Category Archives: beer

Vacation Time! A week in the Middle Ages.

Hey Everyone I’m going on a vacation. Yes, you won’t be able to tell from post frequency. If I keep dividing by zero, maybe you’ll show up and there’ll be infinite posts here….

I’m a medieval re-enactor. Society for Creative Anachronism, SCA, to be specific. It is mostly a sport, partly a family party, when I was younger it was a way to pick up chicks, but I haven’t been younger in a while.  So, how is it a sport? I’m so glad you asked.

Camera test 029

I’m the fellow with the green shirt and yellow belt, off to beat on the big fellow with the red sword. I think he won, actually, but it went a lot like this.

fight 1

So, Gulf wars is a bit of this and a lot of ….


Vacation, where you sit back and relax, have a beer. (After a few hours of beating people with sticks, watching the baby, cooking meals for 25 on a grill, tent maintenance, and buying stuff for the wife.) Ahh, relaxation.

mad scientist rapier_and_dagger_2

So yes, a rocket scientist, a nuclear warrior, has a vacation as a history nut, a medieval warrior. Some days I’m a mad scientist, some days a renaissance man.

Yeah, I’m in all those pictures. (By definition, I know I’m in the Heavy Ravine War Point, the “Hobbies” picture, but maybe not in the frame, who can tell.) So, I should have some good war stories when I get home. HOPEFULLY.

I’ll see if I can write some science soon.

Redd’s Apple Ale – Beer Review

Because I have never given a “Public service message” on alcohol. Here it is.

I have a favorite leather jacket. I couldn’t afford it in the store. It is a beautiful lambskin leather bomber that retailed at about $400 bucks most of 20 years ago. The one I wear was bought by a distant uncle (complicated) who was friends with my dad. I inherited it when he died. My dad thought I’d like it, and I did, but he reminded me that the original owner died from alcohol addiction. I think about that sometimes when I’m staring at a beautiful coat that should still belong to someone else.

Alcohol and alcoholism kill you. Don’t drink to excess ( a drunken state), don’t drink and drive, don’t drink to cure depression, and don’t drink on a daily basis. If you can’t follow those rules, check yourself into a rehab.  

This Ends Hawk’s PSA.

Now, there are many days when I like a good cider, so I have tried: Woodchuck, Angry Orchard, Strongbow, Hornsby’s, and now Redds. I’m a big fan of Woodchuck and Angry Orchard. Strongbow and Hornsbys are good, but dry. Usually I’m a fan of dry, but Hornsby didn’t impress me and Strongbow did. Nothing terrible either way, but no excitement.

Angry Orchard does what I like, it takes risks. Each of its offerings are different, good or bad. You’ll like em or hate em, but they are all interesting.

Redds is blah. If you have tried some of the others and found them “Just too strong” but you’re looking for a cider. Well, Redds. It isn’t as bad as a mass-produced American beer (aka Budweiser), but it isn’t really worth the effort of picking out a box. Frankly, there are some mildly boring Woodchucks, so get one of them. (Not the granny smith – not boring.)

It went down the sink.

Friday night we had Pizza, so I decided to try Cold Snap by Sam Adams. Let me tell you all the good things I found out about Cold Snap.

It pours down the sink just fine.

Two sips. I couldn’t drink it with pizza. Let me say that I appreciate SA taking risks for interesting beer. Somehow, with an unfiltered and seasoned wheat beer, they accomplished the “eau de Budweiser.” Skunk on first sip, cold. Sorry, not a fan of Cold Snap. Send it back. 

Look, it isn’t spring yet so we can quit pretending to need a refreshing summer-weight beer for the next few weeks. I think I’ll be needing a red fireplace ale for a while yet. I did manage to quench my pizza with a Left Hand milk stout which is definitely worth drinking. I also had a wee heavy Sunday night. Lovely beer.

I’ve also been trying out dieselpunk again. I like the stout, but I hope the porter is sweeter. I think I have one left in the fridge for Wednesday night.

So, you all have a good Winter Storm. I advise picking up a case of anything Irish (Smithwicks or Guinness Black are current favorites), anything Porter or Stout (especially a Cream Stout), and any ole’ Wee Heavy is likely to be good.

New Year’s Beer Review

A happy new year to all of you, and a quick beer review. As you all might know, I don’t do anything fancy with my reivews, either it is a good beer, or a bad beer.

I did New Year’s Eve in Austin, Texas at the Broken Spoke. Alvin Crow played and there was country and western dancing. I broke in my new boots, took the wife on a couple trips around the dance floor. (proof below) Lots of fun.
Lets be clear, I took a shot of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey to kill the taste, then I drank some Lonestar. It was on tap. Tasted fine after the Jamesons. Look, if you live in Texas, you drink Shiner Bock and Lonestar. It can’t be held against you. If you don’t live in Texas…well…I personally wouldn’t waste the money. Again, after a whiskey and a round on the dance floor, Lonestar tastes just fine. I also had a couple glasses of champagne at midnight and (earlier that night) a couple glasses of red wine at the Brazilian Restaurant. Most alcohol I’ve had in one night.  

Once I was back in shouting distance of a real beer store I saw an 8-pack of Irish Beer. Guinness, Guinness Black Lager, Harp, and Smithwick’s. I picked it up on a whim, but I’d still call it a solid “buy.”

Harp – I’ve never cared for it, it rates about even with Lonestar for me. A good shot of whiskey would cure anything wrong with it. Frankly, It will sit in the back of the fridge with the lonely Boston Lager.

Guinness – It isn’t as good as I remembered. A lot milder of a dark beer. I used to love it, but now I’d rate it a “meh.” Oh, this isn’t a crappy beer, far from it, but it doesn’t take any chances and doesn’t really make me want to sip through it. It does pour nice though.

Guinness Black Lager (GBL) – Oh Hell Yes, This is what I remembered Guinness tasting like. YUM. Buy more, drink more. This one is dark – a bit dryer than my usual stout – but a beer you can enjoy for an hour or so. Every mouthful is a lovely experience.

Smithwick’s – How have I missed this beer? This is the red beer that Killian’s wants to grow up to be when it stops making Transitional. A red so dark it is near opaque. BEAUTIFUL. Absolutely worth drinking.

So, to summarize. The old standards, Guinness and Harp, are meh. I wouldn’t go out of my way to drink either of them. GBL and Smithwick’s, I’m going out of my way to put them on my beer rotation. Outstanding.

Movie Review – Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

My movie review system … well, I don’t really have one. I like the one proposed by a good friend of mine, determining how good a movie was by how many drinks you had to make it enjoyable, (You assume you had a good time, it simply goes without saying, but you may have drank a couple beers and had a hot chick for company to make the time go by more joyfully.)

Well, this movie moves to the top of my rating. We had a great time watching it. I drank 2 Wee Heavies by Sam Adams, probably counts for 4 drinks, and my hot chick was in attendance. So a ranking of 5 is the highest ranking I’ve given any movie ever.

Whenever we watch a movie, there is a sub-plot of “Could we do this costume at Dragon Con?” We had some fear though, if we did these Martians and someone recognized it…cute and ironic…but what if:
fan “Wow, Santa vs. the Martians! That is one of my favorite films!” 
me : “Gosh, go away, you scare me.”

BTW: Beer Review – Wee Heavy by Sam Adams,
Drink them. It is a Scottish Ale – sweet and spicy. Drink them.  

Sam Adams Beer Review Part Deux

For those who don’t know, my beer reviews aren’t really done with points. I either like a beer, recommend you drink a beer, recommend you don’t drink a beer, or recommend that you pour it down the sink. I suppose there is a 5 point scale in there somewhere… heck, I’m getting predictable in my old age.

The Sam Adams Winter Favorites is a buy. I particularly Like the Cherry Chocolate, Winter Lager, and the Juniper IPA. The others should be handed out to friends, but possibly drink them before you get too dry.

———————————-  Review Follows ————————————————————————–

I just picked up a 12 pack of Sam’s Winter Favorites. I swear that someone has been reading my blog. They switched out the chocolate bock with a Cherry Chocolate Bock. Ok, my favorite beer of all time is still my own Hawk’s Ink (which is a cherry chocolate blackened ale)…but if I had CCB on tap…. I’m kinda frightened here…that might be a durn good beer. The cherry was sweeter than what I’d use, but other than the surprise at the sweetness in the first sip, it really was good. I think I’d prefer a more open chocolate taste…but that would probably be the difference between a bottle and a tap.

The Juniper IPA is top-notch. It is dry, hoppy, fun. I really liked it. Kind of like a shot of gin in your beer. I really different event than the usual. I really appreciated them stretching for this one.

The Winter Lager: I’ve said many times that I’m not a fan of Boston Lager – there isn’t anything wrong with it, but there really isn’t that much Right with it. It just doesn’t take any risks. (and if you get it on tap, they always freeze it to 40 degrees and it has NO flavor there.) Sam Adams took that base, added some toasted wheat, cinnamon, orange peel, really added something BL has always lacked: A depth of body. No, not a risky beer at all, but absolutely a drinkable, interesting beer.

I haven’t had Fezziwig in a year, so I’ll give it a second try, as well as white christmas, maybe they won’t be give aways -but I’ll hand out Boston Lagers to anyone who drops by the house, I’ll probably not drink them myself.

Hawk’s Beer and Movie Reviews (Yea!)

Good Monday to you all and I hope you had a happy Mother’s day. (Ok, for those of us who are guys, if we survived without major damage we’re in luck.) For me, it was a couple movies, a play, skipping fighter practice, and generally getting up with the baby. (And sleeping a bit in the recliner, for which my back may not forgive me.)

The Play was Alice in Wonderland. I want to congratulate Bob Jones of Madison Alabama for a wonderful play. My son had a relatively obscure part manning a projector under the stage, though he also helped in building the set. I’m glad he is learning a skill in high school.

Movie Reviews: We rented Looper and went to Iron Man 3.

Loopers: I like the concept of a time travel flick. This one is flawed.

What the F’ is this gun? Can they not find guns in 2030? They have flying motorcycles, but …

1) Don’t kill people in the future, all crime is solved….
(except the story hinges on a murder and burning a house down… in the future.)

2) Don’t kill Loopers in the past, it changes the future. (Except maiming the shit out of them doesn’t apparently have any effects until the most recent 10 seconds.)

3) Killing yourself or dying stupidly causes a restart on the loop, except when it doesn’t.

There was a very cool moment when our hero or villain saves his memories of a past that no longer exists… or changes something. It seems very important, except it stops being important and has no further impact on the story. I guess it was the only way the hero could shoot the woman in the end…but it frankly didn’t get enough explanation for me to figure out before now.

Loopers – sucks. Don’t watch it. Maybe 1 star in 5 or something. I wish I had drunk more beer before the 1/2 way point. I left and went to work on dishes.

Iron Man 3: This is obviously the 4th story featuring Iron Man. If you have missed any of the previous stories, go back and watch before you get to this one. Oddly enough, this is the story where he finally breaks down and tries to figure out where he is going.

The Mandarin. ARRRGH!!!  Ok, all throughout I thought – “This guy talks like a loony liberal leftist from a freaking demonstration. He plays all the tropes without a single worthwhile concept.” Pissed me off. (Turns out, it wasn’t supposed to be so obvious, but it was part of the plot.)

Iron Man Mark 42: When they become available for the general public…wait for the upgrade. This is the freaking Windows 2000 of the armor world. The final battle felt like Tony was using 20 suits of Nerf armor and the villain had somehow picked up the “Iconic Villain Slaying Sword” the hero was supposed to have. Hated the final battle
That said, this is easily the best Iron Man movie. Easily. I loved 1 and was ok with 2. Avengers was amazing, of course, but this was a movie. It was long, it had character development, and you got to know the villains and the heroes. It had surprises and it wasn’t all “pow” “biff” “bam”

Iron Man 3: If you don’t see this movie, there will be no point in having a conversation with you in the future.

Beer : Tried a Milk Stout – Left Hand Nitro. nice beer. Really liked it. So far, I love Left Hand Brewery.

Look at that nice head… I assume they shook the bottle first, I’ve poured four of them without generating a cm of head.

Look, if you’ve never had a milk stout, try one. Different. You may hate it, you may love it. I can’t tell you what you will think, but frankly, they are dark and creamy and full of flavor. Enough palate nonsense for two beers at least. As a milk stout, the only crime of a milk stout is being thin and weak. I’ve had a few of those. Brewers look at the library paste they are supposed to be putting in a bottle and think, “Gosh, we should water this down with a couple pale ales so that folks will drink it.” *WRONG* If it forms much of a head, then they watered it down. Milk stouts have a tiny, thin, foam that doesn’t last. It has a mild hop aroma. it has a strong sweetness that overpowers the malt flavor – but you can smell the chocolate malt they could dump on top of all that lactose sweetness. Tastes sweet with coffee and dirt (chocolate). Good stuff. Oh, the Nitro is 6% alcohol, so it’ll give you a wallop. Might should start at the next one down…but damn it was good.

Beer Review

I haven’t been negligent on drinking, but a bit on posting the results of my sampling. I really need to brew more, the more I drink the less impressed I become.

I tried a couple from Highland Brewing Company. Honestly they are good beer. The Gaelic ale was a bit weak for me and the Oatmeal Stout was about right. Neither one was much to write about, but good enough for the night in front of the computer. The Gaelic will run middle of the Light Beer pack. Way WAAAY above the minimum bar for a good glass of beer, but not memorable.

I guess that if you want my scaling on this, the Oatmeal Porter is about the bottom of the “Dark Beer” category … just about the middle of my “Brown Beer” category. It is pretty drinkable for a saturday night, not as heavy as the Sam Smith Oatmeal or the Guinness Stout.

I tried an Abita Turbodog. It achieved “Beer” by a reasonable margin. I could taste the “Brown Beer” elements, but the whole thing just tasted thin and sour. It beat Coors Extra Gold, but it was probably not worth the premium cost.

Sierra Nevada has a Ruthless Rye. I wanted to try it because I like Rye Beer. Ruthless is a hop head beer, not bad, but I couldn’t taste the rye. Look, not dissing SN, but there are enough hop head beers out there, work with your damn malts. It is a good beer, but not what I was looking for today.

Innis and Gunn Original is my current Comfort Beer. I love the malt, the oak bitters, roughly everything. It doesn’t rate very high for a lot of reasons. It is a solid Scotch Ale, which doesn’t use a lot (or any) hops. The Oak provides the bitters. Very different, very worth it, the best beer in the bunch. (The Rum cask isn’t bad, but I don’t like rum that much – I’d probably like the whiskey cask.)

Beer Review

I actually haven’t been drinking much this week, but I figured I should catch up from last weeks … um … test schedule. I TESTED Sam Adams Octoberfest and Imperial White. Yeah, they have out Octoberfest in August…

Is Octoberfest better than Boston Lager ? … no, not really. It is a nice “lawnmower” beer. Maybe a good transitional beer. So, if you have a buddy who never drank nothing but Bud or Miller, but was willing to upgrade for Octoberfest, then this beer is a good transitional. I’d rather it had a bit more… something. It isn’t hoppy, it isn’t malty, it has a nice flavor and a nice odor, it is easy to drink. I guess I just expected more from Sam.

Imperial White is a LOT more. The mouth feel is BITE. Not a drinking beer, definitely a sipping beer. At 9% alcohol it would probably kill you in any case, but it wouldn’t be enjoyable to chug it. Lots of malt, sufficient hop to cut the malt, and a lot of FLAVOR. In a crappy Belgian White, this is a mouth burn in a dry beer, relatively unpleasant to drink – which is common in a lot of these beers. There is enough malt to smooth out the bite, so it is interesting to drink. Not going to be one of my favorite beers, but I was very pleased to try a beer that was this different to drink.

Almost picked up a 6-pack of Sam Adams I didn’t recognise, nearly got it to the register before I realized that they had bottled a SHANDY! Holy Crap, don’t they know that shandy is a waste of good lemonade and good beer! Both are very drinkable things, but if you mix them together by mistake, pour it down the drain. Yeah, I know Brits love Shandy and Germans mix with Cola… Lucky they are athiests, because God would not look kindly on their poor lost souls.

Sam Adams Beer Review

Folks, I’m not a Sam Adams fan. The Boston Lager is a good lager, but I’m not really a lager fan, so it doesn’t usually win any awards from me. Occasionally, rarely, I’m in a lager mood, Boston is a good one. Ok. They have a new Brewmaster collection, so I tried it out.
Picture of it below:

The Black Lager isn’t as good as last year, neither is the Irish Red. I’d swear that both are less sweet. Though I can’t imagine them changing the recipe. They taste a lot less sweet to me. Right now I’d rate the Irish Red as a Killian Clone. A good beer,but not worth SA prices. Black lager was … blah. Just not as good as even the Magic Hat Winter Beer. Couldn’t believe MH beet SA in a taste test. Weird.

Mighty Oak = Win! A great, dry beer. Haven’t had a good dry finish in ages. Nice. Could probably drink a lot more of them than they put in this damn box. They’ll never sell a six pack of Mighty Oak, damn them. It is a fine beer. I’d say the best find in the box. You decide on your dime.

The IPA is good, smells like a field of flowers and tastes good. A bit much flower for anyone who isn’t a hop head. I’ve been a hop head, in recovery these days, but it is a hop-head beer. Good one. Not my first pick, wouldn’t buy a six-pack, but I don’t feel ripped off drinking one.

Alpine Spring is surprisingly good. It doesn’t win for hops or clean finish, or … anything. A good beer. I picked up a couple in an airport bar. 1) Always drink it from the glass. It tastes much poorer from the bottle. It gets a lot of its flavor from the nose, the bottle isn’t kind to it. Yeah, it is pretty hoppy, but they are light on the acid, so most of the flavor is in the middle nose. If you can’t smell it, you shouldn’t drink it. 2) Drink with some spicy food. It overpowers a mild pizza. It worked great with nachoes. 3) You can get alpine spring in a 6-pack, so get a couple friends and some nachoes, watch some bad movies and feel like you spent your 10 bucks well.

Oh, since you don’t know. I’m drinking my own brew, a Ginger Beer. It is the best thing since sliced bread. In the list of best beers of all time. 1) Hawk’s Ink 2) Scotch Ale (Sam Adams Wee Heavy) 3) Hawk’s Ginger Beer. Yeah, I know, I brewed 2 of my favorite 3 beers of all time… I need to brew a better Scottish Ale and knock the Wee Heavy off the map.
Hawk’s Ink is a Double Black Ale with a little black cherry juice. I have friends who consider that the worst think you could do to a beer. Home brew is about working your own tastes. I just tried a Cherry Chocolate beer. (O’Fallons) IT was so foul that I couldn’t finish it. I have a 5-pack in my fridge for the first one who asks for it. But I bet there is someone out there who would like it.

Yeah, its a wonder to brew your own. If you don’t and don’t know anyone who does, it truly sucks to be you.

Beer Review

Hey Everyone, I just found Steven’s Point Brewery and I am a happy man.
Point – Saint Benedict’s Winter Ale

Point St. Benedict’s Winter Ale
As a short story, I bought a perfectly good stout Friday night, but I honestly wasn’t happy with it. I just wasn’t in the mood for a stout by the time I got it home. I went to Earthfare today, looking for something new. I found Point.

I haven’t examined their line, and St. Benedict’s may be a rare good beer, or the standard. First off, it is far more pale than the average “winter ale.” Most of those have been at least pitch black, sometimes darker. This is red. Maybe a touch chocolate of red, but hold it up to the light and you get ruby.

Looks: Beautiful. Somewhere around a pale chocolate looking down. Red with the light behind it.

Smell: Not much, I’d knock it a couple points for a lack of aroma. I haven’t used Cluster hops before, but I don’t get much hop on the aroma. Ok, didn’t get anything but a faint “spicy sweet” smell. Yeah, If you want a pro review, go to Beer Advocate.

Taste: wow. This is what a red should be. (What I remember Killian’s tasting like when I was a newbie.) It is very sweet and malty, with enough spice flavor to balance. Finish is clean, you can drink it all night without getting tired of it. Loved it.

Now, apparantly Wisconsin doesn’t care for Point, but they are now shipping it around. I’ll probably check out a few in the future. Maybe it will suck, maybe it will be great, but definitely hit the spot tonight.