Sending Sasha Banks to Raw is just more of the same from WWE

One of the easiest things to lose in wrestling is momentum. You dont have to even look back far to see what has happened to Rhea Ripley since losing to Charlotte at WrestleMania 36 and where she is right now in WWE NXT’s pecking order. After having one of the best few months late 2019 and until April of this year, she isn’t even looked at as a challenger for IO Shirai’s NXT womens championship. The biggest example however is Sasha Bank’s WWE booking which has constantly hurt her momentum and might do the same thing yet again. The WWE draft is coming up this week and there are some swirling rumors that WWE might send Banks to WWE Monday Night Raw in order to keep her away from Smackdown womens’s champion until WrestleMania season. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea, but lets look at the facts.

Fact 1. Sasha Banks momentum has already been stopped on numerous occasions in WWE.

Lets take a stroll back to memory lane shall we?. It’s July 13 2015 and NXT Divas Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch are called up to the main roster. At the time, Banks was still NXT divas champion and was on a collision course in NXT with Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2015. It was there where she would drop the title to Bayley, as well as losing the rematch to Bayley at NXT Respect in the Main Event that following October. There was no issue with that as Banks was already on the main roster. The issue came after those matches with Bayley in which Banks got such respect from the fans for her performances that they would chant “we want Sasha” on numerous occasions including matches she wasnt even in. Despite this, WWE would actually remove Sasha from TV here and there in hopes the chants would die down, instead they just got louder. The WWE was forced to turn Banks babyface the following year when she returned at the Royal Rumble to a big pop attacking divas champion Charlotte Flair. Banks and Flair would spend almost all Summer through Winter that year feuding over the Raw womens title. In that feud Banks would not only lose at WrestleMania 32, she also lost in her hometown in Boston as well as losing the final match at WWE Roadblock a few weeks after Charlotte’s own father Ric Flair gave her an endorsement as the face of the womens division.

Fact 2. Sasha Banks was already moved from WWE Raw to WWE Smackdown not even a year ago.

Sasha Banks returned in August of 2019 from a 4 month hiatus to WWE Monday Night Raw and turned heel on the main roster for the very first time. She returned with red hot momentum as fans finally were getting a taste of the boss as a heel on the main roster. She attacked Natayla in her own country in Canada the night after Summerslam before beating down Raw women’s champion Becky Lynch. She had a mini feud with Becky Lynch that culminated at WWE Hell in a cell 2019 where Becky Lynch won the feud and Banks was drafted to WWE Friday Night Smackdown as the 3rd overall pick (1st among women). However, it wasn’t until June of 2020 that WWE actually really did anything with Banks when they won the Womens Tag Team titles for a second time and also won the WWE Raw womens championship to become a double champion, which was shortly lived once again. So in essence, they absolutely hurt all the momentum of her heel turn to draft her to WWE Smackdown and now they’re gonna tempt fate with her as a babyface and do the same thing to move her back to Raw a year later?

Fact 3. Sasha Banks won the Raw womens title before actually winning the Smackdown Womens Championship.

Yes, you read that right, Sasha Banks won the WWE Raw womens championship despite being drafted away from Raw not even a year ago before she won the top womens title on the brand that she was the top womens draft pick of. With her and partner and at the time best friend Bayley they were able to win the WWE womens tag titles allowing them to jump to any brand. She would use this loophole to win the Raw women’s championship via count out only to lose it again less than a month later back to the same person she won it from. Why is the biggest women’s star on Smackdown and the woman who was their top draft pick winning the Raw womens title before the Smackdown womens championship? Why is it a year later and Banks has still not won the title that makes her the second womens grand slam champion? Well there’s a few answers, most of it has to do with covid 19 and wrecking plans for WRestleMania 36 as well as Summerslam in Boston which again hurt the momentum of Banks as WWE was building towards her clashing with Bayley at both events ultimately for neither to happen.

Fact 4. Sasha and Bayley did NOT have to break up so soon

When Banks and Bayley won the WWE women’s tag titles for a second time on June 5th, it was the start of a pretty special run. They would be constantly praised as being the best act thats going on any of the 3 shows that they would appear on. So the big question here is if you’re not willing to go all in on a feud between the two yet, why would you willingly break up a red hot act in September when WrestleMania is in late March over 7 months away? Why wouldn’t you keep the act together for a few more monts as we get closer to the Royal Rumble and then do the big break up angle? What did they gain doing the break up angle if they’re not actually going to go all in on this feud yet?

Fact 5. Bayley has nothing else to do on Smackdown

Due in part to the WWE constantly trying for the perfect time to run this feud (WrestleMania 36 this year, and then Summerslam this year), WWE would have Bayley go through the whole Smackdown women’s roster. She has faced Charlotte Flair 3 times, Lacey Evans 3 times, Nikki Cross 6 times, Alexa Bliss 3 times, Tamina 2 times, Naomi 2 times and heck even has had 3 matches with Raw women’s champion Asuka including at Summerslam and recently at Clash of Champions when Nikki Cross was unable to make the event due to covid concerns. Yes you read that right, at the PPV where “all titles must be defended” WWE would AGAIN go to Nikki Cross because there’s simply no one left, and when Cross couldn’t make the show, they again used Raw women’s champion Asuka, because yet again, there was nothing else left for Bayley. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing left for Bayley on Smackdown period besides the storyline with Banks.

Fact 6. There’s nothing on Raw for Banks to do

Over on Monday Night Raw, talented women like Shayna Baszler and Bianca Belair can’t even get into the title picture against Asuka. On the Raw side, they have a lack of heels that they’re using Zelina Vega to face Asuka twice despite never winning a match before facing off with her. Why on earth would you bring over someone you just turned face in Banks when you need heels to face off with Asuka over the Raw womens championship? Also, moving Banks to Raw, once again will take the spotlight away from Asuka despite her being the Raw women’s champion because Banks just has a presence about her. What would Banks even do on Raw even for a few months with no real heels on the actual Raw roster that she can have a filler storyline with until Rumble season? Wouldn’t it make more sense for Bayley the heel who has nothing left on Smackdown to be the one to move to Raw with Banks staying on Smackdown to freshen up both womens divisions?

Fact 7. Banks winning the Royal Rumble at this point is just an accolade for her, it should go to someone who needs it.

I will admit, I am a big fan of Banks and as a fan it would be cool to see her win the Womens Royal Rumble in January. The fact of the matter is tho, it would simply just be another accolade. She is far past that “moment” with the star she is. As a matter of fact her buzz right now is maybe the strongest its ever been with the storyline with Bayley. You can argue her momentum is hotter now than it will be at WrestleMania next year. Also, I have to admit someone like Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, IO Shirai, or Sonya Deville if she returns would get much more out of a Royal Rumble win than Banks would at this point in her career.

Fact 8. Banks can use the momentum right now and go mainstream.

I know what you’re thinking, how would she get acknowledged mainstream? Well let me tell you. You see she’s about to appear in the most watched stream TV show since it debuted; Star Wars The Mandalorian season 2 which is streamed on Disney plus which just happens to have some connection to Fox where Friday Night Smackdown also airs. Why on earth would you willingly take your biggest women’s star off the show that has more people viewing just to keep a storyline that you didn’t even need to start yet apart for many more months? It makes no sense!. Why wouldn’t you use the momentum she has right now to garner more mainstream attention for not only herself, but also for the company? Imagine if she does press (even virtual) and you can announce her as Smackdown womens’s champion Sasha Banks playing whatever character she will be playing. The buzz and the mainstream attention it could get could do great for her career. Why wouldn’t you capitalize on this momentum?

Yes I get it, as a wrestling fan WrestleMania is the “pinnacle” of a wrestling moment to wrestling fans. I get that you would want to have live fans if possible for such a big moment to take place. However, there are also a few more problems. 1. WrestleMania is a stacked show that is usually filled with many big matches, who is to say this will get a chance to stand out?. 2. Who is there to guarantee the world wont get worse and we still wont be allowed a packed stadium full of live fans? and most important 3. Will the momentum be hurt too much by then as outlined by all the facts above? Momentum is very easy to lose in wrestling and hard to gain back just look at all the people struggling to gain theirs back, sending Banks to Raw and prolonging this story is simply too much of a risk to take in this person’s opinion.

WWE is taking a risk waiting for Sasha Banks vs Bayley at Summerslam

First off, I will tell you I am a fan of long term storyline builds where you have to pay attention to detail. However, there comes a time when there’s too long of a build up that wrestling fans today will get tired of waiting seeing the same stuff over and over. Understandably the WWE wants a crowd for this match and so do the women. The Summerslam date is also the 5 year anniversary of NXT Takeover Brooklyn where they had the greatest womens match ever in North America. So while commendable, there are a few reasons why WWE is taking a risk waiting to do Sasha Banks vs Bayley at Summerslam.

Lets get the biggest one out of the way first, most wrestling fans know this is being done because Vince McMahon is hoping there’s a crowd to be allowed for Summerslam where it ultimately would be a much bigger impact and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. However, nothing about this world right now at the moment is perfect. What happens if things open back up and there’s a second wave of the virus? What happens if someone in WWE contacts the virus? What happens if either of the women were to end up exposed? The whole thing blows up. I will say definitely these two women 100% deserve a crowd but there is no guarantee no matter how long they wait this year they will have one.

The second issue is what happens if there is an injury or either one gets wary of performing with the virus? We all have heard the dirt sheets claim how Sasha Banks is injury prone; while thats always been extremely overblown the truth is she did get hurt in a hell in a cell match with Becky Lynch and then in a tag team match in January which already derailed plans for this once. Its wrestling, its not ballet, wrestlers get hurt/nicked up all the time. What happens if one of them decides the reward is not worth the risk like Roman Reigns did for WrestleMania 36?

The last issue is where can you take the storyline until then and how do you continue to stall?. I will say last week with the inclusion of Charlotte Flair the WWE took a step in the right direction, but you can’t use Charlotte every week and they shouldn’t want to, this is their story. However, you can’t keep booking Smackdown and pay per views every week where Bayley costs Sasha a big match while Sasha helps Bayley retain the title. That simply has already been played out. Another big issue is Bayley has already defeated everyone else on the Smackdown roster, multiple times so where does she go from here? Where does Sasha Banks go? You can’t just keep having her stand by Bayley, sooner or later you have to split them up, but then how do you pro long the match? Does Bayley make Sasha jump through hoops and beat everyone on Smackdown like she has? What happens after the feud then though if Sasha has already beaten everyone to get the title shot?

Perhaps the better way to do this story would be for them to have their first match at Extreme Rules and let it end in a no contest/DQ match (WWE’s specialty of the challenger never beating the champion on the first try). That way you can do the turn after the June pay per view Backlash, and you dont have nine more weeks of finding a way to stall. If you do the turn at Backlash or the Smackdown after, then you have 4 weeks to build up the match at Extreme Rules, and then another 4 weeks after that for Summerslam. You still need a reveal, a turn, and ideally Sasha would win some big matches before she ultimately clashes with Bayley.

While the idea of waiting for Sasha vs Bayley to take place at Summerslam is admirable and quite clearly the much preferred option, there are some hurdles to it.  With this pandemic holding everything up and nobody knowing what happens next there are no guarantees fans will even be allowed in wrestling arenas for shows by August. There is also the hurdle that the champion Bayley simply has no challengers left without just doing more rematches that frankly haven’t been great. In a perfect world Sasha vs Bayley would be able to happen at Summerslam wherever the WWE decides to hold it with hundreds if not thousands of fans in attendance. However, the world is not perfect and while it might not be ideal, the first Sasha Banks vs Bayley match might need to be moved up to the July pay per view Extreme Rules. If WWE ends up not having fans at Summerslam, then you stalled the whole Summer to do a match the same way in front of no fans in attendance.

Why Sasha Banks is the female Shawn Michaels

sasha-banks

The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels is known to wrestling fans throughout the world as one of if not the best pure talents its has ever had. With his brash and confident charisma and his in ring prowess and his ability to play either a beloved hero or a hated villain, he would go on to have a hall of fame career. In my opinion, Sasha Banks is the female Shawn Michaels and here are 7 reasons why.

Big Match Performers

First of all, they are both big match performers. You would usually hear it in Shawn’s matches, there isn’t a better big match performer in wrestling than Shawn Michaels. From his classics at WrestleMania with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and his final 2 matches with the Undertaker, to his classic feud with Triple H there wasn’t a big match that Shawn didn’t excel in. The same can be said about Sasha Banks who has had many classics of her own. Lets start in 2015 in NXT, She would go on to produce 5 straight 4 star matches (and in my opinion some are ranked low) in a row; a fatal 4 way where she won the NXT title against Charlotte, Bayley and Becky Lynch, her 2 NXT title defenses against Charlotte, her takeover unstoppable match with Becky, as well as her 2 matches with best friend Bayley at Takeover Brooklyn and Takeover Respect. She would also go on to have many top tier matches in all of 2016 with Charlotte on the WWE main roster in which PWI would vote it the feud of the year as well as voting Banks the top female of the year. Finally, in 2019 Banks would put on 3 more classics in big matches with Ronda Rousey at the Royal Rumble and Becky Lynch at both Clash of champions and Hell in a cell (IMO the womens match of the year).

Their Ability to make stars

One of the biggest needs to be able to consider yourself a star in the wrestling business in my opinion, is the ability to not only become a star yourself, but also make a star. While a lot of people would credit Shawn Michaels with helping many including Stone Cold Steve Austin become a major star in wrestling, the same can be said about Sasha Banks. In NXT in 2015, she had what I consider the best womens championship run ever in only 5.5 months. Her relationship with Becky Lynch (Team BAE) as well as her match with Becky at Takeover Unstoppable put Becky Lynch on the map. Her matches with Charlotte Flair (2014/2015) as well as their year long feud in 2016 on the main roster made both of them stars. Pro wrestling Illustrated actually voted Banks the #1 female in wrestling and her vs Charlotte the top feud of 2016.  Then there’s Bayley, who in 2015 NXT had THE greatest North America womens match (voted NXT match of the year men included) with Banks and would become the biggest star that NXT had at the time.  That historic match would also set the stage for women in wrestling to main event not only tv shows, but pay per views. They are now main eventing house shows which is something no one ever thought would happen.  Finally it led to 2 other historic things, Ronda Rousey joining the pro wrestling world and women main eventing WrestleMania.

Their ability to stay relevant despite questionable booking. 

There is one thing the WWF/WWE (especially WWE today) is known for and thats their odd booking of many top tier talents. While Shawn Michaels is known as Mr. WrestleMania how many realize he’s only won 6 of the 17 matches he’s had? How many big matches has he lost to Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart, among others, it hasn’t hurt him. The same can be said about Sasha Banks who really only has a few signature wins to her resume, however much like Shawn, she has been able to overcome questionable booking and it hasn’t hurt her star power at all.. While many of her fan base (the krew) will disagree with that statement, lets just look at the facts. How many big time babyface stars lose a feud in the end to the heel and overcome it?.  How many big time babyfaces could go on TV basically denounce her character and 2 weeks later come out to one of the biggest pops the women have gotten that year? How many women could survive a 2018 booking where she would lose almost as much as she won and in matches that really served no purpose. Finally, how many women could be dragged through the mud after rumors swirled of a 2019 walk out and return to one of the biggest pops of the year as well as split a crowd with the top star at the time as a villian no less? Her merch sales, quarter hour ratings, and fan base continue to rise above any questionable booking the WWE throws at her.  Oh by the way, Banks also now has appeared in a Super Bowl commercial in 2020 (the only wrestling woman to do so) along side Roman Reigns and is also rumored to be playing a role in the upcoming Star Wars Mandalorian season 2; that my friends is what a star is.

Their ability to make anyone they are in the ring with look good. 

One of the most common things wrestling fans will tell you is that you need a dance partner, and while that is partly true, there are just some who stand out and are able to create a special dance with the lack of a great dance partner: Shawn Michaels was able to do it, and Sasha Banks is also able to do it. While both have had many big time classics that I have outlined already, I would like to point out just a few times that Sasha Banks was able to create magic without a real dance partner.  In 2017, with a green Nia Jax, Banks would go on to produce three solid matches including one in her hometown of Boston. She’s also credited by most wrestling fans with the accolade of getting the best match out of any woman she’s in the ring with, which is what Shawn Michaels was great at. In the art of wrestling, you have to also be able to make your opponent look good by selling moves , and both Michaels and Banks excel at selling the other’s moves whether they are playing a babyface or a heel.

Their ability to play a babyface or a heel

Speaking of, there are 3 characters that a pro wrestler can play in wrestling, a babyface, a heel, or a tweener (which is basically a babyface with some heel tendencies). In my and many others opinions, both Michaels and Banks excel at both. Lets start with Michaels, he orginally was part of a tag team known as the Rockers with tag team partner Marty Janetty as a beloved tag team. However, in 1992, on an episode of the barber shop, Michaels would end up throwing his then partner/friend through a barbershop window turning heel. His heel run would include a feud with Bret Hart in which he would make many disparaging remarks about Canada and end with putting over Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14 before he took a long hiatus returning to WWE again and starting a feud once again as a babyface with Triple H. In 2005, Michaels would turn on Hulk Hogan going into Summerslam playing a tweener role, he would still have his babyface persona but he would make fun of Bret Hart in Canada and run away from Hulk Hogan. In the same way Michaels could play all 3 roles well, so can Sasha Banks. In 2013 Banks would debut in NXT as a go happy girl just happy to be there. However one day that all changed and Banks decided she needed something different and turned heel, added some swag to her character, put on some shades and called herself the boss and became one of the best heels going. From 2016 to 2018 Banks would play the role of a babyface and was one of the most over talents on the roster In 2016; a roster that included John Cena who no one in wrestling is as big today. In January of 2019 while in a tag team with Bayley, Sasha would play the role of a tweener in a feud with then Raw womens champion Ronda Rousey where she would use both her boss persona from NXT in 2015 but also play the character she has been playing then at the time teaming with Bayley a beloved babyface.

The emotional and physical issues they dealt with thanks to pro wrestling and how it changed both

Lets start of by going back to Survivor Series in Montreal Canada in 2017 Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart. What happened that night is something most people thought wouldn’t happen, a script was broken, Michaels put Bret Hart in the sharpshooter and owner Vince McMahon called for the bell without Bret tapping out. Thats right, Vince screwed Bret (or Bret screwed Bret). Over the years of wrestling, Michaels would deal with drugs and alcoholism before he found Christianity.  One thing both share in common is back injuries, back injuries is what made Shawn have to retire from wrestling for many years, and while they aren’t as bad as his, Banks herself has dealt with back injuries in the past (probably from carrying a division for years LOL). As with Shawn, Banks one day decided that her love for wrestling was gone and she needed to take a break in the summer of 2019 due to depression, burn out and other issues stemming from the accident with fellow wrestler Paige in 2017 that forced her to retirement. That incident led to many questioning just how good she is, including herself. You could tell she just wasn’t the same after that especially with all the criticism she would face from social media fans. She has since returned and has returned to being as great as she has always been, some would claim even better and she seems more happy than she’s been in a long time. Sometimes you just need time away from what is destroying you no matter how much you love it.

Their overall impact on the business

While many wrestlers from the past and even the present have said they became a pro wrestler due to Shawn Michaels, the same can be said for Banks. Lets go back to the Summer of 2019 when it was rumored that Banks was leaving WWE, you had women pro wrestlers from every promotion asking for a match with her. That is still happening today as even impact stars like Tessa Blanchard and Rosemary are wanting to have a match with Banks. While Michael’s was known to use his pull backstage (kliq, his feud with Bret Hart, etc), Banks is known for something else. With her match with Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn, they not only changed the game for women in North America but they raised the bar. That match set the stage for the likes of Ronda Rousey one of the biggest women stars in the world to venture into pro wrestling after years of being a fan, as well as mentioned before setting the stage for the WrestleMania 35 main event. Without that match with Bayley at Takeover Brooklyn, there is no guarantee that the womens revolution comes as far as it has.

While some would consider Banks to be more like the likes of Eddie Guerrero which is who Banks credits to wanting to be a pro wrestler or Randy Savage as my friend believes (flamboyant, fans made her turn babyface, willing to ruffle feathers and stick up for herself among other things), I believe she’s more of a Shawn Michaels, she might not retire with the accolades of a Triple H (13 time WWE champion, RR winner, etc), she will however retire one day being known as a star creator and much like Michaels, one of if not the best pure in ring women talents ever.

Oskar Blues Death By King Cake Review

Oskar Blues King Cake

Oskar Blues Brewery out of Colorado has produced quite a few beers that are imaginative and outside the box. One of those is definitely Death By King Cake, an adventurous take on a white porter that is brewed with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa nibs, orange peels, and pecans.

The beer pours a deep gold color, almost an orange-gold. There is a nice, foamy white head that stood around two fingers tall at its height, though it did start reducing fairly quickly. The aroma is one of vanilla, cocoa, and a touch of nutmeg. There are also notes of hops and malt on the nose. It looks and smells good.

The first sip was a little surprising. I expected sweetness overload and that was not the case. This had a malt forward taste complimented by touches of vanilla, nutmeg, and cocoa. I didn’t notice too much cinnamon flavor. There is just a touch of citrus from the hops and orange peel. If you have ever had a king cake, a Louisiana staple around Mardi Gras, you expect an overwhelming sweetness. This beer still manages to keep its identity as a beer while also offering a unique flavor.

The mouthfeel is lighter than you would expect from a porter. Then again, this is a white porter and prior to this brew I had never experienced a white porter. I would call this on the light side for mouthfeel certainly. Like a deadbeat father heading out for a pack of cigarettes the head didn’t stick around long and was gone almost completely after just a few sips. No big loss, however, as the flavor profile remained strong and consistent.

Overall, this was a fun take on a porter. I’m not entirely certain what a white porter is even to this point but it was a good, flavorful beer that didn’t overdo it on the sweetness. It is good enough to drink any time of the day, though at 6.5% ABV you might want to take it easy. This was a fun session that didn’t overwhelm and didn’t underwhelm either. I would certainly get this again if I saw it in the store. It might be fun to pair with an actual king cake.

Victory Brewing Cloud Walker Review

Victory Cloud Walker

Unfortunately, we are living in unprecedented times with about one billion people around the globe staying at home due to Covid-19. However, that doesn’t mean we are going to stop doing our reviews. We here at The Sporting Brews will try to keep delivering fun beer reviews and maybe some other content to help fill the void. With that said we hope this finds you well and hopefully life will return to normal sooner rather later.

Victory Brewing Company was founded in 1996 in Downingtown, Penn. by childhood friends Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet. They opened a larger brewery in 2014 in Parkesburg, Penn. and now serve their craft beers in over 30 states across the Union. Up for review today is Cloud Walker, a hazy juicy IPA.

Cloud Walker pours a hazy, golden yellow with a white, foamy head that stood about one finger tall at its height. The aroma of citrusy hops fills the nostrils and tantalizes the taste buds for what is about to come. There is a nice even citrus smell that doesn’t overpower but is rather welcoming. It is sweet and teases the hops.

The first taste is sweet citrus hops followed by a touch of malt on the back. It feels very light in the mouth and finishes slightly on the dry side. It is actually a very pleasant first experience. There is isn’t too much carbonation but just enough to enhance the experience. It definitely leaves you desiring another sip.

Throughout the session Cloud Walker stayed consistent. A nice, refreshing citrus hit up front, followed by a mellower malt, then a dry, hoppy-citrus finish. The head didn’t stay very long and as the beer drank the color did change to a paler yellow which was odd but didn’t affect the overall experience. The taste was always there and always the same to the very end. The hops weren’t overwhelming so if you aren’t big on hops this might be a nice IPA for you to try.

Overall, this was a good beer. The flavor profile was consistent and inviting. This could be a great session beer but at 6.8% ABV it does pack a punch but it does not have an alcohol taste which is pleasant but can be dangerous. I would definitely buy this again, especially in the summer at a ballgame or BBQ. This is worth giving a try.

Saranac Caramel Porter Review

Matt Brewing Company, producers of the now well known Saranac line has produced many beers over the years. Up for review today is Saranac Caramel Porter.

The beer pours a deep caramel color, as if you made caramel at home in a saucepan. Its deep and rich looking for caramel but light if you’re looking forward to a porter. There is a nice light khaki head that is produced that stood about a finger and a half tall. There is a sweet aroma emanating from the brew. It definitely has caramel notes but there is something else there, almost like a manufactured caramel note that is sweeter than the original. There is also a slight undertone of malt on the nose.

Upon first sip you realize it really follows the nose. The caramel notes shine through big time with this brew. However, it feels like the initial caramel flavor is artificial. The sweetness from it is just a little dominating. Oddly, when the malt comes in to play it tastes pretty good. The artificial notes made me want to hate this but my taste buds keep going back for more. I can’t explain it. The sweetness is almost a marshmallow kind of sweetness. It’s the finish that really makes this beer.

The mouthfeel is on the medium side but the carbonation is just right for a porter, enough for you to realize there is carbonation but not enough to distract from the beer.

Overall, I actually liked this beer. The artificial sweetness of it is easily adapted to while at the same time not quite distracting. You are going to need to like beers on the sweeter side in order to appreciate this one. Having this as a dessert beer to cap the night off is a decent idea. I don’t know if I would make this a session beer, though at 5.4% ABV you certainly could if you like sweet beers. This is a beer I would like to enjoy one at a time, maybe two at once at most. It tastes good but it has its limits. Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to order this if I saw it on a menu at a bar or restaurant.

Blue Point Winter Ale Review

Blue Point Brewing Company out of Long Island, NY, has emerged as one of the larger craft breweries with their award-winning brews served almost nation-wide at this point. One of their seasonal offerings is their Winter Ale.

Winter Ale pours a deep amber color, which is good because they advertise this as an amber ale. There is a nice, slightly tannish, perhaps khaki, head that rose to about two fingers at its height. The beer looks delicious. The aroma is one of caramel, hops, and a hint of chocolate. It is definitely an intriguing aroma that invites you in. There is moderate carbonation seen rising to the top to reinforce the head. This beer looks and smells great.

The first sip is pleasant and somewhat follows the nose. There is a toffee, caramel note followed by a little hops and a smooth chocolate finish if your taste buds are paying attention. It is a subtle chocolate taste. Perhaps it’s just the toffee mixing with the malts and hops but whatever it is is very pleasant. The toffee and malt notes take center stage, however, and that isn’t a bad thing.

Throughout the session the taste was consistent. Winter Ale was a little warming to the core which is kind of what you want from a winter brew that advertises that. It wasn’t overwhelming but rather nice and subtle. The taste was consistent throughout though I did notice a few sips to have more of a chocolate taste than other times. The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium with a warm, welcoming finish that is both smooth and crisp. There was a little bite at the end of the smoother finish which was a little unexpected yet welcomed.

Overall, this is a beer you can cozy up to. At 7.7% ABV this beer also has the ability to cozy up to you so caution is in play here. The taste makes it easy to drink and that can be dangerous. It is a very drinkable beer and you could make this a session beer if you are responsible. As for this being an amber ale, well it is on the heavier side of that. I would definitely order this again or pick up a six-pack if I see it. Long Island might not contribute much but it sure does make a good beer ad for that we are thankful.

Kona Brewing Island Colada Cream Ale Review

Kona Brewing Company out of Hawaii has made it all over mainland USA and for good reason, they tend to brew good beers mixed with a touch of island flavor. A new limited release of theirs is the Island Colada Cream Ale which is brewed with, as you might have guessed, coconut and pineapple.

Island Colada pours a golden yellow, as if the sun exploded in your glass. It is bright, cheery, and welcomes you with a nice foamy, white head that stood almost three fingers at its height. It just looked delicious from the pour. The aroma is heavier on the coconut, as you would kind of expect since that tends to be more fragrant but the sweet notes of pineapple do poke through. If you close your eyes you can almost escape the doldrums of winter in the northeast. Almost.

The first sip offers coconut flavors forward, quickly followed by pineapple sweetness, before coconut comes back. There is a touch of malt and perhaps a touch of hops that snuck in as well with a little grassy and citrus flavor. The carbonation is on the medium side which is perfectly acceptable. The mouthfeel is on the heavier side of light or the lighter side of medium. There is a creaminess that really makes this beer pleasant given the flavors. There is a dry, hoppy finish at the end though.

Overall, Island Colada is a pretty fun beer. Getting this in winter in the northeast was a treat. I did buy a six pack and had the beer in a glass and out of the can. Pouring in the glass was a little tastier than the can but both were good. It is kind of like Hawaii in a can, pineapple, coconut, and a little grassy touch like a skirt on an island girl. I would drink this any time of the year although only a couple at a time. I don’t know if I would make this a session beer given the flavors. I’m a fan of a pina colada but I don’t think I could pound them. The same goes for this beer. Ultimately, this is a nice escape for a winter offering but I wouldn’t mind using this as a change of pace beer in the summer or having a couple at a ballgame.

O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer Review

O’ Fallon Brewery out of Maryland Heights, Missouri is a growing brewery that offers many different types of beers. Between their year-round brews, seasonals, and beers in between there are well over 20 beers produced. One of their three winter offerings is their Cherry Chocolate Beer, a dark wheat beer.

The beer poured with an almost cola color. There was almost no head which may or may not have been the result of the glass. The aroma is definitely one of cherry and chocolate with some undertones on malt. There was very little carbonation seen.

Upon first sip you instantly get what this beer advertises. It is cherry and chocolate with a slight alcohol note. It is very similar to those chocolates with the alcohol and cherry inside. I can’t remember their name but if you cut the alcohol flavor back a bit on the candy these would be identical in flavor. Or, like you added a touch of alcohol to a cherry Tootsie Pop. It is actually pretty good.

Throughout the session the flavor profile was consistent. Chocolate and cherry. Both flavors played well with the beer. The mouthfeel was on the medium side but not overly so. There was some carbonation that tickled the tongue but nothing too outrageous.

Overall, this beer is exactly as advertised. It is an alcoholic cherry Tootsie Pop in liquid form. If you were expecting something different then there might be no hope for you. This is a definite dessert beer as I can’t imagine having too many of these. A six pack would last a few sessions for sure. It was fun to drink though and at 5.7% ABV it won’t sneak up on you. If the name sounds tasty to you give it a try.

Flying Dog Cookies and Cream Milk Stout Review

Flying Dog Cookies and Cream

Flying Dog Brewery out of Frederick, Maryland has come up with a wide variety of interesting flavors. One such rotating flavor is their Cookies and Cream offering, a milk stout brewed with vanilla beans and chocolate.

The first thing you notice is the darkness of the brew as it pours. This beer is darker than coffee. The frothy, tan head rose to just under two fingers at its height. The aroma is forward with the chocolate and complimented by notes of malt. This is a very inviting beer. It looks great even if the flavor profile might seem a little odd.

The first sip teases vanilla before the chocolate dominates. It is smooth and somewhat velvety on the tongue but is a lot thinner than would be suspected given that this is a stout and the look makes it seem it will be thick like a Guinness. There is a definite sweetness to the taste as the vanilla, cream, and chocolate play with your taste buds. The beer finishes smooth and a little on the dry side, though not overly so. It is very pleasant and it has some characteristics of a milkshake.

Consistency was excellent with this beer. You never felt like chocolate dominated in one sip, then vanilla or cream in another. There were times where a malt flavor poked through but never too much as to disrupt the experience. The glass laced sexily throughout the session, letting you know exactly where you undressed the glass with each sip.

I am not one for sweet beers usually, or crazy concoctions such as this. However, I must say that overall the entire session was fun and flavorful. It is very sweet though, as you can kind of expect. It also clocks in at 8.2% ABV so this can sneak up on you if you try to make it a session beer by itself. Having one or two for dessert would certainly be tasty and fun. As would adding vanilla ice cream for an added experience. This is the kind of beer you try and if you like it you explore with it. I would love to go exploring with this Flying Dog Cookies and Cream again.