Product Reviews

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Beer Tasting and Hop Appreciation Kit

BeerCloud Mobile App
These days, for every niche market, there is an app to match. So it would only make sense that the growing number of beer nerds should get theirs. Enter, BeerCloud. This application for both the Android and iPhone has a solid, user-friendly interface and a well put together design. The app features a beer pairing sommelier with a recommendation guide so wide it was hard to stump. Within the beer pairing recommendations there was even a decent selection of labels to go out and purchase with your meal. However, this being Utah, a lot of those fell short due to our availability. The app also has a beer style information guide to get any beer noob up to speed with the lesser known beer styles that are becoming more available on the market. And finally, it had a “search for a brewery/beer” section that I found pretty helpful when looking up major breweries and the beers that they put out. However, information on the little guys out there was nowhere to be seen. In the end, I’d download the app because it’s free and it’s not too bad for someone getting into craft beer. While the beer/brewery search is a little weak and hopefully improving, the beer sommelier is well worth its weight in recommendations and info. –Tyler Makmell

Beer Tasting and Hop Appreciation Kit
It’s pretty embarrassing when you work in a bar and the only difference you know between a lager and a porter is that one is light and one is dark. Fortunately, Texas-based home-brewing enthusiast Brian Lewis has taken it upon himself to educate the booze-illiterate masses on the basic science and art behind craft brews with this Beer Appreciation Kit. Featuring 13 bottles of commonly used hops, a palate cleanser (coffee beans), a color swatch and both an extensive guide to beer drinking and a quick-start sheet for those of us with A.D.D., this kit contains everything you need to become one of those geeky beer snobs that skulk at the bar on weekdays. I tried it out with one of my favorite local brews, RedRock’s Nut Brown Ale, and was able to identify Cascade Hops—I think. With a little more practice and a peek into the extensive beer and hop database available with the purchase of the kit, I should be giving Tyler Makmell a run for his money in no time! –Esther Meroño

Chrome Pawn Rolltop Backpack
Chrome bags are sturdy, weatherproof and well designed. They’re based in the cycling community but would serve for a day hike. Each compartment is individually sealed by “rubberized” liners. So rubberized, in fact, that we put a whole 12-er of beer and a sack of ice into the  bag with no cross water contamination. The Pawn is a rolltop-style backpack and the rolltop is exceedingly useful. I had a larger-than-expected number of grocery bags one rainy night and couldn’t fit the rest on my handlebars. The rolltop expanded an extra cubic foot and I was able to fit my OJ, etc., in the bag and keep it mostly dry for 14-plus blocks. That and Chrome’s almost indestructible fabric (it bent a pin back when I was trying to give some “flare” to it) make this one of the best packs—out of hiking, camping and cycling styles—I’ve ever tried. –JP

My Wriskey
The first time I encountered a pair of Reefs with a bottle opener in the sole, I liked the concept, but was disgusted by the idea that someone would actually use the sole of their dirty flip flop to open a refreshing beer. I imagined all of the grotesque things one might step in on a daily basis and cringed anytime I encountered someone with the novelty flip flops. Unfortunately, I had a similar distaste with many of the novelty beer bottle openers I’ve encountered. Belt buckle openers? Great, I get to have some dude rub my beer against his crotch before he hands it to me. Ring bottle openers? These looked tacky and almost never fit my fingers. I had all but given up hope on a convenient bottle opener, relying entirely on my flip flop key chain opener or hoping someone knew how to open beers with a lighter.  Lucky for me, My Wriskey has created a nontacky alternative to those foolish rings. Wriskeys are classy leather cuffs that come in a variety of colors and come equipped with bottle openers. Every single one is handmade and the bottle opener portion lays against the inside of your wrist in an unobtrusive way. Although opening bottles with the Wriskey took some getting used to, once I got the knack of it, it was as simple as using a traditional bottle opener, minus the time spent trying to track the thing down. I imagine bartenders would rejoice if given a Wriskey. I personally have a feeling this classy accessory will be one of my new faves as backyard barbecue season kicks into high gear. –Jeanette D. Moses

Zaca Recovery Patches
If you’re going to spend 24 dollars to buy a box of these, you might as well buy the homies another round and say “Fuck it.” I was given two boxes of Zaca Recovery Patches, each box containing six patches. They looked like nicotine patches: about an inch across and beige in color. The box claims they are “a simple, all-natural organic hangover patch.” Then I was told the directions—use one when drinking normally, but “you should probably use two.” I went to the birthday bash for Katie Panzer and Maggie Anderson at the W Lounge and gave two to the birthday girls and two to my homies Jeremy and Cam. The real test was for me because I started my first day of work bright and early at 8 a.m. the next morning. These things have about the nutritional value of a packet of ketchup, and I felt like shit until the guy at Whole Foods hooked it up with the happy belly tea (thanks, dude). I got the word back from everyone else and the crew agreed to veto this product. Taking a vitamin, drinking enough water to rehydrate your alcohol-ridden body, getting some late night pizza at the Pie Hole or eating breakfast the next morning are all cheaper than these patches and will work better. Whatever avenue you choose, good luck finding the cure to the sickness that results from binge drinking. –Billy Ditzig

Beer Tasting and Hop Appreciation Kit My Wriskey Chrome Pawn Rolltop Backpack