Friday, July 31, 2009

T Minus 2

Greetings all,

I had a lot of fun when I celebrated my 500th beer last summer. For those of you that were there, I hope you did, too!

That said, my 600th beer is on the horizon! The timer has been added on the right side! While I have at least 6 different bottles of beer in my fridge at home to add to my list, I will be pacing myself so I can have #600 with friends. So, here is the plan -

Who - You
What - My 600th beer
When - Thursday, August 6th, 2009 at 6:30pm
Where - The Oak Cafe in Wyandotte, Michigan
Why - Why not?

A few things to note:
- There is construction in Wyandotte in front of the Oak Cafe. If you approach the place on Oak Street the west (from Fort Street) you will be fine. Don't come over on Oak from downtown Wyandotte; it is a disaster.
- There is no telling when I will actually drink this thing. I plan on arriving at 6:30 and eating.
- Some of you will also be getting emails before too long.

I hope to see you all there!

Okay, the countdown function is junk. Nevermind!

Okay, I am now using a different clock. I don't like it as much as the other one, but it will do.....


Live blogging here. After a lazy morning of short hikes and dinking around at some local parks, I opted for lunch at the FSB. #598 down the hatch, and a fine one it was!

The Piston Pale Ale is really quite good! In a pint glass, it had a slightl y tan head with a nice amber body. The hops aroma you would expect? Barely perceptible, but I don't really think that is a bad thing. But ohhhhhh, the body. Wonderful. Simply wonderful. Creamy and smooth. On the tongue, the hops comes on strong followed quickly with a citrus twang. The finish was right were it should be - smooth and moderately hoppy. A supurb balance with nothing compromised. A superior beer! 5 out of 5!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Open Letter To The President

Dear Sir,

In these troubled times of economic crises, wars on multiple fronts, health care woes, and environmental doom, it is very frustrating that now, in 2009, we still have to deal with racial issues. The arrest of a black Harvard professor in his own home by a white police officer has, once again, put race at the head of the newscast and become the topic of discussions across the country.

I can't describe my delight when I heard a few days ago that the parties involved would be meeting you, the leader of the free world, at a picnic table on the White House lawn while having a beer. Multiple sources suggest this may be first case of beer diplomacy at the White House. As I understand it, the session will not have a formal agenda, but rather, it will offer the opportunity to "step back a bit" and have a dialogue.

"This is about having a beer," according to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Not if it is a Budweiser, sir.

While the staff required to run the United States is no doubt massive, I'm sure there is a glaring omission. That is why I would like to offer my services. If there is room for a White House Pastry Chef, who serves superior desserts instead of Twinkies, there must be room for a White House Beer Consultant, who can advise and serve extraordinary appetizer, main course, or dessert beverages, not swill.

According to press releases, you enjoyed a Budweiser at the All-Star Game. Sgt. James Crowley, the lead officer involved in the previously stated arrest, enjoys Blue Moon while Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. enjoys Red Stripe and Becks. With the understanding that the White House does not stock foreign beers, please know your options are not limited. There are hundreds of excellent beers available right here in the good old U.S. of A. Craft beers from microbreweries and brewpubs, Mr. President. That is the ticket.

Yes, sir - you need me.

My credentials are solid. Beginning in the mid-1990's, I have had officially 597 different beers of all styles from all over the world. Whether it is ales in the thin air at 10,152 feet in Colorado, stouts with The Sleeping Lady in Alaska, lagers along the lazy Outer Banks of North Carolina, or great drinks right here in Detroit, I have had my share. My knowledge is yours and I'm prepared to do what I need to do for my fellow Americans.

While I never served, sir, I can serve now.

I'll be waiting for your call.

Little Blue Heron on July 28, 2009

So yesterday, Walt Pawloski reported to me a Little Blue Heron in Monroe County just outside of South Rockwood. I went to the site after work but missed it. What a drag, right? That could have been Monroe County bird #205.

I managed to swing by the same location this morning. No luck. Walt checked back later in the afternoon to say he had it last night! At least we know the bird is still in the area, right?

Sure enough, shortly after dinner tonight, Walt called me at home. He just saw the bird tucked away in a difficult-to-view little corner of the wetland. I mentioned that I was going to head back there immediately. In an awesome demonstration of birding goodwill, not only did he tell where it was, but said he would meet me on site and show it to me. Fortunately, by the time I arrived, the bird had moved into the open (thus the clear but distant photo on the left).

The heron body plan (long legs with a long dagger-like bill and slender neck) where obvious in the field. The dark body with the purplish head and neck, dark legs, and the two-toned bill make the call pretty easy. Little Blue Heron.

County bird #205. A hat-tip and beer Walt! Thanks!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

#596 and #597

Friday night. The day after payday. Ohhh, what to do!

Sure I could have hustled out to the Ypsilanti for the Michigan Brewers Guild 12th Annual Summer Beer Festival. But, truth be told, I was not really up for it. I would have gotten there late, rain was possible and thousands of people on a Friday night was not really something I was up for.

So, looking for a change a pace, we shot out to Ferndale for a night at the Woodward Avenue Brewers (WAB for short). (They don't appear to have their own website(!), but you can read a bit here.)

All in all, the place is quite...well, different. Near 9 Mile and Woodward in Ferndale, there are two levels in the same building, but it might as well be two different planets in the same universe. It is hard to believe they belong to the same establishment. Imagine an old style garage on a corner. Those roll-up doors? Yup. They have them. So, when they are up you are eating outside. What a great way to spend a nice Friday night - outside for the feel, but under cover in the event of rain. The overall feel of the place was light and lively. By the way, the menu sandwiched between license plates. Really.

The upstairs? TOTALLY different. Beat-up wood floors. Ancient bricks on the wall. Dim lighting. Very cool. Much more the "ancient pub" sort of look. The modern 1950's barstools were a bit odd given everything else, but not too crazy.

I had two beers with my dinner. The Custom Blonde (#596) was certainly a beginner's ale. Pale yellow in color a white foamy one-finger head, it was pretty blah. Nothing tasted bad, because there wasn't much taste to it. In the nose, on the palate, down the hatch. - it didn't matter. Just not much to work with. 2 out 5.

The Green Bullet Organic IPA (#597) was very different and, simply put, much better. They claim it as "...a celebration of earth, water, malt and hops." Okay. Whatever. Beautiful copper color with a crazy foamy head is a great place to start. A sharp carbonated bite gives way to the hops on the tongue and finish. A few seconds later, the dryness really kicked in. A pretty good beer, I think. 4 out of 5.

According to the menu, they have a few other beers I will need to try. I will certainly get back there in the coming days. I'll sit upstairs for sure.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Missed Me By That Much

"Missed me by that much..." Maxwell Smart from Get Smart. Recognize the phrase?

Today, for me, it applies.

What missed me?

Oh....maybe the lightning bolt that struck a mere 100 feet or so from my condo unit? Mind you - it struck my building but the unit at the other end...three doors down. No, not that Three Doors Down.

So, this afternoon was all about thunderstorms, right? Nasty ones. Black skies. Heavy rains. Short-lived, but nasty. The image at the left is a snippet from a weather site. After I got off work, I rounded the corner of my sub to my street only to see the Fire Chief's vehicle, an ambulance, and at least 2 fire trucks. Being the super-observant guy that I am, I noticed they were all parked in front of my building. Ohhhhhhh, not good. The ladders on fire trucks are always cool, right? But not when they are helping firefighters climb onto your roof. Apparently, the lightning bolt struck around 4:30 or so. Within minutes, smoke was detected in the last unit. By the time, I was there, the firefighters had taken out the stove, the dishwasher, and countertops. That crazy pike was chopping holes in the kitchen ceiling like it was paper. Ugh. If there is insurance in that unit, they should be good. If not? Ugh.

For those of you not familiar with condo rules, they basically work like this - you are responsible for the inside while the Association is responsible for the outside. So, if the firefighters had to bust a hole in the roof, I, as an Association member, would help pay for it (Association dues are basically pooled for maintenances, insurances, etc.). However, each owner is responsible for their own interiors. So, you get condo-insurance (not unlike renters insurance) to protect your belongings. If you don't, and you have a problem, you're screwed.

I have now acquired almost $1700.00 in coffee paraphernalia. Mills (some over 100 years old), coffee tins, coffee bags, etc.. I just realized I don't have them covered. I better get my act together. If that had been my unit, most of that would have been lost when the firefighters gutted my kitchen.

That said, I did not come through this unscathed. It appears my DVD player and AT&T cable box are damaged, if not shot. What is a DVD player nowadays? A few bucks? The cable box? I figure I just need to call AT&T and I will get a new one. The TV is good. Most importantly, my computer is good. The combo of the breaker and the surge protection saved me. Fortunately, a surge did not come up the cable modem.

I am not worried at this point of the fire roaring through the building to my place. Three walls are between me and the fire.
Each is 14" thick of drywall, sheetrock and fire retardant foam running from floor to roof (so a fire could not run across the attics). Plus, I was chatting with firefighters. They ..."don't want to come back in two hours...", thus the kitchen gutting. I even saw the one guy with a "gun". I suspect it was a thermal imaging contraption to see behind walls. The fire is out. I'm not worried.

This is one of those things that you never hope happens to you. I will be going there in a bit to offer whatever assistance I can.

No, I don't know them.

So what.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009



Recognize that word? I suspect many of you do. It is from the Disney film Mary Poppins. Now imagine trying to use it in everyday sentences. Tough, right?

Would you believe me if I told you that there is a North American bird equivalent with a huge, obnoxious name that is awkward to use? There is (at least I think so) - Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow. In fact, you may recall that I saw them a few weeks back. But, now it is gone. Not the bird, the name.

For the longest time, there was just "Sharp-tailed Sparrow" found is scattered locations of North America. Not too long ago, biologists realized it was two different species (the ones along the Atlantic Coast looked different, sounded different, and like different habitats when compared to those in the north central plains states). With a stroke of a pen, "the split" became official and two new names (and therefore species) entered the bird lexicon - Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow.

Now, here is the problem - say Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow a few times. Stupid, huh? In prepping for my trip a few weeks back, I knew I needed the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow and would tell friends my plans. "Yeah, I need to get to coastal Virginia, Maryland or Delaware for the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow". After a while it got old and was like saying "Yeah, I have to get to coastal Virginia, Maryland or Delaware for the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

Finally, bowing to common sense (I hope), the American Ornithogists Union (the powers-that-be who manage all these name changes) changed the two names to make them shorter with the release of the Fiftieth Supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list of North American Birds. Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow is now simply "Nelson's Sparrow" and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow is now "Saltmarsh Sparrow. "

Of course, both species winter along the Atlantic seaboard. You have to be on your toes and hope for a good look to separate the two. Name tweaks will not help you here.

Don't count on a flying lady with an umbrella to help you....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bean Ball

It is not everyday a friend calls you and says "Hey, I have Tiger tickets in a suite..." So, with all tickets accounted for, 18 of us piled into a snazzy room at Comerica Park to watch the Tigers dump the Indians.

While it was certainly wonderful evening with friends, pizza and good beer (Atwater Block Brewery), there was what could have been a scary moment. Early in the game (3rd or 4th inning?), with a Tiger at the plate (I am not sure who the player was; I suspect we could look it up online somewhere) the ball came screaming toward the plate a bit, um, "inside". So "inside", in fact, that it struck the batter. I think it may have hit him around the bicep or upper chest. I happened to hit the shutter button on my little pocket digital camera at the right moment, and lo and behold, the ball is blur as it came hurtling at him. I added the red arrow so you can see on my picture. What crazy timing on my part, huh?

So, how scary is it when a player gets beaned? With little snooping online, I actually discovered that a player died when he got smacked in the head with what may have been an intentionally aimed spitball. Notorius head-hunter and first-class ass Carl Mays of the New York Yankees literally killed lovable, hugable Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians in 1920. At the time, it was the pitcher's job to scuff up, dirty, ding, spindle, and basically mutilate the ball over the course of the game. By the time Chapman got to the plate in the 5th inning (at twilight), the ball was so dirty he likely never saw it coming. Witnesses said he didn't even flinch. 12 hours later, he was dead from a fractured skull.

The spitball was banned from the game at the end of the 1920 season partially as a result of the Chapman death. Ever notice that when the ball gets even slightly scuffed, the umpire swaps it out for a new one? That practice is directly related to the "accident". Helmets, believe it or not, where still not required for another few decades.

Mays went on to be even more hated. Doing stupid things like beaning people in the crowd (!) and possibly "throwing" (intentionally losing) a World Series Game in 1921 (a few short years after the Black Sox scandel) contributed to his early retirement. While, by all accounts, he was an excellent pitcher (and batter), he was never selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame even though others with less spectacular careers were voted in. That bothered him up until the day he died in 1971.

I suspect Ray Chapman is content.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One-And-A-Half Day Getaway

If you know me, you know I like to travel. While I would love to be one of those people that can just pack a car and hit the road without a care in the world, I can't do that. So little getaways now and then are wonderful.

So Tuesday afternoon, the destination was...........Ohio.

Really. Ohio. In fact, not just Ohio, but Cleveland. Really- Cleveland, Ohio. It is not all about misplaced museums, environmental disasters, and overpaid athletes. No way. There's lots to do.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Ever heard of it? If not, get there. What a fascinating place! It started as a National Recreation Area under the Ford Administration. In the last few years, it was changed to National Park status. After arriving on site, "tourism mode" was on. After simply looking at the park map, Blue Hen Falls sounded cool. No doubt about it - "cool" is an understatement. Hours could have spent dorking around there. Aside from the water spilling over the 15' falls and trickling over shale millions of years old, there were no sounds. No traffic. Basically, no people (except for that one young woman stealing rocks). Awesome. The place was reminiscent of some locations I have visited at Mammoth Caves National Park.

A shocker here - are you ready? Dinner was at a brewery! (No way!) Great Lakes Brewing Company got the call. Not only do they have great beer, but the whole place is basically pro-environment. You can read all about it here. They truly set the bar for environmental concerns and how to tackle them. The outdoor eating area created a truly awesome dining experience. (Of course, there was that minor technicality involving a House Sparrow. Fortunately for him, he crapped only on my shoulder. If he had done the deed in my mead, he'd would have been compost!) For the record, the Commodore Perry IPA (#591) and the Independence Ale ((#590) were both very good. The IPA was the better of the two. That dark straw color was so inviting. The medium body, crisp but short-lived carbonation bite followed by the sweet hoppy finish was really quite an experience. I would have it again in a heartbeat. The gift shop was excellent, too. Another beer cook book ended up my collection. I have NO IDEA how that happened!

The night was in Cleveland proper at the very affordable Comfort Inn.

Breakfast could just not be "continental". No way. It just couldn't happen. Feeling snooty, the most important meal of the day was at a coffee place right across the street from the brewery. It was scrambled eggs on a....a,um.....whatever that thing was called. Think "Egg McMuffin for the snooty". Very good.

The morning was spent at the Great Lakes Science Center where I had a chance to spend some time with my old buddy Chuck. You all have never met him. For that matter, I haven't either. Charles Darwin was the focus of a traveling exhibit co-sponsored by museums across the country. His life. His travels. His insight. It all came together in his Theory of Evolution. It was all there. I had dipped on the chance to see it in Chicago some time ago, so now was a chance to play catch-up. While everything was very well done, I so wanted to see things he used, not just things like he used. Unfortunately, many of items where mock-ups. I understand that has to happen to some extant, but a few of the real items from his collection would have been so awesome to see. The plant pressings were scans of the real things. Even just a few of the original 19th century specimens would have been incredible. Nevertheless, I strongly suggest everyone see this exhibit when you get the chance. In fact, I think it should be required. Yup - you can't vote until you have seen this exhibit, seen all the Star Wars movies, and your bird life list exceeds 50 species....

After a brief but well tour of the William G. Mather (it is not every day you get to tour a 600 foot lake freighter!), a course was plotted for the National Park again. A quick bite was had at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula. Quite an impressive beer list! There are "Lizards" all over the greater Cleveland area! A heaping pile of nachos (with chicken and gobs of sour cream!) goes down so much better with a Prairie Path Ale (#592) from the Two Brothers Brewing Company. The golden color of this beer was like nothing else. Other aspects of the beer were average (I gave it a three out of five), but that color?! Wow!

After that quick bite, Brandywine Falls was the next stop. Some literature suggests that it is the most impressive falls in the Lake Erie watershed. I can see why! At 60 feet in height, the geology here is like that of the Blue Hen Falls - water cascading over a sandstone shelf leading to an undercutting of the less resistant shale that lies beneath the sandstone. Unfortunatley, kicking around the bottom of the falls was not possible, but so what! One should consider going back in the fall when the leaves are vibrant. That must make for one hell of a sight!

A brief walk down the Towpath Trail was well worth it, too. The Ohio & Erie Canal, which runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, was a 308-mile waterway connecting Lake Erie to the Ohio River. This transportation route, which influenced local and national prosperity, was dug entirely by hand by mostly German and Irish immigrants. The Towpath Trail is exactly that - a path used by pack animals that towed the cargo boats up and down the canal. Today, it is a walking/biking path. (Watch out for those bikers - they will run you over!). The brief walk turned up a few bird gems, namely a Prothonotary Warbler and a Yellow-throated Warbler.

With a 2-hour drive in the future, a course was plotted. Home? Oh no. Not yet. First, the Buckeye Brewing Company in Lakewood....then home. #593, the Buckeye Heidi, was a pretty descent Pilsner. Not bad at all, but nothing to write home about. A real highlight here was not having a new beer, but knowing that a special one exists. After gleaning through dozens and dozens of beer on the very impressive beer list, I stumbled onto the "Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel". Quite a name, huh? What is the twist here? Well, it not unusual for some places to add coffee to their stouts and porters. The coffee in this beer came from the rear end of a "cat." I tried the actual coffee a few weeks back. I was prepared to buy a bottle and take it home (the whole beer menu has a "to go" option) but they didn't have any left. I know one beer I will be looking for in the future.

By 11pm, I was home. Seriously, folks: re-consider Cleveland.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Site

Well, here I am - the Great Lakes Brewing Company. Cool place so far. I should have brought a jacket as it is a bit chilly here by the lake. I'll do a trip report later. Looking forward to seeing Chuck tomorrow...

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July

Like most people, I had the 4th of July off. Well, most of it, anyway. I had time to kill for the better part of the day and spent most of it in "laid back" mode. The morning was spent at Crosswinds Marsh. I found the swallows pretty cooperative (like this immature Tree Swallow below).

I spent the evening like many people across the country enjoying fireworks. The distant lights are the Harrison Boat Docks in Trenton as viewed from the west side of Grosse Ile looking south. The pic below is a part of what is basically my first real attempt at night-time photography. For you photography-philes out there: manual at f5.6, ISO 800 for a squeak less than half a second. All in all, I think I pushed the limits of the camera a bit - the 800 was a bit of stretch.

A Slow Christening

"At fifteen minutes after twelve she commenced a movement into the water with such steadiness, majesty and exactness as to fill every heart with sensations of joy and delight."
Recognize those words? Probably not. Don't feel bad - I never heard of them either until I read them just a few moments ago. Those are words that describe the christening of the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") on October 21, 1797. Apparently, this is the first written description we have of a christening of an American ship.

You know whats going on, I bet. Basically, somebody (usually somebody important) breaks a bottle of booze over the boat, right? Who did the deed? Maybe a relative of the boat's namesake or a politician. Or, in some cases, the soon-to-be captain himself. (Anyway you look at it, it sounds like a horrible end for could be a good bottle of bubbly, but I digress.)

So, at this point, you must be thinking - "What did he christen?" His boat? No. Can't afford one. His car? Nah, what's the point? The condo? Oh come on - who christens a 5 year old condo?

No, it was my netbook (my mini-laptop). With a hat tip to tradition, I did it with alcohol. Totally on accident.

A buddy of mine was turning 40 on July 3rd. For the night out, a pile of us went to Slows BarBQ in Detroit. This bar/restaurant has been on my radar for a while now, but I have never actually been there for a meal or a beer. Friday was a chance to do both and do it with some friends.

So there I was, seated at the bar. For whatever reason, I opted to pass on the ribs and got macaroni and cheese instead. (Don't roll your eyes!It was really good mac-and-cheese! Forget Kraft out of a box. This was the real deal!) A side of bake beans and a corn bread chunk the size of an airplane chock made for a very filling meal. With a glass of water and a beer glass in front of me as well, my space was a little cramped. To make a matters a tad worse, I was seated at the corner of the bar.Keep in mind , too, the bar has a giant "lip" like the kind you would see on a ship so the stuff doesn't slide off in rough seas.

So picture this: if a square-shaped computer is sitting on the very edge of the bar corner, the corners of the computer are hanging over the edge (think of it as a rectangle overlying a triangle), right? And if the near side of the computer is resting on the lip of the bar, then the computer is basically tipping back at a peculiar angle because the "lip" is higher than the bar itself, right? And if one brings a hand up to grab the glass of water, it is possible that said hand will bump the computer right? Knowing the computer is already tipped back, it is possible that the energy of the computer would be enough to bump (and dump) a full glass of beer right?

Lift, bump, tip, bump, and dump. That is how it happened. Lift (the hand), bump (the computer), tip (the computer), bump (the beer glass with the computer monitor) , and dump (the beer). Somehow, the physics of the situation was such that the glass was not knocked forward out of the way, but back towards me....and the netbook.

So perhaps I could re-write the Old Ironsides description a bit:
"At 47 mintues after seven, I commenced a bungling of beer with such clumsiness and stupidity as to fill every heart with sensations of shock and horror."
Now, I'll be honest - it was not a lot of beer. I can't say how much, but it could not have been more than a couple of tablespoons. But, really, does it matter? A few drop in the wrong place and your machine is hosed, right? A second stroke of luck was the simple matter that the beer ran down the monitor. Nothing touched the keyboard. No goo in the speakers, either (a few inches to the left and that would have happened for sure). I think a third saving grace is the fact that all the ports and plugs are on the sides of the machine, not the back. Oh, this could have been so ugly.

After a moment of paralyzing fear, I realized it was not as bad as it could have been. For the record, if you are unfortunate enough to spill beer on a computer, don't grab the nice cloth napkins. They're worthless. They don't absorb squat (after all, they were designed for the task of ridding digits of,I mean, thick and delicious bar-b-que sauce). Use the paper napkins.

So one might be wondering what the beer was that did the deed? The "honor" went to the Corktown Red from the Dragonmead Microbrewery in Warren, Michigan. Life beer #588 was amber in color (as you would expect) and a lesson in the subtleties of beer. Nothing stood out. The aroma was pleasant, but cryptic. The malty tones on the tongue and the slightly hoppy finish were both well hidden, but balanced. It was a very "under the radar" sort of beer. Nothing jumped out at me. Nevertheless, it was still a very good beer. A solid 3 out of 5.

A short time before, I finished #587 - the Brother Jacob Dubble Ale from the New Holland Brewing Company. In the sunlight, the near black color offered up the ruby red tones (I never would have seen them in a dark corner). The 1" tan head lingered for minutes. Nice! A "plumby" sweet taste was apparent while the thick creamy body was quite something. All sensations were well balanced. The finish, I am sad to say, was a bit dry (kinda like the dryness one gets after drinking grape juice, but not as severe). I think the dryness prevented this from being a five. Four out of five for sure.

Anyway you cut it, it was a fun evening. I will be back for sure. Life beer #600 is within reach. Perhaps I should invest in some zip-lock bags for the 'ole netbook on what I hope will be a festive night.

I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


World War II saw a huge increase in technological innovations. Some nations, like Great Britain, were flying biplanes at the beginning of the war. But as the months ticked by, aircraft became faster, more powerful, and simply more deadly.

Take the P-47 Thunderbolt, for example. Fully loaded and ready to go, the "Jug" weighed almost 8 tons. Top speed? 433mph (a 2,000 horsepower 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney engine tends to move things along). The operational ceiling was 41,000 feet. Give it an external drop tank and its range approached 1900 miles! That is a lot of flying! With such high performance stats, no wonder it was called upon to escort bombers deep into the heart of Germany.

Oh. What about the firepower? Eight...count 'em...eight 50-caliber machine guns. Many American fighter craft carried six, but eight? That would tear apart even the toughest German planes.

Sad to say, that firepower might have been the namesake for the Thunderbolt Wheat brewed by the Warbird Brewing Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I don't mean that in a good way.

It poured rather clear (many wheats, so far as I can tell, pour a bit cloudy from all the yeasts in the bottle.) The color was also more of a paler yellow. I was expecting something a tinge darker. The head was white and maybe 1” thick. No big deal there. The aroma was not much to be had. There was certainly something there, but it was hard to pin down. I was looking forward to the taste, but all tastes were shredded by the eight 50-caliber machineguns hidden in the wings of the beer. Holy cow! I know I have described other beers like this, but it applies here too - the carbonation is akin to drinking a Coke. All taste, if there was any, goes down in flames. The acidic, burning feeling paralyzes everything and you are left with that feeling of "Oh my, this had better go down the hatch right now as it is burning my mouth. Where is my parachute?" Once my mouth was clear of the beer itself, and my taste buds got airborne again, they were cluttered with a pasty film that masked what I assume was a subtle citrus taste.

All in all, this beer, while named for a wonderful aircraft, is not wonderful. It looks fair at best, struggles to get airborne, has mid-air complications, and crash lands short of the runway. I think the engineers need to tear it apart, re-tool it, and try again.

I can't give it a 1 (after all, I finished it). But, it is certainly sub-average, so by default, it gets a two out of five.