Monthly Archives: February 2010

A visit to Beer Nirvana (aka Halftime, my favorite beer store)

So while I typically am not a fan of driving an hour and a half away for work, every once in a while there are the perks.

For the few clients and times I head into Poughkeepsie NY, I get to go to Halftime Beverage.

To be honest I had never heard about the place until I happened to pass by it on a previous client visit into the area.  The enormous bottlecap logo was the draw, and I’m always on the lookout for a good beer store.

So what makes a good beer store in my mind?

A combination of selection, prices, options, and a staff that knows their beer.  At Halftime, they’ve got it covered.  You laugh at the door sign, until you’re hooked too :)

Halftime BeersNot only do they have a few thousand beer varieties available, you get it all for a decent price (not full retail).  They have the occasional sale, size options like a 6 pack or the big boy 22 ounce, but perhaps the best of all, is that you can get every bottle as a single.

I can’t say how many times I’ve just wanted to try a beer, without committing to the cost of a whole six pack.   Usually when I do it works out, but sometimes I get god awful stuff like the Blueberry Sour beer I got last summer – yeugh!  This way I get to try out the entire line of Dogfish Head, all at the price of a single six pack of theirs :)

Another topper is that they’ll give you a free beer glass if you spend somewhere north of $50 too.  Not sure of the exact amount, but lets just say I’ve gotten one every time…

So here was my shopping list this time around:

  • Affligem Tripel
  • Sly Fox Ibcubus
  • Sierra Nevada Glissade
  • Abita Abbey Ale
  • San Miguel Dark
  • Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
  • Ommegang Three Philosophers
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
  • Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
  • Dogfish Head Old School
  • Flying Dog Garde Dog Biere De Garde
  • Goose Island Pere Jacques
  • Goose Island Bourbon Stout
  • Goose Island Nut Brown
  • Goose Island Honkers Ale
  • Troegs Troegenator Doublebock
  • Troegs Hop Back Amber
  • Troegs Rugged Trail Brown

Can you tell I was on a brown ale kick this time? :)

I HIGHLY recommend the Goose Island Pere Jacques.  The one they have there is the Dubbel 2007 bottle, and having aged 2 1/2 years it is unbelieveable, complex, flavorful, and one tasty brew.

FYI, my other favorite stores are Stew Leonards Discount Liquor in Danbury CT, Mountview Wines in Naugatuck CT,  and Fairground Liquor by the airport in Danbury CT.

Any others you can recommend?  Share please!

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Ditching Cable – Part1

Broken Cable :(Or….  How I learned to love the Internet.

So after months and years of paying to the man for a decent picture, and 50,000 channels I never watch, I gave my $157 monthly bill a good hard look late last year.

I’ve found myself downloading more and more, and whenever I watched TV it was usually something I had taped with the DVR a few days earlier.  Whenever I watched through the channels, it was either for a show I would like to catch, usually after it had aired, or just random flipping.

So after much thought and a bit of research I decided to take the plunge as others had before me, drop cable television completely, and get everything online as much as possible.

Now, I could use my laptop, but I use this more for work than anything else.  I would also have to reconnect it every time I wanted to go online to view something.  My thought was to get a dedicated PC, and use this.

But I wanted to get a good PC.  Nothing too big like your average tower, or something that would suck my electricity bill dry, but also something that had enough horsepower to get the job done.

All this for under $500.Boxee on HTPC

After running past some reviews I settled on the Dell Zino, Acer Revo AR3610, or the Asrock HT330.  I was hoping to watch movies off DVD directly on the PC (so I could disconnect the DVD player as well), and that rules out the Acer as it doesn’t come with an optical drive (DVD).  I could always get an external one for USB, but that means more components, and more bucks.

So after much ado I order a Dell Zino on sale for around $450 shipped.  Of course, after I sent the order in, I receive a notice that it will ship nearly 3 weeks later.  That was just ridiculous to me.  I was a bit on the fence between the two remaining PCs, as Dell is more of a known brand, but the options were more limited with no optical audio port, a handful of USB ports, and only a single audio out.  Wheras the ASRock came with a DVD drive, 5.1 Dolby channel sound, optical sound out, plus options for HDMI, VGA, and 8 USB ports available (plus it included a remote).  Shortly thereafter I canceled the Dell order (with a 45 minute wait time on hold – ughhh), and ordered the ASRock.asrock_ion_330ht

It shipped out the next day, and arrived 4 days later.

The PC itself is about the size of a large hardcover, and uses just 65 watts while up and running.  It only comes with 2GB of RAM, but it is upgradable, and has decent sized HDD with 320GB of space.  The innards are tiny, and nearly all components come on board with an NVidia chipset and graphics, and a newer Intel Atom 330 dual-core processor.  Technically, this is not just a regular PC, but rather a NetTop.

So here I am, just over a month in, and while I’ve had some speed bumps, I would have to say it was a great choice.  So far, so good.

I am by nature a tinkerer.  I work in IT and I spend my days figuring things out.  The challenge it presents is not much for me, but rather just time.

Next post I’ll dive into the software options, streaming sites, and how to handle live TV.  Stay tuned!

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