Today we are drinking beer from Belize! Blue Marlin Coffee Stout by Hobbs Brewing Company. Shout out to the American Expat capital of the world!

This beer looks like every other coffee stout I’ve seen: dark gas station coffee brown with a tiny goomba head that wisps away like cotton candy in monsoon. 

The immediate air around my face smells like Nescafe.


Sipping tastes… fine. There aren’t any bad notes to speak of, but also this doesn’t stand out in a bold or aggressive way. That’s not a bad thing. If you’ve ever had some coffee stouts, it’s like:

*KICKS IN THE DOOR*

F*** YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY I TASTE LIKE COFFEE GROUNDS IN A GARBAGE DISPOSAL AND CIGARETTE BUTTS AND YOU’RE GONNA LIKE HOW I RUIN YOUR TASTE BUDS FOR THE NEXT NINE HOURS LET’S GO FIGHT A NUTMEG WHOLESALE REPRESENTATIVE IN A COLLEGE TOWN COFFEE HOUSE WHAT’S THE WIFI PASSWORD?

It’s a stout with muted roasted notes that tastes like it took a sink bath in a Caribou Coffee at the mall.

None of these things are bad, it just doesn’t quite stand out and like I said… makes me want another one.

Not all beers need to be bombastic! They just have to be good.

I’d pair this with some spicy jerky, a cold night on a clear beach, and moving to a country with no extradition laws with the US.

8 bit music optional, but recommended.


*TRIGGER WARNING* MENTION OF SUICIDAL THOUGHTS



You know, it’s funny. I’m trying to branch out to beers from outside of Michigan. Not that Michigan doesn’t have bad beers, I’d argue it’s one of the most powerful states for brewing there is. It’s just that I’ve been so spoiled with such fantastic options that I tend to ignore offerings from other states. 

I’m not saying other states don’t make good beers, either. I’m saying that they are harder to come by (AND I ALWAYS APPRECIATE DONATIONS TO THE CAUSE!), and sadly I can’t write about them enough.

That gets my brain going, though.

So many of us had plans on travel. On seeing the world and tasting it all and doing so much. But then life tends to throw a monkey wrench into the mix. Bills. Mortgage. Kids. Careers. Accidents. You name it. Some people mistakenly call responsibilities “excuses.” That’s a fallacy. It doesn’t take a particularly brave person to run away from their dues. It takes an honest and driven person to dig in their heels and push forward, despite the hardships shifting the ground beneath their feet and scrambling the path forward.

I had a slightly different journey. Growing up the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I had no intentions of ever leaving. I was happy, no wanderlust a road trip or local backpacking trip couldn’t dissuade. But then life has a funny way of spinning the wheel away from under your grip.

I worked for some time as an EMT, and not a particularly good one at that. EMS has all of my love- it’s the hardest job anyone can do, and if you really wanted to make money you could do literally anything else for a fraction of the toll it takes on your body and soul.

I hated my job. There were some days that I felt needed, some days I did good. Many days I felt as a waste of youth and potential. The 2008 financial crisis lingered hard and wearily in rural places, and for years after there were no jobs to be found. I was stuck working my EMT job with no upward mobility, no work/life balance, no future. 

Some days would get the best of me… but not completely. I flaked. I’d call in for a whole week of work. Lay in bed wondering how I got here. Sometimes I’d throw myself in and take every OT opportunity I could, racking up 180 hours or more in a pay period.

But that’s not sustainable. And when I hit rock bottom, I had my wonderful wife to thank for pulling me out of that hole.

Thoughts of suicide are no joke. Depression, anxiety, along with feelings of hopelessness and a lack of vision for the future are as deadly a cocktail as an old fashioned made from arsenic and formaldehyde.

I quit my job with nothing lined up.

But then…

6 years ago today I started a job in Holland, MI on a whim. Moved across the state to unknown territory full of tall people who don’t like to buy anything at full price. 

After 6 years, it’s amazing how much West Michigan has become home. Filled with friends of all colors, creeds, and careers, we love it here. 

You don’t realize how much has changed until you take a moment and look around you. That’s the thing about the journey of 1000 miles. It’s all done one step at a time, and over time they certainly add up to show that you have gone the distance. 

Job changes, housing crisis after crisis, ice falling off the roof of a rental home and crushing our car. Moral quandaries in the work place (#paidparentalleaveforall), fleas in the home, kids pulling guns in schools. Cost of living, relentless Jehovah’s Witnesses, squirrels the size of cats. 

We’ve had so many adventures in such a short time, and I’m excited to have so many more with my best friend. 

I just realized much of what I just wrote sounds negative. But truly it isn’t.

Every experience has brought us here, and I wouldn’t have things any other way. We’ve also had six wonderful years living in West Michigan with Badger (our corgi), we bought a house, we have an amazing acre of secluded back yard. I’m SPOILED with Michigan beer.

We’re in the best shape of our life (Kate is, in fact, a twice-sponsored CrossFit Athlete). I work remotely at a job I love and for a company I truly find makes a difference, Kate’s at the best school in the state, so many friends have moved close by, and our biggest problem is trying to spend the time all of our friends deserve properly. I cannot state enough how truly blessed we are with all the amazing people we’ve found (or have found us) along the way. I cannot state enough how lucky we are to have family that is constantly coming in and out. And I cannot state how happy I am to have the line between family and friends blur so much. 

The comfort zone is the death of adventure. We should always be pushing each other to try new things, to throw ourselves into the unknown, and treasure the experience along the way. It doesn’t mean to shirk responsibility and to rebuke honest and hard work, but instead to do what must be done, then remind yourself the immortal words of my, inevitably, mortal grandfather.

Life is short. Act accordingly.

The path I’ve taken is far from the one I would’ve chosen. But there is no way I’d rather be anywhere else than her. The road may have been tough and forced upon me, but roses I’m smelling are ever so sweet. 

So cheers to life and the adventure it really is. Adventure truly is out there!

Got a brew you want to share with me? You can also email me atdennis@thepintsizedreview.com and give me suggestions on beers to try, topics to meander on about, or just tell me how wrong I am. Share our posts, and join the mailing list so you always know when we are putting out some stupid stuff for a laugh and maybe, just maybe, some education.

Peace!

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