Saturday, January 12, 2013

Brickwarmer Red

New England is nestled in its obligatory January thaw currently.  I had been thinking about hitting Cannon anyway but remembered that I had a few things around the house that needed doing, the most important of which was getting a batch of beer going with the kit Gina got me for Christmas.

I'm fairly certain she went with the "Brickwarmer" as a subtle hint that I keep the thermostat set too low. #sweaters.

I'm pretty excited about this one.  Seems like a stronger amber ale, with just enough hops to balance it out and some citrusy action in there for good measure.  It uses some dark grains as well which should make things interesting, English Dark Crystal, Pale Chocolate as well as some Baird's Carastan.

dark grains steeping

Things got a tad interesting with the hops.  They forgot to pack the 1oz of Styrian Goldings when they shipped everything but as luck would have it I had accidentally got an extra ounce of Summit for a previous batch and was able to substitute.  And all is now right and balanced in the world.  I don't think it will effect the end product too much, the alphas are similar and both are on the earthy / citrus side of things.

There was also an addition of sweet orange peel at the end of the boil that should add a little extra citrus aroma and kick in the aftertaste.

mmmm dog puke

This will probably be ready around late Feb early March, should be fairly ideal for some apres ski enjoyment.


Thar she blows!  I tweeted last night that I was getting some really aggressive early fermentation and I was fairly certain I was going to need a blow off tube based on where things were heading early.  Its a good thing I checked it last night because not only did it need a blow off setup but the first one I set up wasn't big enough and I had to size up this morning.

Originally I just had the tube venting into a cup full of sanitizer, but that cup runneth over a bit by this morning.  Good thing I had an empty murder juice container handy!  I might actually save it now just for this purpose.  I need this type of setup few and far between but this is fairly ideal.

Its interesting, Gina had mentioned that most reviewers of this kit were mentioning and recommending blow off setups from the get go, with several reporting their buckets blowing their tops.  Must be something about the mix of fermentables and the yeast strain that really get things fired up.  I believe I reacted in time and I don't think there should be any negative effect from this.  I was able to keep things sealed and sanitized throughout.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wind Farms, Stars & Bars, and oh so Sweet William

I wanted to get the most of my Sunday morning and wanted to be wrapped up around noon so I decided to save some gas and lift fees and earn a few turns instead.  I got a surgical strikes worth of gear primed Saturday night so I could just jet early Sunday.

very much digging the Flylow Oven Mitts so far

I hit the road early and then hit it again about 10 mins later after having to loop back because I forgot my boots.  TRAINED.  Not many people out and about early on a Sunday morning.  In fact it was just me and this guy driving a yellow truck flying a huge confederate flag, with a large Mike's Hard Lemonade decal on the tailgate.  It was amazing.

I'm sure he'd love to chat about how its all about State's Rights over an ice cold Mike's HARD

I wasn't really sure what to expect upon arrival.  This area isn't very far lost quite yet but as I drove up the access road things got pretty funny pretty fast.  Like Jersey barriers blocking the road funny.  Not really sure what the point is, you can just drive up the condo driveway and still get right to the top of that road and the base of the resort anyway.  I wasn't really sure what the safest place to park was going to be, luckily there were two cars who had beaten me there so I just lined up next to them.

I didn't waste much time in the parking lot.  I'm not really sure what the mentality is with this area...the bank has some pretty large signage on the old lodge that basically amounts to 'no recreation on the premises' but it was pretty apparent later in the day that it gets used in some way shape or form by many of the condo owners and other folks skinning up quite a bit and nobody seemed to be trying to be sneaky.  It kind of seems like nothing is really being enforced its more of a if something happens you were trespassing sooooo thanks for stopping by type policy.

There was a decent enough little skin track set and a dusting of new snow at the base (which turned into about 2in by the summit).  Early on I was feeling it but I just needed to get warmed up.  I got into a groove and was moving fairly well.  I layered ok, I was overheating just a bit but I was able to open up some vents and take my mitts off and found a good middle ground.  The skin up took about 45-50mins but I could probably do it faster.  I was taking a few pics and double checking the map to make sure I wasn't going a stupid way and making it longer than it needed to be.

 the little bit of fresh got deeper with more vert

skin track toward the top

The new Groton wind farm is on the ridge just off the back of the mountain and it was really cool to see the turbines so up close.  Several of them were turning and it was cool to hear what they sound like from that distance.  I would say it sounds like hearing a jet liner at cruising altitude from the ground.  Just a somewhat subtle whirring engine sound...kind of soothing in a way.  None of my pics really did it justice, they were much closer than the pics really show.

I made a pretty good transition at the top and kept my temps pretty well regulated.  I'm getting more and more efficient with changing over and its a bit easier when you don't have all that much gear.  It was weird to see how fast things deteriorate and how quickly nature takes things back once they aren't being maintained.  The patrol hut was pretty busted and the double looked pretty ragged.  It was cool seeing the old signs and remembering back to when we road here for a few years.

I had planned on 1.5 laps so first run I went over and got on the pitch just above the old triple.  There are some glades over there but I was a bit worried about coverage and being solo I didn't want to venture in there and get grabbed by something but they looked fairly decent looking in from the edge.  Another 8-12 and I'll be back for sure.  I decided to just hop on one of the trails over by the glades, no one had gone over that way and I was getting some fresh turns.  The puckerbrush has fairly well taken over many of the runs there now.  This trail wasn't too bad.  Just keep your speed and your hands up.  A bit more snow and many of the runs will be much more manageable.  It was a great run despite getting whipped a bit and I stopped at about even elevation with the top of the triple and transitioned to head back up to the summit.

At this point I had passed a group of 4 right before my first summit and I passed another group of 2 as they were about to summit on my first descent.  For my second full run to the bottom I decided I would head over to the trail we probably spent most of our time on when we rode here regularly.  I don't know where everyone else was riding but the traverse was untouched.  Apparently having a few years here and knowing the lay of the land is paying off.  The traverse was pretty annoying in untouched deep snow but I got over there without too much issue.

The top of this run were probably my best turns this year.  Almost knee deep, barely any puckerbrush and a nice pitch for about 200yds.  Unfortunately the last and steepest pitch of the first part of the run was really over grown with some serious over your head face whippers.  That part was a bit touch and go but I plowed through and things opened up once again for the last few pitches down.  There were a few other spots where it was a bit overgrown but if you stayed to the edges you could avoid most of it and the snow was deep and the pitch was good.  It was a great run all in all and with a bit of trimming it could be a classic 'must-get' when its deep.

I AM EXCITE for more days like this in the coming weeks...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tour of Elbow Pond NH

Forecasted temps at Cannon were looking like teens at best with wind at a decent clip for Saturday.  Ever since that fateful day at Jay I seem to get frostbite on my nose and cheeks really easily in anything under 20 degrees.  But I can get away with those temps if I'm working a bit harder consistently and if the terrain is a bit flatter or uphill in one direction.

I dropped Bill a line saying I was thinking about opting out and trying to think of a good light tour to do instead.  He liked the idea and pitched Elbow Pond just outside North Woodstock about 1/3 of the way up Gonzo Pass.  Seemed like as good an idea as any so we set to meet at 10.

There is actually a pretty established snow machine road called Elbow Pond Rd with a street sign and everything off Rt. 118 with a little parking lot (and firing range!).  Bill brought some of the crew; Barb, Tumble, Kristen, Cheese, and Constance...plenty of people to fish someone out if they went through the ice. We started on the snow machine road for a bit until taking a right onto a nice singletrack trail.  There was a decent track set with about 1-2in of fresh fluff on top...perfect.

at times the singletrack would widen out a bit, nice corridor to let 'em run.

We hit the pond at about 2mi or so and stopped for some pics and some hot chocolate.  This is probably the second or third trip I've been on with Bill when hes had the foresight to bring a thermos.  A nice hot beverage way out in the woods is pretty damn nice.  I might need to add a nice thermos to a birthday or xmas list soon.

We all started making our way around the edge of the pond planning on crossing over and making a little loop of it.  Tumble was going along the edge in some weedy terrain and actually broke through some crusty ice and just barely touched into a little muddy spring that hadn't really froze over that well.  His foot barely got wet but some in the party were a tad spooked and wanted to turn back and head out the way we had come in.

Bill and I had been a bit farther out onto the pond and the ice was rock solid.  We did a little looking at each other and chatted about sticking with the group or venturing out.  I had really wanted to cross the pond and make a loop of it rather than an out and back and nobody was going to be solo so we decided to go for it.  Crossing the pond was a bit harry, not because of ice but because of wind.  As soon as you got exposed out there it was whipping across at a decent clip.  Luckily its not a very big pond and we were crossing at the 'elbow' of Elbow Pond so it wasn't that wide.  We got a bit more shelter on the other side and got back and hooked up with the snowmachine road without issue.

first tracks

It was a quick haul back and we actually beat the other crew to the turn off we had taken earlier in the day.  It was a quick tour, predominantly flat but very enjoyable and you could probably make it quite a bit longer with a bit more exploring around the pond.  Good little area to have in your back pocket ready to go on a day you just want to mix it up a bit and keep it low key.  I'm sure I'll be back.