Ceetar, You Ignorant Slut (or, “Guinness is, in fact, the Perfect Beer”)

With all apologies to my esteemed coblogger, Ceetar, no, “Nugget Nectar” is not the perfect beer.

(Author’s note: Hat tip to, of course, SNL, for providing the inspiration for the title of this post.)

(Author’s additional note: I have not in fact ever tried a Nugget Nectar beer, so it is premature for me to not declare it to be the perfect beer, but I do hope to try one sometime in the near future.)

The perfect beer is, of course, a Guinness.

Not Guinness blonde, or extra stout, which are in fact fine choices.  I’m talking about the original Guinness Irish Dry Stout.

Let’s review.

Why is Guinness the perfect beer?

First of all, it’s the beer that got me off of the “yellow lager at the ballpark” mentality, and out into the great big world of beers that are out there, to see what else tastes different, and enjoyable.

Second of all, it’s available everywhere.  Lots of places have it on draft (more on this in a moment).  It’s generally pretty reasonably priced.

Third of all, it’s got a distinct flavor.  I’ve drank probably 200 different beers in the last two years, but if you put a blindfold on me and put a Guinness in front of me, I’d know it.

Fourth of all, it’s got just 125 calories per 12 oz serving.  Now, any respectable Guinness drinker is either getting a 16 oz pint at a bar or alternately popping open a 16 oz can at home, but, still, even at that ratio, you’re still getting far fewer calories from a Guinness than you are from most craft beers and IPAs.  While that may not matter to everyone, for those of us who are attentive to not being ginormous gastropods, every little bit counts.

Fifth of all, and perhaps best, when you get those beautiful 16 oz cans to drink at home (do not buy the bottles, while they taste like a Guinness, they don’t do this), and you crack one open, nitrogen from a “widget” is released, simulating the draft beers that are charged with nitrogen, and you get this fantastic and wonderful visual effect (forgive the shakiness here, I am squatting after a long day of work, exercise, drinking, etc.).  Not to mention, that very comparable draft beer taste and feel.

Last of all, and, maybe the best reason, Guinness is delicious.  Drink one, you’ll see.  You will feel like Arnold does in “Predator” when he gives the flamethrower battle cry from the trees.

Run, Relax, Refresh: Now and Later

Lest the reader think that the default state of the Barley Prose blogger is in full repose, drink in hand, perhaps being fanned by palm fronds or fed grapes by bikini clad servant girls, I’m here to inform you that there’s actually a very active side of the spectrum on the Barley Prose writing staff.

That’s right, it’s another installment of Run, Relax, Refresh!

Run!

First, the run. This is the very well known “Tipp Hill Shamrock Run” 4 mile race course.

This “spring” race (spring in quotes, because, in Syracuse, a March race usually features temperatures very un-springlike) is an annual tradition, being run for the 14th time in 2019, and most years attracting upwards of a couple of thousand runners. Getting people to come out and run a hilly four miles in weather best described as “balls-ass cold” is no small feat, but this historic neighborhood is just the draw to get people to shake off their late winter doldrums. There is live music along the course, people in wacky costumes, and tons of free booze (mimosas, Jameson, etc.) being handed out to the less speed-inclined. It’s a fine morning workout and I’ll be running it myself for the ninth consecutive year.

My local run club gets out on this course a couple of times each winter, with the cooperative efforts of local pubs, for a course preview followed by morning refreshment. Here we are.

Coffee? Uh, no, I’ll find something frothier

NOTE: many of the runners in my club opted for coffee and breakfast pizza post-run, not everyone is so inclined to cracking into a draft beer at 9:30 in the morning, but, then again, not all of them write for such a prestigious publication as the Barley Prose blog.

I held back a bit on pace, knowing that I had a 14 mile training run (technically a half marathon being raced at training pace, plus a 1 mile cooldown) on tap for the following morning. Plus it was my first day back after a week in Cancun and I was feeling the briskness of a Syracuse February morn.

Here’s my Strava of the course.  Because, of course, unless it shows up there, it almost certainly didn’t happen.

Relax!

We started and ended our run at the Now and Later Bottle Shop and Tap Room, placed conveniently right around mile 1.3 of the race course. This is a concept that I am a big fan of – while these folks don’t brew their own beers, they keep a well stocked set of beers on tap for convivial moments, such as after a group run for example.  The bar is complete with funky taps and a nice range of semi-local micro brews.

Choices! But, just you wait…

The other half of this facility is a place where the buyer can go select a four, six or twelve pack of a wide assortment of beers to take home with them. It’s a good concept, have one in the tap room and get more to go! They have a number of their choices stocked in the cooler adjacent to the bar. This is really the kind of wall I can get behind, politically and spiritually.

Wall of beers <sniff>
Refresh!

My beverage of choice this morning was the Kings Country Brewers’ Collective offering of a “Morbid Hour” Black Pilsner.

Bonus points for the glasses with the tap room name on them, for the forgetful sort

There’s a nice interview here with the folks at KCBC, a Brooklyn brewery located in Bushwick. Both the brewers and their clientele count themselves as fans of “metal” and brewed this beer specifically for a series on the “most metal breweries” and for a music and drinking fest entitled the “Decibel Metal and Beer Fest.” This beer, despite being called a pilsner, is in fact a black lager or “Schwarzbier,” but was named as a pilsner so as to be more appealing to the masses.

I enjoyed the crud out of this beer!  It was smooth and had a nice finish.  Dark, but not as heavy as a porter or a stout.  Not sure what it is about a dark beer, it could be that I started out as a Guinness man and the dark beers just all appeal to me.  I’ll be digging into this thought in an upcoming post.

As usual, I will let the prose-inator carry this post to the finish line…

“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a

made love to a

in the middle of a

and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of

and, finally, that baby cried

tears of

into a frosty pint glass.”

 

Nugget Nectar Is The Perfect Beer

I don’t there’s a better beer that I look forward to more than Troegs Nugget Nectar. Troegs lists it as an Imperial Amber, though styles have evolved since Nugget first came out. This is a hoppy beer, but one with plenty of malt character, specifically sweeter caramel notes. That balances the dry hops.

 

This beer is amazing. It’s as perfect a beer as I’ll ever taste, at least as far as my tastes go right now. It’s 7.5% which means it’s got some punch but it’s not gonna wreck your day to have a couple if that’s what the day calls for. It’s hoppy, and it’s that sticky resiny hop flavor that was in the first IPAs I really enjoyed. That stickiness really contributes to mouth feel and presents the other, piney and mango fruit flavors really well. There’s enough malt to balance the bitter and keep it from being too drying, and it all fits together in this perfect little burst of flavor with each sip.

 

It’s a brilliant bright orange color. It’s got a fluffy head. The logo art is terrific, that of a hand crushing giant hop cone, and to complement that the release events around the seasonal beer are called ‘First Squeeze’.

 

It comes out a few weeks after the holidays have ended, providing a perfect introduction to the new year. I worked through most of a 12-pack right away, with only one beer remaining that I both really want to drink and don’t want to be gone. This beer works in any situation, whether it’s with food or by itself. As the first beer or the 4th. With friends or when drinking alone.

 

It’s a little Nugget of perfection, and If someone really did make me choose a ‘desert island beer’ this would be on the short list.

 

Down With the Sickness

Sometimes, a fella has to put his beer glass down and take a little break.

Ideally, it’s a self regulated decision.  As in, whoa, you know, feels like time to dry out a bit, pull back on the reins, ease off the gas pedal, insert your favorite metaphor here for being less beered up all the time.  Maybe make that call before people are pulling you into a room and giving you the intervention drama, like on TV (a show that has car crash watchability for me personally).

Or, maybe, it’s a financial decision.  These delicious craft beers and porters and stouts and imperials all cost more than a draft of American lager that I was happy to slug down all of those years.  Maybe a break from drinking is just a way to replenish the bank account.  I can respect that.

Or, maybe, you’ve got something cooking like I do.

Incoming!

Bird flu.  SARS.  Asian swine flu.  Swamp fever.  Dengue.   (NOTE: I am not a medical professional).

Basically, life has sneezed AIDS into my mouth and now I’m hurting.

For the better part of the last six days I’ve felt more or less like the guy in “Jurassic Park” who gets eaten by the T-Rex when he’s sitting on the toilet.  Wet, panicky, hiding, on the bowl, waiting to die.  That’s my week.

Not really the recipe for finely crafted words about the merits of a certain sour cran concoction served up by the local watering hole, which has been calling me over an Instagram post since Friday.

Not really the recipe for a Flagship February post about Guinness, the beer that really put me on a road towards finding out what else there was to drink in the beer aisle that I was missing out on.

Not really the recipe for that “cross promotional” theme I had been cooking up in my head based on the recently enjoyed Harpoon Dunkin Porter – like, when do we get the Heinz Ketchup Red Ale?  The Oscar Meyer Dirty Dog Water Light Lager?  And so on…

Not really the recipe for my idea of tying quirky beers to odd folks in my neighborhood, like the whisper thin Asian teen at my local Wegmans who pushes carts back in to the store, and talks to himself loudly all day, or the lady at work who draws her eyebrows on asymmetrically and reminds me of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.

And, sure as sugar, not the recipe for drinking and appreciating beers!

So, in the interim, I shall sit here and suck on my ice water, and dream of better health and thirstier days, and the wherewithal to put it all down in new prose for this fine blog.

Moderatly Functional Alcoholism: My Year in Beer, 2018!

One of my favorite things about Spotify is their year-end “Spotify Wrapped”, a select summary of a user’s listening habits, the number of hours spent under the headphones and a breakdown of which styles and genres and buzzbands hooked us the deepest and hardest.  So apparently I listened to Wilco in 2018 for the equivalent of 2 straight days. Your bet your ass, I did! We spend (read: waste) so much time online and give so much personal information away on the internet, that it’s truly gross and weird how much I love such a tidy review of an entire year of my detailed activity with one company’s product.  I had no idea that Untappd used the data we freely allow them to mine to create a similar year-end summation until I read Ceetar’s My 2018 Beers in Review piece based on his Untapped “Year in Beer”.  So inspired by that, I cribbed his idea and decided to whip up a post detailing my own beer drinking in 2k18 and here’s what I learned, everybody:

I should drink less beer!

Ceets had said he reliably checks in about 98% of his beers and I do not, friends.  I check in only new beers and try to avoid repeats altogether, with a few exceptions.  Special or rare treats I’m lucky enough to get more than once (Modern Times offerings, for example) get the re-run treatment.  Same with Project Dank by La Cumbre, which is an ever-changing experimental IPA, but the name always remains the same. Beyond those special ones, if it’s a beer that’s clocked a previous check-in, this time it will be swallowed down in quiet anonymity. So while Ceetar reported 397 beers in 2018, this asshole over here counted 354 in new brews alone, with the memories of countless unreported repeat favorites relegated to history’s septic tank by way of the bottom of a stained and yellowed urinal.  Beer-drinking is glamorous!

Now to the numbers for the advanced beer-alytics amongst us:

341 unique beers enjoyed over 85 distinct styles at 112 different breweries.  If you adjust for park factor (a technical calculation based on how many of these beers were enjoyed under a tree in a park), my Value Over Replacement Drunkard (VORD) is a career best for me, and challenges some of the best beer-drinking seasons on record.  And if I continue at this pace, I could be a first-ballot (if insurance approves) liver replacement recipient!

Now back to the minutiae.  The repeat beer I checked in the most (all of 4 check-ins) was the Sucker Punch Double IPA, brewed by local heavyweights Boxing Bear Brewing Co., an outfit that collects medals like Michael Phelps.

While I drank American IPAs more than any other varietal (86 check-ins), the style I rated the most highly was the Imperial Stout – the average overall rating for this type of dark and boozy dream was rewarded with a handsome 4.17 rating by yours truly.  

Gun to my head, I think I would pick La Cumbre Brewing Company as my favorite beer maker in my home state of New Mexico, but the brewery I frequented the most was Bosque Brewing Company (37 check-ins!).  It’s our neighborhood watering hole and the clear favorite establishment of my girlfriend, who is basically like a made guy there.  Back in the day, we’d walk in and be carded like all the other Janes and Joes, but now they shake our hands and greet us with reverence like we’re mobsters who invested in their joint to clean all our dirty money.  It’s awesome.

Back to the thing.  Maybe the coolest part of the Untappd Year in Beer, though, is the map:

A cross-country motorsickle trip last fall afforded me the opportunity to taste beers in a few locations in the south and southeast that I wouldn’t otherwise buy.  I’m talking to you, Lonestar.

via the Barley Prose Instagram account

I found a few decent offerings up in Colorado, and Washington state was solid, but now I’m just getting super excited to drop pins all over my 2k19 map.

I’m hoping for another stop at SoCal suds mecca San Diego, but at the very top of the list is a summer vacation to France and Spain, and while we’re that close, we’re gonna shoot very had to jump the straight and visit Morocco.  The idea of setting foot on African soil is this huge, bucketlist-y goal fueled by curiosity, adventure and a desire to meet other people and experience their culture. 

BUT ALSO to buy a beer I’ve never heard of somewhere in Tangier, post a picture of it to brag that I’m at a cool place that you’re not, and then check-in that beer on another stupid app to share with a bunch of far-away strangers on my goddamn cell phone.  A sadly authentic human experience in 2019!

Thank you for reading this post.  Please consider connecting with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Untapped, Snapchat, Tumblr, Tinder, Reddit, MySpace, Grindr, Friendster, Google+, and/or Christian Mingle (dot) com. Real-life conversations with real-life human beings are so completely overrated.

Beer Ice Cream in Brockport

Decided to take the team out for a team builder/happy hour, and to do that, what’s better than a darts tournament? We discovered a relatively new brewery/winery in town, just south of the Brockport campus: RG Brewery and Five Sons Winery.

The setting was fantastic; a small tasting room with a porch overlooking a large yard. (Hard to set the outdoor scene, as we were in the middle of a snowstorm at the time. Also, bonus: we were greeted at the door by a couple of friendly dogs.) The tasting room has a back door, which leads through the kitchen into the production facility, which features a wall of dartboards and made for a nice relaxed office outing.

The list of beers is small, but complete and varied enough; I tried their Dragon’s Breath Stout, which had a little more heat than I like in my beer. I’ve tried a few “hot” beers now, and as much as I like my food spicy, I don’t want that stuff in my drinks.

Their Hopperhead IPA and All America DIPA however, were much better. The Hopperhead actually had a little more bite than I expected – it’s listed at 125 IBUs.  The All America a little less, and it was definitely smoother.

Food is available as well. They have what can really be described as typical pub fare; burgers and quesadillas and whatnot, all fresh-made in their small kitchen in the back.

But what caught my eye was their ice cream! They use their own wine and beer to make fresh ice cream. And yes, it was snowing, but there was no way I was passing this up.

four single-serving cups of ice cream on a "beer flight" board
Beer ice cream from RG Brewery/Five Sons Winery

I tried a flight of four: the Scotch ale, an Apple Pie torte (which I believe was one of their wine offerings), a porter, and the Hopperhead. As anticipated, the apple one was the most traditional flavor. The porter didn’t seem to have much kick at all, and the bitterness of the Hopperhead overpowered any sweetness in the ice cream. But the Scotch ale ice cream was outstanding. Just enough kick, just enough sweetness.

All in all, a solid visit from me. Worth making a special trip? Probably if the weather is nice, yes, to sit outside on the porch. Looks like they’ve got some events planned, including an oyster night and a chocolate pairing night, coming in the next few weeks, so I’d anticipate keeping an eye on their site for future things that might make it worth a special trip.

My 2018 Beers In Review

Untappd breaks down my year in beer.

Poured a little hardIs late January too late for a 2018 year in review post? No?

Good.  I was perusing Untappd’s “Your Year in Beer 2018” Which is an interesting new feature. I’d estimate I reliably check-in about 98% of my beers so this should be a pretty accurate picture of my year.

397 beers from 96 different breweries across 70 styles. 70 styles is pretty cool, even if you factor in that a couple dozen of them are probably IPA variations. That’s quite the distribution, and as you’d expect, I didn’t drink a single beer more than seven times. That honor was a tie between Wrench, a NEIPA from Industrial Arts, and Gourdless, a brown ale from The Alementary.

The Alementary Brewing Company is also the brewery I drank from the most, and also the one I visited the most. They’re basically my local brewery, as they’re between work and home and make great beer. 64 beers from there last year, and to date I’ve had 198!

222 of those beers were checked in at home, so I drink more at home than out. Guess who has two young children! My overall drinking map for 2018 isn’t super interesting, though there are some non-home spots.

Both Marzen and Brown Ale were among my very hoppy top-5 styles. True to form I think, as those are both excellent styles that I really enjoy.

If I have a ‘goal’ for drinking in 2019 I think it’d be to drink a little more of the same thing. To really appreciate some of those favorite beers more than once in a while. I think I’m off to a great start, as I bought a 12-pack of Troegs Nugget Nectar recently. With that in mind, #FlagshipFebruary is coming up, which perhaps will get it’s own post here shortly. Stephen Beaumont has launched this concept as a way to honor and enjoy the great beers that helped get craft beer to where it is today. https://flagshipfebruary.com/

Do You Even Crowler, Bro?

Until not that long ago, I would have assumed that if you mentioned a “crowler” in front of me, that you were just making up words.  I was not always the astute and seasoned blogger, admirer, criticizer and prose generating beer themed adult who sits here today.

I was just a boy, once.

Only the biggest bestest beers get to live in the Guinness glass

 

It turns out that a number of these new craft beer tasting/tap rooms are also willing to sell a beer to go. The standard size is the growler, a 64 oz. portion.

Now, sadly, I am the only one in my household who tends to lean back in the chair for a beer. Which means that a to go serving with the equivalent of four 16 oz. glasses of beer is just an awful lot for me to bring home.

As awesome as it is to have your own jug of beer. A jug!

I don’t own this but it’s nicer than most of the furniture in my house.

Well, this is where the crowler comes in.

The crowler is a 32 ounce serving of beer to go. This equates to two very tall, full pours into a 16 oz pint glass. My most prized piece of glassware, the Guinness glass, holds a bit more, making for a more comfortable drinking experience.

I am all about this! Two tall beers is a decent amount of drink, maybe it’s one with dinner and one later in the evening, or one while cooking and then the rest at the meal. It works either way.

This was the first crowler I ever purchased. It’s a rite of passage, for me, in a sense, in that it’s another step into a world of appreciation for the finer things. Like locally brewed and concocted beers and ales.

This crowler came courtesy of the fine folks at Full Boar Brewing in North Syracuse, New York. I have written about them before, in glowing phrases. They really do conjure up a great range of beers, from New England IPAs, to stouts and porters, American style pale ales, ambers, and so on.

This is their new “Imperial Cin,” an imperial oatmeal stout. This sucker clocks in at 10.7% ABV and 54 IBUs, and, IFBMCBB*, is “brewed with Cinnamon Sticks and Madagascar Vanilla Beans.” Fine choices, says I.

“Crowled” on December 21, in time for Festivus

I do drink a lot of stouts, so I figured I’d put on my researcher’s cap and determine what the difference is between a stout and an imperial stout. It turns out that in most modern cases, an imperial stout is just made in a fashion where the hops and malts are doubled or tripled during brewing, leading to higher alcohol content and more pronounced flavors.

This particular stout was delicious. I went in on a busy night just before Xmas and had a tiny sample of it to get a sense of the flavor, and then immediately decided to get a crowler to go.

This was, for me, my “gift wrapping” crowler, as I very deliberately knocked back two servings of it while wrapping all of the gifts that went under the tree for the family. A perfect mid-wrap quench, it was (they were).

Forgive the lateness of this post, our Xmas tree is now relegated to a big plastic bag due to January.

 

I will let the Prose-inator bring this one home. Happy crowlering, y’all!

“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a

made love to a

in the middle of a

and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of

and, finally, that baby cried

tears of

into a frosty pint glass.”

Beer Food: Craft Beer Candy I Love Brew Barrels

Tasting these Craft Beer Candy I Love Brew Barrels

photo by CeetarMalt. I’ve had candies and flavors before that bill themselves as ‘malt’ and this is basically that flavor, though a lot more toned down than a lot of those more old-timey candies. It’s got that grainy sweetness to it. Earthy, a bit like root beer but with a little less bite to it. A mild caramel/sugar type flavor. It’s pleasant, but it’s mostly uninteresting.

I let this post marinate a few days, and now as I’m sucking on my third barrel I’m still underwhelmed. If you let a bit of it dissolve in your mouth a bit before swallowing to get a bigger taste, you get a little more of a warm caramel sauce flavor that you might find decorating a plate of ice cream sundae in an Applebees, but then it’s gone.

They’re not bad. They’re also from Target’s Valentine’s Day section which could mean you, reader who almost definitely is classified by your friends as a ‘beer lover’, could very well get them as a gift in the near future.

Happy New Beer!

A belated Happy New Year to the tens of people who loyally read the Barley Prose Blog and follow our various social media accounts!  And Happy New Year to my fellow BP blogger homies!  Grateful for you dudes (and our intrepid Instagram dudette who needs to post more, btw), and our friendship forged over our challenging an occasionally rewarding love of the stupid and beautiful New York Metropolitans Baseball Club™!  To bigger and brighter things for all of us in 2k19!

The festive period for me was a real slog.  A mixture of family, friends, too much food, lots of seasonal beverages, slothy days off of work, and slothy days ‘working’ while not accomplishing anything work-related at all.

The mundanity of those normal work days leads us to enjoy our everyday, go-to alcoholic bevvies the majority of the year, but hoard our rarities for occasions we deem ‘special’, a line of demarcation that likely means something different to all of us.

If I’d been saving any of my special bottles for a New York Mets championship, for example, I would likely die thirsty with those dusty-topped bottles sitting lonely and craving precious oxygen.  So while ‘the weekend’ may not be a special occasion necessarily, the capital N, capital Y New Year definitely is.  My girlfriend’s birthday is also December 31, so the reasons to celebrate uniquely and in a grand fashion were especially fertile.

We first cracked the out-of-production Trip in the Woods: Barrel Aged Narwhal (with currants!) by Sierra Nevada.  It’s a dark beer whose puckery profile (the tartiest stout I’ve ever tasted) did not taste like what the beer hinted at by its color. Enjoyable, but a bit summery with the slightly acidic currants.  But it’s the New Year and it’s beer, so it was still better than good.

Not my photo, but the holiday tie-in is perfectly apropos. (photo cred –> http://www.betterondraft.com/beer-reviews/sierra-nevada-trip-woods-narwhal-review)

We also had a bomber of the Double Sunshine Stout by Bosque Brewing from here in Albuquerque. An outrageously tasty golden stout powered by cacao nibs!  It’s as contradictory as Trip in the Woods, as the color in no way matches the flavor profile which made me grateful for 1) the risk taken by the brewers, and 2) a wonderful outcome that doesn’t always accompany a great risk.  

Sometimes overcoming fear and just taking the leap is rightly more important than the result for us thick-skulled humans, so it’s nice to celebrate both the risk and end result instead of searching for growth and value in a worthy, but ultimately unsuccessful chance taken. So good on ya, Bosque.

Enjoyable as both these beers were, we bought them at the liquor store a block away, the undisputed local champ, Jubilation Wine & Spirits.  But special occasions tend to call for that rarity that you can’t get at even the best liquor store, and that’s where our good friends and next-door neighbors came into play.  The sweet gift of booze!

Being the birthday/New Year double celebration as it were, our friends gifted us an incredibly rare, nearly 10-year old Scottish ale, which was peaking like 2000 Mike Piazza.  Behold the Traquair 2020. From the label:

“An ale brewed to celebrate the first decade of the 21st century and to be consumed before the end of the second decade. Traquair Brewery – tiny, historic, and rooted with deep traditions – is situated in Scotland’s oldest inhabited house.  Savour this authentic taste of Scotland.”

As stated, it was brewed in 2k10 and the bottle, in another corner of the label, encourages the drinker to “enjoy before 2020”.  Exceptional timing, I’d say.  

A single 10% ABV, 11.2-ounce bottle to share between the two of us.  The sticklers on Beer Advocate were a little bullish (4.18 out of 5 in 145 ratings), but the less refined and more forgiving crowd on Untappd liked it a bit more, with one asshole in particular raving:

“Dark fruits abound, fig, raisins, plums.”

Nice words, bro.  But his girlfriend liked the beer, too, and it was her birthday, so we’ll give him a pass for the lackluster review.

A beer from another continent, sitting patiently in a cooler for 8 full years, then sipped happily to celebrate the flipping of a calendar to a new year, and another trip around the sun for one birthday girl.  

Capital S, capital O, Special Occasion.

Enjoy all of yours.  And sometimes regular days are special ones, too.

~~~

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