Happy Hour Special: Friday Beer Review!

ArrogantBastard

Hello everyone.  Congratulations on making it through another week. Why don’t we start off the weekend in a fitting way by learning about beer together.

Today’s review will be on Stone Brewing Co.’s Arrogant Bastard Ale.  The best way to begin is just to tell you what the bottles says.

Arrogant Bastard Ale: This is an aggressive beer.  You probably won’t like it.  It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.  We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory — maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal.  Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better.  Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this.  

It says all that, and then on the other side, let’s me know I’m not worthy to drink it.  So far, so good.  I’ll be drinking it out of the bottle and out of my Stone Brewing Co. snifter later on.  Unless the devil on the front of the bottle stabs me first.  He has a look in his eye…

After opening, the first aroma is the deep, piney smell of potent hops, with a sweet, malty scent underneath.  The hops give it an uber tang, like someone just punched you in the face with a boxing glove made out of pine needles.  I can hear it calling to me.  Drink me, Paul!  Stop talking about me and drink me, or I’ll swallow your soul!

The first taste is very similar to an IPA (India Pale Ale), with its crazy hops and freshness.  But, this isn’t an IPA.  It’s just crazy.  It has a deep, hoppy/piney taste just like its scent.  The best way to describe it is bitter and sweet at the same time.  The bitter isn’t overpowering, but it is very strong.  The sweetness at the end of the taste counters it, reigning in the bitterness so it doesn’t run wild and annex your tongue from your mouth.

At the same time, there’s a deep fruit taste that hangs out under the hops, just chilling out in the corner like that shy girl at parties.  The taste is a bit like plums.  Maybe I’m just imaging the plums.  That could be.  This beer is an arrogant bastard.  Making up fruit wouldn’t be out of its realm.

After drinking from the bottle for a bit (and avoiding the bottle devil’s piercing gaze) I pour the rest into a snifter to see the rest of its secrets.  It pours out as a rich caramel color, deep and juicy looking, with a light tan head that bubbles up nice.  The aroma just explodes after pouring, like a little glass and beer volcano of tastiness.  The pine and malt increases by the second, and hidden lighter notes, like fruits and sugars, arrive only fashionably late to the party.  The same is happening with the taste, building and changing constantly, each taste bringing new flavors to the front.  Pine, then sweetness, then the malts, then just wheat, then pine again, then a light floral taste, back to the malts.  It’s like a German rave party in my mouth, without the unsettling side effects.

From the bottle and the tulip glass, its aftertaste seems to last for weeks, but mellowed out as a lightly malted, slightly bitter taste.  It seems to combine the best of each flavor as a reminder of its dominance over your tongue.  If your tongue went to prison, it would become this beer’s bitch.

Overall, I’m giving the Stone Brewing Co.’s Arrogant Bastard Ale a solid A-.  Everything about this beer is great, but its IPA-like flavor is a very unique taste, and not everyone enjoys the style.  Looking beyond that, its flavor is bold, complex, and aggressive, just like the bottle says.  It seems to know what it’s doing, even as you’re still catching up, trying to figure out what it tasted like five seconds ago.  Its lasting strength is immense, staying with you for a long time, making sure you don’t  take it for granted, while assuring you that you’ll make it through if you just release control of your soul over to that sly red devil.

Like the Dead Guy Ale from earlier, it looks like a beer should–a rich, juicy, deep brown that forces you to be thirsty even if you’re not.  It’s like a Jedi.  Or, I guess like a Sith, because I’m pretty sure its motives are totally nefarious.  And delicious.

Its only negative aspect is its price, and just like the Dead Guy, this may prohibit you from enjoying as much of this beer as you would like.  However, this might be able to be overlooked because of its drinkability.  This beer does not receive a Chuggable Bonus.  Oh no, not at all. To chug the Bastard would more than likely cause Hellfire to burst out from your tongue, simply because of the sheer potency of the hops.  It is best enjoyed slowly, especially if you can fashion some kind of system to keep it chilled while you consume it over several hours.  Ok, not that long, but don’t expect to be tearing through a six-pack in an hour.  With flavors this intense, you’ll want to pace yourself and take your time, or else you’ll get a throat cramp, and quite possibly die.  This beer is a distance run, not a sprint, and shortcuts aren’t allowed.  Limber up, harness your chi, and accept the fact that the Bastard on the front of the bottle has already won.  You’re only just trying to keep up with him at this point.

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One Review to Rule Them All: LEGO Lord of the Rings

Lego-Lord-of-the-Rings

First, if you’ve never played a LEGO game, stick with me. They’re not simply kids games. They’re as awesome as LEGO’s, without the pain of stepping on one. With that being said, welcome to this review of LEGO Lord of the Rings. If you’ve ever seen the movies, you’ll be right at home with this game. If you’ve played any of the other LEGO games, you’ll notice a few changes, but in this case, change is good. Starting out, you begin, of course, in Bag End, as Frodo, with your trusty companion Sam. From here, the game progresses pretty much just like the movie. All of the characters you would expect are there, plus more than only die-hard fans of the series would recognize. Like previous LEGO games, Lord of the LEGO Rings is full of puzzles, platforming, levers, tiny doors, rigid plastic claw-hand fighting, and pib collecting. The game is broken up by LEGO acted cut scenes, modeled after the same scenes from the movie, and done quite well. The graphics are, of course, cartoonish, but that only adds to the game. Its one thing to watch the rugged manliness of Viggo Mortensen chop the head off an orc. It’s another to watch a yellow, claw handed LEGO Mortensen (with stubble dots) smack an orc in the head with a plastic sword and make his head pop off like, well, a LEGO.

Under that tunic decal are some chiseled, plastic abs
Under that tunic decal are some chiseled, plastic abs

The entire game looks like this, from the gameplay to the cutscenes. And, everything purposefully looks like it was made out of LEGOs. Boulders with the little bumps on top: check. Trees with LEGO piece leaves: check. Walls made out of actual LEGO bricks: totally check. You may be wondering why this is even a talking point for me. Of course everything’s made out of LEGOS…its a LEGO game. And yes, that’s true. But the intricacy in which everything is LEGOs is the impressive part. The designers didn’t stop at having just the breakable bits made of LEGOs. Even the far off scenery looks like it could be a big, pre made piece that you’d plop down in the middle of that giant, green LEGO board that you had as a kid.

Ok. Maybe a bit more awesome than those big, premade pieces.
Ok. Maybe a bit more awesome than those big, premade pieces.

These graphics only add to the actual gameplay. When you destroy something, it explodes into a shower of pibs (those little LEGO circles). These pibs are basically currency that let you buy characters, upgrades, and so on. And, maybe more importantly, there is something very satisfying being able to kick the pibs out of some Orcs as a little plastic Hobbit. Which brings me to my next point; every character from the fellowship (and more) are present, and each one has a different, unique talent or ability that allows the party to progress and open up hidden areas of each level. Some require you to beat the game and go back to reach those areas, but others are as simple as using Gimli to smash a special block with his axe, or using Legolas to jump to high platforms and create swing bars by shooting arrows at the wall. Not all about this multitude of abilities is good though. As you unlock more characters, you’ll realize that some of them have the same abilities as the original nine. Really, this is just a reason to find something wrong with the game. There are something like 50 different characters, and of course there won’t be 50 unique abilities that are needed to progress from level to level. It would have been cool if maybe Tom Bombadil could like, unleash a stampede of forest creatures, or set everyone on fire (why not), instead of just having a green thumb like Sam, but its just a minor gripe.

 Confound it all Thomas Bombadil!
Confound it all           Tom Bombadil!

Not only does the game play follow the movie pretty much dead on, the audio does as well. This is the first LEGO game that features actual dialogue, not the LEGOish, Pictionary communication that the previous titles had used. While some fans may miss that style of dialogue, even the most die hard LEGO game fan will find themselves appreciating the LEGO Gandalf shouting at a Balrog. Additionally, the famous soundtracks are also included, and change depending on at what point in the game you’re at, and at what what hub location you’re at. All of this does a great job at not only recreating the movie in a fun, playable way, but also drawing you, the player, deeper into a little plastic version of Middle Earth.
This is one of the reasons why LEGO Lord of the Rings is so fun to play again and again. In addition to the unlockable characters and the bonus areas of the levels, the gameplay itself changes after the first play through. In Moria, maybe Pippin will fall down the well instead of pushing in the dwarf skeleton, and now you’ll have to crank him out before the troll bursts through. Wanna use the King of Gondor Aragorn and his super strong sword to lead the Hobbits? Go for it. Besides these little changes, there are loads of side quests that various denizens of Middle Earth will offer you. They range from finding a skeleton key for a swamp dwelling orc, to crafting a fancy mithril bow for a random hobbit in the Shire. A lot of these quests require you to visit the blacksmith in Bree and spend another form of currency, Mithril blocks, to create these specialty items (after you find the recipes, scattered throughout the game). You can also equip these items for extra punch, protection, or just fun.

Gimli in a pimp hat. You're welcome.
Gimli in a pimp hat. You’re welcome.

Additionally, there are a bunch of mini games that let you rack up millions of pibs while you play as Sauron and destroy a slightly smaller LEGO replica of Middle Earth, or sneak around a maze of Orc towers, trying to destroy them without being seen, or bull riding a sheep through a series of flags for a Mithril block. These fun little breaks from the story keep the whole thing feeling fresh and deterring any would be monotony from creeping in. And, if all of that wasn’t enough, you can run around the hub areas just wrecking stuff. Go wild. You get paid.

Pictured: Sam just dominating that sheep.
Pictured: Sam just dominating that sheep.

Finally, like all LEGO games, this title was made with the philosophy of whatever is fun, must be twice as fun with a friend. And they were right. At any time, a friend can activate a second controller and assume the role of whatever companion they feel like, aiding you (or hindering you if they’re a terrible friend). Many times, playing with a friend will make the game a little easier, as they’re able to push another block into place, or toss a rope across a chasm. Other times, both players will need advanced characters that you haven’t unlocked yet, so there will be twice as much grumbling (ok, probably still no grumbling). There’s not much to say about the multiplayer that isn’t summed up by the saying the more the merrier. I guess, the only way it could be better would be if there was an online option, and you could run around, Call of Duty style, sniping the other LEGO characters with your Mithril Bow of Rage. Actually, that should happen. Developers, please release a patch that addresses this.
All in all, LEGO Lord of the Rings is a fun, cute, awesome excuse to waste a weekend or four. If you bring a friend along for the ride, even better. The use of actual movie music and dialogue pulls you in deep, and allows you to finally do what you’ve wanted to since the Fellowship was released: punch Gollum right in the face.

What's a fist, precious??
What’s a fist, precious?

The abundance of mini games, hidden areas, and extra bits of fun, in addition to the surprisingly decent length story, allow for quite a few hours of Middle Earth enjoyment. I give LEGO Lord of the Rings 4.5 pibs out of 5.

Pros

  • Come on, it’s a LEGO game
  • Audio is straight from the movies
  • Enormous amount of replay value
  • Cute, but ‘manly’
  • The puzzles can be both easy and frustratingly difficult
  • Gameplay follows the movie fluidly
  • Loads of fun for both LOTR fans and non fans alike
  • Graphically rich and pleasing in a cartoony way
  • Activating a second controller makes it twice as fun

Cons

  • Just a handful of base “classes”, with a lot of the unlockable/buyable characters having these same base abilities with different models.
  • Only one ending (duh)
  • The LEGO shirelings and Co. can’t swim
  • No flaming Denethor character
  • No playable Balrogs!
  • Third Age LEGO citizens love to stand in your way while you’re fighting.

Scores

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 4.5/5
Story: 4.5/5
Replayability: 4.5/5
Multiplayer: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5 A-

Beer Pairing:

Wondering if I’d do a beer pairing for a game that can be called “kid friendly?” Well, if I can shoot a LEGO troll in the face with an arrow, you’re damn right I can drink a beer at the same time. Also, dwarves. But, I’ll appease both sides of the coin, and start with a disclaimer. If you’re a child reading this, I suggest chocolate milk, or maybe a juice box to drink with this game. Ok, moving on. For your drinking pleasure, I recommend Woodchuck Amber Cider. Ok, sure, cider isn’t technically beer, but hear me out. The Woodchuck is tart and sweet at the same time, while being refreshing and easily chuggable. Why does this make it pair well with the game? Well, both are light in a fun way, both bring a smile to your face, and, for some reason, both make me think of a comfortable, autumn afternoon, maybe in front of a fire. Maybe its the quaint, simple life portrayed in the beginning of the Lord of the Rings story. Maybe its because Woodchuck is an adult take on a kid friendly drink. Whatever the reason, I can only imagine good times to be had, chilling out with a friend, knocking back a few Woodchucks while slashing and Hobbiting your way through an entire army of blocky orcs.

That’s right Boromir. One does simply recommend a cider.
That’s right Boromir. One does simply recommend a cider.

What the Hell: Dante’s Inferno Game Review

dantes-inferno

Dante’s Inferno is a 2010 game from Visceral Games that offers up a mixed bag of goodies. Well, goodies and..not so goodies. Being a button masher a la God of War, you play as the titular Dante, on his quest to traverse the levels of Hell to save the soul of his wife, Beatrice, after she lost the bet she made on your faithfulness during your time in the Crusade. So, basically, your holy horniness made your perky nippled wife donate her soul to Satan, and now that you’re home, you feel bad. Bad enough to destroy Hell to make amends! Also, boobs.

I know this is the Mediterranean, and Hell, but, maybe bring her a sweater. And, probably a band-aid.
I know this is the Mediterranean, and Hell, but, maybe bring her a sweater. And, probably a band-aid.

Your first taste of combat starts with your fight against Death. Yes, Death. Why not? You’ll be going to Hell soon, might as well metal up, tear Death in half, and take his awesome spine scythe. With weapon in hand, you begin your descent. With the vague help of a ghostly Virgil, you loosely follow the story of the Divine Comedies as you search for your woman. The levels themselves are beautiful. The colors are rich, the themes of each is consistent and, more importantly, make sense. While in the Lust level, expect vaginas. Just…everywhere. On mobs, on the walls, projectile vaginas, vaginas with claws. Then there are boobs with claws, and nipples that puke babies. It’s basically the game’s LSD phase. You even have to shoot balls at a giant electricity condom in order to mount the swirling purple dong within.

Even the hilarity of that description can’t detract from the beauty of how the game looks. In addition to the fresco of lady bits in the Lust level, you’ll jump over pools of molten gold in the Greed, dodge flung wads of shit in Gluttony, and do some platforming over the Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood. In addition to the looks, the sounds add another layer of immersion as you delve deeper and deeper. Expect to hear some sensual moaning while you parry a claw vagina. Keep your ears open for literal shits being taken through the paths of Gluttony. And, of course, the general cries of the damned follow you for your entire journey. 

She's about to mount that with no lube.
                                         She’s about to mount that with no lube.

Despite the richness of the game’s looks, there are some clumsy drawbacks. The walls of Hell are often made of trapped people, who, for some reason, move as one, much like the crowds in the old Madden games. And towards the end, the level designs seem to be retooled, recolored versions of earlier levels. Still, these negatives are minor compared to the other visual highlights that are in abundance throughout.

Just look at how realistic this guy looks!
Just look at how realistic this guy looks!
Much like many a Miss America, looks alone can’t hide all flaws. Dante’s Inferno suffers from a jumpy story that feels like it tries to tell too much at times, and not enough at others. Don’t get me wrong, the premise-a combination of the Divine Comedies and some Roman mythology- is awesome. I love that stuff. But, in between hacking, slashing, crossing, and the graphic novel-esque cut scenes, you’ll try to follow a story that departs from the original in favor of some drama. If you pay attention, you can follow along just fine. But, in the end, none of the story really seems to matter. Should you feel bad about getting it on with that Saracen lady? Doesn’t matter. Should you be angry about your father trying to get freaky with your woman? Doesn’t matter. Actually, Dante’s Inferno offers you a two for one deal. You get both a button masher, and a modern reboot of an epic poem, that both operate independently of each other. And, for the most part, it works. Unlike other games, you don’t need to remember everything that happened earlier in order to progress with a shred of understanding. It’d be nice for the story to flow as one with the actual game play, but, well, we can’t always have our Hellacious cake and eat it too.
This guy ate all the cake.
                                                      This guy ate all the cake.

Besides the story, the game play  while usually steady, can sometimes falter. While there’s not a lot of room for innovation for most hack n’ slash, Dante’s Inferno offers up a couple spins on the usual. In addition to the usual green and blue bars of your health and magic (mana, magika, what have you…), you’ll collect souls by killing the various mobs that you’ll encounter. These souls are used to unlock higher tier abilities and upgrades found in your unholy/ holy tree. Spend enough souls, and you’ll unlock more powerful combo attacks, larger health and magic pools, damage reductions, and so on. Additionally, you’ll choose to follow either the unholy or holy path (or a combination of the two) that will be based on your decision to damn or absolve the many named npc’s that are scattered across the levels of Hell. Like the story, these choices contribute little to your game play  other than whether you’ll be using your scythe or your magical cross to do most of your damage. (More points in Unholy buffs up your scythe damage, more in holy increases your cross damage). There are some instances where more points in holy will benefit you, and vice versa for unholy, but there is never a situation where you won’t be able to continue if your cross isn’t pimped out enough. 

Another fun bit are the various relics that you can find by killing the bosses or by performing exorcisms on a reluctant Hell Goat..thing.

The power of Christ compels ewe!                                     I know, that was bad.
                   The power of Christ compels ewe! I know, that was bad.

These relics alter your abilities slightly, such as allowing your hit counter to have an extended window, or making your attacks generate magic if you’re running on empty. Also, some relics are only usable once you’ve reached a certain level of either holy or unholy, so there is a small reason to both plan and replay, but, again, the relics’ impact isn’t all that huge. Finally, like God of War, you’ll have magic abilities to supplement your standard scythe and cross routine. These abilities can be quite handy in some tricky situations, like a bubble of lust itself that damages any enemy that’s around you, or a giant golden cross that just kicks the piss out whoever you throw it at. These abilities use your magic, and the magic costs aren’t cheap, but they do hit hard and should be used at the best times.

The major detractor of Dante’s Inferno, however, is its lack of replayability. Sure, you can load your latest, Hell conquering iteration of Dante into a new game, complete with all unlocked relics, abilities, and levels of unholy and holy, but, there’s only one ending. It doesn’t change depending on who you damn and who you absolve. It can be fun retracing your steps and finally reaching the ledge where that hidden relic was chilling, but, after playing through it again, I felt myself wondering what the point was. I’d get some more trophies, maybe a little ego boost from going through on a higher difficulty, but those weren’t enough to pull me back for another round. If you like reaching 100% on games, Dante’s Inferno offers enough to keep it from feeling like another run of the mill grind session, but its just enough for completionists, and not enough for the rest.
Overall, Dante’s Inferno feels like a game that had a glorious conception with less than stellar planning. What could’ve been an engrossing, beautiful game emerged as a fairly beautiful, somewhat rough, run of the mill hack n’ slash that didn’t offer much that hadn’t been offered before. Its definitely fun, it looks great, and its story, while not integral to the gameplay, is interesting and full of historical and religious myths and legends. Since its a few years old, you’ll probably be able to pick it up for cheap if you’re feeling like buying it. Or, just rent it. You can probably beat it in an all night Hell diving session. I give it a solid C, noting that just a little more effort in the game play and replayability areas could’ve brought it up into God of War territory. Yeah right, maybe when Hell freezes over!

Oh...Right....Hmm...
                                                 Oh…Right….Hmm…

Pros

  • Beautiful (in a graphic, disgusting, nightmarish way)
  • Wonderful graphic cut scenes
  • Great mocap/animations
  • Smooth frame rate, even with a screen full of glows and particles
  • Updated take on an original Epic
  • Gripping flow and progression from level to level (at least until the final few)
  • Clever boss battles
  • Relics are a nice addition

Cons

  • Essentially the Roman version of God of War (which isn’t necessarily a con)
  • Levels and puzzles become repetitive towards the final 3 levels which;
  • Makes the game feel short near the end
  • Increasingly rushed ending (final level only has 2 mob encounters, a bridge, and then Satan)
  • Lack of a true destructible environment
  • Replay value is limited to trophy junkies and completionists. There aren’t any alternate endings based on which path you follow

Grading

Game play: 3/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 5/5
Story: 4/5
Replayability: 3/5
Overall: 3.8/5 C

Beer pairing:

And, for what some of you have been waiting for, the best beer to drink whilst playing Dante’s Inferno! That would be Stone Brewery’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. Like Dante’s Inferno, this ale has attitude, richness, and complexity, all in one. Dante is kind of a dick, and he encounters more than his fair share of dicks throughout the game, and, well, even the bottle itself of Arrogant Bastard makes fun of you. Like two peas in a pod! Unlike the game, this beer stays intense and potent from beginning to end.
This isn’t a beer you’ll want to chug. Pour this beer into a tulip glass or regular pint glass to open the flavors up while you play, and drink it slowly. Maybe take a drink each time you rack up a 666 hit combo. (Don’t do it every time you slash a demon fetus with your scythe. That’s too fast. And yes, this can and will totally happen in the game.)
Both the game and this beer aren’t for everyone. I know people who hate this beer as much as they hate the game, and the thought of subjecting themselves to both at the same time made them want to go down on Cleopatra. But, for those of us that enjoy the overactive taste of an IPA in disguise, and aren’t afraid to say they had fun while hunting for boobies through the depths of Hell, give this pairing a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Ok...yeah...That's pretty terrible
                                           Ok…yeah…That’s pretty terrible

Thirsty Thursday Beer Review!

DeadguyAle

Hello and welcome to The Daily Beard’s first ever beer review.  I hope you’re as excited and thirsty as I am.  If not, I’ll give you a few minutes to get pumped!

Alright, today, I’ll be reviewing Rogue Ale’s Dead Guy Ale.  I’ve never had it before, but I’ve had a few other products from Rogue, and they’ve all been delicious, so I’m expecting good things.  I’ll be drinking straight from the pint bottle, and then from a snifter later, so that I can experience the changes in flavors and aroma.  Plus, I feel sophisticated when I drink from a tulip glass.  Ok, onto the review!

After popping the cap off, the first thing I smell is Grape-Nuts.  If you don’t know what the hell a Grape-Nut is, it’s a cereal that is unfairly thought of as both disgusting and for people with digestive problems.  I think Grape-Nuts are quite tasty, especially with a little sugar.  Anyway, they have a distinctly heavy wheatish taste, actually, wheat and barley.  That’s how this Dead Guy Ale smells.  I like it.  Its rich, kinda buttery, kinda nutty.  You can smell a little bread in there, and on the back-end, I think there’s a slight sugary sweetness.  Quite a few notes going on, but nothing is overpowering.  Everything is melding and being copacetic.  Its good times.

The first taste is hoppy, slightly bitter with a sweet, bready aftertaste that stays strong and lingers at the cheeks and at the back of the tongue.  Like the smell, nothing is overpowering despite the number of flavors going on at the same time.  The hops at the beginning fade and allow the Grape-Nutty bread taste to rise up and stay.  And when I say bread, it doesn’t taste like I’m actually eating a loaf of bread.  It tastes like the essence of bread, like what fresh bread smells like (Essence of Bread is a great band name).  Side note, if you’ve never had truly fresh bread, call up your grandmother, or mother, or wife, or hell, maybe yourself if you’re a bread champ, and make some.  Eat it while drinking beer.  You’re welcome.

Back to the beer.  Subsequent tastes reveal very subtle hints of lemon perhaps, buried deep under the malt and hops.  I don’t know if lemons or other fruits were used in the creating of this Dead Guy Ale, but I like it.  Maybe the flavors are combining to form new taste profiles.  Whatever it is, everything is working here.  Additionally, there’s a sharpness that just kinda chills out under everything.  Like that zingy, alcoholic potency that you get with wine, or super high ABV beers.  It doesn’t overpower.  All it does is lets you know that it means business.  Tasty, tasty business.

After pouring it into a snifter, I’m able to see its color.  It’s a deep caramel, not dark like a stout, but above and beyond the yellow of a Budweiser.  It looks rich, juicy, smooth, and thick.  Odd choices to describe the color of a beer?  Possibly, but just try imagining what color could possibly look like that.  I’ll tell you what color…the color of this Dead Guy Ale!  The head is a cream-colored, and isn’t too thick, even when I pour it hard.  It stays a while, but looks like I could blow it away with a heavy breath.  This doesn’t really mean anything for the taste, and it doesn’t detract from the overall presentation.  It just looks like beer, and that’s good.

The flavors change after the pouring.  Everything stands out more, as do the aromas.  Its like the ingredients are bouncing around the glass above the beer, just going crazy because they’re free.  Additionally, a gentle floral taste emerges once poured.  It adds a slightly sweet, slightly fruity taste under all of the original flavors.  The floral notes arrive and leave quickly, so they don’t completely change the overall flavor.  And, you might only notice them if you’re really taking your time with this beer.  It’s like a ninja flavor.  Yes, this beer has ninjas in it.

Overall, this is a mighty tasty beer that I’m lucky I chose for my first review.  It really showcases the complexities and flavor abilities that craft beers can achieve.  I’m giving it a high B+ for a number of reasons.  It has a rich taste with multiple layers and shifting flavor profiles that work like a well oiled machine.  It looks like what beer should–rich, smooth and healthy.  Its drinkability is fantastic.  From the bottle, tulip glass, pint glass, solo cup, water fountain, or bathtub, this beer would taste wonderful in any situation, and its smooth, easy flavor earns it a Chuggable Bonus, if you were so inclined to shotgun it.  Additionally, you seem to get more beer for the buck, because the flavors stay with you for a long time.  Not in that gross, hurry up and get out of my mouth aftertaste way, but more like a liquid friend that hangs out with your mouth and tells awesome stories.  The flavors don’t sour or turn unpleasant.  And this is good, because like many craft beers, the Dead Guy Ale can be a little pricey.  For this pint bottle, I paid $6.  Of course, a six-pack would be a better value at around $12-$14, but still, this probably won’t be a beer you buy 10 cases of for your next party.  Unless you’re rich, then you definitely should.  For the rest of us, its price knocks down its final score a bit.  Not too much, but to me, it kicks it out of A range.  Keep in mind that as far as flavor and its awesomeness as a beer, the Rogue Dead Guy Ale is a straight A in my book, but, until I find the perfect get rich quick scheme, it’ll have to stay at a B+.

That about does it for this review.  Whether you drink domestic or craft beers, or roll strictly with wine, or maybe you only drink chocolate milk, always remember to be responsible, have some fun, and find a group of friends to share that milk with.  Most things in life are better in a group.

-Paul

The Pen is Mightier than the Beard…Sometimes.

            I often tell myself that coming up with awesome, interesting, worthy ideas is the easy part.  The challenge lies in turning those ideas into stories that don’t cause spontaneous ocular hemorrhaging.  I’m fairly new to the writing scene.  I’m not published (working on it), I’ve never kept a journal, and most of my ideas spend their lives in a box at the end of my desk.  But, with honest to God adulthood peeking over the horizon, and the first, golden rays of my future shining in the distance, I feel that now is the time to get myself out there, to bite the bullet, to do any other cliches that can be used here, and face real, public reviews on what I’ve been able to scribble down. 

I’m currently working on a novel.  Well, really, its a story prompt, that morphed into a short story, and then became a kind of novella after I fed it enough ink (and some of my soul), before emerging from its papery cocoon as a beautiful, little-engine-that-could novel, where it fluttered around a bit before being eaten by a big bird called “true novel”.  I think.  Its not finished, but its more polished than most Twilight fan fiction (which, admittedly, isn’t saying much.)  I hope to have it ready for some kind of release/publication by the end of the year, but that’s a deadline I’ve only contemplated.  I could pull a George R.R. Martin and wait another six years (probably not).  Regardless of whenever it sheds it’s Beta status, I’ll post some of my choice snippets for your reading pleasure.  I welcome any and all feedback.  Constructive criticism would be preferred but, if the only way your mind can formulate an opinion of my writing is by calling it the hate spawn of that one time Satan slipped a Tibetan Yak Shaman some E and knocked her up, well…that’s ok too.  I might actually respect an opinion as precise as that.  My point is, this is the internet, and asking people to be nice on the internet is like expecting Vladimir Putin to support gay rights by exhuming Freddie Mercury’s corpse and giving it a reach around on live TV; its probably just not going to happen (Unless Vlad get’s crazy blasted).   So, I’ll make a tentative deal with everyone who stops by.  I’ll post my writings and listen to what everyone has to say.  If the feedback ranges anywhere from “not that great but if might be better if…” to “so good that Oprah should rename her book club to the Paul’s Beard’s Book Club“, I’ll keep posting.  If not, I’ll stop.  I like to think that I’m a decent writer, but truthfully, I don’t know.  No one outside my inner sanctum of readers have ever seen anything I’ve written.  So, that’s where you, the kind, accepting hands of the interwebs come in.  Let me know what you think.  I hope you enjoy what I have to offer.

I’ll just be over here, rocking back and forth in the corner, mumbling to myself as I await your feedback.

-Paul

The Zen of Beer, According to Paul

     Throughout history, the art of alchemy has existed to change the common into something valuable.  Lead into gold, water into life, Justin Bieber into…not Justin Bieber.  Typically, the results are nothing more than oily lead, oily water, and an oily Canadian teenager with a huge forehead and eyebrows that always seem to be trying to escape his face.  But, hidden in plain sight throughout time has been one of the oldest examples of successful alchemy:  Alcohol!  Since the day some unassuming Stoneage guy named Ugg first saw a Saber-toothed Hog-Bear eat a bunch of fermented berries and get totally hammered (and then party like it was 10,099 BC) man has been throwing everyday ingredients into pots, kettles, barrels, stills, and bathtubs to create liquid gold.  For me, the most cherished results of Ugg’s Brewhouse and Triceratops Grill is beer; liquid perfection that begins as little more than a warm, sticky stew of sugar, water, and horse feed.  Luckily, I live in both an era and location that allows me to sample a multitude of the country’s finest beers and beer-like concoctions.

Now, before I go any farther, I’ll pause to disclose a few facts about my imbibement habits.  First, I drink for the flavor.  Only now and then will I drink just to get blasted (though, I’m pretty awesome when it happens).  Second, I have never been able to finish a Miller, Budweiser, Coors, Labatt, or Pabst product.  I started drinking craft beers, which are typically a bit more flavorful, and as such,  have always found most of the big name, “domestic” drinks to be, well, lacking.  But, for the sake of science, unbiased reviews, I won’t limit my reviews to just craft beers.  I won’t do Budweiser or Miller or any of the giant names because there are already about 34 billion reviews out there.  I will do imports, smaller “domestics” like Landshark or Yeungling, and those brands that may fit into both domestic and craft categories, like Sam Adams.  Finally, I have said “beer” over and over, but I will also feature reviews of wines, ciders, and liquors.

In regards to the reviews themselves, I will do so in a way that would be both entertaining and informative for me, if I were trying to decided whether to spend money on a new six pack of beer.  I’ll talk about what the specific beer tastes like, what it smells like, what it looks like, and how all of that changes as you drink it.  If a certain flavor or smell jumps out at me, I’ll talk about it, but I won’t psychoanalyze the beer to find each and every type of hop and grain that was used.  If I taste coffee, you bet I’ll let you know.  If it smells like a cross between pine tree and an old boot, I’ll definitely remember that.  In the end, these reviews are all about spreading the word of a traditionally unknown and under represented market of beer.  World of mouth is typically the only way people learn of most craft beers, and I hope that my words here will convince at least a couple of you to grab one of those mysterious, brightly colored six packs on the opposite wall of the supermarket next time.

So, check back often to see what new beers and other elixirs of compromised judgement I’ve sampled.  Oh, and if you’re under the legal drinking age…Beer and alcohol tastes like tepid hyena piss that’s been spiked with herpes.  Don’t drink it.  Everyone else, enjoy!

-Paul

The Random, WTF, Head Scratching, Uncategorizable Whatnot that Needs a Home Too!

     In addition to the beer reviews, and game reviews, and beer/game pairing reviews, and chunks of questionable writing content that you’ll find here, I’ll also include a section devoted to, well, everything else. Random thoughts that may follow me around all day. Those horrible snippets of songs that I know I’ve heard before, but that I’m probably remembering wrong, so SoundHound is no help to me. Observations, musings, questions, comments, tasteful ragings, and anything else my mind happens to vomit out during a normal (or abby normal) day. It’ll kind be like an Instagram, except instead of posed “candid” pictures of sandwiches and cat silhouettes, it’ll be thoughts (unless I make an epic sandwich. Then you better believe I’ll take a picture of that bitch and share it with everyone). 

     Typically, these posts will consist of such gems as “My favorite pens to write with, and why (hint: because I like the sound it makes)”, or “How can Benedict Cumberbatch have so much attention from six episodes of a TV show (hint: because he’s awesome).”   Maybe there will be other reviews in here as well that don’t belong in the beer or game reviews. I love to cook and grill. Perhaps I’ll post my top five recipes, or a list of reasons why grilling a steak should be treated like a first date. I may just use it as a place to immortalize the name I made up for that one dude who pulled out in front of me and proceeded to drive 20 in a 55. The sky’s the limit! (Oh, and if that dude is reading this…why you gotta be an asshole?)

-Paul

Games: More than a Hobby…Probably an Obsession

I’m a 20 something, modern, educated young adult who grew up surrounded by ever increasing and advancing technologies. I view these technologies as something to embrace and promote, rather than standing in front of the ATM, yelling at the money elves to count my money faster. Of course, one of these technologies has, is, and probably will always be, video games. I take to video games like…a video game shaped peg in the world’s least thought out analogy puzzle. In other words, I, like millions of men, women, and Mountain Dew fueled 13 year-olds around the the world, love wasting time and money on those fictional, seizure-inducing, fantastical worlds of escape known as video games. I love them so much that I’ll spend five hours thinking of a name for my Skyrim character, only to restart the next day because I suddenly want to be a Dark Elf who sneaks a lot, instead of a big Nord named Wolfgar (this has happened more than once.) I love immersing myself into the stories of the games, imagining all of the possible discussions that were had in order to create the worlds that gamers can run, jump, swing, slash, shoot, die, and rage across every day. At the same time, I love being entertained. All of that leads to this: My game reviews. Like most reviews, I’ll grade my games on major categories like story, gameplay, and replayability. I’ll detail both the high and low points, my favorites and frustrations, from every game. Additionally, I’ll go a step farther, and pair my games with a hand picked beer that I feel goes best with that game. That way, you’re not only reading a game review, you’re reading a guide on how to improve your gaming (or, at least how to not care if you keep dying…if you drink enough.) Why will I do this? Why not? I often find myself combining beer drinking and video games, so I thought I’d share the practice. Give it a try.

The games that I review will be on either the PS3 or a PC. Most genres will be represented, and the games won’t be limited to the newest releases. If you have a game in mind that you’d like to hear a review on, or even if you want to know which beer pairs best with your favorite game, let me know. Your ideas will only help me, by giving me a continuous excuse to drink, play video games, and document the results.

-Paul

The Man Behind the Beard

     Who am I?  Well, to some, I’m known as Paul.  Actually, everyone knows me as Paul.  Currently, I’m studying English and Creative Writing, in the hopes of becoming a video game story designer.  I love writing, creating heroes, villains, places, universes, sights, sounds, smells, and everything else just with my mind (and a pen, of course.)  I also love video games, craft beer, playing video games while drinking craft beer, and many other “manly” things, such as maintaining a beard such as mine (like the proper conditioning and oiling of said beard…It’s a manly conditioner.) 

Additionally, I’m technically also a professional web designer and graphic designer, with an Associates in Interactive Media.  Some of my stuff can be seen at paultgardner.com.  But, as I said, my real passion is writing.  Currently, I’m working on a novel.  I haven’t the murkiest idea of when it’ll be published, but I will release some of my favorite morsels from the story on this blog just to see what people have to say.

I love to have fun, be fun, live fun, and hopefully spread some happiness along the way.  I hope that, if you’re reading this, you feel the same way, and aren’t being forced to memorize these words as some morbid requirement of the Jigsaw Killer’s latest game.  Anyway, enough with the rambling.  Enjoy your stay!

-Paul