Archive for December, 2010

Beer Review: Pale Ale from Schlafly Brewing Co.

Schlafly Pale Ale bottle and pint-glass

As a Kansas City, and Boulevard Brewing Co. homer, I had been reluctant in purchasing beers made by the Schlafly Brewing Company of St. Louis.  In fact, during my now three years as a craft beer drinker I had yet to purchase a single one of their products.  Luckily, for me, the lady of the house picked up some of their Pale Ale up by chance the other day at, one of our local liquor stores.

Shclafly’s version of the pale ale is made in the style of the old English Pale Ales rather than its American counterparts like Boulevard’s and Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale offerings.  It uses traditional English hop varieties rather than American.


  • Appearance – 4 of 5
  • Smell – 3.5 of 5
  • Taste – 4 of 5
  • Mouthfeel – 3.5 of 5
  • Drinkability – 5 of 5
  • OVERALL – 4 of 5

Its appearance boasts a medium copper/ amber body that becomes more orange when held to a light.  The body color also has a definite haze, which makes it difficult to see through to the other side of the glass. (though on further research pictures found on the web feature glasses poured showing little to no haze at all) It pours with a finger width, off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing as the beer recedes down the glass.

The aroma is a fairly even balance of hops and biscuity malt.  Significantly more malty and less hoppy than most American pale ales.  The scent is of a medium strength and there are hints of floral and herb as well, but they are only faint.

The taste, much like the aroma of this beer is a wonderful balance of hop bitterness and malt flavor.  The first thing the drinker should notice is the coating, biscuity flavor of the malt, which is followed shortly after by the faint floral and herbal notes, then again by the hops for a dry, crisp finish and a pleasant alcohol burn.  I personally, really like the taste and mouthfeel on the back of my tongue, as Schlafly’s pale ale delicately works on those bitter-sensitive taste-buds.

The mouthfeel of this beer is very nice.  It is light enough without being watery, and thick enough without being too heavy.  It coats the drinker’s mouth nicely, and could be described as a “fluffy” mouthfeel. Note again the dry finish from before.  Its only flaw would be that if drank slowly too slowly it has a tendency to become a bit watery.  Again, this is not typical and with its drinkability should rarely be a problem.

This brew is also very drinkable, and would be suitable for a session at any time throughout the year.  It is quite easy drinking and when served cold would be perfect for an afternoon of yard work or at the ballpark.  It also has a slight warming effect that translates nicely to a winter session.  As it says on the bottle, “Perfect for those summers days and nights as well as a cozy winter fire. ”

Schlafly Pale Ale would pair nicely with spicier dishes from the Mediterranean, India, and the Americas featuring poultry and fish.

Overall, I think this brew will be a definite mainstay in my beer rotation.  It would also be a great transitional beer for those looking to break away from the typical American macro swill.


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An unlikely heroine emerges in “Winter’s Bone”

Winter's Bone promotional artwork

Writer and Director Debra Granik’s “Winter’s Bone” is both a brutally honest immersion into the methamphetamine-ridden culture of the rural Ozark Mountain region, and an incredibly gripping tale of love and courage personified by a teenage girl.

The film’s protagonist, a 17, year-old girl named Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence),  divides her time between high school, and taking care of both her mostly unresponsive and mentally ill mother, her 12-year-old brother and her 6-year-old sister — receives message from the local Sherriff’s Department.


Ree teaches her siblings how to shoot a gun.

Her father, Jessup Dolly, a convicted methamphetamine producer and dealer has gone missing, effectively skipping out on the bail-bond for which he leveraged his family’s house and the timber land around it.

Young Ree, consequentially, is forced into a desperate search for her father in hopes to save her family and her home.

From there the film follows Ree as she traipses through the Missouri back-country, asking, and begging relatives and neighbors — including her uncle who is her father’s brother “Teardrop” Jessup (John Hawkes) who reluctantly lends a helping hand — for any information or assistance in regards to the disappearance of her father.

The film, which received both the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for dramatic films and the festival’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting award, paints an unapologetic picture of life in the world of backwoods meth traffickers and the people around them, while managing to avoid the air of superiority that films focusing on a depressed and downtrodden culture often do.

John Hawkes as "Teardrop" Dolly


“Winter’s Bone” also showcases excellent use of music and subtle sound effects to add a delicate and unobtrusive element of depth.

That, along with exceptionally well-timed violence, and limited but extremely effective nail-biting suspense, helps the film elevate to a level of realism that even an unlimited amount of special effects and big budget star power would be hard-pressed to duplicate.

“Winter’s Bone” is an exceptional film, and boasts what are sure to be well-deserved, breakout performances by Granik and Lawrence. This is one of the few films in 2010 that is truly not to be missed.

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Wheelchair SHAWTY: Awesomely bad rap dance/song

Sometimes when I’m in da’ club I wonder how a parrapallegic might enjoy the dance-floor.  Well, now I know.

Augusta, Ga. natives D-Money n Smoove have recently released the track, “Wheelchair Shawty” to the masses.  If I cand have any thing to do with it this thing is about to go viral.

Wheelchair indeed.

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NCAA Football playoffs start this Saturday (in my dreams)

This Saturday could be the first weekend of Division-I college football playoff.  This Saturday could play host to numerous epic, win or go home match-ups.  College football could be the talk of the sports nation, just like basketball is every March. We could all be readying ourselves for match-ups between Arkansas and Michigan State, or Oklahoma and LSU, in which the winner would survive only long enough for a road-trip to Auburn, Ala. or Eugene, Ore.  Teams like Stanford and Wisconsin could be licking their chops at a possible second round match-up for the right to advance closer to a National Championship.

We could be in the early stages of a month-long drama that would have seen a true National Champion crowned on New Years Day.

Of course we can only dream.

Instead we are mired in the grasp of archaic bowl games and a BCS championship system that does nothing but create fan apathy toward 95% of the now 37 bowl-games. Even in the BCS — which is supposed to pit the creme-de-la creme against one another —  we wind up with match-ups like a meaningless Fiesta Bowl featuring #7 Oklahoma and a Connecticut team that, well, had to be placed somewhere.

“But what about the tradition!?”

Can this excuse get any more tired?  Tradition?  This year the BCS is sending #4 Stanford, the Pac 10 runner-up (Oregon will be in the BCS title game), to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl,  while Texas Christian heads to Pasadena to smell the roses.  Bowl tradition has been all-but-gone for some time. It’s time to put the old dog down.

It’s time for a playoff, and if people still want to put on bowl games for the teams that don’t make it, great.  With a 16 team playoff there would still be enough teams (58) left for 29 bowls.  Which could still take place right alongside the playoff tournament with little or no interference.

Anyway, enough with the ranting, let’s get back to that dream scenario.

College system needs a playoff, and not a plus-one game,  and not even an 8 team tournament.  Division I football needs a 16 team, four round, elimination tournament to crown it’s champion.  It is the best for the fans, the television ratings, and for the schools involved.

Of the 16 teams selected 11 would be “automatic” qualifiers, and would earn that distinction by winning their conference championship.  The remaining 5 teams would be chosen “at-large” either by a committee or by a predetermined system similar to the BCS or some other computer ranking.

Under this system every school in the country would have a tangible chance to win the national championship at the beginning of the regular season, and the best teams that fail to win their conference title would still have a shot to make the playoffs.  This would differ from the current situation where a team like TCU squad literally no shot to win it all, even if they go undefeated.

Once the 16 teams are chosen then the committee or the predetermined system would seed them 1 to 16.  Higher seeded teams would then have “home-field advantage,” up until the championship game, which would be held at a predetermined neutral site.

The whole tournament would have a total of 15 games and last four weeks.  It would start the week after the conference championship games.

So how would it look?

If held this year the playoffs would begin this Saturday, Dec. 11., the second round on the 18th, the semi-finals — think Final Four — on Christmas Day.  The Championship game could then be played on either New Years Day or it could be pushed back a week to allow to ease travel arrangements of teams, fans, and media.

A set-up like this would instantly transform December from one of the slower times in the sports world into a NCAA football bonanza.

But of Course this is only a dream.

Edit:  Independent teams would qualify the same as At-Large teams.

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