Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kay and I took in a film at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester yesterday, and I ordered the Alamo Drafthouse Pale Ale, their own house beer. I'd have been very impressed at how good the beer is if the waitress hadn't told me that it was brewed by Sierra Nevada. I asked her if she knew if this was just Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale, rebranded for the Alamo Drafthouse, and she told me that she wasn't sure. She admitted that she wasn't a beer drinker.

The beer looked and smelled like regular ol' Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Of course, that's not a complaint. I thought it tasted very much like SNPA, too, but it might have been a little crisper and a little hoppier. Of course, it might have simply been that I never order Sierra Nevada on tap, and that I was only noticing that the beer was a little fresher and better than it is from the bottle. By the end of the glass I wasn't sure if I was simply tasting a rebranded SNPA or a slightly different variation on the recipe, but either way, I had no complaints. This beer was a slightly spicy, hoppy pale ale with a mellow malt. It was delicious, which is par for the course from Sierra Nevada. Had I thought this was something they were actually brewing right at the theater, I'd have been blown away.

In terms of the theater itself, I have nothing but good things to say about Alamo Drafthouse. They're serious about their no talking/no cellphones policy, and the violations I noticed were brief and fairly inconsequential. The food was pretty good. Not amazing, but pretty good. I had a spicy bleu cheese burger and fries and I enjoyed the meal. My second beer was a draft Arrogant Bastard, and it was delicious as always. We saw We're The Millers, a middle-of-the-road raunch comedy that was improved by having waitresses bring me beer.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I was torn going into this, not even sure how I wanted to feel about W00tstout, Stone's collaboration with Will Wheaton and the founder of I love Stone, particularly their IPAs. I also love, but I fucking hate Will Wheaton. I think he is one of the two or three most annoying, tedious things on the internet. I hate how his godamn smug, effete, doughy mug pops up everywhere. Will Wheaton is everything that is wrong with geek culture.

This whole collaboration smacks of novelty, and I hate to see Stone apparently concentrate as much on marketing and trend-setting as they do on recipes and brewing.

But once I got past my bias and sampled this thing objectively, I found a pretty good stout. It's brewed with pecans and rye, and partially aged in oak (or something), and whatever their doing is working. It pours glossy and thin, not much of a head, medium carbonation. The aroma is muted, but the taste is good. It is a bit like Stone's Imperial Russian without the anise/smoky aftertaste. The pecans come through more strongly for me than the rye. I didn't pick up on rye at all. All things considered, I'll buy this again... one bottle to age and another to have sooner.

Monday, August 12, 2013

This is the kind of thing I'd usually just post on G+. I'm posting it here and linking to it there to keep from dropping any spoilers on G+. These are my thoughts on the most recent episode of Breaking Bad, for the two or three people who'll give a shit. So don't read this if you don't want to read any spoilers. K? K.

I more or less agree with Nehring's take as posted in some comments on G+. A lot of the episode was slow and a couple of scenes dragged on too long. But Dean Norris was fan-fucking-tastic. And I thought that the episode opened and closed with particularly strong scenes.

Just randomly...

That cold open was one of my for or five favorite cold opens in series history. When the camera pulled back and we saw the house it was like a bucket of cold water for me. It's inevitable that Walt is going to ruin everything, of course. It always has been. About the time of the episode called Crawl Space in season four, I realized, shit, none of the Whites are getting out of this alive. I think this episode's cold open reaffirms that.

Dean Norris was great in this episode. I've seen it twice now, and Norris just blows me away. His mixture of apprehension, panic, disgust, and unbridled anger were just dead-on. I wasn't sure what to expect after the cliffhanger ending of the last episode last year, but the writers nailed it, I think, and Norris pulled it off perfectly. I had no trouble believing that everything he did was exactly what a man would do after having had his world turned upside down over the past year, year and a half.

I love Badger and Skinny Pete, but the scene with then talking Star Trek was too long and poorly done. It made them annoying. They need to be funny, not annoying. The episode a couple of seasons ago where they debate video game zombies does it right, but this episode had some sluggish and tiresome Badger and Skinny Pete time.

I hope this slow unhinging of Jesse is going to lead to something explosive.

That closing scene in the garage. Wow. Damn. Holy shit. I loved it. When that garage door started coming down I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. And the punch? Most satisfying punch I've ever seen thrown on TV. I think Hank's confrontation of Walt, and Walt's readiness to wiggle out, were exactly right. Fine, top-notch acting from Norris and Cranston. That scene is the kind of thing that makes this show so special.

All in all, I think this season (half season?) opened much more strongly than the previous one, and I can't wait for the next episode.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild is a variation on their Little Sumpin' Sumpin' IPA, but with Belgian yeasts and other malts. I think it's great. I could drink it every day. It pours a very clear yellow gold, with a sudsy head that leaves lots of lace. The aroma is fruit and bread. Bananas, citrus, and yeasty, crusty smelling goodness. The flavor is complex and delicious. Grapefruit, a little rye tone, and notes that remind me of buttered popcorn and sourdough bread. I can't pick up on the nearly 9% ABV in the flavor at all. This thing is delicious and sneaky. One more home run from Lagunitas. I wish other breweries had the balls to relase as many variants on their favorites as Lagunitas does.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Black Diamond Peak XV Imperial Porter pours copper brown with cherry highlights and an average, tan head. The aroma is coffee and hops. The flavor is both strong and tart. I typically enjoy porters that are a little richer and sweeter than this, but this was good. I don't know if it would pair with steak or cheese as well as, for instance, Sierra Nevada's Porter does. But it is good.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I like Elysian's Dragonstooth Stout. It pours dark chocolate brown with a quickly fading head. The aroma isn't strong. Faint coffee, chicory tones, a little chocolate and smoke. The flavor is pretty good. Strong malt that finishes with more hops than some stouts. I'd drink this again.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I can no longer say that I don't like fruit beer, because I like this one quite a bit. Founders Rübæus Raspberry Ale pours ruby red with a head that fades to nothing after a minute and a couple of sips. The aroma is a rich malt and bright, tart raspberries. The flavor is that, too; like raspberry jelly and a little butter on toasted dark bread. I thought I picked up on cranberries in there, but they aren't mentioned on the bottle. I wouldn't want this often, and one is enough, but I enjoyed every drop of this.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Troegs Dream Weaver hefeweizen pours hazy blond with an average head and a fair amount of carbonation. There is a sweet, banana/citrus aroma, but it might be a little richer in smell than many hefeweizens. Sort of close to a Belgian. The flavor is crisp and slight. Cloves, a little tang from the hops, and mild malt. This would be a good lawnmower beer.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet black IPA is not awful, but far from the best thing I’ve had from Clown Shoes. It pours a very dark chocolate brown with an average head. The aroma is malt, charcoal, maybe a little hops. The flavor is more like a black lager than a black IPA. Not much going on in the way of hops, the malt seems a little muted. It’s all covered by this plasticy tone that keeps me from feeling like I’m tasting anything at all.

This is the last weekend of my two weeks of vacation. I go back to work Monday. The vacationing ends tonight, though, for all practical purposes. My son goes back to his mother today for a few weeks, and then back here full time at the end of August. He will be living here this school year, and attending school locally. This will be the first time he's been with me full-time since he was three years old. He's taller than me now. I'm excited and nervous as hell.

My stepson from my second marriage goes back to his mother on Sunday, and I don't suppose I'll see him again for another year. He's always here for a couple of weeks in the summer, but other than that he's in New York with his mom. I started dating this boy's mother when he was a year old. His mother and I lived together (including the time we spent married) for almost ten years, and I think of this boy simply as a younger son. I wish I could see him more often than I do.

My stepson is ... well, I'll say unique. Something about him is a little different from other kids. He struggles with some things that come easily to other children his age. There are other things that he has done well since before an age when they come easily to most kids. He's been tested and checked by various doctors over the years, and all they ever did was disagree with each other and try to offer vague reassurances. I always expected to hear the word "Asperger's," but none of them ever felt sure that that was exactly it. No one ever said exactly what was going on, only that he was a little different and he would need some extra help.

He's a great kid. He loves to laugh and he's smart as a tack. He does have a strange perspective, though, and says a lot of odd things out of the blue. Some of the weird bits he's dropped on us from out of nowhere over the past two weeks include:

  • "I'd never want to be a dentist. 100% of dentists end up killing themselves."

    (When we discussed it he relented a bit. Not all dentists kill themselves, but most do. Good. I think the bastards probably deserve it.)

  • "It's too shady to poop on Staten Island. You're better off pooping in New Jersey."

    (This is apparently related to a trip spent doing a lot more driving than anyone really wanted to do, just trying to find a suitable place to drop the deuce.)

  • "The three screams of the butterfly live inside all of our systems."

    (No clue what this means. When we asked for more information he just laughed and laughed.)

  • "There is a possibility that, right now, a knife bomb is being made in Vietnam."

    (He further explained that a knife bomb is a bomb that, when it goes off, stabs everyone in the world.)

  • "I am the critical fart can tuba player."

    (Again, too much laughter to explain what this could be about.)

I like my life now. My job is suitable, my house is fine. I have an amazing girlfriend and a couple of dogs, I get along well with my extended family, and I can afford good beer and Netflix. But I do miss being able to hang out with my stepson most evenings, listening to him rattle off his strange conclusions, and laughing like hell together. I'm already looking forward to next year's visit.

The boys