Books, beer and barbarians

Home to fantasy author Ty Johnston

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 19 -- The Jungle

by Upton Sinclair

Started: June 22
Finished: June 29

Notes: For some while I've been meaning to check out this early 20th-Century novel about working conditions among immigrants of the time, so here goes.

Mini review: This was actually a pretty good book until the last fourth of it. Most of this book is a tale of immigrants coming to America in about 1904, working in the beef industry in Chicago, then a whole bunch of just truly awful things that happen to them. As bad as that sounds, it was all quite interesting to read, though also heartbreaking. The last fourth of the book, however, basically becomes socialist propaganda. I'm not disparaging socialism, nor am I defending it, but here it was rather preachy and ruined what could have been a good ending to a novel.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Old Scratch Amber Lager

Beer score: 5.9

This one was something of a staple beer for the Flying Dog Brewery back in the 1990s, and since I hadn't had one since that long ago, I thought I'd go looking to try it again. Lo and behold, I discovered it's no longer in production.

Well, as always with my "Blast from the Past" posts, I've got my old notes to go on.

It poured a light amber color into the glass with a slight scent of caramel and a little fruit. The fizz was quite strong but didn't last. The flavor also wasn't overly strong, fairly light and reminding me of the premium "red" beers that were a thing back in the '90s.

Was this an exceptional beer? No. Was it a better than average beer? Uh, yeah!

Maybe they'll bring this one back some day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 18 -- The Book of Isaiah

published by Zondervan

Started: June 15
Finished: June 22

Notes: I've not read as much of the Bible as I had hoped to this year, but now I can get back to it. Now I'm getting into the Old Testament section concerning the prophets.

Mini review: This is mostly a mixture of admonitions against the Jewish people for their lack of loyalty to God and prophecies about their future. As is often the case with the Bible, it's not exciting reading, but I do find it interesting.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Dock Street Amber Ale

Beer score: 4.0

Ugh, another week without trying any new beers. Still, I always have my notes from beers I tried years (and sometimes decades) ago. Unfortunately, in this case, this was not a favorite beer.

Despite being an award winner, this beer to me tasted like a typical premium beer you could buy in a super market. Okay, okay, it had a little more oomph to it than that, but not much.

At least it was wet, so you could guzzle it down, but real beer snobs would realize this was nothing special.

On the plus side, since this beer is no longer in production, the brewing company that made it is still around, so they must be doing something right. Maybe at some point they'll bring this beer back but with a newer recipe that makes it better to drink.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 17 -- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

by Ken Kesey

Started: June 3
Finished: Jun 15

Notes: To tell it like it is, I've had this book on my to-be-read pile for some while now, but today I was packing to hit the road for a mountain trip this weekend and I wanted a small paperback for ease of carrying. This book was the choice. No, I've not seen the famous 1970s movie based upon this novel, but it's been such a part of culture that I at least know a little about it. Hopefully the novel will be as good.

Mini review: It's a strong novel. The writing isn't the best I've ever read, a little slow in places, but it makes up for it in characterization and to some extent in plot. Even though I've not seen the movie, I am familiar with the actors in the movie, and this book seems as if it was written with those very actors in mind (which is not the case since the novel came first, but somebody did some great casting). The ending was not quite sad for me, mainly because it seemed so inevitable, and in a way showed a spark of hope. It also begs the question of why society/culture has to destroy parts of itself from time to time.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Saranac Winter Wassail


Beer score: 5.0

I didn't have the opportunity to try any new beers this past week, but here are some of my old notes about a beer I tried probably more than two decades ago.

This one was another holiday brew with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, etc. This one also included orange.

The flavor was not too sweet or overpowering, the way many special holiday beers are. Still, as readers of this blog are aware, I've never cared for the taste of this holiday drinks ... if I want all that spice flavoring, I'll go drink a warm cider.

Still, this was far from the worst of this holiday beers.

Monday, June 06, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: SLO Brewing Co. Extra Pale Ale

Beer score: 7.9

This brewing company is still around though I believe it's changed ownership a couple of times over the decades. Unfortunately, they no longer make this award-winning pale ale, though I suppose it's not impossible they could start making it again some day, and they do make other pale ales.

This one scared me when I first tried it a couple of decades ago because it had a bit of a sour, malt liquor smell. However, the taste was good with a little froth. It went down bitter and left a mixed taste of sweeet and bitter in the mouth.

Overall, a pretty good beer. I hope they bring it back, even if just on a nostalgic temporary basis.