Monday, March 27, 2023

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: JW Dundee's Honey Brown Lager

Beer score: 6.7

I didn't have time to try a new beer this week, but here are some notes from a beer I tried years ago, a beer that's no longer with us.

This nice brew was a fine, sweet beer that went down smooth, proof that a good beer doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, since at the time it cost about as much as many premium beers in the bottle.

This was a good drinking beer and somewhat reminded me of Newcastle Brown Ale except this beer was sweeter. It will be missed.

On the plus side, the Genesee Brewery bought out this beer and still makes a version of it called Genesee Specialty Honey Brown, which I've yet to try but perhaps uses the same recipe.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 10 - The Book of Obadiah

published by Zondervan

Started: March 22
Finished: March 22

Notes: As this is one of the shortest books in the Bible, I thought I'd go ahead and read it before moving on to other material.

Mini review: This short book focuses upon God's punishment of the kingdom of Edom and his promise to restore Israel.

Books read in 2023: No. 9 -- The Book of Amos

published by Zondervan

Started: March 21
Finished: March 22

Notes: Here's the next of the prophetic works from the latter part of the Old Testament. Doing a little digging, I discovered that scholars generally believe this to have been the first written of the prophetic works of the Old Testament.

Mini review: Speaking through the prophet Amos, God basically tells of how He will punish various nations including Israel for their sins against Him, though at least Israel will eventually be revived.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 8 -- Lightning

by Ed McBain

Started: March 16
Finished: March 21

Notes: I've been reading so much literary and/or serious material of late, I decided to take a break and just read something for fun. Since I love 87th Precinct novels so much, I turn to one of them.

Mini review: A serial rapist and a murderer of young running athletes are loose in the city and the detectives of the 87th Precinct must discover the identities of these perpetrators and bring them to justice. But this novel is a lot more complicated than that, getting quite personal in the lives of a number of the detectives here. For a decade now I've held that the 87th Precinct novel titles Ghosts has been my favorite, and it still is, but Lightning comes darn close ... darn close.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Beer of the Week: Milwaukee's Best Ice

Beer score: 2.2

Company: Molson Coors
ABV: 5.9

Has a very thick, foamy, fizzy head when poured, along with a light golden color. Smells cheap and weak with a touch of sourness.

Tastes like a beer, sort of. More than anything, it tastes like salty fizz with tons of carbonation.

Run while you still can.

But in fairness, there are worse beers. Not many that are worse, but some. At least this is fairly cheap and can get you drunk.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 7 -- The Bridge of San Luis Rey

by Thornton Wilder

Started: March 8
Finished: March 15

Notes: Wilder is possibly better remembered today as a playwright, but he was also a novelist and won the Pulitzer more than once. I've not read him before, but this book has been on my radar for a while now and is apparently something of a morally philosophical book, so I'm hoping to find it of interest.

Mini review: This was an interesting read but not what I expected. In the late 18th Century in Peru, five people fall their deaths when a rope bridge they are traversing falls apart. A priest witnesses this and decides to write about those five in order to try and make sense of his faith. Not adventurous reading, nor exactly fun, but still interesting philosophically and from a literary point of view.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Beer of the Week: Kozel Premium Lager

Beer score: 8.4

Company: Kozel
ABV: 4.8
IBU: 25

Has a smooth caramel flavor that isn't overly strong, but not too weak, either.

Not the best-tasting beer in the world, but pretty darn good. Pretty smooth and very wet. Has a creamy texture as it goes down that is a bit confusing because you expect this beer to be fizzy due to its taste.

Beer snobs will find this an interesting and different treat. Just when I thought I'd tasted it all ...

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 6 -- Vox Machina Origins: Series I and II Collection

from Critical Role

Started: March 8
Finished: March 11

Notes: If you aren't familiar with Critical Role or Vox Machina, then you probably don't play Dungeons & Dragons, or at least you're likely not one of the younger, newer players of D&D. Critical Role is a tabletop roleplaying group (in real life) and their fictional adventuring party is Vox Machina. They are quite popular online, especially at video sites like YouTube, and there's even a television animated show. I don't watch Critical Role myself, but I have seen the animated series and found it fun, which lead me to this book when I saw it in a library recently. This particular is a graphic novel collection of the early days of Vox Machina, how the characters met each others, etc. Much of my reading of late has been interesting but not exactly fun, so I'm looking forward to this.

Mini review: This one was a lot of fun with a lot of cool art. This book contains several tales of how the members of Vox Machina came to know one another, and detailed are a number of their early adventures together. Any D&D fan should enjoy this.

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 5 -- The Book of Joel

published by Zondervan

Started: March 7
Finished: March 7

Notes: If I'm ever going to finish reading this Bible, I need to get to it. This being one of the shorter books, I thought I'd slip it in between my other readings.

Mini review: Early in this book are warnings of tragedies to come, but most of the rest of the book are warnings to nations other than Judah and Israel. There's not much context here, so it's difficult to pinpoint a period of when these prophecies and warnings would be important, but in my opinion the latter part of this book seemed to about the Second Temple Period or at least the post-exile, but there really isn't enough information to say for sure.

Books read in 2023: No. 4 -- Little Men

by Louis May Alcott

Started: Jan. 31
Finished: March 7

Notes: Nearly a decade ago I read Little Women for the first time and quite loved the book, so when I ran across a copy of the sequel in a used book store, I just knew I had to snag it and give it a read.

Mini review: I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as Little Women. I believe my main problem here was that there really wasn't a continual plot, but that this is really a collection of cute and quaint events that happen among children in a school during one summer. There's some mild humor here, and that I appreciated, and it was nice to return to some of the characters from Little Women, though they are adults here, but overall I felt this one was something of a slog.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Beer of the Week: The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel

Beer score: 5.0

Company: The Bruery
ABV: 8.1
IBU: 25

In all fairness, this is a quality brew. But I just didn't care for the flavor, thus the relatively low beer score on my part.

That being said, there are probably plenty of beer snobs who would love this beer.

I have to admit, this is one of the more unique tasting beers I've tried. It's a Belgian-style ale but it's brewed with Thai basil and rice, which is enough to make this an unusual beer and worth trying.

When I poured it into a glass, it had a nice, light blonde color and quite the foamy head.

The scent is quite strong, and I could really smell the basil along with some floral elements.

There's not a lot of alcohol flavor here, which isn't a bad thing, though there is an overabundance of bitterness which is where this drink went bad for me. There's also a wheat flavor, some citrus, notes, and you can taste the rice.

Again, this is actually a good quality beer, but it's just not my thing.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Beer of the Week: Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale Ale

Beer score: 4.7

Company: Tommyknocker Brewery
ABV: 6.2
IBU: 55

Fairly strong with a bit of a nutty flavor and a touch of sourness more common with India Pale Ales.

Goes down wet and smooth.

Though not a really great beer, it's not bad, and is probably a little too complicated for non-connoisseur. Still, worth trying out if you get a chance.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Beer of the Week: Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin Gold

Beer score: 7.1

Company: Wychwood Brewery
ABV: 4.2

Pours a nice golden color while giving a fairly foamy head.

The smell is grainy with a touch of fruity, maybe some subtle citrus hints.

In taste there are more hints of that citrus, along with some sour. Pretty bitter for me. The bitterness was strong but mostly was gone by the time I swallowed.

A touch too harsh for folks who aren't beer tasters, but not a bad brew at all.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Beer of the Week: Rolling Rock Extra Pale

Beer score: 6.0

Company: Anheuser-Busch
ABV: 4.4
IBU: 5

Long brewed by the Latrobe Brewing Company, this one was bought out a few years ago by Anheuser-Busch.

This beer is very wet and a good thirst quencher. Pours a light golden color. It has a frothy taste that stays with you. This isn't a real exciting beer, but it is very agreeable.

Normally I wouldn't say this is a drink for a beer snob, but the taste is so smooth it just has to be tried.

Monday, February 06, 2023

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

Years ago the Liberty Brewing Company, a brewpub out of Akron, Ohio, produced some damn fine beers. As happens all too often, they eventually went out of the business, with the staff moving on to other brewing ventures.

Still, as I often do during a week in which I don't try a new beer, here are a few old notes I made about a brewing company that's no longer with us.

Liberty Brewing Company White Lace Wheat
Beer score: 5.2
Nice head. Fairly weak, even for a hefe-weiss. Non-beer tasters would probably like this, while real snobs can enjoy it for drinking.

Liberty Brewing Company Paul Bunyan
Beer score: 6.5
A little sugary and a little fizzy. A little strength here, too. Everything about this beer is little (except the mug it came in). Still, not a bad brew over all.

Liberty Brewing Company Sir Winston
Beer score: 6.5
This English pale ale tastes more like a medium lager than a pale ale, but it's still worth drinking. A good, strong bitterness as you swallow.

Liberty Brewing Company Mad Cow Milk Stout
Beer score: 7.1
A little weak for a stout, but not bad. Has a decent, burnt quality. Smooth.

Liberty Brewing Company Dragonslayer
Beer score: 5.2
Pretty wet and non-sweet for a Scottish ale, which isn't necessarily bad. Kind of tastes like a weak lager, but very drinkable.

Liberty Brewing Company Around the Horn
Beer score: 6.2
Tastes like a fairly weak India Pale Ale, but doesn't have the grapefruit-like sourness often associated with I.P.A.s. One thing I've noticed about the beers from this brewpub is they don't necessarily taste like what they're supposed to taste like; often, many of the brews tasted like a lager of one strength or another.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 3 -- The Book of Hosea

published by Zondervan

Started: Jan. 30
Finished: Jan. 31

Notes: It's time to get back to some Bible reading. I'm near the end of the Old Testament now, entering the shorter works of the later prophets.

Mini review: Most of this is the prophet Hosea and God calling upon the Israelites to return to God or to face awful consequences, which seems a common thread for most of the prophets.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Beer of the Week: Deep River Chocolate Stout Nitro

Beer score: 7.7

Company: Deep River Brewing

What is a "nitro" beer? It's a beer than contains more nitrogen gas and less carbon dioxide, at least compared to most beers. Usually these beers are nitrogenated (if that's a word) before being put in a keg or bottle or whatever.

This one ... is quite awesome. It came with a moderate foamy head that was smooth, smooth, smooth. It gave off scents of coffee, dark chocolate and burnt maple.

One of my criteria for a good stout is that you can hold it up to the light in a clear glass and still not see the light. You couldn't see the light here, so for me that's a winner. The color itself is that cool dark chocolate not unfamiliar to many an excellent stout.

The taste is much like the smell, burnt maple, coffee, dark chocolate. And the taste is fairly light, not overpowering. However, this isn't an extremely strong or thick stout, reminding me in texture more of a porter. One of the smoothest stouts I've tried over the years.

All that being said, normally I prefer a stout at room temperature, but this one I preferred chilled. When I first got this beer, it was quite cold, and I fell in love with it. However, as this beer sat on my table and warmed, the flavors seemed to become a bit dull for me. But maybe I'll just have to try this one again. Whatever the case, this beer would have scored higher for me if it had remained as good as it had when it was still cold.

Books read in 2023: No. 2 -- The Bahá’í Faith: The Emerging Global Religion

by William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin

Started: January 12
Finshed: January 30

Notes: One of my girlfriend's family members is a believer of the Bahá’í faith, and I know only some basics of that belief system. Curious to know more, I asked and this family member suggested this book as a basic introduction, and he let me borrow it.

Mini review: As best as I can tell, here are a list of the basic Bahá’í beliefs:

1.) The oneness of humanity.
2.) The unity of all religions, with most major religions seen as a succession of stages leading up to the Bahá’í faith.
3.) Harmony between science and religion.
4.) Equality between all races and sexes.
5.) The eventual establishment of a world-wide order, sort of a religious government.

There's more to it than that, but those seem to be the basics as I understand them. There is a lot to be commended here, much which I wish other faiths would learn, but I also see a lot to be concerned about. At its heart, I find this basically liberal social engineering with trappings of spirituality, and this ignores the various dangers of such.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Beer of the Week: Double Diamond

Beer score: 6.2

Company: Carlsberg
ABV: 2.8

This is a very hard-to-find beer nowadays. It's not been available in bottle or can in nearly 20 years, but it does still exist on tap in a very few places. Fortunately for me, not only did I get to drink it in the bottle back in the '90s, but a friend recently offered me some from a keg.

When you pour it into a glass, it forms a huge, foamy head. The beer itself is kind of a golden citrus color in the glass. The smell is slightly sweet, perhaps with hints of ruit.

On the tongue it has a little kick and a fair amount of carbonation. The taste is sweet with a hint of hops bitterness along with some citrus and caramel qualities.

A nice, clean beer but nothing extraordinary. That doesn't mean it's a bad beer ... not at all. I'd drink another.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Oxford Class Amber Ale

Beer score: 6.2

The Oxford Brewing Company brewed this when I taste it back in the '90s, but unfortunately that brewer is not longer with us. Still, I've a few notes about it.

Had a fruity flavor but only a little sweetness. The taste didn't stay around long. Had a complicated taste/texture that true beer snobs would appreciate.

A decent beer. Better than average, but not great.

Too bad it's no longer with us.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Books read in 2022: No. 35, Books read in 2023: No. 1 -- No Name

by Wilkie Collins

Started: Nov. 15, 2022
Finished: January 12, 2023

Notes: I kicked off my fiction reading in 2022 by trying my first novel from this 19th-Century author, and I generally enjoyed the book, so I thought I'd wind down the year and start the next one by reading another from him.

Mini review: That was a long read, the longest I've had in years, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Collins might be my favorite of the Victorian authors of whom I've read. Here a pair of sisters lose their inheritance after the deaths of their parents, and one sister settles into a life of trying to recover that inheritance by any means possible, up to conning people and scandal. This is not an action novel, but very much in the vein of later soap operas to no small extent, but the characters are all interesting, the plot moves along fairly quickly, and the ending is as perfect an ending for a novel as I've experienced. I'm sure I'll be reading Wilkie Collins again.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Beer of the Week: Schneider Weisse Hefe-weizenbier

Beer score: 4.2

Company: Schneider Weisse
ABV: 5.4
IBU: 14

The bottle of this German beer say it is the "original" hefe-weizen, but I thought that was a shame because I'd had better.

Pours a somewhat cloudy orange-amber color while giving off scents of slightly sweet, fruit and bread. Formed a nice lacy head in the glass.

There are definitely strong flavors of bread and citrus and banana in tasting this one. It's extremely sweet with a little carbonation.

Honestly, it sounds better than it really is. It's not an awful beer, but as I said above, I've had better. I wouldn't want to drink this on a regular basis, but it's something different to try.

Saturday, January 07, 2023

My second graphic novel

I had fun creating my first graphic novel, Murder Giraffes, with Comic Life 3 software and art generated by Midjourney AI, so I decided to do a sequel, Tiger World. Both are available in print and in e-book form.

Monday, January 02, 2023

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Fort Collins Brewery Chocolate Stout

Beer score: 8.3

Drat it! Here's another great beer that's no longer with us, as the brewer went out of business a few years back.

This stuff looked like dark maple syrup as I poured it into a glass, and it even had a bit of a burnt syrup smell to it. The only way I could see light through this beer in a clear glass was by holding it up directly next to a bright light ... otherwise, this drink was dark, dark, dark.

Quite smooth on the tongue with a nice, frothy head. Had a cool, roasted bitterness that stout fans would love. There were hints of chocolate and coffee in the flavors.

Truly an excellent stout.