Category Archives: Beer

The Pathfinder story “Crisis of Faith” is coming next Wednesday

So maybe this week is kind of quiet, but next week will be a whole lot of fun. In addition to the launch of the Audible audiobook of The Venusian Gambit next Tuesday, the good folks at Paizo confirmed that my serial Pathfinder tale, “Crisis of Faith,” will begin it’s run starting Wednesday, June 25, over at Paizo.com.

There’s a couple of neat things that make “Crisis of Faith” really rewarding for me. One, Paizo commissions a piece of art for each installment of the story — which means I’ll get to see the characters I’ve created brought to life visually. That’s a rare treat.

Second, the story is about a cleric. And not just any cleric — a priest of the god Cayden Cailean. Now, if you don’t know your Pathfinder mythos, click here for a good rundown on this particular deity.

Why, yes, the Pathfinder universe has a god of beer. And if you know me at all, you’ll know that including Cayden, or at least his priest, was pretty much a no-brainer. Had to be done.

And that’s all the spoilers you get for now. I’ll be blogging and tweeting links as each part goes live, so stay tuned.

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Beer geekery: The Vermont IPA showdown

Let’s pause a moment in the string of book and writing stuff to talk about beer. After all, it was the great Benjamin Franklin (for real, not just the noted alchemist in The Daedalus Incident), who said: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

So this past weekend, while my daughter and five of her friends were tearing about the house in the midst of a sleepover, my wife and I relaxed in the back yard with some other parents, firepit roaring and beers in hand. Having recently been up to Vermont, I had two rarities in the Beer Fridge: Alchemist‘s Heady Topper and Lawson’s Finest Liquids‘ Sip of Sunshine.

Both are hefty double/imperial India Pale Ales, chock full of hops, and both boast an 8% ABV in 16 oz. tallboy cans. In addition, both are considered among the finest double IPAs in the world, and number among the finest beers in the world, period.

Having had both on hand, I decided to put them to the test, cracking open one of each and ruthlessly pitting them against each other…er…seeing how the differed and which I liked better. I did this quietly and on my own, of course, as the vast majority of folks — my wife and guests included — don’t geek out over beer like I do. Best not to frighten them.

Both beers are excellent — let’s just get that right out of the way up front. If you were to find either one (highly unlikely outside the state of Vermont), you should purchase it post-haste. Both beers are potent in terms of both alcoholic content as well as the punch-in-the-mouth hop bitterness they boast.

Now for the differences. Hops can have different scent and taste characteristics depending on the variety. Some skew citrus, others pine, still others floral. The brewers of these two beers chose to emphasize just one of those in each beer — which makes sense, because something this potent isn’t all that subtle.

Heady Topper is a piney hop beer. Really tasty, really refreshing and a great palate cleanser for sweet or spicy foods. Oddly, you breath feels fresh after having a sip (Note: Actual freshness of breath unlikely.) It’s an excellent DIPA.

Sip of Sunshine is slightly less hoppy, but very citrusy and almost juicy in flavor. It still packs a hop whallop, but does so with more balance. It definitely tastes like a sip of sunshine in beer form.

The result? I’m going to give a slight edge to Sip of Sunshine, though your individual mileage may vary. Again, both are superlative, and you’d do well with either. Given a choice between the two, though, I’d grab the Lawson’s first.

Followed by Heady.

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BeerGeek: Evangelize on Super Bowl Sunday

If you’ve followed this blog or my Twitter account for any period of time, you know I’m something of a beer aficionado. (And if you are too, you can check out my Untappd profile and friend me there.) I think life’s too short to be wasted on thin, yellow, mass produced lagers that advertise based on “lifestyle” and coolness rather than, you know, taste.

This coming Sunday, however, you may find yourself drinking with the unenlightened as you enjoy the Patriots-Seahawks game. Now, it’s not cool to just bring your own six-pack and drink from that all the time — sharing is caring, plus you’ll just look like the beer snob you are. So ideally you’ll bring two six-packs you can share and, in so doing, expose your friends and loved ones to something better than Bud/Coors/Miller.

(Note that this also works for Oscar parties and other non-sportsball events, too.)

So here’s some ideas for good “gateway” beers, brews to use to start weaning folks off the Big Three and introduce them to a wider world of awesome.  Continue reading

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Untappd and “The Beer Fridge” feature on my blog

Thanks to the miracles of modern blogging, I can see that “The Beer Fridge” tab here on the blog still gets some traffic. That’s wonderful in that the Venn diagram of SF/F fans and beer lovers has good overlap, but less wonderful given that I’ve not updated the Beer Fridge since…January.

A lot of this has to do with my adoption of the Untappd app, which is pretty much everything I could hope for in a beer aficionado app. I can log, rate and track the beers I’ve had, as well as see what my friends on Untappd are drinking and enjoying. (You should totally hook this app up and friend me.)

Meanwhile, the more free-form (and logistically more difficult) Beer Fridge has languished. Yes, I could log in from anywhere and create a short blog post about whatever I’m having, but Untappd is several orders of magnitude easier. So I’m going to start parsing my posts from The Beer Fridge and creating Untappd entries for each of them — and then I’m going to shut down The Beer Fridge.

Well, the separate blog about beer, at any rate. I still have the real beer fridge down in my basement. I may yet keep the tab on this blog so I can keep a running list of what I have on hand and perhaps find an Untappd widget as well. As for beer-related musings, I’ll pepper them in this blog every so often.

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Notes from the Rockies

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in Colorado.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in Colorado.

If you’ve been following my Twitter feed at all, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been in Colorado this week, and also that I’ve been having fun. If you haven’t been following that, I’ll do my best to catch you up.

I’m here visiting family, including my 4-month-old first-cousin-once-removed, who is now tied with my daughter for Cutest Baby Ever and don’t you dare tell me otherwise. This being Colorado, there’s also been hiking and biking and a goodly amount of beer, including a tasting of 22 different beers on Tuesday as part of a bike-tour of various Fort Collins breweries. Thankfully, tastings are in tiny glasses, which means over several hours, I wasn’t unduly wrecked.

Author and agent: Talking books in Boulder.

Author and agent: Talking books in Boulder.

Last night’s discussion and Q&A at Boulder Book Store with my agent, Sara Megibow, went really well. Ben and the rest of the store crew were awesome. We had a great crowd and lots of good questions about the writing life and publishing and getting your stuff out there in to the big wide world. I also saw a lot of copies of The Daedalus Incident and The Enceladus Crisis head out the door, so thank you to everyone who bought them, and for supporting a fantastic independent bookstore as well.

And speaking of that support, Boulder Book Store still has autographed copies of both my books in stock, so if you’re around the Denver-Boulder-Fort Collins area, go grab a copy!

The fermenters at Walnut Brewery, full of great beer.

The fermenters at Walnut Brewery, full of great beer.

Knowing that I’m both a beer aficionado and a home-brewer, Sara arranged a tour of Walnut Brewery‘s brewhouse before the signing last night. Brewmaster Rodney Taylor himself took us around the brewpub’s facilities, explaining his process and how he comes up with Walnut’s excellent brews. Rod has a pretty sweet 14-barrel brewhouse going, and he’s very into the art of brewing. It was a huge treat for me to see it. Many thanks to Rod for taking the time, and Sara for making it happen.

So yeah, when you’re done picking up my books at Boulder Book Store, go down the block and around the corner and have one of Rod’s beers (and some excellent food, too) at the Walnut Brewery!

#SFWApro

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A great new Enceladus review, and good times at BEA

I wanted to talk a bit about my experience at Book Expo America over the past few days, but before I do that, I’m quite happy to link up to a great review of The Enceladus Crisis by Abhinav Jain, a.k.a. Shadowhawk. He reviewed The Daedalus Incident for The Founding Fields (read it here), and had this to say about the sequel:

Everything that was great about The Daedalus Incident makes a comeback in this novel and it is all better than before…. I wanted a rock-solid story and I got it. I wanted some awesome characters, whether heroes or villains and I got that. I wanted to see an exploration of both the realities and their particular quirks that have developed and I got that. … Michael has clearly improved his craft going from his debut to his first sequel, and it is a change that I approve of wholeheartedly, both as a reader and a blogger.

You can read the whole review here at Shadowhawk’s Shade. Many thanks to Abhinav for the very kind words.

I also got a lot of kind words at Book Expo America.

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The Skiffy and Fanty takedown of Highlander II, guest-starring me, is live

The podcast of Skiffy and Fanty‘s Torture Cinema, in which I join the crew in reviewing that horrible monstrosity Highlander II: The Quickening, is now live and ready for your download! Plus, there’s video, which means you get to see what I look like late on a Friday night after a long week of work.

Click here for both audio and video enjoyment. Skiffy and Fanty is, of course, available on iTunes or wherever fine podcasts are…downloaded, I suppose. Whatever, you know where to go.

For those interested, I’m enjoying a Foley Brothers Native Brown Ale while podcasting here, because I needed a good beer to wash away the bitter aftertaste of this film. Foley Brothers is a small brewer in Brandon, Vt., and they do great beers. Tough to find outside the Green Mountain State, but if you do, give ’em a try.

You can see my take on Native Brown Ale, and many others, via my Untappd page.

Many thanks to Shaun, Jen and Julia for putting up with my selection of the film, and for being such excellent sports. I had a blast!

#SFWApro

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Today, I am a Functional Nerd

Actually, I’m pretty much functional most days. Except when there’s no coffee, at which point I’m reduced to a mind-blanked automaton.

No, today I am a guest on the fantastic Functional Nerds podcast, ably hosted by Patrick Hester and John Anealio. We talk SF/F conventions, the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser project, Patrick’s newfound love of iTunes smart playlists, and my own recent discovery of Untappd, the beer drinker’s social network. (Here’s my page in case you want to follow along.)

Oh, and I talk a bit about writing and stuff. I had a great time recording it, so please do give it a listen. The Functional Nerds podcast page is here, and you can download the podcast via your favorite podcast downloading…thing.

My thanks to John and Patrick for a great podcast!

#SFWApro

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American Trappist ale is now a real thing

Real Trappist beers — made by European Trappist monasteries — are some of the best in the world, hands down. Even as a writer, I don’t have enough superlatives in my wordsmith toolbox to do them justice.

And now we’re getting authentic Trappist ale made right here in the U.S.

The brothers of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass., are going to brew and sell beer. And it’s not just any beer. They went to Belgium to learn the trade, and they won the (literal and figurative) blessings of their European peers. They don’t give out that “Authentic Trappist” label lightly, and the American monks had to offer up a taste-test for approval. But Spencer Trappist Ale passed, and the brewery is up and running. Check out the brewery site, as well as the abbey’s site (which has some cool Gregorian chant going on.)

I like this for a couple of reasons. First, Trappist beer is excellent. If I were to take on the world’s finest sommelier in a beer vs. wine smackdown, I’d bring Trappist beer. Only a few non-Trappist breweries in the world get close. I’ve had beers from six different monasteries, and while they’re all a bit different, they’re all excellent.

Second, the proceeds go to a good cause. The St. Joseph monks are going to fix up their abbey and pay the bills, of course, and the rest goes toward helping the community and other charitable efforts. You really can’t argue with that. The brothers are also pretty big on sustainability and the environment, too.

For now, Spencer Trappist Ale’s distribution is only going to be in Massachusetts, but they brothers say they’ll expand their efforts as they ramp things up — they only tapped their first keg at the abbey on New Year’s Day, after all. (I’m going to get my hands on some soon as I can, naturally. And I’m totally buying a chalice, too. Chalices are cool.)

As a beer fan, I’m obviously excited. And much respect to the monks as well; it’s not an easy life. But at least they have good beer on hand.

Brew on, brothers!

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