Monday, October 25, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Isosceles

Beer score: 3.1

Yep, it's another beer that's no longer with us. The Gluek Brewing Co. of Cold Springs, Minnesota, made this brew when I first tried in in the late 1990s, but later the company became known as the Cold Springs Brewing Company. Nowadays neither brewing company is around, though there are other breweries who have similar names but are not related.

This wasn't an extraordinary beer, but you could feel good about drinking it because a portion of the proceeds went to AIDS and breast cancer research. This light beer tasted like a premium U.S.-made beer with maybe a little extra sweetness tossed in. One of thousands of fair-but-not-great beers no longer with us.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 36 -- The Book of Esther

published by Zondervan

Started: Oct. 18
Finished: Oct. 18

Notes: Having just read one book of the Old Testament, I thought I'd go ahead and read the next one.

Mini review: The king of Persia appoints a Jewish woman, Esther, as his queen and she helps stop a genocide of all Jews in the kingdom. And within this story are the origins for the holiday known as Purim. There's very little historical evidence that any of this is true, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen, or something similar, though I won't argue either way. Interestingly enough, God never shows in this book, and for that matter is not even mentioned.

Books read in 2021: No. 35 -- The Book of Nehemiah

published by Zondervan

Started: Oct. 17
Finished: Oct. 18

Notes: I've not read as much of the Bible as I meant to this year, but the year isn't over yet, so here's to catching up.

Mini review: To some extent this is a retelling of the Book of Ezra, and the priest Ezra does make an appearance, but mainly this book is told by Nehemiah, the governor over the Jews during the period in which the Empire of Persia ruled. Mostly this book consists of a rebuilding of Jerusalem and of Nehemiah enforcing ancient laws.

Beer of the Week: Redhook ESB

Beer score: 3.7

Company: Redhook Brewery

ABV: 5.8
IBU: 28

I've always felt like I should enjoy Redhook beers more than I do, but for some reason they never go over well with me. Oh, they're not awful beers, but coming out of the Seattle scene, I always feel like they should be better than they are on my tongue.

Anyway, this one pours a light reddish color from the bottle into the glass. The smell is bready with hints of flowers.

This brew is sweet and heavy in the mouth. It has too much fizz and goes down a little rough. It'd probably make a decent pub beer to go along with pretzels, peanuts and small talk. Has some caramel flavoring.

For those who don't know, "ESB" stand for "extra special bitter," one of three types of "bitter," an English type of ale.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 34 -- Contact

by Carl Sagan

Started: Sept 23
Finished: Oct. 16

Notes: I know Sagan can write nonfiction, so I thought I'd see how he tackles fiction.

Mini review: A scientist discovers a radio message being beamed to Earth from the Vega system. And that's really just the beginning. To say more would be to give too much away. Over all, this is a pretty good book, and the last 50 or so pages does a little more than border on religion, but equates at least certain aspects of science with religion. It works. That being said, there is a lot of telling and not so much showing here. Sagan's writing style works better for nonfiction than fiction, but this isn't an awful read, though it is a bit long winded at times.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Beer of the Week Special: Sometimes good beer can be found in most surprising places

Note: I originally wrote this little post for another website more than a decade ago, but I thought it fun and interesting to take a look back at the past.

There are some places you expect to find good beer. Big cities. Brew pubs. Finer restaurants. Many coastal towns.

Then there are other places you do not expect to find good beer. Up in the mountains. Down in the hollers. Over in the swamps. Out in the bayou.

Traveling down South in the U.S. this summer, there are plenty of places I've discovered with good beer. Atlanta comes to mind. Many parts of Florida. New Orleans. Just to name a few. But there are also plenty of places down South where I would not expect to find decent brew. Most of those places are what many people refer to as "the middle of nowhere." Often "the middle of nowhere" in the South means a town so small there's only one building, usually a one-room gas station/grocery mart. Sometimes there'll be a few small houses or a trailer or two around. Sometimes the one-room gas station/grocery mart will also include a tire store or a gun shop, every once in a while a pizza joint or bait shop.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm in no way trying to make fun of such places. I'm originally from a small town in Kentucky that boasts a population of 450 people, so I've no bragging rights about coming from the big city or any other such nonsense. Besides, the North has more than its fair share of places that are "the middle of nowhere."

It's just that, you don't expect to find good, quality beer in such places. Sure, there'll be plenty of Coors Light, usually Keystone Light and often enough Budweiser. Natural Light is almost always readily available. If you head north some ways you'll often find Iron City beer. None of these are really quality beers. Oh, they'll get you drunk if that's the direction you're headed, and they can help quench your thirst on a hot day, but these are not generally considered fine beers. I think even most Natty Light drinkers would agree with that, though they might think I'm a snob. Which I am. I'm a beer snob, though only an amateur one.

On with my story.

Recently I was visiting some family in North Carolina. One night while preparing to cook hot dogs and marshmallows over a bonfire, the folks I was with and myself decided we needed some beer. I offered to go get it. There was a little country store just up the road a couple of miles, but I didn't expect to find great beer there. I knew I'd have to drive the hour or so it would take to get to a town of any size before I'd be able to get good beer.

Still, I needed to gas up, so I stopped in that little country store. While I was in there, I figured I'd go ahead and grab a twelve-pack of Budweiser or whatever for my friends who weren't as snobbish as myself.

I rounded the dusty shelves in the store to face the beer cooler. Okay. I caught my breath. Samuel Adams. Pretty good beers. But nothing too overly special for a true snob like myself. Still, it was much better than I'd expected to find. I opened the cooler to move aside some Samuel Adams cartons to see if there were any other surprises. My eyes lighted on several six-packs of Anchor Steam Beer.

My jaw dropped again.

If you are a beer drinker and you've never had the opportunity to taste Anchor Steam Beer, you are missing out on not only one of the best beers ever from San Francisco, California, but you are missing out on one of the better beers ever brewed anywhere in the world. I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe I had discovered one of the best beers there is right there in the back of a cooler in a store in a town so small there wasn't even so much as a STOP sign, let alone a street light.

Days later, driving through another part of the Carolinas, I still haven't been able to get that out of my mind. The luck I had. It could make one believe in fate. Heck, it could make one believe in God.

I spent a wonderful night that night with friends and family, sipping great beer and eating burnt hot dogs. But not only did I get to sample one of my favorite brews, but I also got to introduce it to plenty of others. I'm glad I had to stop in that store for gas. It not only saved me a much longer driving trip, but it made me appreciate the South all that much more.

The only thing is, now I have a tendency to stop in every little town I come across in search of good beer. It was bad enough when I only had to stop in the cities. But now! Sheesh!

Monday, October 04, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Wild Goose Amber

Beer score: 6.8

The Wild Goose Brewery came about in the late 1980s and did pretty good business for a decade or so, but then in the following decades it went through several changes of ownership. Technically the company still exists, but it is operated by yet another company. Unfortunately, due to all these changes over the decades, some of the Wild Goose beers are no longer available.

And unfortunately, this is one such beer. Fortunately, I still have my notes on it.

This one poured with an amber color and smelled a bit like caramel on buttery bread. It had a strong "red" flavor reminiscent of all those red beers that were popular back in the '90s. Also, there was only the barest hint of carbonation along with more of that caramel flavor.

This one was good enough it could have become a regular drinking beer for anyone with good taste.