The Ninth Day of Christmas: Shiner Holiday Cheer

December 22, 2011

I am not posting a photo of this beer, because I am afraid that some of you will see a Shiner Holiday Cheer display in a store someplace, recognize it from the blog, not remember what I said about it, and buy some of this bottled shit.  Flavored with pecans and Texas peaches, this manages to taste like chemicals, with a metallic aftertaste. It is sickly sweet and medicinal, almost as if a cough drop was dissolved in it, and that is the best part of this beer. Shiner is very much hit or miss, with more misses than hits, but this is a new level of crappiness.  I would not even use this shit for cooking, which is my preferred method of getting rid of lousy beer.  I am not going to grade this, but please avoid it at all costs.

On a more cheerful note, check out Marah covering A Fairytale of New York.  It is only a fragment, but I like it:

This is the Pogues performing the song on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1988 in London. I was at this show, and can pick myself out of the crowd in the shot at the end of this clip. I would point out which one was me, but then you’d all ask, “How’d you get so fucking fat since then?”:

The Fifth Day of Christmas: New Belgium Snow Day Winter Ale

December 18, 2011

Pouring an opaque brown with a frothy head that lasts to the final sip, New Belgium’s Snow Day Winter Ale opens with a blast of earthy pine needle hops. Those resinous hops are overwhelmed by the roasted coffee and cocoa malts as you take your first sip. The aftertaste is slightly bitter, mixed with roasted wheat, almost like pumpernickel bread.  If you look beyond the ubiquitous Fat Tire (which is ‘meh’ at best), New Belgium makes some nice beers, and this is one of them,  nice, tasty, and just enough alcohol (6.5% ABV) to warm you on a cold winter night, 7/10.

The First Day of Christmas

The Second Day of Christmas

The Third Day of Christmas

The Fourth Day of Christmas

Three Reviews of Cigar City Humidor Series: Cedar Aged Jai Alai India Pale Ale

October 11, 2011

The Review I’d Write If I Really Loved This Beer: Florida’s Cigar City is at the top of their game here.  They have taken their already excellent Jai Alai IPA and have added a dimension of flavor by aging it in cedar barrels as opposed to the traditional oak barrels. The cedar aging adds an earthiness to this beer that amplifies and accentuates the subtle hop and malt notes.  Outstanding beer, fifteen out of a possible ten points!

The Review I’d Write If I Really Hated This Beer: Ugh! Shit! What the fuck is that taste? Cedar? CEDAR!?!? Who the hell puts CEDAR in beer?  Jesus Christ, cedar is good for lining humidors and gerbil cages, and this tastes like cedar infused gerbil piss! What? I have to give this gerbil piss a score?  Are negative numbers possible?  Why the hell not?  Who makes the fucking rules around here?  Fine, zero out of ten, and that is generous.  Now get this shit out of here!

My Actual Review: I certainly did not love this beer, and while I did not hate it as much as Review #2, my actual review is closer to the ‘Hate’ review than the ‘Love’ review.  The cedar aging, which at first seems like an interesting twist for an IPA,  starts to taste weird by the fourth or fifth sip, and by the time you reach the bottom of the bottle it is overwhelming and unpleasant. This is probably one to share with friends, as it might be better in small doses.  There are hints of a good beer here, with some nice hops aroma, a velvety head, and a nice mouth feel, but the cedar just kills it.  Cigar City makes some very fine beers, but this is not one of them, 3/10.

My All Time Shittiest Beers

August 11, 2011

Put ten beer geeks into a room, and at least one of them will be wearing a t-shirt with a Ben Franklin quote: Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.Ten seconds of googling leads to the conclusion that Ben Franklin said that about wine, not beer, but in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Let’s not let historical accuracy get in the way of a good t-shirt slogan, Bro.”

Even though Ben Franklin did not say it, I have certainly had some beers that were divine experiences, beers that if not establishing the existence of God, at least show some evidence of intelligent design.  On the other side of the spectrum, in my 45 years, a solid 2/3rds of which I have spent drinking beer, sometimes quite heavily, I have had some truly shitty beers.  I present to you the beers that are proof that if God exists, he loathes us and wants us to be miserable.

Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer: I had this about nineteen years ago at Cooter Browns in New Orleans.  It was July.  It was so fucking bad that I remember where and when I had it.  There was a chili pepper in the bottle to give it a dose of heat.  It also gave this beer a heaping tablespoon of shittiness. Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer remains to this day one of a small handful of beers that I was unable to finish due to the sheer awfulness. I was a student at the time, and extremely broke.  If I could not choke down a beer, it had to be awful. I am still pissed off at that bartender because after I told him I was not going to finish it, he said “Yeah, nobody ever finishes that one.”  Granted, I should have known better, there was chili pepper in the bottle for fuck’s sake, but all the same, thanks for the warning, Asshole.  I thought, and had fervently hoped, that Ed had stopped brewing this crap, but I came across a case of it recently so somebody is drinking this shit. I weep for my country.

Sam Adams Hazelnut Brown Ale: Sam Adams used to have a homebrew contest, and the winning beers would be brewed and distributed by Sam Adams for a short time.  I don’t know if they still do that, but after drinking this, I fucking hope not.  This smelled worse than hazelnut coffee, which smells worse than day old cat piss, and managed to taste like burnt hazelnuts while being cloyingly sweet.  It was so rancid tasting that I gagged trying to drink it.  If this was the contest winner, I don’t want to imagine what the losers tasted like.

Shiner Ruby Redbird: Shiner brews this with fresh Texas grapefruit and fresh ginger.  There was a 1% chance this would be decent and a 99% chance it would be lousy.  Guess what?  It was fucking awful.  The only part of grapefruit that I could taste was the bitter pith of the peel, which is not the good kind of bitterness you want in a beer, and the ginger just added a nasty burning sensation.  Just a vile liquid.  Shiner beers are very much hit and miss, and this is the biggest miss of all.

*Yes, I had one of those shirts.  Once I discovered that the quote was fraudulent, I burnt it in a ritual cleansing fire.**

**This is a lie.  I wore it until it was threadbare.

Random Musings on Beer and Other Topics

April 26, 2011

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.

Stone Levitation Ale

March 23, 2010

Normally I am a fan of Stone Brewing’s beer, and I heard good things about the Levitation Ale, but Jesus Tap Dancing Christ, this was awful.  It was astringent and bitter, not in the good way, and was just plain nasty.  It was so bad and so off the mark for Stone that I wonder if I got a bad bottle.  I finished it, because I am a cheap bastard and don’t like wasting beer, but I will not be going back anytime soon. 3/10.

Boulevard Brewing Long Strange Tripel

March 7, 2010

Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company’ beers usually get great reviews, and they are not widely available in the Northeast, so when I saw some of their beers when I was visiting my sister and her family in Texas, I jumped on the opportunity to try as many as I could.  The Long Strange Tripel is part of their SmokeHouse Series of limited edition beers.  It is a dead certainty that one of the brewers is a Deadhead, and as you have probably guessed, this beer is a Belgian Tripel.  Not being well versed in Belgian beers, I do not know if it is a faithful representation of the style.  I do know that it was pale gold and cloudy, with a gorgeous foamy head that lasted to the bottom of the glass.  The beer had a sweet and fruity aroma, mostly banana and apple.  It had a pleasant malt and yeast flavor, with almost no hops bitterness.  I generally like my beers hoppy, but this was an exception to that rule.  The Long Strange Tripel grades out at a 7/10, and I have some other Boulevard beers coming up to be graded.

Southampton India Pale Ale

February 28, 2010

Me and the V-Man were in Manhattan the other night.  He wanted to go to the Apple Store to check out some Ipods, and being a bit of a luddite, especially when it comes to the latest in computer gadgets, he asked me to come along to offer my insights.  He was leaning towards a Nano, but was wowed by the Ipod Touch, and has now become an Itunes addict.  “Crack-like” is how he describes it.

We decided to stop at the Corner Bistro for a burger and a beer, but the half hour wait for a seat sent us scrambling to the White Horse for some eats.  Afterwards, we stopped at the WXOU Bar on Hudson Street.  I was looking for the roommate of an old girlfriend who is married to one of the owners, and the V-Man just figured “what the hell, I have nothing to lose.”

I had the Southampton India Pale Ale.  This poured a cloudy amber, with a frothy head that left a beautiful belgian lace to the bottom of the glass.  Apricots on the aroma, and citrus fruit on the taste, not overly bitter, dry with a gorgeous mouth feel, this is a helluva beer.  I am giving it an 8.5/10.

Brooklyn Winter Ale

February 25, 2010

Brooklyn Brewing Company is another of my favorite breweries.  They are not as experimental as Dogfish Head, for example, but they are a still damn fine brewery.  Their beers tend to be in traditional styles, and do not stray too far from the tried and true.  Brooklyn just does a damn fine job brewing those traditional styles, with a few misses here and there.

This is one of those misses.  I will eventually review some of their better beers,  but first up is the Brooklyn Winter Lager, which is a bit of a disappointment. I like my Christmas Ales to be full bodied, robust, and spicy, bringing to mind visions of sitting by a coal fire in a Dickensian Pub, and this beer doesn’t quite cut it.  It is a malty Scottish style ale, which is admittedly not my favorite type of beer.   In fairness, it is a decent enough example of a Scottish Ale, just not what I expect when the word “winter” is part of the packaging.  It is not a bad beer by any stretch.  I just expect more from Brooklyn Brewing.   I will give it a 5.5/10

Dogfish Head Squall IPA

February 23, 2010

Dogfish Head is one bad ass brewery.  Located in Delaware, Dogfish Head continually pushes the boundaries of beer, while at the same time being respectful of brewing traditions.  I love these guys, and will try any of their beers without hesitation.

The Squall IPA came out last spring.  If you see any bottles at your local beer emporium, grab them, because this a tasty treat.  This Imperial IPA is super hoppy, and packs a 9% ABV. Very fragrant, very dry, and even with that high alcohol content, this drank very easily.    I had this with some friends at a boy’s weekend in Vermont, and this was easily the standout beer of the weekend.  Sure it led to us shooting off bb guns and grilling up some steaks, but what is wrong with that?  A solid 9/10.

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