Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.


Now and again things jump out as being just the right tool for the job. In this case it is keeping beer in bottles cold and safe.


Image courtesy of BottleKeeper.

Cousins Adam and Matt decided to solve a problem vexing beer drinkers; warm beer in unsafe containers.
Quoting from their website:

 “a golden light flashed above Cousin Matt’s head as if Zeus himself had sent a bolt of lightening from the heavens above; ‘what if we could leave the beer in the bottle and put the bottle in something that would keep it cold, like one of those stainless steel water bottles?’ and BAM!, BottleKeeper was born.”

The BottleKeeper has a neoprene sleeve (4 mm) inside a stainless steel container. Add a padded bottom and the bottle is protected from errant mishaps. The screw top, while not creating a vacuum, seals in the bottle keeping the beer fresher and in the bottle while open in transit.

While I enjoy my PBR’s in a can, the ability to keep a bottle of some of my favorite craft beers safe and cold has made me a fan.

Check out the BottleKeeper website. It has lots of entertaining info. The link should get you a 10% discount code on your first purchase.


The Reel Case for Tenkara

Earlier this month I traveled to the International Fly Tackle Dealer show (IFTD), the fly fishing industry’s trade show in Orlando, Florida. There is a virtual smorgasbord of fly fishing gear at the show and much has been and will be written about that.

However, one item caught my attention and appealed to my tenkara loving ways.

Dan Rice at Bozeman Reel Company got my attention when he showed me what they had done to the reel case they include with every reel they sell.

First Dan showed me how they had put a series of small holes in the bottom and a some stretch fabric in the top flap to aid in air circulation. They added a space on the label so you can mark the line weight.

Bozeman Reel Case closed Bozeman Reel Case open

Then Dan pointed out two pieces of velco inside the top flap and a band of elastic fabric inside the main section of the case. He pulled the top flap under his belt, securing it with the velco and the reel case now had a higher purpose; a beer holder!


Of course, I immediately saw this as essential tenkara gear. You may not need a reel but a Bozeman Reel case is a whole other matter…

Fish Water

Imagine fishing without beer. That would almost be as bad as fishing without fish…

If you take your beer as seriously as your fishing then this post, “10 Brewing Companies That Protect Our Fish” from the boys at Gink & Gasoline is worth the read.

They take a look at brewers who give back to the resource and the list may surprise you.

Next time I tip one back I’ll be thinking about who is helping make the fishing just a little bit better.

And brewers, if you are doing something for the water resources in your area, let me know. Happy to post an addendum to the Gink and Gasoline list.


Rx for Vegas

“Ooh, Las Vegas ain’t no place for a poor boy like me. Every time I hit your crystal city, you know you gonna make a wreck out of me.” – Gram Parsons

When I got the first text from Delta telling me that my flight home from Vegas Thursday was delayed I just knew my travel plans had started to circle the drain. I changed my flights to try and make it home, but a mechanical issue on the flight did me in. I will give Delta customer service credit they could’t have been nicer and more helpful, thanks to Kim Bailey on the phone and Georgie at the LAS check-in counter.

I was in Vegas for the AFFTA board meeting and the ICAST/IFTD trade shows. Three days of smoky hotel bars and scant periods of being outside had me more than ready for a return to the Shenandoah Valley.

Over the years I have learned to roll with travel snafus. So when I texted my buddy Chris Hunt telling him I was stuck in Vegas, his reply was “Glad your back. We’ll make the best of a bad situation ;-)”

And indeed we did!

Alchemy indeed!

Alchemy indeed!

After a quick trip back to the Convention Center to get in one more round of post show parties, I wound up eating in Chef Rick Moonen’s new restaurant Rx Boiler Room, with Hunt and Scott Hed of Sportsmen’s Alliance for Alaska fame. Rx rightly claims to be the “alchemy of food and drink.”

Hunt and the Rx ladies

Hunt and Rx ladies

The food was exceptional! I enjoyed a lobster roll that would be proudly served in Newport (he knows his rolls) matched by outstanding service. Thanks Cecila!

The drinks are as special as the menu, so don’t settle for any of your standard cocktails, enjoy what the bar wizards concoct!

The decor and outfits were  created by Moonen’s talented wife Roni. Billed as Steampunk, it had this glorious pirate den feel to me.

Hed knows Moonen from their work together on the Save Bristol Bay campaign and Savor Bristol Bay. Moonen is a sustainable seafood advocate who practices what he preaches and puts his money where your mouth is.

Eating at Rx gave us a chance to say thanks to Chef Moonen for his support for protecting Bristol Bay and for being such an excellent voice for sustainable seafood.

Thanks Chef, it was a great meal!

Thanks Chef, it was a great meal!

Bulleit Dandy Candy

This one is a very tasty play on a Manhattan.

Here is my version of the recipe:

2 oz. Bourbon of choice

½ oz Carpano Antica Vermouth

½ oz Grand Marnier

1-2 dash(s) of Angostura or Peychards bitters

Stir over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass

Garnish with lemon and Luxardo cherry on a cocktail stick.

A Ginger Snap with a Kick


My good friend Geoff Samples and I share a fondness for fly fishing, bourbon and labs among other things. We are both Knob Creek fans and often trade “stories from Knob Creek.” He sent this YouTube video of Chef Michael Symon that I know will be a hit around here (recipe at the end of the vid).


Cookin gumbo

that beer is for timing. seriously....

When it is cold my thoughts run to gumbo. It is one of those foods that is fun to make as it is satisfying to make as it is to eat.

My “go-to” gumbo recipe is from Chef John Besh. The good folks at Garden and Gun posted a great story, The Besh Gumbo Ever. It is not only a fun story to read, it also has Chef Besh’s wonderful recipe!


For me the secret to great gumbo is the roux. In the G & G article you will learn one of Besh’s secrets…the 3 beer roux. Works for me!