Loch Down Scotch Ale
Arcadia Brewing Company
Battle Creek, Michigan
If you're a dude and have never been stealthily kissed on the cheek by a raving mad Scotsman on the drive back from a casual dinner then you have no clue what fear is. I guess that I was partially to blame since I made the charitable gesture towards the former seaman in lieu of my girlfriend at the time being occupied by work for the evening. I mean the signs were all there: he had a Clark Gable mustache, always wanted to wrestle with guys, became enraged when being called a "homo" during typical construction work word play and gave me come hither looks at my apartment while I was readying to leave for vittles. I was offput by the animalistic glances but gave him the benefit of the doubt having known the guy for several years. Hell, he even talked about a woman that he was in love with and wanted to marry. Maybe I was really that woman to him! After all, I am as naturally beautiful as a wild beast and am sometimes called "ma'am" by strangers even when I am garnished with facial hair.
Now that the therapy session is over for the day let us talk beer. Your typical scotch ale is laden with a high alcohol content and gives off the vapors of such. This one has a faint hint of that fog which evokes a minor solar flare in the ribs but is mostly muzzled in mediocre lager affects: dull, airy malts with caramel affects and a scintilla of hops. A decent beer but not in league with some of the better, non-kissing Scotchies that I've had.
Short's Autumn Ale
Short's Brewing Company
Elk Rapids, Michigan
Each season has been eulogized in lore by poets and prophets as a time for renewal followed by proclamations championing the endurance of the human spirit. I, for one, am not enamored. There is enough human anguish in one square mile of heavily populated terra firma to clot a thousand planets with a lifetime of despair. No, I'm not writing lyrics for a Cure song or the epitaph for my tombstone but rather surrendering to the elements.
The Earth is a beautiful place. Count the stars some black night and you'll understand that divinity exists even if not in an appointed godhead. The beauty needs no human eyes to validate it. I say let the beasts living mindlessly be the only witnesses and man perish. Well, after my little girl lives out of her time. But I'm becoming dour once more.
This beer reminds me of something that Ron Jeffries might have concocted down at Jolly Pumpkin before the skunks of industry turned his fine enterprise into an uppity affair. Not that his beer isn't worthy of praise on the scale of a wine-lover's masturbatorial altar but the prices are sickeningly upper crust.
Anyway, there's a farmhouse ale quality here with a pungent yeast and a cloying malt that coagulates as it strafes your reptile mouth. If the hops say anything it's that one shouldn't bite too sweetly into the fruit without anticipating the rind. And it's there, ever-present, waiting to break this and any dog's teeth who dares snarl at the invisible hand in the air that guides destinies and displaces souls.
Wilhelm Scream Pumpkin Ale
Magic Hat Brewing Company
South Burlington, Vermont
Recently, I found some 19th century documents at an antique store pertaining to an old shuttered insane asylum in the Detroit area and figured that they would be of great interest to the readers of my blog devoted to that very institution. But it wasn't to be. There was zero fanfare. The readers are apparently only interested in hauntings, trespassing the grounds and a future fictional horror movie representation of the place and not exceedingly rare ephemera.
While bemoaning this fact to my friend Kayla, she said, "You should have found nude photos of women from the 1800s and then people would care." She was right, of course, that people want filth and maybe it's my bad karma for always writing this blog mockingly towards the serious reviewers of beer. Oh well.
So will Wilhelm Scream? Only if ye stick a plum up his bum! Otherwise he'll just whimper the cuckold's blue song of Eden while blowing chunks into the same bag that he brought this bile water home in.
There's a pleasing amount of pumpkin flavoring in here but it's not as fullsome as BIG BOUNCY ASIAN BREASTS. And the caramel and spicing? It's sufficient but hardly shakes you like a BIG CHOCOLATE BOOTAY. All right, I can't do this. The beer is mediocre and so is your mama you swill-chugging prick. Goodnight.
New Holland Dragon's Milk
New Holland Brewing Company
I don't know if it's more a testament to a lack of character on my part or those who buy me meals on occasion like I was some worthy hot chick but I've long tired of asking why about most everything.
I had one of these at Sidetrack Bar & Grill with Bearsdley, Bobo and the original Bob and my first inclination was to tip over in an exalted state of vertigo. I get drunk easy and quite fast and on an empty gut it came within a few sips with this one. By the time my black bean yuppy sliders (LOL) came 55 minutes later I was pretty much a simpering fool on half a pint, 2 glasses of water and one over-syrupy raspberry tea.
Even after the relief came the 10.whatever% had me reeling. Flat black stout with the accustomed traits until the last quarter of the glass. Then it was a stiff menthol alcohol infusion meant to topple the weakest parasites. And I was while bemoaning a sink tossed into the Huron River, the current state of American hegemony and my own mental lethargy concerning a girl (well... in generic terms since she's a woman and one always deserves whatever he gets from them). All which will vanish when I see my cheetah clone in the AM and the wicked world rights itself for a few dozen hours.
Key Lime Pie
Short's Brewing Company
Elk Rapids, Michigan
I came into this experience expecting a brew with a taste approaching that of a liquid simulation of dessert. What I got instead is what I would classify as a taste approaching a vomited up bad key lime pie and a soft-bellied beer. Where there's supposed to be a tart creaminess there's a sour tanginess that just doesn't sit right. It's pretty cringe worthy and hard to put down the gullet without getting a visceral reaction from the muscles which cause one to upchuck and extends up and into the nose and eyes. A rare bomb by the Short's crew that has absolutely no redeemable qualities and a total waste of the maiden voyage of my Kragers glass.
Short's Chocolate Wheat Porter
Short's Brewing Company
Elk Rapids, Michigan
When I first engaged in the practice of reviewing beer--mostly in mockery of the craft pornographers who whore out the product and themselves for attention and mutual ass-clasping connections--porters were one of my favorite styles. Specifically, Pontiac Porter, which I imbibed in more frequently than others before I moved onto the overedumacated prestige of the Jolly Pumpkin collection. Which is now so over-priced that one actually needs a job to drink. Haha.
One particularly memorable bout with the Pontiac P. occurred after a trip to the JP Brewery. The baby mama and I, pre-baby and conception, planned a camping expedition at grounds out past Dexter and near Hell, Michigan. I think it was Green Lake but who cares, right? Anyway, we were drinking up a storm because that's what cheating wives do (unbeknownst to me because I'm an innocent little angel) and partaking of dogs and such. Hot dogs, not the ones the accompanied B. M. and served as logs of oppression in the cloths of passion.
Listen, I'm not a big drinker but the witch was happiest being inebriated and I'm a sucker for craft beer. After nearly a six pack and enough food to bloat a small pig I was past the point of consumption. B. M. was just getting started. So off to bed we went for some fu schnickens. Or at least she thought anyway. I was beyond bloated and the last thing on my mind was engaging in some cuckoldry. I mean, I'm always up for befouling a woman that I love but there are times when it's nearly impossible due to physical limitations. So I told her to let me rest a bit and we lay down to quell our slovenly ways.
Of course, I fell asleep because that's what I do when I lie down for longer than a few minutes. The next thing I knew there was a wild eruption and she was roaring at the campers in the lots nearby who were carrying on way into the wee hours. It lasted several minutes and included threats of police, park rangers and beatdowns, all while I lay in conscious oblivion, pretending that I was still asleep. Needless to say, the next morning was a cricket symphony and after wrapping up our belongings and dropping me back off at the rented palace she returned to the safe confines of marital bliss.
This beer conjures up none of those past horrors. It's a wispy dark with a dainty sweetness that's befitting of one of those overpriced foreign cookies that come in a canister and is stuffed with creme that you always see at dollar stores or Big Lots! because Americans want cheap comfort food and care not for finery. There's a little sour in there, too, but nothing approaching what Ron Jeffries cooks up in his laboratory. What I'm saying is that my stories are better than this beer just not due to any fault of the brew itself. Yes, I'm that awesome and so is Short's, most of the time. Hell, give it a few years and maybe you'll be reading about another love-child born of forbidden passion. But first I have to stick it into something besides a bromide or a beer. Give this beer monk some leeway because it's a-brewin and nothing before its due time shall before me pass.
Earl of Brixom English Dark Mild Ale
Short's Brewing Company
Elk Rapids, Michigan
Somebody must have pulled the bung from the King's court brew keg because this is one flat pourer. But what the good Earl lacks in fizz he more than makes up for it in roasty-toastiness. That said, without the carbonation this English dark mild comes across basically as a strong wort.
The maltburger's there all right and it's rich and dark as a cola but lacks the sophistication of a shape-shifting, interbred reptilian royal that puts women and children to death in the name of God, country and the House of Rothschild.
Honey Badger Black Ale
Short's Brewing Company
Elk Rapids, Michigan
There's little about me that's scientific or meticulous and as such I didn't make a very good amateur brew master. Not to mention that I refused to graduate to big boy equipment because I had no desire to brew 5 gallons of beer at a time or spend half of my life molesting a wort. Hence, I brewed kit beers with jacked up additions. Chocolate Pumpkin Stout. Brown sugar maple syrup ale. Cherry chocolate honey lager. Etc. They were all fairly mediocre and I pretty much lost interest in the matter, preferring the ease of a microbrew. Luckily, Short's sprung onto the scene with affordable and ingenious concoctions that I would have ventured onto eventually.
This is quite the black ale! Rich and roasty as a porter with the teeth of an imperial stout. While the orange blossom honey comes in segregated waves--citrus rind in the hop bite and faint honey sap sweetness in the finish--it's omnipresent in varying degrees. There is also a quite pronounced figgy/raisin infused alcohol vapor essense to the bottom of the glass that wasn't mentioned on the label but is welcomed all the same.
It's odd that a brew which describes itself as "a head snapper" turns out to be one of the more mild concoctions of its ilk. But that's what it is. A peppery lemon jerker with just the right amount of whiskers for an old Tom such as myself. I suppose that I'm not THAT OLD but the difference between old balls and really old balls is more or less minutia.
Howlin' Chinaski Dortmunder Lager
Short's Brewing Company
Elk Rapids, Michigan
Being that permanence is the standard bearer for literature it's safe to say that Bukowski wasn't a very good poet and his alter-ego Henry Chinaski merely a glorified pop icon. That said,
he was mostly better than the alternative. Which is more a statement of societal decline than an accolade. Thankfully, we're not here to discuss literature. Though the field offers an
interesting parallel between it and the beer culture during much of Bukowski's adult life and career. Most American beer companies after the 1950s and '60s strove to be national
brands with watered down taste. With mass production came the necessity to become more economical and the adjunct lager became the regular fare. Macro swill lager dominated
Then came the craft beer revival in the latter two decades of the twentieth century with the nineties exploding into an outright revolution. Thank Gawd for that, eh? With it came the
rebirth of the American tradition of producing old world styles. Porters, stouts, ales, fruit and pumpkin beers, among many others. A dortmunder by any quality brewer tastes like
this one. A full-bodied lager balanced with a rich sweetness and a mellow tack of grassy hops. It's what I imagine that Budweiser, Strohs or any of the big brewer's flagships brews
used to taste like back in the 1800s through Prohibition.
Redd's Apple Ale
Redd's Brewing Company
This swill is not a beer it's a goddamn wine cooler. Like it's contemporary, Wild Blue, only a chick would call this a beer let alone an ale. A pungent barfy concoction with a full gross of taffy apple corn syrup added. I wouldn't pour this into the asshole of Satan to cool off his world fuckery let alone feed it to a bitch in heat to cool her off from the heat of my innate greatness and magnanimity.
Frothy the stroh-can was a pollywog washing drank. With a cornrow grit and a rosey palm stroking my double chin. Oh, Frothy the stroh-can...
All right, enough of the imbecility of proper introductions. Usually when you get a well-regarded pilsner it tastes like repackaged Schlitz in a bottle adorned with counterfeit Edward Gorey art and some pithy bromide for a moniker and slogan. This one follows suit in all the unimportant matters but the beer itself delivers.
A murky dishwater of contrasting flavors that mesh supremely. The requisite sweetness of a pils is there but the accents of caramel and buttery hops make it worthy of praise.
I can see why its asking price of $11 at Kroger was a cause for discontinuing the product but at the bargain markdown of $4.79 to close it out, it was one of the best suds purchase I've made in a while. I struck out by not buying the remaining half dozen packs.
The Oracle DIPA Ale
I've spoken to several oracles and listened to a few along the way. Namely the Ouija, Mark Scott, Robinson Jeffers and myself, Minimillian Bobespierre. But this one has quite a different message than I'm used to from those right-wing doomsayers pushing the wispy planchette across the board.
It says, "I am cinnamon and musty gash. I am Pinestein the Great. I am two tons of water meshed through a menthol centrifuge. I am the gassy pearplum turned ambrosia."
I've got to say that this is the only double IPA that I've even remotely enjoyed. It's a heavy liquor with gravel in it's sweet gut. The hops are immaculately merged to form both a biting and spicy affect that neither numbs thy tongue nor puts it out to pasture to nip at the dung piles of numbness.
The alcohol content is a bit startling to the speedy imbiber and a dizzy spell isn't out of the question if one doesn't tread lightly with this beer grenade. Right now I'm mashed in with the taters and don't see an easy-out. Better to die this way though than with a Bud in one hand and my pud in the other, eh, Spuds MacKenzie? Jah wobble.
Frankenmuth Dunkel Ale
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Podunkel meets da po boy bluez in this stylistic failure from the midwest's least best brewhaha-ers. I know the bottle is emblazoned with a classic icon and verbiage to suggest tradition but this is pure Americana brewiana outside of Michiana in the post 90ianas. Fluff and puff and dragonese as they be draggin' their knees into machinations of the macro-nation.
Yes, Frankenmuth brews have been around in some form for a goodly century and a half but dimes to dollars says that the result wasn't this milquetoast lager fuel. The fawkin' midwest's best version of Shiner's of de Norf.
Now I'm not going to say that this isn't a drinkable swill because goddammit it ain't half-bad but when has anybody with a lick of sense ever thought half-good was a recipe or remedy for success.
I'll tell you what this beer is, it's a sleep-aid, a cool cocoa of little consequences, a quick sip of watered down malted shake, a cold coffee with not enough cream and hot chocolate left on the shelf overnight.
It's good but its leftovers. Remnants of the glad feast from yesteryear that ain't quite what momma cooked or your lady love ordered from a deli 4 days ago and is now becoming ripe and disjointed from its flavor.
I could drink this beer a thousand times before I ever saw another reason to grab a Miller or a Coors but that's hardly reason enough to buy it again over some other promising and fortuitous crafter with a nose like a Coke vacuum and the mouthfeel of a bukkake queen.
Overrated! West Coast Styled IPA
Surly Brewing Company
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
Whether you're dealing with a snapper or a real claptrapper you always hope for the mild version of each as you partake of their fare. The latter for salvation in the aural department and the former where the pusser meets the piehole in holy salivation.
Now that all professionalism has been tossed aside let's get on with the review. Regardless, if you like IPAs or not--I don't--you have to credit them for their consistency. Almost all are indistinguishably creamy with a dry timber seasoning and prickly essence.
The main reason that I don't like IPAs is that their bruskness comes from a wretched pine sol citrus flavoring that I call fishbine. To achieve fishbine you squeeze the nastiest frozen grapefruit and then scrub it into a gassy hair-filled armpit. The refuse is then ground into the wort and BOOM an IPA appears. It really is that simple.
What isn't simple is understanding why somebody would choose to drink an intentionally noxious brew just because. I know that craft beer nerds all claim that this Holy Grail style is an acquired taste but I've partook of this style on dozens of occasions and never acclimated to its supposed charm.
Listen, you can have have the bitters and eat yer cake too in the form of many rich stouts and imperial dark sauces without having to imbibe of these citrus bombs. Seriously, you don't have to suffer the dank nasties to prove that you're a man. It's akin to playing My Little Ponies with your daughter because she likes it that way. Except that the only little girl you are assuaging in this exercise is the brittle man within you that has to flex his muscles to prove his machismo.
Bell's Batch 9,000 Ale
I haven't had a Bell's beer in a year or two and had forgotten just how good their fare is. Though the style and taste are somewhat different, this instantly made me recall their cherry stout that I had several years ago. It was 8 fucking years ago? Wow. Though I think I've had it again between that review and now. Anyway, both this and the aforementioned are extreme sousers with some of the most intense flavor you'll ever come across. While something like a Dark Horse's Tres Blueberry Stout gushes with flavor this one and the Bell's Cherry Stout teem over into excess. The sweetness is similar to what a lemon produces in terms of sourness or a strong whiskey in bruskness. You literally have to shake off each drink before continuing on.
While the licorice affect is subtle the plummy-raisin-molasses combination is an overbearing wort. You know you're drinking a rugged beer with whiskers when you imbibe this sucka. While the alcohol content is a stout 12.5% it drinks rather smooth though the sweet after-bite conjures up something akin to a brain freeze at the roof of your mouth except that it's a flowing ice lava of sugar. Now that I'm reaching the bottom of the vessel I can also feel a warm pool forming in my gut as the mushroom cloud of sweetness billows into my bison brain and explodes like the laughter of 40 whores robbing old men of their final excesses. This is like a face full of novacaine at the base of the brain in the best possible way.
All regards to Beardsley Rummel for the gift sixer and the mild hallucinations.
Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock
Boston Beer Company
Rib stickler, tongue tickler. Honi soit qui mal y pense.
I know that Spammy Adams gets some knocks by crafters for being too mainstream but you'll be hard-pressed to find a match for this in the fruit beer section of your local liquor store. Maybe this isn't as complex and brilliant as Dark Horse's Tres Blueberry stout but it's a close runner-up if nothing else. Plus it's a bock and they aren't exactly noted for their wild fluxuations in flavor as stouts are. At least to me they aren't but that's just my prejudice speaking.
This starts out tasting and smelling of cherries. Listen, I'm not a mouthfeel or fragrance sort of reviewer but when you put your hairy snout up to the glass the fragrance of virgin blood wafts from it. Then you dig in and the cherry tartness hits you before gradually delving into several layers of chocolate maltiness and creamy smoke. Not like one of those 99 cent cocoa beers mixed with Nestle but rather a deep, rich chocolate that slave labor brings from the jungles and feeds to wealthy Illuminati types.
Obviously, I'm out of my class here but when a man wins a gift card anything is possible in this world as long as he sticks to a plan. Even a scrub bastard scribe poet tasting fine beer and twaddling away to tell you of its complexity could do it. And I did because this one's a talker and it's saying, "Tu me manques déjà ma chérie." Awww... how fucking sweet is that? And the same to you little tart.