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Showing posts from October, 2013

Belkin Lightning to USB Cable for iPhone 5 / 5S

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I have ventured into brief reviews of technical stuff before, but it is not frequent on this blog. When I did LastPass, it was just because I thought more people should use a good, secure password manager rather than relying on the crap that comes with your average browser. Either way, I have over 20 years of experience in technology, and I like to branch out on this blog.

Nevertheless, I got an iPhone with a lightning connector recently, and I got a few extra cables for charging at my desk at work and in the car. So, I have the Apple cable that came with the phone, an Amazon Basics cable, and a Belkin cable that came with a two port car charger adapter. Presumably, after Apple issued the lockdown on Lightning cables, these licensed cables would have to meet a certain tolerance beyond what the previous generation might have been.

In the picture to the right, the cables are (from left to right) Amazon, Belkin, and Apple. The Apple cable is the gold standard for these cables. It is slee…

Beer Wars (2009)

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This blog covers little more than my reviews of beer and my reviews of movies. This is a documentary about beer, so it brings both of those things together. Next, I have to find a beer made in honor of a movie. Actually, I have already done one of those, now that I think about it. It was in the early days of the blog, so I should probably revisit it. After all, it was a good beer.

At one point, the woman making this movie runs a little taste test in a bar that is fundamentally flawed, but I get her point - that the three big light beers are all pretty much the same, and I can't argue much against that. However, my own experience drinking beer has shown me that different context and different ways of drinking (sip vs gulp) will alter a character pretty significantly. Giving people three beers to try side by side in plastic cups that they sip is not a way to differentiate beer. That said, all three of the light beers - Bud, Miller, and Coors - pretty much suck as beers go.

This docu…

Sol

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Second in my Mexican beer tasting extravaganza is this Sol beer. Tecate was a bad beverage. This one, I hope, will not be.

Smelling of sweet malt, this clear, golden yellow beverage has a head that runs away like a Frenchman when confronted by invading Germans. However, the French resistance keeps a good cover on top of the beverage and clings to the sides like a supply line from Spain. In with the sweet malt is a hint of something floral and a tad maybe sweet corn?

First sip is better than the last Mexican beer I had. Tip-in is tasteless - utterly tasteless. Next, there is a carbonation bit on the tip of the tongue. As it goes down, the corn and floral bits flow across the tastebuds. The finish is a bit warm on the back of the tongue while cool on the front. The sweet follows, but it's not what I would call overwhelming. It smelled sweeter than it tastes.

The only way I know how to get really familiar with a beer is to drink it like an Irishman - even if it is a Mexican beer.

Tha…

Tecate

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The name is a simple word, and the name of the manufacturer is not actually listed on the bottle, as far as I can tell. So, that leaves me with a very simple entry in this blog. It's a beer from Mexico, and my experience with beverages from that country thus far has not been overly positive. I have found a few beers from there that have been decent, and I hope to find a few more. I'm always interested in finding new beers.

The color is a clear pale yellow. It's pretty much what I have usually encountered most times I've tried Mexican beers. The head dissipates to a very thin layer on top of the beer. The aroma is more malty than anything. It's a very familiar, if faint, with a tiny bit of vanilla and an even smaller hint of hops.

First sip and it's not terrible. I mean, I've had some terrible beers (HiCu, I'm looking at you here). This beer is fairly bland. It's watery, and trying to discern a flavor is kind of like trying to taste the difference be…

The Internship (2013)

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I may be alone in remembering the late 80's Fred Savage movie The Wizard. That movie was a horrendous blight because - even though I was just on the trailing edge of the targeted demographic - the product placement was so substantial that I couldn't help but think how much more awesome the movie would have been if they had Sega Genesis graphics instead of the crappy Nintendo graphics in every damn scene. And I USED the Power Glove, and it sucked.

Well, this is another commercial in the guise of a movie. Google must have simply bankrolled the whole thing, and Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson had to have made a TON of money even before this film was released. I mean, they push every Google product including tech support. Anyone who has ever even WANTED to call Google for tech support knows that they make all information accessible to the world except for that damn number. They sure as HELL aren't accepting calls from end users who don't know to clear their cache to force a …

Pacific Rim (2013)

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This movie is kind of awesome. It's Godzilla's Monster Island meets Ultraman. I mean, don't even think about the physics involved in this whole movie, or you'll soon find out that it just does not work at all. Wired did just that (print only), in fact, and MAN does it not work out.


But this movie is really about being amazingly cool.

The idea is that a rift has opened on the ocean floor in the Pacific rim. A series of evil creatures, ever bigger and stronger come through that rift at decreasing intervals to demolish port cities in their own Godzilla way. At first, the humans only had planes and tanks to hurt them, but then they built giant mechs to battle the beasts hand to hand. these mechs could only be piloted by two people who were compatible with an artificial "drift" where their memories and consciousness are merged.

Our hero (Charlie Hunnam, Jax from Sons of Anarchy) and his brother piloted a mech until they ran into a big beast that killed his brother.…

Budweiser Black Crown Golden Amber Lager

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Blasphemy. It is near blasphemy to drink a beer with the name Budweiser on the label and write about it on this blog. I had heard rumblings that bud had changed its ways and made a good beer, and I had to give them a chance.

True to its billing, the beer is a golden amber color. It's clear enough to read my computer screen through. The aroma is weak, but I can smell a bit of citrus and overwhelming malt. When I think of the aroma I got from my most recent amber lager, it lacks the bread that gave the smell a bit of complexity. I wouldn't expect to encounter any spices or much hops, and it has lived up to that expectation. The head dissipates very quickly, and the top is left with a scant dozen bubbles to try to hide its nakedness.

First sip befouls my mouth with a taste I remember from college. Did they even change the recipe to call it something different? This is, without a doubt, a Budweiser product. I suppose, if I am being kind, there may be something slightly different i…

Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Brown Nut Ale

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I'm in the South, so I have looked for Southern beers. Honestly, the biggest problem I've had thus far is finding a good beer distributor. Back in the North, I had access to a distributor that essentially took up the entire basement of a mall. When they were no more, I found another guy who would order off-the-wall beers just for me.

This beer hails from Mississippi's Brewery, and I sincerely hope - for Mississippi's sake - that the state has more than one brewery, and this one is just being a little dramatic with their name. Their lengthy statement on the side of the bottle proclaims that they have the best water for this beer - and I'm not in a position to judge one way or the other, even after drinking the beer, I'm sure.

The color is a reddish, lite brown and it comes with a head that dissipates to a very thin skin across the top of the drink. The aroma is expectedly nutty with some sweet, smokey malt and maybe a hint of toffee or caramel.

First sip, and it…

Goose Island Harvest Ale

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Goose Island's IPA was a good one. The 312 Urban Wheat was even better. The Honker's Ale was slightly better than average, but the point is that the brewer has a good record so far, and they are fairly consistently flavorful. Time to try the Harvest Ale (since autumn is upon us) and enjoy a warm Tennessee evening.

The color is a coppery tone with some red. The head is thick, and it goes away slowly. It sticks to the sides jealously, and the sticky network of bubbles remains fairly thick on the top of the beer. The aroma is very weak, but it's complex - a little malty, a little floral, a bit grainy, an a bit hoppy. The strength of the aroma could be upped, but I am still really looking forward to this being a great beverage.

First sip confirms the complexity of the aroma. It's a strong taste with hops that are not particularly bitter, and I suspect that is because they are well balanced with the malt. the floral notes are nice and loose around the top layer of the bever…

Redbridge Gluten-Free Sorghum

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This is my first gluten-free beer. There are people for whom gluten is a horrible thing that can kill them, and then there are people who have a slight gluten allergy, and then there are regular people who don't actually need to worry. Nevertheless, some people make a diet choice to eliminate gluten, and so people produce this beer.

I normally start the description with the color, but the aroma is strong with this one. It smells malty and there is a bit of cherry coming out in there with maybe a hint of spice. The gold color is also a bit copper and red, but it's very clear. The bubbles stick to the sides inside the glass briefly upon pouring. It kind of reminds me of Pepsi or Coke in that respect. The head settles to a nice looking film that sticks to the edges and steeples as the beverage goes down.

First sip, and that's not a good beer. Nope. Not good at all. It's green apple and something that tastes more like an artificial sweetener. It is like a poor attempt at mo…

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

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This is a prequel to the reboot of 2003. It uses the same bad guys, but we replace all of the victims with new people to kill. The style of filming, the colors, the effects, and everything else is pretty much the same. Really the draw for this movie is to see the origins of the people we already know will become terrible human beings.

Turns out, they started off as pretty terrible people. Thanks for reading.

Oh, I should probably go into it a bit more. Well, we learn about the horrible life that the man who would become Leatherface (the big, bad killer who never talks and wields a chainsaw to kill everyone) and why he winds up becoming what he becomes. I suppose there is a bit of sympathy that you gain for the tortured villain.

R. Lee Ermey appears in the same role as before, but we learn about the unconventional way he became the town sheriff. He still yells a lot - even more than in the first one, really - and is generally pretty lewd and creepy, but that's the character. He play…

Cube Zero (2004)

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The Cube is a prequel to the other two. Unlike them, it shows us the guys behind the cube who operate things and monitor the people inside. they are little more than technicians who follow direct orders from unseen people of authority. They have to struggle with the moral questions around what they are doing while the people inside do the usual interaction, fighting, and turning on each other.

The cube itself is an earlier version of the ones we saw in the other two movies. It is more primitive, and the connections between cubes is more like a tube from one to the next. Lighting is even darker than the first movie, and it has a very industrial feel to it. The traps are similarly old school but effective.

The personal interaction between the trapped people - bread an butter for these movies - is substantially less important in this movie. Unlike the other two, these people have no memory whatsoever of anything before they found themselves in the cube. As a result, they don't have i…

Cube (1997)

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The original Cube movie is a strange Kafkaesque kind of physiological thriller. It reminds me of the Lord of the Flies in the way that it is simply a situation in which the characters interact and their internal propensities slowly become more and more exaggerated by the stress of the situation. Many movies follow it and use the personality types as a blueprint.

The main idea is that a bunch of strangers appear in a series of rooms together. They have no idea why they are there, how they got there, or even how much time has passed. It becomes clear that they need to work together in order to get past the traps that have been set on some cubes. The pattern of traps is very difficult to predict, so they adopt a method of "booting" a room by tossing a boot into the middle of the room to see if a trap is tripped.

Unfortunately, this method is not completely effective, and the slow, methodical process means that the characters learn more about each other, and their distrust of ea…

Goose Island Honker's Ale

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This beer claims to be "inspired by visits to English country pubs." What I'm looking for here is that they tasted the food and realized that they really needed a good, solid beer to cover up the English food. The Goose Island IPA was a good beer. The 312 Urban Wheat shocked me with how good it was. If this is really a trend, this one will be a 5 out of 5.

The color is a mostly clear amber. The head evens out to a nice, thin hat on top of the delicious-looking beverage. It grips the rim like a stripper on a pole - so I'm told. the aroma is a good mix of hops and malt. It already reminds me of the Kentucky Ale I had a good while ago. It's faint, though.

First sip is interesting. The bready malt hits first, and there is a very mild hops that follows. It's not particularly bitter, but it's also not sweet - I guess neither the hops nor the malt is winning in that department. There's a hint of citrus (maybe orange?) in there, but I really think the bread ta…

Cube²: Hypercube (2002)

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Cube 2 tries to build on the lessons from Cube. It is another people-driven story chronicling their struggle against the machine that is the cube space that they are trapped in. Unlike the previous cube where the numbers along the doors connecting all of the cubes related to their place in space and could be predicted once you factored prime numbers, this series of cubes exists in more than three dimensions.

In the first movie, we were left to believe that the cube was created by a government agency that was running without leadership. The series of contractors simply did their little part, and no one actually knew what the end result was going to be. The consequence was everyone winding up in the cube because, well, experiments have to happen, or the dollars were wasted.

In this cube, we again find ourselves with the conformist, the social outcast, the man who is on the brink of insanity on a good day, and other assorted human fears and prejudices. The cube cells are white and bright…

Empire State (2013)

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You take Eric Roberts' daughter and Chris Hemsworth's brother - add a full flavor and shaven-headed Rock, and you wind up with this movie. It's not brilliant casting for a Real Crime Drama, but here we have what we have. The story they picked is a real story about the robbery of an armored car company.

The Rock exists here as the tough cop who is trying to track down the baddies. Pretty much what you'd expect, and he leers quite a bit. He has a box to stay in with his character, and it's not like he has a very wide range in the first place, so there really isn't much he can do one way or the other.

So, the story revolves around a kid who gets hired by the armored car company, and he subsequently discovers that the security for the company is terribly run and has some of the worst security you can imagine. He expresses his dismay to a close friend, and bad people start to pressure him into helping them rob the place. At the same time, there is a group of other c…

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

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Fueled by Michael Bay's production studio, this is a reboot of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. It has a dose of realistic blood and guts in there with the creepy actors and the slinky teens who react to things with some of the worst instincts you can imagine.

As a red-blooded American male, I can appreciate a buxom babe running on screen, and Jessica Biel (I know, I did not expect a name that big in this reboot, either) has a body that will not quit. With the impressively large female qualities that she has, it's surprising she can run as fast as she can through brush and tight spaces. And the director decided that there should be as many scenes as possible with her white shirt getting wet. For dignity's sake, she is wearing a bra (which seems out of character) under her shirt.

So, this reboot is probably better in many ways than the original. Aside from the superior special effects, the story has been cleaned up quite a bit (although it's not particularly complex)…

What Your Style of Beer Says About You

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I don't usually post content from other sites, but this, from Bite.ca was particularly neat.


Third Shift Band of Brewers Amber Lager

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This manufacturer claims to be a "Band of Brewers" who don't stop working when the day shift is over. As a band, they report to be from both Fort Worth, TX and Trenton, OH. So, I wish I could tell you where this beer was from, but they don't divulge that kind of information. Presumably, it wouldn't matter, anyway. After all, this is distributed by Coors, and probably actually brewed in Colorado.

The beer is a clear amber color - no surprises there. The head is dense but not thick. It dissipates to a thin layer gripping the sides. The aroma is malty - not a whole lot of citrus or any hops in there. I can smell some bread or dough in there with it pretty well.

First sip is a good one. The malt has a very bread taste to it. There isn't a hint of any sweet malt in there. That is not to say that it's bad, though. It has a hint of caramel in there, but I'm really not tasting the hops at all.

Time to take a big swig and see what this beer is made of.

A big s…

Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale

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My last Goose Island beer was a very good beer. This one is a wheat, so I would expect it not to fair as well in my rating, as good wheat beers seem fairly rare. Still, I recall being pleasantly surprised by the last one, and I hope I'll get the same thing from this one.

The head is big-bubbled and sticky. It boils down to a thin veneer on the top of the beer with a firm grip on the sides of the glass. The beverage is a bit foggy and the color is very close to the darker yellow used on the label. I expected it to be a bit brighter than it is, but presentation isn't everything. The aroma is a bit lemony and malty, but it's not overly pungent.
First sip is not bad at all. the overall taste is a grainy malt with a citrus (mostly lemon with a hint of orange). The malt brings a good amount of sweetness to the beverage, but it trails off toward the finish. At the end there, you can still taste a hint of sweet, but it gets pretty watery. I could imagine drinking quite a few of th…

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

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It had been a while since I watched the first - and original - Star Trek movie. I had forgotten how bone-achingly dull it was as a movie. Most of the actors had not had particularly significant roles after the original TV series had been cancelled, and they were shaking the cobwebs for this movie.

The movie was directed by Robert Wise, who was impressively over-indulgent with his beauty shots of the Enterprise and extensive, almost never-ending shots of The Cloud enveloping V-GER. Piled on top of it is the extensive exposition to explain each and every facet of what is going on. This movie is the best argument pro-Star Wars people have for what is wrong with Star Trek. It is noteworthy that Robert never directed anything with any significant budget ever again.

I remember there being a big deal about Persis Khambatta being in this movie and having shaved her head for the role. She is certainly very pretty, but her acting is mechanical at best. Once she becomes a probe for V-GER, it is …

This Is the End (2013)

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This was a surprisingly enjoyable movie. I think most of the guys here lead to a mixed bag of good and bad. Some - Jonah Hill - are the blind squirrel who doesn't know what a nut smells like.

All of the stars play characterized versions of themselves. They all drink a lot, smoke weed constantly, and are inarguably narcissistic. The premise is that Jay Baruchel comes to visit his friend, Seth Rogan in LA, and they eventually go to James Franco's new house to party. It just so happens that the world ends while the party is going on.

While the movie is enjoyable, there are aspects that are frustratingly annoying. This whole movie is supposed to be an indictment of celebrities and their masturbatory lifestyles, but these very celebrities are simply exaggerated versions of themselves. As such, they are, in fact, the very people they are making fun of. The self-aware humor is less funny when you think about the fact that all of these people are repulsive humans.

It makes you wonder …

Open Range (2003)

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This here is a western. There haven't been a torrent of good westerns out of Hollywood of late. This one, in fact, is 10 years old. I don't count Cowboys vs Aliens, and Gunless was more of a Northern. The standard by which I judge modern Westerns is Unforgiven which is 21 years old.

My first fear was that this would be one of the Kevin Costner mistakes. You know what I'm talking about - Robin Hood, The Guardian, Waterworld, etc. The movies where Costner tries to control everything and also make himself the focal point of the movie are too often fraught with disaster. He tries to make his character flawed with a shielded nobility that takes up so much screen time trying to get across that it takes away from the rest of the movie.

Well, good news. Robert Duvall virtually commands the screen while he's on it. While Kevin's character is supposed to be the central character in the script, Kevin manages to direct the movie such that Robert's character commands the fo…

Psychosis (2010)

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If this is what British horror movies have become, then we don't have to worry about the downfall of American-made B-movie horror anytime soon. I watched this because Charisma Carpenter was in it.

Charisma plays a cute, young writer who is moving to a remote village in England to.. I don't know.. do whatever writers think they have to do in order to just sit down and freaking write. The movie already has one foot firmly planted in pig crap when you realize that the main character is a writer. I may have mentioned on this blog before, but writers default to assuming only the most knowledgeable, entertaining, and intelligent people in the world would be writers like them, so they fall back on the cliche that they are responsible for.

So, our hero - the American in the land of rain, bangers, and mash - starts witnessing things she can't explain. Slowly, this drives her nuts, as he boyfriend clearly does not actually give to rats asses. And the problem with how this story is s…

Yazoo Sly Rye Porter

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Another Nashville beer. The string of Nashville beers haven't really had that diamond in the rough quite yet. I have this one and one more in the fridge. Let's hope I find two diamonds.

She's a dark beverage. It's nearly black, but it has a hint of blood red around the edges where the light manages to get through. The head is very small, and it dissipates to a simple ring around the edges. The aroma seems to me to be of sweet malt more than anything else. There is possibly kind of a berry hint in there with it. I'd also say there is a coffee and chocolate mix in there. It's pretty darn complex.
First sip is pretty good. It's sweeter than I expected, as the chocolate malt gives it a very sharp sweetness, but I can't help but think that there is a kind of cherry pie filling flavor in there with it. The smokey roasted taste kind of rounds things out. 
Let's try a full swig...
It starts sweet again, and then it thins out. It's a pretty good lite cho…

Yazoo Pale Ale

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Another Nashville beverage. I hope there are more to come, and I hope they are awesome.

The color is a clear, light honey. The head is average, and it dissipates to a light ring around the top of the glass. The aroma is hoppy and citrus, and I could smell it pretty well just when pouring it. Now that it's sitting, it's not as pungent as I had expected. That's just fine.

First sip is okay... at first. The initial taste is classic pale ale. It has a good hard hop taste right of the bat, but then something happens. It's like a Jekyll/Hyde thing. Right when it hits the back of the throat, it starts to turn into a kind of malty, slightly citrus, spicy something that it not particularly palatable. Can't say I'm overly impressed.

In a bigger draught, this is better. The tastes are still the same, but they are spread out, so the back end becomes just the finish, and the two tastes are allowed to mingle with each other in the middle. The effect is pretty good in the mid…

Enter Nowhere (2011)

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There are some things to note right off the bat. Sara Paxton is only distantly related to Bill Paxton, the generally bad actor who somehow manages to keep getting acting gigs. Scott Eastwood IS Clint's son, and he has a similar squint that is already getting started. Katherine Waterston is the sister of Elisabeth Waterston. Yes, THAT Elizabeth Waterson! Nope, I never heard of either of them, but it was an essential fact on IMDB.

This movie is about three people who wind up in the middle of the woods in a shack together. I've seen quite a few films like this where the idea is that a group of very different people are put somewhere - they don't know why - and they have to try and figure it all out. The most notable example is Cube, but this movie is no Cube. It's not necessarily bad, but Cube was very much better.
I really don't want to give away the significant plot points, because they are really the only thing holding any attention in this movie. The characters ar…

R.I.P.D. (2013)

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Ryan Reynolds will never receive my forgiveness for Green Lantern. He took a cherished, fairly unknown DC hero and made him just about useless. I'll admit that the Green Lantern wasn't really a great character to start with, but they somehow made him worse, and I hold Ryan responsible for it like I hold Ben "I Can't Act My Way Out of A Paper Bag" Affleck responsible for DareDevil.

In this movie, Ryan plays the 14-year veteran of the Boston police department cut down in the prime of his life by his own partner. His partner, played by Kevin Bacon, and he found some kind of odd gold pieces that they both absconded with. Yes, this will come into play later, as you might suspect.\

So, when he dies, he is drafted into the Rest In Peace Department. Their job is to find dead people who are trying to stay in the real world and deliver them to the afterlife or eliminate them entirely. His partner is an old west cop played by Jeff Bridges. His technique is brash and unrestra…

Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager

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Shockingly, this is the first Sierra Nevada beer I've reviewed on this site. More shockingly - possibly - is that this beer is not brewed in Nevada. Instead, it's brewed in California where one of my favorites, Lagunitas IPA, is brewed. I can hope that some morphic resonance happens to allow this lager to gain some of the wonder that is locked up in that Lagiunitas.

The color is clear and pretty much pee colored yellow. I could say something about straw or something, but you can see the picture, and that is what urine looks like if you haven't gotten enough to drink. Honestly, if your pee is that yellow, you should probably up your water intake. The aroma is stiff. It is floral and citrus; I'm not smelling any hops or even malt.

First sip is floral, but that is tempered enough by the citrus (or maybe apple) combined with the very mild malt. If there are hops hiding in there, they are more successful at hiding than I am at searching for them. The whole drink is very cri…