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Thursday
Oct162014

DIY Beer Blind Taste Test: How To Prove You Know Nothing About Beer

I made a joke on Facebook earlier this month that all I would drink through October were Octoberfest brews and the next time I was at Binny's I picked up a few six packs because tis the season and all. I added a six-pack of Revolution's Octoberfest cans and Metropolitan's Afterburner to the New Glarus Staghorn I had brought home from a recent family outing to an apple orchard across state lines.

Then I thought, how often do I have three similar beer types in my house at the same time? I bet I could do a taste test. From drinking the three before I thought the New Glarus tasted the most Octoberfest-ey, the Revolution the least bitter and the Metropolitan had the least carbonation.

The idea of a blind taste test for some reason got the kids all excited even though they think beer is gross obviously. So it was a bit of before bedtime/pre-Blackhawks game excitement. Yes, we're this boring it seems.

I set up three small glasses and wrote the names underneath the glasses and then again in front. I turned my back and had Courtney pour the beers so I couldn't see the color difference and then she mixed the glasses around. We made sure the kids weren't watching because they would tell me which was which if they had half the chance to ruin this for me.

After a few sips of each I was stumped. They all tasted the same to me. There was no discernable difference in bitterness, carbonation or color, not that I had poured any out of their bottles the first time around anyway.

Not-so-shockingly I picked all three dead wrong.

There goes my future career as a brew master.

Monday
Oct132014

Underfit Undershirt Review: A Darn Good Undershirt

Two years ago I wrote about the worst undershirt in America, Faded Glory from Wal-Mart. Ever since then I've gotten inquiries for me to try the "best" undershirt on the market. And since then I've continued to buy my own undershirts too of course.

Underfit sent me one of their high-end shirts to see how it measured up and I found it quite good.

At $25 a pop it better be, right? But believe it or not there is a big market for upscale undershirts that routinely cost more than $25 each.

The Underfit is what I would call 'slightly" form-fitting. It isn't a shape forming shirt but it has elasticity to it so it clings to your body. That may not look great when you're looking in a mirror with just the undershirt – your love handles look even less lovely than normal – but the shirt definitely helps how you look when wearing a dress shirt.

The clinginess of the Underfit means you see less love handles with the dress shirt on and I definitely noticed the difference. A standard Jockey undershirt won't do this. It will bunch up around your waist making your gut look worse than it really is and it's hard enough for me to get my gut to the sad state its currently in. I asked for a size Large which fit well and I think their size chart is pretty true to size.

I also found it incredibly soft and the fabric light. The collar also has a nice look in the crewneck form. I don't wear V-necks.

A lot of the marketing copy around the shirts is that they stay tucked in but I don't really have an issue with this in other undershirts so that wasn't very remarkable to me.

The only real drawback is that it needs to be dried on low and most of the whites we wash go on high. My wife hates having to treat all my various workout shirts or Pearl Jam tour t-shirts like they're delicates so that can be an issue. I got two wears before it hit a high cycle and it shrank fast. I can also see these shirts wearing quite quickly. I wonder if they'd last a year? But maybe I shouldn't expect more than that anyway as I seem to replace my undershirts about that often.

Happy to hear feedback on how often other folks replace their undershirts.

Underfit provided a shirt for review and if you're interested you can buy one here.

Monday
Oct132014

Kenmore 700 Elite Series Review Update: Steaks, Chicken and Pork Tenderloin

A month or so back I wrote a pretty thorough review of the beautiful grill Kenmore sent me to test out. Don’t think in all that time I haven't been grilling as much as possible and I have some updates.

On the positive side, the grill itself has turned out some terrific meals. I love to grill barbecue chicken and I've delivered two rounds with near perfection.

But on the negative side I still can’t quite get the hang of the searing burner.

In one instance it did save a Hawaiin-themed pork roast (above) that was taking too long to cook in the oven. That turned out so well I did a barbecue version of another, thinner, tenderloin (below). I used some new smoked salt that gave it a nice flavor as if it came off a smoker and it turned out amazingly well. I seared it on all sides and then finished the cooking on the main grill.

Steaks however…steaks are still a problem on the sear burner. I just can't get the grill marks right. Instead I've just gotten the main grill very hot and using it like I would traditionally. Also, I realize my old grill got hotter much faster than the Kenmore. I'm guessing it is the sheer size of the new grill but it does take a good ten minutes or so to get it ready.

A couple of New York strips (above) had to go from the sear burner to the main grill because they were grilling unevenly. It could have been the wind impacting that. I also did a top sirloin steak with no wind and again had to abandon the sear burner. The steaks all turned out fine in the end but I don't see much everyday use for the sear burner.

Any suggestions out there?

As mentioned above, Kenmore provided the grill for review in these stories.

Wednesday
Oct082014

UAG iPhone 6 Case Review

I'm not going to take a long time here to go over the pros and cons of a basic slip-on case for an iPhone6.

Instead, I'll just give my personal thumbs up to the UAG case for the new iPhone 6.

As you may recall, I was worried about if I would drop my new phone before a case arrived to protect it. It did last 72 hours, actually that plus another 72 hours because the case did take a long time to arrive.

However, I've dropped the phone with the case a number of times and it has performed exactly as advertised. Once was even in a small puddle in a parking lot when I hopped out of the passenger seat of my wife's car when she drove me to the train station in the rain and I had forgotten my phone was in my lap instead of a pocket. Oops.

I didn't apply the protective screen cover because I find those dull the screen too much for me and as long as the case goes wraps over the lip of the phone it should be pretty hard to crack the glass.

The case also doesn't add much girth to the phone and easily slips in and out of my front jean pocket.

So, again, thumbs up UAG. Good work on this one.

I did pay for this myself. This is not a test unit. You can go buy one for yourself here.

Thursday
Oct022014

Leinenkugel Old Fashioned Shandy Review: The Worst Beer I've Ever Had

Back in college I drank some horrible beers like Milwaukee's Best and Natural Lite Ice because that was often all that was available. But I believe that experience only served to make my palette more refined as I aged. Now, when I have a truly awful beer I truly question my judgment. Like, "How did this get into my hand in the first place? I should know better."

And while my face began to contort as the first drop of Leinenkugel's Old Fashioned Shandy hit my tongue I was asking those questions again.

Of course I knew the answer. I love the Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy and even the Orange Shandy. So, why not some of these new fall-themed versions?

Well, because the Old Fashioned Shandy tastes like you're sucking down a Christmas themed holiday candle, that's why. It even says on the can that it has hints of Oak.

Stop to think about that right there. Oak? Really? And they don't mean Oak that's been smoked to give it a barbecue tinge. No. It tastes like potpourri.

The second beer in the sample was the Harvest Patch Shandy. It tastes exactly like you're drinking pumpkin pie mix. You know, the kind you get in a can to make the Thanksgiving pie that no one really wants but it’s so easy to make you do it anyway?

Then of course, there's a single good beer in the sample, Cranberry Ginger Shandy. It has a fruity aftertaste with plenty of ginger up front. It's nice and refreshing and goes well with Asian food obviously. I'll of course never drink it again because I can't stomach the other two shandies in the sampler and there’s no other way to buy it.

One out of three ain't bad I guess?