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 Newb questions: virginia frustrations

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gilgawulf

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Age : 37
Location : Rahm Emanuel's Royal Estate of Taxcago-- I mean, Chicago, Il.
Registration date : 2009-04-12

PostSubject: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:37 pm

I've been smoking a pipe for nigh on seven years now, and have been smoking (with varying degrees of success) flakes and virginias for about three years, so I feel kinda dumb asking this question, but....
What the f@#! is the deal with virginias? Particularly virginia flakes. I try everything, drying it out, every packing method you can think of, not drying it out, smoking slow, puffing lightly, the "breathing method", and on and on and on and on. Sometimes (about fifteen per cent of the time) I have that wonderful experience of getting "in the zone" and the tobacco tastes like freshly baked cookies, and I feel like I've figured it all out. And then the next time... bitterness, acidity, lack of any flavor, a feeling like I might as well be smoking brown paper sprayed with nicotene.
And as for vapers, don't even get me started there. I don't know what it is that I'm missing, but I know I'm missing something. First off, what am I even supposed to be tasting? I mean, what should I be 'listening' for in my smoke? Hell, even with just straight virginia, what should I be listening for?
Please guys, any help, any suggestions, would be greatly appreciated. I've got a huge supply of va's and vaper's (irc virginia flake and irc slices, wessex brown virginia flake, orlick golden slice, dunhill deluxed navy rolls, escudo, to name a few), and I feel like they're all just going to waste because most of my smoking with them is just me trying to figure out how the hell to smoke them, and then giving up, then going back, then giving up, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum.
SOS! Please send help!!!
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monbla256

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Age : 72
Location : DFW Metroplex, Texas
Registration date : 2012-01-15

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:10 pm

gilgawulf wrote:
I've been smoking a pipe for nigh on seven years now, and have been smoking (with varying degrees of success) flakes and virginias for about three years, so I feel kinda dumb asking this question, but....
What the f@#! is the deal with virginias? Particularly virginia flakes. I try everything, drying it out, every packing method you can think of, not drying it out, smoking slow, puffing lightly, the "breathing method", and on and on and on and on. Sometimes (about fifteen per cent of the time) I have that wonderful experience of getting "in the zone" and the tobacco tastes like freshly baked cookies, and I feel like I've figured it all out. And then the next time... bitterness, acidity, lack of any flavor, a feeling like I might as well be smoking brown paper sprayed with nicotene.
And as for vapers, don't even get me started there. I don't know what it is that I'm missing, but I know I'm missing something. First off, what am I even supposed to be tasting? I mean, what should I be 'listening' for in my smoke? Hell, even with just straight virginia, what should I be listening for?
Please guys, any help, any suggestions, would be greatly appreciated. I've got a huge supply of va's and vaper's (irc virginia flake and irc slices, wessex brown virginia flake, orlick golden slice, dunhill deluxed navy rolls, escudo, to name a few), and I feel like they're all just going to waste because most of my smoking with them is just me trying to figure out how the hell to smoke them, and then giving up, then going back, then giving up, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum.
SOS! Please send help!!!

You name off about 6 varieties of Va's, all some sort of flake version which might be part of your "problem". Try picking out just 2 of them and focus on how to smoke THEM in as many variety's of pipes as you have available to you. Not every bowl will be "that" smoke, some hotter than others, some might bite more etc. By limiting yourself to fewer varieties you will be able to focus in on the differences of each. Once you have done this for at least a whole tin of each, then move on to another in the same way. It's not like you have do them all at once since you have the rest of your life to "experience it all" ! As much as you can, try staying with the same "type" of "cuts" or "type" ie, full flakes, then broken flakes, ribbon/shag cut etc. Don't mix shag w/ full flake and try to stay with the same manner of loading with each. Sounds like a lot of "discipline" but I'm sure that you will gain MORE knowledge in an orderly, organized manner. JMHO ( and over 40 years of smoking Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil ) Razz
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jefe1037

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Age : 36
Location : Mr. Pleasant, SC
Registration date : 2012-02-07

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:15 pm

I believe you know how to fill a bowl, light, and smoke your tobacco. With your information provided, and because you have a good experience sometimes, the only variable you haven't mentioned is your pipe. If I were in charge (as a married man, i know for a fact that I am NOT in charge) I would get a cob, or pick a pipe that you already own, and make that your "Virginia Pipe" Now, take your favorite of your vast supply, (I like the IRC VA Flake!) Now, LEARN that one tobacco in that one pipe. Seriously smoke the hell out of it. a little more than 2oz is where i really started hitting my groove.

Too much variation could be the cause of your problems here. There are so many good tobaccos out there, it is hard to dedicate time to one, but as much as everyone here raves about some of these tobaccos, they have to be on to something.

Worst case scenario, I will take your va's off your hands if you just give up!
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Hermit

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Age : 65
Location : Ascension Parish
Registration date : 2008-04-22

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:20 pm

After seven years, mebbie you just ain't made for Virginias.
Body chemistry?
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DustyRoundup

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Age : 53
Location : S.W. Montana
Registration date : 2011-11-03

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:26 pm

I'm new at this , but maybe this'll help.

Virginia's are definitely my favorite.and I like the Va-pers too.
But, I absolutely can not taste, what others can. I read reviews, and try as I might, my tastebuds are not going to taste it all like , like Kyle can.

But, I have tried a few Va's now , and I find that when I smoke a certain Va for a few days, I'll get a craving for another certain Va.
And that craving, is what tells me , what I'm tasting.
But like you, I cant pin it down sometimes. Ask me why I like Kendal Plug??? IDK,, it seems smooth to me, light bodied, and is slightly sweet..
why do I like Bright CR, because it has a sweet taste at lightup, and it carries on throughout the bowl for me.
Flavors, like hay, cookies etc, just dont happen with me, so I go with what I can taste, however slight it may be. I'll get bored of Orlicks, and crave Kendal, and the first bowl of kendal will satisfy my craving, and then I can taste the difference, however slight it may be.

Also, I find, when I slow way down, and sort of "sip" it, little bitty puffs, I get more Flavor.
And My favorite Va pipe is a little Pete 317, and it has the smallest bowl of all my pipes, and I seem to think I get more flavor out of small bowls..

Dont give up man, follow the old timers advice, and relax, stick to one for a bit, and when you crave one of those other tobaccos, you'll be getting close to figuring it out.
And realize , some of us dont have the ability to taste a whole plethora of flavors at different levels of a bowl.
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Brewdude
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Age : 66
Location : Arid-zona
Registration date : 2011-05-04

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:58 pm

Don't know if this will help gilgawulf but here goes...

I put down the pipe for almost 10 years because I was getting consistent tongue bite that would last into the next day. While some of the blends I was smoking seemed to be OK I had the most problems with VA blends. And while I loved the flavor of them, at the same time had a very tough time with the burn and the tongue thing.

Looking back and after returning to pipe smoking for a couple years now, I'm reasonably convinced that that I hadn't dried out the VA's enough and hence was smoking too moist. This caused me to puff too fast with the inevitable furnace like conditions.

After I learned to dry the ginnyweed a bit and practice slow sipping, this all went away. Now, VA/VaPers are what I smoke most and can finally appreciate them without the dreaded tongue bite.

Back then, I either didn't know of the internet forums or they didn't exist. So getting info like we now have on BoB wasn't available to me. This forum has been instrumental in getting my pipe feet back under me.

So try drying your ginnys out a bit first, and then practice slower sipping. And like others have said, try them in several different pipes. That can make a big difference.

HTH


Cheers,

RR

_________________
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin


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Dutch

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Age : 53
Location : On the road.......
Registration date : 2010-11-06

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:18 pm

Some really good advice in the posts above.

Having come to pipes from cigars, I already knew that I didn't have the palate that some folks are blessed with.

Having said that, I never give up on developing my palate. Even though I derive a great deal of stress relief from pipe and cigar smoking, I still think of it as a journey and a sport of sorts.

To me, flakes are for the advanced smoker, and I rarely smoke them away from home, because they require attention to detail when smoking. I find that when I barely light them, I can taste them so much better, so I do a lot of careful lighting, and relighting.

I have also found as others have suggested that a certain pipe can make all the difference. I am always on the lookout for a pipe that might create magic with flakes, if not, just about any pipe with suffice for ribbon cut latakia blends. Some pipes that started out as flake pipes, didn't make the team, and became latakia pipes.

Flakes require dedication, persistence, and flexibility. study
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JamesFersch



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Location : Austria
Registration date : 2012-05-30

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:19 pm

I'm quite new to pipe smoking (only about 1 year), so probably I can't give such good advice as the more experienced guys. But I really like Virginias and Vapers and smoke them daily.

So maybe you could try ageing your tobacco. I tried that myself, rather I'm still trying.
For example I really like Hal O' the Wynd. But I cannot smoke this blend if it's new. Out of the tin, with some time to let it dry out, I can't taste much, or even get tongue bite most of the time.

But about 2 of 10 tries were like you described, I can taste something like fresh cookies, a real sweetness but not overwhelming. So I tried a tip I read on tobaccoreviews to let it age.
The oldest HotW tobacco I have here is about 6 months old, and I still keep it ageing. But on few occasions I take a little bit of it and try it. And I can tell you it's much more smooth and it get's better and better!


Other than that you could try smoking the virginias with the "wosbald approach", something that isn't that popular among pipe smokers, and I don't know why it isn't.
I don't think much about his way to pack the pipe (maybe it works for you though), but lighting and smoking with that technique is a completely different experience from "normal smoking".
One downside is that it's pretty much impossible outside, it takes time to get the pipe started and, atleast for me, doesn't work with every bowl. With some bowls the pipe will just go too hot and the smoke isn't a good one. But that's probably just my mistake, because when it works, it works great. And not just with virginias of course. Smile

A quote from his pdf: "Incorrectly smoked VAs will either fry the tongue or else leave that bitter-sour aftertaste that lingers for hours on end. Carefully smoked, quality VAs (especially matured VAs) leave very little aftertaste.
Bite is caused by excess air flow that rushes around the ember unevenly and quickly (which is evidenced by a thin smoke stream, a sharp stinging sensation, and condensation in the airway.) Bitterness and acridity is caused when the tobacco and the ember get too hot. This is from puffing too fast. If the ember is set properly and the airflow is right, the smoker must let the pipe smoke itself by matching the suction of the draw to the speed at which the air wants to percolate through the tobacco."

You can find this document either with google "wosbald approach" or here is a link, if I'm allowed to post it:
Ok, I can't post it because I'm a new member. But with google "wosbald approach" you can easily find it.

And no, I'm not getting paid or making any kind of profit for posting that, haha. Just sharing some ideas.
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monbla256

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Age : 72
Location : DFW Metroplex, Texas
Registration date : 2012-01-15

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:49 pm

DustyRoundup wrote:

But like you, I cant pin it down sometimes. Ask me why I like Kendal Plug??? IDK,, it seems smooth to me, light bodied, and is slightly sweet..
why do I like Bright CR, because it has a sweet taste at lightup, and it carries on throughout the bowl for me.
Flavors, like hay, cookies etc, just dont happen with me, so I go with what I can taste, however slight it may be. I'll get bored of Orlicks, and crave Kendal, and the first bowl of kendal will satisfy my craving, and then I can taste the difference, however slight it may be.
And realize , some of us dont have the ability to taste a whole plethora of flavors at different levels of a bowl.

Dusty, I think you have stated more of a "truth" than you realize! I really question all the "...tasting definate levels of raisins cumquates, rasberries, red oak, bridle leather et al" as one encounters in so many reviews you read! Your terms of describing a taste and aroma of a tobacco are probably more realistic than you realize Razz It's definately how I ascertain what I like about a blend/mixture as well! Well done Razz
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gravel

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Registration date : 2011-12-07

PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:58 pm

Link to a regularly updated wosbald technique is found on CPS. Here.

You may get an error. Its there, keep trying.
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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:37 pm

Good stuff.

Flakes vary dramatically in their smoking charcteristics. You have to get to know each one. FVF takes a completely different approach than Embarcadero, if you're loading them in vertical flakes.

The narrower the chamber of your pipe is,, for flakes (at least to start), the better. 3/4" is ideal. And an apple will be easier to manage than a billiard.

AGE your flake. New, many Virginias taste like a cigarette. After a couple of years in an un-opened tin (or jar), they start coming into their own. By five years, they really blossom.

When you get it right every once in a while, remember what you did and how. Then repeat it.

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:46 pm

There are a million ways to smoke flake tobacco.

The quickest, easiest way to great results is, IMHO :

Assuming you have a reasonably narrow chamber, cut a square or rectangle of your flake with scissors (how big comes with experience). Abuse that into the equivalent of a brillo pad. Put that most BUT NOT ALL the way into your pipe. You should be able to draw air through it with no more resistance than when it's empty. If not, pull it out, adjust and re-boot.

You want the tobacco suspended up off the very bottom where the moisture accumulates. That's what the sideways pressure (springiness) of the brillo pad does.

Then cut narrow (as narrow as your scissor blades are) strips across the grain of your flake. Abuse these into little squares and gravity feed them in. When you're level with the top (or a little under), stop.

DO NOT TAMP.

Light & enjoy.

Fluff the ash as you go to keep it from forming a moisture seal. You want your pipe/tobacco to breathe -- not smother.

Tamp (as necessary) with only 0.00001 ounce pressure.

What a Face


Last edited by Yak on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:47 pm; edited 2 times in total
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gandalfpc

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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:53 pm

Aside from a non MacBaren Virginia, slow sipping and keeping your pipe cool is the key - if you hold the side of the bowl against your cheek it should feel warm, but not hot...
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Dutch

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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:02 pm

Yak wrote:


Tamp (as necessary) with only 0.00001 ounce pressure.

What a Face

Yak, can I use an archery arrow deflection gauge to check this? It would save me some bucks if I don't have to buy some sort of new contraption just for smoking flakes. geek
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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:07 pm

Guess Laughing

What a Face
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Dutch

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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:15 pm

Yak wrote:
Guess Laughing

What a Face
Taking my arrow deflection machine apart now. Thanks Yak! geek
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gandalfpc

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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:27 pm

Just catch a gnat, trim four hairs from its head, and place them on top of your tamper - then just let the extra weight do the work...

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Dutch

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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:34 pm

gandalfpc wrote:
Just catch a gnat, trim four hairs from its head, and place them on top of your tamper - then just let the extra weight do the work...


As they say, "There is more than one way to skin a gnat!" Twisted Evil
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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:55 pm

Great thread. It's unfortunate that you're having problems, but your dedication shows you have the patience for maybe a little more method and possibly some simplification.

I can't stress enough about how tamping can make or break a smoke. Tamping is as much a skill and art form unto itself, like lighting, packing and all the other (sometimes frustrating) variables. Too much, and you're changing the air flow, burning dynamics, moisture control during the burn, the whole lot. I still feel I get lucky when I've tamped the right way. The bowlful doesn't lie, and neither will your tongue, for better or for worse.

I usually know it's time to tamp when I simply can't light any more ash on the bowl. And then, yeah, it's the pressure of gnat hairs, 0.00001 ounce/pressure... more often than not, I simply move the tamper in horizontal circles and smooth out the ash rather than smashing the heck out of the 'bacca. *shrug* It seems to work. With flakes, especially for those that like a chunkier load, they can "coal-up" and get pretty solid. That adds even more the need for noting how much pressure is enough.

Take notes? *shrug*

Good luck.
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gilgawulf

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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:20 am

Wow!!! Thanks, guys. There's so much helpful information here I don't even know where to begin.
So I've got a pipe I've decided to make my virginia pipe. It's a sort of bulldog basket pipe with a slightly narrower chamber than most of my other ones. It's the closest I have to a small pipe. The IRC Virginia Flake is actually the one I have the most of. A few months back I picked up what I'd say is about an eight ounce bag of the stuff (it only cost me about twenty five bucks!), and I still have about three fifths of it left. So I've got plenty of the weed to spend on a good couple weeks, or three or four, just getting to know it as intimately as possible.
@ Yak: I thought I'd heard of pretty much every method of packing flake there was, but I'd never heard of the 'brillo-pad/air-pocket/cube-cut' method you've described. I am currently smoking a bowl of Orlik Golden Slice (figured I'd enjoy a bowl of it before I went over to the IRC for a while, as it is a relatively accessible smoke, and I wanted to try out this packing method), and the results are.... Let's just say I'm blown away, and I think I finally understand what all the fuss is about with these virginias. I can just TASTE so MUCH this way, and effortlessly! Thank you Yak, and all of the rest of you guys. This has been very helpful, and I think this day will mark a turning point in my enjoyment of the venerable 'ginnyweed'.
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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:49 am

Glad to be able to help ! Very Happy

Happy Smoking

What a Face
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Smoker99

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PostSubject: Re: Newb questions: virginia frustrations   Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:25 am

First thing, is learn what tobaccos you like. Do you like red Va, dark stoved Va, bright, or African? Smoke those with the less sweeteners, and dry them a bit, and smoke slowly. You'll figure it out over time.
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