Spoooky Beer Review: Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin

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Harpoon makes some of my favorite beers, from their UFO White to Leviathon, you’re generally going to get a solid, complex beer with a lot to offer. So I had high hopes when I picked up UFO Pumpkin.

And those hopes were resoundingly rewarded. This if the kind of pumpkin ale that I want to be drinking; when there’s more pumpkin than spices and I feel like I’m in the middle of Halloween instead of the middle of some over-saturated, over-spiced pumpkin pie being served up for someone’s Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s unfiltered, so it has a deep, cloudy orange, making it look heavier than it actually tastes. It’s a deep, rich orange. It’s a satisfying color, letting you know exactly what you’re in for.

There is cinnamon and spice up front, which gives way to a solid and hearty pumpkin flavor. Much like Pumpkinhead, it’s very crisp and ultimately very refreshing.

For day to day drinking, both Pumpkinhead and UFO Pumpkin are good beers. They both have a relatively low alcohol content and don’t overwhelm you with unnecessary flavor. It honestly depends on what you’re looking for in a pumpkin ale. If you’re looking for a more spice heavy beer, I’d go with Pumpkinhead. If you want something a little more pumpkiny (that’s a technical term), UFO Pumpkin should be your go-to this season.  The spices and the pumpkin flavoring go hand-in-hand.

For me, UFO Pumpkin is the way to go and I give it seven cheerful Jack O’ Lanterns and a scowling black cat.

-D-

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James Bond: Chapter One; The First Chapter

“Today we are fighting Communism. Okay. If I’d been alive fifty years ago, the brand of Conservatism we have today would have been damn near called Communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts.”
― James Bond, Casino Royale

I like James Bond. And, like everything else I’m interested in, I have to like it in a obsessive compulsive way that deeply worries the people closest to me. I hate half-measures and lackluster efforts. I have to take my interests and plow them into the ground, wringing out every last bit of enjoyment until I can’t stand the subject and put it on the shelf for a year.

James Bond is one I keep coming back to. He’s a hero that has survived over sixty years, from Ian Fleming’s first novel all the way to his next movie that’s due to be released next year.

He has fought communists, insane madmen seeking to blow up Silicon Valley, North Korean terrorists with a penchant for plastic surgery and duplicitous water stealing businessmen.

James Bond is a hero who has maintained the same posture and panache for his entire run, but, throughout, has maintained a relevancy that few other characters can claim. It is remarkable that someone who was so defined by the culture of the Cold War has not only survived twenty years after the end of that war, but has thrived.

He is defined by a cultured ruthlessness, a suave viciousness. He will lecture you on the correct way to drink a martini and then callously dispatch a henchmen without reflection or doubt. He remains, in many ways, thoroughly British, though beloved around the world.

His longevity is compelling in and of itself. He has been portrayed by many different actors in many different ways through vastly different era. His novels are still being written to this day, in spite of the fact that the original author has been dead and buried for fifty years.

Because of my obsessive compulsive madness, I need, NEED, to figure out a way to go the extra mile in James Bond researches. So, with a complete lack of careful thought and a dutiful inattentiveness to how much free time I actually have, I have decided to watch every James Bond movie, in chronological order, until I lose interest or I reach the final movie.

I will start with the first on-screen appearance. Which is, obviously, the hour long TV episode of Casino Royale.

Look for it at this location next week.

-D-

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Filed under Books, Comic Books and Other Arts, Pop Culturing: Movies

Spoooky Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Pumpkinhead

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

In spite of the fact that I have now reviewed it twice on my blog, I am really not a huge fan of Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin. There is a LOT of flavor in there, but’s mostly spice, with the minute amounts of pumpkin being overwhelmed by cinnamon and nutmeg.

Now, you may be asking, why am I talking about Smashed Pumpkin for the third time? Well, because I have, somehow, never tried Shipyard’s main Halloween offering: Pumpkinhead Ale.  Smashed Pumpkin is a fancy beer that you can only purchase in those oversized pint-and-a-half bottles with a gold foil cover; Pumpkinhead is more like Smashed Pumpkin‘s little brother. It has a lower alcohol content and is sold in six packs and even in…cans.

It is a big seller round these parts and a symbol that Halloween is barreling down the highway like some lunatic truck.

And I have never reviewed it.

So I’m going to rectify that…right now.

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As far as pumpkin ales go, Pumpkinhead is a nice golden color. Not really that deep, orange I expect form pumpkin ales, but it’s rich and reminds me of Fall. And really, that’s all you can ask for in a Fall themed beer.

The first thing I notice when I poke my nose in the glass is cinnamon. Lots and lots of cinnamon. And maybe nutmeg. And I know that I’m not going to be thrilled. It’s a sweet and heavily spiced aroma that promises little in the way of pumpkins and a lot in the way of spice.

And drinking confirms it.

It’s more spice than pumpkin, much like with Smashed Pumpkin. However, unlike Smashed Pumpkin, it’s much lighter: lighter flavor and lighter alcohol content. It’s more refreshing and less overwhelming. Smashed Pumpkin can put you on your ass and leave you there gagging on spices. Pumpkinhead is gentler and a better beer for it, though still not quite what I’m looking for in a pumpkin beer.

It’s the perfect middle-of-the-week beer. You need something to remind you that Halloween is coming and forget the eight hours of work you just endured. You grab a Pumpkinhead. You don’t swirl it in your pilsner glass and comment on the aromas, like some asshole with a blog. You sit on the couch, turn on a baseball game and wonder what in God’s name happened to the Red Sox this season and let Pumpkinhead take you away.

I give it a handful of cinnamon sticks. And a ginger root. Because I bought a ginger root a few weeks ago thinking that Emily and I were going to make dumplings, but that didn’t really happen and now it’s getting a little shriveled.

-D-

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It’s Coming

Sometimes, you need to take a break. You just need to push your chair away from the desk, stand up and walk away for seven months and pretend that you never did what you were doing. 

And then, sometimes, there’s a hint of something in the air. It is, at first, impossible to determine what it is. The air is a little cooler. There are leaves on the ground where once there was just green grass, flowers and swarms of those little gnats. You can’t place it…

And then the grocery stores is setting masks out and companies start adding pumpkin to things that don’t really need to have pumpkin added to them, but once you hear about it, you can’t imagine NOT adding pumpkin to beer. 

And then, that’s when you sit back down and get back to work.

-D-

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We Can Rebuild Him

Let’s see if I remember how to do this…

Over the last year or so I’ve been slowly drifting further and further away from where I want to be and it’s only recently that I’ve made some very deliberate strides back to where I want to be.

I started small.

I’ve been going through this blog and restructuring it. I’m not done with the great revamping, but it’s getting there. It’s just about setting the house in order. Putting entries in their proper places, sweeping other entries under the rug where people can’t see them and, in general, reminding myself why I kept a blog in the first place.

But it’s all tedious and uninteresting and I doubt you’re here to read about my newest categorization structure.

Once I started to set the blog to rights, I also started writing some fiction again. Small things; words strung together into sentences and then sentences strung together into paragraphs until a plot started to form up. I’ve returned to building worlds again and it feels good, although strange. I feel like I’m coming back to a place I’ve abandoned and I see all these toys and tools lying in the dust and I’m realizing that I left them there to rust and to fall apart.

I’m taking it slow though. Moving with care. I feel like if I charge forward with that insane gusto (promising a blog entry a day for a whole month, a month of horror fiction, NANOWRIMO) I’ll just burn myself out and this will be the last you see of me.

So, here’s another small step forward.

The first blog entry of the new year.

I hope to see you around.

-D-

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Deadlines and Other Things

Unfortunately, I was too busy blacksmithing to write today. That’s right, I heated up metal and hit it with a hammer and now I am like the great god Thor. Except I don’t think he ever made anything with his hammer. Maybe more like Hephaestus. 

Whatever.

No blog entry tonight, but stay tuned for more tomorrow. 

-D-

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The American Hero

Superman is an interesting character.

I know; that’s not a popular idea. Superman, for me and a lot of people, is The Superhero. He has every power that he could possibly have: flight, super strength, freeze breath, laser eyes, great hair. He holds all life sacred. He does not use his powers to alter humanity’s way of life, no matter how much he may or may not disagree with it. He stands for Truth and Justice and he…does…not…bend from those morals.

This does not make for a compelling character. The reader or viewer or listener (just in case you’re a huge fan of Superman audiobooks, I guess), wants a hero with flaws. They want someone who doubts and second guesses and makes mistakes. This is true in all fiction. If the central character if flawless and is an indestructible being of unimaginable power, the reader is bored at Page One.

However, whether or not you think a writer can tell a good story with Superman isn’t the point today. The point is what Superman says about us. Superman is as American as cowboys, jazz and baseball. Like America, he is the biggest, most powerful guy on the block. His strength is uncontested and his reach is unlimited.

The difference between Superman and America is as clear as the difference between the Ideal and the Real. The wonderful thing about this character is that he has the power to split the world in two. He could rule this planet with an iron (Steel) fist. There is nothing on this planet that could stop him. Instead, against all odds, he helps old people and saves cats from trees. He is an uncorruptible, unstoppable force. He is goodness personified.

America, once it took up the mantle of a global superpower, does not have the same track record. Our country has interfered in the affairs of other nations; not to their benefit, not to correct some wrongdoing or to right some terrible wrong. It has been about money or unfounded paranoia or because of some stupid, political morass that our country has involved itself.

We have wrecked countries over communism, a political system that was so flawed it annihilated itself. We have decimated populations to protect oil fields, which lead to enraged populations that struck back in vicious, terrible ways that caused us to reciprocate in like-mind.

Superman is how we wish America was. He is the ideal for the nation. He is how our country, our government, should be. When people ask for help, Superman responds. If a building was on fire, Superman would save everyone inside. And then he would probably rebuild the building for good measure. He would not make sure that his contractor friends got the job to rebuild and allow them to use shoddy and questionable materials to save a buck and turn a quick profit.

He would not charge into a situation where he was not wanted. He does not impose his will and then leave the situation worse than how he found it. He does only what he can be reasonably expected to do and what he does do, he does because he can and because it is righteous that he uses his might and influence to make things better.

Superman is interesting, he is fascinating, because he represents how everyone in a position of power or authority should be and rarely is. He has ultimate power and he would just as soon use it to talk a young woman out of killing herself as he would fight the Villain of the Week. He is what we should all aspire to be and, while that does not always make for interesting reading, it is sometimes important to be reminded of what we can be.

-D-

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