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Beer Review: Bay State Brewing Co’s Becky Likes the Smell


I can’t stay away from IPAs. There was a time when I did not like IPAs at all, but, because I’m stubborn, I kept drinking them, over and over again. Now I kind of like them.

I really don’t know how I feel about the name of this one: Becky Likes the Smell.

I dig what they’re referring to, as the can promo woman is holding a hop (one hop?) in her hand, but man, I dunno.

The IPA does smell good. Smells like a fruitier IPA. Sweeter, maybe.

Love the can art.

No credit for the can art though. Not sure how I feel about, Bay State Brewing Co..

Anyway, it’s late and I need to write this blog entry and drink this beer.

And not sure how I feel about this one. I feel like the can over-promised on this one. Supposedly I can taste notes of: tropical fruit, pear, spice, melon, pine and citrus.

I feel like you’d be hard pressed NOT to taste pine and citrus in an IPA. That’s just what hops taste like.

It’s just a little empty, especially considering that this is a double IPA. I expect a little more oomph from a double IPA, and I don’t just mean with the alcohol. Other double IPAs really pack in the flavor, sometimes to an overwhelming degree.

I’d say that if you want a lighter, more refreshing double IPA, than this one is a good bet. Not too much backbite with the bitterness, but when they say subtle notes on the can, they mean subtle. It’s definitely not as sticky as some IPAs can get.

Feeling let down.

Great can art. Ok beer. Upsetting name.

Six robots that transform into cassette tapes out of eight.


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Movie Review: Vengeance: A Love Story

Hello Again,

I just finished watching this movie and I have thoughts.

It is not a great movie. It is, at its best, an average movie. There are small moments here and there that make it interesting and there are some very large plot arcs that also make it interesting, at least to me.

****Just as a warning, the movie deals pretty heavily with sexual assault, so I’ll be talking about that as well.****

Let’s get the synopsis out of the way:

Based on Joyce Carol Oate’s Rape: A Love Story, Vengeance: A Love Story is about a young single mother, Teena (Ann Hutchinson) who is brutally gang-raped in front of her twelve-year-old daughter, Bethie (Talitha Eliana Bateman). Because the justice system caters to jagoffs and rapists, it’s up to Detective John Something (Nicolas Cage) to put away the trash….for good.

This is not going to be a typical review. I’m not doing a blow-by-blow of the cinematography or the acting or whatever you want. I do want to talk about the rape scene, which is brutal and awful and involves a child actor being present for a fair amount of it, to the point that the daughter covers her own brutalized mother’s nudity with the discarded and torn clothing.

This is…unnecessary. Whenever I see children in this type of movie, I think about Danielle Harris. She’s an actress who played the ten-year-old niece of Michael Meyers in the Halloween movies (IV and V?). Because the production team did such a lousy job of protecting her and screening her from the worst of it, she suffered nightmares and eventually did the Rob Zombie Halloween movies as a form of therapy, which is…the most mindbogglingly sentence I’ve had to type.

So there’s that. Additionally, I’m extremely over scenes of extreme sexual violence in movies because usually they’re just used as a catalyst to propel the male character to do some violence.

Ann Hutchinson as Teena.

However….this movie did something right. Nicolas Cage’s character is the over-the-hill cop who has seen it all and is tired of the system and the revolving door in our criminal justice system….except he’s very low key and he’s not really in the movie that much. He appears here and there and then shows up toward the end in a big way, but for large chunks of the movie, it’s about Teena and Bethie dealing with what happened and the emotional ramifications of that.

There’s an especially affecting scene when Teena is about to swallow a handful of pills in a suicide attempt and then throws them away in an angry fit. In a lot of movies, that would be the end of it. She conquered her suicidal depression in one angry act! But the movie continues to show that she is not okay, that she is still having trouble emotionally processing the attack and what happened to her and that’s she’s still suffering from suicidal ideation.

And Nicolas Cage is Sleepy Cage in this movie. He’s not grandstanding. He’s not taking over the movie when he’s around. He’s mostly silent, mostly in the background and mostly just waiting to act. And when he does act (yes it’s to murder the rapists) it’s thoughtful, careful, planned violence that removes the problem with no collateral damage.

This movie is still problematical in that in robs Teena and Bethie of dealing with the resolution themselves, but it does something right in that it actually highlights their journey after the assault. It highlights the women that were attacked, the women around them who are trying to help.

This is not a good movie. It has some great moments, Ann Hutchinson and Talitha Batemen work well together and have great chemistry and don’t pull any punches with their performances. And Cage makes the right choice in this movie and minimizes his impact.

I’m not recommending you see this movie, unless you, for some reason, think we need another movie in which a woman is brutally raped and her male whatever needs to avenge her. Vengeance takes a step in the right direction. Focus on her story. How she deals with it and copes with it.

It’s not his story.


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Beer Review: Samuel Adams Third Voyage



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.


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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Spoooky Beer Review: Wachusett’s Octoberfest Ale

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

Next up: Wachusett’s Octoberfest Ale



Since I needed a break from pumpkin ales, I decided to go back to our old friend, the Oktoberfest Ale. It was while I was drinking this particular ale that I realized that I really don’t know what defines an Oktoberfest ale. What separates it from other ales? Age, mid-range alcohol content and an amber color apparently. Oh, and it has to be brewed in Munich, otherwise it’s not an authentic Oktoberfest beer.

Which might be why Wachusett went with a slightly different spelling of Octoberfest here. Their beer is definitely amber in color, a nice red-orange glow that would look at home on a pumpkin ale.

It’s light and airy and crisp, a perfect complement to a Fall day. It’s flavor is a little tart, a little sweet and very refreshing, if not overly complex. Unlike some other ales I might mention, it is not bland or lacking definition, but manages to find a balance between a light and pleasing flavor without sacrificing all of the complexity.

I definitely recommend it for people who don’t really want to chug down a lager or any darker, more mysterious beer filled with things hiding in the abyss. This is a beer made for sitting and relaxing on the porch while the first Fall leaves begin to fall from the trees.

I give it a smiling scarecrow, a goofy dancing skeleton and a couple of ears of corn.

Also, you can probably only buy it in New England.


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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Spoooky Beer Review: Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale

 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”.

Next up: Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale

For whatever reason, I’m incapable of not drinking pumpkin ales. It’s becoming a struggle for me. I use the reviews as a cover, but, deep down, I would drink the pumpkin ales anyway. Do you know how many I’ve bought to review and then just made disappear before even managing to snap a blurry picture of them with a monstrous spider in the background? A LOT.

At first glance, it has the same orange-y hues that most pumpkin ales have, but it’s deeper and darker, almost red. It smells a lot like any other pumpkin ale, but maybe with headier blast of spices.

It tastes a little like a subdued Pumking. No, that’s the wrong word for it. Not subdued. More subtle, not as bold a pumpkin flavor. But just as complex. Maybe MORE complex. Both beers are great pumpkin ales. They both deliver on spices and pumpkin and make you think of Fall with a beer, which is really all you can ask of a pumpkin ale.

But Imperial Pumpkin Ale is more spice than pumpkin and is quieter and more sly. If you have a friend who thinks Pumking is too much for him, then go with Imperial Pumpkin Ale. They’re both royal. They’re both imbued with the power of Halloween. And they’re both really great pumpkin ales.

Let me put it this way, before Imperial Pumpkin Ale, I thought Pumking was going to be the the best all season, but Imperial Pumpkin Ale has shaken my faith.

I give Imperial Pumpkin Ale five Pumpkinhead-era Lance Henriksens.


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Spoooky Beer Review: Wychwood Brewery’s Scarecrow Golden Pale Ale

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

Next up: Wychwood Brewery’s Scarecrow Golden Pale Ale


As I mentioned in this earlier review, I don’t think Wychwood Brewery is selling seasonal brews; I think this is what they sell year-round. Which is great. There’s nothing better than going to your local liquor store and seeing a Hobgoblin or a Scarecrow on the shelf amidst all the IPAs and numerous variations of Guinness that are all deep, dark and weighty.

While I love “Hobgoblin”, I am less enthused with “Scarecrow.” It’s a pale ale which are, to me, usually a bit less interesting in terms of flavor. They’re never too bitter. They’re not heavy. They’re not bursting with strange and unusual flavors. Pale ales are good for people who aren’t the biggest fans of beers, but need something to drink on a hot summer day. They’re light, refreshing and don’t leave a lot of aftertaste. You drink it down and look for the next one.

And that’s exactly what “Scarecrow” is. There’s nothing truly interesting here. I don’t dislike it. But once I’m done with it, I won’t really be able to remember what it really tasted like. Honestly, the first thing I thought of when I took my first sip was a Heineken. It was really disappointing after “Hobgoblin,” a beer with interesting and complex flavors. I know this brewery is capable of more and I felt like they let me down.

This is like watching Friday the 13th Part V and making it all the way to the end, only to find out that it wasn’t even goddamn Jason behind the mask.

Spoiler alert.

I give “Scarecrow” one Pyscho remake and a handful of direct-to-video Hellraiser sequels.



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Spoooky Beer Review: Magic Hat’s “Hex”

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

Next up: Magic Hat’s “Hex”

After all these pumpkin ales, I needed a break. There’s only so much cinnamon and pumpkin you can drink before you start sneezing holiday cheer. So I went and picked up Magic Hat’s Hex, a Halloween theme beer that promises no kind of pumpkin and delivers on that promise.

When a brewery decides to eschew more traditional means of a seasonal beer (light ales in the Summer, IPAs in the Spring, Rauchbiers in the Winter {ugh}), they have to really go the extra mile to sell it as that season’s beer. This generally means the packaging is going to get all holiday up in your grill.

Take “Hex” for instance. There are demons and vampires being served beer by a floating witch waitress while they sit at a blood red table under a blood red sky and the whole thing is framed with wrought iron and spiky brambles. Bam, there’s Halloween for you. Now, it doesn’t have to taste  like Halloween at this point. You bought the beer for a party and you’re going to use the actual bottles as decoration.

But it does have to taste goodIt can’t all just be gimmicky labeling and spooky boxes. If you don’t want to drink what’s in the bottle, then you just plunked eight dollars down on a refrigerator decoration, which would have been better spent on cotton ball webs and plastic spiders.

Luckily for you and for me, “Hex” is a pretty decent beer. It has a good, strong burst of flavor; kind of tart and there’s just the slightest hint of Belgian in there. It’s not the most intense beer, but nor is it the disappointingly bland brew that is Scarecrow, a beer you’ll be meeting later in the week.

I’m not generally a fan of Magic Hat, but I like this. It’s that little bit of tartness that does it for me. It’s a little heavy, but not too much and it doesn’t overpower you with flavor.

On the downside, it does tend to…linger a bit. Like an IPA that overstays its welcome a bit too long, Hex leaves behind a bitter aftertaste, but on the periphery of your mouth.

All in all, “Hex” was surprisingly decent and a well rounded seasonal beer that made me want to give Magic Hat a second chance. Bring a six pack to that Halloween party you’re going to. The host will welcome the additional spookiness and people won’t break half-empty bottles over your head when they taste it.

I give it, Hell, I don’t know…two zombies and a murderous conjoined (but detached) twin in a wicker picnic basket*.


*A head nod and a wry smile to the person who gets the reference.


Filed under Halloween: Rock and Shock, 31 Days of Spooktacular, Spoooky Beer Reviews and More

Spoooky Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Smashed Pumpkin


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

Next up: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Smashed Pumpkin

Remember yesterday when I was talking about beers that call themselves pumpkin ales, but don’t really deliver in that department? This is one of them.

Oh, it has that same gorgeous orange color as the others and it smells great, but it smells like cinnamon. It smells so strongly of cinnamon that it doesn’t even really smell like beer. That’s a little alarming.

The first sip basically verifies what your nose already told you; this beer tastes a lot like cinnamon. And not much like anything else. It’s by no means terrible. I think there are only a few people in this world who hate the taste of cinnamon and those people are heartless fiends who also dislike marshmallows in their coco and videos of panda babies stumbling down slides.

But this is a flavor that’s more evocative of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving than Jack o’ Lanterns and Halloween. Or Christmas! Cinnamon is a Christmas spice too!  If you removed that bad-ass label with the Jack o’ Lantern, the orange and gold and the pumpkin themed name, you could totally market this as a Christmas beer (“Kringle Ale”) with a drunk elf in snazzy green elf shoes on the front.

It’s a good beer with a strong kick (9% Alc./Vol.), but in spite of all the Halloween marketing, it’s hardly a Halloween beer with nary a pumpkin flavor in sight.

I give it a goddamn Ho-Ho-Ho! and a Merry Christmas! for this Halloween brew.


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Spoooky Beer Review: Southern Tier Brewing Company’s “Imperial “Pumking”

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

Next up: Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Imperial Pumking


The first thing you’re going to notice with any pumpkin ale is that they tend to have an orange cast to them, and Pumking is no different. Look at that orange luster. If you forget, even for a second, that you’re drinking a pumpkin beer, that color will always remind you.

Around this time of year (you know, end of August, Halloween time), you can’t swing a dead black cat without sweeping half a dozen pumpkin ales off the shelf. There are some decent ones out there, but for the most part, the first thing you taste when you drink one is cinnamon. And the last thing you taste will be cinnamon. And in the middle there too.

There is one out there that’s a huge offender in the cinnamon department, but I won’t be reviewing that tonight. But it’s coming. It’s coming.

It’s like they’re not really shooting for the flavor of pumpkins and more going for the flavor of pumpkin pie. And then decided that would be too hard, so they just went with cinnamon instead.

Pumking does have a cinnamonny flavor to it, but it’s more of a flourish at the end. The dominant flavor here, is the rounded, orange and nutty flavor of pumpkin. Imagine that; pumpkin flavor in a pumpkin ale. It’s robust and strong, a bulldozer of fall flavors and it just makes me think of the whole damn season. And we’re still in summer!

To top it off, the label goes a long way to making it a strong Halloween beer. It claims it’s named after a creature of Celtic folklore and that it would waylay travelers. It has a scary story! On the bottle!

Two beers in and I’ve already found two beers I would make people drink on October 31st.

I give Pumking five Bluebeard’s wives and a Druidic blood sacrifice.



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Spoooky Beer Review: Wychwood Brewery “Hobgoblin”

Now, I know it’s too soon to celebrate Halloween, no matter what the candy section at your local grocery store is telling you. But I am, truly, unable to contain myself. I struggled with the best way to let off some of my Halloween steam early and then the thought struck me: While most people are probably not in the mood for horror movies and gruesome make-up tips, they’re always in the mood for my beer reviews.

And, luckily, those same grocery stores are also shoving every fall and Halloween based beer to the forefront. So I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can. All while listening to “Thriller”.

Up first, we have Wychwood Brewery’s Hobgoblin


With a name like Wychwood Brewery, I’m going to assume that Halloween is a yearlong thing for these folks. Their two beers I picked up at the store had scary themes. I’ve already forgotten what the other was and I’m not getting up to check, seeing as how the kitchen is now more of a trek from my chair for me.

This is a dark English ale (think Newcastle) , though not as dark as I’ve seen, it has a beautiful deep red color, which the photograph does not do justice. It’s very smooth tasting, surprisingly so and a bit sweet, though only a little bit. In all honesty, the first thing I thought of was apples. It’s a round, full flavor that just goes down so smoothly and without any lingering bitterness.

I’m surprised. I’m generally wary of breweries that go to such lengths for what appears to be a gimmicky label (it has witches riding broomsticks on embossed on the bottle itself, for God’s sake), but this is a solid brew and at five dollars for a pint bottle it runs cheaper than some other specialty beers that go for 7, 8, 9 dollars for a pint.

If you want a beer that gets you in a spooky, autumn mood, I can definitely recommend Hobgoblin.

I give it fifteen severed heads. And a Jason Voorhees.



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