Category Archives: beer

Swords, Gravity, Bikers: Three Things That Pumped Me Up Last Week

1. Samurai Movies. Last Saturday was an active one for me. The day began with the traditional Samurai Saturday Kurosawa movie viewing. The Criterion Collection on Netflix Watch Instantly has proven a handy tool for filling out the gaps in my samurai movie knowledge, even while it gives me a chance to go back and watch some of my old favorites. Sanjuro was new to me, but I loved every minute of the film.Toshiro Mifune was at his gruffest, but still stole the show in this story of a group of inexperienced young Samurai dealing with a rebellion and taking advice from a grizzled old drunk. Mifune delivers the goods, as ever. I’m not sure why I get such a kick out of these old movies. Sure, part of it is the unquestionable bad-assery of dudes just straight up wailing on each other with swords. But the violence is surprisingly low key. (Until it isn’t). But there is a lyrical quality to films like Sanjuro and thematic depth to movies like Rashomon that I prefer.

2. Triple Rock Brewery Firkin Festival. After the film ended and the Beautiful Wife returned from her trip,we met up with some friends and made our way out to the East Bay for some delicious craft beers at the Triple Rock Brewery Firkin Gravity Beer Festival. Some of the finest small brewers in Nor Cal showed up with kegs of their most delicious brews. All of them served the old fashioned way, relying on an angled keg and Sir Isaac’s Newton’s specialty to make the suds flow. I tasted probably the finest Imperial Stout ever from Ballast Point.  It was called “Sea Monster” and it tasted so good that it made me want to float through the gulf stream and hassle 17th century sailors. My local brewery, The 21st Amendment brought their “Imperial Jack” ESB, which was brewed with Maker’sMark barrel oak chips and tasted like it’s ideal setting would be to drink it from a Mason jar on the front porch of a large Kentucky home.

3. Punks fighting hipsters with bikers watching. The East Bay Rats are a motorcycle club based in Oakland. After the beerfest, we moseyed along to their clubhouse for an irregular Fight Night. I do not ride a motorcycle and I have never attended a soirée at a clubhouse before, so I had nothing to calibrate my expectations aside from my fervent appreciation of Sons of Anarchy so I didn’t know what I was getting into. The night was billed as Punks Versus Hipsters, and they started out trying to match the mohawks to the moccasins, but over time the match ups moved away from that theme and anyone who wanted to enter the boxing ring took a turn. It was awesome. The bikers that I met were all nice guys.No one removed anyone else’s tattoo with a blowtorch, so Sons of Anarchy may have oversold the danger. The bouts were all overseen by a referee, the fighters wore gloves, and everybody hugged after the match. It was more like a Smoker at a local boxing gym than Thunderdome. The club house was super crowded though, and it seemed like a popular event.

Three Things That Rocked My World This Week

1. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is probably my all-time favorite beer. I’ve been on a serious IPA kick for the last four years or so, and the hoppy goodness (90 IBU) that the fine folks at Dogfish Head consistently deliver in every bottle tickles my nose most pleasantly. The high alcohol content (9%) means that I can’t drink as many as I would like in any one sitting without starting to talk kinda loud and possibly riding the wrong bus about five miles in the wrong direction. Still, it’s a wonderful beer. I continually monitor their website in case they post a job opening for in-house counsel, but until they do I’ll keep drinking it.

2. The Strokes are a band that I’ve followed since they first broke onto the scene during my first year in undergrad.

Julian Casablancas and company have delivered album after album of kick-ass songs. Maybe the didn’t turn out to be the Indie Messiahs who would change the Face of Modern Rock; as some of the more ardent critics proclaimed them after Is This It? but I have enjoyed the slow progression of their sound all the way down to Angles It’s been on daily rotation since I downloaded it from Amazon for $3.99 in one of the best daily deals Amazon has yet put out there. This album has a slightly 80s vibe to it, but in a good way.

3. Dragon Age II is my first real exposure to the series.

I did try to get into Origins but I was stymied by the difficulty level. I ended up not having fun because even when I micromanaged my party to within an inch of their lives, I still got schooled by nearly every Darkspawn we ran across. I was a big fan of Mass Effect games, so getting reacquainted with the BioWare approach to role playing wasn’t that hard. Dragon Age 2 is easier than its predecessor, in that it is actually possible for your followers to make rational decisions for themselves, such as drinking a health potion after they get knocked on their ass by orc-blades or not jumping in front of the toughest bad guy in the room when they are out of stamina. I also like the self-contained nature of the smaller scale adventure. Your hero basically just hangs out in the city and the setting changes temporally instead of spatially. That being said, I do wish that the you could check out more areas in the city and run through the same damn dungeon ten times. Nothing is more fun than setting up a cross class combo and having your rogue disorient an enemy just long enough for your spellcaster to bring the mystical pain. I also enjoy the way you go into conversational cut-scenes covered head to to in the gory ichor of your foes and just start chuckling with your buddies like it’s the end of Scooby Doo.