Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sour Monkey - Victory Brewing Company

    Sour Monkey, brewed by Victory Brewing Company in Downington, Pennsylvania, is a transformation of their Golden Monkey Tripel. Classified as an American Wild Ale, Sour Monkey uses multiple yeast strains, including non-standard strains such as Brettanomyces, to achieve its sour profile. What results is a fruity, tart beer that is enjoyable to the last sip. Add in that each 22oz. bomber comes in at around $10 USD and you have a Sour Ale worth buying time and time again.

    Sour Monkey pours a golden, straw color with a 1", slightly off-white head. The beer's head retention seems low as the bubbles quickly dissipate, though a ring of white forms a light lacing down the glass.

    The Wild Ale smells sweet with a slight tart acidity. Fruity notes of peach and lemon are present in the aroma, alongside a slight hint of Brett. There is also a slight, yeasty spiciness to the beer's aroma; unsurprisingly similar to that of a Belgian Tripel.

Victory employs only the finest taste testers for their brews!
    Sour Monkey features a low to medium level of carbonation alongside a medium body which together give the ale a somewhat creamy mouthfeel. The ale's acidity causes a slight pucker, though nothing too intense. An alcohol content of 9.5% ABV completes the ale's mouthfeel with just the slightest bit of warmth; though none lingers after the beer is swallowed.

    Sour Monkey lives up to its name, though the ale isn't too sour. A pleasant lactic acid tartness accompanies fruit flavors of apples, peaches, and strong lemon flavors. Sweet malt notes balance the Wild Ale's acidic tang alongside a slight spice flavor which rounds things out.

    This ale was recommended by a local craft brew store, and I'm extremely glad it was. With just enough sour and sweet flavors, this American Wild Ale is extremely drinkable and enjoyable. While many Wild and Sour ales come with a hefty price-tag, Sour Monkey is extremely reasonable at its current price. Pick some up next time you see it, especially if you've never tasted a Wild or Sour Ale!

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - Playstation 3

    Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a Japanese style Role Playing Game developed by Level-5. The game was released in two different versions; one for the Nintendo DS, and one for the Playstation 3. The DS version of the game was released in 2010 and was available only in Japan, while the PS3 version of the game was released internationally in 2013. Easily, the most notable aspect of the game is that Studio Ghibli (known for movies such as My Neighor Totoro, Spirited Away, and  NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind) worked on the game's animation as well as its soundtrack, creating a one of a kind gaming experience.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Radiolaria - Off Color/Jester King

    Radiolaria is an American Wild Ale which was brewed as a collaboration by Off Color Brewing in Chicago, Illinois and Jester King Brewery which is located in Austin, Texas. While the beer was brewed in Chicago, Jester King provided Off Color with a sample of wild yeast collected from Texas. Off Color combined this yeast with their own mix of wild yeast from Chicago and pitched it into wort based on their Apex Predator Saison for a truly unique, one-time-only brew.

    Radiolaria pours a hazy, straw color with a short, white head of foam which doesn't hang around long. The bubbles fade quickly and don't leave much lacing at all.

    The Wild Ale's aroma is surprisingly subtle. There a definite tartness to the scent, as well as scents of fruit and spices. A slight, hay-like scent gives the brew and interesting, earthy aroma alongside light, sweet malt scents. I really expected the ale's scent to knock me over with huge yeast aromas, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the beer's complex subtlety.
All the yeast are invited to this party!

    Radiolaria is light bodied with a light to medium level of carbonation. The body and carbonation levels complement each other quite nicely. There is a mild tartness to the ale, and a light, 4.5% ABV alcohol content.

    Similarly to the ale's aroma, Radiolaria's flavor is surprisingly mild. Funky, spicy, and fruity yeast notes dominate the flavor, though even these flavors are much weaker than I had expected. I'm especially surprised by how little sourness is present in the ale's flavor. Lightly sweet malt flavors are balanced with mild hop bitterness. The beer is very clean tasting overall, but also very mildly flavored.

    I find that I was somewhat disappointed in Radiolaria. Admittedly, this disappointment is likely due to my uninformed expectations of what this beer would taste like. I went into this tasting expecting a Sour Ale and instead found that Radiolaria is a mild, yet interesting Wild Ale. I think the concept of combining wild yeasts from multiple areas of the country is ingenious, but I wish the yeast flavors (all the flavors actually) would have been a bit more pronounced. Radiolaria is by no means a bad Wild Ale, it just didn't live up to my expectations. This was a one-time brew as far as I know, but if you find one somewhere feel free to leave your own comments!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hardcore Chimera - Finch's Beer Co.

    Hardcore Chimera is a Double India Pale Ale brewed by Finch's Beer Co. which is located in Chicago, Illinois. Hardcore Chimera has become Finch's biggest seller as the US's thirst for Double IPAs seems to be never-ending.

    Hardcore Chimera pours a somewhat-hazy bronze/orange color. Very little head forms after pouring, though what foam there is forms a resilient ring around the glass, leaving a good bit of lacing.

    Finch's Double IPA features aromas of citrusy hops as well as some tropical scents such as mango and passion fruit. The beer's malts lend a grainy scent to the mix as well.

    The beer is medium bodied with a carbonation level that is on the high end of medium. There is a slightly oily mouthfeel to the ale which likely contributes to its smoothness. An alcohol content of 9% ABV makes this one beer you're going to want to sip, though the text printed on the bottom of my can suggested I shotgun it by the date printed. I suppose shotgunning the beer is the only real way of drinking such a hardcore brew.

This chimera is so hardcore it makes up 3/5ths of its own metal band.
     Hardcore Chimera definitely hits your tongue with some major hops flavor. Citrus and tropical flavors mix with hoppy bitterness. There isn't a huge amount of malt flavor in the beer, just a bit of caramel behind all the hops. Surprisingly though, the bitterness is well balanced even without much malt flavor coming through. In fact, the beer tastes slightly sweet thanks to the fruit flavors imparted by the hops. I detect only the slightest amount of alcohol taste, which isn't surprising with such a high ABV.

    While the chimera is relatively well known as a mythical beast, it's cousin the Hardcore Chimera has somehow avoided the limelight. Hardcore Chimeras' unfamiliarity is likely due to the low numbers of the creatures that were living in the mythical ages. This particular beast suffered low population numbers due to a relatively high risk of death by hardcore stunts. It was well known that these beasts would take on any dare, no matter how hardcore. Ancient texts mention these creatures jumping chariots through flaming rings, stealing underwear from Cyclops's clotheslines, and even base-jumping from Mount Olympus without a parachute. It's nice to see that this under-recognized creature has been remembered and honored by Finch's Beer Co.

    If you're looking for a strong Double IPA that's not too bitter and drinks relatively smoothy, Hardcore Chimera is worth a try. I feel that the beer was intentionally crafted around the 9% ABV, and as such, misses out on featuring new flavors in lieu of balancing flavors to keep its booziness from being tasted. The beer is still quite enjoyable, and it's easy to see why Finch's has been selling so much of the brew lately!

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Bastion - Xbox Live Arcade

    Xbox Live Arcade has changed the way many people see video games. Previously, games needed to be huge creations backed by a giant budget and hyped up to no end to be successful. Art and creative expression often took a backseat to what would make companies the most money. Xbox Live Arcade's flexible pricing and digital delivery has allowed developers to focus on creativity and narrative rather than shiny effects and hype. Bastion is a perfect example of what developers can do when they aren't shackled by the usual business aspects of releasing a game.