Monday, December 31, 2007

Qball's Beer Review: Kirin Ichiban

Kirin Ichiban: Special Premium Reserve

Brewed by:
Kirin Brewery of America

United States

Style / ABV:
Japanese Premium Lager / 4.95% ABV

Available in 12-oz and 22 oz bottles, 12-oz and 24 oz cans, plus 7.75-gal and 15.5-gal kegs.

Review: This crisp clean, Japanese beer pours offers a slightly hoppy taste that lingers on the tongue after drinking. It compliments Asian cuisine very well.

Rating (1 recommended, 2 good, 3 on-the-fence, 4 disappointed, 5 stay away)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

IU Basketball - Progress Report

Well, at this point IU is 11-1 and will begin the Big Ten season on Wednesday. So far, IU has been only slightly challenged by their opponent, but we can make a few observations from their play so far.

First, DJ White is the cog that moves this team. Although EJ leads the team in scoring, DJ will be required to provide the only inside threat available for Indiana. As the Big Ten wears on, he will need to stay out of foul trouble, rebound well, and continue to move the offense through passing. To date, DJ is averaging 16.4 points per game and nearly 10 rebounds per game.

Second, IU will likely cut the rotation to 8 or 9 players. We know that Basset, EJ, DJ, Stemler, and Ellis will receive substantial minutes with Deandre Thomas, Jordan Crawford, and Mike White receiving minutes. The big question becomes the presence of Ratliff. Will he be able to receive any minutes as the season wears on? Without an injury or suspension, Ratliff falls as the odd man out.

Finally, how will Indiana perform against improved defenders. To win the Big Ten, IU will face an increase in pressure at the guard spot and will need to make better decisions. Overall, I feel that Indiana will win all there home games and lose at Michigan State, at Wisconsin, and at Purdue. Their record at the end of the Big Ten season will be 27 - 4.

Surviving the Last Lazy Days of 2007

It's 32 degrees outside. Pretty cold. Pretty quiet.

On the television, the 1965 movie wonder, The Sound of Music, is sounding in the background. My wife is knitting a small hat for Landen Hunt, and I feel like writing a short reflection on the year that was 2007. The year that was brought us a nationwide mortgage crisis, the end of the Harry Potter series, continued war in Iraq, and major product recalls for children toys and pet products. 2007 saw a horrific tragedies at Virginia Tech and Omaha, Nebraska. As Elie Wiesel once uttered, "I have learned two lessons in my life: first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings." We have also seen reasons for hope. Stem cell breakthroughs could lead to cures for uncurable diseases. Other 2007 breakthroughs in science helping to fight breast cancer, reduce aids, and clean the environment.

Personally, this year was a year of love, a year of growth, and a year of faith. So here's my 2008 resolutions, a few predictions, a little motto for me to take into the new year.

1. Find my calling. In 2008, I'm going to find a career which I am passionate about.
2. Run. The goal is to participate in 3 5k's throughout the year with the first in March.
3. Energize my faith. Finally, I have found a home and now I am going to re-charge my faith by renewing my faith.

1. Batman becomes the top grossing film in 2008.
2. Edwards wins the Democratic Nomination and eventually the Presidency.
3. The New York Mets win the World Series.

"Do something great in 2008!"

(for Ruth)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Special Present

Look at this cool bottle of wine my friends, Matt & Laura, gave me for Christmas.


Oliver Winery Visit

Today, Stacy and I took a visit to Bloomington, Indiana to due some wine tasting. First, we visited the Oliver Winery. This winery began as a hobby for Indiana University Law Professor, Bill Oliver in 1959. In 1972, following the inactment of the Indiana Small Winery Act wrote by Professor Oliver, the winery opened to the public. By the end of the 90's, the winery was producing over 100,000 gallons of wine.

During our first visit to Oliver, we found the grounds to be beautifully landscaped. As you can see, the tasting room was very busy. Fortunately, we were able to sneak in and taste a variety of wine. Here's a quick list of what we tried and what we liked
          • Vidal Blanc Sparkling Wine 2006 - A crisp clean sparkler $25 bt
          • Traminette 2006 - A fruity Indiana grape wine $14.15 bt
          • Beanblossom Hard Cider - A crisp apple wine made from Peru apples $ 8.11 bt (My choice for most interesting)
          • Muscatt Canelli 2007 - An exotic pineapple wine with a rich fruity scent. $10 bt (My choice for best taste)
          • Camelot Mead - A light honey wine. $7.55 bt
          • Soft White - Sweet grape wine with rich aromas. $7.55 bt
          • Harvest Flavors Strawberry - An extremely sweet wine with a honey base. $7.55 bt
          • Harvest Flavors Mango - An extremely sweet Mango wine with a honey base. $7.55 bt
Our next stop was at the Butler Winery. Established in 1983, this Winery is the fourth oldest operating winery in Indiana. The grape varieties they grow include: Chambourcin, Chardonel, Vignoles, Cabernet Franc and Vidal. They make their wine in small batches using stainless steel tanks for the fermentation and bulk aging of the majority of our wines. In addition, they use small American Oak barrels for the aging of our Ruby Port and the dry Chambourcin and Chardonel wines. As you can see in the picture, they have won several Indy International awards including an award for their Vineyard Red and their Late Harvest Vignoles in 2006.

During our visit, we tried the Vineyard Rose, Vineyard Red, and the Late Harvest Vignoles which was a 2006 vintage. We also tasted the Blueberry wine, which gives a rich blueberry taste, and the Black Currant wine, which provides a punch of tart savory flavor. Also, the Black Currants are harvested from Plymouth, Indiana. Our favorite was the Indiana White which is made from Indiana Uplands Chardonel and Vignoles. It gives a peachy flavor and was awarded the Silver Medal at the 2007 Indy International. (pictured on left: Butler Vineyards)

Overall, we really enjoyed these two wineries and plan on visiting the additional six South Central Indiana Wineries on the Passport Wine Trail.

If you would like more information on visiting these locations, please visit the following links.

Oliver Winery Bloomington, Indiana

Butler Winery Bloomington, Indiana
Indiana Upland Wine Trail

More Photos of our trip

(front view of the Oliver Winery)

(landscaping at the Oliver Winery)

Great Holiday Toasts!

Great Ideas for Memorable Holiday Toasts

May all of our troubles this coming year be as short-lived as our New Year's resolutions.

Happiness being a dessert so sweet, may life give us more than we can ever eat.

May all our days here and after, always be filled with friends and laughter.

Here's to our health, wealth, and our happiness for the upcoming year.

So let's raise our glasses and drink a toast... the spiritual values of the Holiday season... the strength and health of our great company and its priceless brands...
...and to all the terrific people here tonight.

Here's to holly and ivy hanging up,
And to something wet in every cup.

I wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
A pocket full of money
And a cellar full of beer!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Shut-the-Box Game

I was surprised this holiday season with the game 'Shut-the-Box'. This game of dice was first exposed to me during my undergraduate studies at Tri-State University. During my first couple of years at TSU, I became a member of the Delta Chi Fraternity, and we spent many nights rolling away the dice in our own set of 'Shut-the-box'.

As nostalgic as I am, this game represents a further history. According to Wikipedia, there exist references from at least the 19th century to the Normandy (northern France) or the Channel Islands (English Channel, United Kingdom), others also mention fur trappers from the Hudson's Bay Company. The game has been popular among sailors and fishermen.

Further, evidence exists in England from the middle of the 20th century and it is quite sure that it did not originate there. Timothy Finn writes in Pub Games of England that it came from the Channel Islands in 1958 by a Mr. 'Chalky' Towbridge. It is said that versions have also been played in Barotseland (Zambia, central Africa). The game is also popular in the beer bars of Thailand.

Most recently, Shut-the-Box has been the basis for TV game shows such as High Rollers. Personally, I like it becuase its simple and classy. To often, games are over-run with rules that take days to understand.

Notes: My version of Shut-The-Box was made by Front Porch Classics.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Qball's Beer Review: Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale

Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale

Brewed by:
Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Missouri, United States

Style / ABV:
Winter Warmer / 6.00% ABV

Winter release. Serving types had: bottle (169), on-tap (76), growler (2). Brewed with all-imported hops and aged on Bourbon Oak Casks and whole Madagascare Vanilla Beans for a smooth Robust Taste.

Born on date: Dec 1, 2007

Review: While it seems that Anheuser-Busch is trying to broaden its market with this sweet bean brew, the Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale fails to deliver the taste wanted in a specialty brew. The color pours out as a foggy orange and the taste delivers a sweet candy sensation. Overall, this delivery had a malty vanilla taste and was a tough ale to finish.

Rating (1 recommended, 2 good, 3 on-the-fence, 4 disappointed, 5 stay away)