Showing posts with label Lighthouse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lighthouse. Show all posts

Friday, January 1, 2016

Lighthouse Black Sam Licorice Stout

Must fire off these last few reviews before the year in review article. Again, no preamble and please forgive any spelting mistakes. I got a new bluetooth keyboard for Christmas and am dyeing to try it out. Works grate!!
I think this is the first bomber release since the departure of head brewer Dean. Might be the second beer because there is the Discovery coffee lager; which is very tasty. Despite the limited release of the coffee lager, kegs still keep showing up. I digress.

Black Sam = 7/10

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

The initial aroma of Black Sam is oddly calm with icy chocolate, slight cocoa and woody. Creamy and not too astringent, this beer delivers the goods. It starts with a licorice sweetness and ends with a roasted dryness. In between is creamy dark chocolate, slight bit of earth with a little woodiness added in. The linger is just the same. Very tasty.

Glassware: A snifter would be optional, but a common pint would be fine too.

Food Pairings: The sweetness would contrast nicely with something roasted, perhaps a BBQ steak. A salted salmon would enhance the licorice flavours with the creamy and fatty textures meshing nicely. For the veggies out there ponder the flavour mix with a portabello mushroom topped with lentils, couscous and rock salt

Cellar: Maybe but not likely.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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

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

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.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seaport Vanilla Stout and Beer Fairies

I love beer fairies. There are very few perks to being a beer blogger. Other than the fame and glory, there is not much else. There is no fortune, there is constant abuse and people loosely borrow your format. Perhaps I should be flattered. Every so often, free stuff comes my way. This was my lucky day, I came home to free beer on my doorstep! A wise and daring enigma left this bountiful box for me. I feel obligated to do a review as the accompanying press releases called me a 'champion of craft beer.' Actually it called everyone who got a box the same thing.
I do not have a degree in marketing, nor a degree in economics, nor a degree in behavioral psychology. These defects do not allow me to critique the new packaging. However, Mrs. Left4Beer very much liked the new packaging and found the iconic/naval signal flag theme appealing. Perhaps this is mission accomplished. With the trend in beer packaging to more elaborate and flashy packaging, the simplistic and iconic style of Lighthouse is refreshing. I really like the bottle caps. If there was a T-shirt available I would wear it proudly. hint..hint. This blog is more concerned about what is inside.

Seaport Vanilla Stout = 8/10

I liked this beer, and not because it was free. Perhaps I am wrong, but this tastes a lot like Keepers Stout with added vanilla. The nose started off with a hint of earthy vanilla, a dusting of chocolate and traces of well seasoned coffee. A friend of mine brought me a very elegantly worded tap list from the Mute Swan Pub. This list might have influenced that first sentence. Each full and creamy sip peels away layers of roasted astringency, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate and homemade vanilla ice cream. Yah, that tap list influenced me a lot. This beer is good. Tastes like Keepers with Madagascar vanilla. Which is great because every Victorian beer drinker secretly hopes they will get a case of Keepers for their birthday. I know I do, hint, hint. Even better an advent calendar that has a Keepers everyday, with a Shipwreck IPA on Friday. Shipwreck is the new name for SwitchBack IPA.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 I like the box! Ummm nice new packaging?

Glassware: A snifter if you are feeling fancy, or a nonic if you are in a hurry. Or a La Chouffe glass if you made a super-awesome thrift store find!

Food Pairings: Dessert all the way. A flour-less chocolate brownie with whipped cream would be delightful. Ribs with smoky vanilla BBQ sauce might overload the vanilla pleasure spot in your brain. If you want to try something messed up, may I suggest stew heavy on the chili powder.

Cellar: Yes, in mine. Trust me, I will keep it safe.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Playing catch up August and September

People think blogging is easy; it is not. It pains me to drink all these great local beers and fire off my opinions. The research involved can take hours: looking up facts, consult other tasting notes and determining impact upon local beer scene. Hah, who am I kidding - blogging is easy. I am just lazy. Plans are made, notes are taken but the world conspires against me. Sometimes it is a Herculean task to raise myself from the couch. Binge watching NCIS with Mrs. Left4Beer is quite enjoyable after a pint - or two. Agent Gibbs is the worlds most dangerous man.
Impressive procrastination require creative solutions. Maybe I should try a stream of consciousness approach to beer reviews. Let the stream begin. Sounds like I just faced off with the urinal.
Octofox from Phillips was a usual release from the boys and girls on Government street. It was a well done bomber of hoppy goodness. This one was more on the tropical side: mangoes, pineapple and caramel apples. When I think about, has any new Phillips release been anything but hoppy?  I'm not talking about the revisited favourites like the Rifflandia beer. The Kangarooster keg was another hoppy American IPA. I'm sure this scary clown beer will also be a hop bomb too. Let's give the Octofox a seven; it was darn tasty. The Kangarooster beer gets a four. There was a bit of funk in there that might not have been intentional. I might not drink the scary clown beer, I have this thing against buying six packs. Maybe it will be on tap at the Drake. On my shopping list there will most certainly be the Gerry Hieter Cherry Ale. Why are there all these Phillips releases all of a sudden? Oh right... The advent calendar. There was an article in the Boulevard magazine with Matt Phillips which stated that each beer would be different.
Who else released beer this week. Not sure about Spinnakers, there have been no emails from them lately. Either they have nothing to say or no one is handling the media emails. Could be both. In the past, I have visited the historic waterfront brewpub and found new beers on tap with no press release. The coffee and spoke beer comes to mind. Mind you, this was a few months ago.This might have been the first cold brewed coffee beer produced in Victoria. Cold brew coffee is proper; it showcases a good quality bean.
What else have I drank this week? Road Trip by Lighthouse was nice. A fresh hopped beer that is not an IPA/PA is refreshing. Sadly the American brown style Road Trip does not really display the fresh hop goodness well. It does makes for a tasty, juicy hop beer. This one gets an eight; pair it will roast (either vegan or flesh) and gravy. Glass? Anything pretty will do. I should insert a picture in here soon... There - perfect.
This photo brings me to my next beer: BenchWarmer by Moon Under Water. This beer is fricken great. Well done John Adair and Jeff! This blonde brew packs lots of cereal and oat malts with understated flowery and spicy hops. There is a bit of lemon citrus for good measure. This beer gets a nine! Definitely serve in a Star Wars glass. Pair with a lemon breaded trout or any creamy pasta. This might even go well with a Hollandaise sauce. I can't wait to try the Moon's other collaboration with Molsons. There is more to this story, but Altbier is a good ending.
I forgot to mention the fresh hopped beers. Satori was awesome, as usual.Was a little disappointment with the Wolf Vine this year. It smelled and tasted like wet dog. Looking forward to the Phillips fresh hop release in Mid October; doesn't seem very fresh thought. Didn't this same thing happen a few years ago?
There. I'm all caught up, you figure out your own pairing.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Strath 100 by Lighthouse

Some days you just want to be alone. The desire to unplug from the metrics of the daily grind can, at times,  seem hopeless. How many IBU's is this IPA? How is your hockey pool doing? How full is your PVR? Numbers, metrics, grades.. Sometimes all one desires is a simple, uncomplicated experience. This is why I picked up the Strath 100 from Lighthouse. I hoped for a simple beer. After all, it was intended for the masses of 20-somethings that consume volumes of whatever is on special. Certainly this would be a linear beer that I could review and ignore. DAMMIT.
This is a tasty beer of furtive duality. At first sip, or gulp, it seems like any other 5% pale ale. Slightly citrus and floral with a calm bready/sweet malt backbone. For most people, this is where the story ends. However, it is easy to overlook a first for Victorian and possibly North American beer drinkers. This beer uses a new breed of hop called Vic Secret. Think of this hop as a toned down Galaxy. The citrus flavours are not the ones we are used to tasting. Sensations of pineapple and tropical fruit can be noted. A stealthy infiltration of unusual hop flavours into the Victoria collective palate. One might think of this a covert, Australian plot to get Victorian beer drinkers hooked on southern tier hop flavours. I'm OK with that.

Strath 100 by Lighthouse = 6 /10

I kinda gave away the flavours in the preamble. 100's nose is calmly fruity of all things tropical (pineapple, mango). The unassuming medium to full mouthfeel can easily be overlooked. Yes, this beer contains the required citrus and bready flavours of a PNW pale ale. Tropical are the citrus in question. Hops dominate with pineapple, tropical fruit salad and earthy resins. A great mix for the ashy and bready malts. It all fades clean away. Well done.

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

Glassware:Whatever you have will do

Food Pairings: Anything will work with this beer. I'm thinking BBQ (veggie) burger action on the patio. Might even work with a quality grilled cheddar cheese sandwich.

Cellar: Nope

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sauerteig Farmhouse Ale by Lighthouse

I love stealth marketing. This beer just appeared before my eyes in some backwater CBAW. It wasn't really backwater, just Maude Hunters.This bottle was wedged next to all the releases you thought were sold out like Bird of Prey, Road Trip and Old Cellar Dweller. They even had a cask of Russell brewing on the bar. There was only a minor mention of this on the specials chalk board. My server never even mentioned it. Too bad, I would have liked to try it.
Anyways back to the beer. The farmhouse/saison style beer is a style where almost anything is appropriate. As long as you use some wheat and an appropriate yeast, things are good. Between fits of coughing, Dean elaborated on this beer, "[it was] brewered as a saison with as many bakery ingredients as we could through at it, including huge tubs of of rye sourdough starter made for us by Byron Fry. Sweet and a touch sour with a little rye spiciness, this one's for more general audience than a truly sour or bretty beer would be." Collaberations are great, especially with other craft food vendors like Fry's Red Wheat Bread. A beer with a sourdough starter and rye? What did this beer prick think?

Sauerteig = 8/10

You could tell there was some funky yeast action with the barnyard smell and the multitude of little bubbles that comprised the head. The nose also presented hints of athletes foot, wheat, peppery rye and lemons. My first impression of the sip was that this tastes rather like a Berliner Weisse. I tried to homebrew a Berliner Weisse once. The sauerteig tastes way better than my homebrew. Each sip is juicy and sweet with lemons, sourdough bread and Seville oranges. The ending gives a dry finish that speaks of rye. Did I mention the tart barnyard sourness that carries all the way through? It was not a mouth puckering sour; Mrs. Left4beer called it a beginner sour. Not an overly complex beer, but interesting enough to keep you coming back.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Boring label but good description of beer. Would have been nice if QR code linked to more information about beer)

Glassware: Tulip.

Food Pairings: I really wish there was some wash rind cheese in the fridge. A pasta with tonnes of pecorino cheese would be great.

Cellar: nope. Sour character might develop more.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Road Trip (Lighthouse)

In a previous life, I attended a few business seminars. One piece of advice that stuck with me was about entrepreneurial success. The speaker said, "When everyone is going right, go left for success." Luckily this was a free seminar, because the rest of the talk was rubbish. This beer mirrors that MBA level wisdom. When everyone is making palate burning IPA bombs, try something different. Adding fresh hops to an unchallenging beer style, such as the American brown ale, seems like a good idea. Note that I did not say boring; the Brooklyn Brown Ale is anything but boring. A fairly restrained malt profile would let the hop flavours shine.
This is Lighthouse's first attempt at a fresh hopped ale; I could be wrong about this. Rumour has it that Zeus was used to brew this fresh hopped ale. So what happens when you go left? I review this beer with a bit of trepidation as I will be having dinner with the brewer on Friday.

Road Trip = 7/10

The aroma is uncharacteristically calm when compared to other fresh hopped beers. The aroma is quite restrained in revealing its earthy citrus vapours. This aromatic tranquility allows the toasted nut and chocolate malts to be a part of this flavour party. Each sip follows the nose with a juicy mouthfeel. If you are looking for the usual wet hopped profile powerhouse, this brew is not for you. I found this beer refreshingly balanced. I also take issue with the bottle format; it is too small. Perhaps this is my failure, two bottles should have been purchased.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Fun label art, but I would like to have seen a better description of beer flavour)

Glassware: There is no suitable glassware style for the American brown ale. The nonic pint or elongated tulip work nicely.

Food Pairings: Rich and roasted foods are idea here. Usually this means BBQing any land based animal. A pulled pork sandwich or poutine would be ideal choices. Rich mushrooms would also compliment this beer nicely. The thought of HUB's tofu Po Boy is making my mouth water.

Cellar: Don't you dare!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lighthouse 15th Anniversary Ale

15 years of brewing in Victoria, very impressive. With unexpected fanfare, Lighthouse brewing released their 15th Anniversary double red ale. There were newspaper articles, parties, and photos of this beer taken all over Victoria. This beer is essentially a double Race Rocks. Don't roll your beer geek eyes; often I abruptly end a bartenders tap list chant once the beer 'Race Rocks' is mentioned. It's a good beer, people in Victoria drink a lot of it. So what happens when you order a double Race Rocks?

Lighthouse 15th Anniversary Ale = 9/10

The nose doesn't really do much, it smells like Race Rocks. There is a small quantity of little grey cells whose only function is to recall this aroma. An abrupt sensory acceleration occurs when the unexpected full and chewy mouthfeel hits the tastebuds. This warm and creamy sheet delivers ample malt sweetness. Flavours of sweet vermouth, biscuits, raisins, cashews and toffee are everywhere. Once these flavours paint your mouth red, it is hard to remove the sweet linger. Very nice.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 8%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Pint glass or dimpled mug. Pictured above is a double sized stange. While the style of glass is normally reserved for Kolsch beers; I used it because it looked pretty. Sometimes I like to feel pretty.

Food Pairings: Cheese would be cheddar or Gouda. Both of these cheeses have a rich nutty flavour. Pair this with rich, wild game, sausage or a creamy pasta dish with nuts. I like the sound of a walnut ravioli with a little sage butter sauce.

Cellar: Perhaps. The alcohol warmth might fade to allow more malt richness.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

NumbSkull Imperial IPA (Lighthouse)

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

NumbSkull Imperial IPA (Lighthouse) = 9/10

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

Oh crap the Cicerones will need their info too.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 18, 2013

3 Weeds (Lighthouse)

Summer is approaching so bring on the witbiers. Phillips was their usual trio around, Vancouver Island has a pair, hopefully Swan's Tessier's wit will be out soon and now one is available from Lighthouse. Honestly, how the hell can VIB Beachcomber not win a gold medal at the 2012 CBA is beyond my comprehension. Maybe for the same reason a hoppy pale ale won a medal in the amber lager category. My ranting will end now so we can begin our - brief - lesson.  Witbier means 'white beer'. The name is derived from its appearance. It usually looks white from the use of pale malts and wheat with suspended yeast. The addition of spices is also appropriate with this style. Expect to find tastes of coriander, orange peel, ginger and pepper in your glass.

3 Weeds (Lighthouse) = 8/10

Weedy aroma is equal parts yeasty spice, coriander and wheat. The creaminess hides the alcohol well until the warming end appears. The brew can be as simple or complex as you desire. Without too much thought the flavours of creamy of wheat, vague spices and ginger readily appear. If you wish to delve deeper, tastes of coriander, pepper, candied ginger, wheaties and bread can be noticed. A brew destined for patios everywhere.

Glassware: A tulip would work well. If you have a hexagonal Hoegaarden glass, use it now.

Food Pairings: Stick to the lighter but spiced stuff: chick pea curry, spiced tuna salad, poutine (yes Dave, poutine), arugula salads 

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (good description of beer flavour)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Barnacle IPA (Lighthouse)

The first time I tasted this beer, I was seated on the floor of Eskimodave's apartment. No this was not some sort of beer cult worshiping. Dave didn't have enough chairs and I don't have an aversion to sitting on the ground. Dean passed around this bottle for the beer geeks to try. We were all astounded. It was delicious, fresh and an emerging style of beer. A wheat IPA?! It tasted great, but it will never catch on.
Currently, two wheat IPA releases have come through Victoria. I believe VIB struck first with the Flying Tanker. This brew will be returning in summer, as it is a hybrid of the currently available  Beachcomber Ale. Phillips followed with the Electric Unicorn. Perhaps they were both following the Belgian White by Lighthouse. Regardless, I digress. What do you get when you cross a familiar hop profile with added wheat malts? Two words: awesome! Wait for it, the bomber release of the Barnacle IPA is very soon.

Barnacle IPA (Lighthouse) = 9/10

The nose is familiar to everyone who likes to switch up their favourite beer. There is something else: cream of wheat. Tropical fruit aroma is still a major player but it is tempered with the creaminess that only wheat can provide. Gone is the gripping hop IPA bite, replaced by the creamy smooth southern half hop linger. Is this a hop showcase powerhouse: no. But it is something that will draw you in sip after sip.

I was recently asked about appropriate glassware selection: fricken Cicerones. I chose the quarter or 1/8 yard beer glass. This is the signature glass by Kwak. This is not correct glassware selection, but I found two of these glasses at a thrift store for $4! I had to show them off. What about food pairings? Perhaps a breaded sea bass with a fresh lemon squeeze. For the vegans out there: try a quinoa salad with arugula, Mandarin oranges and pine nuts. To make my neighbour happy, try it with the pulled pork poutine and corn bread.

I am really, really trying hard to hold it together. Dean promised me a growler of their upcoming maibock release, so I am emptying my growler of Barnacle IPA. Despite what you all think, I don't really drink a lot of beer. When I drink; I drink well. So a maibock? I love bocks: strong lagers are where it's at. There are currently no bright, spring time patio bocks. Unless you wanna suck back a Holsten big boy can. I sense a lack of cohesion, so ..good night.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (mine is a growler, which is awesome)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Belgian Black 2013

A yearly repeat beer rarely gets a second mention unless something is different. Dean mentioned that the recipe for Belgian Black was slightly different this year. The taste reflects this.

Belgian Black = 10/10

Last year I mentioned that this tasted like a ramped up Keepers stout. This year a lot of that roast is gone which allows more berries and yeast spiciness to waft out of the glass. Each sip warms and coated the tongue with a glycerin like thickness. Then the flavours come: dark fruits, all spice, and highly conched bittersweet chocolate. Maybe there is a bit of rum and raisin pudding in there too. Each sip and change in temperature reveals something new. Lost is the astringency but gained is a smooth sweet finish. I don't think this is cellar worthy because there are no harsh flavours that need to be mellowed out. After a while that spicy yeast might be lost, which would be tragic.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 still great label art

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Siren Imperial Red Ale - Lighthouse

At first I thought this was not actually a real beer style. I was mistaken, it is according to the Brewers Associations beer style guidelines. The description does sound overly vague though. But Dean at Lighthouse was never one to dwell upon style. He once said to me, "We should embrace the inherent variation that exists within beer and discard the dogma of rigid styles and categories. Truly great beers transcend these boundaries and are as sublime as they are fleeting." This poetic quote has always stuck with me. Mostly with help from Google mail search. But I should get on with my review as the bottle is almost gone:

Siren Imperial Red Ale = 11/10

The hop smell became apparent right after the bottle cap hit the desk. Centennial, sometimes you are my only friend. Your citrus peels are almost as spicy as the label. Image the label as Old Milwaukee afterdark. Is it hoppy? Dang right it is. Is it balanced? Barely: the caramel, bready and bruised apricot malts and barely holding it together. Maintain focus, right. The subdued floral and assertive grapefruit/pomelo citrus hops floated over the toasted bready malts. It's linger was as long as a cat's tail in a room full of rocking chairs. Your only thought will be: more hops! Astringent? Oddly not. Will the beer cellar well? Absolutely! Just make sure you tweet your vacation plans so I can plan my midnight excursions. Are you sure this beer is only 8%ABV/6.4% ABW? Well done. Hopheads stock up.

Taste +6/5 You don't like my score? Get your own blog!
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 8%
Value +1 GREAT
Appearance +1 Nice and tasteful label art. Even the Misses approved. Also a flavour description that matches the beer

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lighthouse Tasman Ale and a Chat With Dean

This interview almost never happened. I was to met Dean McLeod, Head Brewer at Lighthouse, after work. I arrived first and sat on one side of Swans Pub. Dean arrived later and sat on the other. After twenty minutes my phone chirps. It's Dean:"Ian where are you? I'm thirtsty." Swans in not a very big pub, nor was it particularly busy. The amateur should be easy to pick out at this point.

After an apology, from me, we sit down to talk about this new brew: Tasman Ale. The idea for this beer came from fond memories of sampling low alcohol beers available in Australia during the 70's and 80's. Most of them were awful. Dean begins, "I wanted to create a light bodied, sessionable, easy drinking, dry, thirsty quenching beer that has flavour." He looks me in the eye and continues: "This is never going to be a beer bloggers will rave about. It is not the intention of it. It is a beer for home, standing around the BBQ with a bunch of mates."

I change the subject and ask Dean about his affinity for southern hemisphere hops. This is a pale ale made exclusively with southern hops that we might not have tasted before: Topaz, Summer Saaz, Motueka and Rakau.  "I really in particular like New Zeleand hops because they are all spray free," he explains, "so most of the organic hops in the world come from New Zealand because it is very short leap to go from spray free to organic." North American brewers were first exposed to these hop varieties during the great hop shortage about five years ago because it was all they could get. Dean adds, "then they found out that they were actually really tasty."

So what did this beer blogger think about the Tasman Ale? I liked it. The use of southern hemisphere hops is very apparent; this is not your usual pale ale. The slight citrus hops are there, along with new flavours of tropical fruit and lime. This is balanced nicely with a soft bready and toasted maltiness. The sip ends clean with only the slightest lingering of sweet bread and mineral hop bitterness. No, this will not be a beer bloggers will rave about.  However, if my hand plunges into an ice cold cooler of beer at a BBQ and finds a Tasman Ale, I will be very happy.

Lighthouse Tasman Ale = 6/10

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice label art)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Belgian White (Lighthouse)

This is the yang to Lighthouse's previous yin Belgian Black brew. The Belgian White is a ramped up imperial witbier. Dean from Lighthouse describes it best, "Belgian White is different. We took the classic wit and gave it a good old west coast make-over: bigger and lots more hops! What I love about this beer though is that the wit characters are still there; coriander, clove, bitter peel, bready wheat and almond notes. Spices up front, classy soft malt mid palate and a dry, lingering bitter finish." Sounds like a good description but what did the beer prick think?

Belgian White (Lighthouse) = 9/10

The first first thing you notice, obviously, is the nose. This would be the perfect beer to drink while playing Diablo 3, it smells a bit like fire and brimstone. Lots of sulfur, coriander, oat straw, hot and dry spices leap from the glass. You better like it because these aromas never leave; after a while they morph into a very inviting scent.  Full and spicy sips reveal a cornucopia of flavours. First there are the grains: oatcakes, cream of wheat, marzipan and fresh bread. Next you must sort through the spices; coriander is king closely followed by cloves and maybe a little cinnamon. To make matters worse, you must contend with the southern hops and fruitiness from the yeast. You can pick out various tropicals, mangoes, jackfruit, slight lemon and other citrus fruits. Nothing is overpowering. It just slides down the throat, giving the uvula a crosscheck on the way past. Very complicated, it might take a few bombers to sort it all out.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.5%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 Great art by Michelle Landry again

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Highland Challenge (Lighthouse)

Sometimes reviewing a beer is hard. Beer geek bloggers love to rave about the biggest, brashest and most obscure beers. If the beer spent 16 months aging in 16 different barrels, we want to try it. If the malts were hand picked by the brewmaster, the resulting brew must taste better. Rare cat shit coffee beans always produce a better beer.
No one gives a crap about the everyday beer. The lagers, mild ales and common pints are always sneered at. This is where the Highland Challenge come in. The Highland Challenge is not a flavour powerhouse, nor is it going to make you regret not buying two six packs. You are not going to line up for your allowable allotment. Take it for what it is: an 80 shilling Scottish ale.

If you look at the style, this not an exciting category. The word 'low' appears too many times to count in the BJCP style guidelines. Please don't confuse this with the familiar strong Scottish ale - a more exciting brew. The Highland is session like at 4.4% ABV. So what did the beer prick think? I get to use my favourite phrase in this review!

Disclaimer: This was a gift from the very nice people at Lighthouse Brewing - thanks Wade. However, a favourable review cannot be bought with a six pack of beer. If a keg of Switchback IPA were included, the answer might change.

Highland Challenge = 3/10

This beer might be considered boring. It is, from a certain point of view. The nose is faint of caramel, fruits and floral. Sniff reallyyyy hard and you can pick up a slight earthly/peaty smell. If you have a cold, it might not work. Each sip is a thin with a slight slick buttery mouthfeel. This is appropriate for the style - I love that phrase! A sessionable gulp is rewarded with a light fruitiness and mild caramel flavour. Then comes the medium linger of earth, butter and toast. It is all just a little bit sticky. That being said; I have gone through three beers while doing this review. I find myself wishing I had put the whole six pack in the fridge. While this may seem like an unfavourable review, it - in fact - is not. Most likely this is the secret favourite beer of a few people, perhaps supertasters. For those who like a sessionable low hop ale, this is the one.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content = -1 4.4%
Value +1
Appearance 0 (no fun artwork)

MacPelican's Scottish Ale

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dark Chocolate Porter (Lighthouse)

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

Dark Chocolate Porter (Lighthouse) = 5/10

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

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

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

SwitchBack IPA (Lighthouse)

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

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

Switchback IPA (Lighthouse) = 9/10  

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

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

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

Other IPA reviews
Fat Tug
Grow Hop Centennial
Southern Hemisphere Harvest