Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saranac Caramel Porter

I've seen a bunch of SCUBA flags lately around here. And there is beautiful weather for scuba diving right now. Man, it's been a while, probably around 8 years, since I had my last opportunity. Having young kids really makes it difficult. I was thinking about some of my experiences and how the people that you go with make all the difference. I'm not talking about the other paying divers, although being with some fun and cool people is nice (and I've been lucky that has mostly been the case). Rather, I am talking about the tour guide divers.

Case Study: Cozumel, Mexico v. Grand Cayman. When I went to Cozumel, Mexico, to go diving, the first thing I needed to do was complete my open water requirements for my diving card. Done, piece of cake, and the dive master actually incorporated that into one of the group dives so I didn't need to waste a dive opportunity on that requirement. Super cool! The reefs off of Cozumel are not super close to shore, so they loaded us into these speed boats and jetted us out to the reef. Let me tell you, the Mexican dudes that worked these boats and this shop, despite having rickety trucks taking you to the dock and some subpar equipment, were the most customer-friendly service oriented people I've ever seen. They made sure all the equipment was there, working properly, and on your body at the right times. They told you what to expect to see, gave some commentary about the reefs, and went out of their way to make it a great several days of diving. The reefs and animal life were awesome, too, but that's another story.

Grand Cayman, a few years later, my wife and I had the exact opposite experience. Terrible equipment for rent, get your own shit and struggle to get to the van way out by the road. Then to the boat, another long walk, then waiting for a few dive workers to finish filling tanks and be on time before we could leave. Next, a simple request by me to ask for some guidance to make sure I had everything set up properly. Normal "I-don't-want-to-die" type questions, since it had been a few years. And all I got was attitude, and a couple of nods when I did things correctly. One of the boats died so we spent a few extra hours out on the ocean one of the days, and you know, not a single apology for the inconvenience. No tourist type information about the reefs or what we were going to see. Not sure what the attitude was about. Around 90% of the workers were Canadians and not natives of the island. Not sure that has anything to do with it, but it was a fact, so I thought I'd throw that in there. If you have to choose, do Cozumel for the beauty and the customer service. Plus it's much cheaper and the reefs are way better too.

Today I'm drinking Saranac Caramel Porter brewed by Matt Brewing Company in Utica, New York. This is one of the beers I picked up yesterday while cheating on my girlfriend with her twin sister. I hope it is worth the guilt.

The aroma has a really rich caramel and slight toffee scent. Tastes like a candy apple, including the apple. That caramel is really quite delicious, not super sweet, just right. There is a little malt and a slight hoppy background. Coffee flavors exist, too, but there is no bitterness. Low-medium body, medium carbonation. If this beer was a little bit thicker, it would have been terrific, but was just too thin. The 5.2% alcohol never made an appearance and was completely hidden, not surprisingly. And there was zero aftertaste; it just all disappeared. I did very much enjoy this beer despite its thin body, though. Get some.

U.S. Divers Cozumel Mask, Seabreeze Dry Snorkel, and Proflex II Fin Snorkeling Set

U.S. Divers Mercury Shorty Adult Wetsuit

Citizen Men's Eco-Drive 300 Meter Professional Diver Watch #BJ8050-08E

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