Thursday, December 30, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Days 29 and 30 - Scary Good...

Spent the night of the 29th at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.  The Stanley is the hotel that served as Stephen King's inspiration for The Shining.  It's not nearly as scary a hotel as the legends would have you believe, although it is rich with stories, and there well could be something going on there.  In any event, it's been an inspiration for some good beer.

Wednesday's Brew:  Estes Park Brewery - The Shining Pale Ale
Estes Park Brewery brews a couple of beers that are available exclusively at the Stanley Hotel.  One of those is The Shining Pale Ale.  The bottle sports a creepy label, but the beer inside is anything but.

I'm not usually a fan of pale ales, but this one has a bit more malt flavor and is a bit more smooth than most, and I really enjoyed it.  It starts with a great flavor and finishes nice.  Not like the movie...which just finishes disturbing.  :)

Thursday's Brew:  Anderson Valley Brewing Company - Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema
Found this one in the bottom of the 'fridge.  With all the winter beers I've been trying this season, I forgot about this one, purchased in the late fall.  What a hidden treasure.  I actually think this beer works better as a fall/winter beer than a summer brew.  Very creamy on the front, and finishes with a smooth, malty warmness. A very nice beer.

Wednesday's Cue:  Little Big Town - Kiss Goodbye
It's a crying shame that Little Big Town's 2007 disc, A Place To Land, didn't meet with the same platinum success as its predecessor, because it's a far superior album.  But LBT kept the quality coming with 2010's The Reason Why.  Another great country-crossover effort.  Kiss Goodbye is my favorite track from the disc.

Thursday's Cue: Waking Ashland - October Skies
The sad part about discovering new music is that sometimes you don't stumble upon a really good band until after they've broken up. Such is the case for me with Waking Ashland. They never got much press, and never really "made it," and broke up in 2007. But look them up on You Tube or Grooveshark. They made some great indie-pop during their brief time together.


31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Days 27 and 28 -

It's been a couple of unremarkable days of beer.  Yeah, it happens.

Monday's Brew:  Coors Light
Wait.  Don't leave.  There's an explanation.

Went to a local karaoke bar  (or, rather, a local dive with karaoke).
Me:  Are there were any beer specials tonight?
Server: Yep. Coors an Coors Light.
Me:  Um, ok.  What all do you have on tap?
Server:  Coors and Coors Light.
Me:  Ok, then, Coors Light it is......

You know, it's beer.  Wet, cold, golden color.  It's also low alcohol and fizzy as soda pop, so you can have a couple while singing and not get "forgetful" enough to not know the lyrics....or the song.

Tuesday's Brew:  Saranac Brewing - Lake Effect Lager
On the way to yet another family holiday gathering, I picked up a winter-mix 12-pack from Saranac, since it was on sale and I was intrigued by the choices.  First out of the box, I tried the Lake Effect Lager.  While it does have more distinct flavor that some lagers, I can't say it's particularly memorable.  It's not as smooth as I would have expected, and is actually a bit more hoppy than many lagers I've tried.  For me , it finished much more like a pale ale than a lager.  Not bad, but not what I expected out of a lager.

Monday's Cue:  Tonic - If You Could Only See
Had to add this song today.  It's several years old - but the first big song from Tonic, a band that had a few modest hits.  Their lead singer, Emerson Hart, is a fantastic songwriter and has a great solo album called Cigarrettes and Gasoline.  Check it out.  This song is a favorite because it's a karaoke song that I can actually sing (see the above Coors Light entry...).

Tuesday's Cue: The Weepies - When You Go Away
The Weepies are, hands down, one of my favorite bands of the 2000's. Great indie pop with heartfelt lyrics and more hooks than a tackle box. Their 2010 effort, Be My Thrill, is in my top 10 of the year.


Monday, December 27, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Days 24, 25, 26 - Merry Christmas!

Hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday!  Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday's Brew:  Samuel Adams Winter Lager
Had a nice dinner out with my fiancee and parents for Christmas Eve.  Not many beers on tap at the restaurant where we went, but they did have Sam Adams Winter Lager, and it's always a winner.  After Octoberfest, Winter is my favorite from the Sam Adams brewery. It's a dark lager brewed with spices - notable are cinnamon  and nutmeg.

Saturday's Brew:  Leinenkugel Classic Amber
Christmas Day feast with family, so I wanted something tasty but not heavy.  Enter Leinenkugel Classic Amber. It's not a remarkable beer, but it does have a pleasant taste, and it paired very well with the entire holiday meal (turkey, ham, potatoes, green bean casserole, etc.).  There is very little hop characteristic, but the taste is still smooth - never heavy.  Don't pay a lot for this beer - but if it's on sale, it's a good choice.

The brewery famous for the popular Shiner Bock actually makes quite a selection of fine beers.  Spoetzel is located deep in the heart of Texas, and is one of the first "micro" breweries that I ever experienced.  They're much larger now, but the recipes are still consistently good.  

Shiner 101 is a special pilsner, brewed to commemorate the brewery's 101st anniversary.  It's crisp, clean and leans toward the Czech-style of pils - but without as much hop bite.  After trying this beer twice in the last few months, I've decided that I don't like it as much as some other Shiner offerings, but it's still a good, lighter-style beer.

Friday's Cue:  Mannheim Steamroller - Stille Nacht
I've loved this version of Silent Night ever since it came out in the mid-80's.  A simply beautiful interpretation.

Saturday's Cue: Dean Martin - Baby, It's Cold Outside
I've heard this song in (seemingly) a thousand different variations for years, but somehow the Dean Martin original eluded me until this year. This is, simply, the best of the lot.

Sunday's Cue: Bruno Mars - Just The Way You Are
Has there been a Top 40 song this year that Bruno Mars has not been on? This is the guy's year. Even if you don't enjoy the rap music that Mars lends his singing voice to, do yourself a favor and check out his solo album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans. It's an enjoyable throw-back to late '80s-early '90s new soul.


Friday, December 24, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues - Days 20, 21, 22, 23: What Beer Goes With This Crowd?

Ok, I know.  I've missed four days in a row of blog posts.  Funny how that happens when your off hours on the week of Christmas are consumed with trying to get all the holiday shopping done, seeing family, etc.  Hard to even fit in having a beer.  But I'm a trooper.  I soldiered on.  The beer must be had.

So today's I'll catch up the last four days.

Monday's Brew:  Negra Modelo
Negra Modelo is classified as a Munich-style dunkel by the brewery, Mexico's Groupo Modelo.  But it's not.  It's much more a Vienna-style lager.  It is darker and more flavorful that many Mexican beers, but it has the same high carbonation characteristic as all the others.  Not to knock that, though, since Mexican beer was my first introduction to anything other than Bud or Coors.  And when you're elbow deep in some spicy pork green chile, nothing hits the spot like a Negra Modelo.

Tuesday's Brew:  Blue Moon Brewing - Winter Abbey Ale
I'm not a fan at all of Blue Moon wheat beer - this brewery's flagship beer and the one that's far-and-away the most popular of their offerings.  But their seasonal offerings are some of the best coming out of any Colorado brewery.  And of those seasonals, Winter Abbey Ale is my favorite.  It does some wheat, but features a hearty dose of roasted malts and a hint of Belgian sugar.  It's gives off rich caramel and toffee notes,  but is balanced nicely and finishes very smooth.  One of my favorite winter beers.

Wednesday's Brew:  Sapporo Premium - Sapporo Brewery
Dinner out with family at a Japanese hibachi restaurant.  One beer on tap - Sapporo.  So, Sapporo it is.
It's very unremarkable - the Japanese equivalent of Bud or Coors.  But it pairs well with spicy tuna roll and the sauce-laden foods grilled on the hibachi, so it's all good.

Thursday's Brew:  Samuel Adams Octoberfest
Thursday night featured a long (4 hours!) game of Just Dance 2 on the Wii.  Searching for something to enjoy, I found a Sam Adams Octoberfest hiding in the back of the fridge.  I know it's Christmas-time, but any season is good for this wonderful beer.  Five variety of malted barley, balanced by Bavarian Noble hops.  This beer has a chocolate/toffee flavor, but is not too rich, and finishes incredibly smooth.  I love it.  Anytime, anywhere.

Monday's Cue:  Hellogoodbye - When We First Met
This band has been re-tooled since their last album and it's big hit "Here (In Your Arms)."
This song is a different sound for the band, as it the entire album,Would It Kill You?, but very good nonetheless.

Tuesday's Cue: OK Go - End Love
OK Go's latest disc, Of The Colour Of The Blue Sky, is in my Top 10 albums of the year.  This is one of several great tracks off that album.  And it true OK Go fashion, the video is very creative and fun to watch.

Wednesday's Cue: My Chemical Romance - The Kids From Yesterday
Another in my Top 10 of '10.  Poppy, catchy, with plenty of attitude and angst.  Great rock 'n' roll.

Thursday's Cue: Sarah McLachlan - Song For A Winter's Night
Whether or not this is actually a holiday song is up for debate, but it's one of my favorites at this time of year.  From my favorite artist of all time.  'Nuff said.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Days 17, 18, 19 - The Week(end) In Review

'Twas a long weekend before Christmas away from the computer - so now I'm stirring to get the blog up to speed....

Friday's Brew:  Big Horn Brewing's Buttface Amber Ale
Big Horn is the beer-brewing arm of C.B. & Potts Restaurants, a small chain that originated in Fort Collins, Colorado. Big Horn bottles some of their beers, available in a few select locations, but usually it requires a trip to the restaurant to enjoy their brew.

Friday night, my fiancee and I were on the way home from DJ-ing a great holiday party.  We stopped in at a Potts restaurant to unwind, and I ordered the Buttface Amber.  It's a long-time favorite of mine - an american style amber with caramel notes, a touch of hops bitterness, and a smooth finish.  If you ever get to Colorado, or if you live here, give it a try.  You won't be disappointed.

Saturday's Brew:  BouldeBeer Company's  Never Summer Ale

Boulder Beer calls this one an "aggressive winter seasonal" for a "drinking town with a skiing problem."  And for a winter warmer, it is aggressive.  It's got a good amount of hop character on the front, but that is balanced quickly on the palate with the flavors of dark caramel malt.

It does have more bite than most classic winter ales and porters, but it's not harsh.  This one, like most any winter warmer - and especially those that are generously hopped - is much better on draft than out of the bottle.  If you get in bottled, decant and let it sit for a few minutes.  The oxygen helps bring out the malt flavors, nicely balancing out the brew.

Sunday's Brew:  Stone Brewing Company - Levitation Ale
Pucker up, kiddies.  This one's got bite.  Stone brewing boasts of it's beers with "big character," and this one has character, all right.  Whether you go for this character depends on what you look for in a beer.

The website says it's got citrus notes.  That depends on how long you let it sit after decanting.  I took my first sip right after the pour, and an almost overwhelming floral character nearly knocked me over.  After letting it sit about 10 minutes, it mellowed considerably, to more of a citrusy flavor (although the florals are still there on the nose).  I don't get much malt, though the website talks about "rich malt flavors."  It's pretty bitter all the way down.

It's not that it's a bad beer....not at all.  It's more that I'm not a big fan of bitter (I tend to shy away from IPAs), so this one isn't exactly my cup of tea.  But if your beer philosophy is "the more hops the better," this one's right down your alley.

Friday's Cue:  Stan Getz/Astrud Gilberto - Corcovado
This beauty is from 1963.  It popped up on my "vocal jazz" station on Pandora a while back, and I just can't get it out of my head.  Classic, sexy '60s jazz.  I play this when I'm dj'ing during a dinner party.  Smooth enough to dine to, but you also see some toes tapping under the table.  Nice.

Saturday's Cue:  Band of Horses - Laredo
I've been a casual listener of Band of Horses' catchy indie-folk-rock since their great song "No One's Gonna Love You" a few years ago.  Their CD release this year, Infinite Arms, is by far their best to date and it's had a permanent spot in my "favorites" rotation this year.  This song, Laredo, is just one of many gems on the disc.

Sunday's Cue:  Gin Blossoms - Miss Disarray
The Gin Blossoms are one of the most consistently underrated bands performing today.  After a big heyday in the mid-90s, the Gins disbanded for a few years.  They got back together in the mid-2000s and released a great album called Major Lodge Victory, on a small label, that got completely ignored.  They're still plugging away and their 2010 effort, No Chocolate Cake, is being similarly ignored despite it's quality.

Do yourself a favor.  If you liked the Gin Blossoms in the 90s, and you like top-notch jangle-pop, check out No Chocolate Cake.  To give you a taste, here's my favorite track from the disc; Miss Disarray.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Day 16 - A Pleasant Surprise

Last week, while shopping for gifts for a holiday party, I stumbled across a well-priced gift set from Samuel Smith's Brewery - a 3-pack of assorted brews and a Samuel Smith's pint glass.  The set was priced so well, I bought one as a gift and one for myself.

I thought it was three 12-ounce bottles, so when I cracked open my set tonight and discovered it was actually three 550ml bombers...well...I was like a kid in a candy store.  I might have actually squealed in delight.  Just a little.

Today's Brew:  Samuel Smith Brewery - Oatmeal Stout
Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout pours very dark, with a thick creamy head that stays around for a while.  Right up front you get a big sweetness - chocolate and toffee flavors.  It's smooth and velvety on the tongue, then finishes with a nice espresso and bitter flavor that balances the sweetness.  I'm not a big stout drinker, but this is one of the best, and one of my favorites.

Note:  Check out this picture of the "stone Yorkshire squares," the slabs of slate that Samuel Smiths uses to ferment its ales and stouts.  Very cool.

Today's Cue: Jimmy Eat World - Mixtape
Jimmy Eat World is one of my favorite bands, dating back to their "Bleed American" album from 2001.  That album broke the band through to the mainstream, and provided the blueprint the band has worked from, very successfully, ever since.

One of Jimmy Eat World's "trademarks" has been the strength of the last song on each disc, starting with Bleed American.  Some fans consider these closing tracks - often strong emo ballads with heart-felt, or heart-breaking, lyrics - as some of the band's best work.  The last track from their latest disc, Invented, falls right in line.  The song is called Mixtape.  It's killer lyric; "maybe we could put your tape back on...rewind it to the moment we went wrong."  This is a great acoustic version of the song, included on the deluxe version of the album.

Great song. And a great beer. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Day 15 - Imperial Nut Brown, and Snow Patrol

Today's Brew:  Tommyknocker Brewing - Imperial Nut Brown Ale
When I saw the label, "brewed with pure maple syrup," I was worried that one would be too sweet for my tastes.  And, yes, it does start out sweet.  But not obnoxiously so, and the initial sweetness gives way to a great balance of chocolate and an ever-so-slight hint of smoke.  Also keeping the sweetness in check is this beer's 9% ABV - it's a strong one...and you get the alcohol warm on the finish.

It's very pleasing brew, but it's best as an after-dinner brew.  Skip the chocolate dessert and go with this, and you'll be just fine.

Today's Cue:  Snow Patrol - The Planets Bend Between Us.
Snow Patrol - where marketable pop/rock meets melancholy shoe-gazing.  This band has a knack for repetitive melodies that get stuck in your head, and lyrics that are thoughtful enough to keep you discovering a new emotion with each listen.  Their 2008 album, "A Hundred Million Suns," is their best to date, and this song is the epitome of everything that's right about that disc.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Day 14 - The Return Of An Old Favorite

Today's Brew:  Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale - Anheuser Busch/Michelob Brewing
I first tried Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale about 4 years ago.  Stumbled upon it at Boulder's biggest liquor store, and was amazed that Michelob was trying it's hand at such a micro offering.  I gave it a shot, not expecting much at all, and was amazed.  Smooth, warm, sweet but with a great finish.  It was nothing like what I expected from the same company that makes Bud Light and Michelob Ultra.

I looked off an on for it again over the last few years, but never found it, until tonight, at a local store.  Like seeing an old friend, my eyes lit up and I couldn't wait to re-live old times.

This year's edition of Winter's Bourbon is very similar to what I remember; perhaps with a touch more alcohol punch that before.  The aging in oak bourbon casks and flavoring with whole madagascar vanilla beans does give it a hint of a bourbon taste on the front end, which then gives way to a nice hop crispness and smooth finish.  It's a nice beer, and one of the best macro-micros you'll find.

Today's Cue: Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life
I first heard this song just a few weeks ago, and I fell in love with it right away.  It's a very simple, sweet little acoustic number about falling in love.  And the video is as simple and heartwarming as the song. Bright Eyes, which is basically a vehicle for singer/songwriter Conor Oberst, has found just the right words for when you can't find the words.....


Monday, December 13, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues - Days 10-13: A good, long weekend.

You know...I should have known better than to try to update this blog daily during December.  But hey, at least I'm not letting down on the beer tasting or music listening parts of the deal.

So, without further adieu, here are the picks for the last four days.

Friday's Brew: Deschutes Brewery - Black Butte Porter
As I've mentioned before, porter's can be intimidating for the uninitiated.  Their color indicates big and heavy, and that's usually not the case.

Black Butte Porter is a very easy drinking beer.  Smooth mouth feel, just enough bitter to balance and/or tame the chocolate and oh-so-slight smoke flavors of the malt.  Nice for a cold December night.

Saturday's Brew:  Bristol Brewing Company - Mass Transit Ale
I had an office holiday party Saturday night, and needed something that was flavorful, yet mild enough for macro drinkers.  (It was a BYOB party...but as a host I like to always have some extra for those guests who show up without their "b".)

Enter Mass Transit Ale.  It considers itself an amber...but that's only in color, as it's neither malty nor bitter enough to truly qualify.  It's fairly unremarkable, but even at that, it offers more flavor and character than any american macro lager.  If you can find it on sale (which I did), it's a good choice for a gathering of friends.

Sunday's Brew:  Grand Lake Brewing Company - Pumphouse Lager
Grand Lake Brewing Company in Grand Lake, Colorado, is the highest packaging microbrewery in the U.S., sitting at an elevation of 8,369 feet.  I found a mixed-six of their beers on Saturday, while shopping for above mentioned party.  My first one out of the mix was the Pumphouse Lager.  It's advertised as a German helles-style lager, light and easy to drink.  That it is...indeed.  It's actually much lighter in character than many other helles-style brews I've had.  I would have been disappointed, except that I opened it after working on Christmas lights, so it was actually very refreshing.  Can't say I'd go out of my way for it again, but it wasn't bad at all.

Monday's Brew:  Rogue Brewery - Dead Guy Ale
Easily the most distinctive beer of the last four days.  Dead Guy Ale is Rogue's take on a Germain maibock. A maibock is a helles-style lager brewed to bock strength, and as such, tends to be less malty than a traditional bock, with more hop characteristic.  Dead Guy Ale starts with the a distinct hop bitterness, which gives way to the bock-style malt flavor on the finish...producing a slightly sweet finish.  It's a bit hoppy for my liking, but may be just the thing for a pale or India Pale lover looking for something just a bit different.

Cues of the past four days:
I won't go into great detail on the songs - just posting four that I've really enjoyed during the last year.

Ingrid Michaelson - Maybe
Had the pleasure of seeing Ingrid Michaelson live at Lilith Fair 2010.  Superb performance - great musician with a fantastic sense of humor.  If you ever get a chance to see her, go.  Just go.

Anjule - Rain
I also had a chance to see Anjule at Lilith Fair. Not a good performance. She's a talented vocalist and song-writer, who suffered from a complete lack of stage presence. Too bad, because her self-titled debut is a very sold disc. Hopefully the live shows get better for her.

My Chemical Romance - Summertime
This is a relatively new MCR song, off their latest disc, "Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys." I really like MCR, and have ever since "I'm Not Okay." Post-punk power mixed with emo lyrics and a fantastic pop sensibility. This one is actually pretty mellow for them, but it's my favorite track off the new album.

Keith Urban - I'm In
I can't say that I'm a big country fan. I like my share of it...but I'd like it even more if there were more Keith Urbans in the world. Urban is a great pop-country songwriter who can also take someone else's song and make it magical. Such is the case with I'm In...written and originally performed by Radney Foster. Great, great song.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Days 8 & 9 - Catching Up

It's become apparent to me that my original plan of posting every day during December isn't going to work.  I'm trying...but life keeps interrupting.  Last night it was a wet cell phone - dead - needing resuscitation. I'm still enjoying a beer and a song each night...just not doing as well getting online and blogging about it.

So, tonight is a 2-for-1.

Wednesday's Brew:  Anchor Brewing Company's 2010 Christmas Ale.

Anchor changes the recipe on their Christmas specialty brew each year, and this36th rendition is very pleasing.

To my taste, it's sort of a black ale-porter cross.  It starts very bright on the tongue, given it's black color.  But the brightness gives way to a malty smoothness on the finish, with a bit more body that it leads on.  Very enjoyable and not heavy.  I haven't been impressed every year with Anchor's Christmas recipe, but this one's a keeper.

Thursday's Brew: 
Anderson Valley Brewing Company's Winter Solstice
This winter warmer is brewed with caramel, and you can taste it right off the top.  The website says a "hint of sweetness," and it eventually is, but it start very sweet on the tip of the tongue.  It mellows as it goes down, and on the finish you can taste the spices also in the brew.  I was taken back at first by the sweetness, but in the end, very pleased.  Not a two-per-sitting beer, too sweet for that, but very good.

Wednesday's Cue:  Bill Evans Trio - My Foolish Heart
Ok...I'm a sucker for sweet, slow, sultry piano blues/jazz.  And Bill Evans was one of the greats.  His rendition of My Foolish Heart is strong, smooth, and emotional. Add this song to the Anchor Chirstmas Ale and a good cigar, and it's a great night.  Just no two ways around it.

Thursday's Cue:  Anberlin - Down
One of my favorite bands of the past few years.  Like so many others in the last couple of years, I first heard them from fellow Blip DJ's on  These guys have a knack for great lyrics wrapped inside killer melodies.  They've been compared in some circles to the Goo Goo Dolls.  Maybe, if the Goo's were a bit more emo.  In any event, Anberlin's latest, "Dark Is A Way, Light Is A Place," is a very worthy listen, and this is my favorite track from that disc.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

31 Days, 31 Brews, 31 Cues - Day 7: Warm Alaska

Today's Brew:  Alaskan Winter, Alaskan Brewing Company
For my money, Alaskan Brewing makes some of the best beers on the market today.  Alaskan Winter is an English Olde Ale, brewed with spruce tips.  A winter warmer, the Alaskan website makes a point to note that this beer features "the warming sensation of alcohol."  Had they not pointed it out, I wouldn't have noticed.  The alcohol is 6.4%, slightly strong but not overly so.  And you don't taste it.  What you do get is a great balance of sweetness at the front with a nice hop finish.  An full-of-flavor but easy drinking winter brew.

Today's Cue:  Novastar - Mars Needs Woman
Don't let the name fool you...this song is just beautiful.  Novastar is popular band in Belgium, their home country, and the Netherlands.  They're known for their emotional pop ballads, and Mars Needs Woman certainly fits the description.  Lush, harmonic and featuring beautiful orchestration, it's a great piece of lo-fi pop fit for any mellow mood.


Monday, December 6, 2010

31 Days - 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Day 6 / This one's no Scrooge

Today's Brew: Ebenezer Ale, Bridgeport Brewing

When I first tried Ebenezer Ale several years ago, I was left unimpressed.  Can't put my finger on what turned me off about it...but I didn't like it.

So why did I buy another bottle last week?  Curiosity, I suppose.  Suffice to say, I'm glad I did.  Maybe my palate has become more sophisticated...or maybe it was just a bad batch back then.  But this Ebenezer is a good brew.  It starts off very malty, but the hop balance is nice, and it finishes dry and a little sweet - some describe it as a caramel-y finish.  I can go with that.  It's not overly strong, so you could have a couple and not feel bloated. Good, very drinkable winter warmer.

Tonight's Cue:  Mackintosh Braun - Familiar

I love this duo.  Mackintosh Braun mix a synth heavy dance style - similar to the Pet Shop Boys - with emotive songwriting and more hooks than a tackle box.  Their latest disc, Where We Are, is pure pop pleasure and this song, Familiar, is my favorite.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

31 Days: 31 Brews, 31 Cues - Days 3, 4, and 5...a 3-for-1

Sometimes life, or lack of a sure wi-fi connection, gets in the way.  Such was the case this weekend.  A long road trip for a DJ job combined with no wi-fi connection on the road kept me from updating my "31 Days" on Friday and Saturday.  So today, you get a 3-for-1:  The three beers I enjoyed this weekend, and 3 great song recommendations.

Friday's Beer:  Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter
For the uninitiated, Porter's can be intimidating.  Their dark color screams "motor oil!!" But usually, nothing could be further from the truth.  Porters are actually usually very smooth.  Big and strong, yes, but rarely bitter or overpowering.  Tommyknocker, from Idaho Springs, Colorado, makes this Cocoa Porter by adding cocoa powder and honey to each barrel, resulting for an incredibly smooth, warming porter with a hit of sweetness and chocolate that never overpowers.  A fantastic holiday-time choice.

Saturday's Brew:  Boulder Brewing's Black Diamond Chocolate Porter
My second Porter of the weekend was enjoyed at Old Chicago.  Advertised as an "Old Chicago" beer, my server told me it's actually brewed locally by Boulder Brewing.  This chocolate porter takes the subtle hint of cocoa offered in the Tommyknocker, and turns it up to 11.  This porter was, again, incredibly smooth, but finished with a much stronger chocolate aftertaste than the Tommyknocker.  Not unpleasant...actually very tasty.  Limit to just one...because drinking two is like having too much of a rich chocolate dessert.

Sunday's Brew:  Rock Bottom Molly's Titanic Brown
I love Newcastle...and this brown comes a close second.  Smooth, a hint of nutty and chocolate overtones, but very smooth on the finish.  Many lovers of browns criticize this one as being "unremarkable," but I disagree. It's not so much that it stands out...but that it's so smooth and enjoyable that you can enjoy beer with plenty of taste without having to think too much about it.

Friday's Cue:  Athlete - Magical Mistakes
This album, Black Swan, has been on repeat in my mp3 player much of the past year.  Athlete gets knocked for being too much like Coldplay, but who cares?  It's great music, and Black Swan is one of the best discs of the year - hands down.

Saturday's Cue:  Blind Pilot - Three Rounds And A Sound
Blind Pilot is one of my treasured finds of the past year.  Low-fi indie pop in the same vein as Bon Iver and Iron and Wine, Blind Pilot's debut album is just a treasure of great songwriting, stirring lyrics and killer hooks. Find this album, buy it, love it.

Sunday's Cue:  Patrick Stump - Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)
Patrick Stump, the lead vocalist for Fall Out Boy, has a solo album coming out early next year.  He's put out the lead single, Spotlight, in two versions on his website,, and is asking fans to vote for their favorite.  This is mine.  A great little pop song.  If you like FOB, this is right down your alley.  Even if you're not familiar with them, this is a fun listen.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

31 Days - 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Day 2 / Joe's Pilsner, and OK Go

Today's Brew:  Joe's Premium American Pilsner

I started yesterday with a great canned beer out of Boulder...might as well stay with the theme today.  Joe's Premium American Pilsner is a new beer from Avery Brewing Company, from the canning line just installed this year.  Avery produces a large number of specialty ales, so a pils is a departure for them.

Joe's is not as hoppy as a traditional pils,  but it does have a good bit of bite.  Otherwise, it's a pretty easy drink.  Would go great with pizza or pasta, and would be a good choice for a friend who is used to American macros and is looking to ease into craft beers.

Today's Cue:  OK Go, "Oh Lately It's So Quiet"

Another song that's a few years old, that I just discovered this year.

OK Go is most famously known for the popular "Here It Goes Again" and the "treadmill" video that accompanied it.  This song comes from the same album, Oh No, but on an album that features a variety of pop styles (as does the entire OK Go catalog) , this one is certainly qualifies as different.  It's a strange little mid-tempo love song, equating getting over a lost relationship with a haunting.  Weird? Yes.  Catchy?  Absolutely.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

31 Days - 31 Brews, 31 Cues: Day 1

It's December first, and I set out on the month-long odyssey that I outlined last week. Each day this month, I'll blog about a different beer and post one of my most listened-to and recommended songs of the past year. A little present to myself :) and hopefully all of you can discover something as well.

Tonights's Brew: Upslope Brown Ale

10 years or so ago, it was fairly taboo to see craft beers in cans.  The general feeling was that the cans imparted a metallic after-taste on the beer, hindering the flavor of the quality brew inside.  That changed a few years ago when can technology changed making it more feasible for micro-brewers to can in vessels that didn't change the flavor.

Upslope uses cans exclusively for their market-ready beers, and Brown Ale is only the third for this relatively new brewery in Boulder, Colorado.

This brown in atypical.  According to the Upslope website, the initial brewer felt that, for his version, the traditional British Brown style should be "Americanized...roasted, and malty, and it needed to be a little more bitter."

The version now can has been refined a bit, but it definitely is more roasted, malty and bitter than a traditional brown.  It comes as a bit of a surprise at first, but not an unpleasant one.  Just different.  This ain't Newcastle, but it's pretty good.  Worth raising a pint....or a can.

Tonight's Cue: Coverdale/Page, "Take Me For A Little While."

It's not a new song...actually came out in the mid 90s. But I discovered it, purely by accident, this past year on (By the way, you can find the BrewsCues Blip station here. The song sounds decidedly more like Whitesnake than either Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin, but the results are just awesome. David Coverdale's voice and Jimmy Page's guitar were made to go together, and here they produce a sultry rock ballad with just enough bite (and great guitar) to keep it from getting old.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

31 Days: 31 Brews, 31 Cues

OK, so I've been pretty bad about updating this blog recently. Blame life, three jobs, needing downtime...whatever. Fact is, I've been ignoring things here, and need to rectify that.

I'll do so with an idea that's been brewing (pun intended) in my head recently. For the month of December, I'll be featuring an daily beer, and a daily favorite song. The beers are some of my favorites and some I'm trying for the first time. The songs are some that have been on repeat on my Zune most often during 2010.

I hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave comments on your thoughts about the brews, and the cues. The fun starts December 1st. Cheers!

Cue of the Day: My Chemical Romance - "Summertime"

Today's song is from the new My Chemical Romance disc: Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. It's a loose concept album...though I really don't know what the concept is. But the music is everything that's good about MCR - alternating between punk attitude and pop-metal sensibility, with solid songwriting and enough hooks to keep you coming back.

This song, Summertime, is probably the most pop-oriented on the disc. In fact, it sounds very reminiscent of the Smashing Pumpkins pop leanings. And the Pumpkins would do well to get back to writing songs this solid. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cue of the Week: Mackintosh Braun

I have no idea where I originally heard the song "Wake Up" by Mackintosh Braun. Might have been on the tv show Chuck. Not sure. No matter, though, because it's a great song and they are a great band.

Part electronica, part emo...and all good. The hard part is tracking down Mackintosh Braun's album, The Sound. It's not on Napster or Zune. I finally found it - for an absolute bargain price - at, a great new music site that I'll review more in-depth soon.

So, anyway, that's as deep as the analysis gets tonight...because I'm too busy enjoying the music. I hope you do, too.