Thursday, July 10, 2014

Picaroons' Brewer's Bash

Last year, we headed out with a rig full of beer and a few empty kegs to return to the mainland. This year, I return with a toddler (it must have been some bash last year).

I haven't been to too many beer fests over the years (five or six, maybe), but last year's Brewer's Bash stands out as the best one. Why? Well I'll give you a few reasons:
  • It's twelve hours long, and you can come and go as you please.
  • It's only Canadian beer, and includes beer from every province and one territory.
  • Last year, there was something like 60 breweries and 300+ beers. This year, I counted 64 brewers, and most likely more offerings (don't know how many yet, as there's no pre-bash list this year). 
  • The breweries don't cheap out - in more than one way, but the one I want to emphasize is that they don't just serve their most mainstream / cheapest stuff. There was (and will be this year) some rarer and more expensive stuff to try out. 
  • Fredericton's got free WiFi downtown (why doesn't everywhere?!).
  • It's a great crowd, complete with interesting people - like the balding guy with the long hair, goatee, lab coat, and glittery ball that he kept rolling in one hand while drinking with the other all day. Don't believe me? Check the picture. 
  • Nearby eats. King Street Ale House, The Snooty Fox (which provided me with some kind of spring roll-like bacon cheeseburger fried things late that night - just the right thing), that sushi place kitty corner to Officer's Square... all good options. 
  • The price. $25 for eight samples, plus the musical entertainment later. Last year was a personal fave of mine, the Skydiggers, with Deep Dark Woods. This year, it's Zeus (another big fave of mine) with a couple of soulful backing acts, Cydni Cain and the Chronos Band, the latter of which sounds like one tight bunch with some serious groove. 
  • So much variety to imbibe, for everyone from the new-to-beer person to the beer snob/geek. 
  • It never felt crowded. Lineups were never that long - mind you, there are 50% more people there this year... but I think it should still end up comfortable. 

Don't have a ticket for this Saturday's Bash? don't despair. They are still looking for volunteers for four hours of work (leaving you up to eight hours of drinking). Check out their page for more.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Palomar Ale

Buying Mill Street's variety packs is kind of like gambling - I know there is a great chance of disappointment, but I can't help myself. I have never had a flawed Mill Street beer, but they definitely have a few brews that are weak - at least to me, anyway (I'm looking at you, Stock Ale). Don't hate me, it's just my own personal truth. That being said, they also have some good beer, too.

This one is in the middle. On paper, it sounds like an interesting beer - chipotle and lime, in an American red / amber ale.

Well, the chipotle does come through, and is light enough that it won't offend anyone. It's a little smokey, and has the slightest heat at the back of the throat. There's a little zip to it, too but I almost can't tell if it's from the lime or the hops, as there's no easy-to-differentiate lime flavour to it. I think it's there... lightly... but it's not strong, for sure.

What will the next seasonal variety pack hold? Well, I'm sure it'll have a few that are interesting-sounding, and at least a couple that are good, and probably a couple that aren't. The sixer's never a total bust, but it's never a total win, either.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Steam Whistle Now On PEI Shelves

If you haven't been to the LCC stores in the last week, you may have missed noticing that six-packs of Steamwhistle have made their Eastern-Canadian debut in our little province. Why PEI first? Perhaps a section of the brewery's media release will shed some light on that:
"A Gold Medal winner in 2012’s Canadian Brewing Awards, this GMO-free Pilsner offers a balance of malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness that refreshes the palate and quenches thirst. In 2013, Steam Whistle was voted by CityBites (a Toronto based publication) as the best beer to be paired with lobster (see page 26-27). It was the lager’s ability to accentuate the sweetness of the crustacean and the lobster’s ability to bring out the malt of the beer that earned the Pilsner its title."

There you have it. Go grab a sixer, some lobster, and try it out. Let me know how it goes.

Landing Day Lager

I'm so far behind these days, but I can't let any more time pass on this one. The PEIBC crew have put some of the new hops they've received to good use (they got some different varieties to play with and test out), by creating this 4% lager. It's a dandy lager, in my opinion. They used Kohatu and Motueka hops to help create a drink with a light, hoppy aroma, great hoppy burps, a light sweetness, and is crisp and clean. It's better than Beach Chair in quality & name (and label, IMO, as well). Look for it at the PEIBC, The Gahan House (though it wasn't there when I checked early on), and, perhaps, on store shelves in the not-too-distant future.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Locally Brewed by Anna Blessing

I have very little free time, or at least it feels like I do, what with a career that can eat up both hours at work & at home, as well as an almost-three-year-old about the house. But, sometimes, when I do get a bit of time, I'll grab a beer-reIated book, and try to boost the beery brawn of my brain.

Locally Brewed, by Anna Blessing, is an interesting & casual read that's easy to pick up & put down in short sessions. In it, you'll surely learn about some of the beers brewed in the midwest of America, but the uniqueness of this book lies in its real focus, which is the people & places behind these beers. You will learn about the beginnings, challenges, and successes of 20 breweries like Bell's, Three Floyds, and Jolly Pumpkin. You'll find lists of the best local places to grab a pint of these breweries, like New Glarus, Great Lakes, and Founders. You'll learn some info on brewery setups / size, & things each company's learned along the way (like how most of them wish they'd started out bigger). One of my favourite parts of the book, that I think was pure genius, is the inclusion of brewers' playlists. For whatever reason, I would argue that those in craft beer are more deeply into music than the average citizen. Seeing their choice of at-work tunes is a neat look inside of their work environments and minds, a bit of insight into what kind of gals and guys are making these brews.

Locally Brewed is a great read; an enjoyable and insightful book that you can pick up and read any part of in any amount of spare time that you may happen to have.

Friday, May 23, 2014

John Brown Richmond Street Grille

Last weekend, somewhat quietly, the (take a deep breath to say it) John Brown Richmond Street Grille opened in the spot that was most recently "The Globe" (as well as Brennan's, Pat's Rose & Gray, etc.). It'll be affectionately known as "Brown's".

I make note of it here because it instantly became the best place to go on PEI if you are looking for off-Island beers on tap. As of last weekend, they have 18 taps, and plan to have up to 21, and to rotate the selection if they can. Most of the beers they have on tap are available in bottles in PEILCC stores, but there are a few that aren't (Garrison's Nut Brown, for example, and Pump House's Pail Ale and Pilsner). Some expected beers didn't make it for the opening (Garrison's Imperial IPA, for example, Hop Bot, as well as a few from Picaroons, and local brewers, Barnone). Hopefully they'll make an appearance some time soon. It would have been nice to see some other brewers included like Propeller (who apparently didn't want to sell here... yet), or some newer quality regional brewers, like Boxing Rock, for example.

Who knows... maybe we'll see them there in the future. I'll keep you posted. Stop on by online to check out their offerings:

Liefmans Oud Bruin

A cloudy medium-brown, this low-headed beer has a great aroma - reminding me of some other great sours,  it has a smell a bit like a white wine melded with some dark fruits. Its flavour doesn't knock my socks off, but it is quite refreshing - like a ratcheted-down lambic with a bit more sweetness. The body is surprisingly light, given its colour, and it has low carbonation. It would be a great beer to start introducing someone new to sours with, or to get a wine-loving friend to open up to some different notions on beer.