Saturday, March 27, 2010

Grafton BrideAle

The origin of the term bridal dates back to Elizabethan England, when a bride ale was an event at which a bride would sell a special ale brewed to commemorate the engagement, but also to defray the costs of the wedding and/or raise money for her dowry. The beer was generally a high-quality ale brewed with the finest ingredients available. Eventually, “bride ale” was shortened to bridal, and the term came to represent the wedding celebration itself.

Grafton BrideAle
Grafton BrideAle was the second creation KJ and I have brewed together. We used not only some of the finest ingredients available, but also those that represent our history and that of our ancestors. Since we brewed it for our wedding guests, we were aiming for a very drinkable pale ale that would appeal to both the casual beer drinker and the craft beer enthusiast.

We were quite pleased with the results: a medium-bodied 5% ABV ale with noticeable, but not overwhelming, hop bitterness. Much to our delight, we've received a few unsolicited rave reviews so far, one from my first ever brewing partner, and a couple from folks who it's likely will never be confused with beer snobs.

Grafton BrideAle:

1.5 lbs. Munich malt (steeped 20 mins.)
1.5 lbs. crystal malt (steeped 20 mins.)
6.6 lbs. light malt extract (boiled 60 mins.)
1 oz. Cascade hops - 7.8% alpha (boiled 60 mins.)
0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hops - 5.5% alpha (boiled 30 mins.)
0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hops - 5.5% alpha (boiled 15 mins.)
0.5 tsp. Irish moss (boiled 15 mins.)
1.5 oz. Irish Ale yeast

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Legends of the Spring

Not surprisingly, the Spring Training home of the New York Yankees—George M. Steinbrenner Field, formerly known as Legends Field—is an expensive ticket. My initial impression was that they were exorbitantly expensive, but, as it turns out, I was probably expecting them to be in the ballpark of minor league tickets. Obviously, they're not, and reality is that Yankees tickets are only a little on the pricey side, relatively speaking.

Also not hard to believe is the fact that the spring home of the World Series champions is an impressive complex. It sits across Tampa's North Dale Mabry Highway from Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and looks like a resort in comparison to the typically goliath-like football venue.

The grounds surrounding the stadium are adorned with a monument of the twin towers and a tasteful tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11, as well as plaques celebrating the careers of each Yankee whose number is retired. There also are several well-maintained practice fields where my friends and I got to see Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher take batting practice prior to one of the games.

Thurman Munson plaque

As is the case with most Spring Training games, we got to see the big names for four or five innings, followed by a parade of minor leaguers, many of whom even I was unfamiliar with. The major highlight for me was an appearance by Kei Igawa, in whom the Bombers invested $46 million—20 million over five years, plus a $26 million posting fee paid to his Japanese team—prior to the 2007 season, only to have him post a 2-4 record and 6.66 ERA in just 16 major league games since.

Igawa sparkled in relief of unimpressive performances by Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain—1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 SO—but gave up five earned runs in one inning in his next outing, and was cut by the Yankees a week later. Still under contract, he'll likely return to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he is the franchise record holder with 29 victories.

Kei Igawa

I wish I had more to report on about my visit to the Yankees' spring home. Unfortunately, by the second game of the weekend I was operating on about six hours sleep in the last two days. I don't do well under those circumstances. I will say I was fairly unimpressed with the food and beer selections, but those were the only aspects of the park that I would consider shortcomings.

I was also quite amused at how enthusiastically the Tampa Bay Rays fans cheered as their team put a hurting on the New Yorkers in the first of the two games I witnessed. Less than two years removed from a trip to the World Series, I'm surprised they're already reduced to such trivial excitement.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rock Star Fridays

I'll get to the baseball later, but the major highlight of my bachelor party trip to Tampa was Rock Star Fridays at Stump's Supper Club in the Channelside district. I hope my good friends aren't upset with me for posting these videos. I just couldn't resist. They are on YouTube, after all.

This first one makes up for its lack of fantastic singing—not that I could do better—with some entertaining showmanship, in my opinion.

On this next one, the comfort level isn't quite there until near the end of the song. Still, I can't help but wonder if he simply wasn't drunk enough yet, because he used to really belt it out to this and many other Doors tunes.

It's kind of a shame that they didn't have a chance to get a little karaoke instruction from Lee Mazzola before taking the stage, or that Mr. Mazzola himself wasn't there for a personal demonstration. Now that would have really made the night.

So Much to Write About

I try to make this blog about my personal exploits without actually getting overly personal. That way, it's actually an online journal of sorts, particularly with respect to my three major areas of interest: baseball, music and beer. But, since most of the regular readers here are people who know me personally, you probably already know KJ became Mrs. CS last weekend.

After a couple weeks away, there's so much to write about I honestly don't know where to start. The problem is I've done so many things over the course of this month so far that fall into the realm of what I typically write about. That's a nice problem to have, I realize. So, as I attempt to get caught up in the upcoming weeks, here's the subject matter of upcoming posts to look forward to:
  • Bachelor party trip to the Yankees Spring Training complex in Tampa, including Rock Star Fridays, a night of karaoke at a place called Stump's.
  • Grafton BrideAle, our wedding brew.
  • Song-by-song breakdown of our wedding CD (maybe).
  • Surprise performance by Anders Parker at our reception.
  • Visit to Lake Placid Pub & Brewery on our mini-moon.
Of course, I still need to write the final installment in the Summer of '04 series, and I'm just about due for my second Frequent Spins of 2010. I also was thinking this would be a good time of year to get started on my Sports Fab 40 series, so it looks like I have my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Trunks of Memories Still to Come

I'm going to be taking a little break from blogging for the next couple of weeks, even though I still have one final installment to go in my Summer of '04 series. I am going to try to post a few tweets from my trip to Tampa for spring training this coming weekend, though. So, if you're interested, you can check those out by scrolling down the right-hand column to just below my photo.

For now, though, I'll leave you with this video from the closing ceremonies at Vancouver. It's the best one I could find on YouTube. Have patience, it gets better once they turn up the volume and stop talking over the performance.

Actually, there are better videos here and here, although I think they'll make you download the Microsoft Silverlight media player to view the latter. I encourage you to check one, or all, of them out. Neil is, hands-down, the best Canadian ever.