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Caveman Beer Reviews: Samuel Adams Winter Lager

samuel adams winter lager

Note: This is a series I call Caveman Beer Reviews, because I like to drink beer but am a caveman when it comes to beer knowledge. I know only the basics, and do not have a refined palate. I’ll review the beers on price and what they look, smell, and taste like to me.

Beer: Samuel Adams Winter Lager

Bottom Line: An okay, weak-tasting beer with a malty flavor and hints of sweet molasses. Not bad, but not impressive.

Price: About $14.99 for a 12-pack of 12 ounce bottles.

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Details

I have a love-hate relationship with Samuel Adams. I not only really like his Boston Lager, but also love that he’s from Boston, because I went to school there and have a real soft spot for Beantown. So, I’m ecstatic to see him succeed, and sadly disappointed when he falls short; I have high expectations.

With this mindset, I got this cute-looking “winter” brew, decorated with winter-wonderland imagery (never mind that I live in Miami, which doesn’t really get winter weather). So, I was looking forward to some sweet seasons’ greetings when I popped this one open.

No idea what this dude’s got to do with the holidays, but he’s got a Christmas hashtag and a swagger I wish I’d had at that age, so I’m dropping him right here

Origin: The bottle says Boston, Cincinnati, and Breinigsville, PA. Which one is it? Only Samuel Adams knows.

Alcohol: 5.6%

Looks: A dark glass beer bottle with some blue-and-green winter holiday imagery (mainly a Christmas tree). The beer itself is a dark brown color.

Smell: Medium-strength malty smell, but with hints of sweet molasses.

Taste: I can’t say that much about the Samuel Adams Winter Lager, because it doesn’t really taste like much. Weirdly, it has a flavor that’s both sweet and somewhat sour/bitter (bittersweet?), but it’s not strong at all.

samuel adams winter lager

This brew is also very gaseous, and light and easy to drink on account of its weak taste.

That’s not to say it’s bad; but there’s just not much there.

Hangover Factor: Nothing unusual. I’m a male in reasonably good health born in 1983.

Final Thoughts

This is an ok beer that simply lacks robust taste. If you dig that, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, look elsewhere.

What do you think of Samuel Adams brews?

GIF from Giphy

Life Hack: Quickly Find Opening Hours With the Google Maps App

Does this ever happen to you? You’re on the road and it’s getting late, but you still want to go to one more store – so you wonder if it’s open. You call, and you get some phone tree, or an answering machine, or no answer at all. So you don’t know if you should drive there and risk it, or just go home.

It turns out that there’s an easy life hack for this, whether you need mall opening hours, Costco hours, or even DMV business hours: the Google Maps app.

How Does This Feature Work on the Google Maps App?

So it turns out that the Google Maps app has loads of uses, from helping you drive through safer areas, to the always-awesome street view, to finding a business’s opening hours. So, let’s say I want to find some mall opening hours:

1. Open up the app and find a nearby mall:

google maps app

2. Tap the mall name (here, Dolphin Mall):

life hack

3. Scroll down, and you’ll see them soon, together with the times when the place is busiest:

mall opening hours

And that’s it! I have no idea how it knows this (or what the popular times are), but it’s one little life hack that can make our lives easier.

It works with government offices, too. Check out these DMV business hours:

dmv business hours

And you’ll even get Costco hours:

costco hours

I’ve tried it for plenty of businesses (even local, mom-and-pop places), and I can’t remember a time it did not have the information. Somehow, it seems to know all.

Downsides to Using the Google Maps App for Opening Hours

During irregular times, the app can (and will be) wrong. I had this happen to me when I was evacuating my Miami home because of a hurricane, when I my wife and I drove up the East Coast and decided to stop for a late lunch in the magical Savannah, Georgia.

We looked up a restaurant’s opening hours on the Google Maps app, and headed there thinking we would arrive with plenty of time. Well, it turns out that, because of the hurricane, they had decided to close up early, and the app did not know. That’s the only time I’ve ever known it to be wrong.

Summing It Up

There you have it, a neat little life hack. When you need to quickly find out the opening hours for a business, do an easy Google Maps lookup!

via GIPHY

What do you think of this feature? Have you ever used it?

One Way to Buy Ether and Bitcoin: Gemini Exchange Review

A few months ago, I decided to dabble in cryptocurrencies (specifically Ether), because I read up on it and convinced myself that the Ethereum network may be life-changing in the future, because of smart contracts. The problem I was having, however, is that traditional brokerage firms would not allow me to buy Ether. So, I set about looking for a trustworthy site that would, and wound up settling on the Gemini Exchange.

I’ve been using it for two months now, so I feel confident in writing up this Gemini Exchange review, based on my personal experience. (Please bear in mind that this is just that, a user review. It’s not a Consumer Reports-type comprehensive review of all features).

What Is the Gemini Exchange?

It’s, well, an exchange, kind of like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ. Except that, instead of stocks, you can sell and buy Ether and Bitcoin. Unlike the NYSE or NASDAQ, however, you can open an account with them and not just trade those cryptocurrencies, but also store them with Gemini. In other words, they also act as a digital wallet.

What Led me to Trust Gemini?

Honestly, it seemed like one of the better alternatives out there, in what is still somewhat of a wild west. However, it has two big advantages that led me to trust it: (1) regulation and (2) famous faces:

Regulation

First, the Gemini Exchange is based in New York City and is, since 2015, regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services, a fact that can be verified on the Department’s website:

Gemini exchange review

This is good; New York is one of the world’s financial hubs, and part of a developed country. In that sense, given the ways of the world, I prefer that a company that’s going to hold my money for a long time be based in a developed country and regulated by its relatively clean government structure. That doesn’t mean something bad can’t happen (Mt. Gox, I’m looking at you), but it makes me sleep better at night.

Enter the Winklevii

Second, the people behind the Gemini Exchange are none other than the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron. These are the relatively-famous guys that spent years in a legal battle with Mark Zuckerberg over their roles in the founding of Facebook. You might remember them from the movie The Social Network.

Cameron Winklevoss. Copyright Johnnyroee at Wikimedia Commons.

Regardless of the Facebook dispute (I have no idea who was right on that one), my point is that the Winklevii are pretty famous, high-profile guys; they’re not just two random dudes. With that name recognition I think comes a greater degree of accountability and responsibility. After all, they can’t just disappear if Gemini collapses and takes everyone’s money with them.

My Experience With the Gemini Exchange

Opening An Account

With this in mind, I decided to take the plunge and open an account. To do so, I went to the website and followed the instructions. I was immediately sent a code to my e-mail and asked to input it on the website, which I did and thereby confirmed my e-mail address. I also sent in proof of address the next day by uploading a copy of my ID and my power bill.

That same day (the day after I registered), I received an e-mail asking me for additional verification documents; I think I uploaded my passport. Also, to let me transfer money to use for trading, I had to verify a bank account by either wiring money or giving Gemini my bank username and password (and not all banks are supported that way).

Although I did not like that at all, I gave it my username and password, and then, after the instant verification, changed it with my bank. I would have preferred that they just make a couple of verification deposits to my account, as other online financial institutions let you do.

The following day, I received an e-mail saying that everything was good and I was all set to trade. Yay!

Login Security

Gemini has pretty advanced login security in that they force you to do two-factor authentication via a smartphone app. They made me download an app called Authy, which pops up on my screen when I try to login to Gemini. It gives me a code (which changes every 20 seconds), which I then have to input on the Gemini login page.

buy ether

The advantage of this is that, if someone somehow steals your phone number and puts it on another phone (transfers your number to another smartphone), they can’t fool the kind of two-factor authentication that just sends you a text with a code.

This is kind of like cough medicine – annoying to drink but supposedly good for you.

Buying Ether

Once I logged in, to buy Ether, I requested a transfer of $500 (the maximum daily limit) from my bank account to the exchange. To its credit, Gemini allowed me instant use of the money, though they transfer took a couple of days to actually go through (as is normal).

Then, I used their simple, broker-like interface to buy Ether, with instant confirmation. Like most online brokers, you can place different kinds of orders, including limit (you make an offer, and the trade executes if someone has made their own offer for your price or lower. For example, if you offer to buy Ether at a price of $300 for 1 Ether, the order only executes if someone offers to sell Ether for $300 or less per 1 Ether).

The interface works really well, and you get a live, real-time view of the buy and sell offers for Ether or Bitcoin, so that you can make your buy or sell offer based on real-time pricing.

The User Interface

Gemini has a pretty good, clean user interface. The main dashboard is simple and uncluttered, and shows a Bitcoin chart. I do not like that, because I have no interest in Bitcoin at this point, and there seems to be no easy way to change it to an Ethereum chart. It also lacks a clear display of how much your current gains and losses are (it tells you your dollar account value, but not how much you’re “up or down” by). But other than that, it works really well. You also get other assorted, useful information, such as your account balances and transaction history.

Fees

At this time, Gemini does not charge to store your cryptocurrencies. For buying and selling, its fees are a bit hard to understand (they’re described in terms of “bps”, whatever that is), but, in practice, I’ve paid something like $1.50 for transactions in the ~$500 range. Seems reasonable.

What I Like About the Gemini Exchange

  • Based in and regulated by the State of New York
  • Founded and run by the Winklevii
  • Solid two-factor authentication
  • Instant “transfer” of $500 per day – no waiting to buy your cryptocurrencies
  • Clean, elegant interface
  • Customer service seems fast and responsive
  • Easy to buy Ether
  • Seamless cryptocurrency storage service
  • Seems cheap

Copyright Antonio Gonzalo

What I Don’t Like About the Gemini Exchange

  • To add a bank account for money transfers, they make you give them your username and password to the bank, or wire money (no verification deposits)
  • No cryptocurrencies besides Bitcoin and Ether (Ethereum)
  • I can’t find a mobile app
  • I can’t find a way to have a dashboard Ethereum chart, instead of Bitcoin
  • No clear indication of current profits or losses on the website dashboard

Summing It Up – My Gemini Exchange Review

In all, I’m quite satisfied with the Gemini Exchange. It fulfilled my core purpose -to buy and hold Ether- quickly and efficiently. My main concern with these cryptocurrency businesses is trust and security, and I’m pretty satisfied there too, since it’s based in and regulated by New York, and led by the famous Winklevii. On the downside, I think it’s still going though some growing pains, especially on the user interface. Also, I wish there was a mobile app and that I could have added a bank account with verification deposits.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Caveman Beer Reviews: KBC IPA

kbc ipa

Note: This is a series I call Caveman Beer Reviews, because I like to drink beer but am a caveman when it comes to beer knowledge. I know only the basics, and do not have a refined palate. I’ll review the beers on price and what they look, smell, and taste like to me.

Beer: KBC (Kennebunkport Brewing Co.) IPA

Bottom Line: A good, somewhat light IPA with a medium-strength sour taste. Nothing special, though.

Price: About $5.99 for a six-pack of 12 oz bottles

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Details

The more I learn about beers (mainly by doing these reviews), the more I gravitate to tasty brews like IPAs and porters. I still don’t know much about what it means to be an IPA, porter, ale, or whatever, but now I’ve had enough of them to know that they taste strong and please me dearly.

So, I was happy to pick up this Maine concoction from the folks at KBC, especially since I liked their porter. I also have a pretty high opinion of Maine and its people, based exclusively on the only person from Maine I’ve ever known, a kid from college who was probably the nicest dude on earth. You know, one of those persons who’s always in a bright mood and rushing to lend a helping hand (we all know at least one, right?).

That said, I was surprised to say I can’t find a website for the Kennebunkport Brewing Company. C’mon people, it’s not 1991!

Origin: Portland, Maine

Alcohol: A solid 6.1%

Looks: A dark glass standard beer bottle with simple, nautical-themed labeling that needs updating. The biggest word on it is “IPA”. The beer itself is a dark amber (almost brown) color.

Smell: Medium-strength malt smell.

Taste: The KCB IPA is a relatively light IPA (when compared to others I’ve had). It has a medium-strength sour taste that’s not very complex or nuanced. I’d say it’s a rather generic IPA sour flavor with a finish that reminds me of grapefruit (not really the citrus, more the sourness). The taste lingers on the roof of the mouth.

Other than that, the KBC IPA is quite gassy, which does not make it very easy to drink.

Hangover Factor: Nothing out of the ordinary. I’m a male in reasonably good health born in 1983.

Final Thoughts

For the price of like a dollar a bottle, the KBC IPA is not a bad choice for relaxing on a weekday night. It’s nothing special, though.

Use An Online Interactions Checker to Verify Medication Interactions

Remember those high school science fair volcanoes we all used to make, where you mixed some household chemicals (like baking soda and vinegar), and they would “explode”?

Credit: Mashable

Or how about the bombs that Simon made in Die Hard With A Vengeance, by mixing two chemicals together? (If you have not watched this movie, I reckon you should, because it’s awesome).

In both cases, two substances are innocuous when by themselves but, when put together, yield explosive results. The same can happen to your body when you mix two or more medications, including over-the-counter drugs. That’s why it’s always a good idea to consult an online interactions checker to learn about medication interactions, before you take the meds.

What’s An Interactions Checker?

It’s just a website where you input a list of medications, and it tells you about their potential interactions. It’s not a substitute for getting this information from your doctor. However, it’s a great layer of added protection, because:

  • Doctors can make mistakes
  • You can forget to tell a doctor about a drug you’re taking
  • New research and warnings can come up between the time you talk to the doctor and the time you take the meds
  • You might have not talked to a doctor at all, if you are only taking over the counter drugs or herbal supplements

over the counter drugs

Where Can I Find A Good Interactions Checker?

There are several websites that will tell you about medication interactions. Some of the best-know are:

The drugs.com checker

Summing It Up

Whether you are taking prescription meds, over the counter drugs, supplements, or a combination thereof, it’s always a good idea to take a minute or two for the extra step of consulting an online medication interactions checker. It’s a free tool that could potentially save your life.

Have you had any experiences with medication interactions, or interaction checkers?