Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kotas Reviews Fireworks Oreos

Summer is upon us. The glorious, if rain-filled, temperate climate of Spring is rapidly giving way to the oppressive face melting heat of summer, driving all but the most resilient of outdoors folk back inside as God intended. Before we all have to baste in our own gravy when we step outside though, we get to enjoy at least one more weekend of decent weather, and with it, a holiday. That holiday is Memorial Day, and what better way to celebrate than with Pop Rocks. In Cookies. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's pop into Fireworks Oreos.

Gandalf never thought of THIS, now did he? So many dead hobbits if he did though.
First, a shout out to [REDACTED], who sent these all the way from the fabled bee pastures of...well, around his house I guess. I salute you [REDACTED]! Anyway, I really would have expected these to come out closer to July, what with that giant firework using holiday that shows up then for us United Statesians. Still, we do love to blow stuff up, and fireworks are associated with summer. The packaging is quite distinct with a solid patriotic vibe to it, and lots of red and white starburst firework graphics that go well with the traditional Oreo blue. There's even a giant star that lets us know that within there is "Popping Candy". What the hell, Nabisco, couldn't shell out money to Pop Rocks Inc. for the cross promotion? I mean, I get it. One does not often think of Pop Rocks and Oreos as "pairing well", but shit, ya done shelled out for PEEPS of all things, so, what's up with that? Let's tear it open!

Well, that was slightly underwhelming. I guess I shouldn't have expected any sort of explosion upon opening the package but a part of me hoped for it, you know? Ah well, the cookies themselves look and smell like Oreos, though the creme itself is full of colorful candy bits. The taste is almost exactly what you would expect. Oreo, but with Pop Rocks, er, "popping candy" shoved into it. You can probably get a similar effect by eating an Oreo and some Pop Rocks at the same time. Licking the creme itself produced a much more active set of pops from the candy, presumably because the saliva/candy interaction area wasn't blocked by as much cookie. Overall, these taste pretty good. I mean, Oreos are delicious and the Pop Rocks add some novelty without really detracting from the experience, except for a bit more crunch. It was even relatively decent in milk, though the popping sensation was weird.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Smiley Face. They are good as a seasonal thing, and the execution is exactly what you would expect, along with it actually being pretty tasty, so two thumbs up on that front. I would say these would go great for a backyard cookout or patriotic celebration, but they aren't really and every day kind of thing unless you are some sort of Pop Rock fanatic. Pick some up for the novelty, but pass me the regular Oreos on most days.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kotas Reviews Twinkies Ice Cream

Well, it's catch up time around the ol' blog. I've had several people now send me things to try or bring them to me at various social outings solely for the purpose of reviews. In this second part, I have been lax, so I'll be taking an opportunity to catch up on those. Anyway, it's summer time! Summer always makes me think of the ice cream shop my dad would take me to to get a malt occasionally when I was a wee lad. They had weird flavors (like bubblegum or gummy bear) and something always seemed a little wacky about the whole operation. Still, I believe even they would tilt their heads sideways at what I'm about to show you next. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's dive into Twinkies The Ice Cream

Photo from:
Before we get into this, let me throw a very well deserved thank you to [REDACTED]. They provided me with this at about 1am on a Saturday Night when I was feeling a little tired and it was a welcome surprise on a hot summer night. Kudos, mysterious benefactor! Now, on with the show. 

So, it is no secret that I love Twinkies. I don't know what it is about these things that makes them taste wonderfully artificial, but man, I can't get enough of it. I should get enough of it, considering my waistline, but that's neither here nor there. I will admit that I never in my wildest flights of fancy thought "You know what these would be good in? An ice cream flavor!" Still, this is the world we live in now. I must say, they got the packaging exactly right. Twinkies themed all the way, with a picture of the ice cream itself. Solid presentation, let's tear into it.

The ice cream itself looks just like it does on the package: lightish yellow with chunks of a cake-like substance. But I know what you are asking. How does it taste? Well, have you ever had birthday cake ice cream? It's sort of like birthday cake, but it has these incredible spikes of sugar that represent the "sprinkles" or whatever, that sort of detract from the somewhat cakelike flavor? Yeah, this is a much better version of that. The cake flavor is strong, but not overwhelming, the "sprinkles" have been dispensed with, and the cake-y bits add just a little bit of texture to break up the general creaminess. In short, this is the birthday cake ice cream we've all been waiting for. I will say this: it tastes NOTHING like a Twinkie. Not even a little. But holy jeez is it freakin' tasty. I tore my way through a pint of this stuff like a starving mutant lizard beast through a foolish explorer. It was super tasty, and I immediately wanted more once it was gone, and then went out and did a little dance of joy. I am super serious about that.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 3 Smiley Faces. This is the best rendition of birthday cake ice cream I've had to date. If you like birthday cake ice cream, shovel some Twinkies Ice Cream in your face right now! If you are looking for "Twinkie as a frozen dessert experience" though, you will come away disappointed 'cause this is barely Twinkie-esque. Still, stock up now. This is a limited edition!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kotas Reviews Thin Mints Cereal

Girl Scout Cookies are an icon of American food pop culture. Every spring, dozens of impromptu cookie stands blossom from store fronts, pending boxes of cookies you basically just can't get at any time of the year. Sure, there are near enoughs and look alikes galore, but none of them can match the true essence of the Girl Scout Cookie. Or can they? And can they make it a breakfast cereal? Ladies and gentlemen, let's dive into Thin Mints Cereal.

What a racket, eh?
The Girl Scouts have been selling cookies since 1917, and Thin Mints since 1956. While similar to the Keebler Grasshopper, the Thin Mint manages to outdo even that venerable snack in the field of mint chocolate cookies. The perfect amount of crunch coupled with a solid mint flavoring and a chocolate coating that accents rather than overwhelms, the Thin Mint has been a favorite around the Kotas Household for over a decade. Of course, the transition to cereal format has been the death of other flavors over the years. Still, I'm a known cereal advocate and the thought of a cereal version of one of my favorite cookies held lots of appeal. Let's take a look!

Well, it looks like the stuff on the box. Not sure it's Thin Mint material though.
The scent coming off these things is basically the mint from Thin Mints, along with a hint of chocolate. It's not exactly like smelling Thin Mints, but it's pretty darn close so points for that. The cereal pieces themselves look a lot like...well, flattened Cocoa Puffs. They hold up well in milk, but...well, that ain't all there is to this is there? To sum up in the words of the Internet: 

The flavor is decent on the mint side of the equation, but there is hardly any chocolate to back it up. The first crunch has an "okay" amount of chocolate to go with the mint, but it vanishes extremely quickly leaving you with mint, milk, and generic cereal flavor. You know two flavors that don't necessarily go well together? Mint and Milk. Chocolate would give it contrast and mute the creaminess of the milk that really makes the mint taste weird, but thems the breaks. Shame, I had high hopes for this one.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Frowny Face, mostly for disappointment. I was hoping for something truly interesting, and I have to admit that they tried to make a faithful version of the Thin Mint. Still, how you can screw up the chocolate part and expect me to accept a "mint cereal"? Oh well, perhaps they did a better job on the other Girl Scout Cookie cereal. Still, expectations are low. If you really want mint to go with sub par Cocoa Puffs, these are right up your alley. For anyone else? Pass.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kotas Reviews Lay's Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips

Occasionally we here at Kotas Reviews intend to review something, but it slips through the cracks. Gets lost in the shuffle, skipped over, or otherwise pushed aside until later. Sometimes it's much later. So imagine my surprise when I found a bag of these things tucked away in the pantry. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at a new twist on an old classic, Lay's Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips.

Better late than never, eh? Well...
So, these were a part of the Lay's All Stars promotion, where they take popular flavors from previous promotions like Do Us A Flavor and Flavor Swap and bring them back for a limited time. Because why the hell not, really? These hail from the very first Do Us A Flavor contest, back in the halcyon days of 2013, when life was simpler and..well, simpler right? RIGHT? Anyway, I didn't have them then, so I guess I'll have them now! The packaging is actually pretty nice, with a pretty yummy looking picture of chicken and waffles next to a lone potato chip. I also enjoy sky blue as a packaging color. Well, let's tear it open.

Well, they can't all be winners.
I'll be honest, these things look like plain Lay's chips. This is a triumph of flavor dust concealment, because the smell is equal parts savory and sweet, though they mix in a weird, yet non-offensive sort of way. They aren't quite as heavily scented as, say, the Szechuan Chicken chips were, but they get the point across. It's not quite chicken-ish though. The flavor holds more chicken essence, but the "waffle" part is almost non-existent. There is a bit of sweetness that almost tastes like syrup, but not quite. It's decent enough, but it doesn't wow me. The balance of flavors isn't really there, skewing heavily toward the chicken part, without any doughy or mapley flavors, just some sugar thrown haphazardly into the mix. Not bad, but certainly not what I think of when I eat chicken and waffles.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 Faces. They are okay, but I wouldn't seek them out. There is a bit of novelty factor to consider, and I do love the packaging, but most of you should really just pass on this. It's very mehtacular. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kotas Reviews Bacon Pringles

Man, is bacon totally 2015 or what? I mean, sure, we are still left with the survivors of the Great Baconating that occurred a while back, but bacon is totally on the outs as a stunt food these days. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Still, we see the occasional product come out that touts as its main attraction some sort of bacon enhancement, like today's offering. Let's take a gander at Bacon Pringles.

You don't often see a long handled sandwich maker pressed into service as a bacon fryer.
The humble Pringle is not often featured here, due to its vast array of mouth experiences even before every food producer took a train to Flavor Country. They occasionally come out with a new spin on an old favorite, like "Xtreme Pizza Flavoring" or whatever, but they are generally content with their fourth place in the Chip Hierarchy, behind Lay's, Doritos, and Cheetos. Basically the answer to the question "What happens when you tell an engineer to make potato snacks that aren't greasy, broken, or stale before you even buy them", Pringles are the preferred snack of anyone who likes things neat and tidy. The can itself is typical Pringles, with a picture of frying bacon somehow magically levitating a Pringles chip above it. They don't really fuck around with fancy shit at the Pringles factory these days. Of course, we're not here for the can, but for the chips inside. What happens when you shove bacon into them?

When I popped the top it smelled like a Bacos truck crashed into said factory. It's not...bad, exactly, but bacon bits, specifically the glorious artificial masterpieces of chemistry known as BacOs (which have zero meat content) are meant to be used as an accent and topping, not a main flavor. They are therefore usually VERY intense when eaten in more than just a small amount. The chips themselves have a brownish flavor dust that doesn't look terribly appetizing, but I chomped my way in anyway.

Let me just say, these Pringles take it to the bacon limit. Very fake smokey, very fake bacon-y, very STRONGLY flavored these are. They aren't bad, and pretty much taste like a handful of BacOs with perhaps a bit of potato to give it "body", but they aren't something I'd want to eat a ton of either. I could see maybe crushing them up and throwing them on a salad if you are too lazy to sprinkle both bacon bits AND potato sticks onto your greens, but you just can't eat a lot of these at once without hitting bacon overload.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 faces. They are interesting, but they don't really rate as particularly good, unless you are in the habit of eating a jar of bacon bits as a snack, in which case these might be up your alley. It's a bit much for me, with the fake bacon flavor just being a little too much for me. Good on a salad, not by the fistful. Give them a whirl if you REAAAAALLY like bacon bits, but I wouldn't go on any sort of quest for them or anything.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Kotas Reviews Black Abbey Brewing's Metatron

Ah, Nashville. My original home town and burgeoning brewery and distillery hub. I'm not exactly sure why Nashville has become such a place, though perhaps the draw of Hot Chicken calls to beer producers, but it is what it is, and that's not a bad thing. One of these days, I'll have to do a drink tour of Nashville and make pilgrimage to these shrines to Hops and Barley, but not this day. No, instead we look at our first barrel aged beer as we investigate Black Abbey Brewing's Metatron.

Now that is some fucking majesty right there ya'll.

According to their site, the good people at Black Abbey named the brewery out of a sense of respect for Martin Luther. Personally, I think that's just good storytelling, but whatever works I suppose. The bottle's label is pretty damned impressive. It's got the awesome Black Abbey logo, the word "Metatron" in a kick ass font, and there's signatures and shit all over this boss. It looks pretty solid, is what I'm saying. Let's pop the cork!

It's...lighter than I imagined.
I'll be honest, I don't know what barrel aging does for a beer, but I've never had one before and I wanted it to be special. Plus, the name "Metatron" has a special place in my heart as of late. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a name that literally means "angel who speaks with the voice of God"? That's just super rad sounding. The scent is very malty and...earthy? It smells very interesting, very much "beer" with something else. I guess that's the barrel aging? Let's take a sip!

Sweet God in Heaven, why hast thou forsaken me? The flavor of this beer can best be described as "rag squeezin's". It's sour, bitter, stale tasting, and plain all around nasty. I wanted to be sent to beer heaven, but instead I got thrown into beer hell. I managed to get through the first glass from this bottle, which by the end had sort of made it up to "well, it's not poison", but the second glass was...cloudy. Perhaps that's simply a characteristic of this beer, or barrel aged beers in general, but it didn't look "interesting", it looked gross. I poured it out along with whatever remained in the bottle. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 3 Frowny Faces. I didn't die, so that's a thing, but this claims to be angelic while actually being quite the opposite. I wouldn't sic this on the Robot Devil, let alone anyone I actually liked. Okay, I kind of like the Robot Devil. Still, stay the hell away from this!

Kotas Reviews Yee Haw Brewing's Billy Beard Maibock Beer

Happy Cinco De Mayo! You know, there's something magical about the way Americans will disdain a culture for decades, heaping shame and scorn upon those who merely want to follow their unique traditions, but as soon as they realize there's a holiday celebrated that gives them an excuse to drink, they wholeheartedly appropriate the shit out of it. I am of course talking about St. Patrick's Day, but I digress. Today we celebrate the victory of the Mexican Army over the French in 1862, and maybe imbibe a refreshing adult beverage while we're at it. So of course the beer I'm reviewing isn't related at all. Let's take a look at the Billy Beard Maibock Beer.

He wore an onion in his belt, which was the style at the time.
Yee-Haw Brewing is based out of Johnson City, TN, and they've been around for a few years. They make a decent variety of beers, including a Dunkel that is fantastic, and many seasonal brews. Billy Beard is their Spring Seasonal offering, and frankly the packaging drew me in. Isn't it fantastic? Just absolutely screams "funky" and I love it. It's the kind of picture I would have wanted on my dorm ceiling when I attended college. Still, the label isn't everything, right? Let's crack it open. Figuratively anyway.

If it's brown, drink it down!
Well, it looks like beer, and it smells like beer. They claim it was brewed with honey, but I can't detect any in the aroma. The first sip is, well, it's like drinking from a bar mat. Full of unique flavors that are mostly all revolting, with a couple of actually decent tastes hiding somewhere in there. Maybe I just don't like Maibocks, but I did not care for this beer. It's got a bad sour taste going on that lingers on the tongue and punishes you for having dared to drink this. After a few quaffs, that feeling does go away and the beer becomes...well, not GOOD but it loses a lot of its sourness and settles into just being a mediocre beer. Like drinking a mid-range wheat beer without the orange slice. Funky, in a bad way. Sadly, once you start a new bottle that horrid taste returns for a few gulps. One thing it does have going for it is that it's pretty high gravity at 7.3%, which helps explain why I was able to finish the six pack. Hooray?

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Frowny Face. It's beer, and it'll get ya nice and buzzed, but you have to sit thorough some awful flavors to get to "meh". It is absolutely not worth the effort to acquire, unless you are some sort of microbrewery completionist. The label is fuckin' rad though, and I want that as a poster for my den.