Lay’s 2015 Do Us a Flavor Finalists: A Review

(Lights go out)

(Crowd erupts)

(Spotlights sweep through the crowd)

(The wave begins circling the arena)


(Chicago Bulls theme plays)


  • (Wheat waves)
  • (Waves crash)
  • (Mountains majest)
  • (A bunch of birds take flight at once)
  • (Armstrong and Aldrin plant flag on the moon)
  • (The Berlin Wall crumbles)
  • (Death Star explodes)
  • (Spock’s death in Wrath of Khan)
  • (Olympic montage, especially that one hockey game)

(Doves are released)

(That photo of lightning happening down the curve of a rainbow happens for real)

(Blue Angels fly by)

(Morgan Freeman reads the Gettysburg Address)

(Everybody is crying and smiling and laughing and happy to be alive)

(I appear in a flash bang explosion of smoke)

(World peace happens)

Please do not stare directly into the rhinestones on my jumpsuit.  They will blind you.

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To quote the great LL Cool J, “Don’t call it a comeback.”  Because seriously I quickly lose interest in things.  These days more than ever.  But here I am and here you are.  Let’s twerk.  (Still a thing?)

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I have finally returned from my self-imposed exile from the foodoblogosphere.  I have earned black belts in all the martial arts.  I’ve climbed the big seven mountains.  And I’ve beaten that guy’s record for jumping out of space in a balloon.

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Ok really, I haven’t been doing much of anything.   Just work and Netflix and…well that’s more or less it.  But I watched The West Wing for the first time and damned if I wasn’t feeling the most patriotic that I’ve ever felt.  So with the national presidential vote a few whatevers away, I figured I’d do my democratic part and participate in the next best election: the Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest championship tournament contest.  Our greatest president, Josiah Bartlett, would be proud.

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Here we go.  New York Reuben.  Pretty strong right out of the gate.  Nosegrope has lots of rye and meat scents.  I think rye is the dominant flavor overall, but it still leaves lots of room for the meat  and sauerkraut.  I think there’s even some Swiss in there.  The flavors ebb and flow as you eat.  It’s not a mad dash up front. This is a well-balanced chip.  Good.

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Next up, Southern Biscuits and Gray.  Lots of biscuit-ness upon opening the bag.  Makes me want to go to Bob Evans, I mean that totally local southern place I go to because I’m cool.  The taste is spot on.  Faintly sweet biscuits.  A little peppery.  Some sausage hidden in there.  Same ebb and flow of layers as the Reuben.  Good.

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West Coast Truffle Fries.  Of course California went with the fancy pants offering.  You think you’re better than us, California?!  What are you trying to prove, man?  The nosegrope didn’t really lead me into the woods with my pig.  There are some herb notes, maybe some cheese.  These are definitely the most subtle tasting of the bunch.  I definitely got some that good, deep, earthy truffle goodness in there.  And the aforementioned herbs and cheese, too.  I think the softness of the wavy architecture enhances these.  These would hold up best to some seriously heavy snacking.  I could eat these for a while and not feel anything coming out of my pores.  Solid.

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Greektown Gyro.  I love me some Greek food, much to my wife’s chagrin.  She’s not a fan.  At all.  She says Greek food tastes like BO.  I’m going to have to secretly slip her one of these. Aaaaaaand she didn’t like it.  “Blerg.”  Very forceful meat and spices in the nosegrope.  The gyro seasoning is good.  Works well with whatever meat flavor we’re supposed to be tasting.  Does it matter?  There’s lot of tang in the tzatziki and some hints of tomato.  Pleasant but very powerful.  Greek food is not subtle.  And I don’t usually go in for kettle chips, but the crunch works here.  Though I’d probably eat the fewest of these.  They’re like The Wire.  Good, accurate, but how many times are you gonna make your way through?

If I had to pick a favorite, I’d probably say the Truffle Fries.  But they’re all pretty good.  It’s like Lay’s makes chips for a living or something.

See you next time.  In two weeks or two years!  No promises!  CJ Cregg in 2016!

Food Junk: A Farewell

Well snacklings, some of you may have noticed that things have been quiet around the ol’ blog for a couple of months now.  I’ve been trying to tell myself otherwise, but I think I’m finally able to admit that my stint as a junk food blogger has come to an end.

What started as a lark one week during my summer vacation, inexplicably turned into a three and a half year passion project that has been huge amounts of fun.  Huge amounts.

So I have some thank yous.

Thank you to Cybele for being my very first Twitter follower, and the very first person to retweet my very first post.

Thanks to Marvo for giving me way too much link love, and an undeserved opportunity to write for his juggernaut of a website.

Thank you to all of my Twitter followers, past and present.  I don’t know who I would be following if I wasn’t following you.  You bring much laughter and shenanigans to my day.

Thanks to CT, Jeeg, and Pax at the Nerd Lunch podcast for having me on their show and then foolishly having me on again! You guys are the best.

Thanks to all of the awesome bloggers who have ever linked to something I’ve written or given me a spot in their blogrolls.  There are too many of you to mention by name, but know that I sincerely appreciate it.

And to each and every one of you, my beloved readers, thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping by to read my ramblings and partake of my tomfoolery.  Waking up to funny comments, retweets, and favorites the day after a post was just the best thing ever, and I will always be grateful.

(Also, don’t worry about me.  I know this sounds serious.  But there haven’t been any crazy life events, and I don’t have a terminal illness or anything like that.)

Now, I can’t say I’ll never post anything here again, because you can never say never, especially when there’s that slim chance of finding a never-produced prototype box of Three Men and a Baby cereal from 1987 (with ghost marshmallows!) at a Steve Gutenberg storage locker auction.

But for now I’m going to dim the lights.

So on behalf of myself and the Snack Trooper, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading.


San Quentin State Prison Lunch Pack: A Review

Checking through my 70 or so saved search terms on eBay is one of the highlights of my day.  It’s a part of my unwinding process after work.  The majority of my searches involve some aspect of vintage food culture,  toys from days gone by, or Disney artifacts, with the occasional “unopened Deal a Meal” thrown in for good measure.  Only rarely does an item pop up that really peaks my interest.  I mean it’s all cool stuff or I wouldn’t be looking at it, it’s just that I’ve seen most of it before.  I know all the Jell-O cookbooks, I know all of the releases in the Over the Top toy line, and if something exists with the words “Crystal Pepsi” printed on it, I’ve seen it.  Ten times over.

However, once in a harvest moon something does emerge that makes me sit up and take notice.  And you can be sure this lunch pack from San Quentin was one of them.  In this case, I found it by linking through to an item that popped up under my very broad “Kool-Aid” search.  Of course I had to inquire about how the seller came into such an unusual item.  He assured me that he had indeed done time at the aforementioned institution, and I left it at that.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so in my mind, I’ve imagined it as a Nicholas Cage in Con-Air situation.  Hopefully it’s not a Steve Buscemi in Con-Air situation.  Come to think of it he never actually mentioned being released…

Ok guys, everyone just be cool.

If you don’t know (because I didn’t), San Quentin State Prison is located in California.  It has the largest Death Row of any prison in the United States, is the oldest prison in California, houses a total of 4,000 inmates, and has a “Notable Inmates” section on Wikipedia that reads like a goddamn nightmare.

Now, I’m not going to say I‘m an expert on prison culture per se, but I’ve seen Oz and feel my spoken word poetry skills are more than adequate to keep me from being nailed to the floor.  And I’ve watched Orange is the New Black twice.  So I’m reasonably sure I’d be able to survive on the inside of a prison women’s prison minimum security women’s prison.

I know that in prison food is a big deal.  For example, food from the outside, like a Twinkie, can be bartered for a light maiming.  A sleeve of Oreos can be traded for a brutal murder.  (Just ballparking here.  Not really sure of the various exchange rates.)  I’m not sure what could be had for food that is already on the inside.  Maybe an extra dinner roll could buy you a scathing indictment of the family environment in which an enemy was raised.

I’d imagine a whole lunch pack could get you something fairly decent.  Here’s what we have to work with: a package of peanut butter, a package of jelly, some Kool-Aid-ish instant drink mix packs, and some Pepperidge Farms Dark Chocolate Milanos (I know!).  I was told the coffee packs are not usually included.  They were “gifts.”  Not sure if the eBay seller meant they were a gift to inmates or a gift to me.  Oh god, do I owe this guy a favor now?!

Also, included with this pack was a package of bread.  Sadly, I was out of town when it was delivered, and instead of leaving it in one of the many locked mailboxes my complex has, it was left on my door, because the U.S. Postal Service is really good at what they do.  Anyway, the neighborhood raccoon gnawed his way into the box and absconded with my bread.  So we’re working without.

The instant drink mix came in three flavors: Grape, Lemon, and Punch.  They are pre-sweetened with aspartame and contain 25% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin D.  So that’s good.  All of them taste like second or third tier whatever the lowest tier of instant drink mix is.  Kool-Aid they are not.  Even though they are labeled pre-sweetened, they are not very sweet at all.  If your mom ever forgot to add the sugar when she was brewing up a batch of Kool-Aid (which happened in my house every now and then), that’s the sweetness level we’re talking about.  They’re pretty tart, and even though we don’t get the sweetness of the aspartame, we still get the horrible aftertaste.  Not good.

The jelly pack is Mixed Fruit, the most heinous and generic of all of the jelly flavors.  It’s very thick, very sweet, and very artificial.  It vaguely tastes of fruit, or “fruit.”  It leans a little in the strawberry direction, though not a whole lot.  Not inedible.

The peanut butter is like spackle.  It’s crazy thick.  Crazy thick!  It’s also a bit grainy.  But truth be told it doesn’t taste that bad.  It’s peanut butter, after all, how far off the rails could it possible go?

The instant coffee is unequivocally the worst coffee I’ve ever had.  It smells a little like caramel, a little like coffee, and a lot like burnt wood.  And judging from the taste, it seems to be brewed from the grounds of cardboard and sawdust.  And not fresh sawdust either.  Old, stale, driveway sawdust.  To add insult to injury, it’s not even very strong.  I would think it would be better to not give inmates this coffee.  Why would you remind them of the best beverage in the world by giving them the absolute worst version of that beverage?  Or maybe that’s part of the punishment.  Drinking this swill would put me back on the straight and narrow immediately.

Lastly, and quite unbelievably, we have the Dark Chocolate Milanos.  Now, I could imagine cookies being served in prison, but I would have thought they were those bagged, bottom shelf pucks that absolutely horrible people begrudgingly bring to holiday office gatherings.  You know the ones.  Those are the people that should be locked up!  I would have never imagined anything from Pepperidge Farm.  Who knew?  These Milanos are delightful.  As Milanos always are.  They were fresh, and thanks to the sturdy plastic tray inside the bag, both cookies were still in one piece.  Good form, Pepperidge Farm.  These cookies could easily buy you a night of companionship.  I’d assume.  Just don’t serve them with the coffee.

Hopefully, this is as close as I’ll ever get to having any kind of prison experience.  It was bad enough for me.  I think I’m going to open a window, have a beer, maybe get some sun on my face.  I might even head out to that big hayfield up near Buxton and get busy living.  Because you know what the alternative is.

Ovaltine: A Review

Well the Christmas season is upon us.  Or if you’ve been keeping score at home, the third month of the Christmas season is upon us (Jack o’ lanterns count as Christmas decorations now, right?).

It’s time to put away the pumpkin flavoring, double down on the peppermint, and steel yourself for the relentless gauntlet of anger and frustration that is the most wonderful time of the year.  It’s a time for giving, a time for reconnecting, and a time for realizing who in your life has absolutely no idea what your interests are.  (A Long John Silver’s gift card.  Thanks.)

For me it’s time to make my annual “You Don’t Have to Buy Me Anything for Christmas, But If You Must, Please, No Mugs” decree to my students and then sit back and watch all of the D students who can’t remember to do their homework proudly offer me a mug the day before vacation starts.

This has always been my favorite time of year.  I never really had any Christmas traditions to speak of growing up, but a few have sprung forth from the tinsel of my adulthood.  Every year I make a thorough examination of my mother’s second Christmas tree, which is exclusively decorated with Star Trek ornaments, being sure to comment on this year’s additions (The U.S.S. Kelvin, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and the Gorn trying to stab Kirk to death).

When I’m motivated, I set up and meticulously craft my Department 56 Christmas village, though sadly it will remain boxed this year due to my wife’s new Etsy initiative that is currently taking up all the space in our dining room.  It’s the villagers who suffer.

And of course I settle in for my two favorite Christmas movies, Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story.  Now if I had a cool blog (at the very least one with a nonstandard theme [I really need to get on that soon]) then I’d do a series of holiday posts all about the food products in my favorite holiday films.  But as I racked my brain I could only come up with two.  Lime Jell-O from Christmas Vacation and Ovaltine from A Christmas Story.  If you can think of more, please let me know.  And if I can convince myself anyone would care about a Lime Jell-O review, then maybe there’ll be more than one post in this series that is not a series.

A Christmas Story is amazing for more reasons than I’m going to be able to cover here, but I can think of no other scene in cinema that better captures the disillusionment and loss of childhood innocence than the Ovaltine scene in A Christmas Story.  That moment when you realize you’re a targeted demographic and not a discerning receiver of cool kid-centered culture.  I can’t remember when that happened for me, but as an adult who’s been reconnecting with a lot of childhood cartoon favorites lately, I’ve come to realize that all of them were garbage.  Even the most beloved and fondly remembered.  Garbage.  Looking at you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Nostalgia goes a long way, I guess.  Long enough to make me forget how utterly annoying and moronic Michelangelo was.

What am I doing?  Talking about the Ninja Turtles in a Christmas post?  Sorry.

I have a very foggy memory of drinking Ovaltine as a child.  Not drinking it as a staple of my weekly diet.  I have one specific memory of being in the kitchen and looking at an orange-lidded jar.  I think I was five or so.  And that was the last time I had Ovaltine.

Having not thought about Ovaltine in thirty years, I figured no one else had either.  I assumed I’d have to take to the onlines and buy a jar, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t sitting on the shelf of the local grocer.

Fudge me, Chocolate Malt Ovaltine is pretty good, you guys!  It’s chocolatey.  It’s mildly malty.  It’s good.  I was expecting a ton of sweetness a la every major chocolate milk I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t.   That’s gotta be good for the kids.  It made an otherwise horrific glass of milk seem like an enjoyable treat.  (I’m milk intolerant.  Not lactose intolerant, like I can’t handle lactose.  I’m not tolerant of milk as an entity because it’s gross.)

Snacklings, if you haven’t connected with Ovaltine in a while, maybe this winter is the time.  Rekindling relationships with dairy-based beverages is what the holidays are all about.

Son of a bitch.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix: A Review

Sometimes in life, things happen that forever change the way you see the world.  Events so profound, that they shake your very foundation.  Events so beautiful, so sublime, that you wonder how you even lived your life before them.  It could be the first time you kissed your true love.  The first time you saw your child’s smile.  The first time you were nuzzled by your best furry friend.  You suddenly realize that there’s been a hole within you, the exact shape of these events.

These events are revelatory.  They inspire tears.  They inspire joy.

Today, my friends, we are here to discuss one of these events.

You can now make Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits at home.  I’ll allow you a moment to collect yourself then I’ll repeat that.

You can now make Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits, arguably the greatest food that has ever existed, in the comfort of your own home.

Yes.  Dry your eyes.

This paradigm shifting product was first brought to my attention a few weeks ago when a Twitter friend posted a picture of it on his feed.  Well, needless to say, I was excited.  Certainly, I am not a crazed Red Lobster fanatic.  I’ve eaten there many times because like you, dear friends, I have old people in my family, and occasionally they have birthdays.  I also have students who, despite being around me for an hour a day, for as many as three years, don’t really know what my actual interests are. Some people bash on Red Lobster, like they do the Olive Garden, but I think both restaurants are fine for what they are.  People have to eat.

Anyway, I took to the web and discovered that these were available at Sam’s Club.  Sadly, I am not a member of Sam’s Club because I live in a small apartment, and it’s hard to find a place to store a small apartment-sized box of Club Crackers in a small apartment-sized apartment. Later, I found out that, like everything, you can buy them on Amazon.  But by then a work associate picked up a box for me, so here we are.

These biscuits come with some assembly required.  You have to add a little water, some cheddar cheese, and then melt some butter to mix with the garlic seasoning powder to brush on after baking, but these are small prices to pay for a fleeting glimpse of the divine spark that lies hidden behind the harsh reality of existence.

These biscuits are fantastic.  They are indeed faithful recreations of the biscuits sold at the Red Lobsters all across this great land.  They are garlicky and cheesy and salty and delicious. The only flavor missing is the slight dash of lemon cast about the top of each biscuit.  But it’s not a big deal.  The handful of parsley flakes is missing too, but who cares?  You can add that if you really have to.

This is one of th0ose products that I can’t believe wasn’t put on shelves eons ago.  Cheddar Bay Biscuits are really popular.  They are the stuff of legend.  Whatever Red Lobsterian it was who decided to take the mix out of the restaurant kitchen and put it in stores is a genius.  I’d like to shake his claw.

If you’ve never been to a Red Lobster (where do your elderly celebrate birthdays?), you should really do yourself a favor and pick up a box of this mix.  Each box makes around thirty biscuits.  Perfect for sharing with friends at your next get together.

Or for covering yourself with while lying in a bath tub listening to Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” on repeat.  Which I will be doing immediately and until my blood turns to salt crystals.

General Mills Monster Cereals: A Review

With Halloween only mere moments away, I’m here to crank out the Halloween-themed post that is required by the Junk Food Bloggers Alliance.  Through nothing but my own oversight (possibly hubris), I won’t have enough time to also review something with pumpkin squashed into it.  I’ll just pay the fine and hope that the sanctions issued against me at my trial aren’t too severe.   So next week, if you notice Food Junk has converted to all comic sans, you’ll know what happened.  Sanctions rarely last longer than six months.  And you can always appeal to the triumvirate.  They rarely give quarter, but it never hurts to try.  Well, unless you violate Nafziger’s Rules of Order.  Then they will hurt you.

I wanted my Halloween post to have the most impact that it possibly could on the foodoblogosphere, so I decided to review some products that every single food blogger on the Internet has already done.   And done months ago at that.  You might say I’m late to the party, but I argue that they were way too early to the party and were just standing around awkwardly while the party host, who hadn’t even changed into their party hosting attire yet, was still setting up the buffet line and lighting the candles in all of the jack o’ lanterns.

You all know about General Mills’ Monster Cereals, so I’ll skip the history lesson.  Suffice it to say that the comeback of the long-discontinued Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy got a lot of people excited.  They’re pretty awesome in that they harken back to a bygone era of cereal greatness.  Five monster-themed cereals?!  Come on.  I don’t think you could pull that off today.

Since these cereals have been covered to death (probably far better than I will do here), today I am going to don the hat of the cereal sommelier (it’s a thing) and offer up some scary movies suggestions that I think will pair quite well with the monster cereal of your choice.

We’ll start with Count Chocula.  It’s been around since time immemorial (1971).  It has always been , and still is, my favorite of the Monster Cereals.  It’s not overly sweet nor is it overly chocolatey nor does it overwhelm with sheer marshmallow intensity.  Actually, I enjoyed the restraint exercised by all five cereals with regards to marshmallow distribution.   My twelve-year-old self would be disgusted with that sentence.

What kind of horror film pairs with Count Chocula?  A vampire film, of course.   And I would recommend one of my favorites: the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In.  It’s restrained and quiet and bleak and intense and awesome.  It makes me want to move to Sweden and brood.  Very quietly.

Next up, Franken Berry.  Strong artificial strawberry flavors balanced, again, with just the right amount of sweet marshmallows.  Enjoyable, though not as strong as the Count.

Franken Berry would pair delightfully with the first ever filmed version of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.  It’s simply called Frankenstein, and it was made in 1910 at Edison Studios, a film production company studio owned by Thomas Edison.  It’s only 12 minutes long and totally worth a watch because GOOD GOD IT WAS MADE IN 1910!  The monster creation scene is great, and the special effects are surprisingly good CONSIDERING GOOD GOD IT WAS MADE IN 1910!

Making a much hyped comeback this year is Yummy Mummy.  Yummy Mummy rose to fame in the brief window from 1987 to 1993.  It is an orange cream flavored cereal that does indeed taste like an orange Creamsicle.  It can be a little strong and sharp at times, but if orange Creamsicles for breakfast are your thing (and I’m sure it’s somebody’s thing) then by all means scoop up these boxes before they disappear!

When one thinks of a mummy movie to pair with Yummy Mummy, one might think of any film from The Mummy franchise.  Those people are dumb.  Instead, you should watch 2002’s Bubba Ho-Tep.  It’s directed by The Beastmaster director Don Coscarelli and stars Bruce Campbell as an aging Elvis Presley living out the rest of his days in a quiet retirement home with an African-American gentleman who may or may not be John F. Kennedy.  And he has to fight an evil mummy.  It is a delight.  Well worth your time.

If orange is not your thing, perhaps cherry is.  How about a bowl of Frute Brute?  Fruit Brute hasn’t been seen on breakfast tables since 1984! Which is a tragedy because it’s great.  I’d never had this cereal before and was surprised by how much I liked it.  I figured it was discontinued for a reason, right?  But the cherry flavor works.  It’s not as strong as Franken Berry and certainly not as strong as Yummy Mummy.  easily the best of the two unretirees.

One of my favorite werewolf movies is Dog Soldiers.  It’s also from 2002 and was helmed by Neil Marshall who directed another one of my favorite horror movies, The DescentDog Soldiers is simple.  It’s British soldiers holed up in a country house fighting off a pack werewolves.  Do you need more than that?  No.  You do not.

Last and certainly least is Boo Berry.  I liked the blueberry flavor of the cereal overall, but it reminded me too much of any other berry-flavored cereal.  I also thought its flavor was the most fleeting.  Didn’t seem to hang out on the tongue long.  Like it wasn’t even there at all.  Or was it?!  It was.  Or was it?!

What goes with a blueberry cereal that has a stoned ghost on its box?  Only one of the best ghost movies ever!  Of course I am speaking of Ghost Dad Susie Q The Frighteners!  It’s light and fun.  And you want something light and fun around Halloween, especially if you’ve just watched four other movies and are in the middle of your fifth bowl of cereal.  It stars ghosts, special effects, the guiding hand of Peter Jackson, Michael J. Fox and a Busey.  Stop.  You had me at a Busey.

In the end, my Monster Cereal rankings are as follows in order of best to least best:  Count Chocula, Frute Brute, Franken Berry, Boo Berry, and Yummy Mummy.  Holiday post: accomplished.  See you at Thanksgiving.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Don’t fill up on cereal!  Save room for candy!


Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout: A Review

A few months ago Brewery Ommegang released the first in a series of Game of Thrones-inspired beers.  In that review, I professed my love of the HBO show despite never really having a complete understanding of what is going on at any given time.  My patient wife helps to decode everything, as she is a fan of the books and can somehow keep abreast of all the new treachery and stabbings.

To celebrate Ommegang’s latest Game of Thrones release, Take the Black Stout, I thought I’d take a moment and get everyone caught up with what happened in season 3.  Fair warning, if you’re not current with the show, you may want to stop reading now because there are going to be lots of convoluted and misinformed spoilers ahead.

Ok.  It’s a lot.  Here we go.

Jon Snow (normal name, so I remember it) has gone to the other side of the Great Wall.  It’s either north or south of the wall.  I can never remember.  He went to infiltrate this group of Scottish people for some reason.  While trudging around with them, he falls in love with a girl from Downton Abbey, and they all march off to take over one of the kingdoms (or the kingdom), even though there’s only like 14 of them.  I think he starts to like all the Scottish people, but then turns away from them anyway at the end to stick up for the wall guards.  The girl might have gone with him.

The rest of the wall guards go visit a guy who has a bunch of daughters he likes to do sex with.  Everyone is supposed to kiss his ass because he’s like the white trash king, but the guards ain’t got time for that.  There’s a big fight and everyone gets stabbed.  However, Samwise the Round elopes with one of the guy’s daughters and her baby.

Tyrion saved his family and the whole castle at the end of season 2 but now they’re all mad at him for it.  He’s been banished.  Not really banished.  He just has to live in a small apartment.  Also, he has a big scar on his face now, and he lost his Hand job.

Then there’s that other guy, Standish Boromir, who lives with the Red Witch.  They were the ones who attacked Tyrion’s family, but they lost, and now he’s really mopey.  He has a brother (?) who visits him, but they lock him in the dungeon because he’s not a fan of the Red Witch.  In the dungeon, some little girl who’s face looks like Seal’s teaches him how to read.

Cool Lisa still has her dragons.  They’re getting bigger, but they’re not quite big enough to do any really big damage, so she tries to find an army to help her conquer one of the kingdoms (or the kingdom).  She buys an army of maniacs who have all had their man parts removed.  They’re the best fighters in the world and obey her unquestionably.  I think she said they could be free if they wanted to, but they all stayed to murder people for her because they’re maniacs and they love her.  She frees a bunch of slaves in another town too, so now she’s a really big deal.  Once those dragons get big, lookout!

Then there are the Starks.  They’re trying to get back in the kingdom game.  They’re marching around conquering some things here and there, and generally being sad and dumped on by the universe .  They try to make an alliance by marrying someone in their group to someone in a group led by the Hogwarts’ groundskeeper, but he’s pissed because the guy the Starks offer isn’t the main guy, Rob.  At the wedding, THE RED WEDDING (!), all of the Starks are slaughtered, even Rob’s unborn child.  It’s called the Red Wedding because of all the blood.

Ok, not all the Starks get killed.  The wheelchair kid whose wheelchair is a big dumb guy joins up with some lost boys, and they hang around in the woods and have dreams.

The sassy Stark girl is still hiding from everyone with her new best friend, the Hound.  She wants to murder Joffrey and his family.  Joffrey’s still acting exactly like all the rich kids I went to high school with.

At some point, the really dreamy guy gets his hand chopped off.  That hurts because it’s his sword hand.  He’s so sad that you really wonder how he’s ever going to have incestuous sex with his sister again.

Second to Iastly, there’s Theo, who is a friend or enemy of the Starks.  He’s captured in like the first episode and spends the remainder of the season getting tortured.  He’s a jerk but then you start to feel bad for him.  Because of all the torture.

Finally, I think I the snow zombies are starting to push on to Wintertown.  I can’t remember what they do exactly but I know Samwise kills one of them with some dragonglass. That’s a big whoa moment because no one remembers how to kill the snow zombies because it’s been so long since they zombied the crap out of everyone.

Whew!  It was a really good season, you guys!

Take the Black Stout is more of the type of beer I think of when I think Game of Thrones!  It’s dark and black like the forests of…oh, I don’t know, I’m in over my head.

The bottle design is great.  That face on the bottle is the Weirwood.  It’s where the wall guards take their sacred oath when they are inducted into the Night’s Watch.  My wife told me that.  I thought it was an Ent.  I also really like the write up on the side, despite the misspelling of “their.”  Unless that’s some Game of Thrones thing I’m not aware of.

The nosegrope of Take the Black Stout is a little hoppy and smoky with hints of coffee and vanilla.  It was much lighter than expected.

The flavor profile starts pretty bitter but ends a little on the sweet side.  There are chocolate and coffee notes and some more burnt smokiness.  It also tastes bready.  Couldn’t really find the licorice, and I’ve never had star anise, so I’m no help there.  It’s not as thick as some stouts I’ve had, nor is it as good.

I didn’t like this as much as the Iron Throne Ale.  There’s a lot going on, but I found it fairly dissonant.  Give it a try, if only for the awesome bottle.

The next brew is going to be released in the Spring of 2014.  It’s Fire and Blood Red Ale.  Dragons, y’all!

See you then Westeronians!


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