Monday, February 21, 2011

As Fear once said, "More beer"...

So it's already beer o'clock around Goatsden International Headquarters. This installment, there are some fine craft brews to enjoy. Remember the ratings scale? Of course you do. Higher is better. If in doubt, check previous installments (search "beer" on this site). Keep it craft, keep it indie, and keep it delicious! Cheers and prost!

WINTERHOOK (Portsmouth, NH) - 4

This seasonal winter warmer pours a gold-amber with a mountain of small-bubbled foam. Nose is caramel-biscuity, with hints of spice (clove?).
Taste is strong, very bread-like with a little hint of fruit and a slightly bitter, alcohol finish. Definitely a solid beer, with a complex flavor profile, and an easy to drink treat for a bone-chilling evening!


I'm not too familiar with Boulevard's brew offerings, but this faintly yellow and cloudy wheat beer begins blessed with a large, creamy head of foam. There's substantial lacing involved here, and a lively nose of citrus, and indeed there is a definite heavy orange zest finish to the taste. Boulevard Wheat is smooth-drinking, light-bodied, and a solid choice, although it doesn't present itself as too distinctive nor memorable.

GOOSE ISLAND - SOFIE (Chicago, IL) - 5

A "Belgian style ale" could encompass many tastes, so the printed description here leaves some mystery as to what lurks within this attractive and ornate bottle. Well, Sofie pours a kinda ugly cloudy yellow, with few bubbles and no lace. Not a strong opening, but the game's not over. Aroma is warm and spicy, with an unquestionable orange citrus overtone, with hints of pepper and clove. Surprisingly, the taste is quite mellow, with a huge sweet orange burst, followed by a slow-burn spiciness at the finish. This is then followed by another hint of warmed citrus. Delicious and exquisite!


Great Divide has been noted for some outstanding beers (Yeti, anyone?), but this isn't necessarily one of them. Belgica pours a beautiful, hazy gold, with plentiful suds and minor lacing. Next comes a fantastic aroma of spice, citrus, and floral/grapefruit hops. But Belgica loses a point with the taste. It's malty and sweet, but the wonderful hops presence (so promised with the nose) seems toned-down and scaled-back, somehow. It's bold and citrusy, with a peppery alcohol followthrough (this one's a strong 7.2% ABV), but not one I'd pursue further.

"Cast A Long Shadow - A Tribute To Joe Strummer" DVD

As a benefit for Joe's Strummerville charity (set up in his honor to nurture young underprivileged musicians), this 2007 show, staged in Los Angeles, gathered some pretty important and world-class musicians to honor their fallen friend and inspirational leader of the Clash.
Featured artists include Mike Watts' Hellride, Zander Schloss (a frequent collaborator with Strummer), David J, Love + Rockets (who perform a rousing and rocking cover of "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" as the grand finale), La Plebe (who channel the spirit of the Clash with their ska-punk), and Melodee Fernandez. Covering tracks taken from all over Strummer's long and fruitful career, including solo work, these artists channel Joe's spirit well, combining cultures, ethnicities, and positivity, all the while remaining edgy and streetwise. Superb show, and a great cause. Proceeds from this release go to Strummerville, so fans cough it up! (MVD Visual)

Strummerville site

Depeche Mode - "30 Years At The Edge" 2xDVD

Reprising a couple of previously-released Depeche documentaries, this nicely-packaged set is unauthorized, but a wholly entertaining watch for fans of this influential electronic act.
Reflecting on a career that quickly rose from teen-dance pop to dark-edged electronica, these bios feature interviews with many Depeche collaborators, peers, and journalists, and offer critical analysis as well as review of the band's works.
I already reviewed part of this one, "Depeche Mode - The Dark Progression" here.
The other disc I wasn't familiar with, but it seems to have been released previously, as well, under different titles ("Random Access Memory" and "The Ministry Of Sound"), and is less valuable, even going so far as to interview a Depeche Mode cover band. Fans, beware of this dubious release. Anyone who's not seen any prior unauthorized documentary bios, pick this one up if it's cheap. (Pride DVD via MVD Visual)

Depeche Mode official site

Baptists - "Baptists" 7"

This new Vancouver act rages on this little 4-song slab of vinyl. It's packed with crazy, wicked, punishing hardcore/metal that burns with 90% more hate than those silly kids in Avenged Sevenfold. Hah! "Bachelor Degree Burn" is a tense sonic maelstrom of low chugga-chugga nihilism, while "Life Poser" is another slice of potent and reckless annihilation. Wow. (Southern Lord)



Ah, it's been too long again, sports fans. Here's another quick rundown on some cool imported and craft beer from around the world...maybe not all particularly "Winter" brews, but tasty nonetheless. Ratings range from 1 (crap beer) to 3 (decent, drinkable) to 5 (perfect and transcendent). As always, enjoy your local and craft beer, and down with corporate beer!

Pours a faint, pale gold, with a rich and immaculate white head. Nose is spicy sweet, with hints of citrus, coriander, and flowers. The taste is rich and spiced, but with a light body. Definitely lighter and less complex than other Belgian ales. Hoegaarden has a friendly and mild taste, is easy to drink, and is one I'd consider a good stepping stone to the more impressive Belgian Trappist ales.

A clear and attractive amber brown color here, with a solid head of foam in my ale glass. I get scents of biscuits, yeasty, and a little fruit maybe. The taste is bold and malty, with an almost maple syrup followthrough. This heavily sweetened punch seems to hide the relatively high alcohol content (it's 7.2%). Good, but not outstanding.

Nice one, here. I dig the cool artwork (a winged Komodo dragon). Pours black as pitch, with a lathery lacing. First off, the nose is rich and floral. Definitely lively and fresh, and definitely in line with a normal IPA. Tasting, however, draws a different conclusion. Sure, there's a strong hops presence, so Komodo brings the staples of an IPA -- bitter and pungent, but it also has a burnt chocolate undertone there, too, like a stout. Wickedly interesting to mash up these two distinct beer styles. Kudos to Upland for a wild left-field creation. Tasty!

BECK'S DARK (Bremen, Germany) - 3.0
Pours dark (but not black) for certain, with solid lacing. Smell is a familiar semi-skunkiness, similar to Beck's lager or Heineken (or St. Pauli Girl lager). Flavor is slightly bitter and skunky, but certainly not bad. Decent and quite drinkable, but not one I'd look for, given a choice.

Heaven 17 - "Live At Scala" DVD

Having been a child of the 80's, I grew up with a lot of that era's synthpop and electronic music. But being from the States, I wasn't ever properly introduced to Heaven 17. Despite their having a string of UK hits, their music seemed largely ignored on this side of the pond. And, from the evidence here, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Recorded in 2005 in front of a small but appreciative audience, this reformed group, led by former Human League members Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware, presented an obviously updated sound, tempered by funk, house and modern dance disco/club sounds. Tracks like "I'm Gonna Make You Fall In Love With Me" grate with a pop-disco sheen, and little substance. The band did revisit old favorites, like the silly proto-political "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thing", and even the early Human League electro-gem, "Being Boiled", but it isn't enough to save "Live At Scala".
Filmed professionally with multiple cameras, the presentation is well-done and interesting, and fans will enjoy the backstage banter and studio footage. Me? I'll take my Depeche Mode or Soft Cell, thank you very much. (MVD Visual)

Heaven 17 site