Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Peabody's Winter Beer Guide Pt. 3

I think I mentioned last time that the spring beers are already in the grocery stores, that is actually good news, because it means the winter beers are on sale as they move 'em out. This week I review 3 that I picked up at Lowe's Foods (first time I'd shopped there, I'll be back often, best beer selection I've ever seen in a pure grocery store, at great prices).

Brooklyn Winter Ale

I mentioned in a previous post that some brewers create their "winter" offerings by adding spices, this one has a very nice "wintery" flavor created with no spices. Malt, malt, malt, malt, no hops evident (they are there, of course, but certainly not in the forefront). If you're having a malt craving, this is the one for you, a good Scottish ale. I'm drinking one as I write this.

Nice feature article on

This one is very drinkable, as long as you are not craving hops. Definitely a good one to go along with a hearty stew or something.

Mendocino White Hawk Original IPA
From the review I posted on

Nice dark golden color, not much aroma, what is there is pine-y. First impression is pine-y hops, then malt peeks thru. By the second beer, the malt becomes a little too sweet, which is the only complaint I have with this beer. All in all, as others have noted, not a world-beater, but a very decent IPA. Next time it's on sale, I'll pick up some more.

Nice write-up on Mendocino's web site:

Forgot to mention, we are moving out of the "session" beers (remember a "session" beer is for when you are having several) and moving into what I call "sipping" beers, this one is 7% ABV (alcohol by volume).

Cottonwood Frostbite High Gravity

I have mixed feelings on this one, I'm not a big fan of Cottonwood's offerings (actually Cottonwood was bought several years ago by the Carolina Beer brewery, makers of Carolina Blonde). Cottonwood's Low-Down Brown tastes like tap water from rusty pipes (to me, all Brown Ales with exception of Newcastle taste like that), their Endo IPA is terrible, etc. I found this stuff last year, thought I would give it a try. I thought it was some of the best beer I had ever had, comparable to Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (review coming soon) in its excellence.

What I liked so much was this: Huge hoppiness, but then you notice, hmm, equally strong rich maltiness. Like dueling flavors in your mouth. Most impressive. But, like I said, that was last year. This year (at least the 2 sixers I had a month ago, I picked up another one last week) the rich maltiness was replaced by the rusty pipe taste, almost like they just poured some hops into some Low Down Brown.

Bottom line - last year's batch was awesome, this year's, while still good, not awesome. I'll let you know if my opinion changes after this new sixpack.

Closing note: Careful with this one, it's 8.5% alcohol, if you drink 3, you will be tore up.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Indie-rock gem!

Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon

Being a hopelessly unhip old fart, I don't keep up with the hottest new bands anymore (not that I ever did, I liked what I liked, cool or not). I had seen a blurb somewhere, in fact more than one somewhere, about this album and band. Now that I have an iPod, I took all those CDs piled up in the rack that have one or two good songs on them, ripped the good songs, and took them to Manifest to trade in. I picked up the remasters of Led Zep II and III, the G3 (Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, and Steve Vai) DVD, and this.

Popped it in the CD player in the car, have not taken it out since, have listened to the whole thing 4 or 5 times now. The last album I listened to that much from the get-go was Candy-O by the Cars back in '79. You know how you put in a CD, and listen for the "good" songs, of which there are usually 1 -5, and the rest is filler? Not the case here. The only album I've listened to in the last few years that was this good start to finish is How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb by U2.

A little background, the group is from Minneapolis, according to their website they played Chapel Hill last Halloween. They have opened for Franz Ferdinand and Soul Asylum, and are lined up for this year's Coachella festival in California. They have a self-titled EP and then this, which I think is a masterpiece. I'm not going to do a song-by-song review, because they are all awesome. The first time I listened to it, I thought, hmm, this is weird. You know me, I'm all over weird, heck, I think Trout Mask Replica is one of the greatest albums of all time. Anyway, there was something beyond the weirdness that compelled me to listen again. Now, in hindsight, I realize the weirdness was due to the instrumentation and arrangements, which are very unconventional and unique. The instruments are very sparse, with an occasional weird noise pulled in for rhythm. Having seen some live videos (links below), the sparse instrumentation allows for very accurate re-creation on stage.

The something beyond the weirdness is genius. These are great songs, and the unique arrangements take this far beyond same old, same old status. The best way I can describe this is Dinosaur Jr. meets The Replacements (Minneapolis influence) meets early Talking Heads, with a little Radiohead thrown in for good measure.

I cannot recommend this album enough, you'll find yourself listening to it over and over.

Rating: *****, with a Peabody Certified Head Music stamp to boot.

Links: Check this one out, killer live video, they even have iPod versions, which I will definitely be downloading. -

Tapes 'n Tapes official page

Wikipedia entry for Tapes 'n Tapes

Friday, February 16, 2007

Peabody's Winter Beer Guide Pt. 2

Yes, I know the spring beers are already on the grocery store shelves, but it's still plenty cold here in NC, so we'll keep talking winter beers. We left off with "session" beers, here's a couple more -

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

“…best beer ever made in America.”
– Stan Sessor, San Francisco Chronicle

I don't know that I would go as far as ol' Stan, but I will say this is one of the best beers ever made in America, and a perennial favorite of mine. This is very much an IPA (India Pale Ale), so it is hoppy by nature, what this beer has that many hop-bombs don't is a sort of crispness. As I said before, one of my favorites. Highly recommended, particularly for hops fans. This is what Winterhook wants to be when it grows up.

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale


Again a cut above the Winterhooks of the world, this one is a nice brownish-red color, has some maltiness to it that is not entirely drowned out by the "mystery hop named Rudolph" the brewers snuck in. Very drinkable, have several! There are breweries that occasionally get it right, then there are those that simply don't make any bad beer, Rogue is certainly in that category, you can't go wrong picking up one of their beers. So once the Santa's Private Reserve is gone for the year, have a Dead Guy, on me.