Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rob's English Brown Ale

I met Rob a few years ago at a fencing tournament in Kingston. We have some interests in common including fencing and beer.

Yesterday we were both fencing in a tournament in Newmarket. Usually we have close matches but he took me apart in the direct elimination match 10-1. I forgave him for the drubbing, though, as he had brought with him a couple of bottles of an English Brown Ale that he had brewed.

Now not only is Rob a home brewer but he also grows his own hops on his property. He has vines that are three years old and five years old. The hops in this English ale are from his vines. Talk about the 100 mile diet.

It was a busy day and I didn't have too much time to talk to Rob (above) about this beer. He had some kids he coaches in fencing with matches coming up and I had to hit the road to get home, as Teena and I were heading to Hamilton for supper with my son, Ken. So we hustled out to his vehicle, just as it was just starting to snow, where he gave me the beers, and we headed off our separate ways. Rob did have time to  explain how I was to keep the beer cold and give it a day to settle, which I did.

And the taste?

I admit that I was a little nervous in trying this. What if I don't like it? What if it is a well-made beer but not my style? Turns out I had no need to worry.

The English Brown pours, as its name explains, brown in colour, with a light brown foamy head. As it is an unfiltered beer, it is cloudy and there is a little bit of sediment left in the bottom of the bottle. I notice a bit of caramel in the aroma.

Normally I find brown ales a little on the sweet side but not this one. My sip starts with a hint of sweetness before all those fresh, homegrown hops come through. The ale finishes with a nice hop bite, not overpowering but very enjoyable.

Rob had asked me for a true opinion and if I had some suggestions to improve this. I really enjoyed this beer and have no suggestions as I love it as it is. The only thing I can say, Rob, is that I wish you had brought me more than just two!

I just started the second and am really enjoying it. Thanks Rob!

Beer of the Week Stats

Beers Profiled 295
Breweries 266
Countries 45

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fencing at the 2015 Newmarket Challenge

This morning I was up bright and early, heading up the 404 for the Newmarket Challenge put on by the Newmarket Fencing Club.

Today I fenced in two different categories. The first at 9am was Veteran Mixed Epee, which is for fencers 40 and older. That's me below with my epee in hand. The next one was my favorite weapon, sabre. That's me above ready to go.

Here is what we were fencing for.

Epee is a poking weapon and you can hit anywhere on the body. If both fencers hit at the same time, both receive a point. The idea is to hit your opponent without him hitting you at the same time.

I won my first match, lost the next 5-4 and then it went downhill from there. I ended the day finishing 17/18 in the Vet Open and 11/13 in the 50 and over event.

A couple of action shots. I didn't have time to take many as I had to get ready for the sabre event and was fencing in my first match when they were handing out the medals.

The tournament was well organized and everything ran on time. I'm still getting back into fencing shape and haven't practiced much so ending up 7/8 was no surprise, although I could see and improvement in my game over last weekend.

Here are some shots of the 50 plus gold medal match. Bill on the left lost to Doug on the right, but it was a well fenced match.

My best action shot of the Vet Open gold medal match. Kyle likes to step in, leap back having you miss, as he extends that long arm of his striking your wrist for the point. He got me twice like that in a five point match. Look at the bend of Paul's blade. The tip can travel at 300 km per hour. Paul on the left lost to Kyle on the right 10-9.

The medal winners. From the left, Dmitriy and Rob tied for the bronze, Paul took the silver and Kyle with his gold.

No, I didn't fence that well but fenced better than last week. It was a fun day, though, and I'll be a lot more ready for my next tournament in January.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fencing at the 2015 Brock Open

Vince, me and Mike

Today I fenced in two tournaments at Brock University known as the Brock Open. The first was a veterans tournament for fencers 40 and over and then later in the open. The above picture was taken before the vets' tournament. All three of us used to fence for Beaches Sabre Club, so called ourselves the Beaches Bitches.

Yes, they both beat me. In fact, I never won a bout all day. That's what happens when one practices just once in awhile. That has to change.

My mess at the end of the fencing strip (piste).

A mess of fencing bags lined the hallway.


Mike and I could not find Vince for a picture but he showed up at the last moment!

Mike on the right takes on Bill.

Vince and Doug check each other's mask by touching it with their sabre, to ensure the touch will light up the score board.

Sabre is a fast sport.

The judge looks on. Many of the hits come down to the judge's decision.

A flying point!

We always shake at the end of the match. Here Vince beat Kyle 10-7 to win gold!

The medals.

From left to right, Kyle (silver), Vince (gold), and Bill and Doug (bronze).

I was last in the vets' and second last in the open. Yes, I need more practice but hope to do better in Newmarket next Saturday.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Quick Tour of Lundy's Lane Battlefield

Today I am in Niagara Falls, staying overnight as tomorrow I have an early fencing tournament. I arrived at 4pm in Niagara Falls and headed down to the Lundy's Lane Hotel Museum. I arrived around 4:30pm but being off-season, it had closed early. It looks nice. I'll have to come back at a better time.

Still I had the battlefield to tour. With the 200th Commemoration of the war, a gateway with carvings was built at the top of the hill where some of the bloodiest action of the night took place.


A memorial to the midnight battle of Lundy's Lane.

This is the grave site of Laura Secord, who walked 30 km/19 miles to warn the British of an impending surprise American attack on their position. As a result, 50 British soldiers and a group of aboriginal warriors caught and captured 542 American troops.

The battlefield memorial.

This memorial is to General Drummond, who commanded the British troops in victory that night and stood watch over the battlefield the next night awaiting another American attack that never came.

Graves of unknown American soldiers who died in battle that night. As Remembrance Day just passed, American flags are place by their tombstones and somebody had placed an American penny on one of the plaques.


Another view of the memorial.

Here is the museum viewed from the battlefield. I wish I had more time but the sun set fast. I'd like to come back another time to tour the battlefield and graveyard, and tour the museum. Hopefully next year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day Commemoration at the Fort York Military Cemetery

Today I went to Fort York for the Remembrance Day Commemoration at the Strachan Military Cemetery.  Here are the wreaths that would be laid during the service.


Fort York National Historic Site and the Toronto Municipal Chapter IODE (Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire) are proud to present one of this City's most evocative Remembrance Day Services at the Strachan Avenue Military Cemetery on Garrison Common. Commencing at 10:45 am from the west gate of Fort York, a processional, led by period uniformed military staff and standard bearers of the IODE, will make their way to the adjacent Strachan Avenue Military Cemetery, where the public will gather. There, at the eleventh hour, all soldiers of the Toronto Garrison who fell in the War of 1812; The Rebellion Crises; The Crimean War; Northwest Rebellion; South African (Boer) War; the two World Wars and recent conflicts around the globe will be remembered and honoured.

The program for today's service.

The honour guard arrived.


Richard Haynes, the Administrative Coordinator at Fort York National Historic Site, gave the opening remarks.

Robert Divito on the trumpet played O Canada. Later during the closing, he did God Save the Queen.

The Reverand Dr. John Hartley led the prayers and readings.

City of Toronto Poet Laureate Dr. George Elliot Clarke recited In Flanders Fields.  I have always found it a very moving poem.

The pipers lament.

Members of the IODE.

The laying of the wreaths.

The honour guard marched off.

The wreaths.


So many men and women have given their lives, their bodies, and their youth for our country and our freedom. I feel it's very important to take some time to remember.