Showing posts from September, 2015

Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest

A friend kept insisting that I had to try Leinenkugel's, so I did. I liked that first one so much that I tried another one. Welcome to the third in my attempt to prove a friend wrong. Happily, I was wrong, so I got some good beer. I actually hope I continue to be wrong.

It's coppery amber color with a head that hangs around a bit like it's embarrassed to be seen, and then it slinks off as if no one is looking, and it really has somewhere else to be, anyway. The aroma is biscuit malt and honey and a bunch of other stuff like toffee and flowers and caramel and ... just a lot. I can't wait to get a sip of this thing.

First sip is complex as all get-out. The overall flavor is caramel malt sweet with lots of spices and fun happening along with it. The carbonation jumps in with the rest of the crowd in this party. There's a tart tang at the end of the sip that is not entirely a bad thing - in fact, it seems to round out the sip fairly well. What will dissecting this furt…

Terminator Genisys (2015)

I went into this movie thinking that they were just trying to squeeze every last drop of money out of this franchise. Turns out, they actually plan to squeeze a lot more out of this sucker. This is intended to be the first in a new trilogy of movies, from what I now understand. This is not to say that this movie relies on a sequel at all. Instead, it relies very heavily on the movies that came before it. Don't watch this if you didn't watch and understand the timelines in the previous film, because whoa. The first few minutes might fool you into thinking that this is a remake of the original, but don't be fooled.

Arnold is well past his prime, but this character of the Terminator is really the sweet spot of his acting - deadpan most of the time with occasional straight-man-style antics. I mean, who doesn't get a smile when Arnold delivers a signature line with a sly grin?

Emilia Clarke impressed me when she was on Game of Thrones, but her American accent needs some work…

Air (2015)

Fast forward really far into the future. Breathable air has become scarce, and the best that humanity has to offer has been put in stasis until the planet can support life again. How do you find out when the world is ready? Well, you have sensors all over the place (after all, you don't put everyone in the same survival bunker) and wake technicians up on a regular basis to evaluate and check into a central system. Then they go back to sleep. While they're awake, you fill the whole bunker with breathable air and start a countdown to when the air and lights will go out. You also don't make backups for any of this.

In this unlikely scenario, we find ourselves alongside Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame and Djimon Hounsou (who I first remember as Russel Crow's best buddy in Gladiator) fresh from his non-successful leading role in Special Forces. These two are barely trained technicians who are responsible for all of the bunker and the people in it. It seems highly unl…

Jackalope Thunder Ann American Pale Ale

You may ask yourself the same thing I did when looking at the can: "Why is there a brunette Taylor Swift on this can?" I really don't think it's supposed to be her, as the can tells the story of Thunder Ann, the woman who made Davy Crockett her man. Maybe they just used Taylor as a model. She might have swung by the brewery. After all, she's from Nashville, and she comes back from time to time.

It's an orange amber beer with a mildly sticky head that tries for a bit of lacing and then gives up and goes for a quick lie down. The aroma is orange and hops. I think I detect some grains, but the orange smell is definitely overpowering most everything else.

The taste is very, very mild. There's no hop bite, but the hops are sizzling in the background making a nice potpourri for the oranges to dance around in front of. While the beer doesn't have all that much of a head, I expected more from the carbonation. Instead, it is kind of flat. Maybe if I drink it l…

Strongbow Ginger Hard Apple Cider

The latest batch of Strongbow ciders has been okay for the most part, but they don't hold a candle to the original which set the bar marginally higher. My expectations for this one are notably lower, as I'm not generally a fan of ginger in general, and I can't imagine that this would be the one of this bunch that I went nuts over.

THAT is a pale yellow beverage. I'd say that a urologist would likely say that you had just the right amount of water intake. Any more clear, and you've had too much water. While there's no head, I see bubbles floating up to the top, so it's got at least a bit of carbonation to it. The aroma is that of ginger and wine. There are freshly cut apples supporting the lot, but wine is definitely what I'm smelling.

First sip brings more of the aroma, it just brings it via the taste buds. It's a very sweet apple wine with ginger. It's straight-forward, with almost a child-like simplicity that doesn't seem to have anything …

Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA

Stone has (in this blog) had two slightly better than average beers and one very good one. I expected more from the Arrogant Bastards that run the place, but my taste buds don't lie (to me at least). I want them to be better than they have been. They aren't as far out there as Magic Hat or anything, but they need to get their stuff together.

The color is a golden wheat with a full and stubborn head. The aroma brings familiar spiky hops and a hint of citrus. This smell is very reminiscent of the RuinTen IPA that I had before, and that bodes particularly well for this beverage, as that one was quite delicious.

First sip is much harsher than I expected. The bitter hops aren't balanced with anything at all. Instead, we get the bitterness of grapefruit and pine hops. The whole sip is just a big bite of unbalanced bitterness. This is clearly not the result that was intended with the brewing of this special beer. Instead, this beer with be imbibed with gusto.

Tip-in is carbonatio…

Blackstone HopJack American Style IPA

Okay, Blackstone, this is your last chance. You have brought me endless waves of disappointment after disappointment. I have found other local breweries who have produced very good beers, but you just aren't among them. When I first moved here, I was told I had to try Blackstone, and I just can't figure out what makes you so popular.

The vaguely cloudy orange wheat color sits below the thin yet sticky head of tiny little bubbles. They leave enough lacing on the sides to demonstrate the very beer nature of this beverage. Wafting up from its brim is floral hops and citrus. So far, so good. But I have my eye on you, Blackstone.

First sip is More piney than I had expected, but it also has the citrus notes in there with it. The citrus is lemon, and it falsely gives the impression of this being dish-washing liquid after the sip is over. The sip, then, does not bestow awards and accolades upon the brewer. Maybe a swig will save the beer.

Tip-in is slight carbonation burn and bitterne…

30 Days of Night (2007)

I went back and re-watched this movie because I remember liking it when it first came out, and I wondered if it was still good eight years later. What made this movie stand out in my mind as being good? What might I have missed because I was preoccupied while watching it the first time? What might have gotten muddled with the sequel and other derivative material?

The basics of this movie are pretty straight forward. A horde of vampires descends on a very isolated town in Alaska during the dead of winter. There is a white-out storm approaching, and the town is supposed to be so far North that they will literally get no sunlight for 30 days straight. The first time I saw it, I though, "Yes, this makes sense. Vampires have one major obstacle they have to overcome, and they can do that for a large part of the year in a place where the sun sets and doesn't rise for a long while." This only holds up until you think about the converse. There is going to be a month in the middle…

Southern Prohibition 2015 IPA

The other three SPB beers were in cans and tasted very good. They appear to have started a new series, the "Cicada Series" that celebrates the horrible, terrible invasive bugs that are loud and obnoxious. I don't know if they're are going to follow the strange 7-year cycle that cicadas use or what, but it's an odd choice.

The beer is a muddled light brown with a pinch of orange. The head is white and sticky as all get-out. Lacing on the sides leaves barely enough room between patches for you to see from the sides that the head has gone down at all. The aroma is citrus hops, even though the label clearly states that it is piney. I expected pine, but I'll take citrus.

First sip is smooth. The hops are couched nicely in a citrus and bready basket. I can taste the pine in the back of my throat, so the label is confirmed. The carbonation definitely burns the tip of the tongue, and the rest of the sip is pretty straight-forward. I don't know if there is complex…

Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA

I've only reviewed two other Dogfish head beers on this blog. One was not good at all, and the other was spectacular. It is only as a result of being capable of spectacular beers that gives a brewer the ability to produce lousy beers and stay in business (not including Blackstone or Magic Hat). Let's hope that this one is one of the good ones.

It's an amber beer with a frothy white head. The smell is oddly sweet and hoppy. These are two aromas I expect to compliment each other, but this is more of a consensual mingling that makes the hops themselves seem sweet. The sweet malt is almost so strong that it gives the impression of a dark ale.  It's very inviting.

First sip is very, very reminiscent of a dark ale. The malt is heavy and filled to the brim with dark fruits. Raisins are tossed in a deep well of pureed floral hops. The grainy barley whips at you, as the malt dulls the senses entirely.

Full draught comes next. Tip-in is carbonation burn with raisins and barley c…

Falls City Pale Ale

The Hipster Repellant IPA I had from the Falls City label. I say the label, as this brewer has licensed their beers to be brewed by a local Nashville brewery, Blackstone. Not one of the Blackstone beers has been even average (2.5 on my scale) and many have been well below average. I have, in fact, not been impressed with them in the least, and I hope that what they needed was a recipe from the outside to give them a shot in the arm.

A deep amber beer with an off white head, it is almost the picture of what a beer should look like. The head is full and mighty, but it's not particularly sticky, so it leaves almost no lacing along the sides. The aroma is a bit underwhelming - a dark malt with some earth piled in. I had hoped for some nice hops, but they are buried under the malt more than anything.

First sip is a bit off-putting. It has the sharp bite of a wheat with the earth and depth of the malt coming through weakly. Orange and honey are in there, too, but the sharpness defines t…

Rudderless (2014)

This movie claims to be part comedy, but I didn't catch myself, laughing, giggling, or even smirking during it. That doesn't mean it was bad, it just wasn't a comedy. This was, in fact, very good, but it was in no way funny.

This movie has a cast that is too good for it. Billy Crudup is our lead, and he manages to carry the movie pretty darn well. His role is that of a guy who is very driven, has a career and is really heavily invested in it, but he seems to make time for his son (played by Miles Heizer). After his son dies in a tragic event, he loses his way and any lust for life. His marriage crumbles, and he finds himself living in a boat, alone and barely employed.

Then his now ex-wife (played by Felicity Huffman) needs him to sign some papers and drops off a box of CDs. The CDs are what Miles had made before his death, and it turns out, they are songs he wrote, performed, and they take Billy back and make him try to understand the child that he had and didn't know…

Huyghe Delirium Nocturnum Belgian Ale

The Delirium Tremens that I had before was a very, very good beer indeed. If this sibling of it is nearly as good, it was worth the money (and they were both not cheap). The bottle is, again, corked and made to seem like ceramic. It makes the whole experience seem more like an event.

It's deep brown with a slight raspberry hint to the color. The thick, full head dissipates faster than I would have expected, but it leaves lacing on the side, so it gets a good vote. The aroma was noteworthy right from the pop of the cork as a malt with very dark fruit air about it. I'm a bit reluctant to drink this beer right now, as the beer is clearly complex and should probably be eaten with a knife and fork.

First sip is not the kick in the teeth I feared. Instead, it's a sweet and complex beer that has strong flavors mixed with the subtleties that really seem like they support the impressive dark and sweet malt with their grainy, earthy depth. I wouldn't have expected a beer like th…

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

This is a movie about a super secret British spy agency that employs the best fighters and tactitions, gives them fancy devices, has elaborate methods of protecting their information, and battle villains who try to take over or destroy the world. This is not a James Bond film. After all, the kid (Taron Egerton) who is being recruited to become a Kingsman drives a Subaru WRX (stolen) and a London Cab (also stolen). Not an Aston Martin in sight, so clearly this isn't Bond.

Instead, we have more of a combination of a new interpretation of Bond combined with Wanted. We have a skilled middle-aged man who shows a very competent ability to dispatch his enemies who is then cut down. We are then introduced to a young man who doesn't really know what he's doing with his life, but he has untapped skills (no slow motion curing of bullets or anything). Then, Colin Firth jumps in to recruit the boy into the secret society where his father was a great soldier. He will be trained and then…

Poltergeist (2015)

Wow. When did they remake Poltergeist? This year? Wow. When was it released? I don't remember seeing anything about it. I mean, it's not surprising that they rebooted yet another franchise in an attempt to suck as much money out of a single idea as they can. Still, I liked the original, and I would have expected to hear something about this reboot. Sam Raimi was one of the producers on this movie, so I went it with an air of optimism.

The greatest compliment I can pay to this movie is that it is a competent remake of the original. They basically decided to update the movie with new effects and put the whole story in more modern times. Aside from that, they really didn't do all that much with the source material, and it may be best that they didn't. It would be nice if they would have just left it alone in the long run.

Inexplicably, they introduce powerlines as the source of the family's ills very shortly after the movie starts, and it is referred to many times, wi…

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

I enjoyed the Avengers. There are a lot of people who complain about the large number of superhero movies that have hit the theaters in recent years, and I can't argue that every one was a winner (I'm looking at you Eric Bana's Hulk). That said, I loved comic books as a kid and into my college years, and I'm familiar with a lot of the stories that they are telling in these movies. The overarching story for these Marvel movies is well known to be the Infinity Gauntlet line, and that was right in the middle of my collecting days.

The thing that I always wonder in the Marvel universe is the same thing that they are going to rely on for the Infinity War: where are the other heroes? Where are the Fantastic Four? Where are the X-Men? After all, the X-Men's jet was in this movie (although they claimed it was a repurposed SHIELD jet). In the standalone movies like Iron Man 3 or Thor 2, you have the same problem. How does DC deal with this? They create fictional cities and …

Small Town Brewery - Not Your Father's Root Beer

My last foray into an adult version of root beer ended terribly. Nevertheless, I got an enthusiastic recommendation from the new guy at my local distributor. I certainly hope he wasn't just trying to make a sale. It would seem out of character for that fine establishment that I've given too many free plugs for.

The color is... the color of root beer. It's very dark brown with hints of red. The head is very not like root beer - it pretty much isn't there, and most root beers that I've had have a full, thick head that refuses to die down for quite a while. The aroma is all kinds of root beer. There's vanilla and, well, root beer. On top of the root beer, there is a distinct liquor aroma about it. I'm actually reminded of root beer schnapps. In my younger days, I used to drink and mix Root Beer Shooters (half root beer schnapps and half Coke) that this reminds me of from the smell. It smells too sweet.

First sip is very much like the Root Beer Shooter - it has…

Mayday Inner Sanctum IPA

The last Mayday beer I had was also from a growler from City Sliquors. It was very good, and it made me want to try more growlers and more Mayday beer. Well, it took a while for me to get around to getting another growler, and this one had to be a Mayday beer. They're a local brewer, and I want to support them as best I can.

The cloudy amber color compliments the hoppy and somewhat bitter aroma. Citrus compliments the bitterness, but it doesn't cut the bitter smell very much at all. The malt is laid back possibly too much. There's no head to speak of, so there isn't going to be any lacing - a forgivable sin.

First sip is interestingly smooth and spiky. The front end has a lot of citrus and is almost watery, but the bitterness of the hops just bites down to end the discussion of balance. It's not a great sipping beer, but it's not terrible. A proper swig will tell the tale...

Tip-in is hoppy and has oranges with a slight carbonation burn, but not much. The middl…

The Harvest (2013)

To be clear, this movie was initially screened in 2013, but it wasn't seen by the general public until 2015. It wasn't released in theaters, as far as I can tell. Instead, it was released in the current market's version of direct-to-DVD which is video on demand. For some reason, direct to VOD feels like a more respectable way to go.

Michael Shannon is the most recognizable figure in this movie. You may remember him as the misguided FBI official from Boardwalk Empire or (more likely) as the re-imagined Zod in the latest Superman film, Man of Steel. In this movie, his character is more like the FBI guy. He's very wishy-washy, unfocused, and he tries not to confront his problems. He's a sympathetic character to a point, but you can't help but feel more than a little revulsion at the things he allows to go on by sheer lack of will.

His son is suffering from a debilitating and ultimately fatal disease that is not really adequately explained. Michael isn't dealin…

Predestination (2014)

Did you ever take a ride and think that the journey was pretty good, but the destination was not the experience you wanted? Turns out, all that journey of promise and hope is balled up in the folder marked "That Trip Sucked" and is tossed in the wastebasket bin of experience. Welcome to this movie where you are predestined to hate the end, so enjoy the trip while you can.

The fact is, this is actually a good movie, and it uses time travel in a Timecop kind of way, but without the troubles that come with casting Jean Claude Van Damme as your lead. Instead, we get Ethan Hawke, a guy who really doesn't know what he wants to do with his acting carrer, so he's just going to continue to make gobs more money than I do and sail along in his yachts and... okay, he may be onto something.

In this movie, he's a kind of time cop who is looking for an elusive figure who is doing bad things as he jumps through time, and Ethan must catch the sonofagun. To that end, he poses as a…

Devil's Tower (2014)

This movie screams of low budget. It's not just the setting - which is a slum in England. The caliber of acting, the costumes, and even the haircuts and makeup all conspired to give this movie the look and feel of a pretty terrible film student project. So, you might think this movie was just as bad as first glance would convince you.

Roxanne Pallett plays a girl who is thrown out of her house by her alcoholic mother and gets a room in this crappy multi-story apartment complex. She starts to make new friends of people who are either aggressively mean or even more aggressively friendly. One of the miscreants she befriends is played by Jason Mewes, the guy who plays the Jay part of Jay and Silent Bob. He's a sketchy dude who doesn't even try to have a British accent, and I am happy he didn't try.

This movie is a LOT of setup. We're over halfway through the movie before (setting up characters, establishing relationships, and noticing strange things) something actually…

Strongbow Red Berries Apple Cider

The first Strongbow was very good. The last two have been fairly middle of the road. I hope there isn't a pattern of the good one from England, and now that these are are being made in Belgium, they will all be trying to trade on the good name and be... kind of meh. They are shaping up to be the hard cider equivalent of the Westinghouse name brand.

For the first time that I've been trying these ciders, I can say that it looks nothing like apple juice. For starters, it's red. It's too clear to be a wine, but that's the kind of shade we're looking at. It may be the red of an apple, though, so I really can bring it back around. The aroma is sharp berries - raspberry and maybe strawberry, but the raspberry seems to overwhelm everything else.

First sip is like a lightly carbonated fruit punch. Well, a very watery, lightly carbonated fruit punch. It's not what I'd call mouth-watering, but it's relatively inoffensive. I'm pretty sure I've had punch…

Strongbow Honey Hard Apple Cider

The second sampling from my latest batch of Strongbow ciders. The first one went well, and I have hopes for this as well. After all, honey is a core ingredient in a lot of fermented beverages, and I like it when a brewer who has shown capability starts to branch out.

The color is pretty much the same as most of the others. It may have a bit more of a honey color, but it's generally golden as apple juice tends to be (from concentrate). The aroma, however, is quite different than the apple smell I'm used to. Instead, it has a syrupy aroma almost like a sweet wine. In fact, the smell puts me in mind of the mead that I had a little while back.

First sip is pleasant enough. It's sweet, but mild. It tastes like a watered down apple wine, and I suppose that is essentially what it is. The honey has added sweetness and a bit of depth. There is even a bit of tartness toward the end of the sip, and it makes me wonder how a swig goes down.

Tip-in is almost sickly sweet. It seems to me…

Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Apple Cider

Strongbow produced one of the few beverages to come out of England that I have rated highly. Who knew that the UK could produce a good hard apple cider... and little else? Well, I saw a sampler pack of Strongbow ciders, so prepare for a few different flavors being reviewed in the coming days. We start with the one that caught my eye first. Also catching my eye is the fact that this now says it is produced in Belgium, so there goes the last of what England could make.

It's called "Gold Apple" and I assume they meant that they came from golden apples, but the color of the beverage is... yup, gold. The aroma is ... well, would you smell that. It's apples! I'm just as shocked as you. The apples are of the sweet-but-tart variety, but it's pretty much just apples. Now, I know from past experience that hard apple ciders are all about an interpretation of the ingredients and how well everything mingles together, so it's time to see what this is all about.

The fir…

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

The first Mad Max movie I saw was The Road Warrior, much like most people. It was only later that I learned about the original, and I got to see the... somewhat disjointed Mad Max. Yes, in the intermediate time I also saw Beyond Thunderdome, but we all kind of try to forget that one, don't we? It was only later that I got to see the Australian release of the original Mad Max, and I understood the problem. The version of the original that I saw was the American version with voiceovers. They were all over-the-top when compared to the original Austrailian version, and the whole movie worked a lot better with the original voice work.

This movie is pretty much The Road Warrior. Well, it clearly uses that movie is most of the basis. Just like that movie, it starts off with Max already having that kick-ass car of his, the world has already gone to hell, and Max is a cunning bastard who has a soft spot for the underdog. From there, Max (who doesn't have his dog, sadly enough) runs int…