In recent articles, I have covered the realms of experimentation and variation; taking established items and turning them on their head to produce something novel. Thanks to such methods, I was able to enjoy two beloved creations for the first time over the past week.
Jai Alai IPA aged on White Oak
Despite the fervent love of Cigar City Brewing’s creations in the world of craft beer, I have not had the pleasure of trying their products until very recently. This is thanks to limited distribution and a lack of southern travel. However, a nearby beer store (read: over 45 minutes away) happened to get some cases of a variation on Cigar City’s flagship IPA, so I made sure to pick up a can or two.
This special version of Jai Alai IPA is aged on white oak spirals. Once settled in the glass, it has a cloudy honey color with bright yellow hues. There is a dank nose of resin and floral hops, with hints of bread-and-butter pickle brine. The first taste of White Oak Aged Jai Alai is a tart resin hop. This quickly expands into a floral hop body and toast-with-honey flavors. Finishes dry with softer floral hop and vanilla notes. A unique and tasty variation, which produces a sort of relaxed hop bomb.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Growing up as a Nintendo-Kid™, there are many games from other platforms that never crossed my radar. One such title was Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, which released in 1989. Since I did not know anyone who owned a Sega Master System at that time, I was playing Mega Man 2 instead of enjoying the whimsical world of Wonder Boy.
Thanks to the efforts of developer Lizardcube and publisher DotEmu, The Dragon’s Trap has be remastered and recently released for all sorts of modern gaming systems. Working with the original game designer for Wonder Boy III, Lizardcube has lovingly recreated The Dragon’s Trap with gorgeous hand-drawn graphics and some additional features, such as new hidden areas and the option to play as a female main character (aptly named Wonder Girl).
The Dragon’s Trap remake also gives players the option to independently toggle the graphics and audio between modern and retro versions (an option that ALL remastered releases should offer). The amount of polish and effort put in by Lizardcube was even more apparent as I switched between the modern and retro styles of every new area. This level of care also applies to the soundtrack from Michael Geyre, who took the original chiptune soundtrack and arranged it using real instruments played by musicians. The result is an immersive and fantastic soundtrack that incorporates elements from multiple world music styles to evoke the themes of each area in the game.
Underneath all of the flourish and details added to this remake, The Dragon’s Trap still has a core of fun gameplay. Certain details certainly show their age, mainly with the lack of checkpoints during the lengthier late game areas. But the branching paths, clean platforming, and endearing bosses of this game still manage to impress after 28 years. I would highly recommend The Dragon’s Trap to anyone looking for a whimsical and engaging game, with just enough old school challenge to keep you on your toes.
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 2017- Ginger Lager
Along with these experiencing established creations via remasters and variations, I also secured the latest Beer Camp brews from Sierra Nevada. For the 2017 version of their annual Beer Camp releases, Sierra Nevada paired up with 12 breweries (6 stateside and 6 overseas) to make a variety of beers for an all-collaboration pack. My wife and I have been slowly sampling each of the brews in this one-time only collection, making sure to savor every sip. So far, she has particularly enjoyed Thai-Style Iced Tea Ale (beer brewed with lactose, orange peel, black tea, tamarind, and star anise from Mikkeller Brewery in Denmark), while my particular favorite has been the Ginger Lager from Surly Brewing Company.
For this spicy beer, Sierra Nevada and Surly produced a lager brewed with ginger and cayenne pepper, then fermented on oak. The result is a beer with a golden color and soft orange hues. The nose has an expected sharp aroma of ginger, which is softened by a grassy hop backbone. This collaboration starts with the sweet taste of candied ginger, which gives way to a malty body of scones with vanilla bean and lemon glaze. The finish is a pleasant heat of cayenne pepper, which builds on each sip, playfully complementing the spicy taste of ginger. I certainly hope the Ginger Lager branches off from this one-time collaboration into a seasonal tradition, as this is precisely the sort of spicy and refreshing brew I want to combat the summer heat.