Taster Flight Project

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We occasionally have get togethers where we have several people tasting several beers at the same time, and we have always cobbled together a collection of 25 assorted sample glasses collected at various beer festivals or similar events. I wanted to get a consistent set of glasses and be able to pack them up to take them places if needed.

Around the same time we decided to pull the trigger and get rid of the old collection and order new glasses, we discovered that you could buy used whisky barrel staves on Amazon, and thought it would be cool to build taster flights as well.

So, we bought 10 used whisky barrel staves. The widths can vary fairly significantly, but we found a listing that said they’d guarantee none were narrower than 3 inches. We ordered three dozen 5.5oz Acopa taster glasses from another website.

I wanted to have a spot for five glasses on each stave because we often do five beers at a time. Basically eyeballing, we decided to cut them to 22″ long and put the holes 3.5″ apart from each other center-to-center. We original planned to put feet on them, but decided against it for simplicity and because we thought they looked cooler without them.

Basic process and tools and materials:

  • Start with staves.
  • Miter saw at a fairly arbitrary angle (outside on top, inside on the bottom) on both sides to cut them down to the center 22 inches
  • 2″ hole saw 3.5″ spacing 5x for the holes (1 7/8″ was not only hard to find, but too small for the glasses), cut using a hand drill (a drill press would have been really nice for this step
  • Wire brush to clean off the big chunks of ash or other loose material
  • Sandpaper on the outside edges just to get rid of the whiskers left behind
  • Drum sander on the inside of the holes
  • Three coats of varnish liberally applied
    • I used vinyl gloves to keep it off my hands and let me handle the wet staves
    • I drove some wood screws through cardboard to make drying stands, figuring the points of the screws would leave no noticeable mark in the burnt texture on the bottom of the staves
    • 1.5-2 hours in between coats

That’s basically it. We’re keeping six of them, and giving P Dubs four of them.

We used eight of them to support a 10 year vertical flight of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot for four people after Chilkat’s birthday party with our Oregon friends.

Note: Power tools on used whisky barrel staves smells delicious.

Also note: Glass base diameters varied quite a bit. The first stave we drilled with 1 7/8″ hole saws, which was OK for the first one or two glasses we tried (when they were cold) — which unfortunately were some of the narrowest ones we had. It took forever with the drum sander and a hand drill to open up the holes.

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Day of days!

Happy Groundhog’s Day / Big Brother’s Birthday / Friend Mei’s birthday / palindrome day!

That is all. Carry on, citizen.

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Mindful Scrooge


One of the things I’m working on is to try and be more ‘intentional’ — more conscious about my behaviors, decisions, responses, etc. What it amounts to is trying to catch myself in that moment before I do or say something, and ask myself whether this is what I would intentionally do or say if I put some thought into it instead of just reacting. Am I acting out of motives that I would respect when not in this moment? Am I speaking out of frustration or the desire to be seen as ‘right’?

I’ve put this together through a variety of conversations, readings, and thinks. I have labeled the concept in my head as ‘mindfulness’ or ‘being intentional’. Pseudo-research [i.e. cursory Googling] shows some similarities to the thought in my head and someone else’s definition for mindfulness, and someone else’s definition of being intentional.

I’ll not go into how successful or unsuccessful I have been in doing this; suffice it to say that the mental activity does actually occur sometimes.


Monday was the last work day of the year. We had three contractors whose contracts ended that day (although one of those contracts got extended unexpectedly).

One of the contractors had a shitty Sunday night. A transformer in his front yard croaked and a crew spent the night noisily ripping it out and installing a new one. He said he might have gotten three hours of sleep.

This guy almost never consumes caffeine, but he decided to have a cup of coffee that day. He was amazed at the feeling it induced, saying something like, “It doesn’t make you more awake, it makes you less tired,” and marveled that people can actually get quality work done in such a state.


My normal reaction to this would be to joke around about it and let it pass. The part of my head that wants people to place their health and well being above work wants him to go back home and get some rest. The part of my head that is a fiscally responsible manager wants to tell him if he’s unable to work effectively, he should go home, get some rest, and not charge hours. I just watched A Christmas Carol at the ACT theater yesterday, so that last guy sounds like Scrooge to me.

I chose my normal reaction, but I wasn’t sure if it was because (1) I wanted to seem like a nice, sociable guy, or (2) I didn’t want to seem like a heartless Scrooge, or (3) I thought all he needs to do today is wrap things up and transfer knowledge; peak efficiency is unnecessary, or (4) I was to lazy to drag myself out of my normal habits, or (5) something else.

The idea behind the “mindfulness” thing for me is to do the right things for the right reasons instead of whatever I happen to do for no particular reason. But a large part of the result seems be exposing my actions to self-judgment that wouldn’t occur otherwise. I guess that’s not entirely true — sometimes that self-judgment would occur, but just after the fact (“Why did I do or say that?”). Another part of it is going through these experiences with a surreal sense of…not detachment, although there is a sense of observing myself as a third party [what would I advise myself to do in this situation?]…but, some kind of doubt or uncertainty about my motives. I recognize the reasons that I consciously choose one path versus another, but I doubt whether I’m being genuine in my reasoning, or rationalizing.

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Merry Christmas!

My kids just unanimously voted me the weakest person in the house, including the 6 and 8 year olds.

Thanks, back.

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Solo (non) Daddery

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Aurora, IL, wearing slacks and a dress shirt, waiting for my 8:30 meet-up with colleagues to attend a training class at which I expect to learn little or nothing from the material — I’ll learn about what people learn about when attending this training.

KrisDi and the kids are at home. I took Monday off as a vacation day, and came in on an early flight on Sunday to give myself about a day and a half to putter about Chicagoland looking for beer and food.

First thing I did after leaving the airport was go to Portillo’s for an Italian beef sandwich. Then I went to Mikerphone and Une Année/Hubbard’s Cave, headed to my hotel, from which I Ubered to Off Color, then Half Acre, then walked to Spiteful, and Ubered back to the room. I texted Weesh updates periodically in case she felt like joining me for a beer (she didn’t).

The room was at Fieldhouse Jones, a strange, heavily sports-themed hotel. Aside from being poorly sound-insulated and having very noisy plumbing, it was a perfectly nice place to stay.

Monday morning, I woke up at 4 (not on purpose), checked out, and drove to Munster, Indiana, hoping to beat traffic. Mostly I did, except a tanker truck wrecked on the interstate just before the Indiana border, blocking all lanes of traffic. Myself and others got by on the shoulder. I have never seen a truck wrecked as badly as that one. I think it took out a quarter mile of guardrail.

At 5:45 AM in Munster, I didn’t have much to do. I checked email for a bit until the Riviera Restaurant opened. I very slowly ate way too much, and the local news told me that cleanup crews were going to have to close all lanes of the interstate (at least in one direction) for 10 hours to clear out the mess.

Then I had four hours to kill before Three Floyds opened. I drove around Munster and Dyer for a while, napped for a bit in a parking lot, got some coffee at a Dunkin Donuts, wandered around a couple liquor stores (and had a nice conversation about bourbon with the manager of the Cask and Cellar), then sat in the Three Floyds parking lot to read (finally finishing The Girl From The North, which I firmly do not recommend). I had a Scotch Egg (breakfast left me too full for a real lunch), went to Windmill and had a nice conversation with the server there (she got permission from the owner to sell me a four pack of Memes & Dreams straight off the canning line).

My next intended stop was One Trick Pony; Google said they opened at 3. I did the email thing for a while at a Dunkin Donuts. When I got to One Trick Pony, their door said they were closed. Their website said they opened at six. I gave up and headed to my hotel (it’s been a long time since I’ve had a long drive where the number of miles was pretty much equal to the number of minutes driving). I checked in, got some cold beer at a grocery store, picked up a pizza from Lou Malnati’s, and had dinner in the hotel. After confirming that I wasn’t going to meet up with colleagues, I visited Solemn Oath, and had a nice conversation with the bartender there, who was surprisingly familiar with my home town — she works for a logistics company that frequently uses some facility there when shipping things to and from Canada.

  • I was impressed with Une Année/Hubbard’s Cave. I really enjoyed the beer and the environment, and the other patrons brought out some impressive beers to share. The bartender was really excited about the beer, was engaged with customers (he seemed to know more than half of them). The people there were all beer people — you don’t stop in at this dingy looking place wedged into a strip mall between a dollar store and a Chinese restaurant because you want to look cool. I was horrified by the story the bartender was telling about one of the brewers having scalded himself by unknowingly opening a pressurized 180 degree water valve (sounds like he badly burned an arm, and I think he probably got lucky with that).
  • Off Color makes some interesting and good beer. I’m glad I stopped there. The vibe seemed more “downtown” — more crowds of young folks wanting a beer being tolerated by the staff (that’s actually a really good description of how I felt about the service).
  • I don’t think Windmill makes as good of beer (in general) as Half Acre or Three Floyds, but since I had never tried any of it and they had a couple beers that were really good, I really enjoyed this stop. The bartender was a young goofy girl who really liked the beer and was watching old sixties-era sci-fi/western TV). There were no other patrons.
  • Three Floyds still has some really good beer (Zombie Dust and Lazer Snake are my favorites right now), but doesn’t seem to have come up with anything new that is really interesting. It’s kind of a busy place.
  • Half Acre still has some good beer, but hasn’t wowed me with anything for a long time.
  • Solemn Oath makes solid beer, but nothing really impressed me. I liked the space and the vibe.
  • I liked Mikerphone, but wasn’t that impressed.
  • Spiteful was OK.

I had an interesting experience being on my own for a day and a half with no actual responsibilities besides deciding where to go next, when, and how to get there safely. I felt guilty — like I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing (or not doing something I was supposed to be doing), and someone was going to catch me and I was going to get in trouble.

I had a good time. I think I would have enjoyed it more with someone else (but I’m not totally sure, to be honest — I like spending time with people, but I really don’t feel like I get that much time to myself. It was nice to do what I wanted to do and not worry about what other people wanted. Selfish I suppose, or self-centered, or both, but still true.

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