Thursday, April 23, 2009

Welcome Fat Tire and New Belgium!

It's a great time to be of the craft beers that first moved me to drinking independent brews has finally made it's way East with distribution in Indiana! Woohoo! No need to road-trip to Schnuck's groceries in St. Louis to fill up the ol' car's trunk!!!

Yes, Fat Tire (from the wonderful "wind-powered and employee-owned" New Belgium Brewery in Colorado) is now here. Weirdly enough, it's being sold in 12pks of cans...and larger-sized bottles, but not the regular 12oz. bottles (at least yet). Ah well, it's all good (beer).

Looks like there's a special 'Hoosier' bottle for us Hoosiers, and I've seen the 1554 Black Ale here now, too. Yum.

New Belgium Brewing website

And a brief promo for New Belgium's 'Follow Your Folly' theme, featuring the inimitable Devendra Banhart...

May I get you another fine handcrafted brew?

Ah, the chill of Winter is passing, at last, and some lighter, lagery types of beers are officially 'in', so here we go. Remember that ratings are from 1 to 5, with 1 being terrible dishwater shite, and 5 being the nectar of the gods.

MODELO ESPECIAL (Mexico) - 3.0

This clean, golden lager is a standby in Mexican restaurants, and for good reason. It's got a steady, malty taste that's consistent and not too light. An ideal lager that isn't too wimpy or watery. Refreshing!


Well, a craft beer in an aluminum can -- rare indeed! I had to double-check to make sure it wasn't a macro in disguise. Anyhow, this one pours a frothy and clear gold, with a fresh malty scent -- not at all skunky or funky like so many canned lagers. It's mild, easygoing, and, truth be told, a wise choice if lighter brews are your game.


This clear, foamy lager pours an attractive amber, but tastes like your usual 'light' beer, meaning it's flat with no depth or complexity whatsoever. Sure, this may be a satisfying little brew for those sunny Summertime days in the backyard, but if you're into beers with actual flavor, kindly and wisely look elsewhere.

BUD LIGHT LIME (St. Louis, MO) - 2.5

Expected this one to suck, to be blunt, but damned if it wasn't all that bad. Pours an ultra-pale upon initial dispensation, with a decent head and a citrus bouquet. Tastes pretty smooth, with little to no aftertaste or followthrough. Maybe it's not very satisfying, but it doesn't outright offend, either.


This one's a whopper! Opaque, deep black, and strong as an ox. As with the best of the Imperial Russian Stouts, this one's got a burnt taste, less coffee or chocolate here, which gives way to a jagged alcoholic aftertaste/followthrough (it is 10.8%, after all). Not one for the timid (or light beer fans), this is definitely one to sip slowly and savor.


This Flanders red ale pours a deep amber, and the aroma is sweet and fruity, like a fine wine almost. First taste? Still fruity and wine-like, with a pronounced sweetness that's followed by a little hint of dryness. Good stuff, and quite a pleasant surprise, even for a Belgian beer. Very enjoyable and complex taste, thus this one's well-recommended.

Kate Mann - "Things Look Different When The Sun Goes Down" CD

Hailing from the faraway Southwest (New Mexico, specifically), folksy singer/songwriter Mann has a profound connection to Native American culture and the dusty American landscapes of her upbringing. Her songs are often lonely, introspective and personal looks at life, relationships, and spirituality, as seen through the eyes of an old soul who's experienced both highs and lows (or so it seems). 'Things Look Different' is a lovely set of brisk Americana sounds that range from flamenco ('La Llorona') to plaintive ballads ('Here Again'); from shuffles ('Funny Thing') to songs for her beloved dog (the sweet 'Loki's Lullaby'). Her voice is as gentle or commanding as it needs to be, and her band's instrumentation (with cello, fiddle, and saw, as well as piano, accordion, and more) are like swathes of color amidst Kate's acoustic guitar and charmingly warm vocals. Kate Mann is the real thing, and here's to hoping she gets some notice with this fine CD of earthy, free-thinking independent music. (Orange Dress Records)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Christmas On Mars" (director: Wayne Coyne with Bradley Beesley and George Salisbury)

Ah, at long last, Flaming Lips' enigmatic frontman Wayne Coyne's much-discussed feature-length directorial debut, and it's as odd and surreal as one would imagine. Nabbing elements from 'Eraserhead', as well as slices of Tarkovsky's 'Solaris', '2001', and (maybe) Walt Disney, Coyne's self-described 'Fantastical Film Freakout' doesn't disappoint. Coyne himself stars as a silent alien being who seems to bring with him a spirit that (perhaps) allows an uptight and troubled Mars mission to enjoy the positive energy of human kindness. But before you're turned off by the 'feely-goodness' this implies, you get bizarre and dreamlike imagery of dead babies, creepy celestial vagina-creatures, and some moments of tension that are well-done, especially as most of the actors here are either members of the Flaming Lips or their relatives. In fact, Coyne's brothers and wife star here! Fans of campy B-movies can likely appreciate something of 'Christmas On Mars', though folks who are bewildered and turned off by surreal and often provocative imagery should be cautionary. Me? I liked it. Also of note, most copies of this include the Lips' audio soundtrack CD, as well, but be advised: if you're looking for the pop-oriented side of the Lips, with vocals and melodies and such, this will surely disappoint. It's more a series of creepy sound elements and abrasive noises.

Flaming Lips website

And here's a trailer, but note that this was from 2003(!!) so some of the scenes here were edited out in the final, finished product...