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Prospecting For a Beer

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The cocktail for our weekly cocktail, beer and gaming night last night comes from the wonderful local cocktail blog, cocktail virgin slut :

prospect512.jpgProspector Cocktail

Stir with ice and strain into a double rocks glass. Add ice cubes and garnish with a lemon twist.

And it was a very nice cocktail, reminiscent of one of my favorite cocktails, a Rusty Nail, with the added complexity of the Chartreuse. Good stuff. I even used one of my fancy round ice cubes from the cool ice cube tray I got for being an "ambassador" for Maker's Mark bourbon. Being an ambassador just means I let them mail me tchotchkes whenever they want, which is a pretty nice job. I've gotten some cool stuff from them - letter sealer, fancy cards, and the aforementioned round ice cube maker, which makes cubes about the size of a tennis ball.

Eisenbahn LustWe followed that up with a pretty special beer. My friend brought over a big bottle of Eisenbahn Lust, which is a "champagne style" beer from Brazil. Pretty special. I'm not usually a big fan of extremely carbonated beers, but this one went down very well, even despite (or maybe because of?) the 11.5% ABV. Plenty of sediment, but a pretty light taste with plenty of feel. Really enjoyed it, although at over $30 for a 750ml bottle, it probably won't get bought very often.

And while we sipped the Eisenbahn Lust, we played some more Dead Island. It has been pretty fun. We played until after midnight, which is pretty unusual. We moved the main story line along (we finally opened up The City, which promises to be pretty tough) and solve a bunch of side quests along the way. There's still some annoying UI glitches that make me twitchy. Takes too many clicks to wield a weapon. And when you pick up a bottle of liquor (one of the recurring sidequests uses those), you for some reason "wield" it as a weapon. If you don't notice, when you swing, you swig instead. And for some reason, it wouldn't let me "set" which sidequest I was working on - kept saying I wasn't allowed to track another quest when working on the main quest in co-op mode. I have no idea what that means.

But racing along the road taking out zombies has been fun. And there have been a few tough battles, although death is far too painless. You spawn pretty close to where you died, with the only penalty being you lose a few dollars. Hardly effective, really. I would have liked for more. But it has been fun and we're looking forward playing again next week.

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Beer and a Shot

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We didn't do a cocktail last night. I managed to find 3 of the "Must-Try" beers on my list of beers from my 365 Bottles Of Beer For The Year calendar (chronicled on my Pinterest board), so we had just beer instead. I decided to serve them up in rising ABV (Alcohol By Volume) order. They are all pretty strong beers, though.

Founders Cerise Cherry Fermented AleSo that meant first up was the Founders Cerise Cherry Fermented Ale, made from real Michigan Montmorency sour pie cherries. I am not a big "fruit" beer fa, although oddly enough I had the Wachusetts Blueberry Wheat beer for lunch and really enjoyed it, despite the bar insisting on floating 3 blueberries in it (I really abhor putting foreign objects and food in my beer). It was fresh and crisp, with very nice blueberry aromas but the blueberry taste itself was very very slight.

And so it was with the Cerise (the most repinned and liked post on my 365 Beers Pinterest board). I really didn't have any hope of finding it, as not only is it a seasonal beer, but one from a Michigan brewery that I hadn't remembered seeing around here. But I was very excited to find it at the local "big" liquor store and anxious to give it a try.

 Tasting BeerIt pours very nicely. I've taken to being very aggressive at pouring, since reading about it in my Tasting Beer book. It gave up a nice head and the color is really spectacular. A very nice deep red color, with a nicely red-tinged head. It had a fine light cherry aroma, with some interesting hops or something.

Unfortunately, one of the bottles that I poured wasn't right. I didn't really notice anything when I opened it or poured it, but after pouring both, one had a very nice head and the other was flat. And it tasted flat. So I think the bottle cap seal wasn't good. So I tossed it out and opened a new one and it worked very nicely.

Again, it tasted great, with a very crisp taste and only a hint of cherry, although more than the Wachusett had of blueberry. This is a very refreshing beer.

Rochefort 6Then we cracked open a Rochefort 6, a beer the calendar called possibly "the best beer in the world". At US$6 for a 120z bottle, it had better be! I actually had one a few weeks ago at a local beer bar and thought it pretty excellent. But maybe because it followed the unique taste of the Cerise, it felt a little lacking. Mind you, very nice and quite crisp for a Belgian. It poured with lots of carbonation and a big aroma. At 7.5% ABV, it is pretty strong. I enjoyed it, but I think I will try the 8 and 10 next. This one may be more of a lunch beer.

To top the evening off, we jumped into a Widmer Bros. Nelson Imperial IPA. At 8.6% ABV, it may have been just a little much for the end of the evening, but it sure had no problem standing up to the fine beers that preceded it. And excellent pour, with a big head and big aromas. Both malty and hoppy, a really great beer. Very drinkable and thus probably pretty scary. I had another one tonight and it gets another big thumbs up.

Nelson Imperial IPAAnd for gaming, we had our second night of Dead Island, the co-op zombie shooter. Last week's game session wasn't too impressive. The three of us wandered around, usually not together, and beat up, easily, on random zombies. There is a little bit of a skill tree, and you can work on your weapons, but that's about it for RPG elements. I've never been too keen on the games that have your weapons "wear out" - my least favorite party of System Shock. Not sure why after hacking on a few zombies my machete would just explode into dust.

But this time we adhered to the main story quest, worked together, and had some fun. We all went up a few levels and added some more skills. I read online where the game gets a little tougher once you get off the island and into the city, so that's good. And we also got to drive cars, which is always fun. Chasing down zombies and blasting into them with a car is always a grand time.

One oddity caused by the weapons wearing out is that you hit the zombie to knock it down and then proceed to kick the shit out of it to avoid "wasting" your weapon. So it gets pretty gruesome really. But we played for almost 3 hours and had a pretty good time. At this point, the three of us have played together about a year, so we have plenty of history. I'm the one that can't be trusted with a thrown weapon or anything with splash damage (although that's not really a bad shortcoming in this game, as there doesn't seem to be friendly fire). Michael is the one who just charges forward, no subtlety. And Chris pushes us forward like a drill sergeant. It's a blast and we got into the game's rhythm, so I'm looking forward to next week's session.

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First The Money, Then The Game

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For our Wednesday night cocktail, I made an old standby. From the New Classic Cocktail book comes this twist on the "Cuba Libre" (or, as I just call it, a rum and coke):

First The Money
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. white creme de menthe
  • crushed ice
  • 1 oz dark rum (I used the old standby, Myer's)
  • 3/4 oz Toussaint coffee liqueur (I've never seen this so I do as the book suggests and substituted Kahlua)
  • Cola

Cut the lime into wedges and muddle in a highball glass with the creme de menthe. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the rum and Toussaint. Top with cola.

I had a recently opened 2 liter bottle of kosher Coca-Cola (the kind with the yellow cape and real cane sugar), so that's why I wanted to make this. It is a very nice variation on a straight rum and coke. Even that tiny bit of creme de menthe adds a real pop to it. Went down smooth while sitting on the deck on a warm summer eve.

Bell's Oberon AleOur beer tonight was Bell's Oberon Ale, which my friend had "imported" from Pennsylvania. I enjoyed it - a little fruity and a little fizzy but a very nice drinkable 5.8%ABV summer ale.

For our co-op computer gaming, we decided to punt playing Serious Sam 3 on Mental level, as it still wasn't enough of a challenge and we had had enough of tweaking the parameters. So we moved on to Dead Island, which was on sale a couple weeks ago for US$12. Spectacularly brutal game, with some slight nods to RPG lite, with things like levels and skill trees. Still pretty easy though, with almost no penalty, besides a cash one, for death. It doesn't really even penalize you for wandering off alone, which is unfortunate, as we did tend to split up - not much of a co-op game if you don't have to play it together! We have only scratched the surface, so perhaps it will get harder.

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A Beer, a shot and a shotgun

A quick recap from last night -

We had our weekly cocktail and beer with co-op gaming last night. The cocktail for the evening was from one of my favorite cocktail books (I do have a lot, don't I?):

New Classic CocktailsNew Classic Cocktails by Allan Gage :

In this one, he gives the recipe for a "classic" cocktail and then shows another twist on it. Here, the "classic" cocktail is the Tijuana Sling. But we had the twist:

Border Crossing
  • 1.5oz gold tequila (I used my favorite, Cazadoras)
  • 1oz lime juice
  • 1oz clear honey (I actually used agave nectar)
  • 4 dashes of orange bitters (Fee Bros.)
  • 3oz ginger ale

You mix everything but the ginger ale vigorously and strain it into a highball glass with plenty of ice. Top it off with the ginger ale and add blueberries and lime wedges as a garnish.

It was very good. I might cut back a tad on the agave nectar and, probably, add a little more tequila (never a bad thing), but I can see how this would be quite refreshing on a hot day. It was a warm evening and it helped.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale by New Belgium BrewingThe beer was from New Belgium Brewing, the 1554 Enlightened Black Ale. It was a very nice "session" (5.6% ABV) ale, very malty and smooth. We let it warm up a bit while we drank our cocktail and it was perfect. This was an "imported" beer, as New Belgium beers aren't found 'round these here parts. But my buddy has in-laws who come up from PA and they brought him a couple six packs. Very nice.

The Black Ale went very nice with our Serious Sam 3: BFE co-op gaming. 3 of us are replaying the game on the "Mental" level, which is as hard as it gets. The monsters are mostly invisible, only briefly appearing when they are hit. We've been having fun, although we might have to ratchet up the difficulty a little bit. When we did the first play through, on the Hard level, we made it tougher on ourselves by having to share the armor and health powerups. We've set this one to not share, so everyone gets their own health & armor, but that may be too easy. I like having to negotiate who needs the armor and health.

Well, we played until Steam started hiccuping and kick my remote buddy off. Michael and I played a bit more but called it a night, as we had already finished the 4th level (out of 12).

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