29 June 2009

Coup d'etat in Honduras

This past weekend on Sunday 28 June 2009, the currently elected President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was taken into custody by Honduran soldiers and forced onto a plane and into exile.  He was replaced by congressional successor Roberto Micheletti.  According to news reports, President Zelaya is very unpopular among the Honduran people and is approaching the end of his elected term of office; however, the congress and courts allegedly couldn't wait and ordered his removal from office by force.  Can you imagine troops storming the gates of the White House?  Take a moment to be thankful for being an American.  Far to many people don't truly know or appreciate what that means.

Unfortunately, political and social stability have never been terms synonymous with Central America, although there hasn't been a successful coup in more than a decade and I think the last attempted (and unfortunately failed) one was against Hugo Chavez in 2002.  With a large quantity of the world's premium tobacco crop grown, and several makers in Honduras, I wonder what affect this may have on the availability and cost of cigars.  Additionally, the Obama administration has spoken out in protest of the coup which leads one to wonder whether economic sanctions may be imposed preventing the importation of Honduran products into the United States.  Lets hope things work out for the best, not only because of our love of premium cigars, but for the Honduran people who could use a break.

24 June 2009

CIGAR REVIEW - NEW RELEASE: Xikar - HC Series, Habano Colorado

The third and final cigar in the HC Series is the Habano Colorado. It is made with a Habano-Colorado Jalapa Valley (Nicaragua) wrapper; an Estelli (Nicaragua) binder; and Costa Rican, Jalapa Nicaraguan, and Honduran fillers. The Wrapper was beautiful with a color I would describe as being between Colorado-Maduro and Maduro, with nice teeth and a silky feel. The pre-light aroma was excellent with obvious chocolate notes. I invested several minutes enjoying it. Again I made a straight cut with the scissors on my Xikar cigar multi-tool (which I recommend for any serious cigar aficionado, it is great). The head held together perfectly with no evidence of fraying or unravelling. The draw gave just the right amount of resistance and left only the slightest sweetness on the lips.

Yet again, it lit effortlessly and burned with consistency and evenness. From the first draw the body and strength were evident. Xikar describes it as being medium to full-bodied with moderate strength. I would have to agree, with my opinion being that it is a little more toward the full-bodied side. The spice left a light tingle on the front to middle tongue and the smoke had the same attractive grey-blue color as did the Connecticut Shade and Criollo. I have no doubts the ash would have held on like it did with the others except I accidentally bumped it and made a mess on my computer keyboard, Oh the humanity!

Overall, this cigar was consistent throughout and lost none of its fine qualities as it smoked. If you enjoy this style of cigar I recommend you try it.

23 June 2009

BEER REVIEW: Mikeller - Beer Geek Brunch

I was initially hesitant to try MIKELLER's - Beer Geek Brunch Oatmeal Stout based on the claim it is made with civet coffee seeds. For those who may not be familiar, and I'm not kidding about this, some of the most expensive coffees in the world are those made from seeds recovered from the feces, thats right - feces, of certain animals (i.e. the louac and in this case, the civet) which consume only the most ripe coffee cherries and then naturally, excrete the seeds. Supposedly, the coffee beans undergo special refinements while in the animal's digestive tract and, I can only assume, someone then has the undesirable job of following the little critters around until they are finished with them. My wife and I joking call this "monkey s_ _ _" coffee and choose not to drink it because it seems to me to be only a trendy / snobby sort of thing.

At any rate, when reviewing something for the benefit of others you must keep an open mind so I tried it; besides, the 10.9 % ABV had to kill anything the civet left behind... right? When I opened the bottle I detected immediate notes of black coffee, hops, and perhaps bitter chocolate. The pour revealed a beautiful black color and a chocolate-brown head with the consistency of whipped cream. Some ran down the side of the glass and when it re-condensed on the counter it actually stuck a little bit when I wiped it up, demonstrating its viscosity. Once the head finally laid down I was able to take my first sip which revealed the same flavors that had been detected in its aroma. As I drank it down it left substantial lace that was more like a set of curtains. Kidding aside, this was a good beer and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the qualities of a good stout.

05 June 2009

BEER REVIEW: Avery - Collaboration Not Litigation Ale

Collaboration Not Litigation, by Avery Brewing of Boulder, Colorado, is a Belgian style ale supposedly the product of combining the best qualities two different brews from two different breweries. It has a cloudy, relatively dark, golden-brown color consistent with an unfiltered ale, a sweet, malty nose, and good lace. I thought it had a traditional Belgian style ale flavor with a nice, slightly bitter follow through. Not bad but I'm not a big fan of some of the Belgian ales so give it a try for yourself.

BEER REVIEW: Rouge - Shakespeare Stout

Shakespeare Stout, by Rogue Ales of Newport, Oregon, is a tasty stout for those who enjoy a moderately bitter brew. Its beautiful ebony color is topped off by a creamy tan head that leaves heavy lace. It has a sweet, malty nose and a very crisp start followed immediately by a moderately bitter hoppiness. It also has a hoppy finish with notes of baker's chocolate. It has a crisp mouth-feel on the tongue and a slight creaminess on the cheeks. A good beer overall.

Ingredients: Northwest Harrington & Klages, Crystal 135-165 & Beeston Chocolate Malts, Cascade Hops, Rolled Oats & Roasted Barley, Free Range Coastal Water (as opposed to the domestic farm-raised water... get over the hippy crap guys), and Top Fermenting Pacman Yeast