Sunday, November 18, 2012

Presbyterian Mixture and Squadron Leader

Alas, so long between posts. And yet, we do what that for which the spare moments are provided! The Presbyterian mixture experiment was a success. The final conclusion (of mine)is that Presbyterian mixture is an excellent, high quality tobacco, perfect for an everyday smoke. It falls very well into the wonderful category of Dunhill 965 and others that would never fail to satisfy at any time of day. I never did find anything shocking or striking about this blend, just pure, sweet enjoyment. It is a solid blend, and well worth trying if you are a fan of virginias. Very much enjoyed.
To add to that I had an opportunity to crack a tin of Squadron Leader. Because I bought a rectangular tin I expected this to be a flake tobacco, however, it is ribbon cut. The tin offers a beautiful mix of dark tobaccos and lighter tobaccos. I am told there are some orientals in this mix, and I believe it is so, but it is not a "Latakia forward" blend. The orientals are looming in the background giving it a nice depth, but they are easy to overlook if I'm not paying attention. This is another blend that I would classify with 965 and Presbyterian mixture as being a good, solid, all-day smoke. Pleasant and not overwhelming at any point. If I had to gauge this tobacco against the others I would have to say that it runs third to 965 and Presbyterian, but very nice. I don't think I would keep all three around all the time, but I will always want to have one of the three on hand. It makes for nice variety.
Finally, I have been having another go around with Edward's bulk blend "Coco Creme". This is a blend that I very much enjoy. A sort of natural-aromatic that has a nice cavendish flavor and then the nice creamy finish that tastes and smells remarkable of chocolate. Truthfully, I find my chocolate smoking urge more fulfilled in Black Gold, but this is a nice blend unto itself. I have on my list of "someday" Bob's Chocolate flake, and if the opportunity arises I would like, one day, to mix up some of Jeoffre's Chocolate Manhood. However, those goals are down the road somewhere. Coco Creme has it's charms, to be certain, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for the particular experience it provides. However, the one looking for the goopy "I just smoked a mars bar!" experience may find greater satisfaction elsewhere. Where that is, I could not say. However (while not at all goopy) Black Gold is always a winner for the pipe smoker with a sweet tooth.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Probing the Presbyterian

It is time for a new adventure.  My pipe smoking seems to hit a sharp rise when the weather begins to cool.  Plus it gives me more reason to work from home as a pipe aids the issues of the working day tremendously. But what of the adventure?  This will be an adventure in pipe dedication, an adventure in dedicated pipe smoking and most importantly an exploration of one of my favorite simple pleasures.  Having been raised in a Presyterian church (though not a very "serious" one) this tobacco has always had some allure.  I don't, however, think of the cutting edge, pop-worship media orgy in which I was introduced to the word "Prebyterian."  I think, rather, of simple joyful people.  In simple clothes.  I think of great men like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge and John Calvin.  While I have many serious reservations with many of the assumptions of Reformed theology, these were great men, and they constitute part of my reason for wanting to enjoy this tobacco.  So is that it? Just another of my sentimental psuedo-tobacco review? NO!  That was just the preamble!

I did pick up one other little item:
This spool is the latest addition to my collection of pipes.  I don't know if I have mentioned how much I love corncob pipes but I do.  I currently have four (the Legend, General, a stubby, and now a Spool). I have given a few away over the years, lost one and retired a small handful as well.  I love just about everything about the cob.  The looks, the smoking experience, the price, the comfort, everything.  I own other pipes because I like briar and clay as well!  This pipe, however, will have a high calling indeed.  This will be the Presbyterian Cob.  I am going to try to smoke nothing but this tin until I am through it, and do so in no pipe but this pipe.  And I plan to document this experience, if it turns out to be worth documenting. So here goes:

Smoke #1:  Just breaking in the pipe. The spool gets hot around the middle, as one would expect, and breaking in a pipe is never the most pleasant experience for me.  But I had to get it out of the way.  In spite of the general inconvenience of breaking in a new cob the tobacco did occasionally make it's way through.  It is a nice tobacco taste.  I can see why Mark Twain would find another ("a worthless man") to break his in for him!  Though little more could be said about how much I really experienced it, as the taste of the cob really muddled things.

Smoke #2:  (While writing).  Still some break in taste, however more of the tobacco is coming through today.  Some nice light flavors.  I like the mellowness of this tobacco and it seems to capture some of the beautiful austerity and seriousness that I associate with the Christ-loving Presbyterians of ages past.  There seems to be quite a bit of a nicotine punch, but that may just be that I have been smoking less of late.  Never a good decision!

So there it is, dear reader.  Thank you for visiting.  Fear not, I will not bore you with too much repetition in this series as I imagine the smoking will plain out as I learn this new pipe and this new tobacco.  However, I want to really dedicate some time to this classic of pipe tobacco enjoyment.  Sometimes it is good to read a book very quickly so as to draw the pith out of it.  Other times, one can sit an enjoy every word, every sentence and become engorged in it.  This is the experience that I am hoping for!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Verboten

A forbidding had occured.  I suppose it is to be expected that there is going to be one or two tobaccos that, though beloved by our own enjoyment, have not gained the same approval at the issue of the beloved comrades O'D the pipe smoker.  Such a tonecco is my beloved Haunted Bookshop.  I have found it to be one of my most dearly favored morning tobaccos.  Always bursting forth with its nutty goodness and periquey punchiness.  Lord love the stuff, but my wife hates it.  Some have compared the dear the smell of perique afire to the great smell of urine on a campfire.  Perhaps that adds to the appeal.  I love the sound of the bagpipes, of the banjo.  If you are resolved to hate it, I may take that as a challange to try to adore it, or at least find merit.  I suppose it is part of being an insufferable contrary scoundrel, and quite pity. Yet off I go to a bowl of perique, an earful of bagpipes and a mouthful of Lapsang souchong.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What do you dream about?

One of my favorite Bare Naked Ladies songs has always been the song that repeats the question: When you dream, what do you dream about?

Mostly my dreams are wierd and not to be mentioned, however, when I dream about pipes there are some dreams with noting.

I dream about smoking a pipe that has a loop in the stem.  Even though I could never clean it.

I dream about being able to blow a smoke ring and then blowing a puff of smoke cleanly through the hole in said smoke ring.

I dream about smoking my pipe at work.

I dream about smoking in such a way that it makes me look dignified,

I dream about smoking with some of the bloggers and YouTube pipe smokers that I have watched. Particularly Chris, Pipe Pastor, Joffrey, Bold O'D, Kevin, and a few select others.

I dream of sharing a pipe with Mr. B.  I just hope he will carry the conversation.

I dream of investing several hundred dollars into my tobacco cellar, just for fun.

I dream of living in a world where people once again appreciate the fine art of pipe smoking and admire those who have taken the time to master the art as they should.

What do you dream about?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why Pipe Smoking is Important to me...

This applies to a few of the things that I enjoy. Pipe smoking, beer, tea, there should be a few other delicate pleasures on this list. Why is pipe smoking so important to me? It is not to be esoteric, or somehow more selective than other people. I would never want to be the fellow who looks down his nose at someone who seemed to know less than I do about an issue of taste. This is not usually very difficult because I know very little, when it comes right down to the point. But, the reason why it is so imprtant: It makes me slow down and pay attention to what is happening right now. Each puff is like a puff of freedom. I don't need to concern myself with what the next puff of the pipe will taste like, I can focus on this one. I can wait until the smoke has rolled around my mouth for several seconds to exhale it slowly out of my nose at first and then blowing the balance out of my mouth and watching the beautiful smoke float away and dissapate into the night time air. This is what I appreciate about pipe smoking. Most people don't know that I smoke. I would classify it as being integral to my self image. Of course I don't know that there is any taste or activity that I would want to affect other's veiw of me. I would rather that category be filled by the sort of sentiments like: "Brad, you mean the guy who Jesus loves? Yeah, I've met him." This was introduced to me all over again when I roasted coffee for the first time. Having been involved in the process enable me to slow down and appreciate the experience. The feel in my mouth. The different highs and lows in both flavor and sensation. This is also the case with tea. I suppose I like any taste or sensual experience that causes me to slow down and pay attention to it. I admit, I often drink coffee and just drink it. Looking only for the affect of the drug. I also consume food with the same cold indifference to just get the food in. Never paying attention to the great pleasure and complex joys that God made eating an apple to be. I want less of that type of "cramming it in" experience to occur in my life. The real payout? I waste countless moments of time just "surviving". Just getting along. I sit with my children and think about what I will do once they are in bed. This is a worse injustice then smoking a pipe and not tasting. There is no way to compare this horrible oversight with taking a cup of coffee for granted. I want to learn to appreciate the coffee, appreciate the pipe, appreciate the tea in hopes of learning to appreciate the evenings I get to spend with my beautiful wife. I hope, through enjoying that simple moment of pipe smoke I will spend the next afternoon with my children and cherish each beautiful second. And that, my friends, is what makes pipe smoking so important to me today.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Year's Resolution

There it is. A New Years Resolution that paid off. I think the key to making an excellent Resolution is making it very attainable. Take the resolution: "I'm going to work out every day this year." There is no way that resolution even CAN be kept. There is going to be a sick day, a vacation a holiday that gets in the way and slowly chisles away at the bedrock of your resolve. But lets be honest resolutions like that aren't nearly attractive once the 18th of January rolls around, but I digress. The good resolution? The things you actually want to do. Or even better the things you will do anyway. What is all of this babble about? I finally had this years NYR (New Years Resolution) pay off. I had tried Petersons "Sweet Killarney" and had not particularly enjoyed it (I imagine you could find a review of it somewhere in teh back postings). But I wanted to work out my issues and learn to love this carmel flavored dream. So the journey began. It started with a good number of tongue bites, and a decision (like any adolescent dating relationship) taht we may need a few months apart. However, we are not so immature anymore, and the time eventually came to crack the tin and try again. I will have truly failed in my NYR if I didn't work things out until next January, but then the original resolution really did not have any timeline. Nevertheless, today was the day. It was hot and a nice light aromatic was in order. But it was dry. Not dried out, just more dry than I usually allow my tobacco to become. Great scott! The problem was solved! I have never really experimented with a range of different moisture levels with my tobacco. I had just assumed that there was a sort of "baby bear" zone into which all tobacco should fall. Yet, this makes no sense at all. Each tobacco that the smoker knows well get's packed a bit differently. Each tobacco that is well known may even get smoked at different rates, or in different pipe sizes. Why should we not also control the moisture level of the tobacco in order to find its ideal smoking conditions (ISC). So it was. I enjoyed this delicate carmel creme flavored blend. Still smoking slowly and with great care. The dryer blend didn't have the same level of the aromatic flavor to it, however, it did have a delightfully playful note of it over the (previously noted) high quality virginia flavor. So, there is my lesson learned for the day! I cannot ignore a single factor and expect the best experience with each tobacco. Hooray for learning!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Haunted Bookshop

These weeks have made way for much satisfying pipe smoking. And with increased pipe smoking there is an increasing desire to write about said lovely pleasure. But what has been the head? Great question. Still a great variety of Latakia blends. I just finished my small tin of three oaks by macclelland. So nice. Great Virginia's mixed with the finest Latakia, for all I know! There has also been a good amount of Frog Morton burning up, one of my few repeat purchases. Along with Nitecap and Black Mallory. I have recently purchased two new 'baccys one Presbyterian which I invested in because I once went to a Presbyterian Church and found that everyone there was rather smokey already, so why not go for the gold! Seriously though, I'll let you know when I crack that tin. I have a handful of tins open that I have not yet finished. Including some Irish flake which is another repeat purchase, and very rewarding. I would much like to try Full Virginia Flake and Squadron Leader. But that is still future tense. The other new tobacco I have cracked enjoyed several good bowls: haunted bookshop by c and d's. This is a really nice burley blend. And it really has a nice flavor. Keep in mind, I love Burley Over The Counter blends. I do have a dream of buying a big tin of carter hall before the year is out, but it is money and I simply don't smoke enough of it to justify the purpose. Actually, i think I just like the size of the jar, on top of adoring Carter Hall, which I very much do. So Haunted Bookshop tastes to mee like all of he things I love about CH plus a perfect seasoning of perique. It really is just right, a bit more and it would gobble up the nutty burley flavor a bit less and you may not appreciate it as a major part of the blend. Double win on this one. Because someone may ask, there is also no chemical taste like unto CH. it's a good sturdy blend, likely a repurchase, though at this point I promise nothing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Top Ten

Right here, right now! Top ten things to do while smoking my pipe. This is not quite so easily done as I may have originally thought. Each point needs an explanation. So here is the format: The thing I like to do while smoking a pipe, the pipe that may be most fitted to that (if applicable) and the tobacco that is most fitted to that activity (if applicable).

 10. Mowing the lawn - I like mowing the lawn. Having as many children as I do the lawn mowing is a time when I can turn on my headphones and have fully legitimate "I can't hear you" time. That being said mowing the lawn is just physical enough that I become a bit less cognizent of my pipe, and tend to smoke a bit too fast, or take a bit less care than usual in my tamping. Thus tongue bite nearly always ensues. For this task? No questions asked. The corn cob (usually the legend, sometimes the general), and almost always the OTC that I have on hand that is freshest. Usually this is carter hall, las mow happend to be Velvet. Very nice.

 9. Shoveling snow - not unrelated, though sometimes a bit less comfortable. It doesn't snow rediculous amounts in Colorado terribly often, so these are still times to be enjoyed. As with lawn mowing this task will very commonly give a case of the tongue bite, but a bit less so for two reasons: firstly, I smoke nicer tobacco when I undertake this task. Usually a latakia blend. For some reason, just as I like cheap mass produced beer in the summer I like OTC burley blends in the summer. IN the winter I am always thinking fuller flavor and beefier products to ward off the cold. Edwards bulk Balkan blend fits the bill perfectly here, Christmas Cheer by McClellands. Also Dunhill's London Mixture. My favorite pipe for this task? Usually a bent pipe, but not a nice bent pipe, one of my restored pipes. I would destroy a nice one as the entire task involves a clenched pipe.

 8. Driving - Some say that they cannot drive and smoke their pipe. If I choose my pipe and tobacco correctly then this is not a problem. I live in a smaller town not too far from the bigger town. However, if I am making a trip down to the big city a pipe is very often in order. Generally a pipe, well lit and correctly smoked will take me nearly the entire hour to the edge of the big city at which point the pipe would be an unneccesary distraction. For this task? One of my favorite three-quarter bent pipes (usually one of the ones that my wife picked out for me) and for the tobacco something that is going to provide a substantial experience. This is not the place for aromatics, this should be the big guns and the complex experience that should make a long straight drive interesting.

 7. Music - Next, listening to music. Generally when I get to recline and smoke I do not put on music. This is because I like to listen to all of the other things going on. However, when I am smoking in my car music must be chosen. This always makes me wonder why I don't smoke and listen to music more often. No answer yet coming. What do I listen to? Great question. When I am smoking my pipe I tend to listen to Baroque music. Vivaldi and Bach being the leaders. This is my favorite period of music anyway, so there is not much competition. However, I also will enjoy some Irish folk music and drinking songs. Pipe and pouch? This depends entirely on the pipe I chose, and the tobacco I am smoking, and very possibly the clothes I am wearing...too many factors to be sure.

 6. Fishing - This is a lump catagory. I love smoking in nature. It makes me feel like I am doing my part ot be a part of the scene. I flyfish almost exclusively so it is a bit more involved. That means MOST of the pipe smoking that I enjoy is on a break between casts. Watching the water, listening to the river. Enjoying the absolute freedom from cel reception. Great things, these. This is a situation where I will generally (again) be found with a pipe that I would not be too heartbroken to lose. Often time these are the moments that I will be found smoking som of my favorite aromatics. Black Watch from Edwards in Denver and Black Gold (or BG Plus) from Hilands.

 5. Walking - I do love a walk. These days, with all of the little people under five at my house a walk is a bit more of a production than is all that nice. However, this is another situation where a pipe is a great friend. Being a ble to amble along and enjoy a pipe is a great pleasure. With children this gives tonguebite. Again, this is a situation for aromatics (for the sake of anyone who may be walking near, behind or alongside me). Favorites? Black Watch and Black Gold again! However, when I am feeling adventurous: Irish Blessing by C&D's and others of that nature. Usually lightly topped, as a big chemical mouthful isn't exactly my style.

 4. Reading - Yup. This one was almost too easy. If I am able to smoke in the light I can burn through several bowls while working through a novel, a fantasy, a bit of theology, or just my Bible. So many wonderful choices. Reading is something that is just made better by a good pipe. This gets more free because the less demanding the situation the more likely that I will pull out a larger variety of both pipes and tobaccos. However, honorable mention in this catagory will by my Armellini Churchwarden. But much depends on the size of the book that I am reading.

 3. Drinking - This one will have a great deal of domain overlap with some of the other catagories. However, it seems like nearly everything can be made to go well with a pipe. It adds a whole new dimension to the wonderful beverages I enjoy. One of these is coffee. I roast my own coffee and, while I don't roast at anything like a professional level, it does give me a great sense of familiarity with my coffees. Where they come from, what kind of roast is on them, how many days removed from the roasting process I am. However, there are coffees that are just too powerful for any pipe tobacco in my collection and that means that not every coffee has a pipe tobacco match for me. However, this is not the case with tea. Tea has a much lighter flavor profile and I have never foudn a tea that I couldn't enjoy alongside some tobacco or another when properly considered. I have many great tea loves. Just black teas are great. I particularly enjoy Irish Breakfast and Darjeelings with lighter Cavendish type blends. Beers. Every beer has a match. But I can see I am getting distracted from my point. Matching drinking experiences to smoking expereinces is a great pleasure for me.

 2. Talking - I love talking. I love fellowship. I love discussing things that are near and dear to myself and others whom I care about. Some of my finest Bible study and theologically related discussions have occured over a pipe. For some reason te=he pipe diffuses the initial awckwardness of opening up a deep discussion topic, or a topic that may make a person feel particularly vulnerable. Thus, I try to make pipe smoking a regular part of most of my meaningful fellowships. It is a bond and connection that doesn't require a great deal of affirmation or discussion, it is an easy and simple pleasuer that must be taken as the perfect companion to deep discussion. The other great advantage of smoking while talking is the very important reality that if you have a pipe there is no NEED to talk. Thus, wieghty statements that need to be well considered can be considered well before another statement is placed in response. This is of great value in any good discussion.

 1. Praying - Most of my best smoking is done alone. It is best because I am not distracted from anything else. Perhaps a drink, but that starts to add too many factors and I start thinking about the act itself. Prayer over a pipe is the must open and vulnerable prayer that I often have. As I talk to the Lord about my concerns, joys, trials, pleasures I amd reminded that He has given me this amazing capacity to enjoy that which He has made. This is very valuable indeed.

 So there you have it. The top ten things I do with my pipe. What do you do with yours?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Waiting Game

The introduction of our fourth beautiful and wonderful child has slowed my smoking a great deal. However, something exciting has occured and that will lead to a soon return to pipe writing as well as a review. I have found my local grocery store has begun to cary Velvet over the counter tobacco. I have more than a small fascination with over the counter blends, and I am not sure why. They really are not in any way cost effective, and with the internet a specialty or "boutique" blend can come about easier and even cheaper than the typical price one would pay for an OTC blend. Nevertheless, I love them. I think they connect me to an earlier generation of pipe smokers: those who didn't smoke pipes like we do, feeling like we are a minority, but those who smoked pipes because men just smoke pipes. What did they smoke? Likely one of the dozens of blends that were sold at every corner drug store! There are those I have liked less (Capt. Black, Bjokum Riff, Paladin). But I have also gotten a great amount of satisfaction from such classic american blends as Prince Albert, Carter Hall and Half and Half. Even some that I have been a bit indifferent towards like Sir Walter Ralleigh. I won't go so far as to say that I prefer OTC blends over my specialty blends (I have been smoking a great deal of Hartenstein Trail from Edwards in Denver lately), but I do know that as long as I cointinue to smoke a pipe I will always have one of my trusty old OTC blends on hand. How about you? Any dirty little sectrets in your enjoyment of cheap tobaccos?

Friday, March 2, 2012

To Mix or Not to Mix

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about what pairings may be good or bad.  This tobacco with that tea, and this beverage with that type of leaf.  I suppose that is all well and good, not meaning to criticize the great pairings of the past, but I have been in an interesting funk lately.  Firstly,  I have been enjoying more than a few bowls of Hartenstein Trail.  This is a great full flavored latakia blend from the Edwards Tobacco in Denver.  Excellent smoke in a multitude of different bowl sizes.  Cool smoking and a great low nicotine level that makes it particularly perfect for before bedtime smoking.  Worth every moment.

The second thing that I have noticed is that I don't find myself wanting to pair my smoking with my tea/coffee drinking lately.  I have stumbled across some great flavor combinations in the past for sure, but I have been more interested in the tobacco by itself.  Coincidentally, I have also been interested in the tea and the coffee by themselves as well.  It seems that adding anything to the equation means that I will (of necessity) pay less attention to either of the things I am tasting individually.  I imagine, as things warm up again I will ease back into pairing my puffs with my beverages, but for the moment I am enjoying the simplicity.  What say you?  Do you enjoy things more in pairs, or one experience at a time?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Perseverance, Killarney and A Cuppa

Just cracked this tin about a month ago.  If memory serves I have now had about eight bowls of this tobacco.  It is a nice 'baccy, with an awfully nice smell (both in the tin and in the room).  The Carmel Creme flavor is nice, and the tobacco is high quality.  Here is my issue: every time I enjoy a bowl I get a mild bite.  It's in the first half of the bowl.  The next half is much nicer, even than many other tobaccos.  I don't know if it will be one that I will buy again.  I had expected something along the quality lines of "Irish Flake" (I realize the vast differences and styles that make this expectation unfair).  Nevertheless, I am determined to try this in yet a few more pipes, and treat it a bit carefully.  How often do you push through with a tobacco that the first blush isn't everything you hoped for?

In other news I see Chris at the Daily Briar (http://thedailybriar.blogspot.com/2012/01/dublin-or-bust.html) making some unbelievable pipes and this lights the fire for a higher level of involvement yet the problem is distinct: I am no craftsman.  So the next goal would be tobacco, but I am no farmer and am certainly not patient enough to persevere through the curing process.  However, I found something a bit less involved with a similar level of DIY reward: Coffee Roasting!

I have friends who have successfully done this for some time, and my time had come.  So I ordered a popcorn popper (cheapest accurate method of home roasting - I'm told by www.sweetmarias.com) and it seems to be the case.  However, the five pounds of unroasted coffee came a days before the popcorn popper.  Being as impatient as I am I looked for other "home roasting methods."  While no one particularly advocated it it turns out the roasting can be done on a stove-top with such things as cast iron pans or a wok.  It's messy, unscientific, but FUN!

Here is the process in pictures:
Raw Green Beans from CoffeeBeanDirect via Amazon

Some roasted and unroasted beans together


The Final Product

Said Product in a jar
  So, there were no pics of the actual roasting (there is a lot of stirring, smoke and crackling).  It was fun, exciting and interesting.  It is entertaining to get to go from "I read about this" to "Is that what the interwebs were talking about?"  You may notice that the roast is anything but even.  The black beans were between darkly roasted and a bit burned.  I figured this batch would be a throw away, but quite to the contrary it tasted nice, sweet and complex.  It was a victory, if only just.  When I had gone through this amount the popper still had not arrived, so I decided to try a wok and a lower temperature.  It went a bit smoother BUT I was hoping to go a bit darker and so I wound up with more smoke.  It will be interesting to see how that one turns out tomorrow (the coffee is supposed to set and gas off for 12 hours or so).

Anyhow, it's been a great and tasty adventure so far.  Highly recommended.  I won't be "going pro" but I do find the cost-benefit analysis comes out VERY high on the investment of time here.  You can do it.  Go for it.  Future project: finding the best roast to pair with a pipe.