Monday, May 31, 2021

Beer of the Week: Guilford Golden Lager

Beer score: 4.1

Company: Natty Green's Brewing Co.

ABV: 3.8

I was looking forward to this one because it's from a regional brewery in Greensboro, North Carolina, and I always like to try something new. Plus, I was in the mood for a brew that wasn't real heavy, and I had hoped this beer would suffice.

It didn't.

Sorry, but the smell assaulted me right off the bat with a skunkiness not unlike Old Milwaukee. The flavor has a light, bready quality, but that's all. Nothing special here, and the carbonation was a bit too much thought not overpowering.

Still, this was just one brew. Maybe I simply got a bad one. I'll give this brewery another shot at some point.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Helping out the creators of heroes

This week over at The Rogue Blades site, I write about The Hero Initiative, a non-profit organization that helps out those who are creators of comic books.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Spanish Peaks Beers

Man, the Spanish Peaks brewery of Montana put out some excellent beers, so I was disappointed to find out that they are no longer in business. Still, there's always change in the beer business with brewers occasionally moving around, so perhaps these quality beers are still out there somewhere under different names or will return someday. Until then, I'll have to rely on some fond memories and my old notes on these beers.

Spanish Peaks Black Dog Ale

Beer score: 7.7

An amber lager with some kick. Wet and soothing going down the throat with a strong bitterness as it glides over the tongue. The first sip had a touch of sweet way in the back, but that disappeared quickly. This was a darn good beer.

Spanish Peaks Black Dog Sweetwater Wheat Ale
Beer score: 7.0

Had a clean, sturdy bitterness and some carbonation. A good cigar beer with hints of sweetness.

Spanish Peaks Honey Raspberry Ale
Beer score: 6.6

This one had too much carbonation for me, but it also had a nice berry taste that was not overly sweet with a touch of bitter.

Spanish Peaks Porter
Beer score: 7.1

Strong and bitter, almost to the level of a weaker stout. The burnt maple taste was there but not overpowering as it is in some porters. Went down fairly easy. One of the better porters I've had the please to try over the years.

Spanish Peaks White Ale
Beer score: 8.8

A light, slightly sweet beer with some texture and flavor reminiscent of a Belgian lambic. In other words, it felt and tasted something like a cider. The bottle said this fine ale was made with "orange peel, coriander, and black pepper."

Monday, May 17, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Latrobe Beers

A decade or so ago, the same folks who brought us Rolling Rock decided to try their hand at a few different beers. These didn't last, but they were pretty good. Here are my old notes about a few of them.

Latrobe American Pale Ale
Beer score: 6.8

Very smooth and wet with a strong bitterness on the way down. Tasted a little like an India pale ale with a hint of fruity sourness.

Latrobe Bavarian Black
Beer score: 6.0

The bottle said this was a "black" lager, but it had the texture and taste of a maple porter. This one wasn't for beginners, but there was nothing extremely exciting about this beer. Still, it was worth a taste or two.

Latrobe Bohemian Pilsner
Beer score: 7.4

It had a strong bitterness for a pilsner, definitely stronger than the typical pilsner. It was wet with a flat texture faintly similar to a bitter, though somewhat stronger. Not a bad brew, so I'm sorry it's not still around.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Pete's Wicked Beers

If anyone had told me back in the '90s the Pete's Brewing Company would eventually go out of business, I would have been highly skeptical. The company brewed the famous Pete's Wicked beers, sometimes known simply as Pete's beer, and in much of the U.S. it was as common and as popular as Samuel Adams. But times change, and the Pete's brews are no longer with us. Fortunately, I still have some of my notes about many of the beers from Pete's. Unfortunately, I loved some of those beers, so I hate to see they're no longer with us.

Pete's Wicked Amber Ale
Beer score: 5.7

This drink has a very slight fruity taste to it, but it is a hardy, stout drink. Pretty smooth and wet going down.

Pete's Wicked Ale
Beer score: 6.1

This is the beer that started it all for Pete's Wicked back in the 1980s. This beer's taste isn't as robust as the color would make you believe, but it's not a bad beer at all. Still, thought it was something special in the 1980s, it wouldn't be so special today. This was a good beer for novice beer snobs to start with. A decent, brown ale with a touch of bitter. Kind of a beer for special times, but not necessarily something you need to drink all the time. If that made sense.

Pete's Wicked Behemian Pilsner
Beer score: 7.4

This is kind of strong in color and strong in taste for a pilsner. It has just the right mix of wet and fizz. Smooth going down, but not the first pilsner a novice should try. One of my favorite brews from the Pete's Wicked people.

Pete's Wicked ESP (Extra Smooth Pub) Lager
Beer score: 3.5

It seems the folks at Pete's Wicked got tired of all the premium beer companies trying to take away their customers by making cheap versions of supposedly good beers. Well, here is Pete's revenge. This beer is supposed to be a cheap, watery lager to satisfy even non-beer snobs' taste buds. In other words, this beer is competition for Budweiser and Miller. This beer does what it promises and that's about it. There's too much fizz and the only taste is definitely cheap and watery with a touch of sweetness. Beer snobs have to try this beer at least once just to believe Pete's Brewing would stoop so low. This beer doesn't rank so low because it's awful, it ranks so low because there's so little taste. But if this is your first Pete's Wicked beer, don't worry, they get much, much better.

Pete's Wicked Helles Lager
Beer score: 6.2

The creation of this beer was inspired by the lagers of Munich, Germany, according to the label on the bottle. Increadibly honey sweet on the first take, but then the fizz overpowers the flavor some unless you take a big swallow and hold it on your tongue. Not the best around, but definitely worth tossing back a few times.

Pete's Wicked Honey Wheat
Beer score: 6.2

According to Pete's Wicked, you are supposed to swirl this beer in the bottle before you pour it. I did but I don't really know if it helped or not. This is a great beer for people who like sweet beers. The froth is also tasty. This brew isn't very strong, except for the honey taste. Not bad.

Pete's Wicked Maple Porter
Beer score: 6.6

This brew actually tastes like maple syrup, except it's bitter instead of sweet (if that makes sense to you). This brew is so thick it should almost be called a stout instead of a porter, which isn't a bad thing in my opinion. It has a nice maple smell to it.

Pete's Wicked Mult-Grain Beer
Beer score: 6.5

The taste is a little too complicated for novices, but a good brew for beer snobs who are working their way up in beer tasting. This is a sturdy beer, a good, standard dark beer. It has a very stoutish taste. Supposedly a rye beer, meaning one of its main ingredients is a rye grain.

Pete's Wicked Pale Ale
Beer score: 6.3

This is about as typical as a pale ale can get. It's not a bad pale ale, it's just not an overly exceptional or notable one. Still, I wouldn't pass one up if you handed it to me. A good thirst quencher.

Pete's Wicked Red Rush
Beer score: 5.5

The bottle calls this an "American Red Ale." It kind of surprises me that Pete's Wicked has stooped to making a red beer, not that there's anything wrong with red beers, but during the 1990s red beers were kind of a gimmick beer that premium beer makers used to try and make people think their beer was something special (which is usually wasn't). This brew is definitely stronger than the average red beers sold in the U.S. It has a sweet, burnt maple flavor and a hint of spices that almost makes it taste like one of those obnoxious Christmas beers. It goes down a little smoother the more you drink, and by the third or fourth swallow it has lost some of its sweetness and gained a little more burnt maple bitterness. Worth tasting, but I wouldn't recommend it as a regular drinking beer.

Pete's Wicked Springfest
Beer score: 4.1

First introduced in winter 1998 to replace Pete's Wicked Mardi Gras. This beer went down smooth but tasted too spicy, almost like many Christmas beers. The label called this a malt liquor and an amber bock. Bocks are traditionally a strong, full-bodied beer. This brew has the coloring of a bock, but tastes more like a cheap malt liquor.

Pete's Wicked Strawberry Blond
Beer score: 7.8

I love this beer mainly because it tastes like real strawberries and not candy strawberry flavoring. There's a little sweetness here, but not enough to be overpowering. A strong, frothy drink. This beer goes well with cheese, preferably Swiss or cheddar. One of my favorite brews from Pete's Wicked.

Pete's Wicked Summer Brew
Beer score: 4.8

The bottle says this is a pale ale with a touch of lemon, but it tastes more like a weak lager. The lemon taste is almost non-existant. Too much fizz. Decent to drink with cigars.

Pete's Wicked Winter Brew
Beer score: 6.4

This beer isn't as strong as many winter brews. It's got a light tea smell to it. It's somewhat watery. Stout enough flavor.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 22 -- Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery

by Brian Murphy

Started: May 1
Finished: May 7

Notes: I've been meaning to get a copy of this book since it came out a year or two ago, and now I have. I'm hoping to enjoy this one.

Mini review: This is perhaps the most comprehensive book about sword and sorcery I've come across in my more-than 50 years. And it's good. And fair. I'd comment more, but I'm going to write a longer review for the Rogue Blades site and I'll post that link here when it's available in a week or two. But I can say this to readers of my blog: Go read this book.

Honoring mothers on Mother's Day

My Rogue Blades article this week attempts to honor mothers on Mother's Day.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Beer of the Week: Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

Beer score: 9.8

Company: Samuel Smith's Brewery

ABV: 5.0
IBU: 32

This is the smoothest stout I've ever had. Really. It's not as heavy as most stouts, but it isn't watery either.

It pours dark, really dark, almost but not quite as dark as a Guinness. And then there's that dark, burnt, yummy smell not unlike coffee.

As for the taste, there's a touch of sweetness on the way down but otherwise it tastes like it smells with those bready, coffee-like textures.

Drink this.