Beer of the Month: Peace Wheat and Longwoods Lager

The most recent beer of the month delivery included two beers from Strathroy Brewing.  We’ve had a few beers from this particular brewer in the past as part of the beer of the month club and didn’t mind them.  This month’s selections were a similar experience — they were decent but didn’t stick out in my mind as fantastic.

The 1915 Longwoods Lager poured a pale yellow with minimal head.  It had a clean taste to it with a slightly citrus note and was very smooth for a lager.  No harsh aftertaste or bitter notes.  Fairly run of the mill but perfect on a sunny day.  Andrew and I enjoyed the first sample of this beer under a shady tree in Muskoka chairs – perfect drink for that kind of afternoon.

The 1815 Peace Wheat ale was a much darker colour than I would have anticipated.  It was also slightly bitter which is a bit unusual for a Belgian style ale.  There was a malt note and a very flight bit of hops in the taste.  Similar to the Longwoods Lager this was a very smooth drinking selection that was good but not exceptional.

Listening – Torchwood: Fall to Earth

26024075Ianto Jones! On a spaceship! Fall to Earth is the second release in the first batch of the Big Finish Torchwood audios. The basic premise of the story – Ianto is stuck on SkyPuncher, the first private spaceflight, and he is the last surviving passenger trying to navigate the spaceship back to safety.  And his only point of contact with Earth is via Zeynep an insurance call center agent. 

I loved this as a solo Ianto story it is packed with adventure and humour.  Gareth David-Lloyd does an excellent job of conveying Ianto’s personality in the audio medium.  He’s slightly awkward, funny and full of curiosity and creative solutions. The flirting between Ianto and Zeynep seemed more in line with Jack’s personality than Ianto’s but seemed to fit if you looked at it as Ianto trying to lighten the life threatening situation.

The plot and setup of the story revolving around a phone call is surprisingly simple but it the story still manages to have some twists and turns that make it edge of the seat listening experience.

If you like Torchwood, particularly the second season, or are a Ianto fan you will really enjoy this story.  Well worth a listen.

On the Road Again

Part of my daily work routine includes spending two hours in a car.  I am a commuter and I drive one hour each direction as part of my work day.  I commute from rural to urban and public transit isn’t an option.  I have carpooled in the past but I’m currently driving solo.  The drive is in Northern Ontario so I actually cover about 100 km of road in an hour, it’s mostly highway and other than the occasional snow storm it is generally an easy drive.  I sit on cruise control and listen to a lot of podcasts, books, and CBC.

Office Space Commute.  Not an accurate representation of my commute which has no traffic.

Office Space Commute. Not an accurate representation of my commute which has no traffic.

I know that many people commute, sometimes for their entire working career.  It’s fairly common in urban settings that commuting is an accepted part of life. That’s a less common mentality in Northern Ontario and I occasionally strange looks when people find out where I live.  And I do love where I live – it’s rural, we have a huge amount of space for gardens, forested trails, and I like the laid back pace of the small community we live in.  It’s 15 minutes to the cottage and family is a short drive away.  In some ways I can’t imagine living anywhere else – we got married in a field at our house and there already so many memories attached to this space.

In November I will have been doing this drive for six years.  On the conservative side this means I’ve spent over 2,600 hours in my car, driving on the same chunk of the trans-Canada highway. I struggle with the cost, the time, the environmental impact and whole range of other factors associated with the drive (animal run-ins included).  On the other hand, I do like the decompression and listening time I get in the car. But I’ve been struggling a lot recently with a sense of disconnection from community that seems to be aggravated by commuting.

At times I feel like I don’t spend leisure time in the city where I work and I also don’t spend quality time in the rural community/small town near where I live. It’s a bit like living in between spaces, being part of both but while simultaneously feeling like you’re on the outside of both communities. Partially it has to do with exhaustion and there only being so much time in the day.  I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling this more so since Little Miss was born. I want to spend time with her and she currently goes to bed crazy early, if I come straight home from work I get about 1.5 hours a day with her — which is a drop in the hat on the grand scale of things, but is better than nothing.  If I do errands after work, have coffee with friends in the evening, or anything else in the city there’s a good chance I don’t see her at all that day.  I know this will change as she gets older but I imagine things also have the potential to be complicated in terms of juggling my commute, after-school care, and her extra-curricular activities (especially if those activities take her into the very city I’m commuting from).

I also struggle with participating in evening activities in the small town, mostly because of the burned out feeling that comes with the drive. There’s a much more limited selection of activities in that small town, so staying in the city is the only option is you want to do something like catch a movie or eat takeout pizza (yes, really – the nearest pizza place is an hour away from my home).  A similar thing often happens on weekends – there may be an interesting culture based activity on the city, but by that point in the week I have zero desire to get back into the car and drag the whole family on a drive that feels all too familiar.

I’m genuinely curious about how other commuters bridge that connection gap and how they find balance in their driving/work/leisure/family lives.  Perhaps I’m simply not doing a good job of seeking out meaningful connections in those two different communities (or picking one to focus on) and using exhaustion is an excuse – I don’t know.  And I’m not sure what the right answer is to finding balance and I’m sure it’s different for everyone and might change depending on life circumstance.  Back in the car I go.

Beer of the Month: True North of 7

Two the most recent beer of the month club selections were from 4 Degrees Brewing Company, a small craft brewer in Smith Falls.  One of this month’s beers was the “True North of 7” lager.  The beer was alright, a standard lager that was smooth drinking but nothing special.  I did some reading and apparently the beer was brewed by Jason Cook, who was responsible for creating Bud Light Lime.  He brewed the “True North of 7” selection on a contract.  I suppose that explains some of the blandness and my unimpressed feelings around the beer.

The beer is branded to appeal to cottagers, campers, and hunters.  The graphic design on the tall can was well done and had a bit of a Canadian redneck northern feel.  But a nice looking container doesn’t makeup for poor tasting beer. The beer was described as having subtle hoppy notes, however that seemed pretty much none existent.

Canadian Ice Wine Black Tea Blend

Iced_WineWhile in Traverse City recently I visited a wonderful tea shop – the Spice & Tea Merchants shop.  It’s a cozy little store with wonderful smells of spices and teas.  I probably could have spent hours just gawking at all the tea.

I bought a couple of teas while there, one of which was a “Canadian Ice Wine” black tea blend.  The tea blends ice wine, black tea, white tea, and freeze dried grapes.  I’ll admit I bought it just because it seemed very different and it was Canadian based even though it was being sold at a shop in the US.

The tea really smells strongly like grapes. The taste is a bit more subtle – the black tea is fairly prominent and is complimented by a fruity undertone.  It’s an interesting combination.  I’m not sure it would start buying it in bulk but I’m definitely glad I tried it.