Archive for category entertainment

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.

Scoring

  • 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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Affleck hones his chops in “The Town”

With his sophomore directorial effort “The Town,” actor/director Ben Affleck proves that his debut, 2007’s critically acclaimed “Gone Baby gone,” was no fluke. Well, that and he’s really good at making movies featuring “angry Bahston punks”.

“The Town” in question is Charlestown, Mass. a Boston neighborhood that, according to the film, is the birthing ground to more bank robbers than you can keep track of; and it, like has come to be expected in Affleck films, makes an appropriately gritty setting for a triumphant ode to the heist films of old (“Heat,” “Point Break,” etc.).

The film follows Doug Macray (Affleck), a prototypical tortured-soul, criminal protagonist and his crew of bank robbers, including loose-cannon sidekick Jim “Gem” Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) as they commit an increasingly difficult string of robberies for the manipulative neighborhood boss, Fergus “The Florist” Colm (Pete Postlethwaite).

On the other side of the law, the FBI, lead by Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) and his sidekick, Charlestown traitor Dino Ciampa (Titus Welliver) closes In on Macray and company as the story builds to the inevitable big job/ standoff between cops and robbers.

A budding romance between robbery number victim and yuppie-bank employee Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) and Macray, and another with Coughlin’s troubled sister Krista (Blake Lively), adds depth and sexual tension.

That mixed with some inter-crew strife between Macray and Coughlin, and Macray’s rapidly increasing desire to leave the crime world (and Boston in general) in the rear-view, as well as a slow reveal of the mystery surrounding Macray’s mother all contribute to giving the film the depth needed to help it rise above the drab cesspool of hack action/crime stories.

Affleck certainly has a deep appreciation for, and understanding of the greater Boston area, and that combined with his knowledge and passion for film-making is seen throughout from costume design to character accents and mannerisms as well as a bevy of aerial and panoramic shots the really showcase the essence of the Boston cityscape and its working class population.

Particularly interesting and engaging is the symbolism of Macray’s two romantic attachments. Robbery victim Keesey, is a representation of where Macray wants to head in the future. She is friendly, clean, she volunteers at the local youth center and community garden, at times it seems as though she might be too good to be true, or at least too good to be possible for a guy like Macray. She represents nearly all of his good qualities.

Blake Lively’s portrayal of Krista Coughlin, arguably the most well-played in the film, as the often doped up, single mother of a toddler who may or may not be Macray’s, represents everything about his life up to this point, everything he wants to leave behind. And while she is definitely full of flaws, she is desperately loyal, which is symbolic of Charlestown culture in general.

Blake Lively plays Krista Coughlin in "The Town"

 

Of all the characters in the film, including Macray, it is Krista Coughlin who, in a roundabout way, is the most human and endearing of them all.

Overall I think that “The Town,” is definitely worth the price of admission and is the type of movie that resonates well on the big screen.

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