Beer/Cigar Reviews – Karbach Love Street & Padron 1926 TAA #47 Natural

Welcome to another installment of my beer and cigar reviews where we take a look at some notable (and some not-so-notable) beers and cigars. We’ve got a couple of interesting products to take a look at today so we shall do that.

Karbach Love Street

Love street is a German style Kolsch hailing from Karbach Brewing Company in Houston, Texas. Though not the typical heavyweight beers I usually feature on this bit, it is consistent with the style at 4.9% ABV, 20 IBU and an original gravity of 1.050 (12.5 Plato).

Had on tap at Flying Saucer in Garland on 9/13 – it was their Hurricane Relief beer of the night (portion of the proceeds went to hurricane relief). Pours a pale yellow color similar to light lager. Aromas of yeasty pale malt and a hint of hop astringency. Flavor was malt-foward with pale and a hint of wheat malt. A little hint of a sweet spice comes in on the finish. Light body, sharp carbonation. Refreshing and easily drinkable.

This would be a microbrew for drinkers of American light lager. It would be a good stepping stone into the world of craft beer for those people. It’s also not a bad option for cookouts or a day at the races. Would go great with a Primos Classic Natural or Sumatran. Rating: 3.5/5.

Padron 1926 TAA #47 Natural

This box pressed 5.5″ x 50RG stick (Would that be Robusto plus or Toro minus? I guess either one works) is a special release in the Padron 1926 Series. As with all Padrons, this cigar is a nicaraguan puro featuring all sun-grown Nicaraguan tobacco.

First light reveals the trademark very loose Padron draw producing a huge volume of thick, creamy textured, chewy smoke. Full body out of the gate consisting of a huge black and red pepper blast on both the palate and retrohale. There’s also a woodiness on the retrohale. Hints of smooth leather and cocoa on the draw along with the typical Padron aged tobacco mustiness.

After the first light the initial pepper/spice blast calms down a bit allowing a sweet creamy vanilla to join the mix and the woody note morphs more toward a very distinct oak. The cocoa becomes more prominent and a coffee now enters the mix.

Getting into the 2nd third the pepper/spice and wood drop off completely and the body settles down somewhat to medium/full while the strength already ramps up to a medium. The smoke becomes sweeter and creamier and a fleeting hint of a toffee enters the mix.

We have another transition at the halfway point where the cream starts tapering off a bit and the coffee really ramping up and a metallic zing enters on the finish while the strength still holds at a medium.

The final third becomes very dark and heavy with the flavors shifting to a dark chocolate and espresso with a nutty finish and retrohale while a hint of red pepper joins back in and the strength ramps up to a medium/full. I ended the cigar at 1 hour 10 minutes where the smoke got hot and acrid; very respectable burn time for a relatively small stick.

Construction was excellent with a razor-sharp burn all the way down that required no touch ups. Once again though, this cigar features the trademark Padron single cap (why they insist on single caps I have no idea) though when cut with the Cuban Crafters Perfect Cutter enough of the cap was left to ensure it wouldn’t unravel.

Wow, what can I say? Bold and complex – this one is a real winner. I also have a couple of these in Maduro and I’m excited to try the Maduro version too. It’s hard to find fault with this cigar other than the single cap and that’s the only reason this is a 4.75/5 as opposed to a perfect score. Don’t pair this cigar with anything as it requires your full, undivided attention. Just enjoy it alone and savor all the complex flavors.


Walking Contradiction, Complex, Autistic, What?

Please bear with me, I’m feeling rather philosophical today so I’m exploring the topic of labels.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not much of one for labels, but damn the more I have deep conversation with the few close friends I have the more unusual but maybe seemingly fitting labels people come up with for me. I’ll be the first to admit I’m that guy who defies all sorts of social norms and just kind of lives life on his own terms but I can’t help but wonder if I stir up a certain air of mystery even in those few I have in my close social circle.

So let’s explore some of these labels I’ve been given over the years and see where they ultimately lead us to.

*Walking Contradiction. OK, I can definitely see why someone would think this. On one side of a coin I’m very sophisticated – I’m a microbrew, wine and Scotch drinking, cigar smoking stereotypical gentleman. On the other side of the coin I’m very unsophisticated – I’m not the well-dressed businessman who fits that stereotype. I’m a tattooed, short shorts, earring and “guyliner” wearing metrosexual who almost seems stuck in the 80s. If you just passed me by on the street you’d never peg me as the type who enjoys the fine things mentioned previous (and might even bust a gut laughing at my fashion choices). My philosophical views lean toward the nihilistic and antinatalistic side of things but on the other hand I seem lively enough. Does any of this officially make me a walking contradiction though? I don’t think so, so let’s move on to the next label.

*Complex. This is my ex-girlfriend’s favorite way of describing the person I am even to this day. We have had our intense disagreements and fights over the years but she and I remain like best friends to this day despite our differing life goals that required us to part ways (mainly her desire to have children and my desire to remain childfree). It is true that I am multi-faceted. However, aren’t we all multi-faceted? I don’t know of a single person on this planet who has a standalone defining feature. In that light, how can any person on this earth not be considered complex? It seems we all are to me. So whereas this label does fit me, doesn’t it fit everyone else? OK, let’s take a look at the next label that’s sometimes used as a catch-all for me.

*Autistic. OK, this is what I am, or at least I should say a label that was assigned to me by the medical establishment. Sure, certain misfiring synapses in my brain might be able to explain some of my involuntary and subsconscious motor tics, be in general clumsy, my struggle to maintain eye contact and other social deficits. It might also cause a cetain sensory processing issue that might explain one reason (but not the only, I have others) that I prefer short shorts over the “normal” knee-length styles for men today (I addressed that topic on a previous post). However, I don’t think that label can capture all of my oddities. Further, the label has a connotation of inferiority (as in the notion that autistics are inferior to neurotypical people) when in reality we’re not inferior. Many now advocate for removing autism spectrum disorder from the DSM. I’m still on the fence about how I feel about that but it’s something I haven’t formed a definite opinion on.

*”Bohemian.” I addressed this label previously. I guess you could describe me in this way (and it’s not a bad thing) but is it just a descriptor or is it a label? I tend to think of it more as a descriptor. It tells you something about me but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

So we’ve burned through all the labels sometimes given to me by others and either none of them fit, they only capture part of who I am or they can be applied to everyone on this planet. So where does that leave us?

I guess that leaves us as I’m just me. There’s no other way to put it. I am me. I stand alone on my own merits, eccentricities and interests. I might share some overlap with the categories I’m thrown into, but I’m not a standalone subset of any. I’m a union of subsets from these categories and the only such union. Alas, aren’t we all a unique union of subsets of our descriptors?

Of course we are. Which is probably why labels such as the above aren’t very useful at all. Maybe the only labels we should use for each other are our names – after all aren’t those labels too? They’re the only labels that capture 100% of our essences. Labels like the above only serve to further divide us. Drop those, and we find we have more in common with each other than we thought.

I think it’s time to drop the labels and come together. The fact that it takes two major hurricanes for us to unite in helping our fellow human is unacceptable. Why do we insist on dividing ourselves? LGBT vs. straight, autistic vs. neurotypical, theist vs. atheist? I don’t get it.

Or does my lack of understanding of such divides go back to the DSM label I was tagged with? If so, then so be it. It just helps me make peace with the label after all.

Tattoo Topic Tuesday: Are Tattoos Vegan?

For today’s tattoo topic Tuesday I’m going to revisit an issue I blogged about previously concerning tattoo inks and whether or not they are vegan. It’s just I had so few followers at the time that I am still sometimes asked this question via private message. So for those vegans who are considering a tattoo but are afraid that tattoos might not be vegan, here is your answer: YES, tattoos are more often than not vegan in the modern industry.

Tattooing has obviously come a long way from its ancient roots: from cutting and rubbing ash into the wounds to the modern electric tattoo machine, artist-grade inks and sterile, single-use needle groupings. Over the years humans have used various things to change the pigmentation of their skins and that does include animal byproducts and extracts so the question or concern is absolutely a valid one. There are still some tattoo inks on the market today that contain various animal byproducts so if you are strict vegan it does pay to do your due diligence and ask what ink(s) any given tattoo artist uses and check them out for yourself.

That said, the two ink brands that are by far the most used in the industry today are completely vegan. Those brands are Eternal and Fusion. They are both great inks and all of my tattoos were done with one or the other so while I am not a strict vegan myself, all of my tattoos are vegan. There’s no worry about quality either – all of my tattoos are still practically studio fresh. Of course, I take care of them to keep them looking that way as long as possible.

However, even for non-vegans there is a good reason to choose vegan inks for your tattoos. That reason is vegan inks actually have a much lower rate of allergic reaction. Obviously you can’t completely eliminate the risk of allergic reaction (with the most common culprits being red and yellow) so if you have known skin allergies to nickel or some other commonly used jewelry metals it’s always still a good idea to get a test spot of done of those common offenders (as I did with the red and yellow before I took on any sizable amounts of those colors). Chances are you will be fine (as I was – I have a lot of red and yellow ink now) but always better to be safe than sorry.

So the bottom line here is to call around or go to the parlors and visit. Ask which ink(s) the artists use. They should be willing to tell you. If they won’t, run like the wind. Artists should be transparent about the sources of their equipment and supplies. If they aren’t transparent about those things they’re probably using some shady practices. I’m betting though that most anywhere you go will be using one of the two aforementioned brands of ink so in general you should be fine.

Now go get that tattoo!!!

Cigar Lounge Review: Cigar Art Dallas, TX

So as promised yesterday evening when I posted a round of beer and cigar reviews, I’d have two very special cigar reviews for you today. Well, that’s going along with a place review of a place I visited yesterday that was totally awesome.

So I was just bored out of my ever-loving mind yesterday morning/afternoon and decided I just had to go somewhere. So I got to Google Searching places and I came across this cigar place in the Bishop Arts district of Dallas that has a BYOB lounge, walk-in humidor and also has house-rolled cigars. Now that’s something new I hadn’t had before! I decided I just had to check it out, so I did.

Well, arriving there on a busy Sunday parking was not surprisingly a nightmare so I had to pay a valet service to park my car. Oh well, there are worse things right, plus there is so much other shit to do there that I can easily get my money’s worth (and I did – I went through several art galleries, boutique shops and the like while I was there). I’ve paid higher parking prices for other things in my life so I guess I can’t complain too terribly much.

Anyway, so after I valet park my car I arrive at this place and the second I walked in the word that came to mind was “eclectic.” It was a very laid back lounge with all kinds of cool art decorating the walls, a few comfortable couches and a “dry bar.” Swing music was playing in the background; if I had had a partner I’d have been dancing the Lindy Hop. That’s just how incredible this place really seemed. I immediately thought to myself “THIS is the feel I’m after when I launch my own place.” It was perfect for an eclectic person such as myself (yes, it’s one of the descriptors I use for myself).

So, of course, when I dropped into this place I just had to try their house blends. They were out of stock of their “Cliff Dweller” cigar (that’s OK – it’s advertised as a mild cigar so it didn’t really appeal to me anyway) but they did have plenty of their “Cliff Hanger” and “Cliff Jumper” cigars on hand so I got a mix-and-match 5 pack of those cigars, sat down with my self-supplied bottle of wine, chilled and smoked one of each of the blends while enjoying my own little slice of heaven.

With that, here are reviews of each of the two house blends I tried. Please note they do not advertise exact size on their website or in store, but I’m guessing these were standard Cuban Robusto sizes as they are reported to be rolled and blended “Cuban style” whatever that’s worth.

Cliff Hanger

The Cliff Hanger features an Ecuadorian Rosado shade wrapper over Nicraguan binder and long fillers.

First light revealed a perfect draw producing thick plumes of medium/full bodied smoke. Out of the gate it was quite peppery/spicy with a nutty core. Getting into the first third the pepper and spice calm down somewhat and a very pleasant unsweetened cream note enters the draw and an aromatic oakiness joins in on the retrohale. Everything is super smooth and well blended together. Getting into the 2nd third the nutty notes transition more to a smooth leather which mixes beautifully with the creamy and oaky notes. Getting into the final third the cream really ramps up and becomes the star of the show and closed out with a respectable burn time (didn’t time it exactly). No detectable nicotine strength.

Construction was very good with a very good burn that did require a couple of corrections but this is to be expected when you’re smoking a cigar right off the shelf in a brick & mortar store (no matter how well controlled it seems it’s hard to maintain precise humidity in such a large area).

A very pleasing and complex blend that would be well suited to a variety of applications. I was quite impressed. Rating: 4.25/5.

Cliff Jumper

The Cliff Jumper features a Mexican San Andreas wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan and Ecuadorian long fillers.

The first light of the first cigar I tried revealed an almost completely plugged draw and very minimal smoke output. Took it to the owner and asked to have a draw poker run through it but he exchanged the cigar no questioned asked! I was quite impressed with that level of customer service.

OK, take two: the second one had a slightly snug draw on first light but producing plumes of easy smoke. Medium/full bodied flavors consisting of the typical Mexican San Andreas bouquet of a sweet, rich cocoa and a peppery retrohale. Getting into the first third the draw opened up to perfect, the body settles down somewhat to a solid medium and a nice creamy note enters into the mix morphing along with the cocoa into a white chocolate type taste – something I’ve never tasted in a cigar before! An aromatic oaky note joins the mix in the retrohale (I can tell the oak is one of the blender’s trademarks) while the pepper is still present but very subtle. This remained consistent until the final third when the body ramps back up to medium/full and goes very nutty and the pepper ramps way up again. Good burn time, mild/medium nicotine strength.

Construction notes are the same as Cliff Hanger but interestingly enough this one didn’t seem to require any corrections to the burn line.

Though not quite as complex as the Cliff Hanger, this one was more along the lines of a dessert cigar which is more toward what I tend to gravitate toward. Rating: 4.25/5.

I’m glad to see the art of cigar making is alive and well in Dallas, TX and I’m always glad to support local businesses so needless to say I’ll be dropping in here. If you’re ever in the area this is one place I would recommend hanging out at if you just want to unplug and unwind. By all means look me up if you’re ever in the area; we’ll chill, smoke and drink!

Overall rating of 4.75/5 for atmosphere, products and customer service but what keeps it from being perfect is the horrible parking situation.

Beer/Cigar Reviews: Lakewood Coconut Temptress, Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout and Blanco Nine JT Limitado

Welcome to another installment of my beer and cigar reviews, where we look at some notable (and not-so-notable) beer and cigars I come across in my ventures. As always, we’ve got an interesting lineup for you this week so let’s dive right in!

Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout

From Independence Brewing Company in Austin, Texas comes Convict Hill, an oatmeal stout. This beer borders on Imperial Stout level at 8% ABV and an unspecified IBU or gravity level. Since I don’t have much to go on, I’ll just dive right into the review.

Pours an almost opaque dark red/brown color with a finger and a half of head that recedes to a thin ring and laces like crazy. Aromas of roasted malt, dark fruit and a hint of oat. Oatmeal much more prominent on the palate, becoming the star of the show. This is supported by a backbone of plum, toffee, roasted notes and a balanced coffee bitterness on the finish. Alcohol well-masked. Medium in both body and carbonation. Very smooth drinking; chuggable.

Though it borders between the two styles, this was a very pleasing beer and a must-try for any oatmeal stout or imperial stout lover. You’re going to like it. Rating: 4.25/5.

Lakewood Coconut Temptress

Yet another iteration of the famous Temptress from Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland, TX. This time the beer is infused with coconut for another interesting variation on this “tempting” brew. This iteration weighs in at 9.1% ABV, 56 IBU and Lakewood is kind enough to specify the original gravity of 1.091 (21.75 Plato).

Had on tap from Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House in Dallas, Texas. As with the other Temptress beers, pours a jet black in color with a finger of creamy tan head that sticks around and laces the glass. Coconut very prominent on the nose, supported by notes of chocolate and roasted malt and a hint of dark fruit. Flavor is very coconut-foward. It might sound comical but this beer tasted exactly like a Mounds candy bar – big blasts of coconut and dark chocolate. Very must a dessert-beer. Thick bodied, low carbonation, very smooth. Dangerously chuggable.

Though I think I will always prefer the original, these “seduction series” Temptresses (or is that Temptri, Temptra, or whatever other plural? I don’t know) haven’t disappointed either. This one was amazing after finishing an El Salazar burger. Sweet and satisfying, this take the place of dessert. Rating: 4.5/5.

Blanco Nine JT Limitado

Count me as a big fan of the Blanco Nine blend in gereral (with a particular love for the Lancero and Minuto vitolas) so this edition of the Nine has always piqued my curiosity but I’ve stayed away from it…until now. Why? This 6.25″ x 58RG edition of the Blanco Nine features quadruple ligero Nicaraguan filler, Nicaraguan Jalapa ligero binder and Oscuro Habano seed Nicaraguan ligero wrapper. Notice a trend here? Yeah, this cigar is 100% ligero throughout which, as most cigar lovers know, translates to a nicotine bomb. I’m a major lightweight so this one has always scared me, but I decided to grab the bull by the horns and take on the JT Limitado challenge.

Straight away a perfect draw and plumes of full-bodied smoke. Same great flavor profile as the regular Blanco Nine consisting of a dark chocolate and coffee on the draw followed by a balanced pepper and nuttiness on the finish and an aromatic cedar retrohale. Getting into the first third the flavor profile remains the same but the smoke gets creamier in texture as well as bringing in a cream flavor. 1/4 of the way in I am already feeling the strength. The 2nd third keeps the same great flavor package but brings in a hint of citrus into the mix with the strength holding at a medium. Only subtle changes into the final third where the coffee becomes darker and more pronounced – more of a French Roast type coffee. I ended the cigar at 1 hour 30 minutes due to the smoke going warm but if you like the last little bit with the warm smoke you can easily get the advertised two hours out of this. Strength up a tick to medium/full but surprisingly not overwhelming. Perhaps the strength was disguised somewhat by the very full body flavors.

As with all Blancos, perfect construction. Near razor-sharp burn requiring no corrections, which is truly incredible given that 1) it’s 100% ligero (harder to burn), 2) has a thick, oily Oscuro wrapper and 3) it’s a 58 ring gauge.

If you can take the strength, can’t think of a better “after dinner” smoke than this. Rich, dessert-like flavors, long-lasting, lots of body and obviously a pretty good wallop of strength. I would not recommend this as a first thing in the morning smoke but it’s great for an evening smoke. I’m glad I took the challenge and much to my surprise I will be getting more of these – they’re right up with the regular Nine in Lancero and Minuto for me. Rating: 4.75/5.

So that’s today’s episode, also stay tuned tomorrow for two very special cigar reviews! You’re going to want to read these, especially if you plan to visit Dallas.

Song Lyric Sunday 9/10/17 – Angel in Your Arms

This week’s Song Lyric Sunday topic was rather interesting: Revenge. There are some obvious choices for this prompt and my initial selection was so great I just knew someone was going to duplicate it so I went back to the drawing board and decided to pick something a little more obscure.

So that’s when I remembered this song that eloquently tells the tale of a cheating husband and his wife’s revenge. Here then is “Angel in Your Arms by Hot (written by Herbert Clayton Ivey, Terrence Woodford and Tom Brasfield):

Do you think I’m such a fool
To believe everything you say is true
That just goes to show
That you really don’t know

And while you’re out painting the town
Do you think I’m home just sitting around
Waiting on you
Now who’s really the fool

When I first found out I hurt all over
I felt so left out till I got to know her
So I tried the way that she got over
And I became just like her
So don’t be surprised to find

That the angel in your arms this morning
Is gonna be the devil in someone else’s arms tonight
Yes, the angel in your arms this morning
Is gonna be the devil in someone else’s arms tonight

Why’d you slip around secretly
If you were tired of loving me
Why’d you keep holding on
When love was already gone

The times you said you weren’t feeling well
Did you think I couldn’t tell
You’d been with someone else
You were only kidding yourself

When I first found out I hurt all over
I felt so left out till I got to know her
So I tried the way that she got over
And I became just like her so don’t be surprised to find

That the angel in your arms this morning
Is gonna be the devil in someone else’s arms tonight
Yes, the angel in your arms this morning
Is gonna be the devil in someone else’s arms tonight

In your face, right? Well that’s a wrap for this week. Hope you enjoyed.

“Aren’t You Cold?” (Just Say What You Mean!!!)

If it is one deficit that many of us on the autism spectrum have it’s social cues, reading body language, tone of voice, etc.; I’m one of them and I really wish I wasn’t because I misjudge intentions quite frequently and I don’t know if someone is genuinely concerned, joking or trying to get a rise out of me.

Case in point, this morning. I went to do some shopping this morning and it was nice, cool and comfortable 65 degrees F in my neck of the woods. With my hot blood that is like absolutely perfect. Of course, I’m clad in my signature “Davy” Dukes and a tshirt with no jacket and I felt great. Alas, for a lot of Texans that seems cold to them especially when we routinely get over 100 degrees F in the summer and for extended periods of time (sometimes from April to October).

Anyway, I get my stuff and go to check out and the cashier kind of looks at me and goes, “Aren’t you cold?” Actually no I’m not, but thank you for asking though I do have to wonder – are you genuinely showing concern for my well being or are you trying to discreetly give me a slap in the face with a thinly veiled insult?

Look, I’ve heard A LOT worse insults in my time. I used to referee high school football and umpire baseball/softball and I’ve been called every name in the book and then some. That shit don’t bother me. If you have something mean or nasty to say just say it to my face. Don’t play this beat-around-the-bush bullshit with me because I promise you I can take whatever you can dish. That said, don’t be surprised when I dish some shit back your way too (in your case, Miss Cashier, speaking to your manager about being rude and unprofessional).

Nonetheless, in this instance I decided just to go ahead and let it go because I didn’t know for sure. I didn’t want to get this person in trouble when her intentions were actually genuine. False accusations are just not cool regardless of what the accusation is, but I do feel if I had a better gauge of body language and tone I would have been able to more accurately assess the situation.

Anyway, it’s an irritating problem to have. Alas a kind request from us for our neurotypical friends, family, significant others, etc.: please just say what you literally mean the first time. It’ll make it easier for us to understand and even get along with you. It will help avoid unnecessary confrontation and such. Thank you.