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September 11, 2015

Let's Talk About Beer: Evil Twin - Bikini Beer

I have written before about a man's quest for a good light beer and the horrendous pitfalls one encounters along the way. At best, the light beer is inoffensive. At worst, I believe the phrasing I used was "hydrochloric acid spiked with urine".

So. Is it possible for a stout fellow to find a good beer that doesn't pack on the calories?

Yes. Yes it is. And it is all thanks to the mad genius at Evil Twin Brewing, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø.

Bikini Beer is a light IPA. That, in and of itself, it pretty amazing. The overwhelming amount of light beers on the market are lagers. To have a light IPA is a rare thing indeed.

Now, I dont want to oversell the hopiness of the beer. It is a light beer, after all. It is as if they have dialed back the hops of your standard IPA about 50%. Definitely still there, but more like it is saying "hey" as opposed to smacking you in the face.

Frankly, it can do double-duty as a session IPA. It's a got a nice citrus-y zing to it and at 2.7% ABV you can drink it all day if you are so inclined. Especially when it is warm. It's a perfect summer beer.

And if you are looking to shed a few pounds in your middle-age, as I am, it's only 81 calories.

Yes, you read that right. 81 calories. 30 calories less than Bud Light. 15 less than Miller Lite. And about 100x more taste than both.

Really, the only possible drawback to this beer is if you are a guy who is somehow threatened by being seen drinking an IPA called Bikini Beer. If you are, then not only are you a fool, but you are missing out on what may be the best light beer today.

Find it. Drink it.


Beer: Evil Twin Bikini Beer

ABV: 2.7%

Style: American IPA / Light

Price: Between $10 - $13 for a six-pack

Recommendation: Strong Buy

September 8, 2015

No Letters from a Kentucky Jail for Kim Davis

U.S. District Judge David Bunning has proven to be a master of situational control when dealing with the case of Rowan County Clerk (Who Doesn't Understand Her Job) Kim Davis.

Ms. Davis, who was jailed on contempt charges after refusing to do her job and issue marriage licenses to couple of both different and the same sex, was released from jail by Judge Bunning just mere hours before two of the dumber members of the GOP Candidate Clown Car were supposed to visit her while behind bars

This was after Judge Bunning jailed Kim Davis as opposed to fining her daily, so right-wing activists who are threatened by the mere concept of same-sex couples couldn't donate money to pay her fines. At every turn thus far, Davis has been denied her very obvious wish to be some kind of ersatz martyr, suffering for all of us so that we might be spared the idea of two men or two women having a loving, committed relationship sanctioned by the State.

Oh, the horror.

This will likely go on for a while. Because if it isn't Davis pulling this BS, it's a low-level judge in Tennessee refusing to sanction divorces in some muddled protest against same-sex marriage (or as I like to call it...marriage). Stupid is as stupid does, and this country has plenty of stupid to get out of its system.

But the bottom line is that same-sex marriages are legal and people like Davis need to get that through their thick heads. While they're at it, they should also stop using religion as cover for their bigotry. Jesus had this to say about same-sex marriage:

" ... "

Oh yeah. Nothing. But when it came to His Commandment for all of us?

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

Oh yeah! We're supposed to treat each other with love and as equals. As opposed to, say, substituting our bigotry for the law.

If you personally don't like same-sex marriage or certain people or S'mores or 65 Ford Mustangs, I don't give a damn. That's your baggage that you have to handle. But you don't get to impose that crap on other people and then claim "religious freedom" as your excuse for it. Especially when you are a government official and beholden to enforce the law.

Keep your idiocy to yourself.

August 3, 2015

Let's Talk About Beer: Evil Twin - Fire Water

I have a few loves in my life. First and foremost my family. But a close second and third are beer and spicy hot food. And at least those two don't hide my car keys after they finish eating dinner in their high-chair.

Most times when it comes to beer and that kind of heat, if you are enjoying them both it is as two separate elements. Beer and BBQ. Beer and hot wings. Beer and some crazy-ass Thai dish that feels like it's burning a hole right through your tongue.

But sometimes the most enjoyable way to consume beer and heat is as a cohesive, single beverage. One of my favorites was the Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale which used anaheim chiles and cinnamon. Now anaheim chiles are not all that hot, so the 11.11.11 was mild but quite enjoyable. On the other end, also from Stone, was Punishment. The heat in that was akin to a nuclear blast and such that you needed another beer at the same time to quell the heat.

I don't find that quite as enjoyable. With beer, the only thing I enjoy in an "overpowering" fashion is hops. When you allow outside flavors to completely take over a beer, I feel like you lose part of what makes beer so enjoyable. The real trick with heat (or anything extra) when it comes to beer is to have one complement the other. That goes for fruit, bourbon barrel aging, whatever.

Which brings me to Evil Twin Brewery and their new release called Fire Water. If you aren't familiar with Evil Twin, it's a gypsy brewery started in Copenhagen, Denmark by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, who has since moved to Brooklyn. If the name Bjergsø sounds familiar, it's because Jeppe has a twin brother Mikkel. Mikkel Borg Bjergso runs Mikkeller. Oh, and because they hate one another.

Fire Water is a pale ale that has had jalapeno peppers added. Now, that may sound intimidating to some but you have to remember that the jalapeno isn't that much hotter than the anaheim chili. So you aren't talking about tear-inducing heat with this beer.

The first taste is that of any finely-crafted pale ale. And then the jalapeno hits. But it's interesting; the jalapeno gives you a hint of sweetness at first. That tails into a heat that isn't overwhelming at all. It lingers on the back of your tongue and while you notice it, it is not an unpleasant sensation. Even as it builds over drinking the bottle, it never reaches a point where it becomes uncomfortable.

Jeppe has really found the right balance with Fire Water. You notice the heat, but it never overwhelms the beer or the experience of drinking the beer. Which is the problem I had with Punishment. This is a good beer to drink while relaxing in the shade on a summer's day or while eating a burger. Or just because you like good beer.

Fire Water is a limited release. So if you can find it, buy it.


Beer: Evil Twin Fire Water

ABV: 5.5%

Style: Pale Ale / Chile

Price: Between $10 - $12 for a 22 oz. bottle

Recommendation: Strong Buy

Review: Time Bandits (1981)

“God isn't interested in technology. He cares nothing for the microchip or the silicon revolution. Look how he spends his time, forty-three species of parrots! Nipples for men!” – Evil Genius (David Warner)

Director: Terry Gilliam

Writers: Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin

Producers: George Harrison, Denis O'Brien, Terry Gilliam and Neville C. Thompson

Studio: HandMade Films

Major Stars: David Rappaport, Sean Connery, Ian Holm, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Shelley Duvall, David Warner, Kenny Baker, Ralph Richardson, Craig Warnock

There are few directors that take more risks than Terry Gilliam. He is uncompromising in what he wants to show and how to show it. His films reward careful viewing and punish the lazy movie-goer. If you only watch Time Bandits with a casual eye, you'll miss out on an unique sci-fi film that is loads of fun to watch.

Gilliam tackles a theme no less than the evils of modernization. From the get-go, we see our protagonist, 10-year old Kevin (Warnock), ignored by his parents because they are obsessed with their television or the latest kitchen gadgets. Kevin is a dreamer, who reads books about ancient Greece and the Middle Ages. After a bizarre dream, he stays awake to see if it was a dream. Instead, a gang of dwarfs fall out of his closet.

They are on the run from the Supreme Being because they stole his map. A map that shows holes in time and space that one can use to travel anywhere. And when the Supreme Being finds them, Kevin joins them as they flee. Gilliam sets all this up in less than 10 minutes, which is how a film should work. It's amazing how many films screw around for 20-30 minutes before they get to the story itself.

The dwarfs are led by Randall (Rappaport). They worked for the Supreme Being until he demoted them, so they stole the map and decided to commit robberies in different times to become rich. Kevin is looking for something else; a father figure that pays attention to him. As they travel through time, they meet various people like Napoleon (Holm), Agamemnon (Connery) and, unfortunately for them, the Evil Genius (Warner). He wants the map to break free from his castle and destroy the Supreme Being, so he tries to lure the group to his castle that is stuck in the Time of Legends.

It's no mistake that Kevin finds the father figure he wants in Agamemnon; it's the time period in the movie most removed from modern technology. Just as it is no mistake that the Evil Genius is obsessed with technology. Gilliam makes the case that technology binds us and denies us our freedom and he hits that theme throughout the movie. Even the ending, as abrupt, shocking and arguably cruel as it is, is about liberating ourselves from technology and embracing the freedom our minds can provide.

There are parts of the film that are genuinely hilarious. Napoleon is obsessed with the height of great military leaders. Warner plays the Evil Genius so well that every scene with him gets a laugh or two. Ralph Richardson, as the Supreme Being, steals the end of the movie with his portrayal of the Almighty as a slightly absent-minded but all-powerful bureaucrat.

May 22, 2015

The Right and Wrong Way To Make Cider

For all that America loves her beer - and we do - cider was in many ways our national beverage back in the day. With water as likely to give you dysentery as hydrate you, cider was a safe drinking alternative in the early days of our nation. It wasn't until the waves of immigration in the 19th Century - where the newly-minted Americans came from regions in Europe that preferred beer - that cider slowly fell into relative obscurity.

That has changed recently, however. Hard cider is making a big comeback. And the ingenuity that small and micro-breweries have applied to beer is also being applied to cider making.

A good example of this new cider revival is Bantam Cider out of Somerville, MA. They make three ciders right now. The one I had is called Rojo. It is a simple cider, made with only four ingredients: apples, ale yeast, sour cherries and peppercorns. It is, without a doubt, one of the most delicious beverages, let alone ciders, that I have ever had.

It is crisp like a cider should be, but with a touch of sour cherry and a hint of spice at the end. You could drink this with dinner or watching the game. I really cannot recommend it enough. Not only because of the taste or because we should support small breweries/cideries*/distilleries (Which we should). It's also important because of the lack of crap in the ingredients.

As a comparison, here is a label from Johnny Appleseed Cider. This brand is owned by Anheuser-Busch, so you can probably see where this is going.

Dextrose AND Sucrose. Call me old-fashioned, but I have always felt that if you have to add sugar to your cider, you're doing it wrong. Yes, I understand that adding sugar ups the alcohol content. You know what else does? Honey. Maybe this is a personal objection more than anything else, but throwing all that sugar into cider is simply not appealing to me. A good, natural cider (like Bantam's Rojo) will hit 5-6% all on its own because of the natural sugars in the apples. Which is plenty good for a bottle of cider. If you want to get ripped, maybe a pint of Majorska vodka is what you're looking for.

And what, exactly, is "flavor"? How is "flavor" an ingredient? I honestly don't know this, so I went to the FDA site to see what "flavor" actually is. Here is their answer:


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