Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kotas Reviews Fat Bottom Brewing's Ruby

As I linger in the beer aisle, wistfully wishing to fill my cart with delicious foamy goodness, I often see if any of my locally brewed stuff is available. I actually really like the local brewing trend that has swept the nation, and I enjoy supporting local businesses. Of course, my definition of "local" is "In My State", but there are more options every day. So as I scanned the shelves, I saw something right out of the town of Nashville, Tennessee, proving once and for all that something else comes out of that city besides gin and country music. Today we review Fat Bottom Brewing's Ruby.

Actual Slogans: "Grab one!" and "Rounder, Fuller Flavor!"
With a name like Fat Bottom Brewing, you know the puns are gonna be fast and furious. Oh how painfully true this is. Most of their offerings have names like "Black Betty", "Bertha", "Ginger" and the like. Others have horrible puns like "Knockout" on them. As you can see from their website, they also have a tap room and beer garden in downtown Nashville. Hoo boy does this branding run off into the distance, presumably checking its Fitbit the whole way while making sure the trilby it is wearing stays at just the right angle.

Heh heh. Bottom.
I do like the pin up style artwork that adorns the packaging, especially because it was designed for my particular aesthetic tastes in...artwork. But (ha!) there is nothing subtle or reserved about this brand at all. The language is also less than progressive, and that does not please me. Then again I don't suppose beer advertising and labeling is known for its incredibly tasteful and classy marketing, is it? How does it look in the glass?

Foamy. Very foamy. 
It's a very pretty red ale, though the head on it was larger than I expected. Just foaming everywhere, it was. Once that calmed down, I was able to appreciate the aroma of a good solid red ale. Another local brewer makes a most excellent red ale with a very unfortunate name, so I expected something along those lines. What a surprise I was in for. Ruby here is much hoppier than I was expecting. The very strong bitterness clashes with my personal expectations about what a red ale is supposed to taste like. I wanted a nice clean malty beverage and what I got was a hoppy, bitter experience that does not sell me on the concept of the "red ale". I suppose it is much closer to the British Bitters than to an Irish Red, but I guess reds have one thing in common: You are going to get more than you bargained for.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets one frowny face. I did finish the package, but I will not be buying this again, and I was disappointed in my purchase. My IPA loving friends may adore this though, since it would be a good session bitter for people who want that IPA feel without wanting to overdose on the hops. All that being said, I would give their beers another try, though in a different flavor. It seems very well crafted for what it is, it is just not what I was expecting. The artwork is up my alley, and I would totally decorate my theoretical bar with the pin up pictures. Just not the slogans surrounding it.

Kotas Reviews Best Damn Root Beer

Root beer is one of those drinks that I have always enjoyed, but only when I remember that it exists. Rarely purchased, but often drunk, it resides as a "treat" beverage for me, mostly because the diet versions are almost universally not good to me. It also let me pretend to be drinking booze when I was a wee lad, because beer is beer, right? Well, let's see what happens when we add liquor back to a drink designed originally as a healthy alternative to water that didn't get you drunk. Today we explore the boldly named Best Damn Root Beer.

Can you back up that statement bottle?
 Many products have claimed to be the best, but so rarely does anything actually put it on the label as a part of the name. That takes some serious brass ones to declare that this root beer, above all over root beers both alcoholic and non, is the Best. I'll be honest, I never considered having an alcoholic root beer, though I have seen it used as a mixer in the past, so this is kind of a weird experience for me. Still, I do love the artwork, with the big foaming barrel. Let's see it in the glass.

Considerably less foamy than advertised.

That's a lot less foam than I was hoping for, but hey, whatever. I'm good at pouring I guess. Of course, the proof is in the tasting of the drink. The initial hit on the tongue is very sassafras, with a hint of vanilla and a bit of sharpness (presumably from the alcohol) that is actually quite pleasant. Then the aftertaste rolls in and you want to have anything else in your mouth but this taste, because it's like you took a big gulp of bar rag squeezin's. Because it only induces nightmares AFTER swallowing, you really can't spit it out to at least minimize the effect either! I wouldn't want my friends to drink this. I wouldn't want my DOG to drink this. I managed to get through a bottle though, because after a few mind blasting quaffs you sort of get used to the after taste, and then it becomes consumable, and that first taste is actually really nice. I don't know if I got a skunky bottle or what, but jeez is this bad. Best Damn Root Beer? My shiny metal ass it is!

As a side note however, I was advised to try it with ice cream, which I did with a second bottle. For whatever freakin' reason this totally works to murder the aftertaste and leaves you with a much better beverage. Why? I don't know, but if you must drink this, do it in a float or simply with ice cream. That makes it good, through some sort of dark sorcery.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets two frowny faces. It is saved from three because the initial flavor is quite nice, and it seems that ice cream acts as a mitigating factor. However, do not drink this, no really. There are better ways to have a boozy root beer that do not require incredible fortitude or copious amounts of dairy products to "enjoy". Fuck this root beer, you lying bastard.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kotas Reviews Peeps Strawberry Creme Flavored Milk

Everything ever is being flavored with various things these days, though really that tradition goes back to the mists of time when Ug and Nug decided that their nightly raw meat would probably taste a bit better if they smeared it with mashed caterpillars. Milk appears to not really be much of a vehicle for flavors though, with the vast exception of "chocolate" flavor. Despite many attempts, the only flavors that have stuck are chocolate and, to a much lesser degree, strawberry. So why wouldn't Peeps give this a whirl? Today we look at Peeps Strawberry Creme Flavored Milk. Because I hate myself.

Yeah, this can't even.
Come on Prairie Farms, what sort of substance were you on when you thought this one up? "So, let's take Peeps and mix them with milk!" "Strawberry Peeps?" "Sure, why the hell not. SHIP IT. *puff puff*". This is the stuff my dorm mates would come up with in that post exam haze that somehow mysteriously permeated their room, and it is. In a carton and on my counter top. What the actual shit. Let's crack it open. SHOW US WHAT YOU GOT!

Well, that was a resounding disappointment. I was expecting something, you know, more artificially pink in my glass, not "slightly pinkish milk". In my head, I saw it as basically a glass of Pepto-Bismol and what I got was...a glass of milk, I'm not even a fan of milk, unless it's chocolate. It does smell fake strawberry-ish, but how exactly is this Peep related? Peeps are marshmallows squashed into a vague "chick" shape and then covered in crystallized sugar. They never taste like anything beyond that and chemicals. Ever. Why was this chosen to go with milk again? Can anyone anywhere answer that? Eh, fuck it. Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everyone's gonna die. Let's drink.

Well, that was unexpected. It's...strawberry milk. Very Strawberry Quik-ish in flavor, if not color. It's just so...pedestrian. Where's the zany? I should be tasting the fakest, brightest pink (yes, pink, not strawberry or anything that passes for strawberry) flavor ever as I drink my neon pink unicorn piss, but instead, I'm drinking strawberry flavored, ever so lightly pink colored milk. This is like that time at the carnival when we got to see the two headed dog with only one head.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 frowny face. It's certainly drinkable, but it promises way more than it delivers. You promised me the fucking moon Prairie Farms, and you got me a cheap t-shirt. Well, I'm gonna get my own strawberry milk! With...blackjack! And hookers! Eh, forget the whole damn thing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Kotas Reviews Cinnamon Roll Pop Tarts

I've waxed nostalgic about cinnamon rolls in the past, and I still stand by those words. The Cinnamon Roll is my go to baked good of choice. It straddles the realms of doughnuts and cakes, and yet is a unique spin on both. Ah, how I love thee, Cinnamon Roll. If only there was a good way to encapsulate your wonders in a toastable food product. Oh wait, I guess we have Pop Tarts. Let's get on with this.

I suppose it is at least trying
I like Pop Tarts. They are basically a comfort food, and there were a couple of weeks in grad school where I ate almost nothing but Pop Tarts for dinner, because they had a yuuuuuuuge sale. They also have a stupid amount of flavors from the humble Frosted Cherry to, uh, more unique offerings. Me, I'm a traditionalist. I like me some Cherry, Strawberry, and that's usually about it. Most other flavors are meh, and some are just...why are we calling them breakfast when they are more like dessert? Anyway, this one looks alright. It's Frosted, but not in a ridiculous sort of way, and the filling looks like yummy nummy cinnamon roll filling! Let's see how it goes!

It done broke weird.
The smell off of these things is almost but not quite unlike a cinnamon...something. Not a cinnamon roll, you understand, but definitely something with cinnamon. They look alright, as Pop Tarts should, but with the unique characteristics of the filling. Sadly, the flavor just isn't there. It's sorta cinnamon-ish, maybe, but it is not very strong and is really more brown sugar flavored more than anything. The "frosting" seems to clash with that flavor rather than compliment or enhance it. It's almost as if they focused more on the look than the taste. It sets expectations that it simply cannot meet. I wouldn't call it an abject failure, but it certainly does not live up to its claims of being "cinnamon roll" flavored. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a single Frowny Face. There are worse flavors of Pop Tarts, but this one sets up enough expectations that when it fails to achieve them it leaves a (pardon the pun) bad taste in the mouth. Someone with lower standards might give this a pass, but I do not. I really wouldn't bother with these, though if someone puts on in your hand its not gonna kill ya to take a bite. Unless you are allergic to disappointment, I guess.