Friday Happy Hour Special: New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout

dragonsmilk

Happy Friday everyone!  Glad you could make it.  Today, I’m trying something special.  Not only does it have an awesome name, but just holding the bottle makes me feel…empowered.  Like I’m on some kind of epic quest, full of maidens and green knights and both round and square tables.  What is this magical elixir I speak of?  It’s New Holland Dragon’s Milk, a stout of, if I’ve been told truthfully, monstrous proportions.  I can’t wait.  Let’s rock.

Alright, upon opening this monster, a distinct, earthen chocolate plume erupts from the bottle.  Along for the ride are vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and molasses.  I can almost smell how thick and syrupy the molasses is.  Potently rich and super dark, with an oaken kick, no doubt from the bourbon barrel.  If there are any hops here, I can’t find them.  They could be buried deep at the bottom, but the sheer amount of heavy blackness is blocking them out completely.  The main aroma profile is chocolate and coffee, both with a sweet, earthy edge that morphs into a heavily roasted syrup of stoutitude.  Dear lord, let’s drink it before this review gets out of control.

Like the aromas, the first flavor notes are dark chocolate and vanilla, intense and packing a nice bite.  Despite that, it flows smooth and syrupy over the tongue, sticking to every inch of your mouth.  The malts show up next, bringing another layer of subtle sweetness that mingles with the chocolate. Finishing strong is bold coffee, potent and rich that leaves your tongue tingling.  The best part is the oak and bourbon notes that hang out underneath everything, contributing some bite and a nice, earthy kick.  Like any oak or bourbon barrel aged brew, that woodsy char slips in and grabs a hold of every other flavor, ensuring you taste that aged property with every drink.  This beer is rocking a potent 10% ABV, and you can definitely feel it as it goes down.  Nothing like a whiskey burn, or even a wine-like throat dryness, but after a few minutes, you will start to feel that tingle in your gums.  That’s when this beer kicks you in the face, steals your wallet, and probably sets something on fire.  It’s a dragon.  That’s what they do.

But wait!  There’s more!  When poured, a mysterious silence falls over this beer, at least over the snifter that I poured into.  The dark notes are very subdued, almost missing, replaced instead by light and floral aromas.  There’s a slight hint of cinnamon and vanilla, acting as a bridge from bottle smell to poured smell, but the chocolates and roastiness and coffees are apparently shy.  Or sleeping.  Probably sleeping.  I’m assuming this is the calm before the storm.  All of this mystery is rising up from pure black, so dark that when held up to the light, it actually appears to absorb the glow like some kind of stoutish black hole.

Alright, I’ve now climbed into my suit of armor, and I’m ready to give the poured version a taste.  It’s even more potent and dark than the bottle.  The chocolates are more massive, with a bitter kick at the back.  The oaken earthiness rumbles across the tongue, holding up the chocolate and coffee.  It’s like a giant Brew Dragon that’s breathing a torrent of chocolate fire right at your mouth.  Your tongue begins to go numb, your gums tingle, and the coffee aftertaste clings to your throat like a liquid sherpa.  Every flavor that was present in the bottle is doubled, possibly even tripled, in strength.  Vanilla and cinnamon push in from the sides, accenting the sweetness of the chocolate and oak.  The smokiness from the malts hover just over the surface, like a deliciously eerie fog.  It’s basically a mega stout.  Which makes sense.  It’s milk from a dragon.  You know it has to be hardcore.

Overall, this stout shows up on an Arthurian level.  It delivers so hard in the flavor category, I needed to take a breather in between tastes.  Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, oak and bourbon all reach out and grab you by the neck, beating you into submission before becoming your best friend as it goes down.  The aftertaste lasts for about three years, which works well as it will take you about that long to drink it.  This is definitely not a chugging beer.  If you do, expect your eyes to burst into flame and the Twelve Furies of the Pit to drag you into unending anguish.  Or, you know, something like that.  Basically, take it slow.  Enjoy every flavor.  Don’t worry, you’ll be able to taste everything.  I purchased a bomber, so it was a bit pricey at $8 but, you get what you pay for.  If you like stouts, death metal, dragons, dragons listening to death metal while drinking stouts, or just uberly potent beers, you’ll need to try this.

A few great opportunities to enjoy a Dragon’s Milk is on one of those cold, dark nights, alone in your medieval cottage, after the plague has taken out everyone else in your village…or your living room.  Wherever you find yourself.  Also, after dinner, preferably with, or just after, dessert.  Usually have a coffee with your customary fall evening pumpkin pie?  Drink this instead.  New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout earns an A-, more than enough to decimate even the most fortified village.

Grading:

Taste: 9/10

Looks: 10/10

Price: 8/10

Drinkability: 9/10

Lasting Strength: 10/10

Overall: 9.2/10 A-

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Thirsty Thursday Beer Review: Southern Tier Backburner Barley Wine

barelywine

Hello my friends.  Welcome to another Thirsty Thursday Beer Review.  Today we have another offering from Southern Tier.  It’s a barley wine style ale by the name of Backburner.  Now, I’ve heard of barley wine before, but I’ve never tried one.  But, if this is like any other Southern Tier beer, I’m expecting delicious awesomeness.  So, let’s go get our Thursday on.

The first notes I notice after opening the bottle are crisp, citrusy scents of piney hops, immediately followed by a syrupy, almost fruity sweetness.  At the back are the malts, also bringing some sweetness, but mostly contributing a mellow roastiness.  Nothing like a stout, or even a Black IPA, but just enough to add an entirely new level of flavor and complexity to the beer.  It’s a slight bready nuttiness that compliments the other aromas very well.  And, after a few inhalations, there’s a slight hint of oatmeal, buried deep under everything else.  The best part, despite how many aroma notes are jumping out of the bottle, each one is recognizable and has their own chance to shine before allowing the next one to take its place.  I love it when a beer comes together.

The first taste from the bottle is just as complex.  Smooth and earthy over the tongue, bringing a piney crisp that settles at the back of the mouth and across the cheeks.  The second wave of flavors include a wonderfully sweet yet roasty maltiness that ends slightly fruity, maintaining the sweetness for quite a long time.  It’s super bubbly on the tongue.  Not quite like a champagne, but much more so than a standard beer.  It’s also rocking a high 9%, possibly a low 10% ABV, so it has a nice kick.

It has been oak barrel aged, so it has that smokey, woodsy bite that comes from aging in such a way.  This also allows some oaken notes to seep in between the hops and sweet malts, providing a little punch to the earthiness that showed up at the beginning.  These oaks settle at the back of the tongue, but seem to flare up every now and then, just as a reminder that they’re still there.  When you age a beer in an oak barrel, you’d better expect that oak to have a few words with you.  Despite all this, the major flavor profile is the crisp hoppiness that tingles on the front of the tongue.  It’s not quite as intense as an IPA, but like the aroma notes, it ensures a super complex taste.

Poured out into a snifter, the aromas are light, crisp and floral, with the slightest hints of cinnamon and coconut.  There’s possibly even a subtle hint of lavender.  I know, lavender of all things, but trust me, there’s a faint floral note that works very well with the other aromas.  These scents are rising up from a beautiful deep, dark amber, with a light brown head that lasts for a while.  When you hold it up to the light, it shines a vibrant crimson-brown.

The post-pour flavors are much darker and heavier.  Again, nothing like a stout, but much more earthy than from the bottle.  The oak really shows up, supporting the roasty malts.  The hops are back as well with a bitter crispness that cuts through the oak slightly.  Rounding out the flavors is the wonderful sweetness from before, not as prominent as it was in the bottle, but still very noticeable.  All these flavors roll over the tongue and take turns covering different parts of the mouth, though the oak usually returns to the cheeks, and the hops travel to the back of the tongue.  When poured, the bubbliness from the bottle is subdued, but still present. The potent alcoholic kick is back with a vengeance, infusing itself into everything.  Despite the strong flavor notes found here, it feels surprisingly smooth and creamy on the tongue, with the flavors lasting much longer than they did from the bottle.  Because of this, you may be tempted to drink it down.  But stop!  Give it some time, and let each flavor come out and make an appearance.  There’s no need to rush.    I’m very impressed with how well all of these flavors work with each other.  Nothing is held down, and nothing overpowers.  I think we could take a page out of this beer’s book, and just be friends.  And drink.

Overall, this was a wonderfully delicious beer that kept me happy from start to finish.  It wasn’t my favorite Southern Tier beer, but that’s like saying a $50 bill isn’t what I’d like to find on the sidewalk.  Sure, I’d rather pick up $100, but a free $50 is just as awesome.  This beer brings a great blend of hops, malts, and oaken earthiness, with just the right amount of sweetness to make one hell of a beer.  Not to mention, it’s potent enough to get you toasty in a hurry.  The flavor combinations might be a bit harsh for some, but if you like IPAs, or even stouts, you should find this right up your alley.  It looks gorgeous, with a deep, red-brown hue.  The only negative is, like always, the price.  But, since I recommend taking your time to drink this, the price per taste mileage should even out.

My recommendations for best enjoying this beer are chilling out at night, after you enjoy a nice dinner.  Don’t drink this while eating, as you’ll probably just add too many flavors into your mouth, and possibly make your face melt.  This would also be nice right after coming inside from raking the leaves, or picking apples to make your own, homemade cider.  Its potency will warm you up quite nicely.  Southern Tier’s Backburner Barely Wine earns an A-, but after you drink a bottle, it’ll feel like an A+.

Grading:

Taste: 9/10

Drinkability: 9/10

Looks: 10/10

Price: 8/10

Lasting Strength: 9/10

Overall: 9/10 A-

Hump Day Writing: Jade

Jade

Happy Wednesday everyone.  Halfway there.  What better way to celebrate than reading some more Jade?  Reading it while drinking a beer, that’s what.  Like last week, today’s installment is another chapter from another character.  Enjoy!

Chapter 7  The Emperor

The Emperor sat at a desk, alone in his room except for a single candle that burned next to him.  On the desk sat a piece of paper, snow white, unmarked, free from folds and creases.  It was perfect-laying motionless, and waiting.  Waiting for words.  For ink.  For the Emperor to mar its surface.  The Emperor knew this.  He knew what he wanted to write.  Needed to write.  And, he knew that by doing so, he would have to obliterate the pure, white surface of the paper.

“That is what I am good at, is it not?”  He spoke aloud to himself and, to no one at the same time.  With a shake of his head, he picked up a quill and dipped it into an ink pot.  The ink was a deep green, almost black, glistening like a darkened emerald in the candlelight.  Holding the quill over the paper, he watched his hand tense, fingers flexing in and out.  The plume of the quill trembled slightly, awaiting his words.  But there were none. The page remained clean.  He sat, motionless, as minutes passed.  The candle shrank, wax bubbling over the silver tray that it sat on.  A storm descended onto the palace, bursts of icy wind ravaging the windows of his room.   He ignored it.  Closing his eyes, he concentrated.  On something, anything to write.  He needed to.  This was his one chance.  His hazy opportunity to document his personal hell.

“Why do i hesitate?” He thought to himself, annoyance beginning to darken his face.  “What is stopping me?  Why can I not do this?  Why?”  A spasm of anger coursed through him, his hand tightening into a fist around the quill.  He could feel it strain against his palm, and he knew that it would snap at any moment, ending his night without anything to show for it.  He snapped his eyes shut, trying to force down the anger.  Slowly, as if fighting some mammoth force, his hand relaxed, and he felt the quill straighten against his fingers.

He opened his eyes and looked down at the paper.  A drop of green had fallen from the quill and splattered across the paper, inky veins of green spreading out from the drop.  The emperor’s eyes widened at the sudden shock of color, before narrowing in fury as he looked at the paper’s sudden imperfection.  With a low growl, he placed the tip of the quill against the sheet and began to write.

“My earliest memories are of the winter months.  I was always fascinated with snow.  Not falling snow, but the blanket of white perfection that would cover the hills and trees and rivers of the family farm.  I would wake up with the sun and walk outside to watch the golden rays spill over the powdery shroud.  I remember how my heart would surge and leap as the light glinted off of each individual crystals of ice that made up the sea before me.  Tears would fall from my eyes at the simple, beautiful purity of snow.

I dream about it, the snow.  Every dream begins with a field, or a hill, or patch of forest, draped in a fresh layer of white.  I stand in the middle of the scene, captivated and unable to move.  It is never fear that renders me motionless, but rather a will to avoid defiling the perfection that surrounds me.  I do not know if the will is my own, or if it comes from an unseen force, but its power over me is absolute.  I cannot talk, move, blink.  Even breathing feels like a sin.  It is a prison of pristine beauty, trapping me with the knowledge of my potential corruption.  How long I stand there, I never know.  It is not important.  The sun rises and falls around me.  The wind brushes against my face.  Birds sing in the distance, but I stand for eternity amongst a field of white.”

The Emperor lifted his hand from the paper, reading over his words as he dipped the quill back into the ink pot.  With the slightest of nods, he set the quill back against the page.

“Eventually snow begins to fall, soft and light as powder.  It settles upon my face, sticking to my eyes and my nose, dusting my hair.  It makes me happy, but I dare not smile.  It tickles me, a gentle touch against my face like a mother caressing her newborn child.  It is the physical representation of bliss, that snow.”  He paused, closing his eyes tight, a vein in his temple beginning to throb.

“It is at this point, without fail, the dream changes.  Every night, the winds grow stronger.  The skies darken, changing from clear blue to angry grey.  The snow falls harder.  The flakes begin to sting and slice against my skin.  They are sharp, cutting me like diamond chips.  The storm batters me, wears at me.  I dare not shield my face, or close my eyes, or cry out for help.  I know, deep within my soul, any movement would bring down a wrath too terrible to imagine.  But, inevitably, I break.  My body betrays my mind and I blink.  An insignificant act, but it is enough.  I dared to move, to aid in the defilement of that paradise.  And I know, with my entire being, I know that the end has come.  The wind always stops, the skies turn blue again, and all sound disappears.  There are no birds, no rustling of leaves. There is only a deep, low rumble that I feel in my chest.”

The Emperor stopped, rubbing his free hand over his eyes.  Tears wet his fingers, yet he paid them no mind as he returned to his writing.

“The rumble grows.  Like the sound of a distant waterfall.  It is muted and ominous, and fills me with dread even though the world around me is bright and perfect.”  Again, he paused, tears flowing freely down the sides of his face.

” And then…madness.  All around me, the snow begins to rot.  It splits and shatters and decays before my eyes.  The land heaves and cracks, opening fissures from which geysers of rancid steam billow up and cover the ground with a thick, yellow fog.  In the distance, hills collapse in on themselves, adding a great, crashing thunder to the chorus of destruction that roars around me.  And then, a piercing shriek fills my ears, forcing me to lift my eyes.  Above me, the sky fractures, a great rupture running across the blue.  The crack widens, and I am blinded by a dark so bright it makes me weep.  It is indescribable.  The light is white and black.  Solid and ethereal.  It burns and it soothes.  It casts a shadow over the land that reveals every corrupted root and stem and seed and stone. It is wrong.  Immensely wrong.  The light- it should not exist.  Cannot exist.  But it always shines above me, spilling out of the crack like blood hemorrhaging from a wound.  The air grows hot and melts the dead snow, searing my lungs and forcing me to my knees in agony.  My mind aches at the enormity of impossible that fills my head.  It is always at this instant that He arrives.”  The Emperor’s hands trembled, and his breath was ragged as his thoughts poured from him.

“The sounds of the scene rage all around but, over my shoulder, I hear a horse snort and scuff the dead grass.  Chains rattle as heavy feet hit the ground and approach.  My eyes are forced open, though I cannot see.  Impossible colors flash through my blindness, but my vision is obscured.  He laughs, a sound full of hellish mirth and decaying ecstasy.  He knows he has invaded my sanctuary.  He has destroyed the bastion of peaceful sanity that I shield myself with.  How long He laughs I never know, but eventually it stops, and He speaks to me in a voice that is impossibly low.  It is the breath of a tangible specter.  It is the moaning wails of the tormented and damned, and it flows from His tongue like liquid pestilence.  His words…”

With a sob, the Emperor pulled his hand from the paper, eyes closed tight against his final thoughts.  He had to finish, but the strain to do so was almost unbearable.  Tears fell from the tips of his moustache, splashing against the paper below.  A choking wail escaped his throat, hissing between clenched teeth.  His face flushed a deep scarlet, and beads of sweat ran down his skin, mixing with his tears.  With a final, desperate effort, he forced his hand back onto the paper, growling out of both fear and self loathing.  In a halting, almost illegible scrawl, the quill scratched over the paper.

“His words are always the same.  Welcome to my kingdom…

With a trembling hand, the Emperor sat the quill next to the paper.  Motionless, he stared ahead, unblinking as his tears slowly ceased and dried upon his cheeks.  After countless minutes of silence, he blinked, eyes closing and opening slowly.  He felt drained, emptied, scourged.  But, as weary as he was, a rare sense of fulfillment settled deep within his chest.  Though it was exhausting, his nightly self chronicles were, if nothing else, his only means of freedom.

He shook his head, drawing in a deep, shuddering breath.  Turning, he watched the candle flicker over the last lumpy chunks of wax.  He stood, grabbed the silver candle tray and walked over to a massive mirror on the other side of the room.  His steps were long and silent, and he stared at his shadowy reflection as he approached the mirror.  Setting the tray down on the teak chest in front of the mirror, he stared at himself, face blank and impassive.  From behind the glass, his reflection stared back in perfect mimicry.

“Do not look at me, Beast.  You have stared for a lifetime.  Give me a night’s respite.”

His reflection was unmoved, its eyes locked on the Emperor’s.

“Why me?  Why did you choose to torment me?”

His reflection remained silent, a small grin crossing its face.

“Do not smile at me, Beast!  I am the Dragon!  Why do I suffer you?  I am the most powerful man in the world!  Leave, or know demise!”

His reflection began to laugh.  A slight chuckle at first, but it grew.  Louder and louder, filling the room, echoing against the corners of the ceiling.  The laughter crashed against the Emperor’s ears, sending his heart racing as fury surged through his veins.  With a roar, he smashed his fist into the mirror.  Shards of shattered glass burst around his knuckles, destroying his reflection and extinguishing the candle.  Trembling, he withdrew his hand from the remains of the mirror.  His hand bled from dozens of cuts, sending rivers of red to pour down his palm.  He ignored the pain.  In fact, he didn’t feel anything, except for a subtle euphoria that began to settle over him.  He smiled.  His legs grew weak and he sank to his knees, but the smile remained affixed across his face.  He peered around the room and spoke to the darkness that seemed to pulse around him.

“I am free.  Sweet silence.”

You will never be free…

“No!  You are not here now.  If you were, I would see you, and slay you again!”  The Emperor’s voice was a growl.

I am always here.  In your mind.  In your heart.  In your soul.  Just as I always have, and just as I always will be…

“No.  I am the Dragon.  My enemies tremble before me.”

But I am not your enemy, am I?  Have I not given you the strength to fight your battles?  The fury to fuel your conquest?  Have I not given you power?

“Yes.  No!  No, you have haunted me!”  The Emperor fell silent, cradling his hand in the dark.  It had suddenly begun to throb in fiery pain.

Without me, there is no Dragon.  There is no Emperor.  Without me, you would have nothing.  Without me, you would be nothing…

“Stop it, please…”  The Emperor began to sob.

I am the greatness within you.  I am the power within you.  I am you…

“No, no…please.  I don’t want this anymore.” The Emperor fell forward onto the floor, drawing his knees to his chest as much as his immense size allowed him.  He wanted to be alone, as he had for his entire life.  But, he had never been allowed to know the freedom of solitude.  His demon was within him, and had been since his earliest memories.  The Emperor knew this.  His own mind had turned against him the day he was born.  He had learned to withdraw from himself over the years, to hide within a small, dark shadow in his thoughts that permitted him to have a few hours of peaceful sanity every now and then.  But that time was miniscule compared to the rest of his life- the time he spent as a prisoner within himself.

Shoulders heaving as he lay across the floor, his head throbbed against the darkness that flooded into the void left by the absence of his thoughts.  Eventually, he succumbed to exhaustion, sleeping through the remaining hours of the night before the pain in his hand forced his eyes open.  The storm outside had diminished over night, leaving a thin crust of ice over the windows.  His first sight was of sunlight, shattered into a myriad of colors by the frozen prisms etched across the glass.  He winced, grimacing at the light.  Slowly, he rose to his knees, joints screaming in stiffened agony.  Clenching his jaw, he stood, staggering to his feet before he shook his head from side to side, clearing the haze from his mind.  His chest heaved from exertion, and his hand felt like a boulder attached to the end of his arm.  He looked down at it, frowning.  It was swollen and throbbing- black and blue over a stain of blotchy red and dried blood.   He picked a shard of glass from his finger, flicking it over his shoulder as he gazed at the remains of the mirror.  Memories of the previous night flashed through his mind.  He remembered pain, his sobs, his demon staring back at him.  He saw the paper, his words in green staining its white purity.  He saw the snowy field of his dreams, rupturing under a cracked sky.   His lip curled into a snarl, eyes narrowing as he was repressed back within his mind.  Turning, he straightened his tunic and walked toward the door.  As his hand gripped the handle, he stopped and spoke to himself.

“Remember, all that you have is through me.”  He shook his head, his face awash in rage, and wrenched the door open.  He emerged into the royal hall, spying a servant watering the flowers.

“You!  My mirror broke last night.  Replace it or I will send your head to your wife!”  The color drained from the servant as the Emperor turned.  He walked from the hall and roared for wine, his demon assuming total control once more.

Magic Hat Seance Saison Ale

seance

Like the Deveiled Amber Ale by Magic Hat, this next offering is part of their Halloween sampler pack.  It’s the Seance Saison Ale.  Now, I’ve only ever had maybe two saisons before, and both of those shared some characteristics.  Lighter in color, some tangy notes, and very fresh tasting.  This Seance Ale is nothing like that.  What do I mean?  Well, let’s go find out.

Upon opening, big aromas of spice and thick, roasted darkness burst out.  Smokey and woodsy, with a slight, albeit odd, aroma of fresh-baked pretzels.  It’s quite the crazy collection of scent notes, especially in a saison. There’s no tang, no fruits or lightness.  Just dark, smokey blackness.  I don’t know if this is an interesting take on a radical new saison, or a freakish misunderstanding of what a saison should be.

The first notes to hit the tongue are coffee and roasted malts, almost like a stout, but with no sweet notes to be found, and much lighter, despite its heaviness.  A bitter tang washes over the back of the tongue after the first roasted flavors, possibly drawing on the essence of a saison, but make no mistake, there’s nothing remotely close to a saison in this bottle.  The flavors are dark, smokey, and dry, clinging to the tongue and sticking to the throat.  Hints of the fresh pretzel from earlier make an appearance at the end, but it is much more subdued than the aroma notes.

Poured into a pint glass, the aromas change somewhat.  The smokey darkness fades somewhat, allowing some sweet malts to rise up, mingling with hints of fleeting floral scents.  These scents are so varied and diverse, but nothing is overpowering.  Everything is allowed its own place, and lasts long enough to enjoy each flavor.  This collection of craziness all occurs within a super dark, ruby-red hue with a light tan head.

The tastes from the pint glass are more mellow compared to the bottle, which is the opposite of what usually happens when beer is poured.  The smokiness is still there, but it has the feeling and consistency of a cream ale.  It’s smooth and flows over the tongue very easily.  The toasty malts are still there, staying just as dark.  The aftertaste, surprisingly, is very dry, which is odd considering how rich it is going down.  The smokey flavors don’t last too long, instead replaced by the malts, bringing some sweetness to the top of the flavors.  It is a super complex beer, with so many flavors that don’t fit the saison category, but not doing a horrible job on their own either.

In the end, despite the fact that there is no saison to be found anywhere in, near, or within a 10 mile vicinity of this bottle, I found myself enjoying this beer quite a bit.  There are about 30 different flavors of smoke crammed inside, along with roasty malts, and some fleeting sweetness here and there.  It’s certainly not the best beer I’ve ever had, but it’s definitely not the worst either.  It’s different, that’s for sure, going well beyond pushing the limits of a saison, and instead demolishing those limits, before entering witness protection and becoming something entirely different.

Magic Hat’s Seance Saison Ale would be best enjoyed on a chilly night, maybe with a hearty stew, or an epic pot pie.  Make sure to have a fire going somewhere to compliment the roasted, smokey notes of the beer.  And, remember, just because it claims to be a saison, that doesn’t automatically make it a saison.  And, in this case, that’s not such a bad thing.  Seance Saison earns a solid B, by the power of smoke and voodoo.

Scoring:

Taste: 8/10

Looks: 9/10

Price: 8/10

Lasting Strength: 9/10

Drinkability: 8.5/10

Overall: 8.5/10

Red Hook Long Hammer IPA

redhook

I first found out about Red Hook through, of all places, Buffalo Wild Wings.  They have a beer called Game Changer, that has been created just for BW3s, apparently.  Anyway, a little while after I first tried that brew, I found another one on my weekly beer run.  It’s an IPA by the name of Long Hammer.  Sounds quite stoic.  I like it.  But, enough with the talking, let’s go drink.

Upon cracking the cap, notes of grapefruit and fresh pine burst forward, bringing that crisp, citrus peel bitterness of an IPA.  Hops pour out, enveloping the nose and popping up through the other scents.  There are notes of sweet, tropical fruits that cut through the bitterness slightly, but the major offerings are potent pine and citrus peel.

The first tastes bring up the same notes from the aroma.  Citrus peel and pine bitterness mingle with malty bread notes.  It’s your standard IPA body.  Slightly dry, bitter, with those fleeting bits of sweetness that dance around the tongue, teasing and making false promises of becoming full-bodied notes, only to disappear before taking full shape.  This beer offers tropical fruit sweetness-passion fruit and pineapple, drawing only from the bitter tangs of each though, with just the slightest hints of sweet.  It’s a crisp flavor that doesn’t offer any innovation or much in the way of wow, but it’s a rocksteady flavor profile that doesn’t detract from the usual IPA hoppiness.

Poured into a pint glass, crisp floral notes rise up for the shortest of moments, diminishing almost immediately, offering just a shadow of their former bottle potency.  After a second or two of almost no aromas at all, bitter citrus and pine returns to the nose, sluggish at first, but fleeting after making an appearance.  These notes rise up from a shimmering, golden ale that sits beneath a thin white head.   As the light strikes the glass, it casts a warm, golden glow that looks quite healthy.

Once poured, the tastes are similar to the bottle notes.  Citrusy grapefruit crispness and bitter pine lead the charge, with a stronger sweet rush behind.  Poured, the sweet notes do a better job balancing the bitterness than straight from the bottle.  There is also a surprising appearance from some peach notes, of all things, adding a subtle, sweet tang that works quite well with the other notes.  It cuts through the bitterness, lasting on the tongue longer than the dry pine, leaving the lingering taste to be enjoyable.  The sweetness hangs out on the front of the tongue, while the bitter notes reside at the sides and the back.

In the end, it’s a standard American IPA, offering nothing that hasn’t been done before.  It has a decent taste, with citrus and pine bitterness, slightly managed by sweet, tropical fruit notes that open up quite a bit when poured.  The taste is pleasant, but nowhere near the best IPA I’ve ever tried.  I wished more of the sweet notes could have been present, both in strength and duration.  It would have broken from the traditional IPA mould, but it would have also presented a different take on the tried and true.  I would advise to drink this slowly, as drinking it too fast will eliminate any chances to find the sweet notes that I loved so much.  It was fairly cheap, at just $7 for a six-pack.  For a “craft” beer, that’s a bit on the low side, but, you do apparently get what you pay for.

I would suggest drinking this beer during a football party, where a lot of beer is needed, but you want to avoid the terrible go-to macro choices.  You would also do well enjoying this with some wings.  The piney, dry bitterness would go well to cutting through some of the spicier sauces.

Overall, Red Hook’s Long Hammer IPA isn’t anything new, or spectacular, or particularly tasty.  It’s not horrible, but it’s nothing to write home about.  It earns a middle of the road B-.

Scoring:

Taste: 7/10

Looks: 8/10

Price: 9/10

Drinkability: 8/10

Lasting Strength: 8/10

Overall: 8/10 B-

A Review Without Any Augmentations: Deus Ex Human Revolution

dx

Happy Sunday everyone.  Today, I bring you my first PC game review. Which title bears the honor?  Why, it’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution!  The third game in the Deus Ex franchise, and a prequel to the other two, Human Revolution drops you into a world of human augmentation, open-ended decisions, stealth, gunfights, science fiction and a whole lot of yellow filtering.  So, go upgrade your reading implants, and let’s have some fun.

Human Revolution is an Action RPG that focuses on Adam Jensen, security chief for Sarif Industries-one of the leading Biotech companies in the world.  The action starts as alarms sound, and explosions are heard on a distant floor of the building.  Racing to the scene, you’re met by enemy forces, who eventually ruin your day by, well, killing you.  But, fear not!  Through the power of augmentation, you come back stronger, faster, and cyborg-ier.  From here, you’ll travel the world, searching for who led the attack and why, all while making RPG decisions and upgrades to your augmentation trees.  As far as gameplay, everything is smooth.  Combat, be it sneaking up and silently dropping people with a choke hold, to sniping dudes across a warehouse, is both smart and full of action.  Duck behind cover, role from wall to wall to avoid detection, and sneak through air ducts to get the jump on baddies.

"Did you hear something?"  "Probably just one of the sniper rats..."
        “Did you hear something?”       “Probably just one of the sniper rats…”

Hand in hand with this is your augmentations.  Since you’re now “upgraded”, you’ll be able to spend Praxis points on a variety of skills and enhancements, such as upgrading your hacking skills, or giving you the ability to punch through walls.  Your augmentation decisions will have a direct impact on the game, and how you play it.  If you feel like blasting your way through levels, you’ll want to buff up on gun skills.  If you want to sneak your way through, hacking and stealth augments will be more important.

Sadly, no hardened forehead augmentation, for epic headbutting.
Sadly, no hardened forehead augmentation, for epic head butting.

Additionally, your conversations and dialogue choices will also change how others view you, unlock side quests, and even allow you to bypass some potentially risky shootouts.  Unless you love the shootouts.  Then just start blasting.  But, if you’re noticing a theme, there are choices all over the place.  How to you want to get to the other side of that fence?  You can charge up your arm strength and stack up some dumpsters to climb to the other side, or you can find a ladder, scale some rooftops, and jump down on the other side.  Or, you can even drop down in a sewer, and emerge from a manhole past the fence.  These decisions occur throughout the game, giving a well rounded openness that adds both play time and enjoyment to the game.

Sometimes, people will be caught in the path of your dumpster tossing.  Just go with it.
Sometimes, people will be caught in the path of your dumpster tossing. Just go with it.

Now, as far as the story goes, Human Revolution offers up a gritty, almost noir like look at the near future.  There’s emotion throughout, as well as twists and turns from start to finish.  The ethics within the game also play a large role in determining the way in which action proceeds.  As the birth of human enhancement is happening all around you, there are strong supporters and opponents who can both help and hinder your progress to the truths which you seek.  Depending on your personal stance, you’ll be able to choose different dialogue options, side quest choices and, at a basic level, see the game in a different light.    Your choices will change the story, so that you never quite know how things will end.  There were a few instances of cliche lines and predictability, but they were minor, and hardly detracted from the overall experience.  Because it’s an RPG, the story can be as huge and open as you’d like.  Want to just tear through it, go right ahead.  Want to explore every inch and pathway, you can do that to.  The story not only works with any possibility, but each different possibility tweaks the story just enough to provide a slightly different experience for each decision.

Now, bearing in mind that this is a game from over two years ago, and played on the computer, graphics can be a little suggestive.  My PC is fairly powerful, and I was able to play with everything maxed.  And, I hooked my computer up to my flat screen, so what I saw was about as good as I could have seen.  For the most part, Human Revolution is a smooth, detailed game with beautiful sights and great combat scenes.  There were a few issues that stuck out, like what I call “stiff-hands”, where character’s hands look like blocks of wood, unmoving as they’re waved through the air.  There were also some areas where there was a noticeable lack of detail, like a blocked off area behind a dumpster, or a distant rooftop.  But, these were minimal, and I had to look hard to find them.  The rest of the game was beautiful in a dark, gritty way.

Very beautiful indeed.  And yellow.  So much yellow.
Very beautiful indeed. And yellow. So much yellow.

The sound was quite nice.  The dialogue was emotional at the right times, badass when badassery was needed, and gripping.  Gunshots, explosions, wind, screaming, and every thing else was crisp and reacted with everything else that was happening around you. Explosions were muffled if you were a few floors below the action.  Shouts were distanced and mumbling if you heard it through a wall.  And, hooked up to a surround sound system, you’ll be in for a world of booming epicness.

I always wish there would be a "shut the hell up" option, followed by a swift kick to the throat
I always wish there would be a “shut the hell up” option, followed by a swift kick to the throat.

The replayability of this game is great.  Not as open as other RPGs, but when every action can potentially change a later aspect of the game, you’ll need multiple playthroughs in order to experience everything.  There are even multiple endings, depending on one of your final choices.  They don’t actually depend on what you’ve done in the game up to that point, but it was nice to see choices all the way to the end.  Additionally, the number of augmentations you can choose lead to multiple playthroughs.  You probably wont be able to unlock every enhancement and upgrade in one go around alone, so in order to experience every style of gameplay available, you’ll be able to go back, and create a completely different Adam Jensen.

Overall, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a great RPG that offers tons of play time, while being both gripping and great to look at.  A few minor graphical hiccups knock the final score down, but the vast number of decision based gameplay options and story triggers create a wonderful cyberpunk shooter, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a shooter.  It’s all based on your personal choice.  Human Revolution earns a B+, which has actually been augmented into an A-.

Scoring:

Gameplay: 9/10

Story: 9/10

Graphics: 8.5/10

Sound: 9/10

Replayability: 9.5/10

Overall: 9/10 A-

Beer Pairing:

Deciding on the best beer for this game was actually easier than other pairings I’ve made.  This game offers a ton of choices, creating a deeply layered, complex world in which you can lose yourself in for hours after hours.  You decide how to progress through, fighting both enemies and mysteries on your search for the truth.  Southern Tier’s Back Burner Barleywine Ale brings the same amount of complexity and depth, along with an air of mystery that you must emmerse yourself into in order to find the truth.  Potent and full of multiple, flavorful ingredients, Back Burner can and will change depending on how you drink, what your mood is, and how far through the bottle you currently find yourself at.  It’ll also last quite a long time, which is perfect for those long sessions of augmented fun.

Pictured, fun.  And, epic ho jitsu.  Courtesy of Cracked.com
Pictured, fun. And, epic ho jitsu. Courtesy of Cracked.com

Pirates Aren’t the Only Ones With Hooks For Hands: Bioshock Infinite

infinite

The Bioshock series is one of the most well known first person “shooter” series out there.  I emphasize shooter because, well, you do more than shoot.  The first Bioshock starts you off with a wrench, and your trusty drill will just demolish splicers in the first two games.  But, in the third installment, Bioshock Infinite, not only do you play most of the game above the ocean, your arsenal includes a wide variety of guns (that shoot bullets, no rivets this time.)  And it works ever so nice.  So, let’s go get our dystopia on, and take a look at Bioshock Infinite.

I think the best place to start this review is at the start of the game.  Why?  Well, it begins rather slowly.  You’re on a rowboat, you’re dropped off at a lighthouse, you see some ominous scrawling on the walls, ascend some stairs, see a dead body, and so on.  Until you board a steampunk rocket, get launched into space, and parachute down into a floating city.  Ok, so maybe not slow, but you just walk around, looting and looking.  This continues for a good fifteen minutes.  You visit a fair, test out some skills and weapons at the fair booths (basically a tutorial), all without any real interaction from anyone else, or any dialogue about what the hell you’re actually doing.  All you know is that you have to find a girl, to repay some debt that you may or may not owe.  It’s very vague.  Until, you get to the fair’s raffle.  Of course, you win this raffle, and your prize?  To throw a baseball at a soon to be married mixed race couple, tied up and at your mercy.  Ok, so I’ll call this next part a spoiler.  Even though it happens very early on, it was, to me, one of the most memorable openings of a game that I’ve ever played.  So, SPOILERS.  Ok, now, you’ll have a choice of whether you want to chuck the ball at the couple, or the announcer.  I chose the announcer, because he was egging me on like an asshole.  This, of course, brought the guards down on me, but at this moment, the game became pure awesome.  I grabbed a guard, forced his hand down, and drove his hand, which was holding a sky-line grappling hook, right into the other guard’s face!  Immediately, everyone starts screaming, I steal the hand hook, guards are running at me, swinging night sticks and shooting at me, and I’m beating the crap out them with my steampunk pirate hook.  Now, why did I choose to describe the first twenty minutes of the game?  Because it describes this game perfectly.  Surprising, sudden, and brutal.  You’re just walking along, casually forced into some racism, and before you know it, you’re demolishing faces, stealing guns, and blasting the shit out of anyone who looks at you funny.  It was perfect, gripping, and holds onto your mind like, well, a sky-claw.  The game play throughout is like this.  Surprises wait for you behind corners, twisting and turning the story in and out of itself.

Whoops!
You’ve got a bee on your face!  Oh, also, spoilers!

Now, as I mentioned above, this isn’t your typical Bioshock game.  Rapture is both far below you, and, not even there yet, since this takes place in 1912.  Instead, you’re in the floating city of Columbia-a racist, dystopian, religiously ruled totalitarian fortress of steampunk and crazy advanced physics.  Instead of a Big Daddy suit and a drill, you’re just a former Pinkerton with a penchant for shooting holes into everything.  The looting is the same as the other Bioshock games.  Eat food for health, collect guns and ammo.  You also eat and drink certain items for Salt, which is basically EVE from earlier. These salts power your Vigors, your “enhanced-magic” abilities.  So, yes, you have ranged guns-everything from pistols to RPGs, your badass sky-hook with which you can shred faces and grapple-slide from personal monorail lines that weave throughout the city, and your Vigors, which feature such abilities as creating fiery grenades, a stunning flock of ravens (not stunning like, fabulous…they actually stun the enemies.) and a magnetic shield that will absorb enemy bullets before shooting them back with awesomely deadly force.

Ok, so maybe they are Fabulous!
Ok, so maybe they are Fabulous!

All this ties in with your companion, and super important person, Elizabeth.  Her AI is surprisingly smart.  She’ll get in your way sometimes, but she always finds some cover, and, quite possibly the best part of the game, she will find money, ammo, salts, and health for you, which can and will save you in a pinch.  You’ll also loot lockpicks, which she can use to get into secret areas.

If it's heads, you'll have to hook-punch the next dude in the face.  Same if it's tails.
If it’s heads, you’ll have to hook-punch the next dude in the face. Same if it’s tails.

Ok, I know there’s so much being described here, and the game is only a few months old.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so I’ll step away from the gameplay.  But, before I move on, I’ll just say that while it feels similar to the other Bioshocks, the experience is different.  Actual guns, more creative “magics”, and Elizabeth as your companion make for a truly awesome combination of gameplay factors.  I loved it.  Quick note, I know I’ve left out some awesome, crazy important gameplay aspects especially related to Elizabeth.  But, I loved experiencing everything for myself.  I don’t want to spoil too much.

Alright, now that I’ve peeled myself away from the gameplay, what about the story?  In a word, superb.  It feels like a noir detective story throughout the entire game.  You sort of know what you’re supposed to be doing, but you constantly learn more and more about what’s going on, why you’re doing it, who the major players are, and why they are so major.  Theories you might have turn out to be wrong.  Mysteries jump out at you, only to deepen.  When you think you’re at the end of an area or sub-plot line, you find the hidden piece that drops the floor out from under you.  By the end, you’ll be so wrapped up within the layers of this story, you’ll need a few minutes of quiet solitude just to collect your thoughts.  I love when a video game can do that-pull you in so deep that you have an emotional response to the end of the journey.

One of the most gripping aspects of the story revolved around Elizabeth.  I found her to be not only an awesome personality, but heartbreaking at the same time.  This was accomplished by the smallest of details.  When there’s a moment of dialogue, her face reacts like a real person would.  At one point, you and her are in an elevator, when it suddenly stops, and the telephone rings.  She looks at you, raises an eyebrow, and listens with a look of “what the hell is this guy talking about” as the voice squawks out of the phone.  It’s a little detail, but it goes so far to pull you into the action and story.

Seriously.  That's a perfect "what the hell is he talking about?" face
Seriously. That’s a perfect “what the hell is he talking about?” face

Acting as awesome support to the story and the gameplay, the sound is, well, beautiful.  Old-timey music will fade in an out as you move from room to street to room.  Screams, gunshots, PA announcements all flow seamlessly over the background ambiance.  Voices trail off, stopping their conversations and becoming terse if you look like you’re about to cause some trouble.  It just feels so real.  I know that if I took a stroll though a city, I’d hear these exact same things.  Well, a dystopian city where gunfights and explosions were commonplace.

Who care about the gunfights.  I'll take that chance for a city this beautiful.
Who care about the gunfights. I’ll take that chance for a city this beautiful.

Now, when compared to how real everything about this game feels, the graphics may seem a little off to some.  They are smooth as silk, with no clipping, unwanted polygons, or weird face bugs marring the beauty, but they do have a bit of a…cartoony feel.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a 2D, cell shaded shooter.  But Battlefield 4 realistic level graphics were not the goal here.  Having said that, I think the graphic style works absolutely perfectly.  There is an underlying humor, buried beneath the dark, gritty seriousness, and these graphics personify that feel to a T.  Not only that, every movement is spot on.  Humans look, move, and crumple like humans.  Clouds, smoke, steam and water all flow and drift like the real deal.  The only liquid that doesn’t behave like it should is blood.  Sure, when you slap-chop a dude’s face off with your sky-hook, a spurt of crimson will burst out.  But it’s not a mist or a spray.  It’s basically a torrent of blood-a giant, angry, cloud of red that bursts out of people when they’re hit or shot or pecked to death.  And that’s fine.  It works.  I didn’t need to see life-like blood explosions.  I was too busy cackling at tearing a man’s head off with my hand-held food processor.

I think this automatically sends me to the dark side.
I think this automatically sends me to the dark side.

Alright, we’ve now come to my usual grading trap: replayability.  Bioshock Infinite doesn’t have multiple endings.  There are many secret areas to find, trophies to unlock, and easter eggs to find that help further solve the mystery surrounding you.  But, gloriously, there is a DLC that is not only awesome, but brings back the best of each Bioshock game.  Titled Burial at Sea, it features Booker, the person you play during Infinite, and Elizabeth, running around pre-craziness Rapture in a noir detective style mystery.  Rapture has been spruced up something fierce, rather than just reusing previous iterations, and features new weapons, secrets, and other goodies, just waiting to be found.  It’s a rip-roaring good time, wrapped up in a wonderful, watery dystopian package.

Everyone smokes in a noir.
Everyone smokes in a noir.  Even her cigarette is smoking a cigarette.

Additionally, there are other DLC’s, including a nice little puzzle game, and an arena with wave after wave of enemies.  Nothing quite as in-depth as Burial at Sea, but they do a great job prolonging the fun of Bioshock Infinite.  Which is nice, because when I finished the main story, I was a little sad that it was over.  I wished the main story would have been more open-ended.  Maybe my choices throughout the game could have had more impact later on.  But, the DLC does a nice job in an attempt to atone for that.

Overall, Bioshock Infinite is a perfect example of not just a shooter, but of video games in general.  A gripping story, great gameplay and sound, and fun as hell DLCs create a package of awesomeness.  The worst part of this game was that I had to finish it.  I wish I could have kept discovering mysteries and running around Columbia, Elizabeth in tow.  But, of course, all good things must come to an end.  All I can hope for is that the next Bioshock, whether it continues on in the Infinite Universe, or the Rapture Universe, achieves the same level of greatness.  Bioshock Infinite earns a far from dystopian A.

Scoring:

Gameplay: 10/10

Story: 10/10

Sound: 10/10

Graphics: 9.5/10

Replayability: 9/10

Overall: 9.7/10 A

Beer Pairing:

Oh boy, pairing this game with a beer was a bit of a challenge.  There are so many characteristics about this game that can go nicely with so many beers.  But, I think that the major force behind the game is its noir air of mystery.  It pushes and pulls the story at every turn, creating the powerful emotional forces that draw you in and make you become invested in every little action, from the very first scene, to the ending credits.  Because of this, I’m suggesting Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout.  Not only is it as dark as the game, its deep complexity and multiple layers will keep you guessing from start to finish.  Coffee and chocolate flavors will appear and suddenly switch positions before you have a firm hold on the flavors.

It will also force you to keep drinking, pulling you deeper and deeper along for the ride.  Drink it slowly, and try to keep pace with the action of the game.  Slow section?  Take a sip.  Just finish an epic fire fight?  Treat yourself, and take a hefty taste.  Just be smart about it.  This stout is potent as hell, and you’ll need to keep a clear mind if you want to understand all the mysteries within the game.  So, pick yourself up a bottle or two of Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout, turn of your phone, shut the shades, and strap yourself in.  Between the game and the beer, you wont be leaving your chair for a while.

In fact, the only reason you'll stand up to to skyline attack anyone who bothers you.
In fact, the only reason you’ll stand up is to skyline attack anyone who bothers you.

What the Friday?! Ninja Post!

Afternoon everyone.  So, today will be a bit different.  Instead of a beer review, I’ll be sharing a bit of writing.  Partly because I reached a special kind of boredom in class today that summoned a muse and gave rise to these words, and also because I’ll soon be headed over to Crafted Drafts (the store, not the website) for their grand opening.  It’s a much needed craft beer store over here in North East Columbus, and I’m planning on spending, well, until they close for the night, browsing and searching and contemplating the vastness of brew that I’ll see before me.

But, back to the original intent of the post.  My writing.  It’s a poem today.  I don’t write too much poetry, but every now and then I’ll feel a spark and throw some words down.  Having said that, I’ll leave you with Boredom.  Oh, and if you currently are, or will find yourself in Columbus, head on over to Crafted Drafts and treat yourself.

Boredom

Through the dark, a blooming light
Deliver us from gloomy night.
A savior born from darkest thoughts
To tear us from this land of naught.

Amongst the shades that hold us here
A path of clarity to guide the way.
Beyond the cloak of strangling fear
A doorway open to light of day.

Fighting against the grasping claws
Of heinous demons and gnashing maws.
To find salvation from this hell
In which we’ve all been forced to dwell.

But now we see the glowing end
Of timeless solitude now left behind.
Back to that dark those beasts we send
As anguished thoughts vacate our minds.

And now we bask in freedom’s light
Bearing those scars to mark our plight.
Remembering our time trapped in that dread
Where even horror fears to tread.

Thirsty Yarghsday Beer Review: Deveiled Amber Ale

deveiled

Ahoy ye bunch of scurvy dogs and buxom wenches!  Welcome to the Pirate Day edition of my Thirsty Thursday Beer Review!  Today, we’re firmly back on the craft beer course, leaving the MicroMacro world of Blue Moon behind us.  Where’s our next destination?  Well, my friends, before us lies a beer that has an air of mystery surrounding it.  Labeled as an amber ale, the liquid inside the bottle is, well, black.  A black amber ale?  Oh yargh!  It’s Magic Hat’s Deveiled Amber Ale.  So come along, my rowdy bunch of motherswashbucklers, and let us partake in the second best aspect of a pirate’s life, (the first being the booty, of course.)

The first aromas from the open bottle are floral malts and some bitter hoppiness, creating a classic beer scent, that is nicely accented by some subtle sweetness that hangs out at the sidelines.  It has a slightly darker, heavier aroma than other ambers, but not quite as dark as a porter, or even a Black Ale.

The first taste from the bottle is a slight bitterness from the hops at the tip of the tongue.  The malts head towards the back, taking on a roasty flavor, while still maintaining the bready taste of traditional malt.  The bitterness of the hops isn’t as crisp and biting as an IPA, but it does have a slightly stronger kick than a normal amber. The dark, roastiness of the malts give it a taste appearance of a Black IPA, but this offering is sweeter, and not as bitter.  It’s like someone took an amber, added a dose of ominous intentions, and we ended up with this beer.  And, that sounds pretty awesome.

After pouring it into a pint glass, the floral tones are present once more, with an underlying sweetness, all atop a nice foundation of slightly roasted, bready malts.  These notes are coming from a beer that has poured a deep, dark amber, like a dark mahogany, all nestled under a crazy thick, roasty head.  Seriously, look at that picture up there.  I gave it a normal, standard pour, not overly strong or aggressive, and that’s what happened.  Well, when the bottle has a skull on the front, expect anything.

The flavors are more expressive after the pour.  The roasted malts show up first, bringing a slight tang and some crisp bitterness along for the ride.  The bitterness heads toward the back of the throat, while the maltiness sets up shop everywhere else.  The sweetness diminishes slightly, but it can still be found under everything else, making appearances every now and then.  If you enjoy the beer slowly, it will seem sweeter.  In both the bottle and the glass, it has a nice, bready aftertaste, that includes floral taste notes every now and then.

Overall, Magic Hat’s Deveiled Amber Ale is a robust, roasted amber that is a bit of a departure from the normal amberness many of us know.  It has some characteristics of a darker ale, such as a smooth, rich flavor and feeling, but it brings some crisp, hoppy tangs throughout the drinking experience, that keep it apart from other dark IPAs and porters.  Its dark notes will stay with you for a while, so you’ll get good mileage out of this beer, especially because it should be enjoyed slowly, in order to locate all of its complexities and flavor layers.  You’ll experience everything from sweet, bready malts, to roasted darkness, to the sudden zest of hops, possibly all at the same time.  Despite its quirks, it still seems familiar, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in the end, I found myself wondering if this was something I’ve had before, just labeled as a different style.  Sure, it’s a dark, roasted amber beer, but it doesn’t taste all that different from numerous other offerings out there, that may or may not be the same thing, just under different names.  But, having said that, it is definitely a tasty, easily drinkable ale that shouldn’t disappoint.

My best suggestions for enjoying a Deveiled Amber Ale are watching a football game (possibly with some wings), in front of a bonfire (preferably on an evening when it’s a bit nippy outside.  Basically, hoodie weather), or just as you forcibly board an enemy’s ship to steal their booty.  What better way to enjoy a beer that has a jacked up, death’s head flower skull staring you right in the face each time you look at it.  So go on, grab a wench (or, a wenchman for you ladies) and enjoy!  Magic Hat Deveiled Amber Ale receives a Jolly Roger sized B+.  Yargh!

Grading:

Taste: 8/10

Drinkability: 8.5/10

Price: 8/10

Looks: 10/10

Lasting Strength: 9/10

Overall: 8.7/10 B+

Yet Another Beer Review Update

Happy Thursday everyone.  Don’t worry, like the weekend, my beer review will be along shortly.  But first, I wanted to make a quick post detailing another slight change to my beer reviews.

Along with the updated grading scale, I’ll now be closing out each review with some pairing ideas.  But, instead of traditional food pairings, or even a reverse video game pairing, I’ll toss out some suggestions based on moods, weather, activities, time of day, and so on.  To me, the flavors, aromas, and all around enjoyment of a beer can change depending on so many factors.  I find drinking with friends to make even the worst glass of swill taste, well, still pretty terrible, but perhaps just a little better.  Likewise, I find certain beers bring a certain attitude with them, that can change from day-to-day.

You can choose to ignore my recommendations.  That’s totally fine.  I make no claims to be an expert.  I just like beer.  And, potentially even more exciting for me, if you have any suggestions on when, where, and why to drink a specific beer, let me know.  I’ve found that drinking craft beer is a community driven experience, best done when in the midst of like-minded, jovial souls, who just want to enjoy some bottled tastiness.