Extremely Scrumptious Biscuits – Barebottle Brewing # 8

No, I am not talking about my ass. Today’s refresher is interestingly enough, an English Special Bitter. It’s exactly how it sounds, like a typical English ale but more even more bitter (but not overpowering). It’s very malt-driven, medium-bodied and a little harsh on the tongue. Which makes me think it was a helluva lot stronger, but surely enough it only clocks in at 4.8% ABV. Blimey! Makes you want to bring a few out on the range for a bit of golf and to talk about insurance rates. I don’t know. Is that what British people do?

British stereotypes: do mention the war, please | Jonathan Freedland |  World news | The Guardian
Evening Govenah!

Stereotypes aside, I rather enjoyed it. I get notes of heavily-toasted oats and cereal. I really ought to try more English styles so I want to be a little more lenient in scoring here. For that I’m only allowing myself to review one or two more goddamn juicy IPA’s this year.

Rating: 7.0

Garage Dojo – Bike Dog Brewing # 7

First off – the marketing is on point. I mean look at this dude:

Image result for bike dog garage dojo

I can’t say I picked it up at Whole Foods for any other reason. Usually I’m that asshole with the Untappd app on my phone, taking forever to make a decision.

All in all, I say I made a good choice! It’s definitely not advertised as a Hazy, so that threw me off from the get go. But what really threw me off was the flavors they pack in here. Watermelon, lime, mango… I thought I might pick up some Mountain Dew notes as well. Not bad all around – I really could use some more hops and piney flavors in a DIPA. Curious if it’s just Citrus and Mosaic hops in here.

Well, time to do some Rex Kwon Do after a few more of these:

Rating: 7.9

The Fall of Pliny-The-Younger

Pli-ny the Younger was a beer
Of who AJ had held so dear;
the last whose taste was good and free
between the Vineyards and the Sea.

His foam was thick, his color gold
Like his brother's, but flavor bold;
the countless hops in Yakima
were rocking like Metallica.

But long ago he hopped away,
and where he dwells Russians won't say;
for into River fell his glass
in Sonoma where the brews pass.

I missed the cutoff to order Pliny online for this years release. If you hadn’t figured it out.


Kash Crop – Dust Bowl Brewing Review #6

Ever had a Hell or High Mango from 21st Amendment? Do you want a better one?

I’ll be honest, wheat ales, fruit ales, they aren’t my forté. But on a sunny day (only benefit of being in CA these days) after a long 9 hole, oh my gosh is this refreshing. So clear, bright, juicy too. I drank it like water, and was really debating a second one.

What I like about this is they own the fact that its a cash grab. Wheat ales are notoriously a summertime beer, so making it a year-round ale… doesn’t really give you the street cred in the craft beer industry. But we’re Californians, and we throw it in the rest of the country’s face all the time. So keep shoveling your driveway Colorado, we’re gonna drink our summer beers while wearing shorts and eating our avocado toast.

Rating: 6.8

Seismic Brewing – Magnetic Midnight Review #5

Oh ya, Dawk Lah-gahs.

Image result for matt damon boston

I love them. They trip you up because they’re so light, you think it’s going to be a heavy feel like a stout or porter. However, if you’re looking for those coffee or espresso notes, you might be to keep trying as it’s not very present in this brew. I kept drinking to find them though, so props to the makers! It’s also perfect as advertised; drink them on a cold winter night and you can’t go wrong.

The malt though, is fantastic! Dark, breadcrusty kind of feel. Apparently all California-grown as well, with German hops added in late in the process. There is some spices too as typical in a winter warmer, but honestly not a great blend (my first thought was burnt popcorn). A really interesting take, but it leaves a lot to be desired overall.

Rating: 5.9

Super Bowl Sunday Special: Torpedo Extra IPA – Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Review #4

With Tom Bombadil Brady’s 7th ring all but guaranteed, it’s time to start drinking. When quickly picking up groceries before the game at Safeway, I found myself struggling to find a simple and pleasing game-time beer. Typically I shoot for a Trumer Pils or something similar, but with a limited selection, I go for Sierra Nevada fairly often. Being sick of the Celebration Ale, I chose a beer I haven’t visited in awhile – The Extra IPA.

Without going the DIPA route, they max out the amount of hops to their more traditional IPA, and boy is it apparent. It does essentially what it’s made to do: highlights the piney, citrusy whole-conned American hops (think Cascade and Magnum). I probably know better than to describe a drink as “sticky”, but I still feel my lips stuck together a bit! If you really want to learn about hops and their flavor profiles, this would be a perfect “instructor” beer.

Maybe because it’s loaded with an aggressive amount of Magnum hops, this looks and tastes a bit more like a brown ale. Not a bad thing if you’re a fan of those, and it helps to make a smooth taste for a 7.2% beer. However, I don’t think this kind of beer would age well, and looking at the package date, its disappointing to see it was from 3 months ago. Better to try on draft, and if you’ve never been to Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest, then it’s even better to try there! Not that I remember doing so, but I do still have the ticket stub 😂

Rating: 6.9

Christmas Pancakes – Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Review # 3

Diving back into odd selections, this one will throw you for a loop. What is exactly a “gingerbread stout”? I’ve also seen it described as an Imperial Milk Stout. Frankly I couldn’t give two shits – this beer is Christmas in a glass.

Now widely distributed (I pick mine up at the local Trader Joe’s, which in my opinion usually showcases a horrible selection of brews), this is one I recommend to anyone. I would even attempt to get my teetotaler Grandmother to try a taste. This Virginian brewery was the first to attempt a gingerbread stout, and to my knowledge it wasn’t even supposed to become what it is today, as they were just tweaking their imperial porter beer. There is a special type of Hawaiian white ginger used, not native in the country but grown in a farm somewhere in rural Virginia. The same goes for the honey used as well, though not as prominent in the taste.

What separates Christmas Pancakes from their Gingerbread Stout though – it’s re-fermented with maple syrup, in lieu of molasses. What I wish I had more insight on is the malt recipe. I feel like it could use more of a breadiness and I’m curious to know what toasted oats were used. Still – you can find very few stouts in the country that could rival this guy.

Rating: 9.1

Black Blizzard – Dust Bowl Brewing Review #2

There was a time where I would see a beer like this and think “woof”. But the benefit of no longer being a wide-eyed, dumb 21 year old, is that I don’t have to impress anyone with taking 10 beers to the face. So I can take it easy and have one or two Imperial Stouts. Still, at 9.4%, this can easily give you the spins.

Without any research done, all I could tell you about a Russian Imperial Stout is that it’s essentially a stout, but more hops and much stronger. Google tells me this was on purpose; back in the 1600’s, the Russian Czar Peter the Great fell in love with stouts, on a diplomatic visit to London. Beers were sent up the Baltic, but none were surviving the journey by the time they made it to Russia. So, they went for the simple fix and overloaded it with dark malts and hops. When I came out of my IPA phase (more on that for another post. I’m pretty much still in one since I can’t stop drinking them, but I want to make fun of people that do), I found it easier to have beers with high IBUs and a hoppy profile to compare. Enter: stouts and porters. I hope to have an abundance of them reviewed, and Imperial Stouts kind of hit that sweet spot for me between dark/malty, and hoppy/bitter.

For Dust Bowl’s creation, Black Blizzard has all the stuff you love. Roasted barley, chocolate (a surprising amount), coffee. I again had it canned so maybe the steel-flavor you pick up has something to do with how sharp it feels in the mouth. It also has a lower level of carbonation and honestly, I think it could use a bit more age. Still a fantastic beer and one you should experiment with if you’re not a fan of stouts!

Rating: 8.1

Tolkien and Economics

In light of the stock market news today (who else is grabbing AMC puts?) I thought it be fun to speak on the macroeconomics of Middle-Earth. Where does money and trade play in to the various kingdoms and communities spread across Arda, and how does this play a part?

Well… the short answer is, it doesn’t have much of a space in the stories of LotR or even in the known history of Middle-Earth. We hardly have much to go on, and instead would take heavy liberties with the text to piece together a financial market. And because each race tend to keeps to themselves, we can’t in a surefire way determine what is fair trade. Hobbits practice some type of libertarian socialism – each family more or less tends with their own dealings. A small “police force” is mostly out catching lost livestock or handling petty-quarrels. Dwarves only sense of currency might be gold and other treasures mined deep in the earth. They have a love of Mitril and war-axes, but a dwarf has not much need for any other goods (that I know of). As far as Elves go, we know more about their trade practices and less about currency. Perhaps it is because of Elves that bothering with economic matters for forfeit for Tolkien. Gold for example – we do not know whether the value diminishes or increases over time (due to their immortal lives).

That is not to say that money is unheard of in these books. The hoarded gold of Erebor is a major plotline, and inevitably succumbs Thorin, King of Durin’s Folk no less, to death. The governing body of Laketown is clearly based on some Feudal system. But we have no history of the Master of Laketown, and how he came to be in power, since in the city of Dale it was governed by the ‘Lord of Dale’. And even that title we know nothing of, only that it’s hereditary, and Bard the Bowman, being a descendent of the last and only known Lord Girion.

All of this said, we do not know what roles currency, Feudal systems vs free market trade, or largely agricultural economies should have in these respective races. It is within dwarves’ nature to be drawn to rare gems and treasures of Arda, so where is the line between healthy habit and hoarding obsession? I’m not sure. I would assume digging deep enough that you find a Balrog is a pretty good starting point.

Does this change how we feel about Tolkien’s legendarium and mythology of his works? In my opinion, certainly not. If I were to have to listen to the different option strategies a Hobbit might place on their version of the NASDAQ, or the Forex rates between Ents and Elves, I’m not sure if I continue to read to be completely honest! No, the Professor’s skill is in his imagery with the landscape, the maps he has drawn in his head and his mastery of linguistics. It’s one of the rare aspects that Game of Thrones excels in where Tolkien does not go, and while an in-depth look at an medieval agricultural economy is not exactly must-see-TV, it offers a better idea of the Feudal system that high-fantasy works like these model themselves after.

I would like to give credits to this work by Jethro Elsden, who takes things so much further in regards to Tolkien and his stance on anti-socialism: