Monday, March 29, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Michelob Marzen

Beer score: 3.9

A couple of decades back, Michelob tried to get in on the craft brew and brewpub craze by coming up with a bunch of "fancy" beers. This was one of them, and like most from this era of Michelob's trials and errors, it's no longer with us.

This one was supposed to be a smooth lager, at least according to the bottle's label. It got too sweet after the second drink, but the carbonation was tolerable (though still a little more than I like).

It was something a little different, but not anything overly special.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Monday, March 22, 2021

Beer of the Week: Jade IPA

Beer score: 7.9

Company: Foothills Brewing

ABV: 7.4
IBU: 86

I'm not the biggest IPA fan, but this one from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was definitely a favorite.

It pours out golden with a bit of cloudiness in the coloring. The smell reminded me somewhat of fruit, maybe pineapple and oranges.

But in the drinking is where this beer really shines. The touch of fruit is still there, but it's only a touch, not as strong as in the smell. Then the hardy bitterness hits your tongue and it's magnificent, with hints of bread and wood. Also, the sour skunkiness that's common to many IPA brews is totally absent here.

Like I said, I'm not a big IPA fan, but I could drink this one all the time.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

DragonQuest, the RPG that was early competition for D&D

Over at Black Gate this week, I write about the early tabletop RPG DragonQuest, how much I love it, and how it was everly competition for Dungeons & Dragons.

Books read in 2021: No. 15 -- Spooky Southwest

by S.E. Schlosser

Started: March 16
Finished: March 20

Notes: Somewhat sadly, this is the last of the books I purchased during a cross-country road trip nearly three years ago. This one is a series with other books in the series being based in other parts of the country than the Southwest, so if I enjoy this one enough there's still plenty of others to read.

Mini review: Ghosts abound here, the devil makes a few appearances, there are some witches and even a vampire, but all in all I didn't find these stories all that spooky, more like light folk tales. It was really more how the stories were told, in a rated G or maybe PG style, and there's nothing wrong with that, it just wasn't for me. I prefer my spooky stories a bit darker, but that's fine because not everything has to be for me. I'm sure there are plenty of folks who would enjoy these tales more than myself.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 14 -- The Second Book of the Kings

published by Zondervan

Started: March 15
Finished: March 17

Notes: As I've just finished The First Book of the Kings, I decided to read The Second Book of the Kings.

Mini review: Here continues the history of a long list of kings of Israel and Judah, the majority who are considered evil and sinning before God, mostly through idolatry but also through many other crimes. A few of these kings are good in God's eyes, but very few. After years and years of living with the sins of Israel and Judah, God eventually allows the Babylonians to basically destroy the temple and much of Jerusalem while killing or taking away the leaders of Israel and Judah to keep as exiles.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: SLO Brewing Co. Cole Porter

Beer score: 4.9

Yet another beer no longer with us, though I still have some old notes about this one.

For those of you who like really strong, nutty-flavored beers, this one would've been for you. It went down smooth and frothy, but the almond taste was too strong for me (which is why the score above isn't higher).

This beer came from the SLO Brewing Co., a brewery and restaurant in San Luis Obispo, California, that later became part of the Downtown Brewing Co. Eventually SLO Brewing went its own way again, but they decided against continuing this decent brew.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 13 -- The First Book of the Kings

published by Zondervan

Started: March 12
Finished: March 14

Notes: The Bible isn't going to read itself, so I return to my studies of it.

Mini review: This book details the final years of King David and the reign of King Solomon. I was surprised to learn Solomon had lost some of God's favor in the king's forget years, information I had forgotten if I had ever known it. The rest of the book concerns a long series of kings of Israel and Judah, most worse than the one before and falling to sin in the eyes of God, often by creating and worshipping idols. A few of these kings were still considered Godly men, but not many.

Friday, March 12, 2021

At Rogue Blades: The 87th Precinct

 This week over at the Rogue Blades site, I write about my love for Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels.

Books read on 2021: No. 12 -- The Empty Hours

by Ed McBain

Started: March 8
Finished: March 12

Notes: As I've just penned an article about my love for these 87th Precinct books, I'm in the mood to read one. This one isn't a novel, however, but a collection of three novellas.

Mini review: A young woman is murdered inside her apartment and leaves behind a string of mysterious statements in her check book. A rabbi is stabbed to death behind his temple and the letter J is painted on the wall above him. A detective goes on a skiing vacation in which two ski instructors are murdered. These are the three stories that make up this book, and each of them was quite strong. The last story, "Storm," was quite different from most 87th Precinct tales in that it didn't actually take place within the precinct but at a ski lodge. I'm always glad to read McBain because he always tells great stories.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 11 -- One for the Money

by Janet Evanovich

Started: March 3
Finished: March 8

Notes: If I didn't sometimes check out authors I'd never read before, I'd never discover authors I love. Which is why I so often do read authors I've never read before, which is the case here.

Mini review: Jersey girl Stephanie Plum is down on her luck and out of a job. To make ends meet, she goes to work for her cousin Vinny (yes, you read that correctly) as a bounty hunter, which seems entirely unlike Stephanie. Her first case? She has to find an ex-boyfriend of sorts who is wanted for murder. Oh, yeah, and he happens to be a cop. Hilarity ensues and Stephanie finds herself embroiled with a champion boxer, street hookers, cops, family, and lots of other characters. In the end, this was a pretty fun read. I enjoyed it. Not sure I'll ever go out of my way to read another of these Plum novels, but I also wouldn't turn one down.

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Red Wolf

Beer score: 3.3

There was a time in the 1990s when "red" beers seemed to be all the rage in stores. This one was from Anheuser-Busch.

It was beer. You could drink it. Budweiser fans who wanted to live a little on the wild side probably drank this without getting too turned off. Otherwise, it was nothing special.

As can be expected, it pour a light amber color, almost yellow. There was a lot of corn in the smell and taste, and a lot of carbonation. It wasn't a great beer, which is probably why it's no longer around.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

My Black Gate article this week takes a look back at a board game's origins. So, gentlemen, start your engines for Car Wars!

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 10 -- Message in a Bottle

by Nicholas Sparks

Started: Feb. 23
Finished: March 3

Notes: Every once in a while I pick up a book by a popular author simply to study how they do what they do, and that is the case here. I've seen a movie or two based off Sparks' work and I enjoyed them, but I can't say I'm particularly drawn to these type of tales of love and melancholy. Still, maybe I'll be surprised, or maybe I'll learn something.

Mini review: This was a sad one that reminded me far too much of my own life. A widower throws bottles in the ocean, bottles that contain letters to his late wife. A newspaper columnist discovers a floating bottle containing one of the letters and decides to find out about the writer of the letters. They meet and fall in love. Of course they have troubles, but then tragedy occurs. This one hit a little too close to home for me as a widower myself, but I'm glad I read it. The writing style here is solid and makes for an easy enough read. My only real complaint is that the events and the characters felt a little too pat to me, a little too contrived, but it worked for the story as told.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Beer of the Week: Grimbergen Triple

Beer score: 5.8

Company: Grimbergen

ABV: 8.0
IBU: 5

This has got to be the sweetest beer I've ever taste. That doesn't mean the taste is bad, but it's so hard to get to it through all the sweetness. This was so sweet I couldn't finish a bottle (though it was a big bottle).

As for pouring, it has a nice, light golden color to it. The smell has some caramel and fruitiness to it.

Going down, there's some of that caramel and fruit flavors, but again, the sweetness here is just overpowering. It does have a strong alcohol aftertaste.

Only truly experienced beer tasters should think about trying this. Worth trying when you are in the mood for something unique.