Floyd D'Rue

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Conundrums all around. If you're a brewer, and you embark on a massive 14.7% barrel aged imperial porter aged in rum barrels only to find out that the resulting beer was infected with lactobacillus, what do you do? Well, this happened for The Bruery and Three Floyds collaboration beers Rue D'Floyd and Floyd D'Rue, and their solution was to release the bottles, but with a Caveat Emptor attached. They went all full disclosure on us, and informed the public that they should drink the bottles before 6/30. Those that did, seemed to get a pretty fantastic beer. Dipshits like myself only managed to accidentally acquire one of these deviants via a beer mule two months too late.

So you can obviously see my answer to the consumer's conundrum, which is whether or not to buy something you know has the potential to be infected. Given the transparency, it's a little hard to get too worked up over this, but on the other hand, damnit, this would have been a spectacular beer if I had managed to acquire it fresh. Not particularly surprising, given the fact that it's a collaboration between two of the best brewers around, but still. I get that this was an expensive batch of beer, so again, I can't really begrudge them from releasing it and trying to recoup their losses, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. Especially because you can really see how spectacular this beer could have been. It was also pretty damn expensive. Let's just hope they get together to try this again, this time without the lacto infection. Even as it stands, I managed to take down a 750 of this infected beast with little real challenge...

The Bruery and Three Floyds Floyd D Rue

Three Floyds & The Bruery Floyd D'Rue - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of light brown head. The smell... is slightly troubling. This could end up being ok, because there are lots of spices and rum and oak and vanilla in there, but maybe a faint twang indicating infection... or is my foreknowledge playing tricks on me? Well, no, it does seem to have a light infection going on. It's not entirely unpleasant, but it does overtake most of the flavors in the taste. You get less of that spice and rum, and the oak aging contributes more of a general richness and full bodied mouthfeel than the oak or vanilla. It doesn't really come off as sour, but theres a sorta tart fruit thing going on that doesn't really match well with the rest of the beer. Overall, this could have been a great beer, and even as it is, I think I'd rather drink it than a generic fizzy lager, but it's ultimately a disappointment. C+

Beer Nerd Details: 14.7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 9/5/14.

I guess they can't all be winners, though this one surely would be, were it not for that pesky infection. Moar Three Floyds reviews coming soon, so don't touch that dial...

Bent Hill India Pale Ale

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This is the third round of Vermont Roulette, wherein I drink a random Vermont beer I've never heard of, and see what happens. So far we've had one big success and one... not quite as good.

Bent Hill is a brand new brewery, having opened their doors in June, so information is a bit sparse. The founders were environmental engineers or somesuch, and thus have all sorts of grand plans, including an initiative to grow most of their hops locally and, as I generally presume of so-called "green" brewers, the creation of a weather control doomsday device. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them. And I, for one, welcome our brewing overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted blogging personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their hop fields.

In the meantime, let's see how this rather unconventional take (at least, for an American brewer) on an IPA goes:

Bent Hill IPA

Bent Hill India Pale Ale - Pours a cloudy, dark orange color with a finger of white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells distinctly English, earthy, spicy, floral hops, with some berries and pine in the background, with a substantial malty aroma, in the crystal malt or biscuit mold. Taste again feels more in line with an English IPA, with those earthy, herbal, spicy, floral hops doing their thing, and some citrus and pine playing along too, with a substantial malt backbone, light caramel and biscuits. While most IPAs tend to overdo the hops, this one may have overdone the malt side, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing either. It never reaches diacetyl levels English, which is a good thing, but it still feels very English in execution. The label sez they use Cascade, East Kent Goldings, and Chinook hops, so I guess it's a sorta old-school hybrid English/American IPA type of thing. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, generally pretty easy going. Overall, it's an interesting change of pace and completely off the path of what your typical American brewer is doing with IPAs... which is refreshing in its own way. B

Beer Nerd Details: 5.6% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/5/14.

Three rounds of Vermont Roulette, and I survive to play the final round, coming next week. Stay tuned.

Three Floyds Space Station Middle Finger

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Recent acquisitions have tended towards the hoppy, so I think you better hop aboard the hop train to delicious, as we'll be spending a lot of time there in the next few weeks. Here we have an American Pale Ale from the midwest ballers and Conan fans at Three Floyds. I don't normally go in for marketing blurbs, but this one is pretty funny:

From the dawn of time, humans have looked to the sky for answers. Space Station Middle Finger replies to all from its eternal orbit.
The notion of expending the resources to create a space station in this shape tickles me. A beer like this calls for proper glassware:

Three Floyds Space Station Middle Finger

Three Floyds Space Station Middle Finger - Pours a hazy gold color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head with good retention and lacing. Smells of citrus hops, with some piney and floral aromas poking in too. The taste amps up the floral hop aspect a bit, but those citrus and pine notes stick around and an ample hop bitterness rounds things out in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light bodied, thin, relatively dry, highly quaffable. Overall, this is a solid pale ale, but it's not really in Zombie Dust territory (which might not be fair, except it's the same brewery and it sorta begs the comparison). Not that I'm complaining, as I could drink this all damn day. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of whatever you call that Star Wars glass on 9/1/14.

Three Floyds sure knows how to craft themselves a pale ale, and I'm lucky enough to have a couple more in the wings, not to mention a sour and a couple other rarities (well, rare for us lowly East Coasters).

Collage - Conflux No. 1

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This collaboration between Deschutes and Hair of the Dog is aptly named, and is thus pretty complicated, so stay frosty. It's a blend of four different beers: Deschutes' The Dissident (a Flanders Oud Bruin) and The Stoic (a rather light colored take on an Quadrupel), and Hair of the Dog's Fred (from that nebulous American Strong Ale style) and Adam (an old ale). So that's a lot of stuff to combine, but then take the result and age in a variety of barrels. And I do mean a variety: Rye Whiskey, Cognac, Sherry, Pinot Noir, Bourbon, new American Oak, and new Oregon Oak. Naturally, the beer is finished off with another blending exercise, this time with all the results from the barrels. So get out your scrapbooks and prepare your embellishments, it's time to drink a collage.

Deschutes and Hair of the Dog Collage Conflux No. 1

Deschutes and Hair of the Dog Collage - Conflux No. 1 - Pours a very dark amber color, almost brown, with half a finger of light head. Smells of dark fruits, oak, vanilla, but also an unexpected vinegar note (I did not realize that The Dissident was a sour when I cracked this open and recorded my initial notes). Not necessarily a bad thing, I just didn't realize this was going to be a sour. The taste is quite complex, lots of varied fruits, cherry, grapefruit and the like, rich caramel, toffee, a certain mustiness, leather, spice, oak, vanilla, bourbon, vinous notes, wine, and other boozy notes with the sourness picking up towards the finish but not in an overpowering way. As it warms, those sour notes do start to become more prominent, but it's still part of a whole, rather than a really defining characteristic. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, rich, chewy, full bodied, and just a bit of acidity from the souring aspects. Overall, this is incredibly complex, I keep picking out new notes as I drink, even if it perhaps doesn't come together into a unified whole, it is still a fascinating beer that I would gladly try again. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11.6% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 8/30/14. Bottled: 4/30/12. Best After: 4/30/13.

Hey look, I finally managed to drink a barrel aged Deschutes beer after the Best After date. Of course, I only bought this beer a couple weeks ago, so it's apparently still available after two years. Not sure if my local beermonger was holding on to these and finally decided to let it fly, or if it's something Deschutes is still releasing... Whatever the case, I'm glad I got to try some.

Idletyme IPA

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It's time for round two of Vermont Roulette, wherein I purchase random Vermont beer that I've never heard of, drink it, and see if I survive. While round 1 was not tremendously successful, I did live to play again and this time, I think I've stumbled onto something rather good.

I purchased this at the Warren Store, and when I asked the guy about it, he said he hadn't tried it yet, but that it was brand new and that the brewery really just got started. Looking around ye olde internets reveals that the location has been around for a while, but that distribution is starting to expand. Or something like that. It used to be called The Shed, a pub built on an old youth camp called, yes, Camp Idletyme. The beer itself is a svelt 8% ABV DIPA with what seems like a relatively light malt bill and lots of "new" aroma focused hops. According to the brewer, they're still experimenting with the dry hop varieties (you know the story, small breweries can have a difficult time contracting for hops, especially the popular ones), but to my mind, they're on the right track. Good tymes!

Crop Bistro Idletyme IPA

Crop Bistro & Brewery Idletyme IPA - Pours a hazy, pale yellow with just a hint of orange and a couple fingers of fluffy white head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells of beautiful citrus hops, juicy and clean. As it warms, a sorta minty aroma arises out of that citrus. The taste has a nice sweetness to it, lots of that bright, juicy, citrus hop character, and only a hint of bitterness on the back end. As it warms, the hops get a little more earthy or herbal, but still bright, like the mint that emerges in the nose. Mouthfeel is reasonably well carbonated, light bodied, bright, crisp, and clean, quaffable. Overall, this is a very pleasant surprise. It's probably not a Heady Topper killer or anything like that, but it's a worthy take on the style, for sure. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a Willibecher glass on 8/30/14.

So there you have it, a solid DIPA that's bound to be underrated due to the gravity well of more famous Vermont beer. Worth a shot if you can find a fresh bottle (I get the impression that this beer would age poorly, even moreso than a lot of other IPAs), and I assume it's just as good on tap. So an unqualified success for Vermont Roulette. At least one more round coming, another relatively new brewery's take on an IPA.

Lost Abbey Track #8

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So a couple years ago, the Lost Abbey started a series of beers inspired by rock music that was themed by heaven or hell (as befitting the Last Abbey's general brand). Each month, they released a new "track", a special edition beer available only at their tasting room and limited to just 450 bottles each. These are exactly the sort of beers that an east coast dork like myself could never dream of acquiring. But at the end of the year, Lost Abbey did a "Box Set" of all the beers, and some seemed popular enough to brew again.

As far as I'm aware, this is the only one that was made again, and it's received pretty broad distribution (so I'm guessing significantly more than 450 bottles this time around). This takes their Judgment Day, a Belgian Quad made with raisins, and ages it in Bourbon barrels along with cinnamon and chile peppers. The result was one of the more popular tracks in the series. Why it's got the subtitle of The Number of the Beast (why wouldn't that be track #6?), I don't know, but it's got a nice story about how Damien was tricked into writing the number of the beast onto his gradeschool chalk board. It's all for you, Damien. Or in this case, the beer is all for me:

Lost Abbey Track 8 - Number of the Beast

Lost Abbey Track #8 - Number Of The Beast - Pours a deep, dark brown color with half a finger of fizzy tan head. Smells of bourbon, oak, and vanilla along with some dark fruits, raisons and the like, and just a bit of Belgian yeast spice. As it warms up, you get more sorta Christmas spice character, cinnamon and the like. Taste is very sweet, with some nice fruity esters, dark fruits, raisins and the like, spicy phenols, maybe some of that cinnamon, rich caramel, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. As it warms, the spicy chile emerges a bit, but it's just enough to add complexity and never threatens to overwhelm or knock anything out of balance. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, rich, full bodied, a little sticky as it warms up. I've found that Belgian styles have mixed success when barrel aged, but this works very well. Overall, this is among the better barrel aged Belgian quads I've ever had, rich and complex, well worth seeking out. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13.7% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 8/23/14. Vintage: 2014.

Yet another winner from Lost Abbey. Someday, I'll need to get around to trying Cuvee De Tomme or Duck Duck Gooze, but until then... I'll just have to deal with all this other beer I have laying around.

Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker

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When it rains, it pours. No sooner than I got back from my trip to Vermont, a friend got back from her trip bearing tidings of Three Floyds, so now I find myself flush with amazing hoppy beers.

There's not much out there about this beer other than its 9% ABV, 100 IBU DIPA style. Cimmerians were a real ancient people, having flourished for a few hundred years around 600 BC. It's rumored that Robert Howard claimed his most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian, was descended from Cimmerians. This certainly fits the axe weilding maniacs and woolly mammoths on the label and is typical of Three Floyds' branding, so let's crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women. Oh, and drink their beer:

Three Floyds Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker

Three Floyds Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker - Pours a murky orange color with a finger of off white head that sticks around a while and leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells of big citrus and dank pine, with some sort of "green" hops as well, and even a little crystal malt caramel or maybe even toffee. Taste is very sweet, with that rich toffee and caramel from the nose coming through strongly. Dank, resinous hops with just a bit of citrus character come in the middle and balance out all that sweetness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, a bit sticky. Overall, it's a big DIPA with enough malt presence to put this in strong ale or maybe even barleywine territory with just a few tweaks. Regardless, I'm enjoying it greatly. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a Hill Farmstead Charente glass on 8/23/14. 100 IBU. Bottled 7/25/14.

Certainly not my favorite Three Floyds DIPA, but then, they apparently have a ton of them, and you'll be seeing some more of them in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Elmer T. Lee and Bonus Whiskey Reviews

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I'll take a break from relentlessly bragging on my Vermont beer trip* to bring you a few whiskey reviews. A pair of these are from the same samples sent to me by spirits compatriot Dimitri (the guy who sent me that Duvel Distilled), so many thanks need to, again, be showered upon him for his generousity. I'm also going to review what is possibly the best Bourbon I've had yet in my admittedly paltry tenure as a whiskey dork.

Elmer T. Lee was the master distiller responsible for Blanton's, the first single barrel expression of bourbon, released in 1984 and named after Albert B. Blanton, the man who hired Elmer many moons earlier. You'll know it by its grenade shaped bottle with the little horsey on top (and something I should probably try at some point). About a year later he retired from day-to-day operations, but stayed as Master Distiller Emeritus, and it wasn't long before someone was making a bourbon to honor him. His namesake bourbon is, of course, a single barrel bourbon. It uses Buffalo Trace's #2 mash bill, with more rye than the #1 bourbons (like, say, Eagle Rare), clocks in at 90 proof, and though it has no age statement, it is speculated to be in the 8-14 year range (which some would call the sweet spot for bourbon). Near as I can tell, it's not one of the sexy brands that'll show up in best-of lists, and yet it seems to be the sort of thing you'll find in a lot of bourbon lovers' bunkers. For a $30 bottle, it sure packs a pretty solid punch, and seems to drink well compared to much more expensive Bourbons. Alas it has become more limited of late, as bourbon continues to just fly off the shelves. Let's drink some, shall we:

Elmer T. Lee Bourbon

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel - Pours a golden orange color, very standard Bourbon appearance. Smells very nice, caramel, booze, lots of pie spice (cinnamon, mint, etc...). Taste has a very nice balance between corn, caramel, rye spice, oak, vanilla, and alcohol. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, boozy but without a huge alcohol burn. Overall, among my favorite Bourbons, and definitely a gateway for newbies. I prefer this greatly to the comparably priced Eagle Rare (which is certainly fine in itself), and I think I'm starting to come down on the side of high rye recipes in Bourbon. A-

Whiskey Nerd Details: 90 proof, 45% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a glencairn glass, bottle nearly finished (but only a few months old).

Beer Nerd Musings: To my knowledge, there are no bourbon barrel beers that specifically call out Elmer T. Lee barrels, though naturally Buffalo Trace supplies many barrels to brewers for that purpose. I'm sure this has shown up in the blend for lots of beers, and I get the impression that higher spice works well with bourbon barrel beer. I could be talking out of my arse on that one though. For my part, I would consider using this in my next bourbon oaked homebrew (though I still need to figure out what to do with my barleywine, which is still having carbonation issues).

So these next two may be unfair to review at the same time, but I will note that I had these on separate occasions, so there is at least that. These are both thanks to Dimitri, so once again, thanks man!

Belgian Owl

Belgian Owl - This is a 3 year old single malt whiskey made in, you guessed it, Belgium. Pours a very light yellow color. The smell is of alcohol with very little malt, maybe some hints of herbal or grassy notes that I guess could be described as slightly gin-like, as sku suggests. The taste does not lead to much, it's just like the nose, with perhaps a bit more alcohol. Mouthfeel is very boozy, not much oak or malty richness at all. As with Duvel Distilled, the barrel character seems pretty tame here... and though 3 years isn't a ton of time, it still feels like there should be more here. Overall, it's an ok dram of boozy whiskey, slightly better than Duvel Distilled because of that gin-like juniper kick, but that didn't do a whole lot for me either. C+

Whiskey Nerd Details: 92 proof, 46% ABV bottled (sampler). Drank out of a glencairn glass.

Mystery Rye Whiskey

Mystery Rye - Dimitri shared very little about this one, only noting that it's a rye. Pours a very nice, deep orange color. I've only had a few rye whiskeys, but this one has a very strong rye component. Not quite as powerful as Dad's Hat, but then, this also has some oak to balance things out (at least, I think that's oak). So the nose is lots of rye and some oak and alcohol. The taste tweaks the proportions a bit, with the alcohol coming to the fore (but nowhere near as much as, say, that Duvel Distilled or Belgian Owl stuff), yet the spicy rye and oak character come through as well. Mouthfeel is a bit harsh, but it's certainly a worthy dram. I have no idea what the ABV on this is, but it feels like substantial ABV. Overall, this is decent stuff, so good work Dimitri. B

Whiskey Nerd Details: ? proof, ? ABV bottled (half sample). Drank out of a glencairn glass.

So there you have it, and don't worry, we'll get back to beer tomorrow. But I may mix things up in the coming months with some reviews of other stuff, as I've found it illuminating.

* Editor's Note: Is that really worth bragging about? My Response: I'm the worst. This has been established. But, you know, reviews on obscure Vermont beers coming soon, so don't change that dial.

Hill Farmstead Triple Feature

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We love Hill Farmstead here at Kaedrin, so when we took a slight, uh, 9 hour detour into Vermont to nab some of their prized beers, we availed ourselves of everything we possibly could. While I'm not a particularly huge fan of growlers, I absolutely had to fill up my limit whilst I could. Growlers are not known for their longevity but fortunately, these are beers that do not last long in this household. First up, Harlan, a beer I cracked open for a little scenic drinking just a few hours after returning from my trip.

Harlan IPA

Hill Farmstead Harlan IPA - A slightly bigger version of Edward Pale Ale that is dry hopped with additional Columbus hops. Pours a very pretty, cloudy pale orange color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head. Smells intensely of citrus hops, stone fruits, oranges, and your typical grapefruit notes along with a big dank note that isn't quite pine (I suspect the pine would be more prominent if this weren't so fresh). The taste follows the nose with tons of citrus hop flavors and that fresh dankness too. Light malt backbone, but not as bitter as you'd expect from such a hoppy beer. Mouthfeel is perfect, medium bodied, well carbonated, quaffable. Overall, this reminds me a lot of the type of stuff you see at Tired Hands, and I think that speaks well of both breweries. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.3% ABV from a growler (fancy 2L swing top). Drank out of a Hill Farmstead Charente glass on 8/14/14. Growler filled on 8/14/14.

Society and Solitude #5

Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude 5 - As of right now, this is the best received entry in this series of experimental DIPAs. This one features a rather fantastic blend of American and New Zealand hops. Pours a murky yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves lacing as I drink. Huge citrus aroma, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, mangoes, the whole shebang. The taste is dominated by those citrusy hops, with that same melange of tropical fruit notes. It got a well balanced sweetness to it, evened out by hops, but not bitter. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, perfectly carbonated, absolutely quaffable. Overall, a spectacular IPA, the clear winner of this trip so far (and that's saying something!) A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.4% ABV from a growler (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a Hill Farmstead Charente glass on 8/16/14. Growler filled on 8/14/14.

Friendship and Devotion

Hill Farmstead Friendship & Devotion - Brewed in collaboration with Luc Bim Lafontaine, formerly of Dieu du Ciel! (and soon to be heading up some sort of special Japanese brewery), this is an IPA that is described as "citrusy, salty IPA with notes of grapefruit". Pours a very pale orange color with a finger of white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Again with the big citrus hop aroma, tropical fruit, herbal and grassy notes, but also some sweetness... Taste goes along similar lines, lots of citrus hops, hints of pine in the background, and something else playing around in the middle. HF sez that it's salty, so maybe that's what I'm getting, but it's not like it's a gose or something - if its salty, it's tucked into the rest of the flavor profile pretty well. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and yes, quaffable. Overall, another winner, though perhaps not quite as much as the above two... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV from a growler (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a Hill Farmstead Charente glass on 8/16/14. Growler filled on 8/14/14.

So there you have it. I'm getting pretty close to exhausting Hill Farmstead's standard brews. Someday, I may have to fill a growler with something I've had before, like Abner. The horror! Already looking forward to it!

Billy's Pale Ale

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This is the first in a series of what I'll call "Vermont Roulette", wherein I purchase some random Vermont beer that I've never heard of off the shelf and see what happens. In this case, it turns out that the beer is from Massachusetts, but I bought it in Vermont, and it appears to be a rather obscure beer. I didn't take a picture of it, but the bottle caps were clearly those Brewery's Best thingies that homebrewers use. I suspect this is a rather small operation. Only 2 reviews on BA, and this Howler Brewery doesn't even have a website. All the bottle sez is that it's a pale ale brewed with Nugget and Cascade hops, which, you know, sploosh. But then I opened this sucker and bam, Belgian yeast. Unexpected, but cromulent enough, I suppose:

Howler Billys Pale Ale

Howler Billy's Pale Ale - Pours a golden orange color with a finger of white head. Smells... like Belgian yeast, lots of spicy, musty, estery yeast, maybe a hint of those advertised hops. That Belgian yeast follows into the taste, which has a nice spicy character, cloves and the like, and some citrus hop notes melding with the yeast character, some hop bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, medium bodied, and relatively dry. Overall, it's an unexpected but pretty straightforward Belgian pale ale with just a hint of a hoppy kick. Worth trying, but don't let that label fool you - this ain't no straight pale ale. B-

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/18/14.

Not an entirely encouraging start to Vermont Roulette, but then, when your points of comparison are Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, and Lawson's Finest Liquids, there's a pretty tough bar to clear. Stay tuned for some more obscure Vermont brews...

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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