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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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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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Halloween Monday Movie Marathon and Beer: Hillside Cannibals and Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

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I am disappointed to end this day on a low note, but that’s how it is. I am not a huge fan of Dogfish Head, but I decided I’d give them one more shot, in the spirit of the season. The problem isn’t so much with the brewery as it is with brown ales. I don’t like brown ales. I don’t like brown ales when they’re wearing the mask of pumpkin seasoning either. If you like Dogfish Head ales, you’ll probably like this. Me? Not so much.

 

And, on top of that, I didn’t really enjoy Hillside Cannibals either. It was a mean spirited little flick that didn’t do much in the way of scaring or anything else. It didn’t try and get you to care about the few characters it didn’t murder straight off the bat and it didn’t really invest much time in the villains either.

I spent a large amount of time flipping through things on my phone while pointless, meaningless violence played out on the screen. The few times I decided to pay attention, I discovered that the people in charge of making sure the plot made sense were on vacation.

Assuming you had a character hellbent on dispensing vengeance and he knew what he was in for; would you equip him with one hand gun and a machete? In his shoes, I’d pack a goddamn arsenal and I sure as hell wouldn’t let myself get caught in five minutes and dispatched just as quickly!

It was the most polished, well put together and best acted movie I’ve seen all day and it was, without a doubt, the worst. It could not follow through on its basic premise, could not deliver on the savagery it implied and it was not scary. It was not horror.

All in all, I’d say there must be chart that describes the failure of a budget to deliver on a movie’s premise. The higher the budget, the greater the disappointment and the angrier I am.

Stay away from these middle of the road flick. Go lower or go higher, but never stray too close to the middle of the road.

This is -D-, concluding his great Monday Halloween Movie Marathon and still ready and rarin’ to go for October 31st.

Boo.

-D-

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Halloween Monday Movie Marathon and Beer: Cryptic Plasm and Imperial Pumking

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First, let’s talk about the Imperial Pumking, before we jump into the movie. Pumking is one of my favorite pumpkin ales, a fact I forgot before I opened the bottle. I has a strong pumpkin flavors and does not rely so heavily on cinnamon flavoring as other pumpkin ales do. In fact, I would be hard pressed to identify any cinnamon flavoring at all in this beer. There are far less spices utilized and it relies far more on single, strong flavor notes.

There is a very nutty flavor and aroma, with a very crisp and clear bitter bite as its finish. All in all, this is one of my favorite pumpkin ales and I’m glad I remembered that.

Five…pumpkins…or something.

Onto the movie!

Morbid Vision Films is a local film company that specializes in exceedingly gory horror films. In fact, right on the back of the box it states that no CGI was used in the making of the movie, a hallmark that I wish big budget horror films would use as well. There is nothing that shakes you free of an illusion than noticeable CGI. Do as many effects as possible practically and you will get away with far more.

Crytpic Plasm (which, technically, has not been released yet. The copy I have is a pre-release) follows two guys as they film weird and unusual happenstances in Massachusetts/New England. There are lake monsters, exorcisms, dimensional rifts and more. And there is a lot of blood. More blood than in Kill Bill. There is broad swathes of blood everywhere in this movie and it is in such impressive quantities that I became concerned that they had sapped the fake blood resources of North America.

Instead of focusing on a single mystery, they go out of their way to throw their intrepid crytpozoologist filmmakers into numerous situations before things really take a turn for the worst. There are hair, teeth and eyeballs flying everywhere and I’d have to say that I haven’t seen better low budget special effects in a long time.

Also, on another note, the acting in Morbid Vision Films movies tends to be of higher quality than other studios. It’s not winning any Oscars, but they’re more believable and less obvious than a lot of other indie horror flicks I’ve watched in the past. On the whole, they’re a pretty well rounded group of filmmakers.

Their movies, the few I’ve seen, are reminiscent of Fulci movies; extremely over the top and to the walls extreme with the amount of gore they feature. While Cryptic Plasm is a little more staid and restrained than their more extreme creation (Banned in Germany!), it does not fail to deliver.

If you’re a fan of low budget horror, check this one out, if only for the effects. You won’t be disappointed.

Stay tuned for more of the Halloween Monday Movie Marathon! And, of course, beer.

-D-

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Beer Review: Samuel Adams Fat Jack

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a beer review and, in all honesty, it’s probably been a long while since I’ve actually spent any time thinking about the stuff I’m pouring into my stomach. It’s time to slow down and think about what I’m drinking. And we’re going to start off with something season appropriate.

FatJack

As I’ve mentioned before, Sam Adams has a series of limited edition beers that they only release in their larger bottles. I’ve reviewed one or two in the past and they can range from very nice to solid, but underwhelming. They’ll rarely hit one out of the park, but they’re dependable, more complex than average and will allow your typical beer drinker the go outside of their comfort zone without gettin’ too crazy.

Fat Jack is a great example of a Sam Adams craft beer and it’s high on my list of pumpkin ales. A lot of pumpkin beers rely too heavily on spices leading to a lackluster experience. When all you have seasoning your beer is an overabundance of cinnamon, your beer is going to lack any true depth. Most of the pumpkin beers I’ve tried have started off with a strong burst of flavor and then quickly peter out into nothing.

But Fat Jack is solid through and through. You can tell from the color that things are different. Instead of the pale orange typical of its breed, it’s a deep amber color. It has a spiced smell, but it’s not sharp or overwhelming.

It’s a deep, rich beer, with a lot of flavor of pumpkin in addition to the usual assortment of spices. It’s well rounded, bold and heavy, in terms of flavor. From first to last, you get a strong pumpkin ale with a great start and a strong finish.

All in all, this is one of the best pumpkin ales you can get, right up there with my favorite, Pumking. Do yourself a favor this Halloween season and check it out.

I give it a Great Pumpkin and the original Black Christmas.

-D-

 

 

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Beer Review: Samuel Adams Third Voyage

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For a long time, I had a love/hate relationship with IPAs. They were too bitter, too strong tasting, too hoppy. Now I feel like I could go the rest of my life never drinking anything else. So when I saw a new Sam Adams Double IPA, (Third Voyage) I ran and grabbed my specially designed, high tech Sam Adams guzzlin’ glass and filled it to the brim with hoppy.

And I’m underwhelmed. I’m never happy with an ordinary IPA. I want to be sandblasted with flavor. I want to have trouble finishing the whole glass because the flavor is punching me in the uvula with a ferocity that could only be equaled by Jake LaMotta roid ragin’. I want my taste buds to be knocked out so hard that the only thing they’ll be able to handle is watered down PBR.

The problem with Third Voyage is that it’s too….nice. There’s no bold flavor at the front and there’s no bold flavor at the back. It’s smooth, almost downright mellow and it’s ticking me off. It hits all the right notes, but not with the right intensity. It has a sharp bark, but no bite. It has that bitter finisher, but not that throat puckering grab that some IPAs have.

It’s a perfectly good Double IPA, sweet and grapey and strong, but it’s just not the IPA for me. I recommend it if you’re not into ultra-hoppy IPAs like Harpoon’s Rye Ipa.

I give it half a hop and a skip.

-D-

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Brewing an Education: Porters and Stouts (Part IV)

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The only way to gain an education in anything food related is with a lot of practical experience. If you want to know how to make bouillabaisse, you need to make bouillabaisse. If you want to know how rabbits taste, you need to taste rabbits (poorly worded, will fix later).

Similarly, with beer, you need to get out and drink a lot of beer. You can’t just read in a book about the flavor of hops and the intensity of aromas. That only teaches you the vocabulary and the techniques. But, after that, you’re on your own.

So I’m drinking more beer is what I’m saying.

I’m trying another porter, this one Samuel Smith‘s Taddy Porter, an import from Yorkshire. Seeing as how both porters and stouts are a British invention, a lot of what you’re going to find in your local grocery or liquor store are going to be imported from across the way.

I’ve had a few porters and a few stouts since I’ve started this project and this porter is little less flavorful and a little complex than some of the other porters I’ve had. It had a fruity aroma, again bringing to mind cherries. The flavor is more chocolate than coffee, a little more hoppy than I’d expect.

It’s very crisp and smooth, with a small bitter flourish at the end. It’s refreshing, a good beer for summer and spring.

All in all, I can see myself ducking in a bar on a the tail end of a summer day and ordering this to cool down, but it’s far from the complex intensity of Zwiec’s offering.

A handful of cherries and a glass of lemonade for this porter.

-D-

 

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