Gluten-Free Beer Review: Redbridge

redbridge

Staring in the face of the real possibility of gluten reactivity, the biggest hurdle for me to clear is going to be the beer issue. I’ve tried a few gluten-free beers in the past, but they were totally lackluster and not really worth drinking, let alone reviewing.

Alas, times are different now for the gluten-free world at large and things have gotten better. Maybe they’ve also gotten better in the beer world?

Anyway, Redbridge is a sorghum-based amber/red lager made by Anheuser-Busch. It weighs in a 4% ABV and an unspecified IBU rating. So what does this beer have to offer? Let’s find out.

Drank straight from the bottle so I can’t comment on color, but looking at the appearance of the beer through the bottle suggests a light golden color. Aromas of citrus hops come through the nose, as well as a glycerin-like sweetness from the sorghum. Flavors were very interesting and much more like that of an American pale ale than an amber lager – pale malt sweetness/breadiness supported by a bite of piney and grapefruit hop notes. Pretty thin/light in body and with high carbonation; this one is easy to kill several of.

Honestly, I found this beer to be very good. I got it to go with my gluten-free mushroom-Swiss burger at The Cove in San Antonio and it was a great pairing. The Cove is a great option in SA if you want a great gluten-free burger and fries, and obviously they have gluten-free drinks too. Oh, and the staff is super friendly and helpful. The bartender that day? As I paid out my bar tab and returned to my table, she noticed my lower half wear and gave me a pretty high compliment – “Oh, I love your shorts!” Never did I think I would get paid a compliment on my “Davy” Dukes but then again San Antonio and Abilene are totally different animals.

Anyway, I’m just glad I have at least one beer option should I have to make the commitment to gluten-free full-time. I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve not written a beer review in a long time, and that’s the reason – I don’t drink much beer anymore and what I have had recently in that respect are all previously reviewed beers. Alas, I might specialze in gluten-free beers in the near future as I try more. Bartender lady assured me she’d have some more different ones back in stock in a couple of weeks, so when I’m down there again it’ll be worthy of exploration.

Whatever the case, I’m giving this one a rating of 4/5. I would definitely drink this again.

Advertisements

Cigar Review: The K by Karen Maduro

This offering from Karen Berger cigars is a Nicaraguan puro. The size smoked for review is a 5″ x 52RG box pressed Robusto.

The first light reveals a perfect draw producing ample medium bodied smoke. Core flavors of a smoky meat draw followed by a peppery finish and retrohale with a tinge of cedar.

The cigar develops beautifully in the first third retaining the first light flavors while adding a deep, rich, creamy chocolate onto the draw – almost like a malted milkshake. Think of the flavor profile as going to a 50s diner and ordering a chocolate malt with your burger. The pepper and cedar remain on the nose. The smoke is very thick on the palate – almost “chewy.”

No changes were noted in the flavor profile for the 2nd third which was fine by me because I was totally digging the flavors. The final third showed the smoky quality (don’t laugh!) getting more intense as the body ramps up to a medium/full. Ending at 55 minutes for a good burn time for a Robusto and bringing in a medium nicotine strength.

Construction was very good with only slight variations in the burn line that did require correction at the halfway point. Ash held on for half the stick. High quality self adhesive bands that removed easily and did not damage the wrapper in any way.

This cigar had a very unique and delicious flavor profile that kept me wanting more. With its medium blend profile, this is a great option for a mid-day or lunch smoke. Would go well with coffee, red wine or maybe even a nice mimosa. A little pricy at $9.50/stick but well worth it for the flavor profile. My final rating on this stick came out to 4.25/5.

On Being a Total Fireball

If it is one thing that’s so true of me, I’m a fireball. I have the temper of Satan incarnate. It takes me awhile to get to that point, but when I blow, run for fucking cover. That’s how I’ve always been, and as I now know, how I always will be.

For those curious, here is my True Sidereal Astrology (TSA) birth chart. Pay close attention to my 12th house (about the 9:30 position) to see what’s in there, and also follow the red dotted line to the other symbol it’s paired with:

mynatal

See that? The red male symbol is Mars, follow that along the red dotted line with the square (indicating a “square” aspect – a pi/2 [that’s 90 degrees for you non-mathy types] angle +/- a few) to the green female symbol, representing Venus.

Yep, that’s a total double whammy there. My fireball tendencies? There you have it. Mars in 12th by itself is a dangerous placement, and totally explains why I have the tendency toward intense, and often violent, anger. It can often happen abrputly and without warning, and depending on what else has been going on at that point in time, it can take very little to set me off. When I learned about that placement, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, made sense. How I have never been arrested in my life I have no fucking clue. Truth be told I probably should have been a time or two in my life.

It made even more sense when paired not only with the constellation placement (Aries) but also when squared with Venus. When I do blow up? It’s usually at those who mean the most to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blown up at close friends, parents, siblings. It also explains why what few of my romantic relationships I’ve had have been highly volatile and never lasted more than a few months.

If it *IS* one thing I can honestly say it’s I’ve never hit anyone or used a weapon against anyone in a fit of rage, even as violent as it gets. I sure have a lot of destroyed personal possessions and property in my wake though! I’ve punched holes through walls, broken various objects, even ones one wouldn’t think would be breakable. I will also say I’ve used pictures of exes for target practice, but who hasn’t?

Anyway, when you combine the astrological aspects with being on the autism spectrum, you can only imagine it’s led to some pretty epic meltdowns over the years. Yeah, I was dealt a bad hand for sure.

Luckily, all is not lost. It’s not like I’m predestined to become a serial killer or some shit like that. It’s one thing I’ll have to learn how to channel and harness, and one thing I knew for sure before I learned about this is that boredom is not my friend. I had always known that, but all this just confirms it. I need to be entertained and active, even as introverted as I am.

This is another thing that solidifies my decision to move. Abilene only has limited opportunities for me to “get out of my head” and do shit. A bigger city such as San Antonio is much more conducive to that, and though Dallas was a bigger city I still felt isolated and idle. That place was not a good fit for me. San Antonio is a better fit, especially when I’ve got my spiritual guide beside me to keep me on the straight and narrow and help me avoid these pitfalls.

So there’s that. If you’re just a casual acquaintance I woudln’t blame you if you ran for cover. If you’re a closer personal friend I only hope I’ve not left some of your shrapnel in my wake. If I have, I’m sorry. Really. I know I’ve not always been a very pleasant person to deal with. Please know if I ever do rip into you, it’s nothing personal. That doesn’t make it right but damn it’s hard sometimes.

Trust me, I wish I didn’t have this placement. If I could choose any other placement I would. My life would be so much easier, as well as the lives of those around me. Alas, we don’t get to choose our placements so I’m stuck. I guess I’ll just deal as best I can.

Foxtrot Mike Lima.

Cigar Review: Henry Clay Warhawk

This cigar features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and Honduran long fillers. The size smoked for this review is a 6″ x 50RG Toro vitola.

First light reveals a slightly snug draw but producing plentiful creamy medium bodied smoke. Core flavors of a sweet nuttiness on the draw with a heavy oak and pepper finish and retrohale.

Getting into the first third the draw opens up to the perfect resistance and the smoke retains a medium body as the pepper diminishes somewhat allowing a hint of cocoa to enter the draw. I have to say not quite my expectations for a Connecticut wrapped cigar.

The 2nd third sees not so much a transition as an addition to the already complex flavor profile. Everything holding at medium body, but the finish adds a note of yeasty bread to the mix.

A slight shift in the final third as the nutty flavor transitions to a thick, creamy leather note and the pepper dropping off almost entirely. Ending at 1 hour 15 minutes for an impressive burn time and bringing in a surprising medium nicotine strength kick.

Construction was very good with a razor sharp burn line and high quality self-adhesive bands that removed effortlessly and did not damage the wrapper. Short, flowery ash so be aware of that though.

What a surprise. Definitely exceeded my expectations for a Connecticut blend. At about $8/stick it’s very reasonably priced too. Great morning or mid-day smoke with some great coffee spiked with Bailey’s, Chila or Rumchata. Rating: 4.5/5.

Crisis Averted Again?

Well, apparently there was more to poor Phoenix’s ailing fourth cylinder than a faulty spark plug.

On the way back from the office, I got caught up in the parking lot driveway just long enough for the engine to idle roughly, once again triggering a misfire code as evidenced by a flashing check engine light. I debated whether or not to turn the engine off and get a tow, but it went away after I got rolling so I felt comfortable as to drive it into the dealership for another go-over.

Turns out that sure, the spark plug was blown but so was the coil pack. VWs are apparently very order-sensitive as to where you put things, and the previous owner apparently attempted a DIY tune-up and wiz-wired the thing to the wrong firing order, probably blowing the plug and coil. A new coil later and all seems well again.

Hopefully this is the end of the saga. A word to the wise: do not attempt a tune-up on a German car unless you’re an expert. They apparently require an extra level of attention that crappy American cars don’t.

Alas, this was all resolved at no cost to me so I can’t complain too much. Phoenix is a badass little car after all (you can even ask Laina who I let drive her this past weekend. Laina did well enough for not having driven a manual in like 16 years).

Oh, speaking of which, Phoenix also got her first tattoo today. Just as I am tattooed, so are my cars. It’s an appropriate tattoo for her too:

Fitting isn’t it? And I was able to get a decal that matched the shift pattern. Absolutely perfectly fitting. Now to replace my Texas Motor Speedway sticker.

Cigar Review: Smokin Joe’s 34th Anniversary

For cigar smokers looking for a stellar stick at an unbelievable price, definitely stay tuned to this review. You’ll be glad you did.

This commemorative cigar, available exclusively from cigarandpipes.com in New York was blended by E.P. Carillo Cigars and features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican long fillers. This cigar comes in three vitolas – a 5″ x 50RG Robusto, a 6″ x 52RG Toro, and a 6″ x 60RG Gordo. All three vitolas are less than $5/stick, so definitely budget smoker specials.

So let’s just get into the review and talk about why these sticks are so special. For this review, I am smoking the Toro vitola.

The first light reveals a perfect draw putting off plentiful thick, medium/full bodied smoke. Notes of cedar and pepper dominate out of the gate, along with a smooth leather. Quite a surprising start to such an inexpensive stick.

Getting into the first third the cigar develops in complexity, still holding a medium/full flavor profile. The notes above remain, but are joined by a rich cocoa on the draw and unsalted roasted nuts oh the finish. The smoke is very thick textured and creamy on the palate.

The second third sees the same great complex flavor profile but with the balance of flavors shifting a bit. Whereas the first third emphasized the wood and pepper notes, the cocoa and leather really take over in the second half. That’s really all there is to report as the stick is fairly consistent otherwise, which is fine by me as it has a complexity and richness to the flavors. Ending at 1 hour 15 minutes for a solid burn time for the size and entering a matching medium/full nicotine strength.

Excellent construction throughout with a near razor sharp burn and an ash holding on damn near half the cigar. High quality self-adhesive band that came off without issue and did not damage the wrapper.

I told you that you were going to want to read to the end. You are just not going to find a better cigar in this price bracket. Full of flavor, a nice kick, and an unbelievable price. I hope they make these regular production. Do yourself a flavor and buy a bundle in your preferred size and try it out. You’ll thank me later.

Pair with red wine, rum or imperial stout beer for best results. For what you’re getting for such a diminutive price, I’m giving this cigar a 5/5. It blows away many cigars 3 times its price point and sometimes more.

Cigar Review: Sobremesa

This offering from Saka cigars features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over a Mexican San Andreas binder and Nicaraguan long fillers. The size reviewed here is the Elegante en Cedros – a 7″ x 50RG Churchill vitola.

The first light reveals a perfect draw producing ample medium-bodied smoke. Core flavors of earth and leather out of the gate with a substantial but not overbearing red pepper blast on the retrohale. There’s also a tinge of bright cedar on the nose.

Getting into the first third we see many of the same flavor notes, but with the addition of a light roast coffee – akin to a breakfast blend – on the draw. The body flavors also see a bit of an uptick and they are now solidly medium/full. The smoke is very creamy and thick on the palate. Overall the flavors are definitely on the savory/zesty side.

The second third brings a very welcome transition as the earthiness takes a back seat and brings in a note of dry unsalted nuts and a distinct creamy note with a slight tinge of sweetness. The pepper and cedar notes remain, as do the coffee and leather. Very complex blend but no one flavor dominates any of the others.

The final third sees another shift, but this one more subtle as the coffee takes on a distinct dark baker’s chocolate bite. The pepper also dies down somewhat. Ending at 1 hour 50 minutes for a truly impressive burn time and bringing in a matching medium/full nicotine strength.

Excellent construction throughout with a burn that wasn’t totally straight but didn’t need any manual correction, which was impressive given how windy it was when this was smoked for review. Ash holds on solidly for a third of the stick at a time. High quality self adhesive band that removed easily without damaging the wrapper.

Overall a very robust and complex smoke that leans strongly toward the savory side. I would have liked a bit more sweetness to round out the package but otherwise it was a very nice smoke for sure, though I do prefer Saka’s Mi Querida over this one. Pair with a sweet red wine or a nice rum to balance out the relative dryness of the stick. Rating: 4/5.