Saturday, March 31, 2012

Double Barrel Scotch Ale (Phillips)

Tasting a bomber release from Phillips is akin to opening a suspicious looking can of nuts. Either a snake will pop out and someone will snicker, or it will actually be full of tasty, roasted nuts. This brew was a pleasant surprise - no snake.
The Double Barrel was aged in both Tennessee whiskey and Cab Sauv barrels. Wood aging does fun things to a beer. In the short term, it adds hints of vanilla, smooths out the brew and imparts flavours from within the barrels.

Double Barrel Scotch Ale (2012) = 7/10

Influence from the barrels is apparent; notable peaty, oak, vanilla and nutty aromas are present. For a 7.7% ABV brew it is remarkably smooth and not warming. This is not a flavour powerhouse, nor is it cloying vanilla sweet like an Innis and Gunn. It had clement tastes of peaty malts, caramel, vanilla, cola and whiskey. The finish was slick and didn't overstay its welcome. I didn't mind it; it was better than last year. This review is in stark contrast to my compatriot's at Vancouver Beer Blog. I too would have liked to taste a more robust brew with longer contact with the barrels.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice steampunk label with good description of beer)

Other wooded reviews
Pike Entire Wood Aged Stout (2009)
Dogfish Head Burton Baton
Highland Cask Innis and Gunn

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beachcomber Summer Ale (VIB)

Remember I mentioned the good news - bad news - part. This is the good news. Vancouver Island Brewery has a new release. Rarely do I get excited about beers from VIB. The newest brewer Chris said this one was a little different, "In designing Beachcomber, our aim was to make a light, summer session beer aimed at drinkers who want something more interesting than just a light lager -- something for the beer geeks to drink after mowing the lawn." Another kicker is that they used Weihenstephan ale yeast.
Chris further explains the brew," Unlike most wheat ales, however, it is fermented relatively cold to suppress the banana notes, allowing some clove spiciness, as well as some of the more tropical fruit notes to shine through."
One of the sales reps also divulged company secrets - perhaps he had too much Beachcomber. Bombers are planned for this summer, more seasonal releases and perhaps growler fills at the brewery. This will be the summer of beer!

So what did the beer prick think?

Beachcomber Summer Ale (VIB) = 7/10

Normally wheat beers/hefe are inherently boring. This is one of the best I have had in a while. The nose was crisp with lemon curds, meringue and vague spiciness. Each bright sip had ample carbonation and tasted like perfect patio beer. Lemon spread, bread, cream of wheat and whimsical tropical fruit salad with papaya literally danced on the tongue. Only a slight spicy breadiness remained. The flavours are simple but very nice. I sound like a fanboy. This is a nice beer; not a palate challenger, just nice, simple and delicious.

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

Other Hefty reviews
Southern Tier Heavy Weizen
Edelwiess Weissbier

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Son of the Morning (Driftwood)

So do you want the good news, or the bad news first? Bad news it is. I tried the Son of the Morning by Driftwood last night. Perhaps the name of the beer is in homage to the greatest strong Belgian pale ale, Duvel. Duvel means 'devil' in some Flemish dialects. In case you haven't Googled it already: Son of the Morning is another name of Lucifer. Check out Isaiah 14:12-15 for reference about the dark angel's throw down.  Judging by the rest of the label, I don't think they were referring to Venus. Was there truly Witchcraft used to make this beer? The pentacle in the label background hints at this fact.

What did the beer prick think?

Son of the Morning = 3/10

Perhaps I judge the beers from Driftwood a little harsher because most of their releases are awesome. I felt this one of was lackluster. Lets compare it with BCJP guidelines for a strong Belgian Ale. The aroma was heavy with the alcohols and earthy spices/hops. These esters became apparent as soon as the cap popped. Lots of fruit alcohols, fermenting pear and apricot baby food, and light Christmas cake. A little too burning perhaps. The earthy coriander spice was a nice touch. No luck in finding the long-lasting fluffy-white head. Strong Belgian ales should hide their alcohol well. Alcohol burns for the first few sips; luckily it numbs that tongue and you can pick out the flavours. Fermented pit fruits (apricots, pears), Rogers golden syrup, coriander and miscellaneous spices can be coaxed out of the golden elixir. At the end, a long burning alcohol washed away everything for a dry, mouthwash like finish. Maybe I am being a bit harsh, this is not a bad beer. It does have many outstanding benchmark brews. If you don't believe me, pick up a Duvel or a Delirium Tremens. Duvel should be at every BC Government liquor store. Rumour has it that Delirium is on tap at Vis a Vis in Oak Bay.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 10%
Value 0
Appearance -1 (found the label undescriptive and offensive. Had to hide it from my daughter)

Other strong reviews
Delirium Tremens
Batch 666 Swan's
Rayon Vert (Green Flash)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dark Chocolate Porter (Lighthouse)

So, it begins. The great Victoria beer battle started with a new deployment. This week Lighthouse has released a dark chocolate porter suitable named "Dark Chocolate Porter". It doesn't take a genius - certainly not with my low IQ -  to figure out that this is a direct market challenger to Phillips Longboat Double Chocolate Porter. Apparently Phillips sells a crapboat load of this beer; I can't confirm this but supposedly it is one of the best selling bombers in BC.
"The base beer was a solid robust porter and it was pretty chocolatey itself from good malt selection. We then soaked it for two weeks on dark cocoa nibs from Ghana and then bottled it." says Dean Mcleod, the newest brewer at Lighthouse, "Nothing fancy, no tricks or gimmicks, just a good ol' beer if you like that sort of thing."
So which porter is better? "We'll let chocolate porter drinkers discover that for themselves", muses Dean.
What does the beer prick think?

Dark Chocolate Porter (Lighthouse) = 5/10

It starts out with the standard porter aromas: dusty cocoa, bittersweet chocolate with a bit of smoke. Stick your nose in a can of Fry's cocoa for a similar sensation. The mouthfeel is chewy with lowish carbonation. Add to this a fullness enhanced by mild roasted astringency. Chocolate is the name of the game here; of which there is ample. A dusty cocoa anaconda wraps around a 65% bittersweet chocolate backbone and squeezes out a hint of alcohol warmth mixed with dark berries (blackberries and elderberries). The finish is long, dry and cooling. This is not powerhouse porter action, but it is very tasty. A must for the chocolate beer lover.  Is it better than Longboat? I have my thoughts, what are yours?

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1
Appearance 0 (no description of taste or brewing techniques)

Other portly reviews
New World Porter (Avery)
Swan's Double Shot Porter
Spirit Chaser Coffee Porter (R&B)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout

Until recently the foreign extra stout was only a myth. Ya whatever, a strong version of Guinness. This beer is probably exported elsewhere because it tastes boring. It recently became available in the US; hopefully Canada will follow soon.

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout= 9/10

Holy Crap! This is an unexpected surprise. The nose eludes to something special: treacle, muddled berries and milk chocolate. It's thick: thick like my inbred cousin from the bayou. And whoa, even Keanu was not this rich. Massive washes of potent crushed berries, dark chocolate and whole fat milk never cease their onslaught. You might need a toothbrush to remove the lingering of chocolate coated coffee beans. Try this beer; you will not be disappointed.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 7.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1

BlackHeart Oatmeal Stout
Obsidian Stout and Self Improvement
Drake's Imperial Stout and executive class guilt

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hoyne Dark Matter

This is the fifth release by Hoyne. It is perfect timing that they released a dark ale around St. Patrick's Day. It is too dark and roasted to be called a nut brown and there is not enough hops to be called a English bitter. Let's call is a dry style stout.

Hoyne Dark Matter = 7/10

This is not a powerhouse of flavour, but it is very nice. The nose is heavy on the roasted coffee beans and dry, toasted grains. From the smell you can predict the flavour. At the start a roasted astringency tingles the mouth and sets up the stout like follow through. The predictable burnt toast, dry cocoa and hidden dark berries are a welcome wash for the tongue. A dusty ash and bittersweet chocolate are an afterthought and don't last long. Sadly this brew didn't last long in my glass; perhaps this is the sign of a good beer. 

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Are those the some people in the Down Easy Pale ale camping?)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alcohol Consumption, Beer and Women Surviving a Heart Attack

I never miss an issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. This title caught my eye, "Alcohol consumption patterns, beverage type, and long-term mortality among women survivors of acute myocardial infarction." Researchers at Harvard Medical School sifted through the records of women who survived a heart attack and asked about their drinking habits. Luckily they found good news: moderate consumption of alcohol decrease mortality after a heart attack. It did not matter what you drank (wine, beer to spirits), you still lived longer. There was one odd finding, women that reported binge drinking tended to be far healthier compared to other pattern drinkers. This is in sharp contrast to men. One study found that binge drinking men had a two-fold risk of dying after a heart attack compared to moderate drinkers. The reasons for this are not clear. One theory is that women have lower amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase in their stomachs; this allows longer exposure to the effects of alcohol. Alcohol dehydrogenase is responsible for the breakdown of alcohol in the body.  Don't take this as validation that benders are OK, the amount of binge drinking women in the study were low. The low number of binge drinkers might not make the findings valid. As found in most other alcohol consumption studies, women that drank the most tended to be: younger, have a higher socioeconomic status, more physically active and more edumacated than abstainers.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Union Jack IPA (Firestone)

Life is hard as a beer blogger. Oh ya.. boh fricken hoo. Any excuse to try awesome beers.. spout off your mouth and get the occasional brewery freebie.. ya right life is rough. But it is!  Let's try this scenario: a room full of people are tasting a beer. The stealthy beer geek defers judgement by stating, "It's complex and I'm not sure of the flavours." This is equivalent to a "pass" in poker. Now all eyes fall on the beer blogging geek; you are not allowed to say it is OK. All eyes are pointed at you with daggers on their tongues, waiting to cut about your opinion. You must think quick: what BJCP style is it, grab a few normal flavours and one oddball one. Everyone nods..crisis averted.

Union Jack IPA (Firestone) = 8/10
Ratebeer 3.86 99th percentile
Beer Advocate 94%

Blah..Blah..Blah. Super awesome and sweet IPA. Tons of C-Hops and ace in the hole Amarillo tickling the nose. Each sip is cooling with alcohol followed by the hop payload of cotton candy, multiplier citrus and resins. What you say? Malts.. forget about them. It is all about the long lingering sweet grapefruit hops. If you see it, try it; world class.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 7.5%
Value +1
Appearance 0

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Matilda (Goose Island)

This rating is chalked up to poor keg stewardship. I was on vacation in Las Vegas and happened upon Yardhouse. Perhaps it was the glowing neon signs that drew me in. The Yardhouse's claim to fame is the many, many draft beer options, there were almost 100 to choose from. Before you get excited, it does not sound as good as you might think. Once you deduct the macros, imports, promiscuous crafts the selection thins out. It is a beer tickers dream, but a geek's nightmare. I chose the only seasonal: Goose Islands Matilda.

Matilda (Goose Island) =2/10
Ratebeer 3.62 96th percentile
Beer Advocate 89%

Despite the RB and BA love, I could not see the glory. The nose was light with sweet apricots, peaches and moonshine. The other needed bits were there: silky mouthfeel, warming but it was all a tad boring. The taste was a little flat of baby food apricots, honey and vaguely spicy hops/yeast. It all ended with a slick, slippery slide of apricots, peaches and re-swallowed vomit. Perhaps this keg had been sitting around for a while. Or maybe I should not benchmark it to Delirium.

Taste +2
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value 0
Appearance 0

Other Belgian Strong Ale
Delirium Tremens

Naramata Nut Brown Ale (Cannery)

Recently, a discussion came up about under appreciated beers. The first style mentioned was the nut brown ale. It is true beer geeks will not acknowledge this beer on a tap list. Perhaps we assume all nut brown ales taste like Newcastle. Luckily this is not true.

Naramata Nut Brown Ale (Cannery) = 7/10
Ratebeer 3.06 50th percentile
Beer Advocate 84%

An appreciable roasted pecan, hazelnut and milk chocolate nose was remarkable for a style perceived to be bland. Things just got better with a creamy, medium mouthfeel. It almost could have been on nitro. Hey that's an idea! Try this beer on nitro. Each sip is a pleasant mix of almond butter, caramel, nutella and earthy hops. Smooth is the name of the game here; but not lacking in flavour. I have forgotten how much I liked this beer. Very unassuming, but it always draws you in for another sip.

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

Other Nutty Reviews
Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale

Thursday, March 1, 2012

SwitchBack IPA (Lighthouse)

I must admit to feeling a little bit of pressure. This has been the most talked, and tweeted, about release in Victoria's beer scene. Maybe just my scene. There is also more pressure because a six-pack was delivered by magical beer fairies today (thanks Wade). A review must be done and an opinion must be given. So here we go:

This beer is clearly going for the throat in the fierce BC IPA battle. It must take on Phillips Hop Circle, Red Racer, Tree's Hop Head and the current reigning champion Driftwood's Fat Tug. The choice of the six pack means it is going for the regular drinker and not the beer geek bomber crowd. What I found interesting about beer was the clearly displayed hop choices: Citra, Zythos and Falconer’s Flight. Don't go start flipping through your homebrewing books for information on these hops because two of them are proprietary blends. Falconer's Flight is a blend by HopUnion and named after brewing guru Glen Hay Falconer. It's a blend of 14 different hops, including Citra, Simcoe and Sorachi Ace. Zythos is another PNW IPA hop blend by HopUnion. This is akin to an uber-meritage of hop IPA goodness. How does it taste? Three words: fricken awesome stupid.

Switchback IPA (Lighthouse) = 9/10  

The nose is all Citra goodness: tropical fruits, jet fuel and nail polish. Added to the nasal punch is passion fruit, minor pine, and mixed citrus. Each sip delivers these flavours with a memorable bitter astringency. This is not an overly sweet IPA. Malts be damned. But if they must mentioned, then call it earthly with a wisp of caramel. Then ending is tongue scraping and long lasting of lemons and pomelos.

I plan to adapt this as my go-to six pack IPA when I visit friends. It strikes me as a Brockton IPA turned up to 11; drinkable but extremely flavourful. Bias be added; yes I am friends with Dean (and now Dave) from Lighthouse. Sometimes your loudest critic is also your biggest fan. Well done. This will be the summer of Victoria beer supremacy shakeup.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 nice art

Other IPA reviews
Fat Tug
Grow Hop Centennial
Southern Hemisphere Harvest