Showing posts with label 6. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 6. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Storm Watcher Red Pilsner by VIB

For some unknown reason, I decided to visit VIB today. I heard an empty growler in the trunk and had 30 minutes before violin practice pickup, so growler run it is. The closest place was VIB, Phillips or Moon. Being a beer ticker, I had to try something new. VIB had the red pilsner on tap, which I thought was a new beer. More on that later; don't worry, there is a happy ending. The label on the tap said "Storm Watcher Red Pilsner", didn't VIB already have a beer called Storm Watcher? And what really is a Red Pilsner? Neither BJCP nor Brewers Association has a red pilsner in the guidelines. Perhaps it is a Vienna lager, International Amber lager or an Altbier. This red pils might fit into these categories. Or perhaps, this is just a winter lager? Dang it, is this another VIB recycled beer recipe? Sure tastes like it. I actually plan to cut and paste an old review, because the flavour is similar. Luckily they had 2016 Hermannator and a new IPA called Highway 19. The Highway 19 is your standard IPA dry hopped with Mosiac, at least that is what the nice lady behind the counter told me. She seems very confident and believable. I got a sample also; SPOILER ALERT, it's good.

Storm Watcher = 6/10 


This ruby red brew is nice to look at, even though there is no foamy head. Despite the lack of head, it still offers up hints of vanilla and caramel with slight spicy hop presence. A cool creaminess delivers lots of malts - think graham crackers, caramel and raisins. There is also a continuous presence of vanilla that is not overpowering. The ending is sweet, quenching and ever so slightly astringent.  The storm watcher will appeal to beer drinkers who like their brews on the sweet side.


Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1 (yes, I would drink this beer again)
Appearance +1 I liked the label the first time

Glassware: Clean lager glass

Food Pairings: This would pair perfectly with an unsmoked ham and cheese sandwich on rye. Perhaps a caramelized onion and mushroom cream sauce over buckwheat noodles. Maybe a desert of sticky toffee pudding would accentuate this lagers sweetness. Come to think of it, the Storm Watcher could be used to make a hot toddy.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sucker Punch Citra Sour by Swan's

This is terrible, two months of no beer reviews! Maybe I will just go back through my notes and not really post anything online. Thinking ahead for the 2106 top beers of Victoria.


Sucker Punch = 6/10

The nose is an odd mixture of red apples and dank. Despite a little thin mouthfeel there is ample tart tropical fruit flavours. Citra is very apparent with both aromas and flavours of lime, melon and pineapple. The tart and lactic character only seems to enhance these flavours. Sour and tart but not overpowering

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1 (quite clean, but still some residual tartness)
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1 very tasty
Appearance +1 (fun label art, change of pace for Swan's)

Glassware: Teku. Only because it looks elegant and not everyone has one

Food Pairings: Poached lamb with tangerine glaze.

Cellar: maybe. Citra character will fade for sure, but will Brett take up slack?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Phillips Scarfface Cranberry Orange Wit


This beer is certainly a front runner for best label and wittiest name of the year. Although it might not be the most original; anyone remember the blood orange wit? Still, it's a tasty little glassful.
Scarfface = 6/10

Orange is the most vaporous aroma, perhaps Orange Crush or Orangina.  Naturally there is a wheat creaminess too. The taste is pretty straight forward; creamy wheat, sweet oranges and a light lingering of tart oranges.  Not sure where the cranberries went?

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Put it in a clean pint glass to keep Chapman happy. If you have an octagon wit glass you could use that, but that is a bit obsessive.

Food Pairings: Peking Duck or duck à l'orange. The tart orange flavours would bridge nicely with the duck and the effervescence would help lift the fat from the palate. Bird lovers can substitute braised bean curd.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Spinnakers Cerveza Resposado

I love barrel aged beers. Contact with the wood mellows harsh flavours and can impose unique flavours upon a beer. Such is the case with this release from Spinnakers, the barrel aged Cerveza. Aged in freshly emptied Mexican tequila barrels, one can immediately pick out the flavours of tequila right away. While I was not keen on the addition of citrus zest and salt, this beer was simple and tasty. Good tequila is sipped, like a fine vodka, rum or whiskey, not shot back with a salt lick and a lemon wedge. But this is just my snootiness coming though.

Spinnakers Cerveza Resposado = 6/10


I should really rethink my rating scale because tasty beers like this never get high scores. The nose does not shock with it's calm gold tequila hints and wood character. Each sip too is one dimensional with golden ale, citrus (both from hop and additions), crackers, tequila and wood tannins. The tequila flavour was subtle and not overpowering. It was a little salty, not gose salty, but just enough to linger on the lips. Overall I liked it and you should too. That is unless you have had a recent bad experience with tequila and are adverse to the flavour flashback. I'm decades out of college, so I was fine.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Whatever is clean. A simple pint glass will do.

Food Pairings: Light fare would be best, perhaps seafood. Something with lemon and salt to resonate with the beer. This just screams fish and chips

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Coast to Coastless by Phillips et al.

I know what an ESB tastes like, and this is not it. The previous BJCP guidelines had a category for extra special or strong bitter. The current guidelines now call this category the British Strong Bitter. Perhaps because ESB is a trademark belonging to Fullers; news to me also. The Brewers Association still lists guidelines for an ESB, but the Coastless still does not hit these marks either.  The strong bitter should be a fruity, malty beverage with noticeable hop bitterness and low alcohol presence. Maybe at the top end of the alcohol range (4.6-6.2%) you might get some alcohol flavours. This Coastless is boozy as all get up, it tasted like a Negroni with prune juice. If I were to classify the beer, I would call it an Old Ale. So, I shall review as an Old Ale; otherwise the score would be much lower. This is not a judging contest, but a taste evaluation. Thanks to Bradley for the nice photo.

Coast to Coastless = 6/10


As mentioned above, this beer is boozy. It smells like rum soaked cherries, but oddly the mouthfeel is thin. Not really medium light as BJCP would like. It was still quite boozy in the sip like a negroni cocktail muddled with treacle, prunes and a Macintosh toffee bar. Still more warming boozy in the finish. If it wasn't such a thin beer the boozy might not as be so noticeable. Still it would make an excellent Ole Ale

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1 7.6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (simple label are relatively good description of flavour)

Glassware: A lager glass, common pint or a dimpled mug

Food Pairings: Roasted light meats, pork, burgers, lamb. Could also work with grilled vegetables or kabobs.

Cellar: The dissolved yeast might further change the flavour, but the simple malts and low hop presence, cellaring might not be suitable.

Vital Stats: ABV 7.6% and IBU 50. According the BJCP 2015 should be 4.6-6.2%ABV and 30-50IBU. Brewers Association 4.8-5.8%ABV and 30-45 IBU. Old Ale would fit better at 5.5-9% ABV and 30-60 IBU (BJCP) similar for BA.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

United Front by VIB and Steel and Oak

I am a little bit behind, so most likely everyone has processed/recycled this beer already. If not, then you should go and drink one. The current trend in beers is to brew obscure and forgotten styles: gose, grisette, gratzer, etc. While the kellerbier/zwickelbier is not obscure it does by far have the coolest name. The United Front collaboration beer label states "unfiltered braun beer". When you say unfiltered lager, you might be referring to a kellerbier. This translates from the German to read "cellar beer", or beer served directly from the lagering cellar. Braun means that is the brown, as there are pale (helles) or amber (Marzen) versions of kellerbier. So what did the beer prick think about the front?

United Front = 6/10


The aroma was a little subdued with hints of mint and lettuce; so a well lagered aroma. Dissolved yeast provided a suitable mild to medium mouthfeel with a slight slickness of diacetyl. Diacetyl was low which is suitable for this style. As with any beer that declares the use of Vienna style malts, the dominate flavours were lightly toasted, grainy with small amounts of earth. Rounding out the palate were dark fruits, prunes and a little green apple. Green apple is not unheard of for an unfiltered lager. These tastes did not linger and provided a clean finish.  


Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content 0 5.8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (simple label are relatively good description of flavour)

Glassware: A lager glass, common pint or a dimpled mug

Food Pairings: Roasted light meats, pork, burgers, lamb. Could also work with grilled vegetables or kabobs.

Cellar: The dissolved yeast might further change the flavour, but the simple malts and low hop presence, cellaring might not be suitable.

Vital Stats:
SRM 16.5. On the label the EBC (European Brewing Convention) of 32.5 was stated. EBC= 1.97*SRM. This above the range for a Vienna lager (9-15), in the range for an altbier (11-17) and low end for a Munich Dunkel (14-28).
IBU 35. This IBU range makes it hoppier than most German lagers, except for the altbier which has a very wide range (25-50).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Moon Double Review - Le Sang and Bulldog

Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I don't remember hearing about the release of these two beers. Perhaps the need for the press release is dead. Has it been replaced by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Will a brewer's social media follower list reach enough beer drinkers that outside help is not needed? What does this mean for blogs/websites that deliver beer drinking news? Perhaps I am thinking too much about this; shut up and review the beers.

This first beer had very little to say about it on the Moon Facebook page; "beer named after the View Royal Fire Department and inspired by a collaboration cask of Smoke & Fire. Its a sweet, lightly smoked malt base with just a hint of hop peppers in the boil". So it is sweet Scottish ale with light peppery spice?


Bulldog Belgo Scottish Ale = 6/10

With most Scottish ales the nose is fairly tame of peaty/smoked malts and caramel sweetness. The Bulldog delivered with a bit of prune richness in the aroma. Without any further surprises, this ale was a balanced mix of mild caramel, peat, dark fruits and dried apricots. This syrupy sweetness was layered upon an earthy hop bed with a spiciness of unknown origin. It left a chewy residue similar to a Mackintosh Toffee bar that you found in a potted plant. Very nice, I should have brought the bigger growler.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance 0 (for minimal press and little info on beer)

Glassware: Definitely a Scottish thistle; preferably cleaner than mine.

Food Pairings: Would bridge a dish with roasted or caramelized rich flavours, perhaps a pan seared pork chop with caramelized onions. I was thinking about a BBQ portabello mushroom burger with Branston pickles. The sweetness would calm a spicy dish. How about some flame broiled chicken with fiery Jamaican jerk sauce?

Cellar: Nope


This was the real purpose of my visit. There are three little words that makes Mrs. Left4Beer's heart go pitter-patter: Moon sour ale. I was instructed to go to brewery and not to return without a couple of bottles. This beer had an eventful life. It lingered in port barrels, mingled with black currants before getting a dose of Brett then stuck in a corked bottle.

Le Sang Du Merle = 9/10



The nose eludes to quick tour through sour town. The tour starts at the crossroads of black currant and tart vinegar. Next is a stroll into the land of tannic currants, sweet raspberry vinaigrette with a slight funk cameo. The tannins provide a dry pucker which is enhanced by the slight Brett character. This sensation just keeps going to a dry finish far in the distance. Sour beers never describe well to those who have never tried one. Well done.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1  (very elegant and simple hand stamped labels)

Glassware: A tulip or snifter would work well to trap the inviting sour and tart fruity aromas.

Food Pairings: Nothing, just enjoy.

Cellar: With the addition of Brett and complex wood notes, this is certain one to put in cellar for 2 years minimum.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Snow Stout by Moon and Spinnakers

This is apparently a collaboration between Moon and Spinnakers. I would find out more details, but I don't feel like bothering anyone. This brew is part of the 'Moon Exploration Program'. Again I would find out more, but again I don't want to bother anyone. It sounds like a plan to get more Untappd check ins trying weird beers. Sounds good. So what is a white stout? It tastes like a stout where you forgot to add your dark malts. What did the beer prick think of the 'unstout' stout?

Snow Stout = 6/10

The nose was an odd combination of vanilla latte, coffee grounds and powdered milk. It rather tasted like this too. An peculiar mix of caramel, thin Turkish coffee and vanilla ice cream. Might be best described as a boozy vanilla latte with a sweet powdery aftertaste. It was interesting. In hindsight, I should have filled the small growler.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0
Value +1 (It was interesting)
Appearance +1 (growlers always win)

Glassware: Anything clean

Food Pairings: I can't fathom what to drink with this. Desert might be nice. Try with crème brûlée or rice pudding, the white stout would enhance the sweet, earthy vanilla in these dishes.

Cellar:Nope, you dope. Drink it fresh

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Category 12 first two beers

Most of us have heard rumblings of this new brewery in town called Category 12. They are on Keating Cross Road with a little tasting room and growler fill station. You can read all about them in Eat Magazine. There are currently two beers available, a saison and a black IPA. You can find kegs around Victoria, including this cool place called The Drake. So how do they taste?

Unsanctioned Saison = 6/10


It started off great. There was a slight spiciness that came from both hop and yeast. You could also detect a funky earth aroma with ginger. It was surprisingly hoppy with more of that spicy floral and earthiness. The malts got a little funny, perhaps a bit underattenuated. It tasted grainy, mushy and chewy, not crisp and dry as expected. Perhaps I was hoping for local Saison Dupont. Still, I would order another.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.9%
Value +1
Appearance +1 good description of beer flavour, not keen on the word sessionable for a 6.9% beer

Glassware: Something clean. I would use a pokal tulip.

Food Pairings: Cheese would be a wash rind goat. Something light and spicy would go well. Perhaps lamb chops with a mildly spicy pepper glaze.

Cellar: nope

Disruption Black IPA = 9/10

I was getting a little worried until I tasted the Black IPA. This dark brew hits all the marks. A grapefruit citrus and piney hop aroma can be smelled one table over. It has a griping astringency that is partially kilned malts and partially hops. Imagine what a black IPA should taste like and this is it. Balanced parts of bittersweet chocolate, espresso, over done toast with marmalade and sweet grapefruit rind. Not over the top, but just right.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 6.7%
Value +1 delicious
Appearance +1 (a fitting description of flavour)

Glassware: A nice, big pint glass thank you.

Food Pairings: Something bold and roasted. A grilled portobello mushroom burger with blue cheese. As for the cheese, make it a well aged cheddar.

Cellar: Nope

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Growth Pale Ale by Driftwood

One of the purposes of a blog is to educate. I must think of something because this beer review is going to be very short. Let's talk about hops. This is the first time I have seen the Newport hop used. It might be used but no brewery has mentioned it. Newport is a hop developed by the USDA as a mildew resistant substitute for Galena. If I remember correctly Vancouver Island Brewery uses Galena. Newport is a mix of Brewers Gold, Hallertauer M, Late Grape, Belgium 31 and Fuggles. Rogue uses this hop quite a bit; its in XS Imperial I2PA, Santa's Reserve, Dad's little helper black IPA and more. Which makes sense because all these beer are bitter as @#$#. This bitterness is due to a very high alpha acid content present in Newport. So how did the beer that some people are referring to as 'Diet Tug' or 'Tug Lite' taste?

New Growth = 6/10

Spicy and pine flavours are the order of the day. That's it. It reminded me of nasturtium. There is a little cracker and white bread malts. This brew is quite bitter and peppery. I found it a little bitter for a pale ale, but it is suitable for our PNW desires.

Taste +_3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0  5%ABV
Value +1 (worth the price)
Appearance +1 (nice label art)

Glassware: Whatever you got. Just as long as it is clean, right Brian?

Food Pairings: This is quite difficult to pair as it is very piney and bitter. Might be nice to counter with mango sweetness and fatty shrimp. Go for the uber-bitter-party with an arugula salad with blue cheese.

Cellar: Might be interesting because Newport has a good beta hop content, but malt complexity is lacking.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Strath 100 by Lighthouse

Some days you just want to be alone. The desire to unplug from the metrics of the daily grind can, at times,  seem hopeless. How many IBU's is this IPA? How is your hockey pool doing? How full is your PVR? Numbers, metrics, grades.. Sometimes all one desires is a simple, uncomplicated experience. This is why I picked up the Strath 100 from Lighthouse. I hoped for a simple beer. After all, it was intended for the masses of 20-somethings that consume volumes of whatever is on special. Certainly this would be a linear beer that I could review and ignore. DAMMIT.
This is a tasty beer of furtive duality. At first sip, or gulp, it seems like any other 5% pale ale. Slightly citrus and floral with a calm bready/sweet malt backbone. For most people, this is where the story ends. However, it is easy to overlook a first for Victorian and possibly North American beer drinkers. This beer uses a new breed of hop called Vic Secret. Think of this hop as a toned down Galaxy. The citrus flavours are not the ones we are used to tasting. Sensations of pineapple and tropical fruit can be noted. A stealthy infiltration of unusual hop flavours into the Victoria collective palate. One might think of this a covert, Australian plot to get Victorian beer drinkers hooked on southern tier hop flavours. I'm OK with that.

Strath 100 by Lighthouse = 6/10

I kinda gave away the flavours in the preamble. 100's nose is calmly fruity of all things tropical (pineapple, mango). The unassuming medium to full mouthfeel can easily be overlooked. Yes, this beer contains the required citrus and bready flavours of a PNW pale ale. Tropical are the citrus in question. Hops dominate with pineapple, tropical fruit salad and earthy resins. A great mix for the ashy and bready malts. It all fades clean away. Well done.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware:Whatever you have will do

Food Pairings: Anything will work with this beer. I'm thinking BBQ (veggie) burger action on the patio. Might even work with a quality grilled cheddar cheese sandwich.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rock Bay Mash Up - Driftwood/Hoyne

I have predicted a local Victoria brewery collaboration for years. If you keep making the same prediction year, after year eventually it will happen. This collaboration was no surprise as Driftwood and Hoyne share the same parking lot. Wonder why it took almost two years for this to happen? Hopefully this will become a regular event. Local brewers must realize, that while they are friendly competitors, the bigger prize they all chase is the massive 80%+ market share owned the the big breweries. Working together will reduce this domination quicker.
Everyone knows that I am dedicated follower of classic beer styles. The Baltic porter is a style influenced by the imperial stouts on route to Russia. Much of this thick English brew passed through the sea ports of Estonia and Latvia. Naturally, local brewers prepared recipes to hopefully gain favour of the Russian imperial court. The lagered Baltic porter was born. I love a good Baltic porter. There are two that stick out in my mind: Black Boss and Baltika 6. Both of these beverages are to be purchased on sight. Maybe I should trademark that phrase, "Purchase on sight", POS for short. Nah.. might get confused with Point of Sale or Piece of ... something.
Anyways, the style should be thick like oatmeal, clean like a sanitized toilet yet fruity as an episode of "Will and Grace". What did the Cicerone Certified (R), BJCP Judge think of this mash up? By the way, I don't think the 8% ABV listing is accurate.

Rock Bay Mash Up = 6/10

The nose is unassuming with only mild hints of roast. I hoped to enjoy some thick lager characters and milk chocolate. A dark brown wash hits the tongue with an initial alcohol burn mixed with toast and Nutella. Anticipated dark berries were replaced by twinges of green apple. The mouthfeel was almost there but the thinness made things end too quickly.
Looking back, this review sounds terrible. It is rather unfair. Label this beer an extra robust porter or a foreign stout and call it even. Memories of the past flavours taint the present. I was hoping to sit down with a ridiculously underpriced bottle of Baltika 6 to relive a glorious past. Instead I got an almost $10 bottle of beer that didn't live up to expectations. The bar was set pretty high. Get out there, buy this beer. It is tasty. Just don't compare it to Black Boss, Baltika 6 or that stellar Les Trois Mousquetaires version.

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0 (it just ended)
Alcohol Content +1 8% (Does anyone have a refractometer I can borrow?)
Value +1 (only for the mash up part)
Appearance +1 Awesome label Julie

Glassware: No real traditional style here. Use a tulip or snifter. For goodness sakes don't serve me a Baltic porter, or any strong beer, in a pint glass.

Food Pairings: Grab a thick tofu steak and go at it.

Cellar: If there was yeast on board, I'd say let it age to eat up that green apple. Otherwise nope.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spinnakers Three Way Review

I never like giving bad reviews. This review almost never left my desk, but then I thought of what  my beer friends would say. It was some kitten poster saying like "tell it like it is", "believe in your palate" and "you have a duty".  So, here it goes.

Not every beer is perfect. Sometimes brewers must take a chance and brew up something new. This is where the Hopscotch Scottich IPA steps in. It is touted as a Scottish IPA: a malty, caramelized brew with super galena hops. The super galena is a very high alpha/beta acid hop variety. This sounded really good in theory, but somewhere, things went wrong. What do I know, people on Untappd gave it 3.5 stars. However the word "interesting" shows up a lot with the experienced reviewers.

Hopscotch IPA = -2/10


The nose presented benign enough, only the faintest whiff of earthiness and caramel. Things started
off great, the earthy sweetness mixed with bready malts and a vague hop bitterness. Caramel was oddly absent, which is usual for a Scottish ale, but acceptable. Then came the wicked aftertaste: massive, tongue scraping slickness. Could this be a diacetyl bomb? Scottish strong ale do have some diacetyl, but not this much. Perhaps it was overenthusiastic use of a very bitter hop? Hard to tell. Mrs Left4beer made me dump it out because I just kept tasting it; trying to figure out what the off flavour was. Perhaps I got a bad bottle, if so, I wasn't the only one.

Taste +1
Aftertaste -2
Alcohol Content 0 6.4%
Value -1
Appearance 0

Glassware: Traditionally the difficult to find Scottish thistle glass. A pint glass or tulip would do in a pinch.


There must always be balance. Which is why the next beer has a good review. The strong Scottish Ale or "Wee Heavy" can be a thing of beauty. Rich and malty, with ample peat and dark fruit flavours. The Keg Tosser did not disappoint.

Keg Tosser = 8/10

Read the BJCP guidelines for 9E, Strong Scottish Ale, and it is all there. Deep malty nose with caramel, peat and mild fruit esters. Tick. A full and chewy sip delivers new tastes each time. with the first gulp, flavours of caramel, vanilla and peat rise up. Next time, you could be graced with dark fruits, plums or even pecans. Throughout it all there is a firm boozy sweetness to keep you focused. Excellent.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (I like the new label graphics)

Glassware: Traditionally the difficult to find Scottish thistle glass. A pint glass or tulip would do in a pinch.

Food Pairings: Contrast with beers sweetness with something sour. Perhaps a lemon/lime fish fillet or a grilled cheese and sauerkraut sandwich. Or use its sweet characteristic to calm spicy Thai food

Cellar: Generally not. But it would be a fun experiment. The malt flavours are complex and enough ABV to keep things safe.

I alluded to there being a third. If you are still reading, the Ogden Porter is an old recipe but still a good beer.

Ogden Porter = 6/10

Brown porters tend to be one of the calmer beers. The Ogden nose was a mild, but prepared you for the roasted and fruity flavours to come. Each sip was a simple and linear presentation of mild coffee, chocolate, blackberries and roasted whole wheat bread. Nothing overly harsh or outstanding anywhere. Some might overlook this beer with all the uber IPAs and imperial what-nots on the menu. This is sad, because the world needs serene, simple beverages.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always better at the source)

Glassware: Straight up pint glass.

Food Pairings: Nothing overly flavourful. I'm thinking of a grilled cheese sandwich. Actually, this might work with a peanut butter and nutella sandwich. Focus on mild roasted and slightly sweet flavours. A mild cheddar and hazelnut soup just popped into my mind.

Cellar: Nope.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Black Betty Saison (VIB)

Without any fanfare, Vancouver Island Brewery released the Black Betty Saison. Normally, there is a media blitz with contests, brewery tastings and samples for local bloggers. The saison is normally a dry, lemony brew with a pronounced noble hop bitterness. Hops flavours are greater than expected due to restrained malt body. A high attenuation yeast will do that. This is also one of those beers that people like to flavour, along with stouts, lambics, wheat ales and porters. I have this disdain for flavoured porters, perhaps it is because I like porters and few local breweries make an unflavoured one. In this blogger's opinion, fruit flavoured beers are patio fare. But blackberries are a late harvest berry, fall has come early and this beer tastes great so its timing can be over looked. [VIB just announced an open house Sat. Oct 5th from 1-4pm with samples of Black Betty and the returning Storm Watcher Winter Lager]

Black Betty Saison = 6/10


There is reason to be cautious about smelling a berry flavoured beer. Often the nose is unbearably sweet. Luckily this is not the case with Black Betty. It is pleasantly blackberry with a hint of spice. This beer is not overly carbonated and the medium-light body ends with a slight sweet berry linger. Black Betty's flavour is as described, a nice balance of berry sweetness, cracker malts with a hint of spicy yeast character. This is not a flavour powerhouse but just a nice brew.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1


Glassware: Pick either a fluted Pilsener, elongated tulip or a white wine glass

Food Pairings: Restrained enough to go with any meal. Would go nicely with a fruit flan desert. The berry flavours will resonate and the carbonation and alcohol will lighten the heavy creaminess of the flan. A good cheese option would be a chevre mixed with berries. Even better, put that goat cheese on a mixed greens salad and toss with a berry vinaigrette.

Cellar: Nope, drink it fresh.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Monkey Drummer 12th Anniversary (Phillips)

It never ceases to amaze me how certain brewers can produce a beer with such precision. 11.9% ABV on the dot is an impressive feat of brewing skill. Phillips is now 12 years old, well done. I also like the new bottles; they look a lot like the new bottles from Fuller's. Again, I shall be brief. As always my stock of witty comments and banter is limited.


Monkey Drummer 12th Anniversary (Phillips) = 6/10 


Don't get me wrong, it is a decent beer. It hits all the marks of an imperial IPA. Despite the nose that is a little faint with sweet floral, pine and a hint of earth. Chewy, sweet malts leave a lingering boozy and tingling sensation on the tongue. It is a big beer with big sweet malts that speak of cotton candy, pears and those cheap, plastic wrapped mints delivered with your restaurant bill that always remain uneaten. The hops are big, vague, yet cripplingly bitter. There is just no balance. It is as though the malts and hops are on other sides of the Grand Canyon. This is a bold beer but it just didn't WOW me. Another ponderous observation. A beer with this high an ABV must use a lot of malts and a lot of hops. These ingredients cost money. Oddly this bottle set me back around $6.50. It was one of the cheaper bottles on the shelf. Hopheads will like it, but they might not rave about it.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 11.9%ABV
Value + 0 
Appearance +1 always with the eye catching art

Glassware: A pint glass will do, but a tulip would be better.

Food Pairing: This beer is awfully sweet. Might need something salty to balance this out. Maybe something with smoked salmon or capers and tomatoes in a rich alfredo sauce.

Cellar: Nope. Get the hops while they are fresh.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cabin Fever BIPA (Phillips)

What are these kids at Phillips doing? The new releases keep coming, or do they? Today it is a Black IPA. No one these days will dare use the 'C' word, but I won't go there. Next week Vancouver Island is releasing an India Dark Ale. Someone might steal the name, but no one can steal our lust for dark, hoppy beers. So is this beer actually new? Well.. check the ABV compared the Phillips Amnesiac: same. Smell compared to Amnesiac: same. The taste is well.. similar. Could this be the Amnesiac with dark malts added? Who knows? Irregardless, it is hoppy and fault free: hence, everyone will love it. I did, but is it actually new?


Cabin Fever BIPA = 6/10

This starts off with the classic, and glorious, Phillips hop nose. Once whiffed, a special set of brain cells is dedicated to its recall. You all know it: part sweet citrus, part floral pine with a hint of spun sugar. An oddly thin mouthfeel delivers the goods: a hop forward astringency with slightly chocolate and bready malts. The ending is smooth, sadly short lived with only an ounce of alcohol warmth. There is just enough grapefruit and pinesol to make the mouth happy. Is there anything wrong with being aggressively popular? Next year, perhaps more dark malts and a thicker mouthfeel please.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8.5%
Value 0 It is good but not really new
Appearance +1 always great art.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Choc-O-Holic (Spinnakers)

I heard this beer did so well that Spinnakers had to buy some beer back to stock its own off sales. This is believable, it is a darn tasty beer with everyone's favourite ingredient. The trend in Victoria beers is to go after the chocolate porter market. Makes sense, apparently Phillips Longboat porter is the best selling bomber in BC.

Choc-O-Holic  = 6/10

Campfire mixes well with cool berries to make the nose happy. A roasted astringency starts an enjoyable sip of lagered berries and bittersweet milk chocolate. The mouth feel is medium with an odd cooling sensation. At the end, a dry cocoa dusting leaves a vague nutty finish. The Misses enjoyed it; that is the sign of a good chocolate porter. Very nice.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.75% (How did they get that number?)
Value +1
Appearance 0 Art was OK

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Leviathan Milk Stout (Phillips)

I like a good milk stout. They were brewed to be healthy for you. This was back in the day when English brewers were doing their darnedest to give beer the appearance of a healthy beverage. Milk was good for you, so but milk in beer and it would also be good for you. Sounds right to me. The modern day milk/sweet stout doesn't contain milk. However, it does contain lactose. This lactose is undigestable by beer yeast and remains to provide a thick and sweet flavour. The classic example is Mackeson Stout which clocks in at a whopping 3.0% ABV. Left Hand Brewing makes a great milk stout. So how does the Leviathan Milk Stout by Phillips stack up?


Leviathan Milk Stout = 6/10

There were lots of roasted grains on the nose with only the slightest of milk chocolate. A light to medium mouthfeel is unaffected by low carbonation and only a slight creaminess coated the tongue. Sadly lactose sweetness is present but rather lacking. What you do taste is cola, nutty pecans, mild caramel and roasted nuts. The aftertaste is pleasant with dry cocoa and milk chocolate. I think it is a tad high in the ABV and roasted tastes but low in the lactose flavours to be called a milk stout. It's a darn tasty beverage none the less. And hey, some money is going to save the whales.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5% (a tad high)
Value +1 almost a zero
Appearance +1 it's for charity and nice label art

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Spinnakers Two-Fer review

It is coming to the end of the year and I need to get my notes typed up for the 2011 year in review. This will be a double Spinnakers seasonal review. No photos because I was out with my family for dinner

Baltic Porter  =  8/10

I have had many a Baltic porter and this was a decent one. The body was a tad thin, but the slight smoked malts made up the difference. If you follow the local blogs: these malts were smoked in house with apple wood. All the needed bits were there: weak coffee, bittersweet chocolate and minor fruitiness. The linger was short lived with a dark lager smear. Very nice. I wish my glass wasn't a sampler size.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1
Value +1
Appearance +1 Always nice in brewpub

Biere De Noel = 6/10

This tasted almost identical to the Hoyne Gratitude. Nicely warming with a balance of sherry, wood, bready plums and mild spices. Very clean ending with only a hint of warmth. Well worth the price of admission.

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1 
Value +1
Appearance +1

Friday, November 30, 2012

Super Krypton Rye (Phillips)

Have you ever thought that the sequel was not as good as the original. I have felt with way with the Matrix movies and Star Wars. Another sense of disappointment happened with the Super Krypton. It is not that this beer is bad, it is quite tasty. I was expecting a super charged version of the regular Krypton. This is my favourite part of the Hop Box. Maybe this is where expectations tainted experience.

Super Krypton Rye = 6/10 

Super's nose is massive of citrus, booze and a slightly dusty rye. Things start to fall apart at this point. The sip is full but boozy and syrupy. Hops are a big part of this brew: spicy, citrusy and slightly medicinal. What is oddly lacking is the big rye. There is some dry, dusty flavours of this desirable grain but it is overshadowed by the booze and regular bready malts. Don't get me wrong, this is a tasty brew. But I think we were all craving more rye. There could be no other food pairing than a Reuben sandwich.


Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1
Value +1
Appearance +1