Sunday, June 30, 2013

Now that I've (almost) stopped drinking beer entirely I'm running out of things to blog about. I may just stop entirely soon. I've seen a couple of movies that are worth reviewing; World War Z and This Is The End. Both of them were entertaining enough to justify matinee ticket prices. I may write reviews at some point.

As I said, I've almost entirely quit drinking beer. I made an exception yesterday. My favorite beer of all time is the 10th Anniversary hoppier version of Stone's Ruination IPA, which was a one-time-only release last year. I loved it. I was able to get hold of eleven bottles of it over the course of the limited run, and enjoyed each one more than the one before. Apparently I wasn't the only one loving it, because Stone has re-released that tenth-anniversary recipe once more as a limited, small batch for the summer of 2013. This time they've simply called it RuinTen. My favorite beer store finally got a case of it, and graciously allowed me to purchase four bottles. It is as delicious, as aggressive, and as unique as last year's batch. If I happen to come across any more of it, I'll buy it. As it is, these four bottles will probably be all I'll get, and I enjoyed one of them tonight. Once the RuinTen is gone, I'm back on the no-beer wagon. But not tonight. Tonight, I grieve for the angels because they ain't got what I've got.



Sunday, June 23, 2013

My laptop crashed on me several days ago and I couldn't blog at all for a while.  Last night I caught up on a few reviews, and remembered to post this pic of yet another delicious Stone IPA.  I found that I enjoyed the  current batch of Enjoy By IPA just as much from a bottle as I enjoyed the previous batch on tap.  Thanks to my G+ buddy +Chris Clement for the hook up.  Chris ROKZZZ!!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Petrus Oud Bruin is heavy and rich. It pours dark brown with an average head. There is a strong malt in the smell, and tangy, fruity citrus hops. The flavor reminds me of strong cider. There is a dense sweetness, strong apple notes, and something like caramel/coffee going on, too. This was really good.

Bush de Noël is a strong and tasty Belgian style ale. It pours caramel brown with a slight head. The aroma is strong, candied fruit and nuts and slight boozy heat. That’s all in the flavor, and some Christmas-type tones of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. This is a tasty beer that hides it’s high ABV really well.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Belgium's Trippel is a strong Belgian ale with coriander. It pours bright golden with a ton of carbonation and a little head. The aroma is Belgian yeasts, fruit, bananas, and a little bit of a vanilla yogurt thing, too. And most of the coriander mentioned in the label comes through in the aroma. The flavor is rich and sweet and smooth. I'd been worried that the coriander might overpower the flavor, but it doesn't. Slightly boozy aftertaste and a sticky mouthfeel that keeps the flavor around for a bit.

Friday, June 14, 2013

There isn't much to say about Brooklyn Brewery's Summer Ale. It's clear yellow and has a fizzy, brief head. The aroma is nondescript. There is just nothing in the nose at all. The flavor is just a bit better than any American adjunct lager. There's a little malt in the finish, and some tingle. But mostly this is a watery, crisp, nothing of a beer. Don't waste a dime on it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Devil's Backbone's Azrael is kind of a hybrid pale/Belgian ale, and it's pretty good once you get past a mildly unpleasant smell. The color is a bright, clear yellow and there is basically no head and no lace at all. There is Belgian yeast in the aroma, but there's also a smell like boiled cabbage that I didn't enjoy. I did enjoy the flavor. It's like a mild pale ale with a Belgian brewer's yeast and a slightly fruity finish. Bananas, vanilla wafers, etc. I liked the flavor more than the aroma.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Belgium's Lips of Faith Super Cru is kind of a weird variation of Fat Tire. I don't think I'd want it often, but it's not bad. It pours a deep orange/tea color with not much head, and the brief suds don't hang around. The aroma is pears and malt. The flavor is like Fat Tire but with a Belgian yeast and pear juice, which is exactly what this beer is in the first place. The pears and Belgian yeast work together well; for my money, Belgian yeast is fruity, anyway. So this combination is fine. And the extra hops give it a little bit of a tingle at the end that reminds me of a Belgian style IPA. But something here ain't entirely right. I think it's the malt-forward Fat Tire thing that seems to be competing with everything else. Somewhere along the line this thing passes "complex" and becomes just hyper active. I didn't enjoy the second half of this bottle as much as the first.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Every guy has a couple of things he can cook fairly well. Well, some guys cook a bunch of things well. This guy can make a couple of things pretty well. I can make some seriously ass-kicking chili from a recipe that has been tweaked into unique awesomeness. And I can make some ass-kicking chicken salad from a recipe that I made up years ago. This is the finished product:


I'm pretty proud of the fact that almost everyone who tries it says "Damn ... you made this?"


It ain't hard to make, either. It's almost dummy-proof, which is why I get it right. Here's how to make it:

Season six chicken breast fillets. I season them with rosemary, rubbed sage, thyme and garlic. Grill them up until they're nice and juicy inside and a little bit crispy outside. I just toss them on the Foreman. Then, shred them by your process of choice. You can shred them by hand if you have a week, but I use the shred setting on my food processor. I shred them three at a time, it's easier to mix that way. Combine the three shredded chicken breasts in a big mixing bowl with half of an eight ounce bag of finely chopped pecans, half of a 22 ounce container of your dressing of choice (I like light Miracle Whip, or light Hellmanns sometimes if I don't want it quite as sweet.) And add about a tablespoon and a half of sweet pickle relish.

And then, the ringer ingredient: Cranberries. Fresh is best if you can get them and don't mind spending the money. Frozen will work if you can get a bag. Just thaw them all day before you make the salad. Dried cranberries work, too, and in fact that's what I end up using most frequently because that's what is easiest to find. Anyway, add as many as you like. I freaking LOVE me some cranberries, so I toss in a cup of 'em. Sometimes more. Mix all the ingredients, spoon into a big-ass tupperware container, then shred the other three chicken breasts and add the other half of the dressing and the other half of the bag of pecans and the relish and another cup of cranberries, mix it all up and fill up the container with the rest.

It's not bad right away but after it has been in the fridge for a couple of hours this stuff becomes stellar. Make a sandwich with some hearty whole-grain bread or serve it on a bed or lettuce or on crackers or just eat it by the handful. I'm telling you, it's awesome. It's fresh, it's simple, it really tastes good, and it's healthy because it ain't got heroin or cocaine in it.

There isn't a lot to make Bison Brewing's Hop Cuvee Organic IPA stand out. It pours a tangerine color and it's pretty flat, no real head to speak of and not much carbonation. The aroma is strong, grassy west coast hops. The flavor is more of that, and not much else. Gets pretty old by the end of the bottle.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blue Mountain's Blitzen Belgian style ale is pretty good. It pours a clear, bright brown with a big head and a lot of carbonation. The aroma is spicy and strong, and so is the flavor. There's a lot of malt and spice, and the carbonation is really heavy. Notes of apples and citrus and caramel.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I was unsure about the age but took a chance on a bottle of Sierra Nevada's 2012 Southern Hemisphere Harvest IPA. It turned out to be pretty tasty, although more about malt than hops, and warmer and boozier than I'd expected. The body was a bright but hazy brown with a thick head that left a lot of lace. The aroma wasn't strong, but there was a rich malt with some apple and citrus tones. The flavor was better cold than it was as the bottle warmed. The first glass had strong caramel notes and the citrus hops were clearer, but as this thing warmed the flavor muted to something mild and slightly Scotch-like, while the hop character became more floral but more subdued.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Southern Tier Live is a hoppy American pale ale, and I like it. There is a lot of carbonation in the cloudy, pale orange body, and the medium head leaves a fair amount of lace. There is a lot of hoppiness in the aroma. Big, lemony citrus hops are all over the nose, and they almost dominate the flavor. There is a mildly buttery, bready malt in the background for balance, though. If it were easier to find and a little more affordable, I can see me making this a regular lawnmower beer.

Rogue's red IPA, Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale, is pretty darn good. It's a redish (duh) rust color with a lot of head and just a ton of lace. There is a lot of malt in the aroma and taste. It's billed as an IPA, but it reminds me of something like a slightly dialed back and then rehopped Arrogant Bastard. I picked up on caramel and grainy malt, and just a bit of candied fruit in the finish. It has that mildly boozy burn that makes Arrogant Bastard so good, and that's a good thing. I'll buy this again.

PS - This ale is named in honor of Captain Sig Hansen and the crew of the Northwestern from The Deadliest Catch, and some of the proceeds from the sale of this beer support the Fishermen's Fund.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Southern Tier's Imperial Oat is a filling, savory oatmeal stout. It pours thick, almost viscous black with a head that fades to just a foamy, tenacious ring around the top edge. The aroma is chocolate, toffee, coffee, all kinds of rich, sweet tones. That's all in the flavor, too, along with an indication of the 11% ABV and some spicy, hoppy tingle. The body is really thick and formidable. I had this on a rainy day, and it seemed like a damn near perfect beer.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Belgium's Lips Of Faith La Folie Sour Brown Ale is really something. I had the 2012 brew, and this was my first sour ale. Wow. First off, I'll say that when they say sour, they don't mean "kinda sour" or "hints at sourness." I did not find myself struggling to "pick up on the sourness" from this beer. I found myself struggling instead to pick my face up off the floor. This is a freight-train to the mouth kind of sour.

This beer pours murky brown with very little head or lace, and the aroma is a mild malt that's just dominated by something like sour cherry. The flavor is aggressive. I guess that's one word for it. Honestly, all I could taste was the sourness. It's more of a sour apple in terms of flavor, and not the sour cherry I thought I smelled in the aroma. There is a little spice, a little background richness, but this stuff starts sour, finishes sour, and leaves a sour aftertaste. This beer is not trying to cozy up and be your friend. You'll like it on its terms or you won't like it at all. I cannot say I really enjoyed this beer, but I can't remember the last time something bowled me over like this did. I will eventually try this style again, but not soon. I'm overwhelmed.

(Note: More than three years later, in the fall of 2016, I finally got around to that second review. That review, from an entirely different perspective, is at this link.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale is an American style brown ale. It's pretty good. It is lighter and crisper than the stouts, barley wines, and imperial IPAs I gravitate toward, but it's not a "slight" beer." The color is dark brown, with lighter, orange highlights around the edges. The head is small with medium light-lacing. There are caramel and nutty malt tones in the aroma, and the flavor also brings forth a little chocolate and rich coffee, along with stronger hops than the smell implies. The body seems fairly full in the finish. I liked this.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I haven't had a lot of schwarzbier, which is a German style black lager. Of the ones I've had, this is the best. Rogue's Dirtoir Black Lager pours jet black with tan head and a little lace, and the aroma is strong, rich, and bitter. The flavor is all of that, too. Not a hint of sweetness, just a dark malt and bitterness, with a smokey, charcoal-like finish. Hoppy twang on the exhale. The body is thin but the flavor is so strong that this reminded me of the better Baltic porters. I enjoyed the hell out of this.

Foothills People's Porter is the best beer I've had yet from Foothills brewery. It's deep brown with red highlights, and the foamy head leaves lots of lace throughout the duration of the beer. The aroma is chocolate and coffee, and the rich, coffee/chocolate character in the flavor is complimented with spicy, grassy hops. There is nothing surprising going on, here, but it compares favorably to other fine porters, like Anchor and Founders.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Caldera IPA is a very good IPA. The color is a hazy rust, the head isn't particularly large but there's a lot of lace. The aroma is hops over top of a really rich, smooth, sweet malt. And that sweetness in the flavor balances the hops really well. The malt is nutty, with kind of a maple thing going on, too. The hops burn in the finish, and this stuff gets a little sweeter as it warms. I like this a lot.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sierra Nevada and Russian River's collaborative Belgian style ale is called Brux. It pours a hazy, dirty blonde with a really big head. Brux smells like a decent Belgian ale and tastes like one, too. Citrus and bananas and yeasty, bready notes in the aroma and the taste, with just a slightly boozier finish than many Belgians offer. Very fizzy. Nothing shocking or surprising, but certainly tasty.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: BAZ LUHRMANN'S THE GREAT GATSBY

I'm not sure why director Baz Luhrmann and producer Jay-Z decided to make a 3-D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. I am certain that it's an adaptation that we didn't really need, but a better one than I might have expected from such pretentious origins. The first half of the film is as gaudy and flashy and generally awful as it could be, and it's damn near enough to ruin the whole production. But the second half (which is more about acting and story and less about the flashy visuals and rap music that dominates the first half) is just about good enough to save the whole production. Getting there is rough, though.

For the first hour, this film flat out defies you to enjoy it. Oh, it demands to be watched, and it's as hard to take your eyes off of as a circus accident. But actually enjoying it is another matter. Luhrmann seems to have been hell bent on getting the most out of the 3-D technology and hip-hop hits soundtrack that the studio paid for, and the first hour of the film is like a video game or amusement park ride with a weird roaring 20's theme. You don't have to see the 3-D version to be overwhelmed, either. We saw the 2-D version of the film and were still annoyed by the obvious way the film keeps gyrating in the audience's face. The swirl of colors and action and thumping music was enough to make me feel kind of sick, and it's almost a miracle that I kept watching. But I suppose I'm glad I did.

In the second half, The Great Gatsby relies less on technology and more on good (if overt) performances from the cast. Leonardo Dicaprio and Carey Mulligan are good as the story's doomed lovers, and the rest of the cast (especially those curbed directory from Zero Dark Thirty, including Joel Egerton and Jason Clarke) are all good as well. The story is melodramatic, with lots of arguing and adultery and star-crossed this and that, but the performances sell it.

It was impossible for me to watch this film without thinking about the film adaptation from the early '70's. I haven't seen it in thirty years, but remembered it well enough to notice some contrasts. In the '70's, Robert Redford played the enigmatic Gatsby with an air of melancholy, where as DiCaprio's title character seems more detached and a little insane. I'm sure the Redford performance is more of a hit with female film fans, but I liked DiCaprio's edgier performance with its sense of danger. Mia Farrow's Daisy from the earlier film seemed fragile and kind of child-like, as I remember it, and that made the character's transgressions more forgivable. Carey Mulligan's Daisy, however, seems like more of a self-absorbed flake. I actually liked that. I liked that this film wasn't afraid to make its heroes less than heroic.

I'm unwilling to recommend The Great Gatsby, mostly because the first hour is garish and downright unnerving. But that was arguably a stylistic choice, and in fact it may have been the whole point. I will say that it seems like two different movies in one, and the second of the two mini-films, the one with all the drama, is the better of the two. It's your call as to whether the second half makes the first half worth enduring.


New Belgium's Lips of Faith series of beers features some unusual stuff. Cocoa Molé is a good example. It pours a deep rust color but is a more standard brown in the glass with very little head. The aroma is a lot of spice and chocolate, with the emphasis on the spices. A little black and red pepper seems to come through, too. This is a very different beer from the kind of thing I usually gravitate toward. It's not something I'd want often, but I enjoyed this bottle.