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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Beast Bitter - Middle Ages Brewing Co., Ltd.

    Beast Bitter is an Extra Special Bitter (ESB) brewed by Middle Ages Brewing Co., Ltd. in Syracuse, New York. As you can tell from the picture, I apparently got a bad bottle (likely over-carbonated). When I opened and poured the beer it was all foam! As a result, I only get a little over half of the bottle to enjoy. The taste seems to be fine though, so I decided to continue on with the review.

    Beast Bitter pours a rusty orange color with a head that leaves lots of lacing, though I'm not sure if this is normal since I had a suds explosion.

    The beer smells of sweet caramel malts with a bit of an English Ale twist. The beer's hops shine through with a slight citrus twang. The hops also give the beer a slight metallic scent.

    The ESB is medium bodied, and mine has a low to medium level of carbonation. I suspect that the beer originally had a medium level of carbonation, before the bubbles all exploded out into my glass. This beast doesn't have much of a bite at 5.3% ABV.

Up for a game of Dungeons & Flagons?
    Beast Bitter is surprisingly hoppy for an ESB. Citrusy notes hit the palate first, followed by hoppy bitterness. The bitterness is quickly quelled by caramel and toasty malts, making the beer an interesting drinking experience. In my opinion, a good ESB shows some real bitterness, but also has a strong, sweet malt backbone to keep the bitterness from becoming all you taste. What results is a series of flavors in every drink. Beast bitter is a bit more watery than I would like, however. It would have been nice to see a fuller-flavored ale with these characteristics.

    While I can't really say that Beast Bitter is a monster of an ESB, it's still worth trying if you would like to experience an Extra Special Bitter brewed in the style of an English ESB. I'm pretty sad that I got a bad bottle, but at least I got a chance to try this one, even it was half-a-glass.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Alan Wake's American Nightmare - Xbox 360 Arcade

    Alan Wake is back, this time in Xbox Live Arcade and PC formats only. Developed by Remedy and published by Microsoft Studios, 2012's Alan Wake's American Nightmare picks up approximately where the downloadable content packs for the original Alan Wake game left off. Fans of the first game clamored for more after finishing the first entry in the series, so does the Live Arcade game do the original justice?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Star Ocean: The Last Hope - Xbox 360

    It's the year 2097. Human kind survives on Earth only by living underground after destroying their own planet in nuclear war. Research into space travel becomes humanity's only hope of survival. Humanities' eyes turn to the skies in the hope of finding a new, habitable planet on which to start over. Star Ocean: The Last Hope is actually a prequel to the entire Star Ocean series which saw its start back in 1996. The fourth game to release in the series, The Last Hope hit shelves in 2009 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Developed by Tri-Ace and published by Square-Enix, The Last Hope is a Japanese Role Playing Game with a Sci-Fi setting which is a bit different for the genre. But does the game stand up against other RPGs on the system?