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Recipe: Hong Kong Style Milk Tea

This recipe is my personal customization of this recipe. It’s a flexible recipe that provides a nice energy boost without the caffeine level of coffee. I’ve been a fan of bubble tea and milk tea for a long time and recently discovered that Hong Kong style is my favorite. I hope you enjoy it!

Serving: One 16 oz glass with ice

2-3 tea bags of organic orange pekoe black tea*
2 tablespoons organic sweetened condensed milk
1 cup boiling water (filtered or spring)
1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon organic unrefined cane sugar (optional**)

1. Add tea bags to boiling water. Use 3 bags if you like a strong tea presence.
2. Stir in sugar until dissolved if you like yours sweeter.
3. Steep tea in boiling water for 5 minutes.
4. Remove tea bags and let tea cool to at least room temperature.
5. Stir in condensed milk.
6. Fill glass 3/4 of the way full with ice.
7. Pour in milk tea mixture and enjoy.

* You can use any strong black tea. We have even used Lipton before. I’d just avoid any that smell or tasty smokey.
** Do your first batch without sugar and slowly start incorporating some in future batches until you find your sweetness level that you prefer.

Remembering Chicago Craft Beer

In May of 2013 we moved from Chicago, IL to Portland, OR. Now that is has been almost a full year I wanted to reflect on some of the craft beer and breweries that I miss the most. Its hard to beat Portland’s craft beer scene. With the face melting Pacific Northwest hops in the IPAs and the broad spectrum of styles and experiments it is truly an amazing place to live for craft beer. There are, however, still some breweries and specific beers that we miss and regularly talk about from the Chicagoland area. Here is a list of some of them for fellow Portandlers (Wolf L!) that may be traveling to Chicago in the future and wonder where to find great craft beer. Please keep in mind that these are not the only great beers at these breweries. There are just my personal favorites.

Pipeworks (Chicago, IL)
Bottles and Growler Fills Only. Can find them at Binny’s and small, local beer shops.

  • Ninja Vs. Unicorn – Double IPA
  • Unicorn’s Revenge – Double IPA
  • Blood of the Unicorn – Double Red Ale
  • Citra Ninja – Double IPA
  • Santa Vs. Unicorn – American Barleywine

Three Floyds (Munster, IN)
Super high demand and low supply. Pub has decent food but expect a wait!

  • Gumballhead – Pale Wheat Ale
  • Zombie Dust – American Pale Ale
  • Robert the Bruce – Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
  • Deadnaught – Double IPA
  • Alpha King – American Pale Ale

Two Brothers (Warrenville, IL)
Great food too! In the West suburbs.

  • Cane and Ebel – Rye Beer
  • Revelry – Double Red Ale
  • Hop Centric – Double IPA

Haymarket Pub and Brewery (Chicago, IL)
Great food too!

  • Mathias – Imperial IPA
  • Ruhe – IPA
  • White Chapel – Witbeir
  • Blacksox Porter – American Porter
  • Algonquin Double Simocoe IPA – Double IPA
  • Lucy’s Belgian Tripel – Belgian Tripel
  • Wilburt Wondersniff Double American Wheat – American Pale Wheat Ale

Revolution (Chicago, IL)
Great food too!

  • A Little Crazy – Belgian Pale Ale
  • Anti-Hero IPA – IPA
  • Double Fist – Double IPA
  • Galaxy Hero – IPA
  • Red Skull – Double Red Ale
  • Rise – American Stout

Solemn Oath (Naperville, IL)
In the Western suburbs.

  • Butterfly Flashmob – Belgian IPA
  • Chubgutz – ESB
  • Skinny Jeans Are Ridiculous – American Pale Ale

Half Acre (Chicago, IL)

  • Daisy Cutter – American Pale Ale

I am sure the scene has grown and changed drastically in the past year. I encourage you to dig deeper into the scene and find some new beers and breweries as well. Cheers!

Portland Beer Scene Part One: Breweries and Brewpubs

About This Post

A lot of people think I am obsessed with craft beer, mostly because I am. My wife thinks I am an “alcoholic” which is clearly not the case. I drink beer because I savor the flavor. I do not drink beer to get drunk. We recently moved to Portland, Oregon from Chicago, Illinois. Portland is considered the beer capital of the world and “Beervana” for good reason. Oregon has over 200 brewpubs across 60 cities and 52 of these are within the Portland city limits. We have been here for about 6 weeks now and I have gone crazy exploring the various breweries, pubs, and beer stores to figure out which ones I enjoy the most. This post is a comprehensive reflection on my experiences thus far.

I will be covering my experiences over three posts.

Post #1: Breweries and Brewpubs
Post #2: Pubs and Taprooms
Post #3: Festivals and Events

Warning: These are my personal opinions based on my personal experiences. I apologize in advance if you do not agree with them. I try to be fair but at the same time honest. Also please keep in mind there are several places I still have yet to visit.

Top Oregon Breweries

#1: Hopworks

Favorite Beers:

  • Ace of Spades
  • Evelyn’s Imperial Sunshine
  • Galactic Imperial Red Ale

I can not say enough good things about Hopworks. They offer some of the best beers and food in Portland. The beer is also 100% organic! My wife and I have been to the main location on the East side numerous times and we recently tried the BikeBar location as well. The food is consistently great and I absolutely love all of their beers. I have not had a beer yet that I did not enjoy. Hopworks has quickly become the “go to” place for us when we don’t really have reason to go elsewhere and just want to have a good experience.

#2: Boneyard

Favorite Beers:

  • Hop Venom IIPA
  • Diablo Rojo

Boneyard is based out of Bend and had a really cool story behind its beginnings. They started out by buying up old, used equipment that other breweries did not want anymore, thus coining the “Boneyard Beer” naming. Besides producing top notch beer that somewhat reminds me of Three Floyds, it is pretty hard to find in Portland. They do not distribute via cans or bottles – only kegs. It can be quite difficult to find it on tap some days. I haven’t made it down to Bend yet to check out their tasting room but man do they make great beer.

#3: Deschutes

Favorite Beers:

  • Hop Henge Experimental IPA
  • Fresh Squeezed IPA
  • Black Butte Porter

Deschutes has been around since 1988. Their Mirror Pond Ale is considered a Portland/Oregon classic and can be found nearly everywhere in Portland. I have been to the Portland location several times. The first time was during my interview trip. The experience I had was so great it fueled me to seriously pursue the job opportunity I was flown out for. The food is great and the beer is phenomenal. They have a crazy large brewing capacity and a gigantic spectrum of beer styles that they produce. Their Fresh Squeezed IPA features one of the best uses of mosaic and citra hops I have ever experienced.

#4: Cascade Barrel House / Raccoon Lodge

Favorite Beers:

  • Vlad the Imp Aler
  • Elderberry
  • Strawberry

Raccoon Lodge and Cascade are kind of one in the same. They brew the regular craft beers (IPAs, porters, stouts, etc.) at Raccoon Lodge. Then, they take some of those beers over to Cascade Barrel House and age them in barrels with various fruits for up to 3 years to make sour beers. Before moving to Portland I had never really tried a sour beer to my knowledge. One day after visiting Green Dragon we noticed Cascade Barrel House across the street and decided to do a couple tasters. This was a life changing experience and I have been in love with sours, wild ales, and lambics ever since. They offer a broad spectrum of sour beers from “soda pop sour” to “face puckering sour.” The prices on the sours are really high but makes since when you think about the 2-3 year aging process that the beers go through. That is a long time to hang on to product before you see a return on investment!

Raccoon lodge is within walking distance of our apartment and we go there often. They always have at least 3 of their sours on tap. I honestly find most of their non-sour beers to be average at best with a surprise every now and then. Raccoon Lodge has great food on top of the beer as well. Thanks to Cascade I am really looking forward to Puckerfest later in July. It features sour beers from all over.

#5: Lompoc Sidebar

Favorite Beers:

  • Peach Wheat (very small batch!)
  • C-Note Imperial Pale Ale
  • Kick Axe Pale Ale

Sidebar is a small bar that features Lompoc’s small batch and specialty beers that you won’t necessarily find at their other locations. I went ahead and tried a flight of all of the beers they had to offer on tap and I was pleasantly surprised. The beer is fantastic, the server was very friendly, and the appetizers we got were great as well. We will definitely be back to Sidebar and now I really want to try Lompoc’s other locations as well. C-Note features 6 different hops that all start with the letter C (Cascade, Centennial, etc.) and is quite a delicious beer. I found Kick Axe to be a very underrated pale ale as well.

#6: Pints

Favorite Beers:

  • Pappy’s Dubbel
  • Seismic IPA
  • Triple Whammy

Pints is one of the newer breweries in Portland. While they are still adjusting their recipes and tweaking things I find most of their beers to be pretty dang good for being so new. They also just recently got a new head brewer that has some crazy experience under his belt (his own yeast strains from Europe, etc). I have noticed improvement already as Pints is my typical lunch spot at work. They do not have a big menu but it includes most of the standard pub fare. I will definitely keep going back to see what they keep coming up with.

Breweries I wont be visiting often

Lucky Labrador

  • Average Beer – nothing stood out
  • Cask conditioned beer was pretty warm (not cellar temp)
  • Not many options for my wife (Gluten and Dairy free)


Rogue used to be my favorite brewery on the planet until I moved to Portland. We no longer support them because they treat their employees like crap. Don’t believe me? Just google it. For shame!


  • Always out of Portland Pale Project each time I go
  • Mediocre to not appealing food


  • Very slow service when they were dead (happy hour)
  • Mediocre to not appealing food

Thats all I have for this one. Until next time, enjoy a pint for me!

First Experiences in Portland

My wife and I recently moved to Portland from Chicago. We are in an apartment complex in South West Portland. We are as close as you can get to Beaverton while still being technically in Portland. We are absolutely in love with the area! Everything is so lush and green. Trees are everywhere. This is exactly the kind of place that my wife and I want to live. It has been a while since I last blogged and I normally blog about technology or software related topics. This time I really wanted to reflect on my experiences from our first three days in Portland.

We are both still battling a violent virus that we acquired right before the move. As a result we haven’t been able to start making our routine visits to the local breweries in the area. We did discover a lot of other cool stuff though.

Stumptown Coffee

Good bye Starbucks. I wont be looking back after having easy access to this coffee. It is served practically everywhere we have been so far and we both really like it.

Big Wins:

  • Locally owned and operated
  • Easy to find
  • Is not over roasted like many Starbucks blends

The Tao of Tea

My wife and I have been consumers of high quality loose leaf teas for a very long time. In Portland we discovered this great find that already is one of our favorites.

Big Wins:

  • Locally owned and operated
  • Organic, whole leaf (not just loose leaf) teas

New Seasons Market

This place reminds me of my old coop that I went to all of the time when I was studying at SIUC in Carbondale, IL. My wife and I immediately fell in love with it.

Big Wins:

  • Locally owned/operated
  • Carry “The Tao of Tea” teas in whole leaf
  • Carry “The Tao of Tea” microbrewed in bottles
  • Offer brewed and whole bean Stumptown Coffee
  • Several wholesome, delicious, fresh meals

Down to Earth Cafe

I found this gem on Yelp. It had great reviews and they were dead on. We will definitely be going back soon.

Big Wins:

  • Served Stumptown Coffee
  • Delicious, real food
  • Brought real cream and organic sugar by default for coffee

I am sure I’ll have another blog post soon once we get over this virus and we have a chance to get out a bit more. I have big plans for trying all of the local breweries and I will likely blog about that soon.

Why I Use Percona XtraDB

What is Percona and why do I use it?

MySQL community edition has a bad reputation for not performing well enough for enterprise level usage. This is why originally a lot of open source shops jumped ship for postgres. The Percona team has made a significant series of changes to the InnoDB storage engine which they package as a drop-in replacement called Percona XtraDB. You can find an itemized list list of changes on their website. Many of these are optimizations for performance. You can also see a recent performance comparison on their website here.

This collective boost of performance is what makes it so appealing to me. Percona’s devotion to open source is absolutely fantastic. All of their software is completely open source and they make all of their profit through training, support, and consulting. The company I work for has a Gold support contract with them. I have been using this support rather often lately and they have provided us with top notch responses. I have applied several of their suggestions, tips, and tricks to my daily efforts on various projects and it has had a noticeably positive impact on results.

They also have several added value pieces I use pretty much every day, including:

  1. Percona XtraBackup
  2. The Percona Toolkit (personal favorites below)
    1. pt-table-checksum – Verifies MySQL replication integrity
    2. pt-table-sync – Synchronizes MySQL table data more efficiently
    3. pt-query-digest – Analyzes query execution logs and generates a query report of problematic queries
    4. pt-online-schema-change – Allows ALTER tables without locking them
    5. pt-stalk – Gathers forensic data about MySQL that can be passed to Percona support
  3. Percona XtraDB Cluster

Additional Resources

If you are interested in learning more about Percona and high performance MySQL you can find a sea of information at the following links.

Achieving Readable Tabular Output in MySQL

I just changed employers a few weeks ago and went from a psql shop to a mysql shop. One of the things that I missed was the ability to set a pager in a .psqlrc file and get readable output from query results. After some digging and ignoring the posts about \G and vertical output which is nearly useless to me I finally found out the proper flags for less to achieve what I wanted.

On the fly:

mysql> \P less -S
PAGER set to 'less -S'

Permanent config:

$ vim ~/.my.cnf

Add the following…

pager = less -S

Interested in the difference?


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