Monday, February 27, 2012

King of the Case: Blue Moon Brewing Company

Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.
Blue Moon Brewing Company

Belgian White
The beer has a slightly hazy golden color and the scent is fragrant while not overpowering. You can pick up the Belgian-style spicing and there is a nice citrus kick. Still, it seems like it could really use the orange slice you would get at the bar (or the one I could get out of my fridge if I were not too lazy to get up). If you're a high-commercial-budget beer drinker looking to step up toward microbrews, this is a good place to start.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

King of the Case: Long Trail Brewing Company

Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.
Long Trail Brewing Company

Pale AleFeaturing a color between golden and amber, the pale ale had a hoppy scent that didn't translate to a powerful punch upon first sip. On the cosmetic side, it did pour a fairly thick, creamy head. What hops were there did not seem to be offset by a contrasting flavor. As it went on, I began to pick up an almost vinegary feel. All in all, the beer was fairly bland and unsatisfying. Not a major fan.

Sunday, February 19, 2012 50 Words or Less: Flying Dog Garde Dog Biere de Garde

Flying Dog Garde Dog Biere de Garde
Very flavorful farmhouse ale. Has wonderful golden color and very lemony, peppery, tart taste. Belgian-style spicing leans toward the sweet side. If there's one drawback to the beer, it would be that the aftertaste can be a bit lasting and funky. Label is bad-ass! Ralph Steadman. National treasure. 50 Words or Less: Uinta Brewing Company Wyld Extra Pale Ale

Uinta Brewing Company Wyld Extra Pale Ale
Interesting beer in that it tastes different whether consumed in glass or straight from bottle. In a glass, it has a fragrant scent and a bit of a hop kick. From a bottle, you get none of the scent and the taste is a bit watered down. It's tea-like.

Saturday, February 18, 2012 50 Words or Less: Port Brewing Midnight Expression Lager

Port Brewing Midnight Expression Lager
Thought I was grabbing a 22-ounce Port Brewing Wipeout IPA. Get up to counter. Notice I picked up wrong one. I'm adventurous! Decided I'd just try this instead. Bad choice. No idea why it is called a lager. It's really just a thin stout. How about full disclosure, people!?

Ten Quick Thoughts on...Beginners

1. Would probably call this a fairly average low-budget indie. I didn't think it was a bad movie, but now that I am getting time to write about it, I am struggling to come up with much to say. It certainly didn't stick with me in any sort of lasting way.

2. The film is directed by Mike Mills, who also made the film Thumbsucker, which I am almost 100 percent sure you never heard of. The film, which is about a graphic designer/album artist struggling to move on in the wake of the death of his father who had recently came out about his homosexuality, is largely autobiographical. And yet he makes no mention of his stint as the bassist of R.E.M. Odd.

Friday, February 17, 2012 50 Words or Less: Dogfish Head Ta Henket

Dogfish Head Ta Henket
Waitress at bar didn't like us at first. We weren't ordering food. Got appetizers. She warmed up. So much so that she gave us samples of this one. And provided this nugget: "You know those urinal cakes they have in the men's room? It tastes like those smell." No joke. 50 Words or Less: Dogfish Head Tweason'ale

Dogfish Head Tweason'ale
So I was at Pizzeria Uno in Maple Shade, N.J. Saw this on tap. Ordered it. Waitress said I should try sample. Discovered why. Thing tasted like mouthwash with pepper in it. Horrible. 'Cause it's gluten-free? Here's an idea: Can't have gluten? Don't drink beer. This thing was disgusting. 50 Words or Less: Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA

Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA
Tough to diss beer that was purchased lovingly by one's spouse, but here goes: Felt a little deceived by this. Supposed to be mix of stout and IPA, but I tasted mostly stout. Lacked hops. Not much of a scent. A plain beer experience and, well, not really true advertising. 50 Words or Less: Founders Double Trouble Imperial IPA

Founders Double Trouble Imperial IPA
One of the best beer labels I have ever seen. Could do all 50 words on it. While I enjoyed it less than the Danish beer whose name I can't grasp, it still has big-time hop power, a fragrant nose, and a flawless, golden appearance. A very enjoyable beverage. 50 Words or Less: To Ol Final Frontier American-Style Imperial IPA

To Ol Final Frontier American Style Imperial IPA
One of three hefty IPAs wifey bought me for V-Day. A rarity. I'm not even sure I have name right. To Ol? Think it's Danish? Scent pops. Hops are fresh, floral, and balanced by citrus. Resembles California-style. Very low on aftertaste for an Imperial. Classy. Horrible label though.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ten Quick Thoughts on...Horrible Bosses

1. My wife actually thought this flick was better than Bridesmaids. I definitely didn't think that Bridesmaids was as spectacular as most people did, but I would have to agree to disagree with her on that thought. It had a few funny moments, but for the most part it was run-of-the-mill.

2. Definitely think it is past time for the whole "get a bunch of funny guys together, throw out the script, and let the actors improv the whole movie" school of filmmaking to go away. Sometimes the jokes are funny, but for the most part it just seems like what it is: guys indulging themselves, throwing stuff at the wall trying to see if anything sticks. Guess we have to blame Judd Apatow for this new genre?

3. How bummed is Jason Bateman that Arrested Development didn't just run forever. Ever since that show went away, he has been stuck doing idiotic movies with actors that have nowhere near the smarts and comic timing that he is capable of generating. Not to say that he is good in the flick. Basically, he just seemed bored.

4. Jason Sudeikis is not a movie star. But then again, I'm not even prepared to say that he has ever been hilarious on TV. Has he ever created an indelible character on Saturday Night Live? The fact that he actually pops up in movies is kind of inexplicable. Who is he bringing to the box office?

5. Charlie Day was OK. He pretty much recycled his shtick from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Of course, he's much bettter there since the material is hilarious, brave and unpredictable, while this one is the same buddy movie you've seen a million times over.

6. Colin Farrell WAS actually horrible in this movie. So was the person who made his hairpiece. It actually looked like he was wearing a football helmet. I'm not sure the "director" should actually get a director credit in this movie. Farrell was basically able to do pretty much anything he wanted with his wild-eyed character and I would say that maybe 12.74 percent of his antics were funny. Not a good percentage.

7. In the literal definition of the term "Oh, how far the mighty have fallen," Kevin Spacey pops up as Bateman's boss. He has decent moments, but for the most part, he sort of just stands there with a look that says, "For f*ck's sake, why can't Alan Ball write another decent part for me so I can stop doing dumbazz roles in forgettable movies?"

8. I could repeat the same exact paragraph for Jamie Foxx only he never acted in a film written by Alan Ball and he didn't play Bateman's boss. Instead he played an ex-con named M*therf*cker Jones. Let's just say, it's a long way from Ray (in which his performance was overrated and he stole Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for The Aviator). I'm scared that he will soon be acting in Tyler Perry movies.

9. Probably giving the best performance in the film is Jennifer Aniston, who plays wonderfully against type as a dentist who has the hots for Day's attached dental assistant. She is actually a hoot as she sprays Day's crotch with water, mounts patients while they are knocked out, and generally makes you wonder why Day wouldn't just get with her and dump his mousy spouse. I mean, she's a little psycho, but still. She looks like Jennifer Aniston.

10. By the way, remember way back when Angelina Jolie stole Aniston's man and everybody was taking sides as to who they were backing in the conflict. Team Aniston vs. Team Jolie! Well, take a look at Aniston in this movie. Then take a look at Angelina Jolie at just about any award show she appears at these days. Or more like any awards show where her skeleton appears. There's no doubt about it, man. Brad Pitt done picked the wrong horse.

Sunday, February 12, 2012 50 Words or Less: Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale

Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale
I'm Irish, but I don't pretend like Grandpa just got off the boat from the homeland to increase my street cred. Don't love the Sawks. Don't drink Guinness. Don't listen to Dropkick Murphy's unless I'm watching The Departed. But this is smooth and earthy with a malty, caramel-tinged feel. 50 Words or Less: Long Trail Brewing Company Centennial Red

Long Trail Brewing Company Centennial Red
I've talked about my tendency to avoid beers whose labels I loathe. Long Trail is a frequent victim. Feel like their labels appear put together by a 70-year-old. Their 22-ounce imperial red gets a much cleaner design. Not blown away by flavor though. Smoky. Hoppy. Lacking adventurousness. 50 Words or Less: Abita Mardi Gras Bock

Abita Mardi Gras Bock
Don't have a bucket list. The concept is silly. If I did, I'd add going to New Orleans. Wouldn't go to Mardi Gras. Too many drunks. Would probably go to some hopping jazz bar. If they're selling this beer, I'd order it. Crisp. Lots of varying flavors.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Colorful Night of Beer with Prism Brewing Company's Rob DeMaria

A couple years ago, a few friends and I met a guy named Rob DeMaria. He was just an average working stiff at Merck. But he had big dreams. Dreams of owning his own brewery. We met him at the General Lafayette, a formerly awesome brewery and restaurant in Lafayette Hill. You see, they had somehow run an incredible establishment into the ground. No idea how. But on this night they had invited several "friends of the General" out for a brainstorming session on how they could keep the place afloat. Basically, they were trying to hit us up for money in exchange for...well, nothing. The good feeling of knowing we helped some other a-hole keep their business from tanking, I guess? Anyway, after they tried unsuccessfully to con us out of our money, we headed into their bar area for a drink. Or six. So did Rob DeMaria. At some point in the night, he approached our table. He said he was working on opening his own brewery and he wanted our opinion on what we thought was a good name for his IPA. He gave us two names. One was Bitto Honey IPA. The other was...something that we have already forgotten. In any event, we gave him our opinion: Bitto Honey was a better moniker than...whatever the other name was. That is the name that DeMaria went with. And now, lo and behold, he has his own brewery. It's called Prism Brewing Company, and on Thursday, Feb. 9 he had a very successful beer dinner at Chap's Taproom in Norristown.


The children certainly are our future including your daughter.
And we will always love you.

The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
Single slice:
The full pie:

Friday, February 10, 2012 50 Words or Less: Unibroue Maudite

Unibroue Maudite
Didn't feel like I had too much to drink last night. So why was I tired at work? Why'd it seem like everyone was speaking Chinese? Why'd I wake up with socks on? Hit me while walking the dog. Capped off beer dinner with this hardcore Belgian strong. Not wise. 50 Words or Less: Southern Tier Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale

Southern Tier Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale
Don't know who Phin & Matt are, but if they are the beverage's brewers they've used their well-balanced recipe of three different hops and three different malts to develop a beer that, while it may not quite be "extraordinary," is certainly delicious and enjoyable in a simple, uncomplicated way.

The Freezer Case: Whole Foods Fresh from Our Kitchen (Homemade)

Are you someone who loves cheese on your pizza? If so, this pizza from Whole Foods Plymouth Meeting is for you. I, on the other hand, am a person who likes sauce on my pizza. This isn't the pizza for me.

Let me get some positives out of the way early: The crust has a very nice texture. It's firm and floury with a crunchy cornmeal feel. They do something interesting with the pepperoni as well. Rather than cut it up into a bunch of pieces, they layer about five or six large pieces on the pie. I'm sure people can go either way with this, but I preferred it to the Wegman's school of pepperoni application, which is to cover every inch of the pie with the thin meat circles. It should also be said that the pepperoni's taste really stood out. It was both smoky and spicy. Finally, the wife liked the taste of the cheese. And that's a good thing for her because there was a ton of it.

The cheese layer was so thick, I could not see a hint of tomato sauce. When I turned the pizza sideways, the cheese layer was actually thicker than the crust. There were moments when it was actually difficult to swallow. What sauce was there was very ordinary. In other words, this is not the pizza for me. However, if you are down with mozzarella overload, run, don't walk, to get this pizza.

The Freezer Case: American Flatbread Tomato Sauce & Three Cheese

Sometimes you can just look at a frozen pizza box and know you are not going to like the pizza. Such was the case with the American Flatbread Tomato Sauce & Three Cheese pizza. I think we may have purchased and devoured three frozen pizzas before we decided to take this one out of the box. When we finally did decide to eat it, my suspicions of inferiority were confirmed.

First off, there was practically no red sauce on the pie. Odd for a pizza that puts such an important ingredient in its name. In order to be able to eat it, the wife had to get me some marinara. Not good.

It was a thin crust and a floppy one at that. The perimeter crust had a nice texture to it, but all in all it was just too slight to satisfy. It should be said that the cheese was one of the best elements of this pie. It was definitely above the average frozen. If they would be a little less stingy with the red, maybe they would have something here. But maybe not because what I did taste was not very distinctive.

All in all, this is definitely not one that I would recommend and I have already put it on the "No Fly" list in my household.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Growler Wars: Great Divide vs. Old Forge

Two growlers. Two beers. Two frosted glasses. One winner.

Old Forge Brewing Company T-Rail Pale Ale
This beer from a Danville, Pa. brewery that I had never heard of before purchasing the growler has a copper coloring and hop flavor that registers, but doesn't necessarily pop. There's not much jumping off in the scent department and the appearance is a bit cloudy (perhaps it is unfiltered?). To go along with hops that seem a little on the small side, there is not much of an off-setting ingredient of any sort. I wouldn't call it bland really, but it certainly is not memorable. It is an average (maybe slightly below) microbrew Pale.

Great Divide Brewing Company Nomad Pilsner
This one pours a thick head that sticks around for a while. The bubbles within the extra-clear and clean golden coloring stay perculating for a while as well. It's obscenely crisp with a major pop of flavor in the finish. It's a simple beer that could be enjoyed one after another on a spring afternoon (or a somewhat temperate winter one), but it's complex as well. Rustic and wheaty, with a pleasingly fragrant scent that will jolt you if you make the effort.

The Winner
Honestly, I figured this might be an unfair fight when I purchased the growlers. Great Divide is an esteemed Colorado brewery with a variety case that I absolutely cherished. Old Forge is a brewery that I have never heard of. In fact, before I did the research for this piece, I assumed it was located in upstate New York. Well, unfair or not, the winner is the Great Divide specimen. The Old Forge is a very average Pale Ale. Nomad is an exceptional pilsner. One positive for Old Forge: It was only $7.99 for the growler. The Nomad was $10.99. But do yourself a favor and spend the extra three bucks. It will be worth it.

Growlers purchased at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting.

The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
Single slice:
The full pie: 50 Words or Less: Victory Helios Ale

Victory Helios Ale
Bought a 22-ouncer at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting for $3.49. An absolute steal. This tremendously distinct saison boasts a golden color, a thick head, and a citrusy, slightly bitter finish. Has a floral, lemony scent and a ginger kick that compares to Hitachino Nest's stellar White Ale.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tale of the Pie: Tony's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant

This blog is not called The Calamari Project. When we typically decide to try a restaurant's pizza, we will usually complete the order with a side to keep things interesting. Usually it is something like wings, mozzarella sticks, or, yes, calamari. If the appetizer should be particularly good, we, of course, mention it. Same with if it should be bad. But the grade that we present at the bottom pertains to the pizza. The pizza in other words is the main attraction and what every restaurant we go to is ultimately judged upon.

Except for this review. In this one, we will adjust our rules and downgrade this restaurant based on the taste of the worst calamari (nay, DISH) I have ever had in my time on the planet we call Earth. But let's get to the pizza.

Tony's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant is a fairly nondescript strip-mall pizza joint next to a Wawa on Egypt Road in Norristown. I saw it one day when I stopped into said Wawa to see if they had a bathroom in which my toddler could urinate. They didn't, but one positive of the attempt was that I determined that we would try Tony's Pizzeria some time in the near future. When we did decide to try it, I was a little concerned when I showed up to pick it up. The place was very empty. It was just the dudes making the pizzas, me, and a couple sitting at a table. I believe that one of the individuals dining there was certifiably insane, but that is neither here nor there. There was a little bit of a problem with the service as it took the two college-aged fellows behind the counter at least five minutes to ask if I, like, wanted my pizza or something. However, if this place could say that the biggest problem they had were a couple of workers being slow on customer service, they would be very lucky. It was not until I returned home with the pie that I realized the bigger issue.

Saturday, February 4, 2012 50 Words or Less: Flying Fish Red Fish

Flying Fish Red Fish
Look at this! Here's a beer so new we seem to be reviewing it before Beer Advocate (maybe I just couldn't find their review?). Anywho, I was recently nonplussed by the pedestrian nature of Flying Fish's variety pack, but this was enjoyable. Dark and hoppy, yet smooth and easily digestible. 50 Words or Less: Troegs Troegenator Double Bock

Troegs Troegenator Double Bock
Bit of a letdown. At Whole Foods' Cold Point Pub, I bought a ticket for a beer. Went up to get it. Got stuck behind dude getting growler. The growler kicks. Whole negotiation ensues. Serious rigamorole. What are you gonna do? Some tasty hints of caramel, but nothing transcendent.

Friday, February 3, 2012 50 Words or Less: Victory HopDevil Ale

Victory HopDevil Ale
There's something about a "missed train" beer. You rushed to train. Leaves before you get on. There's a bar nearby. Might as well kill 30 minutes in productive fashion. Which in this case means hitting Tir na Nog for best IPA birthed in Pennsylvania. Amply hopped. Smooth. Easy-drinking. 50 Words or Less: Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA
Cleveland, Ohio's Great Lakes Brewing Company has to be one of the more underrated entities currently making beer in the 50 states. This is a sublime India Pale. It boasts tons of hop flavor and a generous bit of citrus that rivals the best California has to offer.

Time for a Random List: The Ten Best Best Picture Oscar Winners

1. Gone with the Wind (1939)
2. Annie Hall (1977)
3. The Godfather Part II (1974)
4. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
5. The Godfather (1972)
6. The Apartment (1960)
7. On the Waterfront (1954)
8. Schindler's List (1993)
9. Casablanca (1942)
10. Unforgiven (1992)

Time for a Random List: The Five Worst Best Picture Oscar Winners

5. Ordinary People (1980)
Should Have Won: Raging Bull

4. Gandhi (1982)
Should Have Won: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

3. Crash (2005)
Should Have Won: Brokeback Mountain

2. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Should Have Won: High Noon

1. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
Should Have Won: Giant

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Monthly Roundup: January's Top Posts

To close each month, we'll do a quick roundup of the not-to-miss posts. In a blog with so much fascinating content, it could be easy to miss one or two good posts.
Yep, it's February already. Hopefully your new year's resolutions are still going strong. I'm struggling to remember what mine were. Fortunately, it's not tough to remember what the top posts of January were.

  • This month will bring us Tinseltown's biggest night of the year. Gearing up for the Oscar's? Check out Saucy's predictions for the winners, losers and everyone in between.
  • Sports more your speed? Or middle-aged men sitting at home in their underwear glued to the TV and Internet "playing" fantasy basketball?
  • Local BYOB shines during Ambler Restaurant Week: Zake's Cafe is definitely worth a visit
  • The post that drew the most traffic last month? 10 best pizzas of 2011
  • Speaking of pizzas, we ate some pretty terrible ones last month. Luckily, SliCE was an exception.


The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
Single slice:
The full pie: