Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I will be doing the Victoria Beer Week

Depending what rock you reside under, you might have missed the announcements for Victoria Beer Week. Naturally all the big ticket events are cherry picked and full. If you want to go the the cask festival Saturday night, check for tickets. However, there are some events that are overlooked. Ken Beattie from Eureka Beer Guide with be doing a few beer schools on Sunday at Vancouver Island Brewery. He gives a great talk and there are still tickets for cheap. He might be serving beer during his lecture. Something I am looking forward to is the Michael Jackson documentary. Not the king of pop, the other MJ aka. The Beer Hunter. They will be serving beers from two new breweries (Bomber and Barkerville). There is also a shuttle from downtown to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.  On Wednesday, there is a cask from Lighthouse (Dean's casks are the best) and a new release from Canoe Club. You can also drink beer in the Vic Theatre and watch Strange Brew on Sunday night. Despite a website that is riddled with typos, there is still lots to see at Victoria Beer Week. Even the Gorge Point Pub will be doing craft beer flights? For those who are Untappd freaks, there are many sampling events are CBAW stores.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Helios by Hoyne Brewing

Excitement often fills my boots when there is a new beer release in town. Will it be a sour? barrel aged? imperial something-or-other? perhaps exotic hops? The excitement faded quickly when I read the description on the Hoyne release; Dortmunder style. Perhaps I should explain. The Dortmunder style originates for the industrial city of Dortmund, Westphalia. It is your standard German light lager. Slightly tasty, mildly sweet, yet very clean. The classic example is that DAB can that is found everywhere. The most exciting thing about DAB is the can. You could fit the full description of DAB in a twitter post. The only other Dortmund style is the Howe Sound Lager. This beer doesn't garnish that much enthusiasm either. I was not very excited about opening this bomber.

Helios = 7/10

This beer is rather tasty. It pours a shimmering light gold colour that is capped by a long lasting white head. The initial aroma is a little offsetting. There is quite a sulfur presence, but that fades quickly to reveal bread and caramel notes. Perhaps you can pick up a little spicy or herbal hops if you try. It drinks a little on the sweet side but the cooling carbonation and slight mineral taste keeps it in balance. The ending is clean with only the slightest of sweet herbal linger. A nice, easy drinking beer.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6%abv
Value +1 A decent beer
Appearance +1 (nice artwork and a reasonable description of beer taste)

Glassware: Standard lager or pint glass

Food Pairings: The flavours are fairly calm, so it will go with anything. It is sweet enough to calm spicy Thai and Mexican food. This would go well with mushroom Stroganoff.

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spinnakers Three Way Review

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

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

Hopscotch IPA = -2/10

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

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

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

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

Keg Tosser = 8/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ogden Porter = 6/10

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

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

Glassware: Straight up pint glass.

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

Cellar: Nope.