Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Harney and Sons Mangalam Assam Broken Tea - Wed. Sept. 30th

Ok, its a bit lackluster, I'm sorry. I'm also sorry I haven't been posting a lot this week, but Physical Chemistry (also known as Quantum "I hate my life" Chemistry) has really been getting in the way. Tonight I spent most of my night studying for this horrible test and I really feel like I'm not all the way there, nor will I ever be completely there. So, in the truly responsible fashion...I decided to post on here. Yes, folks, I am that dedicated to my degree. Unfortunately, the beverage of choice tonight is not alcoholic (my test tomorrow is at 8am, which is bullshit for a senior). Tonight's beverage of choice is tea!

Not just any tea, folks. Despite my alcoholic demeanor and appearance, I have an unnatural fondness for tea, especially black tea. I buy most of my tea from Harney and Sons, which I visited in a blog post in mid August. I am, right now, quaffing a mug of my favorite tea by them: Mangalam Assam. Their Assams are really stellar. They are also rather expensive. The Mangalam Assam Broken has a generous amount of the honey-sweet golden tips from the flush and give it this really delicious malty, honey, and slightly astringent flavor. Really, really good stuff. It is, however, rather expensive per tin and its the cheaper of the Mangalams, with the most expensive being the Mangalam Assam Full. I prefer the Full but with the rate I consume tea, I can really only afford the Broken. But if I had the cash, I'd be all over that Full on a bottle of scotch older than I am. As I said to my friend, I'm all about the cougars of the scotch world. Aww yeah.

Anyway, here's a close-up of the tea itself. Notice the flecks of golden deliciousness. Like Golden Grahams, but significantly more awesome. These give it that honey flavor that rocks my goddamn socks straight off my feet and into the laundry hamper. Yes, it's that good. Go, readers! Buy it and relish in the company that I love. Also, quaff deeply. The quaffing is my favorite part but I assumed that you knew that by now

Friday, September 25, 2009

Steel Reserve 211 - Friday, September 25th

Ok, I gave it a try. Seriously I did. At the request of a friend, while standing in the malt liquor section a few weeks ago at BotW, I fatefully decided on a can of Steel Reserve 211. The local malt liquor expert (he isn't, but I'm calling him that from now on) said it was pretty good.

He is such a fucking liar.

Through the goddamn teeth.

I'm sitting here trying to quaff this stuff and its painful. My stomach has attained a state of agitation closer to a cement mixer at a Mafia convention than an upset stomach. The taste of this beverage is indescribable. First off, its sickly sweet. Disturbingly so for something that's supposed to have hops in it. It also has this odd sour/bitterness that comes through in the finish. Definitely not related to hops but it could be related to a bad type of yeast. Or complete and utter beverage failure. The odor coming out of this can is amazing too. Let me describe the odor to you.

Picture NYC on a warm, stagnant August day. The sun beats down on your grimy skin, baking the filth of the streets onto your pasty, gaunt frame. You gather your torn windbreaker and cover yourself, trying in vain to keep the sun from scorching your skin. It makes it difficult to inject the needle. You amble and stagger down the street, praying that your thin waist doesn't slip through the torn relic you once called sweatpants. You are a hobo. And you are hungry. You pry about the trash cans down each street, hoping for tasty morsels to sate your hunger. After rambling about Nixon for what seems like hours to the clown that follows you around every Tuesday, you finally come upon a loaded wastebin. A greengrocer has thrown out every piece of fruit that is rotted so badly it cannot be used in any shape or form. Even the rats won't touch this refuse. You pick out an withered old cowboy-boot of an apple, an incredibly squishy pear coated in a fuzz that resembles the outside of a Wilson tennis ball, and a banana coated in what looks to be the saurkraut from an old hot dog. You stow this delicious feast in your windbreaker and shuffle back to your newspaper nest. As you snuggle in to enjoy your treat, a man comes by, picks you up, and crams you into a silver can that's called Steel Reserve.

I had to open a goddamn window.

There are not a lot of things I won't finish. I'm a fat kid. And a thirsty kid. After I finish typing this up, I am going to dump this down the drain. Normally, I will offer something small to Davey Jones by pouring it down the sink, but this I wouldn't wish on even my worst enemy. It is godawful.

Ugh, I just took another sip. It tastes like banana bread in a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Fuck this shit. I think I have to burn off my taste buds after this shit.

Edit: While waiting for the picture to load, I drainpoured it. It poured the color of my khaki shorts. Buy this only if you're severely masochistic or the hobo mentioned above.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tasting notes - Ardbeg 10 year

I'll freely admit that I'm relatively new to Islay scotch. I've always been intimidated by the big, rich, peaty punch of those bad boys and I've shied away from them. I favored more of the standard Speyside scotches; light, sweet, and resplendent with fruit. I guess I just couldn't handle that wallop. However, curiosity got the best of me and I picked up a bottle of Ardbeg 10 at the local liquor store. This is the equivalent of learning to drive during the Daytona 500. There is no pussyfooting around on this shit. This is a big bad mamma-jamma that's done time, has scars and tattoos, and killed his own mom because she looked at him funny. Yeah, its that intense of a scotch. Here are the prelim notes:

Nose - Wood smoke, iodine, slight bittersweet chocolate, rich vanilla, sea water, and a light sweetness.

Taste: Smoked meat/bacon, road tar, oranges, tobacco, slight dark fruit, maybe sherry?

Finish is like a sugar coated camp fire: both smoky and sweet at the same time.

Really, this is a doozy of a scotch. Weighing in at about 46% ABV helps too. If you want a peaty fucker, go for Ardbeg. I need to get my hands on some Lagavulin and Laphroaig to round out the Islay category. One of my favorite scotches is Talisker because of its balance between Speyside-like fruity sweetness and Islay smoke and fire. It's interesting to taste the absolute ends of the spectrum. And by interesting, I mean really tasty.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I'm sick. Tune in soon for reviews of Ardbeg, Elmer T. Lee, and a bottle of cabernet sauvignon. Nom.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For science! - Olde English "800"


Remember that time I said this was for science?

Here's proof that I wasn't lying.

Yeah, that's a 40oz. bottle of Olde English 800. It's almost a $1.89 thing of beauty. Straw colored and glinting golden, coated in a fine mist of sweat as it comes ice cold from my freezer. If that's not awesomely subliminal and Freudian advertising, only God knows what is. But let's preface this a bit, shall we?

Last Friday started like any other Friday. Two hours of intensive engineering class then the absolute bliss that is a warm, sunny Friday afternoon off. A boy's mind wanders to cold beer, unfiltered Lucky Strikes, and the breeze flowing through his hair. I had two of the three, so my friends and I decided to stop at Beers of the World. BotW is a haven of all things brewed. It has row after row of craft beers from all over the world. Unfortunately and rather ironically, I found myself standing with my friends in the malt liquor aisle. Oh malt liquor. The youthful beverage of the college student and unemployed, its pretty much 6% ABV hobo piss. But its $1.89 for 40 oz (if you go pinky's up and get the expensive kind). I got this and a can of Steel Reserve. Seriously, that shit is so metal. A slate gray can and about 10% ABV, it just screams manliness. Oh, and liver failure.

So of course I had to try this shit. Any college student worth his salt has tried it. I'd never had it and damn it, I want to be worth my salt. So I bought an OE800 and a Steel Reserve. Came home, threw that behemoth of a malted beverage titan in the freezer to cool and promptly fell asleep. Weak, I know.

When I woke up, I had the savage hunger of a bear coming out of hibernation. And, what a coincidence! The only edible thing in my fridge was a box of baking soda and that 40. Oh boy, breakfast of champions. I sat down at 2am to quaff some and check my email. And am I glad that it was ice cold. It was actually pretty good. Granted, it wasn't Sammy Smith's Oatmeal Stout, but it wasn't the hobo piss I was assuming. I didn't bother pouring it into a glass but rather drank it straight from the bottle. It had this odd cat-urine like smell to begin with but the flavor was softly corn-like and Wonderbread. It was undercarbonated, probably to facilitate pouring it down your throat like industrial coolant into an overheating engine. It wasn't, honestly, terrible. Would I buy it again? Probably not. I proceeded to drink about a quarter of it and, since I hadn't eaten all day, got kinda fucked up. I'm not sure if it was the Southern Proof (which puts it at a whopping 10%) or the Northeastern proof (which is about 5.9%) but I DO know it was "Fuck me up"% ABV. I went back to bed after draining a quarter of it and the rest is sitting in my fridge, just waiting for me to coup de grace it when its least expecting it. But I'm holding out for that bastard of a Steel Reserve. He and I have to tango.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ha ha ha! Dogtoberfest!

Let's have a chat. Among the ranks of writers old and new, I have many favorites. Robin Hobb, Charles Bukowski, Glenn Cook, George R.R. Martin and Garth Nix are amazing writers. But I hold a certain passion in my heart for the late, great Hunter S. Thompson. Many know him as the drug addled, gun-crazed psychopath in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp. What many DON'T know is the man's political, ethical, and intellectual depth. His writing style is akin to, well, I can't honestly come up with anything that can represent his way of writing. He is a lyrical genius. Filthy and perverted (not in THAT way, ya freak), he is a brutal cynic and realist. He calls it as he sees it and puts no polish on it. If you've ever seen any video of him, you'll know what I'm getting at. If you haven't, I suggest you do. Like this. His way of speech is very distinct (distinctly AWESOME) and once you've heard him, I also suggest reading one of his books. And by suggest, I mean I demand that you read something. C'mon, read. It's good for you. When you do read his book, you can't help but read it in his voice. Alright, enough of being a fan-boy. I found out recently that a beer line inspired by Hunter with label artwork done by Ralph Steadman was released and has been available for a long time. This makes me as giddy as the time I found out that Lagunitas Brewery released a Frank Zappa line of beer. Called Flying Dog, they put out a range of "dog" named beers often inspired by either Ralph Steadman's work or anything associated with Hunter S. Thompson. Thus, when I found a bottle of Flying Dog Dogtoberfest (a Marzen) at Beers of the World...well...

Here are the notes:

Pours a coppery yet amber with a finger of off-white head that leaves beautiful lacing. Moderately opaque with highly visible carbonation.

Smell is sweet malt. Smells of pineapple as well. Strong white sugar/clean sweetness smell. Hard to describe. Has none of the notes of caramel or toffee I expected from the color. Just pure malt sweetness and tropical fruit.

Taste is intriguing. At the forefront is heavy malt; fresh baked bread with a tang of honey. Middle and aftertaste is clean malt and caramel with a pungent sprinkling of floral, but not bitter, hops.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Just the right amount of carbonation and body.

It's pretty damn good. I think an investment into a Flying Dog sampler pack is in order. Before I decided to write this I'd been sipping it and reading a Hunter book I got from the library: Generation of Swine. Excellent stuff. Of course, most of his shit is. The man uses "degenerate swine" and "pigfucker" regularly. You GOTTA love someone that uses language like that in letters to, say, Rolling Stone or the press. My only wish these days is that he was still alive so I could hang out with him. He must be totally bitchin' to drink with.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ha ha ha! Oktoberfest!

Oh September. As mentioned in last week's blog, I said that cider is my second favorite thing about the fall. My first is, as the title suggests, Oktoberfest. A merry event celebrating the marriage of a German king long ago, it rolls out some spectacular beer: the Marzen. Originally brewed in March (hence the Marzen, or March in German) for the festivities in September (not October, actually), it is a very heady brew strong in malts. And I am a malt fiend. Om nom nom. Below are the notes for the first of many Octoberfests that I have sitting in my fridge, taking a small nap before ending up in my rotund belly. This Oktoberfest is the Saranac Octoberfest:

Pours a caramel brown with a one finger head that disappears really quickly. No lacing at all as the pint gets drained.

Smells of burley tobacco, light milk chocolate, and whole wheat crackers. Slightly roasted smell, like the beginning stages of roasting coffee beans or peanuts.

Taste is roasted malts. Very biscuity/bread dough like. Minimal bitterness and floral notes from the hops. Mainly malt predominant. Slight fruit sweetness, almost like banana but not with the banana ester, followed by a very malty bready goodness.

Mouthfeel is slightly watery but with good carbonation.

It's alright. There's a bunch out there that I certainly enjoy more *cough*SamAdamsOktoberfest*cough*. Other than that, it was pretty delicious.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dull boy?

Note: all bourbon and no food in tummy makes Scotty a drunk boy. Jim Beam Distillers Edition don't suck, I will give it that. More formal write-up when I stop having trouble typing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crisp and delicious

My second favorite thing about fall is the cider. I have been, and always will be, a big apple fan. Apples are awesome. They make good pie. They make good snacks. They especially make excellent beverages. My favorite thirst quencher is probably ice cold apple juice (followed by lime water) and hard apple cider, well, its pretty damn amazing. I've hinted at my love of cider a few times in this blog but I feel I should wax philosophical about my love of cider now, during the cream of the crop season. Hard cider is awesome. You should love hard cider. Its vegan, low in calories, all natural, and high in digestible sugars. It sounds like a health product but this shit is the furthest from anything you'd find gracing the shelves of your local health food store. No, friends, this is hard cider; apple juice for adults. As I type this, I'm drinking a decent pint of Woodchuck Fall cider, a wonderfully crisp and slightly sweet/sour cider (thanks to some Granny Smiths, I think) spiced with mulling spices and all around a tall glass of awesome. So, here here to the people that decided to first brew cider. May you rest easy knowing that, if no one else, I am carrying on your tradition of getting absolutely hammered off of apples. Prost.

But wait, dear readers! What is my favorite thing about fall? Beverage-wise, its...

something you'll have to wait until next post to find out! Ha! Building suspense is awesome!

Edit: Ha HA! Now with pictures! Go go gadget Kodak Easyshare!