Weekend Relaxer #52
Here we are at the last image to sport the Weekend Relaxer label. What better way to say farewell than to send it off than with the subjects of my 2013 photo sessions. For those that do not know, I am putting away the Star Wars figures in honor of some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Halo action. Part of this is to set my work apart from the bounty of images in the toy photography world, but also because I am already treading a thin line when it comes to trademarks and copyrights. Frankly, I do not feel like dealing with Disney getting all uppity with me and telling me I need to cease and desist. Besides, the TMNT LEGO sets are sooooo much fun!
With that, the final beer review of 2012. I was not expecting this beer to be yummy, yet I was woefully wrong on that assumption. I found this on the more forgiving side of the pale ale side of the spectrum. Orange and Grapefruit flavors with a bit of lemon grace the tongue at the start, which then subsides to potent bitterness thanks to the hops. The malts also lend of a bit of bready, dare I say dense biscuit, back notes to aid in rounding out all the sweet and citrusy flavors packed into each sip. This brew reminds me, yet again, not to judge a beer by its label as this was enjoyable, even for a stout lover!
Weekend Relaxer #51
Congrats on surviving the non-apocalypse, sadly you now get to deal with all the people posting grumpy cat photos and “OMG THIS IS HAPPENING IN AUSTRALIA” compositions on Facebook. In other news, Mother Nature decided that it was high time to honor those of us in the Midwest with a blizzard, complete with thunder snow. I have never experienced thunder snow, so that was a great treat. I do believe I could have done without all the wet and heavy snow that made shoveling suck ten times worse. At least we will have a white Christmas!
Now we move onto the beer, which caught me totally off guard. I had no idea what I was buying, as I really do not understand a lick of what is on the label. However, the risk was worth it. A smoky flavor wallops the taste buds right out of the gate, but then subsides to a dark and rich malt flavor. If I am not mistaken, this brings the bacon flavor to the table without completely obliterating any drinkability. The is not a chance I would drink two pints of this back to back due to the potency of flavoring, but to start a weekend off with it, well that is just damn fine! Also, perfect breakfast beer, if there is such a thing.
Weekend Relaxer #50
Well, here we are at week 50 with only two more beer labels to shoot before the year is over. I already have those labels sitting on my counter and ready for the camera, so I can check off the whole consuming a new beer part of the process. I figured why not share a few stats on this project before I dive into some more 2013 stuff and then the review.
This project is nearing the end of a two-year run. During this time, I have consumed over 150 different beers over 104 weeks. Only four weeks featured something that was not some type of beer. Yes, that means there are approximately 50 labels that never made it to the blog. My favorite brew is definitely the coffee stout while I tended to stay away from anything in the IPA arena. One bottle of port, one bottle of rum, and one bottle of mead filled in three of the four slots that did not feature beer. The bulk of the breweries I hit centered around the Great Lakes area, with a heavy emphasis on Wisconsin…imagine that. I posted labels while I was in four different states and one foreign country. I do not even want to know how many calories or gallons of fermented goodness I have consumed.
Yup, that is a lot of beer! So, it is with some sadness that I admit this project will not see a third year. Oh, I will still be posting beer labels; it just will not be every week. I want to pass along the best beer I find throughout the 2013 year, instead of stuff that is not always up to snuff. Now I know tastes are vastly different from one beer connoisseur to another, but I believe we can all agree there are some brews that should never see the light of day. Thus, my hope is to hunt down the more obscure bottles of goodness and pass them on to all you beer lovers.
This is a beer for fans of peated whiskey. The smoked whiskey barrel aging hits the tongue right away and then subsides to some brown sugar and molasses sweetness. The finishing touch is a hint of some dark fruits just before the bitterness kicks in at the backend. I couldn’t drink more than two of these in a row, but as something special to start the weekend off, this does a good job.
Weekend Relaxer #47 #48 #49
Three beers in one post, how can this be!?! Easy, last week I enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family and friends, this week I am actually on time, and next week I am in Arizona. With all this going on, I am making up for being lazy while being proactive about my travel. The road, she loves me. Anyway, let’s get on with this massive beer review.
First, we have the Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale that my brother provided for Thanksgiving. I admit that this is a great selection for the holiday season. I found this brew a bit heavy on the spices up front, but the sweetness and pumpkin flavors helped to balance that out. The best time to enjoy this beer is after a hearty meal of mashed taters and a giant turkey leg. This is not a beer I could drink a lot of, but one or two allow you to enjoy it without becoming bored of the powerful sweetness.
Next up is the Snowdrift Vanilla Porter from Leinenkugel’s. This is a beer found in the winter sampler pack and is average to slightly above average in taste. For a porter, this beer is packed full of sweet vanilla and bittersweet chocolate flavor. There is very little bitterness at all, which makes this an easy drinking brew. I do recommend letting this one warm a bit as the flavors only grow in intensity, making it more enjoyable. Overall, a solid beer from Leinenkugel’s, if a bit on the sweet side for a porter.
Lastly, we arrive at the Winter White Ale from Bell’s. Being this is from Bell’s my expectations grow and they were not disappointed. This is a beer for wheat fans as this packs quite the bready wallop. Of course, lots of citrus notes from the orange and lemon ingredients common to this style then round everything out. The hops provide the bitter balance necessary without tilting this into IPA territory. I expected a lot from Bell’s and their results did not let me down.
Few, that is a lot of beer. Now to go sip on my coffee!
Weekend Relaxer #46
Here we are on the cusp of madness. Next week we embrace Thanksgiving, a week after that I head to Arizona, and then we hit the mad dash to Christmas. I think this weekend I will sit at home and bake some pies while sipping on a quality stout or two. Let the craziness begin!
The beer this week is one I snagged solely because of the label and the story behind the image stemming from the family dog. Sadly, the label is the only thing good about this beer. The magic ale contained inside is a prime example of off balance. It is extremely tart with some acidic kick due to a sour cherry taste. There is practically no balance in hops, malts, or additional flavoring to bring joy to the taste buds. I do enjoy a Saison from time to time, especially in the winter, but I think I will stick to those of which I enjoy before diving into this one again. At least the label is fun!
Weekend Relaxer #45
Friday is finally upon us and I think we can all agree that this is welcomed after the crazy week we’ve experienced. Most of the negativity and hate around the election has subsided, Mother Nature decided to take a small break from destroying the East Coast, aliens have not invaded, zombies are still just a thing we kill in video games, and this coffee sitting in front of me tastes pretty kick-ass. Tomorrow marks the end of fall with one last return of 70+ degree weather, so I plan to take full advantage of that. Life, she is beautiful.
Having lived in a few southern states, I can attest to the fact that pecans are big business. So when I saw this brew, I had to pick it up to see if it would spark memories of pecan pies and 10-pound bags of these delightful nuts. While it did neither of those, it was not terrible either. This is full of malt and caramel goodness while notes of maple and roasted nuts round out the flavors. Sadly, that nutty impact is not so much pecan as it is some obscure ingredient that you spend time trying to pinpoint. It is not bad, but anyone thinking this is liquefied pecans in a bottle is to expect a bit of a letdown. A decent beer from Abita, but not what the label would have you believe it is.
Weekend Relaxer #44
Phew, what a crazy week this has ended up being. At this time just seven days ago, I had to test my online backup strategy after I accidentally formatted the wrong hard drive. I made it through that ok and all my data is fully restored, but it also made me reevaluate my current solution and change it so further recoveries did not take all weekend to complete. I also went back to Madison to have my tattoos touched up, had a radon mitigation system installed at the house in Ames, and watched in amazement and horror as mother nature unleashed her furry upon the East Coast. My thoughts go out to everyone try to reestablish some sort of life in a ravaged land.
I picked up the beer for this week well before Sandy became a household name. I say this because Saranac Pumpkin Ale is a New York brew from Matt Brewing Company. I found this is an average ale with a mild mixing of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and pumpkin flavor. This does have a distinct taste, which is nice as it does set it apart from so many others in this category, but it is not different enough to make it terribly memorable. This is not a bad beer, but it is not overly great either.
Weekend Relaxer #43
I completely had plans of shooting a different setup this week, but that all changed thanks to an email and the kind words of a young girl. This all took place the other night when Brian Arsenault got back to me about the Extra Life for Kids prize. You see, Brian is the lucky winner of the limited edition print (thank you random.org for making that easier). He filled his daughter in on what all took place and her response was the following:
“Dad, how about we let your friend pick a photo, print it, and donate it to the kids play room at the hospital?”
Honestly, I am humbled by this kindness and generosity. Therefore, the setup in this shot is in honor of this little girl and the task she has set before me. I have decided that I will produce a special shot for this donation, and thus I need to start exercising my creative juices to make something a bit more extra special. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I hope I can make this young Arsenault proud!
As for the Breakfast Stout from Founders, well it is very good. I mean Founders is a solid brewery as it is, but my first sip of this brew got me addicted pretty badly. The blending of rich dark coffee to chocolate is wonderfully executed in that the coffee shines right away while the baker’s chocolate sneaks in to add a bit of flavor complexity. The finish is that of dark malts and fine roasted coffee while the oatmeal adds on a smoothness that makes this beer a dangerously easy concoction to drink. There is a very good reason this beer is so highly recommended, and I fully endorse all the praise it receives!
Weekend Relaxer #42
As the craziness of this week winds down, I am humbled to say that my Extra Life for Kids goal is nearly complete. At the time of this writing, I am just $50 shy of hitting my $500 goal. I am humbled by the generosity of my friends and happy that so many people not only shared my post, but also shared it on a daily basis to try to help me out. This has been an amazing two weeks.
When I saw this beer at the store, I knew it was perfect for the Halloween season. Not only does Hobgoblin have a cool label, it is a decent brew to boot. The toasted malts and sweet caramel combines with the traditional bitterness of an English Ale to provide a balance that is easy on the palette. There is even a slight nuttiness at the back-end, thus providing a nice flavorful touch on the finish. I just might make this a regular beer for the colder days of October.
Weekend Relaxer #41
At some point last week, my wife and I were talking and she nonchalantly says she wants to get me a new camera lens as a gift. I resist taking her up on this offer for a few days, but I eventually ask her again if this is a sincere offer. She nodded in agreement and told me I need to just order it. So, with adequate permission granted, I jumped online and ordered up the single piece of glass I have lusted after for two long years. Now what better way to test it out than with some beer label action!
The first time I tried something from Brau Brothers Brewing, it was Moo Joos, and I totally loved it. Going off prior experience and my enjoyment of scotch ales, I figured I would try their Peated Scotch Ale. I can sum this up by saying scotch ale is good, peated scotch ale not so much. The smoky peat flavor hits the pallet like a ton of bricks. Once I could get over that flavor bombardment, I found the caramel and toffee relieved some of the peat flavor, but not by much. If you enjoy heavily peaty Scotch Whiskey, this brew might be for you; however, the rest of us may just want to move along to something a bit more…seasonal.