I was dumping another load of acorns in the woods behind the pole barn when I saw Tom pedaling down the gravel road on his fat-tired Schwinn. When I walked back to the yard he was sitting on the bike looking at the big piles of acorns that I had spent the morning raking up on the grass and sweeping up on the concrete driveway. “Morning Tom,” I said after setting the wheelbarrow down. “Out for a little exercise?”
A gust of wind shook loose another salvo of acorns and Tom lowered his chin and put the hand that was missing the pinky finger over his head. “Doc said it’d be a good idea after the heart attack,” he said after the pinging, thudding, bouncing and rolling stopped. “It’s afternoon by the way.”
“You should wear a hat in an acorn storm, Tom,” I said. “What time is it?”
He looked up at the October sun filtering through the brown leaves of the tall oaks. “About two I reckon.”
“Can’t be that late,” I said.
Tom squeezed his five-fingered hand into the front pocket of his overalls and extracted a wrist watch that was missing its leather band. “Two-fifteen,” he said matter of factly, then after a pause and just as matter of factly, “It’s going to be another hard winter.”
“Why do you say that, Tom?”
“Lots of acorns,” he said. “Never seen so many acorns.”
“Were there a lot last year?” I asked.
Tom shifted a little on the bicycle seat and looked out at the lake. “Not many.”
“Wasn’t last winter hard?”
“Oh yes,” he said.
I was about to tell Tom the real reason why there are so many acorns this fall but then remembered the morning last summer when he showed me how to catch grasshoppers when their wings were still heavy with dew and how he took me to his secret spot near Bear Lake and how he taught me to fish for brookies while laying on my belly next to the creek. Then I remembered the afternoon I was cutting wood on the edge of the swamp and how I got the truck stuck in the mud and how all the other neighbors kept kidding me and how Tom said “That’s enough boys” and how he pulled the truck out with his old Ford tractor. I remembered sitting on his porch that night sipping bourbon and still feeling stupid and how he kept on saying “shit happens” and me asking him if he ever did anything stupid and him telling me about the day he lost the finger.
When my wife came out of the cottage Tom told her the best way to keep the mice out of the basement and how to get rid of the black ants and repeated his prognostication for the upcoming winter.
“Didn’t you tell him what you read about the acorns?” my wife asked after Tom left.
“No,” I said and dumped another shovelful of acorns into the wheel barrow.
New and Returning Beer
- Odd Side Ales Grannys Apple Pie, $2.29/12oz - "Ale made with cider and spices" (source).
- Odd Side Ales Bourbon Barrel Aged Mayan Mocha Stout, $4.79/12oz - "Stout with coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, and habaneros added then aged in bourbon barrels" (source).
- Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest, $5.99/22oz (Limit 1) - "Each fall, hops reach their peak flavor- bursting with aromatic oils that give ales layers of complex flavor and aroma that can only happen at harvest time. For us, fall comes twice a year- once in each hemisphere. This Harvest Ale features "wet" or un-dried whole-cone hops from Yakima, WA that are plucked from the bine and delivered to our brewery within 24 hours of picking" (source).
- Sierra Nevada Estate Series Harvest Ale, $8.69/22oz (Limit 1) - "Our handmade Estate Ale highlights the flavors of home. From the sun-drenched fields of California’s North Valley comes our Estate Ale. It’s rich with the flavors of the valley—hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas, and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors. Enjoy this remarkable homegrown ale, made with organic wet hops and barley grown at our brewery in Chico, and one of the few estate-made ales produced anywhere in the world. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew" (source).
- Great Lakes Christmas Ale, $2.39/12oz - "It has a cinnamon and ginger spice flavor, a rich copper color, and a medium body that will fit with any holiday meal" (source).
- Shorts Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, $2.19/12oz - "Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is a Double Belgian IPA brewed exclusively with Galaxy hops. The nose is an impressive blend of citrus aromas reminiscent of guava and lemons. It also has subtle Belgian yeast esters. An intense, clean bitterness dominates the flavor profile, with little malt character to compete with. A fruity yeast sweetness is noticeable in the finish, alongside a resounding bitterness" (source).
- Arbor Jackhammer Old Ale, $2.29/12oz - "The Jackhammer is a very dark brown ale with a nice reddish hue. Offering a welcome warming sensation, it has a rich malty sweetness. Fruity esters, expected in this style beer, add to the already complex palate and help to provide an immensely satisfying experience" (source).
- Stone Coffee Milk Stout, $2.09/12oz - "Though Stone Brewing Co. is well known for massive stouts such as the venerable Stone Imperial Russian Stout (10.6% abv) and the more recent collaborative w00tstouts (13%-13.5% abv), at a mere 4.2% abv Stone Coffee Milk Stout presents a walk on the significantly milder, far opposite side of the stout spectrum. Rather than being as bombastic as it’s MUCH higher alcohol cousins, this beer is even on the palate, bringing on a hint of coffee with a highly drinkable yet quite modest backdrop of chocolate and roasty notes. At a mere 4.2% ABV, it’s the lowest-alcohol bottled beer we’ve released in 15 years (the previous being our 3.9% abv one-off release called Lee’s Mild in 2009), and you can expect a correspondingly modest body and mouthfeel. Additionally, while some milk stouts have more residual lactose sugar, we opted for a less sweet approach to the category, so you’ll notice it finishes fairly dry on the palate. Want more body or a more intense flavor profile? We got that, but this ain’t it. This is the lil’ one in our stable. Enjoy it for what it is and for what it’s not" (source).
- Stone Stochasticity Project Hibiscusicity, $8.69/22oz - "The recipe for a citrusy, hibiscus-flavored wheat ale that Steele conceived was first brewed on the 10-barrel brewhouse at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. Originally named “Going Red,” the beer was a special-release offering to promote awareness of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. The addition of Magnum and Sterling hops provides a balanced bitterness to the beer’s citrusy, berrylike spiciness, while the malted wheat adds a subtle yet sweet bready flavor to complement the tartness of the hibiscus flowers. Giving the beer tropical fruit and banana characters, the Belgian yeast strain Ardennes was used to complete the unique brew. As a result of this serendipitous combination of ingredients, fans will savor a flavorful beer that is complex, refreshing and easy to drink. Stochasticity Project Hibiscusicity may be enjoyed now or cellared for several months or years" (source).
- Stone double Bastard, $8.69/22oz - "This is a lacerative muther of a beer. The evil big brother of Arrogant Bastard Ale. It is strongly suggested you stay far, far away from this beer. Those foolish enough to venture close enough to taste will experience a punishingly unforgiving assault on the palate" (source).
- North Peak Hoodoo, 2.79/12oz - "North Peak Hoodoo MidWest Wet Hop IPA is brewed with fresh from the farm Michigan hops for exceptional flavor. Hoodoo is hops from start to finish with a little malt in the middle" (source).
- Green Flash Green Bullet, $3.59/12oz - "A full-bodied Triple IPA, Green Bullet combines New Zealand grown Pacific Gem and Green Bullet hops. Significant pine and citrus hoppiness hit the palate at first sip, accentuated by tropical notes of mango and pineapple, ending with a moderately aggressive, bitter finish" (source).
- New Holland El Mole Ocho, $8.19/22oz - "Our exploration into the flavors of mole, the legendary sauce of central Mexico. Malty aroma and rich, cocoa-laden body laced with an invigorating tinge of dried chilie" (source).
- Arcadia Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter, 8.59/12oz (Limit 1) - "Aged in in 22 year-old Bourbon Barrels for almost two years" (source).
- Corsair Old Punk Pumpkin Spice Whiskey, $45.99/750ml - "Pumpkin and spice flavored whiskey aged in American oak" (source).
- Corsair Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, $39.99/750ml - "Pot distilled pumpkin and spice flavored whiskey" (source).
Video of the Week | Killer Beer
Happy Halloween, everyone.