Showing posts with label -2. Show all posts
Showing posts with label -2. Show all posts

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)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

4 Mile Summer Wheat Ale

2014 will be known as the year of number breweries. The 4 Mile Brewpub bombers hit the shelves this week. Very soon we shall see things from Category 12 Brewing. The 4 Mile will be the first brewpub that is not within walking distance of downtown. It shall join the -hopefully- growing list of brewpubs in the Western Communities. The Loghouse Pub will be brewing in the near future, though not in time for a Great Canadian Beer Fest appearance.
Perhaps we should learn a little bit about beer on this post. Let's learn about diacetyl. The phenomenon of diacetyl in beer is a lengthy discussion. So I shall be brief; it is bad. The flavour of diacetyl is similar to butter and should only be noticeable in English style ales. Then it should only be slightly present. If you want to taste diacetyl, grab a bag of microwave popcorn or visit the 4 mile pub. If you wish to learn more about diacetyl as on off flavour in beer, check out this site.
During the brewing process, yeast does its thing and converts fermentable sugar into all sorts of stuff. This stuff is both good (alcohol, carbon dioxide, ester, phenols) and bad (diacetyl, fusel alcohols, etc). A good brewery will allow the yeast to continue working and naturally remove the diacetyl it has produced. If young beer is removed from the yeast too early, diacetyl can be left behind. This is generally considered a flaw in the brewing process. There are other causes of diacetyl such as unhealthy yeast or infection from other bacteria (pediococcus). But to again summarize: diacetyl is bad.

4 Mile Summer Wheat -2/10

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. Maybe not, many reviews on Untappd reflect my feelings.
The nose of the Summer Wheat is heavy with butter. There is a little bit of wheat and cracker malts also. Each chewy sip leaves a long sticky smear of diacetyl than no amount of carbonation can remove. I failed to taste much else except the buttery diacetyl. If pressed for something else, I would guess about lemons and wheat. Most of this beer hit the drain. There will be no further beer money spent on 4 Mile beer. On the positive side, this is the best packaged beer in Victoria to date. The whimsical artwork was very eye catching. It also gave a good description of what beer should have tasted like with food pairing ideas.

Taste -1
Aftertaste -1 (long and sticky)
Alcohol Content 0 4.5% is a nice sessionable strength
Value -1 (not a good beer)
Appearance +1 These are the nicest labels in Victoria. Very eye catching with good description of theoretical flavours and food pairings.

Glassware: Pint glass will do. If you have a six sided jam jar, now is the time to fetch it.

Food Pairings: Usually you can pair this beer with anything. Would go well with pasta salad topped with pecorino cheese. Seafood would also be a good choice. For those into fish, this beer style goes great along side trout with lemons.

Cellar: more like drain

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.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Harvest Moon ESB and Learning

I have learned a lot from my little girl. Rarely do my reviews start with fatherly wisdom crap, but I will have a point soon. One day, my little girl's classmates were sitting around their teacher talking about what they liked, and disliked, about school. The usual opinions came up: I like storytime, I hate math, I like recess and so on. All the little ones adamantly agreed that they liked recess and lunch break the best. That is until my girl raised her hand and said that she did not like recess.
The teacher was puzzled and asked why? It was hard to find my classmates on the busy playground, my little one mentioned. Slowly, other hands went up. Her fellow classmates had the same issue with this (supposed) unanimously fun event. The teacher was puzzled, but worked out a solution to help them find each other on the playground.
I am getting closer to my point - pinky-promise. At a CAMRA beer judging event, I was seated with two elder statesmen of the Victoria craft beer scene. After a respectful kowtow, I quietly sat down and awaited the first beer to judge.
It arrived and was sampled by all of us. They talked about the interesting flavours of the beer, it's richness, complexity and how it was a good example of the style. My sip gave me pause; this beer was clearly infected and tasted like crap. A moment of doubt was focused on my palate. Then I remembered my brave little daughter. Out of my mouth blurted the words,"Yuck! This beer is off. Can you not taste the vinegar?" The honourable others were perplexed, but took another sip. They too agreed with my opinions of this beer and proceeded to document their ill findings.

This brings me to the review of the new beer my Salt Spring Island Harvest Moon ESB.

Harvest Moon ESB = -2/10

Perhaps I got a bad bottle, but others have confirmed my thoughts from other bottles in different cities. This beer is bad. I hate to say anything bad about anybody, but I gotta tell it like it is. The aroma comes across with hints of vegetal (DMS) and caramel. It is actually boardering on butterscotch. A medium to full mouthfeel was oddly creamy and slick for an ESB. Perhaps I had not tasted an ESB in a while. Nope, I had sampled a Fuller's ESB at Clive's Lounge earlier that evening. BTW the Fuller's is absolutely delicious. Each sip was disappointing, this was not an ESB. There was no rich fruit/berry flavours. Nor was there any nuttiness nor caramel aromas. It actually tasted like a plain golden ale, except the vegetal and butterscotch ruined it. There was also no hop presence to speak of. Half the bottle was dumped down the drain. Perhaps the bottle should have been returned to the store; I'm not confrontational enough. It is not as though I have not tasted an ESB in my life. Boundary Bay ESB, Naughty Hildegard, and Anderson Valley ESB share no similarity to this beer. I`m sorry, but I didn`t like it.

Taste -2
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content 0 5.2%
Value -1
Appearance +1 (nice label with good description)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Black Tree Dark Ale

Black Tree Dark Ale (Tree Brewing)

This is a seasonal release by Tree Brewing. The label claims to be a specialty blend of pale ale and a rich porter. I have big expectations for this brew, their Weizen bock limited was excellent.

Ratebeer 2.92 38th percentile
Beer Advocate B

Taste +1

The nose was a bit off and smelled like day old coffee. Even the flavour was a tad watery. It tasted like day old coffee with corn syrup added as a sweetener. There was mild tastes of bitter hops and roasted coffee.

Aftertaste -2

It left a slick oily coating of roast/smoke that would just not go away. I had to scrub my tongue to make it go away. The morning after it was still there.

Alcohol Content 0 5%

Value -1

I feel bad, every other Tree Brewing beer has been pretty good. For six bucks I could have bought another bomber and still had change left over.

Ingame Enhancement 0

I did have a great night in L4D2. Dark Carnival is a great level; it is always fun to beat circus clown with the butt of a shotgun. The problem was that I kept trying to scrap the taste off my tongue with my teeth.

Overall -2/10

I feel bad but I didn't like this beer. It is not like Tree makes bad beers. Their hefeweizen won a silver medal and Hop Head double IPA won a gold at the Canadian Brewing Awards 2009. Personally I think their hefe tasted better than the Whistler brewing hefe.

Chambly Noir and Video Game Help

Okanagan Springs Black Lager and Fast Cars
Jacobsen Dark Lager