Monthly Archives: February 2012

CURRENTLY LATHERING: Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo by Lush

So I suppose this story can only start by saying “So I was in Lush today…” and I was. In this particular visit I was picking up some sugar lip scrub for someone and was looking at the various bath bombs, soaps and perfumes…when I saw that they had a Stout Shampoo. Because the staff are attentive like that, someone was right there to give me the pitch on it. It’s made with “locally made vegan organic stout” (which for an international company I can only imagine where it is “locally” made…), cognac oil, lemon juice, lemongrass oil and yeast. Supposed to help hair that easily goes frizzy at the slightest freakin’ HINT OF MOISTURE IN THE DAMN AIR, *cough* which, uh, my hair does. Not having the money for it at the moment (about $10 for a 100ml bottle. YES, I’m poor. We’ve established this), I promised to come back for it around payday. It was then that the staff member happily poured me a sample and I figured it would be a waste to try it and not tell you people about it.

WHA? BEER IN SHAMPOO?  Crazy it may sound, but beer is a GREAT hair product. In fact, stout in particular is great for the hair, as the proteins and sugars add some heaviness and volume! Even with the yeast! Yeast contains a buttload of nutrients and proteins that help keep your hair strong! Stout beer is wonderful for shampoo washing and as a final rinse for people with dark hair. So on St. Patrick’s Day when you see some dude named “Hoagie” pour Guinness all over his head, he may possibly be taking extra nice care of his hair. It’s not LIKELY, but it’s possible.

On to the review.

COLOUR: Caramel. Straight up Caramel.

AROMA: On first smell it’s almost nauseating (and not a surprise that on user reviews on the Lush site, the biggest con is the smell), but after a few more sniffs you begin to get a clear idea of the ingredients. The Lemongrass oil hits you the strongest with the cognac oil wrapping everything in a kind of warmth. I smell a bit of stout. The lemon juice actually adds a real kind of brightness to the smell. Gives the impression that I’m not about to pour some random dark, thick goop on to my head.

HAIR WASHING: Jeez, once this sucker came in to contact with my hair, INSTANT foaminess, which is great. The lemongrass smell filled the shower, but I got a hint of chocolate that I didn’t catch in the aroma before. And because no one ever really mentions this in shampoo reviews: Yes, some came in contact with my eyes and no, it wasn’t painful to the point of screaming or reaching for a towel. That gets some good bonus points from me. Rinsing was pretty easy too. Like most shampoos, this left my hair feeling pretty tough. Kind of wish there was a conditioner with similar character to this one. At this rate, the conditioner will destroy the aroma of this (though it should be said that for this review, I added more after conditioning).

POST-DRYING: So…just dried my hair off and have to say that it certainly added some volume. Definitely got all Tina Turner there. I’ll need to use my straightener to beat my hair down int o submission a bit, but that’s pretty standard with my particular hair (which is thick, easily frizzed and has a mind of its own and STILL people covet it). I can also say that my hair has never felt softer and the smell has gone down to a VERY pleasant and subtle hint of chocolate and lemongrass, which I find pretty soothing.

POST-STRAIGHTENING: Only adding this if your hair is like mine and it’s required. After straightening my hair looks and feels pretty damn perfect. And the SHINE! Didn’t notice it post-drying, but the shine is fantastic.

FINAL VERDICT: Yep. Gonna buy this stuff come payday. I would like to see a conditioner equivalent, but am pretty fond of what I’ve tried so far and it has me for at LEAST $10.

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Japanese Beer Is Sauceome

In a land where the only Japanese beer that is commonly known is Sapporo, its nice to know that the Japanese are amazing at the darker beers and really are growing. Sarah Becan, creator of one of my favorite webcomics I Think You’re Sauceome, recently made a trip to Tokyo and documented some of the delicious beers she had while there.

As she says:

“I wasn’t really expecting to find a lot of beers in Tokyo, much less really good beers. To be fair, most places seemed to have a number of shochu and nihonshu choices, and pretty much just one “nama” or draft beer, which was something light like Asahi. But beer is a growing industry in Japan, and Niles’s brother knew a bunch of great little beer places for us to try. It wasn’t cheap, but it was good stuff.”

The Swan Lake Porter and Iwatekura Oyster Stout in particular sound amazing.

Sarah has a book titled SHUTEYE: SIX TALES OF DREAMS AND DREAMERS that is currently available for pre-order at a reduced price. Go purchase it from the Shortpants Press store.

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CURRENTLY DRINKING (Getting To Know You Edition): GARRISON BREWING CO.

So the LCBO brought us a treat in the past week. With their famous one-shot program, they gave us beers from the famous Garrison Brewing Co. in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Being as they are, the LCBO has said that once these are sold off the shelves they’re gone. And it’s that which compelled me to go above my spending limit for the week and purchase three bottles from this brewery. The Spruce Beer, the Grand Baltic Porter and the Premium Black IPA. So let’s get to know our Halifax cousins, shall we? Yes. As a note, I’m writing down my first impressions of them. This post is being written as I’m drinking.

First up is the Spruce Beer.

SPRUCE BEER 7.5% ABV

One of the oldest beer styles in North America and also a favorite of the Scots. I’m so pleased to note the use of Blackstrap Molasses and Dates in this one, which is a big difference from other beers of this style I’ve had, which just added the Spruce. Let’s have at ‘er.

COLOUR: Caramel colour. Quite beautiful.

AROMA: Syrupy sweetness backed right up by the mollasses with the dates following it like a small and nervous accountant follows a mobster. I can already tell that the Molasses is going to be a force and that I’ll really love this when we actually get some snow over here.

TASTE:  SPRUCE.  Oh man, the Spruce and Fir hits me like a baseball bat. How so refreshing to have the spruce be the forerunner with flavours in a beer of this style! Slight hoppiness.  The Dates are a bit stronger here. The Molasses is as strong in the taste as it was in the aroma and adding a wonderful warmth to this beer (with a slight smokiness at the end). Wow.

VERDICT: I think I found one of my top 5 winter beers this year. A classic recipe with a warmth that gets you through the season. A wonderful, WONDERFUL version of this style. Ten points to Gryffindor (or…whatever).

Right. Now the Black IPA.

BLACK IPA 6.2% ABV

Now, ever since declaring this style as one of my favourites, I’ve been REALLY picky as to my Black IPAs. I’ve had ’em good and I’ve had ’em spit-back-in-the-glass horrible. I’m also a hop-head. So let’s see if this holds up to my standards.

COLOUR: Black with some ruby highlights.

AROMA: Sweet, citrusy hints in the aroma. If I were to guess, I’d say that Cascade hops were used in this. Hint of chocolate and coffee with some roasted malt tones to it. Interesting.

TASTE: …you know, if I didn’t know this was from Halifax, I would assume this was a West Coast brew. This is slightly weaker in hoppiness than my ALL-TIME favourite (Stone Brewery’s Self Righteous Black IPA) but it’s the closest I’ve had to it. Hoppiness DEFINITELY hits and I still stand by in thinking that Cascade was used to add to this grapefruit citrusy flavour that hits you first. Chocolate is definitely in the back of this with some really nice coffee notes. It’s like the hoppiness is punching you and the chocolate, coffee and malt flavours are hugging you as if to say “I’m sorry, baby. But you know how jealous I get”.

VERDICT: I would have to be in the mood for it, but definitely one of the strongest efforts I’ve seen in a Black IPA from this country so far. The hoppiness borders to the point where some people would have to send it back, but that’s just how I like my hoppy beers.

And now finally, the Grand Baltic Porter.

GRAND BALTIC PORTER 9.0% ABV

I love Porters (ESPECIALLY in this cold winter season) and this brewery already made me a lover with the other winter beer, the Spruce Beer. So let’s see how this one goes. This also seems to be their big award winner, giving them two golds and a bronze at the Canadian Brewing Awards, a Gold at the World Beer Championships and an “Innovative Beer of the Year” Award at the Taste of Nova Scotia Prestige Awards.

COLOUR: Light brown to black. Doesn’t pour like a thick soup like I’m usually accustomed to.

AROMA: Sweet aroma (almost like dried fruit) with hints of toasted malts and tailed by some molasses, which is kind of creeping in to the room like the neighbour you forgot to invite to your party.

TASTE: Very thin mouthfeel (compared to the thick-as-sludge porters I’m used to, but Baltic Porters traditionally have lager yeasts). So that sweet aroma I was smelling? I think I got the taste of it and there’s definitely a taste of berries and cherry in there. Quickly followed by chocolate and a nice hint of brown sugar. The molasses makes an appearance and finishes it off nicely with a toasty, smokey hug. The alcohol provides a nice warmth here.

VERDICT: Not the GREATEST of Baltic Porters I’ve had, but still a nice comfortable beer to have around. It might be my second or third choice of beer to have on a cold winter night.

So there we go! I’ve learned something about this wonderful brewery. I can say beyond a doubt that I will definitely be sad once these beers go off the shelves here in Ontario for good. I would be more than happy to try the other beers they have and write about it, but sadly I don’t see myself being able to afford a trip to Halifax too soon.

Thanks for reading, folks!

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