Harpoon Brewery Winter Warmer Review

Harpoon Holiday

When the weather starts to get cold and the holiday spirit starts to dominate you know one thing is certain. No, not a fat man in a red suit jumping down your chimney. It’s the holiday beer selections that add some spice and flavor to the season. They don’t call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. Harpoon Brewery has their holiday entry with their Winter Warmer, a holiday ale flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg.

The beers pours a deep copper color. It almost has the color of iced tea. There was a light tan head that rose to a little under one finger at its height. It looks fairly appetizing with very little carbonation seen through the dark color.

The aroma offers notes of cinnamon and nutmeg along with notes of malt and bread. However, the aroma was very feint.

The first sip follows the nose. There are notes of cinnamon and nutmeg with a slight bready finish before a feint cinnamon aftertaste. There are some slight bread notes that poke through as well as a sweetness that is slightly caramel in flavor. The mouthfeel is just a shade on the medium side but it finishes smooth with just the right amount of carbonation. The spices definitely dominate the flavor profile and cinnamon predominates the aftertaste.

The flavor stayed consistent throughout the session. There was very little lacing on the glass as it drank. The cinnamon and nutmeg flavor profile definitely dominated the brew so if you don’t like these flavors this might not be for you. There was also a sweet taste that reminded me of biting a peach. It was an overpowering sweet but rather subtle and blended well with the beer.

Overall, this beer is pretty good. It is kind of your typical holiday beer with its myriad of spice and flavors. It doesn’t stand out among the other holiday beers but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was a fun beer that would be good during the holiday season and at 5.9% ABV you won’t end up being the loud, obnoxious relative at your family gatherings. This is worth the try if you like cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Cigar City Brewing Maduro Brown Ale

Cigar City Brown Ale

Cigar City Brewing is based in Tampa, Fla. and offers quite a few good beers, some of which have been reviewed on the site previously. Up for review today is their Maduro Brown Ale.

The beer pours a deep brown with a thick, tan head that stood over two fingers tall at its height. If you are a fan of Brown Ales then you will appreciate the appearance. The beer almost looks as dark as coffee and looks delicious. There is no carbonation seen through the dark color.

The aroma is one of malt, toffee, caramel, and a touch of chocolate and coffee. Nothing truly sticks out on the nose and the aroma isn’t very strong but it is nice when you get into it.

The first sip offers notes of caramel, toffee, chocolate, coffee, and malt. There is very little hop flavor here but some notes do come through. The mouthfeel is light and smooth and finishes smooth and dry. It makes you want another sip.

As the beer drank there were notes that reminded me of a cigar and I couldn’t tell if my taste buds were being tricked by the can which features a cigar on it or if there was a slight earthy, tobacco note. Either way it was pleasant and relaxing. The beer was consistent and there was some light lacing on my mug as I drank it. I did keep going back for more sips and even though the taste was consistent the flavors that introduced themselves up front sometimes changed. For example, on one sip you would hit more toffee and caramel notes followed by malt and coffee. On another sip the coffee note was more forward followed by the toffee and caramel and so on. The profile was consistent though.

Overall, I liked this beer. I could imagine myself drinking this while enjoying a cigar or even on its own. I am a fan of Brown Ales and this one was a little adventurous and slightly different from some other Brown Ales. It clocks in at a very manageable 5.5% ABV so this could easily be a session beer. It is certainly worth a try if you enjoy this style brew.

Blue Moon Iced Coffee Blonde Review

Blue Moon Iced Coffee

Blue Moon isn’t exactly an unknown beer by any stretch these days but they have been branching out with different flavors, some of which are quite good. Up for review today is their Iced Coffee Blonde which they advertise as a “golden-colored wheat ale made with Fair Trade decaf coffee beans.”

The beer pours a hazy gold with a thin, white head that doesn’t stick around long. There is some carbonation seen rising through the haze. The color was a little brighter than I expected for something made with coffee beans. The aroma offers a slight note of coffee, again not as much as one would expect for something brewed with coffee beans. There is also a slight note of bread and malt on the nose but that is quickly pushed out by an artificial sugar smell, like coffee creamer.

The first taste is surprisingly sweet for a beer. The sweetness evolves into a malt and bread flavor like you would expect with a wheat ale. The coffee notes are faint, very faint. You almost have to search for them with your taste buds. The flavor isn’t bad. The sweetness isn’t overwhelming and plays nicely with the bread and malt flavors. The coffee should be more forward here in my opinion, however. You notice it more on the aftertaste and not so much on the sip.

The beer was consistent throughout. There was no lacing on the glass as it drank. The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium but still in the medium category, very similar to your typical Blue Moon. It finishes smooth and somewhat creamy.

Overall this is an interesting beer. I don’t know how I would have felt about a lot of coffee in the flavor but I think I would want a little more than what I received. The sweetness played with the bread notes well and made it feel as if I was eating a pastry with my coffee. Although I think this beer misses on a few points it isn’t a bad drink at all and I would have it again, especially as a lighter dessert beer. This could be a session beer if you are into sweeter things and it only clocks in at 5.5% ABV which is manageable. I do wish they didn’t use decaf coffee beans though as the caffeine would be a nice touch.

Isaiah Simmons Is the Perfect Fit for New York Giants

Isaiah Simmons

There is no doubt that the New York Giants need help on defense after finishing 25th in the NFL in yards per game. They will surely be spending on defense in free agency but they will also be in great position to address the need in the NFL Draft with the fourth overall pick. It is likely that Chase Young will be gone before the Giants pick but Isaiah Simmons should be there for the taking.

Simmons can line up almost anywhere on the defensive side of the ball. He can play outside or inside linebacker. He can play safety and might even be useful in certain matchups in the slot. He is a Swiss Army knife on defense and could bolster the Giants’ pass defense almost instantly. He would certainly give the Giants someone to match up with almost any tight end in the league and as any Giants fan knows that has been an Achilles heel for years now.

Listed at 6-4, 230, Simmons has the size and speed to match up with almost every tight end and even some wide receivers. He is versatile enough to rush the quarterback from an outside linebacker position and has a great feel for the game to make him valuable in the middle as well. Across 15 games this season, Simmons tallied 102 tackles, 16 for loss, 8.0 sacks, 8 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, and forced a fumble. He was the heart and soul of the Clemson defense.

The Giants have not had a defensive player that teams have game-planned for in over a decade, since Michael Strahan was in his prime. Simmons has the ability to give offensive coordinators nightmares and the versatility to line up anywhere thereby negating opponents’ game plans.

If you have seen him play you will see a player with fluid hips who can change direction well and uses his long arms to disrupt opposing receivers. At just 230 pounds he won’t win a lot of battles in the trenches with offensive linemen but he has the speed to blow past them at times and get to the quarterback or ball carrier before they get to the line. He also has the potential to add some bulk to his frame without sacrificing speed or fluidity.

It is hard to compare Simmons to any player and that is just fine. Simmons is a unique football player and no matter where the Giants decide to use him he will most likely flourish into a star. He is exactly the type of player Joe Judge will need on his defense.

Magic Hat Barroom Hero Review

Magic Hat Barroom Hero

Magic Hat Brewing Company teamed up with the band Dropkick Murphys to create Barrom Hero, an English Brown Ale. Their website states that proceeds from this traditional pub ale benefit the charitable foundation of Dropkick Murphys, the Claddagh Fund. Drinking beer and supporting a charity is a win-win.

Barroom Hero pours a dark brown, almost as dark as a cup of coffee but not quite. This is definitely darker than your typical brown ale. There is an appetizing tan head that forms and rose to just over a finger. The aroma is one of bread, toasted caramel, some brown sugar or molasses, and just a hint of hops and malt.

The first sip somewhat follows the nose with forward notes of toasted caramel, malt, and bread with a little hops and citrus on the back end without being overpowering. There is also a tinge of chocolate towards the end. The finish is warm and toasty, a comforting embrace that makes you want another sip. The carbonation is light and almost smooth, perhaps creamy is a better word.

I don’t know if I would classify this as a traditional English brown ale. It certainly has some characteristics of one but this seems slightly more adventurous. The flavor stayed consistent throughout the session which was an overall enjoyable one. There was some lacing on the glass as it drank.

Overall, this is a fairly good, slightly different take on an English brown ale. It is inviting and flavorful. Don’t come at this with preconceived notions about brown ales. This could be a good session beer as it clocks in at only 4.2% ABV. This is a good beer and some of your money will go towards charity so it makes you feel good in several ways.

Eli Manning Really Has Been the Man All Along

Eli Manning

Eli Manning has made news quite a bit this season. He was benched after a Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills. There were a ton of news stories about whether the Giants would trade the former two-time Super Bowl MVP. Then, rookie Daniel Jones suffered an ankle sprain and Manning was thrust back into the starting role for Week 14 and 15. Then, Eli made news again after the Giants’ Week 16 win against the Washington Redskins after Eli and Jones were seen partying with other teammates at a Hoboken, N.J. bar.

Following the appearance of Manning and Jones having fun, former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes told ESPN that Manning had a “beer guy” in every NFL stadium. The “beer guy” would be responsible for getting a six pack or twelve pack for Manning to share with veteran teammates on the bus to the airport.

“It was unbelievable,” Tynes told Ian O’Connor. “He had a guy in every fucking stadium in the league to get him that beer.”

Manning has always been a kind of loveable guy, never really making news with one exception regarding game-used memorabilia. This news, however, endears us to Manning. He has always been a private individual and this recent footage of him partying with teammates is the first real footage of Manning doing something outside of a football environment. It was also awesome. To see Manning and Jones partying like brothers among other teammates with pitchers of beer around after a good win was a sight any Giants fan should love. This news that Manning had a beer guy in every stadium only makes us love him more.

Eli Manning has made news twice this week for beer and partying and neither have been negative. That is how you drink beer, you do it responsibly. We tip our caps to you Eli and raise a glass for never making a negative headline when beer is involved.

Here is to Eli, whose lasting memory with the Giants will be two Super Bowls, a fun party video, and a fun win against the Miami Dolphins during a bleak season. Wherever Manning goes next season we will be rooting for him. So raise a beer to the best quarterback the New York Football Giants have ever had and celebrate a great career. Thank you Eli!

Time for Major League Baseball to Reward Teams for Spending Money

MLB

Early in the MLB Winter Meetings most of the talk surrounded Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole. Now, with those two off the board the whispers that surrounded potential trades of Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, Corey Kluber, Mookie Betts, David Price, and even Carlos Correa among others will probably turn into a cacophony now. Some of these trades are due to financial constraints that teams have placed on themselves and in a baseball world that is flush with cash right now that is a crime.

The luxury tax threshold for 2020 will be $208 million. That’s a large chunk of change. It is also acting like a de facto salary cap. Yes, even when record contracts were doled out to Strasburg and Cole there are financial constraints and that hurts. Last year we saw teams actively tanking. This offseason the Baltimore Orioles non-tendered second baseman Jonathan Villar, one of their best offensive producers, rather than pay him. That is a problem.

When teams like the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, and Boston Red Sox are talking about clearing money in a time when MLB is practically printing money that is a huge issue. There is a solution. Raise the luxury tax and reward teams for retaining their own free agents by having contracts signed by players originally drafted, or who have spent at least two years in the minor leagues with that team, count as half against the luxury tax.

Teams, and fans, should be rewarded for developing good players. However, as we have seen all too often many teams will allow a player to leave in free agency or trade him to maximize his value and return. That means a team like the Miami Marlins, who might be the poster child for financial limitations, are really only acting as an expensive farm team for the rest of Major League Baseball. The Cleveland Indians, a very good baseball team who should challenge for a playoff spot in 2020, shouldn’t be forced to think about trading Lindor, the face of their franchise, because of finances.

Major League Baseball should be rewarding teams that develop talent and keep that talent. There are only so many rich teams like the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Angels. There are only 26 roster spots (beginning in 2020) on active MLB rosters and with a luxury tax in place that acts as a de facto salary cap it forces teams to consider trading elite talent and eventually limits subsequent free agents on viable destinations.

By having homegrown players’ contracts only count as half against the luxury tax there should be enough of a reward for teams to keep their own developed talent while still dabbling in the free agent pool. The luxury tax should also be raised by $20 million to encourage the big spending teams to continue to add talent that does hit free agency.

Serious question, do fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, and a few other teams have long-term hope? Some have made the playoffs in recent years but where is the sustained success and hope? Fans of these teams deserve more than a couple of years of contending before another rebuild.

Major League Baseball continues to grow and set records for revenue. According to Statista, MLB took in $9.9 billion dollars. Just ten years ago revenue was $5.82 billion. The game is as healthy as it has ever been despite some in the sport and media looking for ways to speed up games and change certain aspects. Teams have money to spend in most cases. What they don’t have is excess cash to put into a luxury tax. It is time to raise the luxury tax and also reward teams, and the fans who are spending the money, for developing and keeping their own talent.

The New York Yankees Should Steer Clear of Addison Russell

 

Addison Russell

With the New York Yankees focusing all of their attention on Gerrit Cole early this offseason it is likely they are going to let Didi Gregorius walk. This means there may or may not be room for another infielder on the roster. George King of the New York Post recently wrote on Saturday, December 8th that the Yankees should consider signing Addison Russell who was non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs.

This is a move the Yankees should avoid unless Russell is willing to play for the league minimum, which he won’t. His domestic violence history, while in the past, is negative publicity the Yankees should avoid, especially since they already have Aroldis Chapman and Domingo German on the roster. Chapman hasn’t had an incident since the domestic violence incident that earned him a 30-game suspension which made him the first player suspended under MLB’s domestic violence initiative. German was involved in an incident at the end of last season where an MLB employee saw him striking his girlfriend. German has yet to be suspended by MLB but could face a 40-game suspension. Adding Russell to the mix would just send the wrong signal.

I am a firm believer in second chances and being able to right wrongs. However, the Yankees have already given a second chance to Chapman and presumably will to German. They don’t need to do the same for Russell. In fact, they should avoid Russell at all costs.

Adding Russell would be a terrible public relations move. However, from a pure baseball standpoint it makes no sense. Russell, who will turn 26 in January, has slashed just .242/.312/.392 in 615 games across five seasons. He can certainly improve but the Yankees have better options on their roster and in their organization that will cost less and have as much or more upside than Russell.

Options for the Yankees include moving Gleyber Torres to shortstop and putting D.J. LeMahieu at second base, his natural position. There is also Tyler Wade who has finally shown some flashes at the big league level and offers more versatility than Russell would. There is also Thairo Estrada who got his first shot at Major League ball last summer and also showed flashes just one year removed from a gunshot wound that cost him most of 2018. Before that, however, Estrada was one of the Yankees’ top prospects. There is also the return of Miguel Andujar who could reclaim his third base job and potentially move Gio Urshela into a super utility role since he does have experience playing shortstop, second, and third.

No matter how you slice it Russell doesn’t fit with the Yankees. He doesn’t fit by cost. He doesn’t fit by production. He doesn’t fit due to the public relations issues. No matter which way you cut it Russell doesn’t fit. For King to suggest he does is just a terrible take.

New York Giants Can Still Win Leonard Williams Trade

Leonard Williams

The New York Giants made a bad trade when they traded a third round pick in 2020, plus a fifth rounder in 2021 that can turn into a fourth rounder if they re-sign Williams before free agency. However, the Giants didn’t make a mistake by trading for Williams.

I know that previous paragraph seems a bit two-faced but the reality is Leonard Williams could still be a building block on the defensive line. Since being traded to the Giants, Williams has been close to invisible, something New York Jets’ fans are all too familiar with. In three games with the Giants, Williams has seven tackles, no sacks, and no tackles for loss. He seems hesitant a lot of the time, another thing Jets’ fans are familiar with.

Williams’ production is actually beneficial to the Giants. The 2020 free agent class is fairly deep along the defensive line and Williams hasn’t exactly stood out this year, or any year since he was drafted sixth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. There have been flashes but Williams has yet to put together a NFL game film that rivals his college game film, even on the single-game level. That doesn’t mean, however, that the talent isn’t there.

Since joining the Giants there have been little snippets that entice the trained eye. Williams has accumulated 14 quarterback hurries, six of which were QB hits, in those three games with the Giants. He is actually doing something even if it doesn’t show up on tape and highlight reels.

The unpopular opinion right now is the Giants should re-sign Williams. That is the correct opinion, assuming Williams and his team don’t think they are worth a record-breaking contract. There are quite a few options this offseason for teams looking for defensive line help but Williams might be among the top tier for 3-4 defensive ends despite his lack of tangible production.

You can try to look for a player like Williams recently in the NFL and you will most likely come up short. He has immense talent. He can rush the passer and play against the run. The problem is he comes up short most of the time and doesn’t translate into elite status as yet.

He does have elite talent, however. He is still just 25-years-old and produces, even if away from the cameras. If Williams is willing to take a reasonable contract from the Giants then the Giants should absolutely re-sign Williams. Williams can be a viable, and valuable, part of a defensive front. The Giants, given the price they paid for Williams and his potential should re-sign Williams assuming he isn’t asking to break the bank.

In a season filled with disappointment and sprinkled with hope, Williams is actually one of those rays of hope. There is a ton of talent in Williams and the Giants, given their current record, need to invest in talent, especially on defense. The Giants would be better off plugging Williams into a defensive rotation that features Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson. There is still a very good chance the Giants can win this trade nut they will need more along the defensive line to help bring out the best in Williams in order to do so.

The New York Yankees Need Clint Frazier

Clint Frazier

There are few players as polarizing as Clint Frazier in recent New York Yankees’ history. Frazier, who came to the Yankees as the centerpiece in the trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians, slashed .267/.317/.489 with 12 home runs in 69 games this past season. However, controversy, both real and imagined, has followed Frazier from the very beginning of his Yankees career. With that controversy has come debate about whether or not Frazier has a future with the Yankees.

There is no doubt that Frazier helped the Yankees weather the storm of injuries that befell the team. He also had to weather a storm that he helped create with poor defensive play and then refusing to speak to the media after the June 2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. He was sent down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and seemed to be banished from the Bronx. He expressed displeasure with his situation on social media, a move that certainly didn’t endear him to the Yankee brass. Things seemed to go from bad to worse as the season wore on but in the end there is a silver lining.

While down in Triple-A, Frazier worked. He put the time in with Julio Borbon, the Railriders’ defensive coach. He worked away from the media, away from the bright lights. Anyone who watched Frazier play in Triple-A didn’t see the same player who suffered defensive lapses in the Bronx. He was certainly better in left field than right field at both levels. Perhaps it is just a matter of being more comfortable in left field. Perhaps Frazier was just trying to do too much to justify being in the Major Leagues. Only he knows the answer.

What is known, however, is that Frazier was still a productive player at the plate despite the controversies that popped up around him all season. He has produced in New York, even if he has only 123 games under his belt. His ability to ignore the storms around him while he is on the baseball field might actually make him the perfect player for New York and all the pressures that come with it.

No player on the Yankees has been the subject of as many trade rumors or speculation. At least not since Carl Pavano. Frazier isn’t Pavano though. He has dealt with all of that talk in a variety of ways, some of which have caused him more difficulties. He has been offered to other teams in trades but he isn’t unique in that. Still, he is here and the truth is the Yankees are better off with him right now. Their outfield situation is murky and health has been an issue for Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge. Even Brett Gardner, if he is re-signed, comes with issues regarding usage and production. Cameron Maybin is a free agent and might be able to turn his productive season with the Yankees into a contract the Yankees might not be comfortable with offering. Hicks is out for a significant portion of the 2020 season after Tommy John surgery last month.

Whether you like it or not the Yankees need Clint Frazier. Unless they plan on offering a large contract to a player like Marcell Ozuna or Nicholas Castellanos Frazier is the best option for the Yankees in 2020. Now it is up to Frazier to show that he is ready and that he has matured. That should be easier than hitting a fastball.