Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mississippi Mud by the Mississippi Brewing Co.


Well guys, hump day is here. To celebrate being on the downward trek of the work week, with a short road trip to Athens, GA for a, well a wedding shower, and the bottling of my first beer on the horizon, I thought I would crack open a growler Of Mississippi Mud by the Mississippi Brewing company (out of Utica, NY? Damned Yankees)to celebrate.

Marketed as a “black and tan” beer, mixing a porter and a pilsner, the beer pours a nice dark brown with a head that has a light tan hue to it, and is quick to dissipate.

The brew smells light and malty with coffee notes and bitterness.

While the head is fresh, I assume because more air is mingling with the beverage, the flavor comes on full of espresso qualities, as the smell suggested, but quickly dissipates and mellows out on the backend. However it seems that when the head is cleared, perhaps also when my palette isn’t in shock of such full flavor, becomes exponentially milder, almost to the point in which it becomes a little boring by the time the growlers contents are emptied. The mouth feel is somewhat dry.

The novelty of the growler, and the design helped me pick it off the shelf, but I don’t really see myself buying this again. While it is an okay, approachable, darker beer, there are a lot of similarly priced “big beers” that have more robust and unique attributes.

Perhaps if the beer was just a porter, and not mellowed out by the lager, this would be a more worthwhile drink.



Prost!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Terrapin Rye Pale Ale

Highland Brewing Co. Black Mocha Stout


Well, this past saint paddy’s day I was in look for a stout that I had not enjoyed previously, and trying to keep at least one six pack of my two weekly sixers, I went with Highland Brewing Company’s Black Mocha Stout, brewed just a few hours away in Ashville, NC.

Nothing says Ireland like a beer brewed by Americans, giving homage to Scotland, right?

All kidding aside, this was a really wonderful stout.

The nose is heavy with malt grains, carrying a light charred note. The head, which is very substantial and alive with carbonation, exhibits a wonderful coco hue, which sits atop a brew that is so dark it seems light cannot escape its gravitational pull.

As the heavy drink crosses across my tongue the flavors of burnt coffee and slight chocolate notes are present, and linger for a good minute or two with a wonderful bitterness, even after the last drop had been swallowed.

Prost.

Shiner Spring Ale

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Marriage Made in Nerd Bachelor Heaven -The Arkeg




So, it’s Sunday morning, and I’m just browsing deals.woot.com for a little something (which basically means I want to buy something, anything, on the cheap) and I came across a kegerator or two, and that lead me to search for deals on kegerators, which lead me to discover the Arkeg.

Designed for the perpetual hetero bachelor, it is a keg cooler and tap surrounded by a video game cabinet mounted with a screen and a video game emulator, loaded 69 classic retro games. It is at least a fun idea for the beer drinking nerd who wants to show his other nerd friends how to have a good, nerd time.  

While I like the idea of it in theory, it’s much more practical to just buy a game system and a standalone kegerator. Keeping both separate makes one more approachable by the opposite sex, offer equal or great entertainment value, and will save you about 3300 dollars off the 4000 dollar sticker price.

Pope Crisco

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Television: Beer: An Insiders Guide



Always on a search for beer documentaries and other educational resources, I have run across Beer: An Insider’s Guide. Produced for an Aussie audience this is perhaps one of the most expansive, and detailed look at beer. Composed of six, thirty minute episodes, the series takes a look at everything from adjunct to home brewers, food pairings, and the Australian culture surrounding the beverage. Even as someone with no real intentions of even visiting the country, I still found it a worthwhile and enjoyable use of three hours.  

Pope Crisco

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Other Scriptures on Intoxico! #2


 This is a great little project. This brewer and blogger, inspired by the Paulaner monks, is fasting for the next 46 days, taking in just beer and water. So far a really interesting blog.

"But this project isn’t about me. It’s a historical study into the lives of these Christian monks centuries ago. I’m just the vessel. I want to be clear about that. I hope beer lovers’ learn something reasonable about Christianity, and I hope Christians learn something reasonable about beer."

Pope Crisco

Monday, March 14, 2011

Putting the Label Before the Beer III

Yeah, im bored, and honoring the president that made homebrewing a legal hobby in the United States.

 Pope Crisco 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Heavy Sea’s Loose Cannon Hop Cubed IPA


Having a nice long Sunday, despite losing an hour due to daylight savings, is what one needs to restore ones batteries and get one mentally prepared for the coming work week. Today I had a relaxed day of listening to music, doing some minor chores, and reading quite a bit about beer and brewing. To cap off the night I decided to break open a new beer to myself, Heavy Sea’s Loose Cannon Hop Cubed IPA.  Advertised as being triple hopped, the Clipper City Brewing Company refers to it as “an amazingly graceful American IPA,” at 7.25% abv.

Pouring into a standard pint glass the beverage exhibits a nice pale orange hue. The head off white, and about a finger at its apex, and quickly dissipates to about a quarter of the original size after only a few moments.

The nose is grapefruit heavy with a malty background.  

Bitterness and grapefruit are upfront initially, but the upfront boldness last very briefly, becoming maltier and more mellow, with an slight tilt towards an orange flavor. The bitterness does appear to linger longer the more I drink the brew.

Overall this is a very well crafted beer, displaying a lot of balance, and as described by the brewer’s description, grace. Perhaps I would have been happier with a more hop forward beer, but this is quite enjoyable. 

Prost!
 

Putting the Label Before the Beer II

New layout and final w/color chosen by my wife. Pope Crisco

Movie Review: Beer Wars ( or as I Would Call It “August Busch IV and Me”)








This was a really good documentary on the current state of the current micro vs. macro breweries in the United States. Following the owners of both the floundering New Century Brewing company, and the thriving Dogfish Head company, the movie shows a light on the struggles that smaller brewers go through just to get your attention and dollar, and overall is a great movie on the subject,  being both very informative and entertaining.

While I will suggest this movie to any beer drinker, I feel that too much focus of the movie is spent attacking Anheuser Busch’s product, suggesting that Americans drink macro brewed beer only due to uneven access to distribution and dubious marketing strategies. I can agree that craft breweries need a means to greater access to the market, but ultimately the reason that basically two companies sell 95% of the beer produced in the United States is that they make a product that is non offensive to most palates and sell it at a cheap price. 

Adjunct breweries might not make the most interesting or well crafted beers, but sometimes a cheap, forgettable beer is what one wants.

Anyone, including the producers of this film, who suggests that drinkers of Miller/Coors/Budweiser are victims to marketing are overlooking that smaller breweries often also producing boring and bad ales, stouts and IPAs, and getting a pass on how they present themselves to consumers.  

Pope Crisco

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Putting the Label Before the Beer

Just a preliminary mock up of a beer label for the first batch of beer my wife and I will brew, hopefully tomorrow afternoon.
The dog, IE Zadie, IE Littles, was a dog my wife had when I moved to Atlanta.
Just farting around on a Saturday night.
Pope Crisco

Prog-ress Report, Part II: Yes - Close To The Edge

Another week of Prog has come and gone, and well, I am really quite glad that I can put this week’s album down for a spell.  

Just to reiterate the theme of this series, which to date has no name, every week I will listen to an album suggested by friends or readers of this blog, day in and day out, during my commute to work and back home.  The first month or so though, I am dedicating to the genre of Progressive rock, also known more commonly as Prog.

Suggested by my wife’s college roommate, significant other of the individual who suggested the previous week’s album, and all around food goddess, Sarah, I have spent last week listening to Close To the Edge by the formidable talents of Yes.  

When you tell someone that you can start an album as you leave your house and get to work before the first  ends you would be giving the impression of a quick commute. However, much like the opening track of the last album I reviewed for this series, if that song is the title track of Close to the edge, you have a 20 minute or so commute, which is not so great (well, actually in Atlanta it is something to boast about, but that is another article). While sharing the length and the honor of occupying the side of an LP by itself, Close to the Edge differ in similarity to its Rush counterpart, Cygnus X-1 Book II, in that while the listener can recognize the different parts of the song, it does not  feel like three or four songs just kind of crammed  under one track. There is an obvious progression and transition that bind instead of separate the elements of the song.  Also, still comparing it to the Rush counterpart as mentioned above, with the exception of a discord fest in the introduction, Yes seems more focused on creating a digestible, more pop sensible, work. This is opposed to showing off musical complexity and virtuosity (which they do exhibit) for its own sake.

As well as being better at crafting music that is easier to digest, the lyrics on the initial listening, while exhibiting all the better aspects of bad poetry, do not go as so far to make me laugh, like that of Trees by Rush, or are so apparent to make me object to listening to the music in principal, as inspired the entire Doors catalog.
On the initial listening I found myself enjoying the funk/rock phrasing, and the semi folk harmonizing that somewhat reminded me of a synthesizer heavy Crosby, Stills, and Nash (And I and You was the worst/best with this).  

Honestly, after the first listen I was really enjoying the album. I had a few critiques about how some of the more extended synthesizer parts reminded me of the background music to 8 bit video games, but I truly enjoyed looking forward to the second and third days of listening to the album.

Now, that being said, I had many moments where I wish I could get the little lyrical hooks peppered in the album. It would invade my thoughts when at work, and I found myself phrasing the things I said to music from the three tracks that make up the original album. As I write this, I am looking forward to not having to “get up” and “get down” to this album for a while. I will though come back to this album. 

The only question now is, where to go next?

Pope Crisco

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Terrapin Hop-Karma Brown IPA

One of the reasons, second to reducing caloric intake, why I am reducing my beer consumption for lent is related to the relationship that my work and alcohol play in my life. Namely, I have a bad day at work (which is almost every day because I work in customer service hell) and I come home and drink four or five beers, I sleep, and wake up a little worse for wear to take on the next morning. Not hung over, but tired because of the frequent trips to the John to relieve my bladder of processed beer.

So far, so good. My desire for drinking beer has been, one day in, going well. Usually I’m finishing my third beer, and working on my fourth of the night by this hour, but here it I am, sober as a baby. However, it is a baby that has reduced his caloric intake and is kinda grumpy after a long day at work, and looking forward to some beer tonight

Some Terrapin Hop-Karma Brown IPA to be precise, which is described by the Athens-based brewery as “a collision between a hoppy west coast IPA and a malty, complex brown ale.”
Pouring the beer, the barley translucent chocolate elixir creates a hazelnut head that sits about half a finger above the beer. The nose is very bready with a nice yummy hop roundness.

It cries “Drink me!”

I do.

I am not disappointed, not at all. A sweet, warm maltyness, singing notes of coffee washes over my tongue and is left with just a lovely, sharp pine flavor and bitterness, but quickly mellows out, leaving the initial burnt coffee flavor. Maybe I’m just happy to have a beer in hand, but I think I might taste the slightest hints of chocolate.

The lacing is a thing of beauty, being long lasting and thick banded.
Sometime I can’t get over how much better Terrapin is so much better than the other big Georgia micro brewers.

Well, time to stop talking about beer, and start drinking beer.

Prost!

Pope Crisco

Other Scriptures on Intoxico! #1

Normally, I try to avoid reposting content others have created on this site, and will tend to do that with the facebook feed (you can "like" it on the sidebar to your right!) , but sometimes content is just so good that it needs to be posted again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rogue’s Maierfest Lager

Finished with dinner, and ready for my dessert with big beer number two of the evening: Rogue’s Maierfest Lager, also served in a 650 ml bottle. Beer Advocate lists the ABV at 5.6%.

Boasting just 7 ingredients (or maybe that’s as many as 7 ingredients) the beer pours with moderate carbonation, and is a tang like, orange color, with similar floating particulate to the beverage of America’s space program. The head is also tinted a slight orangish hue as well.

The nose is a very delicate, sweet and malty scent, but not much more definable than that.

The flavor is lightly citrus carried on the back of a heavy maltiness without very much bitterness to speak of.

The mouth feel is wet and dry, and perhaps not the best match with the saltiness of my dinner.

It’s a decent beer, as Rogue doesn’t make a bad product, but it just lays somewhat in the middle of the road for a craft beer.

Pope Crisco

Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale

Because I will be abstaining for beer for a night, and because I will not be having session drinking sessions for the next 40 days and nights, although I will permit myself two ales, today I am enjoying, in the words of the Coneheads, “mass quantities,” starting with this one pint, six ounce, 10 %+abv bad boy from New Hampshire based Smuttynose brewery.

The pour shows a light carbonation, and a thin head with a slight off white coloration. The brew itself is a nice copper/slight amber color. Despite not being the darkest of beers, the beer itself is almost opaque due to floating sediment in the beverage.

The nose is fruity and acidic, similar to an apricot, but with a pineapple note.
Upon drinking the first thing noticed, before the flavor, is that of the mouth feel, which is syrupy and thick. The flavor profile is a malt heavy, very sweet front end, with a sharp bitterness that dissipated after the first several sips. The sweetness prevails to the end, combined with the viscous, chewy texture of the beverage.

Overall the beer was fine, but nothing I want to drink very often, or a lot of.

Pope Crisco

The Lusty Monk “Alter Boy” Honey Mustard

Well, being Fat Tuesday, one objective is to fortify oneself for the next day of fasting, and with a day off I have the opportunely to prepare a meal, as opposed to reheat or buy one while at work. Being a manly man, I plan ahead when shopping with the little lady to enjoy a some fresh hot Italian sausages when at the farmers market, however being a little boy, I get turkey instead of pork to avoid a conflict with the wife (we are planning a diet to coincide with the beginning of lent), and intend to enjoy on some whole wheat bread also purchased at the same market.  As well as being a very hearty meal, it will also give me a base to do a review of The Lusty Monk “Alter Boy” honey mustard, a condiment brought home by my wife she obtained from her part time duties as a sandwich maker at a small boutique deli.

On appearance the mustard looks very rich, the texture being very smooth, thick, and chock full of mustard seed. So I slather a healthy bit on top of a slice of bread, and a link of sausage, and begin to enjoy my lunch, with a healthy glass of wheat ale to wash it down.

Coupled with the wheat bread alone, the mustard's spice is very pronounced, and almost painful, but quickly dissipates. Replacing heat and spice, a rich honey flavor becomes apparent and lingers well after the bread has been swallowed.

The heat is much less pronounced on the turkey sausage, and its sweetness is less obscured by the mustard seed bite. Perhaps the fats of the meat help mellow out the robustness so apparent when enjoyed on the bread.

Pope Crisco approves of this Lusty Monk. 


Sorry For The Typos #1 (March/Spring 2011)


Happy Fat Tuesday for all of my readers (or reader, whatever the case might be).
This will be a reoccurring segment just to let you all know what Mr. Crisco has in the works for the upcoming month or so. As well, I will have a “call for content” where I will ask for the readers to suggest things they would like to see (although I am always willing to take suggestions for any new content you might like). So without Further ado…

Beer, beer, and beer:
With Lent coming up I have decided that I need to reduce the amount of alcohol that I intake on a given night. So starting this week I will begin limiting myself to just two beers a night, with at most 12 beers a week. While this will reduce the amount of beer that I consume, obviously, because I am not concerned with quantity I can focus on quality. So expect 2 beer reviews per week over the next 40 days and nights. Penance was never so tasty!
Also, later today I will be making full advantage of Fat Tuesday with 2 Big Beer (as in big bottles) reviews, as well as other content.
And finally, for more outward looking, I will hopefully begin brewing my own beer later in spring/summer. Of course I’ll bring you along for the trip.
The Prog-ress report:
Already began early this month, I have started to take suggestions for albums of groups and genres of music that I am not familiar with to listen to for a solid week, and then reviewing , with the object of expanding my musical horizons. This month, to kick things off, will be Prog rock related. Feel free to suggest next month’s theme or an album by either commenting on this post or emailing me at popecrisco@gmail.com!

As always I will be doing reviews of comic books, food stuffs, and other forms of diversion.
Calls For Content:
Have a beer you would like reviewed? Want to suggest your favorite reggae, dub, death metal, trance album? Please let me know! Leave a comment! Email me! I want to service you!

Pope Crisco

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Prog-ress Report, Part I:Rush Hemispheres

So, a little preface for anyone reading this blog, I am not the biggest fan of Prog Rock’s pantheon, and personally, prior to last week, I found the genre somewhat questionable.  Perhaps I still keep the general idea, but there has been ground gained by at least one of the Prog Gods.
 One of my friends, a bassist and boyfriend to one of my wife’s college friends, has been a large proponent of both bass chords and of this genre. He has on occasion attempted to bestow the virtues of prog rock on the ears of the non believers, and being in a mood to expand my own musical perspectives, I accepted the word of Prog (amen!) into my heart and asked him to suggest an album that anyone could listen to for a week and emerge a fan.

And that my friends, brings us to this review. Now I don’t  pretend that I am a music critic. I just listen to a lot of varied music. I can’t even say I’ve ever read a formal, critical review of an album ever in my life.

So, upon the first listen one thing that was apparent is that these people can play their instruments, and play them well. The timing seems tight, and the pieces are composed as opposed to just thrown together as a vehicle for lyrics. However, again with the first listen, I get the impression that like Cream’s Disraeli Gears, while the musical chops are tops, the lyrical content and imagery are somewhat not on par. The primary case in point would be the imagery used in The Trees, where a conflict between oak and maple trees serves as a vehicle for a pro union ballad.  In context, this is kind of the opposite problem the Beatles exhibit, being excellent pop lyricists and excellent pop composers, but, for the most part, only good musicians, in my opinion of course.

The compositions of the songs, upon the first listen, ranged from “just okay” on the album’s 3 shorter, more rock/pop friendly pieces, to the awkward 18 minute, and somewhat jumbled, Cygnus X-1 Book Ii. The later often sounded like three songs that were kind of thrown together to create a kind of musical Frankenstein’s monster.

With the first listening under my belt, as I plodded to and from work, I listened to the album about 2 and half times a day, over the course of the work week.

Quickly I discovered why my initial listening was somewhat mediocre: I was trying listening to it as a pop/rock album. When not trying to compare it to others in the pop genre, and just listening to the album, I found a quality, not unlike that of progressive jazz, that kind of superseded the rock genre. The work is not trying to be the easily digestible three to four minute pop song. As I write this review, while I I am not disputing that my initial critique of the songs are much, if any different, I am smitten by the gestalt of the album, and find it a purely enjoyable collection of songs. I can say that, without question, I am at the very least a fan of this album.

Perhaps though, it’s like acquiring a taste for Diet Coke; once the cancer sets in, it is all you want.
Pope Crisco

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Left Hand Milk Stout

I really don’t drink this much good beer usually, but lady fortune has smiled on me again, as my wife has presented me with some Left Hand Brewery’s Milk Stout. Now, this is not a beer that I am totally unfamiliar with. On occasion my wife and I have enjoyed several of these fine stouts, and is probably my wife’s favorite stout. The packaging has been updated to less of a southwestern look, and now reflects an art deco inspired label. So, enough preface, there is beer to drink!
Pouring the beer, it is a dark, almost black, brown elixir. Once poured, only the slightest light can be seen through the pint glass. The carbonation appears to be on the lighter side. The head is thin, and exhibits nice, light nut brown tint.
The nose is that of burnt toffee.
The mouth feel is initially wet and velvety, but leaves one thirsty as it exits down the gullet.
The first thing tasted is a nice burnt caramel, very sweet and malty. On the backend there is the tang of burnt coffee, and maybe a little chocolate, with a pronounced, kind of heavy ,bitterness (if that makes sense).
As I come to the last bit of beer, the lacing on my pint glass is minimal.  And despite this being the only beer I’ll have tonight, and being full, I can feel the alcohol as it softens my perception, usually the effect of my second beer of the night.
Overall this is a finely crafted stout. There is a lot happening, there are a lot of wonderful flavors, and a nice oral texture. I am hard pressed to find any fault with this beer. Proust!

Pope Crisco

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Best of Mediocrity

Hello all,
Over the last month I have acquired  6 cans of various lagers, from Pabst Blue Ribbon to Budweiser with the intention of doing a blind taste test to see who reigns supreme atop the hill of mediocrity, and whether the budget priced beers stack up to the pricier competition.
Tonight after a hearty meal my wife indulged me in proctoring the blind macro brewery beer taste test by labeling the cans of beer one through six and matching that with a solo cup labeled in a similar fashion.
My favorite of the night was #4, which was full of an apricot flavor, with a nice bitter backend. Following the leader of the pack, #2 and #6 followed with a lighter, fruity/apple note, with only a mild bitterness. The following three seemed to be the same beers, all being mostly flavorless with a very light, almost nonexistent bitter note.   
The final rankings:
1 (#4) PBR
2 (#2) Carling Black Label (also brewed by Pabst)
3 (#6) Old Milwaukee
4 (#1) Miller High Life
5 (#3) Budweiser
6 (#5) Coors
Finding out that I preferred PBR over my usual weekday brew in Highlife was interesting, but even more so is that the Schlitz brewed Old Milwaukee even outperformed the beer that I had thought I preferred to all others Macros.
 Proust!


A Decent Try At Rye

Well, A few weeks ago I had gone out to do the weeks grocery shopping, and feeling without a project to occupy myself, I decided to gather the ingredients for a loaf of bread. I had previously been really into making pizza dough, but never got a result that I loved, so this would be my return to the world of bread baking. Being on a Ruben kick over the past week I loaded up my cart at our local farmers market with the parts to construct a loaf of rye bread.

And that’s all that happened for about 3 weeks until last night. Gearing up for my evening I sat in front of the computer catching up on my YouTube subscriptions, where one of the presenters I follow made this video of how to bake a wheat bread. Taking this as a sign that I should get to work on my own social network project, I spent the day (about 6.5 hours) working with dough to come up with an okay loaf of rye tasting bread using this recipe (adding a fair amount of errors).
It has a fine flavor, but the results are a little spongy, and not as light a bread as I would have preferred, but maybe I’ll have better luck next time.

Pope Crisco  









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