The Beer Corner: Harpoon Winter Warmer

The second beer from my winter season pack is Harpoon Brewery’s Winter Warmer.

I picked this one because it was of course, seasonal, and I had never tried anything by Harpoon. Poured into the official Beer Corner beer sampling mug at fridge temperature!

Pouring: Slightly heavier pour, but pours relatively smoothly. I poured it a bit aggressively to see the emergence of a head. Head did form but did end up receding.

Smell: Almost immediately you can smell cinnamon and nutmeg. Can make out alcohol notes as well.

Sounds: Decently carbonated, and a fingertip head does form. Slight bubbling heard.

Sights: Pours a nice robust brown color. Cannot see through it, and no noticeable  carbonation activity. Fingertip head forms, but subsides. Leaves a tracing on side of mug as you drink

Taste: Spice, spice, spice! This beer is reminiscent of Fall ales with pumpkin and other spices. The beer is rather uniform, cinnamon spice from start to finish. Slight bitterness, but mostly a nice zing of spice.

Overall: I thought this beer was pretty good! There don’t seem to be favorable reviews of it on beer enthusiast sites, but to me it was enjoyable and drinkable. Perhaps it has to do with the lack of complexity. The taste doesn’t change mid sip or mid beer. It is straight up spice throughout. I am, however, confused by the “warmer” tag in it’s title. It hardly causes a flushing, if any sort of reaction. It does taste like a nice warm cider, which is perhaps why. So overall, I think it is a solid choice, and better than what you may read about online. Give it a try!

7.5 / 10 Bags ( Grade: B )

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Motor Trend International Auto Show: Part 2 – Luxury Imports

Finally! Part 2 of The Heap’s 4 part overage of the International Auto Show which was in town at the beginning of December!

Today we’ll be looking at what the Import motor market has to offer for the upcoming production year. Perhaps the most impressive display was by Korean automaker Hyundai, which The Heap touts as the next up and coming power in the imported auto market. They’ve been the talk of the land, with redesigns across the board, leading to sportier, sleeker, dare I say, more desirable designs. They certainly should have an award for most improved, and one for actually listening to customers! The quality of the product has gone way up, while costs stay competitive.

I was disappointed by the showing by Volkswagen. It appeared to me that they almost had no interest in being there, having only a GTI and maybe a Jetta or 2 on hand. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the new VW Beetle, but alas, it was not to be seen. Even Kia tried to appeal more to the auto show browsers! Those smug Germans!

First up were the JDM (Japanese) luxury imports- Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus. All three had fairly nice displays, but Acura’s was the most impressive, as they had their new touring crossover, the ZDX headlining their area. The other two didn’t really have anything too new, except minor cosmetic improvements to chassis. I found the ZDX to be quite impressive, and very sleek. Many aren’t fans of Acura’s attempt at a trademark grille, but the ZDX wears it perfectly. Sadly, the new TL was there too (thankfully in Pearl White), and looking at it makes it seem more and more like the glorified Honda Accord it is. The TSX is sharp, however, and the new available V6 engine will surely pep it up.

I want to like Infiniti- I really do, but the only thing worth seeing at their display was the G37 convertible. I’ve never been a fan of the G series sedan, though it is technologically sound. And again, their SUVs are marvels, but are overpriced and just don’t get my attention. I think they may have had their M series there, but that has never really appealed to me anyway. Only perhaps the 5.o liter series engines.

Lexus falls right in there with Infniti, though I do have a soft spot for the IS series. The beast of them all was there- the IS F. Looks nice in white, but I would love it in metallic blue! 400 HP in a small body car… it must fly!

BMW has modest improvements to design, which seems to be an annual necessity for them. But the 3 and 5 do keep getting sharper and sharper. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it… unless you can make it better! I sat down in the rear of a fully loaded 7 series and I was blown away at the comfort. It would say it could rival the aesthetics of a Rolls Royce! Wel maybe not, but it was nice enough for me!

I am not too big of a Mercedes-Benz fan, so I didnt spend too much time there. I do like their roadsters and they had a few on hand. But I just do not like their sedans at all. They surely have impressive engines and numbers, but they just don’t do it for me. Sadly, they didn’t have their newest two door roadster, which pays homage to the gull wings of old!

Mini made a surprising showing, and they finally had their 4 door “sedan” on hand to try out! Plenty of room in the back, and now with the 4 door option, it is a whole lot easier to get back there! I am looking forward to this one, and I’m hoping my girlfriend opts for one after she finishes law school – though I wouldn’t mind the Camaro she wants ;

That’s it for the import luxury section. Next we will have just normal imports!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Beer Corner: A Correction

Just a quick post to update a previous review. After careful deliberation and thought, I have increased the rating of Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout to 9 / 10 Bags. I felt I was a bit conservative with the initial rating. All the others I have done were right where I wanted them, but I’ve caught myself raving about it to a few people in the past few weeks.

I’ve also decided to implement a simpler rating system. Don’t worry, the bags will remain, but accompanying reviews will be a traditional letter grade system as well. The scale won’t be set in stone. For example a 8.5 could be an A- of a B+. It will just depend what I feel the beer deserves.

I’ll be going back now to add letter grades to all previous reviews (of all types, not just TBC reviews).

Thanks for reading, and I should have some new posts after the Bucs game!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Beer Corner: Flying Fish Brewing Co. Grand Cru Winter Reserve

We begin the holiday 6 pack with a Belgian Style Ale by the Flying Fish Brewing Company with their seasonal Grand Cru Winter Reserve!

The label and name of the brewing company got my attention as I scoured the seasonal section of beer. Poured into the official Beer Corner beer sampling mug at fridge temperature!

Pouring: Smooth pour, and you could smell the wheatiness of the beer immediately. A half a fingertip head forms and remains for the most part of the experience.

Smell: It is of wheat, and hops, slight fruity tinge. No noticeable alcohol smell.

Sounds: Nothing out of the ordinary here, but a small head does form and you can hear the carbonation, but it is not as evident as in other beers.

Sights: Begins as amber and perhaps darkens ever so slightly. Not much visible carbonation, but we do see it get to the top of the glass in the head. Liquid is cloudy, like most Belgian wheats, with visible particulate.

Taste: At first, you are met with a slight citrusy taste, but then becomes wheaty. A little on the “sticky” side when it comes to texture. Leaves a slight aftertaste.

Overall: This was an excellent first foray into the Winter seasonal selection. My first thought about this beer was how drinkable it was. It was enjoyable to drink, and I could see myself knocking a few bottles back. If I had to describe it, I would say it was like a hybrid of Blue Moon and Hoegaarden. It is tasty, but not the most unique of beers. I would definitely recommend it if you fnd it on tap or a six pack if you want to try something new that you and some friends could experience.

7.5 / 10 Bags

Tonight’s Forecast

Is for it to be frickin’ COLD! Here is the 2 hour window that I usually am working outside, 8-10 PM. Well, tonight calls for a constant wind of 15 mph, with an air temperature of about 39 F. Greaaaaat. And then factor in that wind, and we’re looking at 30 F for the entire time.

Oh my goodness.

I was just outside trying to finish up putting on the Christmas lights on the house, and I had to come inside, it’s getting that bad. So as you can see, definitely not looking forward to my time outdoors tonight. I guess we get what we wish for sometimes. Tenfold.

But of course, perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much. I could be up in Chicago or New England like some of my friends. Or maybe in CALIFORNIA where it’s 80 degrees!

Stay warm my friends! Back to attempting to put up the lights!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

Motor Trend International Auto Show: Part 1 – Exotics

Last weekend, as you may have seen on the twitter feed, I was able to go to the big auto show that was in town at the Tampa Convention Center! As an car lover, I felt this wold be an excellent opportunity to see what the recovering industry had up their sleeves. It was a great time!

Most known automakers were represented and had differing displays from the rather disappointing showing from Volkswagen to the gigantic 60,000 square feet of GM’s show. What I liked best about the show is that it’s basically like going to your local dealer- minus the test drive of course, but also minus the pressuring salesman! I could get in a car, look at the engine, look in the trunk, and ask questions if I wanted to without being bothered. If you’re in the market for a new car and have an auto show coming to town, I highly recommend this way of researching.

I’ll have to divide my coverage of the event into 3 posts, since it will be too big to make it into one. Being able to see exotics and other show cars is always an exciting factor. Sadly (and smartly), you aren’t allowed to sit and much less touch these cars. Upon entering the first floor, you were able to venture into a special section of the show, which had custom dragsters and collectibles.

There were a handful of custom hot rods, made using old school chassis. Look at the engine on this one. the belts were wider than my hand. I cant imagine the amount of HP this baby makes. I should have taken a picture of the tires. Over 12 inches wide, at the least. This one was by far the most impressive.

Up next was an old school Corvette convertible. I’m not exactly sure what year this one was, but I’ll guess and say its a body style from the 60’s. Clean car, and it seemed 100 percent OEM. Has to be worth 100K+.

Speaking of Corvettes, someone had a very sharp C5 and had decided t to give it a Blue Angels theme after the notorious air show planes! The custom lighting was most impressive, not to mention the intricate details that the owner had given the seats and mats.

DuPont Registry had a nice little kiosk set up as well. The yad about 5 different Lamborghinis. This one caught my eye. It’s either a Gallardo or Murcielago spyder. Love the color. If I were to get one of these, you bet it would have a loud color!

Now this one was definitely interesting! Talking with that guy in the picture, we found out that that was basically a Mecedes Benz SUV with the roof chopped off! It’s not a production car, but they do take orders for it, apparently. It was very sharp, but would be tough here in Florida due to it not having a roof! Yes, you read that correctly. It is NOT a convertible! It literally does not have a roof!

And of course, what is a luxury show without a showing from Bentley with its GT coupe,

And Rolls-Royce with it’s new Ghost.

We can dream, right?

We’ll do Part 2 later this week, which will be a look at the imports that were at the show!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Beer Corner: Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout

The newest review for The Heap’s Beer Corner is Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout! A seasonal concoction made only in the winter.

I saw this beer while scouring the shelves at Total Wine and thought it would be neat to try. I’ve had a few chocolate flavored beers, and they were nothing to write home about, so I wanted to give this one a change. Poured into the official Beer Corner beer sampling mug at fridge temperature!

Pouring: A heavier than normal pour, and you can notice the chocolate and alcohol aromas. A light brown creamy head forms, about half an inch thick.

Smell: Chocolate smell very noticeable and pleasant, but you can also smell the alcohol, which is not too distracting. It smells pretty good for a beer with a 10% ABV!

Sounds: It’s a heavier pour, and the beer is rather silent because of it. The head appears after the beer settles a bit, sounds are minor, if any.

Sights: The name is not lying! The beer pours noticeably black and stays that way. Cannot see through it, it is very solid, and you can only see evidence of carbonation at the surface. Light brown head appears with a slight creamy texture, though not as extreme as other stouts I’ve tried

Taste: Chocolate was pleasantly noticeable in comparison to other chocolate stouts I have tried. The sweet and slight bitterness of the beer was very enjoyable. I was expecting a slight chocolate taste and was surprised that I could actually make the taste out instead of t being lost in a heavy head.

Overall: Turned out to be a great find! I almost bought another one when I went shopping for another custom six pack yesterday. It’s a shame it’s a seasonal beer. Be careful with its 10% ABV! It tastes decently light, but I’d imaging that knocking back a few could cause trouble! From start to finish, a great holiday beer, and a nice conversation starter!

9 / 10 Bags

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

*This entry was edited on 12/19/10, the Rating was increased to 9 Bags after additional consideration*