Friday, October 8, 2010

Boulder Trippin': Everything Else

In addition to the beer, the food, and the game itself, we also did a lot of driving and sight seeing in Colorado. Here are some of the sights we saw during our five day trip in the Rockies.
When you first leave the Denver airport, you are greeted by a huge, blue horse. The statue, known locally as Diablo, looks completely satanic, complete with red eyes that glow at night. The artist who created the horse was actually killed before it was complete when a piece of it fell on him. Check out more on the horse here.

It's killed before ... and it will kill again!

Our next stop on Wednesday was Coors field, where the Colorado Rockies were hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers in their final home game of the season. Coors field is an awesome ball park. They even have a row of seats in the upper deck, colored in purple, where you can sit at exactly one mile above sea level. Matt Kemp hit a grand slam for the Dodgers and they held off a late Rockies rally for the victory.

Entering Coors Field, you pass the Blue Moon Pub. I never knw Coors owned Blue Moon

I wish I could pitch for the Rockies.

Beautiful Coors Field

On Thursday, we left Boulder and headed up the road to Rocky Mountain National Park. We stopped in the small town of Estes Park. It is kind of like the Colorado version of Helen, except without the German influence. Estes Park is also home the Stanley Hotel. The Stanley was the inspiration for Stephen King's novel, "The Shining". The old hotel was also used as the setting for the 1997 made for television remake of The Shining (since Stanley Kubrick did not want to shoot the original movie there.) After that, we made our way up to the park and saw some amazing views of the mountains and the valleys below.

The Stanley Hotel. REDRUM!!!

The Rocky Mountain Tundra

You don't get these type of views in Atlanta

The Continental Divide

After spending a few days in Boulder, we set out towards Pike's Peak on Sunday for the final leg of our trip. Along the way, we passed Invesco Field (home of the Denver Broncos) and Falcon Field (home of the Air Force Falcons). We stopped at the famous Red Rocks Ampitheatre and saw some beautiful rock formations at the Garden of the Gods. We then took a train (which takes almost an hour and a half each way) to the top of Pike's Peak. The weather was sunny and in the 70's at the bottom, but snowing and cloudy once we reached the top at over 14,000 feet above sea level.

Knowshon's House

Falcon Field ar Air Force

What an amazing place to watch a concert

The Garden of the Gods

At the top of Pike's Peak. It was freezing!

Overall, it was an amazing trip. We saw some beautiful scenery, unlike any I have ever seen in my entire life. Maybe I'll go back one day to ski the slopes.

Blame It On The Altitude: Our Colorado Brewery Tour

One of the best parts about the trip out to Colorado was visiting just a small sample of the 100+ breweries that exist in the Rocky Mountain state.

We were able to visit 4 full breweries and 3 brewpubs, for a total of 7 places that brew their own beer. They were: Breckenridge Brewery and Pub across from Coors Field, Great Divide Brewing Co. , New Belgium Brewing Co., Left Hand Brewing Co., Oskar Blues Brewery, Mountain Sun Brewery & Pub, and the Colorado Brewing Company-Draft House. My biggest regret was not visiting Avery Brewing in Boulder.

Quick Awards:

Best Beers Overall: Great Divide
Favorite New Beer: Oskar Blues & Great Divide*
Best Tour & Overall Experience: New Belgium
Best Personal Experience: Oskar Blues
Best Deal: New Belgium
Best Bartender: Left Hand

*Favorite New Beers: Gubna at Oskar Blues and Wild Raspberry Ale at Great Divide

Probably, the most unique place we visited was a hippie brewpub in Boulder called Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery. The best beers they had by far were their two IPAs and the Colorado Kind Ale. Definitely a cool experience, as it was a small restaurant that had some really good beer.

I've never been a big fan of Breckenridge beers, and their pub across from Coors Field was cool, but the beers were not that special. They had a small batch Pilsner that was really good, but I can't find the name of it online.

The first brewery we visited was Great Divide Brewing in Denver. You've likely had their Titan IPA if you've had any of their beers (it was the only one I had previously).

G.D. was about 3 blocks from Coors Field, which immediately made me a fan, but it also had happy hour right after the game. This means $3 beers, that are mostly high gravity, and very delicious (you can imagine what happened after being there almost 3 hours in their small tap room).

G.D. had the best overall beers on our trip. My particular favorites were their Hades Belgian Style Ale, Wild Raspberry Ale (best berry ale I've ever had), and the Hoss Rye Lager.

Others in our the crew enjoyed the Yeti Imperial Stout and Hibernation Ale. I also enjoyed the Denver Pale Ale.

This was the sign waiting for us on our tour. Lots of points for New Belgium!

Does your office have a two story slide in it? Do you have volleyball tournaments every week? Does your company give tours to 20+ insane UGA fans and then also give them FREE BEER?

Didn't think so, and that's why your life sucks if you don't work at New Belgium. Especially if you are not the "Director of Fun" that had this awesome slide installed.

A slide in the brewery. 'Nuff said.

If you've ever drank a beer, then you've likely had Fat Tire, their most popular beer. In recent times, many of the beers have become available in Georgia, so there were not too many surprises in their tap room. Don't let that fool you though, the tap room was still awesome, good bartenders, and we even got to meet the brewmaster.

The 1554, a Black Ale, was an excellent dark beer that tasted nothing like a dark beer. I know that sounds contradictory, and it is, but you just have to try it. Never had anything like it, especially a dark beer with such a smooth taste.

The actual tour of N.B. was awesome, given to us by Kaitlyn, as we got to see their beer making process, their massive bottling plant appropriately called "Thunderdome", and we got to pour our own beers and they served us plenty of free samples. FREE BEER, can you believe that!?!

I would be able to recount all of the cool things on the tour that Kaitlyn told me, but the free beer has caused me to not remember them.

The picture above is "The Thunderdome." One of the coolest things is that the brewery and Thunderdome are connected by a giant beer bridge that flows the beer from one building to another.

I learned how N.B. makes all their money though. They brainwash attendees of their awesome brewery and tap room so that they pile up on the merchandise when they leave (guilty as charged, I am a sucker!)

Dale's Pale Ale is the signature beer of Oskar Blues, and it is one that you can find in almost any store and many bars in Atlanta. It is also the official craft brew of the Bubba 'N Earl tailgates as deemed by Bubba himself (those cans count for something). Mamas Lil Yella Pils is also one of their beers you can find in many stores

We visited the brewery and tap room for Oskar Blues in Longmont, as opposed to their restaurant in Lyons, CO that served as the original brewery.

We got to the brewery in time for them to pop open a cask of special ale(wish i could remember it, but it was delicious). I also got to try a new favorite beer called "Gubna." Hadn't seen it in Georgia yet, but it is a 10% alcohol Imperial IPA. This beer was insane, with a flavor I had never tasted before. Can't wait to find it here soon.

Some jerk and Dale of the Pale Ale.

Our experience was awesome at Oskar Blues because Tree, the HR director for the brewery (and is also the longest standing employee), gave us a personal guided tour of the brewery. It's a huge operation they had going on, and she even made sure we got all of the mardi gras beer can necklaces we could want (which was alot with this group).

Also on the tour was the DALE of Dale's Pale Ale (brewery founder Dale Katechis). Unknown to us was the we had previously met Dale when we pulled up next to a giant DPA RV and asked the driver where the tap room was. Just so happens that the drive was Dale himself, and he also shouted War Eagle as we drove off.

When we saw him on the tour, we found out that Dale attended Auburn before moving out to Colorado. I'm sure we bugged the crap out of him with questions and pictures, but you'd never know it by how nice he treated us and how he just hung out with us for an hour and a
half. He seemed incredibly stoked on how popular his beer was in Georgia.

We probably spent more time at Oskar Blues than any other brewery, and the personal touch and great beer they provided us was exactly why we had such an awesome experience.

The beer comes out of these things, and by the process of magic, ends up in the cans below.

We could not have asked for a better time at a brewery. Thanks Dale and Tree!

Most here in Georgia have had Left Hand's Milk Stout if anything, and maybe their Haystack Wheat (which was the best wheat beer I had in Colorado).

Left Hand has a great tap room and patio. We weren't able to go on a tour of their brewery, so I can't give you the dish on that.

While Left Hand was the most expensive tap room we went to, it also had the best service of any place where you paid per glass (particularly given how full it was).

Our bartender, Josh, took care of us the entire time which was a huge help with our group of 12.

We managed to try nearly every beer on the menu, and there wasn't a single bad one.

As an awesome left handed person, kudos to L.H.!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

BNE 3rd Annual Pick 'Em: Week 5

UGA is 1-4. Let's be frank, we can evaluate this situation from all different angles, from blaming Richt for losing the ability to coach his players (both on and off the field) to Bobo not coaching in general, from the lack of skill-set players to run the new D to the plethora of talent not executing, the fact remains that something is wrong in Athens and the Dawgs have slipped to 1-4 this season. If it were just one thing it would be blatantly obvious, but in this case, I think we're looking at a systemic failure across the whole team top to bottom, and the team is in a fog as a result.

I'll be honest, I was the one and only person who picked Colorado in the BNE Pick 'Em this week. It wasn't because I'm an Auburn fan or don't have faith in the Dawgs, I just saw a bad situation in a bad location for the Dawgs to turn this thing around. AJ Greene came back and proved why he is the best WR play maker in FBS this season. However, as I said in my last post, the altitude got to him and most of the team resulting in a lot of cramping and substitutions, and one man does not make a team. Altitude is a variable that has to be taken into account for any game played in higher elevations. This factor, coupled with the time change, the travel, and the intensity coming into a game with a 1-3 record only helped to disrupt a team already playing with little focus. I don't think UGA lost this game because of bad play (the fumble not withstanding), I feel everything else was stacked against the Dawgs before they even arrived.

Now sitting 1-4, UGA has an even greater sense of urgency to win coming into this week's game against the Vols. Luckily for the Dawgs, they're back in Athens. My only hope is that the fans are back as well and will have enough faith to back the Dawgs when things get tough. Richt has taken a suggestion from a fan to heart, and will lead the Dagws out onto the field this Saturday. I have a feeling he will lead them out and on to a win over Dooley. If not, he might be leading someone else off the field entirely...

Outside of this game, look for me on ESPN2 when I make the trek with the #8 Auburn Tigers as we go to face the Wildcat offense of Joker Phillips, Mike Hartline and the rest of the 3-2 Smurfcats in Lexington. We're favored by 6.5 and rightly so given our double come from behind wins against the state of South Carolina. I think I'll also be catching up on Bama and SUC, Arkrysaw and the Aggies at Texas Stadium, UCLA and Cal, and maybe Clemson and UNC just for fun.

And now for our top 5 leaders for the week followed by our overall leaders:

  1. LostinAlabama making a midseason surge after a stint as our BFotW with 218 points and a 17-5 record
  2. BLACKOUT with 210 points and a 16-6 record
  3. woof woof with 209 going 16-6
  4. Hayduke with 206 points yet managing a 14-8 record
  5. AUMav's Picks with 199 points going 16-6
Our overall leaders:
  1. woof woof with 1232 points and a 89-27 record
  2. AUMav's Picks with 1192 points and a league-best 91-25 record
  3. Hayduke just one point behind at 1191 and 85-31
  4. Dawgsman81 with 1774 points and a 88-28 record
  5. Silver Britches and allyugadawg with 1164 points and a 87-29 and 86-30 record respectively
Now that the cream has risen to the top, we can shift our focus to the bottom and our weekly Bottom Feeder of the Week, sponsored by , the official website of the UGA Athletics Department. This week's BFotW is OneHairyDawg with 151 points and a mediocre 13-9 record. What can I say OneHairyDawg, you're on a downward spiral much like the real Dawgs of UGA. You started off with such promise in Week 1 with 319 points going 21-6, just like UGA and their shiny new season, only to slip and fall over the next 4 consecutive weeks. And while this week you managed a 13-9 record, your picks showed a lack of focus and attention causing you to fumble into our BFotW...just like UGA did in Boulder. Picking Navy over an Air Force team that nearly beat Top 10 ranked Oklahoma, AND with 20 confidence points?? JoePa and a shallow offense over Iowa's swarming and fierce defensive line? And what did you see in Kansas to convince you to risk 11 points over Baylor? You must have been calling that pick in from the land of Oz. Seriously, much like UGA, you need to turn this around and fast. Four consecutive weeks of falling points! Wake up, make a change, try something different, don't go with the status quo, make smart choices, watch some tape! Hell, maybe even let your girlfriend pick 'em based on uniforms, or mascots, or cutest QB. Whatever you do, do it fast or else you and the Dawgs might share the same fate this week and head straight into a downward spiral.
Who wins? Smokey...
...or Uga?

Boulder Trippin': Gameday

The main reason we all traveled 1000 miles across the country was to see the Georgia Bulldogs take on the Colorado Buffaloes in Folsom Field. Thanks to the efforts of the Colorado Dawgs, there was a great tailgate set up on a field near the stadium where thousands of Dawgs fans met. Overall, it was a great day that ended on a sour note. Here are some pictures taken throughout the day:
Folsom Field is gorgeous from the outside. The brick blends in with the rest of the buildings on campus
We arrived at the Georgia tailgate around noon. It was already packed.
The weather was absolutely beautiful.
A few members of the Red Coats came by to fire up the Georgia fans.
Why do opposing teams always feel the need to dress Bulldogs up in their colors when they play us?
A giant, inflatable buffalo just outside the entrance to the stadium...
...and then a real buffalo running around on the field.

The team looked pretty fired up before hand. Then the game happenned.

Folsom Fiels looks really nice from the outside, but inside it sucks. The concourse is an old field house and it feels very outdated. The stadium is pretty small and the loud music definitely made more noise than their crowd. At times, I felt like I was at an ACC game.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It’s Not My Fault: Aaron Murray

Through the first five games of the 2009 season, the Georgia Bulldogs compiled a 3-2 record. This included shootout victories over South Carolina and Arkansas where the Bulldogs put up big offensive numbers. However, the two losses early that season saw Georgia struggle to score points against Oklahoma State and LSU. Senior quarterback Joe Cox had shown flashes of brilliance, but often tried to do too much resulting in interceptions.

In 2010, freshman Aaron Murray has stepped into the starting role. As the only new starter in the preseason depth chart, many were concerned about an inexperienced player under center. While the Dawgs have struggled to a 1-4 start, Murray has actually been a bright spot for the Georgia offense. A quick comparison between Murray’s stats from the first five games of the 2010 season against Cox’s stats from the first five games of 2009 provide further proof that Aaron Murray has certainly not been the problem for the Georgia offense.

Joe Cox – First 5 Games of 2009

Pass Attempts: 144
Pass Completions: 85
Completion Percentage: 59%
Yards: 1,209
Yards per Attempt: 8.4
Touchdown Passes: 11
Interceptions: 6

Aaron Murray – First 5 Games of 2010

Pass Attempts: 132
Pass Completions: 80
Completion Percentage: 60.6%
Yards: 1,100
Yards per Attempt: 8.3
Touchdown Passes: 8
Interceptions: 3
Aaron Murray has attempted 12 less passes than Cox had at this point in the season, but has completed a higher percentage for nearly the same yardage per pass attempt. While Cox clearly has an edge in touchdown passes (11 to 8), remember that he threw 5 of those in the shootout victory over Arkansas and also threw for twice as many interceptions during that period. When you factor in rushing statistics, Murray’s number look even better when compared to Cox.

Through 5 games, Murray has rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns despite being sacked 12 times. Through 5 games in 2009, Joe Cox had a negative total for rushing yards and had failed record a touchdown. While Murray has been sacked 12 times in 5 games, Cox was only sacked 11 times all season in 2009.

At this point in the season, Aaron Murray would be my pick for offensive MVP. Keep in mind he has compiled these statistics without the services of AJ Green for 4 games and Kris Durham for one game. Georgia certainly has a number of problems on offense, but Murray is not one of them.

About that AJ Green Catch

One of the few bright spots from last Saturday’s loss in Boulder was the return of superstar AJ Green. After being totally absent from the offense in the first quarter, he took a reverse for over 40 yards early in the second to get the Georgia offense going. AJ Green was back. The Dawgs were soon facing a third and goal from inside the Colorado 10.

This was my view of the field. The play happenned at the other end zone.

Green had yet to make a catch on the season, but this was the perfect situation for him to get his first. Quarterback Aaron Murray threw a fade pass towards Green. The pass was high and a little behind him, but that did not stop AJ from bringing it down:

The play was reviewed and soon the referee confirmed the touchdown. The Georgia fans went nuts and began chanting “A-J-GREEN! A-J-GREEN!” The play was named the #1 play of the week on Sportscenter the following night. But for those of us who have followed AJ’s career, you know that this catch still sits #2 on the list of his most amazing plays. In high school, Green hauled in a similar catch, only this time it was at full speed, thirty or forty yards down the field:

Personally, this catch may have been one of the most spectacular plays I have ever seen. The only exception may be Knowshon leaping the defender in 2008.

AJ, it’s great to have you back.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Public Perception and College Football Rankings

As Georgia struggles through its worst season since Mark Richt came to Athens, many people are worried about the direction of the Georgia program. After an 8-5 campaign last year, the Dawgs reputation as one of the best programs in the SEC has certainly taken a hit. While it is clear that the Dawgs will not return to the top 25 this season, it is not out of this world to think the Dawgs will at least be mentioned in the "others receiving votes" at the beginning of next season. So, how long does it take for the public perception to completely lose faith in a program? To illustrate this question, I will examine two schools currently ranked in the top 25: Michigan and LSU.

In the fall of 2007, Lloyd Carr of Michigan had announced his retirement as long time coach of the Michigan Wolverines. The team had began the year at #4 in the country, but an embarrassing loss in week 1 to 1-AA Appalachian State changed the complexion of the season. The leading candidate to take over the job was LSU coach Les Miles. After rumors that he would be leaving Baton Rouge for Ann Arbor ran wild during the week of the SEC Championship game, Miles publicly declared that he was staying with the Tigers. LSU beat Tennessee and earned a chance to play Ohio State for the BCS Championship.

With Miles staying in Baton Rouge, Michigan had to find another person to replace Carr. West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was soon hired. Just a year before, Rodriguez had agreed to take over the Alabama coaching position, but changed his mind (resulting in Nick Saban coming to Tuscaloosa). Michigan closed its season with a thrilling victory over Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. LSU won the National Championship. For the next two years, these programs would fail to match the success they had in the previous seasons.

The next two years in Michigan were a complete disaster. Without the players to run his spread offense (particularly after Terelle Pryor chose Ohio State), the Wolverines struggled through back to back losing seasons. Compiling a record of 8-16 in the next two years, Michigan entered the 2010 unranked, with many expecting this to be Rodriguez's final season on the sidelines.

Following its second national championship in 5 years, LSU lost its perch atop the SEC West as the Saban coached Crimson Tide retunred to national prominence. Unusual coaching decisions be Les Miles combined with poor offense and bad pass defense marked a complete change from the Tiger teams of the mid-2000's. They entered the 2010 season ranked 19 in the country.

2010 has been a successful season for both Michigan and LSU. Michigan, who in quarterback Denard Robinson finally has the correct player to run Rodriguez's offense, has looked impressive in winning 5 straight games to start the year. They appear to be a team on the rise and have returned to the rankings after a two year absence. LSU is also 5-0, but their path has been much different. The offense has been horrible with quarterback Jordan Jefferson already benched a number of times. The team struggled to beat a North carolina team missing 14 players and needed a Tennessee penalty to escape a horrible time management gaffe by Miles to beat the Volunteers. Despite the undefeated record, many are calling for Miles to be fired.

And here in lies the problem that the Georgia Bulldogs may face in the future. Michigan has looked impressive this season, climbing from the bowells of the unranked to #18 in the country. LSU, on the other hand, has looked horrible. But they currently sit at #9 in the AP Poll and #12 in the Coaches Poll. Now ask yourself, which team should be in the top ten?

After a few bad seasons, Georgia may be faced with a similar uphill battle when (or if) they get back to the winnings ways they once enjoyed. The SEC schedule is tough enough that an undefeated team will almost certainly always play for the national championship. But in the ever important recruiting season, only the top teams in the national get billing on national television. And while I think most people would rather watch Denard Robinson right now over Jordan Jefferson, LSU's #9 ranking says otherwise. Hopefully the Dawgs can find some magic like Michigan has this year, or else the climb back to the top may take longer than you think.

Boulder Trippin': Eating at the Buff

One of the great parts about our trip was eating breakfast Friday morning at The Buff. Just off Folsom Street about a mile from campus, The Buff definitely lived up to its billing. We all knew about it because of its appearance during season 3 of Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel:

We arrived at The Buff on Friday morning, hungry and tired from experiencing Rocky Mountain National Park and downtown Boulder the night before.

The cure to Josh's tiredness? Pancakes with sausage in them!

I ordered the Saddlebags, which are pancakes with meat cooked right in the batter. You can get bacon, ham, or sausage. I went with the bacon and it was delicious.

Saddlebags, in all their glory!

The food was great. Mrs. Streit liked the food so much, she made us go back for seconds on Saturday.

Finally Back

I finally got back to Atlanta about 6:00 AM yesterday morning after an absolutely packed red eye flight filled with Dawg fans. The trip to Colorado was great, the only exception of course being the result of the football game on Saturday night. I will be posting pictures from the trip in the next few days. Instead of my normal "Thoughts On..." post, I'm going to just write a couple of quick observations about the game and the CU fans. We all are pissed about the won-loss record, there is really no point to get into that mess right now.

- AJ Green = Amazing. Enough said.

- The Georgia Alumni tailgate was a great set up. The only bad part was that it really did segregate us from the rest of campus.

- Folsom Field looks great from the outside. The inside, on the other hand, kind of sucks. There are hardly any bathrooms and the field house that has them is way too small for the amount of people.

- Fans are allowed to leave a halftime of the game. That would be very dangerous if it was allowed in the SEC.

And lastly, I have something to say about the Colorado fans. Most of their fans seemed to be alright, except for the students. This may be the worst group of fans (the CU students) I have ever seen in college sports. Just because you are stoned out of your mind does not give you the right to treat other fans like trash. And the "F%&$ You, Georgia!" chant that began in the third quarter and continued throughout the night may have been the most classless act I have ever seen in sports. We don't even chant that at Florida or Georgia Tech, rivals that we play every season.

I'll be back later this week with the trip recap.


Monday, October 4, 2010

If You Wanted To Know What Life in Colorado Is Like

Just got back to Atlanta and I will be working on several posts about our adventures to Colorado. But until then, here is a picture that pretty much accurately sums up what it is like to be in Colorado and Boulder in particular:

"CHeBA HUT" is a sub shop (and chain) that's located Boulder. That's what the "toasted subs" refers too, in case you were to confuse it with anything else.