Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Let's Go To The Movies

Let's go to the movies
Let's go see the stars.
Red lights holler
deep Depression

What do we care?

Movies are there!

Only happy endings (boy gets girl, yes)

that's our recipe!

Welcome to a lovely


Yeah, I was 6 years old when Annie came out in theaters, and this song is ingrained in my memory, shuddup.

Last night I was invited to a sneak peek event for the new AMC Theatres Fork & Screen concept in Olathe. It officially opens to the public on Friday, October 31st. I got to bring the husband, and we raced home to let the dog out and get all the way out to Olathe by 6:45, when we were to check in. We loitered around the lobby with a collective of other bloggers while we received a press kit, were highly encouraged to snap pictures, twitter and post anything we wanted about the event and venue. Being the lazy blogger you all know me to be, I twittered some, snapped some camera phone pics, and am posting a review almost a full day after the fact. There are a lot of super dedicated bloggers that took high res pics you can view, like I, Shane 's Flickr feed, Scene Stealers' blog, KC Word of Mouth blog, etc, etc.

First of all, let me say that MacGuffins, the bar, looks really really cool. Glamorous, even. I posted the beer list here earlier, along with links to their menus, and yes, I did have a Guinness. I paid for it too. Which they unfortunately poured into a frosty glass, but hey, you can't expect everyone to be a beer snob, can you? The bartender was nice & friendly, which overwrites many sins in my mind. Next time I'll ask for a pint glass that wasn't just pulled out of a freezer. Lucky for me it warmed up quickly.

So why is it called MacGuffins? According to AMC's wonderful tour guide Andy, AND the walls where it was clearly spelled out for all to see, a MacGuffin is a term Alfred Hitchcock coined, and no one outside of film students & movie theater corporate employees probably know. But that might change if more people go to MacGuffins. Wikipedia has an entry for it. It is a plot device that advances the story line, motivating the characters, but the specifics of the object matter very little. Perhaps that is true about the bar as well. It motivated me to love the Fork & Screen, but the specifics of it didn't matter all that much to me.

We were given a buffet of appetizers to sample, which beyond quesadillas and pizza, consisted entirely of fried items. Tasty, to be sure but still all fried. The booths at MacGuffins are borderline sound proofed, so you really get the sense that no one in that cavernous space would hear an intimate conversation.

After that interlude, the well spoken Tour Guide Andy, who I strongly suspect did a stint at Disney at some point in his life, took us into a premium CinemaSuites theatre, where we all plopped down in big, red, leather, cushy recliners and celebrated our luck. Unfortunately, we were not to be able to STAY in the nice theatre, and were escorted back to a Fork & Screen theatre, minus the recliners. Sigh. But honestly? You pay $10 extra for a big cushy chair, and have less people in the theater with you. Roughly 70 people less. It's quieter. But it's still $10 more, each. The Fork & Screen experience is still good, by all theatre standard. There is something like 4 feet of clearance between the back of your chair, and the next row. There are NO feet on the back of your chair. There is a little cocktail table/counter that runs across the front of each row, and servers swing by to see if you'd like a drink, a little snack, anything. It's awesome. Slightly distracting, but you get over it quickly.

We got a $10 appetizer order of chicken fingers, and the husband ordered another beer, and our total in the theater was $14. Considering we can drop $20 for big drinks & popcorn on a usual outing, this is not bad at ALL!! As a childless couple that do not go to the movies all that often, or at least not in the evenings/at night, this really might get us to consider it more often.

I had to do it. I Googled it again. God almighty, KC bloggers are some timely bastards.I swear I am the last to post. But on the other hand, I found a picture of myself being an antisocial geek. That's the problem with some "social" media people. More media, less social. So here I am twittering, playing with my phone, Guinness waiting for me on the side. Sorry ramseym, I stole your pic.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A post in which I bite the hand that feeds

I got ANOTHER tasty present in the mail this month, from the PR company that does work for Newcastle. I appreciate presents. Who doesn't?! So I'll tell you all about what I got, and I am going to offer my personal 2 cents on the whole thing.

Every now & then the life of a beer blogger includes a good smack on the forehead with the realization that you simply forgot about a brand of beer. Like wiped it out of your memory. Like it was one of your gateway beers in the 90's, when you were labeled a snob for not drinking frat party keg beer, and you haven't tasted it since. Newcastle, Fat Tire, and JW Dundee's Honey Brown all fall into this category for me.

I received a full 6 pack of Newcastle, along with a few sample tips and pages from Newcastle Brown Ale's Holiday MAN-ual. Meaning it's a manual for men to get thru the holiday season. Tips include how to toast (do tell, don't tell), how gifts say a lot about how you feel about the recipient, personal attire tips (Don't wear a sweater that screams, "Look at me, I'm a walking parade float.") and the basics of hosting a party. The funniest thing, IMO, was their recommendation to include wine & liquor in any party, and not JUST serve Newcastle.

The other pages seemed to be printed off of a master book (the Man-ual) included a recipe for something called a beer-nog shooter (yes, a separated shot of beer & egg nog) and a cheese and beer fondue. The fondue DOES include both bacon and beer, and that's manly, right? I want to know, gentlemen readers, would you really make a fondue for a party at your place?

My feedback is personal, because I work in marketing, in the WOM arena, did interactive advertising for years, and still work with others who do blogger seeding now. I'm outing myself, and possibly limiting future presents of the tasty variety. I apologize to Liz in advance, and DO thank you for the free brews. I enjoyed them, and will definitely post a dedicated review.

I appreciate the sentiment, and probably even the brainstorm that took place somewhere in El Segundo to come up with the idea overall. But the name "Man-ual" strikes manly-man beer connotations for me, more like the MGD audience, not Newcastle's perceived refined, educated target. I also strongly believe that the full MAN-ual really should be living online if bloggers are to leverage it well, with the capability for links, for traffic drivers, to generate more interest from a like-minded audience of beer blog readers. It would have been much more beneficial if it had been further fleshed out. I got super busy, & didn't ask for high res images to post here, although they offered. Maybe it would have helped just to post them to a site, and let bloggers access them if they were willing?

Perhaps I am critical because I only see a small window of the whole effort. I hope the MAN-ual gets more support than this small blogger outreach. I still enjoyed Newcastle Brown Ale more than anything else in my fridge, and I PROMISE to post a dedicated review of the beer soon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fork & Screen

If anyone has been out to the AMC Theatres Olathe Studio 30 location in the Kansas City area in the last few months, you are aware that there are some changes coming. They are adding a movie & dinner experience, called the Fork & Screen, to an entire wing of the multi-plex. I've been invited out to a sneak peak/tour at the end of October, so I thought I would pass on what I know so far.

A bar/lounge called MacGuffins will be located next to the auditoriums, and their future menu is already posted here. I figured their pricing would be high, based on the fact that we can spend $20 on drinks & popcorn for 2, but it isn't quite as scandalous. They have a large number of specialty cocktails, but I skipped straight to the beer. A pint or bottle of premium beer is quoted at $4.89. Premium means Boulevard, Sam Adams, Fat Tire or Guinness on tap or Boulevard, Sam Adams, Stella Artois, Amstel Light, Bass, Corona, Guinness, Heineken or Blue Moon in bottles.

The other concept is called CinemaSuites, and features reserved seating, recliners, and in-theatre dining. This is the high end part. Cinema Suites will feature in-theatre Seat-Side Service and is reserved for guests at least 21 years old. Pricing for the Cinema Suites experience is $15.00 Monday through Thursday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday before 4:00pm, and $20.00 Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays after 4:00pm. Cinema Suites guests will also receive a $5.00 coupon to be used toward their dining experience. So what does the food look like for this part? Menu is here, and looks like general casual dining - sandwiches, burgers, lots of apps and a few entrees.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oktoberfest @75th Street

Bring your friends & fraus for:

Outdoor Seating
LIVE local music
All the wurst German Eats
[bratwurst, knockwurst, sauerkraut, braised cabbage, German potato salad, GIANT Bavarian pretzels & chocolate cake]

Pints of stein-wothy beers
[75th Street's Imperial Oktoberfest, Bitburger Pilsner & Warsteiner & Paulaner Oktoberfest brews]

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Boulevard gives the best presents

Boulevard is like the childless aunt and uncle you had when you were a kid. They give the BEST presents. (Although admittedly, as a really young girl, I didn't fully appreciate the Sergio Valente jeans my aunt gave me for my birthday one year. I could have only been 5 years old at the time.)

But Boulevard did better than Sergio Valente jeans. They gave beer bloggers a big Smokestake Series-sized bottle of a stout they are working on. It was available for pickup after 3 pm yesterday, and I lost track of time, as I am prone to do. I called their front desk at 5 minutes before 5 pm and begged Amy to wait a few minutes past 5 for me. I was there in 4 minutes. :) THANK YOU AMY!!

I really wanted to enjoy it while watching the debate last night, and graciously shared it with my husband. (I am not so gracious w/beer at times, so I felt I earned extra points for this.) The bottle included a note of thanks for blogging about Boulevard (of course) and some info about the brew contained within. It is a non-release brew that may become a Smokestack Series beer over time. It is based on an Imperial Russian Stout, fermented w/Belgian yeast, and contains a whole variety of hops, malted barleys, rye and oats. Imperial Russian Stout definition from BeerAdvocate:

Inspired by brewers back in the 1800's to win over the Russian Czar, this is the king of stouts, boasting high alcohol by volumes and plenty of malt character. Low to moderate levels of carbonation with huge roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavours. Often dry. Suggestions of dark fruit and flavors of higher alcohols are quite evident. Hop character can vary from none, to balanced to aggressive.

It poured prettily, with a thick pillowy head that took some time to settle down. Good! It left lacing along the glass throughout. Good! It smelled like roasted goodness, with a healthy hint that this beer has teeth. I could tell it would be heavy in ABV from a sniff. It was 9%, which makes sense with the style. First sip was good, echoing the roasted, burnt smell, a little bitter, perhaps from a hops bite, and dry. Very dry. I kept associating the alcohol burn with the bitter taste, but I couldn't tell you if that is really what it WAS. I thought it was MUCH more bitter, bite-y, and dry in the first few sips. By the time we finished the bottle, I was really enjoying it, finding more sweet and roasted elements than harsh.

I really liked this beer. My husband REALLY liked this beer, and that doesn't always happen with ye old beer blog selections. More often than not, one glass is more than enough for him, but this time he wanted half of whatever was left. Which, again, graciously, I shared. I think it was the bite. He's always been a decent hop head, just not into Belgians, I suppose.

Thank you SO MUCH, friends at Boulevard. The Big Stout was awesome, and I am so happy to hear that you all are working on new artisan beers to add to the Smokestack Series over time. It was cool to be included in that process, even to a small degree.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fire strikes Free State's production plant

I received the following email today from the Free State Brewery in Lawrence, KS. While I am happy for them that no one was hurt, this must be a big hit. I doubt that hops are insurable.

Dear Friends,

I’m sure that by now many of you know that a fire struck our nearly completed production plant in East Lawrence this morning. The damage was extensive and we do not know the full extent or implications of the fire damage as yet. The structure is intact as near as we can tell, although we will not know the full story until we are able to have engineers come in for a full assessment.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation and we are leaving that evaluation to the experts. Fortunately, the building was not occupied at the time and there were no injuries to anyone involved in the fire fighting effort.

Although we lost a substantial inventory of raw ingredients stored in the building, we are still able to continue production at our current levels downtown. What is now on hold is the planned expansion of our wholesale production and distribution. Needless to say, this is a significant setback, as we were hoping to begin brewing in the next couple of weeks.

Finally, our heartfelt thanks to all of our friends who pitched in or offered their help as we struggled to evaluate the situation today. Our thanks also, to the Lawrence Fire Department who handled the situation with professionalism and kindness. We were impressed with their efforts. As a community, we should be proud of these men and women for their service. We will keep you apprised as we move along and as answers appear.


Steve Bradt

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Notes and stuff

I received a happy note via MySpace this week. (This is why I keep a MySpace profile around, to all of you people who tell me about how they delete their profiles from "dead" social networking sites!)

We have a special treat that we're making available to a select number of bloggers and beer reviewers who have covered Boulevard in the past. If you can send me your full name & address I can mail it to you, or if you would prefer I can leave it for you to pick up at our front desk. Hint: it's delicious.
Marketing & Communications Manager

Cheers, indeed! I love delicious presents, offered to me for no reason other than the fact I have a beer blog that some misguided individuals check on from time to time. I promise to report whatever it is they share with me.

I went to a dinner party last night. It was all very grown up and perfect, with awesome food, fabu wine, even dishes being washed while dinner was being made. Very impressive, you two. When people come to my house, I give them pizza or something else from a box, and still manage to end up with a sink full of dirty dishes the next morning. I know, I don't know how I do it. But it was quite fun, and I can't thank them enough. There was even a chocolate cake made with Fort Collins Brewery Chocolate Stout. That was the best, ever. I had a beer too many, didn't ask for the recipe, and probably didn't thank my hosts enough for all of the trouble. Nice, eh?

Tonight we're sipping on some Avery Redpoint Ale. Yes, drinking it because of my previous post. Neither me nor my husband can face more drinking any more of the pumpkin beers in the fridge, and we had more than a few Octoberfests lately. We needed something different, but still fall-appropriate. The Redpoint is a filtered, coppery ale that foamed up out of the bottle as soon as I flipped the top off, but resulted in a relatively thin head when poured into a glass, and disappeared entirely shortly there after. The nose is malty and nutty, with the promise of some kind of hoppiness to compensate. It is an APA, after all. The first sip is caramel and toastiness, and then with a slightly dry bit of hops. Maybe something sweet and fruity? It isn't terribly complex, but it is good. I dig it. The husband digs it. Hurray. Another beer to add to the "we both love this beer" list, beyond Sam Adams Light and Boulevard Pale Ale.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Flying Saucer on Monday the 13th

I received the following email, and thought you all might like to know. In my own long standing tradition of working too much and being totally overscheduled, I won't be able to attend. If you do, let me know how it was!

The Flying Saucer in the Power & Light District will be hosting “The Avery Experience” on Monday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by Adam Avery, president and brewmaster of Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, Colo. It will be a two-hour event featuring 15 of Avery’s beers.

Featured beers will be distributed in sample-sized servings and will include Karma Belgian Ale; White Rascal Belgian Wheat Ale; India Pale Ale, an American IPA; Ale to the Chief, Avery’s new “Presidential” Pale Ale; Fifteen, Avery’s latest anniversary ale; Salvation Belgian Strong Golden Ale; The Reverend Belgian Quadrupel Ale; Hog Heaven Barleywine; The Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale 2008; The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest 2008; The Czar Imperial Stout 2003; Samael’s Oak-aged Ale 2008; The Best Grand Cru Ale 2004 and Mephistopheles’ Stout 2006. The beers will be paired with select meats and cheeses.

As Avery is one of the country’s leading craft breweries, it’s pretty exciting to have the president of the company host this event and for customers to be able to taste so many Avery beers in one sitting.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

All you can drink for $5

GenKC is a group of “professionals” in KC who decided that networking groups are stupid and boring, and they really just wanted an excuse to meet cool peeps in KC, you know, and drink. Their first event was in the River Market in June, and over 1,200 KC people in their 20s & 30s showed up. They’ve deemed this idea a success, and are starting to pick up steam.

The next event is tomorrow, at the Power & Light, under the canopy. It’s $5 to get in, free Boulevard beer, and a guaranteed way to meet a ton of people in KC. Link for info is here: