Harpoon Camp Wannamango


Beer: Camp Wannamango
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: Draft
Rating: *** (7.5 of 10)
Comments: Harpoon prepares us for summer with this refreshing, light and fruity beer.  Wannamango pours out a golden color with a full head and tiny bubbles.  As the name implies, mango is strong in the aroma, although there’s some apricot too.  This is beer akin to a fruit spritzer, effervescent on the tongue and sweet with just a hint of bitter grapefruit.  Lots of lacing a sustained thin head even after quaffing.  This is good stuff!

Beer Review: Portico Escher


Beer: Escher
Brewer:  Portico Brewing Company
Source: Draft (Cask)
Rating: **** ( 8 of 10)
Comments:

Sampled a glass of Escher from a cask. The aroma is of raw grains and grass, while the taste is citrus with a smoothly bitter background.  Nice balance of a variety of hops.  The mouthfeel is light.  Lots of lace on the glass.  This beer is tasty and brings me to my happy place.

Beer Review: Backlash Groundswell


Beer: Groundswell
Brewer: Backlash Beer Co.
Source: Draft
Rating: *** (7.3 of 10)
Comments:  This “revolutionary” beer is orangish and opaque with very little head.  The aroma is sweet and fruity and the flavor is a sweet biscuit with citrus and hints of spice.  Light, frothy mouthfeel, and no lacing.  It’s a nice flavor, with a warming aftertaste.

From the same brewer:

Beer Review: Shabadoo Black & Tan


BeerShabadoo Black & Tan
Brewer: Berkshire Brewing Company
Source: Draft
Rating: *** (7.5 of 10)
Comments:

A mix of Hoosac Tunnel Amber Ale and Drayman’s Porter, this “black & tan” is chestnut-brown, cloudy, and has a minimal head.  The smell is kind of roasted molasses and the taste is sweet, brown sugar with hints of burnt toast.  The lacing is clumpy and the mouthfeel is sticky.  It’s a hearty and fortifying quaff.

From the same brewer:

 

JP A to Z: K is for Kuchamakin #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


K is for Kuchamakin

If you’ve been reading the Jamaica Plain A to Z series the past couple of weeks, you may be wondering how a neighborhood in Boston ended up getting named Jamaica Plain.   The Plain part is deceptively simple.  The area around Jamaica Pond where the central village is located is flat.  Yet, other parts of the neighborhood are rather hilly.

The Jamaica part is more complicated.  There are three theories behind the name.

  1. It was named by colonial residents of the town of Roxbury who were celebrating Britain capturing the Carribean island of Jamaica from Spain.
  2. The inhabitants of this region of Roxbury liked to drink their Jamaica rum plain, that is without ice.
  3. But the most likely explanation is that the English settlers Anglicized the name of Kuchamakin of the local Massachusetts tribe.  Kuchamakin was a regent for the sachem of the Massachusetts, Chickatawbut.

A little more Jamaica Plain history.  Jamaica Plain has not always been part of Boston, but it has never been an independent municipality.  Jamaica Plain, or Jamaica End, was originally part of the town of Roxbury in colonial times.  Jamaica Plain joined two other neighborhoods – Roslindale and West Roxbury – in seceding from Roxbury in 1851 to form the town of West Roxbury.  Jamaica Plain was the most densely populated area of independent West Roxbury and home to the town hall (now Curtis Hall). Desiring better municipal services, West Roxbury agreed to be annexed by Boston in 1874 (the original Roxbury had already joined Boston in 1868).

I could find no images of Kuchamakin, not even a sketch, but his name is said to mean “big feather.”  In his honor, here is a photo of a big feather in Jamaica Plain. Read more on Native Americans in Jamaica Plain.

Post for “K” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

Beer Review: Harpoon Kettle Cup Thunder Foam


Beer: Kettle Cup Thunder Foam
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: 22 ounce bottled
Rating:  **** (8.0 of 10)
Comments: Poured into a glass, this porter is a dark brown with a thick head with a cocoa aroma a sweet chocolaty flavor with subtle spice.   The glass has a velvety mouthfeel and leaves a spotty lacing on the glass.  If you ever wanted a spicy hot cocoa experience in a beer, here’s your chance.

 

Beer Review: Castle Island Candlepin Pale Ale


Beer: Candlepin Pale Ale
Brewer: Castle Island Brewing Co.
Source: Draft
Rating:  ** (6.7 of 10)
Comments: A new Massachusetts brewery from Norwood presents this APA named for the regions hardest bowling game.  It’s VERY pale, more of a straw-colored cloud with negligible head.  The aroma is apricot, a bit skunky, with a grapefruit taste that balances the bitter with a palatable, bready aftertaste.  The beer leaves light lacing and sticky mouthfeel.  Better than expected!

Beer Review: Jack’s Abby Big Red Mitch


BeerBig Red Mitch
Brewer: Jack’s Abby Brewing
Source: Draft
Rating:  ** (6.9 of 10)
Comments:  A different beer, a dark red almost blackish with a bitter grapefruit scent and aroma but balanced with an earthy maltiness.  There’s no lace and medium mouthfeel.  It’s different, in a good way.

From the same brewer:

Photopost: Fiddler on the Farm


Yesterday we prepared for St. Patrick’s Day at Powisset Farm in Dover with performances in the barn by the Whyte School of Irish Step Dancing and fiddle tunes in the Cape Breton style by Claire Pettit of the band The Cottars.  It was a lovely setting, especially since the seats were set up in the kitchen where a cat rested on top of the oven.  After the show, we strolled around the meadows, the hayfields, and vernal pools.

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Black Harbor Stout


Beer: Black Harbor Stout
Brewer: Boston Beer Company
Source: Draft
Rating:  **** (8.3  of 10)
Comments:

Poured in a brandy glass, this beer is the color of black velvet.  The scent is candied cherries or raisins, while the flavor is kind of a mulled wine crossed with coffee (in a good way).  A delicious alternative to the same old.

From the same brewer:

 

Massachusetts 351


I’ve lived in Massachusetts for nearly 19 years (and in a bordering state for 15 years when I was younger), but despite it being a small state I feel that I have not seen much of Massachusetts.  I am the stereotype of the Boston urbanite who rarely ventures outside the confines of the Rt. 128 beltway and certainly never go Westa Wistah.

There are 351 cities and towns in the Bay State and with a handy list on Wikipedia, I was able to determine how many of them I’ve visited.  I left out any place I merely passed through – whether in a car, bus, train, or bike – and focus on the places I have a concrete memory of visiting.

In alphabetical order, here’s the list:

Amherst
Aquinnah
Arlington
Belchertown
Belmont
Beverly
Boston
Braintree
Brookline
Cambridge
Canton
Carver
Chelsea
Chilmark
Concord
Danvers
Dedham
Eastham
Edgartown
Essex
Everett
Falmouth
Foxborough
Framingham
Gloucester
Haverhill
Hingham
Holyoke
Hull
Ipswich
Kingston
Lexington
Lincoln
Littleton
Lowell
Malden
Manchester-by-the-Sea
Marblehead
Marlborough
Maynard
Medford
Melrose
Nantucket
Natick
Needham
New Bedford
Newburyport
Newton
North Andover
North Reading
Northampton
Norwood
Oak Bluffs
Peabody
Plymouth
Provincetown
Quincy
Reading
Revere
Rockport
Salem
Sharon
Shelburne
Somerville
Southborough
Stockbridge
Stoneham
Stoughton
Sturbridge
Tisbury
Topsfield
Wakefield
Waltham
Watertown
Wayland
Wellesley
West Tisbury
Westford
Weston
Westwood
Wilmington
Winchester
Woburn
Worcester

So there we go, 84 Massachusetts’ cities and towns, about a quarter of the total of 351.  What I’m going to do is try to make an effort to visit all 351 municipalities, take a picture of myself by a local landmark, and post it here.  I don’t know how long this will take (and I’m not even sure how one gets to Gosnold, the smallest community in Massachusetts), but I’ll do my best.

Edit on 1/11/2016: Thinking of some places I’ve been on outdoor adventures in western Massachusetts and realizing I can add a few more municipalities to the list.

Charlemont (Mohawk Trail State Forest)
Lenox (Tanglewood Music Center)
Mt. Washington (Bash Bish Falls)

There are probably others that I will add if I remember them, but this brings the list to 87!

Do you live in Massachusetts?  Tell me about your city or town? What local place should I not miss when I come to visit?

2015 Year in Review: Memorable Events


I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 20th annual list.

  • 1) January-February – Boston Blizzards – It’s hard to believe that sometime in late January 2015 I was wondering if the kids were going to get any snow days because winter had been so mild.  Then we were hit by blizzard after blizzard accumulating ludicrous amounts of snow on the way to a record 110.6 inches, including 94.4 inches in just 30 days from January 24- February 22, 2015.  It was crazy, it was annoying, but it was also fun, and we all survived with a little gallows humor.

  • 2) February – Snowshoeing – I went snowshoeing for the first (and second) time at the Boston Nature Center and found it a really enjoyable way to enjoy nature in the snow. I’m going to have to get my own snowshoes and plan some longer outings in the future.

 

  • 3) March onwards – Daddy Brew Club – My friend Mike got a homebrew kit and has had me and other beer-loving fathers over on several occasions to brew, bottle, and sample beer.  The social aspect is the key part of the activity although occasionally the beer also tastes good.

  • 4) March 19-21 – MARAC/NEA meeting – The New England Archivists meeting is always fun and this one was extra special as our Mid Atlantic regional colleagues joined us for a joint meeting in snowy Boston.  There was a pub quiz and guided walking tours of Boston led by yours truly in my Boston By Foot hat (followed by beers with my fellow archivists).
  • 5) April-October (but especially the last three months) – The New York Mets pennant-winning season – Since my children were born my time to follow sports evaporated and in recent years as my son has become a baseball fan I spent more time following the Red Sox, but this season I made a concerted effort to return to following the day-in/day-out exploits of my first favorite team, the Mets.  And boy did I chose a good season to do so, as the Mets started off hot with an 11-game win streak, regressed to the mean for a while, and then after gaining new players at the trade deadline and star players returning from injury they caught fire in August and September to win the division.  The exciting season continued in the playoffs against the Dodgers and Cubs, but sadly the good run came to an end against the Royals in the World Series.  But, oh, what a run!

  • 6) April-December – Museum of Fine Arts membership – Got a membership for the first time in years and spent several days visiting and closely studying the art in this terrific museum (1, 2, 3, 4, & 5).
  • 7) April 23-26 – Trip to New York City – Peter, my mother, and I went to New York, visiting the American Museum of Natural History, Coney Island, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Bronx Zoo.
  • 8) April onwards – bicycle speaker – I got a speaker that sits on the handlebars of my bike and thus I can listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks as I commute to work.  Such a small thing makes such a fun improvement to the daily grind.
  • 9) May 17 – Greenway Art & carousel – A gorgeous Sunday afternoon admiring “As If It Were Already Here” suspended over the Rose Kennedy Greenway, followed by a few spins on the carousel.
  • 10) May-October – Casey Overpass Demolition – Each day another piece of the elevated highway in Forest Hills was removed opening up new spaces and vistas.  A fascinating process.
  • 11) June 6-July 5 – Women’s World Cup – Another exciting tournament with many great games.  Our United States team started off shaky but got better as the tournament went along, with dramatic wins against Germany in the semifinal and Japan in the final.  Whether watching with our friends on Cape Cod or with crowds at Boston City Hall, we believed that we would win!

  • 12) June 7 – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon – Pedaled this terrific charity ride with both of my children for the first time.
  • 13) June 13 – PawSox Game – The whole family took in this game with our church group meaning that there were lots of friends in the stands.  As an added bonus, it was Star Wars night *AND* fireworks night.

  • 14) June 28-July 1 – Cape Cod – With our friends the Rosenblatt Rossos we stayed at a rental house in Eastham, swimming in the Bay and the Ocean, roasting marshmallows and creating arts & crafts, and watching the Womens World Cup.
  • 15) July 11 – Green River Festival – A fun festival with music and balloons, but even better, a time to play with extended family.
  • 16) July 31-August 2 – Camping in Maine – Took that kids for their first camping trip at Recompence Shore at Wolfe’s Neck Farm.  Hiking, biking, a farm visit, fresh veggies, and Portland Sea Dogs baseball were all involved.
  • 17) August 31-September 4 – Daddy Day Camp – A week with no school and no camp, so I took the kids on a whale watch, on a Duck Tour and Skywalk, on the Freedom Trail, and to the Barnyard at Retreat Farm.
  • 18) October 10 – Connors Farm – pumpkin picking, a corn maze, and all manner of autumnal pleasantries.
  • 19) October 18 – Boston By Foot Dark Side tour – I lead a special tour for a church group and invited along some dear friends not in the church and had my son take a tour with me for the first time.  A special afternoon of for this tour guide.

  • 20) December 27-30 – Myrtle Beach – a holiday visit with grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousin at a South Carolina resort town. We saw a pirate show and lots of gators, played minigolf and much, much more.

Previously:

Beer Review: Harpoon EHOP Collaboration


Beer: EHOP Collaboration
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery / Deschutes Brewery
Source: 22 oz. bottle
Rating: *** (7.5 of 10)
Comments: Boston’s Harpoon collaborates with Oregon’s Deschutes on a beer celebrating that both breweries are employee-owned.  They celebrate their Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) with this Employee Hops Ownership Plan (EHOP).  And the workers controlling the means of production is a treat for us all!  The beer pours out a copper color with a thick head. The scent is caramel with a malty sweet flavor with hints of spice.  A good solid beer and addition Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series (which means it’s a limited edition, so try it soon).

 

Photopost: A Visit to the MFA, part five


On another solo visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, I completed touring the Art of Europe galleries, traveling through 17th-century Dutch and Flemish, gaudy 18th-century French decorative art, 19th-century art deemed worthy by the Academy, and finally Impressionism and post-Impressionism.

Then I took the guided tour of the Art of the Americas wing, learning more about old favorites and some new surprises. I’ll probably work my way more methodically through those galleries on my next visit. Before departing I stopped in the Made in the Americas exhibition which was mostly decorative arts and textiles and seemed less interesting than similar exhibits at the Peabody Essex Museum. And I finished with the delightful Musical Instruments collection. I wish I could hear a concert on those instruments.

Previous visits:

Beer Review: Mighty Squirrel Original


Beer:  Original
Brewer: Mighty Squirrel Brewing
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: **  (6.7 of 10)
Comments: I’ve never seen a beer with the protein content listed on the label before.  Does beer even have protein?  Mighty Squirrel’s gimmick is that it is a beer one might enjoy after exercising, offering some nutrition with the buzz. It pours out a reddish gold with low carbonation (also low carbs) and a thing head. The smell is of fresh grains and the taste is smooth and malty, rather bready with caramel. It has a light mouthfeel.  There’s nothing heavy at all with this beer and the flavor is not bold, but I can see it having it’s place after a run or a game.

 

Beer Review: Pretty Things Our Finest Regards


Beer:  Our Finest Regards
Brewer: Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: **  (6.9 of 10)
Comments:

I was heartbroken to learn that the creators of Pretty Things are calling it quits.  So I picked this bottle of a Pretty Things beer I’d never tried before. It pours out a ruby brown, effervescent with a thin head. The aroma is a cherry brandy, and the flavor is sweet, vanilla and creamy.  It has a light mouthfeel, and an overly sweet aftertaste.  Flavors mature as you work your way down the warming glass.  Check it out while you still can!

From the same brewery:

 

Photopost: Giving Thanks for Nature and the Senses at Drumlin Farm


We spent the day after Thanksgiving at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary.  There were a number of art and music activities for the day to engage the senses, but the kids were content to make their usual round of visits to the farm animals, taking a hay ride, and then a hike up the Drumlin.

It was a perfect day for it!

Related Posts:

Photopost: North River Wildlife Sanctuary


On Sunday, as a pre-birthday activity, my family & I visited the North River Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield, MA.  While the kids weren’t so into out (excepting the nature play area which was a lot of fun), the scenery was quite beautiful on a mid-Autumn afternoon. There were two loops to walk: one through Woodlands and one that circled a meadow and lead throught the phragmites to the North River itself.  Here’s a sampling of my best photographs from the outing.

Photopost: Connors Farm


This weekend we visited Connors Farm in Danvers. It wasn’t quite what expected, less farm and more amusement park with a loud band, a chainsaw artist, and massive crowds. The line for tickets wound through the farm stand and was quite confusing (NOTE: if anyone from Connors Farm reads this, consider setting up admissions sales tables/tents in the parking lot on busy days to make it easier to get the wristbands and easier to shop for farm products).

Once we settled in, it was a lot of fun.  Even the band, Psychedelic Relic, sounded pretty good. We tried to make our way through the corn maze but got really lost. Or not so much lost, as we kept circling back to the beginning and could not figure out how to advance further into the maze. The kids got frustrated and we decided to take a break, but we never made it back. No matter. We had a great time seeing the barnyard animals, watching the pig race, and playing on the horse swings, jumping pillows, and pedal carts among other things.  Then we picked two massive pumpkins to bring home.

Here are some nice photos of our day of autumnal pleasantries.