Monday, October 28, 2019

Beer of the Week: Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter

Beer score: 6.7

Company: Leinenkugel's

ABV: 6.0
IBU: 16

Pours a dark brown into a glass, though not so dark you can't see light through it. The head is thick and slightly brown and foamy, but it slowly dies down to a more manageable level.

That vanilla scent will hit you right away. It's not too strong, in my opinion, but it's close to being so. The vanilla smell is definitely more than just hinted at, but again, I wouldn't say it's so strong as to ruin the drink.

Oddly enough for a porter, this one isn't all that hefty in the tasting section. There are tones of coffee and chocolate here, and while the vanilla is still prevalent, it's not as strong in the tasting as it is in the smelling. Also, allowing this beer to warm up a little is not a bad move as it allows these scents to come out a little more and gives this drink more of that traditional porter strength.

Try this one, seriously. Even if you're someone who doesn't like vanilla, I think you'll find this one pretty good.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Books read in 2019: No. 44 -- The Awakened Modern

edited by Hal Greenberg and Greg Schauer

Started: Oct. 20
Finished: Oct. 27

Notes: Suddenly a second moon appears above the Earth and people, at least some people, begin to show signs of having unusual powers. It sounds like something out of a comic book, but it's seemingly more fantasy related than super-hero related, at least in the books of The Awakened series. And guess what? My short story "Cold Snap" appears in this book, and personally I think it's a pretty decent story, so go check it out ... and of course read all the other tales, too, which is what I'm about to do.

Mini review: It was nice not only to see one of my own stories again, but to see how other authors dealt with the same world and some of the same issues. This was a fun read.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Beer of the Week: Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Beer score: 9.3

Company: Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company

ABV: 8.2
IBU: 19

My home state of Kentucky has done me proud with this beer, and it's brewed right in my home town of Lexington!

Pour one of these into a glass and you'll experience an amber shade just this side of light gold along with a frothy head that vanishes swiftly. A slight scent of bourbon should hit you right away, but it will not be overpowering; in fact, that bourbon smell should be just right, just enough to remind you of the stronger drink but not enough to ruin the beer textures.

Once on your tongue, the taste is smooth but robust, rich and sweet, with touches of charred wood, caramel, butterscotch and vanilla, perhaps even a little citrus. Goes down a little on the dry side.

Bourbon fans looking for a beer should look no further. Many a beer fan will also enjoy this one, but if they happen to not be a fan of bourbon (perish the thought!), then they might want to look elsewhere. All in all, this is a quality beer. Is it for everyone? Hmm, probably not, but it should be.

To add a last note, one of the things I like about this beer is that it's unusual enough to be brought out for tastings and special occasions, but it's also smooth enough to sip regularly.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Books read in 2019: No. 43 -- The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

by Stephen King

Started: Oct. 6
Finished: Oct. 20

Notes: I'm in the mood for some short stories, and since it's Halloween time I thought I'd turn to the "King" of horror and possibly of modern short stories.

Mini review: The writing here is quite solid, but the writing here often enough is more literary than King's traditional work. Oh, there's some horror here, but it's not over the top and not overly gross or strong. Often times, the horror elements here are light or even just background material for the actual story. So, those wanting a strong dose of the dark stuff will probably want to look elsewhere, but King fans and those simply looking for quality writing should check this one out. My favorite story? Probably "Ur" or "Obits," though several others came close.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Beer of the Week: Blue Moon Belgian White

Beer score: 8.9

Company: Blue Moon

ABV: 5.4
IBU: 9

This one has been a personal favorite for a couple of decades now. When I first started drinking it, it was much more rare and often difficult to find. However, the last few years I've been able to find Blue Moon's Belgian White just about everywhere I go, including on the tap at many a bar, and that's not a bad thing.

Pours smooth with a nice, frothy head. The color is a pale gold. The taste is also smooth and frothy with the barest hint of sourness that reminds me of a lambic style beer. You'll find hints of citrus here, leaning towards orange but with maybe some lemon. The smell is also fruity.

While this particular brew might not be as unique as it once was, that doesn't mean the brewers have sold out and are nowadays delivering a lesser product, no siree. If you've not had this one, give it a try. If you have had this one, you'll probably keep coming back. This Blue Moon beer is different-enough-but-not-so-different (if that makes sense) that you could use it to tempt your premium beer friends, and it's good enough as well to drink on a regular basis.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


Another session of ye olde Marvel Super Hero tabletop RPG with Professor Bill and gang over at Comic Book University.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Beer of the Week: Catawba Brown Bear

Here I am enjoying a Catawba Brown Bear on tap
at a Burger Bach where there's not only
awesome brews, but awesome burgers.
Beer score: 9.2

Company: Catawba Brewing Company

ABV: 5.2
IBU: 30

English brown ales don't seem all that easy to find here in the U.S., or at least they aren't for me, and that's a shame as brown ales are pretty tasty in my opinion. This Catawba Brown Bear from western North Carolina is not only a brown ale, but it's a damn good brown ale.

It pours dark into a glass, looking like a rich porter, almost a stout. The head is thick and tan in color and full of carbonation. The scent is heavy and rich, like a dark chocolate mixed with plenty of dark coffee. When this stuff hits the tongue, it releases flavors of toffee, caramel, chocolate, coffee, and more, all dark and all rich.

All in all, this is a fairly strong beer with lots of rich flavoring. It won't be for everyone, but I have to say I approve. In fact, while this beer is different enough to be used for special occasions, despite its heaviness I could still see it as somebody's regular drinking beer. In other words, it's heavy but not too heavy. If that makes sense. It does to me.


Sunday, October 06, 2019

Books read in 2019: No. 42 -- A Robert E. Howard Sampler

edited by Chris Gruber and Bobby Derie

Started: Sept. 26
Finished: Oct. 6

Notes: I thought I'd read all the books I'd picked up at Howard Days 2018, but then I came upon this little gem stuffed back on one of my shelves. 250 of these were given away free at Howard Days that year, so they might be something of a collector's item. The table of contents (along with the title) make this appear to be a collection of Howard's work from all the different genres in which he wrote, and I have to say I believe all of them are covered here. I believe I've read all these, but then I've read just about everything of Howard's other than some of the El Borak tales and maybe a few detective or horror stories that have slipped past. Still, I expect to enjoy what I find here, and I try to work in at least one or two Howard reads every year.

Mini review: This was definitely a good introduction to Howard's writing outside of his famous Conan and Kull tales. El Borak makes an appearance, as does boxer Steve Costigan, plus there's a detective story, some horror, and more. True Howard fans will likely want this one for their collection; admittedly the presentation is somewhat amateur, but that's not necessarily all a bad thing, bringing a certain level of charm and getting back to the roots of pulp fiction.