KALEA Brewery’s Advent Calendar Part Two: Days 7 – 12

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Happy Monday folks!  Time to take a look back at the past week and see what beers my KALEA Advent Calendar had to offer.

Day Seven: Schloßbrauerei Rheder – Jubiläumsbier 333 (Rheder, Germany)

Style: Marzen

ABV: 5.3%

Overall: It poured true to style with a clear copper body beneath a bubbly, off-white head.  It had a smooth, full body featuring doughy malt and a slightly resinous sweetness at the edges.  I found it to be a very fine brew, though not necessarily one to get particularly excited about.

Day Eight: Hehenthanner Schlossbrauerei – Tannen Hell (Hohenthann, Germany)

Style: Helles

ABV: 5.0%

Overall: It arrived in my glass with a clear yellow body with lots of lively carbonation feeding a thick foam head.  The beer had a bubbly, light body and a finish that was perhaps a bit grainy.  Not my favorite beer in the set.

Day Nine: Privatbrauerei H. Egerer – Perlenzauber (Grobkollnbach, Germany)

Style: German Pale Ale

ABV: 5.4%

Overall: Pouring to a light copper body topped by a thin foam lacing, this was somewhat similar to a lightly hopped version of some of the helles style beers encountered on previous days.  A solid brew, I enjoyed this one.

Day Ten: Herrnbrau – Festbier (Ingolstadt, Germany)

Style: Marzen

ABV: 5.5%

Overall: I was initially somewhat skeptical about whether I needed a second marzen this week, but then this beer went out and impressed me!  It poured to a clean light copper body with a creamy, slightly off-white foam head.  The tastes were smooth and subtle, with a pleasing blend of bready malt and caramel sweetness.  I really enjoyed this in ways that I was not expecting to, hopefully I can find some of these in my area next fall.

Day Eleven: Ankerbrau Nordlingen – Grandl (Nordlingen, Germany)

Style: Helles

ABV: 5.0%

Overall: Similar in appearance to all the other helles brews reviewed thus far, it had a grainy/slightly yeasty finish that wasn’t for me.  Moving on,

Day Twelve: Privatbrauerei Loncium – Vienna Style Lager (Kotschach-Mauthen, Austria)

Style: Vienna Lager

ABV: 5.5%

Overall: It poured to a yellowish-copper/amber body and featured a nice hint of hops around the edges.  It was a good beer, but I’m definitely ready for something a bit different at this point.

And there you have it.  I would still rate the experience as so far so good, though I do wish the collection of brews so far was a bit more diverse.  Personal preferences aside, the beers have all been solid but unfortunately very similar.  I think the occasional heavier dark brew (thinking something along the lines of a bock, dunkelweizen, or stout) would increase the excitement level a bit and give the collection a more seasonal feeling.  See you again next Monday to find out if my holiday wish gets fulfilled.

Cheers!

KALEA Brewer’s Advent Calendar Part One: Days 1 – 6

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It’s hard to believe, but December is here and 2020 is heading into the final stretch.  To help me get through this socially distanced holiday season, my wife surprised me with the Brewer’s Advent Calendar from Costco featuring 24 cans of beer from small brewers in Germany and Austria.  I honestly have no clue what to expect from this, but it does seem like a fun way to get back into posting!  Here’s a look at what the first six days had to offer.

Day One: Flotzinger Brau – Hell (Rosenheim, Germany)

Style: Helles

ABV: 5.2%

Overall: Well, the name certainly felt like an appropriate way to begin the 2020 holiday season!  This brew poured to a clear, yellowish body with lots of lively bubbles running up the glass to feed a thin layer of foam across the top.  Tastewise it was crisp and refreshing, with a nice light sweetness sitting atop clean pale malts.  This was a nice, easy drinking brew to start the month’s journey with.

Day Two: Furst Carl Schlossbrauerei – Kellerbier (Ellingen, Germany)

Style: Kellerbier

ABV: 5.1%

Overall: It poured to an amber tinted yellow body topped by a thin layer of white foam.  As with the previous offering, this one featured some nice pale malt sweetness, but more subtle overall with hints of caramel mixed in with an earthy graininess.  The body was light with slightly above average carbonation.  Another nice, refreshing beer at the end of a long day.

Day Three: Kaizen-Brau – Kauzle (Ochsenfurt, Germany)

Style: Pilsner

ABV: 4.8%

Overall: It was a clean, crisp, and slightly sweet pilsner.  I don’t have a lot to say about this one, but it delivered what you’d want for the style.

Day Four: Brauerei Zwonitz – Zwonitzer Steinbier (Zwonitz, Germany)

Style: Steinbier

ABV: 5.6%

Overall: I’ll admit that this is a style that I do not recall having come across before.  Apparently translating to stone beer, this style is brewed without the use of metal kettles and is instead mashed in wooden tubs with hot stones used to raise temperatures.  As for this particular beverage, it had a light brownish/amber body topped by wisps of beige foam.  It had a light sweetness upfront followed by underlying notes of roasted and smoked malts.  I’m generally not a fan of smoked beers, but this one had a subtlety that made it way more approachable than most.  This one really intrigued me and I’m happy I had the chance to try something different that what I usually come across.

Day Five: Graminger Weissbrau – Kirta (Alotting, Germany)

Style: Dunkelweizen

ABV: 5.6%

Overall: This one poured to a medium brown body with a determined and persistent off-white head.  It featured some grainy, chocolatey malts upfront, some slight notes of spicy hops in the middle, and a malty finish highlighted by hints of dark fruit.  While one or two sips seemed a bit uneven in terms of blending flavors, on the whole I really enjoyed this one.

Day Six: Propeller Bier – Turbo Prop (Bad Laasphe, Germany)

Style: Imperial Pilsner

ABV: 6.5%

Overall: It poured a dark yellow/amber with some white foam lacing across the top.  The taste was a somewhat surprising blend of sticky sweet hops bitterness, caramel malts, and notes of honey.  Its smooth, creamy finish was immensely satisfying.  I’m not entirely sure this is properly a pilsner, but it is my favorite beer of the box thus far.  Wishing I had a bunch more of these!

And that concludes the first six days of my advent calendar beer adventure.  At this point I will rate the experience as so far, so good.  While most of the brews haven’t been particularly flashy by stereotypical American craft beer standards, they have all been solid and enjoyable.  I’ve even learned something along the way!  I’ll be back next week to let you know how the next six go.  Cheers!

Book Review: Dawnshard, by Brandon Sanderson (Book 3.5 of the Stormlight Archive)

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I know things around here have been pretty quiet on the book front lately, but that has largely been due to my decision to reread the Stormlight Archive a short while back to prepare for Rhythm of War, the soon to be released fourth book in the series.  Somewhere along the way, however, I signed onto a Kickstarter campaign and with it got my hands on this new novella set between the events of Oathbringer and the new release.

Taking place a few months after the Battle of Thaylen Field, the story centers around the merchant, a popular interlude character, Ryan Ftori.  Since we last met her, she has been gifted control of a state of the art sailing ship named the Wandersail by her former master Vstim.  Despite harboring doubts about the willingness of the crew to accept her command in light of the injuries she suffered in Words of Radiance, Rysn is eager to go out and get acquainted with the ship.  Forgoing a number of more mundane trade missions, she ultimately chooses something far more adventurous for its first voyage after learning that the only hope for curing her pet Larkin’s mysterious illness is to bring it home to Aimia.  Knowing the Alethi have a keen interest in the forbidding land and the strange, Stormlight stealing creatures guarding it, Ryan approaches Navani Kholin, newly crowned Queen of Urithiru, and accepts a mission to search for the legendary island of Akinah.  Given the danger and sensitivity of the quest, a small contingent of ardents and Knights Radiant will go on the voyage as well, and they are headed by none other than Bridge Four’s own the Lopen.

I greatly enjoyed this novella and found it made me even more excited for Rhythm of War, something I wasn’t quite sure was possible.  As fun as it was to have more time with characters like Rysn and the Lopen, this story was no mere side quest.  No spoilers, but some major events happen to these characters that could greatly impact the balance of power on Roshar.   Perhaps even more interestingly, the story also contributes greatly to filling in some of the gaps in our knowledge about Roshar and provides some tantalizing clues about Cosmere lore as well.  For teasers, readers finally learn a bit more about the fate of Aimia and the Sleepless, and are treated to explicit references to the shattering of Adonalsium and the Horneaters’ role knowledge of Cultivation’s Perpendicularity.  More generally, it was also fascinating to see how quickly fabrial technology is advancing for the Radiant forces.  I’m really curious to see how this aspect of the story develops, especially as the various Cosmere novels start moving further along their timelines.

At this point I feel like there are so many things that I am tempted to explore and theorize about, but with a full length novel coming up (it’s out tomorrow!) I’m going to hit pause on that for now.  My next order of business is to get through my reread of Oathbringer to fully prepare me for that experience.  Hopefully I’ll be back soon with even more Cosmere stuff to share!

Halloween Double Feature: Lord Hobo Brewing Company – Doom Sauce

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Hello and welcome to the after dark edition of my annual Halloween double feature!  Hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable night so far.  Let’s take a quick look at my featured beverage this evening!

Beer Name: Doom Sauce

Brewery: Lord Hobo Brewing Company (Woburn, MA)

Style: Black Double IPA

ABV: 7.8%

Description: A darker take on the brewery’s popular Boom Sauce NEIPA, 

Appearance: It poured to a deep black body topped by a bubbly light tan foam.

Smell: Light roasted malt with hints of citrusy bitterness.

Taste: Creamy, smooth dark mark swirled with citrus and tropical notes upfront.  Keeps the malt backbone through mid-sip and ends with a lightly toasty and moderately hoppy finish

Mouthfeel: Medium, pleasantly smooth body with moderate carbonation

Hype: None.  I didn’t even know this existed until a friend brought it over a few days ago.  Talk about a pleasant surprise!

Overall: I really liked this one.  It is everything one could want from the style and super smooth to drink.  Black IPAs were kind of my thing when I first got into beer years ago and since the style has been out of favor for some time now, finding a really good one is a nice treat indeed.  Grab this if you can!

Halloween Double Feature: Book Review: The Barrow Will Send What it May, Margaret Killjoy (Book Two in the Danielle Cain Series)

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Good morning and Happy Halloween!  It’s time again for my annual double feature pairing a spooky story with a Halloween-themed beverage.  Tradition has the book going first and I see no reason to change that now.  Getting the honors this year is Margaret Killjoy’s The Barrow Will Send What it May, the second novella following the adventures of a young woman named Danielle Cain and a group of anarchist drifters turned demon hunters.

We talked about friends in common who weren’t dead or missing. The state of the anarchist movement and its role in fighting the rise of fascism and nationalism globally. Then, more interesting to me, the state of magic.

The story picks up almost immediately after the end of book one, with our heroes on the road and looking to quickly put some distance between themselves and the multitude of dead law enforcement officers left behind by their encounter with the demon Uliksi back in Freedom, Iowa.  They are headed west and debating whether it’s best to lay low or look for ways to further their understanding of magic and the occult.  That decision, however, soon gets made for them when they hitch a ride with a woman who claims to have been returned from the dead.  She drops them off in the town of Pendleton, Montana where they learn a bit more of her story from some like-minded folks squatting in/running the town library.  From that point on, it’s only a matter of time until they cross paths with the local necromancer and find themselves once again involved with some very powerful magic.

Coming in at a crisp 104 pages, I flew through this story completely entertained throughout.  It had a lot of great energy, mixing in elements of mystery, suspense, humor, and politics (in particular examinations of power and gender) into a bundle of eerie fun.  While the story was perhaps a bit episodic, it successfully provided some much anticipated character development and world expansion.  While in retrospect the supernatural elements were a bit cliche this time around, I didn’t so much mind as the strength of these stories so far is really in the characters.  The cast is quite diverse, with a variety of races and orientations well represented and welcomed throughout the story.  My favorite characters at this point are probably the white female lead Danielle, for her witty and honest internal monologues and Vulture, a black trans man with a slight obsession with Instagram an anarchist exploits.  Overall, though, I enjoyed them all individually and collectively and liked seeing how the various companions, friends, lovers, and those somewhere in between get along with each other and react to the unusual direction their lives have gone.  They just seem like good people and are now officially in the running as one of my top literary crews.

My only regret about this story is that the series hasn’t continued on yet.  Given some of the possibilities left open by certain developments there needs to be at least another novella of two!  I absolutely love my time with these characters and am eagerly awaiting another chance to go on an adventure with them.

Allagash Brewing Company – Haunted House

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With Halloween right around the corner, at last the time is right to unveil my final pickup from Allagash Brewing Company last month!

Beer Name: Haunted House

Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company

Style: Hoppy Dark Ale

ABV: 6.66%

Description: Inspired by the brewers’ love of porters and their own House beer, a low-ABV Belgian pale ale.

Appearance: Black body with about a finger’s worth of tan head

Smell: Not entirely unlike a Belgian pale ale mixed with a toasty porter.

Taste: It opened with notes of light roast coffee, dark chocolate and creamy dark malt upfront.  Midsip it took on some more grainy, pale malt tastes.  It closed with a well balanced blend of Belgian yeast, earthy hops, and roast coffee.

Mouthfeel: Smooth medium body with slightly below moderate carbonation.

Hype: I had some higher than usual excitement about this one.  It had eluded me in years past so I was happy to finally track it down.

Overall: Smooth and easy drinking despite the rather interesting blend of tastes.  An excellent Halloween treat!

Random Tag Tuesday: Hallotober Tag

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Dusting off another one of my favorite prompts, it is time to welcome back Random Tag Tuesday!  For those that don’t remember, the name of this series is a throwback to my college days when Tuesdays were the day for, well, random adventures.  It should come as no surprise that this week I am taking on a very timely tag about one of my favorite times of year.

What’s your favorite thing about October?

It’s a combination of the weather and outdoor activities.  Between the cooling temperatures and beautiful foliage how could you not want to go outside this time of year?  Walks in the woods and visits to farms are particular favorites.

Are you a big celebrator of Halloween?

Yes!  Pre-child my wife and I would meet up with friends in Salem, MA to wander about town (in costume of course) and attend various events.  Post-child things have calmed down a little bit, but we do still decorate and find family activities to take part in.

What’s your favorite horror movie?

So I’ll let you all in on a not so well kept secret: I don’t really like horror movies!

Would you rather a cozy night in watching horrors or a big night out in a costume?

In case you couldn’t figure it out from the last two questions: a big night out!  Halloween is probably the one night out of the year I’d pick that.

Which has been your most favorite costume to date?

I have a particular affinity towards my Mega Man hoodie, but I think my steampunk ensemble is probably the best overall.

Bobbing for apples or pin the hat on the witch?

I’m not sure I’ve actually ever bobbed for apples, so maybe that.

How do you celebrate Halloween?

These days it’s all about showing the kid a good time.  Be it children’s party, trick or treating, or dressing up as Rainbow Dash I’m in it for him.

What’s your least favorite horror?

Gore.  It’s not for me and probably why I’m not that into horror movies.

Do you have a favorite trick or treating memory?

I have so many good memories of this that’s hard to really choose one.  My vivid memory of being terrified of my neighbors house as a small child is up there, as is the time as a teenager I almost got a police wagon ride.  (That latter story is much more innocent than it sounds – my friends and I were playing football in a park when someone drove by and set off a whole lot of fireworks.  Neighbors must have called the cops, but luckily they realized it wasn’t us pretty quickly.  “Cancel the wagon” was a popular refrain for a few weeks after that.)

What’s your favorite thing about Halloween?

The feeling of fun and adventure.  If you’re in the right spot with the right people there’s just an awesome energy about the evening.  It’s something I’ve just felt at every age, though not always in the same way.

Scary costume or Silly costume?

I suppose my costumes are more on the silly end of that spectrum, but I don’t think I’d necessarily call them that.

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

Peanut butter cups, in whatever shape they may come in.  Basically whatever delivers chocolate and peanut butter to my face.

What is your favorite haunted attraction or location?

It has long been the downtown area of Salem, MA (which I am pretty fond of at other times too) so I am kind of bummed out we won’t be visiting it at all this season.  I just don’t want anything to do with crowds, especially with a young child to keep track of.  I am looking forward to attending the Jack-o’-lantern Spectacular at the Rhode Island Zoo which is becoming a new tradition.

Music Monday: Halloween Playlist, Part Four

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Even though I haven’t been posting as much as usual lately, there was no way I was going to miss out on doing something festive for Halloween!  Since one of the things I love the most about Halloween is all the great music, let’s start the celebration with my first Music Monday post of the year.  Yup, it is time again to share some more tracks from my ever growing Halloween playlist.  While you’re at it, make sure you check out my previous entries as well:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

As always, a giant THANK YOU to the folks whose videos I link to.

Her Ghost and the Fog, Cradle of Filth

I’ve had some mixed feelings about selecting bands like Cradle of Filth in the past since pretty much every song by them fits the theme but I wanted to make the list a bit heavier this year.  It was the music video that gave this song the edge over other tracks like Cthulhu Dawn and Dusk and Her Embrace.

I Reject, Bile

Let’s keep things loud.  Here’s a track from the much better than it had any right to be (and previous Music Monday topic) Mortal Kombat Soundtrack.

Apple of Sodom, Marilyn Manson

Honestly I’m not sure what to say about this one other than it’s both strange and creepy AF.

Strange, REM

And now for something completely different.  This song is from the band’s 1987 album Document which has a somewhat incongruous place in my all time top five.

Phantom of the Opera, Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies

Now to pick up the energy a bit while still keeping things light-hearted.  I credit my wife with introducing me to this punk cover of a musical classic.

Knights of Shame, AWOL Nation

And I’ll close with a big finish.  It’s a long song, but definitely a good one.  Just hang in there for a little bit and you’ll see why it made the list.

Great Marsh Brewing Company – Peach Hard Seltzer

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Hi folks! Just posting a little something from my summer backlog. Taking advantage of another beautiful late Summer afternoon, the family and I took a Sunday out to Appleton Farm in Ipswich, MA a couple of weeks ago. While there, we took in some beautiful scenery and enjoyed a couple of beverages from the folks at Great Marsh Brewing and their line of hard seltzers.

Beer Name: Peach

Brewery: Great Marsh Brewing Company (Essex, MA)

Style: Hard Seltzer

ABV: 4.5%

Description: For their line of seltzers, the brewers wanted to distinguish themselves from a crowded field of similar products. To do so they made efforts to capture the water profile of Selters, Germany and took the additional, and somewhat novel, step of not adding any additional sugar.

Appearance: I drank this one from the can, but I have sufficient reason to believe it was clear and bubbly.

Smell: Faint sweet notes of peach.

Taste: Light notes of ripe peach throughout. The finish was pulpy with faint alcohol notes.

Mouthfeel: Lightly carbonated and light-medium bodied.

Hype: None. I’m not exactly up on developments in the world of hard seltzer.

Overall: I really enjoyed this as an outdoor, warm weather beverage. Standout for me was the refreshing, light, and natural taste and (most importantly) the fact that it wasn’t as aggressively carbonated as a lot of other hard seltzer options I’ve come across.