Archive for the 'reviews' Category

12
Mar
11

Best Beer Ever: Firestone Walker 14

I drank the best beer ever.  I did not drink it tonight, but I thought about it tonight, and thus I am sharing my review of Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale 14.  At 18.99 for 750 mL I probably would not have tried this beer of my own volition (Dude, that’s more than I usually pay for a bottle of wine – sometimes three bottles of wine!) so I am profoundly glad that I attended a beer class at which someone else had the good sense to crack open a couple of bottles of this – and share them with the rest of us.  As suggested by its makers, we drank this at almost room-temperature.

Even from its packaging, FWAA14 comes across as a Serious Beer.  The bottle is in a freaking box and there is more to read on and in the box than the average first grade class manages to trudge through in a year.  Some of the notes are more relevant than others; ignoring them will not diminish your experience, it will just make you a little less of a geek.  Personal choice, etc etc.  FWAA14 further lets its drinker know it is a Serious Beer by having an ABV of 12.5%.  In liquor terms, that’s 25 Proof.  Not fooling.

Despite it’s packaging and it’s high alcohol percentage, above all, Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale 14 crooned smoothly to me, “try me, drink me, enjoy me, yessssssss.”  And I did.   This beer is helluva smooth, warming the mouth before it slides down the throat.  Vanilla. Chocolate.  Oak.  Bourbon.  Whiskey.  Caramel.   Cherry.  Coconut.  Forget port – this beer is a drinkable dessert.  It’s the epitome of a sipping beer.

Find or invent a special occasion and buy a bottle of this beer.  Put it in some fancier glasses – like snifters – and toast yourself.

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03
Mar
11

Baconalia Review: Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Great Lakes Porter

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Great Lakes Porter

Bacon and chocolate chip cookies with a nice, rich porter. ..sounds like dessert to my face!  I’m currently in the midst of planning a bacon party that (at this point) will focus entirely on baked goods.  For whatever reason, I’m actually trying the recipes ahead of time this round.  Perhaps I am growing up and becoming more responsible or perhaps I just really like to bake and post cookies to friends.  Regardless of the present and the future, these cookies were the first cookies of my bacon cookie past.  These cookies predate my whole “Baconalia” concept and I got the recipe from a friend, rather than from the internet.  Seriously.   The first time I made these cookies I was completely unaware of the internet’s boundless infatuation with bacon.

Continue reading ‘Baconalia Review: Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Great Lakes Porter’

02
Mar
11

Book Review: The Children of Henry VIII

I finished my book about “two princesses, a prince, and their cousin” and well, that is one of the less-accurate titles I’ve seen.  When I bought the book, I hoped it would cover the bastard children of Henry VIII.*  I mean, the guy got around – in a way that would make Hugh Grant and A-Rod blush – and birth control pretty much sucked in the sixteenth century.  Admittedly, H8 only acknowledged one of his illegitimate offspring, Henry FitzRoy.  The probability is high that he had others – some estimates are as high as 20-25. Based on its title, The Children of Henry VIII, I thought that this book was at least going to include FitzRoy.  I’ve read other books by Alison Weir, the author, in which she does not hesitate to look at available information and make an as-educated-as-possible conjecture.  (Princes in the Tower, I’m looking at you.)

Regardless of how many children Henry VIII actually fathered and who they were, this book didn’t even do a good job with the ones who spent at least some portion of their life as his legitimate offspring – and then it threw in a whole deal on Jane Grey.  Jane Grey, his grandniece.  The book did talk about the relationships between the siblings (Edward, Mary, Elizabeth) and the impact the same events had on their very different lives.  The book doesn’t really get going until Edward’s reign begins and it carries on, in a very linear order, until Elizabeth ascends to the throne.  The reigns of Mary and Edward, along with the debacle of Jane, are covered in detail.  Like many other scholars, Alison Weir has a couple of books (um, two that I own) that focus on Elizabeth I, so maybe she thought it would be too much or too redundant to cover it in this book as well.

This isn’t a bad book, it’s more that it’s a badly-named book.  It is only sort of about the children of Henry VIII, in that it is only about some of them and only some aspects of them.  Given the relative reigns, both with regard to time and achievement, of the Tudors, I think that a better name for this book would be “The Reigns of Minor Tudor Monarchs.”  Jane can stay, either as an acknowledged monarch or for the context she lends to both Edward VI and Mary I.  If that’s what you want to read about, this might be a really good book for you.  I generally enjoy Alison Weir’s writing style; it’s crisp and clear, with good flow.

I still want to read about the “other” offspring of Henry VIII.  I think I might try this book .  Admittedly, I am a little skeptical about the author, but perhaps I ought to avoid judging books by their covers and other titles by their authors.

*I’m counting Mary I and Elizabeth I as legitimate.

12
Feb
11

Big Flats Beer: A Review of a $.04/oz Beer

Big Flats Beer in a Festive Coozy...MADE WITH LOVE!

When my friend Suzy read an article about Walgreens adding a store brand beer, she knew two things: she would be trying it and she would be alerting me, so we would try it together.  My friend Suzy is clearly brilliant – working towards her Ph.D. at a top institution, obviously. 

We are (usually) lucky to live in an area where alcohol is easily and readily available to people of legal drinking age.  Seriously, The Target sells The Spirits, so a person could hypothetically add a couple of handles of Smirnoff and a few suitcases of Bud Light to a Club Wed registry.  Thus, our local Walgreens is one of the many licensed to sell beer, including Big Flats.  At a pre-tax price of $2.99, we licensed ourselves to buy.  Actually, that is an untruth.  Suzy and another friend, Pete-ah bought the beer; I brought brownies I made from a box and craft supplies.  Crafting is a panacea of sorts, so it seemed like a good idea to have at the ready since we were a bit skeptical about chain-pharmacy beer.

Continue reading ‘Big Flats Beer: A Review of a $.04/oz Beer’

10
Feb
11

I Was Wrong.

I admit it: I was wrong.  I thought that the Budweiser commercial continuance would get all sassy and feature a woman.  (Come on, Bud is owned by InBev, so it’s European – shouldn’t we get a racy commercial?!?)

Nope, it features Cowboy Scraggles, who turns into Cowboy Singalong with a Bud…with a 1971 song, you know, Nixon-era.  Perhaps this was a tribute to bad karaoke?  Budweiser, please focus on the Clydesdales or revert to the frogs.  If you need to shake things up, this is not the way to go.  Nobody in my viewing group was impressed.  Had you gone with a sassy broad?  Well, you might have captivated half the room…

If you want to see the commercial, you can find it here

18
Jan
11

Baconalia Review: Beef Bacon With Delirium Tremens

beef bacon with delirium tremens

 

Beef bacon is sort of like the East German swim team of bacon.  It’s a bit huskier, a bit hardier, and bit more muscled.  While it’s clearly a cousin of bacon, there’s not much dainty about it and you’d best not offend it in a dark alley.  Whatever though – I am much more interested in eating my bacon than in offending it.  I bought Wellshire Farms beef bacon at my local Whole Foods, so I am sure it is quite ethical.

Unlike turkey bacon, beef bacon renders plenty of fat while cooking.  It cooks down quite a lot actually and I employed some of its fat to get the turkey bacon started.  I totally save my rendered bacon fat (Baconalia 3 Plans!) and found beef bacon fat significantly huskier and muskier than normal bacon.  Since I could tell the difference by smell alone, I did not mix the fats.  What can I say?  I’m a purist of sorts.

Continue reading ‘Baconalia Review: Beef Bacon With Delirium Tremens’

12
Jan
11

Product Recall!

I monitor product recalls because it is my job and because I am Major General Safety.  I am going to win the war against stupid; safety is no accident. 

I get the recall notices for pretty much everything (I’m on the general list) and the recalls pertaining to children’s products twice (I’m on that list too).  Today I got a recall for pajamas, by which I mean I got it twice.  Here’s the defective product:

Continue reading ‘Product Recall!’




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