Saturday, May 4, 2013

Beer: New Belgium La Folie 2013

Colorado's New Belgium Brewing is best-known for their spins on Belgian-style beers (as their name indicates). One of the more obscure Belgian styles has to be Flanders Oud Bruin (Flanders Old Brown) -- brown ales fermented with exotic wild yeasts (sometimes the fabled Brettanomyces) for an often sour, funky flavor profile. New Belgium's La Folie is their flagship sour ale, and I finally had a chance to sample it and take some notes.

Pours a cloudy, sudsy amber. Thin head, and little noticeable lace. Nose says sour fruit, and funky yeastiness. Unusual and exceptional. Taste is very much sour fruit and funky, yeasty, musty sweet and sour-ness. What a unique flavor profile! This one is strong and quite acidic -- assertively sour and astringent, with a lingering taste on the palate. 

Enjoyable and impressive, even if the $15.99 price tag is a little hard on the wallet.

Beer: Simpler Times

Brewed by "Simpler Times Brewing Co.", aka Minhas Craft Brewery of Monroe, Wisconsin in disguise (makers of the Walgreens budget "Big Flats" lagers), and available exclusively at Trader Joe's markets, Simpler Times Pilsner and Lager are easily available for a budget price -- around $3-$4 for a 6-pack of cans. For an alternative to mainstream American adjunct junk lagers, these are worth an investigation. As per all of my beer reviews, ratings range from 1 (awful) to 5 (awesome). But don't take my word for it. Try them yourself. 


Pours a clear, piss-yellow with substantial head of creamy white carbonation. Thick but erratic lace. Nose is grainy, malty, and borderline adjunct. Tastes rich and malty/grainy, with a buttery toast character and only a slight hops presence.

Nice body, and quite drinkable, though not one I'd pursue again, even at the Trader Joe's budget $3.99/6pk price.


Straw yellow, with a nice white head that dissipates into attractive spider-web lace. Nose is corny, adjunct, malted barley or rice, really pretty typical. Taste is super-sweet, even syrupy. Hop presence is practically null. To it's credit, this has a much fuller flavor profile and heavier body than macro lagers, but I'd still avoid this one again.

A nice deal, though, at $3.99/6pk at Trader Joe's.

Beer: Samuel Adams Hop Tour 2013

Packaged and sold as a 6-pack (with 2 bottles of each), this nice sampler pack for hop fans contains some fine and enjoyable brews. This year, the Latitude 48 is a new recipe, with Mosaic hops from the Pacific Northwest. I needn't explain Sam Adams, as they are nationally distributed and well-respected as the largest of the so-called "craft" brewers out there. Note that my ratings run from 1-5, so a 4 (which all of these beers scored) is an excellent tasting. Hunt this inexpensive set down and enjoy!


Cloudy yellow-gold here, with a thick head. Intense and detailed lace. Impressive!Nice citrus hops aroma, with a hint of floral tonality. Pleasing! Taste is deliciously citrus, with a hint of apricot. It's a smooth-drinker, with a medium body. 

Overall, very tasty, and a nicely innovative twist on the usual IPA blueprint.


Light golden-yellowish in color. Good, large white head of foam and surprisingly ornate lace. Aroma is citrus hoppy. Nice.
Flavor is light, with a well-balanced mix of sweetness and sharp hop snap near the finish.

This is a delicious warm-weather brew, and one that deserves repeat purchase.


Attractive clean amber, with a large head of off-white bubbles. Brilliant, showy, and intricate lace. Nose is crisp citrus and pine hops. Quite appealing. Taste is nicely hopped, with plenty of grapefruit and lemon citrus tones. I also get some peppery spice and some earthiness. 

Overall, a well-balanced and highly drinkable IPA -- not a hop bomb, but a well-done and session-worthy brew. Superb!

Wine: Mommy's Time Out Delicious Pink

This new wine is certainly aimed at a certain market demographic, as much as Stone's Arrogant Bastard or Orkney Skull Splitter are! Hah! But I digress.

Made with Merlot and Rabso grapes from Italian vineyards, Mommy's Time Out Delicious Pink is a sweet table wine that pours a peachy pink, with a slightly hazy countenance and light effervescence. I get aromas of light berries, peach, and even apricot, and the flavor is a lightly sweet (not overbearing or sugary) mix of sweet and warm notes. 

Delicious Pink (the latest in a line of wines from Mommy's Time Out) proves to be easy to drink, and both my wife and myself enjoyed this fine wine. 

It retails for a reasonable $9.99 and should be distributed nationally. 

"Last Shop Standing" DVD (director: Pip Piper)

This British documentary is a sort of love letter to indie record shops, and includes interviews with various veteran record shop owners, workers, fans, and other assorted denizens. As well, names like Johnny Marr, Paul Weller, Norman Cook, Billy Bragg, and Clint Boon provide their thoughts on the whole culture of physical record buying and music shops themselves being places of sanctuary and discovery. As a fast-approaching middle-ager myself, I recall times when great and obscure musical discoveries and connections were made at small indie record shops in the Midwestern US. In essence, I can relate.

"Last Shop Standing" doesn't feature any overly clever angle, but serves as a historical look at some of England's most-beloved shops. I'm sure those who frequented these mom-n-pop operations will be grateful to see their mentors and favorite clerks here. Me? I'm just sad it's come to this. Thanks, iTunes. But thanks, more, to stores like Ear X-Tasy, Headstone Friends, Landlocked Music, Reckless Records, T.D.s Music, and others through the years who supplied the inspirations to my life since the 80s. 

(Convexe Entertainment)