have now.

Next post will most likely be after Christmas. So until then, enjoy family and a little time off.

Categories: mountain life

The glory of autumn…on two wheels

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Anyone who hasn’t spent an autumn in the Rocky Mountain foothills is missing out. Sure, snow will be here soon and it’ll get cold. Sure, we’ll get tired of the cold and long for the beaches of Puerto Rico. But chilly nights and cool days among the Aspen trees beat anything I’ve experienced yet.

I snuck out for a couple of hours today to clear my head on two wheels. Evergreen has truly outstanding cycling terrain and the traffic is generally considerate and friendly. The only real downside is that there is not a flat spot around; you’re either climbing a steep grade or you’re descending one. But if I had to choose, I’d much rather have too much climbing than too much flat. (I had flat for nearly 40 years!)

Today’s ride was brief – only 20 miles – but it was NASTY! Over the course of those 20 miles I climbed more than 2,400 vertical feet, much of it at gradients ranging from 10-15%. If you don’t ride a bike let me tell you now – that’s STEEP. Especially when you’re trying to crank your 170 lb body up that hill! Here is today’s ride data link…

I plan to get back out again during the weekend, though I fear the season is starting to close on road biking. At best the weather will get spotty. I don’t mind riding in the cold, but I’ll not likely ride in the ice and snow. (That’s what MOUNTAIN bikes are for!)

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Snowing on OU-Texas weekend!

October 8, 2011 Leave a comment

After a cool but very sunny Friday we had begun to doubt the meteorologists’ forecasts predicting snow in the front range. Megan and I closed out the week with a really great date night at “The Fort“, a really nice restaurant about 20 minutes away in Morrison. We enjoyed a great dinner of bison, elk, and quail, and then enjoyed the cool of the Colorado evening by an open fire in the courtyard of The Fort. As we returned home from dinner we still wondered if the weather predictions would be right.

But this morning we awoke to 3” of fresh snowfall, and the snow has continued throughout the day. Before the OU-Texas kickoff we headed into downtown for a cup of coffee and to check out Evergreen in the autumn snow.

We had head that part of the elk herd was nearby, so we hopped back in Megan’s truck and set out to find them. Just a block west of downtown we found the herd grazing near the creek and snapped a few shots.

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Back home, Ashten got to work building the first snow woman of the season. She was finished complete with chocolate eyes, a rainbow candle nose, candy corn smile, and flip-flops.

No pipe, birthday candle nose, and eyes made out of CHOCOLATE! (Yep, it must be ours!)

Categories: mountain life

More foliage shots

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Megan gave me a little grief for false advertising yesterday. Although the post was about the fall colors in Summit Co., most of the pictures were of us, and only one shot (in Breckenridge) actually showed any Aspen foliage. So fair enough. Here are some more photos from this past weekend’s drive to Summit County and back.

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Categories: mountain life Tags: ,

Autumn colors are coming!

October 2, 2011 2 comments

On Friday I went riding in Frisco with my good friend, Lew. It was a good opportunity to talk business and enjoy the foliage up in Summit County. We rode up Vail Pass and back, and then up and over Swan Mountain, around the Dillon reservoir, and back to Frisco. It was about a 40-mile loop through golden Aspens, and it was a beautiful glimpse of the coming autumn. For those who are interested, here is the link to the ride data. http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/118298968

On Sunday Megan and I took the girls back to Summit County for a first-hand view of the foliage and to enjoy the cool of one of our favorite towns, Breckenridge. We took the direct route up I-70 through the tunnels, and headed straight through Frisco and Breckenridge up to the top of Hoosier Pass. The foliage at the pass was disappointing because there were very few Aspens and a whole bunch of beetle-killed pines. We did take an opportunity to follow some off-road trails up above the pass and took a few photos up there.

Road over Hoosier Pass

We headed back into Breckenridge for a quick snack of dessert crepes and then started the drive back home.

Downtown Breck

The crepe line

Rather than head back down 70 we took the scenic route up highway 6 up and over Loveland Pass, and it proved to be a great decision. It was beautiful! We stopped at the summit (11,990′ – which I have ridden a few times on a bike) and got out. Ashten and I hiked another half mile or so to the summit and were rewarded with some of the most amazing views.

Dad and Ashten over Loveland Pass

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Good morning from the Rockies

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

I was awakened at 2:40 this morning with a very loudly bugling elk bull about 50 feet away from my bedroom window. I could make out his massive profile on the hill behind the house, and he just stood there letting us know he was on guard through the night. Fortunately he moved on after 15 minutes or so, allowing us to go back to sleep. It’s funny – if it was a honking horn, loud music, or other human-caused (or human-neglected) commotion, it would surely have profoundly irritated me. But the elk was reminding me that we are in HIS yard, and I was grateful for the disruptive reminder.

A few hours later I awoke to the sound of my coffee pot grinding and getting started, which is my alarm to get up and start my day. Like most days, I began by getting dressed enough to take the dog out for his morning constitutional before he gets his breakfast. As I strolled out the front door and down the steps I was greeted by a magnificent sunrise. It was just one more reminder that we truly live in paradise and are so fortunate to have this opportunity.

Good morning from the foothills

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