Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fattening Up

Quick biology lesson #1 - if animals don't eat, they die, right?

Quick biology lesson #2 - when animals eat, they often put on fat, right?

Quick biology lesson #3 - songbirds put on fat to stay alive, right?

I snapped this picture of an American Robin at Lake Erie Metropark yesterday. Before you go all wild and wonder about a Robin in Michigan during the winter, you need to understand that they will overwinter here in small numbers. Anyhow...there it was on the sumac plucking away. You can even notice the red gunk on the bill.

Hmmmm...they eat to get fat to stay alive?

Perhaps it needs some of my Fettuccine Alfredo.

Fun With Math

So last night, I opted to whip up a simple dinner. I had the ingredients (eventually) and I had the time, but I didn't do the math. Here goes....

Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan. Add one cup of heavy cream. Simmer for a few minutes and then add 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese. Dump that over 1 pound of cooked fettuccine noodles (el dente is ideal). Voila! There you have it! Fettuccine Alfredo! Pretty damned easy to make, huh?

Now, you math majors, lets have some fun.

2/3 of a cup of Parmesan Cheese contains 32 teaspoons. 2 teaspoons of the cheese has 1 gram of fat. Do the math. 16 grams of fat in the cheese.

1/4 cup of stick butter is equal to 4 tablespoons. 1 tablespoon has 11 grams of fat. Do the math. 44 grams of fat.

What is 16 + 44?

60. 60 grams of fat. I could easily break this recipe into 4-6 servings. So let's continue with the math, class. 60 divided by 4? Basically, 15 grams of fat in one sitting.

Needless to say, I don't eat this meal very often. I had cooked it in the past, but it may be awhile before I cook it again.

But, overall, the meal was healthy. Peas and carrots were on the side! Hah!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

#533 and #534

When someone goes to just about any local watering hole, the beers are always the same - Budweiser, Michelob, etc. (that translate to "yuck" and "usually ick", respectively, by the way). If you're lucky, you can get a good Sam Adams or a Blue Moon or something. So, to be perfectly upfront, I have had most beers served around here. I have to shop for beer in out the way places if I want to try a new one.

So, a few nights ago, I had a chance to get a beer that was rumored to exist. A friend went to this place a few weeks previous and said she got this beer and was wondering what I thought of it.

I had never heard of it. My first thought was "What is going on here? A beer at a local dive and I have never had it? Is this possible?"

According to the menu at Bailey's (I was there a few nights ago) , the Red Fox Amber Ale is (#533) brewed just for them. "Huh...", I thought. A local upscale bar with their own brewing that is done off-site? What's up with that?

Well, it turns out Bailey's is not unique. Not only are there two other locations in Michigan, but the parent business, Fox and Hound Restaurant Group, has places in over half of the United States! That's how they do it!

That said, the Red Fox Amber is...
light-bodied ale brewed with the finest caramel and black malts for a beautiful amber color, a perfect body and an unparalleled balance of European hops.
Sounds really fancy, huh? Well, when all is said and done, it was a very average beer. In fact, in might have been below-average. An okay amber color (as best as I could tell in the dim light), okay aroma (as best as I could tell in the smoke), and okay body and taste (as best as I could tell while munching on potstickers) made for an okay beer. Despite all the distractions (including loud music), one huge fault came through - the finish. Waaaaay too bitter, if you ask me. If they can adjust that a bit, they may be on to something. In meantime,I gave it a 2 out of 5. Sure, I should try and give it another go in a more favorable atmosphere, but for now, that is just how I see it.

In the meantime, as I write this, I am sampling # 534. Leinenkugal's 1888 Bock. Apparently, this beer hails from a recipe that dates back to....are you ready for this?...1888. Really. Toasted, malty tones in a dark lager. Yummy. Give it a go. Its worth it. 3 out of 5.

New Header

Well, if you are a regular reader of this blog (all 8 of you), you may have noticed something a bit different about the page. Yup, a new photo in the header.

The old image (an Eastern Meadowlark in west Texas) was never meant to be permanent. I just wanted to add something to my page when I first started this blog in July of '08 (95 posts ago). I think it works for me.

I think this one is more indicative of the blog. I like birds. I like beers. I like photography. I am getting to like Photoshop.

For the record, *I* took the photo of the Osprey at Lake Erie Metropark in 2007. It really was carrying the bottle of Chimay. I swear. Any eyewitnesses that suggest it was carrying a Gizzard Shad are simply lying.

I swear.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Boneyard Birds

Looking for birds in a cemetery is not as weird as it sounds. The tendency to plant lots of conifers and/or ornamental landscaping can lead to some pretty nice birding. Sure, etiquette is required (don't yell, don't run, and don't even think about it if a funeral is taking place), but all in all, it can be a pleasant experience.

For weeks, I have been reading about an influx of White-winged Crossbills into Michigan. I made a few tries for them at Michigan Memorial Cemetery (MMC) in Flat Rock but that did not pan out. So, following some reports from the Internet, Natalie and I headed off to another cemetery. While I didn't check the name, it is on Tyler Road west of Hannon Road in Wayne County. A nice place with some very old stones.

After driving the quarter mile loop through the place, Natalie spotted movement in what would have been the last tree. Sure enough, near the top of the tree, sat a White-winged Crossbill. Within a few minutes, we realized the tree was hoppin'. Yup, a "warp" of crossbills (that is what you call a group of them! I kid you not!).

Their name is based on, you guessed it, the fact that their bill is crossed (just like when you cross your fingers). Even more cool is the fact that there are "left-handed" and "right-handed" birds. One in every three birds has a lower mandible that crosses to the left instead of the right. In either case, the trait allows them to feed. They hold open the pine cone while they yank the seed out with their tongue. But they don't stop with one seed. Studies have shown these little buggers (smaller than a robin) can eat over 3,000 seeds per day. The ground under the tree was littered with gutted cones. With an appetite like that, it won't take long for a group to move in, blunder the local food source, and then move out. Perhaps that is what happened to the group at MMC.

To date, I have recorded them in Michigan, Ontario, and Alaska. My first White-winged Crossbill sighting? That happened waaaaaay back on January 6, 1996. I was in Toledo, Ohio. Can you guess the place? Woodlawn Cemetary.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Mom-To-Be And A Kid

With a few hours to kill yesterday before the sun set, I found myself doing some birding at Lake Erie Metropark. With absolutely brutal temperatures in the previous days, temps in the teens (or low 20's?) felt downright balmy. Wind pants, good boots and the ever reliable hat was really all I needed. (Okay, I was, of course, wearing other clothes).

Following a tip from a good friend, I located a second Great Horned Owl nest in the park. While this may seem early to some, its not. They are right on schedule. Yup, that's right - they are on eggs before the end of January. For the record, there will likely be two eggs (though three or four is possible). Incubation will last about 30 days. Looking ahead, the eggs should hatch sometime around the 18th of February. In the event of a problem and the eggs are lost, they may try again.

The tree could not be in a more perfect location. A giant hollow from the broken trunk has created the perfect cup-shaped nest. The only thing I would adjust is the tree's position. A trunk rotation is in order. The open face of the cup is on the west side of the trunk. With most weather systems coming from that direction, she is going to get all the wind, snow and rain. But, so be it. That is the risk they take when they don't make their own nest. You can't look a gift horse in the mouth, as the saying goes. I look forward to watching them in the coming months. (You can see her in the picture on the left. Half of her face is obscured as she sits on the left side of the tree cavity.)

A short time later, I found myself walking along the shoreline south of the boat launch. Within a few minutes, I found myself surrounded by Common Redpolls. The size of the flock was difficult to judge, but I don't think 75 (plus or minus a few dozen) is too unbelievable. I was hoping to secure a Hoary Redpoll, but I couldn't find one.

Viewing along the shoreline was also ideal for Bald Eagles. At any given point, half a dozen could be seen. While a few where adults (white heads), most were not. The shot (left) was of a particularly cooperative young bird. I was really hoping to see one take a duck (there where thousands along the shoreline) but it was not to be.

I managed almost 30 species in my two hours.

Monday, January 19, 2009

#531 and #532

A few nights ago, I had a chance to finally finish off the seasonal beers I had stacked up in my fridge. I would say the night was "one for two."

The Sam Adams Stout (#531) was pretty damned good! On the pour, the 1"+ tan head looked pretty appealing on the deep brown/black beer. The chocolate (or perhaps coffee?) and roasted aromas were full and pleasant (unlike some aromas which might be weak). Overall, the body was about average while all the roasted tones and caramel sweetness blended well with perfect carbonation. The finish was a tad dry, but certainly nothing to scoff at. I would give this a 4 out of 5.

How about the Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic? #532 will go down in my notes as pretty bad stuff. On the pour, the fruitpunch-like color tones with bubbles was to be expected. I could certainly get a handle on the fruity aroma, but I would testify that I was smelling cranberries. The taste was, well, fruity. That was to be expected, as well. Keep in mind, up until this point, that the fruity aroma and taste were not bad, but they were not really good either. The finish finally killed any chance this beer had of being passable. It was acidic, dry, and lingered faaaaar too long. Gross really. To make matters worse, a film coated the tongue, cheeks and teeth. While it is not unusual for a beer to linger on the palate by "coating", I don't feel it should be akin to that "morning breath" sort of film we all can get now and then. (Yes, we all get it. I f you don't think you get it, you are just lying yourself again. Get counseling. Its bad for you.) Except this was really bad morning breath film. Maybe like Hippo morning breath. Bad. Really, really bad... 1 out of 5.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The label on the beer #530 states the following:
Samual Adams Holiday Porter is a full-flavored porter inspired by the famous drink of London's Victorian Era luggage porters. Brewed with generous portions of Caramel, Munich, and Chocolate Malt, this hearty porter finishes with traditional English Fuggles and East Kent Goldings.
Well, that all sounds real fancy (fuggles and goldings are hops, by the way), but I have to question what is really going on here. While this is only my 24th porter since I started listing beers, I have an idea of what they should taste like and this just doesn't cut it.

After pouring, the color suggested that deep brown color akin to Coca-cola. The head was barely there and a moderate tan color. Fully expecting a roasted caramel-malty sort of aroma, I curled my nose up after my first inhalation. Ugh. Totally wrong in every sense. What did it smell like? I can't be sure. But "bad" certainly describes it, I think. On the palate, the carbonation was a bit higher than I would have expected. I find this puzzling as I think the head should have reflected this. High carbonation, but low head? Go figure. On the other hand, the creamy feel was very refreshing, but still not as much as I would have liked. The finish was very lackluster. At no point did I come away thinking "Wow, this is a great porter." In fact, at times, I struggled to accept the idea it was a porter in the first place.

This is my 17th beer from the Boston Brewing Company. Given their other superb beers, this was certainly a disappointment. Knowing I sometimes suggest I can score a beer higher when I am in a good mood, I can't do that here. 2 out of 5 tops (assuming this was healthy bottle; I can't rule out that it was infected/skunky bottle). With that thought, I re-wrote the label:
Samual Adams Holiday Porter is a weakly-flavored porter inspired by the famous drink of London's Victorian Era grave diggers. Brewed with generous portions of muds and malts, this sub-par porter finishes with weak tastes and will leave you fuggled.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Night In The "D"

Trenton High School has a tremendous hockey program. In Trenton (and other Downriver communities) kids are skating before they can walk, it seems. (I heard rumors that coaches are trying to figure out a way to train the kids to skate in-utero, but I digress.) Anyhow, they are literally playing as little kids. Little kids grow up and become very good hockey players. Scores of good hockey players at the high school level win State Championships often. For awhile, it was news when Trenton didn't win States. Such is the Cliff Notes version of hockey in Trenton.

But, even though they dominate state-level hockey on a regular basis, I never went to a single game. Not once. Ever. I wasn't a part of the high school social scene like others and I certainly wasn't there to cheer on the team - after all, they never cheered me when I was taking a Chem II exam.

So, the inside of a hockey arena was totally foreign to me. Yes, I had been to arenas for concerts and such, but never a game.

A few nights ago that all changed. I found it rather fitting that my first ever hockey game would be at Joe Louis Arena watching the Detroit Red Wings, the defending Stanley Cup Champions. My sister's friend's neighbor had four tickets. They (my sister Rebecca, Susan, and her husband Ron) needed a fourth body for the fourth ticket and I got the invite.

Dinner was at Fishbone's in Greektown. Parking was a breeze. The atmosphere was great and the food was, too. A burger and nachos were ideal. The menu had plenty of Cajun food but I was not up for that. The Gumbo Ya-Ya would have been Gumbo Oh-No if I had eaten it. It is that nuclear stuff that would clear out even the most congested sinuses (or worse).

Fishbones had the shuttle (an old bus) to Joe Louis Arena and we were there by game time. Sure, I could tell you the section and seat number, but what does that really mean? Basically, we were 16 rows back over the goalie's left shoulder. $80 dollars seats, as I understand it.

The opposition? The Columbus Bluejackets. The game was scoreless after two periods, but that was when Mike Babcock, coach of the Red Wings, came over to us.
"Paul, we seem to be a little flat here..."
"Yeah, I'll say. You need to control the puck better inside the blueline and shut down their offense. Get with it."
"Any chance you can lace up and give us a hand?"
"Aw, thanks, Mike, but I'm enjoying myself here with family, friends, and this $149 beer that I didn't even pay for. I'm good."
"Okay, cool, thanks, Paul."
"Anytime, Mike."
The Wings broke it open in the third period and went on to win 3-0. I'm still waiting for my consultant's fee.

All in all, a very fun evening! No rowdy, drunk idiots. The seats immediately in front of us where empty allowing us a better view of the game and it was not as cold in the arena as I expected (though it did get chilly in between periods when everyone went outside for some "fresh air" (ie: smoking)). I also found it much more challenging to follow the puck.

While the players skated on the ice during the game, we skated on ice after the game. A freezing rain had settled in a some point after the night started. Getting to the car was tricky. So tricky, one us slipped, but I won't mention any names (Rebecca). We managed to get home just fine.

Thanks, Rebecca, Susan, and Ron for including me in such a fun evening! Yet again, I was reminded of something I have noted a few times in the last few years - there are things to do in Detroit and I should get there more often.

Monday, January 5, 2009

#523, #528, and #529

So, the Holidays are behind us, but with all the weirdness associated with December and being out of town for a few days, my Holiday beers are still staring at me in the fridge. With that thought, tonight's blog is a bit of a catch-up.

First, I did not have all these beers tonight. If you are actually paying attention to the numbers (all six of you who read this blog), you will notice that the numbers don't jive. A simple explanation - #523 was before I went to Ontario, while #528 was last night and #529 was tonight's brew. With that, the gory details.....

#523 was a gift from my buddy Stylurus. As a native of Wisconsin, he often travels there for family. He brought back a bottle from the New Glarus Brewing Company. The Spotted Cow Ale was fair, I think. All in all, I had a hard time finding an aroma to grab on to. The body was a bit light while the finish was more or less absent. But, it was not a bad beer. I just couldn't find much where I could sink my taste buds. 3 out of 5. The Beeradvocate crew did not rate it much better.

#528 was the Porter from the Bell's Brewery. Fantastic. 4 out of 5 for sure (maybe even a 5 if you catch me in a good mood). The head was at 2" thick, creamy, and tan contrasting with a deep brown beer. All the roasted tones in taste and aroma were perfect (present but not overdone). Silky smooth body. Great lacing on the glass with a nutty finish. I will have it again, I'm sure.

#529? Old Fezziweg Ale is another outstanding beer from the guys at the Boston Beer Company. A super seasonal beer. A warm, red/brown body is pleasing to the eye, but the lack of a head is a downer (I may have goofed the pour). All my little quibbles go away once you smell it. Sugars and caramel. Mmmm. On the palate? Cinnamon with a touch of orange. There's a bit of a palate coating once it goes down the hatch,too. A very subtle malty finish lingers just a tad. 4 out of 5. Good stuff. The name, by the way, is a reference to a character in "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. You can read all about it here.

So there. I think I am caught up with beers consumed vs. blogged. However, I still have four in the fridge that I need to critique.

I have all week....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mission Accomplished - Part 3

The first bird of the 2009 was American Crow. A few were "cawwing" up a storm outside the hotel. Too often, for us suburban birders, the first bird of the New Year is House Sparrow or something equally junky. Crow? I'll take it.

From a bird standpoint, however, the day was pretty light. The day had been budgeted for more owling, if needed. However, with the location of the Boreal Owl the previous day, we basically had the day to do whatever. Unfortunately, being New Year's Day, many places would be closed.

So, we thought it might be fun to just drift home. Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park was mighty cool. The name tells you the place. It is literally a lake perched on top of a mountain hundreds of feet above Lake Ontario. Native American legends tell of mysterious depths and to this day, geologists don't agree on how it was formed. Sandbanks Provincial Park (pictured) was equally impressive, if not more. Granted, during the winter, the sandy beaches look like something you might see exploring the Northwest Passage, but it was still pretty cool. An open spot on the lake shore gave us a chance to study Long-tailed Ducks up close. What a super looking duck!

So, with the fading light, we moved on home. From the greater Kingston area, the drive back to Detroit was about seven hours. But worth every minute when balanced with the birds we recorded. Only 39 birds were recorded, but they were some stellar birds.

This little trip gave me the chance to add 5 new birds to my Ontario list - Boreal Owl (life bird, #626 too, of course), Northern Hawk-Owl, Pine Grosbeak, White-winged Crossbill, and Hairy Woodpecker. The total list now stands at 244 species.

4 new beers for a total of 527.

2008 ended on a great note. *clinking of beer glasses* Here's to a great 2009!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mission Accomplished - Part 2

Towards the east end of Amherst Island sits a funny woodlot. Pine trees galore. With a large part of the island developed for agriculture, this chunk of land provides awesome cover and stands out as a beacon for owls in migration. Overwintering owls use it, too. More and more people seemed to be heading to this island for owls. In my case, Boreal Owl.

After taking the ferry, we took a swing around the island before heading to the Owl Woods. Within minutes, we had one white plastic bag and two Snowy Owls. When we arrived at the Owl Woods parking area, a flock of passerines flew in. At least 25 White-winged Crossbills stopped to feed.  The moment we got out of the car, we were viciously attacked. Coyote? Rabid wolf? Bald Eagle? No, no, and no. How about Chickadees? Yup. Apparently, they get fed there and when we got out, they were expecting freebies. Zipping around us like Kamikaze pilots going for the kill, they almost landed on us at one point. It was enough to make even the most seasoned birders lose concentration. Before we could say "Banzai", the crossbills were gone. I'm not sure, but I think one Chickadee was wearing a headband with a big red dot and was muttering something about an Emperor...

The following hours were spent walking patiently and quietly through acres of conifers. Jack Pine, cedar, and spruces. They ALL needed to be checked for owls. Saw-whets are basically the size of a beer can while Long-eared Owls are about the size of a two-liter bottle of pop. Boreals? Slightly larger than the Saw-whets. With so many trees and such small birds that hide so well, we had our work cut our for us. We opted for the "divide and conquer" approach. Hours of looking. One Saw-whet and perhaps 5 or 8 Long-eareds. No Boreal. Knowing our perfectly cold bagels would be perfectly good in the 10 degree temps, we opted to head back to the car for lunch. We crossed paths with Steve from Pennsylvania. He needed Boreal Owl as well. His efforts the day before turned up nothing so he was back for day two. We told him the areas we covered while we returned to eat.

By 2:00, we were back at it. Steve turned in a few more Saw-whets, but he eventually had to go. At that moment, I started to wonder if he would take the role of the Sacrificial Birder. It is a simple concept - a bird that you know is there but can't be found won't be seen until someone leaves. Once the birder has left the area, the planets realign, individual karmas re-adjust, barometric pressure increases, and voila!, and the bird appears. It happens time and time again. Everyone plays the role of Sacrificial Birder at least once in the course of a birding career.

By 3:00 or so, we were getting a bit frustrated (at least I was) and a bit cold. Sure, we had three species of owls on the island, but the target bird for the entire trip was not to be had. Knowing we had to continue looking until sundown, we were trying to make a new plan when this fellow appeared. No, he was not nude, but given the temperatures, he might as well have been. Mind you, it was 10 degrees, and he was wearing a sweater. Gloves, too, but no hat. Our noses and cheeks were all but numb, and here he comes wearing a sweater. But, he had bins, so we immediately put aside the thought that he was an escaped psycho patient. He even looked like he knew what he was doing.

"Don't suppose you have seen the Boreal Owl?", I said.
"Yeah, its right over here..."
"Yes. I can show you."
"Thanks! Its really cold out here. Why aren't you dead?"
"I'm good. I've got layers on", he said with a grin.

Alex took us on a short walk to a portion of the woods we managed to somehow miss in our own search and there it sat. Perhaps 15 feet or so up the tree. A key thing to look at in the this photo is the bill color. Saw-whet Owls have a black beak while Boreals have an yellowish-white beak. Also, Boreals have silvery spots on the forehead. They tend to be slightly larger than Saw-whets but this one was a monster. A female for sure. In fact, it was so big, the photographers who arrived a few minutes later were convinced it was not a Boreal Owl; they thought it was too big. It wasn't until I showed them my photo they were okay with the call. I think their perceptions were complicated by the fact they had photographed one the day before. Their photo was clearly a male. Just a tiny thing compared to this one.

So, I think it might be appropriate for us to thank two people: Alex for showing us the bird, and perhaps more importantly, Steve for leaving....

With a little bit of daylight left, we circled the island one more time. We were hoping for a Short-eared Owl (which would have given us 5 species of owl for the day), but we missed them. One of the Snowys sat nicely for a photo in the fading light. Other island arctic goodies over the course of the day included Pine Grosbeak, Common Redpoll, Rough-legged Hawk, and Northern Shrike. The coyote in the fading sunlight was pretty cool,too.

Dinner that night was at the Kingston Brewing Company. This tiny little pub crammed into downtown Kingston was quite good. The chicken pot pie was super, but we did not go there for pies. Beer,folks. Beer. I enjoyed three half-pints. The Regal Lager (#525) was pretty fair, as far as lagers go, I guess. 3 out of 5? The Dragon's Breath Real Ale (#526), on the other hand, was superior. A cask ale, it was smooth, slightly creamy and dark. The head? Holy crap. It lasted damned near forever. The finish was a bit dry (note: the finish could have been complicated by my meal. I was having vinegar with my fries.). All in all, 5 out of 5. My third and final half pint was the Dunklenacht Dark lager (#527). My notes are incomplete on this one. After all, we were in a pub on New Year's Eve. I drank it. Good stuff.

Lodging was in Kingston again.

Mission Accomplished - Part 1

2008 was a fantastic bird year. With multiple trips to Texas, I managed 23 new life birds. During my trip to Muskegon, I managed a new state bird that had been nagging me for years. So, I thought about the possibility of one more birding trip to knock down either a state bird, or perhaps even a lifer.

After looking over my checklist and getting a handle on what was realistic, the options narrowed quickly and one bird became the target - Boreal Owl. So did we head to Michigan's Upper Peninsula? Nah. Amherst Island in eastern Ontario (not too far from Kingston) was the better bet. It is quickly becoming one of the major owling meccas of eastern North America. The internet reports looking juicy and I had a few days off strung together at the New Year.

Driving out after work on the 29th was pretty uneventful. The night was in Ajax.

The destination on the 30th was not Amherst Island. We opted, instead, to continue past Kingston and head on to Perth, specifically the intersection of Cameron Side Road and Highway 7. As we approached the intersection, we saw the road sign confirming Cameron Side Road. Before we even finished saying the road's name, we saw it - "Okay, here's Cameron Side Ro.....there's the bird!" - Northern Hawk Owl. Totally oblivious to our presence, it sat while we were a good 100 yards away eating Subway subs. Without warning, it bolted from the perch and flew. At first, it appeared to be heading away from us, but we quickly realized it was heading directly at us! It passed just to the right of the car (not 6 feet!) and only a few feet off the ground! Landing in the new spot, we re-positioned the car and took some photos. After a good 20 minutes or so, we pressed on with the day (it was already getting late). Aside from some crows and such, the day was pretty light for birds in general.

The drive to (and from) Perth, by the way, is awesome. The lakes, the rocks, the winding road - very cool. Perth itself is quite old (the original settlement dates to 1816). Old towns often have old stuff, right? A quick stop at the antique mall turned up three new coffee tins for the 'ole collection (one with words in French).

Dinner was at the Merchant in Kingston. Imagine having a dinner in a 300-year old tavern and your not even close. I am not saying it is that old, but it certainly felt like it. Huge beams. Dark atmosphere. Fireplace. Very very neat. Alexander Keith's Stout (#524) was on tap. In my opinion, it was not creamy enough and the over-carbonation ruined the finish. Otherwise, it could have been good. 3 out of 5. The night was in Kingston.