Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Study

Every now and again I resurrect this blog. Past has been traveling updates, ramblings and muses. The next evolution of the blog is now (partially): Beer tasting and ratings.

It is no surprise that everyone has their favorite drink when they go out. Some never migrate away from the Bud Lights of the world. Some (more adventurous) go out to seek the title: Beer Connoisseur.

This pilot episode includes a guest taster: Whitney Jamison

We sample 4 beers – all of different types.

First up:

Flying Dog – Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout
ABV 5.5%

Whitney’s Ratings:

Appearance: 4/5
·         Head: No head
·         Body: Full dark body, but not heavy
·         Color: Black

Aroma: 6/10
·         Malt: Toffee
·         Hops: Average

Palate: 3/5
·         Body: Full
·         Texture: Slick
·         Carbonation: Lively

Flavor: 6/10
·         Duration: Short
·         Sweetness: Moderate
·         Acidic: Moderate
·         Bitterness: Moderate

Misc Notes:

Bottle to Skull ratio: lighter bottle 3/5

Pace car beer. (1)

Megan Fox kind of beer (-2)

Republican beer as oyster stout reminds me of an oyster roast with a lot of older grey hair men.

Overall rating:  22/42

RJ’s Ratings:
Appearances: 3/5
·         Head – frothy
·         Body – Murkey
·         Color – dark brown/black

Aroma: 7/10
·         Heavy smell – know that you are drinking a stout by its smell alone.  Nothing special.

Palate: 3/5
·         Body: Full
·         Texture: mildly thick
·         Finish: Lightly bitter – molasses-ey

Flavor: 6.5/10
·         Duration: Long
·         Bitterness: Moderate
·         Sweetness: Light
·         Misc: Balanced taste, very good taste.

Misc Notes:

Bottle to Skull Ratio: generic bottle.  Label is heavy and would hold bottle together.  Don’t count on it being a very effective weapon.

Republican beer: Traditional stout taste that is mildly bitter.

Pace car beer.

Overall rating: B-

Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve
ABV 6.9%

Whitney’s Rating:

Appearance: 3/5
·         Head: Little/no head
·         Body: Cloudy
·         Color: Yellow

Aroma: 4/10
·         Malt: Hay
·         Hops: Flowers
·         Yeast: Earthy

Palate: 3/5
·         Body: Full
·         Texture: Slick/gritty
·         Carbination: Fizzy
·         Finish:  Bitter/sweet

Flavor: 5/10
·         Duration: Long
·         Sweetness: Harsh
·         Acidic: Moderate
·         Bitterness: Moderate

Misc Notes:

Bottle to Skull ratio: 4/5

Pace car beer (1)

Megan Foxx beer (-2)

Democratic Beer: earthy taste, purple label – oxymoronic name

Overall rating: 20/42

RJ’s Rating

Appearance: 4/5
·         Head: Spare
·         Body: Cloudy
·         Color: Tan/Amber
·         Misc: Looks like a good beer

Aroma: 7/10
·         Faint fruit smell – reminds me of a Franzenkaner or a Hoegaarden.

Palate: 2/5
·         Body: Medium
·         Texture: a little flat
·         Finish: Surprisingly bitter

Flavor: 4/10
·         Duration: Short
·         Sweetness: Moderate
·         Bitterness: More than expected, but mild

Misc Notes:

Marathon beer that will cause for a “throw darts at strangers” kind of night.

Democratic beer – It sold me on both its appearance and aroma, but its taste was disappointing and didn’t deliver.  Luckily with its higher alcoholic content, drinking just a few of these will numb you to reality fairly shortly.

Overall Rating: C –

Catawba White Zombie
ABV 5.1%

Whitney’s Rating:

Appearance: 2/5
·         Head: Yes please, and lots of it.
·         Body: Cloudy
·         Color: Yellow

Aroma: 4/10
·         Malt: Light
·         Hops: Citrus
·         Yeast: Sweet

Palate: 3/5
·         Body: Light
·         Texture: Light
·         Carbination: Light

Flavor: 7/10
·         Duration: Average
·         Sweetness: Light
·         Acidic: Light
·         Bitterness: Light

Misc Notes:

Bottle to Skull ratio: it’s a can.  So not much.

Marathon beer (3) – great beach beer

Republican beer: Skeptical at first, but came around.  Full of promise at the start but like a zombie, dead inside.

RJ’s Note:

Appearances: 4/5
·         Head – large
·         Body: Cloudy
·         Color: Yellow

Aroma: 5/10
·         Smells like a generic beer

Palate: 2/5
·         Body: Light
·         Texture: Thin – a hint of sweet aftertaste

Flavor: 3/10
·         Duration: Short
·         Sweetness: Light
·         Bitterness: Light
·         Other: Not much of any taste

Misc Notes:

Drag race beer.  It is so light you could chug it quite easily.

Democratic beer: The name is a perfect fit.  It is the decaying remnants of what probably was a good beer.  Very little taste, very light texture/color.  Good for a summer day at the pool or for an extended night on the town.

Margaret Thatcher beer: Wouldn’t get too far.

Overall rating: D

Spaten Muchen Dunkel
ABV 5.2%

Whitney’s Rating:

Appearance: 5/5
·         Head: Goldy Locks
·         Body: Clear
·         Color: Brown/Amber

Aroma: 8/10
·         Malt: Grain
·         Hops: Grass
·         Yeast: Earthy

Palate: 4/5
·         Body: Medium
·         Texture: Surprisingly Thick
·         Carb: Average
·         Finish: Smooth

Flavor: 8/10
·         Duration: Average
·         Sweetness: Heavy, but in a good way – like Hollywood’s version of full figured.
·         Acidic: Average
·         Bitterness: Average

Misc Notes:

Bottle to Skull ratio: The Germans know how to bash skulls

Marathon Beer: You will likely need medical assistance for heart failure at the finish.

Democratic beer:  Well traveled but not precocious.

Jennifer Anniston Beer:  Classic taste, good then, good now, good always – MILF!

Overall Rating: 37/42

RJ’s Rating:

Appearances: 4/5
·         Head: Small
·         Body: Clear
·         Color: Light brown

Aroma: 3/10
·         Smells bitter – sharp.  Maybe even a bit skunky.

Palate: 3/5
·         Body: Light+ / Medium
·         Finish: Toffee/butterscotch

Flavor: 6/10
·         Duration: Light
·         Sweetness: Very Light
·         Bitterness: Not very
·         Misc: Felt with would be better suited as a brown ale.

Misc Notes:

Makes a good flute.  Sturdy green bottle.

Marathon beer.  Not a high alcohol content so you can drink a lot.  Heavier than a lager but not by much more.  Justin Beiber could drink these and have room for some Coke.

Independent party beer.  It has an overall enjoyable taste but takes a little bit of study to understand.  Masses wont understand.  Zee Germans!  Zee Germans!

Overall rating:  B

Experts Rating:  83/100

In closing of this initial Study, we find that although we both enjoy beer, we have a lot of differences.

Feel free to let me know what you think or if there are some beers you would like reviewed!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Budapest - Days 2 & 3

What a past few days it has been here in Budapest! I must say that from my experience, I highly recommend you coming to this Hungarian city. The amount of activities to do here can easily fill up 3 full days of sightseeing - not to mention the guided, bus and boat tours that are available (which I did not even have time to do!).

The past 2 days have been solid walking from one side of the city to the other - I have woken up the past 2 mornings with legs and feet that are super sore and stiff. There is mass transit, but keeping with my tradition of purposely wandering around the city to see more of it, I decided to walk everywhere. Now while it is time consuming, it did allow me to run into several buildings, sights and situations that were memorable.

One of these building I came across was the Synagogue near where I was staying. This synagogue is the largest in Europe - second only to one in New York City. It was also the only building that I saw that required people entering pass through a metal detector. Although I did not tour the building, I found it to be an impressive structure from the outside.

Another great place to make sure you see is Heroes' Square and the surrounding museums and Vajdahunyad Castle. The Square is a large (at least a city block) open space flanked by 2 large museums. In the back middle of the square are the monuments to Hungarian Heroes'.

The castle has a pretty good museum inside of it. In fact, if you were pressed for time and had to choose the National Museum or the Vajdahunyad Castle Museum, I'd say go to the castle. The castle also has one of the most bizarre rooms I have ever seen. It is full of deer skulls and heads and the like. I literally laughed when I walked into the room. It would be a redneck's version of heaven though.

The Museum of fine arts I decided to skip - since they wanted the equivalent of $10 to get in - what nerve! I did stop by and go into the Art Hall museum, which was housing a modern art gallery of the Cluj Artists. These are the artists that have grown up in a post Communist world and their works are influenced by it. There were also many films, but the one that I found most interesting was one called Dog Luv.

After that I walked down the main road (Andrassy) walking past a lot of Embassies (including the Russian one, which they had left the front gate open. I was tempted to walk into it and knock on the front door and see what happened!), saw a guy eating lunch and smoking on a hookah, and got rained on.

Now on a side note, the weather in Budapest seems to be bipolar. You are walking around the city, not a cloud in the sky and by the time you've walked a mile it is pouring down rain on you. Now I was able to meet some Americans working in Budapest (the wife is a plant manager for GE and the husband appears to be a free loader - must be nice!). They said in the past 2 months it had rained maybe 3 times. It has rained at least for an hour or more every day I have been here. It must be me.

Also, you know when you are out in town and you can immediately know if someone is European by how they dress? Well, I am assuming it works the same way here too - you can tell an American (or foreigner) very quickly. I've gotten some interesting looks by what I can only assume is from my wardrobe. Now being a little experienced in travelling, you have to realize that it isn't a personal insult if someone does laugh at you - use it as an entry way to say hello and talk to them. Especially here in Budapest, people are very friendly once you begin speaking with them and are more than willing to help you out or even invite you to come with them.

Continuing on, I also stopped at the House of Terror museum. This building housed both the Nazi party of Hungary (more specifically the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party) and the Soviet intelligence and police units up until 1956. This museum highlighted mainly the Soviet occupation and brought to life some of the horrors of Communist rule. It also brought to light some very interesting - and even timely - topics on political intimidation, propaganda, creating a God out of a political figure and other social and political weapons that were used to seize and consolidate total control. It included (what I am guessing are the original) "detention rooms" that were underground cells, and they designed it to replicate how it looked when in use. Sadly, they do not allow for photography there. A great museum to visit if you are ever in Budapest.

Anyhow, I have made it to Vienna and will be posting those stories soon. Until then...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Budapest - Day 1

My first thought when I was going through the cities in Hungary on the train was "What the hell am I getting myself into?" As the train rolled along I was able to get glimpses of the cities and towns along the way and was not sold on this going to be too good of a time. But so far, it has been nothing but a great experience.

Things didn't start off incredibly chipper though. The directions I had to get to my hotel were wrong. I came to find out that there are 2 main train stations here in Budapest: 1 for domestic trains - which was designed by the guy who did the Eiffel Tower - and 1 for international trains. I Google Mapped from the wrong one but luckily I wrote all the street names down correctly. The people here in Budapest were very helpful in pointing me in the right direction and withing 90 minutes I found what I was looking for. Not quite the 10 minute walk I was expecting, but alls well that ends well.

The hotel I stayed out was fairly impressive. Nice room with a queen sized bed, large windows, flat screen tv. All for $33. The only downside is that there was a shared bathroom for each floor with 1 shower and 1 toilet. The hairy Russians were all over the shower this morning.

I was staying in the Octagon area - which is just named for the way the street doesn't quite make a roundabout, but works in a similar fashion. I hit up a few restaurants and met some Budapestians who were out celebrating their finishing high school - which here made them 19 and 20. They were friendly enough and wanted to talk with the foreigner. So I was invited to hang with them the rest of the night and we ended up having a good time and I got to see first hand what Budapestians do. All and all it was a good first night here in Budapest.

Today I have made it to the hostel that I will be staying in the next 2 nights. It seems like it will be an interesting time. Kind of reminds me of what a hippie commune would have been like. This place has very high ratings and the staff is incredibly friendly and it is in a great location.

Today I plan on doing the tourist thing. There are a lot of different sights, museums, castles and such to see. So far, I am liking Budapest - and I see things continuing to get better. You should come visit.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Prague - Day 2

Where to begin at today. Today was full of walking for me. I am exhausted from the amount of walking (and stairs!) I've done today. But I will get to that later.

First thing, for the most part last night I slept incredibly well. Minus the midnight outside yakking of a bunch of foreign speaking girls who just talked incredibly loud and were screaming and everything else. I actually opened my window and asked them if they forgot their keys and wanted to get in. They replied they were leaving - which was fine enough for me.

Anyways. Today I started by going to the top of the Astrological Clock. I took the 50 or so stairs up (they have an elevator for an option) and was able to see the city fairly well from that viewpoint. Was even there when the top of the hour came along and the trumpet guy played his little piece.

Next I wandered around and ended up going to the National Museum. Now first, I must say that I may have missed something, but it was the lamest, poorest of an excuse museum I have ever been to (minus 1 thing that actually made it an enjoyable experience for me). To my knowledge, they only have 2 levels of things to see. The first level is a poor attempt at a science (and a bit of random Egyptian) stuff. The second level has just a single room you can go into, but it is full of middle ages era cross bows and - what made it all worth the hassle and walking - a skull with an arrow still in the top of it. Even has pictures of the X-Ray. Pretty awesome. Did I mention that they charge the equivalent of $2 to allow you to take pictures? Moving on...

After that I walked around a few streets I haven't been to before. I ended up back around where I am staying at lunch time and ate at an excellent British themed restaurant called George & Dragon. I spent probably close to $30 on lunch (a third of that being from 2 Cokes - oy), but it was the most excellent food and so much that I could barely eat half of it. I would recommend it.

Next I hit next door to the National Gallery in Prague. This was actually a pretty cool exhibit. What were on display were the State collections of Egyptian, classical Greek and Roman and Asian art. I do think that this was a good choice to go see. It didn't take too long - maybe 45 minutes - to see entirely, but it was full of a lot of good high quality pieces.

After that I went and took a Boat Tour from the company Venice of Prague. I try to take a boat tour wherever I go if they offer one. I've taken one in Ottawa, Hong Kong and other various places and I always end up happy I did. Again, Prague seems to have let me down on this. It wasn't that the tour was bad - it wasn't. It wasn't that it was overpriced or overcrowded - it wasn't. It is just that the tour was not really all that informative and it didn't span much of the area (although due to some river drops - which I assume are man made - boats are limited on where they can go north of the Charles River. There was ONE good thing about this tour though. On the way back, a paddle boat with 2 people came by and the girl in the boat totally flashed out her boobs. Tradeoffs I guess.

Finally I went to go see Prague Castle. Now I have seen a lot of things in my travels to date, so it is hard to find something that I think is breathtaking - but it really is. One of the most ornate churches I have ever seen on the outside. It covers multiple architectural themes and has very ornate details all around. From the stain glass, to the spires and tower, to the detailed masonry, it is a sight you must see. But you will have to be in quite good shape if you plan to walk there. One of the ways you can go is straight up a street for about a mile. And I mean straight up. Another way is by taking a terraced staircase up for about 10 minutes. Again, you are going straight up, but not only is Prague Castle a breathtaking sight, but you will be able to see most the entire city when you're up there. Amazing sight to see.

And still speaking of Prague Castle, you can buy a ticket to go to the top of the Bell Tower (and they give you a token coin as well!). But the thing is, there is no option of taking an elevator. You must take (and I counted) 295 stairs up, 295 stairs down. And these are very narrow, winding stairs all the way up. Again, if you plan to do this, join a gym AT LEAST 6 months ahead of your visit.

Now it's recovery time for me. I'll be getting some dinner shortly here. There is a small change of plan tomorrow. Instead of leaving via an overnight train, I will be leaving in the late morning to Budapest. I figure sometime's it is better to not risk any potential issues when it comes to travelling in and to an area for the first time via an overnight train. So tomorrow I will be writing to you from Budapest, Hungary.

Until next time...