Beer/Cigar Review Wednesday 2/15

Welcome to beer/cigar review Wednesday where we take a look at some notable (and maybe not-so-notable) beers and cigars from the past week. This week is also kind of a light week as I was still getting over a cold the latter half of last week and into the beginning of this week but we should be back to full swing soon! Alas, I do have one of each to review (though no photo of the cigar – I mistakenly trashed it from my phone; sorry!).

First for this week’s beer selection:

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine

What would the beer world be without Dogfish Head pushing the envelope in nearly every style they take on? This American Barleywine is no exception as it weighs in at an insane 15% ABV and a respectable 85 IBU. As always from Dogfish, this one was a real taste treat.

Pours a medium orange color with a thin but heavily laced head. Aromas of alcohol, fruit, caramel malt and floral hops. Deep, complex and warming flavors of vanilla, pineapple, caramel malt, a subtle spiciness and a wallop of piney and grapefruit hops to finish. Substantial alcohol burn on the way down. Thick bodied (almost to the point of cloyingly thick) with medium carbonation. Sips easily but you can’t take big gulps of it.

What can I say? Dogfish Head does it again. A rib-sticking, warming and satisfying Barleywine. Everything a good example of the style should be. Bold, complex and very alcoholic. Pretty filling too (drinks like a meal at 450 calories per 12 ounce bottle). Rating: 5/5.

And now for the cigar of this week:

Padron 1964 Maduro Principe

(No photo – sorry again!)

Padron, the prototypical Nicaraguan puro. This particular one is a 4.5″ x 46 RG soft box pressed Corona size and features Nicaraguan long filler, binder and Maduro wrapper. Typical Padron single cap which is somewhat risky to cut but I usually have no problem (wish they’d put doubles or triples on their cigars as everyone else).

First light revealed a perfect draw with high smoke volume. Full body, heavy earth and pepper. Flavors were surprisingly consistent from first light almost down to the last puff, which came at 40 minutes in (not too bad for the size cigar). Also a very heavy nicotine strength – I nearly threw up by the time I finished it.

This was not surprising but typical Padron construction – flawless, near perfect burn line and draw. The only downside is that damn single cap. This one luckily didn’t unravel but I’m generally very careful when cutting these (try to leave just a bit of it). Usually don’t have a problem but I still prefer a straight/guillotine cut for the most open draw possible.

In general I tend to like Padrons but this one didn’t tickle my fancy. Most Padrons tend to have some dessert-like flavors (cocoa/chocolate, cream, coffee) which I prefer but I guess due to the maduro wrapper (earthy/peppery typically) and small ring gauge it was dominated by the earth and pepper. As such, I didn’t really care for this one but if you love heavy earth it might be to your liking. Rating: 2/5.

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Song Lyric Sunday 2/12/17 – When It Comes to You

In what seems to be an appropriate Valentine’s Day topic, this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt is to feature a song about the insecurities or doubts you experience in a relationship. Well, I’m definitely no stranger to that as the few relationships I’ve had in my life were all short-lived and terrible (and I’m ever-so-single now!) so I had a song immediately pop into mind that I love that fits the category.

Dire Straits has long been a band I’ve really enjoyed. Their unique sound and Mark Knopfler’s unusual guitar style give the band a very distinctive signature sound that I really like. Perhaps they are most known for “Money for Nothing” (which is a great song, by the way) but there are others by them that are just as good, if not better.

Take this one for instance. Written by Knopfler and recorded in 1991, this song has a very smooth sound and although the lyrics are somewhat depressing, the upbeat nature of the song is one you can really get into.

If we can’t get along we oughta be apart
And I’m wondering where’d you get that cold, cold heart
Set me free – sign my release
I’m tired of being the villain of the peace

You been giving me a bad time
Tell me what I’d do
How come I always get a hard time
Honey when it comes to you
Sayin’ things that you didn’t have to
How come I always get a hard time
Honey when it comes to you

You only get one life – this I know
I wanna get my licks in now before I go
The fire of love is dead and cold
I gotta satisfy the hunger in my soul

And you been giving me a bad time
Tell me what I’d do
How come I always get a hard time
Honey when it comes to you
Sayin’ things that you didn’t have to
How come I always get a hard time
Honey when it comes to you

If we can’t get along we oughta be apart
And I’m wondering where’d you get that cold, cold heart
Set me free – sign my release
I’m tired of being the villain of the peace

And you been giving me a bad time
Tell me what I’d do
How come I always get a hard time
Honey when it comes to you
Sayin’ things that you didn’t have to
How come I always get a hard time
Honey when it comes to you

How come I always get a hard time
Honey when it comes to you

How come I always get a hard time
Honey when it comes to you
Source: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/direstraits/whenitcomestoyou.html (With some additions made by me)

Anyway, there are a couple of other versions of this song that are also great. The first is from Knopfler’s “side project” band, the Nottingham Hillbillies. This was actually the “original” version if you will, before he recorded the song with Dire Straits (this version is 1990, Dire Straits was recorded in 1991). It is very similar to the Dire Straits version but has almost a more bluegrass feel to it.

However, probably the most well-known and popular version of the song is country singer John Anderson’s 1992 cover of the song. Anderson’s version is a total departure from either Knopfler version and has its own charm.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for this week. See, I listen to stuff other than TFF. 😉 Anyway, this is a great song and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I do.

Beer/Cigar Review Wednesday 2/8/17

Well, I said I wouldn’t have an episode this week but I figured I’d review an old friend I’ve yet to review here because I’m familiar with it and have had it enough to know what it’s like.

I have no cigars for this week but I do have one beer review for you.

Old Chub

Old Chub is an old friend of mine hailing from Oskar Blues in Lyons, Colorado. It’s a Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy that weighs in at 8.0% ABV and 25 IBU and comes in a can as all Oskar Blues products do (which actually is a good thing as it means it’s portable).

Pours a dark, nearly opaque, rich reddish-amber color. Aromas of molasses, caramel and alcohol. Palate follows the nose with big blasts of sweetness consisting of caramel and molasses notes. The back end enters a hint of chocolate and peaty smokiness. Delicate tea-like hop finish and noticeable alcohol afterburn. Thick, mouthfeel and soft carbonation. Surprisingly smooth and quaffable.

This is one of those beers that is, in my mind, a classic and almost beyond reproach. It represents what a great Scotch Ale should be (big, bold, malty and smoky) plus it has the portability of cans as those can go anywhere. What’s not to love? Rating: 4.5/5.

Sorry that was a short episode, but my palate is now starting to recover with the rest of me so we’ll be back on schedule next week!

Born In The Wrong Era?

You know, sometimes I wonder if I just had to be born (which the value of that is questionable at best!) if I was just born like 50 years too late. I say that because of what my “alternate” dream career would be and it would have been better catered to the previous era.

So I can’t be an airline pilot in this era or an era past. Well OK. That’s just a shitty reality but whatever. My alternate dream career would have no barrier at all regarding my illness and I could have done just fine.

If it’s one thing very few people know about me it’s that I’m a total game show buff. I love classic and modern game shows and watch more of those than any other. As such, my “alternate” dream career (and maybe even more desirable) would be to be a game show host. I mean, what could be better? You work 1-2 days per week, get paid six figures minimum and you get to make fun of dumbasses on national TV. Sounds like a hell of a deal to me.

Here’s where I say I was born a generation too late. Back in the days where game shows ruled the airwaves nearly anyone could get a hosting gig. Sure, those with some prior TV experience did seem to have an edge but there are many game show emcees who are only known for that and were practically unknown before they became such. Nowadays? If you aren’t already a big name in entertainment forget about it.

As far as game shows I’d like to host? As much as I love The Price is Right and Jeopardy!, I wouldn’t want to host them. I couldn’t deal with the zany conestants on the former and the reading 300+ answers in a single day of taping on the latter. That would be too much for me. Some games I’d like to host if they brought them back include Press Your Luck, Supermarket Sweep and Shop ‘Til You Drop. The Weakest Link would even be fun, I think (getting to be a smartass and all).

Again though, why must I have unattainable dreams? Just my luck. Can’t help but wonder when to say “enough is enough” and throw in the towel. Whatever the case, what I’m doing now is just draining my soul and I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing it. I’m afraid if I don’t find an out and soon I’m going to lose it and attempt to kill myself again. As attractive as that option sounds, I’m only almost 30 years old. Surely there’s more to life than my current experiences?

Song Lyric Sunday 2/5/17 – Head Over Heels

OK, perhaps my weekly contribution to Song Lyric Sunday should actually be “Tears for Fears Song Lyric Sunday” because I’m doing it yet again – yes, even more Tears for Fears. Perhaps you’re sick of it, but they are my favorite band at the present time and whenever I think of responses to the theme, any T4F song that fits the theme is always the first thing that comes to mind. I mean, thus far I’ve featured “Mad World,” “Shout,” “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” “Pale Shelter” and now this one.

OK, so first crushes/love. You never quite know it hits you until it does, now do you? Well, that’s precisely what Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith thought when they wrote this song which is a stark contrast to the normal dark, heavy lyrics the duo had become known for. This song is surprisingly light-hearted and cheesy and I’d say probably the cheesiest song they ever did, but it’s fun in its own way.

So here then is “Head Over Heels.”

I wanted to be with you alone and talk about the weather
But traditions I can trace against the child in your face
Won’t escape my attention
You keep your distance with a system of touch and gentle persuasion
I’m lost in admiration, could I need you this much?
Oh, you’re wasting my time, you’re just, just, just wasting time

Something happens and I’m head over heels
I never find out till I’m head over heels
Something happens and I’m head over heels
Ah, don’t take my heart, don’t break my heart
Don’t, don’t, don’t throw it away

Throw it away…
Throw it away…

I made a fire and watching it burn (yeah) thought of your future
With one foot in the past now just how long will it last?
No, no, no, have you no ambition? (What’s the matter with…)
My mother and my brothers used to breathing clean air
(Nothing ever changes when you’re acting your age)
And dreaming I’m a doctor
(Nothing gets done when you feel like a baby)
It’s hard to be man when there’s a gun in your hand
(Nothing ever changes when you’re acting your age) Oh, I feel so…

Something happens and I’m head over heels
I never find out till I’m head over heels
Something happens and I’m head over heels
Ah, don’t take my heart, don’t break my heart
Don’t, don’t, don’t throw it away

This is my four leaf clover
I’m on the line, one open mind,
This is my four leaf clover

La-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la, la-la (repeat ad nauseam)

In my mind’s eye
One little boy, one little man
Funny how…TIME FLIES!!!
Source: http://tributestringquartet.com/lyrics/head-over-heels-lyrics/ Plus some corrections made by me.

So there you have it. Your weekly dose of Tears for Fears. I know. I’m terrible. 😛

The Joys of a Manual Transmission

As I was cruising the town this evening and rowing through the gears on my little Ford Fiesta (I know, it ain’t much but it gets me around) it occurred to me just how many North Americans in my age bracket will never experience the joy of driving a vehicle with a manual transmission.

In the words of Bob Seger, “Call me a relic, call me what you will; say I’m old-fashioned say I’m over the hill,” but there’s just something so romantic about a row-your-own gearbox. Whether it’s manipulating the clutch to achieve the right amount of slippage to get going from a standstill or just the feeling you get when the transmission glides fluidly into the next higher gear, nothing connects human to machine like a clutch pedal and a stick or column shifter.

Anyway, not only is a manual transmission vital to my driving experience but also my driving safety. Now how does it affect my safety? Well as a manual requires you to be more engaged while you’re driving, it’s a lot harder to let your mind wander. I’m the typical autistic drifter in that I drift into deep thought even doing everyday tasks and “zone out.” Actually, the only accidents I’ve personally caused came when I was driving an automatic vehicle. I’ve never caused an accident in a manual. Coincidence? I think not.

Alas, if this is one of those “autistic survival” things I’m perfectly OK with that. Due to the relative unpopularity of manual transmission vehicles in North America whenever I’m car shopping I normally find fantastic deals. My Fiesta was brand new but already a year model old when I bought it last January. It had sat on the lot for months because nobody wanted it. As such, I was able to score the vehicle $4,000 off MSRP and put that savings toward an extended warranty. Hell of a score too, it might be a mere subcompact but it has some nice features and the 1.0L turbo/direct injection inline 3-cylinder puts out a lot of power and torque and gets amazing fuel economy – I’ve gotten as high as 44 MPG highway on regular 87 octane Chevron/Texaco gas (compare to 37 EPA for the 1.6L automatic). Oh, and this particular engine is only available with a manual transmission. Sorry passers-up, your loss, my score. 😉

Anyway, I’m weird I know. Comes with the territory. Don’t sue me.

Beer/Cigar Review Wednesday 2/1/17

Welcome to beer and cigar review Wednesday where we take a look at any notable (or not-so-notable) beers and cigars I’ve had over the past week. As always, we’ve got some interesting stuff here to review so let’s just get down to it!

Deep Ellum Darkest Hour

This Imperial Stout from Deep Ellum brewery in Dallas, Texas weighs in at a hefty 11% ABV and 65 IBU. It has pedigree with the Deep Ellum name and I had high expectations going into this one and was not to be let down.

Pours the typical Imperial Stout appearance of an opaque jet black body with a thin tan head. Aromas of dark fruit, coffee alcohol and yeast. Flavor profile is complex and interesting blending elements of Belgian Dark Ale and stout – bold with a roasted malt backbone with hints of plum, molasses and a bit of a tartness. Back end consists of dark chocolate and coffee. Smooth and warming finish. Thick in body and medium carbonation; definitely a sipper.

Deep Ellum brings us another winner! A bold, complex beer that ranks up there with the best of them. Rating: 4.5/5.

Deep Ellum Rye Pils

Though not the typical heavy alcohol and IBU affair I tend to enjoy, I picked this up on a whim at it was on sale and it seemed interesting. It weighs in at a light 5.2% ABV and 13 IBU so my expectations weren’t through the roof on this one but it was good in its own right.

Pours a fizzy yellow-orange color with a one finger head that doesn’t recede at all (a bit unusual for the style). Aromas of fresh baked rye bread and a slightly “skunky” pilsner aroma. Flavors of rye, yeast and pale malt. Flavor profile is typical pilsner, but no detectable adjunct grains at all. Sharp, clean flavors of pale malt with a rye overtone. Light bodied and high carbonation. Easily quaffable.

Though not my favorite beer ever, it was pleasant and enjoyable. Refreshing and satisfying, would be a good beer to take to the racetrack or after yard work. Rating: 3/5.

Sweetwater Hash Brown

Sweetwater Brewing Company it Atlanta, Georgia brings us this rather unusual beer. An “India Brown,” it takes elements of both a brown ale and an IPA. It is bottle conditioned and comes in at 6.2% ABV and 60 IBU.

Pours a medium, slightly hazy reddish-brown with a thick head. Head recedes to about 1/4″ and laces the glass like crazy. Aroma is dominated by citrusy and floral hops with a slight undertone of caramel malt. Caramel malt backbone supplemented by a grapefruit hoppy bitterness and a touch of green apple tartness. Medium body and high carbonation. Not a quaffer but drinks easily enough.

A rather interesting beer that I don’t know what to make of. I liked it but I found the hops in general a bit overbearing for a brown ale. Rating: 3.5/5.

And now for this week’s cigar reviews:

Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Churchill

I reviewed the Toro size of this cigar awhile back and it’s one of my favorites. As with the Toro, this features a Connecticut broadleaf Maduro wrapper and Domincan and Nicaraguan long filler. The Churchill vitola is 7″ x 48 RG (as opposed to the 6.5″ x 52 RG Toro). Of course there were many similarities between the two but they were different in the emphasized flavors.

First light revealed a slightly snug draw but plenty of smoke output. Medium bodied flavors of cream, cocoa and a hint of black pepper on the retrohale. A subtle caramel joins the draw about 1/2″ in. The second third brings in a rich roasted coffee note and the caramel and cocoa become fleeting. Last third really ramps up the coffee and pepper while dropping the cocoa and caramel, leading to a more medium/full body. Ending at an hour and a half no further changes.

Construction was not surprisingly impeccable with an almost razor-sharp burn all the way down not requiring any touchups. A mild/medium nicotine strength comes in toward the end. Overall the Churchill emphasizes the darker flavors (coffee/pepper) more than the Toro (which emphasized the dessert flavors) and as such I do prefer the Toro but did enjoy this one too. Rating: 4/5.

Nub by Oliva 460 Cameroon

Finally, I get to round out my tastings of the Nub 460 series with the Cameroon variety. As the others, it comes in a 4″ x 60 RG short Gordo size and features Nicaraguan long filler. True to its name, it features a chocolate brown Cameroon wrapper.

First light revealed a slightly loose draw with a huge volume of smoke output. Medium-full bodied flavors of a touch of generic sweetness and a metallic zing on the draw. Retrohale consisted of an aromatic cedar and a slight pepper. Just into the cigar the body dials down to a medium and drops the pepper and ramps up the sweetness slightly. No further changes except for the body coming back up to a medium-full in the last third. Rather dry textured. Ending at 50 minutes with the first hot draw, the smoke time was equivalent to the other Nub 460s.

Great construction and burn; not razor sharp but not requiring any correction. Mild/medium nicotine strength. It had a lot of the signature complex Cameroon flavors but a little smoother. Cameroons tend not to be my favorite but if you’re looking for a good Cameroon this one to check out and I will rate it accordingly at a 4/5.

Overall, I liked all the Nubs. My favorite was the Maduro but the Habano was a close 2nd. I would put the Connecticut as my 3rd favorite and one I’d have with a cup of coffee. I didn’t dislike the Cameroon, but it’s generally not my taste preference so that’s why it comes in 4th but that’s not knocking it – it was a very good example of what a Cameroon cigar should be.

And that’s a wrap for this week. I’m afraid we probably won’t have an episode next Wednesday because I’ve caught a cold and can’t taste properly at the moment but we’ll be back the following week with more!