Monday, November 30, 2020

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Hops Restaurant beers

Hops Restaurants were a chain with their own house beers a couple of decades back. I personally visited the one in Winter Park, Florida, and another in the Washington D.C. area (but can't recall if it was actually in D.C. or Arlington or some suburb). This chain is no longer with us, but some Internet research has provided hints that some few of the restaurants might still survive, possibly under different names, so maybe some of these beers are still out there somewhere. Either way, back in the day these restaurants had some pretty decent brews. Looking back over some old notes, I found I had a few things to say about the Hops Restaurants beers. 

Hops Clearwater Light
Beer score: 5.8

Remarkably carbonation-free for a light beer. Very smooth. Almost too smooth. You could definitely do worse, especially when it comes to light beers.

Hops Hammerhead Red
Beer score: 6.3

A little too much carbonation, but has the slightly burnt flavor of a decent amber ale. Worth giving a try.

Hops Lightning Bold Gold
Beer score: 6.0

A quite smooth medium lager that almost tastes like a light beer. Has a hint of honey sweetness on the way down.

Hops Lumberjack Oatmeal Stout
Beer score: 7.1

Quite dark with a burnt maple strength, but overly smooth for what's supposed to be a heavy beer. You can see a little light through this stout. Not quite sturdy enough to be a true stout, in my opinion, but not weak enough to be a lesser beer, even a porter. The burnt sweetness stays on the tongue a long time after you drink this, and that's not a bad thing here.

Hops Powder Horn Pilsner
Beer score: 8.3

Extremely light and smooth. A favorite bar/brewery beer of mine. Slightly sweet, enough to enjoy greatly. Award winning.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Books read in 2020: No. 27 -- Shadows Out of Hell

Started: Nov. 22
Finished: Nov. 28

Notes: I read the first book in this trilogy more than a dozen years ago, and while I wasn't all that thrilled with it, I have been something of an Offutt fan. So, when I ran across the other two books in the series in a used book store, I went ahead and snagged them up. Offutt's writing is hit and miss, but even at his worst he has a certain goofy prose I find fun.

Mini review: I've read a fair amount of Offutt and I have to say I believe this is some of the best prose he had written. The plot is fair, a warrior is sent by a goddess to an island to retrieve an item and there he discovers a temple and a race of warrior women, but it is the writing itself that truly shines here. I'm looking forward to the last novel in this series, which I'm reading next.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Beer of the Week: Harpoon IPA

Beer score: 6.5

Company: Harpoon Brewery

ABV: 5.9
IBU: 42

This one tastes a bit different from your usual India Pale Ale. It's got a stronger flavor than most IPA beers, and though it does have a bit of a grapefruit flavor, it lacks the fruity sour aftertaste of many IPAs. To me it tastes more like a sturdy pale ale.

Has good, light copper coloring.

IPAs aren't normally a favorite for me, but this one is pretty good. Give it a taste.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Books read in 2020: No. 26 -- The Sword and the Sorcerer

Started: Nov. 15
Finished: Nov. 22

Notes: For those who don't know, this is a novelization for a Sword & Sorcery movie from the early '80s. It's not a great movie, but it is fun to watch. To be honest, I'm not expecting much from this book as the author is practically unknown, me being unable to find out hardly anything about him which leads me to think he probably doesn't exist but was a house name used several writers. Or maybe not. Either way, I'm willing to give this one a try.

Mini review: This one turned out to be written better than I expected, but I had super low expectations. The writing here wasn't great, but at least the author showed some familiarity with Sword & Sorcery, that and I could understand what was going on well enough. The plot was goofy, but that's not this author's problem as the story came from a screenplay. Still, this fun, reminiscing about bad S&S movies from the '80s while adventuring with the Talon character and his companions as they seek to thwart the evil King Cromwell.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Dead South lyrics for 'Broken Cowboy'

I've fallen in love with this song recently, so here I present it's lyrics

Broken Cowboy

It's been a long, dark, dirty road
But a pocket full of gold
And I've been out here now
All on my own

Well it's real quiet here
Just the way I like it here
There's no one to bother me

Well, in 1955,
born into Wadena's pride
I laid my head on that Milligan creek bed

When I was a young man
I helped build this land
Oh I, put down these rails
as a CPR man

Thought I'd live forever
With my heart in my pocket
Oh, my gun by my side
And my feelings in a locket

Well, that was a cold year in '77
But I married my wife
We had 2 kids

I gave her a daughter
She gave me a son
And oh, we rode those damn horses until we had none

Fists still like flyin'
Doing things for dyin'
Oh, I should have put that old gun away

But I, I am a broken cowboy
And I don't feel right no more
'Cause I am a broken cowboy

Livin' life in the fast lane
Racing cars and robbing trains
I thought I had it all
Then one day I got the call

A father's worst dream
My son went down and I

The colors deceive me
As I see grey
Oh, you're cutting me down with those
Cold words you're saying
Then you called me brother
But this can't be so cause you
Slander my name anywhere the wind will blow, oh

But I, I am a broken cowboy
And I don't feel right no more
'Cause I am a broken cowboy
Yes, I am a broken cowboy

It's been a long dark dirty road
But a pocket full of gold
And I've been out here now
All on my own
Well it's real quiet here
Just the way I like it here
There's no one to bother me
Except that old taunting tree

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Beer of the Week: Breckenridge Brewery Christmas Ale

Beer score: 3.8

Company: Breckenridge Brewery

ABV: 7.1
IBU: 22

Has a honey and almost red color from the bottle into the glass. Has a sweet, bread-like taste to it, but there's also that usual overly-nutmeggy, overly-cinnamon and overly-bad flavor that comes with far too many holiday beers.

If you like Christmas ales, this one might be for you, but I'm not a fan of this type of beer. Still, I gave it a try, and it is better than many holiday beers I've had over the yeas.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Books read in 2020: No. 25 -- Beyond the Black River

Started: Oct. 20
Finished: Nov. 15

Notes: While still the Halloween season, I'm delving into a collection of Howard tales because a couple of them are horror and the rest Conan stories. I've read all these, but it's always a good time to read Howard.

Mini review: It was fun to reacquaint myself with these stories. All were good in their own way, but two tied for my favorites here, "Beyond the Black River" and "Shadows in Zamboula," both Conan stories.

Over at Black Gate: Sometimes a Good Hero is Hard to Find

 This week at Black Gate, I ask the question: Must every story have a hero? Go over there and find out the answer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Beer of the Week: Caffrey's Irish Ale

Beer score: 3.3

Company: Molson Coors

ABV: 3.8

Out of the can and into the bottle, this one pours a dark, wood-like brown, and it comes with a smooth, foamy head.

Tastes like a fairly typical flat ale from the can, another of those beers that's supposed to have that straight-from-the-tap taste but really doesn't. There's a packet of nitrogen inside the can and when the can is opened, that packet is released and creates the foamy texture.

This one has been around for more than a century, but it's no longer available in the U.S., though it can still be purchased in Europe. However, there are far better beers in Europe, and in the U.S. for that matter.

Not the worst beer ever, but if you don't try it, you're not missing anything.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Beer of the Week: Utica Club

Beer score: 6.0

Company: Saranac

ABV: 5.0
IBU: 12

The bottle calls this a premium pilsener lager, but personally I think it tastes better than the traditional premium beer. The company that makes this one also claims it was the first beer sold in the United States after prohibition ended.

There's a slight yellow color as you pour this one into a glass, and it gives off a fairly traditional beer smell with touches of hops and a little bread.

The taste has a bit of a kick to it, almost but not quite spicy at first, but that soon gives way to a smooth sweetness that's nice and not overpowering.

Over all, this is a fine beer, though nothing extraordinary. But that doesn't mean I'd turn one down if offered to me.