Feb 2, 2011

Friday March 4th-Mardi Gras Party at the Roche

This is gonna be a PARTY!
The Facebook Invite Thingy (if you're into that kind of thing)

Feb 1, 2011

Bell's Hopslam Ale (Year 2011 issue)

It's been not even a month since Bell's Hop Slam 2011 edition hit the shelves and here we are in the midst of what is said to be the nastiest blizzard to hit the Midwest in 5 to 25 years depending on the source you get such information from. In an effort to stock up on supplies in case of a few days being snow bound I thought I would look around a couple local stores today to see if I could find a six pack still hanging around. Nope, Not even here in Michigan does it seem there are any orphaned sixers or mini-kegs someone hasn't noticed and snagged already. I guess it's a good thing when it first came out a few weeks back I made sure I stockpiled a few extras because, even though previous years it's been great, this year's batch seems to be the best one yet.
Lush, rich amber in color with just the right amount of bubbly head that takes it's time to melt away leaving waves upon waves of lace behind. Right at first opening and pour it's aroma is already fills the room. At a distance it's smell of bright citrus and pine. Once it's held a little closer to the nose though apricot, peaches and honey really come to the fore.
The taste of the hop profile brings out all the scents above along with a bit of pineapple and mango. Then it's all tied together with hints of honey. There's so many levels here and it all bursts with so much flavor. It's sweet and tarty calling card is then finished out with white pepper bitters and a warming all through the body courtesy of the 10% abv.
There has been quite a bit of hype surrounding Hopslam in previous years and this year it seemed more fevered than ever. The reason? Because it lives up completely to it reputation. Seriously one of most favorite beers in the world.

Jan 22, 2011

Short's The Wizard

Here I am a few weeks into a new year and, DAMN!, it's already seeming to fly by. Full time student, full time parent and full time job seeker. Then factor the program director gig along with the mundane day to day things likes laundry, making dinner and trying to fix up an old rickety house that has two new problems for every one that gets fixed and it all makes leisure time a rare commodity. Tonight though I have found some and Bellaire, Michigan's Short's Brewery has released a barley wine called the Wizard so dammit I am going to sit, sip and contemplate what kind of magic it has going on.
The color is on the darker end of the barley wine scale with it's mahogany and ruby shade. The head is minimal and recedes into a constant collar and slightly cloudy cap that hangs on through the entire glass with slight, spotty lacing. Nothing unusual for a barley wine in respects.
What is unusual is almost everything else about it. Short's fancies themselves in making things that are out of the ordinary and this is no exception. For this they've decided to tweak the standard barley wine recipe by adding raisins in to the brewing process. Instead of the green apple and apricot aromas that usually show up as the dominant backbone of most barley wines I've tried in the past this Wizard bears more of a scent along the lines of black cherries and molasses that sends a warming sensation up through the sinuses. One of the most interesting things about the way it smells though is that it's not uncommon to detect the higher end of the alcohol content that barley wines sport but here, even with an approximate ABV of 11%, it's boozy bottom is hardly even noticeable.
The raisin show up first in the flavor. They seem to bring a dark oak like nuance to the brew while throwing in a curve ball of vanilla bean in as an accent. Through the middle and end it's shifts several times on the palette first with a walnut and dark chocolate qualities then ending slightly astringent with a hoppy floral bite. There is quite a warming effect in the finish where otherwise well hidden alcohol content comes out to say hello.
As an introduction to barley wines I would most likely not suggest this to a beginner as it's not the most traditional take on the style but for a veteran looking for something different that can be done with it I'd tell them to put this at the top of their list.

Jan 20, 2011

The Febuary Sonance

The first Sunday of every month Mr. Franck and yours truly drop the needle on some tracks at the Raven Cafe in downtown Port Huron. Our next one is on Feb 6th. If you're in the area stop on in for food, drinks and, of course, some great tunes.
More info at http://www.ravencafeph.com/

Jan 12, 2011

GENTLEMAN JESSE and his MEN "You've Got The Wrong Man" 7inch

Sporting a broken nose splint across his face and Jim Croce rivaling 'stache above his lip on the cover of this single it almost as "Gentleman" Jesse Smith is sending a message to the current batch of power pop resurrectionalists that it takes more than a cheeky Paul McCartney smile and a skinny tie to play the game and be taken seriously about it (or at least make the girls dance NOT just because their boyfriend is the band). For one, having at least a cupboard full of hooks that can be added to stew. Not only does it seem like Jess and dudes got all the right fixins' but have a few special recipes to go along with them.
While listening to either song on this record-the antsy surf riff tempo'd and many layered vocal harmonies of "You Got The Wrong Man" and "Stubborn Ghost", which resembles the Boys getting their best Raspberries on-it's as if the River Mersey (you know, the one with the beat) ran through the sweltery, sticky summer weather of 2010 Georgia instead of the damp springs and autumns of 1960's Liverpool. Playing respect to the Rickenbacker jangling spectres and power-pop chewiness Gentleman Jesse and the Men know they aren't reinventing the wheel but have done their own customizing to the ride it sits upon. Hop in.

Dec 28, 2010

STEP DADS "Deja Vu" 7inch EP

Bad attitudes and totally obnoxious. They're both ingredients that should be included in all punk rock recipes. Some try to skimp on them though (which means they're not really punk rock at all) but not this band. It sounds like they even had a little extra so made a big mess in the kitchen. The band itself is based in the catchy buzzsaw punk rock-n-roll vein (Sex Pistols, The Zeros etc) which is all fine and dandy but it wasn't enough for them. Cue gravel throated ill-tempered belter railing off about power sluts and the Grim Reaper here. Crank the distortion to make his sandpaper grunt even more blown out and pile on an amount of ridiculous echo and it cooks something to break teeth on.
Deep South USA white trash cousins of German beer bottle breakers the Moorat Fingers or Bathory pounding some nails into power pop? Well, that's for you do decide.

Dec 26, 2010

Sunday Sonance For January 2011

Well, The speculations that the first Sunday of every Month gig Franck and myself have been doing for close to two years now at the Raven Cafe were going to come to an end ending up being just rumors. Join us the night after New Years Day for eats, drinks and, of course, tunes.
More info at http://www.ravencafeph.com/

Dec 22, 2010

Brother David's Triple Abbey Style Ale

From the solar powered Northern California beer maker Anderson Valley Brewing Company come this series of "Big Beers". They are the people behind one of the best Oatmeal stout's on the planet (Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout to be exact) so I was anxious to give one of them a taste. As luck would have I was visiting one of my usual beer cellar haunts and the man behind the counter said "Dale, I have a gift for you."
"Free Beer? Yes!" It must've been my lucky day it seemed.
A slight bit darker than some Tripel Abbey ales I've seen and drank in the past. It's almost brown in it's shade even when held up to the light. The head was modest and faded out fairly quickly but a good bit of lacing all the way down. Notes of caramel apples along with a big blast of alcohol show up in the scent. There are the banana, spices and hint of honey thing in the flavor that are common for the style but they seem to get bossed around by too much of a grainy malt. As it warms the malts do step away somewhat but what seems to be left is something slightly lacking as far as a complexity as well as a little thin as far as the body is concerned too. One thing I did find interesting is that though the alcohol comes on quite strong in the scent it is hidden very well in the taste til you get almost to the very end. "Almost" because there is a hotness that comes out right at the tail that will bite you if you're not ready for it.
Since this was gifted to me I can't really complain much about it but considering some of the goodness AVBC can serve up I was somewhat disappointed.

Dec 16, 2010

BRAINCAR "Rock-n-Roll Bologna" 7inch EP

WHAT A BUNCH OF BALONEY! No, I'm serious. The front cover come with a piece of bologna with the words ROCK-N-ROLL cut into it in a zip lock bag glued to the cover. And, well since we're always way behind here when it comes around to giving records to be reviewed a listen that piece lunchmeat has taken on looking like a science experiment of lunchmeat grease and mold.
"Lunchmeat grease and mold". I kinda like that because it fits the sounds that is going down on this record. Five slimey and sick tardcore dirt-fi punk tracks that are over almost as soon as they start. Reference points as far as classics are concerned for this reviewer would be Drunks With Guns and Flipper while comparisons of more modern things are along the lines of The Mahonies and Holy Shit. This is not a record to have in your collection that will gain you friends. Just like serving up a rancid piece of balogna wouldn't either. But if you want to bogue out or annoy people out-show them the sleeve to this (especially if it's taken on it's particular life of microcosms as the copy I have sitting here) and play it loud and often.

Dec 13, 2010

Moylan's White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager

Ahhh, the Christmas season. A time for peace on earth. good will toward man, stressing out, being depressed and dealing with hustle and bustle to the point where you want to burn down everything within a couple miles of the shopping epicenters of the area you live by. It's also a time to give a try to a seasonal ale or two that maybe you haven't before. Moylan's just started being available in these parts I live in and since I have tried a couple of other things they brew that I found pretty decent I figured it was worth giving a shot.
Gold with reddish highlights in color and somewhat bubbly with a modest but fluffy head that leaves a snowdrift like lace behind. The nose is predominantly lager yeasts and malt along with bit of hay. There some are spice characteristics to it but with the variety of ones used (orange zest, mace, cinnamon, coriander and white pepper) none stand out from the others-they all blur into each other.
The spices, primarily the coriander and some dints of the orange spice up front and some slight pepper taste in the finish, do come out in the flavor but as in the scent none of them really stand out. The spices seem like they were added an afterthought than something infused to compliment the flavors. It's not bad (especially compared to some stinkers in the Christmas/Winter ale style that have hit my tastebuds in the past) but it just lacks that "something special".