I feel so official

Step one is complete. I have business cards for the blog.

Usedhair business card back
Card Front
Usedhair business card front

Now I’m just waiting for the beer coasters I ordered to come in. Wait til you see those!


Shelf Day Part 2

It’s not going so hot. In fact, it’s rally rough going so far.  In case anyone doesn’t already know this about me, I’m not a very handy kind of guy.  In my mad dash to prep all of the shelves before the rain on Friday, I discarded the wrong small piece of wood to fill this gap and had to find and then paint the right piece.

Gap filler shelf

Then I forgot to adjust the length of two pieces of wood that were going to meet in a corner and had to re-cut and repaint those pieces.

Next I fall victim to something that, admittedly, I brought on myself. Every time I sit on the ground, one of my dogs decides that it’s lap time. Very hard to work with a boxer sitting on you.

Boxerus interuptus

Always best to let him get it out of his system or he’ll hound me forever.

Now I’m ready to get down to the real task at hand. But, the problems aren’t over yet. I find the studs, mark everything up, and start putting screws in the wall. Standard procedure. But, this is an old house and I’m never quite sure what I’m going to find behind the walls. Could be plain wood, could be concrete, could be a mystery. This time I hit a mystery. The screws are going most of the way in and then breaking off.  Any idea what could be causing this?  It’s got me stumped.

Broken screw

Now I have to start improvising with the hardware I have available. I have anchors, but the screws they come with won’t lay flat (unacceptable for shelving.

Anchors with the wrong type of screws

So, I find some concrete screws that lay flat and fit in the anchors.  Not ideal, but it will work.

The wrong screws for the right job

So, I manged to get 1 filler shelf and 2 regular shelves up today.

Unimpressive start

Not a very impressive start. But, I’m going to keep at it.


Shelf Day Part 1

I need more shelving in my office. Just look at all the room I’ve got after clearing the room of pretty much anything unrelated to work or beer (because, really what else is there in life).  

Room for more shelving 1
Room for more shelving 2
That’s room for a lot of bottles, that is. I need to build some shelves, which requires sanding and sawing and panting. The problem is… It’s spring in Florida. For some crazy reason that means that Monday-Friday, while I’m at work, the skies are clear and the weather is beautiful. However, Saturday and Sunday every week is scheduled to have harsh and heavy rain. So, the combination of a Friday off and clear weather predicted until the afternoon has me on a race for time. I get my wood and tools ready to go.  

Wood and tools to build shelves

That’s a lot of sanding coming my way. And I hate sanding. Oh well. I set my Boxer Buddy on guard duty, because every one works on shelf day. 

Boxer Buddy on guard duty

And I get down to it. I worked from dawn until 3pm or so. Measuring, Sanding, sawing, painting. And I get it all done and cleaned up literally seconds before it starts raining.  

Prepared shelves 1

  I still have a lot to do. But the outdoor part is set and I can work the rest in the evenings and in the rain. Clear sailing from here until I figure out what I miss measured or miss cut. 

All Hail King Bottle!

Sometimes you just have to work a little harder to get what you want. A year or two ago I was visiting family in Upstate New York and came across the biggest bottle of beer I had ever seen. The legendary 3 liter bottle of Stone Double Bastard Ale.

Stone Double Bastard 3 Litre Bottle

I REALLY wanted this bottle. But I was at the end of my trip, had filled my checked bag with other bottles, and had about run my budget dry. The $95 price tag was a bit too much at the time. I checked around with distributors in Florida. But, at that time there was still a crazy law on the books that didn’t allow sale of beer in containers between 32 ounces and 1 gallon in size. It was a stupid law and I’m glad it’s gone. But, no Double Bastard Ale bottle for me.

The next time I saw the bottle was last Thanksgiving at my favorite North Carolina combination tea and beer store – Harrika’s Brew Haus. I was driving this time so I could have transported it with no problem. However, the price had now gone up to $125. Still too rich for my blood, and I walked away from it a second time.

It was one of those decisions that I knew I was going to regret. And I did. It’s a hole in my collection that I was dying to fill. So, when I found myself getting ready for a trip to San Diego I knew that the prime directive of the trip was going to be to get that bottle come hell or high water.

Before the trip I found the nearest Stone Brewing to the hotel where I was staying and called to see if they had the 3 liter growler. It’s a good thing I called because they had to special order it. But I knew I was going to get it. Unfortunately, it was going to be $85. I was going to have to severely limit my beer budget for the trip to little more than this bottle. But, it would be worth it. To prepare I made a size estimate (around 18″) from the pictures online and measured my bag and shelf space to make sure I could actually get it home and fit it on my shelf.

Measuring the bag
Measuring the shelf

All was going according to plan. Growlers are not like regular bottles beer. They are beer on tap put into a temporary storage vessel. They have to be refrigerated or they will spoil. I would have to buy the bottle on Monday, drink about a pint and a half per night, and polish the bottle off before heading back. It could work!.

There was a small glitch in the plan. The hotel room only had a tiny refrigerator and the bottle wouldn’t fit.

Double Bastard Doesn’t Fit

Same goes for the ice bucket.

Double Bastard on ice bucket

After an emergency crowd sourcing session (asking advice on Facebook) we figured out that I could pull out the shelves in the refrigerator.

3 litre Double Bastard in refrigerator

I drank responsibly for 4 days. Packed up my bottle and put King Bottle in it’s rightful place. All hail King Bottle!

King Bottle

500 Breweries!

I could see coming up in the list of bottles that I was about to hit 500 breweries. so I did some planning to make sure I was at an actual brewery (not shopping in a store) when I bought a beer bottle that would put me over the top. 

I’m is San Diego and it’s Saint Patrick’s day. I could have looked for an Irish place. But I’m Scottish, not Irish. And, to be honest, I didn’t even realize it was Saint Patrick’s Day when I thought about where I should go. So I honed in on a brewery that might mean something to me on a more personal level. 

I studied auditory sensation and perception as well as research in graduate school. So, when I saw a brewery called Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment, I knew that had to be the place.  They did not disappoint.  

Acoustic Ales Entrance
Acoustic Ales Wood Sign

I walked in to find comfortable couches and a pair of old golden retrievers lazing about. Definitely my kind of place.  

Inside Acoustic Ales
I ordered the quadrupel because (aside from really liking quadrupels) I was digging the name “Westbound and Down” and sat around singing a Smokey and the Bandit song for a while. Then I got down to brass tacks. What bottle was I going to get. Not only were the choices awesome, but the prices were pretty damn good. A range of $6-$8 for each bomber (22 oz). So, there was only one option I could really take here. I got 4 bottles.  

Acoustic Ales Bottles
Say hello to the bottles from the 500th brewery in my collection. Can’t wait to drink them. 

You want me to put that where?

Let’s chat about one of the challenges involved with bottle collecting. Displaying all of that “stuff”. I have a lot of bottles and cans. Seriously, there are a metric ass-ton of the things. So, just where am I supposed to put them all? Probably best for me if you don’t answer that the way I think you’re going to answer that.

For a while I got away with using 1 x 4 inch boards and “L” joints to make cheap and plentiful shelving.

Wall shelving

Combine that with putting cans into any nooks and crannies where I can use fun-tak or double sided tape and all was right with the universe for quite a while.

Cans in nooks and crannies

Once all Of that space is taken up, where do you turn?  My goal is… dun, dun, duuuun… the ceiling. Don’t laugh! There’s a lot of space up there. The problem here is that gravity is a petty-ass bitch.  Builders have put a lot of effort through the years into dealing with gravity for displaying things on walls.  Pictures, televisions, shelves.  They all work based on gravity pulling the thing you’re trying to display down the side of the wall. All we’ve really done with ceilings is hang things.  It doesn’t seem like that should be a totally different thing, but it is.  Hanging bottles from the ceiling would make me a ceiling display of a thousand or so round bottle bottoms.  Not at all what I’m looking for.  Try building a ledge on a ceiling and all you will have to show for it is a lot of broken glass on your floor. Unless you find a very different way to counter gravity.  Cans (as usual) are easy.  I’ve managed to get cans to stick to the ceiling.

Cans on the ceiling

The idea from here was to attach magnets to the bottles and let the magnets take hold of the metal “L” brackets you see mounted up there.

Bottles on the ceiling using magnets

Brilliant, right? Well… not so much. Turns out that adhesives and glass aren’t as buddy buddy as I had planned. About an hour after I set this up, I heard the dreaded sound of a bottle smashing to the ground. But (just in case any magnet enthusiasts are crapping their pants in suspense right now) the magnet was still smugly staring at me from the ceiling when I went to investigate. I pulled the rest of the bottles down and sulked the rest of the night because now I’m back to square 1.

In my mind adhesives of any kind are out as a possible solution at this point. Sooner or later they will fail. And then I’m out more bottles. I just can’t take that kind of loss again. For my next trick I found some metal corner bead made for working with stucco.

Mesh corner bead
Corner bead is cheap

It’s cheap, and I can attach it to the existing brackets to make a kind of basket-like lip that would hold the bottles. There are two problems with this approach. The first is that I would have to cut it to fit my ceiling and it’s a bear to cut through every joint of the mesh.  The second is that the bottom part of the mesh is 3 inches long, which would cover up much of bottle that I’m trying to display.  After playing around with it a bit, I decided that this isn’t really an option that I can make work.

Next up, I managed to find some “U” shaped pieces of thin metal.

“U” shaped metal of mystery
Mystery metal is still cheap

I don’t have any idea what this mystery metal is supposed to be used for. Therefore, I have to assume that someone made it specifically for putting bottles on the ceiling. It’s nearly as cheap as the stucco mesh and has a nice small lip that I can use to hold the bottom of the bottle without blocking the label.  I just wish that whoever designed this specifically for putting bottles on the ceiling would have made the place where the bottom of the bottle goes the right dimensions.  Right now there’s a bit too much space there for my liking.

But it’s the best plan I have so far.  I also think it will look better than the stucco mesh once everything is set up.

So… what do you think?  Am I crazy… stupid… both?  Will this work? Could I be taking an entirely different approach to this?  Let me know and I’ll keep you informed when I finally get around to putting this stuff up and testing it out.

Feast or Famine

Recent trips have brought me to McAllen, TX and Tucson, AZ.  As I previously indicated, finding breweries in McAllen was a challenge at best. Tucson proved to be the opposite in that there were more breweries than I could possibly get to while I was there.  Before I go anywhere new, I spend some time researching the area for breweries.  My first stop is typically a search in BeerAdvocate.  Here is what I got for McAllen, TX:


No Breweries.  I still had an adventure, but I did not get any bottles actually from McAllen.

In contrast, the research for Tucson, AZ revealed a goodly amount of breweries:

17021912 BrewingBarrio BrewingBorderlands BrewingDragoon BrewingGentle Ben’s BrewingIron John’s BrewingNimbus BrewingPublic BrewhousePueblo Vida BrewingSentinel Peak BrewingTen Fifty-Five BrewingThunder Canyon Brewery.

13! That’s a lot of breweries.  How do you choose which to visit in a 3 and a half day trip.  I tend to travel with other people and those people aren’t always as into breweries as I am (who would have thought).  So, I’ve found that a good approach is to find the places that have the right combination of a beer menu that I will enjoy and a food menu that will allow me to suggest the place as a dinner location.  For Tucson, the winners that the group chose happened to be Thunder Canyon Brewing, Barrio Brewing, and Nimbus Brewing.

Not much of a story there so far.  But next week I’m traveling to San Diego, CA.  I finally got around to doing my standard search for breweries in the area last night.  Holy frijoles! 46 breweries listed on the very first search (and I haven’t even gone to my secondary sources yet):

How am I going to choose from 46 breweries in another 3 and a half day trip!?  To be honest, I’m not quite sure.  There are some easy decisions in there to be sure.  Gordon Biersch has a national representation to the point where I can even find them in some airports.  So, visiting them in San Diego will likely not come close to the list.  On the other hand, Stone Brewing had an early presence in my craft beer journey.  When I earned my Master’s Degree, I celebrated with my very first bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale because I felt I had really earned the title of Arrogant Bastard (before the degree I was still an arrogant bastard, I just hadn’t earned the title yet).  For that reason and another that I hope to address in a future post, Stone Brewing is top of the list.  Beyond those two, the decision is a little fuzzier.  The plan is to find the ones closest to the hotel and/or the ones that have the most interesting beers.  Whatever I choose, I’ll be sure to let you all know when I get back.

All beer fests great and small

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Back in September I found myself stuck in the middle of nowhere (otherwise known as Roswell, NM) for the weekend. Rather than try to fill my time in the UFO Museum, I decided to make a 4 hour drive to the Mountain West Brewfest in Albuquerque. It was a huge festival that ran in the standard manner. You pay to get in and get a tasting glass that you bring from booth to booth getting samples of beer from each brewer.

Mountain West Brewfest – Blue Corn Brewing Tent

At this particular beer festival I saw someone walking around with a bottle that looked very different. I asked them about it and they said they had paid $5 for it back at the Santa Fe brewing booth. I stumbled my way (there were many samples that day) to that booth as fast as I could and scored a very rare 22 oz bottle of barrel aged scotch ale for $5.

Santa Fe Ever Changing Series – Highland Heath

That had to be one of the best scores I ever experienced.

Fast forward to this last weekend. I find a local event that managed to combine dogs and beer. The Bark n Brew event in Oviedo, FL sounded like a great idea. Unfortunately, crossing the streams doesn’t always result in hip mashups. Trying to combine dog vendors and beer vendors resulted in too few of each.  I paid $20 to get a card that allowed me exactly 10 tastings. No more, no less.

Bark and Brew Sampler Punch Card

The breweries present were nothing new and all of the non-local breweries were manned by event staff rather than brewery staff. I did manage to find one beer that I had not seen before.

Goose Island Four Star Pils

I would love to have added this bottle to my collection. But the event had an issue with glass and the person at the booth literally feared for their job if they let me walk away with the bottle. Far be it for me to put a man’s job on the line for my collection. So, I didn’t press the issue. But, I did get the other side of the win-lose dichotomy that was set in motion last September. All told, this beer will start showing up in all of the local beer stores and I will manage to get it sooner or later.  It’s just disappointing to walk away from a beer festival with only a punch card as a souvenir.

To drink or not to drink

We’ve all been there. You work a hard day and you feel like you’ve earned yourself a beer. It’s a great feeling. But what if…

I got up at 4am this morning to drive to a super remote location. After an hour delay, then an hour on the highway, I find myself a passenger on what feels more like an amusement park ride than a dirt road.  The only picture I managed to get was in an area that wasn’t even that bad.

Next thing I know, the guy who doesn’t excerciae AT ALL is taking the most intense hike I’ve ever had to traverse. We are hiking up a mountain for an hour straight in Arizona desert/mountain region a stones throw from the Mexican border at a faster pace than I thought possible.

Hey, that’s pretty close to the border

At one point I had to be “that guy” and call for a break. I’m sure sure someone in that group is still laughing at me now. I’m climbing a slope so steep that my knuckle are practically scraping the ground. I decide that I can’t go any further and say “I need to sit down”. But, I just kept standing there. The people around me immediately go into nursing mode and start checking me for dehydration.  Am I still sweating?Good. Do I have enough water? Good. Let’s put some electrolytes in you water. Maybe you should eat something. And so on.

I did sit down. I ate and drank. And then I pushed on. In the end it was worth the trip.


Undisclosed location in the wilderness

So, if there was ever a day that I earned a beer… This was it. The problem here is that I know from experience that exposing myself to massive amounts of sun and dehydration does not mix well with beer. I’ve gone that route and felt horrible because of it.

So, what to do. We had such an early start that we were back to the hotel by 4pm. I’ve been hydrating ever since “the incident”. I jump in the pool to cool off and hydrate some more. Somewhere in the back of my mind I know I’m in for a night of getting up every hour to pee. But, I’m willing to pay the price. Finally, about 8pm, I’m ready for Miller Time. I figure at this point if I still feel bad after, I’m going to bed anyway. Raise your glass with me for this really well deserved beer.

Nimbus Red Ale


1400 megatons worth, and you sure as hell won’t stop them now

The collection is growing fast. In fact, it just reached 1400 bottles and cans. Let’s all say hello to number 1400.

1400th Bottle
1400th Bottle

This impressive bottle is the Brooklyn Defender IPA. I’m not usually an IPA drinker. But, how can a guy so geeky that he finds a movie quote specifically about the number 1400 (look up the blog post title kids… Then watch that movie) pass up the official beer of New York Comic Con. I have to admit, it was pretty good. I can enjoy a citrus based hoppy beer like this one. Just keep the pine based ones to yourself (if you don’t mind).