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Author Topic: Beer Blog  (Read 29761 times)

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Offline Ket

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #175 on: October 10, 2010, 07:43:39 PM »
Soon-to-be-opened craft beer bar? Do tell.

By the way, another craft beer fest next weekend, this time unlimited sampling.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #176 on: October 10, 2010, 07:47:57 PM »
http://thebirchbar.com/

Rather inauspicious location, but it's what's inside that counts!

Offline Lycan Queen

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #177 on: October 14, 2010, 09:32:14 AM »
Paradox, this blog is amazing. Very well detailed, and quite wonderful writing.

As someone who's more or less just getting into drinking, I'm never sure how to approach beer. My family drinks namely commercial cheap beer, which I have tried multiple times and didn't like.

So far the alcohols I have enjoyed are: mead, bailey's irish cream, sweet wines, and a mixed drink called a Mojito.

One of the cafes I like to go to has a wide variety of beers, and a taste sampler deal I've been curious to try. What would recommend to a beginner beer drinker such as I?

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #178 on: October 24, 2010, 07:45:34 PM »
Sorry it took me so long to reply! I was on vacation for a while.

Anyway, as has been suggested once before in this blog, try Blue Moon. It's a good litmus test to determine whether or not you would even enjoy beer at all-- if you can't drink Blue Moon, there's not much you really could enjoy aside from some flavored brews like Lambics, Quadruppels, and some of Samuel Adams' lighter fare. If you discover that you like it, let me know, and I'll give you another suggestion.

Speaking of vacation, I went to Eulogy Belgian Tavern in Philadelphia over the weekend*. I highly recommend visiting if you're ever in the area-- the draft list is enormous on the first floor, and there's an entirely different draft list on the second floor of the establishment. The list of bottles is even longer than the Bier Garden, which is my favorite local beer spot. Hell, they even have a neon Delirium Tremens sign complete with dancing pink elephants. That's when I knew I was in the right place, as evidenced by Piraat in one hand and Kwak in the other. I  finally tried Kwak (my glass shown here) for the first time, so thanks to Ramster and Ket for the recommendation! It was damned good.

(*I had originally wanted to go to the Belgian Cafe, but the parking was ungodly. If you're ever in Philly, do yourself a favor and buy the Independence Pass which lets you ride any train, trolley, bus, and subway all day. That's how I ended up at Eulogy-- I emerged from the subway at sunset and saw the words "Belgian Tavern". It was like destiny splashing me in the face with delicious fermented grains.)

The vast majority of modern lagers tend to be pale clear beers; however, a few brews break the rules. These are throwbacks to the days before clear beers became dominant. One such beer is McSorley's Irish Black Lager. This one is on the opposite end of the spectrum, so much so that it looks like a stout. The traditional name for stouts in Irish is "leann dubh", which means "Black Ale", so it makes sense that the beer they call "Black Lager" has similar characteristics.

McSorley's was originally a pub in New York City by an Irish immigrant of the same name in 1854; since then, everyone from Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt to E.E. Cummings and John Lennon has had a beer there. However, women weren't allowed to enter the pub until 1970, and even then, it was only because they were legally forced to do so (see Seidenberg v. McSorleys' Old Ale House, Inc., 317 F.Supp. 593 (S.D.N.Y. 1970)). Aside from its obvious misogyny, McSorley's is a great place that has been turning out good beer for a long time (the brewery itself is located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania).

McSorley's Irish Black Lager


Brewed by:
Lion Brewery, Inc.
Latrobe, Pennsylvania (United States)
Style: Euro Dark Lager
ABV- 5.5%

Poured from a 12oz bottle; no freshness date provided.

Appearance- 4 out of 5. This beer pours with a decent one and a half finger tan head that quickly dissipates; luckily, abundant bubbles soar up to the surface afterward. The liquid itself is chestnut brown around the edges and opaque black in the middle. It loses points for the lack of head retention, but it otherwise looks great.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. The first whiff brings burnt molasses malt, a little smokiness, and a lot of nuttiness. The undertones of bread and light floral hops make this beer seem like a stout having an identity crisis. If the scents were stronger, it would smell more enticing.

Taste- 4 out of 5. It's like a piece of sourdough bread dipped in caramel and slathered with almond butter. I maintain my opinion that this tastes like a light stout- a tad sweeter but still carries smokiness, roasted malt, and nut as in the smell; however, sipping it brings the taste of bread to the forefront. It seems like the hops are trying to bite the back of my tongue but give up halfway through, though they do leave a nice little floral hint that mingles with the leftover nuttiness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- 3 out of 5. It's dry, which is good, but the lager-thinness doesn't work well with the actual tastes, which leaves something to be desired. Then again, if you're the kind of drinker who finds stouts to be too heavy, then this may be right up your proverbial alley.

Drinkability- 4.5 out of 5. The upside of the thinness is that McSorley's is very easy to drink. It's the versatile kind of beer you could enjoy on your own or take to a (non-college) party.

Overall, it's a B.

As is often the case with darker beers, McSorley's taste better when it warms up a bit, so give it a good ten or fifteen minutes out of the fridge before pouring it if you want to truly appreciate its tastes.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2010, 07:47:11 PM by Paradox »

Offline Will

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #179 on: October 24, 2010, 07:51:40 PM »
Hell, they even have a neon Delirium Tremens sign complete with dancing pink elephants.

I must have this.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #180 on: October 24, 2010, 07:54:58 PM »
If that bartender hadn't been in the way, it would be mine now!

Offline Blitzy

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #181 on: October 24, 2010, 08:01:37 PM »
Whoa! Very awesome, Paradox! :D I hope it's delicious.

Offline Ramster

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #182 on: October 25, 2010, 02:43:49 AM »
Speaking of vacation, I went to Eulogy Belgian Tavern in Philadelphia over the weekend*. I highly recommend visiting if you're ever in the area-- the draft list is enormous on the first floor, and there's an entirely different draft list on the second floor of the establishment. The list of bottles is even longer than the Bier Garden, which is my favorite local beer spot. Hell, they even have a neon Delirium Tremens sign complete with dancing pink elephants. That's when I knew I was in the right place, as evidenced by Piraat in one hand and Kwak in the other.

*Plans a pilgrimage.* WHY have I never seen a Delirium Tremens neon sign this side of the pond? Double fisting Piraat and Kwak, now that's almost the most fun one can have fisting anything!

Offline Ket

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #183 on: October 25, 2010, 11:09:31 PM »
It's about damn time you had some Kwak.

Offline Lycan Queen

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #184 on: December 05, 2010, 06:56:48 AM »
Update! At the cafe I love to go I was talking to some strangers about never really trying any beers since my first experience with the commercial crap. He told me to try this local beer called Purple Haze. It's a blueberry wheat beer. I took a sip, and I found I didn't immediately didn't hate it. When I bought a glass, I took my time and found I enjoyed it. Not bitter, very smooth. Yay!

Any other recommendations?

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #185 on: December 18, 2010, 08:49:10 PM »
Lycan- I don't really like Purple Haze, to be honest; however, if you like blueberry beers, I finally tried that Wild Blue recommended by so many people in this thread. It's delicious, high in alcohol, and surprisingly affordable. Give it a shot if you can find it! Since you can find Purple Haze, finding Wild Blue shouldn't be an issue.



The Beer Blog is back! Now that classes are over for the year, I have time to drink. Well, truth be told, I've been drinking quite a bit anyway. Now I have time to actually take notes about it. To festively celebrate both my return from an almost two month-long hiatus and a perfect semester, today's review involves a festbier! It's Weihenstephaner Festbier, to be specific. Granted, it's also two months too late for Oktoberfest-Märzens, but better late than never, right?

First, a bit of background of the style. Prior to the advent of modern refrigeration technology, beer was practically impossible to brew during the hot Summer months, primarily because teeming bacteria would taint the nascent liquid; consequently, the last beers were brewed in March (hence the name Märzen) and kept in cold caves or cellars until October (hence the name Oktoberfest). Oktoberfest-Märzens are usually a dark copper color with strong toasted malt balanced by weaker herbal hops. Their ABV usually lingers between 5 and 6 percent.

As for the brewer, Weihenstephan is a Bavarian Benedictine abbey in Germany. It is widely recognized as the world's oldest still-operating brewery, dating back to the year 1040 (though the monastery maintained a hop garden for its own personal brewing use as far back as the year 768.) Furthermore, the Weihenstephaner Original is one of the iconic examples of Munich Helles lagers. Let's see if their Oktoberfest-Märzen can maintain the same regal reputation.


Brewed by: Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan
Location: Freising, Bavaria (Germany)
Style: Oktoberfest-Märzen (Pilsner, if you ask me)
ABV- 5.8%

Poured from a bomber bottle into an Oktoberfest mug.

Appearance- 3 out of 5. This beer is a totally translucent tint of yellow with a splash of gold in the center. Ample carbonation rises to form a wonderful two-finger head that leaves behind huge chunks of foam like bloated white continents floating in a golden-yellow ocean. In some respects, it seems to be a hybrid between Pilsner and adjunct lager; regardless, it looks nothing like a traditional Oktoberfest-Märzen, though its topaz-translucency is still enthralling when held up to the light.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. Light Pilsner malt dominates the nose, which again detracts from this beer being labeled as an Oktoberfest-Märzen. For it's worth, the malt smells juicy and clean, but it lacks the rich toasted grain scent that I was expecting. Fruity alcohol esters briefly flit around before fading. A weak whiff of hops shows up at the end along with lemon grass and a tiny twang of citrus peel. It's appealing, but again, not Märzen-like at all.

Taste- 3.5 out of 5. The first sip seals the deal for me-- this not an Oktoberfest-Märzen; it's a mislabeled, mutated Pilsner. If you're expecting a Märzen, you will be unpleasantly disappointed; however, the beer in the bottle isn't bad at all. That malt is doughy like freshly-risen white bread-- not deeply so but delicious nonetheless. Surprisingly, the hops overtake the taste. Lemony Saaz hops wash around the tongue, leaving a tingling bitter sensation that is accentuated by the earthy aftertaste. Once you get past the fact that this isn't a Märzen, it's actually bolder and more fulfilling than its color may have first made you think.

Mouthfeel- 3.5 out of 5. It has a borderline-medium body that is light yet somewhat creamy-- probably from the copious quantities of foam idly floating around the surface, leaving malty mustaches on your upper lip.

Drinkability- 4 out of 5. This is a pretty good beer; unfortunately, it falls short in two places-- it's not actually an Oktoberfest-Märzen at all, and the Pilsner category it more closely resembles has better brews you could buy. Still, if you're in the mood for a clear beer with more punch than most Pilsners, you could easily drink quite a few of these in a single sitting. It's a step above most of the lighter German offerings I've had lately while still staying true to the Reinheitsgebot (the German purity law of 1516 mandating that only barley, hops, water, and yeast be used in the production of beer).

Overall, a B-.

Unsolicited tip of the day: When purchasing "bombers" (22-24oz bottles of beer), as many import styles are sold in, be sure to have a large mug on hand to accommodate them. A pint glass will leave six to eight ounces of the beer sitting in the bottle when it could be put to better use in the actual glass, expanding its flavor, foam, and scent.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 08:55:28 PM by Paradox »

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #186 on: December 18, 2010, 08:51:43 PM »
Unsolicited tip of the day: When purchasing "bombers" (22-24oz bottles of beer), as many import styles are sold in, be sure to have a large mug on hand to accommodate them. A pint glass will leave six to eight ounces of the beer sitting in the bottle when it could be put to better use in the actual glass, expanding its flavor, foam, and scent.

Or a friend to drink with, and two glasses.

Offline Ket

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #187 on: December 19, 2010, 08:09:19 AM »
I had a Weihenstephaner Festbier at the alehouse up in Richmond when I went, and honestly, I feel you gave it entirely too much credit. The beer I told you about that night that totally sucked, yeah, that was it.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #188 on: December 19, 2010, 09:21:59 AM »
Good idea, Oniya!

Ket-- It wasn't anything special, but I didn't think it was bad by any means. I guess we just have different tongues, though perhaps a C or C+ might have been more appropriate; I'm a bit more charitable after drinking a few beers >_>

Offline Will

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #189 on: December 19, 2010, 12:21:15 PM »
Nice to see another review, though I do wish it were a better beer. XD  That definitely doesn't look like any Oktoberfest I've ever seen, heh.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #190 on: December 19, 2010, 02:04:42 PM »
Good ones are on the way; that one's just been sitting in the fridge since October, so it needed to go.

What else is in my fridge and soon to be reviewed:

-Smuttynose Winter Ale
-Brewdog Tokyo (18.2 percent stout >_>)
-A bunch of Trappist ales
-Something from Allagash
-Two bombers from Rogue

I really can't remember their names right now, but they should be better than mislabeled Pilsners-- except maybe that Chili beer. I already have reservations about that one.

Oh, and if you can find them in your area, I suggest trying Abita Christmas Ale and Delirium Noel. They're both rather delicious seasonals, especially the latter.

Online That One Guy

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #191 on: December 19, 2010, 08:16:09 PM »
Wow...a bigger beer snob then me! You sir ar my new hero around here. I'm gonna have to go through and reed the rest of your reviews!


Offline Ramster

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #192 on: December 20, 2010, 11:36:09 AM »
Shouldn't that be brewed or at least fermented awesome, rather than distilled awesome then? :P

Offline Lithos

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #193 on: December 20, 2010, 12:24:40 PM »
Most of the brewdog products are quite scary, cant wait for the review :P

Online That One Guy

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #194 on: December 20, 2010, 03:52:49 PM »
Shouldn't that be brewed or at least fermented awesome, rather than distilled awesome then? :P

Quite true...you got me....but it doesn't have the same ring to it.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #195 on: December 26, 2010, 05:44:53 PM »
Wow...a bigger beer snob then me! You sir ar my new hero around here. I'm gonna have to go through and reed the rest of your reviews!



There's an index in the first post with links to each one to make it easier for you.



It's the day after Christmas, and over seventeen inches of snow have shut down everything in the area. I just earned the "best damned dogsitter of the year" award for hiking almost three miles to feed an out-of-town friend's (admittedly adorable) mutt, so how better to warm back up than with a cold Winter Ale? Space heaters, fireplaces, and hot showers, you say? Bah-humbug, you teetotaling prohibitionist Grinch. I'm going with the beer.

Today's beer is Smuttynose Winter Ale, a seasonal Dubbel. In keeping with the Belgian classification system, Dubbels/Doubles use twice as much malt as a normal Belgian ale. They tend to have roasty malted taste, decent fruity esters, and an underlying bitterness-- much like a weaker version of Strong Dark Ales. The iconic Dubbels, such as Chimay Première and Westmalle Trappist Dubbel are brewed by Belgian monks, but as they have with nearly every kind of beer, American microbrewers have recently begun imitating the style, referring to it as an "Abbey Double". Smuttynose is one such brewer. Based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, it has quickly become one of the most popular craft breweries on the East Coast with beers available from Florida all the way up to Maine. Smuttynose Island itself is notorious both for two murders in 1873 and absolutely nothing of interest since then. This will be my first offering from the company.

Smuttynose Winter Ale


Brewed by: Smuttynose Brewing Company
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Style- Dubbel
ABV- 5.1%

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pub glass. Bottle notches indicate Best Before April 2011. There's a retro picture of what looks like someone's mother on the label, but for the life of me, I couldn't find anything out about it online.

Appearance- 3.5 out of 5. This beer pours a foamy dark reddish-brown reminiscent of Pepsi-Cola. Held up to the light, it appears more mahogany. The foam, however, quickly fades to leave a half-finger of head and lackluster carbonation bubbles. It's almost like the winter lethargy from long, cold days of darkness has demotivated the bubbles as they struggle to float like moose in freezing water. Pretty average overall.

Smell- 4 out of 5. A rich canvas of scents greeted my nose as soon as I cracked off the cap. Once the beer warmed up a bit, fruity esters (red apples and raisins, mostly) cinnamon and vanilla, and malty cereal grain wafted up. It's almost like bottled fruitcake without the unidentifiable chunks of gelatinous goo and social stigma. The hops are faint and herbal. I'm excited for the first sip.

Taste- 3 out of 5. The first sip isn't so exciting. It's decent but nothing to rave about. A disconnect exists between the intensity of smell and taste with similar notes that are unfortunately weaker on the tongue. On the plus side, there are a ton to explore: bread crust, caramel-apple, cinnamon, and vanilla, especially. The roasted malt is balanced by mild hops that briefly bite the back of the tongue before leaving a noticeable lack of aftertaste. Not bad, but not as strong as I would like. If a Belgian Ale had an illegitimate affair with a bottle of water, this would beer would be the result.

Mouthfeel- 3.5 out of 5. Mostly medium by rather thin for the style and the identifiable tastes, which is a little disconcerting. That thinness may reflect the the significantly below-average ABV. Dubbels are usually between 6.5 to 9% alcohol; whereas, this one is only 5.1%.

Drinkability- 3.5 out of 5. It's like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale with Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you're at the bar or the beer store and want something decent and affordable to fight off the winter blues, then this would be good for a session because of the lower ABV; however, if you want intense taste and fulfilling feeling, go for a traditional Dubbel or an actual Belgian Strong Dark Ale. On the other hand, if you dislike the sweetness of those styles, this beer may be a good middle ground for you.

Overall, a C+.

Since there's already a Smuttynose Robust Porter in my fridge and they're such a popular brewer, I'll give them a second chance; next up, however, is Hazelnut Brown Nectar by Rogue Ales.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2010, 05:48:18 PM by Paradox »

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #196 on: December 28, 2010, 09:38:27 AM »
(Written on the evening of December 27th, hence the retroactive reference to "day two")

This is day two of being mostly snowed-in. How better to avoid cabin fever than a tall mug of beer? Sure, there are board games and porn, but on a long cold night like this, a glass of Hazelnut Brown Nectar sounds much more appealing; hell, even the name sounds delicious, which is a nice change of pace from Rogue Ale's most popular brew, simply called "Dead Guy". What makes Hazelnut Brown Nectar intriguing is that Rogue added hazelnut extract to a Brown Ale.

Rogue Ales was founded in 1988 by two guys who believed above all that "variety is the spice of life". That philosophy is apparent in the fact that they have put out over sixty beers since then. Without pasteurization or preservatives and using a mystery yeast known only as "Pacman", they have become a small but powerful part of the West Coast craft beer scene-- and beyond, as evidenced by the increasing availability of their beers abroad. I see them on a regular basis around Virginia and other parts of the East Coast.

Rogue Ales, like an increasing number of American craft brewers, emphasizes transparency in their brewing, so each bottle comes complete with a list of ingredients and brewing specs; additional, each label has a dedication, tasting notes, and food pairing suggestions. For the beer brewer, beer reviewer, or allergen-conscious, Rogue's methods make life much easier. The following is taken from this beer's label:

"13 Ingredients:
Malts: Harrington, Klages, Munich, Hugh Baird Brown, Carastan 13-17, Crystal 70-80, Crystal 135-165 & Beeston Chocolate.
Hops: Perle and Sterling.
Specialty: Hazelnut Nectar.
Yeast & Water: Rogue's Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.
Food Pairings: Pork, Beef
Specs: 12º PLATO, 28 IBU, 75 AA, 9.8º Lovibond"

Without further adieu, the review:

Hazelnut Brown Nectar

Brewed by: Rogue Brewery
Style- Brown Ale
ABV- 6.2%

Poured into a tall mug from a 22oz bomber with no freshness date provided.

Appearance- 3.5 out of 5. Two fingers of extremely creamy tan lace top a dark ruddy-brown beer. It's enthralling to watch the remarkably active carbonation tear through the brew. There is no hint of any discoloration from the extract. It is clear in the light but otherwise opaque, making it more umbral than a normal brown ale.

Smell- 4.5 out of 5. There's nothing standard about the nose. Rogue was clever to take a typical Brown Ale note and amplify it with actual extract; this stuff smells like hazelnut mocha mixed with beer. It's unusual but interesting. Hints of caramel and bread crust linger beneath the nuttiness. Regardless of how it tastes, I'd be tempted to leave a few glasses of this lying around the house just to make the place smell nice.

Taste- 3 out of 5. Toasty, roasty malt backs up a huge wave of hazelnut. It's intense but still a hair away from being overpowering. Caramel, cherries, and plums mingle in the mouth along with a strange smokey-sweet combination. Whatever hops Rogue used are utterly lost in the hazelnut wave, as is any taste of alcohol. A smokey, nutty aftertaste sticks around for a while. The taste is pleasant, but I'm not inclined to drink great quantities. This seems like more of a dessert beer.

Mouthfeel- 3 out of 5. Creamy but still manages to stay moderate in body. Because of the strong hazelnut flavor, it's easier to sip than quaff. A bit of stickiness lasts on the lips.

Drinkability- 3 out of 5. This would be an awesome counterpart to some smoked barbeque or German chocolate cake. In the absence of complimentary cuisine, however, it's a bit too strong to drink more than one 22oz bottle-- even I had a hard time finishing it. It was a good experience and not a bad drink by any means, but barring a drastic influx of pork and cake into my diet, I won't be picking up another. It would be great to split with a friend or two after dinner.

Overall, a C.

Next up-- beer!


Online That One Guy

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #197 on: December 28, 2010, 03:54:01 PM »
Ouch...I can't disagree with anything you've said...except the over all grade of C. I mean, I understand it, but I think the beer in question is VERY good ad being very different. I agree it is not something to drink all night long, but the occasional one, I think, is great for that change of pace that just sort of assaults the mouth with flavor. It is an odd beer...

And yeah, great pairing choices....now I want one and chocolate cake...thanks! LOL

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #198 on: December 28, 2010, 04:29:11 PM »
Yeah, occasionally, it wouldn't be bad. It's just that there's so much else out there that I would rather drink if given the choice. With the proliferation of microbreweries in the past two decades, choices are wonderfully easy to come by.

When this blog started, I think it was Lord Mayerling who mentioned adding food recommendations to the reviews. I may start doing that, but if y'all have any suggestions, feel free to add them! I wanted this thread to be about discussion, not just me posting reviews.

Offline Will

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #199 on: December 28, 2010, 11:06:54 PM »
Taste is, of course, subjective.  In my case, I like my beers to taste like beer, and if I feel assaulted by waves of hazelnut and have to strain to pick up any lingering remnants of hops and alcohol, I'm going to be disappointed.  I have a hard time enjoying particularly sweet beers when they aren't balanced with other flavors (such as hops or higher ABVs).  Honestly, based on Para's review, I could see myself going lower than a C; I find him to be a little too generous at times.  Still, outside of the subjective letter grading, he does an incredible job of objectively describing the beers.  It gives me a really good idea of what to expect and what beers I will likely enjoy/dislike.