Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Expedition Stout

When I was 8 or 10 years old, my parents decided that we should go on a road trip from Pennsylvania to Ohio. Now this was no ordinary road trip. Rather, we were going to search cemeteries in the hopes (almost wrote hops) of finding some long-dead relatives, especially including my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, whose portrait still hangs in their house. They had some scattered records and history from I don't know where, but it certainly wasn't the internet or my pal Google at that time. So we did know what 30 cemeteries to hit. We just didn't realize that some had grave stones and some did not, and some were in such disrepair that you couldn't make out the 150 year old name. I must admit, for my brother and me, it was quite the hunt, and we did find some stones with names we were looking for. We never did find the grave for the portrait relative, but one cemetery had so many of our relatives, we went to the parsonage of the church where it was located on a Saturday afternoon to see if we could by some chance access the church records.

It was so funny. The minister thought we were asking for money and he started to hand us some certificates for meals at a local restaurant. When he heard our real request, though, he was more than willing to take us to the archives. So there they were paging through ancient books of names, births, deaths, communions, etc. Jackpot! They found some of portrait guy's records, including birth and other informal information. His strange first name was apparently taken from the last name of the minister who had baptized him. We felt like the Bloodhound Gang from 3-2-1 Contact on PBS. In all, we learned a lot. And of course we were then rewarded with a trip to Geauga Lake and Sea World. That was our Expedition. Maybe this story would've gone better with a Dead Guy Ale (or Double Dead Guy), but I chose to make it a journey instead.

Now for Expedition Stout brewed by Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan. This beer has a nice deep chocolate, toffee and malty aroma. Mmmm. Very thick, with chocolate and dark fruit flavors being the first things I notice. You definitely will taste some roasted flavors with some coffee and raisins mixed in as well. This is not a sweet beer at all, but is rather quite bitter. The 10.5% alcohol content also makes itself known as the initial flavors dissipate, and it provides a nice bite and long lasting warming presence. Expedition Stout then progresses into burnt flavor mode with some nuttiness. Long lasting flavors for sure. I'm not so sure about the aftertaste, maybe a little alcoholic combined with something I just can't put my tongue on. That's the only part I didn't like. For sure a nice beer and glad to have had it.

Hi-Tec Men's Altitude IV Hiking Boot

Monday, June 29, 2009

Black Jack Porter

In honor of the beer I'm going to drink tonight, I'm going to tell you about my experiences with casinos and Black Jack. I've never been to Las Vegas; however, I've spent countless hours in Atlantic City thanks to grandma's house being so close. But no recounts of any of those trips are going to end up here tonight.

Rather, I'm going to tell you what it's like to play in Colombia, where I visited several casinos a few years back. First, I must say that I've never been through so many metal detectors in my entire life, not even during a trip to the United Nations. It all started in Cartagena, which was one of the stops we made while visiting. The first casino, I visited with my wife, and I was totally shocked to see how empty and dilapidated the place was. While I already knew every number in Spanish, I learned them like an expert that week, and also how to question the addition-challenged dealers when necessary. I also learned that each casino had their own house rules, subtly different than each other and the ones in AC, but enough to make a difference--the order the dealer got her cards, doubling-down rules, insurance, and a few others.

My second casino was much ritzier and even had an outdoor boxing match going on at the same time. The guy at the other end of the table kept muttering and criticizing me for playing mathematically perfect odds, of course in Spanish. And being an asshole (to match his assholeness), I told him to mind his own business and sarcastically asking him if my decisions were OK, in English. That went nowhere but my wife warned me to stop, that this was a foreign and dangerous country, and we didn't want to have him waiting with his gang outside afterward. Casino three was also slow, and I went alone, but it was funny because a guy I had met the night before showed up, coincidentally. Was fun, and I even shared a taxi back to the hotel with some strangers, against what I was told to do. Not smart.

Back to Bogota. Instead of shopping with the wife and mi suegra, I went to my fourth casino. Mr. Cartagena was there as well already playing. Seemingly he had the same trip as I did, I guess. Nothing eventful, I did OK financially over the course of the week. And I brought back four souvenir chips for a family friend of ours who collects them--I can't tell you how hard it was not to spend those. Can you say addict?

So in case you still haven't figured out which beer is making an appearance tonight, it's Black Jack Porter brewed by Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, Colorado. I've had a handful of Left Hands over the past several months. Oh, Lefties!

Black Jack Porter has a malty, caramel and raisin aroma, smells sweet. Up front, the flavors are thick and rich, sweet caramel, dark fruits and a roasted goodness all around. That sweetness is then toned down with some hops and coffee-like bitterness, including some coffee flavors. The alcohol makes an appearance and gives a nice gentle burn as well. By the end of this beer, the consistency and body seem much lighter, but there is a very good and lasting aftertaste. Very nice beer to take a look at (and then drink).

One of a Kind 1000 Pcs 11.5 Gram Clay Composite Chipset with Two Different Patterns.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Censored Rich Copper Ale

I was recently re-reading and getting a great laugh from an email that was sent to me about a year and a half ago. The email was the final one from one of my business partners. The basic theme was how uncooperative I was, how I sabotaged our brands, and my favorite part was the "Type A Control Freak Know-It-All" label in all bolded CAPS. Business went on without that partner and flourished, but I still get a kick out of that email.

But I don't know everything, including something I probably should by now. A more-than-basic understanding of the Spanish language. Anyone else credit their Spanish language skills to trying to translate (here it is) that Jane's Addiction intro (spoken)? I do. Well, that... and Sesame Street... and being married to a Colombian woman for 12 years... and living in Miami. But Jane's Addiction just sounds better. Anyway, I've taken steps to try to improve my Spanish. I have a decent vocabulary, but my speaking skills are not good, unpracticed and I really hate to sound stupid when I fuck up so many verbs and tenses. But whatever. I can swallow my pride, I guess.

I've started drinking The Censored Rich Copper Ale brewed by Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California. Not sure what's being censored on the label, but I thought this was a good one to drink with my Jane's Addiction mention, since their album covers were certainly censored back in the day. Think Ritual de lo Habitual and Nothing's Shocking, for example.

There is a malty, dark fruit and caramel aroma. The flavors are similar, sporting sweet caramel, plums and dark cherries. The opening rich medium body is very good. Things thin out after a few seconds, when you get a little bit of bitterness and some slightly high carbonation. A very good beer, extremely drinkable. There is a slightly medicinal and metallic aftertaste, but overall this is something I would certainly pick up again.

Rosetta Stone Version 3: Spanish (Latin America) Level 1, 2 & 3 Set with Audio Companion

Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction

Ritual de lo Habitual--Jane's Addiction

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kalamazoo Stout

It's been so hot here in Florida! And I've basically been bitching about that since the day I moved in here seven years ago. But where, when, logistics to move are always the questions. For me, those questions make me think about cold weather, snow and growing up in that climate. Do I want that weather again?

Growing up in very rural Pennsylvania, my brother and I made our own fun, especially during winter in the snow. We had a little hill in our yard that we built up for sledding with ramps and banks, was great. But we also used the same hill on the far side of the yard as an sled escape route. Looking back, I'm not really sure what we were thinking as 10-ish-year-olds. Certainly not about damage, consequences, angry people and parents. But one winter we decided to gather all of the acorns we could find and pretend we were in a war. That war was against moving vehicles in the front of the house. We were not trying to cause any damage, and actually never did. But we did make some people very angry as we threw those acorns at their car tires as they drove by. We got to use our sled escape route on more than one occasion, too, down to the back yard then to disappear into the woods. One guy I can remember in particular chased us for a long time, but we had a big advantage in that we had a head start and knew the wooded area very well. We didn't get into trouble, but that was the end of acorn war. So let's see what life brings, but I hate Florida weather.

Today I'm drinking Kalamazoo Stout brewed by Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan. I used a cool batch search feature they have on their home page to tell me mine was packaged on August 18, 2008, so I'm hoping the 10 months doesn't matter. I've had a few others from Bell's Brewery as well, with decent results.

There is a dark fruit and caramel aroma, smells sweet. The beer does start out sweet with some roasted chocolate and coffee flavors. But as the complexities unfold, you taste a lot of black licorice and some spicy black pepper flavors as well. Thick, full body and medium carbonation are solid features for this beer and are well balanced. Kalamazoo Stout is bitter and more acidic in the middle before a dryer finish which is when the licorice and alcohol really come alive. I like it but don't love it, but I can certainly appreciate the craftsmanship that went into making it. Check it out!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Warrior IPA

Wow! What a week! Started slow with the AWOL South Carolina Governor emerging from his disappearance and fessing up. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and then most unexpectedly Michael Jackson? Not to be confused with the great beer guy Michael "The Beer Hunter" Jackson who is a beer icon. Before I ever even knew who he was, back in 1993 or so, I saw him give a lecture. His opening line was that he wasn't "that" Michael Jackson, and that he didn't sleep with children either. Got a bunch of "bad joke" moans. But despite the erratic behavior and lifestyle of singer MJ, he made some great music back in the day. I'm not shedding a tear or anything, but it's still too bad. Who knew so many people loved this guy?

I was listening to about 50 Michael Jackson songs in a row on the radio this morning, when I almost crashed the car. Get this... I saw a sign on a pole that said RAGE ALE with an arrow pointing to a building with a decent sized parking lot. I'm not kidding! Could it be a bar? No such luck. The sign was broken in half perfectly to confuse me. Glad I didn't go to that GARAGE SALE. Too funny! Wish I had my camera. But Rage Ale would fit in great here in Miami, despite recently losing our "Angriest Drivers" crown to New York. Oh well.

Yesterday at Total Wine, I got the big 22 oz bottle of Warrior IPA brewed by Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, Colorado. I don't know where I saw it, but a few days ago one guy was criticizing someone else for calling the big 22 ouncer just that. He insisted that it's a Bomber. Whatever. The bottle says this is brewed only once a year, so let's hope it's great. No mulligans, which makes it the improper beer to pair with my golf game.

Nice aroma, mainly consisting of grapefruit, grass and a touch of caramel sweetness. The first sip gave a very bitter introduction to the beer. Lots of grapefruit, lemony citrus, grass and also a bit sour. Those flavors were then eased somewhat by some sweeter malts. Finally, a long one-dimensional progression to a bone-dry finish, which was slightly unpleasant. This beer was just an OK IPA. Not wonderfully balanced, a little sour and the astringency just left something to be desired. I did drink the whole big bottle though, so figure it out for yourself if you're interested.

Michael Jackson 25th Anniversary of Thriller

Michael Jackson's World Beer Hunter - PC - CD-ROM

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Brewer's Choice Special Ale

First let me tell you about the spat I had with my girlfriend at Total Wine. I know, you remembered I am married. But this girlfriend is Total Wine, and we've been dating for a few months now. Went to the beer aisle where half the aisle has sixers on it and the other half has singles all in rows. This aisle was pure disaster with some new dude emptying six packs to restock the single section. Now I can appreciate the courtesy of following rules, but when this guy went out of his way to explain to me that I shouldn't pull singles from the six packs, I had to bite my tongue. I had two kids with me and his absolute disaster prevented me from even going near the singles section as he was suggesting. But he was courteous and helpful and even as I tried to get even for the comment, he was cool, so I guess we made up. I was trying really hard though. Before I went, I pulled up their online list of beers and wrote them down. Three individual times I asked him where a particular brewery's beers were, and when I couldn't find the one their website said they had, I asked him to check the computer. And three times he played along. I still love you, Total Wine, except get me those beers! Now to what I really wanted to write about--cards and beer.

My family is a card-playing family. You name the game, we've probably played it. And we're introduced at a young age to the family pastime. I can't remember how many hundreds of hours I played double-solitaire with my great-grandmother when I was little. My brother and I spent an entire summer at my grandparents' house, and every single night we played pinochle with them. But when there were other adults around, that kid card time turned into adult bridge time into the wee hours of the morning. I never got to learn to play bridge with the family, but I learned anyway on that site Pogo.com, first in the beginner category but then a few levels up.

Poker, blackjack and other casino card games also were very prominent features with my family and our friends. My mother knows so many Atlantic City dealers and pit bosses from over the years that she actually convinced one dealer to come 300 miles to our home for a party one year. He was going to dress the part and even bring actual chips on loan from the casino. But in her zeal to make it a kick-ass party, she went too far when she printed invitations giving the name and employer of that dealer. He backed out, smartly, as his job and license would have been in jeopardy. The party went on as scheduled, however, and guests ended up taking turns being the dealers. It's always fun playing cards as an adult with your third grade and seventh grade teachers! They can't tell you what to do anymore.

Another from Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine for today. That would be Brewer's Choice Special Ale which is a brown ale. No gloating, no poetry, no crazy psychobabble on the label. Just a nice old-time picture.

The aroma consists of banana bread and for some reason I smell some peaches, too. The main flavors are bread with some spices, but you get some good sweet malty flavors as well. A little nuttiness finds its way after a few seconds and on the aftertaste. This is a medium-bodied beer with lower end carbonation, but it's just about right and not flat at all. The finish is more bitter and dry. A nice beer that I'd drink again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Honey Moon Summer Ale

I went to Tahiti around ten years ago for my honeymoon. The catch was that it actually happened a few years after being married. I guess we wanted to test out the marriage first. Just joking! We went to 3 islands including Bora Bora and had a really nice time. On the island of Moorea, we ventured off the hotel property one afternoon, and after a few miles of walking, stopped in a local grocery store. I wanted to buy some of the local beer, Hinano (you figure out how to view in English v. French), which was flowing freely on the Air Tahiti Nui flight over. I could see it, but the coolers were locked. When I asked to purchase it, I was told that no beer sales were allowed on Friday evening as to prevent the locals from spending their entire paychecks on it. I didn't have to tell him that I clearly wasn't a local, but I did anyway, but no dice. I didn't get my beer which made the few miles back a much harder walk.

At least when I got back, there were still topless European chicks at the beach, although I had to look around the extra hair (I really need to find that video too). Also, two other tips if you go: 1) skip the 4x4 truck ride up the mountain to see the WWII US cannons--the bumpy, terrible roads will make you sick and sore; and 2) don't pose for pictures with the huge local shirtless dude with the native tattoos at the resort, or at least don't let him put his arm around you. You will smell like BO for the rest of the day!

Today I'm drinking Honey Moon Summer Ale brewed by Blue Moon Brewing Company in Golden, Colorado. I am pretty sure this is in the Coors family, as I've surmised before.

Sweet honey aroma with some gentle floral scents in there, too. Up front, there is a big dose of honey flavors with some slight spiciness and some orange in there, too. The beer is sweet but not overly sweet. Its medium body makes it less crisp and refreshing than some other summer ales I've had, but the flavors are good. The finish is drier and you do taste a little bit of the 5.2% alcoholic content in there. Not awesome but for sure drinkable.

Romantic Gourmet Picnic For Two Wedding Time Capsule Gift Basket

Pipedreams Fetish Fantasy Honeymoon Bondage Kit

Margaritaville DM3000 Tahiti Frozen Concoction Maker

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


See if you can have this deterrent arranged by your local police department, or maybe even by a cop that lives in your neighborhood. I've never been arrested and in addition to the upbringing my parents provided, I credit this encounter as a life-changing reminder to stay out of trouble.

When I was 9 years old (which was the last time the Phillies won the World Series, before their current Champ status), I was wandering around my little neighborhood looking for something to do. One of my neighbors had lost a bet with the only cop in our town, who I also knew because, well, this was tiny-town America. Everyone knew him. I don't know what the bet was, but the loser had to wash the other person's car. So in the driveway sat our town's police car. Being curious, I asked if I could get in and check it out. Mr. Policeman said sure, so I opened up the back door and got in. It was a hot day and after just a few minutes of being too hot, my interest was gone.

Time to get out of the car. Oops! To my surprise, no handles on the doors and a cage separating me from the front seat. So I banged on the window alerting him I needed to be let out. He just laughed. I tried to play the helpful card and let him know he was missing important radio communications as I was listening to them, but he just showed me he also had his mobile radio with him. And he laughed again. About 15 minutes later, he let me out and gave me a lecture about staying out of trouble and not getting arrested. I guess I learned my lesson well, but he did end up finger printing me 10 years later. Luckily, I asked for that as it was for a security background check.

Tonight is my 200th (live) posting, at least according to the archive tally. It seems like just a few months ago it was 100 (it was). Thanks for all of your comments and suggestions. And I hope that you are able to identify with and get a laugh or two from some of the stories in addition to taking something away from the daily beer reviews.

So let's get to the Turbodog, a brown ale brewed by Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, Louisiana. Have no idea what a turbodog is, but it's a cool name. I'm sure my pal Google might give me some hints but I'm too lazy for that right now. I've had a few other Abitas if you're interested in reading about those experiences, too.

Turbodog has a nice chocolate and coffee aroma. The flavors are also of coffee and chocolate malts. There are also some burnt and nutty qualities you will taste too. One thing I wasn't expecting was the amount of hoppy bitterness that swooped in to challenge those sweeter elements. Good carbonation and a medium-full body, this beer ends with a little alcohol kick too. The bitterness and flavors remind me a little bit of Guinness Extra Stout. This is my favorite Abita beer so far. Nice job!

Smith & Wesson Model 100 Handcuff, Nickel, Push-Pin Double Lock

LEGO® City Police Helicopter

Whistler XTR-140 Laser/Radar Detector with Exclusive Twin-Alert Periscopes

Monday, June 22, 2009

Virgin Islands Tropical Mango Pale Ale

My kids come home every day from summer camp looking like they lost the playground battle for that day. Bruises up and down their legs, scratches and scars from past incidents. These two play very hard! Anyone have any good scars with a story to go with it?

For me, I have a few with some weird ways I earned them. Most boringly are the three noticeable ones left from my chicken pox when I was five years old and one on my neck where a mole got removed by dear old dad. But I also have a great one on my arm about 6 inches long where my brother pushed me against a chain-link fence at the little league field while we were waiting to be picked up. And a nice one on my shin I got when melted wax from the plastic knife I was melting in the camp fire at Boy Scout camp dripped on me. Wrestling practice plus an errant elbow also left one on my cheek. And of course, the one from my hot oil incident from last month. The rest are mostly boring, though. I haven't had surgeries or car accidents, thankfully. Anyway...

A friend over at Facebook told me a few days ago about the beer I'm having tonight. I believe she referred to it as a "chick beer" so when I saw it at Total Wine over the weekend I thought to myself "I like chicks" and into the shopping cart it went. I am talking about Virgin Islands Tropical Mango Pale Ale brewed for St. John Brewers in the Virgin Islands by Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. Those guys have their hands everywhere! So let's see.

There is a very tropical fruity and sweet aroma, mainly ripe mango and passion fruit. The flavors also sport some mango and papaya up front, but surprisingly this is not a super sweet beer. It is a little more sour and acidic and those components have a little fight with their sweet classmates. Not well balanced, and as the beer finishes on your palate, it leaves a lingering medicinal cough-drop-like and dry flavor. Sorry but I don't think I'll come back to this unless there is a chick attached to it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sea Dog India Pale Ale

Happy Father's Day! I'll call you later, dad.

So let's see, anything special going on today? I've been going to the pool a lot lately, and today will be no exception. It's been brutally hot here in South Florida for months now. I was thinking about the good times my friends and I had at my best friend's pool. For a few high school summers, we invented and played our own version of pool basketball/water polo/WWE Entertainment. That was DunkBall.

DunkBall was a simple game, with truck inner tubes tied to opposite corners of the pool with the goal of getting a mini basketball into your goal. It didn't matter if there was an uneven amount of people or more smaller than bigger guys. The deep end as your goal was always the equalizer. There were also very few rules. You could hold whoever had the ball under water until they let go of the ball; they were fair game. No splashing--just annoying and several of us had contact lenses. No hanging on or jumping off the diving board or ladders as we started to break them. And no getting out of the pool, except to retrieve an errant ball. We usually had enough of the tubes at our disposal, but I can think of a few times we had to borrow some from the neighbors' pools in the middle of the night. Anyway, there were lots of fights, lots of times when someone thought they weren't let go of to breathe soon enough after releasing the ball, but mainly we had a good time. Until I accidentally got kicked in the ear one day underwater and my eardrum was perforated and filled with water. That ruined my day and swimming for the rest of that summer.

A footnote to that story is that the guy who kicked me and his brother, both regulars in the game, were arrested a few years after that for doing several armed robberies. First the convenience stores and gas stations, but their luck ran out when they went for a major grocery store. I hope that they didn't misconstrue our borrowing of inner tubes for a blessing of theft. I'm pretty sure the multiple county, multi-year jail sentences are over now, so hopefully they are doing better.

New day, new brewery, new beer. Today I'm drinking (well, I already had most of it) Sea Dog India Pale Ale Brewed by Pugsley Brewing in Portland, Maine, which apparently is part of the Shipyard family. Not sure why I always try, because usually I hurt my hand, but yep, this guy is a twist off. I don't hold that against any brewery, but some may think it screams cheap. We'll see.

Sweet caramel aroma with some slight hoppiness in there, too. There are sweet flavors up front, tastes like some caramel but also some sweet fruits. You also feel like you're eating the flower garden and the grass around it. Hops and bitterness kick in after a second, and a real sour taste hits the palate. I can taste some orange and grapes as well (or maybe the purple bottle label is just messing with my mind for the grapes). Dry, alcoholic, medicinal, acidic finish brought on by medium-high carbonation is the way we finish this beer. Certainly not a favorite. I don't link this to an IPA in any shape or form. Go for another beer. Ask if you need a recommendation.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale

I was watching Family Guy a few night ago, laughing my ass off as usual. Definitely one of my favorite shows. Stewy and Brian decided that "all writers need to write in public to be seen or what's the point". So funny, as I've seen people at Starbucks and Panera Bread with their laptops. I am positive that at least half of them just wanted to be noticed, to appear important. The rest were there out of necessity because their cable company shit the bed and left them without access at home. You decide who is who. Use your Spidey senses, it will not be hard to tell.

So basically I am already in love with North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California. But today I took our relationship to the next level. I bought and am drinking right now my first wine-bottle sized beer from this brewery. That would be Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale, which is part of their American Artisan Series, so they say on the bottle. They also let you know on the bottle that they are involved with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and give them $2 for every case sold. Nice job!

On that note, I like Jazz, but am not in love with it like I am with North Coast. One birthday, a guy from work who was not my friend and about 30 years older than I was gave me a Cole Porter CD out of nowhere. I was very surprised, but it was good listening. Even more surprisingly, that CD came with the most recent Playboy or Penthouse magazine. I can't remember which magazine or who the cover shot was, but someone famous took their clothes off for a lot of money, and he thought I should see that. Was funny in front of my co-workers.

Wow! Wonderful aroma of caramel and dark fruits. The flavors up front are of sweet caramel malts, but a very persistent and noticeable alcohol content of 9.4% makes sure they are not overpowering. The beer progresses with some very nice fruity raisin, tart apple, and banana flavors. Spicy for sure as well. Complex, buttery, and strong carbonation. All make sure that lots of components to this beer are happening at the right time. The alcohol comes in for one last bite at the end, too, but the aftertaste is clean and lasting on your palate. Go check out this beer. Another great beer from North Coast!

One last comment. These guys are preaching Latin "Carpe Diem Vita Brevis" on the label too. (No I didn't say Beavis)! Seize the day. Life is short. Damn straight!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Skinny Dip

I really wanted to throw up this very provocative picture of two women skinny dipping, but I guess my better judgment decided against that for now. It took me a while to find them too. Anyway, the first thing that comes to mind for me when someone says skinny dip has nothing to do with any of my own personal experiences. I wont bore you. Rather, I think of Christie Brinkley skinny dipping in the pool in Vacation. Oh, to be Clark...

There was this one time during college when a friend and I were swimming in the reservoir just off campus, but we were not skinny dipping. However, a few crunchy local townies showed up shortly after we arrived. One second I was sitting on a rock by the reservoir by myself and the next one of those local girls was dropping her drawers one foot away from me. I turned my head and only had hair in view, lots of it, including legs and armpits. Hold on, I need a beer to wash that memory away.

Today's beer will complete the New Belgium Brewery trilogy from the past few days. And I guess the next time I will have their beer is when they distribute to Florida. Skinny Dip beer brewed by New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado again has a cute label with a nice little story and the mood setter "...as crisp as chilling in a mountain pond".

Sweet aroma, maybe some caramel with citrus mixed in there. The first thing I taste is a good dose of hops with some lime and citrus flavors intermingled. Those are the two predominant flavors of the beer. There are some bready and doughy qualities, too. The carbonation is strong and the body is medium, matching pretty well together. This is a refreshing and crisp beer, although the aftertaste is a little strange. Overall a decent summer-style beer with a few twists.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers on their NBA championship! Of course, I'd have preferred that the Sixers kicked it up a notch and took the trophy, but God would never let the Phillies and Sixers be Champs at the same time. Congratulations also to the Lakers' fans, especially the ones who for some reason think that arson and setting fire to police cars is an appropriate celebratory reaction. I'm pretty sure I saw that in a gangsta rap video one time, too. The funniest part of the whole thing was during the parade a few days later, when all of the actual Laker players were riding through the procession on a giant fire truck. I guess better safe than sorry in LA!

I did a quick poll of some Facebook friends on whether I should drink the 1554 or the Skinny Dip tonight, and 1554 won by a hair. So here I am drinking 1554 Enlightened Black Ale brewed by New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado. The bottle tells a cool story about the 1554 name. Apparently these guys just happened to be reading a 4 or 5 hundred year old library book and they came across references to the Enlightened Black Ale style, then proceeded to translate words and measurement units to create this beer. Sounds like a lot of work!

Very nice chocolate and coffee aroma. My first impression is the lighter-than-expected body of the beer, interesting. Good flavors, with a lot of roasted malts and some nice dark fruits mixed in too. You do taste the chocolate too, but more as the beer progresses, which the above-average carbonation makes sure happens. The finish is dry and slightly bitter. And then it's all gone. The flavors go away in just a few seconds and don't last. Pretty good beer, different, very smooth, and for sure I'd drink it again. Just remember that you need to be continuously drinking it to keep the flavors in your mouth. Not a problem!

Rockport Men's Bridgeport 2 Boat Shoe

Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Receiver With Heart Rate Monitor

Columbia Sportswear Women's Benton Springs Fleece

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blue Paddle Pilsener Lager

There must be a "wave" theme going around today. First we were talking about there being no waves, a perfectly flat ocean this past weekend here in South Florida. Not good for my friend's surfing experience. We brainstormed that maybe the surf shop needs to hire someone to power a wave runner back and forth to make it a better experience for their customers. Then I saw some (must-have-been-a-) geek talking about Google Wave, which apparently is a tool for communication and collaboration on the web being launched later this year. Which finally brought up the topic of the wave that people do at sporting events. Now you know that was invented by and for non-sports-fan event attendees dragged along to keep them busy. I have NEVER done it!

Well, I have my own wave as you will see. A wave of New Belgium beers over the next couple of days, thanks to a friend of mine bringing back some from Texas earlier this week. As I told New Belgium, I'd much prefer to go to Total Wine or Publix to pick up a six pack on demand, but I guess they can only grow so fast, considering they are employee owned (and maybe considering their brewery runs on wind power, although Florida has lots of hurricane wind to spare). So I'll need to wait or get creative. Anyway, to be corny of course, I'm jumping into the wave with a Blue Paddle. I know, that was ugly.

So Blue Paddle Pilsener Lager brewed by New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado--here we go! The bottle is nice and quaint, saying "Delight in your Good Fortune" and something about having wonderful friends (the guy who brought me the beer). They also make a point of rubbing it in with "only shipped within our western territory".

The aroma has a very subtle sweetness, not the typical bad-beer skunked pilsener aroma I'm accustomed to. So off to a great start. The first sip tells me this is a very light-bodied beer, but it does show off some decent bitterness and noticeable spices. Light flavors include an orange and citrus hint and maybe something else even weaker. Refreshing, yet not crisp, the beer ends with a dry finish. I don't know... I am not a huge pilsener style fan in the first place, but I can appreciate this beer as it was better than most I've had. And that it lacked that funky aroma and flavor, although the flavors were a bit weak and lacking. Check it out (if you're in their western territory).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Long Hammer India Pale Ale

Time for a laugh. One of my coworkers sent this presentation to me a few years ago, but I laugh every single time I come across the email. Great, great stuff. If you don't know the answer to a question, you should still answer it in hopes of getting it partially correct or at least earning sympathy points. Now I was never on the end of things like these sad students, but I had college exams where the mean was in the 40% range, which is totally defeating the purpose of the class. When geniuses can get the best grade but are scoring around 70% (and I'm not talking about myself or my B average), it's an all-around frustrating experience. No one learns when the test material doesn't meet the course work taught.

They didn't study They didn't study birdiemum If you don't study... may as well be a little creative.

Have a new brewery and beer on the schedule for tonight, new in that I haven't had one recently or talked about it here before. I'm opening up Long Hammer India Pale Ale brewed by Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The bottle says "Liquid goodness since 1982".

There is a pretty decent grapefruit, hoppy and citrus aroma. The flavors mimic that exactly--good upper-level bitter grapefruit with a pungent lemon citrus quality. This beer is slightly sticky but with a light body and crispness. The aftertaste is a little more on the dry end of the scale with a slightly medicinal flavor in there too. Not bad, not complex, a bit one-dimensional.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale

I was reading an article about nano-brewing today, but found the part about Jimmy Carter signing the Cranston Act in 1979, which legalized home brewing for the first time since Prohibition, a much more interesting tidbit of information. Reminded me of the time I went fishing with (then just ex-) President Carter in the early 1980's. One of my neighbors and another guy from my home town knew him very well for a long time, and he'd come to our area to go fishing at a stream near my home. And somehow a bunch of kids and I got invited. I don't really remember much about the trip except that it happened, but it's a cool memory. My parents and grandmother have since been to several parties and dinners with the former President and his wife, but I've never had the honor as an adult. But it was really cool learning about the Beer Act he signed. Only Al Gore inventing the internet gets more props from me. (BTW, people, I already know that quote was taken out of context, but I don't care.)

Today I'm having another beer from one of my favorite breweries, Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale brewed by North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California. These are why it's a favorite brewery. I looked to see what the Ruedrich part was referring to but gave up after 3 minutes. Tell me if you know. On the label, you guessed it, a Red Seal, but the color definitely reminded me of that crazy horse of a different color in the Emerald City. Anyway, off to the beer.

Sweet caramel and slightly hoppy aroma. Very nice flavors including some caramels, malts, and roasted qualities. You also taste a good amount of hops making this both a sweet and bitter beer at once, and very nicely complementing one another. Great carbonation and a nice medium body and lasting flavors. There is a drier finish with a little bit stronger bitterness. Very refreshing, and since it's the only beer I'm going to drink today, I'm glad this was the one.

Watch out for some new beers coming back from a friend's Texas trip tomorrow or the next day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Brooklyn Local 1

Did you ever get some water in your ear when you were swimming or in the shower, and you just can't get it out? Then you shake your head trying over and over, basically looking like an idiot? And no matter what you do, Q-Tips, lying on that ear, and more shaking, nothing happens except you deal with that major annoyance. Well, since yesterday, that's been me. At some point at the pool this nasty scenario reared its ugly head. Until a little while ago when this warm burst and just a trickle of a few drops drained out of my ear. Now that is the ultimate feeling. Some may say sex, some chocolate, whatever. With anticipation of more than a day and two trips to the pool, I say ear drainage tops the list. Hands down!

BTW, at the pool today I had both monsters and a friend of the older one with me. Another fit when it was time to go home, but no drownings and no angry parents on my ass. So it was mainly successful. I also saw a black guy with a farmer's tan like I had never seen before, one that would put Hoss in rural Georgia and other rednecks to shame. The imprint of the tank top on his body was like a tattoo, unbelievable.

So I set myself up today. Giant wine-sized bottle with a cork and everything. Nice presentation, too. I am talking about Brooklyn Local 1 brewed by Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, New York. Besides the fancy "B" on the bottle and cork cover, this didn't look like your typical beer from this brewery, so I'm hoping for something special. As nice as everything was displayed, I still have no idea what kind of beer I'm about to drink--the bottle isn't bragging style. I think I read a review a few months ago about this beer, but I must say that apparently I wasn't paying attention.

OK. Here we go. Nice pop to the cork, like a bottle of champagne. Equally nice aroma, very floral with a fruity and malty hint in there too. First impression is how much carbonation there is in there, but as that subsides, you get a burst of lemon zest along with some watermelon flavors. There is a little bit of sweetness, but I'd say there is more hops and bitterness in there. Bready and yeasty for sure. The 9% alcohol is noticeable but welcome. There is also some spiciness, mainly black pepper, that starts coming around after a few seconds. This is a pretty complex and mostly nicely balanced beer. Light, crisp with a dry, bitter finish. Actually as the beer gets a little warmer, that carbonation and the flavors are overall more beautiful. I'm liking it a lot more than my initial first impressions. For sure this is one you should try out, maybe with someone else as it's a lot for one person. Or whatever, be selfish!

Update 8/13/2010: The Brooklyn Brewery was kind enough to send me the nutritional content for this beer. 9.0% ABV; Per 12 fl. oz.: 245 calories, 1.9g protein, 12.8g carbohydrates, 0.0g fat.

Update 4/22/2011: Didn't feel like writing a whole new review, so I am just going to add it here. Today is Good Friday, a slow day at work and time to leave soon. I shared a bottle of this with a coworker. Great fruity aroma. Fresh apple and fruity peach flavors. Nicely tart and terrific yeast flavors, too. Excellent creamy champagne carbonation. Light alcohol accentuating the other flavors. Dry most of the way and spicy. Wants to be sweet but just barely bitter. Wonderful beer!

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Reverend Belgian-Style Quadrupel Ale

Did some errands this morning with my 3-year old. First got some gas, then over to Home Depot for some hurricane preparedness purchases--48 AA Batteries, a few cases of water, some air conditioner filters, and a few plants for the garden (OK plants are not part of the preparation). Since I was in the area, wink wink, I dropped by Total Wine to get a few new additions to my upcoming week. I am very excited by a few that I picked up, so keep watching. Then to Publix, "where shopping is a pleasure" but man, what is up with this one dude from the butcher department? I want to look at meat and buy some, he wants to stand in my way and rearrange it forever. Then when I asked him if the chicken I picked up had bones in it, he bluntly said yes. So I had to force the obvious follow-up, "Do you have any boneless skinless thighs?" Nope, end of story. Home. Put away groceries. Lunch.

Then I went to the pool. But you should have seen the crew that was there for some kind of party, and I'll leave that statement to your imagination. I ended up talking to the mother and daughter of one of my 7-year old's classmates. When it was time to leave, holy shit (sorry, Reverend), the fit my kid threw could have summoned the police to see what the racket was about. After I finally dragged his ass home, gave him some cookies and listened to a little more back-talk, here I am. I love my kids, but condoms, people. Anyway, I'd rate today an average day compared to others, so all is good. On to the beer.

I've been wanting to try The Reverend Belgian-Style Quadrupel Ale brewed by Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado for some time. And I can't think of a better way to start off the day than with this big 22 ouncer. There's an in-depth story and commentary on the bottle as well. Apparently this beer was created in honor of one of Avery's sales manager's grandfather, Episcopal Reverend Luther Tucker (click on the bottle, which apparently is part of the "Holy Trinity of Ale"). This beer is supposedly "Created by God, Feared by Satan, and Loved by All". The bottle also has some "Eighth Day, Congregation, and parva cervesaria, MAGNA CERVESIA!" type stuff on it. Nice presentation!

There is a very nice fruity banana and plum aroma with a bit of spice in there too. First flavors are very good. Lots of sweet raisins and other dark fruits, mixed in with some caramel and banana. That sweetness is then cut by the 10% alcohol, providing a definite burn, not unwelcome in the beginning. There are some earthy and oak-type complexities that take a while to figure out, and with 22 ounces, you have plenty of time. Low carbonation and a thick, full body. After a while, the two main flavors that remain forever are sweet and alcohol; they stop balancing each other out. Overall, a really nice beer, complex, flavorful and I'm happy I had it. I think I would have liked it a lot more if there was less sweetness and if the alcoholic flavors were hidden better, especially toward the end of the experience.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dad's Little Helper Malt Liquor

I am so happy it's Friday. I am not one of those TGIF people; nor am I a "Some How It's Thursday" guy either (I know you're all super smart, but this is where you figure out the acronym first told to me by my 6th grade teacher). I don't complain about getting up early on Monday morning. I work on the weekends, too. Whatever it takes. But for some reason, I really am glad to be home from the office for a few days.

I picked up a bottle of Dad's Little Helper Malt Liquor brewed by Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon a few days ago while visiting my favorite store Total Wine (call me). Now if this were not brewed by Rogue and put in a cool bottle, I am certain that I wouldn't have picked up any 22 oz. bottle of malt liquor. I definitely have the Colt 45 stereotype in my head, and that will be really tough to shake. I wish I had read the bottle story about the naming of the beer before opening it for today. It's actually "Dedicated To Dads" and tells about how Father's Day came to be. So it probably would've been more appropriate if I could have had this one next weekend. Oh well.

Nice malty, roasted, nutty aroma. Sorry but that's about as good as it gets. Stopping here you don't lose anything positive. The flavors are really different. The bottle says no chemicals (as I think all Rogues do), but I don't know, I kinda taste some chemical and metal flavors (BTW, geeks like me, did you see that they are adding a new element to the periodic table?). Nothing besides that sensation is really standing out. Really, if you could bottle band-aid and doctor's office, that's what is in this beer. A little sticky, dry finish, that's it. Not a good beer and on the third string of Rogues' JV team. Pick the bottle next to this one, no matter what you like, no matter what it is. And it's too bad this couldn't have been the one dedicated to Moms.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blue Star Wheat Beer

Can you take a hint? Sometimes you don't know until after you missed one in the first place as they usually are not as obvious as Subliminal Man (here with that bitch Joy) made them out to be. Well, here's my best hint-missing story, at least from the hints I know I missed. I can remember sitting in class my senior year of high school with one of my friends, and she was asking me what I usually did after our Friday night football games. When I told her I usually hung out with a couple of my buddies, she asked a few more questions and that was the end of the discussion. But after more aggressive techniques over the next few days, I FINALLY realized she was trying to get me to ask her out on a date. I guess since I knew this girl for 8 years already, I wasn't expecting that at the moment, despite it being a welcome advance which ultimately turned into a long romance. So I am always trying to read between the lines, not in a paranoid way, but I do my best. Got a good story?

Hey, Total Wine, you've got a great selection, but you need to start adding a few new beers to the rotation pretty soon. I'm having a harder time every week picking out a handful of new beers, and refuse to hit the British bitter section. I am excited to say that I have a shipment coming back from Texas though early next week (hint: it's a surprise for me, but I think a few New Belgium beers are in the mix). Anyway, I need some new beer here. Today I'm drinking Blue Star Wheat Beer brewed by North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California.

Blue Star has a nice fruity, sweet and wheat aroma. No surprise, but you get a big dose of wheat up front on your palate as well. The flavors are very light and subtle, but besides the wheat, there is a little earthy and citrus component to this beer, maybe a little tart, but not much else. It is a refreshing and very easy-to-drink beer, especially on a hot day. I am not much for the seasonal beer label, because summer or winter, it's hot as hell all the time in Florida. But today is especially brutal outside. Summer stouts are welcome here, though. Overall, a nice beer, mostly forgettable and boring but still a member of the great North Coast team (and you Penguins fans know how it feels to be a man down). Anyway, I hope the Pens kick the Red Wings' asses in game 7 to reverse last year's Stanley Cup.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rare Vos

I've been reminded lately of my family's inability to close things tightly. OK, I guess add it to my list of pet peeves, which as you can see is decently long, yet still warranted. My wife always says that when I turn 70, she hopes she's already dead, because I am going to be one cranky old man. But really, how hard is it to shut my front door (I am even flexible when you have an armful of kid or groceries) so the 95 degree air stops rushing in? We pay a monster electric bill to cool this joint. How difficult is it to make sure the drawers and cabinets are closed all the way? I can't tell you how many times the cabinets have been ripped from the hinges with me forced to play Handy Manny fix-it dude. And why do I need to give "lessons" on how to screw the tops back on the milk and orange juice to preserve their freshness? The world may never know.

I was down to zero new bottles to drink and think about here tonight, so I made my way over to Total Wine on the way home from work. I've had several great beers from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, but somehow Rare Vos, which is apparently Flemish for "Sly Fox", has escaped me for months. Until now. So far, Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend is my favorite. OK, I think it's time to open this guy--I've been waiting for it to reach 40 degrees as the bottle suggested.

Light floral and orange aroma. The flavors are mostly subtle yet nice. Carbonation is medium-high, which is the first thing that comes out. You will taste some banana, other light citrus and spicy flavors, mainly cloves and black pepper as the carbonation settles down, and the spices persist. There are also some bready qualities in there. This beer is not sweet at all, rather bitter but not in a bad way. However, it's a little thin. The finish is dry, and you keep that dryness on your palate even as the other flavors disappear. Not a favorite, but decent. That's about all I have to say.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Indica India Pale Ale

I was chatting with a few coworkers today about music and the topic of first purchased album came up. My first choice got a few chuckles around the office conversation, not sure why--she's hot and a great singer. When I was the age of first purchase, choices included record, cassette and usually 8-tracks. I couldn't find out which album it was after a thorough search, but around 11 years old I got an Olivia Newton-John greatest hits cassette, which came with a poster of Olivia. Guess what? I NEVER got to even see the poster as my mother threw it away before I even got a glimpse. I was told that it was inappropriate for a boy my age. But I did get Physical, Xanadu and Hopelessly Devoted. What was your first album, or CD for some?

I'm drinking Indica India Pale Ale brewed by Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe in Eureka, California, my second from this brewery after enjoying an Eight Ball Stout a few weeks ago.

One of the first things I noticed on the bottle (after the royally dressed elephant, of course) was its self-proclaimed "intense spiritual aroma" description; sorry, Hop Stoopid has that kind of aroma, the kind you can't get enough of. Indica IPA does have a sweet caramel and light hops aroma, which is nice though. I must say that my first flavor impressions are not great. This beer is way overly carbonated, sour, too earthy, with a hint of lemon and spice. The grapefruit and hops and bite do show up after that initial flavor goes away, but they are like those friends you have that never show up on time. Indica flavors then transform into a bitter and unpleasant aftertaste. The middle was the best, but I can't say I liked this beer in the slightest. I don't think I've ever asked this question (of course correct me if I am wrong), but do all bottles of this beer taste like this or is it possible I got a bad one? I hate to put the old skunked excuse out there, but this was really bad.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Old No. 38 Stout

Looks like there's a new sheriff in town, or at least one that wants some respect. That would be Sheriff Bing-Bing-Bing Ricochet Rabbit and Microsoft with their new Bing search engine product plastered all over the internet. Or maybe Ricochet would just consider being their mascot, whatever. Here's a clip from 1966 that I found of his famous line (go to 1:04, impatient ones) for all of you youngsters. Actually, this cartoon dates me too, but Boomerang from Cartoon Network is a staple at my house.

I'm having another beer from North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California today. In case you forgot, I am a fan. So I bring you Old No. 38 Stout which I picked up on my recent weekly trip to Total Wine.

Dark fruit, sweet caramel and a light coffee aroma. The flavors start out sweet and creamy then turn to more burnt, malty flavors. A decent dose of bitter chocolate takes you to a pretty dry finish that lasts on your palate. The beer has a medium carbonation, about right, and is a simple, light-bodied stout. Very easy to drink and a nice beer.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale

I still can't quite figure out how some people seem basically immune to being in high places. I mean, I have no problem being on the 50th floor of an office building or in an airplane 35,000 feet off the ground. Rather, I am talking about being high (off the ground) and having the feeling you're not completely safe at the same time. I think I inherited this great fear from my father, who absolutely hates heights. He used to pay me $10 when I was 12 years old to climb the ladder and clean the leaves out of the gutter. But I guess age has made me wiser.

I had a roommate after college that painted houses and repaired the shingles on roofs. And I saw him move the ladder many times without even getting off of it--he'd just hop it over to the next part of the house where he needed to be. Now that's what I call "Hop Stoopid" but we'll get to that in a second. For me, hanging a picture twenty feet up the wall last weekend and changing a battery in the giant clock opposite that picture were giant intrusions on my well-founded fear.

When I was considering going to Cornell around 20 years ago, one of the college tours took my father and me around the campus. If you're not familiar, Ithaca is Gorges, which basically means it's a gorgeous campus with gorges cutting through the entire landscape. There was one place that they had a suspension bridge across a very deep gorge with shallow waterfalls far below. Of course, that beautiful view is where the guide stopped to chat... briefly. With the wind making the bridge sway, despite the 15 foot fencing, my father interrupted the guide and told him "we go back or we go forward, but we're not standing here anymore." Pussy :) But while I am not manic about it like that, I don't like heights.

Bring in the Hop Stoopid Ale brewed by Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California. I've had a few of this brewery's other offerings, all back in April, and have been a fan since. I'm guessing that there are some big Hops in this guy. As usual, there is a long story on the side in like a 5pt. font, making me search for a magnifying glass. On the smaller bottles, fine, but this big 22 ouncer had plenty of room for bigger words. Something about hop extraction equipment and cleaner hop flavors ends with "Another kettle of Hop Stoopid is once again raised up and fermented on high." OK. I hope it's a great beer.

Wow, I can't stop sampling the very powerful grapefruit aroma! There are some orange and spicy elements in there too. Big hops up front on the palate. Lots of grapefruit and pine, and very nicely balanced with some sweetness. There is a terrific bitter bite and the 8% alcohol shows up nicely and is a welcome feature as the beer progresses. Crisp, refreshing, fresh. Just an all-around wonderful beer, especially for those that appreciate the kick-ass flavor of hops.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Great Divide Wild Raspberry Ale

My Day: 7:15am, 7-year old takes 3-year old out of bed and actually helps him take off diaper, forces him to use the toilet and dresses him, gives him dry cereal and orange juice. Mom and Dad sleep for two more hours, minimal screams, miracle. Dad and 3-year old go get gas, then to Wachovia, which now for some reason now has zero Saturday hours, can't get our Marriage Certificate to prove we're married for a company benefit, Bullshit. They didn't ask for us to prove our marriage when we got health insurance, what's up? Dollar store, which I hate. I needed a birthday bag or wrapping paper for a party today. I opted for the bag considering I do ALL the wrapping in our home. Publix, weekly trip, I'm planning on being a millionaire (via Lotto or Powerball) so I'm sure I wont be. One hour, got all the crap at Publix, same cashier and bagger that we've had multiple times, they love us and our issues. Unpack the groceries. Plan dinner. Shave, shower, shower kids, HFTH (which means hands, face, teeth, hair, in case you are ignorant). Then End of the World Rain and electrical storm. Jesus, I live in Florida, but this and last night's storm were INCREDIBLE with the wind and volume. Dude! We finally got in the car, Florida Turnpike where more than 50% of every car decided against driving in the power wind and rain and pulled off to the side to wait it out. I drove 10mph when weather called. Kendall, need I say more? Chuck-E-Cheese, double more? And that CEC is super annoying and loud, lines, assholes, parents, enough. Wife shops for 15 minutes, sucks. Trip home, another last second party invite, take beer, drink beer, drink beer, drink beer, Grand Marnier, Grand Marnier, rain, Grand Marnier, kid throws electronics in pool, no nap, Grand Marnier, home, he plays in the bath, now. And that's skipping several good ones, but you get the point.

Trying fruit beer Great Divide Wild Raspberry Ale brewed by Great Divide Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado. I've mentioned not being a fruity beer fan, but I have found some gems. And this brewery is a terrific one, as you can see from having several of them over the past few months. Think Hercules Double IPA. I am up for another fruit surprise and Great Divide gem.

Aroma seems to me to have zero raspberries in the mix, very surprisingly. Rather I get a very sweet caramel type aroma. Flavors, raspberry for sure and dominating. Not too sweet, but there are some sweet malty caramel flavors in there. There are no other flavors to this beer, NOTHING ELSE, zero carbonation, zero alcohol. The raspberries for sure make me forget that this is a beer at all. Seriously, this tastes like some unidentified mixed drink at a party, a funky fruit juice. Sorry, this one's not a star at all and find something else.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.

A guy from Schmaltz Brewing Company contacted me after I reviewed one of their session beers, He'Brew Messiah Bold, about six weeks ago. He suggested trying out some of their 22 oz. offerings, so I decided on a trip to Total Wine yesterday that I'd take his advice, and picked up He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On the way into the store, I handed the store manager a Total Wine plastic bag full of folded used mixed-sixer packs. You should have seen the look I got, but he said they'd for sure reuse them. I'm green, you know.

After I decided on this beer for today, I thought maybe Friday night and Shabbat might not be the right night to review a He'Brew (The Chosen Beer) beer. Especially one that touts on its label that this is "The Tribute To Jewish Stars". Well, I have no idea how religious the brewery members are, but I guess they will see that I took their advice tomorrow night if they are observing Shabbat.

The Jewish Star (not the Star of David) they are speaking of and the Lenny in the name of the beer is comedian Lenny Bruce, and they put all sorts of info about him on the label too--his real name, his birth and death date, and some references to Obscene and Explicit Adult Material. Those references make a lot more sense when you read about Lenny being arrested and convicted for obscenity, followed by the first posthumous pardon in New York's history. Of course, if you are a big fan or are just old, you might have known that already and this is just a boring review for you.

OK. I have a lot to say about this beer, as it's very complex and I have a big 22 oz. bottle (AND I like to talk, too, in case you haven't noticed.) This is a Double IPA with Rye Malt and is "Kosher Certified, Rabbi Approved" if that matters to you. Also the usual, "Conceived in San Francisco, Brewed in [Saratoga Springs] New York". There is a killer hoppy and grapefruit, slightly sweet aroma. Up front, you get a big dose of the "Obscene Amount of Malts & Hops". Hoppy, citrus, floral and bitter flavors spar with lots of malty and caramel sweetness. Sweet wins the first round for sure, but as the beer progresses, you taste lots of spiciness along with the citrus and bitter and piney flavors on the rebound. A little further along, the almost invisible 10% alcohol does start to come out, but nicely and very subtly. The aftertaste is pretty good and lasts. While I prefer my IPA's to rock the hops the entire time and act little less sweet, this is a fine beer. You should try it too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale 2009

The Air France tragedy of a few days ago made me think about the only time I was on an Air France plane, back in 1996. Before online ticket pricing and bookings were the norm, the Cheap Tickets type outlets were great, but by phone. So I was trying to get from Kennedy Airport to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, cheaply. The guy on the other end asked if I would consider "alternative airlines" which made me ask the obvious question, "What does that mean?" After the explanation, I booked my flight on PIA, Pakistan International Airlines, which flew from NY to Karachi with a stop in Paris one time per week each way on their one airplane. Nice and cheap! So we boarded the plane on time, I gave the flight attendant my ticket and she told me that it didn't matter where I sat, so I picked a seat. By chance a very cool Pakistani girl around my age sat next to me, so the seating assignment was fine. However, there was a problem with their one plane, it was very late at night and they spent the next 6 hours (enough time to be in Paris) trying to fix it with us on the plane still. We ate, they cleaned the plane, but never left the ground. After a night at the Ramada, they still didn't have the plane fixed so they put me and the only two other passengers destined for Paris, two French girls, on an Air France flight. Talk about snotty, all in French, the guys next to me and the flight attendant laughed about their poisson and non-California wine. You'd know what I mean if you were there, guaranteed. Anyway, the flight home in the hot PIA plane with the no-shoe-wearing customers is another story, and a good one. The events of earlier this week are super sad, though. Just too bad.

I am now drinking Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale 2009 brewed by Gordash Beer Company at the Florida Beer Company in Melbourne, Florida. I started reading about how this home brew dude in Ft. Lauderdale... well, you read it. The label calls this one Belgian-style with a Florida twist and makes a point of saying these are "small batch beers".

There is a decent apple, banana and caramel aroma there. Flavors are pretty sweet up front, like cotton candy-ish type flavor and sweetness. That eventually is toned down by some power carbonation. There isn't any one particular flavor that stands out and dominates, yet I don't think the flavors mesh particularly well together. There are some spicy elements; there are some very light fruity, sweet apples; there are some caramel flavors as well. The 8.5% alcohol is not like drinking a shot of vodka, yet it is not disguised as well as I'd have liked and starts to be a bit annoying by the end of the beer. I don't know what to say. Well, yes, I do--there is something strange about this beer, like all the flavors were in a bar brawl. Maybe that was the "Florida twist" they spoke about?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale

I got a call from a lady a few days ago at my home number. Normally I never answer the phone if I don't recognize the number, but this was from my hometown area code, so I thought it could be a friend or family member I didn't recognize. But the lady on the other end asked for a guy that I didn't know, same last name. So in theory, considering my last name isn't Smith or Jones, it could have been a relative, but probably not. I chatted with her a few minutes, as she was trying to find a brother of hers that she got separated with 20 or so years ago. It was his birthday, and since they grew up relatively locally to me, she told me that she calls around the area every year to see if she can locate him. Was a really nice, yet sad story of a sister trying to find a family member, separated for whatever reason. All I could do was wish her luck and told her to let me know when she found him. Something like that ever happen to you?

Today I'm drinking The Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale brewed by Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado. I've had a few great beers from this brewery, so I'm anticipating another terrific one, especially considering the story of the word origin of Maharaja and how this beer is like that--a great, heavy-handed king and ruler of hops and malts. We'll see. The cool big 22 oz. bottle is a good way to start. (The bottle also says Bottled Feb. 2009 Batch 9 which I'm sure to regret at some point in the future if I don't write that here, so planning ahead).

Hey, Maharaja! Extremely hoppy and citrus aroma, with a sweetness as well. Terrific! Powerful grapefruit introduction on your palate, like fresh squeezed. Very crisp and refreshing up front. As the beer progresses, you start to taste some sweetness and malty flavors as well. There is also a definite grassy aspect to this guy. The 10.27% alcohol is so nicely blended with the sweetness and bitterness that I hardly remembered it was there. As the beer develops, however, you certainly do get a warming reminder. This was an awesome beer from start to finish. Hoppy, strong bitter bite, balanced wonderfully. A favorite for sure and at the head of its class.

Maharaja Incense Collection - 36 Sticks, 36 Cones, and Brass Burner - Heaven of Perfumes

Rare 18c Antique Carved Elephant Maharaja Procession Corbel Teak Wood Antique India Furniture Art

Hand Crocheted Metallic Silver Gimp Skull Cap Offered in Combination with Sterling Silver Choker Necklace Crystal Loaded Heart Pendant and Earrings

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Blue Fin Stout

It's about time for a fishing story. I promise, it's mostly true-ish. When I lived in New York, I used to go out on the party boats out of Sheepshead Bay with a friend of mine and we'd fish for fluke and sea bass and stipers, usually very successfully. We had really great times. One year, the same guy rented a boat for a full 8 hours for his own birthday and there were around 80-100 people on the boat, mostly fishing. Kegs tapped at 8am, two terrible bathrooms, lots of rookie boaters and pukers, but it was all good. Of course we had the pool for the biggest fish brought in, just a couple dollars each. Off to work. No sooner did I drop in my line than I had some monster on the other end. I swear I never had a fight like that, not even the time I dropped a bucket off the back of the no-catch-fish party boat for some action here in Ft. Lauderdale. It took me about 20 minutes to reel that sucker in, with one of the mates helping control the drag in the line and manning the net. Dude, I hooked a Bluefish in the back, and had dragged this guy 100 yards through the water sideways, with him having all his fighting power available to him. And guess what, no other fish even came close the entire day to the size of it. A lot were tastier that night, but I won the pot. Roland Martin has nothing on me, at least in my mind. Fishing here in Florida has totally sucked, though. Can't quite figure it out.

Tonight I picked out Blue Fin Stout from Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. I'm sure I've had a few of their brews when I lived in NY but none recently. I hope the fish on their label had better luck than my back-hooked one.

This beer has a really nice coffee, chocolate and malty aroma. The flavors are a little different. For sure you get a big dose of coffee, which is excellent, but the beer is extremely watery and thin, and very, very dry. There is almost no carbonation in there either. You do get some burnt and slightly bitter flavors in the aftertaste but that's about it for this beer. Flat dry coffee beer, minus the caffeine. Not terrible, but definitely not a favorite or even one I'd check out again soon.

Monday, June 1, 2009

PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale

"Click it or Ticket!" That's the famous phrase from the wear-your-seat-belt campaign. And I think it's a terrific idea. Always wear your seat belt, even short trips, no matter what. You seriously don't want to hit the windshield.

Now considering that the government is so concerned with automobile drivers wearing seat belts, what I don't get are the motorcycle helmet laws and their progressive weakening. Riders used to have much stricter rules, but in the past decade, Florida and Pennsylvania, two states I've spent a significant amount of my life in, have actually weakened their laws, citing privacy rationale. Dude, privacy? What a joke! And completely hypocritical to the tougher seat belt laws. If you crash and fall off a motorcycle without a helmet at 50-100 mph, what do you think happens? My rocket science readers are getting out their slide rules right now, but let me tell you it involves a lot of blood and splat. Today I actually saw a motorcyclist riding no helmet, but the helmet was tied to the back seat. His helmet was his passenger. Motorcyclists, listen up, law or no law, put it on. It can save your life. That much more beer to drink--use that as motivation.

Right now, I'm drinking a PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale brewed by North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California. Oh, you tricky North Coast guys, how clever with the Q instead of a K. I've had to stop typing and back up to correct that 3 times already now. You got me! I've had many beers from this brewery over the past several months, and almost without fail have loved every one. Show time.

Nice but not overpowering banana, floral and maybe a little citrus aroma. I noticed a lot more spiciness than I expected when I took my first sip--lots of coriander and orange peel greet you nicely. There are also some nice banana flavors in the mix. Carbonation is noticeable but not dominant and actually gives a nice sensation on the palate. The alcohol content at 7.6% is noticeable but mostly at the end. Medium-sweet and wonderfully balanced, the PranQster is creamy smooth from start to finish. Another terrific beer from North Coast. And I must say, it was far superior to the Duvel Belgian Golden Ale I had a week ago.

Now I gotta go make sure my 7-year old has his bicycle helmet on! Later.

Giro Indicator Sport Bike Helmet

German Style Motorcycle Helmet DOT German Helmets 115 Matt