Spring is here and we are thinking about -- what else? -- beer. We really like Leinenkugel's Classic Amber (pictured) and pay a left-handed compliment to a left-handed beer. We also tout some more great music, a tasty snack food, a classic Milwaukee retail establishment that is worth a visit and a TV show that is guaranteed to make you hungry.
Here are a few of our favorite things this week:
Leinenkugel's Classic Amber -- According to the folks at Leinie's, this is "a 100 percent malted lager ... Leinenkugel's own unique blend of two-row and six-row malts and four varieties of hops." Hmmm. What matters to most of you is that this foamy golden lager is crisp and refreshing, with a complex taste that will perfectly complement classic, hearty dishes like steaks, burgers and chicken. If the various berry brews have left you cold, give this amber a try and you'll be pleasantly surprised. --Bobby Tanzilo
Kettle Bakes potato chips -- This is a tasty and slightly "better for you" chip from the Kettle Brand. With 65 percent less fat than most chips and only 3 grams of fat, these baked select potatoes are really good. Some baked chips can taste like cardboard, but not these. Really good with your next sandwich. --Jeff Sherman
Cursive's "Mama, I'm Swollen" (Saddle Creek) -- Unless you were in the audience when the band did a complete preview of the new album on June 27 at Chicago's Subterranean, you're most likely just now discovering Cursive's sixth studio album, "Mama, I'm Swollen," released last month. The band's first record since 2006's "Happy Hollow," this album is comforting and welcoming to long-time Cursive fans because it doesn't deviate too much from the Saddle Creek norm. While it lacks the risks and wit that made 2003's "The Ugly Organ" a breakout, it's still interesting and signature enough to keep the tracks turning, culminating in something I'd call pleasant but not necessarily perfect. Tim Kasher followers, you know the drill. --Julie Lawrence
"Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" -- I could watch the Food Network all day without getting insanely hungry... until this show comes on. Guy Fieri, the bleach-blond dude from the TGI Friday's commercials, travels around the country in search of great food (he's coming to Milwaukee soon!). He hangs out in the kitchen and the lunch counter, joking with owners and customers. The "road trip" concept isn't new to food TV, but I find this show to be addictive. --Drew Olson
Left Hand Milk Stout -- For beer lovers, a visit to Sugar Maple, 411 E. Lincoln Ave., plays out the kid-in-a-candy-shop cliche. When there, I tend to randomly choose something I've never tried before, and I am usually wowed by my brew of choice. That was the case last Sunday, when I stopped into the smoke-free Sugar Maple to check out a special event called Peep Show. I ordered a Milk Stout crafted by Colorado's Left Hand Brewing Company and found the super-dark beverage rich, yet refreshing, with a hint of coffee and definitely "milky." It's the perfect beer if you only want one or two, but any more than that is straight-up Hedonism. Not that there's anything wrong with that. --Molly Snyder Edler
BBC Lighting -- I'm on a bit of an old-school Milwaukee recommendations streak. Soref's Carpet City last week, and this week it's BBC Lighting. The largest lighting showroom in the Midwest is blocks away from Potawatomi Bingo Casino at 2015 W. St. Paul Ave. This place is more than lights. It's almost like a your really cool, rich uncle's basement. Sure, they sell ceiling fans (I bought two recently) and every kind of light imaginable, but it's the rooms of "stuff" like pinball machines, beer signs, random autographed photos of celebrities and other similar items that make BBC a a great spot for treasure hunting. Check it out. If you've never been there, it's worth the trip. --J.S.
"Rave On" -- When was the last time you heard a song on "shuffle" and backed it up and played it again? I've had the Buddy Holly collection in the iPod for awhile now. The other day, "Rave On" popped up, and I did the double-take. It's just so perfect. The shuffle. The backup vocals. The piano break. I bet it sounds as crisp as it did when Dad dropped the needle on it back in 1958. It might be the best 1 minute, 48 seconds of your day. It definitely won't be the worst. "Oh Boy!", which clocks in at a "marathon" 2:07 isn't a bad track, either. --D.O.
"How We Lead Matters," by Marilyn Carlson Nelson -- An easy read, "How We Lead Matters," is a great testament to Marilyn Carlson Nelson's career offering easy to read and implement leadership and life lessons. The chairman and former chief executive officer of Carlson, one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, Nelson knows what it takes to not only lead, but live. Carlson, by the way, is the parent corporation of Radisson Hotels, Country Inn & Suites, Regent Hotels, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and TGI Friday's restaurants. She'll be in town at the fifth annual BizTech Conference & Expo on April 29 and if you attend you get a copy of her book. If you can't make it, buy it. It's well worth a read. --J.S.
The Synergy computer backpack by Wenger -- I'm pretty tough on computer bags. But, I hate replacing them. I picked up the Synergy a couple months ago and it's holding up very well. The thing has a lot of pockets and compartments to hold everything you need and even stuff you don't. I've reached a point where if it doesn't fit in the backpack, I don't even think about hauling it around. --D.O.