Categories
Sports

Major League Baseball’s Opening Day Comes And Goes

Major sports leagues like the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) have been on hold for two weeks with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing across North America.

When this shutdown happened, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on March 12th that the season would be delayed a few weeks for Major League Baseball (MLB) as well. 

Today is March 26th, Opening Day for MLB, didn’t happen. 

Social media, particularly Twitter, was full of messages and hashtags regarding #OpeningDay  #OpeningDayAtHome but there were no games. Parks and their stands stood empty with no dramatic fastball’s or swings of the bat that knocked the ball out of the park.

2020 Season Story Lines To Watch

There are still some interesting stories that should unfold when baseball does resume though. Here are a few of those:

Houston Astros

We saw how the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal unfolded after their World Series loss against the Washington Nationals last year.

We wrote about their hiring of new manager Dusty Baker replacing the fired Art Hinch and what effect that move does for the Astro’s image going forward.

The Astro’s faced a barrage of fan feedback and heckling in the games they did play in spring training and that won’t let up in the regular seasons when it starts.

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals, 2019 World Series Champions, should have a chance to defend their title, albeit in a shortened season. They are without Anthony Rendon, who went to the Los Angeles Angels, a separate story line in itself.

The Nationals have retained the majority of their 2019 team but won’t surprise teams like they did last season. A Wild Card Team that needed a 19-7 August amongst others to stay in contention, their pitching staff Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin should feel fatigue from their innings pitched in October.

Teams will also know what to expect from them now as well both on the mound at at the plate.

Anthony Rendon

Anthony Rendon’s move to the Angels is an interesting one because of the complement he provides to Mike Trout.

The Angels have finally found a piece that can give them a serious one two punch. An aging Albert Pujols is still a threat but not enough.

Trout was the American League MVP in 2019 with 45 Home Runs, and a .291 Batting Average but his OPS of 1.083 was a really telling stat to go along with his WAR of 8.2.

Anthony Rendon’s .319 batting average, 34 Home Runs and 126 RBI’s to go with a 6.4 WAR did not garner him an MVP but he did win the World Series as we mentioned.

With him and Trout in the same lineup, the Angels look dangerous at the plate!

Albert Pujols

We mentioned the aging Albert Pujols and his role on the Angels might be limited, but he is closing in on 700 Home Runs and 700 Doubles. That’s a huge milestone.

He’s already a career .300/.379/.549 hitter with over 3,200 hits and 2,000 RBI. Those are Hall of Fame worthy stats alone.

Pujols has a legitimate chance to be the first 700/700 player in baseball history. It could be tough though as the 2020 season won’t be 162 games as expected. Even with a full 2021 season, his age and health will also play a factor in getting to this accomplishment.

Toronto Blue Jays

As a Canadian, I follow the Toronto Blue Jays naturally and while they aren’t likely to make the playoffs this season, they were scheduled to start their season against the Boston Red Sox today.

https://twitter.com/BlueJays/status/1243260697091465216

The Blue Jays have some of the best young talent in the game in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Danny Jansen also show promise in the outfield and at catcher.

They also signed Hyun-jin Ryu to a monster 80 million dollar four year deal in the off season with the hopes of boosting their pitching staff.

They are in tough in the American League East with The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees. The Yankees won 103 games last year and Tampa won 96. Tampa lost to the Houston Astros in the divisional round while the Yankees lost to the Astros in the American League Championship.

Categories
Beer

Beere Brewing A Great North Vancouver Find

As part of our North Vancouver Brewery District Tour last weekend, we visited the lovely Beere Brewing, yes that is the correct spelling, for a round of their finest beers. Open since 2017 this is a family-run operation by Matt and Craig Beere.  

We drank Legit Snack, Jog On, Pinky Tuscadero, and Go Easy Pale Ale from their menu.

Legit Snack

Legit Snack is a Double Dry Hopped IPA with El Dorado, Cashmere, and Citra hops and alcohol content of 6.5%. The brewery describes it as having notes of pineapples fresh mangoes, and creamy oats.

This beer to me follows along on the trend of hoppy IPA’s, Hazy IPA’s and Cloudy beers that have become all the rage. There is serious merit in them for me in small doses and what I like to see in a brewery is some variety.

This beer reminds me a lot of Steamworks Flagship IPA which uses Mosaic, Galaxy, and Citra hops.

This beer reminds me a lot of Steamworks Flagship IPA which uses Mosaic, Galaxy, and Citra hops.

Jog On

Jog On is Beere’s light and florally mild English pale ale. English Pale Ale’s and Bitters share a lot of commonalities and this beer could be enjoyed year round.

Jog On is also English slang for Go Away! in British English which makes me love it even more.

I see this beer as a perfect balance to the IPA’s, Sour’s and Double IPA’s that dominate the menu here as well. 

Dry Hopping

One thing that stands out with Beere’s style of brewing is their use of Dry Hopping a process that I asked the owner about and that he confided is something that they love to do.

It’s consistently used in American Pale Ales and American IPA’s with the idea being that you add hop flavor and aromatics into your beer.

Pinky Tuscadero

I tried Pinky purely on its name. I’m not a huge fan of the Sour movement that has become a huge part of the Craft Beer scene in B.C.

Sour’s themselves are not a new style. Sour beer is a beer that has an intentionally acidic, tart, or sour taste. Traditional sour beer styles include Belgian lambics, gueuze, and Flanders red ale as well as German Gose’s.

Pinky is conditioned on a whole pile of raspberries and lemons. It does evoke that taste of a raspberry lemonade on a hot day which I can dig so I shouldn’t let that bias me against some sours which I have found truly awful.  

Go Easy Pale Ale.

This is a dry hopped Pale Ale that to me makes a good cousin to Jog On.

Beere says this beer has notes of mango, orange peel, fresh wildflowers, and ripe nectarine. It has an orange, slightly hazy appearance of course!

Categories
Music

The Tea Party’s The Edges of Twilight turns 25 years old!

“tell my lover come back to me” is the line spoken by Jeff Martin, lead singer of The Tea Party in the song The Bazaar from the The Edges of Twilight, The band’s third album released 25 years ago today.

The Canadian band caught my attention with its previous release Splendor Solis.

They really struck gold with Edges of Twilight though from an artistic and sales prospective. Edges of Twilight went double platinum (over 160,000 units) and earned The Tea Party Juno Award Nominations including “Best Rock Album” and “Group of the Year”. It also propelled the band to stardom in Canada, making them more of a household name.

The Band

Formed in 1990, The Tea Party line up revolved around three permanent members:

Jeff Burrows – drums and percussion
Stuart Chatwood – bass guitars
Jeff Martin – guitars, vocals

Jeff Martin was often compared to the Doors Jim Morrison because of his voice, but the leanings of Martin and the band evoke more of Page and Plant then they do of Morrison and company. The band had and has a huge world music influence to go with its blues rock leanings. To me there is always a Middle Eastern tinge to things that evoked mystical places such as Morocco or Egypt.

The Tracks

  1. “Fire in the Head” 5:06
  2. “The Bazaar” 3:42
  3. “Correspondences” 7:28
  4. “The Badger” 3:58
  5. “Silence” 2:51
  6. “Sister Awake” 5:43
  7. “Turn the Lamp Down Low” 5:16
  8. “Shadows on the Mountainside” 3:39
  9. “Drawing Down the Moon” 5:26
  10. “Inanna” 3:48
  11. “Coming Home” 5:53
  12. “Walk with Me” (includes a spoken word piece by Roy Harper)

Kicking off the album is the epic Fire in the Head, which has Martin, Burrows, and Chatwood along with a broken mellotron. Roy Harper, who was to be given the track for his upcoming album with Jeff Martin, instead had it hijacked when the trio jammed on it in the studio.

The Bazaar is next and it is my personal favourite from this album! With the world music/eastern influence very prevalent, the video itself was shot in Istanbul, Turkey and its Grand Bazaar.

“The Bazaar” is Martin, Burrows, and Chatwood supplemented by harmonium and goblet drums. Jeff Burrows described the song as fusing “the exotic with heavier rock side of the band better than any other song”.[2]

Sister Awake took on a life of its own from this album as it was released as a promotional single in Canada and Australia. The album Alhambra bridges The Edges of Twilight and Transmission albums. It includes amongst others a remix of “Sister Awake” by Rhys Fulber.

Turn the Lamp Down Low is my 2nd favourite track from this album. An epic song that starts slow and builds to a massive wall of sound with a crunchy guitar riff and epic drums, it has that Zeppelin quality of When the Levee Breaks.

What really stands out on this song and the album throughout is the drumming of Jeff Burrows. He is an absolute beast who not only hits hard but has impeccable timing as well.

When I saw the band in 2017 for the 20th anniversary of Transmission, the follow up to The Edges of Twilight, Burrows spent two plus hours absolutely destroying his kit.

If you are looking for a chance to see The Tea Party live again, this summer is your best chance. They are touring Canada as part of the Saints and Sinners tour with Big Wreck, Moist, and Headstones.

Songs from The Edges of Twilight should be in their set. Hopefully that allows us to relive the glory of this great album released 25 years ago!

Categories
Sports

Astros hire Dusty Baker as their new Manager

The sign stealing scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball over the past few months took an interesting turn last week as The Houston Astros hired Dusty Baker to replace fired manager Art Hinch.

Dusty Baker is the new Manager of the Houston Astro’s

The scandal has had far reaching implications for the Astros especially their 2017 World Series win. 

Astros Owner Jim Crane fired Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow for their involvement despite punishment the team received from Commissioner Rob Manfred. Manfred handed out year long suspensions to both men, took away the organization’s first- and second-round draft picks for 2020 and 2021 and fined them $5 million.

The Boston Red Sox, who were managed by Alex Cora and the New York Mets who hired Carlos Beltran have both parted ways with their managers for their involvement as well. Cora and the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series, leaving many to speculate that that is how Boston won as well. 

Baker’s hiring represents a first step in attempting, and it may be too early yet, to repair some of the damage caused by the scandal. Baker has no connections to the organization and has a long successful resume despite never winning a World Series. 

He has managed The San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals winning Division Titles and has the 9th best winning percentage among league managers at .532. He has 1896 wins as well.

Baker has the integrity and the respect of league and its players and managers. The Astro’s have little if any left of that and have become a laughing stock. How they move forward with repairing their image will be one of the more interesting story lines of the 2020 Major League Season.

Categories
Beer

Strange And Scary Krampus Belgian Dubbel Is A Fall And Winter Treat

With the cooler winter weather upon us and the need for dark beer to bring a warming feeling in the damp days of fall, I was happy to have tried a growler fill of the Krampus Belgian Dubbel from Strange Fellows Brewing.

A summer favourite of mine from Strange Fellows is the Talisman West Coast Pale Ale which offers a great citrusy tropical taste.

Who is Krampus?

Krampus, I didn’t realize, is an actual figure who exists in Central European folklore and myth. He is a half goat half demon character who punishes children who were not good when Christmas comes.

He is hairy, usually brown or black, and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His long, pointed tongue lolls out and he has fangs. Scary stuff!

Krampus Belgian Dubbel

Obviously Strange Fellows has hit on this tradition as a way to market this great beer and it does add a layer of mystery to its taste and style.

The beer itself is a Belgian Dubbel which also has some interesting history behind it given its European connections.

Dubbel which stands for (double) has a characteristic brown colour. It is one of the classic Abbey/Trappist types, having been developed in the 19th century at the Trappist monastery in Westmalle. Today, some commercial brewers using abbey names call their strong brown beers “Dubbel”. Typically, a dubbel is between 6 and 8% abv.

Belgian history shows us that beer has been brewed there since the 12th century.

One interesting thing that stands out is the Dubbel’s pairings with different types of foods. Flavoured sausages, meat stews, gouda cheese and anything chocolate are all rich foods in my book. I also associate them with Christmas feasts and foods that are good for warming your insides when its cold.

Be prepared to for the 8.5 percent alcohol content as well which will knock you on your rear end if you drink too many glasses.

Krampus has become one of my winter favourites for beer and I’m always waiting for it to drop at Strange Fellows. Be sure and make a visit to the brewery before the end of the holiday season.

Categories
Entertainment

Star Wars The Mandalorian a long way from a galaxy far far away

Disney’s premier of the Mandalorian took the Star Wars universe in a new and gritty direction while maintaining many features of the Star Wars cannon that fans have come to know and love.


Set after the fall of the Empire but prior to the rise of the New Order we follow a Mandalorian Bounty Hunter as he navigates the Outer Rim.

Do you believe the hype?

With all the social media hype and trending topics on Twitter the Mandalorian had its hooks in me before the show dropped.

I was interested to see how with movies like Rogue One and Han Solo influenced the show with something less fantasy based than George Lucas’ original and prequel trilogies.

Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold

References to Star Wars movies including Attack of the Clones and the Empire Strikes Back stood out to me immediately. The Mandalorian character reminds me immediately of Jango Feet whose screen time in Clones was all that I knew about Mandalorians prior to future series such as Star Wars the Clone Wars cartoon which I viewed on Netflix.

We see references to the Empire Strike Back when the Mandalorian encases a bounty in carbonite loading him onto his ship with several other catches. We see the droid IG 11, which brings back flashbacks of IG 88, one of the bounty hunters present on Vader’s Star Destroyer as the Empire is searching for the Millennium Falcon.

All Look and No Feel?

I have focused more here on looking for aesthetic references to the Star Wars universe to understand what is happening with the Mandalorian. Thankfully we have the internet to allow me to do some research and come to a bit better understanding of what this series will be about.

The first episode surely is designed to setup this new or maybe not so new corner of the Star Wars Universe. It’s also meant to hook us into Disney’s new streaming service and get us to pay the 8.99 a month in Canada. Not sure I am quite convinced yet but we will have to see how the series and Disney’s service pans out.

Categories
Beer

Fraser Valley Has Strong Ties to the Craft Beer Industry

A recent summer camping trip to Manning Park led me through the Fraser Valley for the Chilliwack Sunflower Festival and that got me thinking about beer.

The Fraser Valley saw hop growing as a key industry once upon a time and hop farming is back largely thanks to the growth of craft brewing throughout B.C.

Hops in case you don’t know can be a key ingredient in beer and while beer really only requires malted barley, yeast and water, hops in B.C. beers have really become a thing!!

Inspired by the growth of hops in the Fraser Valley, I looked for some breweries on the BC Ale Trail that were near the Sunflower Festival. Old Yale Brewing was the closest.

I tried the following at Old Yale Brewing: They included Head Shaker Honey Lager, Off Trail Pale Ale, Tequila Gose, and Sasquatch Stout.

I have also been a sucker for stout’s, often dead set against drinking a Gose and a Honey Lager and a Pale Ale is always a nice compliment when trying a flight of four beers.

The Sasquatch Stout is always a fav of mine because it satisfies my palet and love for all things coffee and chocolate. It’s the 2014 award winner for Best Beer In Canada and rightly so in my book.

Having tried and not liked the Habanero Peach Goes from Parallel 49 Brewing, I was pleasantly surprised by the Tequila Gose at Old Yale. It contains Pink Himalayan Salt, Agave Tequila, and reminded me of drinking a Margarita. Delicious!!

The Fraser Valley Ale Trail also includes the following breweries. Flashback Brewing in Chilliwack, Ravens Brewing and Field House Brewing in Abbotsford and Langley has Five Roads Brewing, Trading Post Brewing, as well as Dead Frog Brewery.

Dead Frog Brewery has always been a bit of an icon in my book having been in operation since 2007 and with an old favourite of mine their Nut Brown Ale.

Categories
Beer

Hitting the Penticton Ale Trail

I stumbled upon the Ale Trail brochure this past summer while in Penticton and while I have been a regular user of the Growler Magazine for a while I liked this concept of doing a self guided tour of local breweries.

I must confess that I have family roots in the Okanagan so I was already tapped into the scene there a bit and have been familiar with Cannery Brewing for its famous Naramata Nut Brown Ale.

Ale Trail Blog Post
Leaving Okanagan Falls and heading into Penticton B.C.

The breweries I visited were as follows: Bad Tattoo Brewing Company, Cannery Brewing, Highway 97 Brewing Company, and Slackwater Brewing.

The Ale Trail brochure lists The Barley Mill and Tin Whistle Brewing as two other spots as well as several additional local bars to try.

I won’t get into an extensive explanation of beer tasting 101 here but have included a video from YouTube on some things to look for in beers.

Cannery Brewing

Cannery offers a great room with a nice patio as well as live music. You can find a complete list of their beers over on their website.

My list of samples at Cannery included the Naramata Nut Brown of course, Sunblink Berry Sour, and Hop Chowdah IPA.

The Hop Chowdah IPA is a stretch for me as the hazy New England style beers are not a favourite of mine. Glad I tried this one though to expand my horizons.

Highway 97 Brewing Company

Like the name says Highway 97 is right on the highway as it bends through town and into Penticton. It ultimately becomes Eckhardt Avenue.

Highway 97’s sampling room and brewery are all together as seats overlook the production floor the brewery.

I tried their Amber Ale, Dirt Road Double IPA, and Salted Choc Porter.

The Salted Chocolate Porter was my favourite and I took home a 6 pack to sample over the next few weeks.

Slackwater Brewing

Slackwater Brewing
Lager
Pale Ale
Porter
Cherry Sour

Bad Tattoo Brewing Company

While I enjoyed them all my favourite has to be Bad Tattoo. Their unique marketing and style of brewing coupled with their delicious pizza and great beer menu has made them someone whose beer I get when I can. I bought their 8 pack of tall cans back. That pack had the Vagabond Pilsner, Los Muertos Cerveza Negra, Tramp Stamp Pale, and seasonal Kolsch. Below is a beer list of brews I tried at Bad Tattoo.

Melon Gose
Bike Barn ISA
Kolsch
Blackberry Sour
Hang Ten Hefe
Vagabond Pilsner
Los Muertos Cerveza Negra
Tramp Stamp Pale
West Coast IPA

My favourite is Los Muertos Cerveza Negra. I’ve gotten more into Dark Lager’s over the years and flavour profile of this beer immediately appealed to me.

It’s a dark coloured lager made from a mix of Pilsner, Crystal and Munich malts. It is reminiscent of a light German Bock, but with a Mexican twist.

I do have an additional brewery in Firehall Brewing in Oliver added to my list that isn’t obviously on the Penticton Ale Trail but it is definitely worth visiting if you want to drive south

Categories
Beer

Sunshine And Suds On The Sunshine Coast Ale Trail

With family living on the Sunshine Coast, I travel up there quite frequently to take a break and take in what the Coast has to offer. Whether it is great beaches, hiking or shopping and now beer, the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail doesn’t disappoint.

Persephone Brewing

I first tried Persephone Brewing in 2013 when it was the only craft brewery on the lower part of the Coast. Townsite Brewing is also on the Sunshine Coast but it is in Powell River and I don’t get their frequently to visit.

As their website tells us “Persephone Brewing Co. (PBC) operates an 11-acre farm and craft micro-brewery in the community of Gibsons on BC’s Sunshine Coast.”

With a number of core beers and a selection of rotating and seasonal taps I tried the following beers while at Persephone. They were the Black Lager, Dark Cherry Sour Ale, Double IPA
Amarillo Pilsner, and Coast Life Lager.

The Black Lager has always been a favourite of mine given its “Roasty, clean and chocolaty with a graham cracker finish.” It must be because of my love of dark coffee, dark chocolate and porter and stout beers.

Tapworks Brewing

Opened in 2017,Tapworks Brewing, formerly known as Gibson’s Tapworks is tucked away on Cruice Lane.

Once a cosy one level tap room and brewery, Tapworks has expanded and now includes a beautiful rooftop patio, food and music options.

The core group of beers includes the Stormrider NE IPA, Blonde Logger Blonde Ale, Lower G Brown Ale, One Sailing Wait IPA, and Oatmeal Stout.

This is a delicious set of beers and I liked every one of them despite my preference for darker beers. The Stormrider NE IPA fufills the need for a hazy, juicy style IPA that is all the rage these days.

Highway 101 Brewing and Distillery

Situated on Highway 101, Highway 101 Brewing is the newest of the three Sunshine Coast craft breweries.

Coupled with a great location and good food, their Bob’s Auto Lager is and will always be a choice of mine. As the 101 website says Bob’ Auto Lager is “A cool, slow fermentation gives this German-style lager a clean, light, and malty flavour profile.”

I did not sample the spirits offered by the 101 as the locals call it. They also offer a large food menu and live music.