Friday, June 24, 2011

Beer from the stock market.

I wanted to post this a while ago, but didn't have any time for it, due to me moving back to my parents'. It's been a bit chaotic now, but I try to update as regular as possible. Sorry if I kept you waiting a while. No model train updates this time, but a 3-beer special from the Bayreuther Bierbrauerei AG.

Some days ago I spotted this beer at the supermarket. A 6-pack of three beers from the Bayreuther Bierbrauerei AG. I had never heard of this company and the names of the beers were too unrealistic for me and I like strange unfamiliar stuff, so I bought it. The strangeness of the names was the fact that all started with 'Aktien', which means 'Share' (as in from the stock exchange), which is in a way somewhat poetic, as with your purchase of the beer, you buy a little piece of the company. So, that's pretty cool and humorous IMO. Could be me though, as the stock market is no laughing matetr (especially after the numerous recessions we've had). Next to that, there was a black beer in the pack, which is always a good reason to buy beer for me. Hahaha. So, after opening the pack, there were two beers of each kind, one Export/Dortmunder style beer, one Kellerbier (a German amber beer) and a Dark, lightly caramelised lager. I think this is pretty cool, having 2x3 kinds of beer. Well, it couldn't be more as this is the whole range of the brewery... A company concentrating on only three kinds of beer, so they can make them perfect. That seems like a good thing right? 

I've chosen to go from light to dark when testing this range (seems like the most logical thing to do). So now, let's start with the Export/Dormunder style beer. It's called 'Aktien Original 1857'. Don't know what it stands for, don't care, but I do know that I don't like beers with a year in the name... It's somewhat pretentious, as it will never taste the same as the original form that year. You know, with all the changed regulations, controlled mutations of wheat, usage of pesticides, etc. It influences the taste. But then again, calling the beer 'Aktien Export' would sound so cheap. No one would buy it. Anyway, for me, this beer tastes like your regular pilsner. Okay, maybe that's a bit unfair to the real pilsners out there, as it has a very middle-of-the-road kind of taste, but that's okay. It's a good starter for this in line. The after taste however is a bit of a surprise though. A slight taste of wood and licorice blends in with the otherwise bland taste. Pretty awesome, as this beer was ripened/stored in wooden barrels. You don't see that  everyday any more! So, I'm expecting a lot from the other two.
Now, after downing the previous one (which is just what it's good for, despite the wood flavour), it's time for the amber Kellerbier. The colour is not as dark as I was expecting, but still quite a bit darker then the Original 1857 one. This beer is called 'Aktien Zwick'l Kellerbier'. Zwick'l or Zwickeln means to taste beer in German brewers jargon. So, this should taste kind of special. It's an unfiltered beer, so maybe the good parts, that make the taste more interesting, stayed inside. The foam seems a lot more firm than the export one as well. The first sip tastes sweet and full. Though not as mouth filling as other beers of the same sort, it has a more prominent and sweeter wood taste, which isn't only present in the after taste. This is a fine beer. A nice compromise for a good drinking beer (like a good and honest pilsner) and a beer that one can solely enjoy for the taste itself (like a heavy Belgian beer). Next to that, the label of the bottle is a hell of a lot more interesting! Not so pretentiously modern and hand written Gothic fonts. Quite stylish if you ask me.
So, that was the Kellerbier. Now, let's try the Dark lager 'Aktien Landbier Dunkel Bier'. When pouring the beer into the glass, the foam is already having a good time. It's the firmest of 'em all!It gives off a nice an solid feeling. You know, like a good friend you can rely on or an old cabinet from your grandparents that's always there. Something robust, so it seems. The taste is also like that. A solid flavour which is gentle at the same time. Not like that heavy feeling you get when drinking dark beers, but more smooth. It's also quite light in alcohol compared to many other dark beers. However, don't be fooled that this is a beer that you can drink in larger amounts. It's a beer that should be drank slowly and enjoyed, as the wooden taste is even more present here. If you like it like that, youre drinking the right stuff, but it's a bit too strong for me. It makes the beer a little bit too sweet to my liking.
So, in the end, these three beers weren't as interesting as I've expected. Maybe it's unfortunate, but I'm happy to have tested these, as I'm always into something new when it's about beer. For me, of the three, the Zwick'l Kellerbier is my fvourite, which is strange, as I normally go for the black/dark beers. However, with this set, the dark one was too sweet for my doing. That doesn't mean I don't like it, I just think the Kellerbier was a bit better.

I'm sorry the reviews weren't that extended, but I don't have much time now. I need to move my stuff now. I hope to come across something interesting to review! So, see you after the weekend!



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Laser-chan is here!

As some of you may have noticed: the blog has new colours (yes, pink bitches), I changed the font from Helvetica to Arial (a bit easier on the eye) and a mascot! Now, I don't know how I should call her. Maybe Laser-chan is a good name. Cheezy and all, but that's what I'm about and don't you forget that!

Maybe you think it's character design is 'moe', but that was unintentional. So sorry to break your hopes and dreams. It's actually based on someone I love and know very well, and she's as tough as steel. Really, I'm not kidding! Besides, the design is also based on older comics and manga, like NaNa by Takahiro Tsunabuchi and Pokémon Adventures/Special by Mato and Satoshi Yamamoto.

In the future I think I will change the background and maybe make the colours match that as well, but for now, I think this design will do just fine. This will probably be in a few months, as then (end of August) the manga/comic Laser Train will have its début. That will be on this blog and on the then renewed CheeseCake! Studio website.

If you're interested in a preview of Laser Train, please drop off a comment and I could give a few pages to look at what it's all about. What I can tell you for now that it's a crazy story about a young man, dreaming of becoming a space train driver. Together with his mates he sets off into a future unknown to fantastic places, sometimes depressing, most of the time just random craziness. It's a story a good friend and me made up while downing lots of Schultenbräu (extremely cheap beer, but very nice in taste, basic and honest ingredients and it doesn't give you a big hangover) and listening to Spacesynth. Especially this song (Jabdah - Koto) was a huge inspiration for us. Actually, the new title banner contains the lyrics to this song! They make no sense whatsoever and that is the beauty of this song.

Ah, and let's not forget the beer! Beer is always relevant to this blog and every post, so here's another review of one of the wondrous early inventions of mankind!


Beer of the post: Das Helle, Schwabenbräu (Pilsner);
Place of consumption: my room;
The description on the label markets the beer as an every day drink with a full taste. Well, they've got that right! It's a bit heavy on the tongue -hence the full flavour- and somewhat numbs the tongue as well. I don't know how and why, but it gives off a strange, yet nice tingly feeling. Normally I don't have that reaction with beer, but this one is an exception. It's a special beer. The taste is really special at that as well! It's exceptionally smooth and lightly sweet. A middle-of-the-road taste, but not so very boring. It is maybe comparable to popular the Belgian brand Palm, though I'm not a big fan of that one. I prefer other (cheaper) brands over that one.

So, it's a good beer to drink for the taste and one can drink it in larger amounts as well. However, the taste is a bit too bland for my liking, but if you ever come across it, give it a try! I think it will even taste better if drafted freshly. It's one of those beers you need to drink when it's warm outside, in the sun and with a few friends. It's at its best when it's ice cold and fresh. Next to that: it has a swing top opening! So, it gives off a nice 'boom' (or 'pop' if you do it wrong and the beer is a tad old) sound, which is always a plus. :)



Friday, June 17, 2011

香生州電鉄 (Kaosu Dentetsu)

And now for something completely different. Well, not completely, but still, something different. It's again a fictional layout, but not a persiflage or a tribute to an existing one. This one is totally freelance and has a bit of an amateurish flair to it, but don't be fooled by this! The layout has quite a strong individual feeling to it and again very inspirational. Not so much with the used (sometimes crude) techniques, but more by the ideas and realisation of those ideas.

This layout is named Kaosu Dentetsu (Kaoden) (香生州電鉄). I think it is an implication to the English word 'chaos', as the Japanese translation doesn't make any sense whatsoever (Province the living aroma, what the shit?). It has probably something to do with a modern animé... Hell, I'm not an expert in that subject. I grew up with Pokémon, Dragonball Z and stuff like that. The only things I've watched recently are things from the Ghibli studios, Masamune Shirow's stuff and Sazae-san. Not any of that 'moe' (a.k.a. I-will-never-have-a-real-girlfriend) nonsense. Still, I draw manga errday. Does that make you mad bro? Anyway. That useless animé rant is maybe for some other time... Bad for the heart and all that stuff.

Let's talk about this interesting layout. It's something I can relate to actually. Apart from the bad planning, the quite extensive use of clay putty as a means of construction, landscaping and anything else you can think of, this is a layout I could be one I could have made. The layout is supposed to connect to other modules of the friends of the author (Ushipuu-san), which also works quite well (1 and 2).

The bad planning I mentioned before, is one of the small failures of this layout, but somehow it isn't very disturbing. It adds up to the flavour of the layout and adds a certain kind of charm to it to boost. One of these planning mishaps is the platform track being too low for trains to run with their pantographs (electricity collectors) up. This is demonstrated in this video: It seems that Ushipoo-san doesn't care about that flaw that much, which is a good thing IMO. One should enjoy model trains in one's own fashion and not care about what others say (only if it matters to you though). It's a very personal hobby all in all. The lowered platform track, despite being too low, is really really cool! It gives off a kind of cramped feeling which is omnipresent in Japanese urban area's. Especially among those smaller companies whose termini are tucked away beneath malls and office buildings.

One of the cool things about this layout is the repainting of rolling stock in their own Kaosu-Dentetsu livery. It's mostly white with red at the bottom, whereas the older stock has a quite standard red-dark cream-red livery. It's something I do as well with the more cheaper trains, just for practice. If I get my hands on really cheap models, I might make a whole fleet in this way, just to have a realistic fleet of fictional trains (sounds rather contradictory, doesn't it?).

Anyway, let's take a look at this interesting and inspiring web blog at: Also, if you feel like it, you can visit Ushipoo-san's YouTube channel and subscibe to it. I think subscribing to these kind of channels is a motivation for the user to upload more and more video's! So, why not?

This is a repost from 06.06.2011
Beer of the post: Guiness Extra Stout (Stout);
Location of consumption: my room;
This really is a classic and had to come by sometime soon anyway. So why not now when I'm downing Störtebeker Schwarzbier sixpacks, ey? Guiness is always a good choice when no other dark beer is around and you fancy some extra manliness in a glass. It's also fine to drink a glass of nails, but this does the job as well. Next to that it's much easier to swallow and doesn't give you an itch in the throat. Apart from the funny stuff, it's not the best stout I've ever drank (it will come to pass in the future, I promise!), but it certanly is a good one. It certainly isn't too strong in taste, maybe even a bit watery at times, and one can really drink it in greater amounts. Which is a good thing when you can order it per pitcher at the local Irish pub.

This beer is a something for everybody, but you really need to learn how to drink it. I can remember the first time I drank it with an old buddy and didn't really think much of it. However, when you grow older you'll learn to appreciate the more bitter things in life and even learn to enjoy them as well. Eventually you find yourself enjoying a bitter, wearing a tie for your enjoyment, appreciate tweed and rain, find orange and brown a swell combination of colours, grow a beard and drool at old-timer cars. This is also applicable for all you young girls out there! Yes, I know you're out there! Where's my pipe and hat?



Monday, June 13, 2011

小ノ島釜倉観光電鉄 (Onoshima Kamanokura Kankô Dentetsu)

The second in the little layout review series already! This one is a special one for me, as it has inspired me a lot in the way of modifying my buildings and working in stages on my own projects. Next to that, the layout gives off a great atmosphere and has many custom made buildings. All is lighted and illuminated as well!

The layout is named Onoshima Kamanokura Kankô Dentetsu (Onoden) (小ノ島釜倉観光電鉄)and is based (by the looks of the name, rolling stock, etc.) on the Enoshima Dentetsu (Enoden) (江ノ島電鉄) formerly known as the Enoshima Kamakura Kankô Dentetsu (江ノ島鎌倉観光電鉄), hence the name. This IRL company is known for its short trains (2 to 4 cars), sharp turns, street running and the fascinating scenery of the Shonan coastal area. Not only is it a popular point of interest for railway fans, but the Enoden is featured very often in anime series, both in the present and the past. I think it has something to do with the route running alongside the Shonan beach and girls in bikini's... Could be wrong though.

Now, let's step into the works of this interesting little layout! Just for starters an example of what a few simple modifications can do to a Greenmax small house kit. Just the connection of several parts and the simulation of steel plate work can change the feeling of, this otherwise quite bland, kit dramatically. Next to modifications to kits, the author scratch-builds his own buildings. An example of this is the quite modern looking milk shop which he
has build in several stages (1, 2 and 3). Doesn't this want to make you create such buildings yourself? It's very simple to do it, cheaper than building a kit and much more satisfactory than building a kit! When it's finished you have a building that is unique and very personal. You can always change things to it, since you know how it all sticks together, whereas with some kits this can't be done that easily.

Next to the amazing self made buildings, this layout spends a great deal on details. Just look at this post on the detailing of the main street! Or maybe even the building of a garage with fine interior detailing (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9). What is also amazingly inspiring, is the building of those ever present electricity poles with street lights attached to them. He uses, like in real life, wood for the construction and lets the wires for the street light run visible as well. This may sound a bit odd, as nowadays we're used to more modern poles with the wiring inside (here in west-Europe), however it gives off a very realistic feeling. Especially when you realise that the layout is situated somewhere in the late fifties or early sixties.

Well, the blog on this layout has too much to show to tell and discuss it all, so why don't you have a look at this amazing layout at:

This is a repost from 12.05.2011
Beer of the post: Störtebeker Schwarzbier (black beer);
Location of consumption: my room;

Now, this is a beer to my liking! A very black beer with a great caramelised taste (thanks to the added caramelised and toasted barley). Not truly Rheinheitsgebot style brewed, but still a great drink. This is one which makes your chest hair grow a little bit more and makes your body produce a bit more blood, thanks to that typical black beer rusty taste. The thing with these kinds of beer, unfortunately, is that it's quite hard to get around here (ed. Bonn) and not very cheap. That makes however a good excuse to enjoy it even more and not go on a binge with it.
This beer is more of an every man's drink than the previous one, but still quite special if you ask me. If you ever get the chance to taste it, please do! It will be worth the try. Maybe you'll even have seconds, thirds and more. *laughs*



Thursday, June 9, 2011

箱庭登山鉄道 (Hakoniwa Tozan Tetsudou)

This is the first of my series on blogs and websites on the construction of small layouts. This is the main focus on this blog for now, so I thought kick off with some very high quality stuff here.

In my opinion, this layout is a superb example of what can be achieved in a small space. The layout is already quite finished by now and the author (tanaka_ace) has started constructing a module. It was one of the first I found on the internet when I was searching for inspiration, and what a find!

The Hakoniwa Tozan Tetsudou (箱庭登山鉄道) is obviously a reference to the Hakone Tozan Tetsudou (箱根登山鉄道) which runs from Hakone Yumoto (/Odawara) to Gōra. A railway with steep grades and switchback make a great base for a great little layout.

What is probably most interesting, is the approach to building in phases and modules. The author doesn't do everything in one go, but has decided to build every part in extreme detail. This of course involves quite some kitbashing (ex. 1 and 2), but also a great deal of scratch building (ex. 1, 2 and 3). Even some moulding! All buildings, street lights, lanterns, etc. are actually lighted (example of lights being built in and the modular systematic workings) and give the layout an amazing atmosphere. Personally, I really like it when the builder of a layout goes so far as to put lights in everything that should produce some amount of light. It gives a layout so much more suave.

Details, like the use of Japanese toothpicks as temporary catenary poles and the use of materials that not everybody thinks of when constructing a layout. Another example is the use of multi-coloured sponges for the famous hydrangea flowers that can be found along the original Hakone Tozan line. These are very good ideas that inspire me for future projects!

As for the operation and track plan, this layout is obviously a point-to-point operated layout, like it's big brother, with switchbacks and steep grades. Trackwork is mainly Tomix FineTrack, with a few flex tracks and modified track pieces. The size is a standard 900 x 600mm, like one sees very often with Japanese layouts.

So, why not take a look and judge for yourself at:

This is a repost from 12.05.2010
Beer of the post: Aecht Schenkerla Rauchbier (Smoked beer);
Location of consumption: Musiktruhe, Bonn Altstadt, Germany. One of my favourite and most visited bars in Bonn (Mostly thanks to the cosy bi-weekly get-together of Japanese exchange students, Japanologists of university and those interested. Sometimes even a teacher drops by);

Probably already one of my favourite beers. It's a dark brew (my favourite) with a nice full flavour and a special heavy smokey after taste. Whenever I'm in the Musiktruhe I just order a 'Schinkenbier', because of the distinctive after taste of smoked ham. One can only drink so much of it because of the strong flavour, so it's not a great beer to consume in large amounts. But that's okay with me. Thanks to that old-skool German phenomenon, the Rheinheitsgebot, this is an honest beer without any additives (which you find all to often in other beers), so when drinking it, it gives off a somewhat safe feeling that it doesn't produce a massive hangover the next day.
It certainly isn't everybody's to drink and enjoy. But then again, I tend to prefer the odd over the general taste.



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

For Starters


I've created this blog to share with you my findings on the internets regarding model railroading and what keeps me busy in this hobby. Next to that, it'll provide a great way for me to improve on my writing and keep my fingers snappy on the keyboard.The contents of this blog can vary a lot, I can tell you that. Most will probably be on model railroading: the introduction of interesting websites, other blogs and ideas, but also my own adventures in the model railroad world.

The idea from sharing links to other interesting websites came from the JNS forum where I'm a member of. There, I like to share links with a little personal review attached to it. However, these topics tend to die off and threaten to drown in the depths of the forum, so I've decided to have some sort of gathering place for these links and more. The first few posts will thus include reposts from the forum with more elaborate reviews of the links. In the future I'll of course try to find other websites and blogs which inspire. Most of these will probably be focussed on small layouts in Japanese style (because that's what I fancy most), but of course there will be a broader perspective, since the world is larger than that.

My own findings and whereabouts in the model train business will also be posted, but probably at a more slow pace, as I'm moving back from Germany to my parents' in the Netherlands in a few weeks. There I'm not sure if I can start directly on a new project, as I don't intend to stay long at my parents'. But maybe, a little module can be started. Hell, I don't know. We'll see about that then.

Next to the updates on model railroading, I'll also upload other relevant works of me, such as illustrations/sketches, photographs of my travels (present and past) and so on. Also, I'll try to do updates on some favourite beers and my opinion on it on every post, as this is also a personal passion.

Ah, I almost forgot that I will also post updates on the manga 'Laser Train' here when it goes on-line on the renewed CheeseCake! Studio website at the end of August. Hence, the title of this blog... It'll be a surprise for all who don't know about it I think... :) All I can say is that it involves trains, the cosmos and a crazy future.

So, what can be expected on this blog:
- Introduction of this blog's cute mascot;
- Reposts of previously found links from JNS forum and a few unpublished personal bookmarks;
- A few older pictures of already abolished layouts/modules;
- Beer;
- Laser Trains.

I hope you'll find these prospects worthy enough to return in the future!

Have a good one and CHEERS!