Thursday, July 25, 2013

Twisted Oak Rye Bock (Phillips)

Brevity shall be the order of writing today. Not due to lack of verbiage but lack of positive things to say. I think Mr. Beaumont mentioned a few months ago that not all things need to be barrel aged. Barrel aging will not make things inherently good.

Twisted Oak Rye Bock = 3/10

Perhaps this is a bit nit picky, but where to start - the aroma. It is very faint of cola, spicy rye and cardboard. Wood aging can round out a beer's flavour with complimentary oxidization; mild beers just smell like musty wood. The mouthfeel is right on at light to medium and lowish carbonation. Perhaps mild flavoured beers do not mesh well with barrel aging. I love that spicy, powdery rye flavour like a good Canadian. This beer just doesn't cut it. Each sip is lackluster with temperate tastes of cola, tannic oak, stale coffee and watered down Jack Daniels. The ending is a little boozy and metallic. Great pangs of guilt sting my fingers with each tap of the keyboard, but unbiased thoughts are paramount. To be fair the other two barrel aged beers by Phillips have been great: rum barrel red ale and Scotch ale.

Taste +1
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1 6.8% AB1
Value 0
Appearance +1 (Elegant label with good description of beer)

Glassware: Technically this is a lager, so elongated pint glasses or mugs are called for. Seeing this is a barrel aged version, perhaps something slightly rounded would be good. A red wine glass would do well.

Food Pairings: Normally bocks are rich and pair well with wild game or rich bread dishes. This one, with its rich tannic notes, might do well with cedar smoked salmon.

Cellar: Nope

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.

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.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

NumbSkull Imperial IPA (Lighthouse)

Dean, the head brewer at Lighthouse, once told me he would never brew a barley wine. Why would he say such a thing? Perhaps historically, the barley wine was a special release reserved for only close friends of the brewery. It also was the demonstration of a brewer's skill; a testament to brewing ability. Call it a brewers signature. It is not that the Lighthouse team, doesn't possess mad brewing skills. Perhaps it is that Dean is a perfectionist. If you don't believe me: check out his carbon fiber, single gear, bike with the beer growler holder. Anyways I am getting off topic and indulgent. Perhaps this is due to my previous review of Joe's insider beer guide to BC beers. This writer also has insider stuff.. Actually, I don't. This is due mainly to my laziness and reclusive behaviour. Whatever, I have a bottle of southern hemisphere barley wine and 1/2 bottle of Chimay 2011 Grande Reserve in me. Let the opinions fly.

NumbSkull Imperial IPA (Lighthouse) = 9/10

Honestly I drank most of this beer while doing my previous post, so I have nothing left to draw from. So let's review this beer as the fictitious Australian barley wine style. The aroma was all south of the equator. Rakau and Galaxy hops are demonstrative of this style. Addition of citra hops blended in well. These gave a striking tropical fruit and citrus nose. Yes, there are malts. These are simple with syrupy, bready, sherry and Mackintosh Toffee hints. The linger was long with equal part hop/malt intermingle. This was a surprisingly easy to drink barley wine, despite the 9.1% ABV disclaimer. Does it hit barley wine status, yup it does according to BJCP.  Watch for official release later this week. I scored my pre-release bottle from Hillside Liquor store. Thanks again.

Oh crap the Cicerones will need their info too.

Food Pairings: Braised tofu with a caramelized onion and miso reduction. Cheese options are aged Gouda or old cheddar. Wild game or duck poutine are other options for Captain Poutine aka. Noah's Ark palate.  Other options would be dishes with spiciness or savory sweetness. Think Indian, Jamaican or Ethiopian cuisine. You could also end with a creme brulee or a fruit flan with signigiant spicy fruit toppings. 

Glassware options: Choose a wide brimmed glass like a tulip or chalice. A tulip would be a wise choice as the aromas are pronounced yet head retention in slight. If not available, look for a modified tulip. OMG that sounded beer geek pompous. Scratch that: craft beer appreciation is serious business.

Cellar Potential: Not really. There was no dominate flavours that needed to mellow. Enjoy promptly.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9.1% ABV
Value +1 Buy it
Appearance +1 a reasonable description of beer flavour would be nice. But the local artwork is fun, despite the Comic Sans font on the label.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Craft Beer Revolution Book Reviewed

It is not often I review a book. In fact, the book review count is zero. But Joe signed my book,"Don't point all of my mistakes." I took this as a personal challenge, but first a little background. This is a
great overview of the craft beer scene in BC. There is a brief summary of - almost - every brewery/brewpub in BC. There are interviews with all the right people and nice profiles about each brewery. You can learn where these breweries are located, hours of operation and whether they fill growlers. It is not the most in-depth book on the history of brewing in BC. Watch for the upcoming three volume release from Greg Evans for this sort of coverage.
The big question is: "Should BC beer lovers buy this book?" I think they should. There is something to learn on almost every page. It is easy to read and very timely. Books of this sort are notorious for being out of date before they reach your hand. Joe asked all the right questions and got insider tips to extend this expiry date by at least one year.
Now for the criticisms. Luckily there are very few; well done Joe! The word "I" was used 865 times. If you don't believe me, count them yourself. Then again, it is mostly an account of Joe's beer odyssey across BC which adds a personal touch for the reader. Oddly there was not a write up about the brewpubs on Vancouver Island called Merecroft Village Pub and RimRock Brewpub. I have sampled the beers at Merecroft, or MVP as the locals call it. It is understandable why Joe would drive right past this place. Joe talks about great bottle shops in BC. Oddly, the 16th Street Liquor Store in North Van is not mentioned. It is a great place to get new releases. Often they still have stock after Brewery Creek and Firefly have sold out. Joe also offers some opinions about various breweries and beer release quality. I found them very true and quite tactful; I would have been more scathing.
There is a great section on cask beer in Vancouver. Spinnaker's weekday cask events only got a one sentence mention in the previous chapter. It would also have been nice to see an interview with Greg Evans (beer historian) or Gerry Hieter (Great Canadian Beer Fest Organizer). Perhaps these omissions can be added to the second edition. Also there are no pretty pictures. If you want pretty pictures, another Canadian beer author has a book full of them. Also Brendan hasn't blogged anything about beer in almost 1 year and he was never that funny.You also spelled my name wrong in the bloggers section.. Hah made you look.
But in all honestly, buy this book. It is reasonably priced and worth the read. You can find Joe, this Friday at the Beagle Pub in Victoria.

DISCLAIMER: I purchased my own copy of this book and no financial incentive was given for this review. I also consider Joe a friend based on the criteria that: he follows me on twiter and facebook, we have shared more than five beers on two separate occasions and he has shaken my hand.