Dec 312013

We finally made it through 2013, a year that was quite an exciting one for gaming. We saw sales records break across the board with the launch of Grand Theft Auto V, the final two next-gen consoles released in November, and I can say I played so many independent games that I’m starting to really appreciate the rise of the indie gaming scene. And yet, there’s still so much I want to see happen to gaming in 2014: games I want to play, characters I would like to see more frequently, and even some changes I’d like to see in various fandoms. With that in mind, I compiled a few New Year’s Resolutions for the gaming community to consider this New Year’s Eve:

1. Stop objectifying female characters in video games.


This is probably wishful thinking for the most part. So long as overly masculine games like Grand Theft Auto exist, skanky-looking women are always going to be used to sell video games to some capacity. But after outcries this year such as the response to Hideo Kojima changing the look of Quiet for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it is clear that the gaming community is getting fed up with developers selling their games using such an immature concept. Looking on the positive side going into 2014, there are many game companies who are beginning to develop more dynamic female characters. This year we got to know a mysterious girl that can walk between universes in BioShock Infinite, a fourteen-year-old girl fighting against hordes of Clickers in The Last of Us, and in the indie scene we even got to know a teenage girl struggling with her sexuality in Gone Home. Looking to the future, just the other day the final design for Call, the heroine character in the highly anticipated Mighty No. 9 was announced, and she looks pretty sweet. Seeing how far we are coming in making strong female characters gives me high hope for what we can see in 2014.

 2. Let’s give the Ouya one more chance.


I may spark a war by saying that, as earlier this year we saw an overwhelmingly negative response from people who supported the Ouya microconsole on Kickstarter. I’m more than willing to admit the Ouya had a shaky start, but at the same time I see the potential it still has, which is mostly through its library of exclusive games. Yes, some of the Ouya’s exclusives are god-awful (looking at you, The Amazing Frog?), but if you have played some of the more popular exclusives like Towerfall, you will think the Ouya can generate enough drive to climb back up from the hole it initially dug for itself. If more developers rally behind the Ouya and produce more fun exclusive games for the console, the Ouya deserves one more chance to grab our attention.

3. Okay, Wii U. It’s time to end your software drought.


I made a simple observation this week when I saw Club Nintendo members voted on their favorite Wii U game of 2013. Beating out Super Mario 3D World for the top slot was The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. That’s right, a Nintendo game originally developed two generations ago for the Nintendo Gamecube was the top Wii U game for Nintendo fans this year, clearly showing Nintendo needs a bit more variety in their software library. Luckily, this New Year’s Resolution should be met by the end of next year. I’m already hearing Nintendo fans talking up Mario Kart 8 and the new Super Smash Bros., and who knows what other game announcements Nintendo is hiding up its sleeves? Like its predecessor, the Wii U was off to a slow start. Since then, we had a decent wave of games hit the console in the last month or so, and I’m certain the tsunami will hit come next year.

4. Give Valve some credit, already!


Seriously, this happens every time Valve makes a big announcement. I, for one, am extremely excited for Steam Machines to come out of beta so I can finally play my massive Steam library in my living room. Yet there are still those Valve fans that are complaining that Our Divine Lord Gabe Newell has said not a single word about a new Half-Life game. Sure, I’d like to see a release of Half-Life 3 at some point, but I’m sick of hearing the same joke over and over, after any announcement Valve makes, big or small. Give Valve some credit, they’re likely about to shake up the console gaming market as we know it and yet the fans still can’t get their mind off of the continued adventures of Gordon Freeman. Let’s start getting excited for Steam Machines, and worry about killing headcrabs later. Who knows, now that the next generation of consoles is out, maybe we will see a new Half-Life in beautiful HD… For now though, we must be patient and in the meantime appreciate all that Gaben has given us.


Happy New Year to all of my gaming brethren, and here’s to 2014, the first full year of the new console generation, and what it may bring.


The Minus World is written by Steven Brasley. You can keep up with his thoughts on gaming via Twitter.
Dec 182013

I was making a futile attempt at organizing my anime DVD collection the other day when I noticed something interesting: a huge number of heroes in anime are mercenaries, assassins, or other miscellaneous guns for hire.  Perhaps more intriguing is that by comparison, very few good guys seem to work for a real national military.  The thought stuck in my brain for a while, so I figured I’d share what I came up with.

The “mercenary hero” role seems most prevalent in actions shows, be they full of gritty realism or sci-fi whimsy.  Sometimes, the heroes will be part of a larger organized force, like the Mithril organization from the Full Metal Panic franchise.  They function like a military unit, but don’t answer to the government of any particular country.  There’s also the HCLI network of arms dealers in Jormungand and the monster-hunting guilds of fantasy shows like Claymore.  If you prefer your mercenaries to be of a more “classic” vintage, try the spaceship crew from Martian Successor Nadesico or the fighter pilots of Area 88.  Pick any decade’s worth of anime and you’re bound to come across a healthy number of private military companies.


This show came out in 1996, and now you feel old.

Of course, there are also heroic hired guns who work as independent contractors instead of shooting people on a steady 9 to 5 basis.  There are the professional assassins from shows like Noir and Darker Than Black, the ship crews of Black Lagoon and Bodacious Space Pirates (I really just wanted an excuse to include that title), and the armed odd-job teams of Outlaw Star and Burst Angel.  You could even count iconic bounty hunter franchises like Cowboy Bebop and Gunsmith Cats as part of this group.  It seems that when it comes to owning a small business, anime characters tend to focus on firepower over profitability.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any protagonists who collect a government paycheck.  Plenty of anime series feature soldiers (Attack on Titan), police officers (You’re Under Arrest), or government agents (Gunslinger Girl) in prominent roles.  What fascinates me it that, at least in terms of completely unscientific anecdotal evidence, the balance seems to favor the independent contractors.


More like Attack on my Argument, am I right?

So what’s the deal here?  Why do so many of our favorite anime antiheroes sell their deadly talents to the highest bidder instead of signing up for a legitimate military?  Well, part of the answer lies in one of Japanese fiction’s favorite character archetypes: the wandering samurai.  The iconic image of a guy traveling the countryside, stabbing baddies with a sword at the behest of beleaguered villagers, obviously makes for a compelling hero.  Replace that katana with a handgun, sniper rifle, or giant robot, and you’ve got your modern/future mercenary.  Golgo 13 might as well be called “Samurai In A Suit.”

Of course, freelance killers aren’t common in anime just because all directors secretly want to make samurai shows.  Keeping a hero out of a real military force frees them of all the baggage that would come with working for an established nation.  When a squad of American, Japanese, British, or German soldiers appear on screen, the audience will have a natural reaction to those characters based on their mental image of that nation.  A mercenary cast comes with its own viewer assumptions, but we’re more willing to reserve judgment when we don’t know where the heroes come from.

Hired guns can also be useful for making social and political statements.  When the professional assassin is more heroic than the police officers trying to catch her, it makes a strong (if clichéd) statement.  People fighting for money can have very different motivations, setting the stage for deep philosophical arguments.  As we watch the characters in Black Lagoon blow things up in spectacular fashion, we can also ponder the morality of killing to survive.  Having good people do bad (or at least violent) things is a tried and true way of adding some moral ambiguity to an anime series.


Does anyone else want to buy a torpedo boat because of this series, or is that just me?

One final factor in the usage of mercenary heroes is that frontline soldiers tend to do the same thing over and over.  The average infantry grunt is posted to a base, goes on patrols, and occasionally gets shot at.  A hired gun is more likely to take on a variety of missions in different parts of the world, which makes it easier for a show’s writers to move characters around as dictated by the plot.

The prevalence of freelance soldiers and guns for hire in anime isn’t a particularly good or bad thing, but is an interesting consequence of the demands of writing fictional material.  I suspect that the ratio of mercenaries to government troops in real life is nowhere near what it is in our favorite medium, and if anyone feels like running the numbers on that, go right ahead.


Kawaii Overthink is written by Paul Jensen. You can follow his ramblings about anime on Twitter.
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Dec 172013

Can you believe it? We’re a week away from the greatest holiday ever! As a gamer, there’s only one way to prepare for celebrating Christmas. Here are the seven most Christmas-y levels out of any video game. Play one a day as you approach December 25 and you’ll be filled with enough holiday cheer to easily handle putting up with your distant relatives for the day:


1: World 5-1: “BLIZZARD!” – Yoshi’s Island

If there’s any one level to first get you excited about the holiday season, it’s this one. You start off running through some grassy plains, light snowfall in the background. You duck into a cave, then once you come out the ground is covered in a full blanket of snow! It’s just like waking up to the first snow of the season, except you’re a dinosaur. Carrying a baby. (I don’t get it, either.)


2: Ice Cap Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog 3

What does any happy kid do after waking up to the first batch of winter snow? Play in it, of course! Ice Cap covers it all: Snowboarding down the first leg of the level, getting buried in piles of fresh powder, dodging instant-freeze cannons, sharp icicles and evil robot penguins… What, you don’t ever go out dodging evil ice-themed technology for fun too? Man, your Tuesdays must be boring.


3: Frappe Snowland – Mario Kart 64

It’s a joyous drive through a snowy landscape in Frappe Snowland. Look around; there are trees that look like they’re covered in powdered sugar, massive walls of ice, and… Exploding snowmen? Looks like the kids who were playing outside had a bit too much fun… At least there’s another ice level in Mario Kart 64, where you can play with some cute penguins… Oh wait, they’re annoying too. At least the music makes it feel somewhat like Christmas…


4: Frosty Village – Diddy Kong Racing

Now, this is more like it. No serious road hazards, just a scenic mountain village covered in snow, followed by a drive through a quiet woodland park dimly lit by a few lampposts and Christmas lights. It’s a video game Christmas scene straight out of a Currier and Ives painting.


5: Freezeezy Peak – Banjo-Kazooie

This wouldn’t be a list of Christmas levels without mentioning one of the most famous Christmas levels from the Nintendo 64. Freezeezy Peak also has a feel of Christmas spirit like Frosty Village, though Freezeezy Peak is much less subtle: missions in the level include lighting a giant Christmas tree, sled-racing with a polar bear, and climbing a giant icy snowman. Freezeezy Peak takes every kid’s dreams about Christmas and wraps them all into one (literally) big mash of Christmas imagery.


6: Halloween Town – Kingdom Hearts II

This level is your chance to play in the setting of the only films that celebrates two holidays, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Although taking place after the events of the movie, Sora plays a central role in a new tale that could easily be made into a sequel: saving Sandy Claws from Maleficent and Oogie Boogie.


7: A Christmas Gift – Elite Beat Agents

I don’t even care that the song in this level is “You’re the Inspiration.” I dare you to play this and not tear up. This level has the Elite Beat Agents helping a seven-year-old girl and her mother rekindle memories of the girl’s father, who died in a car accident shortly before Christmas. By the end of the song the girl and her mother are reunited with the ghost of Daddy, who one year later makes his promise to come home for Christmas. It’s incredibly touching, and reminds us of how important it is to spend the holidays with close family.

So this week, sip some eggnog, sit by a cozy fire and play these levels. You’ll get into the mood for Christmas in no time at all.


The Minus World is written by Steven Brasley. You can keep up with his thoughts on gaming via Twitter.
Dec 162013

Following on the heels of last week’s IndyCar preview, it seems only right that I continue this series with the most popular open-cockpit series everywhere outside the US: Formula 1.


 What is it?

With millions of fans around the globe and roots reaching back to the early days of motorsport, Formula 1 is widely considered the world’s most popular racing series.  It’s held on a variety of race circuits located everywhere from Europe to Asia to the Americas.  Each competing team fields two open-cockpit cars of their own design.  Each pair of drivers works together to win the constructors’ championship, but only one person can win the drivers’ championship.


Why should I care?

Even if you took away the globetrotting glamour and the plethora of breathtaking circuits, there would still be plenty to like about Formula 1.  The teams spend hundreds of millions every year designing their cars, using some of the most advanced (and expensive) technology available.  As a result, the cars are unbelievably fast, even compared to other racing series.  The drivers are some of the best in the world, and long-standing rivalries between teams produce emotional storylines every year.  This is essentially the standard by which all other forms of racing are judged, and not without good reason.


What’s new this year?

An enormous number of rule changes will be in place for the 2014 season, including new engines and advanced energy recovery systems.  The changes are aimed at making the sport more relevant to modern road cars, but may also have the effect of changing the balance of power between teams since everyone must essentially start from scratch with their car designs.  Russia and Austria have been added to the race calendar, replacing Korea and India.  Four of the top five teams have made changes to their driver lineups, making room for some new and interesting rivalries.


Who’s going to win?

Red Bull Racing has won the constructor’s championship for the last four years in a row, and Sebastian Vettel has done the same with the drivers’ championship.  You’d have to be a fool not to consider them the favorites, but the new technical regulations have the potential to introduce a bit of chaos.  The Mercedes team has plenty of momentum after finishing second in 2013, and Ferrari have a pair of extremely talented drivers working for them this season.


How can I watch it?

The NBC Sports Network handles F1 broadcasting in the US.  They showed several races on NBC itself in 2013, and there’s no reason not to think 2014 won’t be the same.  Because the races happen all over the world, you may want to invest in a DVR is you don’t enjoy waking up at 3 AM on a Sunday.


Pit Box One is written by Paul Jensen. You can follow his thoughts on video games and motor racing on Twitter.
Dec 122013

While Kill La Kill has been grabbing the lion’s share of attention this season, it’s not the only series to offer clever commentary on a well-established genre.  In contrast to Kill’s shark-jumping action parody, Samurai Flamenco has been subtly questioning the core elements of masked superhero franchises like Kamen Rider.  While the show’s biggest strength has been its witty deconstruction of the classic “monster of the week” format, Samurai Flamenco has also been making some interesting statements about heroism and the differing interpretations of justice.  The show’s three protagonists each embody a unique vision of what a “hero” should be, so I thought I’d take a look at what it has to say about each one.


Hidenori Goto: The Peacekeeper


Eat your heart out, Agent Coulson.

While Samurai Flamenco is primarily focused on costumed superheroes, the first defender of justice the audience sees in action is far less flashy.  Goto is a regular beat cop who starts the series working out of one of those tiny corner police stations that seem to appear in every single anime series ever.  As he gets tangled up with the show’s other heroes, Goto quickly becomes the show’s voice of restraint, often making the argument that it’s impossible to enforce every law and regulation a modern society has in place.  He’d sooner ensure a drunken salaryman makes it home safe than arrest him, and he’s okay with letting minor infractions slide if police resources would be better used elsewhere.  Where other characters have an ironclad “see evil, fight evil” policy, Goto focuses on the bigger picture and tries to work for the greater good.

The series seems to take a mixed view of Goto’s approach to fighting injustice.  On the one hand, he’s clearly portrayed as the most rational of the protagonists, and often gets stuck resolving problems created by the other characters.  The costumed heroes can only be successful with the help of the police.  On the other hand, the series makes a pointed argument that Goto’s approach will never lead to any kind of change in society.  The people of the city know that the police will deal with any major criminals, but they also feel as though they can get away with small misdeeds since no one will bother to stop them.  Goto may be able to alleviate the symptoms of evil in society, but the show’s writers argue that he can never cure it.


The Flamenco Girls: The Armed Vigilantes


They’re here to kick ass and sing catchy pop songs, and they just ran out of catchy pop songs.

Three idol singers roll up to a crime scene in a pink Hummer.  Dressed as masked magical girls, they beat the bad guys to a pulp with the help of taser-based weaponry.  It’s not a setup for a cheap joke about anime tropes; it’s business as usual for the Flamenco Girls.  While the lead singers of Mineral Miracle Muse were initially far better equipped to fight crime than the show’s titular hero, they became stuck in the role of sidekicks by virtue of being second to appear on the scene.  Nevertheless, Mari, Moe, and Mizuki still prowl the city streets, looking for opportunities to ambush and incapacitate criminals.  If they happen to protect the innocent in the process, then all the better.

While they may be as close as Samurai Flamenco ever gets to a comedy relief team, the Flamenco Girls form an important part of one of the series’ most important debates.  By habitually applying excessive force, they ensure that their efforts will be successful, and their violent brand of justice ends up being a deterrent to would-be criminals.  However, the show seems to argue that the shock and awe approach doesn’t make someone a hero.  While the Flamenco Girls are able to defeat villains easily, they never receive the fame and admiration that Samurai Flamenco gets.  Beating up bad guys may stop crime and garner attention, but it won’t inspire anyone to work for good.


Samurai Flamenco: The Classic Hero


This isn’t a clever one-liner. He’s seriously telling someone not to litter.

When we first meet Masayoshi Hazama and his costumed alter ego, he’s essentially a punch line, by which I mean he gets beaten up repeatedly for the sake of comedy.  However, his early failures in combat bring out what makes him unique among the show’s heroes: he would rather lose a fight than do nothing at all.  Samurai Flamenco’s initial success lies in getting people to talk about him, and, more importantly, what he’s standing up for.  Because he starts his career by hassling jaywalkers and umbrella thieves, Samurai Flamenco shows people that not having to do the right thing is no excuse for not doing it anyway.  His unique style of heroism earns him support from others, who help him become more capable of actually fighting against evildoers.

As the title character, Samurai Flamenco naturally ends up representing the show’s favored form of heroism.  What makes him different from the others is that he fights against the absence of good, rather than simply going after evil directly.  We get to see his crusade for justice gather support from the public, who start trying to emulate his focus on doing the right thing.  Still, that doesn’t mean the series lets Samurai Flamenco off the hook for his own mistakes.  He’s constantly in over his head, dependant on the other heroes and an increasingly awesome arsenal of office supplies to keep him alive.  Sure, he’s the only one who can change the world, but he literally has to be crazy to try, and relies on cooler heads to support him.

Much like its titular hero, Samurai Flamenco isn’t without its flaws (initially slow pacing, inconsistent animation quality, etc.), but there’s still a lot to like.  If you enjoy superhero stories for the moral questions they present, it’s definitely worth your time.  And if that doesn’t convince you, I have two words: stapler nunchucks.


Kawaii Overthink is written by Paul Jensen. You can follow his ramblings about anime on Twitter.
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Dec 102013

Last Friday was the end of a two-week roller coaster for Fallout fans, sadly ending in disappointment. A very legitimate-looking “teaser” website, The Survivor 2299, fooled thousands of gamers into thinking Bethesda was preparing to announce Fallout 4. Video game blogs were discussing any significant updates as fans unraveled a complex trail of clues.


Like many Fallout fans, I was roped in. I ignored the warnings about the website’s questionable domain as the clues seemed far too complicated to be a hoax. I prayed for Fallout 4 to be on the horizon. Then Friday evening, the troll behind The Survivor 2299 revealed himself. I was disappointed, yes. But even more so, I felt stupid. How could a journalist like myself suspend my objectivity to the point where I became convinced that Bethesda would most definitely reveal a new Fallout game? I have a few explanations, psychological and social, that might explain why thousands of Fallout fans and I believed so much in something that was pretty much called out as a hoax from the very beginning.

From the psychological perspective, you could say I was roped into the Fallout hype because of the classic bandwagon effect, the idea of an individual siding with the popular opinion because it’s, well, popular. You see this all the time during presidential elections: if CNN reports one candidate is polling higher than the other, a person may decide to vote for the person who is polling higher simply to say they voted for the popular candidate. When you apply this concept to The Survivor 2299, it’s a similar idea: it was far easier to side with the popular opinion of Fallout fans convinced of the website’s legitimacy than to side with the news articles calling out the hoax, whose voices were already drowned out by the hype train.


Looking deeper into why it was easier to side with the fans reveals two simple reasons. First, the amount of dedication Fallout fan communities placed into deciphering the messages and uncovering clues from The Survivor 2299 was staggering. If you think about it, fan communities (notably the Fallout subreddit) added a whole extra level of depth to the hoax. By uncovering the clues and posting them on online forums, the fans gave the troll just what he wanted: a visual hype train that helped to support the belief that the website was a real teaser site published by Bethesda. Second (and this reason is pretty obvious), have you ever tried commenting on a hype thread with backed-up reasons why a fan community is wrong? That never plays well on the Internet, thus holding the popular opinion is always your best bet.

No matter what stories you sided with following The Survivor 2299 over the past few weeks, there is an important lesson to be learned here. And while it may be uttered time and time again, it seems like this message needs to be told every time a new incident like this pops up: always, ALWAYS take an Internet teaser with a grain of salt, especially in cases like The Survivor 2299 when there’s reason to believe the website is fake.

There is a silver lining to this whole event. The dedication of the fans to figure out the messages on The Survivor 2299 certainly grabbed Bethesda’s attention, as they were constantly approached by news blogs and fans on Twitter to confirm or deny the website was their doing. Whether Fallout 4 is in development or not, a message easily got across to Bethesda that Fallout is in high demand. From a business perspective, why would you pass up such a massive outcry from the fans? Instead of sending out Liberty Prime to hunt down the hoaxer like most Fallout fans are currently doing, I have to give him my applause for this reason. He tricked the fan community, sure, but he got it excited and essentially gave Bethesda some good free publicity.

But mark my words; I won’t be tricked like this again.


The Minus World is written by Steven Brasley. You can keep up with his thoughts on gaming via Twitter.
Dec 092013

Winter’s not a great time to be a racing fan.  Tracks go quiet as cars are retired to their team headquarters, while engineers dream of new aerodynamic improvements.  To keep us all entertained while we wait for green flags to start waving, I’ll be writing season previews for some of next year’s most entertaining racing disciplines.  First up: the IZOD IndyCar series.


What is it?

Easily the most recognized form of open-cockpit racing in the US, IndyCar takes place on a variety of oval tracks, temporary street circuits, and permanent road courses.  All drivers use the same core chassis, with a choice between Honda and Chevrolet engines.  It’s up to the teams to adjust the cars’ aerodynamic and mechanical setups to adapt to the demands of each race.  A team can employ multiple drivers and send multiple cars to the grid, but only one driver can win the championship.


Why should I care?

IndyCar is an extremely competitive sport.  During the past few seasons, the championship has been so close that the winner wasn’t decided until the final race.  There’s an international cast of extremely talented drivers, many racing for teams with decades of rivalry between them.  Because everyone is using the same cars, any team that gets their setup right has a good shot at winning a race.  There’s a wide variety of tracks, with the Indy 500 standing out as the most famous and prestigious race on the calendar.  The rules and technology are far less complicated than those in Formula One, making IndyCar the easier of the two open-wheel series to understand.


What’s new this year?

2014 won’t see any major rule changes in IndyCar, but there are a handful of big stories as far as the tracks and drivers go.  Last year’s double-header races will return, as will the fascinating triangle circuit at Pocono.  The Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit will come back into use, with the infield track hosting a race two weeks before the Indy 500.  The sport will gain a famous driver in Juan Pablo Montoya, but will unfortunately lose another with the retirement of Dario Franchitti.  The “silly season” of drivers changing teams isn’t quite over yet, so we may still have a few surprises before the first race on March 30th.


Who’s going to win?

Honestly, I haven’t got a clue.  Between past champions and talented up-and-comers, at least half the drivers in the sport have a shot at winning the title this year.  If I were a betting man, my money would be on Simon Pagenaud, the increasingly impressive French driver with a background in endurance racing.


How can I watch it?

Much like last year, coverage of the 2014 season will be split between NBC Sports and ABC.  Of course, since the entire season takes place in the US and Canada, you could also just go watch a race in person, you lazy bum.


Pit Box One is written by Paul Jensen. You can follow his thoughts on video games and motor racing on Twitter.
Dec 072013

For this week, I thought we might take a break from the technical brew process and dive into the glass. Let’s look at some ways to approach beer other than cracking one open and throwing it back.

As I have said before, I am by no means an expert in beer, but I can hopefully give you some tools to better understand beer and ways you can start some conversations. I want to preface all of this with one thing though: respect everyone’s opinions! If you need a refresher, refer to the manifesto!

Ok, let’s do this:


Step 1. Acquire a glass. I feel like glasses get a bad rap. No, they aren’t just for beer snobs. They have a really great purpose. Don’t ever bash someone for putting their beer in a glass. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Sure, there are specific reasons for each glass and some are made for different beers, but let’s look at your standard issues beer glass.

Step 2. Look at your beer. Glass is awesome, because it’s transparent. Beer has some really great color. You learned your colors with your ABCs. It’s not a complicated thing here people. We all love color. So take a peek at the beer, hold it up to the light and enjoy the spectrum of colors your suds can provide.

Step 3. Stick your nose in it. A glass is a wonderful thing. It not only lets us see the beer, but it it adds a whole new olfactory layer to our beer drinking experience. Beer, in order to be beer, must be made with hops. Hops are flowers. Flowers smell nice.

Step 4. Sip, don’t chug. Beer needs to be enjoyed slowly. Flavor profiles really come out when you taste the beer and move it around a bit. Some beers are even meant to be enjoyed as it warms up. And one of my favorite things is when you achieve “the lace”. A really clean, residue-free, beer glass accompanied with slow sips will leave behind some awesome looking rings, reminiscent of the ones you find in trees. Taste each sip, think of the spices and flavors that are present. Fruity, spicy, floral, bready, roasty? Is there a hint of chocolate, or coffee, maybe pumpkin? Is it a sour beer, or smooth and crisp?


There’s a lot to experience in that glass and I wouldn’t want to miss out on a single drop!



Shark Puppet Pub is written by Chris Zaccaria.  You can start a drunken argument over his taste in beer on Twitter