Archive for the 'Reviews' Category



I am Jack’s Bacon Shake Review

This was written by on February 7, 2012

So, I thought I’d pretty much seen every bacon product ever made. I actually have a backlog of bacon-y products to review, eventually. A bacon cellar, if you will.

But I never expected to see this.

Jack's Bacon Shake

As Jack in the Box anticipated, my first reaction was, “hoax.” But then I saw it on Facebook. Where, you know, everything’s fact-checked. Don’t believe me? Check out their stupid Flash web site, where you can also see … oh, wait, I can’t link to anything. Very well, here’s the nutrition info, screen-captured so you can see it.

Bacon Shake Nutrition Info

If you’re wondering, that’s about twice as many calories and fat as a McDonald’s Big Mac (PDF). And that’s probably not a good thing.

But, like normal, warm, solid bacon … is the Bacon Shake a “worth it” treat?

I think you can probably guess my answer, which has nothing to do with the fact that Bacon Shake contains no actual bacon (only “bacon syrup,” which I assume is this Torani product – double ick).

Despite my initial, in the moment drive-thru enthusiasm, the answer is “absolutely not.”

Bacon Shake Reaction

The initial hit isn’t bad. Sweet, a little bit of salt … caramel. Kind of a poor man’s … salted caramel, with just a wisp of campfire. But once you stop suction on the straw, the gates of hell open, and your mouth is filled with the plaintive cries of a million charred demons. Rubber charred demons. Start sucking again, and the sweetness wipes away the fake smoke flavor. Stop … and the blackened hands grasp once more at your taste buds as they try to escape your gaping maw.

Am I exagerrating? Maybe a little. Not much. I say “save yourself the $3.89 and get a baconator.” Made with actual bacon, about the same fat content, but a few less calories. Did I mention it’s actually made with bacon? Not great bacon, but actual bacon. Factually.


I’m Drinking Don Younger’s Beer

This was written by on January 31, 2012

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of Don Younger’s death. For those who don’t know, Don was the owner of the Horse Brass, Portland’s legendary beer bar. And that’s telling it lightly. It’s a mecca, with some of the world’s best, most rarest beers on tap. He collected friends in the brewing community like this guy collects miniature liquor bottles. Brewers would always set a keg of something special aside, and Don would put it on. I wrote a lot more about my recollections of Don over on my failed 999 Beers blog, and guest BS’er Chris Tacy actually bar crawled with him a few years back. Good background reading.

But I’m writing to tell you about a beer I’m drinking right now. It was Don’s. I made it to his estate sale on the second day, and most of the good stuff (if there was good stuff – Don had dissimilar taste in beer to me) was already gone. But there on the shelves, I found something dusty and … curious. A six-pack of Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve. Bottling number 13.

This is not a beer you’d normally age, so it must have had some significance. Or not. When I die, I suppose people will find lots of things around and wonder why I kept them. That G4 in the basement, for example, circa 1998. Equally dust-covered.

Weinhard's Private Reserve, Batch no. 13

The label says “only premium quality brewing for four generations.” So maybe it’s one of the last brews from Henry’s before Miller’s takeover? That was in 1999. This could be a 13-plus-year-old beer. Or not. Marketers can be … misleading.

I can tell you one thing – there’s no born-on date. Nor is there any carbonation. The cap was a bit tarnished, and the screw-top never was a reliable barrier for gases in or out. No sound at all when I opened it.

It is absolutely clear, though. No sediment in the bottom, either. Guessing this, like its present-day descendants, is not bottle-conditioned.

And the taste? It’s faint. Just a hint of wet malt. Very thin. I doubt I will drink more than a sip or two, but it smells nice. Like Fuller’s Vintage, even. But very little actual flavor. Vintage beer-scented water.

Rest in peace, Don. Maybe someday you’ll tell me what you were saving this for.

Update: one more thought. The bottle doesn’t include a bottle deposit on the label. Oregon’s famous “Bottle Bill,” which added a 5-cent deposit to beer bottles, was enacted in 1971. It’s hard to believe the beer could be that old, though.


ReinheitsgeWhat?!

This was written by on July 9, 2010

This year’s annual Independence Day backyard blind beer tasting challenged palates and flaunted the vaunted German beer purity law of 1516. If you’re not familiar with the law, it basically limited 16th Century German brewers to three ingredients: malted barly, hops and water. Turns out they hadn’t figured out what yeast was at that point, so it wasn’t listed.

Here’s the relevant text, translated to English:

… We wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities’ confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail.

I’m guessing the Court authorities never, ever paid for beer. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I taste some cassis in this doppelbock. I’m going to have to confiscate it. For my belly.

reinheitsgewhat-ballot

I selected beers that all included something funky. Each beer was poured behind closed doors; tasters (aka our party guests) were asked to identify the Reinheitsgebot-violating ingredient from a list. I’ll be honest – I thought this would be the easiest challenge to date. But identifying some of the flavors proved difficult, especially in the berry department. Here’s what I poured:

  • Jasmine: Avatar Jasmine IPA, Elysian Brewing
  • Espresso: Overcast Espresso Stout, Oakshire Brewing
  • Chocolate: Imperial Chokolat, Southern Tier Brewing
  • Blueberry: Bluebeery Ale, Marin Brewing
  • Raspberry: Wild Raspberry Ale, Great Divide Brewing
  • Honey, Basil: Organic Honey Basil, Bison Brewing
  • Chipotle Pepper: Chipotle Ale, Rogue Brewing
  • Apricot: Aprihop: Dogfish Head Brewery

Of the bunch, I’d say the Aprihop (beer review at 999 Beers), Jasmine IPA and Overcast are in the category of “beers I’d definitely drink again.”

The Chokolat was widely imagined as “delicious over ice cream,” and I think that would be a good combo, if infrequent.

The Bluebeery tasted a little too artificial for my liking, but the Wild Raspberry had the real flavor of raspberries in every sip (I compared it to fresh-from-the-bush raspberries between pouring sessions!).

If you’d like to replicate the tasting menu, here’s the ReinheitsgeWhat?! tasting ballot, designed by yours truly.

Previous tastings:

  1. 2009: Us vs. Them (Domestic and Foreign examples of Sours and IPAs)
  2. 2008: Red States vs. Blue States
  3. 2007: Red, White and Blue Beers

Beer To-Go at PDX

This was written by on April 12, 2010

Ahh, the good old days. I remember lugging cases of Oregon beer back to the midwest with me every time I went back on United. I carried homebrew for Christmas gifts, and some of my favorite 22-ouncers to share with friends and family.

Then the TSA was born, someone tried to blow up a shoe or something, and now you can’t bring more than 3 ounces of liquid on a plane. And despite Rogue’s new smaller bottles, they still aren’t small enough to fit in a 1-quart plastic bag.

So I was stoked to see that someone at the Made in Oregon store finally took the initiative and started stocking some of our fine malt beverages next to the fermented grape juice. True, there’s a lot more wine for sale than beer, but there is now a fair selection to choose from.

airport-beer

Rogue is best represented (although the growlers of Dead Guy seem as if they might have been on the shelf awhile), but there are a few bottles from Hair of the Dog, Southern Oregon Brewing, Ninkasi, and some random choices from Bridgeport (Blue Heron? WTF?), Deschutes (Black Butte and Mirror Pond) and perhaps most randomly, MacTarnahan’s Haywire.