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[Movie Review] Crying Tears of Red, White & Blue for ‘Patriots Day’

patriotsday_tgofposterPeter Berg has clawed his way into a comfortable if controversial niche. Some might call it shameless exploitation of national tragedy, but the filmmaker for the most part manages to treat these sensitive topics with just enough respect to skate by. Patriot’s Day is Berg’s second release of 2016, but one that strike’s a chord that’s still a little fresher in our memories. Perhaps the most surprising is that while the film focuses less on the marathon bombing and more on the following investigation and capture of those responsible. The result is a rousing thriller that just happens to be based on real-life events that still manages to force out some tears.

Unlike most of Berg’s latest true story films you’d be hard pressed to have to explain the Boston marathon bombing to just about anyone old enough to have the urge to see the movie. The film focuses on the involvement of a hobbled police officer, Tommy Saunders (Berg’s muse, Mark Wahlberg), who finds himself at ground zero of finish line explosions and wrapped up in several aspects of the following investigation. Along the way there are a number of high profile actors poking there heads in for their masculine man-isms and over written one-liners but Wahlberg’s character easily shares the majority of the spotlight.  (more…)

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Beer Review: Xtra Citra Pale Ale by Surly Brewing Company

surlyxtracitra_tgofCitra hops have been my personal favorite hop over the last few years with mosaic following in a close second. The problem with citra is that if used “incorrectly” or perhaps too liberally, they sometimes have a bizarre quality to them. Now, hops are all different things to all different people so this is not a universal feeling, but for my personal tastes when it comes to a beer that uses citra exclusively moderation is key. The two best examples (that also happen to be pale ales) are psuedoSue by Toppling Goliath and Zombie Dust by Three Floyds. To be fair, that’s a high bar to place in front of any beer for equal consideration, but it’s also the gold standard to some and to fall short can be considered a disappointment.

Surly, a top tier brewery in and of itself, makes their fair share of stellar beers. If I were to be so bold as to cut right to the chase, Xtra Citra certainly doesn’t measure up to the heavy hitters in the style. However, this is a sessionable pale ale so the question is whether or not this should be held to the same standards as the “non-sessionable” pale ales. Session itself at times feels like an arbitrary categorization to be begin with so in my opinion, no it should not. PsuedoSue and Zombie Dust respectively clock in at 5.8% and 6.2% ABV while Xtra Citra comes in at 4.5% ABV. The difference in percentages are slight to say the least and while Xtra Citra has a much lighter body, the ABV doesn’t quite play into the drinking experience.  (more…)

Brew & View: The Drunk and the Furious

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The FAST/FURIOUS franchise has undergone a pretty drastic personality shift from its roots to where it currently stands. What started as a pretty straightforward flick about racing cars and daring thefts has morphed into what is essentially a superhero franchise where the characters have more pull to take down criminals and protect the wellbeing of the world than any military or police operation could. Nothing says this more than a scene in FAST & FURIOUS 6 (or FURIOUS 6) where a gun is pulled on a military official in order to let an international terrorist free with a device that has the potential to do serious harm to the world- simply to avoid the assumed eventual death of someone with no government ties or importance.

This is the type of plotting we’ve come to expect from the last two films in the series where the completley ludacris is embraced over substance- but to extremely entertaining results. So what does that have in common with my choice for the brew I’ve chosen for this post? Isn’t it obvious? The can literally says Furious. If I’m being honest I wanted to get out easy by picking a beer that shared nothing more in common with the movie than the name and in some ways that is the central conceit. As I talk though, as blasphemous as it will sound to people who are head over heals with Surly Brewing Company’s Furious, it too can be described as a beer that embraces its flashy hop taste and is delicious because.of it, but maybe doesn’t have the overall balance I kind of hoped it would.

This may seem kind of like a backhanded compliment to both the movie and the beer, but not really. Justin Lin is a director that knows how ridiculous his films have been- if not I worry for him. Surly’s beer is not disgusting in the least- quite the opposite in fact. I’ve had a few other of Surly’s offerings and they all have been quality beers and between Abrasive and Furious they bare a resemblence to FAST FIVE and FURIOUS 6 as being the biggest and most explosive of the bunch- and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with that.

The FURIOUS movies in theory do not resemble Furious the beer in any way shape or form except in my own way of marrying these two together so far. FURIOUS 6 in particular is an incredibly big and incredibly stupid action flick that’s a whole hell of a lot of fun to watch while Furious is an IPA that’s big in hop taste and I can’t- without deeming myself insane- call it incredibly stupid, but it is a whole hell of a lot of fun to drink.

10 More Craft Beers I’m Dying To Try

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Browsing the internet is the worst possible thing for me to do because I’m constantly running into awesome stuff that steals hours and hours of my time until I’ve lost all opportunities to be productive. Not even 24 hours after I posted my initial list of beers I’m dying to try did I find a ton more that started making me more than a little thirsty. Granted I already had some picks that I didn’t include on the list so the more I found the more I justified the need for another list.

Trying so many different beers tends to be quite the expensive habit/hobby/obsession/leisure activity, but discovering something truly special that knocks you on your feet becomes incredibly addictive and I’m constantly in search of those beers that make me redefine what I look for in the beers I drink. I also have to thank any number of people on Instagram/Twitter (I’m @CrummyLuke on both) for posting all these delicious looking beverages and fueling my already immensely burning fire for craft beer. I’ve taken to posting all the beers I’ve tried as well, although mg photography skills leave a little to be desired. You will notice that I tend to repeat brewerys on between my lists- the reason being I tend to try to keep a narrow vision and also try not to reach too high and aim at stuff that is a little more readily available without extraordinary measures. Also keeping a narrow vision keeps me from being overwhelmed by the ground I need to cover (well more overwhelmed than usual anyway) and when I say I look at options readily available I mean stuff that I can at least get without selling my organs on the black market.

Also a quick update on my previous list of beers I wanted to try I was able to get my hands on Stone Brewing Company’s Arrogant Bastard Ale (Along with their IPA, Levitation Ale and Pale Ale), though this was of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale variety and I gotta say that it along with all the others were very impressive. There is quite a bit going on with every one of their beers and I can see why they are so popular. Unfortunately that is the only update for the list that I have. So without further ado here is ten more beers that I can hopefully get my hands on soon.

Surly Brewing Company Coffee Bender/Bender – I have a weird relationship with anything involving coffee- the smell draws me in, but the taste is what usually drives me away. If it’s in my beer I’m a little more sympathetic to an extent and reading/seeing so much love on Surly Brewing Company’s beers lately I can’t help but be curious. Given that I’m due for a road trip here soon, Minnesota is looking even more attractive to me right now. Since my reservations about the intense coffee flavors I’ve heard Coffee Bender has I’ve lumped it in with Surly’s Bender which apparently has hints of coffee, but I’m assuming will be a better introduction to the style of Surly than diving right into the Coffee Bender.

Three Floyds Brewing Company Gumballhead – At this point I could make one of these lists about everything Three Floyds has to offer, so I’m really just trying to focus on the ones I’m particularly attracted to. When I started writing these I started wondering why I should justify picks having no experience with anything Three Floyds or any brewery I’ve never tried and the simple uninteresting answer is based simply on the love I see online and reading about the popularity. Given you don’t see people flocking to the store to buy Bud Light to the point of selling out I think I’m on the right track.

Bells Brewery Inc Hopslam – I didn’t include this on my initial list, though I almost did and since then I even took a trip about an hour away across my state border to try and secure myself some of this having not called ahead of time. What I quickly learned is that I grossly underestimated the popularity of this one as I drove to secure this for myself based on a Facebook post saying the store had some about a week or two after the post and once I was there I was informed it was sold out within 20 minutes of said Facebook post. Needless to say (but I will anyway) the search continues. Update: Since initially writing this post I came into possession of a couple of bottles of this deliciously hoppy ale. While I am on board with the quality of the beer I don’t know that I can confidently say as of yet that it’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Don’t misunderstand though, I really believe that it got even tastier after the second time I cracked one open.

Surly Brewing Company Furious/Abrasive Ale – I just started homebrewing with a friend of mine just over a year ago and I also have been seeing a trend of people on beer trading forums/Instagram ferociously looking for anything they have to offer so I did a little more research. I really dug the history of the brewery that the site has posted and really highlights what most beer lovers and aspiring brewers hope for so Surly and their whole lineup has jumped high up on my wishlist. I grouped Furious with Abrasive as I am continuing to grow my love for IPAs and it only seemed right to include both of Surly’s offerings especially because they both are raved about online.

Three Floyd’s Brewing Company Alpha King – Aaaaand the Three Floyds love continues- Ok I promise I will try to make this the last repeat on this list so its not so boring and predictable. Truth is Three Floyds is probably my biggest obsession at this point and their Zombie Dust/Gumballhead/Alpha King are the three that I have my crosshairs on that I’m also starting to see in my dreams on a nightly basis. I don’t know if this is all setting me up for disappointment, but only getting my greedy paws on this and opening one up will end the mystery and possibly be the start of a sultry beer affair.

The Alchemist Heady Topper – Maybe this will show just how out of touch I am or removed from where all the good craft beer happenings are going on, but I had no knowledge of The Alchemist or their beer, but this one in particular is littered in conversations all over the web with.people trying to get their hands on it. I mean seeing it on the Top 50 beers on Rate Beer certainly is a thing that exists, but the Black Friday esque anarchy I’ve seen online of people looking to get some is a bit more telling. I’m predicting a pretty treacherous road in front of me to get a hold of it- especially since my travel plans don’t exactly include a trip to VT or the surrounding area.  

Dogfish Head Brewing Company Aprihop – When I first started getting into craft beers it didn’t take me long to realize just how over my head I really was. The more I discover about the burgeoning popularity of craft beer the more out of touch I discover I’ve been. The community online is a bit overwhelming and everyone has different levels of knowledge and experience with all the various breweries out there. Dogfish Head is one I first learned about on a horror movie podcast of all things (Bloody Good Horror) and once I heard of them I looked up their lineup and what people had to say about their releases and it quickly became on the many many breweries with beers I can’t wait to get my hands on. Add in the fact that I’m starting to love IPAs a little more everyday and that beers infused with fruit kind of opened my curiosity for experimental styles I could not avoid including it on the list. 

Shorts Brewing Company Key Lime Pie – This is the choice that is on here if for no other reason that to be the WTF pick or the “things that make you go hmm” pick. Through google searches of strange beers, experimental beers or general craft beer searches you’re bound to find something that makes your head tilt, but at the sametime actually sound like something you want to try (unlike a Seaweed ale I stumbled across). Said to be brewed with fresh limes, milk, marshmellow cream and graham crackers that’s enough to at least get my attention. Billed a dessert beer the color and description of a nose that has hints of graham cracker crust it immediately makes me crave a Pumking- so sure, I don’t see the harm in wanting to give it a whirl.

Stone Brewing Company Enjoy By XX/XX/XX – Over the course of my education and enjoyment of craft beer since the start of my journey a lot of things have peaked my interest. Now, if I took my research to the next level and read more about the beers I want to try I’d be able to answer the next question- what is it about the Enjoy By bceers by Stone Brewing that gives it the “Brewed not to last” moniker? As it stands, it just intrigues me more and more and sometimes I enjoy not knowing every specific detail about a beer before I try it just so I can experience it from a pure place and that’s what I look forward to doing with this specific Stone brew.

The Bruery White Chocolate – I have an intense and awkwardly inexplicable love for almost anything made with white chocolate. So it ‘should’ come as no surprise that a beer called White Chocolate would get my attention. Granted the name comes from the fact that the brew is made with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans thus promting the name. The barrel aged creation also has.the style of a barely wine which in my experience hasn’t been the kindest to me, but given my willingness to try almost everything there is absolutely nothing keeping me from being excited to give this a go.