A few weeks back I picked up a four-pack from WeldWerks called Branded Flannel. Branded Flannel, in collaboration with Mikerphone Brewing, is a milk stout brewed with lactose, Cocoa Puffs cereal, and maple syrup. The flannel print on the can and the special ingredients used in the stout transported me back to when I was a little kid.
At that point in my life I used to wear flannel pajamas (the buttoned two-piece kind) during the chilly winters in Western New York. (I looked like a dad from a 1950s sitcom.) Now, my mom was never big on getting the super sugary cereals (especially the chocolate kind) from the super market. Sometimes she’d get Froot Loops, Trix, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but most of the time it was down to Life, Cheerios, and Kix. This left me to fantasizing what it would be like to try those oh so sweet cereals that were constantly popping up in commercials. (I can remember the first time I had Fruity Pebbles at my cousins’ house…ohhh boy!) While those cereals targeted at kids weren’t big in our household, pancakes with maple syrup on the weekend were a tradition.
All of this got me thinking about Saturday morning cartoons and playing with my various action figures. I’m out of touch of what kids play with these days, but growing up in the 80s we had toys and action figures that were tied into Saturday morning cartoons (and after school). The big three channels, and maybe Fox (or UHF on the dial), had a block of cartoons that would go to 11 a.m. or so. After that it was time to create your own adventures with yours toys (preferably outside away from your parents).
This ties into a Netflix series that dropped right around the holidays about these said toys of the 80s. Back in August I reviewed Plastic Galaxy, a documentary about the Star Wars toys and their fans. This new series on Netflix, The Toys That Made Us, is more of look into the histories of these toys and the people behind them.
Branded Flannel: The Basics
- Brewery: WeldWerks Brewing (Greeley, CO) & Mikerphone Brewing (Elk Grove Village, IL)
- Style: Milk Stout
- ABV: 7.1%
Branded Flannel: The Details
Collaboration beers are fun. In the sense that you can have two breweries with different approaches and styles coming together to create something unique. It’s also an opportunity to get introduced to a new brewery. I knew absolutely nothing about Mikerphone Brewing, but after looking at their tap list and the breweries love of music it seemed like they would be an interesting partner for WeldWerks.
WeldWerks is known for their hazy and juicy IPAs, but word has spread about their stouts and German-style sours (Goses and Berliner Weissbiers). Some of these stouts are in such high demand that they have gone for $55 for a 22oz bottle (and causing a minor uproar). I was really intrigued (and excited) to try out a stout from them, and Branded Flannel brought the goods.
Branded Flannel is a not-quite black stout, but a super dark brown. The head is light tan-brown. The thick head recedes fast but leaves a nice lacing along the glass. My initial whiff of the stout was of the roasted malts that was followed by a wave of chocolatey sweetness. There were hints of coffee, but the lasting impression was a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.
Based on the description, this is full of milk chocolate goodness. The sweetness is there but not in cloying manner. Underneath is roasted coffee grounds. This gives this beer a bitter-sweet aftertaste. What was surprising or unexpected were the tart hints of dark stone fruits. As the beer warmed my tongue sensed these dark fruits before the sweet chocolate and coffee notes took over. To me this enjoyable and added another layer to the beer.
I found the body to be a little lighter than expected, but it was so smooth and creamy. There might have been some carbonation, but this stout glides right over your tongue. The silkiness of the beer distracted me. There was no perceptible heat, but towards the end of the 16oz can I was starting nice and loose.
The Toys That Made Us (2017)
- Director: Tom Stern
- Genre: Docuseries
- Total Running Time: 4 episodes all under 60mins
- Rating: TV-14
- Availability: Netflix
This newish series from Netflix could have gone very differently. It could have been full of fanboys and nerdy celebrities talking about collections and how awesome these toys were, while in the background commercials for the toys and clips of the animated shows and movies played in the background. Yet The Toys That Made Us strives for something else. What that is to peel back the curtain to show us how these toys came about from those involved (designers, artists, and company men and women). Some of these stories go back to the 1950s and continue to this day. It was a shot of nostalgia straight to the vein. I still have some envy for whatever kid got that G.I. Joe aircraft carrier.
Created by Brian Volk-Weiss, the first four available episodes covers the conception and the highs and lows of such beloved toys lines as Star Wars, Barbie, Masters of the Universe (or as I refer to it, He-Man), and G.I. Joe. This isn’t about the fans, but it is definitely for the fans (and possibly the parents who forked over their income for these plastic [lay things). The interviews are candid and sometimes have a Rashomon effect by offering different perspectives of what took place.
From watching Plastic Galaxy, I thought I knew the story of the Star Wars toys, but this delved much deeper. There’s a great bit about the only Kenner attorney standing up to a LucasFilm goon. The story about Barbie and her inspiration is much more sordid than I would have thought. Plus you get some insight into how some of these toys incorporated comics and cartoons based on the properties.
Through these interviews you get the sense that some of these toy-makers were flying by the seat of their pants. Many of them are quite proud for creating such a hit. Yet they also took pride in making children happy, and possibly inspiring them to greater things. Yet there is a dark or down side to this. The original artists and designers of Masters of the Universe still squabble over who came up with the idea and names. The creator of Barbie, who would live the life of a playboy (with a sex dungeon in his mansion), was practically wiped out of the toy’s and Mattel’s history. Not to forget the sad fate of the creator of G.I. Joe.
There was a trend of me reviewing barrel-aged stouts for the past few months. So, it was nice to review something that was a little more low-key. I guess I shouldn’t say Branded Flannel is low-key, especially when it has Cocoa Puffs and maple syrup involved. Maybe a “change of pace” is a better term. Although, I didn’t detect any notes of maple syrup. It could have been subtle and snuck under the chocolate and coffee flavors and added to the sweetness.
Branded Flannel could make a for a great breakfast beer. Too bad it’s a limited release, so make sure you grab a four-pack if you see it. There’s a nice balance between the added Cocoa Puffs with the roasted coffee notes. Plus, it’s not too rich making it good for a lazy weekend morning. Maybe spent watching some cartoons.
The Toys That Made Us is a really well done series that will surely entertain. It’s not just for my generation or the slightly older crowd who still collect these toys and their latest incarnations. If you love pop culture this is worth checking out. I’ve recommended this too as many people I can (of all varying ages), and have heard nothing but positive feedback.
The second half of the series will be debuting later this year. These episodes will cover Hello Kitty, Transformers, Lego, and Star Trek. Hello Kitty holds the least amount of interest for me, but I thought the same thing about the Barbie episode and that one was really took you for the ride with the power struggle going on. Now let’s remember some toys. I’ll go first: Thundercats, Go Bots, M.A.S.K., Silverhawks…