Sunday, November 29, 2015

Induction Dubbel by Category 12

There are certain beer style associations we make. Many are well known. When you say saison, I think Du Pont. When you say sour, I think Rodenbach. Stout=Guinness, IPA=Pliny, lambic=Cantillon, and so on. In this case, when I think of a dubbel, I think of Westmalle. Or possibly Rochefort 6 or Red label Chimay.  Despite their flavour complexity, they are very simple beers. Many are made with only Pils malts and moderate amounts of noble hops. This complexity is all about the caramelized sugar and Belgian yeast strain. I hate to sound like a fan boy or compare local beers to classic world styles, but the Induction was a close second to Westmalle.

Induction = 9/10

Aroma and taste are similar. Both are a whirling mix of light pepper, dark fruits, tobacco smoke, raisonettes, bread and dried prunes. The aftertaste is a little slick, but dry. A phenolic tongue coating is rather pleasant and long lived.
True, this review is a little short, but one can go on and on and on about the flavours in a good Belgian yeast beer.
The label is also a nice homage and bears a striking resemblance to one of my heros, Gordon Freeman.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice label and reasonable description of what flavours are expected)

Glassware: Chalice

Food Pairings: Ham with a raisin syrup sauce and cloves. Maybe a rye bread and tempeh sandwich. Definitely with some aged Gouda or moderately sharp cheddar.

Cellar: Maybe. Many dubbels improve with age. No reason why this one would not. I might stick one of these in the cellar, they are reasonable priced.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Simplicity Ale by Category 12

I'm trying a new strategy for beer reviews; 30 minutes or less. Mike is posting one beer review a day. I barely get one review per week. Something that caught my attention with week was a new one from Category 12. This beer first appeared at the Drake's Thirsty Chef as a limited release. People must have really talked it up because it is now in bottles. For those keeping tract of numbers, this should be categorized as a 31A Alternative Grain Beer because of the use of the non-traditional grain spelt. Also released this week is a Dubbel, but I haven't found that one yet. It is rare to run into a beer that is simple yet delicious. Most breweries are focused on imperial this, barrel aged that or soured whatever. Not that I mind this trend, but what happened to the simple, flavourful ale. Beers like this rarely get rave reviews, nor do people line up to get their two bottle allowance. Which is too bad because they are missing out.

Simplicity Ale = 7/10

The nose offers up a mild doughiness with a little bit of cereal and all spice. Each sip is no different. There is perfect balance between the clean, cereal and bread dough malts, slightly spicy orange peels and a dry Belgian yeast finish. A medium carbonation cleans the palate and leaves no aftertaste. Simple to drink and simple to describe.

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

Glassware: A tulip or a convex pokal

Food Pairings: Something on the lighter side. Poached sablefish on risotto or wild rice. Start early in the meal with a fresh goat cheese and spinach salad. 

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Appleton Extra Special Bitter by Hoyne

It is hard writing a blog. Yes, I know, boo hoo, you have to do research and drink beer. Then you get to shoot your mouth off, figuratively, about what you think about this said beverage. Yes, yes you can feel my pain. Often in my blogs, I ponder food pairing options or try to give a little history. Then I think about whether this flavour is right for the style, what glassware is proper, are there any off flavours, etc, etc. The Appleton ESB halted this process very quickly. The current BJCP guidelines do not have an ESB category, it has been replaced by 11c Strong Bitter. Fullers has trademarked the term "ESB", which might have something to do with this change. Perhaps the Appleton has a little too much diacetyl and not enough hop character to really fit into this category, but that is beside the point. Flavours can be potent memory triggers of past events. The smell of pine can take you to a memorable Christmas where there was a freshly cut tree in the living room. Going to the movies can remind you of a certain place on the waterfront or a numbered pub. See, they are not always pleasant.

One sip of the Appleton pulled my memories to a recent trip to England. It took me right here.
We were walking along the river Thames and stopped off at the pub for a pint and nachos. Actually it was two pints; they were low alcohol and I was gathering Untappd badges. Now that I look back, the Runner was much tastier this the Hoyne. Regardless, the memory recall was there. The pen and notepad were forgotten and the feet rested themselves on the coffee table. A long drink of bitter blurred realities, the room temperature cooled, nostrils filled with the stench that is the Thames and the vacation mindset returned. This brief interlude was quickly dissolved by the sound of my cat hacking up a hairball in the bathroom. Although brief, it was pleasant. This beer gets an 8.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Super Cooper Phillips 14th Anniversary ale

Has it been 14 years already? Looks like it is time for another strong anniversary beer from Phillips. Don't get me wrong, I liked this beer but it just tasted the same as last year and the year before that. It tasted like the Monkey Drummer at year 12 and the Hangman's from year 13. Now that I think about it, if this beer has been aging for a full year in bourbon barrels, it very well may have been the same beer as last year. Why the number 14? Perhaps it might be in reference to 14 points of copyright infringement on the label. Despite the fact I am not a expert in copyright law, the resemblance to Donkey Kong and a Mario Bros character is easy to spot. I haven't even played these games in over two decades. That small hop guy in the bottom corner looks very similar to Goomba. And what other large ape with high eye brows carries a barrel? Am I the only one seeing the red tie with a logo on it?

Super Cooper = 5/10

The nose was a mix of dry hop madness and oak character. It was an overabundance of vanilla, tannins, pine, spruce and pineapple. My mouth felt violated with each fully, sticky, slick and bitter boozy sip. Complexity is the label on my glass. There was extensive mingling of vanilla, pineapple enzymes, syrupy spruce, bourbon vapours and canned pear syrup. The flavours hung around longer than the weird neighbour after a block party BBQ. Still it was a nice sipper, but it did border on undrinkable bitter and boozy.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 11.6%
Value 0 (same as last year)
Appearance 0 (Had to hide bottle to avoid litigation)

Glassware: Use a brandy snifter or tulip

Food Pairings: Almost too much for food. Maybe cedar planked salmon.

Cellar: The hop and booziness will certainly fade, but I'm not certain the malt contains suitable complexity. I'm going to say no.

Pacific Sunet by Lighthouse

Just catching up on old notes so no preamble.

Pacific Sunset = 7/10

Not familiar with the Belgo-American mild beer style, other than it is tasty. Tastes like a mix of various styles with a fancy yeast. In the nose there are grains, biscuits, a touch of citrus mixed with spicy yeast notes. A mild sticky mouthfeel yields crackers, tropical fruit hops, limes, bananas, tart wheat and again with the spicy yeast. Spicy and slick was the ending. Quite tasty. You might be able to still find this one on the shelves.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (odd retro label but liked food pairing idea)

Glassware: Something clean

Food Pairings: Lets go with a banana loaf with cloves, allspice and nutmeg for desert.

Cellar: nope

Accelerated Transmission by Category 12

Hurrah for autumn. It means different things for different people: back to school, end of vacations or harvest time. For the beer geek the last item is the most important. Fresh hopped beers are a relatively new phenomenon in Victoria. Driftwoods Sartori first appeared in 2009 and Phillips Green Reaper in 2012. Now is not uncommon for a brewery to have a fresh hopped beer or cask this time of year. For the first time, there is even a Fresh Hopped Beer Festival in Victoria. Thanks Joe. Now back to the beer. These kids at Category 12 are doing everything right: experimental brewery only beers, soon to be barrel aging and now a fresh hopped beer. This one is in collaboration with Red Truck brewing. So how does it taste.

Accelerated Transmission = 7/10 

The trouble with some wet hopped beers is that they tend to have a grass like aroma or flavour. Especially if they are dry hopped. This transmission does not have this. The aroma is glorious with wet hop citrus, pine, lime, a tad of biscuit and only a trace of freshly cut grass. Bucking the trend of fresh hopped IPA, this brew has a medium to full mouthfeel and not overly bitter. Each juicy gulp follows the aroma with straightforward fresh hops and clean biscuit malts. It does linger very long. Unlike other fresh hopped beers, you can drink this one right away. Well done.

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

Glassware: IPA glass or nonic

Food Pairings: Definitely something with aged cheddar or woodsy. Try this with a gently grilled cheese sandwich with aged cheddar or Maclaren's Imperial sharp.

Cellar: nope must be fresh

Can Science Help You Learn to be a Beer Pro?

I could not say "no" to reading this article,"Becoming a beer expert: Is simple exposure with feedback sufficient to learn beer categories?" This study seemed simple on the surface but had a lot of depth to it. It was especially interesting for anyone wishing to further their beer knowledge and obtain their Cicerone or BJCP Judge designations. The principle of the study seemed simple enough. A group of students were put through a 70 hour long beer sensory course. During this course, students were presented with either top-fermented beers (TF) or bottom-fermented beers (BF) and asked to determine which was which. No names or images were shown, just a bunch of randomly appearing clear plastic cups. Rather like a BJCP judging contest. Many of the same TF and BF beers were repeated during each session while new beers in each category were introduced. As expected, after repeated exposure to the same beer, subjects recognized that same beer and could correctly identify it as either at TF or BF. However, subjects did not always answer correctly for the new beers they had not been previously exposed to. Then subjects were introduced to a trap beer. This trap was a TF beer that shared many sensory traits as a BF beer. A similar BF trap beer was also given. In case you were curious, the BF trap beer was Biere du Demon and the TF trap beer was Hoegaarden. Not surprisingly, not enough subjects correctly identified the trap beers compared to just guessing.

So what did this tell us about learning to be a beer pro? Not much that we didn't already know. You can identify beers that you are repeatedly exposed to, but might not be able to extend this knowledge to new beers. What was interesting and helpful was that it did explain how people learn about new experiences and remember them for latter. Many of these principles apply to learning beer styles. Much of this information was taken from learning about wine experts. Generally when we learn about something sensory we try to place it into a category (categorization). We can do this in several methods, all with their pluses and faults. In this perceptual learning model, you learn to extract repeated stimulus and detect regularities. Sounds good right? Not so much, it expects you to pull  sensory information from many different encounters. What if you only drink Fat Tug? Is so, then you think every single IPA should taste like Fat Tug. This is also why people only drink one kind of beer and nothing else. Your experience has told you that beer should taste this way, any deviation from this norm is rejected as incorrect.

So your drink a beer, learn those flavours and place these memories into categories. This is how you can pick out Pacific Northwest hops from European hops or Southern Hemisphere hops. With repeated training, many beer geeks can pick out specific hop varieties, malts used and yeast strains. This is done in several ways. The first is to use these sensory memories to create mental prototypes. In this method you create an ideal taste representation from presented examples in each category. This is what is done with BJCP beer training. Your learn about how an IPA, English mild or Saison by drinking the best known examples. You know what a Saison tastes like by drinking Dupont, Ommegang Hennepin and New Belgium Saison. Again this presents problems as mentioned above. If you can't find these beers, you have no idea what a proper Saison should taste like. I find this to be an issue with the Kolsch. Very few people, including brewers, may have never tasted a true Kolsch. This is a problem when you are presented with a can of local kolsch-like ale and assume this is what a true Kolsch tastes like. I refer to this as the Analogue Phenomenon.

You also learn about beers from the feature-frequency theory. This is as it sounds, you build your models based on frequently occurring features of a recurring taste. IPAs frequently taste bitter, bocks are frequently sweet. This is quite handy for judging beer contests, but not much else. If a bock is excessively bitter, this is wrong. This again assumes you have lots of examples to draw from.

Another method is exemplar memorization. This again is just like it sounds, you memorized what a classic example tastes like. Possible issues in this method are that memories are fading and over time you might have forgotten what Saison Dupont tasted like. Perhaps your feature frequency from local saisons has caused the exemplar model to drift. To remedy this one should regularly sample the reference beer. Big breweries do this all the time, you regularly sample to same beer over and over for changes in flavour. I like the idea of drinking Saison Dupont every six months for research purposes. However, the typical beer geek, like me, rarely drinks the same beer twice so this form of learning is challenging. 

So back to our beer students. What did thus study teach us about learning about beer. After questioning the students, the researchers found that there was no specific form of learning that was favoured. The results did seem to slightly favour the exemplar theory of learning as students to easily identify beers that they were repeatedly exposed to. However, the information from memorizing these flavours could not be extrapolated to new identifying new beer flavours. Researchers also felt that perhaps the sample size of beers was too small; this is perfect validation for my Untappd score. So to learn more about beer, sample lots of different beers while looking for trends and analyze great beer style examples. Oh and drink Saison Dupont often.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Great Canadian Beer Fest 2015 Rant

This post is not really a rant, but it makes a nice catchy title. Most of you know the story. The Great Canadian Beer Festival is one of the largest and longest running festivals in North America. Lots and lots of breweries, food trucks and entertainment. It is to no ones surprise that this is a big day for me. I pour over the beer list to plot my token allotment. I look forward to the release of the GCBF beer list almost as much as I did for the Sears Christmas catalog decades ago. So after much analysis here are my thoughts.

1. This is going to be an awesome beer fest

2. It should be renamed the Great British Columbia and UnTapped Beer Fest. True, it would be very hard to change the name at this point, but an overwhelming percentage of breweries are from BC. If you ignore the UnTapped portfolio, Unibroue, Mill Street, Muskoka, Big Rock and Steam Whistle the rest are BC breweries. I think this is great for BC Breweries to gain exposure. It does also highlight a few points. First, there are enough quality BC Breweries to fill a stadium. Second, the craft brew scene in Canada has grown so big that there are many other beer festivals across Canada. Breweries east of the rockies might not feel the need to market their beers in BC as demand in their own provinces is growing. Selling beer in BC is a very competitive market. The downside of this is that we don't get to taste Paddock Wood beers this year. I have found their beers to the some of the best at GCBF.

3. Local Victoria breweries didn't bring a lot of variety this year. Many of the local offerings are recent beers and an unmodified cask of a notable seasonal. There are some exceptions to this. Lighthouse has one new brew and two casks (if they work out). Moon has a new collaboration. Spinnakers has two wacky new brews. Category 12 does have a core brand with a new yeast added, which should be interesting.

4. Where is Crannog? Enough said!

5. Where are Three Ranges? Nelson Brewing? Brassneck? Red Collar? Noble Pig?

6. No American Breweries. See rather obvious but worth noting.

Now for my suggestions for something new to drink.

1. Loghouse Brewery. I plan to stand in line for all of those.

2. Ditto for Bad Tattoo.

3. All of Cumberland and Gladstone

4. Coal Harbour Baltic Porter. I love a good Baltic porter.

5. Dageraad De Witte Sour. mmmmm sours mmmmm

6. Doans American Rye Stout. Sounds unique.

7. Fuggles and Warlock have a multi hop West Coast Common.

8. Granville Island brewed a gose? Sounds good to me.

9. Longwood. A cask of a spontaneously fermented and 18 month cellared sour? This I gotta try.

10. Lighthouse used Discovery coffee to brew a lager; this should be tasty. Plus a few possible casks

11. Four Mile. Mainly because I don't want to buy a bottle so see if their beers have improved.

12. Spinnakers will have the first fresh hopped beer of the year. And a sour cask.

There are a few more I plan to try, but I'm not letting you know. Just in case there is not enough to go around


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Raised by Wolves by Driftwood

Unless you are under a rock somewhere, you will have tried this beer already. Or perhaps two or three. Sure this beer tastes great, as you might read in my glowing review later, but this beer is also innovative in a few ways. The first, and most obvious, is the use of the new wonder hop variety Equinox. This hop was previously called HBC 366 while in development by Hop Breeding Company. They are the same people that brought us Mosaic and Citra. Secondly, this beer also uses the semi wild yeast Saccharomyces Trois. This yeast used to be called Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois. Why the trois? This yeast strain was first isolated from a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze. However, further DNA analysis by White Labs learned that it was more like a Saccharomyces yeast than a Brett. Hence the name change to Saccharomyces brux-like Trois (WLP644). So it acts like a regular yeast, but provides brett like flavours. So enough of the yeast lesson, how does this beer taste?

Raised by Wolves = 9/10

The nose is all Equinox with tropical fruits, pineapple, guava and lychees. Certainly the brett-like yeast is providing additional fruit esters. You would think from the nose that this would be a very bitter beer. Not as much as you would expect. It certainly has that gripping bitterness of the aforementioned tropical fruits, but that Brett horseblanket funk mellows it. Tartness lingers along with a bright citrus funk. I sense we might have a beer of the year on our hands.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 Beautiful label with a good description of flavours expected.

Glassware: A tulip or snifter will trap the Brett aromas nicely.

Food Pairings: The acidity and bright carbonation would work well with fatty fish like salmon or tuna. Might make a fun pairing with sushi. That wasabi heat would come alive with this beers funky tartness. Cheese pairing fresh goat (chevre) or maybe a funky Stilton.

Cellar: Without a doubt the brettness of this yeast will dry this beer out even further. Not sure how it will taste once the hops are gone. Worth a bottle or two. Might be in it for the long haul though, perhaps two years.

Barnstormer Saison IPA (Phillips)

You know, I've had it up to here, with hybrid styles that add descriptive dashes. Wait.. you can't see the motion I just made with my hand, can you? Oh Bother, this is the reason why I do not work in radio. Nor TV for that matter. Nor do I correct grammar in English 101. There is this trend to add descriptive names to the same dang beer. Just you wait for the "Barrel aged-brett fermented-session strength-imperial-imperial-india-pale-ale-on-lees-dry hopped with Mosiac". That last bit was for you Brewtal Truth. It will take a wrap around label just to get the whole name on. As always, I digress. So why does the Hawaiian Shirt enigma rant about a beer at midnight? There are two reasons: Firstly, to inflate my basement dwelling ego. The second is to validate your own, basement dwelling ego. I had this beer lined up in my sights to rip it apart. Yes, it tastes like every other Phillips IPA. Yes, it is most likely another Phillips beer with a funky yeast added. We know this. But you know, it is not that bad. I can actually hear the blog followers clicking the unsubscribe button. This beer delivers everything we- well not all da we's - want to drink. A drinkable IPA, with hints of something tropical and hints of unique yeast. Enough of the Keepers Stout infused rant - what does the beer prick think of this beer?

Barnstormer Saison IPA (Phillips) = 7/10

As expected the nose starts off with tropical fruits and spicy yeasts, luckily not too phenolic. This bubbly brew delivers a light to medium punch of grains, light pit fruits, pears, apricots and passion fruit. The taste is almost session like until the fusel nail polish alcohols hit the back of your nose. Still, I liked it. Would I buy a second bottle? Ask me in person.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (reasonable description of flavours)

Glassware: Pick you fanciest glass and make sure it is clean.

Food Pairings: I suggest something dry, mildly spicy and with a hint of funk. How about seafood pasta with parmigiano shavings? Cheese pairing is either Grana Padano or Reggianito.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Spinnakers Cerveza Resposado

I love barrel aged beers. Contact with the wood mellows harsh flavours and can impose unique flavours upon a beer. Such is the case with this release from Spinnakers, the barrel aged Cerveza. Aged in freshly emptied Mexican tequila barrels, one can immediately pick out the flavours of tequila right away. While I was not keen on the addition of citrus zest and salt, this beer was simple and tasty. Good tequila is sipped, like a fine vodka, rum or whiskey, not shot back with a salt lick and a lemon wedge. But this is just my snootiness coming though.

Spinnakers Cerveza Resposado = 6/10

I should really rethink my rating scale because tasty beers like this never get high scores. The nose does not shock with it's calm gold tequila hints and wood character. Each sip too is one dimensional with golden ale, citrus (both from hop and additions), crackers, tequila and wood tannins. The tequila flavour was subtle and not overpowering. It was a little salty, not gose salty, but just enough to linger on the lips. Overall I liked it and you should too. That is unless you have had a recent bad experience with tequila and are adverse to the flavour flashback. I'm decades out of college, so I was fine.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Whatever is clean. A simple pint glass will do.

Food Pairings: Light fare would be best, perhaps seafood. Something with lemon and salt to resonate with the beer. This just screams fish and chips

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Coast to Coastless by Phillips et al.

I know what an ESB tastes like, and this is not it. The previous BJCP guidelines had a category for extra special or strong bitter. The current guidelines now call this category the British Strong Bitter. Perhaps because ESB is a trademark belonging to Fullers; news to me also. The Brewers Association still lists guidelines for an ESB, but the Coastless still does not hit these marks either.  The strong bitter should be a fruity, malty beverage with noticeable hop bitterness and low alcohol presence. Maybe at the top end of the alcohol range (4.6-6.2%) you might get some alcohol flavours. This Coastless is boozy as all get up, it tasted like a Negroni with prune juice. If I were to classify the beer, I would call it an Old Ale. So, I shall review as an Old Ale; otherwise the score would be much lower. This is not a judging contest, but a taste evaluation. Thanks to Bradley for the nice photo.

Coast to Coastless = 6/10

As mentioned above, this beer is boozy. It smells like rum soaked cherries, but oddly the mouthfeel is thin. Not really medium light as BJCP would like. It was still quite boozy in the sip like a negroni cocktail muddled with treacle, prunes and a Macintosh toffee bar. Still more warming boozy in the finish. If it wasn't such a thin beer the boozy might not as be so noticeable. Still it would make an excellent Ole Ale

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1 7.6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (simple label are relatively good description of flavour)

Glassware: A lager glass, common pint or a dimpled mug

Food Pairings: Roasted light meats, pork, burgers, lamb. Could also work with grilled vegetables or kabobs.

Cellar: The dissolved yeast might further change the flavour, but the simple malts and low hop presence, cellaring might not be suitable.

Vital Stats: ABV 7.6% and IBU 50. According the BJCP 2015 should be 4.6-6.2%ABV and 30-50IBU. Brewers Association 4.8-5.8%ABV and 30-45 IBU. Old Ale would fit better at 5.5-9% ABV and 30-60 IBU (BJCP) similar for BA.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Snakebite by Spinnakers

While is not really a beer, but a bottled cocktail, this shall be an short review. The snakebite is a beverage that is equal parts cider and lager. Presumably Spinnakers mixes the Kolsch and their house cider.

Snakebite = 4/10

The low score does not really indicate a bad beer, negative numbers would show that. This beer is just, well... bland. Green apple tartness from the cider blends equally with the cereal tastes of the lager. With a tart and dry finish, the Snakebite is certain to be a patio sipper. Some will sip for refreshment, I kept sipping to find flavours. Not many were noticed.

Taste +2
After taste +1
Alcohol +1 6%
Value 0

label 0

United Front by VIB and Steel and Oak

I am a little bit behind, so most likely everyone has processed/recycled this beer already. If not, then you should go and drink one. The current trend in beers is to brew obscure and forgotten styles: gose, grisette, gratzer, etc. While the kellerbier/zwickelbier is not obscure it does by far have the coolest name. The United Front collaboration beer label states "unfiltered braun beer". When you say unfiltered lager, you might be referring to a kellerbier. This translates from the German to read "cellar beer", or beer served directly from the lagering cellar. Braun means that is the brown, as there are pale (helles) or amber (Marzen) versions of kellerbier. So what did the beer prick think about the front?

United Front = 6/10

The aroma was a little subdued with hints of mint and lettuce; so a well lagered aroma. Dissolved yeast provided a suitable mild to medium mouthfeel with a slight slickness of diacetyl. Diacetyl was low which is suitable for this style. As with any beer that declares the use of Vienna style malts, the dominate flavours were lightly toasted, grainy with small amounts of earth. Rounding out the palate were dark fruits, prunes and a little green apple. Green apple is not unheard of for an unfiltered lager. These tastes did not linger and provided a clean finish.  

Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content 0 5.8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (simple label are relatively good description of flavour)

Glassware: A lager glass, common pint or a dimpled mug

Food Pairings: Roasted light meats, pork, burgers, lamb. Could also work with grilled vegetables or kabobs.

Cellar: The dissolved yeast might further change the flavour, but the simple malts and low hop presence, cellaring might not be suitable.

Vital Stats:
SRM 16.5. On the label the EBC (European Brewing Convention) of 32.5 was stated. EBC= 1.97*SRM. This above the range for a Vienna lager (9-15), in the range for an altbier (11-17) and low end for a Munich Dunkel (14-28).
IBU 35. This IBU range makes it hoppier than most German lagers, except for the altbier which has a very wide range (25-50).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ShortWave by Phillips

Just a real quick review to keep my backlog from getting too long. Not much to say about this beer anyways, it is a pale ale in a tall can.

ShortWave = 4/10

The nose started promisingly with a pronounced whiff of pine, cedar and bitter oranges. Sadly once this pleasant aroma dissipated there was a noticeable aroma of diacetyl. This was confirmed by the slick mouthfeel that was best described as medium to full. Building on the citrus, pine thing was the usual honey and biscuit malts. The Shortwave is a oddly sweet beer despite the initial hop bitter aroma. Overall, the best thing in a can for under 2 bucks. I think the description is aggressively popular.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.2%
Value 0
Appearance 0

Glassware: Right from the can is fine.

Food Pairings: Would go with anything, honest.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Canadian Brewing Awards 2015 Beer Geek Analysis

I was asked by a friend for my thoughts on the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards. Let us break down the medals to prove that BC is the best place in Canada to drink craftbeer. Perhaps the perfect place start is with the brewery of the year, Four Winds Brewing in Delta. This brewery just celebrated it's second birthday with a very prestigious present. At this years CBA, they took home 5 medals from 14 entries (thank you Brent). This is a 36% success rate; most of my analysis of the CBA will feature this measurement. In turns of medal breakdown, BC breweries cleaned up. Of the possible 123 brewing medals, BC took home 45, Ontario 41 and Quebec racked up 23. As a percentage it reads BC 37%, Ontario 33% and Quebec 18%.
Macro breweries are allowed to enter this contest.  As a side note, macro breweries took home 11 medals or 9% of the total. I'm not sure who is and who is not considered a macro back east, so this is an estimate. Macros only scored higher than a craft brewery in 5 categories. Most of these were the ones you would expect: lagers, wheat ales, light lagers and cream ales. In comparison, Victoria breweries fared almost as well as the macros with 9 medals or 7%. In fact, Victoria received 23% of the medals won by BC breweries.
BC breweries also swept two entire categories: Black IPA and Red/Amber ales. Ontario also swept two: Wood/Barrel aged and Honey/Maple beers. This seems about right, we like our hoppy beers but do not get a lot of maple syrup on this coast.
At this point the comparisons between BC and Ontario breweries might seem pretty close. These next numbers pull BC to the front of the line. Of the 1097 total entries, BC submitted 336 and Ontario 408. While Ontario did enter more beers, BC had a higher percentage of winners based on entries. BC claimed medals 13.4% of the time, while Ontario only took the podium 10% of the time. To make BC appear more awesome, lets look at this based on our provinces population. In January 2014, BC had a population of 4.61 million and Ontario 13.6 million. This means that BC had a medal ratio of just under 1:100,000, while Ontario trailed far behind with 0.3:100,000. More great beer per capita! We will just ignore the fact the Ontario took home 15 golds and BC only 12. But BC did take claim the best IPA, which is the only category anyone cares about. Well done Russell Brewing. Apparently Mike really liked the Punch Bowl.
Now for some of the highlights and fails of the CBA 2015.
For highlights, many new BC breweries took home medals. Category 12 in Victoria took home gold in the BIPA category. Bad Tattoo in Penticton took home two silvers. Rossland Beer Company's 7 summit milk stout out classed last years beer of the year, the Sasquatch stout from Old Yale.
As for the fails, they all happened back east. Amsterdam Brewing entered the most beers, 29 in total. They only took home 2 medals. Mill Street entered 26 beers and took home nothing. Ouch. Even Canoe Club beat them and won a medal in the pilsner category.
Something I found interesting was that BC's favourite brewery, Driftwood, did not place a single entry. Also one of the largest brewery in BC, Phillips, only entered their top selling four beers. Too bad, Blue Buck Pale Ale did very well in the 2012 lager category
If you have any highlights or thoughts about this years CBA, leave a comment below. Or you can leave a comment if you think my math is wrong.

Obscuritas Sour by Driftwood

Two things to mention in the post. The first is rather shocking. As everyone knows, last weekend was the Canadian Brewing Awards and BC Breweries cleaned up. Beer Me BC has a nice write up on his blog. What was shocking was that the most notable BC Brewery not to enter any beers was Driftwood. Nope, not a single entry. I wonder if they did not enter in 2014 either? Phillips just sent in their four best sellers. Too bad, apparently Blue Buck Pale Ale was a silver metal winner in the lager category in 2012.
The second item to mention was the inability to satisfy of my pompous palate. This is neither new nor exciting. Like a good Victoria beer drinker, I rushed out to buy the 2015 Driftwood sour release. Money was blindly placed on the counter and this coveted bottle was rushed home to chill. The idea temperature was reached and the favourite glass was used. After being thoroughly cleaned of course, lest I be scorned by a certain penny farthing rider. I sipped, I tasted, I tasted again and I was saddened. Don't get me wrong, this beer was delicious. I was just not stupefied. When the first Driftwood sour came out, I was blown away. The flavours were so unlike those the Victoria craft beer drinkers have every tasted. This years sour tastes very similar to last years. Perhaps the desire to search out new flavours and fermented imbibing experiences has cost me the ability to just enjoy a beer. The contents of my recycling bin has been looking rather empty lately. Is this why big breweries never market, or listen, to beer geeks/snobs? We, or maybe just I, never drink the same beer twice and whine whenever I do. This seems like a good time to shut my mouth, figuratively, and review this beer.

Obscuritas 2015 = 9/10

This beer hits all the marks that a good sour should. The nose is a ponderous mix of sweet and sour. Dark candy sugar and balsamic raspberry vinaigrette are the dominating aromas. Your teeth grind from the gripping acidity and your tongue screams from the sourness. It is hard to sort out the flavours, sour bing cherries, little wood smoke and molasses taffy. The ending coats everything and leave a long and pleasant sourness.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 7.6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (beautify label art as always)

Glassware: A snifter

Food Pairings: Pairing with sours is hard, so I'm not going to bother this time

Cellar: Most certainly.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Beer Flavour make you want to drink more

It is not often that I read scientific journals. But when I do, it is the latest issue of Neuropsychopharmacology. I thought this was a very unfair study, it targeted two associated things: men and drinking beer. Of course there will be an association. Now I am again rambling, let's hear the science.
We drink beer for two reasons, or three if you have Untappd. The first reason is for the delicious flavours. The second is to trigger dopamine release from the striatum part of your brain. For those of you, like me, who slept through this class in school, dopamine is the classic reward neurotransmitter.  Nicotine, cocaine and alcohol all have positive effects on the dopamine systems of the brain. You drink beer, alcohol causes release of dopamine and you feel good. Sounds right to me. That and a social media badge and life is good.
Researchers at the University of Indiana set out to determine if just the flavour of beer could illicit a dopamine response without the alcohol component. On a side note, I think there are way more breweries in BC than Indiana. Indiana has about 20, BC about a whole lot more.
Anyways, a bunch of right handed beer drinkers were hooked up to a fancy brain scan machine that could monitor dopamine activity in their striatum. Why right handed? Left handed people tend to respond to brain studies differently. But this is another article. Back on topic, these poor subjects were hooked up to yet another machine that sprayed stuff directly on their tongues. Oddly when water or Gatoraid was sprayed on the tongue, no dopamine release was noticed. However, when beer was sprayed on the tongue, or tasted, there was a noticeable dopamine release. Also of interest was that if there was a familiar risk of alcoholism, the dopamine release was increased.
This study concluded that reward is a conditioned response that can be triggered by flavours and not the pharmacological effects of alcohol. Just tasting beer makes us want to drink more. Also if you have a genetic or family risk of alcoholism, your dopamine release is heightened. They should add another wing to this study to see if dopamine release is further enhanced when a new badge is gained on Untappd.

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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spinnakers Red Fife Dunkelweizen

I am catching up, this one was from May. Doubt you can find this one in stores anymore, too bad it was rather nice. Perhaps I should try and give a bit on knowledge, the limited amount that I have. Dunkelwiezen is loosely translated into dark wheat ale. This dunkel is an ale, as contrasted with a Munich dunkel which is a lager. This style of wheat beer is middle of the road beer. Nothing too flashy, IBU bitterness not too high and ABV in the normal range. The unique flavours come from a combination of lots of wheat malt used, usually 50% or higher, and a wonderful German wheat yeast. This yeast produces all sorts of spicy phenols and fruity esters. Cloves and pepper flavours are from the phenols and the banana and bubblegum are fruity esters. For those that want to get super beer geeky, take a whiff of a wheat beer and say, "Mmmm, love that isoamyl acetate and 4-vinyl guaiacol. These and the chemical compounds associated with the flavours of bananas and cloves, respectively. Enough knowledge, what about the beer.

Red Fife Dunkelweizen = 5/10

Beers like this are rarely highly rated because they are just simple and nice. Nothing too flashy in the nose, just the expected toasted banana bread, cloves and mild vanilla. The sip is spot on with a creamy fruitiness with hints of chocolate, wheat cakes and saw dust. There was a bit of soy in there, but nothing outrageous. My finish was a banana bread creaminess the faded quickly away. Just a simple and tasty sipper.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 4.5% (yay for a session strength ale)
Value +1
Appearance 0

Glassware: Most certainly a German weizen glass. This glass is unique with a tall body and an exaggeratedly large bowl at the top. These beers tend to produce a large fluffy head due to larger than usual amounts of protein from the wheat malts. I love these glasses because they are often very ornate with great art and sometimes gold rims.

Food Pairings: Most anything will do as the beer flavours are calm. Something grilled and slightly fatty would work nice, maybe with some breadiness too. I'm thinking of a spicy sausage sandwich.

Cellar: Nope. Then again I had a many year old Aventinus and it was stellar

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hip as Funk IPA by Moon Under Water

I am really far behind in my posts, this beer was released in January. The name eludes to the flavours and it also has a great label. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this the first Brett conditioned beer to be released in Victoria? If so, props to Clay for releasing a brave new beer. If not, just props anyways for a great beer.

Hip as Funk = 7/10

The nose is all brett with nostril tingles of wood pile and wool gloves. It is a pleasantly tart and acrid sip that might be categorized as medium in body. To balance the tartness is a light pit fruit sweetness that encompasses apricots, dried pears, peaches and horse blanket. Sadly all these great flavours just end. It is has an oddly clean ending for an initially funky beer.

Taste +4
Aftertaste 0 (it just ends)
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great label)

Glassware: I would prefer a tulip, but my buddy Brian has chosen a hefe style. Which is fine due to abundant head produced.

Food Pairings: Pairing with sour beers is a challange, but pick something on the light side. A good idea might be a grilled ham and a funky brie cheese. The high carbonation of dryness would work well to remove fatty or spicy tastes from the tongue; hello Pad Thai! A spicy sausage hoagie would be a good choice.

Cellar: The brett yeast might produce some interesting changes with the residual sugar. Might be worth it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Insubordinate Session IPA by Category 12

It is so nice to have a Cicerone working at a small, local brewery. That way, when they say that a beer is sessionable, it actually is. I suppose that this means Category 12 is almost a serious local brewery. In my selfish opinion I feel there are some informal criteria to meet to be considered a serious craft brewery. There are five of them, feel free to comment if you think I am crazy. First, you must produce a noteworthy IPA. A black IPA could be substituted perhaps.  Almost everyone has one, some are better than others. Second, you must make a high gravity beer that is worth cellaring. This can be a barley wine, stout or a weird Belgian thing. Third, you must do a unique cask once a year. It cannot be a dry-hopped-something-you-already-have-on-tap. Fourth, you must make something session strength that is quaffable. Finally, you must brew something with a unique yeast or something sour. How many local breweries meet all of these criteria? Most of them do, or are well on their way to fulfilling these criteria. Well, this is rather opinionated of me. This never happens. Anyways I digress.

This is the fifth release by the kids on Keating Cross. The previous releases were a pale ale and a Belgian dark. Both of which I tasted but forgot to review; I am such a slacker.  The pale ale gets a 7 and the dark gets an 6. There was a weird aroma on the dark that threw me off. Still both were very tasty, I especially liked the pale. Lots of aroma and not too grassy. Again I digress, must be the lack of caffeine.

Insubordinate = 9/10

This brew is darn tasty. An unexpected nose hits you with abundant pine/cedar and grapefruit citrus. The gripping bitterness followed the nose, yet faded quickly to reveal a mix of bready, biscuit and caramel malts. A simple, yet very drinkable beer, which is what a session ale should be. Oh and under 5%ABV.

Taste= +4
Aftertaste = +2
Alcohol Content +1 (low alcohol that doesn't taste weak)
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice art and reasonable description of flavour)

Glassware: What ever you have is fine. I did not include a photo of my glassware choice due to ummm technical difficulties.

Food Pairings: A sharp cheddar would pair nicely, maybe even a Stilton. There is a bit of spiciness, pine and citrus going on in this beer. Would enhance a cedar grilled salmon nicely or contrast a sweeter pasta dish with some citrus component. Try with tuna lemon pasta.

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Tale of Two Beers

It was the best of beers, it was the worst of beers. This is the only line that I know from the Charles Dickens novel. Actually, this knowledge was learned from Mr. Google. The title does introduces two contrasting beers nicely. Today I shall be ranting about Phillips, most days I rant about Phillips. Mix this rant about what makes a beer good. A beer is good for two reasons. The first is that it loosely follows guidelines and is free of flaws or faults. The second is that it tastes good (to you). Unless you are entering a beer in a contest, the first reason is usually ignored. Except for the flaw part. Now we come to the second reason, does a beer taste good?
Does a beer actually taste good.... really? Are your tastes biased due to marketing, preconceived expectations or the third and most insidious reason of Untappd review bias? I like to call this the Emperor's New Clothes effect. In this instance you are presented with a new beer. It has great packaging, great description, made by a big craft brewery with lots of positive Untappd or Ratebeer reviews. This must be a good beer right? Not always. In some circles this is called expectation or subjectivity. The classic example used wine experts and their impression about a certain wine. In this experiment, experts were served a bottle of red wine labeled as a grand cru (special) and a bottle labeled as a vin du table (ordinary). Experts rated the grand cru as better than the table wine. The kicker was that they were served the same wine in different bottles. You can influence experts with labeling. It happens in the beer world too. Samuel Adams Utopia is only pretty good, Pliny the Elder is not that mind blowing and the Phillips 10th Anniversary beer was an average IPA in a really fancy bottle. Perhaps this is enough ranting, I think you get the point.

3rd Blind Mouse by Phillips = -2/10

Like you never saw this review coming. Mr. Mouse started off with a wonderfully sweet nose of sweet tropical fruit, pineapple and passion fruit. Should have called it 3rd Blind Mosaic. Things went south when the tongue numbing bitterness became difficult to stomach. It was overly bitter, boozy and lacked malt balance. I imagine that this is what 20 year old can of tropical fruit salad would taste like. Despite all this, I felt there was a bit of diacetyl slickness in the aftertaste. This beer hit the drain. My thoughts were confirmed by others in the room with me: a great homebrewer, a professional brewer and a highly rated beer geek. They also thought it tasted like every other Phillips IPA. It looked wonderful, smelled great, was made by a famous craft brewery and had many great reviews. To me this beer just sucked.

Taste -1
Aftertaste -1
Alcohol Content +1 10.2%
Value -1
Appearance +1

Apteryx IPA = 7/10

I found this IPA to be quite tasty and interesting. I liked the use of Nelson Sauvin hops. I can't say that I have ever tried a gooseberry, cape gooseberry yes, but not a European one. Sauvignon blanc wine has passed over my tongue and yes you can taste it in these hops. There was the expected mix of tropical fruit, grapefruit with spicy papaya seeds.The mild bready and fruity malts did not distract from the slight white grape juice taste of the hops. A lingering of peppery fruit provided a pleasant end to the sip. I liked it, not stellar, but very tasty.

Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1 (I liked it)
Appearance +1 (Nice label art with good description of flavour)

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 15, 2015

Can Beer Help with Post Exercise Rehydration?


Perhaps I should elaborate or this will be a very short article. Researchers at the Griffith University in Queensland, Australia (where else), set out to answer this very question. Beer is apparently a very popular post exercise beverage, just as Olympic Gold Medalist Jon Montgomery. Could low alcohol beer with added sodium be an effective rehydration beverage? Actually, this is the second time these same researchers tried this stunt. Again, their old friend XXXX light (2.3%ABV) and XXXX Gold (3.5%ABV) got a dose of sodium and was served to some lucky, dehydrated university students. These poor students were stuck in heavy tract suits until they lost 2% of their body weight from sweating. Then they were given salty, low alcohol beer in approximate volumes to replace the fluid lost from exercise. Apparently the average fluid lost was about 2 litres, yuck.
After this torment, the researchers learned that beer was not an effective rehydration beverage. Even though the saltiest light beer (2.3%ABV with 50 mmol/L sodium) was the most effective, it was also the least palatable. By comparison Gatorade contains about 20 mmol/L of sodium, so this beer was quite salty. I shall continue to sit on my couch and rehydrate with a nice Gose.

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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Craft Beer Revolution Second Edition Book Review

I was very pleased to receive a copy of Joe's new book, Craft Beer Revolution Second Edition. Not to be confused with the book by Steve Hindy with the same name. It is awkward to read, and potentially review, a book by someone I see on a semi regular basis. What if you don't like the book? Do you mention any errors or spelling mistakes? Luckily Joe's book if factually accurate, free of grammatical errors and a pleasure to read. I found the tone and personal nature of Joe's writing to be a refreshing change from other beer books. It felt like a pub chat with an old friend.

I should say what this book is not. This book is not an in depth tasting guide to the craft beers produced in BC. The tasting notes on the beers mentioned were a little generalized. This is not a beer appreciation book with glassware lesson, beer style guides, food pairings and recipes. This is most evident by the very short Glossary of Terms section near the front of the book. Many terms and beer styles mentioned in the later chapters are not mentioned. There is no definition of bock, weizenbock, porter, mash tun, etc, etc.

However, this book is the definitive guide to what is happening in BC craft beer. It covers the past, the present and gives hint into the future of what's brewing in this province. There is brief profile of almost (more on this later) every craft brewery in BC. These profiles are organized by geographical location. Each profile has a brief history about the brewers and owners that are make the beers we love. Joe excels in his book by capturing the passions and dreams of those driving the craft beer movement. I also enjoyed the extra stories placed within the book. There are stories about the Pink Boots, cask festivals, fresh hopped beers and more.

Perhaps the big question is should you buy this book. My answer is, "Yes". I learned quite a lot about the new craft breweries in BC. It was nice to know the places and names behind the beers I drink. I binge read this book over the course of two days.  If you are looking for a beer appreciation book, perhaps Beerology by Mirella Amato is a better option.

I mentioned the "almost" covering every craft brewery in BC. Again this edition omitted the  Merecroft Village Pub. This is the only craft brewery north of Nanaimo. I have been to the MVP Pub, I do not plan to return. Their website proudly offers to serve your favourite beer in a frosted mug. Did I mention there was no desire to return to MVP?  Something else I liked was the education section. This short chapter gave places to learn more about the appreciation of craft beer, such as the Cicerone program and Prud'homme. Mostly like no one with notice the absence of the beer blogger listings.
Well done Joe. I'm looking forward to reading the Third Edition.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Moon Double Review - Le Sang and Bulldog

Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I don't remember hearing about the release of these two beers. Perhaps the need for the press release is dead. Has it been replaced by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Will a brewer's social media follower list reach enough beer drinkers that outside help is not needed? What does this mean for blogs/websites that deliver beer drinking news? Perhaps I am thinking too much about this; shut up and review the beers.

This first beer had very little to say about it on the Moon Facebook page; "beer named after the View Royal Fire Department and inspired by a collaboration cask of Smoke & Fire. Its a sweet, lightly smoked malt base with just a hint of hop peppers in the boil". So it is sweet Scottish ale with light peppery spice?

Bulldog Belgo Scottish Ale = 6/10

With most Scottish ales the nose is fairly tame of peaty/smoked malts and caramel sweetness. The Bulldog delivered with a bit of prune richness in the aroma. Without any further surprises, this ale was a balanced mix of mild caramel, peat, dark fruits and dried apricots. This syrupy sweetness was layered upon an earthy hop bed with a spiciness of unknown origin. It left a chewy residue similar to a Mackintosh Toffee bar that you found in a potted plant. Very nice, I should have brought the bigger growler.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance 0 (for minimal press and little info on beer)

Glassware: Definitely a Scottish thistle; preferably cleaner than mine.

Food Pairings: Would bridge a dish with roasted or caramelized rich flavours, perhaps a pan seared pork chop with caramelized onions. I was thinking about a BBQ portabello mushroom burger with Branston pickles. The sweetness would calm a spicy dish. How about some flame broiled chicken with fiery Jamaican jerk sauce?

Cellar: Nope

This was the real purpose of my visit. There are three little words that makes Mrs. Left4Beer's heart go pitter-patter: Moon sour ale. I was instructed to go to brewery and not to return without a couple of bottles. This beer had an eventful life. It lingered in port barrels, mingled with black currants before getting a dose of Brett then stuck in a corked bottle.

Le Sang Du Merle = 9/10

The nose eludes to quick tour through sour town. The tour starts at the crossroads of black currant and tart vinegar. Next is a stroll into the land of tannic currants, sweet raspberry vinaigrette with a slight funk cameo. The tannins provide a dry pucker which is enhanced by the slight Brett character. This sensation just keeps going to a dry finish far in the distance. Sour beers never describe well to those who have never tried one. Well done.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1  (very elegant and simple hand stamped labels)

Glassware: A tulip or snifter would work well to trap the inviting sour and tart fruity aromas.

Food Pairings: Nothing, just enjoy.

Cellar: With the addition of Brett and complex wood notes, this is certain one to put in cellar for 2 years minimum.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Barque by Lighthouse

I love a good 18D. Perhaps I should explain myself. 18D is the BJCP style guidelines for a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. One might think of these beers as imperial Pilsners fermented with ester producing yeast strains. It is wonderful when a simple brew using mostly pale/Pilsner malts, some simple sugars and noble hops create such a flavourful beverage with deceptive strength. When one things of a 18D, there is only one example: Duvel. The aroma has depth of light fruits, spices and oddly no alcohol. Each sip carries on where the nose left off with an additional effervescence and subtle warmth. So how did the Barque stand up to this world renowned beer.

Barque = 9/10 

Everything started from the moment the cap hit the floor. Sadly the initial fruitiness faded to reveal an unassuming nose of moderated spices, dry yeast and mushy bread. Things got real with the sip. It was Duvel, everything was there; the soft chewy bready, the abundance of pears, lemons and apricot baby food. But something else was riding on this creamy, effervescent flavour wave. It must be the south side Wai-iti hops with their lemon and orange zip. Sadly the ending was too clean. Stellar, certainly a contented for Victoria beer of the year.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Nice label art but I wish there was some tasting notes on the label)

Glassware: Duvel glass. Only a Duvel glass. Most certainly a Duvel art glass.

Food Pairings: With spicy and calm sweet flavours, this beer is a must with a spicy pasta dish. I'm thinking about a simple pesto - heavy with garlic - topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Thai food is a lime presence would bring out the citrus in the Barque. Try it with dessert of key lime pie.

Cellar: Duvel has been known to improve with age. This might just do the same. It is surprisingly well priced for the quality, I plan to put a few down.

Snow Stout by Moon and Spinnakers

This is apparently a collaboration between Moon and Spinnakers. I would find out more details, but I don't feel like bothering anyone. This brew is part of the 'Moon Exploration Program'. Again I would find out more, but again I don't want to bother anyone. It sounds like a plan to get more Untappd check ins trying weird beers. Sounds good. So what is a white stout? It tastes like a stout where you forgot to add your dark malts. What did the beer prick think of the 'unstout' stout?

Snow Stout = 6/10

The nose was an odd combination of vanilla latte, coffee grounds and powdered milk. It rather tasted like this too. An peculiar mix of caramel, thin Turkish coffee and vanilla ice cream. Might be best described as a boozy vanilla latte with a sweet powdery aftertaste. It was interesting. In hindsight, I should have filled the small growler.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0
Value +1 (It was interesting)
Appearance +1 (growlers always win)

Glassware: Anything clean

Food Pairings: I can't fathom what to drink with this. Desert might be nice. Try with crème brûlée or rice pudding, the white stout would enhance the sweet, earthy vanilla in these dishes.

Cellar:Nope, you dope. Drink it fresh

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beer and Cheese: Cabrales blue and Keepers Stout

Any excuse to buy a six pack of Keepers Stout is a good one. A dead easy beer and cheese pairing is blue and stout. This weeks choice was Cabrales blue from Spain. This Spanish cheese is a mix of raw cow, goat and sheep milk. It is aged in naturally occuring limestone caves for two to four months. In this moist envirmonment, the naturally occuring penicillium mold goes to work. Unlike other blue cheeses, this mould is not injected into the cheese, but allowed to work naturally from the outside in. The result is a pungent aroma that is caracteristaclly blue. Cabrales is a creamy and crumbly cheese which can be somewhat spreadable. If you love that eye watering tart, funky and acidic blue flavours, then this is the cheese for you.

When you add the dry and sweet flavours of an Irish stout, good things happen. The sweet flavours balanced the tart and sour notes of the blue cheese. While the dryness of the stout and bright carbonation worked to lift the heavy creaminess and fat off the tongue. This accentuated the richness of the 45% milk fat blue. A slice of sweet apple brought out more of this stouts chocolate sweetness. Yup, it's an easy pairing and I'm OK with that.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Caffeinated Beer and Hangovers

Science is wonderful! This gem was presented at the Alcohol Hangover Research Group annual
meeting in 2012. In this study a handful of 21-30 year olds were paid $150 bucks to drink either beer or caffeinated beer, then their hangover score was determined in the morning. Apparently between 3-17% of students believe caffeinated prevent hangovers. I guess a slap to the back of the head is not scientific reasoning. So these lucky kids were given Hurricane High Gravity, with or without a whack of caffeine, until their blood alcohol hit 0.12 g% BrAC. In other words, nicely liquored on the cheap. DISCLOSURE: I have drank Hurricane before, but not in this quantity. My drinking buddies have this inside joke about drinking cheap gas station beer; but that is another story. So the result after waking up has no surprise. Over 60% of these lucky kids had hangovers. Shocking. Caffeine also had no affect on hangover severity. Despite the caffeinated beer delivering about 383mg caffeine, sleep onset and duration was not affected. Although these wired kids thought they slept better and were more alert in the morning. The researchers felt this study dispelled the misinformation that caffeinated alcoholic beverages prevented hangovers. I could have done the same with a bullhorn and a case of Redbull.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Coffin Kicker Porter Phillips

I could be wrong but is the first draught only release by a non-brewpub brewery? Lighthouse has had experimental growler fills but has not made a big deal about them. Wouldn't it be great if this idea caught on. It might lead to more experimental brews, less packaging use and more Untappd check ins. Maybe the last one isn't so important.  I have a great idea; how about if a local brewery sets up a 'pop-up' growler fill station at a local market. This is also selfish, as Moss Street market is only a few blocks from my house. I digress and dream. How did the Coffin Kicker taste?

Coffin Kicker = 5/10  
The nose was usual porter style: milk chocolate, roast, pencils and stale coffee. I happen to find the aroma of stale coffee appealing. It was an oddly creamy sip and not high in the roasted astringency department. This porter was straightforward and tied together roasted coffee beans, 33% cocoa mass and dark berries. One might think it was a little on the thin side, but I thought it increased quaffability. The finish added a little glycerin like coating. Overall a nice, simple and unflavoured porter.
Taste +3
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1 (a simple tasty porter)
Appearance +1 (Growlers always get top marks)

Glassware: Anything is fine, even the simple shaker.

Food Pairings: You could draw in other roasted foods like BBQ burgers, steak or vegetable kabobs. In contrast use the roasted, dry character to balance out sweet and rich foods like brownies or mac and cheese. For a cheese pairing try a mild blue like Blue d'Auvergne or an aged cheddar.

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hard Rain DIPA by Hoyne

It has been a while since the Hoyners have released anything new. I believe the last truly new one was the Entre Nous in July. Come to think of it, it has been rather quiet in the new release category for most breweries. That is if you ignore Phillips and Spinnakers. I tried four new beers at Spinnakers last week that did not have any press releases, all quite good. The Rainforest Logger was very nice, for a lager that is. But today I open the cap on a double IPA from Hoyne. Lots of hops going on including a new one called cytra? Perhaps it was a typo by either Hoyne or Canadian Beer News. Anyways double IPA means double everything: double hops, double malts, double flavour and usually double cost. How did the Hard Rain double up?

Hard Rain = 3/10

Is it just me or does this beer smell like it has been dry hopped beyond all recognition? Perhaps it is all the nugget hop giving off that grassy herbal aroma. Certainly some spicy pine too. This beer is all about the hops: spicy, herbal, pine, cedar and bitter orange. But there are no malts to back it up. The malts of a DIPA should be apparent and syrupy, to barely balance the hops. Even just compare the colour with the Twenty Pounder from Driftwood. The Hard Rain just looks thin in comparison (Matty has much better lighting than I do and the Pounder still looks dark). When I hear DIPA, I expect certain things. Call it a extra/double pale ale and then I know what to expect. This beer is drinkable if you dig your hop bombs. Perhaps I am just being overly critical and jerk-like in my old age? You decide.

Taste +2
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1
Value +1
Appearance 0 (usual fun Hoyne poetry but no real description of how beer will taste)

Glassware: Definitely a fancy IPA glass. If no, then anything clean will do

Food Pairings: Lots of cedar and pine going on here with sweetness. Should enhance flavours of cedar plank salmon. For cheese something robust like a aged cheddar or Beemster.

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beer and Cheese: Torte Mascarpone and Category 12 Saison

Another week another cheese, this time it was the Torta Mascarpone. A rough translation of 'torta' is cake or pie. Torta Mascarpone is a cake with alternating layers of Mascarpone and Gorgonzola cheeses.  Mascarpone is an Italian equivalent to a soft creamy cheese like ricotta.The Torta has a smell similar to a blue cheese and cream cheese mixed together. The spicy and funky aromas of the blue were there along with the citric tang of the Mascarpone. These flavours melted together to form this wonderful funky, tart and citric creamy delight. It was a spreading cheese as the Mascarpone made the combo very soft. The perfect beer would be something with ample carbonation to help lift the fat off the tongue. An ideal beer would also need a residual fruity sweetness to balance the tart Mascarpone and funky blue-veined Gorgonzola. A saison immediately sprang to mind.

Yes, I know this is cheating; every fatty cheese goes well with a saison. The classic Saison Dupont would be too dry and floral hoppy with this milder blue combination. So I picked the Category 12 Unsanctioned Saison. I wouldn't call the C12 a saison, it is too malty. I think the Unsanctioned is closer to the French style saison called biere de garde. The saison style is more familiar to beer drinkers than biere de garde.

This combination was beer and cheese heaven. The carbonation of the C12 lifted the fatty cheese off the tongue to reveal a citric, fruity tartness. There was enough fruitiness in the C12 to draw out the lemon citrus of the Mascarpone. Malty sweetness balanced out the bitter and tartness of the blue Gorgonzola.

New week I shall try and find the idea cheese pairing with a Victoria classic: Lighthouse Keepers Stout.