Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me: Hoppin' Frog Smashing Berry Dark

Happy Birthday to ME, I live in a TREE, I am now THIRTY, and love a FROGGY.

Seriously, I love frogs. Which is why my gf bought me a Hoppin' Frog Smashin' Berry Dark Ale to try. So nice! I've also pointed these beers out to her before, but have had to decline on account of them being pricey.

So I was excited to get to try this. Upon opening the bottle my gf exclaims, "It smells good! Wow, I've never said that about a beer." Impressive, no? And it does - the smell of fruit pours out of the bottle.

It pours a dark brown with a hint of red around the edges. Not much foam to speak of, and it dissipates almost instantly.

It tastes of strawberries, grapes, raspberries. A hint of chocolate and bread as well. After a while it reminds me too much of grape soda. It is smooth, not overly carbonated, and definitely a sipper. It took me a good hour and a half to finish the 22 ounces.

I would give it a B- but on account of my gf giving it to me and the cute frog on the bottle, it gets a B!

Um, my gf also gave me a bottle of Banana Bread Beer for which she is definitely getting an A.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bleh and Bleh-er: Heineken and Beck's Light

I feel like people were super excited about Heineken back in the day. I certainly drank it enough times but never really thought about it one way or the other. I just thought it was fun to say "heiny."

To put thought into it: it pours a crystal clear light amber (apple juice lookalike), with nice head at first that instantly disappears. It smells skunky, which I guess is what people mean when they say some beer smells like pot. I never noticed this, but perhaps it is the skunkyness. After a while the skunk smell lessens and is replaced with tart-sweet blandness. It's easy to drink but not very tasty.

The most interesting thing about Heineken? From Wikipedia: "Currently, Heineken uses a red star as part of its corporate logo. Nevertheless, in this case the red star has no connection to socialism, but only refers to European brewers in the middle ages. In fact, the red star on a Heineken product represents the symbol, a red star, that would hang outside of a brewing house to show potential customers that the beer was ready to drink after going through the brewing process."

Who knew? C-

Now for Beck's Light.

I realize that these are both drinks from countries I have not navigated to before, at least as a part of this blog. While I can't say I've heard much about Dutch beers, Germany certainly has a great reputation. But you know what? Their bottles are BORING looking. No pun-ridden names, no kitschy labels. It's like they have to rely on the product itself! I'll try some good ones soon, I swear.

Beck's Light is the lightest beer available with just 64 calories a bottle. It pours surprisingly dark - still a light and clear amber, but a shade darker than the Heineken. No head or lacing. Even more skunky than the Heinken, that is the main smell and taste that stands out. But overall, it is just watery and bland. It also has no alcohol content listed on it. It does not say "non alcoholic" but there's no ABV listed.

However, Beck's Light gets a D rather than an F. It's 2 saving graces?
64 calories! You could have 2 and that's still less than 1 Heineken and most beers in general.

Plus, the Beck's website has some really enjoyable trance-y kind of music. Oooh...Now it's getting to be more New Age-y. Forget it. It's going down to a D- just for that. Ha!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

strange spices: ginger and coriander

A couple of days ago I pulled an all-nighter and worked 19 hours straight, took a 2 hour break, then worked another 11 hours straight.

Everything went great! Except I was broken. Very broken. I knew I needed to go to bed ASAP but first wanted to unwind.

I had 2 brews with some unusual flavors.

1: Juju Ginger from our friends at the Lefthand Brewery in Colorado. I tried to find why the brewery calls itself "Left Hand" hoping it was similar in reason to Flanders' Leftorium, but no such luck. I did find that the Left Hand Brewery hosts a women-only craft beer group ("Ales for Females"). Sassy!

Juju Ginger is an ale with organic ginger added. It does not smell overly of ginger, but the taste is strongly ginger. It's smooth and mild, without the strong bite of some ginger beers (as in ginger, that is ginger soda). It's tasty, easy to drink, a little watery, and not much going on besides the ginger. I like ginger. I think it would be good on a hot summer's day with some spicy food. B

2: Traquair Jacobite Flavored Ale with Coriander from Traquair House in Scotland.
Oh MAN is this one interesting. It pours a very dark brown with an amber swirl. There is little head. It smells of plumbs, raisins. Upon smelling this, I expect to smell coriander. Then I realize - I have no clue what coriander smells or tastes like. I check my spice cabinet...No such luck. I drank this very slowly and enjoyed the different tastes that came out of it at different points. My first sip tasted like coffee and was very sweet. After a while I could taste cherries and plumbs. Then at about the half-way point I start smelling something that could ONLY be described as coriander. Somehow I just knew it. I think this is a complex drink with a lot of flavors and smells going on. It felt like a meal and is definitely one to savor. A-

3: Another unusual flavor: chili peppers! I have not actually had this but have heard some entertaining reviews of Crazy Ed's Chili Beer. Interested? Check it out:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Out on the Town: UFO's Hefeweizen, Dog Fishhead, and Punk Rock

Yeah I don't really go out, and I haven't been too many places in Providence, besides the $2 movie theater ($1 on Tuesdays!), the ginormous mall, and Spike's Dogs. But I wanted to find the Scurvy Dog Bar so my acquaintance and I went out on the town!

We went to the West Side which I had never ventured to, and promptly got lost. The street signs were confusing, and not a lot of buildings had address numbers on them. After trying to find the Scurvy Dog for a long time, we finally went to Cuban Revolution, a neat concept for a dining venue. I had been to its other location downtown once on a romantic date. It's a lovely spot. Small, intimate, candles on the table, delicious snacks. To wash down our "Che (sweet potato) fries" and maduros-shrimp kabobs (yum!) I got a UFO Hefeweizen which looked like a cloudy lemonade. It was missing the billowing head and lemon that it is traditionally served with. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the mild citrus flavor, the generous lacing, and light tastiness. The educational part - "Hefeweizen" means wheat beer that is unfiltered. That means the yeast is all up in that shit. I don't think I know how to identify yeast by smell or taste, but it accounts for the cloudy appearance. I easily could have had another one, but it was time to go find the elusive Scurvy Dog.

We drove up and down the road trying to figure it out. Finally we saw it. From the outside it looks like an abandoned shack. Dark windows, no sign, no neon lights. Definitely a little sketchy looking, but we bravely went in. A FANTASTIC spot. Small, but not as small as the outside makes it look, surprisingly clean bathroom(s!), loud punk rock music, a pool table and pinball table, and a great selection of beer for cheap. I instantly made "friends" with a black leather-clad gentleman who seemed partial to yours truly. I talked about how hard it was to find the bar, and he said, indeed, there are no signs or anything on the outside because that keeps the shitheads out. Made sense to me!

Anyways, I got my companion and I a Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA on tap. I had tried this before in a bottle, but not on tap. $4 for a very full pint glass seemed like a good deal. They also sell the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA for $12 a glass. That one has 20% ABV and is for someone with a more sophisticated palate than I. I guess the number of minutes refers to how long the liquid is boiled with hops being continuously added. The 60 has "60 ibu" - not sure what that means. Anyways, I think I'm identifying the taste of IPAs. As well as the piney taste in the hops. I always think it's a little floral too. Delicious, complex, a lot of taste going on, definitely a drink to savor. A good night out, indeed.

Maduros: A
UFO Hefeweizen: B+
Scurvy Dog: A
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA: A-

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Celebrate Good Times: Sierra Nevada Celebration & A Bargain

Oh god was I cranky today. Mostly due to that whole job thing. It made me frown a lot. After work I was ready to either drink a pot of coffee and work all night to get on top of things, or drink a beer and relax and forget about work (or try to). I voted for the latter.

But first I had some errands to run. I found this cute set of 4 retro-looking Miller glasses with an ice bucket on clearance at Target for $5 (normally $20). That made me happy. Hell, any 4 glasses for $5 isn't bad and these are decent and pretty cool and old-fashioned looking.

Then I went back to trying a new winter ale. This time a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. This is an award-winning India Pale Ale. It's amber, kind of cloudy, pretty, nice lacing. Smells of citrus, grapefruit, slightly spicy. Not very spicy tasting though, mostly bitter. It's got bite and is crisp. I do not think my palate is sophisticated enough to really distinguish between the many IPAs out there. Maybe that will be a future project. It's definitely tasty and refreshing and, you know, my mood may have improved a bit.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Ringing in the New Year: Lindeman's Framboise Lambic

Ring-a-ding-ding! For New Years we got 10 inches of snow & my girl got to leave work 4 hours early due to the weather. We got to cuddle and ring in the New Year with treats, movies, Lego Bat Man, and Lindeman's Framboise Lambic to drink.

I had this before, served with slivers of dark chocolate and raspberries in the bottom of the glass. Oooh! But I was not that fancy. Did you know that fruits and vegetables used to be added to beers back in the day before hops became common? And did you know that "framboise" means "raspberry?" That's all you need to know. This beverage looks like raspberry juice, even with the occassional seed. It has a purple-ish head and lots of lacing, smells and tastes strongly of raspberries. It gets very sweet after a while but has a tart aftertaste. It's easy to drink; I offered it to my gf who does not care for alcoholic beverages, and she gamely tried a sip but it was not her "cup of soda." It does taste more like soda or champagne than a beer.


Lego Batman, however, is everyone's cup of soda. It's so fun and addictive, especially for 2 players. I've had the music in my head non-stop. After you go through an episode as Batman and Robin, you get to go back and play it as the villains. Sweet!
The game gets an A

Overall, good stuff for New Years. Happy 2009!!!