Sunday, May 31, 2015

I'm not a huge fan of Flying Dog Brewery, but I really like Gonzo Imperial Porter. I'm not sure why they don't just bill it as a stout, it bites and burns like a stout, and it doesn't have that smokey, sweet malt backbone that I associate with my favorite porters. Stylistic quibbles aside, this is a fine beer. Gonzo pours jet black with a lot of creamy, tan head. The aroma is strong coffee and chicory and figs. The flavor has a big burst of licorice, molasses, dark candied fruit, and booze. The 9.2% ABV is loud and proud, and there's nothing wrong with that. Gonzo doesn't mess around, and I enthusiastically approve.

Friday, May 29, 2015

I was surprised earlier to realize I'd not posted a review of Lagunitas Night Time Black IPA. I've had it before and always enjoyed it. Night Time pours as black as any stout with a lot of creamy head. The aroma is charcoal and some grassy hops. The flavor adds a really rich, burnt malt with a dense hop finish. It's not quite as good as Stone's Self Righteous or Firestone Walker's Wooky Jack, but it's a solid black IPA. Well worth it at the reasonable price.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Firestone Walker's DBA (Double Barrel Ale) is an English bitter style ale. It's pale amber in color, with medium carbonation and a fast-fading head. The nose has that musty English bitter ale quality. There's some vegetable/cabbage notes in the aroma. Vanilla and a little bit of lemon in the flavor, then that musty thing in the finish. Not bad.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

DuClaw's sweet beers are very popular, but I've only thought they were OK. Tonight I tried Dirty Little Freak, their brown ale brewed with coconut, caramel, and chocolate. I like this beer a lot more than I thought I would. It pours caramel brown, the head leaves a persistent, creamy lace. The aroma is nutmeg and cinnamon over top of that coconut and chocolate mentioned on the label. The coconut comes through in the flavor, strong, sweet, and toasted. There is something like oak in the background, too.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Great Divide brews some damn fine beer, and their Old Ruffian barley wine is sturdy and complex. I like it a lot. It pours a deep red/brown, almost a burgundy color, with not much foam. The aroma is subdued, this beer doesn't play it's cards up front. I picked up on a little sweet malt and yeast and not much else on the nose. The flavor is delicious. It's mellow and sweet first, with caramel and oak on the front of the tongue, then the back end is all about pop and tingle. The hops come through on the finish and their is a little burn, with some citrus and grassy notes. The caramel comes back for an encore on the exhale, along with the unavoidable ABV (just over 10%). Barley wine has replaced stout as the power player style for most of my favorite breweries, and Great Divide has a real headliner in this one.

North Coast brewing makes a handful of delicious beers, and then a bunch of other beers that hardly seem worth the time. Scrimshaw Pilsner says on the label that it's brewed with water, barley, yeast, hops, and that's all. It pours a light, sparking yellow. The brief head is gone in an instant. There is no aroma at all. Pure water is as aromatic as this beer. The flavor still manages to taste like a pilsner. I’m not the world’s biggest pilsner fan, so that might not be a compliment. There is a little malt, on the flavor, some fruity yeast, and then mild hops. Goes down clean. This isn't a bad beer, it just isn't much beer at all. Scrimshaw leaves no impression.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Here are four different pictures I took at four very different times, each time standing in just about the same spot on the same little trail. This kinda encapsulates a year of walking for exercise.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Running is becoming my preoccupation. I'm still kinda amazed that I can do it at all. And I don't do it well. I'm a shitty athlete. But being a shitty athlete means I am an athlete, and I'll take it. This is tremendous progress for me. This is the pay-off of almost a year of pretty steady work.

I'm running 5K most days, but still taking the time to hike when possible. Hiking and camping are an amazing escape. There isn't much that feels better than returning to the campsite after a twelve or thirteen mile circuit hike, building a fire, and just relaxing before turning in. I've really come to appreciate the solitude; it's a meditative and rejuvenating experience for me. Sleeping in the tent is becoming second nature, and the sounds and sights and smells of the mountains are something I've come to crave.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Trader Joe's has a lot of good, cheap beer. The King's English IPA is a cheap one, but not a very good one. It kinda sucks, in fact. This beer pours a dark amber with a little bit of head. The aroma is pretty bad. It reminds me of socks that should have been washed a couple of days ago. The flavor is a combination of those socks, onions, cabbage, and maybe a little caramel. It's a little bit better than I just made it sound ... but not much. I did finish the bottle, but I was glad to be done with it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Points Unknown is a collaborative imperial IPA brewed by Stone, with Wicked Weed and Ecliptic. It pours a pale, clear gold color with lots of tenacious, creamy foam. The aroma is Belgian yeast, citrus, aggressive hops, warm malt. The flavor is hoppy out of the gate, the sweet and smooth Belgian ale notes come through in the finish. Alcohol and bananas and white grapes linger on the palate. I don’t detect the barrel aging in the nose or on the tongue, but the beer doesn’t suffer for it. This is delicious.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ballast Point continues to seriously impress me. Dorado is a damn serious double IPA. It pours a slightly hazy gold color, the head leaves lots of lace in the glass. The aroma is similar to Sculpin; clean with lemon and cantaloupe notes, but with more alcohol vapor than that single IPA. The hops hit the tongue like a sledgehammer. Very bitter, very dense. The hops are all I pick up on until the very last, when the smooth malt comes through, followed by some pineapple and caramel quality. The last of that sip leaves lemongrass and more boozy vapor in the nose. Wow, really nice.

What the hell is going on in San Diego? Green Flash, Stone, and Ballast Point are all out there just nailing home-run after home-run. Must be something in the water.

Monday, May 11, 2015

I run now. I run 3.1 miles (or, 5 kilometers) every day. I run that distance in a little less than half an hour. Today I ran on the track at the local middle school, and I ran the 5K in 27 minutes and 49 seconds.

I run.

This time last year I weighed almost 300 pounds and I could hardly walk. Today I weigh 170 and I ran 3.1 miles in just under 29 minutes.

Work for what you want and you can have it. And it's worth it. It's worth every drop of sweat, it's worth every ache, every pain, every embarrassing defeat, every fall, every fear, every single time you have to wipe off the blood and choke down the spit and get back up.

I am not quite where I want to be. But I've never been happier about where I am.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Great Divide's Yeti series of stouts is a joy and a wonder. For instance, Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. This beer pours thick and black as midnight. The head is huge, foamy, and a maroon/brown color. The aroma is baker's chocolate, caramel, booze... it isn't distinctly different from the espresso oak aged version of Yeti, and that's not a bad thing at all. Like the espresso version, this one is sweet and rich up front, but not sweet enough to make me tired of it. And that familiar, bitter explosion at the end is there in all it's glory. My palate isn't discerning enough to tell a lot of difference between this and Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, but I love them both. No complaints. Great Divide just keeps hitting the bull's eye.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Golden IPA is an average beer for Sierra Nevada, which means it’s still better than most of the other beers in a grocery store. It pours a bright yellow, lots of crackling head. The aroma is lemongrass, butter, pine. The flavor is bright and light. A little citrus, a little bread, and a dry white wine quality in the finish. Not bad at all.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Stone's new American strong ale is called Drew & Steve's Imperial Mutt Brown Ale. It may be named for a dog, but it kicks like a mule. This beer pours a light, milk chocolate brown with an average had that doesn't leave much lace. There's warm caramel and spice in the aroma, some apples, some cinnamon. The flavor is sweet and rich. The malt is as big and warm as a bakery. Brown sugar, almonds, a little bit of chocolate. The ABV is well hidden in all that bready sweetness, and it snuck up on me and punched me in the back of the head.

Lagunitas Equinox Pale Oat Ale is among the best of the current beers in this price range. It pours a bright, light brown with an average head. There are oat and spice notes in the aroma, with herbal, grassy qualities. The oat malt comes through in the flavor in a strong, rich, wonderful way. Slightly dry finish with some hop bite. Equinox is really nice.