Archive for February, 2009

Beer Review #4: 2 Below Ale

Posted in Beer on February 25, 2009 by Dan

The New Beligum Brewing Company is the same company that has brought “Fat Tire” onto this great earth. I love, love, love, Fat Tire and decided to give another one of their incarnations a shot. I figured that since it is February, I’d go with a winter themed beer (even though it was 75 degrees here today).

The beer is brewed in Ft. Collins Colorado and claims to be a “warming blast of Sterling and Liberty hops along with tawny roasted malts. By pushing our beer 2 degrees BELOW into a final, nearly freezing state, its ample structure develops a brilliant clarity.” Indeed the beer is what you’d expect from an ale, a nice rich amber color that pours very smoothly and settles quickly. I hope it can compete with Fat Tire.

A frosty beer from the makers of Fat Tire

A frosty beer from the makers of Fat Tire

The initial taste is very good. It’s a nice hoppy bitterness that isn’t overpowering. It’s a beer that tastes like a beer, something I’m always searching for and referencing. There’s good body to it and the advertised malts (which I have learned make a beer sweeter) definitely softens the flavor and leaves you with a very smooth and tasty brew.

The more I drink of it, the more I’m loving how smooth and delicious it is. It’s not an exotic flavor but that’s what makes it so good. There’s something familiar about the body and taste of the beer but I can’t say exactly what it is. It’s distinct enough to stand apart from any old recycled domestic beer  but isn’t so different that you wouldn’t want to drink it often. It’s also relatively light and you could drink a couple of them without wanting to burst.

Overall, I must commend the New Belgium Brewing company, they have produced a stellar companion to Fat Tire and I most certainly give this beer my seal of approval and recommendation. Regardless of your beer drinking experience and preference, I’d be surprised to hear you say didn’t like this one.

Cheers!

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America’s Funniest Home Videos

Posted in Ridiculious on February 24, 2009 by Dan

I can’t believe how entertained I was tonight by America’s Funniest Home Videos. I was near tears for the better part of thirty minutes watching America’s finest stumble, fall, kick, flail, and drop their ways into my heart. Both the young and old relentlessly pummeled my gut with hearty and satisfying laughs. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard since Balderdash and I was by myself for crying out loud.

I know the host is a bit of a gomer but despite of this, the show has found a series recording (an honor reserved for the likes of Burn Notice and ER) space on my DVR list.

I haven’t left that hard nor felt this good in a while. I just feel relaxed and in a strange way purified. I do love to laugh and haven’t done enough of it lately. I’ll leave you with this segment which was on tonight. If this doesn’t make you at least chuckle a bit, you need to lighten up.

Great Writing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 22, 2009 by Dan

I’ve been on a book reading roll of late and I can’t seem to miss. I’ve read such wonderful literature this past month that I find the need to pinch myself to make sure it’s real. I’m enjoying this ride while I can.

One of the reasons I love to read is not just for the stories and characters and drama but for the writing itself. I love it when an author writes a sentence that has impact, that causes you to take pause and reread what you just read because it was so profoundly wonderful. Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and the The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is one such author. He is much, much wordier than someone like Cormac McCarthy, but he makes the most out of every one of his words. His sentences have substance to them, you could take a literary bite out of his writing and feel quite filled.

The structure and rhythm of his writing is awe inspiring. I wish I could write one sentence as well as he could and convey so much characterization and emotion in a single sentence or paragraph.  I’m going to quote a paragraph from page 141 of The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. I seem to share these things with people and I feel like I sometimes get excited about nothing, so deal with it if you don’t find it as profound as I do. However, after reading this, does it not make you wish to meet this fictional character? Have you ever come across someone such as this?

There was something in Mendele. There was a fire. This is a cold, dark place, Dectectives. A gray, wet place. Mendele gave off light and warmth. You wanted to stand close to him. To warm your hands, to melt the ice on your beard. To banish the darkness for a minute or two. But then when you left Mendele, you stayed warm, and it seemed like there was a little more light, maybe one candle’s worth, in the world. And that was when you realized the fire was inside of you all the time. And that was the miracle. Just that.

Read it again. Look at the pacing of that paragraph, how it starts in simple sentences and how the characterization builds like a fire growing from kindling. Notice how you become gradually intrigued by a fictitious character you know nothing about. You wonder to yourself how nice it would be to meet this Mendele, and feel a bit warmer after you did.

This is a paragraph I could only dream of writing. When I grow up, I want to write like this.

Beer Review #3: Boddingtons

Posted in Beer on February 17, 2009 by Dan

I am Friends junkie. I’ll be the first to admit that I have seen every episode likely more than once and frequently quote this show that has been dead for a decade. What does this have to do with beer you might ask?

Well, there’s a scene from Friends where everyone (expect the pregnant Phoebe who could not make the flight) is reminiscing with great delight about all the fun they had in London after Ross’ botched wedding. The three gents are particularly enamored with a beer they had in London called “Boddingtons” and in this particular scene they all high five each other and shout “BODDINGTONS!!!” over and over again. Joey is then informed that an English pub down the street serves Boddingtons and he promptly sprints out the door to the bar. It’s funnier than I’m describing and I can’t find a youtube clip for the life of me. Humor me, people.

Anyways, I always figured that Boddingtons was a made up fake British beer. But then, after picking out some dinner tonight at Market Street, I spotted this beer and almost shouted “BODDINGTONS!” in the middle of the beer isle. The store is lucky that there was no one around for me to high five or I totally would have embarrassed myself. I am totally pumped about this review.

Let’s get onto business:

LONDON BABY!!!!

LONDON BABY!!!!

Boddingtons advertises itself to be a pub ale first brewed back in 1778(!) at the Strangeways Brewery in Manchester. It is packaged in a special can to deliver the “distinct creamy head and smooth body with little gassiness” that it is known for. The can itself has three very specific instructions:

  1. Serve the beer cool but not ice cold.  (As such I’ve let it warm up just a bit. I still can’t stand the idea of warm beer).
  2. Carefully open can, pour contents into a glass. (Not even I can screw this up).
  3. Wait…and watch the head settle on a perfect glass of Boddingtons Pub Ale.

After watching the remarkably entertaining pour (that I nearly spilled over my keyboard), I was relieved to see that it was a much lighter colored beer and would therefore be no where near as heavy as some of the previously reviewed beers had been.

The first sip is honestly unlike any other beer I’ve ever drank. The head of the beer is thicker than what I’m used to; it’s very creamy but surprisingly unsweet. It’s not the usual carbonation that’s in most beers as it has more substance to it.

As the head and the beer mix in your mouth, I was expecting some sort of flavor to come bursting forth but it’s mostly a dry beer that doesn’t taste like much of anything. There’s very little hoppiness associated with it but this, along with lower amounts of carbonation, make it the smoothest beer I’ve ever had. Literally, it goes down just like water-there’s no uncomfortable grimace from bitterness or bloated feelings caused by heavy beers. I can see how the British are such raging drunks, I could drink like ten of these things without filling myself up.

That being said, I don’t know if I like it . It doesn’t taste like beer, I want a little hoppiness or some substance to my beers but this remains rather flat and bland throughout the pint. I would reccommend to try this beer at least once because it is a novel, distinct, and incredibly smooth beer, it’s just not one that I will be drinking with any sort of regularity.

Posted in Random on February 16, 2009 by Dan

I had such a great time with Guy these past two nights. He came down with two of his airforce buddies, both of whom were named Mike, and we proceeded to show these boys a good ol’ time in Big D. Saturday night was the roughest considering the tab for five us exceed $230 without food. I ended up crawling into the back of Austin’s truck and passing out for a good hour or so. I don’t really remember getting home.

Jessica and Jameson continue to impress with their running. Jameson for almost breaking a three hour marathon on his first try and for Jessica turning in a sub 1:28 half. Just marvelous. When I grow up, I want to be like them.

I would have considered today a worthless day but I did get to finish another Cormac McCarthy book (No Country for Old Men) as well as finally, finally, getting to watch “Say Anything.” Both were an absolute delight and if I had gotten in before 3:30 the past two evenings (or mornings, rather), I would write more about them. Needless to say, both lived up to the hype.

I’d really, really, like to skip the month of March (with the exception of a trip down to the valley to see my Grandpa) and get to April. I’m growing impatient and I want to see her again.

I Have Other Gifts

Posted in Ridiculious on February 13, 2009 by Dan

It’s Valentine’s day tomorrow and being the new guy at work, I figured I’d treat my coworkers to some baked goods from Hagelberg’s Kitchen of Deliciousness. After some thought, I settled on cupcakes because they are simple, not messy, and travel well.

So, I double checked the supplies at home and set off to Kroger to buy the goodies. I got some little paper cupcake holders for the tray, some cake mix, and some little hearts to put on top to give it a hint of Valentine’s Day. I also stopped at McDonald’s on the way home, and is there any food on the planet that has more taste per dollar than a double cheeseburger from there? I say there is not, but that’s for a different day.

Anyways, I got home and quickly mixed the ingredients together, deftly whipping oil, eggs, water, and cake mix into a frothy chocolate delight. I placed the little paper holders in each cup and then carefully poured the batter into each slot. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Piece of cake.

What could go wrong?

This is what I was greeted with 19 minutes later:

My Special-Ed Cupcakes

My Special-Ed Cupcakes

Apparently, you only need to fill up the paper holders halfway and not all the way full. Something about the cake expanding as it cooks.

I can only shake my head.

They still taste delicious when drowned in chocolate frosting but they just look a little…weird. I hope they don’t feel too self conscious; they’re unique little snow flakes in a gigantic cupcake filled world.

I have other gifts.

Beer Review #2: Double Dog

Posted in Beer on February 10, 2009 by Dan

Tonight’s beer is “Double Dog Double Pale Ale.” I selected it at Market Street because of it’s rather disturbing label. There’s nothing like a dog head with horns in whitey tighties drinking beer to draw my attention. It is brewed by the Flying Dog Brewery out of Denver, Colorado with (this is random?) special agreement from Frederick, Maryland.

Bitter Bomb Deluxe

Bitter Bomb Deluxe

The label claims that “Most versions of a Double Pale Ale are full-frontal, power-hopped bitter bombs that leave you feeling a bit short changed on the back end.” It goes on to claim that it is brewed with “copious amounts of hops for an unrelenting hop bitterness and aroma.” Apparently it has a slightly sweet finish.

I’m also excited because it’s 11.5% alcohol making it one of the strongest beers I have ever drank. It ranks up there with the ass kicking German beers that make you forget your name.

My initial reaction is that the beer is indeed very bitter. It’s not a cheap kind of bitter like you get with Keystone or Natural Ice but it’s definitely a strong flavor. The advertised sweetness is indeed there and it somewhat offsets the bitterness but after every drink, my palate is left a little confused and unsure of what it just drank. I consider myself to be an established beer drinker but even I’m left grimacing a little bit at the bitterness of it.

The texture of the beer reminds me of Guinness in that it’s very thick and hearty, it drinks like it could be a meal substitute. This combined with a rather unpleasant taste continues to devalue the beer in my estimation.

I’m going to have to try another Double Pale Ale because I have a feeling that this is exactly what they are brewed to taste like and that people obviously like them. In the meantime, it’s hard to recommend this bitter and heavy of a beer unless you really like getting your ass kicked by one.