Beer/Wine Review: Adelbert’s Tripel B & Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon

In an interesting variation of my tobacco & alcohol reviews I have a wine to review. I usually don’t drink a whole super lot of wine but I got some in this case because of the particular cigar I was wanting to pair with it. Lo and behold it turned out to be a spectacular pairing (and I’ve already reviewed the cigar I paired with it – the LFD La Nox – review here), but I figured I’d review the wine I wound up selecting to pair with it.

We’ll start with our beer selection, however.

Adelbert’s Tripel B

This bottle-conditioned Belgian Tripel hails from Adelbert’s Brewery in Austin, Texas. It weighs in at 9.3% ABV and has an unspecified IBU and gravity. That doesn’t stop it from being a tasty example of the style.

Pours a hazy orange/gold color. A thin, frothy off-white head sticks around and leaves some lacing. Aromas of wheat, malt, banana and a touch of spice greet the nose. Flavors of fruity banana esters, honey and wheat malt greet the palate immediately followed by the typical Belgian yeasty quality. Tart finish with a subtle spicy bitterness akin to grains of Paradise. Masks the ABV well. Medium to thick body with substantial carbonation. Drinks very easily for its ABV and style.

Overall a tasty Tripel and one I would drink again. Is it the best example of the style? No, but still good enough nonetheless. Rating: 4.25/5.

Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon

As mentioned, I’m not a huge wine drinker but when the mood strikes it’s nothing for me to kill a full bottle. Federalist Wines come to us from Sonoma County, California. When I do drink wine I tend to prefer full-bodied reds with a particular liking for Cab. This particular wine weighs in at 14.9% ABV and this wine, while being rather different from most Cabs, did not disappoint and it sure went well with the LFD La Nox.

The pour is a medium burgundy color. Swirling the glass leaves substantial lacing on the sides of the glass. Slight floral aroma with undertones of dark fruit and a hint of spice. The flavor consists of a distinct fruitiness with components of mixed berry, plum and “jamminess.” A slight spice and floral note on the finish without the excessive amount of bitter tannins sometimes found in the style. Fairly thick on the mouthfeel and a smooth but long finish.

Though not the typical affair for a Cabernet Sauvignon this was a really tasty wine. This would be one for even non-red drinkers to like. it’s exceptionally smooth and tasty and would be a great pairing for a variety of different dishes as well as a wonderful pairing for the cigar I had with it. Just about anyone would like this wine. Rating: 4.25/5.

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Song Lyric Sunday 7/30/17 – Blue (Da Ba Dee)

Our prompt this week for Song Lyric Sunday is to post a song about colors. This is one that didn’t even need any thought for me because this song was my fucking jam back in middle school.

If you could describe my life in a color, that would be blue. My aura is blue, I’m a water sign (Pisces – officially branded as such on my right shoulder!) and I kind of have a soft-spoken demeanor like that of a blue ocean. That combined with my life-long battle with clinical depression makes blue the perfect color to describe me.

With that, let’s all flash back to 1999 when Eiffel 65 came out with this classic smash hit. Written by band frontman Jeffrey Jey along with Maurizio Lobina and Massimo Gabutti, this one is sure to bring back memories so get ready for a trip down memory lane as you listen to “Blue (Da Ba Dee).” I’m posting two clips here – one is the full version of the song, the other is the official music video which although it is a cool video it truncates the song.

Full version:

Official video:

Yo, listen up! Here is the story
About a little guy that lives in a blue world
And all day and all night and everything he sees
Is just blue like him, inside and outside
Blue his house, with the blue little window
And a blue Corvette, and everything is blue for him
And himself, and everybody around
‘Cause he ain’t got nobody to listen to (to listen to, to listen to…)

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

I have a blue house with a blue window
Blue is the color of all that I wear
Blue are the streets and all the trees are too
I have a girlfriend, and she is so blue
Blue are the people here that walk around
Blue like my Corvette, it’s sitting outside
Blue are the words I say and what I think
Blue are the feelings that live inside me

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

I have a blue house with a blue window
Blue is the color of all that I wear
Blue are the streets and all the trees are too
I have a girlfriend, and she is so blue
Blue are the people here that walk around
Blue like my Corvette, it’s sitting outside
Blue are the words I say and what I think
Blue are the feelings that live inside me

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

Inside and outside
Blue his house, with the blue little window
And a blue Corvette, and everything is blue for him
And himself, and everybody around
‘Cause he ain’t got nobody to listen to (to listen to, to listen to…)

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di

I’m blue
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di
Source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/onehitwonders/bluelyrics.html

Man, hard to believe this song is old enough to drink in its originating country. Was it really THAT long ago? Man, that makes me want to cry almost! Well whatever, this song is sure to be a dance club classic if it isn’t already. So catchy and iconic.

And that’s a wrap for this week. Probably not exactly what anyone else though of for the theme, but that’s OK. Hope you enjoyed.

Beer/Cigar Reviews – Lakewood Brandy Barrel and Raspberry Temptress, Padron 1926 #1 Natural & Rocky Patel Royale

Welcome back to another installment of my beer and cigar reviews, where I bring you reviews of some great (and some not-so-great) beers and cigars. Today we’ve got a fairly big line-up for you so let’s just dive right into it.

For our beer reviews today, I’m featuring two variations of Lakewood Temptress (the review of the original Temptress can be found here), an Imperial Cream Stout brewed by Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland, TX (just north/east of Dallas).

Brandy Barrel Temptress

Brandy Barrel Temptress is literally that, it’s Temptress beer aged in Brandy barrels. It weighs in at 11% ABV, so heavier than regular Temptress and has a very unique character all its own.

Pours jet black with a tan head as the original. Very tart aroma on the nose from the brandy aging, supported by a blanket of vanilla, some woody tones, roasted malt and of course, alcohol astringency. The brandy hits hard on the palate, supported by the beautiful complex flavors of the original temptress (which take a back seat – the brandy really is the star of the show). Very warming down the throat, with a thick mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Definitely a sipping beer; you can’t take big gulps of it.

I have to admit I was really impressed with this variation on the temptress with its mix of bold, complex flavors. You do have to love brandy to like this though – the influence is definitely there. Overall a pleasing beer and one I would drink again. Rating: 4.5/5.

Raspberry Temptress

Again, as the name suggests, this is Temptress brewed with raspberries. This one comes in at the same ABV as the original at 9.1% and the raspberries again totally give this beer new character.

Same pour as noted with the previous two versions of temptress. Raspberries hit the nose immediately up front, but not enough to totally mask the beauty beneath. The raspberries immediately greet the palate, but not totally dominating and merely adding a dimension to the beautiful flavors of the original Temptress. Tart finish, little alcohol burn. Again, a thick mouthfeel with moderate carbonation but this one is easier to gulp than the previous.

I’m usually not much of one for fruit beers but this one wasn’t bad. Do I prefer regular Temptress over this? Oh yes, but I wouldn’t turn this away either. In fact, I’d absolutely love to have a scoop of vanilla ice cream in this and make a beer float with it. It would also be great as a breakfast/brunch beer with a stack of pancakes. Rating: 4/5.

And now for the cigar picks for this week:

Padron 1926 #1 Natural

(Sorry, no photo of this one)

I absolutely loved this cigar in maduro (review here) so when I found it in Natural at a nearby shop I just had to try it. Some Padrons I like better in one wrapper or another so I always like to try both to see which I like better. Unfortunately, this one was a total disappointment and I don’t have much to say about this one.

First light revealed the typical open Padron draw producing plentiful smoke, but that’s about where the similarities with the maduro end. Flavors were mild/medium consisting of a boring straight tobacco, maybe a touch of cream and a very plain retrohale. This remained consistent until the 2nd third when a very faint and fleeting touch of the characteristic Padron cocoa and coffee joined the mix. The final third drops everything and returns to nothing but plain tobacco so I put it down there, not even finishing it.

If I can say anything positive about it it is that, like most Padrons, it does have fantastic construction (with the exception of their stupid-ass single caps) with even burn. At least I can say something good about it right?

Man, I hate to be so negative about a super premium cigar but there just wasn’t much good to say about it. If it was a cheap stick I could understand but this is anything but. This is priced at the same high price point as the maduro. I don’t even know how they put their name on this cigar when they’ve got so many better cigars (including their regular x000 series!!!). Just bleh. Rating: 1.5/5.

Rocky Patel Royale

This is the cigar that Rocky Patel regards as his masterpiece, and coming in at #5 on Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 of 2016 it’s definitely no slouch. This 6.5″ x 54RG box-pressed Toro sized stick features an Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper, Connecticut broadleaf and shade-grown Connecticut wrappers and Nicaraguan and Honduran long filler.

The first light reveals a slightly loose draw which puts off a ton of thick, creamy-textured smoke. Wonderful medium/full bodied flavors of light earth, milk chocolate and a hint of caramel greet the palate on the draw followed by a balanced pepper and spice on the retrohale. Getting into the first third the draw flavors remain largely the same while the spiciness of the retrohale morphs more toward a black licorice. This holds consistent until the final third where the draw flavors transition more to a creamy coffee and nuts type taste and the licorice really ramps up, coming more into the draw. This cigar ended at 1 hour and 30 minutes before the smoke got too warm for me, so a great burn time out of this thing as well. Only a mild/medium nicotine strength, which is fine by me; I’m not one for much nicotine personally.

Construction was impeccable with a near razor-sharp burn all the way down not needing any touchups or corrections. Ash holds on solidly for a third of a cigar at a time. As with most Rocky Patel cigars, you don’t have to pay it any attention; run inside for a few minutes, come back outside and a couple of puffs you’re going again.

This might very well be my favorite RP cigar so far. Rich, complex flavors, long burn time and very reasonably priced! I can see why Rocky Patel regards it as his masterpiece (though Nish disagrees – he prefers the Sun-Grown Maduro which is a close 2nd for my favorite RP). Concerning pairings, pair this cigar with a nice coffee, German Dopplebock or Scotch Ale and/or a nice Jamaican Rum. Rating: 4.75/5.

 

My Tattoo “Survival Kit”

So here we are a week later and my fresh ink is about 90% healed. Yes, in just that short of a time it’s almost healed completely. No, I’m not an unusually fast healer (in fact, the opposite is true) but I just have the right things in my survival kit, so I’m going to share those things with you so you can have the best tattoo experience possible.

Getting your first tattoo is no doubt a daunting experience. Hell, it can even be daunting for the seasoned veteran. Tattoos are stressful and painful and then aftercare can always be a royal pain in the ass unless you have the right tools at your disposal. So here are the products I recommend you have in your “survival kit” so that you can have the best tattoo and healing experience possible. I’m including both during tattoo and after tattoo products.

1. Numbing Gels/Creams

OK, I know, I might take some heat for this one but damn is it ever necessary. As someone with a low pain tolerance, numbing creams are a must for me. Some artists and tattoo enthusiasts frown upon them but just because someone has a low pain tolerance doesn’t mean that he/she shouldn’t be able to get a tattoo, especially if that tattoo is deeply meaningful to that person.

As far as numbing creams, there are a number to choose from that work relatively well. In most parts of the world you can get EMLA cream over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. Unfortunately, in the United States EMLA is only available by prescription. A couple of alternatives available in the US that work well are Dr. Numb and LidoCream (pictured above). Hush gel (also pictured above) is also popular, but people have had mixed results with it (I’ve used it myself with fairly good results, but it doesn’t last two hours I tell you) and because it’s menthol-based it burns like hell when you initially apply it.

Personally, for areas with low-to-moderate sensitivity and for smaller pieces I find I no longer really need the above products (and if you have an average to high pain tolerance you might not need them at all), but for large pieces on highly sensitive areas you better believe I’m lathering up before the session. I should say don’t expect complete pain relief, but it will take a substantial amount of “the edge” off.

It should also be noted that the above products are also great for facial and body piercings, shots/injections, blood draws, IV placement, etc.!!! These do have multiple uses.

2. Vasocaine Numbing Spray

Vasocaine numbing spray is pricy but worth it. It picks up where the previous product(s) leave off, but it won’t work on unbroken skin so it’s not useful for the beginning of a session.

Vasocaine contains 5% lidocaine plus epinephrine. When sprayed onto broken skin it absorbs quickly, completely numbing the area and reducing swelling. I find it especially useful for marathon sessions and pieces that require several passes over the same area over time. I’ve only had to use it once so far (on the flower piece on my left leg) but I’m sure I’ll have to use it again. Whether or not you use the initial numbing products above and no matter how tough you think you are, we all have our limitations and when we hit those limitations they must be respected.

No tattoo shop should be without Vasocaine but some are so I keep some on hand myself.  As mentioned, it’s pricy but oh-so-worth it.

3. Witch Hazel (brand doesn’t matter much)

Immediately after the tattoo is finished, a quick cleanse with some witch hazel is just what the doctor ordered. It’s cold, refreshing and almost immediately relieves that “sunburnt” feeling immediately after getting tattooed. My local artist turned me onto this stuff and I’ve been using it immediately after the conclusion of a session ever since, and before I apply the next product in my survival kit, which is none other than:

4. Saniderm/Tegaderm

Saniderm is hands-down the best tattoo aftercare product on the market. No need for washing multiple times per day, messy lotions or ointments that can cause infection or anything special really. Saniderm locks in your body’s natural healing fluids so that you heal quickly and naturally, dramatically reducing itching and completely eliminating scabbing. It also provides a barrier between your fresh tattoo and the outside world so it keeps irritants and infection out. Many also report that Saniderm preserves blacks and colors better than traditional healing methods, leaving you with a tattoo that looks studio fresh.

Using this stuff is super simple – just cut a piece big enough to cover the tattoo and have some in contact with undamaged surrounding skin, round the corners (it does stick better if you do) and apply it following the directions included. It’s a bit tricky at first so try a couple of small pieces on undamaged skin before you try to apply it to your tattoo.

Wear the first bandage for about a day while body fluids and excess ink accumulate under the bandage, remove (recommended in a hot shower to loosen the adhesive) and apply a new bandage to wear for a week. When you remove the 2nd bandage you are all but home free. In the meantime, go about your business as usual. Just shower as normal is all the cleaning you need and you can even swim in Saniderm and it’s fine (don’t try that with the old healing methods!!!).

If you’re averse to buying online or you don’t have Saniderm available in your local tattoo shop, you can get 3M Tegaderm at any pharmacy or drug store, which is the exact same thing. They just come in small sheets so you’ll have to overlap multiple sheets for large tattoos.

5. Aveeno (or equivalent generic) Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Once the Saniderm comes off your tattoo will peel as with other healing methods, but it will be much less bothersome and much quicker. During this time, I transition to the above product to help the peeling process. Just apply a very small amount to the peeling tattoo to help it along.

As I have hormonal teenager skin, most lotions and creams break me out. This is the one I’ve found that does not so long as I use it sparingly (which you should be doing anyway). Even after I’ve fully healed, I continue to apply a small amount to my tattoos every few days to keep them looking bright and studio fresh.

(Note: I normally get generic on this product. Works just as well.)

6. Neutrogena Clear Face SPF 55 Sunscreen (or equivalent generic)

If you want your tattoos to last, sunscreen is your best friend. Any time you’re going to be outside in the sun for any more than a few minutes you should put sunscreen over your tattoos as nothing will break down the ink particles faster than UV exposure. Think about it – laser tattoo removal is more or less an accelerated version of this process.

All tattoos fade over time but this process can be slowed down by simply protecting them from the sun. I use the above sunscreen for its high SPF number (anything above 50 is really theoretical so 55 is more than adequate) and because of the fact that it won’t cause breakouts. I’ve never had a problem with breaking out, even with frequent reapplication and I never even get sunburns at the race track where I’m exposed to not only the sun but the heat radiating back off the asphalt.

Of course, as with the above, if you don’t have any breakout problems just any broad-spectrum high SPF sunscreen will work fine, but this stuff has been a godsend for me.

So there we have it, my tattoo survival kit. Again, this will probably become a page for future reference, but for now here is this in post form. Damn, I feel almost girly writing a beauty-themed post here but I guess it works. Hopefully you can bank upon my experiences and make your tattoo experience as great as possible.

Reader Question: “Underage” Tattoos

So I just received a comment from a young reader that I’m not going to approve (because I don’t condone this at all) but I do want to address it in a post so that my feelings on this are known. 

The comment read, “I’m 16 and I want a tattoo but my parents won’t let me. How do I convince my parents to let me get one?” 

Well dear reader, you’re not going to like what I have to say here but that’s ok. It needs to be said: I agree with your parents. You are too young. 

Obviously this person lives in a state or country that allows the tattooing of minors with parental/guardian consent (note: Texas does not and neither do most states in the US). I don’t have children but if I did I would not approve an underage tattoo even if I lived in such a jurisdiction. Now that might sound hypocritical since I myself have tattoos but there is a very good reason for my position. 

The reality is that the brain is very underdeveloped during one’s teenage years and critical analysis of situations hasn’t quite set in. In reality the prefrontal cortex does not fully develop until the mid-20s. As such, one is much more likely to do things on impulse without thinking of the implications. 

Let’s be honest: how many people get a tattoo on their 18th birthday only to regret it a few years later? A lot. At that age they’re likely to just get something stupid without thinking it through. That’s what makes for regret. 

Personally, my recommendation is to wait until you’re at least in your early 20s to get your first tattoo. By then you’ve experienced the real world a bit and have a better appreciation for the consequences of this permanent decision. I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear but I don’t bullshit with anyone. I tell you how it is. 

I do have a few addenda to add to these though. Despite my recommendation I do think 18 is the proper legal age given the way our military is set up. I think all decisions of this kind (including the drinking age I should say) should reflect the military age. If you’re old enough to be sent to die in a war then you’re old enough to do whatever the fuck you want with your body. I might not recommend it  but who am I to stop you?

The next is concerning body piercings. I’m ok with body piercings at a reasonable minor age. The reason is these can be easily removed without much residual effect with the exception of very large gauge piercings which I think should be subject to age restrictions as mentioned above. 

The last has to do with those piercings/tattoos that reflect ones religion or culture. I’m ok with exceptions to the above for deeply held religious or cultural beliefs so long as the reasonably aged minor consents to these things and (s)he is not being forced into them by his/her parents or legal guardians. 

So there’s my opinion. Wait for now. If you still want that same tattoo in a couple of years who am I or your parents to tell you no? For now, sorry kid but I’m with your parents on this one. 

Players Only Love You When They’re Playing

OK, I know that song is about something totally different than what I’m about to post, but I think that one particular lyric taken out of context and left open ended is very applicable to the way I’ve been treated the past two years. The boss who puts on a charade of a loving, caring, crucifix-wearing Catholic but is a real player and snake underneath fits that song lyric perfectly.

With as much shit has come to light recently with the division I work in, I can’t help but have flashbacks to The Flintstones movie (if you’ve never seen it you should – the critics hated it but it is a really good movie). I feel like Fred Flintstone and my boss is Cliff Vandercave and that I’ve been nothing but played the past couple of years.

Going to the part of the movie where things really start heating up, we go to this scene with CV and the secretary Sharon Stone (note, all excerpts might be slightly paraphrased because I don’t recall the exact lines, but they go something like this):

SS: Well the test results are in.
CV: And our unsuspecting dupe is?
SS: Actually the person who scored the highest was Fred Flinstone (note: after Barney switched tests with Fred as repayment for his kind deed at the beginning of the film).
CV: That big ape?
SS: No, the big ape got a 65.
CV: Flintsone? He must have cheated. This can’t be right! He’s dense, he’s witless…
SS:…he’s PERFECT.

As Miss Stone points out, a dense, witless candidate was the perfect choice for their master plan to swindle Slate and Co. out of their massive fortunes, regardless of the circumstances of him being at the top of the list. However, as the movie progresses, the two realize that Fred is much smarter than they initially thought and is starting to come onto their master plan. As such, they tweak their game a bit and are once again able to get Fred to comply with their shady and even illegal activities. Of course, eventually all this comes to light and luckily Fred has a way to prove his innocence within all of this (note: Miss Stone switched allegiances at the end of the film after learning Cliff was going to scam her too).

I write this because I just have this sick feeling I was initially selected for my position back in August 2015 because my boss (who was a relatively new hire at the company) saw me as dense, witless and naive because of the fact that I’m autistic (let’s face it – that’s what the mainstream media loves to portray us as). People like Cliff Vandercave and my boss love to prey upon people with various disabilities because they see us as easy targets and when the shit finally hits the fan they plant us as their fall people thinking we are weak and we won’t stand up against them.

Well, my boss preyed upon the wrong person for sure. One of these days he will be exposed for the shady (and maybe even illegal!!!) practices he has his little minions do for him, and when he is I won’t take the fall for it. I just refuse. I’m much smarter than that. Cutting back to the movie for a second:

CV: Flintsone! I heard you were in the file room earlier. Find anything interesting?
FF: Yeah, I’m on to your little scam! Installing faulty equipment, firing everyone and keeping the fortune for yourself. I’m going to Mr. Slate.
CV: Good! Coming forward might buy you a little leniency.
………………
FF: The equipment was YOUR idea!
CV: True, but I graciously decided to give you all the credit since it was your name on the requisition forms.
FF: I’m innocent!
CV: Oh boo-hoo-hoo! Miss Stone, call security. Tell them we’ve uncovered an embezzler.
FF: Miss Stone, you’ll back me up on this, right?
SS: You better run while you still can.
FF: You’ll never get away with this!
CV: I already have.

Of course, it all comes out in the end thanks to a piece of office equipment known as the Dictabird and Fred is cleared of any wrongdoing but still. This is exactly the situation I feel like I’m in and I can only hope that when all the bullshit surfaces (and it will, the truth will make its way out into the open eventually!) I’ve documented the goings on well enough that I can stay out of trouble.

Whatever you corporate slaves do, keep record of everything. Forward anything that might incriminate you for illegal or shady activity to your personal email for future reference. Document it all. It might just keep you out of jail sometime. This goes for everyone but especially individuals who the corporate sharks see as easy prey.

Tread with caution and be careful who you work for.

Beer/Cigar Reviews: Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron and CAO Flathead 660 Carb

Welcome to another installment of my beer and cigar reviews, where I bring you reviews of some great (and not-so-great) beers and cigars! We’ve got another great lineup for you tonight so let’s just dive right in shall we?

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

This Imperial Brown Ale comes to us from Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware and in traditional Dogfish Head style this take a style of beer and really pushes the envelope. Weighing in at 12% ABV, 50 IBU and aged in Palo Santo wooden barrels, this goes where no brown ale has ever gone before. Normally one associates brown ales with light, sessionable beers but this one is anything but.

Pours a very dark, nearly opaque reddish-brown with a thin ring of creamy tan head. Aromas of dark fruit, roasted malt, vanilla and a subtle smoky wood. The palate is greeted with flavors more like that of an imperial stout than a brown ale – big, bold notes of dark fruit, roasted malt, caramel and chocolate. Undertones of vanilla come through the mix with a slightly spicy, woody finish and a substantial alcohol burn. Thick, syrupy mouthfeel with low carbonation while remaining very smooth. Definitely more of a sipping beer than a gulping one and really sticks to your ribs.

I’m honestly on the fence about how to rate this one. In terms of a brown ale it doesn’t much fit, but again, that’s Dogfish Head for you. It was really tasty but I just think it belongs more in the imperial stout category because it tastes and drinks like one. I did really enjoy it so I’ll split the difference between rating according to style (3/5) and according to my likes (5/5!!!) and go with a 4/5.

CAO Flathead 660 Carb

OK, I’ll be the first to admit: I’m not a fan of big ring gauge cigars in general. They usually are very mild and airy, burn terribly and just make for an all-around miserable experience. Alas, my local lounge was doing a special on these so I decided to take a chance on it. This cigar is a 6″ x 60RG box pressed Gordo vitola (hence the name) featuring a hodgepodge of tobaccos consisting of Dominican and Nicaraguan long filler, Connecticut Habano seed binder and a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper.

First light revealed a loose draw (not uncommon with big ring gauges) but producing more than ample smoke volume and revealing creamy medium-bodied flavors of a sweet milk chocolate with a light earthy undertone and a balanced cayenne pepper finish on the back of the palate and the retrohale. Getting into the cigar the smoke gets thicker and the body ramps up to medium/full while retaining the same great flavor package. Remaining consistent through the first 2/3, the last third transitions to a heavy slightly sweet black coffee and heavier earthiness, dropping the pepper. Ending at 1 hour 30 minutes as the smoke goes hot and acrid for a more than ample burn time and bringing in only a very subtle nicotine strength – mild/medium at the most.

Construction was good with an above-average burn for a 60 ring gauge – it did require a couple of small corrections at the 1/3 and 2/3 point but nothing major. The cigar is packed tight enough so that the draw is not so loose as to not produce smoke – you get a nice mouthful with just single puffs.

Honestly, this is one of those rare big ring gauge cigars I actually enjoy. The flavor profile is right up what I enjoy (fuller bodied, dessert like with a spice component) and a good burn time. Would have preferred a straighter burn but it’s a 60 so I’ve got to be a bit nice here. Rating: 4.25/5.