What You Sound Like When You Use Hashtags

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Beer Fest Review: OC Fest of Ales 2013, Anaheim

I missed last year’s OC Fest of Ales, but made it to this year’s Second Annual event in downtown Anaheim. The event starts with a 5k run, and I had a passing thought to participate in that as well, but then I came to my senses and stuck to just the beer fest.

The weather for the event could not have been more perfect. We just broke out of a minor heat wave in SoCal, and this was the first weekend with temps in the mid 70s. The VIP admission began at 10:00 a.m., and at that hour it was nice and cool with overcast skies. The haze burned off around 1:00, but even then the temperature stayed in the 70s.

With the event held in conjunction with a 5k, I thought parking might be an issue, but it was zero problem. There were garage parking structures immediately adjacent to the event, but they all had signs saying parking was limited to two hours. I suspect that was waived for the event, but just in case we parked at a shopping center about half a block away.

There was no delay getting into the event. Indeed, anyone 21 or over could get a wristband and enter the event to check out all the beer merchandise and buy food at the many food vendors, but to sample the beer you needed to have purchased a ticket. The standard ticket came with a wristband for 10 beer samples, while the VIP ticket offered unlimited beer and food tastings. (In retrospect, it may not have been intended that the food tastings be unlimited, but no one turned me away.)

At this event, the VIP admission really added to the value beyond just getting in an hour early and more beer tastings. An entire section of the event was reserved for the VIP attendees, where there were numerous booths offering pairings of food and beer. Slaters 50/50, one of my perennial favorites as these events, was ensconced in the VIP section. So too were The Bruery, Noble Ale Works, Hangar 24, Lagunitas Brewing, Bootlegger’s, Cismontane and a number of others. See the picture below for the full listing of the “VIP Experience”. In addition to Slaters 50/50, food tastings in the VIP area were provided by local restaurants including Tony’s Deli, House of Blues-Anaheim, American Tavern, Crow Bar, Side Door, Roy’s of Anaheim and The Kroft..

Overall, there were more than 80 craft beers offered by Ace Cider, Alcatraz Brewing Co., Anaheim Brewery, Craft Brewing, Rough Draft, Tap It Brewing Co., Bootleggers, Bravery Brewing, Coronado, Firestone Walker, Golden Road, Manzanita Brewing, Mission Brewing, Monkish, New Belgium, Noble Ale Works, Packinghouse, Sierra Nevada, The Bruery, Tustin Brewery, Pizza Port San Clemente, Ballast Point, Hangar 24, Karl Strauss, Lagunitas Brewing, Black Market Brewery, Valiant Brewing, and Stone Brewing Co.

I saw two great bands perform – Amber Foxx (Rockabilly) and Mo50 (modern/classic rock). PopRoqs (80’s) was also scheduled, but if they were there I didn’t happen to see them.

Just off the street where the beer fest was held, there is a museum called Muzeo (I figured out all on my own that was probably a museum before confirming the fact). The current exhibit was entitled “Lateral Acceleration”, with a collection of still photography, film and motorcycles, showing the “motorcycle culture of Southern California”, as they put it. Admission is normally $10, but it was free with your armband from the OC Fest of Ales. That provided a nice break during the beer fest.

I can’t offer a single suggestion to make this beer festival any better. It provided a great showcase for (mostly) local breweries and restaurants, and the execution was flawless.


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Eagle Eye View — Video from Camera Mounted on Eagle

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Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Rosalones Robusto (5″ x 52)

Cigars Direct
Cigars Direct provided me with another fine selection of cigars for review, including a big, fat Room 101 Serie SA Gordo (6″ x 60) and an Obsidian White Noise Toro Extra (6.5″ x 54). After letting them relax a few days in my humidor, I decided to pull one out for review with a morning cup of coffee on the Lido Deck. I couldn’t commit to two hours for the aforesaid monsters, so I instead went with the Joya de Nicaragua Rosalones Robusto (5″ x 52).

This Nicaraguan puro had no flaws, and burned evenly throughout. It was a mellow smoke at commencement, with some spice but not much complexity. Indeed, had I rated this cigar based on the first third, I would have noted that it was pleasant enough, but not given it much of a recommendation. However, this stick truly grew into its own as I continued, and by the end I was very impressed. Still, it did not measure up to two of my other favorites from Joya de Nicaragua, the Fuerte Serie B, which I gave an impressive rating of 95, and the Antaño Dark Coroho Doble Fuerte, that earned a 93. Although it finished nicely, for being a little slow at the start I can give the Rosalones only an 86 on The Morris Scale. You can find all my cigar reviews at BeerBikesButts.com.

Other than through the Cigar of the Month Club, this stick does not appear to be available from Cigars Direct, but they go for about $4 a stick at Cigars International. Here is how CI describes the Joya de Nicaragua Rosalones:

Welcome to America, Rosalones!

Joya de Nicaragua Rosalones Cigar Review

This delicious medium-bodied cigar from Joya de Nicaragua was once reserved exclusively for the European market (enthusiasts overseas don’t have quite the appetite as we Americans do for full-bodied muscle). But Rosalones isn’t the red headed stepchild of the family either. There’s still that chewy, spicy core of Joya de Nicaragua wrapped up in each cigar.

Staying true to its roots, Rosalones is a Nicaraguan puro, composed of select, extensively aged tobaccos. This well-blended bouquet results in a tamer Joya de Nicaragua specimen that many will find damn near perfect. It all begins with a dark, slightly marbleized Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper. Teaming up with this juicy leaf, awaits a long-filler core of Nicaraguan tobaccos secured within a Nicaraguan Habano binder. On paper it sounds much more powerful than it is. But it’s no walk in the park either, because like a finely tuned automobile, this baby balances strength and smoothness to a ‘T’. Unfolding from the cool, slow burn are hints of pepper, coffee, and earth, before segueing into a delicious raisin-esque note. If the horsepower of other JDN offerings have kept you at bay in the past, you just found the perfect median.

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The Beer and the Cigar: A Perfect Compliment

Neptune CigarGuest columnist Luzzie Normand provided the following article to discuss pairing beer and cigars, and to promote her cigar site, NeptuneCigar.com. I spent a little time on the site, and I like what I see. One cool feature is that when you click on the “cigars” button, you can sort by strength. The cigars descriptions also show ratings from Cigar Aficionado, Cigar Insider and Cigar Magazine, as well as the rankings from visitors to the site. I’ve noticed that some sites will show, say, a 97 rating on a cigar, but when you drill down a little you realize that is the rating from a single visitor to the site.

I was also impressed by the prices I checked. For example, I picked one of my go-to cigars, the Alec Bradley Tempus (6 x 52). A box of 20 goes for $162 at Famous Smoke Shop and Cigar.com, but it’s only $155 at Neptune with free shipping, AND it comes with a free 10-cigar sampler of Alec Bradley seconds (perfectly fine cigars with appearance defects). Show some love and check out NeptuneCigar.com.

Like any respectable woman, I love beer. My deep appreciation for beer is one that is only rivaled by my equally respectable appreciation for a cigar, sweeten the deal with a back porch and a sunset and you might just have described the happiest place on Earth. Cigars have traditionally been heralded as the complementary hand prop to a nice whisky or scotch. While this still holds true, a lesser known fact is just how well certain beers can go with certain varieties of cigars. Not only are they a new alternative to customary libations, they are usually significantly cheaper, making that relaxing evening with a cigar and drink in hand a lot less disastrous to your bank account.

Like pairing a nice wine with a meal, pairing a quality cigar with a nice beer takes a little foresight and the occasional bit of homework. You won’t want to open up that glass beer case and pick a six pack of beer with a fancy label to compliment that cigar you bought with the equally fancy label. Beers and cigars have a slew of tastes, aromas and nuances that, when matched up correctly, can really bring out the best of both worlds.

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to limit my discussion of beers to two types, ales and lagers. Yes, there are more, but for pairing’s sake, these two varieties offer the most distinct complements to a cigar. Venturing outside of these beers runs the risk of either the beer or the cigar competing for taste, texture in aroma. Rather than engaging in a sensory brawl, play your cards right and consider some of the pairings below.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA and an Arturo Fuente Maduro

A nice IPA deserves a cigar that is going to be on the fuller and rich end of the spectrum. The smoke to compliment an IPA should pack a little more punch to play off the lightness of the ale. The perfect matchup? Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo IPA and the Arturo Fuente Maduro. IPA’s are known for completely saturating the palate and you will want a cigar that is up to the task of really playing off that.

The citrus and pine notes of the Torpedo offer a great flavor profile that will enhance the smoke from the Arturo Fuente Maduro (which scored a pretty impressive 87 with Cigar Aficionado). The Maduro will really develop some of the sweetness that comes from the tail end of the Torpedo. Along with that sweetness you will also finish with a little bit of spice which will be the perfect setup to re-introducing the IPA back to your palate.

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter with Alec Bradley MAXX Nano

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter gives all the sweetness right up front and finishes with dryer notes. You won’t get any of that hoppy taste with a rich Porter like this and that should be music to your ears when looking to pair with a nice cigar, such as the Alec Bradley Maxx Nano.

I like to take a good swig of the porter and really hold on to it for a few moments to pick up on some of the great chocolate and licorice notes. Let this wash down and then follow it up with the Nano. I find that the Nano really brings out the lingering licorice tastes that were left behind and further develops the ones that exist within the Nano. The Nano provides a really nice, rich smoke which makes that next swig of Taddy all the better.

Bitburger Pilsner with Camacho Connecticut Churchill

Pilsner’s are famous for giving any hint of sweetness at the beginning of its flavor profile, and the Bitburger doesn’t deviate from that, well, too much. Bitburger is a great choice for a Pilsner due to its lighter, almost grassy and citrusy notes. You won’t get a lot of foam and the carbonation is low so it won’t interfere with your follow up smoke from none other than the Camacho Connecticut Churchill.

The Camacho really works with the flavors of the Bitburger. Playing of the subtleness of the pilsner, the Camacho really swoops in and gives you a great, full-flavored experience. The dry finish of the pilsner is the perfect setup for the silky pull you’ll get from this cigar. Try to really focus on those spicy notes of the cigar, I find that it really enhances the next sip of pilsner.

Luzzie Normand is a cigar enthusiast and freelance blogger. When she isn’t blogging, Luzzie enjoys writing her own serial comic books and slinging ink at tattoo shops.

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These compilation videos are not usually very good, but this one had me laughing audibly.

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Sometimes You Just Have to Listen

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22 Working Tips from The Office


After nine years, The Office has closed its doors, but not before teaching us a number of highly important workplace lessons. This article from The Week lists 22 lessons, but here are a few of my favorites:

Know the value of company loyalty.
Dwight: Would I ever leave this company? Look, I’m all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I’m being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly… I’m going wherever they value loyalty the most.

Don’t settle.
Jim: Right now this is just a job. If I advance any higher in this company, this would be my career. And, uh, if this were my career, I’d have to throw myself in front of a train.

But make sure they still like you.
Michael: Do I want to be feared or loved? Um… easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.

And make sure you have a social life outside of the office.
Michael: I’m friends with everybody in this office. We’re all best friends. I love everybody here. But sometimes your best friends start coming into work late and start having dentist appointments that aren’t dentist appointments, and that is when it’s nice to let them know that you could beat them up.


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Ride the Coast 2013

Ride the Coast 2013 turned out to be a great ride for a good cause.

It was a hot one today in Santa Ana, California, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. Of course, everything is relative, because my hometown of Tempe, Arizona had a high of 118 today, so I’ll take the 90 degrees.

But, despite the heat, I opted for my long-sleeved, Ride the Coast T-shirt from a previous year, both for the protection and because I anticipated it might be cold along the beach (and because it has bitchin’ flames on the sleeves). I also pulled off my (Switchblade) windshield, to maximize the airflow. That turned out to be the perfect combination. It was a little bit hot at the commencement of the ride, so I was glad for the missing windshield, but along the beach it got downright chilly, so I was glad for the sleeves (and I got lots of compliments on the bitchin’ flames). Take that, Tempe Arizona. Where could you go for a bike ride and get cold this time of year?

This is a police-escorted ride, so once it starts you fly through every red light and stop sign on the way. Never once did I have to put my foot down during the 70 mile course. It is really quite an accomplishment, with a dozen or so motorcycle cops racing ahead to stop traffic at all of the intersections. Equally impressive is the fact that we go through so many police jurisdictions, and all cooperate in the process. Even Huntington Beach, known for its anti-biker attitude, gets into the spirit (not that they assist in the traffic control, but at least none of us were stopped for loud pipes).

The ride commenced at the Santa Ana Auto Mall. From there we took the 55 to the 22 freeway, and headed to the coast in Long Beach. From there, we traveled the coast all the way to Jamboree, in Newport Beach, and then turned North, ending at Original Mike’s in Santa Ana at about noon. The wait staff there did a great job serving the horde of bikers that arrived en masse.

Proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Ana.

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Note the bitchin’ flames.

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The ride was hazy and very cool along the beach

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This is just so wrong

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