Saturday, April 27, 2013

Root Beer Review #1: Sprecher

I've long wanted to do root beer reviews here on my blog; it is something I am fairly passionate about after all. Jacelyn would call me a root beer snob. It is true, I'm a particular drinker, and I don't like beer in general, so I've developed what I would consider a discerning taste for root beer. And it has been a rewarding pursuit, there are a surprising number of offerings other than the mainstream trio.

For a little history I would have to say that I began my exploration into the world of non-caffeinated dark sodas during my first road trip to visit my sister and her family in California. I collected as many different and unique root beer and sarsaparilla bottles as I could find. In doing so I tasted them too, and so my snobbery developed.

Today I will be reviewing a root beer that is new to me: Sprecher Fire-Brewed Root Beer. I picked it up at Sticky's Candy shop in Chilliwack, along with two others I have yet to taste. I was there for this purpose as well as to visit king Gord at the slot car track in the back, he's a LUG member and I was looking for part 30274. He had none, but I came away with three new brews.

Now to start, the first thing that I really liked about this one was the bottle. Standard twist cap, and a nice enough label, and the bottle is brand specific with the name in raised glass below the neck. But the best part is that it's a BIG bottle, 473ml (16oz.) I like that, and for this brew I think it's a good size. The logo is a little strange, a cartoony crow/lion thing popping out of a shield crest, and the name is in a definite Bavarian font despite the fact that it comes from Wisconsin.

Of course they boast the natural ingredients: "pure Wisconsin honey direct from the comb." and vanilla, and of course the new-to-me pride in being made in a gas-fired brew kettle. The label also declares that it is rated #1 by the New York Times. In what category we can only guess. But does it merit that sort of distinction?

The aroma is fairly typical of hand-made root beer, though you can smell hints of the honey they use. The head is medium as well, and dissolves quickly into mere suds. A cold mug would do better to get a taste of it, as in some root beers it is better than the drink itself. The flavour is very smooth with the perfect amount of carbonation, but compared to some other root beers it lacks the full body or deep flavour that is a sign of a true gourmet soda. There is again a hint of honey in the aftertaste(more noticeable when drinking straight from the bottle), but you would miss it if you were drinking it with a meal. It doesn't taste overly sweet either, but that is a very good thing, no caramel flavour added!

Overall I wouldn't put it in my top three, but close. Due to its smooth and light taste I would choose this root beer on a hot day when I wanted a refreshing draught, plus it's big enough to share.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Super Lego Post for Tristan!

For Tristan. I hope that you like looking at some of the Lego that I have built, and I hope that it will inspire you to keep building and to use your imagination.

I starting playing with Lego again almost two years ago. I loved to play with it as a kid, much more than my brother did I think. And I've always thought it one of the best toys for learning and creative play. Having a few nephews, and a niece who like to play with it too is really fun.

 This is the first part of the gatehouse that I am working on for my castle. You can see the black portcullis on the right. There will be another tower on the other side of it and a connecting arch above it. I plan to have working chains and pulleys so that the portcullis can go up and down.

 Here you can see how the tower section will fit like a zipper with the wall section I have already built. I began to run out of grey pieces near the top of the tower so I used red, yellow, black, and white. I will get more pieces and finish it off soon.

 Here are some of my Crusader soldiers manning the wall. They have to stand on a wooden platform to look over the crenelations. They can throw spears and shoot arrows at anything attacking the wall.

 Look at how tall the tower is compared to the wall! Behind the soldier on the top of the tower will be an even taller tower. Can you see all the arrow slits in the walls? They are like windows that you shoot arrows out of, but that are hard to shoot arrows into.

Here are a group of Uruk-hai and orcs with a cyclops that are trying to attack the wall. I don't think they'll win.

 The wall is a little too big for them, and they didn't bring any ladders. Do you see how the cyclops is looking suspiciously over at the orc with Cleopatra's haircut?

These Uruk-hai serve under the white hand of Saruman. Jacelyn gave me a Lord of the Rings Lego set for Christmas, and one for my birthday, I have a lot of orcs and uruks now.

I also have some super heroes (and villains) (and anti-heroes). I bought this set at the Lego Store when we went there for the LUG sale. I also got a pick-a-brick cup.

Wolverine is my favorite hero, I love how they captured his hairstyle in plastic.

The set comes with an attack chopper, Magneto, and Deadpool as well. Deadpool is my favorite non-hero so this one was a must have for me.

I found this star wars V-Wing fighter at Superstore for a really good price, so I had to get it.

It's really sleek, and it comes with a pearl silver astromech droid. I took the pilot out to fly one of my GARCs.

Jacelyn also gave me the King's Carriage for my birthday. It has some bad guys who try to ambush the king in the forest.
And yes, it has a king too!

For one of our AbbyLUG (Abbotsford Lego User Group) meetings we were supposed to come up with a little vignette that would fit on an 8x8 plate. I did one of a pirate chained to a cannon sinking to the bottom of the sea, but I took it apart before I thought to take a picture. This one is the one my friend Jeremy did. This guy is either going to get really sick, or become a super-hero.

I occasionally splurge on the little bagged sets called, very appropriately, impulse sets. Some cools stuff though, the rescue chopper, the ghost and clock, a microscale Mandalorian fighter, and Gandalf with a map, a rock, a spider, and a skull.

A while back we had the family over for Sunday lunch. While the grown-ups talked I played Lego with Sarah and Jacob. Jacob mostly wanted to see if random assortments of bricks floated in the bathtub, but Sarah and I built this robot together.

She said it looks a little like a bird, but that's just its mouth. It stands on its own ok and it can move its arms, fingers, legs, feet, and head all over the place.

This is another set that is super pose-able. I got this one for Christmas from Jordan and Katy, my brother and sister-in-law. It's Shelob from LotR, and there's Sam with the Phial of Galadriel, and Frodo with the One Ring. 

I've also been collecting some of the minifigures over the last couple of years. From left to right, starting in the front we have: William Wallace, Dark Dwarf, French Painter, Sherlock Holmes. Middle: Neptune, Bagpipe Guy, Statue of Liberty, William Shakespeare, Buckingham Palace Guard, Dark Knight, Cavegirl, Musketeer, Geisha, Thracian Gladiator. Back: A group of Heroic Knights, Disco Guy, Aztec Eagle Warrior, Cyclops, Genie, Maid Marion, Roman Centurion, Conquistador, and Gollum hiding in the back.
I also build for contests and groups online sometimes. This is for the GARC group on flicker. GARC stands for Galactic Asteroid Racing Curcuit. Kind of like space rally racing. This is my Blue Sun racer.
This is the Marauder. Each racer must hold a pilot and a navigator and have no weapons. It is dangerous enough racing around and asteroid field without weapons involved.
This is the first MOC (my own creation) I posted online after I started to build again. It was for a contest to build a realistic starfighter. I chose to go with a reasonably realistic UOV (unmanned orbital vehicle). The size of a satellite or probe the Wraith opens its two wings when its target is in range and lets loose with hull-tearing grapeshot, overwhelming current point-defense systems and inflicting critical damage to small targets.

I didn't win or even get an honourable mention, but it was fun nonetheless. And that is what Lego should be about, people having fun building and sharing that experience with each other.