Beer/Cigar Reviews: Founders KBS and Padron 4000 Maduro

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a beer and cigar review so I figured it was time. Due to my recent absence from blogging it’s been difficult to be able to do these types of posts so here we go now. We’ll start with our featured beer as always and then take a look at this week’s featured cigar.

Founders KBS

KBS is an Imperial Stout brewed by Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It weighs in at a potent 11.8% ABV with an unspecified IBU rating or gravity and one 12 ounce serving has rib-sticking 336 calories. The description on the site says this beer is brewed over cocoa and coffee beans and aged in oak bourbon barrels. With a 100 rating on both RateBeer and BeerAdvocate I went into it with super high expectations and it delivered.

Draft pour at Flying Saucer in Garland; pour is jet black in color with a frothy tan head that retains and laces the glass like crazy. Aromas of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and alcohol with a touch of the bourbon. The oakiness and bourbon notes take a front-seat on the palate supported by a complex backbone of flavors consisting of vanilla, chocolate, caramel and roasted malt as well as a hint of raisin. Finish consists of a smooth coffee and delicate hop bitterness but with a huge alcohol burn down the throat. Very thick, syrupy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation – this one is definitely a slow sipper. It took me almost 45 minutes to finish the 12 ounce draft pour.

I don’t think anything more needs to be said about this. Another incredible brew from Founders (already a favorite brewery of mine) and a must-try for all beer lovers. Rating: 5/5.

Padron 4000 Maduro

Though not the high-end anniversary lines Padron is so well-known for, the regular Padron x000 series bring the aged Nicaraguan Puro long-filler experience to a lower price point for the working man. The 4000 is a 6.5″ x 54RG Toro-plus sized soft box pressed stick featuring all Nicaraguan binder/filler over a sun-grown Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper.

First light reveals the signature loose (but not uncontrollably lose) Padron draw producing copious mouthfuls of creamy textured smoke. Medium/full bodied flavors consisting of an earthy dark chocolate core and a substantial pepper/spice on the finish and retrohale. Getting into the first third the initial big pepper blast dies off somewhat and the earthiness and chocolate take on a slightly sweeter, creamier tone. Getting into the 2nd third the pepper subsides further allowing a nice dark roast coffee to join the mix. This remained consistent until the final about 15 minutes or so which went very earthy and nutty. Ending at 1 hour 15 minutes just above the band there were no further changes. Medium nicotine strength.

Construction was excellent featuring a razor-sharp burn throughout that did not require touchups and held an ash for about 1/3 of the cigar at a time. As with all parejo-shaped Padrons, however, I will ding it on construction due to those silly single caps they insist on using. You’d think they’d have toredors capable of rolling a double or triple cap (in fact I know they do – the incredibly overpriced, mild, Connecticut-wrapped Damaso line features triple caps) so why they don’t use them I don’t know.

Overall, a solid cigar. Though not as many big transitions as the higher-end lines, the x000 series still delivers the great Padron package but at a much reduced cost. This 4000 Maduro is definitely a winner in my book. Rating: 4.25/5.

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Mental Health Monday – The “Bohemian Personality Spectrum???”

So my first (but probably not last – I will write as topics come to mind) contribution to “Mental Health Monday” was inspired by conversation with my dad over beers and cigars a few weeks ago. We were talking at the time about my potential (which has come to be a reality) move to Dallas for a bigger, better job opportunity and how I needed to also consider the benefits for me from a perspective on my personal life. There’s so much more of what I like to do here – active ringing, probably a swing/Lindy Hop society around, a lot more of the artistic and musical side of things (might start playing the occasional open mic again if I can get up the nerve to) among other benefits the big city offers for people who just have to be entertained (even if I do fly solo in most of my ventures).

So as we were talking my dad said back in his day I’d have been described as “Bohemian.” Of course, being a child of the ’90s (born in ’87) I had never heard the term used outside of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” which apparently has very little to do with the actual definition of the word. When he first said it I was taken aback as though maybe it was meant as an insult. So I looked up the word and definition 2 (of either the noun or adjective version of the word) I would say definitely is me:

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Yeah, that definitely is me. Hey, maybe dear old dad does know a thing or two. It’s definitely not a bad thing to be Bohemian; if anything perhaps we Bohemians are much more interesting people. I can’t help but wonder how many artistic, musical, literary, etc. legends would have fit that descriptor if it had been around in their day. We all have to be a little “off” I guess to embrace those things.

So, let’s tie this into Mental Health Monday. It seems most of us on the Autism spectrum would no doubt be described as Bohemian (or, at the very least, every one I have personally interacted with or met would no doubt meet that descriptor). As I’ve gradually started warming up to the Neurodiversity way of thinking (without completely embracing it yet – disclaimer to follow in a few words) perhaps the Autism spectrum should be renamed the “Bohemian personality spectrum” (note the word “disorder” is not present in the descriptor – that is totally on purpose). Many of us are unconventional, have an artistic side and take interest in things most don’t. However, is any of that a bad thing? Does that in and of itself qualify as a disorder? The answer is, hands down and unequivocally NO.

So now that we’ve established that as being absolutely not a bad thing, why are we considered disordered again? Why are we considered broken? Why was I, despite my ability to live independently, function normally, hold down a job, etc. formerly disqualified from flying**? Why do so few employers want to employ us? I don’t get it. If anything we might be able to find a faster and more efficient way of doing things and have a knowledge far beyond what people who are considered “normal” have.

Now, I should say I do have an exception to the above. Those with classic autism who have very low level of function (non-verbal, depend on assisted living, etc.) might still benefit from some medical intervention to help them be able to come up to a level of being able to function independently. Of course, we do not have such medical intervention yet but maybe in the future we will. I wouldn’t want to completely take away the whole thing; just basically let them be themselves while being able to live a better life. I can’t imagine how miserable it must be to have to be in an institution all of one’s life. I wouldn’t want to live that way and I don’t know anyone who would.

Anyway, I digress. Just some food for thought here. If you disagree with me, that’s fine to. Who knows? Maybe I am way off my rocker with this one. It was just a thought that came to me the other day. By all means let me know what you think.

**Note: Newer, more updated FAA guidelines apparently DO allow people with high-functioning autism to fly if they can demonstrate ability to function mostly normally – it’s too late for me but maybe those behind me won’t be given the same cold shoulder I was; I hope things are in fact changing for the better.**

Song Lyric Sunday 8/20/17 – Take a Chance on Me

OK OK OK, this is a total copout for Song Lyric Sunday this week. I know it is, but I’ve had a hell of a weekend getting an internet connection up and running at my apartment in Dallas (I’ve just been going home to my parents’ place on weekends lately) and just now have one so I’m way tardy with this post (8:00 PM CDT Sunday evening instead of my usual pre-written to go live 12:01 CDT post) so I’m going cheap just so I can get a post in.

Taking a chance and/or gambling – this week’s prompt. That of course can mean a lot of things. I’m not a gambler so maybe taking a chance is on a long-time friend you’ve been crushing on even though you might be in a relationship (and it being on the ropes) and maybe want to “take a chance.”

So here then is “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA (written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus):

If you change your mind (take a chance, take a chance, take a, take a chan-chance…)
I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try

Take a chance on me
(That’s all I ask of you honey)
Take a chance on me

We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long as we’re together
Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better
‘Cos you know I’ve got
So much that I wanna do, when I dream I’m alone with you
It’s magic
You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair
But I think you know
That I can’t let go

If you change your mind (take a chance, take a chance, take a, take a chan-chance…)
I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try

Take a chance on me
(Come on, give me a break will you?)
Take a chance on me

Oh you can take your time baby, I’m in no hurry, know I’m gonna get you
You don’t wanna hurt me, baby don’t worry, I ain’t gonna let you
Let me tell you now
My love is strong enough to last when things are rough
It’s magic
You say that I waste my time but I can’t get you off my mind
No I can’t let go
‘Cause I love you so

If you change your mind (take a chance, take a chance, take a, take a chan-chance…)
I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)

Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)
Source: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/abba/takeachanceonme.html (with some small additions by me)

OK, I promise next week’s post will be better. I’m just beat. I’ve had a hell of a week and a weekend (for the major-league bullshit that happened to me this week, feel free to check out the previous post. I really do apologize for the sparse posts as of late; hope to get back to regular posts soon.)

A Tale of an Incompetent Driver and Impeccable Customer Service

Everyone who knows me knows I regard my Ford Fiesta as one of my best and most loyal friends. It gets me where I want to go in relatively good style (for a “mini” sized car it actually is quite sleek and stylish) and, with its 1.0L Turbo/Direct Injection I3 EcoBoost engine, with great fuel efficiency and a surprising amount of power. So needless to say whenever something happens to my car I get very upset.

So that’s where this tale gets started. On the evening of Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 sometime between 5:30 PM and 8:00 PM one of the low-life hood rats who lives in the complex (or one of their low-life hood rat friends) backed or side swiped their red car into the driver side front of my parked (completely within the slot) baby. Unfortunately I was not there to see it when it happened but was left to assess the damage after the fact. The low-life hood rat responsible of course didn’t leave a note or anything (not that I expected them to – they don’t know how to behave like decent human beings to begin with and apparently they don’t know how to fucking drive either). This was the result of their idiotic driving:

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At first the damage didn’t look all that bad. Just a bit of a dent right? Hah. Wrong. When I attempted to open the driver door I could only budge it maybe an inch. From there it caught on the quarter panel. So I got in on the passenger’s side and took it for a short test drive to evaluate it and that’s when the problems really started showing up – on a big bump the bent panel is catching and squealing the tire. Not a good thing. Oh shit, this is more serious than it looks.

Luckily the courtesy officers were making their rounds while I was evaluating the damage and wrote up an incident report for me, so that was taken care of. As it was a hit-and-run I had no idea who did it other than to know it was a red car from the paint transfer. I inspected the red cars in the lot for similar paint transfer and dent patterns but did not find any. Just my luck right?

So then I report the incident to my insurance company (Progressive) and within two hours of opening for business today I had a claims representative contact me. We went over details and after it was determined that I was not at fault (no surprise there right) I was told this would be covered under uninsured motorist coverage (half the deductible of collision coverage) and that they had a concierge service center within 5 miles of my home address. Makes things so much easier – they handle all the work for me while all I have to do is drop my car off and pick up a rental. I figured it would be a couple of days before I could but no, they got me in same day! I’m getting my rental this afternoon and they’re taking care of the rest for me.

So this sad saga does have a bit of a happy ending. That was some serious customer service right there. Same-day turnaround, minimal deductible and super-efficient claims process. Progressive just completely earned my loyalty with the way they handled this. I should have my car back in fairly short order but in the meantime I will still be mobile and all is included. What more could you ask for?

Well, maybe if I could find the low-life hood rat who made this a necessity that would be nice but I’m not holding my breath. If I do though, oh baby they’ve got another thing coming: criminal charges and I’ll sue them for my deductible (plus I imagine Progressive will go after that person’s ass to recoup what they pay into the claim). I doubt I could get that lucky but who knows?

We shall see. In the meantime, I can rest easy knowing this is being taken care of swiftly.

Tattoo Topic Tuesday – The Inked Autist Weighs in on a Terrible Tattoo Trend

So a coworker and I were talking yesterday and he was saying how his kid had done this incredibly sweet drawing and he was thinking about getting it tattooed on him. All I could think of was “are you fucking kidding me right now?!?!?”

Alas, as aghast as a lot of you might seem, those not “in the pit” as it were to tattoo culture are probably unaware that this is a real thing right now.  Parents are getting their kid’s drawings tattooed left and right. If you don’t believe me just a quick Google search will turn up hundreds of cringeworthy results. I understand that it’s your kid and they’re special but I just can’t help but shake my head at this.

I haven’t the foggiest of ideas where or how this trend got started nor do I have the slightest clue why. No offense to anyone’s kids, but unless your kid is just some child prodigy artist their drawings just look terrible (let’s be honest here!) and are going to look even worse as tattoos. Uneven lines, spotty coloring, stick figures, you name it – everything you see in your kid’s stuff that they bring home from school.

Alas, I don’t know what’s worse – the people who are getting these stick figure and crayon drawings tattooed or the artists willing to do them. I can’t imagine any artist wanting that representative of their work. Anyone who wears a tattoo artist’s work is a walking advertisement and billboard and all I know is if I saw something of that poor quality by an artist (that is, if I wasn’t familiar with that artist’s work a priori) I’d not likely commission a tattoo from him/her.

I can think of a lot of other ways to preserve your kid’s art if it really means that much to you – start a scrapbook, buy a cheap frame and hang it on the wall, ANYTHING but getting it etched into your dermis.

The only silver lining I can see is generally little kid drawings are very simple and plain and therefore easy to cover up later (which I have no doubt that as this trend ages a few years there will be a shit ton of cover ups done on these jokes of “tattoos”) but damn, in the meantime to just any passerby that thing is going to look just absolutely ridiculous.

The tattoo scene has seen some terrible trends over the years that have luckily gone by the wayside and I hope this one doesn’t last long. I’m not one to tell you what to ink on yourself, but this is one of those things I would highly advise against. This is almost as bad (if not just as bad) as inking a significant other’s name into you (hey, breakups and divorce are a real thing).

Anyway, that’s just my opinion. What does everyone else think? Let’s get a discussion going!

Beer/Cigar Reviews: Wexford Irish Cream Ale & Foudry Zodipunk Juggernaut

Welcome to another edition of my beer and cigar reviews where we take a look at some notable (and not-so-notable) beers and cigars. Our lineup today doesn’t feature the normal heavy-duty stuff you’re used to seeing on this bit but every now and then some more “sessionable” products deserve to be featured here as well.

As always, we will start with our beer review and then look at today’s cigar selection.

Wexford Irish Cream Ale

Wexford is a nitrogen-infused Irish Cream Ale coming to us from Green King/Morland brewing company in Suffolk, England. As such, the name is somewhat misleading but I’ll give them a pass. I was unable to find any stats on this beer other than the ABV – 5.0%.

Pours from a nitrogen-infused pint can in the typical frothy nitrogen manor, which eventually settles into a medium-amber color with excellent head retention. Aromas of a light maltiness with an undertone of caramel. Flavors follow the nose with a caramel and saltiness usually found in these beers with a light, floral hop finish. Typical nitrogen creamy mouthfeel with very little tactile carbonation. Drinks easily enough and very sessionable.

Though not what I’d normally reach for it was a pleasing and refreshing beer perfect for a hot day. It’s not offensive but it’s not going to blow your mind either. Rating: 3.25/5.

Foundry Zodipunk Juggernaut

Picked up from the bargain bin at my local tobbaconist, this 6.25″ x 54RG Pyramid shaped stick features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper above a Mexican San Andreas binder and Mexican and Dominican long fillers. It should be noted this particular line has different blends for each vitola so this review is very much vitola-specific.

Two cuts with the Cuban Crafters Perfect Cutter opened the tip up revealing a perfect draw putting off a good amount of medium-bodied, creamy textured smoke with flavors of a sweet creamy leather on the draw and a zingy cedar on the finish and retrohale. The first third remained largely the same as the first light. As the ring gauge narrows into the 2nd third the cream and leather morph into a white chocolate type taste while retaining the cedar on the finish. The final third features a dramatic shift dropping almost all the sweetness and the cedar morphs into a heavier oakiness. The smoke went warm at 1 hour and 10 minutes and brought in a mild/medium nicotine strength.

Construction was above average holding an ash in solid 1/3 chunks and producing an acceptable burn that wasn’t completely razor sharp but only required one small touchup.

Overall this was a pleasing cigar; nothing amazing but pleasing enough. This would be a great cigar to have in the morning with your coffee or with a nice light ale such as above. It isn’t overpriced so it’s a cigar that can be had pretty inexpensively. Rating: 3.5/5.

Song Lyric Sunday 8/13/17 – Major Tom (Coming Home)

So our Song Lyric Sunday theme is to post a song about space. Well, OK. Space is such a vast, broad place and, dare I say it, a broad space. If we really think about it, our home on earth is but a speck in the grand scheme of things of outer space but when we think about it, space is our home.

So when I thought of space, I thought of this song. When we talk about space, we talk about our home. So when we venture into space (via man-made rockets, ships, etc.) we’re really just exploring the vastness of our home. Are we really leaving? Or are we truly coming home when we send man into space? And when we die and the atoms and energy that make up our bodies return to the great abyss, are we truly departing earth or are we actually coming home?

Hence my pick for this week. A one-hit wonder by German artist Peter Schilling. This song, written by Schilling with the assistance of David Harland Lodge, speaks of a man who thought similarly – that space was truly his home and that by returning to the great abyss he wasn’t leaving, but “coming home.” I tend to agree with him.

With that, I present to you the song “Major Tom (Coming Home)”

Standing there alone, the ship is waiting
All systems are go, are you sure?
Control is not convinced
But the computer has the evidence
No need to abort
The countdown starts

Watching in a trance
The crew is certain
Nothing left to chance, all is working
Trying to relax, up in the capsule
“Send me up a drink”, jokes Major Tom
The count goes on

4, 3, 2, 1
Earth below us, drifting falling
Floating weightless, coming, coming home

Second stage is cut, we’re now in orbit
Stabilizers up, running perfect
Starting to collect, requested data
What will it effect, when all is done
Thinks Major Tom

Back at ground control, there is a problem
Go to rockets full, not responding
Hello Major Tom, are you receiving
Turn the thrusters on, we’re standing by
There’s no reply

4, 3, 2, 1
Earth below us, drifting, falling
Floating, weightless, coming, coming home

Across the stratosphere
A final message, “Give my wife my love”
Then nothing more

Far beneath the ship, the world is mourning
They don’t realize, he’s alive
No one understands but Major Tom sees
Now the life commands, this is my home
I’m coming home

Earth below us, drifting, falling
Floating, weightless, coming home

Earth below us, drifting, falling
Floating, weightless, coming home

Earth below us, drifting, falling
Floating, weightless, coming, coming home

Home (Repeat ad nauseam)
Source: Lyrics transcribed by me as no lyrics found online were accurate. 

So that’s that. Hope you enjoyed my usual strange and off-the-wall take on the prompt. I know, I’m a strange cookie. So sue me. 😉