Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Brew Review: Mac's Blackwatch Cream Porter

Mac's Blackwatch Cream Porter (Mactarnahan's Brewing Co., Ore.)
Appearance (0 to 4 stars): 3.5
Aroma: 4.0
Flavor: 4.0
Texture: 4.0
Drinkability: 4.0

Overall score: 19.5 / 20.0

Cost: $7.99 / 6-pack at Safeway Kapahulu.
On the label: n/a
Summary: I never expected another 6-pack on sale at Safeway to be this good. But I was wrong. This lush, dark brew looks the part of a porter, even a stout. But the carbonation is refreshing and the brew goes down quickly, not syrupy. It really has a borderline coffee taste, slightly sweet, but not so rich that it kills the palate on a warm day or evening. It's just great stuff.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brew Review: Weizenbock

Weizenbock (Samuel Adams)
Appearance (0 to 4 stars): 3.0
Aroma: 2.5
Flavor: 2.0
Texture: 2.5
Drinkability: 2.5

Overall score: 12.5 / 20.0

Cost: $8.99 at Foodland for a "LongShot" 6-pack.
On the label: "Rodney describes his wonderfully complex brew as "deep amber in color with a full creamy body and a dark fruit and clove aroma." This traditional Bavarian brew took Rodney a few batches to perfect, but the taste is worth all of his hard work."

Summary: This is a matter of taste. If you like a syrupy-sweet brew with major aftertaste, this is for you. Personally, I don't like a clingy aftertaste, though I can't say I hate this brew. It goes down nice, minor carbornation, comparable to Guiness Stout in terms of thickness/viscosity, and a pretty red-amber color. But again, the flavor isn't to my liking, and as soon as this beer warms up a bit, the flavor gets stronger. Worth the try, but the other LongShot offering in this 6-pack, Lili Hess' Grape Pale Ale, is superior, hands down.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Brew Review: Makakilo Moons Batch No. 2

Makakilo Moons Batch No. 2 (Jerry Campany)
Appearance (0 to 4 stars): 4.0
Aroma: 3.0
Flavor: 3.5
Texture: 3.5
Drinkability: 3.5

Overall score: 17.5 / 20.0

Cost: Free.
On the label: What label?
Summary: Don't let the homemade product lower your expectations. Jerry Campany has tinkered with alcoholic beverages and hot sauces for years going back to his career abroad in the military. His attention to detail is masterful, but he'll never 'fess up to it. I didn't get a taste of Batch No. 1, but the wait has been worthwhile. Batch No. 2 has a deep, rich and lush red shade. I had my first bottle semi-cold (I couldn't wait) and it tasted somewhat similar to the Samuel Adams LongShot Weizenbock by Rodney Kibzey. A strong flavor and equally strong aftertaste. However, when chilled, Jerry's Batch No. 2 was much different, much more quenching and muted without losing that nice, slightly sweet flavor.

Nice carbonation level, goes down smooth and crisp. I'm enjoying this first bottle with spicy pork rinds and smoked cheddar cheese. Yeah baby.

More about the ingredients later (from Jerry), but I recommend any batch that he brews — if you can get your hands on them. I have two more bottles left, including one with a long jalapeno pepper in it.

* Update from Jerry, Apr. 22, 2008

Grain: wheat
Malt: Marris Otter
Yeast: Northern Brewer
Hops: American ale
Plus a pinch of Irish Moss for clarity

And that's not any old pepper in the other beer, it's a Thai Dragon porch pepper.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Brew Review: Grape Pale Ale

Grape Pale Ale (Samuel Adams)
Appearance (0 to 4 stars): 3.5
Aroma: faint. 3.5
Flavor: subdued, slightly sweet. 3.5
Texture: smooth, 4.0
Drinkability: excellent, 3.5

Overall score: 18.0 / 20.0

Cost: $8.99 (sale) at Foodland for "LongShot" 6-pack

On the label: This is a very creative spin on a pale ale, As Lili describes it. "It's like you are drinking a pale ale after biting into a fresh green seedless grape." This delicate brew is light-bodied with unique sweet, yet dry flavors from the grapes. What a combination...

Summary: This "home brew" was concocted by Lili Hess of Hawaii. It brings me great pleasure to see a fellow Hawaii islander win the big prize (one of two winners) in Samuel Adams' LongShot contest. The box, which has become a norm for the company's special brews, stood out in the liquor section, and once I saw faces on the box, I was intrigued. (Good marketing tactic.)

Interestingly enough, Lili is also a Samuel Adams employee. Bottom line: her creation is masterful. Takes a woman to really do something this inventive. Grapes and beer? Amazing.

Pupule Paul enjoys his brews in the safe and comfortable confines of home. He recommends you do the same. Don't drink and drive all lolo.

Sand Island rockers, Taiyo satisfaction

Interesting night. After work and hanging with the family, I ran an errand before heading down to Sand Island Sports Bar, where some of the boys from work played music along with a couple other bands. My first time there. The place wasn't huge, but it was just the right size for people who just want to rock the stage with some good, hard R&B. Best part was it was free, but almost as good was the fact that there were some solid musicians on stage. I don't know their names, but they are what I consider another version of those ballers at the basketball courts around town who you know played some great hoops in high school, maybe not ... but they're still talented, still doing what they love whether they get paid or not.

That was the vibe last night at that bar. These guys were real good, but they didn't care if they were being watched by a big crowd or a little one.

After that, I had just enough time to make a pit stop at Taiyo Ramen (closing time 3 a.m.) to enjoy some noodles and gyoza. But once I sat down, chicken curry on rice called out to me. I still got the gyoza — the best in Hawaii — and enjoyed myself. But on a sad note, I brought home leftovers, including two gyozas. This morning, I looked in the fridge to make this my breakfast, but the goodies weren't there. Alas, I forgot to put them in the fridge last night. They sat on a counter, undeniably ruined.

I might have to make a run to Taiyo tonight on the way home. They close "early" on Sundays (9 p.m.), but I am still longing for more gyoza, and maybe some miso ramen.

Here's a truly great blog about ramen in Kyushu, land of my ancestors (on mom's side).

Cosmic Buddha: Kyushu Ramen Tour

I would love to follow this guy's footsteps on a ramen tour.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Know Ezogiku's strengths and be happy

No pics yet, but I'll get some next time. The little ramen place next to the old Fastop and the current Kit n' Kitchen is someplace new to me. Though Ezogiku has been around as a chain for several years, it existed outside my realm. But, out of necessity*, I started going in there since moving back to the Mo'ili'ili neighborhood a few years ago.

In the past month, I've been there a few times. I had the chicken katsu curry, and to my chagrin, it was lousy. Thin slices, and not meaty at all. What meat there was turned out to be stringy. Yeah. Not a big turn-on for the taste buds. But I had to remember: this is a ramen place. I did some reading online and learned about Ezogiku's history, its roots in Japan, and how they really are a broth-based establishment. For them, it seems, anything but ramen is a thorn in the side, almost on the menu as a formality.

So I went back and had the chicken vegetable ramen plus gyoza, a package deal that cost less than $7. The gyoza? Very underwhelming, and really, it's unfair of me to compare anyone's gyoza to the best on the island at Taiyo Ramen. However, I liked the chicken vegetable ramen. Thin broth, lots of veggies, tasty (salty) and good for someone who had a flu like I did.

I went back the past week and broadened my horizons. I ordered the seafood ramen ($6.89), which is not part of the economy package, but I wanted to test it out. Man, was it GREAT. The broth was thick, very Chinese style. The seafood was sweet, the noodles were flavorful and succulent. A mix of veggies, but the winning element was the broth. So tasty. Of course, two-thirds of the way through I needed a little kick, so I dumped in some wet chili pepper sauce. Overall, though, this is one of the best ramen dishes I've ever had.

The seafood ramen rates 4 stars out of 4. Pics next time.