#SippyTimeBeer Review – @BreckBrew, @GreatDivideBrew, @GreenFlashBeer and @SeventhSonBrew

Breckenridge Christmas AleBreckenridge BreweryChristmas Ale – Breckenridge brews some seriously good beers. This beer is no exception. It didn’t have the usual nutmeg or cinnamon in it which was a nice change of pace. They went for caramel and chocolate in their beverage so it made it more like a porter than any Christmas beer I have tasted. The hops are pretty much absent with a 22 IBU but the alcohol isn’t at 7.4%. That will give you some Christmas cheer. Since this company emanates from the fine city of Breckenridge, CO and gets the whole way here to Columbus, I’m going to guess you might be able to find some in your area. Probably in the clearance aisle now that we’re almost a full two months removed from Christmas.

Great Divide Hibernation

Great Divide Brewing Co.Hibernation Ale – This one wraps up my Christmas beer selection, which has been quite extensive. I’m more than ready to leave nutmeg and cinnamon for the next ten months. Interesting enough though, this beer didn’t have either of those ingredients. Which might have been one of the reasons I didn’t like this very much. It’s an English style old ale which doesn’t taste all that good to my palate despite having plenty of malt in it. It clocks in at a nice 8.7% ABV so it does have it virtues but I wouldn’t recommend this one come late 2014. If you want to try it though, they distribute here.

Seventh Son Seventh SonSeventh Son Brewing Co.Seventh Son – I had no idea what an American Strong Ale was until having this beverage. It is a beer that uses a lot of the grapefruit and stone fruit hops meets a meets the malty goodness of an Amber Ale. They blend seven types of hops during the dry hopping process to make sure the name fits. The earlier hops cut through the dry hopped part perfectly with their fruitiness. The malt still comes through even with plenty of hops in this beverage. To continue the Seventh Son theme, the ABV comes in at 7.7%. Unfortunately for some, it’s only available here in Columbus. When you come to visit, we’ll definitely grab several pints at their brew pub. It doesn’t hurt that they almost always have a food truck there and most of them make tasty food. The picture also reminded me that I love their half growlers. I’m starting to see them at all of the local brewers now but they were the first spot I saw them at.

Green Flash TrippelGreen Flash BreweryTrippel – This beverage was the first new beer of 2014. Time to start a new picture folder and a new count down for the end of the year on my computer. It’s always good to take monks old recipes and updating them. Belgian yeast has been a noticeable taste that keeps popping up in my beers and when the formula comes from monks, it’ll definitely be there. Green Flash pops in pale malt and a pair of hops flavors to come up with this bad boy. The hops aren’t overwhelming or even that noticeable since Trippel only comes in at 24 IBUs. I talked about a Double White last week. This one is triple brewed so guess where the ABV is at? 9.7% is what this beer delivers. It was a perfect beer on New Year’s Eve since I was hosting the party and I bought this beverage in 22 ounce form. This company is out of San Diego, CA so if I can find it you should be able to also. I recommend this one if you like the Belgian style beers. It’s right up your palate’s alley.

Another fun part of Seventh Son Brewing is that they have teamed with other small brewers to produce some unique joint beers. I recently got a mini-growler of Seven Fists of Deth which is a collaboration Revolution Brewing out of Chicago. It’s a double IPA which I will be reviewing in November at this rate. They are also doing a collaboration with Rockmill Brewery out of Lancaster, Ohio. Here’s a little video they put together during the brewing process of Urban Cowboy Stout they are collaborating on. Have a good weekend and enjoy a #SippyTimeBeer! – Kevin

Kevin’s Blog: The Pittsburgh Pirates Get To .500 (At Least)

Pirates Hats

’97, ’06 and ’11

My beloved Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season since I got my driver’s license in 1992. I have suffered through the majority of the twenty consecutive seasons of a losing record. I will admit to being so ticked off at baseball for striking in 1994 that I stopped watching until 1999. During that time period though, I still sported a Pirates hat that I bought in the summer of 1997. It was an easy time period to keep the team out of my life since it was during my college years. I’d be home for the summer, mow lawns for twelve hours a day then go spend some of my money on some really cheap beer. Few of my friends liked sports and if they did, it was football. I had also convinced myself that it was a boring sport. Of all things that drug me back in, it was fantasy baseball. I hate losing, even if there isn’t money involved. But when my friend Jason invited me into that league in 1999, it changed the way I looked at the sport.

I have been a Pirates since I can remember. My mother was the big baseball supporter in the household while my dad was more of a Steelers guy. Both of them grew up in Pittsburgh. Three of my four grandparents were born in Pittsburgh. The fourth moved there from Penne, Italy when she was fourteen. All of them were invested in the sports products of the ‘Burgh so it was easy to become a fan. We went to Pirates games in the summer when we went to visit the grandparents. We never went to Steelers games as a family. I also went to a lot of games with a friend’s family because they were from Lancaster, PA and were huge Philadelphia Phillies fans. Our present for a good job in little league or for a job well done as an altar boy was of course a trip to a Pirates game.

But as already mentioned, my fandom was derailed by a bunch of idiots in 1994. When I got back into the swing of things in ’99 though, I went all in. I understand better why this sport wasn’t boring. I had acknowledged when I was a kid that pitching was important but I never thought about the cat and mouse game that pitchers and hitters play with each other. I remember arguing with fellow fans in grade school the day after I went to see the Atlanta Braves at the Pirates in the NLCS in 1991, Game 2. Zane Smith was out dueled by Steve Avery. Everyone thought I saw a boring game but I knew I saw two pitchers at their peak shutting down two great offenses. Now though, I understand more of the ideas behind scouting reports, good pitch location and mixing up pitch types. I didn’t realize how much space you needed to cover in the outfield, despite having been to Three Rivers Stadium more times than I can remember. The ability of the current Pirates outfield to cover that much space is incredible and requires more athleticism than I thought as a kid. The outfielders aren’t the only ones devouring tons of space to make plays. I thought it was easy to play infield since there was less space to cover. Even though it may be the case for first and third base, second base and shortstop have gobs of space to cover. Even though a third basemen might not have as much territory, they have the toughest throw to make in very little time to make an out and that’s just on a routine ground ball.

It was time to read the minor league scouting reports, check out the draft and international signings. I knew that the Buffalo Bisons were the Pirates AAA farm team when I was a kid but I couldn’t have told you anyone who was there. These days, I go to Indianapolis Indians to see the next set of prospects. I had a friend move to Indianapolis. Since I was strapped for cash at the time, I crashed at his place to go see the Indians play the Pawtucket Red Sox. I got to see Andrew McCutchen, now an MVP candidate, in his next to last minor league start. I was bummed earlier this year when I thought Gerrit Cole, their No. 1 pick in 2011, was going to pitch the day before they came to Columbus. An extra day of rest helped me out and I got to see Cole in his next to last start in the minors. I was bummed that the Pirates next big time prospect, pitcher Jameson Taillon, didn’t come here to Columbus after he got a bump up from the AA Altoona Curve. Which is another fun part of the process, my hometown now has the Pirates AA team. Much more exciting for me than some other small city in the state or another state. It was a blast last year going to a game with my family when we were all back in Altoona. As for the international signings, I had no idea where the Pirates looked for talent. Now I know that they have the third best facility in the Dominican Republic behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Pirates signed Luis Heredia in 2010 as a sixteen year old. I would never had worried about that in high school.

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