Monday, October 29, 2012

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale Beer Review

Picked this one up one a sour beer run to my new favorite beer store, Ale Yeah in Roswell, GA.

Pours with a lot of big sticky foam and a dark cherry colored. Hint of vinegar on the nose. Currants as well maybe? Fizzy at first in the mouth. Tart, smooth, sour finish. Hangs around for a little bit but not too long. Granny Smith apple kind of pucker.

A pretty good example of an entry level Flanders Brown. Good but not great. I'll give it a 3 out of 5.

Happy Drinking!!

I should have the next Vinyl and Alcohol post up later this week. Thinking The Association meets Mikkeller.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vinyl and Alcohol: New Belgium Lips of Faith Tart Lychee Review and ZZ Top "Eliminator"

Now, we flip the script and head to the other end of the Alphabet to give the last album in my catalog a spin.  ZZ Top's 1983 smash "Eliminator". It was either this or my first foray into the Association.  After a hard day at work I really wasn't feeling the whole 60's boy band/barber shop quartet vibe.  Was much more in the mode for some good Texas Blues infused Rock with a side of 80's synth for good measure.  Billy shredding away on the guitar with Frank and Dusty just trying to keep up.  Paired this listen with a bomber of New Belgium's Lips of Faith, Tart Lychee.  Why?  Why not, had this sitting in the fridge for about a week and have been looking forward to popping the top.  Love this beer, anyway... on to side one!

Boom, right out of the gate: "Gimmie All You Lovin'", "Got Me Under Pressure" and "Sharp Dressed Man".  Talk about the 1927 Yankees of 80's rock.  You would be very hard pressed to find three better side one, track one through three.  All three walk the perfect line between grungy bluesy guitar riffs and polished, synthesized 80's rock.  Out of the three I like "Sharp Dressed Man" the best.  Great lyrics, an unforgettable guitar hook, just blasts straight through the whole song, not a down note in the whole thing. If I had a band this would be one song I would insist that we covered. 

The Beer: Yum!!  For some reason my pallet has moved on from big hop bombs and on to sour and wild ales.  Love the funk, the unpredictability.  The Tart Lychee has a slightly vinegary nose, smooth in the mouth, picked up raspberry, cinnamon, vanilla.  Just the right amount of oak, not to much to come out in the flavor but you can tell its back there playing second violin.  Nice pucker, hangs around in the mouth quite a bit after you have swallowed.  Head flattens out quickly, color is a hazy light copper.  Really wish this was a year round brew.  I'll rate it 4 pints out of 5.

Back to the tunes.....  After basking in the afterglow of "Sharp Dressed Man", the rest of side one back off a bit.   "I Need You Tonight" sounds like something off a Thin Lizzy B-side (not entirely a bad thing).  "I Got the Six" picks the speed up a bit, sounds like Dusty is singing this one, Dusty shouldn't sing any.  It does sound like a great song to haul ass to in the middle of the night though.

Side jumps right back off the mat and hits you in the face with "Legs".  Anyone of a certain age remembers this video, the car and the girls.  I do like the song but have always felt it could drop about a minute and a half and be just about perfect.  The outro gets a bit repetitive and long winded.  "Thug" is next, did Law and Order come on all of a sudden?  Base line sounds just like the old Law and Order intro from the early 90's.  Did Dick Wolf own this album, here this song and say "I want that base line as part of the intro for this new series I have thought up" ?  Other than that teaser, a completely forgettable song.  "TV Dinners"? Ugh, no thanks.  This is when I really start to remember why being able to skip songs quickly on a CD was such a big deal.  A few words on the rest of the songs; "Dirty Dog" a slightly worse take on the Legs theme, "Flag Her Down" Was Swing time rockabilly infused Texas Rock ever popular?  Had to be written in the middle of a 3 day bender, "Bad Girl" Sounds like Sammy Hagar used this to write Wango Tango from, that is not a good thing.

To Wrap up, I really wanted to love this album, and I really like 3 and a half songs out of the 11.  Too much filler, drum machine (sounds like a 5 year old programmed it at that).  The "filler" songs may have sounded fresh in 1983 but end up all sounding waaaay too dated now.  I do love my some ZZ and am looking froward to listening to Tres Hombres in a few weeks.  Wonder how that one will end up grading out?  If I am going to have to start giving a score, let's just use a scale of 0 to 10.  I'll give this one a middling 5. 

Happy Drinking and Listening!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

AC/DC - "Back in Black" and "Dirty Deeds" meets Southern Tier Pumking Review

So, why Vinyl and Alcohol? Well I happen to have a few hundred records that I have acquired through either charity (thanks Mom, Dad and others!) or through my own purchases. Besides trying to find good local beer when I am on the road, I also try to hunt down independent local record shops. Anyway, after a bit of inspiration from Counterbalance columns over on PopMatters, I have decided to try to work my way through listening to all my albums. There are a good number I have never even dropped the needle on so I am looking forward to hearing some new things. I'll start with "A" the first week then flop to "Z" the second week and then back and forth. This should break up some of the multiple albums by the same artists a bit (and keep me from reviewing the Beatles for about 9 straight weeks). I figure I have roughly 300 albums, so I'll finish up sometime in the middle of 2018! And since I am going to be listening to some good tunes, what goes better than a good beer. I'll try to pair each listening with a new beer, should give me a good chance to go through some of the interesting stuff in my cellar. Anyways, here goes!

Music: AC/DC - "Back in Black" and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
Beer: Pumking by Southern Tier First one off the rack

The 1980 rocker by AC/DC with new front man Brian Johnson.  I don't think that I have ever actually listened to the album.  I don't mind AC/DC but I have never really sought them out, never had a "Man, I really need to listen to some AC/DC right now!" moment.  Looking at the track listing, this thing reads like a greatest hits album.  6 of the 10 tracks are in regular rotation on the classic rock channels, heck I am pretty sure I know most of the words to the songs. 

Ok, on to side one (yes kids, records have these things called "sides", you have to get up and physically turn the record over when you get to the end of the song).  Boom, right off the bat "Hells Bells" blasts onto the scene which then goes right into "Shoot to Thrill".  Rest of side one rolls along quite nicely, just good straight forward rock.  Not songs that I love but probably the perfect background music if you were shooting pool in a bar somewhere.  Side 2 kicks off with "Back in Black" and then you deal with the murderers row of classic rock staples of "You Shook Me all Night Long", "Have a Drink on Me", "Shake a Leg" and closing with "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution".  Pretty solid record eh?  A good one for sure.  I may not ever seek this record out in the "Man I really need to listen to Back in Black tonight" vein, but if I ever have a few friends over to throw darts, shoot pool and drink some beer then this one may very well make it on the turn table.

Beer pairing with a record is a bit new for me so I just grabbed the beer I've been really looking forward to having again, Southern Tier Pumking.  Damn I love this beer.  Not too much pumpkin, good balance, just the right amount of spice and sweetness balanced well with the alcohol notes.  I have got to get a few more bottles of this before it rides off into the sunset for the next 10 months.  A solid 4.5 pints out of 5.  Really went with the mood of the AC/DC session, smooth, straight ahead good beer.

Ok, now the most surprising review of the night. An oddity in terms of release date, AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap".  Originally released in 1976, it was not released in the US until 1981, a year after "Back in Black".  So you have an album with original lead singer Bon Scott first showing up in the US a year after the mega hit that was "Back in Black" was released with the new lead singer Brian Johnson.  Huh?  Yeah.  I have the US pressing, which apparently is missing some songs from the Aussie release and has others edited a bit differently than the original.  Only two songs I had ever heard from this record were "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and "Big Balls".  The rest were the first time I had ever heard them.  So what did I think?  Well, I really like this record better than "Back in Black".  Yes BnB is anthem rock royalty but there is just something a little cooler about this record.  Bon's lyrics and delivery are far better than Brain.  He exudes cools and character in every word, BJ just kind of shouts everything on BnB.  The song type varies a lot more on this album, makes it a  much more interesting listen.  I actually have found my favorite AC/DC song on this record, "Ride On".  A menacing slow burn of a song, sounds like AC/DC ripped off Bob Segars "Turn the Page" a bit.  A very cool track.

Final thoughts:

I am going to look forward to listening to a lot of music I have never heard before and finding plenty of hidden gems (like "Ride On").

AC/DC, I am going to have to try to find some of their earlier Bon Scott albums to go through.

Pumking: One of the best seasonal pumpkin beers around.

Happy Drinking (and listening) Everyone!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Records and Beer

After a great week plus of some amazing beer and great live music I got to thinking.  Why don't I try to pair up some music reviews with my beer drinking?  I am a bit of a vinyl record collector, have a bunch that have been donated to me from friends and family, plus a lot that I have picked up along the way (in addition to trying to hit as many local breweries while on the road I also try to seek out small independent record shops).  Anyway, I think I am going to attempt to work my way through my entire record collection.  I'll review one record and one beer each week!  Yep.  I'll start with the letter "A" week 1 and then letter "Z" week 2 and alternate from one end of the collection to the other (that way I figure I won't be reviewing 7 straight Beatles records) until I meet in the middle somewhere, going to guess around Billy Joel (I have them sorted by last name or band name).  Looking forward to listening to some records I've never pulled out (the Dionne Warwick records may be a bit tough to get through) and force myself to try a new beer each week (should also force me to go through some of my cellared beers when the right record calls for it!).  Anyway, going to kick it all off tonight!  Wish me luck!

Happy Drinking!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Getting Ready for IPAday

Thursday 8/2 is IPAday this year.  Don't really know how the date was chosen but heck, any day that we can celebrate a fantastic beer style is a good day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Beer Season Creep?

So I saw an ad about a week ago from New Belgium.  It was for the release of their new Fall seasonal, Red Hoptober.  So a fall seasonal released in late July?  Let me try to remember my seasons here..... Winter is Dec-Jan-Feb, Spring is March-Apr-May, Summer is June-July-Aug, Fall is Sep-Oct-Nov.  Ok so I'm not crazy.  A fall beer released in the middle of the summer.  What have the breweries become, auto makers?  On sale now, the new 2015 Lexus....

All kidding aside, I understand why the seasonal releases get pushed a bit earlier.  Heck I welcome it a bit just because I am not a big fan of many of the summer seasonal beers.  Just means I'm a few weeks closer to football season, a few weeks closer to buying a 12 pack of Sam Adams Octoberfest, drinking 2 of them and remembering that I really don't care for it, and then spending the next 6 months pawning them off on buddies when they come over to hang out.

Anyway, just kind of downloading my brain this morning.  Have brainstormed some homebrew ideas. Going to start fooling around with a true IPA recipe.  May brew a few batched back to back with the same malt bill and fool around with the hops to see which ones I like the best.  I also plan on making another batch of my Red IPA since it seems to be a favorite with everyone in the neighborhood.  Figure I'll try some sort of barleywine this fall as well.

That is it for now,

Happy Drinking!!  

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Beer Review? Really?

Four of them in fact! Imagine that, a beer blog with a few beer reviews!

First up, Great Divide Wolfgang Doppelbock Lager.

I'll keep this one simple, Wow. Balanced, smooth, a few hops in there, dead on style. I need to go stock up on this one for the fall and figure out how to rig my kegerator as a place to start lagering. Buy this beer now! My rating, 5 pints out of 5.

My Homebrew Red IPA Hybrid:

This is the 2nd batch of this I have made. My thought when designing this one was, hey I really like Red Ales, I really like hops so let's try to combine them. I'll call it "Redstone" Red IPA. 1st batch was spit on, malty, smooth, good hop kick and it clocked in at a sneaky 8.5%abv. 2nd batch I fooled around with the hop bill a bit and ended up with a much different brew. Sweeter, more flowery, not as much bite on the end. Still good but the Ukrainian judge takes off a half point for the landing. Let's call this one a solid 3 pints out of 5.

Now to the not so hot reviews.

Bomb Lager:

I had a 6 pack of this dropped off at my house by the local rep! I'll give them an A for effort. The cans are very cool with nice art work and boy do I wish the beer could live up to the art and devotion of the area rep. It is called a Helles Lager. Sure, if Miller Lite claims to be a true Pilsner then I guess this is a Helles. Pretty strange up front, I get orange? Reminds me of Sundrop, fizz sticks around and the flavor just disappears. Sure I guess it is smooth but, eh, not much else doing with this one. 1.5 pints out of 5.

Last and least....

Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Lager:

Ok, maybe the ones I got sat in a hot truck for a month. Tasted like a skunked Milwaukee's Best. So yeah, yuck. If this is truly what Pre-prohibition beer tasted like maybe it's a good thing they stopped making it. .5 a pint out of 5.

That is it for now dear readers,
Happy Drinking!!