Pumpkins and Oktoberfest Beers: Wolaver’s Pumpkin Ale

November 2, 2012 at 2:35 AM (Beer) (, , , , )

Otter Creek Brewing, beerBeer: Pumpkin Ale
Brewery: Wolaver’s Organic Brewing
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.8%
Where I Got It: Coolidge Corner Wine & Spirits, Brookline
What I Thought of It: Solid. I generally prefer the darker, heavier beers, especially when it comes to pumpkin, but this guy had a nice balance of pumpkin (all from Vermont) and “spices.” Rarely do I ever see the actual spices listed on the label, but I got some cinnamon and a touch of clove. I could also just be craving pie right now. While this isn’t a deciding factor for me, it’s also USDA certified organic. Not bad, but not the most exciting beer of the season.

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Pumpkins and Oktoberfest Beers: Samuel Adams Fat Jack

September 18, 2012 at 2:03 AM (Beer) (, , , , , )

By Boston Beer CompanyBeer: Fat Jack
Brewery: Samuel Adams
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 8.5%
Where I Got It: Coolidge Corner Wine & Spirits, Brookline
What I Thought of It: Sam Adams Fat Jack, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. When I talk about how much I enjoy pumpkin beers, this is what I’m talking about. As the folks at Boston Beer Co. share, 28+ pounds of pumpkin per barrel along with “classic pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice” are brewed together (with the regular beer stuff) to bless us with pumpkin pie in a bottle. Flavorful and warming – the em-bottle-ment of my favorite time of year. Go buy some! Next time I’ll definitely have to try it with the cinnamon-sugar rim.

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Pumpkins and Oktoberfest Beers: Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

September 3, 2012 at 5:41 PM (Beer) (, , , , )

beerBeer: Pumpkin Wheat
Brewery: Shock Top
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.2%
Where I Got It: Paddy O’s, Boston
What I Thought of It: Not all pumpkin beers have to fill you up after one serving. As a wheat beer, Pumpkin Wheat was a nice choice on a somewhat toasty day in late August. Light and refreshing, but still sated the pumpkin craving. Added bonus: it’s served with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar! Unfortunately as the head dissolved, the garnish sank to the bottom of the glass (stick to the edge of the glass, kids), but I’m still counting it as a win. Generally I prefer the darker brews, but for a wheat (and an Anheuser Busch at that), I’d consider ordering it again if it’s 90 degrees outside.

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Pumpkins and Oktoberfest Beers: Blue Hills Brewery Stingy Jack

August 28, 2012 at 2:07 AM (Beer) (, , , )

Beer: Stingy Jackbeer, pumpkin lager
Brewery:
Blue Hills Brewery
Style: Pumpkin Lager
ABV: 5.8%
Where I Got It: The Meat House Brookline
What I Thought of It: This year I’m running with the theme of “if I haven’t seen it before, I’m trying it.” There will be risks and rewards to this methodology. While Stingy Jack didn’t really fall into the “I’ve made a huge mistake” category, the flavor was a little… stingy. Not that I was seeing Bud Light fairies after the first sip, but it wasn’t exciting. It was like drinking strained pumpkin with some yeast and hops – pretty predictable. Would I buy another one? Nah, but at least I know what I’m missing now.

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Pumpkins and Oktoberfest Beers: Harpoon Pumpkin Cider

August 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

It’s the most magical time of year, friends: autumnal beer season! We all know I’ll try [almost] any beer once, but the brews of September through November are the ones I’ll try again and again… and again. This year I figured I’d catalog the deliciousness for both your and my enjoyment. With a new idea, we’ll start with a new beer… Harpoon Pumpkin Cider. Read on!

Image, beerBeer: Pumpkin Cider
Brewery:
Harpoon Brewery
Style: Spiced Cider
ABV: 4.8%
Where I Had It: Sunset Grill & Tap
What I Thought of It: A perfect transition beer for summer to autumn.You can certainly taste pumpkin, but it doesn’t overwhelm the crispness of a harvest cider. I admit, I was skeptical at first: while I love both pumpkin and apple pies, the thought of the two together just didn’t seem like a good idea. However, I was lucky enough to find myself at Sunset the day Harpoon sent their monthly newsletter announcing its inaugural release. Naturally I had to give it a try. I’m glad I did!

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Reblog: Chipping away at Facebook’s stalker-friendliness? Introducing post-tracking in groups

July 15, 2012 at 4:06 PM (Social Media) (, , , )

This post originally appeared on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk.

This week, Facebook announced an update to Facebook groups:

Facebook groups are spaces where you can share things with the people who care about them most. You can use groups to connect with important sets of people like your family, soccer team or book club.

Starting [July 11] when you visit a group, you can view who’s seen each post. This way you can stay updated on the group’s activity.

For example, in your soccer group you can post the new practice time and then see who got the update.

A short update and a generally quiet one, to be sure, but it’s still generating a bit of a stir, mostly along the lines of “ZOMG SOON I WON’T BE ABLE TO CREEP MY EX’S FACEBOOK PAGE ANYMORE BECAUSE HE OR SHE WILL SEE IT! CAPS LOCK!” Fair enough. Facebook may roll this feature out to more of the site’s facets – like who has viewed your pictures from that fun, albeit maybe a little shameful, weekend in Key West. While I won’t be thrilled either, let’s be honest: if that does happen, everyone is going to talk about how terrible the update is, threaten to quit Facebook and join Google+ for real this time,* and then everyone moves on with their lives (and another tumbleweed skips across Main Street in Google+).

Let’s back up for two seconds. Number one: Facebook hasn’t done this yet. Chill out! Number two: as TheNextWeb points out, in theory, we are, in fact, friends with our Facebook friends, so who cares, right? Number three (and perhaps most importantly): there are privacy controls to consider! Generally, when we publish something to Facebook, we want folks to look at it. Or at least some folks (see my above example about Key West photos). For the folks we don’t want to see everything, add them to a Facebook List. In case you’re not familiar, it’s the same idea as Google+: select who gets to see what updates. Maybe your friends, but not your coworkers are allowed to check out all the shots you did while you were in Key West.

As for who you’re creeping on Facebook… That’s another issue. Again, IF this feature hits Facebook Profiles, there’s a chance that they’ll follow the LinkedIn and online dating model of “I can’t see you if you can’t see me.” Many sites force a two-way street for non-paying members, where they have the option to browse anonymously on the condition that they can’t view who is visiting their page. I’d hope that Facebook would follow suit. If not, then you’ll just have to censor yourself. Do the photos and wall posts from your ex’s new significant other bug you out? Here’s a crazy idea: unsubscribe or unfriend.

But again: let’s cross that bridge when we get there, shall we? Unless you’d like to speculate in the comments, that is!

*I actually do try to use Google+, even if not often. Circle me!

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Reblog: Twitter Joins Team “Do Not Track”

May 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM (Happenings, work) (, , , , , )

This post originally appeared on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk.

This week, micro-blogging site Twitter announced support for Mozilla’s “Do Not Track (DNT)” feature. DNT, available to Firefox users (other major browsers such as Safari and IE offer similar capabilities), gives web-surfers the chance to opt out of sharing cookies with participating sites. Frequently, these cookies are shared with advertisers, who use the information to target specific demographics, based on their web history. For instance, there’s a Royal Caribbean advert atop my Gmail inbox, likely as a result of email correspondence about my upcoming vacation. They’re also used to customize browsing online, based on your cached preferences – hence why weather.com generally knows where I am before I even have to search the site.

While the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t officially decided whether or not it’s supporting DTC, it did have some nice things to say about Twitter’s decision:

“Twitter’s use of ‘Do Not Track’ in its new feature is good news for Twitter users and a meaningful step toward broader adoption of a strong ‘Do Not Track’ system that will give consumers simple, comprehensive control over online tracking,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Hopefully other companies will follow suit.”

Twitter was quick to praise the FTC’s comments.

“We applaud the FTC’s leadership on ‘Do Not Track,’ and are excited to provide the benefits of ‘Do Not Track,’” Robert Weeks, a Twitter spokesman, told CNN (via CNN).

No surprise that this announcement is making waves across the internet, given that Twitter is moving against other online moguls such as Facebook and (somewhat less so) Google, who are more renowned for ruffling more than a few feathers with privacy updates.

Mashable points out that there’s a trade-off when it comes to DNT:

Do you prefer ease of use and customized user suggestions or more anonymity from web services? According to Mozilla, 8.6% of desktop Firefox users and 19% of mobile users are choosing the latter, with nearly half of those users reporting they feel more safe surfing the Internet with Do Not Track enabled.

In Twitter’s case, the article continues, it’s looking like DNT will only affect the suggested accounts to follow. Given that I never really understand the site’s recommendations, I wasted no time in opting in for a small slice of web privacy.

Thoughts on Twitter’s support for Do Not Track? Is it much of a change? Do you care? Give us a shout in the comments.

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Bacon and Beer Fest 2012: Probably Not Going Again

April 29, 2012 at 11:47 PM (Events, Food) (, , )

Yesterday was what was supposed to be one of the happiest days of the year – right up there with my birthday, Christmas and the first day that Oktoberfests hit the shelves – EAT’s Bacon and Beer Festival 2012. I was lucky enough to attend last year, and it had been about three hours of pure bliss, filled with bacon-inspired dishes from some of Boston’s greatest eateries and some uncommon beers from local breweries. Brittany, meet your element. This year, I wish I could hold that same enthusiasm.

While both concept and goal (benefiting local hunger relief organizations Lovin’ Spoonfuls and Community Servings) remained unchanged, two deal-breaking details did: attendance and venue. I anticipated that there would be crowds and lines. I did not anticipate so much of both that the overall experience would suffer. After 45 minutes of waiting in line to get in to House of Blues, my foodie friend and I were eager to make our way to the first station. If only we could find it: it was hard to tell with all the other attendees trying to figure out what was a line and what was just a mess of people. Earlier in the day I had entertained dreams of taking pictures of every station so I’d be able to blog about my favourites later. I now look back at that dream and have to laugh at my ignorant optimism. Half the time I was lucky when I realized what I was even waiting in line for.

While downstairs was a train wreck, upstairs was nothing short of a death wish (and at least 10 degrees hotter), with masses of people crammed along the walls trying to score some bacon, beer or fresh air. I wouldn’t describe myself as claustrophobic, but there had to be some break in fire code, if nothing else – wouldn’t that stress you out?

I was tolerant for a while until I learned of an offense even greater than fire code violation: exhaustion of provisions. Not even halfway into the event, and already at least three (that I knew of, maybe more) vendors were out of bacon. Unacceptable. There was plenty of bacon ice cream, but tough noogies if you wanted meatballs, beer-zpacho or nachos. Bacon ice cream was a cool idea the first time. Afterward, it just got annoying (especially if you didn’t realize you were waiting for it again). once I found out that food was disappearing, I didn’t stick around long afterward. I had experienced enough disillusionment for one day.

Last year had been hectic, but Royale had proven to be less of a death-trap venue-wise, and I don’t recall as many vendors packing up and leaving so early there, either. Like SXSW, the Bacon and Beer Fest may have become too popular for me to fully appreciate attending. Unless the venue changes and/or fewer people attend next year, you may be hard-pressed to find me among the masses.

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A Staggering Blow

March 15, 2012 at 2:38 AM (Personal Reference) (, , )

Today, a vast community of friends, family and colleagues received some heart-wrenching news: Carolyn Zambrello’s battle with cancer ended before anyone could possibly be ready.

I worked with Carolyn at Racepoint Group, where she also happened to sit across from me. In addition to being an absolutely stellar PR practitioner, she was also a beloved friend, sister, daughter, fiancé, mentor, and so much more. I can’t speak for her family – or even the rest of the RPG community (aside from the heavy silence that dominated the office for the majority of the day) – but I do know that no one was ready for this. Carolyn had been out for several weeks due to illness, surgeries, etc., but every week the topic of discussion would always be when she was coming back, never if she was coming back. She was a fighter, and we had always heard that she was looking forward to coming back to work, and we were eager to see her again. When we heard the news, we never saw it coming: not Carolyn, it can’t be Carolyn. She’s coming back soon. Even now, it hasn’t fully hit me.

I met Carolyn on my first day: we were on an account together, and she and another colleague took me to lunch. It didn’t take long for me to realize that she was not only scathingly hilarious, but also damned good at her job. She was also the bravest, most down-to-earth person I’ve ever met. Even though she had been diagnosed with cancer during the summer of 2010 and I began working at Racepoint in the fall, I didn’t realize until a few months later that she even had cancer. She never used it as a crutch or let it get her down emotionally. Instead, she simply lived life to the fullest and refused to sweat the small stuff.

Everyone has their flaws, but I truly found none in Carolyn. She brought out everyone’s best side – and had an uncanny ability to make me laugh to the point of crying (where she would then point out I was crying, and I would proceed to laugh/cry even harder). Anyone who has ever had the privilege to meet her must smile when they think of her, as she has greatly impacted everyone she’s encountered in the most positive of ways. At the risk of sounding cliché (and do you really think I’d care, at this point?), she was pure inspiration. I was thrilled when I found out I got to shift cubicles to sit across from her. She was a role model to me in how she performed at work, in how she never bullshit anybody, and how she was never afraid to live the dream. I looked up to her as my mentor, whether she knew it or not.

When my grandfather passed away a couple years ago, I received a prayer card that I don’t carry with me often enough. However, the sayings are some comfort, and whenever I read them, I’ll now be thinking of two angels:

Front

Grieve not… Nor speak of me with tears… But laugh and talk of me as though I were there beside you. I loved you so… ‘Twas Heaven here with you

Back

To Those I Love And Those Who Love Me

When I am gone, release me, let me go – I have so many things to see and do. You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears, be happy that we had so many years. I give you my love. You can only guess how much you gave me in happiness. I thank you for the love you each have shown; but now it’s time I traveled on alone. So grieve a while if grieve you must then let your grief be comforted by trust, it’s only for a while that we must part so bless the memories within your heart, I won’t be far away, for life goes on so if you need me, call and I will come. Though you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near – and if you listen with your heart you’ll hear all of my love around you soft and clear. And then, when you must come this way alone, I’ll greet you with a smile, and say “Welcome Home.”

While it hurts now, Carolyn, I’m sure one day the smiles will outnumber the tears when we think of you (how can they not, with your hilarious stories about farts?). May you rest in peace – until we meet again.

Love always.

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Reblog: March 6, 2012: #AskVan! Meet Todd Van Hoosear

March 5, 2012 at 1:42 PM (Happenings) (, , , , )

This post originally appeared on RaceTalk.

Almost a year ago, we hosted our first RaceTalk tweet-sourced interview with local Twitter legend @BostonTweet. The premise was simple: we asked him a few questions, then we asked him some of yours using the hashtag #AskBostonTweet. The results were definitely interesting (and perhaps a little amusing), to say the least. Now, we’re finally bringing it back: give it up for Todd Van Hoosear (@vanhoosear)!

In addition to loving underwater basket-weaving and moonlight walks on the beach (I don’t actually know if either of those are true), Todd wears several hats: Fresh Ground Principal; Society for New Communications Research Fellow; #BUNewMedia Adjunct Professor (Terrier pride!); Social Media Club Boston Founder (@SMCBoston); Launch Camp Organizer; Publicity Club of New England VP Social Media; TEDxSomerville Planner. And no, he doesn’t sleep, as far as I know.

Given his background, if I didn’t know any better, Todd knows a thing or two about social media, so of course I’ll be asking a couple questions about that. I will also be asking him about is favorite flavor of beef jerky. I will leave the rest up to you. Between now and Tuesday, March 6, tweet questions for Todd using the hashtag #AskVan – we like to keep it simple here – and at around 8:00 p.m. that day, we’re going to ask him as many of those questions as possible in front of a live studio audience. I mean his New Media & PR class at Boston University.

Got a question for @vanhoosear? Tweet using #AskVan between now and Tuesday night!

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