~ by Maria Benner
Today is the first day of snow! This is a very exciting day for most people, and this year it happened on a Monday, making the dreaded first day of the week a bit interesting. We all know the first day of snow is coming, but for some reason most of us choose not to do anything about it. But this morning we quickly realized that we’d have to add some extra chores to our list today if we want to continue with our regular daily tasks, like driving.
- Change tires on our vehicles to winter tires. Preferably studded ones, which have the best performance on ice versus the ones that claim to be studd-less winter tires. Some stores, like Costco, stopped carrying studded tires, because they cause so much road damage, but we found a place just a couple blocks from our studio that still sells them, and tomorrow we’re dropping off our truck so it can get brand new studded tires put on it.
- Switch to our fat bikes that also have studded tires. We ride bikes to the studio from our condo, because the studio is only 1 mile away, and we have to pay for parking. So today we had to air up the tires on those bad boys, and get them ridable again for the first time since last March.
- Put the big brushes that we use to clean the snow off our truck back into the truck. We took them out for the summer to have more space in the back seat.
- Pull out winter boots, and put away summer shoes. Same goes for winter jackets, hats, gloves, etc. Good luck finding all that stuff after several months.
- We live in a condo, so we don’t have to worry about snow removal, but most people had to clear their driveways on top of all the other snow-related chores.
We still have to wash our summer bikes to make the transition to winter complete. Right now we’re excited for winter, and all the activities we’ll get to do like ice skating, skiing, and fat biking. Ask me again in a few months how I feel about it.
In case you’re looking for some indoor activities now that it’s cold outside, this Friday we’re hosting a First Friday Open Studio event. Stop by and see the newest oil paintings for the first time, enjoy some complimentary refreshments (Scott always bakes fresh cookies), and meet the artist if you haven’t already. Click here to see the event on Facebook. If you’re not on FB, here are the deets: November 2nd, 5 – 7:30pm, Suite 4 inside the 4th Avenue Market Place on 333 W 4th Avenue.
It’s that time of year when people go nuts, wear strange clothing, dress their dogs as goldfish and hit the streets to beg for candy while threatening to vandalize their neighbor’s property. Also known as Halloween. I chose Russian River Brewing’s Damnation Ale for this week’s beer painting release for obvious reasons. Damnation is a damn good version of a Belgian golden strong ale. Rocking in at 7.75% ABV, it is aptly named. I know many barleywines are much stronger, but you can easily taste the booze in them. This beer will get you when you don’t realize it, good thing it comes in a 375 ml bottle. This is pretty much a great example of the style. With esters of fruit and pear and peppery overtones, Damnation is a poster child for Belgian golden strong ale. Yet it is made right here in the USA. Sadly, I am completely out of my Russian River stash of bottles that we brought back from our trip to CA two summers ago. I was just thinking it’s time for another trip there. I painted a wildfire in the background of this painting as that is the closest thing to hell I can think of. I give solid respect to all of our forest firefighters, you are doing one hell of a job. I can’t think of a more physical and mentally challenging career.
Cheers to the Damnation, one damn good brew! Great job, Russian River Brewing, you are one of the best breweries out there!
Only one original oil painting, and a limited number of prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
Today is Thirsty Thursday again and that means it’s time to look at and think about new beer art, not to mention drink beer! This week’s beer painting is of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Fresh Hop Ale. About 15 years ago I used to not like IPA, and my go-to brew was actually porter, if you can believe that. Way back then I was confused what Celebration Ale actually was, and I started to like what I was drinking and thought the nice floral qualities were simply spicy grains for a spicy holiday beer….right….wrong! I learned it was a fresh hop IPA and I was like, “Oh yeah, maybe I do like IPA,” and I came around. I can say I have been enjoying IPA for well over a decade now, and it has actually become my favorite style. I wish that Sierra Nevada was able to brew Celebration all year long, but sadly the hop harvest season is in October and the first batch of Celebration is being bottled right now. Two years ago in early November we made a pilgrimage to Chico to check out the facility and drink some Celebration right at the source! I highly recommend doing this if you happen to be in California. The guided tour is amazing! The success story about Ken Grossman and his startup business makes me believe anything is possible. The sheer size of the production facility is amazing and the copper kettles are so beautiful. When you finish the tour you get a 2 oz sample of everything they are currently serving, which ends up being over 20 ounces. I did a painting of the oaked Narwhal onsite after our tour. One of my favorite things about Sierra Nevada’s facility is the outdoor seating in the beer garden. Tasty food at super reasonable prices, and huge pints. If you are there at this time of year you can get Celebration on draft!
Cheers to the Celebration Ale, a seasonal beer release that is worthy celebrating!
Only 1 original oil painting is available, and a limited number of prints at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
~ by Maria Benner
In 2012 Scott and I spent most of October in McCarthy, housesitting a neighbor’s tiny cabin with two huskies, while building our own log cabin near by. We decided not to drink that month, because we imbibed a bit too much during the summer at endless parties that happen almost every night in McCarthy during the summer season. Scott had read somewhere that the human liver can regenerate in one month, so we decided to give our livers a break for 30 days, while working on our cabin, going for walks with the dogs, and watching Netflix after dinner in the cozy dark cabin. We jokingly started referring to that month as sober October. Then in 2013 I took a break from drinking again in October, and this year we’re both doing sober October, five years later. Scott decided to do a semi-sober October, meaning that he can have four drinks total every weekend. I, on the other hand, haven’t had a drink in 15 days. So why October? For us this is the only month without birthdays, anniversaries, summer shenanigans, and major holidays.
This year I realized that many other people are also doing sober October, and turns out that it’s a “thing”, and maybe even a growing movement. Of course, this is the month that breweries seem to be coming out with their most delicious offerings. Anchorage Brewing has been releasing a new imperial stout, or hazy IPA almost every four days, while King Street Brewing now has a birch Russian imperial stout on tap, and Turnagain Brewing has a sour rhubarb ale that I would love to try. Not to mention all the pizza parties, wedding parties and homebrew club meetings that I’ve been going to all month and watching my friends drink verticals of Bigfoot Barleywine and Smoked Porter dating back to 2000, while I sip on my La Croix. Yes, Alaska has amazing beer, and is a tough place to do sober October, but I hope the benefits are worth the effort.
The most noticeable benefit has been more money in my bank account and a smaller credit card bill. At the end of this month, I’ll have a pretty good idea about how much I spend on craft beer. The second benefit is that I’ve lost three pounds so far without changing my workout routine, or altering my diet. In fact, I’ve noticed that I’ve been eating more sugar lately, as my body craves more carbs. I’ve been sleeping much better. I used to wake up several times during the night, and sometimes couldn’t go back to sleep for two hours, before falling into a deep sleep and then waking up groggy. Now I’m sleeping through the night. I’ve also read that abstaining from alcohol for a month has a positive effect on blood pressure, insulin levels, and ever risk of cancer!
I’m half way done, and I can’t wait until November 1st when I can enjoy my first cold, refreshing beer! Will I do this every year? I don’t think so. My goal is to cut down my drinking to just weekends, and if I do drink at social occasions during the week, I’ll only have one drink. Moderation is key. Which beer will I drink first? Probably a barrel aged imperial stout.
This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
Well, today is day 4 of my semi-Sober October. Normally I just roll through life drinking as much beer as I feel like without getting horrendously drunk. I find I am successful at not driving under the influence and also not making a fool of myself most of the time. My doctor said for my weight and stature I should not be consuming more that 14 regular, 5% ABV, 12oz beers per week, which is 2 per day. I think I average about 3 per day, just because most of the beer I drink comes in pints, or has a higher ABV and, well, I am Alaska’s Beer Artist. So I feel a cutback is necessary to allow my liver to regenerate, and I found from past experience that October is a good month for sobriety. Technically you can still experience Oktoberfest, since it starts at the end of September, and then there are no real beer holidays until Halloween which is on the 31, so by then you are ready to go. It really isn’t that hard this time around. I guess I’m not that addicted to alcohol. As I stated before, I am going semi-sober this October. The 14 beers are cut to 4. The intent is not to drink during weekdays, without binging on weekends. The end goal is to have superb health throughout my life and enjoy beer until I am ancient…right.
So this Thirsty Thursday beer painting brings an important lesson. Mario and Luigi toasting Oktoberfest beers. I call this painting Course Complete. My Mario performance has been enhanced without the beer. I am playing better, getting farther and beating more bosses when I drink sparkling water instead of IPA, my favorite beverage. Who would have guessed? Not surprisingly this makes gameplay more fun. So if you have to take a break, whether self-imposed as in my case, or for whatever reason, and you find yourself wondering what to do if you have to take an alcohol break, consider playing video games. I’m sure your gameplay will be enhanced.
So I propose a toast to Mario Brothers (yes, I am raising my cup of green tea)! The Japanese game about Italian plumbers eating magic mushrooms, and tasting pretty flowers. Cheers!