Friday, May 8, 2015

Lots of Exciting Changes!

Don't call it a comeback, I was never really gone.

In the nearly two years since my last blog post I've done more of all of the things I was really enjoying, largely having to do with small-scale production of meads and beers for sharing with family & friends as well as personal consumption.

When I was looking through the last few blog posts from summer 2013 the one of all the gardens in particular struck with irony. It isn't ironic because I do enjoy gardening, the irony is because that work begins this weekend for the new season.

Last year represented my best hop crop, which was one of my new 2012 projects, having secured 1 pound of dried hops from each side of the trellis. Sweet!

Since my last writing I've also nailed a couple specific and related goals:
  • I transitioned from working in Boston, MA to Portsmouth, NH; freeing up 10-15 hours in commute time per week and producing a better life/work balance
  • I got certified as a beer judge and I continue to judge in a number of home-brew and wine competitions, both locally and elsewhere in the US
  • Converted my home-brewing setup to an all-grain process and have a working system to make some pretty damn fine beer
The bigger news is that since late 2014 I've been working with a small team to launch the Mabinogion Mead brand, with mead currently being fermented in the UK under my direction. Mabinogion is a passion project for a small group of professionals from diverse backgrounds who are executing a vision to bring new meads to the marketplace. We have some exciting products planned and underway!

Check out Mabinogion Mead on Facebook or Twitter. An interactive web site with more about the mythology, products and people of Mabinogion Mead will be launching soon.

Expansion into the US is expected in 2015 and will be the subject of future posts. 

Cheers!

Jason

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Loss of Words

( A salsa judge at the World Championship
Chili Cook-off in 2010. )

There are fewer words here than there used to be. I'd bet on that continuing. And this is not a surprise to me.

In April of 2010 when I gave my 18 month old winemaker's journal (blog) a shot in the arm I was full of ideas and energy. It was a birthday present to myself. "Go do something", was the idea. And I did. Over three plus years I have achieved some of what I initially set out to do. I tasted, sampled, wrote, took photos, networked, laughed, sighed, sponged up information, provided education to others and did a fair bit of traveling. I changed courses many times and for many different reasons. I still do most of these things and with gusto! The early goals I didn't achieve have been superseded by so many others, some I have nailed, some I haven't; and some just not yet. Some weeks I wrote a lot and some weeks I wrote less. I wrote, shared, read, shared, commented, debated (argued), shared and along the way I have learned so much!

I continue to enjoy all of the experiences this journey affords me, and most of all I genuinely appreciate the many people I continue to "meet" along the way. I have never met some of these people in person (yet), but there are things we have in common so we get each other enough that we have a great dynamic in a networking context. I continue to carry on relationships with some of the people I've met while others are more often a friendly face in the more business-y realm of food & beverage events. All of them are part of the "family" however weird that ends up being in one city or another. I still look forward to these days.

But I just don't write about this stuff anymore and I don't spend much time on social media plugging my work and keeping tabs on the beverage media. Why? Well, it's complicated I guess.

Late last year (2012) I felt my drive to write about and share my experiences waning. I reformulated my approach, a natural and not unexpected reaction given the 2+ prior years, and kept plugging away. But I wasn't digging it. The idea of throwing a bunch of words together, using a euphemism here, and sharing them as a way of expressing my experiences secondhand just wasn't resonating anymore. Things change and I know myself well enough to know that when I lose interest in something there is nothing good in trying to keep it going. So I won't.

From some reflection I came to realize that my goal of "go do something" was never intended solely to mean blog about my life nor that it should necessarily create something new and permanent. So setting aside some of the activities I picked up while out "doing something" when they no longer interest me is not a crime. It isn't even failure. It is quite the opposite actually. Here is what I am keeping:
  • I have more time for dates with friends (yes this is you Margot) where we get to sit around the table eating, drinking and socializing. We all want to do this and we all love it.
  • I still make a shit-ton (I saw a joke this week that in the UK that is shite-tonne, he he!) of beer, mead, cider and wine and I share it with friends, all the time!
  • When I travel I can strike a better balance of food/beverage visits with other things of interest. Some of it is just baked in. Portland, Oregon and the Oregon Brewer's Festival anyone? Week after next.
  • With other aspects of my life (work, family, community) being as dynamic as they are for anyone else my life isn't as harried. I know I can't do everything and I can balance all of what I am doing better now.
  • I am less structured and more open to just exploring things. That is what I get out of bed for.
  • When I see you I'll have stories. They weren't on the blog so we'll have something to talk about for sure!
It is OK to miss the words. I'll miss my words too, but not because I regret changing my priorities but because when blogging was my priority I really had fun sharing my days with all of you. It is good to have memories that make you smile. I have fun doing lots of different things and following my interests is keeping things plenty exciting so I am sure to keep racking up good memories. See you on the trail!

Cheers!

Jason

Friday, June 14, 2013

Now Hear This – Sony Walkman W & The Grateful Dead

When I share product reviews they are exclusively food & beverage related. This week I will depart from that truth to tell you about the experience I've had with the Sony Walkman W Meb Keflezighi Edition.


I received my Sony Walkman W as a perk from Klout.com. I’m not a runner, one of the intended audiences, but I do walk a lot, hike and work out in the yard & gardens quite a bit. And working out in the yard is where I found the Walkman W to be a fantastic product.

I've been on a binge with the yard-work in the last couple of weeks. Between getting the existing gardens prepped & planted, clearing for new gardens, new landscaping in the front yard and some spot seeding I’ve probably spent almost an entire work week out there since Memorial Day weekend. Margot has helped with the work quite a bit, but during the times where we have worked in separate parts of the yard or when she was working elsewhere I've enjoyed taking my music with me as a work.

The Sony Walkman W is a about the side of a normal pair of headsets, with small modules at each ear for the electronics and a rubber coated cable connected the two. It has a USB plug for charging and to transfer music. It is designed to be water resistant, not swimming waterproof though, but more so sweat and rain-proof. I've tested both of those scenarios successfully.

The sound quality of the unit is exceptional. My music of choice the last couple of weeks has been live recordings of The Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band. Some of the audience recordings have good sound quality on their own and others have a bit more of the ambient noise. Even at the max volume the Sony Walkman W does a great job of making the music sound great. I don’t know exactly what the battery life is in practice (the web site says 8 hours), but I haven’t run out in between chargings which have been sporadic since I have been using it.

( A glimpse of what some of all the hard work has been about. )

I'll take a quick detour to share an observation specifically about my choice of music. The pairing of audience recordings of the Grateful Dead and yard work turned out to be superb, bordering on ethereal. The Dead never played the same show twice so the improvisational and organic quality to any collection of live recordings is part of the allure. Working in the garden is connective exercise, human with earth, and that activity and the music seemed linked in a spiritual way.  I prefer to listen to live music outdoors, it just feels better, and I think the experiences I have had in the yard these last few weeks are an extension of those feelings. With the added rush of the physical labor I was genuinely happy even after long, hard days of labor.  

I would highly recommend the Sony Walkman W to anyone who I active and would like to take their music on the go. It is light, comfortable, powerful and has enough storage (2GB) to listen to unique tracks for at least a few hours. The product retails for $69 at Sony's web site. Don’t worry about it getting sweaty or wet, it will keep on truckin'!

Cheers!

Jason