Cameron Stokes's Blog

2011: Year in Review

My highlights of 2011:

  1. In February I spent two weeks in Shanghai, China kicking off a project for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). The project was to create a regionalized website for the China market and is the first production cloud deployment for IHG, running on Amazon Web Services.
  2. Also in February my fiance learned of a job opportunity for her at Boeing in Seattle, WA. I worked it out with my awesome boss at IHG that I could stay on remotely and Rhonda and I decided to make the leap.
  3. In March I spent a few days in Aguascalientes, Mexico to evaluate a new software partner for IHG. We were incredibly impressed with the meetings. My plane out of AGU was so small I couldn’t sit up straight and I saw Willem Dafoe in Mexico City while catching my connecting flight.
  4. In April I traveled to New Delhi and Mumbai, India to meet with two other potential software partners for IHG. The meetings were disappointing. While in India, we traveled to Pune to visit a long-time, existing partner. We had a fantastic dinner and it was great to finally meet many of the people that I had worked with for years but had never had the opportunity to shake hands with.
  5. After India we made a stopover in Europe for some leisure. In 5 days we drove from Munich through Austria to Venice to Milan to Zurich and back to Munich. The BMW museum in Munich, dinner in Milan, and dinner at Weihenstephan brewery outside of Munich were the high points of the trip. Venice was the low point. All in all, we drove over 1,000 miles.
  6. After Europe we left Atlanta for Seattle, driving cross country with stopovers in St. Louis, Nebraska, Fort Collins, Yellowstone, and Twin Falls. Our drive is chronicled starting here. The drive was over 3,000 miles.
  7. In June I flew back to Atlanta and went to the Bonnaroo music festival. It was a great time catching up with everyone from back home.
  8. In July we sold our home back in Atlanta after having it on the market for just over 3 months. We sold it for $100 more than we had bought it for in 2003. We lost a bit after commission, but given the state of the housing market we did quite well.
  9. In August we saw friends in Portland and visited Deschutes and Cascade Brewing Barrel House.
  10. In September some friends came out to Seattle for the Bumbershoot music festival. It was a fun and exhausting weekend.
  11. In October I sold my 8 year old, 140,000 mile Toyota Tundra and bought a 2012 Volkwswagen Golf TDI. I love the diesel engine and the features of the Golf are top notch.
  12. In November we traveled to Atlanta for Thanksgiving with family and I turned 29 years old.
  13. In December we traveled back to Atlanta for Christmas with family and then drove to San Francisco for New Year’s Eve with family there. The drive was over 1,500 miles.
  14. Between April and December I traveled between Seattle and Atlanta 7 times.

In summary, I flew over 75,000 miles and drove over 5,000 not counting every day driving. I visited 3 continents, 10 countries, and 23 cities. The biggest event was obviously the move from Atlanta to Seattle. It’s been a great experience so far.

Tweak the Left/Right Panels in #newnewtwitter

Twitter has dropped another version on its users, affectionately dubbed #newnewtwitter, with even more changes than #newtwitter. Twitter has details of the changes here.

While I like most of the aesthetic changes, I don’t like that the dashboard panel is now on the left side of the screen as opposed to the right. With a few lines in a greasemonkey/userscript, I’ve restored order to twitter.

See the details of my #newnewtwitter-tweaker script here or go straight to the download here.

Beer Review: Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout

Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout is part of the Monster Beer Tour from Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Georgia. The ‘W-n-B’ on the label stands for “Wake ‘N’ Bake”, the beer’s former name. Terrapin starts with an oatmeal imperial stout recipe and then cold steeps a blend of coffees from Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Zimbabwe. The blend was concocted with Terrapin and Jittery Joe’s Coffee, also in Athens, Georgia, and the blend is available for purchase from Terrapin’s website here.

Beer Facts

Name: Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout

Style: American Double/Imperial Stout

Brewery: Terrapin Beer Company

Released: Seasonal

Availability: 12oz. bottles and draft

Description:

Black as night, this coffee stout is thick, rich and full of real coffee flavor. Brewed with the Terrapin Wake-n-Bake coffee blend created by Terrapin & Jittery Joe’s Coffee.

Hops: Chinook, Northern Brewer

Malts: 2-Row Pale Malt, Flaked Oats, Flaked Barley, Chocolate Malt, Black Malt & Roasted Barley

OG: 20.8

FG: ?

IBUs: 50

ABV: 8.6%

Tasting

Serving: 12oz. glass into a Terrapin pint glass.

Appearance: Rough pour creates a small, mocha-colored head that dissapears quickly leaving light lacing. The beer itself is jet black.

Aroma: I can smell coffee as soon as I pop the cap even before pouring. Has a rich, fresh ground coffee smell.

Mouthfeel: Slick mouthfeel with medium body. Right amount of carbonation… low.

Taste: Up-front coffee with sweet oats in background. Good balance of bitterness. Flavor doesn’t linger after sips and isn’t sticky like some imperial stouts. Alcohol is hidden very well.

Conclusion

This is an awesome beer. The coffee flavors are very complex and the strong oatmeal and roasted malts match really well. It’s a strong beer but doesn’t taste strong. In fact, there’s no noticeable alcohol flavor. Initially very cold, allowing it to warm up a bit let the flavors come out more but it’s not drastically different as you might expect. As strong in flavor and alcohol as this is, it’s really easy drinking.

The Brewing Network interviewed Terrapin headbrewer, Brian “Spike” Buckowksi, on May 18th, 2008 and discussed this beer specifically. On the show Spike shares some history of Terrapin, his beers, and goes into some detail about the Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout. Specifically, Spike explains how we came up with the coffee blend and his technique for brewing with it. The Brewing Network attempted to clone this beer on their December 5th, 2010 episode of Can You Brew It. The shows are available here and here and in the iTunes podcast directory.

Food pairings: Dessert or on its own.

Cellar-able: Yes.

Comparable beers: Founders Breakfast Stout, Beer Geek Breakfast from Mikkeller, Bell’s Java Stout, Southern Tier Jahva.

Links

Short ID Generator in Groovy

On my latest side project I needed to create IDs for items in a database, but without using a database sequence or artificial counter. I generally would use a UUID but for this project I wanted to minimize the size of the identifier to save on space and make the IDs usable similar to a URL shortener service.

Here’s what I whipped up in Groovy:

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class IDUtils {

  def NUMBER_OF_CHARS = 5
  def CHARS = ('0'..'9') +
          ('a'..'h') +
          ('j'..'k') +
          ('m'..'z') +
          ('A'..'H') +
          ('J'..'K') +
          ('M'..'Z')

  def random = new Random()

  def generateID() {
    def id = ""
    for ( i in 1..NUMBER_OF_CHARS ) {
      id += CHARS[random.nextInt(CHARS.size())]
    }
    return id
  }

}

CHARS specifies the available character set and NUMBER_OF_CHARS specifies the length of the ID generated. I specifically omit i and l to cut down on confusion and readability issues across different fonts. The output of generateID() is an ID in the form of 9reaZ, CfrDS, a22mE, etc. With this character set and 5 characters in length there are 601,692,057 combinations available.

Tasting: Rio’s Rompin Rye

Rio’s Rompin Rye Beer is from Epic Brewing Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. A part of their Exponential Series, Rio’s Rompin Rye comes in a 22 oz. bomber bottle with an appealing, high-quality label.

As a craft beer drinker, my beer memories from Salt Lake City (SLC) have been interesting. My trips to SLC include:

  • 1st trip - Bewilderment at required club memberships to enter a bar and government labels on each beer bottle.
  • 2nd trip - At just the cusp of my beer obsession, visiting Red Rock Brewing and Squatters.
  • 3rd trip - Having a Bohemian Pilsner at the top of one of the ski resorts. Most likely not enjoying it as I had yet to appreciate more classic styles.
  • 4th trip - A co-worker putting together a mixed pack of Wasatch and Uinta beers to take back to Atlanta, which I drank all of before leaving town.

Honestly at this point, I think my numbers are off and I’m missing a trip or two. Ironically enough, I probably have more of a beer history in Salt Lake City than any city other than Atlanta.

Back to Rio’s Rompin Rye…

Beer Facts

Name: Rio’s Rompin Rye Beer

Style: Specialty/Rye Beer

Brewery: Epic Brewing Company

Released: Rotating

Availability: 22oz. bomber

Description:

Think freshly baked rye bread with a citrus finish.

Hops: Mt. Hood, Sterling, Tettnag

Malts: Maris Otter Muttons, Rye Malt, 2-Row Brewers Malt Briess, Munich Malt 20L, CaraMunich II Weyermann, Rice Hulls, Carafa III

OG: ?

FG: ?

IBUs: ?

ABV: 5.3%

Tasting

Serving: 22oz. bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: A rough pour only creates a quarter-inch of head that dissipates quickly. Hazy, burnt orange color and oily, viscous lacing.

Aroma: Funky yeast is the only aroma just after the pour. After that there’s a slight rye presence and earthy hops.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation. Oily and slick mouthfeel.

Taste: Very little rye. Some citrus and earthy hops. Surprisingly light on flavor. I suppose I get some lemon. Finishes pretty dry.

Conclusion

I’m disappointed with this beer. Rye is one of my favorite flavors in a beer and this one isn’t rompin’ and has very little rye. In fact, it’s really light on aroma and flavor on the whole. This is a below-average beer in my book. Not a fan. I received this along with several other Epic Brewing beers from a friend in SLC. I’m hoping the others don’t disappoint.

I am a fan of Epic’s numbering and brewing log of their Exponential Series available on their website. For each batch in the Exponential Series, Epic notes differences in recipe and outcomes. Each bottle is numbered by batch. I wish more breweries did this.

Food pairings: Anything… not much going on here.

Cellar-able: No.

Comparable beers: By style, Terrapin Rye would be comparable but is a much better beer.

Links