Monday, December 26, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Celis White

Beer score: 8.4

No chance to try any new beer over the Christmas holiday this past week, but as always I've some notes from years ago about a beer that's no longer being brewed. To be clear, there have been multiple beers with the name of "Celis White," but my notes are about the one originally made by the Celis Brewery of Austin, Texas, which was bought out by the Michigan Brewing Company, which is now closed.

And it's too bad the brewery and this beer are no longer with us, because this was a fine beer.

Crisp and slightly sweet, yet this Belgian-style wheat beer had just a tad too much fizz for my liking. Tarty in flavor and smell. It was worth drinking.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Beer of the Week: Harp Lager

Beer score: 8.3

Company: Guinness
ABV: 4.5
IBU: 21

This is an old favorite, though in recent years I've found it more difficult to find.

Pours a light honey color, so light it could be called a "straw" color. Not strong in the scent department, but gives off hints of yeast and bread.

Has a sweetness to it that grows the more you drink, but not really to the point of annoyance. Tastes fantastic, though has a little too much fizz for my liking.

Like many beers, better off the tap than out of the bottle.

Also, I've talked with enough other drinkers of this lager to have heard more than a few experiences which differed from my own, some claiming this beer is weak and watery. Maybe I just have bad taste, or perhaps one can't always trust this beer, that perhaps the quality level varies due to mass production and shipment. All I can add is that every time I've had a Harp Lager, I've enjoyed it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

So ... I did a thing

I've mentioned here before that my health limits my ability to write, and I've also mentioned that I've been experimenting with AI art.

So I combined those two elements, and I've found a new, much easier way to tell stories.


Yes, you read that correctly. Murder Giraffes. Utilizing AI-generated art, I've crafted a graphic novel based upon an idea given me by my girlfriend's brother when he joked that I could write anything, including something about murder giraffes.

It still takes time and patience, but I've found this new way of telling stories is much easier for me than traditional prose. Murder Giraffes was not only a bit of a joke, but it's also a learning experience. I learned a lot but still have much more to learn, and though I won't completely turn my back on prose fiction, I feel this is a new way for me to tell stories.

So, in the future, it's quite possible I'll have other graphic novels. Time will tell.

And if you're interested in seeing the preview, you can always check out the print version or the e-book of Murder Giraffes over at Amazon.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Beer of the Week: Shiner Bock

Beer score: 6.9

Company: Shiner
ABV: 4.4
IBU: 13

I've known quite a few folks who found this to be a lighter-tasting beer, but I found it to be fairly heavy with a touch of maple in the flavor along with some fizz. Normally I don't care for much fizz in my beers, but this one seems to work.

Pours a nice caramel color with a hint of crimson. The taste is solid and complicated enough to give enjoyment to beer snobs.

Not the best beer on the planet, but still a pretty solid drink.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Columbus Pale Ale

Beer score: 6.6

The Columbus Brewing Co. of Ohio is still with us and turning out some great beers, but they retired this pale ale a few years back.

Which is too bad, because this was a decent beer and a bit different from most pale ales.

It had an immediate strong taste with plenty of hops. Went down pretty smooth though had just a tad too much carbonation for me, though not a harsh brew but with some kick. A little rougher around the edges than most pale ales. Perhaps a touch of fruity in the tasting. Poured a nice, light amber color.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Krakus Beer

Beer score: 5.1

It's another beer that's no longer with us. This one was brewed by the Zywiec Brewery of Poland.

The taste was weak at first, but it grew the more you drank. Was not an exceptional beer, but not an awful one. Fairly smooth and had just a touch of carbonation at first, but it grew to the point of slightly annoying. The taste was grainy with some sweetness.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Beer of the Week: Blatz Beer

Beer score: 2.4

Company: Hand Family Companies
ABV: 4.9

Been around forever. Pours a light golden color like an old-school premium beer. Smells a little sweet, perhaps a little fruity. However, that sweetness soon turns watery and week. Too much fizz, but fairly easy to swallow.

Nothing to write home about, but by far not the worst of the cheap beers on the market. An old favorite for some, bringing back nostalgia of the past. Not always easy to find, though it depends on where you live.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 34 -- The Book of Daniel

published by Zondervan

Started: Nov. 12
Finished: Nov. 15

Notes: I've read much of this book of the Bible over the years, but I don't believe I've ever read the entire thing from front to back. So here goes with this prophetic work.

Mini review: Daniel interprets dreams for kings, survives being tossed into a den of lions, and foretells events of the near future ("near" for him or the Jewish people at the time, about 200 B.C.). Interesting material, but not overly expansive upon Judaism or Christianity.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Beer of the Week: Jenlain Blonde

Beer score: 5.3

Company: Brasserie Duyck
ABV: 6.8
IBU: 25

I'd had high hopes for this one, and though it's not an awful beer, it did not live up to my expectations.

Pours quite clear and golden into the glass. Has a nice foamy head of size. Smells of rice and corn with perhaps a little honey.

The taste is not as sweet as other beers from Jenlain, but there's still some sweetness. Again a touch of honey with more of a cheap beer taste than I like, keeping those rice and corn sensations going.

This is drinkable, but nothing you'd want to drink regular.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 33 -- Ghostly Tales & Legends Along the Grand Strand of South Carolina

by Blanche W. Floyd

Started: Nov. 9
Finished: Nov. 12

Notes: Whenever I travel, I like to visit a local bookstore and pick up a book by a local author. In this case, I grabbed this one while visiting the Myrtle Beach area in South Carolina recently. Plus, it's not been that long since the Halloween season and I didn't read enough spooky material for that time of year.

Mini review: This one really wasn't all that spooky, but it did have some basic but interesting historical information about the region. There were some ghostly tales here, but the author seemed to brush most of them off in one form or another.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 32 -- Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City

by K. J. Parker

Started: Oct 31
Finished: Nov. 8

Notes: I've heard good things about this series, so I thought I'd give it and its author a try.

Mini review: What a fun read! I don't normally think of fantasy as "breezy" literature, but this was about as close as I've experienced. An engineer who happens to be a colonel in an imperial army finds himself the highest ranking person in a besieged city and he has to find ways to keep the city from being overrun. Sounds serious, and it is, but it's also loads of fun with humor that isn't over the top. I'll have to give this author another read.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Beer of the Week: Sea Dog Riverdriver Hazelnut Porter

Beer score: 6.2

Company: Sea Dog Brewing Co.
ABV: 5.6

This one pours a dark reddish color while giving off aromas of hazelnut and coffee, perhaps with a little sweetness.

Has a very strong coffee and hazelnut taste with just a tad bit of maple included. Tastes like burnt caramel popcorn to me. Frothy and very thick for a porter, almost stout level.

Too bitter, in my opinion, and would score higher if the bitterness were a little more under control.

Definitely not a beer for beginning drinkers.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Experimenting with the future today

Like no small number of people online of late, I've been experimenting with artwork that's created by Artificial Intelligence. For the most part I've been making use of the Midjourney engine over at their Discord page.

Let me say right up front, I more than realize the controversy surrounding AI-crafted art. I understand why no few artists and other creative types are against this artwork. Really, I get it. As a writer and designer, technology has been working to replace me in one form or another for the last 30 years. Hell, I used to be a newspaper journalist, and that industry is all but dead nowadays.

I'm sorry, but the ship has sailed. The cat is out of the bag. And there is no going back.

Instead of railing against it, perhaps it's time to start trying to find ways to make use of AI within the art communities. Because the possibilities could be fascinating, even endless.

For myself, I see how art from AI could be used for book covers. I've even toyed with the idea of writing a graphic novel utilizing AI art.

Also, as I've pointed out elsewhere, health issues these last few years have put a damper on my writing abilities. Yet with AI art used for a graphic novel, I could potentially keep making stories while the AI would handle much of the heavy load of creation.

Anyway, whether like me you find the possibilities of AI art interesting or you hate it and want it destroyed, below are a handful of examples of the AI art I've recently come up with. (PS: You can click on the images to see larger versions with more detail.)

Monday, October 31, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 31 -- Conan and The Treasure of Python

by John Maddox Roberts

Started: Oct. 18
Finished: Oct. 31

Notes: It's back to reading fantasy. For perhaps the first time in decades I do not have any new Robert E. Howard to read, but at least I have this novel based upon his most famous of characters. I'll see how this author handles Conan the Cimmerian.

Mini review: This is not Howard's Conan, but is much more akin to the Conan of the 1970s Marvel comics, not that that's an awful thing. Her Conan is hired by some Aquilonian nobels to go in search of a missing brother, which is really a subterfuge for finding the treasure which the brother went in search of. Decently written, I felt there wasn't enough action though there's a fair amount of weirdness reminiscent of Lovecraft. However, the ending was fine and bloody with a running fight, a battle, a duel, an unearthly monster, and more, so in the end it was a decent read.

Beer of the Week: Bohemia Pilsner

Beer score: 3.5

Company: Bohemia
ABV: 4.7

This beer has gone by a number of names over the years, from just "Bohemia" to "Bohemia Clasica" to most recently "Bohemia Pilsner," but it's all the same beer (though I suppose it's not impossible the recipe has been tinkered with from time to time).

Whatever the case, this beer has a color like straw and gives off scents of yeast and biscuit. Not bad, but not great.

There's a little breadiness in the tasting along with too much carbonation. Basically, yet another weak, fizzy Mexican brew. Premium beer drinkers might like this, and I'll leave it to you.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: New Amsterdam Blonde Lager

Yep, it's another beer and brewery which are no longer around, but I have a few old notes.

Beer score: 7.9

This one was excitingly crisp and wet with a brilliant sweetness that rounded out this fine drink. Went down smooth with nice citrus flavors.

I really liked this one, so I'm sad it's no longer with us.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 30 -- The Book of Ezekiel

published by Zondervan

Started: Oct. 10
Finished: Oct. 18

Notes: Catching up on my Biblical reading, this is one of the more famous books from one of the Old Testament prophets.

Mini review: Much of this book is Ezekiel handing out messages he has received from God, mostly condemnations of Israel and other nations, though there are some signs of hope for Israel's future. The last portion of this book is almost a much shorter reworking of the Numbers and Deuteronomy, laying out the building of a new temple as well as appointing lands to the twelve tribes.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Firehouse Brewery Beers

Over the years there have been multiple brewing companies with the name Firehouse Brewery, so to be clear, I'm talking about the defunct brewery which operated out of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, more than a decade ago as of this writing. Too bad they're no longer with us, because they made some pretty good beers. Below are my notes for two such beers.

Firehouse Brewery Kolsch Lager
Beer score: 8.0

Had the color, smoothness, and texture of a white ale. Pretty smooth with a slight tartness that was quite enjoyable. I tend to like "white" beers and this was one of the best, so too bad it no longer exists from this brewery, which is out of business.

Firehouse Brewery American Ale
Beer score: 5.9

Wet and smooth with a smoky bitterness that took a few drinks to get used to. Had a weak lager quality. Not bad, so again, it's unfortunate this brew is no longer around.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 29 -- Haunted Chillicothe

by Neal Parks

Started: Oct. 9
Finished: Oct. 10

Notes: Since it's the Halloween season, I thought I'd take a break from my recent fantasy reading and turn to something spooky. Plus, I actually lived in Chillicothe, Ohio, for 10 years during the '90s, so it might be fun to re-visit some old haunts. Pun intended.

Mini review: A short book, but worth the read to relive some memories and to learn about spooky places and events in a place I continue to cherish. Similar to many regional ghost-hunting books, this one could use some editing, but it still wasn't a bad book. Locals to the Chillicothe area should love this one.

Beer of the Week: Thames Welsh ESB

Beer score: 5.4

Company: Felinfoel Brewery Co.
ABV: 6.5

Pours a dark brown color while giving off scents of caramel and citrus.

Has an overly strong burnt fruit flavor in the tasting with more hints of caramel. Mighty strong and sweet, especially for a bitter-style ale.

That overpowering burnt sweetness is a bit too much for my taste and my stomach, which is why I don't score this beer higher, but there definitely are far worse beers. Worth tasting at least once to experience the near-uniqueness of this beer.

Apparently this drink is made based upon an old Welsh recipe.

Saturday, October 08, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 28 -- Demons Don't Dream

by Piers Anthony

Started: Sept. 16
Finished: Oct. 8

Notes: Somehow or other I've made it all these decades without having read a Xanth novel, or for that matter anything by Piers Anthony. So I thought it high time I fix that situation. I picked this one by happenstance, having come across it in a used book store a while back.

Mini review: A teen boy and girl are pulled by a computer into the world of Xanth where they take part in a game for a prize. Along the way they make companions, meet lots of strange beings, and visit plenty of fantastical places. If you're one who enjoys silliness and especially puns, this one should be for you. Unfortunately, while I could enjoy this book, it wasn't what I was really in the mood for. The writing was good enough and the ending was actually quite nice, but I suppose my state of mind was seeking something more serious. That doesn't mean I won't give Piers Anthony another try at some point, but either I'll try on of his non-Xanth books or I'll make sure I'm in a goofy state of mind before I start a Xanth book.

Monday, October 03, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Hempen Ale

Beer score: 5.5

Another beer that's no longer with us.

Originally brewed by the Frederick Brewing Company in Maryland, but later on was brewed by the Wild Goose Brewery. This beer was made using seeds from hemp plants.

The drink was a sweet brown ale that at first felt oily to the lips. A little sweet, drinkable, and didn't taste awful. But wasn't awesome. Which is probably why it's no longer around.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Beer of the Week: Andechs Weissbier Dunkel

Beer score: 7.1

Company: Andechs
ABV: 5.0
IBU: 14.5

Straight from a monastery in Germany, this beer has as strong, complex smell to it as it pours, reminding my nose of chocolate, roasted nuts, bananas, and further slightly fruity accents.

It pours a heavy brown color with hints of red here and there.

While tasting, the flavors are just as strong as they were in the smelling, with roasted malts and dark chocolate taking up the majority of the taste. There are also hints of bread, spice, and clove.

This beer has a strong, fizzy sweetness that's too complex for the lesser experienced beer drinkers, and it has a slight tea-like texture that's quite unusual for a beer.

Oddly, this beer does a lot of things I normally wouldn't care for, but here it's all combined to work quite well.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Killian's Irish Honey

Beer score: 6.5

The Killian's brand of beers has mostly focused upon its red beer over the decades, but from time to time there have been other flavors of the beer produced, this Irish Honey being one of them that is no longer with us.

As expected, this beer had a slight sweet taste, but the honey texture was just right, not overpowering nor too weak. This beer went down smooth and pretty wet. There was a little fizz but not enough to be annoying.

A decent brew, especially for when one was in the mood for something sweet, so too bad it's not longer being produced.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 27 -- Flashing Swords #2

edited by Lin Carter

Started: Sept. 9
Finished: Sept. 16

Notes: I was thinking this was the last of this iconic Sword-and-Sorcery series for me to read, but looking back over my personal notes and this blog I believe I have still to find and read #3. So, I'll read this one and my search will continue (the search being part of the fun for me at used book stores and the like).

Mini review: These were four very fine Sword and Sorcery stories. My favorite was probably the Elric tale by Michael Moorcock, but the others were quite good, as well.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Chicago Brewing Company Beers

There is still today a Chicago Brewing Company, but in only name. It is not the same company which provided the beers I'll be writing about below, beers that are long off the market though I'm fortunate enough to have tried them decades ago and to still have some notes about them.

Chicago's Legacy Lager
Beer score: 7.0

This one was pretty bitter for a lager, with a little sourness as you swallowed. It sort of tasted like a lager and an IPA mixed together. Went down pretty smooth.

Chicago's Big Shoulders Porter
Beer score: 6.4

Wasn't very strong for a porter, but had the right amount of burn maple flavoring. Was a good porter for beginning beer snobs to star with because it wasn't too rich. One of the few porters I've run across which could be drank and not just sipped.

Friday, September 09, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 26 -- The First Book of Swords

by Fred Saberhagen

Started: Sept. 2
Finished: Sept. 9

Notes: Nearly four decades ago I read this book, and over the rest of the 1980s I read all the books in this original trilogy and the longer, related series that followed. I loved all those books. But it's been a long time. So I thought I'd try one again to see if I still have the same love. Let's see how time and age have changed by eyes.

Mini review: This tale of epic and heroic fantasy involving a dozen swords the gods have placed within the world in order to play a game with humanity was still a delightful read, and I'm tempted to hunt down the rest of the books in this series and read them once again. At one time I had all the books, but alas they have fallen away from me over the decades.

Monday, September 05, 2022

Beer of the Week: John Smith's Original

Beer score: 7.3

Company: Tadcaster Brewery
ABV: 3.6

Bitters aren't usually one of my preferred styles of beer, but this one might be the best of the lot. Without a doubt the best beer I've had from a can (though of course I poured it into a glass while tasting).

Pours an amber brown and leaves behind a nice, foamy head with lots of lacing. Very earthy and caramel in the smell.

Very smooth and somewhat frothy with a pretty strong bitter flavor that isn't overpowering. I've heard complaints about this beer being too carbonated, but I've never felt that with this one.

A lovely brew. Even if you're not a fan of bitters, this one is at least worth trying.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 25 -- The Book of Lamentations

published by Zondervan

Started: Sept. 1
Finished: Sept. 1

Notes: I'm in the middle of something of a fantasy literature binge, but I'm not wanting to drop my Bible reading altogether, so I thought I'd sneak in this book, one of the shorter ones of the Bible.

Mini review: This book is exactly what the title implies, the Israelites lamenting that God has punished them and brought about their exile, along with some prayers and calls for hope for the future.

Books read in 2022: No. 24 -- Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons

by Ben Riggs

Started: August 25
Finished: Sept. 1

Notes: As I've read a fair amount pertaining to the history of D&D, I'm not expecting to learn much new here, but as this was just published perhaps there is some new scholarly work of which I'm unaware. I'll give it a try.

Mini review: A more accurate subtitle for this book might have been "How TSR screwed the pooch." In case you don't know, TSR was the company that originally produced and published all things D&D until 1997 when the company Wizards of the Coast bought them out. This is a good book and an interesting read, but it almost entirely focuses upon the business aspects of TSR and a little on WOTC. So, there isn't much here if you're interested in information about game creation, writing, designing, etc. Also, this book wraps things up soon after the purchase of TSR by WOTC, about the time a third edition of D&D was released around the year 2000, and in my opinion that leaves out a lot of possible information for a book that's supposed to be about the history of the D&D game. In other words, a lot more has happened in the last 22 years, including the fate of a fourth edition of the game and then the rise and popularity of the fifth edition of the game, plus changes in book publishing, the nerd/geek world, etc. Perhaps another book would be in order? Regardless, I'll repeat that this is a good book. It should be especially nostalgic for those of us who were playing D&D and tabletop RPGs in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but this book could also be an interesting read for newer players who want to learn about the past of one of their favorite pastimes.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 23 -- The Written (Emaneska #1)

by Ben Galley

Started: August 13
Finished: August 31

Notes: I've had this one on my Kindle for a long while now, so I thought I'd give it a try. I've never read this author before. I have to admit the unusual cover initially drew my attention.

Mini review: The writing here I only found to be fair at best, something a little editing could help, but the world is somewhat interesting and the characters are very interesting. For those who love heroic fantasy and dragons, this one could be for you.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Beer of the Week: Shiner Hefeweizen

Beer score: 7.1

Company: Spoetzl Brewery
ABV: 5.4

Has a cloudy golden color as you pour it, while giving off a slight smell of lemon.

Smooth with a light bitterness and a fruity, lemon aftertaste that's not overly strong. A fantastic drink served cold almost to the point of freezing.

Apparently contains clover honey and lemon peel. I could drink this stuff all day long. Even the foam tastes good.

Monday, August 22, 2022

On Why You Have Not Seen Much Writing from Me the Last Few Years

It's been a long while since I've had a personal post here, this blog of late mainly focusing upon beer and whatever I've been reading. It might seem things are quiet, and I suppose they are in a way. However, occasionally I am asked online when my next novel will be released, and there have been a few times I've been asked to submit a story for one anthology or another yet I've declined. I've also stepped back from writing or working with various websites.

So it would appear there is no new writing from me in at least a few years now.

There's truth to that, though I have been writing. Some. A little. Here and there.

Why is this?

I've told very few people about this, but the truth is that for the last few years I have been taking heart medications that often keep me befuddled to some extent. My head is often hazy and it is difficult to think. Even writing a blog post can take a good long while. It's an extreme struggle for the words to come.

But the pills are keeping me alive, so there's that.

On the plus side, I have completed the first two novels in another Kron Darkbow trilogy, and I'm currently (slowly) working on the third novel. If I ever finish, I'll release all three at the same time.

Besides being difficult to write, is the quality of my writing suffering? In truth, probably. It's just so difficult to string words together. Some days are better than others, but it's never easy.

Will I ever be able to stop taking this medication? Not for the foreseeable future.

I write this post just to let some people know, readers and fellows of mine in the publishing world. I'm not seeking sympathy here, mainly because I don't feel this is a tragedy. I'm sure there are some writers who would find all this quite tragic, who can't imagine not writing or who are horrified at the thought of it being so difficult to write, but I'm not one of them. For the first time in my life I can imagine myself not writing, and I'm okay with that if the day should ever come when I have to put down my pen and step away from the keyboard.

But I'm not there yet. I'm still writing, a little. I'm generally enjoying life and have the best of women by my side.

Time will tell what the future will bring, but it's never what we expect.

Beer of the Week: Redhook Long Hammer IPA

Beer score: 5.4

Company: Redhook Brewery
ABV: 6.2
IBU: 44

Pours a light golden color into a clear glass. There are hints if citrus and pine in the smelling.

In tasting, there's a little burnt sweetness, but there's not much of the sourness that comes with some IPAs. However, that sourness will show up if you let this beer sit a while and grow to room temperature. There's not a lot of bitterness here at first, but there is some as you swallow. There are also more hints of citrus and pine in the drinking.

Not a bad beer. Not a great beer, either, but I wouldn't turn one down unless there were better beers at hand.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Beer of the Week: Labatt Blue Light

Beer score: 4.1

Company: Labatt Brewing Company
ABV: 4.0
IBU: 10

This rarely happens for me, but I actually like the light version of this beer a little more than I do the non-light version.

Pours a light golden color while giving off faint hints of beer smell. In the mouth it has a weak, watery bitter sweetness similar to most made-for-America light beers. There's not as much carbonation here as some light beers, so that's not bad.

Drinkable, wet, but nothing special here. Worth drinking if you're handed one and you want a light beer, but I wouldn't go out of my way to drink one.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 22 -- Shadow of a Dark Queen

by Raymond E. Feist

Started: July 26
Finished: August 13

Notes: So far this year I've read no fantasy, and it's time to correct that. Plus, I've been meaning to read something from this author for a good while now, having heard plenty good about his works.

Mini review: This one surprised me. It started off in what I felt was a fairly generic fashion with a typical story of a village boy who runs into trouble and must flee to go off on some grand adventure, but then about halfway through this novel became something more akin to Glen Cook's The Black Company books, dealing with mercenaries and war, etc. The writing was good, though not great, and I can't say I loved this book, but I also didn't hate it. I'll likely give the author another chance at some point in the future.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Beer of the Week: Bud Light Lime

Beer score: 3.5

Company: Anheuser-Busch 
ABV: 4.2
IBU: 10

One of my higher ranking beers from the Budweiser brand of beers. Not that this is a great beer, but the lime flavor alone helps just a tad, dissolving some of that noxious bad beer flavor.

From the bottle into the glass it pours a pale straw color while giving off scents of lime and cheap beer.

Plenty of carbonation in this one, which is common among light beers, and has plenty of that fake lime flavoring.

This makes a decent brew for really hot days when you've been out working in the yard, though there are better options available.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Beer of the Week: Estes Park Renegade IPA

Beer score: 8.4

Company: Estes Park Brewery
ABV: 5.8

This India Pale Ale pours a dark amber color while giving off scents of pine and citrus.

There is no skunky tangy flavor that comes in some IPAs. Toasty caramel flavors will hit you at first, but this beer grows in bitterness as you swallow.

In fact, this is the most bitter beer I've ever tasted that wasn't a stout. It's very wet without being watered down, making it a good thirst quencher.

It's a great bear. I honestly can't say enough good about it. Try this.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 21 -- The Book of Jeremiah

published by Zondervan

Started: July 19
Finished: July 26

Notes: Having gotten into the section of The Old Testament that deals with the prophets, I'm interested in seeing how this book compares to The Book of Isaiah, recently read by me.

Mini review: This has got to be the most repetitive book of the Bible. Over and over again the Lord speaks to Jeremiah and tells him to tell others of the troubles that are to befall them in the coming future. Mostly the Jews take the brunt here, but Babylon and no few others also face the wrath of God.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Beer of the Week: Bell's Amber Ale

Beer score: 6.3

Company: Bell's Brewery
ABV: 5.8
IBU: 32

Has a reddish brown/orange color to it in the glass, and plenty of foam. Fairly smooth with a little too much carbonation for my liking.

Has a typical "amber" flavor to it with hints of caramel and vanilla.

Good enough to drink and not a bad beer, though not quite to my liking enough to be called a favorite.

Would I drink it again? Hell, yeah. Would I go out of my way to get one? Hmm, probably not, unless my only other options were worse beers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 20 -- The Bushcraft Bible

edited by James Henry

Started: June 29
Finished: July 19

Notes: As a much younger man I used to read books and articles and such pertaining to wilderness skills and survival, but it has been a long time, so I thought I'd take a refresher with this book. Plus, who knows? I might learn something new.

Mini review: This one was something of a disappointment. There was plenty of information here, much of which I was already familiar with, but there were a number of issues with this book which could have been solved by stronger editing. The grammar, spelling, punctuation, and such were decent enough, but there were other issues. For one thing, some of this information I would exactly call bushcraft, though it might be interesting, such as the long chapter on canning food and the longer chapter listing outdoors games to play, including professional sports games. For another thing, a number of this articles referenced photos or drawings which were not included, and often even if they were included the images were so small as to be useless even with the help of a magnifying glass. Lastly, my big pet peeve here was that the articles presented here were reprints, not that I had a problem with that, but they were reprints from various time periods, sometimes quite recent and sometimes from more than a century ago; this isn't necessarily bad in and of itself, but there were no obvious markers to tell when these stories first came out so the reader would have a frame of reference, instead the reader having to figure it out from little details sprinkled throughout the articles, such as prices and the rare mention of dates. All in all, not awful but could have been better, and over the years I've run across other books which definitely were better.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Beer of the Week: Michelob Ultra Pure Gold

Beer score: 3.1

Company: Michelob
ABV: 3.8

Pours a very light golden yellow, but that's to be expected from a mass-marketed brew. There's a fair amount of fizz.

Has a slight corn smell.

If you like foam, you'll probably like this beer, though it's not the most foam I've ever seen.

The taste is also very mass-produced. A little bitter, a little sweetness, not much more.

You can find better beers, but you can also find a worst one. If you're at a party and someone hands you one and there's nothing else to drink, sure. Otherwise, keep searching.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Beer of the Week: Sierra Nevada Porter

Beer score: 7.6

Company: Sierra Nevada
ABV: 5.6
IBU: 32

This one has been around a few decades now and it's always a good beer.

Pours a dark brown, but when you hold it up to the light in a clear glass it appears almost red.

Smells of coffee and earthiness with touches of baked bread.

It has a strong maple taste, but not too much of a burnt flavor as in common in some similar beers. Dry in the mouth. Very heavy, almost like a stout. The sweetness here is strong, but not overpowering.

Goes well with steak or bar food.

On a side note, Sierra Nevada has redesigned its bottle labels over the last few years, and while the newer labels are nice, I feel they are a bit generic, looking like just any other brewery. I prefer the older, color-coded labels because I felt they stood out more on store shelves. But that's just me.

Monday, July 04, 2022

Beer of the Week: Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Marzen

Beer score: 7.9

Company: Hacker-Pschorr
ABV: 5.8
IBU: 28

Finally after a month of not tasting any decent beers, I stumble upon this one, and I have to say I've had some good Hacker-Pschorr beers in the past, so I was excited for this.

I wasn't disappointed.

Pours a very light golden color while giving off smells of citrus and perhaps vanilla.

Tastes bready and fruity. Wet and smooth with a touch of bitterness on the way down.

Worth trying any time you get the chance.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 19 -- The Jungle

by Upton Sinclair

Started: June 22
Finished: June 29

Notes: For some while I've been meaning to check out this early 20th-Century novel about working conditions among immigrants of the time, so here goes.

Mini review: This was actually a pretty good book until the last fourth of it. Most of this book is a tale of immigrants coming to America in about 1904, working in the beef industry in Chicago, then a whole bunch of just truly awful things that happen to them. As bad as that sounds, it was all quite interesting to read, though also heartbreaking. The last fourth of the book, however, basically becomes socialist propaganda. I'm not disparaging socialism, nor am I defending it, but here it was rather preachy and ruined what could have been a good ending to a novel.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Old Scratch Amber Lager

Beer score: 5.9

This one was something of a staple beer for the Flying Dog Brewery back in the 1990s, and since I hadn't had one since that long ago, I thought I'd go looking to try it again. Lo and behold, I discovered it's no longer in production.

Well, as always with my "Blast from the Past" posts, I've got my old notes to go on.

It poured a light amber color into the glass with a slight scent of caramel and a little fruit. The fizz was quite strong but didn't last. The flavor also wasn't overly strong, fairly light and reminding me of the premium "red" beers that were a thing back in the '90s.

Was this an exceptional beer? No. Was it a better than average beer? Uh, yeah!

Maybe they'll bring this one back some day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Books read in 2022: No. 18 -- The Book of Isaiah

published by Zondervan

Started: June 15
Finished: June 22

Notes: I've not read as much of the Bible as I had hoped to this year, but now I can get back to it. Now I'm getting into the Old Testament section concerning the prophets.

Mini review: This is mostly a mixture of admonitions against the Jewish people for their lack of loyalty to God and prophecies about their future. As is often the case with the Bible, it's not exciting reading, but I do find it interesting.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Dock Street Amber Ale

Beer score: 4.0

Ugh, another week without trying any new beers. Still, I always have my notes from beers I tried years (and sometimes decades) ago. Unfortunately, in this case, this was not a favorite beer.

Despite being an award winner, this beer to me tasted like a typical premium beer you could buy in a super market. Okay, okay, it had a little more oomph to it than that, but not much.

At least it was wet, so you could guzzle it down, but real beer snobs would realize this was nothing special.

On the plus side, since this beer is no longer in production, the brewing company that made it is still around, so they must be doing something right. Maybe at some point they'll bring this beer back but with a newer recipe that makes it better to drink.