Showing posts from March, 2013

The Ides of March

Okay, this movie is about as slow as a Yugo on an on ramp.

The movies protagonist is played by Ryan Gosling, and you never really quite give a crap about him. It's as if he is the same character as he was in Drive, which was intentionally without significant personality. And the cast is augmented with two-dimensional characters, so they don't overshadow our hero.

George Clooney is a Democratic candidate for president, and he appears to be running on what would actually be George Clooney's platform. At one point, we are told that Republicans are allowed to vote in this primary, and they will vote for the other guy (who we really don't see through the movie) because they can beat the other guy, but they're scared of Clooney.

I cannot imagine how much further from center the other guy must be if it was possible that Clooney was the more acceptable alternative for the general election. Not very much to my surprise, it turns out that Clooney wrote is crappy script an…

New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale

For this blog, I've had a black lager and a black IPA, but this is the first black ale I'll be trying. The previous New Belgium ale was not spectacular, and my fear is that this one might follow suit. I don't ant to judge a book by its cover, but the bottle art on both is pretty terrible. It looks like they are trying to go for the stodgy cigar smokers who may want to drift away from their Scotch for the night, but it's not particularly confidence inspiring.

I'll admit - I bought this early last week, and I forgot what kind of beer it was. The label is so complicated and difficult to read that I didn't even bother when I poured it. As a result, I was taken aback by the very, very dark brown color. I mean, it is a lot darker than I expected, but it makes sense now that I read that it is a black ale.

The head is kind of thin, but the bubbles stick around on the edges of the glass. The aroma is a bit nutty. You have to really put your nose in it to get the hops. …

Cammo's Chocolate Maple Porter

I like Cameron. I like his beer, too. This one took a while, but I understand his operation is a bit small. I mean, brewing three gallons seems almost criminal for some of his beers. We need to get him a big tanker truck or something. Maybe there is a brewpub going out of business somewhere where his talents could be put to proper use.

Enough about Cammo. Let's look at this newest beer.

I expected to be nearly killed by opening the bottle, as his beers tend to have quite a bit of carbonation  He says that the reason the maple was added to this beer was to naturally carbonate it. I was leery about how MUCH carbonation there was going to be, but there was only a slight pfffssst when I opened the bottle. Good start. Then, I poured... there is it.

I didn't even pour as I usually do down the center of the glass (which I've been told is the right way to pour most beers, but I know it is NOT the way to pour a Guinness). But look at that. The head is absolutely, unimaginably massi…

Samuel Adams Maple Pecan Porter

I face this beer with trepidation. I'm not fond of beers that have stuff added to them to "enhance" the flavor. Inevitably, these will result in a beer that taste like it has been improperly brewed, and they added something to try to cover it up. Let's see if Sam did a better job.

The pour is straight forward, and the color is a very very dark reddish black. The smell is maple and smokey. It's a very strong aroma, too, and I like that. The head is fairly even and a thin ring of bubbles sticks to the top. 

The taste is of slightly overdone coffee and a little chocolatey. It's got nuttiness to it, and the finish is overbearing. It's just way too much of an attempt. With the recent very good Sam beers, it seems like they would have to produce some duds, and this fits in that category. There's just too much going on in the beverage and not enough of what is supposed to happen.

New Belgium Dig Pale Ale

It's a Spring Seasonal. It's a Belgian ale, so you know what that means: Citrus! I never think of Belgium and imagine oranges and lemons and other assorted citrus fruits, but they appear to be very fond of the citrus in their spring ales, so I assume they have them.

The aroma is very lemon. It's got hops in there, too, but the lemon is distinctive. The head dissipates quickly, but we're left with a good ring of bubbles, so I'm cool with it. The bubbles don't seem to stick too well to the glass, so there's that. The color is a bit more brown than I expected. Not as much red or yellow as I expected.

The taste is a bit dull. there's quite a bit going on, but it's all over the place. It's got hops peeing out, but there's all the passion fruit and mango and peach and MY GOD the lemon. I think the brewmaster was drinking lemonade one day and said, "Hey, why don't we have a lemonade beer? What? Mike's Hard Lemonade exists? Well, we can…

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Lets start with the basics - this beer is popular. When you think about Sam Adams, this is probably the beer you're thinking of (aside from thinking about his spreading propaganda, instigating a revolution, and drinking tea out of the harbor or some such historical eccentricities). I suppose this is to be expected as this was the first beer the Sam Adams Brewery ever put out. Also, Americans seem to have a great fondness for lagers, so this is typically going to be the cash crop.

The head is good, and it dissipates in a reasonable amount of time while sitting. There's a nice ring of bubbles left around the top, and that steeples fairly well down the sides as you drink. The aroma is ALL lager. I mean, if I were to cast a smell in the role of lager, I would just as surely pick this as I would pick the Steelers to win on Sunday - any Sunday, even if they weren't playing.

There's a tiny bit of hops and a wee wisp of citrus or something similar in the taste. It's surro…

Samuel Adams White Lantern White Ale

I didn't read the label before writing most of this review, and I would have had different expectations if I had. This is a Belgian White Ale, and consequently has quite a bit of non-Reinheitsgebot ingredients.

It starts with a thick head that dissipates fairly quickly. It leaves a ring of thin bubbles around the edge that steeple nicely as the beer goes down. The beer itself is cloudy, but it does not have sediment or anything indicative of a bottle-conditioned beer.

The aroma is really weak. It's more floral than hoppy with maybe a bit of lemon or a citrus fruit in there. I like for my ales to have enough stink that I can smell the hops from my chair while it is sitting on my table next to me. It's not a fantastically long distance, so I wouldn't think it is asking too much.

The taste is also kind of weak. I'd say it has more malt or something. No, not malt. It's not hops, either. It's wheat. It's definitely some kind of wheat beer, and I'm not …

Samuel Adams Irish Red

Irish reds tend to have a muted taste. I'm sure most of you are familiar with Killian's Irish Red. It's one of the most drinkable beers produced by the behemoth Coors, and it benefits from having very little taste, but what taste there is is certainly not unpleasant.
This then is produced by Sam Adams in the heart of West Ireland (Boston). The pour is just as you might expect - it's got a light head of big bubbles that disappears rather quickly. It does leave a nice film and ring of bubbles, and that always pleases me. the bubbles are atop a very copper-colored beverage. The aroma is quite malty with a touch of hops, which is also exactly what you might expect. 

The taste is actually quite a bit stronger than I anticipated. It's a bit grassy or something right in the middle, and that is not entirely brilliant. On the whole, this isn't bad. But, isn't that the hallmark of the style - bland enough to not offend with enough taste to not be Budweiser? Whoa. I d…

Upside Down

Let's summarize: The idea is that there are two worlds that are caught by each other's gravity. For some reason, they are in geosynchronous orbit with each other, and the entirety of each world is directly aligned with something on the surface of the other world - so I guess that makes them both flat.

One world is the happy-go-lucky world of privilege while the other world is downtrodden and suck-ass. Inevitably, these two star-crossed lovers find each other. How sweet and extremely unlikely.

This movie sets up rules that are really hard to understand or believe, and then it goes about ignoring those rules as it sees fit. Physics can be manipulated into doing awesome and cool things. There are a host of sci-fi writers would would kill for a couple of A-list actors and a big budget to create a fantasy world that sets up physics and then follows the rules.

The love story is slap-together, and the actors may or may not have chemistry - we wouldn't know, as the shtick with th…

Dundee Stout

It's kind of an imperial stout, but I'm not sure how to actually classify it. It definitely has that imperial stout smell and is distinctly smokey.

It pours a nice, dark brown with a thin head that never really goes away.

It's not a full flavored as your average stout. but the aroma of smokiness is doubled in the taste. It's got character, but it's still just a bit weak. I mean, I don't like imperial stouts, but at least they have the gumpshin to jump with both feet.
It's certainly not the worst beer I've had, but it doesn't really bring anything to the table. I'm not a fan of imperial stout on a good day, but this is weak enough to tolerate. Good thing, too, as the sample pack had three of them.

Sam Adams Double Agent IPL

I mistype all the time. The IPL in the title of this post is not one of those times.

Sam Adams freely admits that this was a big experiment. They decided to add a bunch of hops to a lager to add the spice of the hops to the mellowness of the malts. The result, they hoped, would be the best of both worlds.

The head is thick, and the bubbles are large. The aroma is distinctly lager, but it definitely has that hops bitterness to it. It doesn't smell very appealing, I have to say.

After I take a small sip, this doesn't seem like its going to end well. The attempt to make it complex has made the taste come in waves - not good ones, either. I take a bigger swig the second time around, and this time, it's a bit better. Maybe this is like Guinness, and a deeper draught is necessary to get the proper flavor out of the beer. I can live with that.

No, it's just not right. The finish is just too floral. It's not as bad as the Pistil dandelion beer, but I've definitely t…

Dundee Pilsner

Why is it that I hear the name Dundee, and I can't help but think about Australia? Don't get me wrong, I know that guy is a national treasure there, but I hope I'm not the only one who just can't picture anything but wallabies upon hearing the name. Either way, this sucker is from New York (the state).

Pilsners are malty. Like hops, some malts taste better than others. I have oft found myself regretting the decision to have a pilsner, as the malts are usually not of my taste. This one came in a big ole multi-pack, so I figured I would give it a go.

The aroma is not overwhelming, but there's kind of a lemony scent that is right around the edges of the malt. If there are hops in there, I can't smell 'em. Not over that malt.

I like the look of the beer. It's very clear and pale. the head is nice and frothy, and it doesn't go entirely away. The look is about right for a pilsner - the last beer I had that looked like this was a blonde. I can only hope at…

Boulevard Single-Wide IPA

So, they were out of the Pale Ale, so I got the IPA. Not a bad trade-off, I suspect. I'm not sure how many trailer parks they have in India. Nor am I informed on the number they have in jolly old England where the IPA style was birthed. Boulevard is a local Kansas City brewery, and I'm pretty certain they have their fair share of them here.

Like a single wide, this brew is uncomplicated and smells funny. It foams like almost nothing I've had before. Maybe one of Cammo's beers might rival the excessive and distressingly thick foam, but Cammo manages to put some good taste under that foam most of the time.

This beer is swill. It's got a "best by" date, and I shudder to think of what it must taste like after that date. The hops are likely grown in a cesspool in the horrid Missouri part of KC. (Cue Abe Simpson's "I'll be dead in my grave before I recognize Missoura!")

It is supposed to have been bottle conditioned. I suspect they didn'…

Newcastle Brown Ale

It is likely you who read this have already had a Newcastle. I asked for the extensive list of ales at this hotel, and the guy (who appeared to be the manager) listed a few styles with no brands associated with them. He mentioned Guinness, but when I pressed him on if they were bottle or cans, he said, "They are bottles. And it's Dark. Guinness Dark." I went ahead and corrected him by informing him that it was Guinness Black, and it was a lager. And it sucked.

So, I ordered a Newcastle. It's not great. I probably won't order a second one. Looks like they have Boulevard Pale Ale, so I'll go with that for the next beer. I mean, I have nothing to do but stream Amazon Prime in my hotel room, and this bar is really just stumbling distance away. No, I won't actually have that many. I'm past the point in my life when that was fun.

So, the beer. It's not fantastic. I'm not a fan of brown ales in general, as anyone who bothers reading this blog knows…

The Baytown Outlaws

When did Quentin Tarantino become the target for every director? Yes, he's had some very good films, but he's had some real stinkers. And if the guy who created the style can't be consistently good, why do pretend Tarantinos think they will have big breakout hits when they are pale copies?

Maybe I'm being too harsh. Clearly, he had been influenced by Quentin, but he has a big heaping helping of Joe Carnahan's directing and writing style from Smokin' Aces. The problem is that the pacing is way too slow to meet either director's standards

I've lived in the South for nearly five years, and I don't think I really understand the thought processes behind their thinking sometime. I can tell you this, though - Barry Battles (the director) is using his knowledge of the more ingrained Southerners to exploit stereotypes and generally Hollywoodify this area of the country.

The only thing that could make this worse is if he had Billy Bob Thornton playing a bad-…

Sam Adams Alpine Spring (Seasonal)

I had a good lager with the supposed pre-prohibition style Batch 19. It's so rare for me to come across a lager that I enjoy so much that any follow-up lager would inevitably pale in comparison. And it's kind of inevitable that I will compare the two.

Another good, thick head that stays around like a party guest who is unaware that the party has finished. I do like that in a beer. I guess I notice it more after the milk stout that basically had no head, yet it still tasted great. I missed the foam.
It's been very lightly hopped. According to Sam, they used a single type of hop in this one, and they picked a good one. It's aroma is not complex, but it's inviting. The taste echos the smell. It's simple and straight forward; not that there's anything wrong with that. The malt is smooth and laid back.
It's a bit of a shame that this is only a seasonal brew. This could easily replace their more popular "Boston Lager" as the mainstay of the brewery.…

Catch 44

Bruce Willis and Forrest Whitaker. How could this not turn out great?

Two words: Aaron Harvey.

See, Aaron was the writer and director of this film. The problem is that he saw some old Quentin Tarantino movies and thought he could produce the same kind of movie on a budget. This is heavily influenced by Pulp Fiction, but it actually has more in common with Reservoir Dogs; both movies I enjoyed quite a bit.

The scenes are shown out of order, and the effect is jarring and unfortunate. The characters are given artificial and caricature-esque affectations that are nothing more than the attempt to be artistic that Hollywood thinks the world either wants or needs. It is wrong.

There is substantial violence sprinkled throughout the film, but, where it was used to great effect and enjoyment in something like Kill Bill, it is ultimately pointless and masterbatory in this context. Also, who teaches these people how to handle guns? They need to learn proper handling techniques.


Dundee India Pale Ale

I recently got a sampler pack of Dundee beers, so expect a few reviews on them.

First up is the IPA. Hailing from Rochester New York, this will be the first of the Dundee lineage that I sample, and I have high hopes. Why? Honestly, as far as I can tell, it's just blind optimism. Well, let's get it on.

The head is thick and lingering. That's good. The aroma is strong; it lingers and is distinctly malty.

At first draught, I'm not sure what to make of it. The initial taste is mild, but good. It then drops into a weak and relatively unforgettable taste. Right there, it reminds me of a brown ale with its almost dead and watery core; and this lasts a while into the drink. Then, as you start to finish the sip, the hops start to tickle the top of your mouth. Then it finishes with a bite. It's not too hard, but it lets you know it's there.

The motto for the beer is "Bold and Bitter," but I'm not sure that hits the mark. Maybe that was what they were going …