Thursday, December 26, 2013

Victory's Hop Devil IPA is pretty good, but with a name like Hop Devil, I expected a bigger hop kick. This beer is malty for an IPA, with some mixed apple and citrus qualities. It pours a ginger/amber with grassy, floral hop aroma and not a lot of head. The flavor doesn’t have as much stank as I’d have liked, but it isn’t bad. A little spice, some fruit and malt mixed with that floral hop thing. Not bad.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Starr Hill's Festie is an OK, mildly spiced lager. It pours amber with average head, and the aroma is malt and a little spice. There is a combo of some slightly grassy hops and a bready malt in the flavor, but nothing big, nothing complex. This wasn’t a bad way to wash down dinner, but neither is a glass of tea.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Boulevard's Dark Truth Stout is really good. But, the thing is, this is a great time to be a beer geek ... because really good stouts are everywhere. This one pours nearly opaque with nominal head and lace, the aroma is malt and coffee and chicory, maybe some chocolate. More of that in the flavor, and the smokey malt quality was enjoyable, but the label boasted of other flavors I'd notice that I just didn't pick up on (Creme brulee? Really? OK, sure, whatever.) I think brewers are trying harder and harder to find ways to distinguish their stouts. And, this was a really tasty stout, but there are a ton of really tasty stouts out there. That can be both a good and a bad thing.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ommegang's winter seasonal is a Belgian strong ale called Adoration. It's really something. It pours kind of an orange, or a copper, or a brown, depending on where the light is hitting it, with a heap of head. The aroma and the taste are complex and rich and really strong. All of those promised spices come through all over the malt, especially the coriander and the orange peel. I also picked up on notes of figs, cherries, gingerbread... all the usual strong Belgian ale stuff. I don’t drink this style very often, and it wouldn’t take many to make me tired of it. It’s just too rich. But one heavily spiced Belgian ale on a cold night is just about right. And Ommegang’s Adoration is just right, indeed.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I love it when I find a regional brew I can recommend, but Harrisonburg, Virginia's 3 Brothers Hoptimization IPA does not qualify. This is a pretty bad beer. It pours a cloudy light brown with no head, and there’s not much aroma to comment on, either. The flavor is watery and weak and bad. I don't pick up on any hops. Not even a hint. It’s a little medicinal, but there isn’t much else to say about it.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dogfish Head's Immort Ale Barley Wine is big beer. This stuff is a bright copper color with a filmy head that leaves no real lace. I wasn't in love with the aroma but liked the taste much more, and it's a little bit unusual for me with barley wine to find much distinction between the smell and the flavor. There's a muted, kinda plastic quality about the aroma that I found a little off-putting. It was like I was smelling the beer through a plastic mesh. The flavor is strong. Big malt, some smoke, some of that juniper and vanilla coming through, too. This beer is actually less sticky than many (maybe most) barley wines; I'd expected that maple syrup mentioned on the label to show up in the finish, but I never really detected it. Not the best thing I've had from DFH, but pretty good. I didn't taste the 11% ABV, but I felt it, I felt it early, and I felt it hard. At this time of year, with Mad Elf everywhere, I come to think of beers just a hair north of 10% ABV as session beer. This is not session beer.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stone's collaboration with 10 Barrel and Bluejacket is an imperial porter called Suede. It is a dark, cola brown with a lot of creamy head. A little bit of floral quality coming through over the malt in the aroma, but there's a slightly medicinal tone in the background that didn't really sit well in my nose. The taste is rich and sweet. The honey and the malt blend together really well. Others say they pick up on the jasmine, but I really don't. By the end the sweetness on the close of each sip had become a little cloying, but it completely obscures the almost 10% ABV.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Avery's DuganA is yet another delicious imperial IPA from Avery. It compares favorably to Maharaja. It is a slightly cloudy golden peach color with a sticky, lacy head. The aroma is a combo of buttery malt and a creamsicle. The flavor surprised me with all kinds of nice notes. Popcorn, figs, bread, and strong, aggressive hops. Lots of pine and floral quality. I loved this beer.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Boulevard Single-Wide IPA is a tasty little session IPA. It pours fairly clear with a lot of head. Lots of tangy, pine and citrus hops in the aroma and flavor. A little malt in the finish. It isn’t a complex beer at all, but it tastes good, so screw complexity.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm a beer drinker, I haven't had a tremendous amount of whiskey. All I'm really qualified to tell you is what I like (and, the truth is, that applies to movies and beer, too). So, having established that qualifier, I'll tell you this. I absolutely love Templeton's Small Batch Rye Whiskey.

This stuff pours a very light brown, far lighter than the bourbons and whiskeys I've enjoyed lately. It smells sweet. It hits the nose with a lot of vanilla, butterscotch, raisins. And the flavor is just about the smoothest, best balanced booze I've had in a while, maybe ever. That sweetness in the aroma is strong and dominates the flavor, but it doesn't cover up a lot of strong spice and (of course) rye. I had this over a few ice cubes the first time around, and liked it so much I had the second tumbler neat. My only concern is that something this tasty is going to require a little forthright moderation on my part.

If you believe the label, this was Al Capone's whiskey of choice. Capone might have been a thug and a crook, but apparently he knew a thing or two about what to pour. Templeton Rye whiskey is delicious; really, just top to bottom outstanding. I might have a new favorite way to unwind before bed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Orkney Brewery's Skull Splitter Scotch Ale pours a bright, clear brown with a little head. The aroma is subtle. Subtle might even be too strong a word. There just isn't much going on in the nose, here. The flavor is better. It's rich and sweet, I picked up on malt and honey, and pear and cinnamon notes, too. Not bad.

Kay and I got on the topic today of movies that are absolutely disturbing but still very good. Movies that many people might say that they're glad they saw but that they'd never want to see again. A lot of my favorite movies would probably be described that way. I don't know that I'd say that this list is definitive, but here are ten movies that are certainly odd, intense, even disturbing ... but still very good. Movies that are well worth your time and that I'd recommend to any adults who are interested in movies that are well made, unique, compelling, demanding, even ground-breaking. You may never want to see any of these movies more than once, but seeing any of them one time is time well spent.
  • 10...LEOLO

    I caught this film on IFC one night several years ago, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The only word for it is audacious. There are a couple of scenes that are violently disturbing, one involving the abuse of an animal (it is all simulated as far as I can tell). But there are images in this movie that are among the most visually striking I've ever seen. I bought this movie on DVD as soon as I could get it, and every time I see it I am amazed at how singular it remains.

  • 09...AUDITION

    A scary movie that sneaks up on you. I won't say more than that about the plot. This movie left me feeling manipulated and totally creeped out.

  • 08...CRUMB

    A documentary as upsetting and weird as any fictional film I've ever seen. It's all the worse because the "characters" aren't characters at all, but real people caught in flat-out disturbing lives. The main character's older brother, Francis, remains one of the most compelling human beings I've ever seen in a film.

  • 07...SID & NANCY

    This movie is the reason that the phrase "a Gary Oldman like performance" exists.

  • 06...NAKED

    The first Mike Leigh movie I ever saw remains my favorite, and that's saying a hell of a lot, since Mike Leigh has made some outstanding films. This one features some of the best acting I've ever seen from David Thewlis. Another serious statement.

  • 05...OLDBOY

    This movie has recently been remade for an American audience. Having seen nothing of the remake, I'm still willing to guarantee you that the remake has nothing on the original. Avoid the remake like the plague until you've seen this fine Korean film. But consider yourself warned, this very good movie is going to freak you the hell out.


    If you need to talk someone out of trying heroin, this might be the best way to do it.

  • 03...SHAME

    A gorgeously made, absolutely stunning film that might make you want to never, ever, ever have sex of any kind again.


    I couldn't shake this movie for weeks after I saw it the first time. I've seen it a total of three times now (maybe four). Every time I watch it I am shocked at how good Nicholas Cage is in this movie, and disgusted that he hasn't done anything this good since. Then again, a performance like this might be the kind of thing that makes a guy want to only make substance-free movies for the rest of his life.


    I've heard people say about this film in specific that they thought it was brilliant but they'd never want to see it a second time. That hasn't been the case with me. This is one of my favorite movies of all time, I watch it a couple of times a year. Absolutely every single element comes together in this film. The direction is perfect. Just note-by-note perfect. The acting is amazing; Darren Aronofsky manages to get great performances out of the entire cast. Even Marlon Wayans is great here. And Ellen Burstyn... oh, good God, there's just no way to say enough good about her work in this movie. She's only ever been better than this once, in a movie I am trying not to mention. Burstyn's work here is one of the best performances ever committed to film. Beyond that, the photography is gorgeous, the editing is both showy and completely organic to the story. Even the score is perfect. I've seen two or three movies that are as good as this one, but I've never seen a better film.

*A few qualifiers: No schlock. If a movie only seems to exist to compete for the title "Most Disturbing Movie Ever," then it isn't worth considering. No Human Centipede type shit, no Eli Roth films. Also, nothing that seems intent on shocking the audience just by being borderline porn. Sorry, but Lars Von Trier movies are boring. And for once in my life, I'm going to make a top ten style list without mentioning The Exorcist. It certainly deserves to be the number one movie on a list like this, but I mention it in every damn movie list I make (favorite horror films, favorite movies of all time, favorite performances, etc).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sixpoint's Righteous Ale isn’t bad, but it’s nothing spectacular. It's billed as a rye ale. I didn't pick up on a lot of rye. It pours caramel brown with a medium size, long lasting head. The aroma is big malt, a little tingle, background notes something like apple butter. The flavor is like an American strong ale, but not a strong strong ale. It reminds me of a watery Arrogant Bastard or maybe a little like Lagunitas Lucky 13 without the rich, strong character. I didn't dislike this, but I'm kinda all, like, OK, whatever.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bell's Java Stout pours black with brown highlights and a brief, quick head. The aroma is malt, strong black coffee, a little dark chocolate. So is the flavor. Not remotely complex, but delicious.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm becoming a fan of Parkway Brewing, my neighbors down the road in Salem. Their Bridge Builder Blond is a Belgian style ale, and it pours hazy, golden brown. The head fades and leaves no lace, but a tenacious little ring along the rim. The aroma is the usual for a Belgian; bananas, peaches and mild cloves atop a buttery malt. The flavor brings that malt to the foreground and it closes with a nice, peppery tingle. Tasty.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Schlafly T IPA is billed as a Tasmanian style IPA, and it looks great, smells great, and tastes great. It’s crystal clear, almost on the level of something like Nectar Nugget. Lots of carbonation. Big, citrus aroma with notes of pineapple and grapefruit. The flavor opens with a sweet malt, slightly roasty, and finishes strong and bitter and bright. I enjoyed every sip.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bell's Special Double Cream Stout is tasty. It is deep coffee brown with little head. A rich, sweet malt dominates the aroma. The flavor is smooth and sweet. A little hop tingle in the finish. I don’t know how "special" this stout is, but it’s pretty darn good.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Parkway Brewing's Raven's Roost isn't the best Baltic porter I've had; Smuttynose makes a hell of a good one and that is my favorite example of the style. But this is a pretty good beer, and it's worth checking out. It pours dark brown, not much head, and the aroma is chocolate and a little bit of coffee and malt. The flavor has that salty, sweet thing going on that makes Baltic porters so distinct, and I enjoyed it.

Great Divide's Hercules is a substantial double IPA. It pours a heavy bronze color with a brief head. The aroma is sweet, malty, with honey notes. The flavor is really good. Rich. Buttery. The malt and hops are both big, so it's strong but balanced. A little boozy kick in the finish. This is a delicious beer. It might make it hard for session favorites to follow it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

DuClaw bills Sweet Baby Jesus as a chocolate, peanut butter porter. It's a fairly glossy porter with a slight, mild peanut butter quality in the aroma and taste. It pours dark brown with a quick fading head. The aroma is a mild malt, maybe a little coffee, and some slight peanut butter. That slight peanut butter presence is up front in the flavor, too. There isn't much of anything on the back end. It's as though someone dropped a little bit of Cap'n Crunch into a very average porter. Maybe not a bad idea if you need to liven up an average porter. But a better idea would be to just have a better porter instead.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Parkway Brewing bills Magella as a Belgian Dark Abbey Ale. I really enjoyed this beer. It pours deep brown with almost no head, and the aroma is fairly subtle. I picked up on molasses, bananas, and slightly boozy background notes. The taste is really big. Sweet and spicy up front, with cloves and rich malt, and then that big, yeasty Belgian finish. The ABV is just over 11%, but it isn't dominant in the taste. I will buy this again.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I really don't enjoy pumpkin beers, but I give a new one or two a try every fall. Tonight I had Foothills Brewing's Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale. It was OK. It pours a clear, muted orange with hardly any head. The aroma is bright and sweet. Lots of nutmeg and pumpkin. It’s all vaguely synthetic smelling, but it doesn’t smell bad at all. Kiinda like a pumpkin pie scented candle. The flavor is rich and slightly sweet. More of that pumpkin flavor that seems artificial but not unpleasant. I won’t have another one, but I didn’t mind this. Faint praise, I know ... but given that I have hated most of the pumpkin beers I've tasted, faint praise will have to do.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Starr Hill has some pretty good beers, but Boxcar Pumpkin Porter isn't one of them. It's dark brown, the small head fades quickly. The aroma is slight. I picked up on a little malt and some spice, maybe allspice. The taste is slight, too. This thing is watery. Nothing at all up front, but in the finish there is a little bit of pumpkin and spice. And I mean a very little bit. There is just nothing going on here. But at least it doesn't taste bad.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I'd never tried one of these hard ciders before and decided to give it a whirl. Angry Orchard Traditional Dry Hard Cider pours like sparkling apple juice and smells like any other cider I've had. It tastes like tart apple flavored soda. There's no alcohol at all in the flavor. I guess this is something like a wine cooler, but that's just a guess, as I've never tried a wine cooler, either. This cider isn't bad, but it isn't really my kind of thing.

New Belgium's Accumulation is billed as a white IPA. It pours lemon yellow, slightly hazy, with little head. The aroma is great, a lot of citrus, pineapple, grassy hops. The flavor isn't as good, but it's alright. The hops are muted, the malt is too, and the finish is dry. I won't have this again, it's OK but I there are so many winter seasonals I like much more.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Devil's Backbone's Kilt Flasher Wee Heavy Scotch Ale is pretty good, but a little short of great. It's dark red in color with very little, quick fading head. Roasted malt in the aroma, with some vanilla and something like roses. The sweet, smokey notes in the flavor are nice. A little hint of apricot, too. But it tastes watered down. I get the sense that there's a better beer here, but it is being diluted somehow before it gets to my glass.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It occurred to me at the grocery store tonight that I'd never reviewed Red Stripe Jamaican Style Lager, and that's because I'd never bothered to try it before. So I tried it. This stuff has a bright yellow, urine like body with a lot of carbonation and head. There is a vague, slight ginger-ale aroma... maybe something like watered down ginger-ale. The taste is inoffensive. It doesn't anger or disgust me. This beer is very light and would probably be refreshing in great gulps after a long hot day spent doing something tedious in the sun. But so would water, and water is free.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Smuttynose Robust Porter is a fine porter, and the name suits it. It pours a rich, viscous brown with a medium head that leaves a ton of lace. The aroma is smokey malt, with slightly musty black walnut notes and a little bit of vanilla. The flavor adds a bit of baker's chocolate and a mild tingle in the finish. Delicious.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blue Mountain Barrel House calls Full Nelson a Virginia Pale Ale. It's bright, crisp, bitter and dry. The body is clear amber and it has a foamy head, and the aroma is sweet citrus. Strong malt in the taste, fairly aggressive, and it finishes dry and hoppy. Not bad.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Evil Twin's Falco IPA pours a hazy lemon color with a lot of carbonation and a lot of head. Bitter, grassy hops and a little grapefruit in the aroma. Mild malt up front on the tongue, with a bitter, citrus/floral hop twang in the finish. A little more bitterness shows up in the exhale. Not bad, but Every IPA Sierra Nevada makes is far cheaper and just as good or better. Falco didn't rock me, Amadeus.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Evil Twin's Molotov Cocktail Imperial IPA is a real mutha. The body is hazy orange/gold color with no real head. The lace fades quickly. The aroma is strong, and reminds me of apricot brandy and rich, malty barley wine. The body is oily and viscous, I really do think of this as a barley wine more than an IPA, both in flavor and mouth-feel. The taste has some peaches and a little apricot and grapefruit, along with that strong, rich, forward malt that I associate with barley wine. Strong bitterness in the close, but more of a medicinal quality than a nice IPA sting. I won't have this again, the 13% ABV is a sledge hammer.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

According to, what separates an imperial porter from a stout is that the imperial porter doesn't have the overt roastiness of the stout. I'd think that makes Evil Twin's Lil' B Imperial Porter a porter in name only, because I picked up on smokey, rich, roasted malt in spades, here. This thing pours with no head at all, only a faint, mahogany-colored sudsy lace that fades to nothing at all after a few seconds. There was no lace in the glass as I drank it. The aroma is warm, with cherries and malt, and that describes the flavor, too. Boozy heat in the exhale, which is no surprise at 11.5% ABV. This reminded me of my favorite stout, Avery's Mephistopheles, but it isn't nearly as complex. That malt cherry flavor I picked up on in the front was nice, but nothing like the other flavors in Mephistopheles (raisins, baker's chocolate, vanilla, rum, etc) show up. Not bad, but I won't have it again at this price.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Green Flash's Green Bullet Triple IPA is a very well balanced IPA, given its high ABV and aggressive hop profile. It's a crystal amber color with an average head and fair amount of lace. The aroma is really outstanding. The best thing about this beer is getting a nose full of that aroma. Lots of floral and citrus, with something that reminded me very specifically of dehydrated pineapple, one of my favorite snacks. That is in the flavor, too, but it's more muted there. The hops are grassy and crisp on the tongue, and the malt is sweet and rich. Nice, strong, bitter blast in the finish, too; this is a true triple. The 10% ABV is a subtle component of the taste. This beer doesn't pound you over the head with alcohol. I am not in love with Green Bullet after one bottle, but I may come to feel differently as I work my way through this four-pack.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sierra Nevada really never disappoints. Their new sesonal IPA, Flipside, is delicious. It pours bright, copper red with a lacy head. The aroma is piney hops and rich caramel. Those tangy hops coast in the flavor over a really delicious, buttery, toasted malt. Big, bitter kick in the finish. The only bad thing about Flipside is that it's a seasonal and not a regular release.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Bruery's Mischief Belgian Ale is pretty good. It pours blonde with a huge head. Lots of foam. The aroma was spicy and sweet, and the flavor was plenty sweet but still kinda dry. A little bit of burn in the finish. I liked it.

Stone's 17th Anniversary IPA is called Götterdämmerung, and as the name implies, it's a real Teu-Tonic. (Ha! You see what I did there? I kill me!) I don't like this as much as the lemon-toned 16th Anniversary IPA, it's not as all-out drinkable... not quite as much of a summertime thirst quencher. But 17 is a unique, complex beer, and I enjoyed it. The typical Stone hop overload is right there, but this thing is really all about the pilsner malts, and there is a lot going on there. Kay said she thought the flavor was oaty and rich, and I picked up on that big-time right up front. In the finish there was a slightly sweet, bready caramel thing going on, too. I hate beer reviews that just throw descriptive words out there, I think that's pretentious as hell. But some of the words I jotted down trying to describe this beer were cereal, grapefruit, pretzels and hay. Yeah, it's complex. I didn't love it, but I liked it a lot, and I'll probably get another bottle before they're all gone.

Game Changer is the new pale ale brewed by Redhook exclusively for Buffalo Wild Wings. It's pretty good and goes well with wings. It's a cloudy peach color and a lacy head. The aroma has a mildly hoppy, salty, apple character. There's a mild but undeniable, pleasant malt in the finish. It ain't the best beer I ever had, but I go to B-Dubs primarily for the wings. I'll have this with wings again.

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Erdinger Weissbrau Hefeweizen pours a hazy yellow with a great deal of carbonation and a lot of fuzzy head. The aroma is practically nonexistent. The flavor is mildly fruity and closes with a slight bitterness, but this mostly tastes like a little bit of nothing. It's been my privilege to enjoy some delicious hefeweizens over the past year, and this ain't one of them.

I'm now up to three movies that I've seen in theaters and not reviewed at this blog. I'll write full on, brief reviews for each of them this week while I can still remember them. I promise. I managed to sit through The Wolverine yesterday, in spite of the desperate need I felt to get the hell out of that theater and stop watching that awful, shit movie. Earlier this year I also saw World War Z and This Is The End and I thought both of them were decent fun that more or less lived up to my slightly sub-par expectations. No complaints with either of them, they both both sailed cleanly over the very low bar I'd set for them. The Wolverine, on the other hand, ran face first into that bar, grabbed it, uprooted it, and used to destroy sporadic plot points that wouldn't have even served the film that well if they'd been left unmolested. It was such an unforgivable mess of a film. I may write reviews of any of these movies later, if the mood strikes me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I like Blue Point's No Apologies Imperial IPA. It's like a heavily hopped, IPA version of an American strong ale. It pours a hazy, deep peach color with a frothy head, and average carbonation. Rich, malty aroma. The flavor is a woody, sweet caramel that's not overshadowed by the big, tart hop character. This one leans to the malt side in a big way, and it was a nice change after several nights of extra bitter, hop-dominated beers.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ballast Point's Sculpin is a clean, light, tasty IPA. The body is bright tangerine with an average head and light carbonation. Lots of sweet citrus in the aroma; lemon and some melon, too. The flavor is crisp and tart. Orange and a creamy, butterscotch malt. Poured from the bottle right out of the fridge, this thing hit the spot.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Uinta's Crooked Line limited double rye IPA, Cahoots, is a tasty, strong, bitter double IPA. It pours a clear golden color with a really big head and medium carbonation. The aroma is the main presence of rye, I picked up on more of it in the smell than the flavor. Not that the flavor is lacking. It's big and bitter. The malt has the same rich, kinda sweet potato like quality that I've noticed in Uinta's Dubhe black IPA, but the sweetness is a minor note. The huge, resiny bitterness dominates. I liked this.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My son, my stepson and I are in Tennessee. I only see my stepson (by an ex-wife) for a few weeks every summer, so we try to make a trip and have some fun when he's here. This year we came to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to take in the sights and hit the touresty spots, and ride some roller coasters.

Tennessee is a beautiful state, but there is a lot about it that confuses me. This lush, green mountain land gave the world Morgan Freeman, music's Carter family, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Elvis, and Samuel L. Jackson. But, on the other hand, Tennessee also gave us Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Ke$ha. As far as I'm concerned, this state owes us three more Arethas just to make up for Ke$ha, alone.

Also, I don't see how the same state could send both Al Gore and Fred Thompson to the Senate, and within a couple of years of each other. Tennessee seems to have identity issues.

And I gotta say that The Volunteers is the lamest, silliest college sports mascot name of all time. Alright, sure, I'm sure there's some badass story behind the name... I'm sure it's something macho and impressive, like the college football team is named after some guys who volunteered to run into a burning whorehouse and extinguished the fire by whomping it with their scrotums while drinking Jack Daniels. But as it is, just on the face of it, the Tennessee Volunteers is only marginally more intimidating sounding than the Tennessee Kindly Old Aunts.

Nonetheless, as tourist traps go, Gatlinburg, Tennessee is as fun as any other, and probably cleaner and friendlier than most. The kids are having a good time. We hit the Aquarium today and walked through an awesome shark tunnel, and then took in the Ripley's "Odditorium" museum, which was a lot more fun than I expected. We laughed and had fun the whole time we were there. Tomorrow it's Dollywoood, which has gotten more and more serious about roller coasters over the years. I expect some real fun there, too.

My stepson and I take a selfie in the warped mirror at Ripley's.
My son in the backward baseball cap is right behind us.