I am a fan of Real Ale Brewing Co., and I am particularly a fan of their Sisyphus Barleywines. The 2011 vintage is hot off the bottling line, and is a tasty little treat. At over 11% ABV, it is a warming drink for a cold night, with plenty of toffee, dried fruit, and floral hops in the flavor profile. If anything, it may be a tad too hot, and will probably age nicely. It is not as good as the 2009 Vintage (one of my top beers of the past year), but it is still an excellent barley wine, 8/10.
After enjoying the 2008 vintage, and being knocked out by the 2009 vintage, I was eager to try the 2010 Sisyphus Barleywine from the always stellar Real Ale Brewing Company. Like the previous versions, this is a boozy barleywine. It has a mild hop aroma that is amped up a bit in the taste, lots of caramel malts, and some orange peel and raisins and other dried fruit as well. It is just a bit too fresh and hot tasting right now, and could stand another couple of months aging in the bottle. Luckily, I have a bottle tucked away for just that purpose. I am giving it 7/10 right now, and will revisit this again in a few months.
Santa Fe Brewing Company Chicken Killer Barleywine Ale: This is a boozy tasting barleywine with lots of malts, almost no hops, the odd dried fruit flavor popping up here and there, and a decent head. It had a slight metallic aftertaste that faded as the bottle was drained. Give it a 5, and bump them up a half point for a cool name, so 5.5/10.
Titus Andronicus in Concert: I saw these Jersey Guys at a club recently. They are raw and powerful in concert and deadly earnest about what they are doing. I’d call them “The Only Band That Matters” but I am too old to believe such nonsense, and more than a little embarrassed I was ever young enough to think that sounded cool. I will say they are the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band Until the Next Guys Come Along” and advise anyone who is going to see them to bring earplugs.
Svetlana: Mark Cuban’s HDnet Television Network has many hours of programming to fill and while I cannot vouch for most of the programming, Svetlana is worth seeking out. Filmed as an ‘Office’ style mockumentary, the show follows recent Russian immigrant Svetlana Maksimovskaya, the owner of the “respectable St. Petersburg House of Discreet Pleasure”, as she tries to maintain her business as she deals with immigration problems, unruly clients, and all the usual problems that arise when you try to run a brothel with your daughters as the prostitutes. It is filmed in high definition video with harsh and unflattering light which gives it an eerie quality. I do not know if that was a conscious decision by the creators of the show, but it certainly looks different from any television show I have seen, and the cinema verite look gives it an edginess, that is softened by the humor. Have I mentioned it is laugh out loud funny? No? Well, it is hilarious. Check out a clip of the show here.
Deschutes Inversion IPA: This was a big winner at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival, so I was eager to try it. Now that I have tried it, I won’t have to bother with this beer again. The hops were muted, the malts were heavy for an IPA. The best I can say for it is that it had a nice head to it. I did not hate it, but it was disappointing after all of the hype, 5/10.