OK, so I wrote this a few days back - so tonight I sit here drinking a glass of wine and extremely satisfied with my decision.  I have a lot of things going on in my family life and being the bread winner in the family - well being a parent and person takes sacrifices in life to grow and learn.  And this is my sacrifice.  But the reward I am reaping is much greater.  Anyway - here goes my blurb from a few nights ago:

I sit here tonight with a slightly disappointing thought on my mind.  I should note that I am sitting with a Sea Dog Hazelnut Porter that I got from my wife as my "Beer of the Month Club" gift.  God I love that women.  It is because I love my wife and girls so much so that I bring you the some what sad news tonight.  For some of you, you will not be surprised!  Many said I was crazy and this can't be done.  Others thought, I was foolish and selfish and it shouldn't have been attempted.  Well, what ever you thought, who ever you are, sad or happy, I'm coming to you tonight to inform you that the 2012 Blute 365 Beer Challenge is over.  It will not be completed this year.  I had not completely prepared myself for the journey ahead.  The physical readiness to drink 365 beers in one year.  Nah it will have to wait another year.

It has been a GREAT Journey.  One that I will not easily forget.  It has opened knew doors and passages that I hope to keep open for years to come.  It has already got my foot in the door of the beer industry as I continue to work and brew at the Copper Kettle Brewery in Greenfield, PA.  I have many new and great friends from this journey that I hope to keep for years to come.  I am not going to stop drinking beer in 2012 or the future.  And this blog will transform a bit but hopefully continue (though slowly in the next few weeks for sure).

Let me explain, I have come across a path in this life today that has made me choose.  Do I continue to "challenge" myself which would be for the good of me?  Or do I break the challenge, allowing my girls see that I am a quitter?  I have decided for reasons that revolve mostly around finances and preparation for me and my families' next BIG STEP that it is wiser for me to stop for now.  I have learned a lot.  I have had very generous friends along the way provide many a good beer for me to review.  But financially it is not in the cards for me to continue.  I am folding and stepping away from this table to play another hand in another time.  I know I am making the right reasons so I am not sad.  I know I have chose for the right reasons so I do not care what the nay sayers may say.  I KNOW I will be back to do this challenge again soon and when I do I'll be more prepared.

I just returned home from a work trip where I heard two motivational speakers; Cal Ripken Jr and Neal Peterson.  I assume most know who Cal Ripken Jr is.  Like him or not - he did accomplished something amazing.  I am not here to try to relate my 365 beer challenge to Ripken and his game streak.  Neal is a little less known maybe and I had not been aware of his story till I heard it just yesterday 8/15/2012.  I also am not here to compare my story of drinking 365 beers in one year to Neal and his journey to circle the world alone on a sail boat.  I mention these guys because their words are still ringing in my head.  Cal spoke about a few days where he thought maybe he wouldn't play a specific day and how that would not be good for the industry - and that made me feel like I needed to not quit.  But he also mentioned that you learn each and every day and you do what you need to do to get to the next step.  Neal spoke about learning and preparing all your life.  Sometimes you can gain knowledge from more experienced people to not make their same mistakes but sometimes you also have to make mistakes to learn.  I considered for a moment maybe I was weak if I didn't keep it up.  But I've got a goal - I have a mission.  I am not quitting that mission.  The goal is to find my way into the beer industry and make a living off of it.  Maybe just maybe make a good living off that.  This goal has been started.

I challenged myself to become a better writer this year.  I still need practice here.  I still have many years to learn and possibly even read more to experience more.  But, I have had several strangers that I've never meet come to me and explain to me that they loved my stories.  They loved the history and experiences I brought to them.  I've even had a few that liked the descriptions of my beers and the education that they learned from it.  This has made me stronger and happier.

I have become a better photographer from this mission.  This was yet another goal.  I've learned a few tricks of the trade.  I've dabbled in different settings and even a bit of post processing of pictures.  I'm not great.  I have a long way to go.  But it is definitely a hobby I will not put away and forget about.  Not with the subject matters of my beautiful daughters growing every day.

I have experienced GREAT beer and BAD beer.  I have enjoyed good times with friends.  I have laughed.  And I have made people laugh.  It is because all of these things that I have succeeded this year.  I am not quitting.  I am learning.  I will be back again another year to fight the fight.  Thank you all for stopping by to read what you have.  Understand that the blog site will live on - it just may be updated less frequently the rest of the year.  If I get a GREAT beer or a good story I'll update it.  I have some beers that I have yet to catch up on.  I'll try to post those as I can as well.

Thanks for stopping by and keep up drinking.  Please keep in touch on Facebook and stop back to see i
 
 
So, tonight I decided to begin a new chapter in my life.  I can't really give great detail in it now.  Suffice to say it is a journey that leaves me a bit nervous.  It puts new pressures on my family that I'm an unsure of what the future holds.  I think about it now and I have a bit of calming over me.  Though, I know that calming feeling will only last for a short period of time.  The butterflies in my stomach are not unlike those you get from your first day heading to school, or maybe the decision you have to make on which college to attend, or maybe like those interviews you've been on, or the first day of a new job.  I think it is the necessary thing to do.  I also think we'll be OK with this decision.  At this point, only time will tell my outcomes.  I also sit here and think if you always do what you've always done then you'll always get what you've always got.  So, that said, bring it on world... what do you have to throw at me.  I'm here and I'm ready!  Oh yea... and girls beach volleyball in Olympics is on now.  I must go relax.  Here are my beers of the blog:
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7/21/2012 – Lonerider Brewing Company – Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen – Grade 4.25
“Ales for Outlaws” – My nose was totally closed up the night I had this but I got a hint of banana and cloves.  My wife did not in fact like the smell of this one actually.  It was a nice medium body wheat liquid.  This beer is brewed in a German Hefeweizen style.  It had a very unfiltered almost fluorescent yellow color in the glass.  There were nice amounts of carbonation and bubbles flowing through out.  It had an almost orange sickle cream taste to it.  It had strong fruity esters of cherry and banana throughout the beer.  I wish I had bought more of these to bring home with me.  I enjoyed drinking this one all night.  Check out the BJCP’s description of the German Hefeweizen and see if what I described came close?  This was the day we finally got home from our 3800 mile journey; several states, multiple beds; more beers then I care to count – was very glad to get home and get some sleep in my own bed this night for sure.

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7/22/2012 – Lonerider Brewing Company – Sweet Josie Brown Ale – Grade 3.5
This beer weighted in at 6.1% alcohol.  It contained a nice malty medium body beer with a light roasty goodness on the back of the tongue.  There was a nice thin layer of thick light brown head that laid on top of the beer in the glass.  My first taste impression contained a bit of bitter hop bite.  It finished very chocolatey crisp coffee dryness in the back of my mouth.  This brewery hales from Raleigh, NC.  On one of my next trips down there for work I hope to try to find this brewery.  The labels have different Cowboy and Cowgirl type outlaws on the bottle.  The motto from the website states Ales for Outlaws.  The two beers that I happened to bring back with me had female outlaws on them which was even more interesting.  I really did like these beers and would love to check out the brewery.

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Anchor Brewing Company - Liberty Ale - Grade 4
I have always liked Anchor Brewing.  They always have the slightly off bottles with more of a tear shape bottle.  The beer had a nice white head on top of the beer.  It wasn't large and robust but just nice and clean.  Definitely got a west coast hoppy smell coming from the glass.  It was floral and citrusy and much more like a West Coast Hopped beer.  I'm not saying it was super hoppy but definitely had those characteristics.  It was a very strong malty alcohol balance to even out the hops for sure.  The beer had a very nice carbonation to the beer.  I believe this beer would really be enjoyable with a nice meaty steak.  Or maybe a really meaty fish.  It is nice and enjoyable.  Not something I would drink often myself but in the right situation and right place it was very good.  It would definitely be an enjoyable beverage to enjoy at a nice meal to replace a fine wine for sure.  The bottle had a nice little quote on the side that spoke of Anchors unique style and brewing techniques.  It spoke of being dry hopped and classic ale.  It states that it is "uncommonly delicate and unique carbonation".  This beer made to celebrate the 200 year anniversary of Paul Revere's ride.  It made in April of 1975 for the 200th anniversary of the ride.  Very nice tribute if you ask me.

 
 
Just finishing up a great weekend all around.  Hung out with good friends most of the weekend.  Got to actually run the floor at Copper Kettle Brewing (hope I served the customers and CKB well).  I had a great time hanging out and assisting several great customers make great beer.  Now I plan to sit back and relax a bit before getting ready for my day time gig at work tomorrow.  Another day another dollar.  A week from today I'll be in Baltimore MD teaching at an annual convention called Innovations.  I look forward to catching up with some old friends and great customers.  I do NOT look forward to being away from home and the family.  I'll do my best to have a good time and just hope I can find a few good beers while down there after work of course.  Nothing else really important to report so lets get to the beer.
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Native Brewing Company – The Eleven Brown Ale – Grade 2.25
This beer was one I brought back from south Florida.  It is another one that is not brewed in Florida but instead this is brewed by Shipyard Brewing Company.  This is one of many beers I found like this.  The beer poured a very dark brown with a deep red tint.  It had a peppery spicy hoppy aroma.  The beer was a bit colder than it should have been served I’m sure.  I found this beer to be light in body.  It could be from the temperature as this seemed to get a bit thicker in body as it warmed up.  It had an average malty backbone.  But the problem I noticed is it produced a very metallic taste.  It also seemed a bit too dry and acidic for my likes.  It felt like a somewhat low beer that would lead to a harder hangover the next day.  The one plus to this beer was that the head was nice and thick and stayed with the beer through the entire drink and that is always a plus in my book.  I’m still a bit confused why these breweries do not brew local beers.  Is it a Florida Law?  Is it the environment?  I may need to email them and ask the question.  If anyone has this answer or has any thoughts feel free to let me know.

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Appalachian Brewing Company – Espresso Stout Small Batch – Grade 4
We had some extra days in York and decided it would be nice to get to Harrisburg to visit a buddy of mine.  One of these days I’m going to visit other locations but I just love ABC Brewing so much this is always first on my list.  We stopped here for dinner and drinks and hung out with an old high school buddy.  It was great catching up and drinking great beer.  The food we ordered was really good.  My wife and I have grown custom to splitting a meal and sharing an appetizer lately and the chicken sandwich we ordered turned out really good.   We did order a sampler here as protocol would have it and found a mix of good and average beers.  I noticed on the board a “small batch” Espresso Stout.  This beer poured a DARK BLACK in the glass.  It was strong and smelled of coffee from the table below my nose.  When I put the glass to my mouth the roasty goodness of black and chocolate malts were BIG but the COFFEE notes were BIGGER.  This beer was HUGE on coffee and light on beer.  It really was quite enjoyable (if you like coffee that is).  It was actually refreshing and heavy on the body.  The head was light and not much to speak of but as I remember this was a great night out with a good friend and good beer.

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Iron Hill Brewery - Tailgater Ale – Grade 3.75
The description read a top fermented beer brewed with a percentage of corn… the perfect session ale for summer.  I had been growing tired of beer at this point from so much on vacation.  So for this lunch I wanted something light and watery (all beers have a place).  This beer at 4.0% I believe seemed to fit right in.  It was light pale yellow almost watery looking.  The beer was crisp on the tongue and had a smell of yeasty bread.  It seemed very much like a lager beer but of course with the top fermentation is Ale.  It was light and refreshing with a light hop note.  It was perfect with the lunch that we had in Lancaster at the Iron Hill.  If you get a chance to visit this location you should definitely stop.  The staff was all very friendly and nice.  As I took the picture you see the waitress came by and asked if I wanted to stop in and take a look around.  OF COURSE!  Kevin one of the 3 brewers that were in the back gave me the 5 cent tour of the brewing area.  They had a few cask beers with some “FUNK BEERS” laying around in the back.  I think the event they were working on that evening may have had something to do with the Funk Beer; sort of sad I was not going to be around for that.  Kevin and the guys were incredibly friendly guys showing me the shop and talking about what they do at Iron Hill as a chain brewery.  They have to have 5 Iron Hill Regulars on at all times but then get to do their OWN stuff on the rest of the taps.  It seems like a great place to work and everyone seemed happy.  I have liked Iron Hill since I first visited one back in roughly 2001 in West Chester when I was living there and the second one opened up.  Cheers to Iron Hill – Glad to see the you have a firm grip on the chain brewery concept.

Thanks again for stopping by and PLEASE continue stopping back.

 
 
I don't know about anyone else but we've been watching A LOT of the Olympic coverage.  Its the first time in a long time my living room TV hasn't had kids programs on for an extended period of time.  It is inspiring to watch the worlds ELITE athletes compete in sport after sport.  It is amazing to watch how some step up and some choke for apparently no reason.  Both of these athletes have spent most of the lives for this moment, for this chance!  I can't imagine the drive that is in someone that strong to get to that level.  I wish I could.  Often times, I kick back and wish I had a drive or goal to be THE BEST at something.  I'm sure I did when I was 7 or 8.  My mom always talks about how I could never lose as a child.  Now I watch as my children are the same way about losing.  I sit here and wonder what that "driving force is" to KEEP that desire to win, to be the best at what ever you want to do at any cost.  I hope I can impart courage into my children for them to keep that drive.  I wonder what slowed that drive down in me; what made me be OK with OK.  Some people are afraid to admit that they will settle for adequate.  They feel the NEED to be the best, the smartest; as I grow older I am beginning to feel the need for this once again.  Where has that drive been the last 20 years of my life?  My last major driving force that I had a passion for was probably skateboarding.  Even in college I didn't strive to be best - I tried to be better then average and get through college.  I tried to be sufficient enough to get me a comfortable job.  And even today I do not feel I strive to be the best at work.  This beer challenge has sparked something to make me want to learn and be an expert in the field of beer.  The beers I bring you tonight a far from adequate:
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Aviator Brewing Company – Steamhead California Common – Grade 4.25
The waiter explained to me that it was a sort of cross between lager and an IPA.  He explained that out in California they do a lot of IPAs and not a lot of lagers.  Up front I got a large amount of sweet juicy like quality from it.  I didn’t notice very much normal fruit juices but instead more of a “Hawaiian fruit punch” type of taste in it.  It was very nice and medium bodied.  The carbonation made this a nice bubbly refreshing drink.  The head was nice and thick and stuck around for the duration of the beer.  It had a light red almost dark yellow color in the glass.  With all of this going on it actually finished nice and dry in the end.  It was definitely a different style beer then I’ve had in the past or ever really remember trying myself.  I had several of their beers and I enjoyed them all tremendously.  This one was the most unique and new to me based on style.  On doing some surfing online I found that it is brewed with a Lager Yeast at Ale temperatures.  From BeerAdvocate, I learned that this is a truly 100% unique American style lager which is pretty cool.  I guess the most common of this is Anchor Steam Beer which I have had and heard of; but I guess I never realized this was its own unique style.  Well played Aviator!  You taught me something new and made me do some research.  Thanks for that pleasure.
All this talk about the specific beer and I almost forgot to mention - OMG the pork bar-b-que you see on the plate!  WOW!  It made me make noises out loud that were actually a bit embarrassing.  It may not look like much but it was juicy and bitey and a clear bbq sauce.  It was a vinegar base sauce that was INCREDIBLE.  Needless to say if you ever get with in a few miles of this place DO STOP HERE!

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Blue Mountain Brewery - Evil 8 Belgian-Style Dubbel Ale – Grade 4
We got into Richmond, VA earlier in the day and had hoped to hit up a local downtown brewery.  I had read up about Legend Brewery and Hardywood Brewery as locals.  There was also on the GPS a brewery about a block away from our hotel which was where now the Sam Miller Restaurant is now located.  Well, since we walked there we decided to eat at Sam Miller for lunch.  Though, it wasn’t bad – I think we could have found better lunch.  I had read some reviews about Legend that I decided to avoid for lunch and I think Hardywood was not opened on Monday for me to check out.  Lunch at Sam Miller wasn’t bad – but I got a Burger with crab meat left me slightly disappointed.  I also tried some Legend brews that were OK – I’ll review another time.  Instead, when I got to my friends house before going out to dinner with them he had this gem of Evil 8 in a growler at his house that he shared with me.  I thanked him tremendously.  This beer rings in at 7.7% alcohol.  It had a very sweet Belgian candy flavor to it.  It was extremely thick and heavy in the mouth.  The head of the beer was thick and brownish in color.  I picked up lots of dark cherry notes in the beer.  It had some nice citrusy fruity hop characteristics.  I thoroughly enjoyed this beer.  We followed up this growler by heading to Bottom’s Up Pizza right down from our hotel once again.  This place was intense.  If you ever make it to Richmond I highly recommend this place.  If you go – PLAN ON SPLITTING A SLICE OF PIZZA.  Yes, I said splitting a slice – this may have been the largest slice of pizza I have ever seen!  And great flavors – along with New Belgium Beers at the ready!  This was definitely my kind of place.

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MudHook Brewery – Black IPA Midnight Cast – Grade  3.75
This beer poured very dark with little head to speak of.  It had a huge coffee roast smell and flavor characteristics.  It had nice balance of citrusy grapefruit hops which finished a sort of dry.  The large flavors of roasty goodness alongside the heavy amounts of citrusy bang made this a well balanced big flavored beer.  With huge flavors, colors and aromas this beer is not for the weak!  We finally made it back to my home town of York, PA.  Since we had a few days in town my wife and I decided to finally hit up this place I had heard about.  It is a little hard to find (not marked as well as it could be).  But what they are doing a lot with downtown York and it is looking great.  There is still a lot of local crazies all around (they are hard to avoid trust me).  But this place is worth braving it out to get down there.  The brewery is located in the alley way behind the York Market Place near the square of York.  The history is pretty cool so definitely check that out on their website.  We didn’t eat their food but I hear it is good.  Unfortunately, for my wife and I they must have had a “ventilation” issue the night we were there because it had huge smells of smoke and grease for wing night.  I think this was probably a problem with the night though and would definitely give it a second go to try some food.  And with the sampler I tried most of their beers were pretty enjoyable; only one that I really sort of thought was a bit to light and out of character for the style.  Other than that I thought they were pretty good.