Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Tropical Torpedo IPA

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of California-based brewing company Sierra Nevada. Well, of the two beers I’ve tried so far; their Pale Ale and Torpedo Extra IPA. They just come across forgettable and bland. But I am a sucker for strong, boozy tropical beers. So when I see a case-load of eye-catching Tropical Torpedo IPA bottles in Whole Foods, I grab two and hit the road.

The bottle, itself, looks like a jacked-up, NASCAR version of smooth, South African orange milk drink Tropika. Sierra Nevada describes it as a “tropical twist on the American IPA.” And straight away, they’ve got my full attention. The mango, papaya and passionfruit kicks are all there, but the flavours are subtle. It’s smooth, fruity and tropical, but gentle at the same time. Restrained. With a 6.7% ABV that sneaks up like sunscreen bottles filled with tequila.

Mosaic, Citra, El Dorado and Comet hops set the pace, while Amarillo adds that wonderfully refreshing bitter finish that makes me lick me lips. Overall, it’s definitely more memorable than previous Sierra Nevada beers I’ve tried. More of a stand out. And closer to magical. Yet, despite all of its island promise, the Tropical Torpedo never goes full Wilson, or “Island” Niles. It never gets really carried away. In other words, it’s no Beavertown Tropigamma. It is good, though.


He Left. He Did Nothing. He Returned: Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9 Finally Gets A Release Date (and Trailer)

The day of reckoning is upon us. LD, the social assassin, my caucasian, is back. Well… almost. After months of gentle teasing (mostly by LD’s gorgeous daughter Cazzie David), HBO has finally announced that Curb Your Enthusiasm will make its long-awaited return this October 1.

It’s been six years, and personally, I can’t wait. The “trailer” doesn’t give much away, but just hearing Luciano Michelini’s “Frolic” again is enough – I say again, but it’s my ringtone, really.

The Burger Chronicles #25 – Big Fernand, The French Burger Bistro

I saunter into Big Fernand, the French Burger Bistro, and it feels like I’ve crossed the border. The place is empty, except for a small table of eager-eyed Burger Clubbers, tucked around the corner. After a round of secret Burger Club handshakes (kidding), I grab a seat and take in the menu.

Wow, the choices are exotic. Instead of regular burger appendages Big Fernand offers ingredients like raclette cheese, chives, sun-dried tomatoes, flat parsley and tarragon. There’s a veal burger. A lamb burger with grilled aubergine and coriander. And “la [side] salade.”

In the end, as usual, I stick with the burger that jumped out first. In this case, Le Bartholomé; raclette cheese, smoked streaky bacon, caramelized onions, chives, barbecue sauce and homemade cocktail sauce. You need to order at the till, so I leap up and place my order, pronouncing Bartholomé tentatively, like a nervous tourist trying to play it cool.

I fail miserably, of course, and the attractive French waitress behind the till corrects and re-pronounces the name perfectly. Frenchly. With la passione. Feeling ridiculous, I smile sheepishly – I might as well have a laminated map on a cord around my neck and a Lonely Planet Paris book in my hand. The beer’s as French as the waitress, so I throw in a Gallia IPA with my burger and head back to our table around the corner.

The burger arrives quickly, which isn’t surprising, as we’re still the only ones in the joint. It looks good, but delicate and petite. Bistro food, I guess. The burger patty itself is tasty but tiny, hidden and mostly overpowered by the rest of the ingredients. Every bite’s full of flavour, but in the end, the size of the £10 burger’s impossible to ignore. In fact, I’d say it’s more bun than burger. Possibly 70/30.

The beer’s light and refreshing. Although, to be fair, I probably could have washed Big Fernand’s treat-sized, full-priced Le Bartholomé down with a thimble of water. We exit to the sound of the staff sweeping up, clanging glasses around just loud enough for us to get the message without feeling too offended. We step back out into Percy Street. Into London. And head our separate ways.