Saturday, October 10, 2015

Avs Opening Night. I could totally coach an NHL team.

Avalanche Opening Night


Coming out with a bang, ending with a whimper

Hoo boy, where do I even begin. Let's start with this:

Honestly, that might have been the worst third period meltdown I've personally seen. I'm sure there were worse, but this was the one I'll always remember. 

New season, new coaching staff, new draft pick, new free agents, new outlook, new philosophy. This was supposed to be an optimistic year. Rantanen somehow inexplicably dropped to our 10th pick to the delight of Colorado hockey fans everywhere, and several offseason pickups were expected to make immediate impacts. 

I'm a realist, and a student of the game. Well, I say I am. But I know how good the team is. I'm predicting a first round playoff exit. Probably getting lit up in the series. We're on the cusp of greatness. A solid core, a building defense, and a growing pool of prospects waiting in the wings. 

But let's start with the good:
-We came out guns blazing, holy cow. That's the attack I know my boys can mount up.

-The power play looks about a thousand percent better than last year. I don't know what they did, but well done.

-Lando seems to be harnessing Viking Mode more effectively this year. He was an absolute monster out there.

-MacKinnon is playing more aggressively.

-Comeau looks amazing. I was nervous putting what I thought was a 3rd liner on Duchene's wing. But he was easily the better player between Duchene and Iggy.

-Beauchemin was an absolutely stellar signing. His passes were great, his shot was booming, his defense was solid.

-Zadorov, what little I saw of him, had flashes of brilliance. He's still very young, but I see greatness already. I hope he sticks with it and becomes a staple in our defense.

-Rantanen needs to be either bumped up with better linemates or something, because though his line looked awful, I think it was because his linemates couldn't keep up with him. He was flying.

-The 4th line of McLeod, Mitchell and Skill is a huuuuuge upgrade from last year. Cody Mac and John McDangleSnipes Mitchell were on the 3rd last year and were expected to score. This year they seem to be just out there to wreak some havoc, and they absolutely took it to Minnesota. And it got them a goal. Well done.

-Iginla still has one of the best high-slot one-timers in the game.

-The Pepsi Center's media has been given a huge makeover. Which sounds like such a small thing, but seriously. The speakers shook the arena, the 3D projector over the ice was spectacular, we played the Mario mushroom powerup sound when one of our guys got out of the box, and our goal song is no longer written by a convicted child molestor. Also, the intro was Brother in Arms from MAD MAX FURY ROAD.

I'm never going to miss an opportunity to post more Fury Road.

Now the bad, and hoo boy here we go. 
-Holden and Guenin. I have no description, just those two.

-Soderberg looked lost out there. I liked the signing as a 3rd line depth signing, but man, at 5 mill? Yikes.

-Holden and Guenin. Okay I lied, but why in the world are these two still wearing the burgundy and blue? You're telling me Stuart, who was scratched after signing an extension last season, couldn't defend better than either of these two? And Gormley, ranked one of the better prospects in Arizona last season, who is fast as can be with a laser pass and rifling shot, couldn't crack the lineup ahead of these guys? My goodness, as I'm typing this, watching the Colorado/Dallas game, the Stars just scored again. Who were the defenders? GUENIN AND HOLDEN.

-After we were up 4 to 1, a pretty commandable lead with 17 minutes left in the third, the boys just started passing the puck back and forth. No attack, no hussle, no urgency, no killer instinct. And of course Parise scores his hat trick. Because our guys just sat back and what? I guess they thought the Wild were going to just hang their heads and go home? Just absolutely inexcusable.

-Barrie and Duchene looked lost out there. I like the guy. On the 4th line. He should not be playing with Rantanen on the 3rd.

-Mitchell is on the Power Play. Why?

-McLeod is our extra attacker. Why?


Please, for the love of everything icy, free Gormley and Stuart. And Grigorenko, while we're at it. Throw him up there with Rantanen and see what they can do. Can't be any worse than our current 3rd line setup.

Here is my ideal lineup:
Landeskog - MacKinnon - Tanguay
Comeau - Duchene - Rantanen
Grigorenko - Soderberg - Iginla
McLeod - Mitchell - Skille

Beauchemin - Johnson
Gormley - Barrie
Zadorov - Stuart

Iggy gets sent down to work with Grigorenko and the Yeti, forming a crash and bang/ shutdown/ scoring third line that he can keep up with. I, sadly, think the Iginla/Duchene experiment is over, as much as I'd like to see it work. Iggy just can't keep up with Duchene, where I think Rantanen's energy can really explode there. Line one gets left as is, because that line is absolutely firing on all cylinders right now. Ideally, Guenin and Holden will be anchoring the San Antonio Rampage, our AHL farm team. And I put Zadorov next to Stuart so the youngin' can learn from the feisty vet and have a solid anchor to rely upon should he decide to pinch up.

You can trust me, I've taken my Xbox NHL Avalanche team to 16 consecutive Stanley Cups.

I don't even have a beer pairing for this I was so taken aback by the meltdown against Minny. Well done Wild. Seriously. I loathe you with the fury of a thousand suns, but you hung in there and took the punch and got back up. Cheers to you. 

GABF 2015

GABF 2015


It's the most wonderful time 
Of the year

Where do I even begin? If you are one of the fortunate(!) souls to be reading this, you probably are already very familiar with the Great American Beer Fest. 


Maybe you don't. Maybe you read this for my photo-taking abilities, and uncanny skill in analyzing what the Avalanche should be doing because of course I can coach from my couch.

Great American Beer Fest is the greatest day of the year for beer lovers. It is one of the biggest sudsy celebrations in the world, cheersing over 3,500 beers over the course of 3 days. 

You want medals? How about 242 of them. 
You want stickers? Well too bad, stickers aren't allowed. But if you ask nicely, most brewers will still give you some.
You want pretzel necklaces? How about pretzels, cheese, funyuns and beef jerky.

You like porters? Stouts? Wheats? Marzens? Sours? Gose? Fruit? Ales? Lagers? Chili beer? Stein beer? Browns? Belgians? Smoked? Bacon? Chocolate? Peanut butter? Well I've got great news for you. I literally couldn't list all of the beer types here. Mostly because I enjoyed a lot of them, and I don't remember.

So I'm not even going to try to explain it. We poured beers, we met brewers, we talked up our suds, we made drunk friends who we are totally soulmates now but will never see each other ever again. So I'm going to go over some of my favorites and stand outs. There are your usual all stars: Great Divide, O'Dell, Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues, you know, the booths that have lines a hundred yards long. I can get these beers, usually, anywhere. So I tried to stay off the beaten path and go for some of the smaller breweries. There are some hidden liquid gems hiding amongst the lesser-traveled booths, and the lines are much smaller anyway. Double win.

Let's start with Brasserie St. James.  Hailing from Reno, Nevada, BSJ (are we comfortable enough to abbreviate? I'm going to say yes.) won the Best Mid-Size Brewpub in 2014, and I can tell you right now they live up to the accolade. I'd never heard of them until I saw them offering Grand Cru. If you don't know what that is, don't worry, nobody does. Grand Cru doesn't really mean anything, but is usually used to describe strong or rare released beers. BSJ offered two things that caught my eye, but the lambic Grand Cru drew me in first. It was heavy, it was rich, it was delicious. I'm no expert, I don't like using words like "mouthfeel" or "tasting and smelling notes." So forgive me when I describe this beer as a tart liquid meal. Grand Cru's remind me often of plum belgian beer, and this was no different. Nothing overpowered the other, and it made me instantly warm and happy.

I pretended to look around and casually snuck back into the line. They also offered a plum lambic. Plum?! I'd never had a plum beer, and I had to have it. 

I plum loved it. Subtle, slightly tart, not overpowering and easy to drink. A bit barrelly and creamy. It tasted like breakfast on the porch of a french farm. 

Lickinghole Creek Brewing was up next. An absolutely gorgeous farm brewery in Virginia, with a somewhat creepy farm picture on their website. At any rate, the brewers themselves poured the beer, and they were exceedingly friendly and willing to discuss their product. Their labels, by the way, are absolutely gorgeous. Quick tangent, have I talked about my far-off dream of being a beer label designer? I have no intention of going to school for such an endeavor, but how much fun would that be? Anyway, I went with Batchelor's Delight because it had a pirate ship label. This was their barrel-aged Belgian Quadrupel. 

This might have been my favorite of the night. Heavy, dark, barrelly, raisiny, vanilla-y. It tasted like rum raisin ice cream. It was trouble, but it didn't scare me off because I went back for another. Probably not wise at 12 percent, but I was already like twelve beers deep anyway so I didn't even notice.

Lastly, let's talk about Uncle Billy's Brewery and Smokehouse from my home away from home, Austin, Texas. Aside from a sweet website with brilliant wordplay, Uncle Billy's makes amazing beer. I had the smoked gose (what?!) Two things I'd never in a million years would have thought to combine, but there it was. It poured like pale gold with subtle lacing, and tasted out of this world. I guess a barbecue smokehouse would naturally have a stable of smoked grains, so I don't know why it surprised me so. But there it is. I don't even know how to describe it because of how unique it was. The smoke was subtle and didn't overpower the tartness of the gose, which was an odd sensation going down because smoked beers are usually dark and heavy and overpowering. Well done Uncle Billy, I will definitely check you out next time I head down that way. 

I was at GABF for two days, so of course I had many, many more good beers. But those were the ones that impressed me enough to write about. I hope someday to visit each one someday to show my appreciation in person. 

Until next time GABF.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Beer Pickles

For the brine (per 2 jars):
1 IPA of your choice. O'Dell IPA is delightful
3/4 Cup Distilled Vinegar
3/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Tbsp Kosher Salt

Boil that up, get ready for your entire house to smell like vinegar, and remove from heat to cool a bit.

In the jars:
This is where it gets all silly nilly. About one cucumber will fill a large mason jar. So will a zucchini combined with a yellow squash mixed with onion and red bell peppers. So let's just say this - 
3 Cucumbers
2 Zucchinis
2 Yellow Squash
1/2 White onion
1 Bell Pepper, color of your choice
1 Garlic Bulb
Whole Peppercorns
Dill Seed
Crushed Red Pepper

1. Cut one cucumber into spears, and another into slices. Fill up ye mason jar. Add some diced garlic, about a teaspoon of peppercorns, 2 teaspoons of dill seed and a teaspoon of crushed red pepper. Boom, there are your basic pickles.

2. Open an IPA for yourself. You've earned it.

3. Slice the zucchinis and squash, chop up the onion (I liked bigger chunks), slice up that bell pepper and distribute them in the remaining jars. The jars should be fairly full. Now mix and match. You'll notice I decided to put tomato slices in one. 

Whatever, you do you.

4. Add a teaspoon of dill to each jar along with 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns. 

5. Here's where you get to flex your creative muscles. Do you want spicier pickles? Throw a chopped habanero into one. The finished pickles aren't as hot as you think, but they will sneak up on you. I love garlic, so I added some to almost all of mine. Red pepper flakes, peppercorns, garlic, just throw some of that stuff in. Put 3 teaspoons of black peppercorns in one, see what happens. 

6. When the brine has cooled slightly (but still should be hot), ladel it evenly into the jars. If you packed them in, the brine should last for six jars. I think I got my jars too large because I had to quickly whip up another like quarter batch. It happens. The brine should cover the future pickles. 

7. Seal the jars and let them sit to cool. I threw on Max Payne and got to Rico Muerte in about an hour and the jars were cool. Soooo, about an hour. 

8. Refrigerate for a week. And I do mean a week. I tried some on day six, and they were pretty tasty, but day seven was exponentially better.

Bam, pickles. 


Infamous Hijack


Let's get rich

You will like if:
You know what utepils means.
You don't know what utepils means, but still like enjoying a beer in the sun.
You enjoy a refreshing beer after lifting millions in cold, hard cash with nobody the wiser.

You will not like if:
You don't particularly enjoy the dry coat that cream ales leave in your mouth.
You need a beer that overpowers your meal.
You're a Waingro.

So there's this game.

Payday 2. It looks violent because it is. 

Wait, let me back up. 

My biggest fantasy is to pull of a daring heist. Jewels or gold or cash or rogue nation technology. Doesn't matter. I mean, it might be a close tie with my other fantasy(Julia Stiles, if you ever read this...) And I don't even care that this is a Dane Cook bit. But have you ever seen that movie Strange Days?

Yeah, that was a weird movie. But bear with me. The premise is you "jack in" to your brain and experience someone else's recorded, well, experiences. At one point you go into the head of a bank robber. I want that. I don't want to shoot up anything, but if I could pull off a wacky hi-jinks-filled caper a la Ocean's 11....I wouldn't work in a school anymore I'll tell you that.


Payday 2 is about pulling off a score. You can go Waingro loud, guns blazing. Or you can go in quiet, gentleman-like. Going quit isn't traditionally stealthy. It's more like this:

It's controlling hostages and managing alarms. And if you don't know what Waingro is, well here:

Loose cannon, wild card baby!

Going loud isn't traditional either. It's not so much Call of Duty, but rather covering your team and positioning yourself with cover. It looks like this:

Which I've heard that military and police swat teams use this scene as an example of moving with cover and suppressing fire.

It's about teamwork and is all about the co-op. Using your team, bringing different skillsets to the table.

There's something old-school about that I think, like playing the greatest arcade game ever made, six player X-Men. Or the second greatest arcade game ever made, TMNT Arcade. But not like the third best arcade game ever made, Primal Rage.

Which, now that I think about it, why hasn't that game been remade yet? Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, even Killer Instinct got a remake. I'm starting a #resurrectprimalrage movement. You could tie it into reviving dinosaurs from DNA and ride that Jurassic Park wave.

What was I talking about?

Right. So this Hijack, from Texas-based Infamous Brewing.

Hot damn that's a sweet label.

Starting off, it pours corn yellow, slightly cloudy as most cream ales do. Light aroma, mild citrusy and grassy flavor, rather inoffensive. But man, maybe it was because I drank it in the Texan heat while jamming smoked barbecue into my mouth, but Hijack is refreshing. The light lemon and refreshing corny flavor washed down my many, many ribs, and the dry coat that comes with cream ales didn't overpower my pulled pork. 

I couldn't tie the beer to the game in any meaningful way, but the names matched up.

So there it is.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

McD is in the hizzouse!

Good day ladies and gents!

After talking with J at length about our love for beer, video games, and general tomfoolery I am excited to contribute to the HopToNoGood blog as a freelance observer of all things serious and silly in my journey through life. I will mostly be posting about the aforementioned musings I encounter, but I will also post fictional and non-fictional pieces as well as I explore my own craft of writing. Some things you should know about me: 1. I love all things beer. Except sours. Fuck sours. 2. I love music. 3. I am passionate about my family, my sports teams (Colts, Liverpool, Avalanche), and my video games.

I will keep this posting short, but I cannot wait to contribute more as I continue my journey. I am currently in the middle of one of (I would say favorite, but that wouldn't be completely true) my favorite fantasy series The Dark Tower (second read through) so I may write some related things on here. Thankee-sai, (related)


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Face to Face

Big Choice Brewing


Iiii waaaant to know, do these words, mean anythiiiiing?

You will like if:
You like solid, simple beers.
You enjoy your beer listening to punk and 90's rock.
You can find their taproom because holy cow it's in the middle of a bunch of warehouses.

You will not like if: 
You think craft beer is an indie party.
You think punk rock started in 2000.
You expect fruit/sour/funky/craziness in all of your beers.

I'm....I'm just so sorry. Pennywise, you may be replaced for my all time favorite live punk show. Don't get me wrong, Full Circle by Pennywise literally changed the way I think about music, and will forever hold the top spot in my music catalog. But after this show, Face to Face just absolutely crushed any and all of my expectations of how a live punk show should be.

Let's rewind.

So in May, Face to Face came to town for three straight nights.

They played their first three albums, in their entirety, plus an encore, three times in a row. And I don't know exactly how to describe it. Whereas most of my 90's punk is all about revolution and fighting the power and uniting for the greater good, Face to Face just instantly puts me in a good mood. 

Just writing about it makes me happier. And you know how you can tell when a band is having fun on stage? Like you can just feel when a band doesn't want to be there (In Flames and Trivium, I'm looking at you). There was a warmth and overall happy wave that just washed through the music hall, all mixed in a tornado of a pit. 

The band has broken up, played a farewell tour, reunited, swapped members, and quit music "for good, no really this time." But they always come back with their optimistically furious brand of punk. I have vivid memories of playing Face to Face CDs that I burned from my buddy while crushing it at skateboarding. And by skateboarding I mean Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.

Just listen to a few of these tracks and tell me you don't instantly feel better about yourself. And while they were here, they teamed up with the local Big Choice Brewery. As far as I know, the brewery has no official affiliation with the band. But it's clear they are big fans just based off the fact that Big Choice is Face to Face's second album title. At any rate, the brewery offered a bus ride down from their taproom to the show, riding with members of the band plus beer. And I regret not purchasing that offer. How often will that chance come up in my lifetime? That was probably my one shot to drink with some of my childhood (and current) music heroes.

Also they brew the Disconnected Red, an homage to the band's most prolific (and one of my favorites of all time) songs. 
I'm not going to tell you which one is the red.
Malty, hoppy, and red. Big Choice doesn't go crazy with their recipes. But all of them were solid. Next to my red, you'll see the 10,000 Summers Saison. Again, a somewhat basic farmhouse saison but it suddenly stands out with mild peppery and honey flavors. Nothing crazy, just solid beers that we enjoyed in the summer heat.

The speakers were pumping out Face to Face, Rage Against the Machine, and an assortment of other punk and ska bands. Which instantly added bonus points to my experience. The taproom was small but efficient, and was comfortable. 
Also their logo is awesome.
Add a friendly bartender and local regulars that were eager to talk up the place, and it amounted to a great experience.

Great music, great atmosphere, great beer.

Big Choice pairs nicely with Face to Face.

(It wouldn't be Face to Face without ending with Disconnected.)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Austin? Austin, Massachusetts?

Austin Beerventure!


And then I learned there was an exploding beer scene in Austin

You will like Austin beer if:

You like being on the forefront of a beer movement.
You can handle drinking in a warehouse surrounded by brewing equipment and no AC.
You enjoy creative, innovative and hard-working beer scenes.

You will not like Austin beer if:

You can't handle the heat.
Like, wow, it is hot.
Seriously, heads up if you go there in the summer, hardly any taprooms have AC.

This last-minute adventure took me to see one of my best friends in Austin. We wanted to catch the X-Games, which was headlined by Metallica (forty bucks for the X-Games plus Metallica whaaaat), and I was also thrilled to return to two of my favorite Texan breweries, Jester King and Hops and Grain. 

We tried to last all day at the X-Games, but the heat did us in by 2:30. But we were able to catch the rally car race, which was AWESOME.

Look at this car. 600 horsepower jumping through the air?! You can't see it, but FLAMES shoot out of the exhaust when they floor it. I'm not even really a racing fan, but this was one of the many highlights of the trip. 

Along the way to the breweries to escape the heat, we passed a flaming truck:
Probably couldn't take the heat.
I checked, there were no injuries. 

I'd sampled the beer scene in Austin before, but this time I really tried to experiment with the local brews. We stocked up for the weekend and I made it a point to only buy local beer. My choices were Revolver Sidewinder, Revolver Blood and Honey (which I enjoyed at the legendary Alamo Draft House to see Mad Max: Fury Road for the fourth time), Infamous Hijack and El Super Bee by Four Corners Brewing. 

First up, Revolver has one of the cooler logos I'd ever seen. Sidewinder is a pale ale, brewed with agave and Citra hops. It is light, sweet and citrusy, which was perfect in the heat. 

We had lunch at The Salt Lick. If you ever find yourself in Austin, just go there. Don't ask questions, just put on your stretchy pants and order the all-you-can-eat meat platter. It was a herculean task to put away three plates of meat, so I drank El Super Bee De Saison from Four Corners (thank you byob laws, Texas.) 

Every time I got full, I looked at El Super Bee and he gave me the extra push I needed. Plus it had a pop top lid, which served no beneficial purpose that I could tell. Sweet.

Next up was Strange Land Brewery. Which....I, uh, will link to their Yelp page, which inexplicably has high marks across the board. I did not like a single beer here. One smelled and tasted like floor cleaner. Their firkin of saison (I love firkins of saisons!) poured muddy brown and did not taste like any saison I've ever had. Moving on.... Austin Beerworks. Now here was some Austin beer. If a fraternity of indie hipsters made a brewery, it would be Austin Beerworks. Beards, stretched earlobes, skinny jeans, thick-rimmed glasses and armsleeve tattoos as far as the eye could see. Christmas lights dangled across the ceiling rafter beams. Austin Beerworks is home to the awesome 99 Pack. Yep. So bring a friend and probably a truck if you want to bring home 1,118 ounces of delicious beer. 

Overall this place was solid. I tried five or six (I was already five or six deep by then) and enjoyed them all. Also, I'm not sure if we were allowed to take our pint glasses, but we totally took our pint glasses.

Thanks gents.

Next up was Zilker Brewing Company.  Just about the only brewery there that had AC, so Zilker gets extra points from me. 

But in addition to the HVAC Bonus, their beer was solid. I wanted to try a good saison after that mud firkin, and Zilker delivered with the Honey Saison:
Our beerventure ended at Hops and Grain. Probably my second favorite Austin brewery.

Texas beer laws are still crazy strict, and breweries are forced to battle around archaic distribution laws. No brewery can sell their own beer within their taproom if their property boundary is a certain distance from residential areas. This is why you will find many breweries in the middle of fields or warehouse districts down there. Hops and Grain's boundaries just barely crosses that line, so they can't sell their own beer. 

However, they can sell you a pint glass for ten dollars, and then give you three free beer samples. Every beer there is delightful. Ranging from the dark and rich Porter Culture to the citrusy and hoppy Greenhouse IPA to the malty, floral and slightly toasty Zoe Pale Lager. We didn't have a bad pour. Love you, Hops and Grain!

One of the interesting trends in the Austin beer scene is that most taprooms are right in the heart of the brewery itself. In most taprooms down there, you enjoy your pints surrounded by copper kettles and steam pipes and stacked barrels and kegs. Which is a stark contrast to most Colorado taprooms, where the breweries and bars are kept completely separated. Neither are a bad idea, just an interesting fun fact. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Green Flash Road Warrior


Drinking eternal on the Fury Road to Valhalla

You will like if:
You like being able to chew your beer.
You judge IBUs based on how far away you can smell hops.
You think Imperial IPAs are perfect. Perfect in every way.

You will not like if:
You think hopsplosions are MEDIOCRE.
You prefer your beer so clear you can see through it.
You can't handle driving a War Rig.

Pack if up friends. Mad Max: Fury Road is the greatest movie ever made. Sorry, that's it. It's all downhill from here. But wait! you say. I really prefer the nuanced performance of-

No, you are wrong. Nothing will convince me that there exists a movie better than Fury Road. Even the trailer is amazing:

Bam! I got furious goosebumps just watching that trailer again. If you don't think that's the most insane trailer you've ever seen, get out of my face.

Practical effects and actual explosions?
A badass female protagonist with a robot arm?
You better believe that's a check.
Maybe like fifty total lines of dialogue?
Check that. 
2,000 horsepower of nitro-boosted War Rig?
Double check. 

Every scene is perfectly crafted. No wasted space, no wasted time. There are details in every shot that you won't catch the first or even second time viewing. Why? Because you'll be giggling like a small child at the awesome spectacle on the screen. 

I literally stood up and cheered at the conclusion. I've never done that before. 

Things that were awesome beyond comprehension:
-Charlize Theron plays a character named Imperator Furiosa
-They actually built all of the cars and machines, got them working, and then blew them up
-The movie crafted a believable setting without telling you anything. Everything is explained with hardly a word
-Again her name is Imperator Furiosa

I'm going to stop talking about the movie, because I'm getting all worked up again just thinking about it. I can tell you I have renamed my 68 Chevelle "Furiosa" and have been driving it aggressively over the past few days with the Fury Road Extended Soundtrack blasting at full volume.

I actually spent a good, long while at the beer store trying to find a suitable beer to fully capture the essence of the movie. Should I go with a punch-full of hops? A furious alcohol content? An explosion of sour flavor? A blast of nose-wrinkling smoke? 

And then there it was. It was so simple, so obvious.

The Road Warrior, by Green Flash. An Imperial Rye IPA, clocking in at a hearty 80 IBUs and a respectable 9% abv. The label is basic, uncluttered. Clean like a shiny and chrome V8. 

I now realize I should have taken the picture on my Chevelle to really keep with the muscle-car vibe. But let's move past that.

Look at that color. Beautiful red, hazy, thick. It hit me in the nose first. Sweet, with a sudden kick of spicy hops. I could smell the bitterness. 

Despite being a higher alcohol beer, there was no alcohol burn. Which was dangerous, because I love Imperial IPAs, and this was no exception. 

Chewy malt, citrus peel, pine resin, toasted bread.

You could pretty much eat it. I'd imagine it would satisfy a lone road warrior, out hunting for guzzoline. Green Flash hit the spot again, and I can heartily recommend this one. 

I leave you listening to Brothers in Arms:

And may you drink forever on the Fury Road, shiny and chrome. 

Monday, June 1, 2015


Moab Dead Horse Amber


Down is optional. Up is mandatory

You will like if:
It's a hundred degrees out and you need something to relax with.
Your beer palette hasn't been obliterated by Double Imperial IBUs (don't worry, we'll get you there.)
You like your salsa mild, and even then it's too spicy for you.

You will not like if:
You need constant stimulation and are bored easily with beer.
The only beers you like are opaque.
Session beers aren't your thing.

Look out, it's a combo beerventure!

New Belgium Snapshot and Ranger IPA

Snapshot is light and tart.
Ranger IPA is bitter and aromatic with a strong hop presence.

I like experiences more than gifts (most of the time), so for Christmas I got the wifey a ticket for One Weekend Adventure. Which was redeemed for our anniversary weekend. We packed the car bright and early, making sure to include plenty of beer (cleverly packed. Is beer illegal to take across state lines? I wasn't sure, but I felt like a smuggler.)

Six-ish hours later, we were driving through Moab and I executed a tactical pursuit vehicle turn to screech into the parking lot of Moab Brewery. I think it was my adventurer's instincts, to be able to sense when a brewery is nearby. Plus it was about lunchtime anyway. I entered a contest to win a canoe, which, when I win, will be put prominently on display in the house, probably in the living room where I will convert it into some kind of couch.

Beer one: Red Rye IPA - Actually my favorite from this brewery. Malt up front, strong rye finish complemented with a strong hop flavor. It went perfectly with the steadily increasing heat outside. 
Beer two: Squeaky Bike Nut Brown Ale - Decent brown flavor with hints of roasty, but just wasn't quite strong enough for how I like my nut browns. 
Beer three: Dead Horse Amber - Light, refreshing. Not very flavorful, but I drank most of this pack in the Southwest heat, and it just worked. 

It's a gorgeous, well, amber color, clear and pure white foamy. The tag line up on top of the can, by the way, says, "You can't beat a dead horse." Which I obviously appreciated. 

It's just super light (which is light, but with a cape) and easy to drink. It's not huge on flavor, but in the desert and the summer heat overlooking my pond, it was a perfect first beer.


Six more hours and we came to this:

Probably as illegal as smuggling beer across state lines.

One of the most breathtaking places I've ever seen. I'd been to the Grand Canyon as a wee lad, but I don't think you can fully appreciate it until you return as an adult. It's just....well it's indescribably huge. There aren't any words really to relate how deep and huge and old this place is. We hiked about three miles down into the canyon and hadn't even scratched the surface of hikeable trails. Regardless, we came to this outcropping and had a beer lunch. I chose to pair this moment, this experience with Snapshot from New Belgium, because that's all I could do. I can't describe the Canyon, words can't describe it, so here's just a tiny little snapshot of it. 

Which goes great with the beer. It's marketed as a tart, sour wheat. But it only scratches the surface of sours. It's more of an orange wheat with a tart finish. Just a little snapshot of what sours could be. A great sour starter beer.

The rest of the day was spent hiking the seven and a half mile rim trail, which skirted the Canyon through desert brush and trees. I chose Ranger for this experience pairing, because I mean, obviously. We were exploring, on a weekend adventure. Ranger just seemed to fit. It has a woodsy flavor, and an IPA goes well with hot weather. IPAs came about by dumping hops into English beers to survive the hot weather of India after all, so an IPA in the desert felt natural. 

The trail led to Hermit's Rest:

The beard protects from harmful UV rays.

And rest we did. It was a fourteenish mile day, a three day hike stuffed into one. But that's what a weekend adventure is. Id' like to return some day to raft or camp down in the canyon proper. Another adventure for another day. 

Monday, March 23, 2015


New Belgium Lips of Faith: Gratzer



You will like if you:
Like smoked beers
Like sitting directly in front of a campfire with the wind blowing it straight in your face
Get excited to try brutal, harsh beers as a test of what you can drink

You will not like if you:
Don't like smoked beers
Don't like eating campfires
Exclusively enjoy smooth, easy sippin' brews

Hatebreed was one of the first truly hardcore metal bands I ever got into. I remember closing down the Pizza Hut I worked at in high school and blasting Satisfaction is the Death of Desire after hours. And the rest of the band's albums are prominent fixtures on my workout playlist. Listen to this and tell me you don't want to go outside and like wrestle a bear or something:

That's pumpin' iron music.

I saw them around 2002, with Snapcase opening. Absolutely brutal. My body was bruised and spongy the next day, and more than one person at work asked if I had gotten into a fight. I could hardly walk, and both eyes were bruised.

 It was one of the best shows I'd ever seen. 

Like I've said before, I grew up in a healthy family environment. Never truly mad, though I did have my share of angsty teenage years. But stress builds in us all. Video games helped, and now, beer does too. But sometimes you just want to jump around and wail on the dude next to you while getting wailed on in return. I'm not a fighter, not even close. But I can see the appeal of it. 

These shows are therapy. Cheap therapy. For about twenty bucks you can let out every anger, every stress, every source of anxiety. And for a few hours, there are no rules. It's freedom. 

So when I saw they were coming back to town, now in my early thirties, I stopped to think for a moment. I haven't been to a real hard show in years. Did I need to unleash the inner beast mode Jason? 

And then I remembered I worked in a school.

Ticket bought. 

And they are just as brutal as I remembered. If there's one thing Hatebreed does well, they take care of their own. Every song is about empowering yourself and rising above adversity and making things better. Often through rage, but you can interpret that how you see fit. They stopped the show several times, amusingly, to make sure the pit didn't get out of control. Apparently the fans rioted last time they were here, and the police were called and it was just chaos. 

That's the thing. These shows are violent. They're about violence. But it's consensual violence.

Also, a local band The Anchor opened. There were a handful of other hardcore bands as well, but these guys crushed it. They have more of a melodic hardcore sound, almost like a Poison the Well vibe. Check it out:

This was a tough event to pair beer with. Ultimately I settled on the 3 Floyds/New Belgium Lips of Faith collaboration, Gratzer.

First of all, that is a pretty metal label. Zombies riding bikes. Blood dripping everywhere. One of my guilty pleasures is choosing a new beer based solely on name or label. It's like a beer adventure. A beerventure. This beerventure was a centuries-old medieval Polish beer style. Which just adds to the metalness. 

It pours dark, coffee-like. An easy foam head that settles quickly. The picture doesn't do it justice, it's a delicious toffee color. Smells like smoked malts with coffee. They added lacto bacteria to the wort to sour it, but I didn't get any of that. 

Honestly it tastes like how burnt wood smells. Not as aggressive as it looks. I expected more of a roasty taste with the malt, and it's only 4.5%. But this is one was of those beers that fully utilizes smell as well as taste. It hits you in the front with toffee and blasts you in the back with rolling smoke and embers. The Gratzer would probably go great with grilling meats or relaxing around a campfire. My first thought would be winter camping, but that's up to you.

Now I'm not a huge smoked beer fan. But I can definitely enjoy the work put into them. This was a bit harsh to finish. Bitter, smoky, kind of angry. Again, harsh. Definitely reminiscent of a smoky, dark, metal show. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Woah ooh ooh ooh, ooooooh ooh oooh oh oh!

Great Divide Belgian Yeti


United Anarchists

You will like if you:
Enjoy the heaviest of stouts
Are like me and want to someday travel to Belgium and visit all the monastery breweries
Are in your thirties or so and still like the beers and music you did when you first started liking beer and music

Probably the best deal I've ever gotten.
So this one was a hard one to pair with. Saturday, March 14, my favorite band in the world, Pennywise, came to town. What's that? You don't know Pennywise? Or you just know their one song, the one song that everyone knows, even if you don't listen to punk rock?
Pennywise released their album, Full Circle, in 1997. I was fifteen, barely in high school and without any sort of identity. I had friends that I'd hung out with since elementary school. Friends that were way cooler than me. They would take me out and dress me up in nice clothes and spike up my hair and literally throw me at girls at Elitch's. I'll never forget the night that a group of kids at a movie theater broke up laughing and called us the Backstreet Boys.

That wasn't me.

I decided I'd had enough. I didn't like wearing khaki cargoes and buttoned up shirts. I didn't like spiking my hair. And I just wanted to stay at home and play video games. I didn't care about dating or partying or alcohol or any of that. 

At this time, my only albums were the Mortal Kombat soundtrack -

(still awesome)
And the Escape from LA soundtrack - 

(Bangkok rules: Nobody draws till this hits the ground)

So I guess I was into industrial electronic music?

Then I heard Full Circle. My friends were into punk rock at that age, and I sort of vicariously picked up a few bands through them. I remember AFI being big back then. Nothing could have prepared me for Pennywise. Everything changed. My entire musical existence had been altered. Every song, from the first second to the last, was an audio assault on my ears and emotions. 

Written shortly after their bassist, Jason Thirsk, committed suicide, every single track is an emotional blast of pure punk rock energy. Every track was full of anger and sadness, a true punk rock therapy album to work through their issues and the loss of their friend. 

All of a sudden I was listening to a new world of music. Bad Religion, Offspring, Millencolin, AFI, Lagwagon, Good Riddance....

I came from a supporting, loving home, and I never really felt the need to rebel or truly rage against this so-called machine. 

But all of a sudden I felt like I had found me. 

In the early 2000's, Pennywise rarely came to Colorado. I remember they opened for 311 once at Red Rocks, and I skipped my senior year homecoming dance to go. I feel like I made the better choice. I didn't really care much for 311; I enjoyed their music, but I came to see Pennywise. 

My mouth dropped when the pair of kids behind me asked, "Who is Pennywise? I haven't heard them on the radio, they must not be good."


My buddy and I got rowdy when our favorite band came on, and were pretty much the only  kids in the pit. Which was a feat in and of itself, for Red Rocks, as you know, is a layer of nothing but stairs and benches. We still tore it up, and then left before the main event started. We were there for one purpose. 

The next time I saw them, in 2009 or 10, they headlined a show at the Fillmore. After several albums that all kind of sounded the same, that all sounded mellowed out and radioed-up, their performance was lackluster. Something was off, and I didn't enjoy it at all. You can tell if a punk rock or metal or hardcore band isn't into it. In Flames, as much as I love them, put on one of the worst shows I've ever seen. They were tired, lethargic, and just plain didn't want to be playing that night. I'll never forget that, and that sucks because it colored my perception of one of the better metal heavyweights. That night, like In Flames, Pennywise seemed to just be going through motions, and I left the show feeling empty.

Shortly after, frontman Jim Lindberg left the band citing personal reasons. And that was fine. Nothing lasts forever. But it was the end of an era. 

I won't go into too much detail, but All or Nothing, the album put out with new frontman Zoli Teglas of Ignite was SICK NASTY. Most Pennywise fans will say it wasn't truly Pennywise without Jim, and it didn't sound like the classic band. 

That is true, I'm not disputing that. But let me tell you that was the freshest punk sound I'd heard in years. 
I saw them live with Zoli leading the charge and it was amazing. Sorry die-hard Pennywise fans. It was amazing. Zoli had energy, the band was having fun, and they absolutely nailed the performance, both new and old songs. 

Skip ahead to 2012. Jim returns, they reconcile, and put out Yesterdays, a bunch of never-released tracks from the 80's. Pennywise had returned. 

That meandering story leads us to March 14. I had seen Pennywise open for Bad Religion and Offspring over the summer, and it was a pretty paint-by-numbers show. They did the old stuff, the new stuff, and killed it. But Pennywise excels best at small venues. And the Gothic Theater is about as small as you can get. 

That's punk rock. Getting rowdy with a thousand other fans, twenty feet from stage. With Jim once again leading the charge, they absolutely crushed it. They were having fun. They played their old hits. They took requests. They covered Bad Religion, they covered Beastie Boys (which was as amazing as it sounds), they played Stand By Me, which I have never heard them play live. 

There was energy, there was anger, there was therapy, there was happiness.

It was one of the best shows I'd ever seen. 

Which leads me to Belgian Yeti, by Great Divide. 

Pennywise is my favorite band, and Great Divide is my favorite brewery. Ah, see the connection? You thought I had lost my train of thought. Acting!

So Belgian Yeti is their base flagship of the Yeti Stout, which is delicious in its own right, fermented with Belgian yeast. The result is a chocolaty, roasty, heavy, angry, spicy stout that I am able to enjoy at any time of year. I usually save my heavy stouts (and this is a heavy one) for colder weather. Because I'll just be honest, I'm a big baby with higher alcohol beers in the heat. 

But Yeti brewed with Belgian yeast turns it into an easier-drinking delight. So imagine my dismay when, in 2012, they stopped brewing this beer. 

Fast forward to last June. Great Divide reveals it was all a ruse! They had stored and cellared an entire shipment of Belgian Yeti! Beer that was already aged two years! Entire cases for sale! FOR 25 DOLLARS.

Listen here. I've spent well more than 25 dollars on a single bottle. And you're telling me I can get a case of 12 bottles of one of my favorite beers for 25 bucks?! You better believe I bought two cases. My only regret is that I didn't make enough money back then to buy ten cases. 

Because I drank all but two. Those two I have stashed in my beer cellar. AKA, the cupboard above my fridge. The cupboard that requires a considerable amount of effort to reach, thus allowing my beer to age in peace.

Two-year aged Belgian Yeti took on a darker tone. Plums and coffee and molasses and wine barrel came through. The pour was as black as black could be, with a creamy golden-brown head like bread crust. It's an assault on the tastebuds from the first sip to the last. 

Heavy, spicy, roasty. 

Great Divide was the first real "big beer" brewery I liked. My entire beer tastes changed after I tried a Yeti, and I saw beer differently after that. 

My first love in punk.

My first love in beer. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

A man's not dead while his name is still spoken.

Atrial Rubicite



You will like if you:
Enjoy sour farmhouse ales
Aren't put off by descriptors such as "musty" and "mildewy" or "tastes like barrel"
Are willing to throw everything you know about wild beers out the window

You will not like if you:
Don't enjoy sweet or sour beer (like woah, this beer is sweet and sour)
Prefer your beer efficient and perfected
Think this whole wave of fruit beer is just a fad and will thankfully pass

The man. The legend.

I just....

I have no words. 

My favorite author in the history of authors has passed away. Sir Terry Pratchett, creator of Discworld. I think the above image satisfies how he wanted to be remembered. And I was surprisingly gloomy about it. So many famous folk have passed away, actors and musicians and artists that I admired and looked up to, and though I felt sadness, I was never really hurt by their deaths. I didn't personally know them, but I respected their work and what their loss meant for their medium

Losing Pratchett felt like losing a friend. I don't remember when I discovered Discworld. I just know that I was hooked instantly. His words leaped from the pages and filled me with happiness. I can't think of any other way to describe it. His take on Death was magnificent:

“You can't give her that!' she screamed. 'It's not safe!'
'She's a child!' shouted Crumley.
'What if she cuts herself?'

His reasoning through Sam Vimes was spot on:

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

Much of my philosophy and personal way of thinking was sparked through Pratchett's writing. Which is weird to say about a satirical fantasy author.

I spent two days reading Pratchett quotes and being mopey. And I decided that I would choose to celebrate his life, rather than being terribly sad about it. I think that's he would have preferred his fans to react. So we move on.

I am reminded of my summer road trip to Austin, Texas to visit a friend. It started with the food. The barbecue warrants its own post, and just thinking about it makes me hungry despite having just finished dinner. 

No, the highlight of the trip, despite the hellish temperatures of Texas in July, was Jester King Brewery. A true farmhouse brewery, Jester King changed the way I thought about farmhouse and wild beer. 

Located in the middle of a field, complete with the aforementioned farmhouse and barn, Jester King absolutely opened my eyes. I was taught that beer needed to be meticulous and precise, and that every step needed to be monitored. Jester King just kind of does their own thing. They utilize their own strains of local wild yeasts and bacteria, pulled from the surrounding fields and fruit. They brew according to when certain fruits are in season. They pump their wort to an open coolship atop their barn. And they let their beers just sort of take over themselves. 

As a result, each batch is different, and each beer is a surprise. 

I brought back, among other bottles, Atrial Rubicite.

A bottle-conditioned farmhouse sour brewed with raspberries, Atrial Rubicite pours ruby red with a ruby-hued head. Ruby foam lace rings the glass and light filters ruby through the ruby beer.

Do you notice a theme here? The beer is red as red can be. It starts sweet and fruity and finishes tart. But not terribly sour. Atrial is mellowed by a creamy finish with musty and barrelly flavors at the end. 

It is absolutely amazing. I don't think they distribute outside of Texas, and the seasonal window literally depends on when they are able to get their hands on fruit, but if you can manage to snag a bottle, DO IT. I can't recommend it enough, along with their other beers.

I chose this beer to accompany this post for a reason. I discovered Pratchett rather unexpectedly, and he changed the way I read books. His words rewrote my brain to (try to) use humor to examine the injustices and wrongs of the world. Which sounds like a teenage angsty thing to say, but I feel young at heart and I discovered him in my teenage angsty years.

Jester King kind of surprised me as well. I didn't know what to expect from Texan beer, but it sure wasn't Jester King. It delighted and left me craving more. Atrial Rubicite was a celebration of beer and the unpredictable nature of life itself. 

And my memories of Pratchett remain a celebration of books and silliness and philosophy.

“It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.”

Well said you glorious bastard.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stone Enjoy After

Stone Enjoy After 12/26/15

You will enjoy if you:
Like funky beer
Have willpower
Salivate at the word "Brett"
Think it was worth the wait for Netflix to renew Arrested Development and are sill holding out for Firefly

You will not enjoy if you:
Think Stone is overrated
Don't like gimmicky beer
Like your beer slow and steady, at the ready

Okay, so, the NHL trading deadline is over.

And wow, what a snoozer for Colorado fans. Chicago and LA bolstered their depth at forward and defense, respectively, to gear up for the playoffs. Vermette will be a solid addition to the Blackhawks, and LA grabbed one of the more sought-after defenders in Sekera. Arizona and Buffalo stripped their teams to the bare bones in what is clearly a race to the first overall draft pick.

Colorado kind of sat on their hands. We lost veteran penalty killer and team-guy Talbot in return for a once-highly touted power forward Caron. Now don't get me wrong, he has had flashes of brilliance:

So I mean, the kid has hands. But everything I've read about him has been disappointing. His childhood team was the Avalanche, however. And that means something to me. I can appreciate a player who really wants to be here. Sometimes players do need a change. Peter Mueller a few seasons back is a perfect example.

But overall, exactly none of the team's needs were addressed. No young defensive prospects, no trading away our veterans for draft picks.

What they did do, however, was set up about ten million dollars to come off their salary books next season. Ten million that could be used to snag a juicy defender in free agency. So it seems to very much be a hurry up and wait situation.

Which brings me to the beer.

Following on the wildly popular Enjoy By series, Stone released the Enjoy After, a fine, ambitious IPA brewed with brettanomyces. The beer itself is fairly tame. The hops aren't overpowering, and it has a mellow finish with a slight spice. It pours a bit wild with a foamy head, and it leaves a soap-bubbly lace around the glass with each drink. And just look at that golden color. Beautiful.

The ambitious part is the aging process. Enjoy After practically demands to be bought two at a time. One to taste immediately after returning home, and one to age for a bit. How long you age it is dependent solely on your willpower. Personally, I put all my aging beer in the cupboard above my fridge, a place that would take considerable effort to reach.

I tried it on January 16 and the brett bacteria was subtle. It gave the beer the slightest of hints of funk, with a tart pucker in the back of the mouth. I'm hoping I can hold onto my second bottle for at least a year and compare with my notes from this year.

Which brings me back to my original point. This trade deadline came and went with the tiniest of splashes. Nothing spectacular, but there is hope. That lingering, frustrating, just out of reach hope. The hope that keeps me coming back year after year.

I hope I can keep that beer up there, in the cupboard above the fridge, for at least a year.

I hope the brettanomyces ages that brew into a funky, spicy beast.

And I hope the Avs management team knows what they're doing for next season.

That's a lot of hope and a lot of waiting.