Wednesday, June 09, 2010

HefferBison? (orange honey hefe)

Poured from a 12oz grolsch bottle to a plain pint glass.
Appearance: It's on the orange side of amber and cloudy in the way you expect a weat beer to be. A slightly off white one finger head of little bitty champagne sized bubbles forms and doesn't quite dissapate all the way as you drink.
Aroma: Very orangey, informed by flowery hops smell, but orange deffinately steals the show. Unfortunately missing is the banana and clove smells that you expect from a hefeweizen.
Taste: This is certainly a fruit beer. Orange is the main note along with an herby hop flavor and a subtle wheatyness. Again missing are the banana and clove flavors you expect in a hefe, but i can't say they are necessarilly "missed." The beer is wonderful and bright, delicious and refreshing.
Mouthfeel: Medium/light bodied, and very smooth. Nice and bubbly the way I like a summer beer, but it could be argued that it's overcarbonated.
Drinkability: This brew is entirely quaffable, especially after a day mowing the yard or playing hard. It's good alone and good with desserts.

Notes: Indeed my best beer to date. I like it better that Shocktop, but others don't. You may have noticed that I called it orange honey hefe, but never mentioned honey; if it's there, I can't detect it. I have some ideas about how to rectify that. Also I'll try to get more of the banana/clove taste that is halmark of hefe next time, but all it all this is a great brew. Recipe is a definite keeper with some room for improvement, just the way I like it.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Wheel of Time: Part 2

Ok I just finished up Lord of Chaos, and it hasn't scared me off yet. I was VERY upset that my favorite character was COMPLETELY omitted from book 5, in fact I almost decided to take a break from the series, but people said that LoC was one of the best in the series. They were mostly right about that. My main complaint was the major break in the falling action after Rand's capture by the Tower Aes Sedai. I had to go back and read the tangential tale of Elayne and Nynaeve in the city of Ebou Dar, because I was flipping so fast I was missing a lot. my claim is not that this piece of their story was unimportant, just that as the interlude between Rand's capture and the ensuing rescue attempt served only to break up the flow and frustrate me.

Favorite Character: Still Perrin by far. I love his begrudged acceptance of the things he has to do, and the celebrity he has become. Leading the Two Rivers against the trollocs was just the right place for him.

Favorite other guy: Rand has really come into his own, though it sort of happened over night. Each character seems to undergo major growth spurts between books, and we are left to fill in the blanks of how and why. Book 3 has Rand still a scared sheepherder fighting against his thread, but book for has a Rand cool and calm, almost resigned, full of secretive plans and intent on success. I had to double take and make sure I didn't miss something. That said I like the new Rand. I like the amnesty though the Asha'man are surely brutal. I like the Sammael must see the hammer, but not knowing what exactly Rand has planned. He seems to finally be getting a grip on what's going on, rather than just being caught up in it.

Favorite Girl: Elayne is letting her royalty show more and more, and has thus unseated her as my favorite Female. I was surprised to see Moiraine in her new light of self sacrifice, and sad to see her die, though it's a hard buy that she is actually dead. As far as I can tell she just went through the same gateway that Mat did, and I expect she and Lanfear will come out each in their own version of what that gateway does. So, it wasn't until Egwene was made Amyrlin that I had my new favorite girl. Pulling the strings deftly, she is. Her time with the Wise Ones made her into something new as well. She's more rounded now, more intense. Much less whiny.

Favorite Faction: The Aiel have won me over with their weird customs and violent reactions and strict honor system. Especially with the Warders becoming for me less of a faction. Each are individual in that they exist to protect one woman. What ever she wants is his interest whether he agrees or not.

Hated Faction: I still hate the Seanchan even with the revelations in Tanchico, but they have been almost nonexistent in theses 3 books. But over the last 3 books I've become less and less fond of the Aes Sedai. I don't hate them all, but most of them seem to think they know exactly what's what, and most of the time they haven't the slightest idea. Couple that with their self important attitude and there isn't much left to like. I like the current state of the Aes Sedai, 9 from the Little Tower forced into fealty, the White Tower now in open conflict with Rand. I like seeing those ladies who are always so sure that they have it all under control forced to squirm.

Pacing: The pacing has cleared up a bit for me. I think I came around on it when I could recall who I was reading about freely, instead of struggling to remember what person x looked like or where he came from. There is still a slight problem that I mentioned before of characters having spontaneous growth spurts between books, but I can live with it.

Magic: I only mention this again to say that I'm satisfied with the amount of information I've received on this front. I figured this would be fleshed out more fully while learning about the Male half of the source, and I was right.

Things I'm looking forward to: When I thought about writing this part, the girls had not become Aes Sedai yet, and I was HATING them being tied down by the whims of those women. But now they are Aes Sedai and there isn't much to look forward to in that regard any more. So other than that I'd like to see Nynaeve get rid of her block. I think it will take some event that she has no where left to turn but she can't be angry for some reason. Maybe something near death, but it would have to be something that wouldn't necessarily make her angry, caught in a fire, or maybe drowning, something that was no ones fault she could be angry with. I'd also like to see Lan get to her at some point.
I await the return of Mioraine I find it hard to believe her dead at all. I kept expecting to read about her experience inside that gateway.
Very curious about what is going to happen with Allana and Rand. I assume eventually Elayne will be warding him, and maybe Aviendha, I'm curios to see if Allana will pass him easily or put up a fight.
I'm also baited over Rand's designs against Sammael.
Rand mentioned that he has a notion to cleanse saidin of the taint, and I know a later book is called The Cleansing of Saidin. Looking forward to that.

So there we are through 6 books. I'm still burning through though not as fast as the first 3.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tasting Notes: Rosemary IPA

I poured the Rosemary IPA from my 12oz. Grolsch bottle to a pint mug.

Deep amber in color, if not dark, with a full 3 fingers of slightly off white head (guess we solved that problem). Cloudy all the way through even when held to the light.

Aroma: The smell of rosemary leaps out of the glass. The addition of the herb to the second fermentation could be cut by 75%. There is a spicy hops smell, but the Herb steals the show. After 10 minutes in the glass the rosemary mellows out, and the head dissipates but laces the glass all the way down.

Taste: Again the main mark is the rosemary. The hops taste is pleasantly bitter, spicy and a bit flowery, and the beer itself has a toasted note. It's hard to discern the other flavors that are being masked by the rosemary. Though the ABV is up around 7.5% it isn't boozy at all.

Mouthfeel: Medium/full bodied and perhaps a bit over carbonated (trying to hard to make up for the last one), but it isn't a really big gripe.

Drinkability: This is not a session-er, the Rosemary makes it a GREAT beer with food. But by itself can be daunting, unless you like rosemary as much as me.

Notes: This was, to say the least, an experimental beer. I had never heard of Rosemary in beer before I set out to make it and I have to say that even though it's a bit overpowering I'm considering this a complete success. Next batch will be spot on. The biscuit malt played exactly the way I imagined with the herb, like a little rosemary cracker. I think I need to add a fining agent or learn how to deal with the solids better, I'd like the beer to be clearer. I think it will hang out in my Fridge for a while though, it's not an everyday kind of beer.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wheel of Time

I'm reading through the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, good stuff so far, very entertaining and at times mesmerizing. I've just finished up the 3rd book in the series, The Dragon Reborn, and I thought I'd share some thoughts about what I've read so far. Bullet point style. The following contains spoilers from the first 3 instalments in the series, you are warned.

  • Favorite Character thus far: Perrin Aybara - I usually like the hulking character in fantasy stories, dwarfs being the exception, and I always like blacksmithing stuff. He's also the "think first" guy, which I lean to, but, I really started liking his thread when he found his ability to communicate with wolves. The wolfbrother angle has got me hooked, and if he ever smiths a weapon of some sort he'll cement himself as my favorite. He has also drawn an interesting character, Zarine Bashere, into the story. I hope their thread continues to provide what it has so far.
  • Favorite Male Character besides Perrin: Lan Mandragoran - The stone faced and fearless, deadly in a fight and utterly devoted to an oath to protect the Aes Sedai caster Moiraine. I really like these archetypes, sword in hand since childhood, fiercely loyal to a single concrete ideal. He's probably more of a badass than Aragorn, but I'd still prolly lay money on Drizzt Do'Urden in a fight.
  • Favorite Female Character: Elayne Trakand - I'm a sucker for a redhead. In seriousness though this is more a process of elimination for me. Egwene is too whiny, Nynaeve is too headstrong, Min seems to just be caught up in things, and Moiraine is too dedicated to a cause that's too too fluid to predict what she will do. Elayne seems the balance of all that. She may be royal, but it doesn't show, she's vocal at just the right times and says the things I would say. The less developed Zarine is giving her a run for her money, we'll see in the next few books how that goes.
  • Favorite Faction: Warders - Even though I don't necessarily like the Aes Sedai at all times the Warders who protect them are really cool to me. Through all the Aes Sedai scheming and politics the Warders ideals are simple, Protect the one he is bonded to. To these guys there really is no gray. Plus I gotta get me one of those color shifting cloaks.
  • Most Hated Faction: Seanchan - Even before the Whitecloaks and the Shadow itself, I've had the most hate for the Seanchan. I've read some good black mail and betrayal stories, but nothing as treacherous as what Liandrin does with Egwene and the others by delivering them into the collars and leashes of the Seanchan. Besides the whole slavery thing, these folks seem heartless at best, bent on power and control. The higher up you go the worse it gets, utterly self serving and completely devoid of any compassion. Even the forsaken seem to have chosen vileness over the light, but for the Seanchan what they do is right.
  • Faction on Which the Jury is Still Out: Aiel - Fearsome and fearless, as deadly without a weapon as with, and can apparently out run horses. I'd like to see their aversion to swords fleshed out a bit more, and I'm sure it will be, but on the face of it I like their approach to things.
  • Refreshing Lack of Mythical Creatures - I've really like that there aren't any of the standard elves or dwarfs, every major faction is a faction of men. There are fantastic creatures, but they are used sparingly. For me it makes the threat a more real. Orcs are nameless and faceless, but men and women fallen to evil hits home for me. There are the trollocs (every fantasy story needs fodder too), but fallen men are pulling the strings.
  • Balance - Every good fantasy story needs to have a good balance of lore versus action, and I think Jordan does a really good job on this front. The world is expansive to say the least, but it isn't overbearing, and the action sequences come in the right places for me.
  • Pacing - I will say that the pacing can get a bit strange for me, but it's mostly because I've divided the amount of attention I'm willing to give certain characters. If Perrin rides off by himself you can bet I'm reading every word, but when Mat ends up alone, I'm markedly less interested. I'm sure as I go on I'll develop more affinity for each character, but as of now I haven't.
  • Magic System - In the fantasy genre the writer usually either exhaustively explains in detail what it is a magician is doing when he accesses the fabled power, or the writer tells you it's "insert name for magic here" and expects that to be enough. I have seen both work well. In this series so far I've been disappointed with how much I know about the system. I think the problem is that Jordan himself didn't really have an idea of how it worked, and my problem with that is that he let's us in on it as it comes to him, which has left me really confused about what it is those women are doing when they touch Saidar.

So that's my impression thus far, I am pretty engrossed and plan on seeing it through over this year, although at my current pace it won't take that long.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tasting Notes: Irish Red

I poured my Irish Red from it's 12oz. bottle to a Pint Glass.

Appearance: Very Dark, the only way I know it's red is holding it up to bright light. Less than a finger of tan colored head, which dissipates very quickly, but does lace the glass well on it's way to empty.

Aroma: A distinct fruity aroma, and an herbal mark.

Taste: Light Hopps flavor, followed by malty caramel sweetness, finishes with a roasted bite that goes a bit overboard, far enough to say burned. A slightly too bitter aftertaste from the burned flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, but under carbonated.

Drinkability: Though the finish is bitter the beer is still very drinkable. It' s been really good with food and for cooking though certainly not quaffable .

Notes: It tastes like a red but looks like a brown lest held up to the light, where you can see its red tint. Entirely too dark to fit the style and the head retention is nothing short of failure, though the way it laces a glass is nice. Also disappointed in the markedly burnt taste, otherwise it would be right on.
I believe I have diagnosed the two major issues with the beer and will correct them in future brews. First the burnt taste comes from adding my extract while my brewpot is still on the heat. The syrup falls straight to the bottom and scorches, easily correctable and won't be a problem again. Second the carbonation and head retention problem. I sterilize my bottles in the dishwasher and as we know dish detergents contain surfactants so that water doesn't spot. This chemical works in direct opposition to head formation and retention. So in the future I will run the dishwasher empty to make sure none of the detergent is left behind, then sterilize the bottles.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ghost Busters (The Game)

If you are a fan of the Ghostbusters series of films in a holistic sense of the word, if you are a consumer of them in the truest sense, if you bought the Limited Edition Gift Set with Collectible Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Ghoulish Trading Cards, Goofy Slime, Filmmakers’ Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Behind the Scenes Featurettes, Storyboards, and 2 Animated Episodes, then this game is for you. If you are one of the rest of us, it's probably not.

The game is a trudge to say the least. You are the nameless new GB recruit and that's about as deep as your character will get. Playing the game is more like watching a new GB movie, that happens to be a really weak rehash of the older flicks, except intermittently you take stop watch and play a really bad third person shooter that also has ghosts in it, as if to supplicate the film watching experience.

The one thing the game has going for it is a nerdgasm of voice acting, virtually every role is voiced by the actor that originally played the character. After that the list of things this game has to offer evaporates. Starting with gameplay, the control scheme is confusing and movement is clunky. The tasks set before you are repetitive at best. The game will tell you that there are lots of enemy types and you need to scan them in order to know what to do. Really there are 3 enemy types, ghosts that you can damage enough to disperse, ghosts you must trap, hulking boss types that are basically one of the other types but you must do something to them first to make them killable, you know break a crystal or something. The environment looks good, but you will see two identical doors, one you will be able to open and one you will not. Sometimes you can open the door, but only if one of your cohorts comes over and kicks it. The entire game is plagued by loading times. When you die, and you will die, a lot, mostly because your AI buddies are akin to mentally challenged toddlers with no eyes, you will be treated to at least a 20 second loading screen.

All of that I could forgive for the entertainment value of the game, except that the game fails to deliver on the level that you expect out of a game. As I said before the game is a trudge, and I've trudged through game before for the sake of being part of the story. The biggest problem with GB is that your character isn't even relevant in the smallest way. You are expected to be the medic for the group, and to find the secret path every time there is a dead end. and to kill every enemy, and to trap every ghost, and to break the boss ghost's defense (whatever task that may entail), all so that in the end Peter Venkman get's the girl, the rest of the GB's get the recognition and you get, well I don't know what the hell I got. It was like I was the Red Uniform on the away team, except that when I died the entire universe ceased to be.

The game is completely without any story element that makes the horrid gameplay you endured with the effort. It's like a big practical joke, and your the one with egg on your face.

Overall: D-, it was playable but not enjoyable. Oh oops, I meant to say, in a land where toasters are kings and pigeons are pawns, this game is a - look just don't play this game, for your own wellness, don't play it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Naming the Home Brewery

I've all but decided to name the brewery One Stalk, as in "Danger and delight grow on one stalk." But, I need help with the attached generic term for brewery so I'm making a poll to help me decided. Tell me which one you think sounds best. The Formation will be likt this:

One Stalk Brewery

Thanks everyone!!