Showing posts with label 8. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 8. Show all posts

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Excitation Espresso Stout - Category 12


Brewing with coffee, this is a great idea. The ethanol calms you down and the caffeine revs you up. Or the roasted flavours of stout and coffee blend nicely, your pick. There are a few ways to incorporate the goodness of coffee into a beer. The first is to just add coffee grounds into the brewing mash. This is the easiest way, but can produce a quite bitter, astringent and roasty beer. Imagine brewing a coffee with warm water for about an hour, you are going to extract all the flavours. Including ones you might not want. I'm pretty sure this is how Black Jackal was made, tastes like it anyways.
Another way is to just add lots of espresso shots. This is quite time consuming but highlights the rich, sweet creaminess of fresh espresso. Swan's yearly Double Shot Porter is made this way.
The middle ground of effort and flavour extraction is the cold brew method. Most of us have tried, or made, cold brew coffee. Just place coffee grounds into cold water, wait 24-48 hours, then remove desired caffeinated liquid. How does the phrase go..." all the jitter but none of the bitter." Spinnakers makes a cold pressed coffee brew and Lighthouse has their Night Watch Coffee Lager. You can either use the cold pressed coffee as strike water, or just add the coffee before the boil.

Excitation = 8/10

The nose is unusually calm with roasted coffee beans and blackberries.  Only a but of roasted bitterness, and not coffee acrid, starts off this medium to full mouthfeel beer. Get your jitter on with flavours of espresso creme, coffee water, dark berries and creamy bittersweet chocolate. The finish is long and roasted with addition flavours of toasted pecans.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 6.4% +1
Value +1
Appearance +1 Great label with nice description of expected flaavours

Glassware: Snifter, or ceramic mug

Food Pairings:Definitely grilled, heavy meats. You could also pair this with a dessert of tiramisu.

Cellar: maybe, but nope

For those who read all the way to the bottom, there is more. I'm guessing that you are also the people who stay to the end of the credits of an animation movie. Just in case there are extra scenes. I shall be brief. This will be the last beer review. I have been doing these reviews for over 10 years and my heart is just not in it. As you can tell, due to the lack of reviews this year. Also there was no best beer of 2016 article either. It would have been the 2016 Sang, it case you were wondering. Either that or the Twa Dogs Saison. If you want beer reviews, check out Bring Your Porter to the Slaughter, Matter of Beer, or Beer Ye Beer Ye. I might do something in the future, I paid for the web domain for the year. But for now that is all.
Thank you for reading and commenting





Friday, July 1, 2016

Kokako Wild Ale by Moon Under Water

Every release of the Moon's barrel aged series is something to look forward to. Wild/Brett yeasts in wine or spirit barrels, what is there not to love. This release was aged in French oak with kiwi and whole leaf Wai-Tai hops.  I forget what these bottles set me back, perhaps $10ish. If this was a release from a bigger American craft brewer, you happily hand over $15-$20.

Kokako = 8/10 


The satisfying pop of the cork opened up aromas of barnyard Brett and tingly citrus. Prickly favours of lemons, wool, pineapples wash back with a refreshing tart acidity. Not quite mouth puckering, but close. The bottle will not last forever, but the linger of tart barnyard and lemonade almost does. Not sure where the kiwis went. Excellent.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Clean tulip

Food Pairings: Food pairings with sour/wild beer are hard. Mainly because you just want to enjoy them on their own. I'm would pair with an open faced sandwich with tapenade and sticky wash rind cheese. The funk of the cheese and the beers should blend well. There will also be the sweetness/fattiness of the cheese and the oily olives contrasting with the sour of the Kokako.

Cellar: I'm will certainly but a few away

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Odyssey Porter (Phillips)

There can never be enough nitrogenated beers. Nitrogen gas adds a creamy mouthfeel and sweet flavour. Since nitrogen is quite insoluble in most liquids, it adds a thicker creamier mouthfeel. When served on draught, nitro beers display that classic bubble cascade associated with a certain Irish stout. Within that fancy nitro beer faucet is a restriction plate (plate with tiny holes). Beer is forced through these narrow openings and nitrogen is forced out of solution, which leads to that large dense head. Nitrogen gas also has a sweetness which contrasts and softens bitter beers like stouts and porters. I have heard of nitro IPAs and hoppy pilsners.  If Clay is reading this, which I doubt, perhaps he would consider a nitro version of Potts Pils? That would be nice.
When nitro beers are available in cans, there is a whole different magic that happens. Read all about it here, because the internet is always true. Regardless, with a quick opening and a hard pour you can enjoy a creamy cascading beer at home.

Odyssey Porter = 8/10

A sweet aroma greets you with an equal mix of light toast, powdered milk and cocoa. The mouthfeel is creamy as expected, but a little thin. This is a straight forward porter with dry cocoa, milk chocolate, toast and slight fruity red apple. It all ends with a whipped cream and chocolate finish. Overall it is very nice.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.0%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Nice art with reasonable description of flavour)

Glassware: Definitely an Irish tulip, for historical effect. Make sure it is the 500ml version

Food Pairings: I would go for a mushroom and beef stew. The chewiness of the stem would mesh well with the creamy mouthfeel of the Odyssey. Generally stews are rich and umami heavy, perfect to balance with a sweet porter. For any veggies reading this, try with a mushroom and red kidney bean pot pie.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Moon Juice Kettle Sour

I love sour beers. The love of sour beers is polarizing in my opinion, you either love or hate. There is no middle ground. I feel this is the same for many culinary delights. Other examples include asparagus, sushi and cilantro. Let it be known; I do not like cilantro. Back to sour beers; I love sour beers. Luckily they do not contain cilantro.
Many fresh agricultural products are paired with bacteria or yeasts that will help ferment them. Grapes are covered in wine producing yeasts, ditto for apples. Barley is covered in Lactobacillus, which if whetted will lead to lactic acid fermentation. Normally wort is boiled to kill off these bacteria so the Saccharomyces yeast can ferment without competition. One exception is kettle souring. This brewing technique gives lactic acid bacteria a head start to produce the desired levels of sourness and attenuation. Once the desired level of sourness is achieved, the wort is boiled to halt the souring process and traditional fermentation proceeds as normal. Or in the case of the Berliner Weisse, the souring process if allowed to run its full course. Think of this as a lambic without atmospheric influence. Brewers might pitch a Lactobacillus culture to speed things along or produce a desired flavour.
Which leads us to the current trend of kettle souring. Many craft breweries are attempting one. Axe and Barrel makes a very nice spruce tip kettle sour.
Moon Juice Kettle Sour = 8/10


The nose is similar to lactic acid fermeneted beverages, think Kefir or yogurt. It also carries a hint of pine and oranges. A pleasant acidic tingle and oddly thick mouthfeel delivers all the sourness. Some felt it was a bit sweet, but I like a sweet beer. There was an equal part cereal, citrus and breadiness mixed together with an approachable yogurt like tartness. If you like your sours, this will make you happy. Sadly due to my lazy attitude this beer is already sold out. However, the Moon's Facebook page mentions another kettle sour release.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 (none mentioned but extra marks for deliciousness)
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Something small. I big glass of this sour might be hard to go through.

Food Pairings: This might be interesting contrast with a sweet dish, perhaps corn chowder. A good pairing would be an arugula salad with tart, salty feta or lightly acidic young goat cheese.

Cellar: I might try cellaring a growler of sour one day.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Driftwood De Auras Wheat Sour

It is nice to see a trend towards regular sour releases by local breweries. Driftwood seems to always have one on the shelves and Spinnakers has a regular line up. At least at this moment there were five sours on tap at the Spinnakers brewpub. I will keep this short; it's a sour, it's Driftwood, you can probably figure out the rest or have already drank a few bottles

De Auras =  8/10 


The nose is oddly sweet of oak barrel, horse blanket and Gew├╝rztraminer. As expected it is tart, medium acidic with a hint of dry tannins. Each sip reminds me of a white wine. Except this wine has been steeped in horseblankets, light pit fruits, oak and a sweet acidity. Yum. Think of this as an imperial Berliner Weisse.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great label art)

Glassware: Something tulip in shape. 

Food Pairings: Pair with sours is hard but not impossible. I'm thinking of an arugula salad with young goat cheese and a tart vinaigrette. This could also blend in nicely with a sweet and sour Chinese dish.

Cellar: Aging this one is a crap shoot. The malt base is not very complex, but could be fun to see what the yeast does over time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Waveform Wit by Category 12

Honestly these kids can do no wrong. Right on the heels of their Insubordinate session IPA, we have another tasty beer. This time it is a truly summer release, a witbier. For those of you, like me, who are into beer styles a witbier ticks the BJCP 16A style box. I'm still going with the 2008 version. Most witbiers are clones or slight variants of the definitive style Hoegaarden. There are few things better than a fresh Hoegaarden on a warm day, no orange slice for me thank you. This style has a few essential flavour components. It should be sweet, but not excessive. There should be some tartness from the wheat malt and aromatic yeast. It should contain some subtle spiciness and citrus notes. The classic choices are coriander and orange peel. The Waveform hits most of these points, with a major twist.

Waveform Wit = 8/10


The Waveform starts off filling out most of the witbier checkboxes: aromatic wheat, vague spiciness and citrus. But very quickly things go awry. The wheat aroma and flavour is a little mushy, but this is easily overlooked. Do I taste fresh grapefruit flesh that is not hop derived? Who replaced coriander with warming cardamom? I need to reacquaint myself with this spice. Notes of brown bananas fills out the flavour package just nicely. A tasty twist of a classic style.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: A wit must be served in a heavy, hexagonal jam jar. So long as it is clean. If there is an orange slice floating in it, either fling it away or eat it. The only floaties I want in my beer are undissolved proteins or yeast flakes.

Food Pairings: Only seafood will do. I shall drink one of these with my next sushi order. Right after I have a spicy arugula salad with fresh goat cheese and capers

Cellar: Only if your cellar is on the patio and it is removed once cold.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jackline Rhubard Grisette by Lighthouse

Just when you think a BC brewery can't find another obscure beer style. From Gose to Gratzer to Grisette. Essentially the grisette is a table (low alcohol) saison. It is meant to be an unobtrusive yet refreshing drinking beer. Rather like the mild ale to the English. Unsurprisingly Lighthouse put rhubarb in their version. I mean it tasted great in the Rhubie saison last summer. In case brewers are looking for more obscure beer styles, here is a list. Or here

Jackline Grisette = 8/10


Yup it works. A cereal/grainy nose carries familiar friends fruity tannic and lightly yeasty. This is quite a dry beer, partially from the high carbonation and tannic tingle from unsweetened rhubarb. It is light and tartly refreshing with light cereal and lemon mixed with the namesake fruitiness. You will reach for another sip before the dry rhubarb quickly fades away. This beer is guaranteed to sell out this summer.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice label art)

Glassware: A tulip or pokal.

Food Pairings: Seafood, definitely light seafood. Perhaps a shrimp salad with a lemon dressing. As for cheese the tartness with enhance a young goat cheese for sure.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Swans double review Master Blaster and Black Cygnet

It is already April and I have fallen behind in my reviews. Life is rough as Victoria's premier beer blogger. I might also mention only, beer blogger. This makes the premier part easy to claim

Andrew was busy for Victoria Beer Week, which was a great time. He released two beers: the Master Blaster Brett Saison and the Black Cygnet session black IPA. These are on tap and growler releases only. No preamble just review.

Master Blaster = 8/10


It is hard to go wrong with a fruity, spicy saison with the addition of brettanomyces. The nose was floral and tropical fruity from the hops and the brett character just dried that out and added a bit of funky orange peel. One can never have too much mango, dried pineapple or horse blanket. The Blaster was a little hoppy for a saison; I suppose the Northwest Style disclaimer in the name was enough of a warning. A spicy and tropical hop blast harmonized with the earthy and brett tart tang. There were some apricot and cracker malts along for the ride. It tasted a little thin but this was expected from the brett influence. The ending was short with cooling mangos. Very, very nice.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Tulip

Food Pairings: Breaded or poached light seafood with a fruity sauce. I would choose a wild mushroom and risotto with lemon drizzle. The cheese would have to be something fresh goat.

Cellar: Can you cellar a growler?

Black Cygnet = 7/10

I really liked this beer, but I tend to like low ABV beers with lots of flavour. My growler still smells of powdered Nestle Quick and mixed citrus. The Cygnet was a very drinkable mix of weak coffee, dry chocolate, grapefruit, oranges and geraniums all in perfect balance.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Whatever is clean

Food Pairings: Definitely something grilled and fatty. The cheese would be something cheddar and aged.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Legacy Ale Barley Wine by Swan's

It might be a little late in the season for a barley wine. Barley wines invoke images of cold evenings curled up next to a crackling fire while reading Chaucer. In my demented world, barley wines are enjoyed while feeling the warmth of an overclocked GPU while playing online video games. Does pwning some person named Chaucerdude232 count? I digress. Last year this was my favourite beer. How could you not enjoy a pre-aged barley wine for only $7?

Legacy Ale = 8/10


I found this years version a little hot and syrupy. It was still quite nice, but it had big expectations placed upon it. The alcohol warmth and apricot sweetness became apparent as soon as I removed the cap. Sweetness was a major flavour of this barley wine; lots of peaches, apricots and marshmallow. The booziness and mild earthy hops tried their best to temper the syrup. Still, it was a tasty barley wine that is ready to drink now. I'm looking forward to seeing if the alcohol calms down in about six months.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 10.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Chalice or tulip

Food Pairings: The dish would have to be big, rich and fatty. How about duck pate?  Desert might be nice. I'm thinking apricot upside down cake. As for a cheese, a blue would be bold enough to stand up to this warming beer. It might pair well with a quality feta; the salty feta would be a good contrast to this sweet beer.

Cellar: Might be worth the effort. The malts are pretty thin, but if the alcohol fades....

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Entangled by Driftwood

You all know I have this thing against made up beer styles. They appeal to me about as much as flavoured porters. I don't like change. Perhaps Mark Twain was referring to me when he penned his famous change quote. It might have been my family that bought me this beer. My little one picks bottles based upon labels; she might have thought this beer was a Disney tie-in. Entangled is a hopfenweisse or hoppy wheat beer. Let's call this beer Fat Tug Wheat or FTW for short. I can see why she was attracted to the label. My choice for best packaged beer of 2014 was just decided. Those Hired Guns kids make some elegant designs. Anyways, back to the Fat Tug theme. Last month we sampled Fat Tug lite. Perhaps Driftwood might do a Fat Tug Black, a.k.a. American-style Black Ale/Cascadian/ Black IPA. This I could get behind; might even buy more than one. Enough of my rambling, how does the FTW taste?


Entangled = 8/10

Those who buy too much beer will find similarities between FTW and the Brooklyn/Schneider collaboration beer. Both smelled of potency in the spicy, floral, citrus hop department. There was not a lot of wheat in the nose, just the hops. Wheat became noticeable in the sip, it tempered the anticipated IPA astringency with a tongue caressing creamy texture. Most beer drinkers in Victoria have a collection of dedicated brain cells responsible for recognizing the taste of Fat Tug. Imagine this flavour mixed with cream of wheat and bread. The ending was the expected long linger of spicy wheat and citrus. I'm starting to warm up to the idea of made up beer styles.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Should be a weisse glass.

Food pairings: Hard with fusion beers; perhaps fusion food is in order. Try this next to a breaded salmon with lemon glaze. I might ask for a lemon and Seville orange risotto.

Cellar: Nope, it's all about the fresh hops.

Cheese: This is a new category. 2015 will be the year of cheese. An aged sheep's cheese, sharp cheddar or aged Gloucester should have enough strength to balance this potent beer.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seaport Vanilla Stout and Beer Fairies

I love beer fairies. There are very few perks to being a beer blogger. Other than the fame and glory, there is not much else. There is no fortune, there is constant abuse and people loosely borrow your format. Perhaps I should be flattered. Every so often, free stuff comes my way. This was my lucky day, I came home to free beer on my doorstep! A wise and daring enigma left this bountiful box for me. I feel obligated to do a review as the accompanying press releases called me a 'champion of craft beer.' Actually it called everyone who got a box the same thing.
I do not have a degree in marketing, nor a degree in economics, nor a degree in behavioral psychology. These defects do not allow me to critique the new packaging. However, Mrs. Left4Beer very much liked the new packaging and found the iconic/naval signal flag theme appealing. Perhaps this is mission accomplished. With the trend in beer packaging to more elaborate and flashy packaging, the simplistic and iconic style of Lighthouse is refreshing. I really like the bottle caps. If there was a T-shirt available I would wear it proudly. hint..hint. This blog is more concerned about what is inside.

Seaport Vanilla Stout = 8/10


I liked this beer, and not because it was free. Perhaps I am wrong, but this tastes a lot like Keepers Stout with added vanilla. The nose started off with a hint of earthy vanilla, a dusting of chocolate and traces of well seasoned coffee. A friend of mine brought me a very elegantly worded tap list from the Mute Swan Pub. This list might have influenced that first sentence. Each full and creamy sip peels away layers of roasted astringency, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate and homemade vanilla ice cream. Yah, that tap list influenced me a lot. This beer is good. Tastes like Keepers with Madagascar vanilla. Which is great because every Victorian beer drinker secretly hopes they will get a case of Keepers for their birthday. I know I do, hint, hint. Even better an advent calendar that has a Keepers everyday, with a Shipwreck IPA on Friday. Shipwreck is the new name for SwitchBack IPA.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 I like the box! Ummm nice new packaging?

Glassware: A snifter if you are feeling fancy, or a nonic if you are in a hurry. Or a La Chouffe glass if you made a super-awesome thrift store find!

Food Pairings: Dessert all the way. A flour-less chocolate brownie with whipped cream would be delightful. Ribs with smoky vanilla BBQ sauce might overload the vanilla pleasure spot in your brain. If you want to try something messed up, may I suggest stew heavy on the chili powder.

Cellar: Yes, in mine. Trust me, I will keep it safe.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Phillips 13 Knot Anniversary


I have seen some great marketing ideas during my blogging days. There have beers in pine boxes. One litre sized cans in a German stein was nice. Glow in the dark labels are fun. Bottles hand wrapped in paper are very elegant. No one can deny the pull of an Advent Calendar full of beer. This marketing idea by Phillips almost tops them all. Who can pass up an drink combination that could be called the PNW boilermaker? An imperial IPA with a side of liqueur, this is great. Reminds me of something the legendary Bert Grant was rumoured to have done. He would place a few drops of hop oil extract into any beer he was drinking if it was deemed underhopped. There is a nice write up about the pricing and legality on Brian's Blog. So how does this marketing gimmick taste?

Phillips 13 Knot = 8/10

This review will be in three parts; IPA only, liqueur only and both together. Perhaps we should start with the best part, the Hop Drop liqueur. I am certainly not an expert on spirits, but this hop drop is darn tasty. The favour is similar to a dry hopped mezcal. Ample honey sweetness and smooth with a slight pine and citrus addition. Very nice. This the best part of the package. Drink the spirit, trade the beer.

The Impy IPA on its own tastes like any other Phillips hop bomb. It reminded me like last years anniversary IPA and the year before last years. A beverage sure to please the hop heads in BC. Massive hop bitterness that is a mix of key limes, grass, pine and tropical fruits. The acidic mouthfeel feels like you did a face plant into a pile of pine needles. Once the initial attack fades, there is a lot of flavours to work through. There is cotton candy, pine sol, geraniums, pie crusts (Thanks Brian), and bread dough.

The two parts together make it a quite syrupy sip with acetone vapours. It almost becomes hard to taste anything, but there are whole wheat croissants, pine resin and a citrus fruit basket.

Interesting fact: It is illegal in some states to display a noose. 

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 (11.8 or 13%)
Value +1 (the liqueur is worth the cost)
Appearance +1 Great packaging

Glassware: Definitely a tulip.

Food Pairings: I honestly can't think of any food that could stand up to this exorbitantly hopped beverage.

Cellar: Maybe, since I plan to have a few bottles left over.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sauerteig Farmhouse Ale by Lighthouse

I love stealth marketing. This beer just appeared before my eyes in some backwater CBAW. It wasn't really backwater, just Maude Hunters.This bottle was wedged next to all the releases you thought were sold out like Bird of Prey, Road Trip and Old Cellar Dweller. They even had a cask of Russell brewing on the bar. There was only a minor mention of this on the specials chalk board. My server never even mentioned it. Too bad, I would have liked to try it.
Anyways back to the beer. The farmhouse/saison style beer is a style where almost anything is appropriate. As long as you use some wheat and an appropriate yeast, things are good. Between fits of coughing, Dean elaborated on this beer, "[it was] brewered as a saison with as many bakery ingredients as we could through at it, including huge tubs of of rye sourdough starter made for us by Byron Fry. Sweet and a touch sour with a little rye spiciness, this one's for more general audience than a truly sour or bretty beer would be." Collaberations are great, especially with other craft food vendors like Fry's Red Wheat Bread. A beer with a sourdough starter and rye? What did this beer prick think?

Sauerteig = 8/10

You could tell there was some funky yeast action with the barnyard smell and the multitude of little bubbles that comprised the head. The nose also presented hints of athletes foot, wheat, peppery rye and lemons. My first impression of the sip was that this tastes rather like a Berliner Weisse. I tried to homebrew a Berliner Weisse once. The sauerteig tastes way better than my homebrew. Each sip is juicy and sweet with lemons, sourdough bread and Seville oranges. The ending gives a dry finish that speaks of rye. Did I mention the tart barnyard sourness that carries all the way through? It was not a mouth puckering sour; Mrs. Left4beer called it a beginner sour. Not an overly complex beer, but interesting enough to keep you coming back.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Boring label but good description of beer. Would have been nice if QR code linked to more information about beer)

Glassware: Tulip.

Food Pairings: I really wish there was some wash rind cheese in the fridge. A pasta with tonnes of pecorino cheese would be great.

Cellar: nope. Sour character might develop more.

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 11, 2013

Saturnalia Gruit by Salt Spring Island

The flavour profile of beer can be thought of the balance between sweetness and bitterness. Dopplebocks are closer to the sweet side, while IPAs drift toward the bitter side. Sweetness is provided by barley malts and bitterness is often provided by hops.This is not the case with the gruit style of beer. Before the regular use of hops, herbs and spices provided the countering bitterness and preservative properties need to enjoy a low alcohol, fermented beverage. We rarely get to sample beers where herbs and spices play a significant role in the flavour profile. This is why everyone should try the Saturalia Gruit.

Saturnalia Gruit =  8/10

From the start you know this brew is going to be different. Peculiar aromas of sweet herbals, burdock and licorice rise from this tar black beer. Things get off-setting at the first sip; this beer is assertively tart and sour. Not in a lambic way, more of a digestive bitter angle. Other odd flavours of burdock, licorice fern and cinnamon swirl around an indescribable herbal sweetness. The finish is sour, dry with a long linger. The gruit is not for everyone, but if you like sours you will like this one. It reminds me of those burdock and dandelion sodas you find in British sweets shops.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice labels with description of flavours you might expect)

Glassware: Whatever you have is fine. I would have used a stretched tulip.

Food Pairing: Good luck. Something quite sweet and spicy would resonate nicely. Perhaps toffee pudding with a hint of brandy.

Cellar: This might be a fun one to try, sort of a risk though. If those herbals flavours fade this will be one syrupy sweet beer.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kaleidoscope Mosiac IPA (Phillips)

Tonight will be a quick review as I am packing to head up island. This is essentially Hop Circle with the new and trendy Mosiac hop. The Mosiac hop is the daughter of Simcoe mommy and Nugget daddy as bred by the Hop Breeding Company (HBC) aka. Select Botanicals Group. It has been described as Citra (also a HBC variety) on steroids.

Kaleidoscope Mosiac IPA = 8/10


It is great to taste single hops variety IPAs. This way one can learn all the unique flavours in order to try and pick it out of other beers. Doesn't everyone do this? The nose is slightly grassy/earthy with hints of tropical fruit punch. Sweet tropical fruits slash across in every sip. Mosaic delivers guava, papaya and maybe pineapple in an oddly unbitter like fashion. I'm sure the IBUs are mountainous but the mouth puckering is just not there, which is nice. I would have liked to see a bit more malt depth, but you can't have it all. Why won't this sweet citrus tongue coating go away?

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1
Appearance+1 (always great label art and reasonable description of beer)

Glassware: Shaker, pint or tulip

Food pairing: Aged cheddar or gouda. That stinky soft cheddar in the red plastic tub would work well. Think bold flavoured Indian food or Pho, even an arugula salad would be nice.

Cellar: Nope, drink fresh




Wednesday, July 10, 2013

La Trappe Quad

This is a treat for Victoria's beer geeks, La Trappe Quadrupel is coming to town. The Belgian Quad/Abt style ale is not actually a recognized style of beer. For those keeping track, the lighter quadrupels are lumped under Belgian Specialty Ale (16E) along with most of the Unibroue beers. While the darker Abt (Abbott) is placed in the Belgian Dark Strong Ale (18E) category. Other notable Abt styles include the Rochefort 10, Westy 12 and Chimay Blue. The name designation 'quad' refers to the fact that these beers are stronger than Belgian triples. As the nomenclature denotes, this a formidable beverage.

La Trappe is brewed by Dutch Trappist brewery Koningshoeven. The most popular bottles available  from this brewery are the Quad and the infamous tripel. It might surprise you that this is the most prolific Trappist brewery. They brew almost 10 different beers; my favourite was their bock.

La Trappe = 8/10



This beer pours with a daunting fluffy head and spicy alcohol nose. Further aroma complexities includes oranges, peaches and that chacteristic Belgian yeast. Each creamy, warming sip delivers a linear taste. It is all ripe pit fruits such as peaches, pears, pale prunes and almonds. There is a slight earthy and spicy hop ending tempered with orange syrup. 

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 10%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: It must be a chalice. All Trappist/Abbey ales need a wide brim to accommodate the massive fluffy head and mammoth aromatics.

Food pairings: Cheese: Blue cheese or anything wash rind. Pair with light, fattier meats such as wild birds, turkey and perhaps fatty fish with a light fruit sauce. Dessert options are almond tarts and marzipan. For the Vegan/Veggies out there, think white bean casserole with marjoram and easy on the sage. Personally, I would love to try this next to a Voodoo Doughnut Captain my Captain.

Cellar: Some of the booziness might fade to let the syrupy fruits come forward, but I wouldn't do it.

I got my bottle early. Liquor Plus will be getting a shipment of these in the near future. Thanks Rod for the advance bottle.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Heretic (Driftwood)

I often wonder why I do these reviews. Perhaps these thoughts are validation for my slacking off. Any beer that is released in Victoria people will buy and it is not like there is a tonne of them. There are just enough to give us something new every weekend; which is perfect. If there are no local releases then there are scads of Vancouver beers and other imports. Yes I called Vancouver beers imports: we are on an island.  Your local CBAW is not like Everything Wine where the selection is mind numbingly vast. Bottleworks and Belmont Station are like that. You really don't need an insiders guide to sort through the vast selection of beers at your local. So why do you read my crappy-prick-like beer reviews? Perhaps you want to confirm that you think a beer is good? You don't need a beer reviewer to tell you that. A good beer is one that you like, simple! Whether a beer meets the flavour profile for a BJCP style without faults, that is another story. Perhaps you read beer reviews to see if the expert reviewer picked up the same flavours you did. I always skip to the tasting section of Taps, All About Beer, Beer Connoisseur and Beer West first for this reason. Yes, I do read all these magazines cover to cover. Often your flavour sensations will differ from an expert reviews. Perhaps you want to avoid a totally shitty beer release. This is a valid point. Luckily, it is rare that we get a truly crappy bomber release in this town. It might have a few issues, in my opinion, but it will rarely be undrinkable. We already know which breweries release bombers of inconsistent quality and tend to avoid all releases, unless it sounds really interesting. So why do we read beer reviews? I don't know. If you do, please leave your comments below.

I must act fast and review this beer. It is known that blogs cannot be too long or people loose interest.

The Heretic (Driftwood) = 8/10 


Ok, so we have a Belgian style triple in this bottle. We, or at least I, expect certain things from a triple. The nose should have a vague spicy smell (phenols) with pepper and a slight fruitiness. There should be no alcohol nor hops on the nose. Each sip should be low in alcohol perception and only medium in body with lots of carbonation. A difficult task considering the high alcohol content. The taste should be soft but deep with flavours of lemons, spicy yeast, crackers and pears. It should not linger but only provide a pleasing alcohol warmth and bitterness that could be either hops or peppery phenols. Yup, the Heretic delivers on all these points. I did notice a slight green apple taste, but it was minor. Bonus points for using local malts.

Glassware: A chalice is the perfect choice here. Some might use a snifter, but often this concentrates the already massive head.

Food pairings: All things wash rind cheese but not the blues nor Stiltons. Seafood would be a good choice, especially if there is a lemon sauce involved. Want it for dessert? Picture this with a lemon meringue pie.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always great art and reasonable good description of beer flavour)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

3 Weeds (Lighthouse)


Summer is approaching so bring on the witbiers. Phillips was their usual trio around, Vancouver Island has a pair, hopefully Swan's Tessier's wit will be out soon and now one is available from Lighthouse. Honestly, how the hell can VIB Beachcomber not win a gold medal at the 2012 CBA is beyond my comprehension. Maybe for the same reason a hoppy pale ale won a medal in the amber lager category. My ranting will end now so we can begin our - brief - lesson.  Witbier means 'white beer'. The name is derived from its appearance. It usually looks white from the use of pale malts and wheat with suspended yeast. The addition of spices is also appropriate with this style. Expect to find tastes of coriander, orange peel, ginger and pepper in your glass.


3 Weeds (Lighthouse) = 8/10


Weedy aroma is equal parts yeasty spice, coriander and wheat. The creaminess hides the alcohol well until the warming end appears. The brew can be as simple or complex as you desire. Without too much thought the flavours of creamy of wheat, vague spices and ginger readily appear. If you wish to delve deeper, tastes of coriander, pepper, candied ginger, wheaties and bread can be noticed. A brew destined for patios everywhere.

Glassware: A tulip would work well. If you have a hexagonal Hoegaarden glass, use it now.

Food Pairings: Stick to the lighter but spiced stuff: chick pea curry, spiced tuna salad, poutine (yes Dave, poutine), arugula salads 

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (good description of beer flavour)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shatterbier (Moon Under Water)

I feel like such a failure; there were no notes taken about this beer. Sometimes you must do these sorts of things. Not think too much about a beer. Sit back, crack it open and savour the flavours without trying to pick it apart. SNORT, that was funny. Beer pricks never do that. It is true that no notes were taken about this beer. Luckily the little grey cells are still working.

Shatterbier (Moon Under Water) =8/10


Normally when brewers try to blend beer with coffee, they go the easy route. Stick those beans in with a stout or porter and you can't do wrong. Blending that roasted or brunt flavour with a delicate golden ale had me a little leery. But we must not forget that coffee can be roasted and brewed to be light and fruity; a perfect match for the golden ale. The nose was light and fruity with calm, toasted aromas from the coffee meshing well. An expected heavy handed roasted espresso smack never arrived. Perhaps the flavour was similar to a light roasted pour-over. This combined with the mild peaches, floral and effervescence of the golden ale perfectly. I forget what I paid for this beer, but it was under priced. It does look intimidating and the side writing is hard to read, so it will probably linger in the shelves. This is good news for local beer geeks that appreciated an experiment gone well.

Glassware: Chalice. The massive aroma and carbonation needs somewhere to spread. Other options would be a tulip or snifter.

Food Pairings. This is a tough one. Perhaps something light and mildly roasted. Lightly grilled sea bass with a lemon sauce. Welsh rarebit would be nice.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (perhaps the second most elegantly packaged beer in Victoria to date. Hoynes Gratitude is still #1)