Sunday, February 17, 2019


Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

Prompted by this thread on Beer Advocate

Wife and kids out of town, don't have to go to work tomorrow, let's see what happens :)

1st comparison: 2008 and 2015

A: They both look very similar in the glass, surprisingly the 2008’s head lingers a bit more. Both are dark ruby color, crystal clear and light tan head. The 2008 might be a tiny bit darker, but that could be my imagination.

S: When I poured the 2008, I got a blast of caramel and fruitiness like dark cherry or prune. Nothing obvious as I poured the 2015. In the glass, the hops are more apparent, but not in a “this is centennial or cascade or …” just a definite hoppiness.

T: Very bitter, lots of hops but not obvious west coast Sierra Nevada hops, lots of caramel malts, makes me thing dark British caramel vs something basic like C40, light toffee, hint of sweetness. The 2008 gives me hints of chocolate, but probably more me thinking Heath Bar (toffee covered in chocolate).

M: Rich, round/almost creamy, tongue coating, medium amount of carbonation (even in the 2008). The hoppy bitterness lingers for a long time on the tongue. Somewhat palate wrecking, but in a good way, I guess I really like hops.

O: I’m surprised how similar these two vintages are. The 2008 comes across as a little rounder on the tongue and a little more muted in flavor, but neither are small/shy beers, they walk up and punch you in the mouth. One conclusion from tonight, I’m done keeping multiple vintages of Bigfoot. I’ll still hold back some each year because it is a different beer after a couple of years, but after a couple of years, there is not enough of a difference to my palate to keep 10 different vintages in the basement.

Probably a bad idea but, let’s throw 2018 into the mix

More citrus hops, a little more fruitiness that I think is the hops vs malt or yeast driven. A bit more tingly carbonation on the tongue, seems a little more on the crisp side relative to the older vintages. The easiest way to summarize is to compare 2008 to 2018. The 2018 has much more hop flavor, obvious citrus and pine. While the 2008 is hoppy, it is without the hop flavors, it is mostly just a hoppy bitterness. The lesser hop flavor in the 2008 lets a little bit more of the malt shine through.

The difference between 2015 and 2018 ends up being that the 2018 comes across as “fresher”, it is a little bit more “alive” or hoppy/fruity/flavorful. Not necessarily better, just fresher. The 2008 ends up with a little bit more malts, more restrained hops, slightly muted vs fresh. In the end, I’m somewhat amazed at how little difference there is between 2008, 2015, and 2018, maybe the oxygen caps actually do something.

A couple days later, still no wife and kids, time for 2013 vs 2019. I am deliberately not reading what I wrote the other night to see what happens. 

A: The 2013 is hazy/murky while the 2019 is crystal clear, both are a dark copper/reddish color. The head lingers on the 2019, but drops to a thin film on the 2013. 

S: The 2019 has a orange/grapefruit/citrus scent along with a general sweetness, makes me think of the bottom of an OJ glass after all the juice is gone like there is still a hint of citrus remaining. As I write that I think "both poetic and stupid sounding at the same time" :)
Very little citrus on the nose of the 2013, mostly a caramel maltiness. 

T: The 2019 has a sweet citrus flavor that makes me think candied grapefruit maybe with a little caramelized sugar. A definite bite of hoppy bitterness. The 2013 comes across as a more malty sweetness, some darker caramel flavors and hops more underneath vs up front like the 2019. 

M: The 2013 is a little more rounder like some of the carbonation has disappeared. The 2019 is crisper but not really more carbonated. Both are very tongue coating/destroying. 

O: My first thought when I poured the 2013 was the oxygen cap failed since it is a sort of ugly, hazy color. It is especially ugly compared to the clarity of the 2019. After drinking them both there is no obvious sign of oxidation (cardboard or metallic flavors). But the 2019 is more preferable to me, I find myself reaching for that and forcing myself to also keep going back to the 2013. 

So, I think I like the 2019 better than the 2013. And I think that I liked the 2018 better than the older vintages the other night. Obviously I need to compare 2018 to 2019 and see what happens. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Mt Cammerer

Mt Cammerer
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
12/17 - 12/19/18 (2 nights)
2018 bag nights: 37

Big Creek is a great way to hike 6ish miles and gain ~1000' of elevation. I love hiking next to a raging Smokies creek

Mouse Creek Falls across Big Creek

There was a patch of smooth water that was catching the light off the trees above that I spent time trying to photograph, this was the closest I came to capturing the light.

Then up to the AT and a nice ridge walk on a gorgeous day

Mt Cammerer Fire Lookout high on the ridge

Waiting for sunset, I spent a little time reading the graffiti. I don't understand why people and especially AT thru-hikers feel the need to leave there mark everywhere they go, but all the AT shelters are covered with this crap.

Quoting Edward Abbey in graffiti seems a just a little bit wrong, especially this quote "I promise you this, we will outlive the bastards"

Troop 65 from Morgantown WV needs a little bit of Leave No Trace training.

And snapchat user ilynnstevens just plain sucks

The beautiful sunset reset my mood after the stupid graffiti

Almost full moon over the fire lookout

Amazing sunrise the next morning

Interesting group of pine cones

A couple nights in the Smokies was a great way to get ready for holiday chaos

Pickett State Park

11/21 - 11/24/18
Thanksgiving Weekend

We rented a cabin at Pickett State Park in TN for the Thanksgiving weekend. A couple hours drive and getting set up left a little bit of time for a short hike near the lake and then back for dinner.

Thanksgiving morning we woke up slow and then loaded up the car for a little bit of driving exploration and some hiking. I had never been on this side of Big South Fork so I was happy to drive and check out some of the stuff that appears on the map.

First stop was Buffalo Arch. A nice ~1 mile hike to the arch with very little change in elevation.

This cell phone photo gives an idea of the scale, this is a big arch.

And then a some driving to check out a couple small campgrounds in the area and then we went to find a waterfall I had seen online.

About a mile on the Sheltowee Trace got us to Mark Branch Falls
After that, it was time to head home for dinner.

The next day I got to do a longer hike on the Hidden Door Trail in the actual State Park. In an 8 mile loop, the trail has some great views from high up and passes a couple nice waterfalls.

Crystal Falls

Double Falls

Small falls/drops along Thompson Creek

Pickett State Park was a great place to spend a weekend and we will definitely be back.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Standing Indian Loop

11/16 - 11/18 (2 nights)
2018 bag nights: 35

I met JC and his wife and friend for a weekend of backpacking. JC and I generally try to get at least one trip together each year, but his wife had never joined us before and this was the Julia's first time backpacking. The weather forecast was close to perfect, highs around 50 and lows around freezing with basically zero chance of rain. The weather forecast was the only reason I ended up doing this since I had been fighting a chest cold/bronchitis for the last couple days.

We decided to do the Standing Indian Loop, a place where the Appalachian Trail does a kind of loop as it follows the ridge. One concern was the loop is about 25 miles, most people do it over 3 days/2 nights. We had three nights planned, but since we were driving about 5 hours we thought it would work ok.

We met about 1:00 and started hiking up the Kinsley Creek Trail towards Standing Indian Mountain. The trail parallels the creek for a bit and then starts climbing up to the Appalachian Trail and then the summit, a total climb of about 2300 feet over 5.5 miles.

We got to the summit just in time for sunset, but it was really windy and about 35 degrees, so it was hard to linger and enjoy. The combination of hiking and being sick hit me pretty hard, I cooked dinner and then was unable to eat anything. I ended up laying in my hammock for about 2 hours, then got up and drank more water and ate some gorp and talked for a bit before heading for bed and hoping to feel better in the morning.

I woke up just in time to see the sun peak over the ridge. The wind had died down and it was a beautiful morning.

I went back to the top to check out the view with my coffee. I felt a lot better and decided that I could keep hiking.

Weird piece of junk just off the trail

Today was just hiking the AT, very easy hiking without a lot of the ups and downs the AT usually has in the southeast.

We passed a couple boy scout groups and a bunch of other people which made us want to avoid camping near the shelters. We ended up hiking about 10.5 miles to Mooney Gap which set us up for an easy day hike to Pickens Nose in the morning. The views were great, I'd like to see it in the fall with the leaves changing.

Woke up the next day after coughing all night, still sick, but mostly feel fine. Today was the climb to the Albert Mountain Firetower a climb of about 1000 feet over 1.5 miles.

The last couple days, the galax leaves had been catching my eye, so I decided that I should finally take a photo.

Looking up at the firetower

View from the top of Albert Mountain

The firetower itself is in great shape, much better than some I have seen.

We had thought about camping here or nearby and catching the sunset, but it was only 1:00. After a little bit of discussion, we decided that we could be at the cars in about 2 hours and a cheeseburger and beer sounded really good. So, down the trail we went.

In retrospect there were a couple nice spots about a mile or two from the road, we should have camped there and made a beer run to the trailhead and then had an easy hike out in the morning. As it was, I had an easy drive and got home about 10:30 pm. It was nice to sleep in my own bed and see my kids in the morning.

The whole area is really pretty with a couple of nice view points, but it was way to crowded and not long enough given the drive time. I'm not sure I'll be back, but if I do return, it would be in the middle of the week to try to avoid the crowds.