Simple Pleasures of Late Summer

As the summer was winding up, we took advantage of a few opportunities to get out and enjoy both the nice weather and the evenings and weekends without the threat of homework (for the teenagers) or grading (for the teachers).  Herewith a somewhat random collection of late summer activities and the beers that came with them.

IMG_0334One of Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave’s colleagues specifically challenged my earlier complaint that I don’t enjoy beer from a can by sending over a can of All Day IPA from Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, MI, another session beer with a relatively low 4.7% ABV.  (Thanks, Chuck!) I did the test of trying some straight from the can while pouring the rest into a glass, and have to admit that, at least in this case, I really couldn’t tell the difference.  I suppose that’s a good thing, since cans seem to be the wave of the future, much like screw tops instead of real (or even synthetic) corks for wine bottles.  I understand all the arguments for increased freshness in both instances at an intellectual level, but I’m enough of a traditionalist that I still enjoy the aesthetics of wine corks and beer bottles.

We always try to squeeze in at least one outing every summer to the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox).  This year we got to attend as guests of Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave’s employer, complete with a pre-game barbecue behind the right field fence.  Attendance was light on this Thursday night, so after dinner we claimed general admission seats about 20 rows behind home plate.  This also brought us closer to a better selection of adult beverages, from which my choice was Green Monsta IPA, a reference to the left field wall in Fenway Park that is produced by the Wachusett Brewing Company in central MA.  AAA baseball is fun because you invariably see something you would never see at a major league game.  That night’s unique feature was two dropped third strikes (both of which still ended up as outs) in the same inning–it was a tough night behind the plate for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs!  We also got to cheer a walk-off solo home run to break up a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 9th inning and send us all home happy (and not just because of the adult beverages).

Yet another contact through Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave took us to a little community hall in the Buttonwoods neighborhood of Warwick, RI.  One of her colleagues had been to a performance by a relatively unknown singer-songwriter and was sufficiently impressed that he served as promoter for an appearance in his neighborhood, inviting neighbors, colleagues, and other friends to make up a nice-sized audience.  To our surprise, this turned out to be a BYO event, but our friends had enough in their fridge to share, so I was offered a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy to enjoy with the concert.  The lemon flavor in the shandy wasn’t overpowering, and if you enjoy the singer-songwriter genre, then I would encourage you to watch for Antje Duvekot at your local coffeehouse (or other similar venue).

The final outing for the summer was a Labor Day weekend flight to visit my in-laws at their home in Annapolis, MD.  It was a fortuitously timed visit in some ways since my father-in-law was coming to grips with a recently discovered health issue and it was good to be able to support him as he started to figure out some necessary lifestyle changes.  The weekend also included a fair amount of swimming pool time for the boys, a couple of fun restaurant dinners, a boat tour from the Annapolis harbor up to the Bay Bridge and back, and a home-cooked crab feast.  In addition to one familiar beer (Heavy Seas Loose Cannon at the Bonefish Grill to accompany a really tasty tuna steak), there were several new beers that I was able to sample.  The first was a toasted lager from Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing at Adam’s Ribs in Eastport (no picture–I didn’t want to take the time to wipe the barbecue sauce off my fingers).  The server also suggested something local that involved spices, but it sounded a little too “out there” and I didn’t see a need for extra spice on top of the barbecue sauce, so a simple, relatively light beer was probably a good call.  For drinking at home (including the crab feast pictured at left),IMG_0366 I picked up a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Flipside, a red IPA that is looking ahead to the end of summer and the return of heavier, more flavorful beers. We also stopped for lunch at Chick and Ruth’s Delly, an institution on Main Street just downhill from the Maryland statehouse that uses the names of local politicians (many of whom have gone on to national prominence) as the inspiration for menu items, as well as making their photographs a major theme in the decor. I was encouraged to try something involving their crab cakes, so I ended up with a crab cake on an eerily fluorescent sun-dried tomato wrap, accompanied by a Fordham Copperhead Ale.  IMG_0340Fordham is an offshoot of the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis which consolidated with Old Dominion (originally from Ashburn,VA), and the two labels now share a facility in Dover, DE, each label producing its own line of interesting-looking beers.  I vaguely recall seeing the Fordham label during our sabbatical in Delaware in 2009, and we’ve also been to the Annapolis tavern sometime within the last few years, so I may have tried this beer before, but not in recent memory, so it’s a worthy addition to the roll.

Six more new beers bring the tally up to 113 with the second half of Beer Camp and another highly varied mix pack still waiting to be consumed and reviewed.  After that, it’s time for a shopping trip in search of autumnal beers.  As I noted in the last post, Labor Day is now over, school is back in session, and we’re already dealing with homework (but thankfully no grading yet) and the transition from middle school to high school.  That also means that I have to wrap up late night blogging so I’m well-rested for another school day.  Maybe you can still squeeze in a summer pleasure or two before the equinox really puts a damper on things.  Cheers!

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