Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beer and Chocolate Pairing Night

Beer school is rarely this well attended; perhaps every event should involve chocolate. Chocolate and beer pairing is a little different from food pairing. It is important to match the sweetness of the chocolate with your beer choice. With food, this is not an issue. Another possibility is to match flavours within the chocolate with your chosen beer. This is getting easier with brewers experimenting with adjuncts and flavours enhancers. Here is a summary of the treats beer school attendees enjoyed. Thanks to Rod Phillips at Liquor Plus for helping me track down these great craft beers.

Handmade Bernard Callebaut white chocolate with Rice Krispies and dried cranberries
Paired with Hoyner Pilsner

I have always wanted to try a pairing with white chocolate and beer. People thought this was the beer pairing of the evening. The sweetness and creaminess of white chocolate meshed well with  similar characteristics of the Bohemian Hoyner Pilsner. The Hoyner was not overly hoppy, but the hoppiness was comparable to the tartness provided by the dried cranberries. Thank you Hoyne Brewing for participating in our event and furthering the fact that craft beer is not just for dinner anymore.

Purdy's milk chocolate hedgehog
Paired with Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar

This was everyone's least favourite pairing of the evening. The hazelnut in each beer was fun, but that was about it.

Purdy's dark cashew caramel
Paired with Russell Wee Angry Scotch Ale

Those who liked caramel, loved these two together. Russells Wee Angry had mild caramel notes which was mirrored in the Purdy's chocolate. The cashews in the chocolate brought out the light roasted/peatiness in the Russells. A match made in beer heaven.

Purdy's ice wine truffle
Paired with Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller

This was the bold choice: two very strong tasting delicacies. Both the Old Cellar Dwellar and the ice wine truffle can be hard to enjoy by themselves. They worked perfectly as a pair. The vineous richness of the truffle was almost equal to the warmth provided by the OCD. Conversely the intense, citrus, piney and resin from the OCD only made the luscious dark chocolate better.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lagunitas Pils

This claims to be a Czech style Pilsner. At 6.2% I'm not sure how they think this will work. But I will try anything with a Lagunitas label on it.

Lagunitas Pils = 6/10
Ratebeer 3.24 75th  percentile
Beer Advocate 82%

A little bit too much sulfur and vegetal aromas was mixed with the light grass and citrus. I might overlook this if the taste is worth it. It is. Malts dominate the start with a tad of lettuce, bread and metallic mixed in. In a brief moment, the spicy hop rush starts. It is a mix of earthy, spicy and minerally. This all seems to work nicely.

Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1 6.2%
Value +1
Appearance 0

Other Pils Ponderings
Panzer Imperial Pils
Czech Mate Pils (Paddock Wood)
Pilsner Urquell

Longboard Island Lager (Kona)

Everyone needs a good lager once in a while. I'm sure a lot of finger wagging is going on right now, but it's true. Your beer palate needs a little rest every so often.

Longboard Island Lager (Kona) = 3/10
Ratebeer 2.79 31st percentile
Beer Advocate 78th

Nothing really to see here. It's a premium style lager, so anyone can predict the flavours off by heart. The glass smells of straw, water, lemons and the barest of honey. A light to medium mouthfeel serves up a crisp superfecta of straw, apple, spicy and earthy hops. Only a mid-grade linger of straw and honey remains. It's an above average lager.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content -1 4.6%
Value 0
Appearance 0

Other Lager Reviews
Lucky Force 8 100th review
Brooklyn Lager
Galt Knife Old Style Lager

Rayon Vert (Green Flash)

They told me that soon this day would come; my house is again quiet. The wife is away for the weekend, the kid is at a sleepover, even the cat won't talk to me. Just me and a bottle of beer. Maybe I won't clean the fish tanks and play Battlefield 3 instead.

Rayon Vert (Green Flash) = 7/10
Ratebeer 3.7 98th percentile
Beer Advocate 88%

This brew smells like all citrus goodness: oranges, mild lemons and pomelos. Don't forget about the glorious wafting of bready Belgian yeasts. Each sip is spicy, tart yet slightly sweet. It is hard to tell where all the flavours are coming from. Is the lemony citrus from the hops or the yeast? How about the sourdough bread is that the Brett funk? Only the malts or again with the magic Belgian yeasts? Oranges; I don't care where you originate as long as you keep returning. A dry, citrus finish only invites you in for another sip. Very nice.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance 0

Other Misc Belgian Style Ales
Spring Rite (Driftwood)
La Chouffe
Delirium Tremens

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shiner Bock

Crap! I have to make an effort to say something witty and smrt sounding because people are reading. So this one of the most well known brands of beer in the US. It's not on par with BUD, but more the Pabst level. It is also a poser beer. It's not a bock for a few reasons. The first is that it is weak. The second is that it is weak. The third is that is doesn't come from un-spellable town in Belgium. The fourth is that you can see through it. Forget the fifth, tick tick tick. I bought this beer based on name alone.

Shiner Bock = 2/10
Ratebeer 2.58 19th  percentile
Beer Advocate 71%

This reminds me of another beer that calls itself a bock, but doesn't taste like one. FYI the local on tastes really good. Even BJCP calls it an American Dark Lager. I call it weak smelling of light lager and grass. YES, lager is a smell, check the dictionary. While you are busy with that: the taste is boring toffee, egg whites and buttery. This brew would taste great over popcorn. Thankfully the ending was quick; just like a last drop. Overall it sux. That is a bit harsh. Call it a gateway beer, until you drink some real craft beer. Grab a New Belgium Ranger and mess yourself up.

Taste +2
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content -1 4.4%
Value 0
Appearance +1 (legendary name alone wins)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cameron Dark 266

This beer produces thought of the brewer referred to as Deebs at Phillips Brewing. It's a very obscure inside joke. Does he still own that Red Wings jersey? Nevermind. Life us rough for an obsessive beer ticker; gotta get thru these 33beer journals. This is 3 of 16!

Cameron Dark 266 = 4/10
Ratebeer 2.91 40th percentile
Beer Advocate 76%

The nose is unimpressive with light straw and roast chocolate. We all know what a well done dark lager tastes like. There is lightly astringent chocolate upfront mixed with toast. Then there is this herbal and citrus hop bite at the end; vary the hop bite a little bit. The Cameron had more hops throughout the sip than expected. You can guess the ending. Wait I will spoil it for you: lightly roasted, toast with Nutella and weak marmalade. It was simple and tasty.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 4.5%
Value 0
Appearance 0

Other dark lager reviews
Midnight Sessions Dark Lager YES!
Jacobsen Dark Lager Maybe
Okanagan Spring Dark Lager NO

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Double Dragon 2012

For some unknown reason, I keep buying this beer year after year. Perhaps it was the taste in 2008 that drew me in: overabundance of hops with a great toasted malt accompaniment. 2011 was such a let down that I dumped most of the bottle down the sink. Life is too short for bad beer. How about this year? It was better than last year...

Double Dragon 2012 = 3/10
Ratebeer 3.29 81st percentile
Beer Advocate

First off, this beer smells amazing! It has all the PNW hop goodness one could ask for. Say 'hello' to floral, ruby red grapefruit rind, blood orange, the earth and a hint of toasted biscuits. After this it all went wrong. There was lots of carbonation which only enhanced a vague soapy and citrus astringency. Behind the initial glorious hop slap was a thin whimpering of toasted malts, caramel, cherries ending with spicy arugula salad. The ending was a tad soapy, tacky and sticky. It reminded me of a wilted arugula salad with grapefruit slices on top.  As it warmed up and the aromas died down, the brew became relatively flavourless. Past memories willed me to like this beer, but alas the last bits hit the drain.

Taste +2
Aftertaste -1
Alcohol Content +1 8.4% (hidden very well)
Value 0
Appearance +1 (great label art, but then I had a thing for Asian art)

Other imperial red reviews
Captain Sigs Northwest Ale
Big Red Imperial Ale (Southern Tier)
Hop Head Red Ale (Green Flash)

Drinking Beer Can Help You Keep Your Teeth

I love health science, especially when it tells me exactly what I want to hear. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen looked into peoples' mouths to see if beer drinking can be healthy for you. Their findings were published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry. They looked for an association between the alcohol consumption and the number of teeth older people had. It was noted that women who consumed 1-14 drinks, or more per week, lost fewer teeth than those who abstained from alcohol. It did not matter which type of alcohol they drank (wine or spirits). The result for men was a little different. Only men who preferred beer had more teeth than those that abstained from alcohol. The amount need to save your pearly whites was 6 drinks per week, or just under a standard six-pack.
Don't change your electric toothbrush for a six-pack just yet. There were a few limitations to this study. Alcohol consumption is still a major risk factor for oral cancer. This is mainly due to toxic affects of acetaldehyde, a major by product when your body breaks down alcohol. People with fewer teeth were noted to have other contributing factors for tooth loss: older, lower socioeconomic status, smoked and had a sedentary lifestyle. Regardless, once again science has shown that craft beer and be good for your health.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Hammer Barrel Aged (2012) by Phillips

This posting is for the groupies. I have never had groupies before - actually that is not true. In a previous life, my occupation was amateur DJ. The only groupie I had I married. We are still together 20 years later. Which reminds me: Valentine's day is tomorrow. It is awkward to have people say they really enjoy reading your blog.
There are usually two responses:
1. "Thank you for reading. I try hard and am pleased that you enjoy it."
2. "Whatever.. I am the only regular blogger in town so you have no choice."
I always go with #1. I once met Brookston Beer blogger at a beer fest; he went with #2. He certainly was a #2. All the new parents will get that joke. So thank you for reading and saying that I am the ****. Not a piece of ****.

The Hammer Barrel Aged (2012) by Phillips = 8/10

Is there a fire somewhere? Nope it is the nose of ashes, smoke, campfire, salty miso and roses? The mouthfeel is oddly thinner than expected but all the warmth is there. Flavours are a tad subdued but include perennial favourites: chocolate syrup, roasted coffee, campfire and pencils. You can actually taste the #4 HB pencil. This all coated the mouth with a sticky, toasted, syrupy chocolate goodness. Then again I like a sweet beer. If given the choice I would choose the unoaked version.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 8.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (I have always like this label)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Singularity 2012 (Driftwood)

I have only one issue with this beer; explanations will come in a moment.

Yes, yes it all smells so very good. Bourbon, bitter sweet chocolate, burnt toast, port and a little bit of vanilla; kinda like a David Bowie cocktail. Certainly the mouthfeel is thick, warming and oddly effervescent for a low carbonated beer. It tingles the mouth like 7-up. Oddly faint at the start and perhaps a bit thin with tickles of real vanilla extract and Kirsch. But only for a millisecond. Now here come the raw cocoa nibs, bourbon, burnt sourdough bread and weak espresso. This mildly astringent foursome leaves a long lasting and dusty coating that never leaves. Even after brushing your teeth, the flavours are still there.

Singularity 2012 (Driftwood) = 10/10 UNDER PROTEST

Here is my complaint -this is what a beer prick does, right? I paid $10.95 for this beer. This is a fricken embarrassment. Brooklyn Black Ops sold for how much, $25+? We had some Deschutes roll by at $20+. Heaven knows how many people opened their wallets and handed over red bills for two Dogfish Head bottles? This beer is as good - or better - than any of these other ones. And we only paid $10.95! If this beer priced this way near the front till at Bottleworks in Seattle, there would be black friday like riots. I have had a Dark Lord 2009, thanks Dave, and Driftwood's was nearly as good. Perhaps I am bitter that this beer did not crack the $14 mark as I predicted. Might be the 11.8% ABV talking: 11.8% heheh.. snort. Price valued products accordingly. My wife spent $25 on a bottle of wine today and we never blinked. I bet my Singularity will make my palate happier than her French Merlot. So there! Honestly, if the high end beer scene wants to grow, Victoria's brewers must act like it deserves it. That being said; I plan to buy 4-5 more and cellar them. I would have done so at $15!

Taste +5
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 (11.8% wink)
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Uber-elegant wax dipped bottle)

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Beast (Batch 666) at Swan's

This is called a Belgian style golden ale. The same family as Duvel, Delerium and Affligem. So I was looking forward to a big fruitness, spices and finishing dry phenolic snap. I guess one out of three ain't bad.

The Beast (Batch 666) at Swan's = 3/10

Things were off to a good start with ample apple fruitness, hint of pears and alcohol nasal warmth. From here things went south. There was no sparking mouthfeel, no alcohol tingle not much at all. It tasted very much like an apple cider with a little pear mixed in. This all just ended a little sticky and sweet. For those who love a good apple cider; this is for you

Taste +1
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 9.1%
Value 0
Appearance +1 (nice pub)

Other Belgian Golden Ales
La Chouffe
Delerium Tremens
Pranqster (North Coast)

Pale Pilsner (Old Credit Brewing)

This was another taste from Toronto. Too bad: it is hard to find good Pilsners out this coast.

Pale Pilsner (Old Credit Brewing) = 7/10
Ratebeer 2.51 17th percentile
Beer Advocate 77%

Take this rating with a grain of salt, or malt, I don't care which. Pilsners can be very tasty beers, we rarely get to taste them. This is one of the tasty ones. It smells like nothing is up: light straw, grasses and water. Once the good carbonation cleans the tongue, the magic happens. Light grasses, honey and straw start the show with citrus, mineral and herbal hops charging from behind. There was a bit more hop snap than expected, then it just ended. A great Pilsner.

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

Hoyner Pilsner
Czech Mate Pilsner (Paddock Wood)
Overboard Imperial Pilsner

Baby Tree (Pretty Things)

Quadruple awesomeness. Then they take an already plummy beer and add a bunch of plums to the mash: brilliant! Great, now I am starting to sound like Dan.

Baby Tree (Pretty Things) = 7/10
Ratebeer 3.55 95th  percentile
Beer Advocate 86%

This just reeks of every kind of dark fruit you can name. And the best game you can name, is the good old hockey game. Mix this with a chewy, slick sip, low carbonation and you might swear it was a homemade rum pot. Yet you are confused: where did this herbal, mineral and alcohol warmth come from? Not sure, but it is not going away.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always great art and description)

Other Quad reviews
Ommegang Three Philosophers
St. Bernardus Abt 12 (currently on tap at Clive's thanks to ME!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

De Ranke XX Bitter

I can't think of anything to say about this brewery; other than the fact that everything they make is awesome.

De Ranke XX Bitter = 7/10
Ratebeer 3.66 97th  percentile
Beer Advocate 92nd

Right from the cap-pry, this stuff emits a massive amount of citrus, lemon tang and spicy floral notes. Up front, a massive blast of citrus and lemon hops hits you only to grow into a floral and spicy ending. There was a bit of grass in that mix also. Malts.. bah who needs 'em. Even the afterglow is all tangy lemons and spices. Not to be insulting but it reminded me of a Blue or Canadian turned up to 11. A true hophead delight

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.2%
Value +1
Appearance 0 (not the greatest label art)

Other IPA reviews
Hop Goblin IPA (R&B)
Racer 5 IPA (I hope they don't sue me for using their name in my blog)
Uncharted IPA

Cygnet Ale

Two seasonals from Swan's in the same month? It is too good to be true. One was good; the other..

Cygnet Ale = 5/10

This will be a welcome sip to those -like myself - that like the Tessier's Witbier. The flavour is very similar. It emits greater than expected aromas of sweet wheat, orange, yeast and a little banana. After a tingle and palate cleansing wash, the barrage of flavours begin. Wow only 4.2% delivers all this: tart wheat, oranges, bananas, spicy yeast and hockey card bubble gum. Sadly no aftertaste, just a refreshing ending. Delicious.

Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content -1 4.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 at brewpub

Other wheat/wits

Estrella Damm Inedit
Double Wit (Great Divide)
Happy New Beer (Spinnakers)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Corporal's Bitter Brown Ale

I admit it; this beer was bought on appearance. Who can resist the stubby. Luckily the beer inside was really good.

Corporal's Bitter Brown Ale = 5/10
Ratebeer 3.45 92nd percentile
Beer Advocate 79th

This little brew is a true session strength 4.3%ABV. Fortunately no flavours were skimped over. The nose was a little faint, only a hint of earth, nuts and toffee could be detected. The mouthfeel was almost sparkling. Two words: dry and nutty. Add this to ample earthy, citrus hops, toffee, light coffee and you have a winner. It was a tad hop forward at 84IBU, but who from BC would mind that.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content -1 4.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1 great art and in a stubby bottle!

Beaver Brown Ale (Canoe)
Stuarts Natural Session Ale
Hockley Dark (they sure like their brown ales in TO)

Dick's Cream Stout

This brew hails from Centralia, Washington. Usually I just drive past this town. Because of this beer, I stop and visit.

Dick's Cream Stout = 7/10
Ratebeer 3.47 92nd percentile
Beer Advocate 81%

Sweet balsamic and chocolate liqueur were a surprise to my nose. Despite the shock, a creamy, chocolate toast with slight balsamic vinegar was a great comeback from this jet black fluid. The low bitterness left a creamy coating of chocolate and sweet vinegar.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1
Appearance 0

Farsons Lacto Stout
Stockyard Oatmeal Stout
Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

Hockley Dark

This was one of those AH-HA beers. I'm not sure how it got into my glass, but it came in the 1 liter pot-stoppers. The flavours were so unexpected, it sent me off to try more small brewery styles.

Hockley Dark = 7/10
Ratebeer 3.22 74th percentile
Beer Advocate 83%

Not a good first impression beer. The nose is a little watery but the chocolate and roasted espresso earned a second chance. Despite being a little light in the mouthfeel department, the flavours of roasted bread, nuts and light milk chocolate were not spared. Not too much roasted astringency on the finish, which was a nice touch.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Other brown reviews
Brooklyn Brown Ale
10W30 Neustadt
Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale

Friday, February 3, 2012

Paradox Speyside (Brew Dog)

An impy stout matured in Speyside whisky casks. nuff said. BTW if you are quick enough: Veneto has North Coast 8 ball imperial stout on tap. Well worth the crazy parking!

Paradox Speyside (Brew Dog) = 9/10
Ratebeer 3.79 99th percentile
Beer Advocate 91%

The aroma gave only a faint warning of what was to come. Calm vanilla, sherry, peat and wood can't be too dangerous right? Wrong! BAM. A full-on glycerin slick sip burns the throat. Oddly easy drinking for 10%ABV. Name the cask flavour and it was there: bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, sherry, chewy coffee and port. The port and coffee didn't hang around for the linger.
I realize that this description is not long enough to full detail the awesomeness of this beer. Fatigue plays a major factor in brevity. 

Taste +5
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 10%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Other Imperial Stout reviews
Ten Fidy Imp Stout IN A CAN
Russian Gun Imperial Stout
Mikkeller Black Hole

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Big Cock Bock (Hoyne)

So this beer puzzled me. I sat on the couch drinking this beer really quite enjoying it. 'Hoarders' was playing on the TV in case you were curious. A nagging thought was in the back of my mind: this is not a bock. It's tasty and enjoyable - but not a bock. So I got out my trusty BJCP style guidelines and started to read. A traditional bock has a strong malt aroma and rich complex maltiness. Nope this is not the big bock. This sounds more like a dark American lager. Kinda reminds me of the Shiner bock; which was also not really a bock. Regardless, it was tasty and I liked it.

Big Cock Bock (Hoyne) = 7/10

Sticking with the dark lager theme; the nose was faint with a bit of toast and vegetal (DMS). I get to use my favourite phrase, "it was permissible for the style." There was just enough caramel, roast, weak coffee and lettuce to keep things enjoyable. It ended about the same way with a slight linger. Very nice to drink, but not a traditional bock.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 fun label

Other dark lager reviews
Jacobsen dark lager
Midnight Sessions lager
Sessions Black Lager (a really good simple beer)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Does price affect drinking?

Dr. Tim Stockwell at the University of Victoria, always has the best articles about alcohol consumption. His latest one appears in the journal Addiction: "Does minimum pricing reduce alcohol consumption? The experience of a Canadian province." That province is us, "The best place on earth." This is a good argument against those who think the BCLB should loosen their unfair pricing and availability policies.
There is lots of data in this article and a super cool mathematical equation. Most of which, actually all, I cannot understand. But the bottom line is this: a 10% increase in the minimum price of an alcoholic beverage reduced its consumption, relative to other beverages, by 16%. So the more it costs, the less we drink. For beer drinkers this 10% increase only leads to a 1.5% reduction in consumption.
So why are higher liquor prices a good idea. It is helpful for a public health point of view. Evidence shows that higher liquor prices reduce alcohol related harm: drinking and driving, injuries, violence, etc. However the article does state that problem drinkers will seek out the most economical beverages, ie. spirits and fortified wines. This assumption is backed by data from the 2000 US National Alcohol Survey. It found that the top 10% of drinkers spent on average 79 cents per drink while the bottom 50% spent $4.75. Some people drink less but of better quality. Which is perhaps the opinion of the craftbeer lover.  We don't drink that much, but when we do it is good.