Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Countdown List

It's the end of the year, time for countdown lists.

There's been an overwhelming demand that I compile all PQs for the year...ok, 2 people asked for it, which for this blog that constitutes heavy demand.  And besides, the Internet needs another 2008 countdown, or in this case, a count-up list.

Beers are rank-ordered by PQ.  Draft beers, NAs, and F'd up beers (Sparks Energy and Bud/Clamato) are not included.  

1.   Sam Adams Winter A 47.2
2.   SA Holiday Porter A 47.2
3.   Sierra Nevada Anniversary A 46.2
4.   SA Old Fezziwig A- 43.6
5.   Leffe Blonde A 43
6.   King in a Can B 41.5
7.   SA Cranberry Lambic B- 38.7
8.   GB Czech Pilsner A 36.4
9.   Bud American Ale A- 32.1
10.  Deschutes Jubelale A 32
11.  Maui Bikini Blonde A- 26.7
12.  Ayinger Celebrator A+ 21.3
13.  Stonemill Organic C- 16.8
14.  Sam Smith’s Winter A 15.9
15.  John Barleycorn B+ 13.3
16.  Hoffbrau Weisse B+ 13
17.  3 Philosophers A 12
18.  Brewdog Punk IPA A- 9.2
19.  Koshihikari Echigo C+ 9.1
20.  Augustijn Ale B 8.4
Deschutes Inversion IPA A- Unknown
Wild Blue D+ Unknown

After compiling this list, I realized that I need to get down to Costco and pick-up their winter sampler pack...clearly the best value using the PQ system.

Augustijn Ale

A decent Belgian Tripel. The only negative thing I can say is that this one seemed overly-carbonated, masking the taste to a degree...once I let it settle, got a good apricotish taste. Although a high alcohol beer at 8%, it did not have a strong alcohol taste. Grade=B...carbonation knocks it down from an A-. PQ=8.4

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

John Barleycorn

I haven't sampled too many Barleywines. I've tried a few at brewpubs, and have had SN's barleywine offering. So, it's hard for me to compare anything with Mad River's John Barleycorn Barley Wine Style Ale. I enjoyed the John Barleycorn ale. It's strong stuff, with a pronounced alcohol taste...hard to mask the 9.5% abv. Tasted some dark fruits in was malty. It's a B+, at $2.99/ 12 oz bottle, PQ=13.3. However, with an alcohol content double that of your average beer, it's the equivalent of drinking, this one has an adjusted PQ=26.6.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Brew Dog Punk IPA

Today, Sonya surprised me with six beers from SWAM. I've been curious about this store for awhile, but it's in a shopping center that has notoriously bad parking and other traffic issues that keep me away...or I visit long enough to get a loaf of bread at Great Harvest and get the hell out of there. I read somewhere on the web that this place has the best beer selection on the island. Since there's very little left to try at the military exchanges and Whole Foods, I needed a new source.

The first beer I tried was Brew Dog's Punk IPA. This one's cleverly packaged as an "alternative" beer that really doesn't give a shit if you like it or not, because this beer's better than you. It's better than you, and it really doesn't give a shit that it's better than you, because it's got that punk attitude. Just like all things punk, it comes at a $8.99 for 1 pint 6.4 oz. True punk rockers don't wear cheap clothes and they sure as shit don't drink Natty Light.

At 22.4 oz, it's just .4 ozs too big to fit in my KBC Big Kahuna Glass...why, because it's punk and it doesn't give a shit about my conventional beer glass. Punk IPA is brewed by Brew Dog in Aberdeensire, Scotland...Anarchy in the UK, mothaf***a.

Punk IPA bills itself as a "post modern classic pale ale"...not sure what that means. It tastes like an IPA to me...a good IPA, citrusy, good hop flavor that doesn't knock you out with bitterness. It's a good A-. At $8.99/22.4ozs, PQ=9.2

The folks at Brew Dog threw in some nice text to go along with the bottle's punk attitude. White People eat this stuff up.

Six Pack

Something to work on over the holiday.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Riding in the Rain

Went for a ride with the family today. It started raining, so Carter and I found a bus stop to keep us dry.

Jack and Sonya showed up 10 minutes later during the hardest part of the rain. Clearly, Jack's having a blast.

2-3 mile ride. Didn't wear the Garmin, so no good stats for this one.

Father of the Year

Jack refused to use the car seat.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

interesting data

Attached is the summary and graph from Wednesday's ride. I stopped the Garmin shortly after the accident. You can tell from the HUD that I hit my max heart rate of 169 at mile 22, the same spot where the ride ended. Prior to the accident I was cruising along with a HR of around 120...the accident bumped up my HR by 49 was a quick way to boost the intensity, but not something I want to repeat.

Chuggability Continued

Back in January, Sonya and I had a beer chugging contest. I declared Bud Heavy (aka The King) as the most chuggable beer.

Last week, Carter and Jack decided to have their own chugging contest...with chocolate milk. They quickly realized why milk isn't a good choice for chugging.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock

Fantastic beer...complex taste, spicy, fruity, strong tasting beer. Great winter-time brew, even if it is in the 70s/80s here.

Expensive at $9.99/4 pack.


This stuff is so good, the boys decided to leave a bottle of Celebrator and a plate of cheese for Santa.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Was riding onto Pearl Harbor early this afternoon when I noticed a car behind me moving slowly, but appeared to not know where they were heading. I normally ride a good 3 ft into the lane, as this is a multi-lane road, plenty of room for the cars to go. As the car begins to pass me, I notice that I only have about six inches between my bike and the car. The car is traveling slightly faster than me at 20mph and is very slow to overtake me. Also, I see that I'm slowly being pushed towards the curb. I tap on the window to let them know I'm there. As I bring my left hand back to the handlebar, I look down at my wheel and watch it hit the curb, head hits ground, I roll on the right side of my body, I hear some stuff hit the ground. I quickly take off my helmet, throw it on the ground and chase the car. Adrenaline's pumping, so I don't notice the blood flowing down my legs and I'm not quite dizzy from the thump on my noggin. I give my share the road speech, peppered with plenty of "what the f**k do you think you're doing?"...look back at my bike, convinced I heard carbon snapping and yell even louder when I think my bike was destroyed. The couple in the car keep telling me they're sorry, and somehow use a recent cancer diagnosis of the driver as an excuse. I couldn't follow the linkage....if cancer was going to cause him to nearly hit people by running them off the road, then he shouldn't be the driver, right?

A fellow cyclist rolled up and helped me out...he called the cops and checked out my bike making sure it was rideable while I sat there dazed. I got the full emergency treatment with 2 police and ambulance and a firetruck...quite the scene. They checked me out and I filed a police report. I told the cops and paramedics I'd be fine to ride home. Before I took off, I noticed the passenger in the car was pretty emotional...went over to tell her to not worry about it, they didn't hurt anyone. The driver came over, said he was sorry...then caveated the apology with a "i thought i gave you plenty of room"...I stood there in shock, not knowing what to say. I stared at the guy, said "merry christmas" and left. Not sure if he received a ticket...felt bad for the guy being diagnosed with cancer, but I still don't know why this was an excuse...and why he ended the exchange with a half-apology.

Bike appears to be ok...I got a good road rash, a couple bruises and my pinky's stiff. I've felt a little light-headed, but that could be attributed to the 3 beers I've drank while setting up Christmas toys.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stone Mill Organic Pale Ale

According the the label, Stonemill Pale Ale is brewed by Green Valley Brewing.

The label also depicts a log cabin, a lake, somewhere out in the wilderness...away from it all, where organic beer flows, granola is a plenty, body odor is en vogue...the quintessential dirty organic hippy existence.

The label is very Thoreauesqe.

My Thoreau vision was destroyed when I visited only to find that this is a Michelob product, which of course is owned by the behemoth Anheuser-Busch....a large corporation which is not very Thoreau-like.

On the positive side, AB was recently bought by a Belgian company, InBev, which appeals to my liberal sensibilities....anything European is desired.

None of the above really matters, because this beer is very unremarkable. I'm not likely to buy this again. It tastes like a mass-produced, watered down Pale Ale. Can't really say anything good about it. C-, PQ=16.8

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The Garmin 405's performance on the bike has been inconsistent. It usually shuts down on its own, or flashes a blanks in all the data values. The last few rides, it has worked perfectly. Here are graph/map/HUD snapshots from Saturday's ride. I know this representation of data is important to everyone...

Koko Head and Kona Beers

Went to Koko Head Sonya hiked up to the top, the boys and I tried to make it up as far as they could. Carter made it halfway up, to the 5th (of 11) telephone poles, because he's going to be 5 next year. Jack made it to # 4. Carter's goal is to hit the top before we leave in the summer.

Followed it up with lunch at Kona Brewing Company. Used the opportunity to taste some of their drafts beers. Started with a Hula Hefeweizen. It was served a little too cold, masking the signature Hefeweizen taste. As it warmed up, the beer got significantly better. The banana/clove flavor wasn't too overpowering. Very refreshing. I give it a B.

2nd pint of "liquid aloha" was the Castaway IPA. This IPA is dry-hopped...the hops were very powerful, but the beer wasn't too bitter. The taste went well with the shrimp melt. Good stuff. An A- for the beer and an A for the shrimp melt.

As you can see, we all had a good time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Deschutes Jubelale 2008

My favorite thing about Christmas is all the holiday/seasonal beer that is issued during this period. It's quite the challenge to find a wide variety of beer in Hawaii, and you never know what type of winter beer you'll be able to find. So far, I've only seen Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale in one store about 15 miles away...hopefully I'll see it again before Christmas. The same day I found the SN, I saw Deschute's Jubelale. I elected to pickup the Jubelale, since I've bought at least one six-pack of the SN Celebration every year since at least '98.

Winter Beer doesn't really go well in Hawaii, but I've found that on a rainy day (which we've had plenty of late), you can crank up the AC, look outside and pretend like it's winter. In these moments, I want to "warm up" with a nice, heavy, spicy winter ale. Deschutes definitely did the job...a little spice, but not too spicy, good aroma, and it didn't taste like a fermented Christmas tree. It's a solid A, PQ=32

I was looking to expand my beer glass collection, as I've noticed that real bear afficionados drink various beers in varying types of glasses. You can notice from my pictures, that I'm loyal to the pint glass. I did some research, and found that some believe wine glasses are a good option that allow you to "get the best out of your beer."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Perfect Pour

Something else to do on a rainy day....the perfect pour challenge.

Indoor Workouts

Due to all the rain, was unable to ride again this morning. The boys and I decided to workout indoors.

After the warmups with Jack, Carter helped me "max out"


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Leffe Blonde

Leffe Blonde is some good stuff. It's light, but not too "lite". It's got a nice fruity aroma and spicy taste, but it's not overpowering. To top it off it has a high alcohol content, but doesn't have a strong alcohol taste.

The label says it's best served in "its own chalice-shaped glass". I have no chalice shaped glass...just your standard conical pint glass. To be a true beer-taster, I must invest in some fancy tulips.

Overall Grade=A
PQ =43

Video from Sunday's Race

I'm nowhere in this video, but it gives an idea of what the course looked like.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Koshihikari Echigo

Overpriced Japanese rice beer ($4.29/17 oz at Whole Foods). Reminded me of OB or Cass. Not bad, but not good either. The only beer with rice in it that's worth drinking is the King in a Can.

Grade = C+
PQ = 9.1

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Xterra Trail Run

Today was the Xterra trail run half marathon at Kualoa Ranch.

Sonya took 2nd in her age group for the 10K.

Carter and Jack were able to test their new running shoes in the kids' race.

I was nervous about the race, since my heel has been hurting the past few weeks. I haven't ran that much lately, just a couple of times since the Val Nolasco 1/2 marathon last month. I've only been on a trail twice the past couple months. Due to the nervousness, I was using the bathroom (woods) as the gun went off. That startled me, so I stopped what I was doing and quickly joined the race in progress. The first 3 miles were familiar to me...these were roads used during the 24-hour mountain bike race last year. I knew what to expect...lots of climbing. This was true for the entire race....try to find a flat spot somewhere on that graph. During these first few miles, I was running strong, passing lots of folks going up the hill...partially due to the fact that I started near the back of the pack. My pace for the first 6.5 miles was pretty good and I thought I could knock this run out in under 2 hours. Things quickly changed, as that's about the time the big climb started. Started up the big climb feeling strong. I saw a lot of people walking up the hill, with only 1 other person running. I jogged up the hill passing dozens of walkers, until I finally had to break down and walk near the top. I highlighted the moment on the graph where my fast race all fell apart....1:14:16 is where the grade picked up to 24%+ and I started walking the last few yards to the top. Got some water and Gatorade at the aid station, and started following walkers onto the single track. It was hard to get running there, as most folks were walking. Parts of it were runnable, others were muddy or too steep. Things started to suck worse as the single track started going down hill. The guy in front of me couldn't stand up and slid most of the way down. I fell once and got a rope burn to show for it. The single track lasted a couple of miles, then we hit some more road...all up and down hill, then back to single track that I was familiar with, as it was part of the mountain bike race last year. I was glad they threw that section in, as it was much more passable than the previous trail. The single track also had some of the best views on the course. After the singletrack, we passed back through the start area. I tried to find Sonya and the boys, but at 10 miles, my mind was dazed, my legs were jelly, it took a lot to not throw in the towel. The next 3.1 miles was a repeat of the first 3...1.5 miles up and 1.5 miles down. I did this section much slower than the first 3, and ended up walking parts of the climb. I trudged through the rest of the race, trying to finish strong. Ended up finishing in 2:21:42 according to the Garmin. A little slower according to the official results, since I was busy at the race start. That's substantially slower than the 2 road half marathons I ran this Fall, but I'm still happy with it. This race was hard.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Deschutes Inversion IPA

Very bold, bitter, hoppy taste. Smells sort of fruity, but couldn't really notice that in the taste. A solid IPA worth buying again. Grade=A-

Not sure of the price on this one. Based upon the taste, I'd be willing to pay $8.99/6-pack.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome

At $4.69 for a 18.7oz bottle, this stuff had better be good. Some Christmas/winter beers taste like a Christmas tree...may not be the most pleasant taste, or what you'd normally expect from a beer. However, the higher alcohol content these beers usually pack, along with the strong pine tree taste, they usually bitch slap you across the face reminding you it's Christmas.

For the beer...this is your standard English Ale...very good. Not Wintery/Christmasy or anything else in my mind. I'm not sure why they picked this recipe for their "winter welcome". I'd drink this beer any time of the year. Grade=A, PQ=15.9

Sport Utility Prius

Loaded down the SUP for a quick camping trip. 2 bikes on the rack, and 1 in Sonya's lap. The rest of the car was crammed with camping gear.

Our 2nd try at "mountain biking"...a lot faster than the first time. Saturday we worked on zooming down hills.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

2 Aussie Beers

Yesterday tried Boag's Premium Lager and Cooper's Pale Ale. I probably tried these in Australia, but that was 7 years ago...I probably liked them then, a lot. I was just coming off my Bud Light phase, and was living in Korea drinking massive amounts of Cass and OB. Needless to say, I didn't appreciate good beer at the time.

These beers aren't bad. Not particularly good either.

Boag's Lager tastes like a watered down American Lager. It's better than a Natty Light, or most any light beer...yet it's nowhere comparable to the King in a Can. It's a C.

Cooper's Pale Ale seemed watered down as well. It was weak on the hops and didn't taste like a pale ale should. Had they called it something different, like Cooper's Beer, I probably would have a different opinion of the beer. It went down smooth and had a decent taste otherwise...just wasn't what I was expecting when looking at the label. This was marketed as a beer drinker's beer, with label captions discussing bottle conditioning, fermentation, sediment, etc. I expected a lot, but was let down. Still, it's a B-.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bikini Blonde Lager

This is one of Maui Brewing Co's offerings. I went to pick up a 6-pack sampler, but none were available. I tried the IPA and Porter draft last week, so I opted for the lager. Good stuff...strong on the hops, refreshing like a lager should be...fairly light, goes down smooth. I give it an A-. The stuff is pricey. I'm not sure why most of the local brews are more expensive than beers from the mainland. This one was $9.99/six pack. Not quite worth that kind of money. PQ=26.7

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Wait is Over

If pressed to name my favorite band and album of all time, I'd have to say Guns N Roses and Use Your Illusion II. I can't say anything cheesy like "the album spoke to me" or "defined me" or any crap like that. Really, I just thought GNR put together that perfect blend of kick ass rock and not so cheesy ballads that set them apart from the other bands of their day (Poison, Skid Row, Def Leppard, etc). Then Kurt Cocaine came along, killing rock as we know it, then offing himself. Axl spent the next 17 years working on this album, and somewhere along the way thought that cornrows on a white guy in his mid-40s was a good idea...supposedly the most expensive album ever made. I've been reading about this album, anticipating it for years. My expectations for the album were low, especially since I heard Axl was really into Industrial music. Expectations fell lower when I saw his cornrows. When I saw the release was confirmed, I pre-ordered on iTunes in order to get an early preview of the Chinese Democracy single. My motivation was mainly curiosity, wondering if it was worth the 17 year wait. I was surprised to find a pretty decent album. I'm by no means a music or pop culture critic, so I have to defer to Chuck Klosterman for an expert opinion on this album and its deeper cultural context.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend (Quadrupel)

I don't know a lot about Belgian beer, other than I like it. This "Belgian Style" beer from Ommegang Brewery in NY is no exception. This hearty ale has a noticeable cherry taste...maybe because it's 98% ale and 2% ale with cherries added. The cherries aren't overpowering, and doesn't detract from the sweet beery goodness. At 9.8% alcohol, it packs quite the punch. Unlike a lot of high octane brews, there's not a strong alcohol finish. Like most things at Whole Foods, this one will break the bank. $15.99 for a 4-pack of 12 oz bottles. That's $.33/oz. This one is Grade A, but with the high price, the PQ=12. At that price, it's definitely a sipping beer.

Engineering Marvels

Had some heavy rain this morning.
Our custom redneck covered lanai has become stressed by 2 years of rain. Today it almost gave way. Being a former engineering major, I put my expertise to work, taking quick actions to save the lanai.

The rain continued throughout the day, and the rake/repair stand combo performed remarkably.

Had planned to ride, but for the 30th straight Saturday, it wasn't in the cards. Once the rain's over and after I do this trail running race in 2 weeks, will get around to a Saturday ride. Not much to do on a rainy day in Hawaii, so decided to go to Whole Foods to pick up some beeer. Apparently everyone in Oahu shops on rainy days, as the roads and the store were crowded. My car was lost in a sea of Prius's in the parking lot.

I got 4 new beers, and a "microbrewed" cola. This is Virgil's Real Cola. At $2.39 a pop, this natural caffeine free cola ain't cheap. It was pretty A on my cola scale, but at $.20/oz, I doubt I'll buy again. PQ=20

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Real Food

What a difference 3 weeks's what I'm eating now:

And who can forget what I was eating then:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Prius Bike Rack and Mountain Biking

Bought a bike rack for the Prius. It's a Saris Bones 2. Before buying, I did some searches and found lots of discussion on Prius bike racks. The Prius community is very active on the interwebs. Here at, there's a fairly lengthy discussion about bike racks. There's a lot of concern about gas mileage and some discussion boards feature a lengthy debate on roof rack vs tow hitches vs trunk mounted racks. I've always preferred the roof rack, but won't do it with the Prius, mainly because I've got about $500 of roof rack parts from the old Subaru sitting around gathering dust. Most of the parts are incompatible with the Prius, and I don't feel like throwing down that kind of money on another roof rack. I'll just wait to buy a car that's compatible with the old rack.

It took awhile before I broke down and bought a rack for the Prius. It got old taking out the car seats and folding down the rear seat to make the Sport Utility Prius conversion, and I could only hold one bike. Decided I'd get Carter started on mountain biking and realized, I'd need a rack to carry both of our bikes and him in the car seat.

Yesterday, we made our first mountain biking attempt. What I realized is that Oahu is severely lacking in beginner MTB trails. The few places I've ridden have serious hills, roots, rocks, mud and are pretty much no fun for a beginner. We started out in Waimanalo on the Maunawilli Ditch Trail. I seriously overestimated the suitability of the trail for a 4-year old on a BMX with 16" wheels. The initial climb was no fun, so we packed back up and headed to Bellows. There was a short multi-use trail that is fairly sandy, but well-packed, has few roots and loose rocks. Most importantly, the trail is flat. He did well there, so we did a couple loops for a total of 5 miles.

In Beer news, went to the Yard House last night and tried a draft Maui Brewing Co's Big Swell IPA. A decent IPA, not as good as the SN Anniversary Ale...rates a B+...I like my IPAs to be a little hoppier. For the 2nd beer, went with an old standby, the Franziskaner Hefeweizen. Sonya had the Maui Coconout Porter. I wasn't impressed with the first taste of the Porter...something odd about it. I'll need to pick this one up in the can for further investigation.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale

Picked up a 24-pack at Costco yesterday. This one's very good. I've probably had about 5-6 of these things so far. Anniversary Ale is well-balanced IPA...not too hoppy, very consistent and drinkable. Grade=A, PQ=46.2...this is one of the best I've had so far.

In other beer news, was in Whole Foods today. They have one of the better beer selections I've seen on the island. Discovered Maui Brewing Co's selection today. Good ratings on Beer Advocate and are surprisingly hard to find on Oahu. Too bad Whole Foods is so damn far away. Now I need to plan a trip to Maui in order to visit the brewery.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Budweiser American Ale

After trying the craft beers Anheuser Busch put out under their Michelob label, I had very low expectations for the American Ale. Saw it in the local Korean grocery store last week, looking for something that would go well with Kalbi. The romance of Korean beer has gone away, and I'm no longer trying to re-live my mid-20s and the days of multiple large pitchers of Cass on Saturday afternoons at Geckos. What I did discover is that the Korean grocery has a good selection of beer at some of the best prices around. I picked up a six pack of the GB Czech Pilsner for $1 less/six pack than the Navy Exchange offers, and I found this sixer of American Ale. No one seemed to know the price for this beer, so they charged me $8.29/six pack. I've since seen it for $8.99 elsewhere, so once again, I'm happy with the prices at Waimulu Market.

Budweiser did a good job with this one. It's a pleasant surprise, and tasted better than I remember the Michelob Pale Ale. Hoppy, clean, good taste. I really couldn't find any flaws. It's worth drinking again. It's an A-, PQ=32.1.

Wild Blue Blueberry Lager

This "beer" is produced by Anheuser-Busch, the same folks that sell fruity NAs in the Arab world. I've never tried a blueberry flavored beer, so thought I'd give this a try. This "beer" is cleverly marketed, looking like a microbrew from some small town in New York. I didn't know this was a mass-market gimmick drink, like Tequiza, until I did a Google search.

This "beer" only resembled a beer in its packaging. In a blind taste test, I would've confused this with some Mad Dog 20/20 or other bum-wine. It did go down a little smoother than your average bum wine, so I'll give it a D+.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Camping and Life Lessons

Went camping. Had fun.

The boys were taught a valuable lesson on physics, and more importantly, what to do with unwanted Coors Light.