Thurdsday, November 19, 2020

We still live in interesting times. Another VDNO via Zoom...

The pandemic ranges on, with new cases increasing in all fifty states, 11 million have contracted the disease, there have been an appalling number of deaths—250,000+—and there is still no national disaster planning or even a mask mandate in place. On November 3rd, we elected Joe Biden as the 46th president, although his predecessor has yet to concede. Since the election, both Pfizer and Moderna have announced vaccine test results showing that their vaccines are 95% effective. All we need now are 660,000,000 doses. That is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it still is far away.

Over the past couple of months the New York City area has experimented with opening bars at reduced capacities, but cases continue to rise with the onset of colder weather; this past week, both New York and New Jersey have mandated that bars must close at 10 PM. All of which is to say that DNO is destined to stay virtual for the foreseeable future.

We were joined this month by Brother William. It had been a while since he last joined us. I get it. We are all juggling demands of career, family and god-knows-all-else. Our kids had initially brought us together, but as they've grown it's been harder and harder to find the time... It was great to catch up. Our eldest boys are 23 now, and his little guy is a senior in high school. Where does the time go? After a long stint at NBC as a corporate historian and speechwriter to the CEO, he's considering his next options. It's great that they include VDNO!

William was working on a Little Sumpin' Sumpin', a hoppy pale wheat ale that's like a hybrid of hefeweizen-meets-IPA. I'm intrigued. According to the brewer, Lagunitas Brewing Company, it's really smooth, but it has a hoppy, dry finish, and at 7.5% ABV, it packs a punch! I picked up a four-pack of Ommegang Three Philosophers. It's a blend of Quadrupel Ale with Belgian Kriek and cherries! It's a definite winner—big sweet malty flavor offset by Belgian yeast and Styrian hops—but the 9.7% ABV will kick you on your duffside!

David and Kevin soon joined us and despite the mediated experience of a Zoom session, it felt a little like DNO's of old. David was working on a chocolate bacon-infused bourbon Old Fashioned. Kevin was enjoying a can of Bronx Brewing Streetwise Imperial IPA. For grains, in addition to malted barley, there are red wheat and oat flakes as adjuncts. The "festival of hops" come from all over and include Caliente, Calypso, Cascade, Centennial, Comet, NZ Dr. Rudi, Exp 04190, Exp 07270, El Dorado, and Idaho 7. It's another extremely heavy beer: 9.5% ABV.

After two 12 oz. bottles of Three Philosophers, I was ready for some Johnny Walker Red, because I am smart enough to sip that stuff! William moved on to a single-barrel bourbon from Cardinal Spirits in Bloomington, Indiana. The mash is 60% corn 20% barley with 10% each of Rye and Wheat. It's all locally grown from within Indiana. The distillery has only been around since 2015, so they are just releasing their first bottles as the barrels begin to mature. Bucking the trend, David moved from spirits to beer, uncorking a 2016-vintage Trader Joe's. The beer is brewed by the Canadian brewer Unibroue, best known for their fine Fin du Monde

These days, it definitely feels like the end of the world at times, so it was great to revel once again in the far-reaching conversation of a DNO. It would be impossible hard to capture it all, but we run the gamut from Margaret Bourke-White, to CSI, to FOIA requests, to Hazmat status of the Four Seasons, to the MSU Trojans, to peeing without pants, to NORC's, to dispensaries, to you-name-it. We learned that William wrote a book and that BJ's and Costco are by far the safest place to ride out the Zombie Apocalypse. Not to mention the poem at right, and a little ditty by Arthur Greenleaf Holmes called The Diaper of Doolin.

Another classic DNO for the history books, albeit a virtual one.

The Cloud

VDNO William David Kevin Steve Margaret Bourke-White Brothers The Aftermath

John Barleycorn was a hero bold, / Of noble enterprise;

For if you do but taste his blood, / 'Twill make your courage rise.

'Twill make a man forget his woe; / 'Twill heighten all his joy;

'Twill make the widow's heart to sing, / Tho' the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn, / Each man a glass in hand;

And may his great posterity / Ne'er fail in old Scotland!

Excerpted from Robert Burns: John Barleycorn, a ballad