Tag Archives: beer

east coast winter 2011

winter break we headed back to the east coast, some photos from the trip

the beach at rehobothoyster mushrooms at prime hook in delawareoysters and beer at henelopen city oyster house  solstice mealmarsh view at pemberton historical park   where we went for a walk on christmas daythe beach at assateaguemarsh views at assateagueskunk cabbage at tuckahoe – skunk cabbage is an amazing plant – read more here.evolution brewing in delmar delaware – perhaps the most uninspired location for a brewery, but the beer is pretty good.jay’s farm in bivalve aka provident organic farm.  i volunteered for the morning.

a couple of videos from the salisbury zoo.  i usually hate zoos cause it makes me feel real sad to see the animals in cages, but some how this one doesn’t bother me.  maybe its cause i been going their since i was four years old.


the beach for the solstice

ma and i have this tradition going on – every winter holiday when we come home to visit our folks we take a day or two for ourselves, and have a little stay in rehoboth beach.  pretty thoughtful huh?  this year is no different, and we are able to enjoy the lovely offseason beach, some tasty food and a trip to dogfish head brewery.

i’m not feeling too much like writing right now.  even though i’m on vacation i’ve still got lots of work to do, been working on grant proposals and reviewing papers all morning.  so i’m just gonna share a few shots.

sun setting over the ocean

crab chips – within our first hour ma and i had already split a bag.  my friend leah claims that folks in maryland don’t know what crabs taste like cause we cover ’em in so much old bay.  ma’s response – we do to know what crabs taste like!  they taste like old bay!

tanker ships in the chesapeake bay

samples at dogfish head – we had some seriously strange offerings – an egyptian beer made with wheat, palm fruit, chamomile and zatar – a belgian golden flavored with cardamom and aged for 6 months in brandy barrels – an imperial porter with smoked malt, shiaz grape juice and juniper berries – and an imperial stout with honey and gesho.  only one of these clocked in at under 7.5% alcohol – which is why we got the little samples.  after all these years of folks trying to push the extreme beer envelope, i’m looking forward to folks trying to out do each other though simple tasty beers that are light in alchol and pair well with food.

and we leave off where we started, the moon over the ocean.

beach and beer

ma and i don’t have much in the way of traditions, we are not even all that good about celebrating our birthdays.  We do always go back to maryland for the winter holidays, and we do always spend a day at the beach on that holiday.

ma and i both really like the beach, but not for the same reason most folks do.  we both dislike the smell of sunblock, laying on the beach, getting tans, crowds, and kitschy t-shirt shops. going in the middle of winter means that we are able to enjoy all the things we like and don’t have to deal with any of the things we don’t like.

the beach of choice is rehoboth on the shore of delaware, and certainly no small part of that is that it’s home to dogfish head brewery.  when ma and i had the good sense to quite smoking many years ago, we celebrated an early month free of smoking with a trip to the smoke free brewpub.  we enjoyed watching as folks had to go out to the cold and have a smoke, just helping to reenforce the decision to quit.

the new outside of the brewery

i’ve been visiting dogfish almost since it opened, and it’s been amazing to watch as they went from an operation that brewed in 10 gallon batches, to the huge complex that you see in the above photo, the fastest growing brewery in the states.  even while we were there they were greatly expanding and had done major renovations since we had last gone to visit.

the main brewery is in milton, about 10 miles from rehoboth, and they offer tours as well as tastings.  it’s worth a trip just for the fact that the tasting room often has beers available on draft that are not at the brewpub.  in this case they had the midas touch and the palo santo marron which were not at the brewpub.  both of these are pretty strong beers in the 8-10% range, and even though i like drinking beer, i’m a real lightweight, it doesn’t take much to go to my head, but fortunately they give small samples.

for lunch we visited, where else? the brew pub in rehoboth.

beers at dogfish head

we enjoyed a small glass of the life and limb ale,  a strong dark ale brewed with maple and birch syrups in collaboration with the west coast brewery sierra nevada, and a couple of sandwiches.

among our favorite parts of the beach is simply walking on the beach

the beach!

and we like it to look like this – empty.  normally this time of year we might pass a couple of folks the whole time.  as we go we like looking for odd debris that has washed ashore, and it was an extra good time for this as storms had washed much in.  many parts were covered in nothing but shells.

beach covered in shells

ann arbor trip

while i’m not a fan of college towns, there is something to be said for the convenience of them, they usually have good restaurants, good beer bars, and food co-ops.  so while i’m not big on visiting ann arbor there are a few things that make it worth it, among them is zingerman’s something i also want to dislike.  i do for the most part hate the actual zingerman’s deli, the sandwiches and products are hugely overpriced, but they also have a love and care for food, of all sorts that is rarely seen.  but all of their food is just completely inaccessible, and the sort of elevation of peasant food to gourmet status, something i like to refer to as the gentrification of the food system.  the deli is loud and crowded, and full of things i can’t afford but it does have samples. lots of samples.  i like samples


we had heard that there was paw paw gelato at the zingerman’s creamery, and while i promised that the last paw paw post would be it till I started seeds in the spring, i didn’t know about the gelato at that time.  the creamery is far from down town ann arbor which helps to keep the hungry hoards at bay, allowing for us to peruse the fermented dairy products in peace.  the clerk asked us what we came in for and i explained we were big fans of the paw paw.  we got gelato and ate that while browsing.  i the paw paw and ma – being an avid fan of all things bee related got the honey.  both were wonderful, served in a small amount so it was not too much, and the two combined together was amazing.

paw paw gelato

paw paw gelato

we looked over all the cheese products, and most of them were priced out of our range, ma and i have expensive taste, but are still cheap which is why i think we like to make so much of our own things.  some times you have to do a little research and so we settled on a wheel we could afford.  we sampled a few more cheeses, and then checked out.  the clerk remembering that we had said that we had come in because we were fans of the paw paw offered us some to go, which we of course took him up on the offer. he produced this big bag of monster size paw paws.

bad o' paw paws

bad o' paw paws

after the trip to the dairy, it was time for a walk at the nichols arboretum.  i enjoy the nichols arboretum, i make no illusion that it is a particularly natural place to go for a walk, plenty of the specimens are from different bioregions and countries, but it is a nice place to improve my id skills since they throw those nice little signs on trunks.  it also has varied topography and types of ecosystems – river,meadows, prairie, hardwood forest, and evergreen forest.  i was also able to snack as i went.


cornelian cherry

i found cornelian cherry’s a type of dogwood, with edible fruit.  they are some what astringent until they are fully ripe, at which point the wildlife gets it.  i had to settle for the slightly under ripe ones, which were not all that bad, but did make me pucker a little.  they are not native to the u.s.



i also was surprised to find some elderberries clinging to the bushes.  usually the birds will pick them off as soon as they are ripe.  these were actually very ripe to the point that they were starting to dry up, and while an elderberry will never really get sweet, they certainly were full of flavor and some sweetness.

wild strawberry

wild strawberry

next to the prairie we were able to find some wild strawberries.  I thought that it was too late for strawberries since it was so late in the season and we had several frosts.  i gave ma several which i thought were good and ripe, and ate the one seen in the photo.  her’s were tasteless, and mine was great, which was not my intent.  i had meant to share the best with her.  we were also able to find a chinese chestnut which had drop plenty of nuts but were already eaten by the squirrels. i had hoped to find some mushrooms, especially hen of the woods after the rain we had had, but no luck.

after a nice long walk, we were ready for food and drink, a trip to zingerman’s deli for th overpriced but well-regarded sandwiches, a trip to the peoples’ co-op for some groceries, and finally jolly pumpkin for beer.

jolly pumpkin should be considered among michigan’s greatest treasures.  they are churning out some of the best beers in the country specializing in wild fermented belgian style beers.  i had been looking forward to going to the ann arbor location.  the space itself was pretty quite and warm and seemed to be nonsmoking.  i was a little disappointed that they only had a couple of their sour beers, both rather tame  – the bam, and bam noir.  the other 3 beers we sampled were more traditional offerings, oktoberfest, ipa and a chocolate stout.  all were great, soft and mild, severed on the warmer side and lower in carbonation, just the way I like them.

the u.p.

for years now we have been saying we are going to make it to the u.p. and finally after years we have.  the plan was to go camping in pictured rocks and then head over to the porkies, but what a ton of rain we got, so we hunkered down in a cheap motel room in munising.  the price is very fair since it’s off season, and they even have the internet, which is why i’m able to post this, and what a long post it is, but hey i got nothing else to do.

we got to pictured rocks at about 4pm and despite the tons of rain we were getting, we went hiking anyway, checked out the cliffs and a couple of waterfalls.  ma’s parents didn’t take them hiking every chance they got, so she has seen very few waterfalls in her life, and the novelty hasn’t worn off.  i for my part think i will have a serious problem if the novelty of waterfalls wears off.  since it was raining so much we couldn’t take any pictures, and since it was raining i was able to find out that my raincoat’s waterproofing is starting to wear out.  i got pretty soaked.

after a couple walks we checked into our simple hotel, switched up clothes and looked for a place to eat.  we passed a place called the corktown bar – which we couldn’t resist checking out, since corktown is the neighborhood we leave in.  they had no food, but we did stay for a blatz, of the more entertaining items at the bar were individual space heaters at each table.  it wasn’t quite cold enough to justify cranking it up, but nice to know it was there if we needed it.

without any real tempting choices for food we went to the grocery store and picked up some supplies for dinner in the motel room and enjoyed a relaxing evening of watching the food network, snacking on smoked whitefish sandwiches and a couple of beers

dinner of smoked whitefish, cheddar, arugula, and mustard on baguette with bell's octoberfest

dinner of smoked whitefish, cheddar, arugula, and mustard on baguette with bell's octoberfest

the next morning ma was still sleeping by the time i was itching to get out, so i went for a walk on the beach, collecting rocks and briefly enjoying the sun, before the clouds rolled in.  by the time i got back ma was awake and ready to go.

we set out first for miner’s beach for a walk on the beach, quite an impressive beach with the miner river entering into lake superior, and the great big cliffs of painted rocks above.  the river and waves coming in from superior make for some strange mixing of currents.

miner river entering lake superior

miner river entering lake superior

since we had covered the other small hikes on this side of the park, and the central part of the park was closed for construction we decided to go all the way around to the other side of the park so we could see more.  it was over a 120 mile round trip, but after all the driving just to get to the u.p. this seemed like nothing.  from grand marais we could reach a several sites, including more waterfalls and the dunes.

first up was sable falls.  while not as dramatic as some of the other falls in the park, i think they may have been my favorite, perhaps because they are the most stereotypical looking falls, enough so that ma and i took fake high school portraits in front of them.

sable falls

sable falls

next to sable falls are the sable dunes – some really big dunes.  we hiked to the top where we could see far out into lake superior. ma and i being from close to the ocean kept looking at it and saying to ourselves “and it’s all fresh water”, it was hard not to call it the ocean, as it is so big.

on the way back we find an old apple orchard, and being a bit hungry, we figure we figure we ought to take a closer look.

apple tree heavy under the weight of it's fruit

apple tree heavy under the weight of it's fruit

the trees have not been pruned in years, but are heavy with fruit, and most amazing, free of almost any disease or insect problems.  we explore the orchard tasting each fruit we come to and discussing the flavor and quality of the apples.  many of the varieties are ones we have never seen.

little red apples

little red apples

these little red apples are soft, tart, and a little bit pink on the inside.  i love them, munching down about 4 of them in a matter of minutes.

red ones on the outside red on the inside

red ones on the outside red on the inside

these are ma’s favorite ones, small red ones with red throughout.  it’s a little eerie to bite into them at first.  walking though the orchard you are biting into all kinds of apples, but they all  have light colored flesh, and then to bite into this bright red flesh, well it’s shocking, i thought maybe my teeth were bleeding at first.  i even wiped my mouth to make sure that i didn’t have blood all over it.

in addition to these, there we plenty of odd flavors, including some really bitter apples.  based on the variety of apples, we guess that who ever planted this orchard were not using these for fresh eating but for cider.

further down the road we came to the log slide, which at some point functioned to slide big logs down to lake superior, now it functions to cause accidents.  the log slide is a 500 ft drop down from the top of the dunes to the lake, the park service has a laundry list of reasons you shouldn’t run down the slide, and what will happen if you do, but for some reason, they don’t prohibit you.  i of course can’t be dissuaded by the park service and go ahead and run down the slide, i get about 2/3rd of the way, feel my shoes filling up with sand, start realizing just how steep the hill is, how soft the sand is, and how little i care about getting to the bottom, and stop.  i turn back and work my way back up.  it’s tough, though no where near as tough as walking up sleeping bear dunes, which while no where near as steep as the slide is much longer.  back at the top the view – which i’d failed to appreciate in my hurry to hurl myself down a hill – is amazing.

log slide looking to the east

log slide looking to the east

looking to the east the giant dunes expand as almost as far as the eye can see.

log slide looking to the west

log slide looking to the west

to the west the dunes give way to rocks and at the point the lighthouse.  log slide might rank as one of the most amazing vistas i’ve seen.

further down the road we come to the hurricane river, an odd name as i can’t imagine hurricanes forming on the great lakes, maybe there is another reason for the name.  the hurricane river moves swiftly into the lake, and the two meeting makes for a tremendous site, helped out that after an entire day of being without any sun, we finally got some.

hurricane river meets the lake

hurricane river meets the lake

we walk down the river enjoying the rocks and the waves, working our way toward the aforementioned lighthouse.  at this point we are both hungry, and after a brief look at the lighthouse we decide we need to get some food.

in grand marais happens to be a brewery, the lake superior brewery so we make a line for the place.  it feels a lot like a little dive bar stuck somewhere way off the beaten track like some place out west in montana or in alaska, everyone dressed in camo, and seeming a little desperate.  the beers are frankly not very impressive, and the service is terrible, but at least the whitefish sandwich is good.  i’ve eaten so much whitefish in the last few days, i’m starting to feel my mercury level rise.  and i’ve already packed a smoked whitefish sandwich for tomorrow on our journey to the porkies.


ma and i are going on vacation.   originally we had planned to take a trip out east to visit some friends and look at some urban ag. projects, but right now, i’m just feeling extremely burnt out, and the last thing i needed to do for a vacation was look at some work related projects or spend time in big cities.  it was decided that a trip to the upper peninsula was in order.  we’ve been in the motor city for over 6 years now, and never once taken a trip to see what’s considered by many to be the most beautiful part of michigan.  folks speak of trips to the u.p. with a certain level of reverence.  i think for the last 3 years we have said, this will be the year we make it to the u.p. failing each time.  well not anymore!  this WILL be the year we make it to the u.p.

ma and i are planners, while i think both of us work hard to be go with the flow, don’t worry too much about it, kind of people a certain part of us wants to know where our next meal will be and where we will lay our head that night.  in an attempt to cure ourselves of this, we planned the trip to be unplanned, only that we had from the 4th though the 14th off, and we would be headed for the u.p.

how quickly this broke down.  first a simple suggestion that we stop in bellaire on the way up.  sounds innocent enough, we both are a fan of short’ brewery, as well as smoked whitefish at the bellaire smokehouse.  this turned into spend a night in bellaire – which seemed a little bit like planning, but i’ll not make an issue out of it when stocking up on provisions of beer and fish are involved.

less than a week out i found myself pacing around the house.  we had a serious cold snap with a bunch of rain, and visions of spending my only serious time off work freezing my ass off and bailing out the tent danced in my head.  i found myself researching cabins in the u.p.  this looked a lot like planning to me.

then the next day at work ma sent me an email about a yurt in the porcupine mountains.  it didn’t really say that she wanted to stay there, it just said she had found it.  i’m no fool and i can read between the lines – so i replied you want to go ahead and reserve a yurt for a few nights?  and we did.  so much for lack of planning.

so we didn’t get the pure level of lack of planning that we wanted, but there are still days and nights totally unaccounted for.  who knows what we will do in between bellaire and the porcupine mountains (already talk has been made of camping at pictured rocks, and how nice marquette is supposed to be).  but hey you got to start somewhere.

canning tomatoes

we have a big harvest dinner coming up at the little urban farm i work with, and i spent most of the morning acquiring huge amounts of produce for the event.  carrying 50 pounds bags of potatoes though the market etc. there has to be a better way, i know there is.  dan who runs eastern market even told me so, after about the 7th trip to the car loaded with produce.  at least i know it for next year.

in addition i also made some purchases for myself, including a bushel of tomatoes.

in the afternoon ma and i and a few friends got together for canning. over the course of three hours we put away almost 50 quarts of tomatoes.  a couple more sessions like that and we could have a hell of a lot of tomatoes packed away.  we have already had the dehydrator going full steam for the last 3 weeks or so drying out tomatoes, so maybe canning more tomatoes is unnecessary.

after canning, beer and pizza, and friends and conversation.  i was so tired and so relaxed and so happy.  i think that’s the way more of life is meant to be.