Monday, December 27, 2010

Visitor #1,000!

Last night, less than four months after I started my modest little beer site... it remains a modest little beer site. BUT it also got its 1,000th visit.

How did it all go down? Well...

My 1,000th visitor visited from (well, through, at least) Charlottetown. They rolled in on an iPhone at 11:25 (and 13 seconds) PM, and stayed for one minute and 21 seconds, viewing three pages. They came in by, and left from, the winter beer post. I have it narrowed down to three people, and have a strong hunch as to who #1,000 was (this can be done on PEI). Thanks, #1,000. Hope to see you again in another 1,000!

PS - the image was made with a neat little art program called ArtRage. It's cool, especially on a touch-enabled device (finger painting!).

Innis & Gunn Winter Beer

Innis & Gunn's original beer was one of my first favourite beers when I started to branch off from the bland world of the big beer companies. So, I sometimes feel that I have to make sure I am not biased when I talk about their stuff. This winter beer, never available before, is the third beer of my Innis & Gunn holiday pack. I have read some pretty good reviews of this beer, so my hopes are pretty high.

Well, to start, it has a bit more head than other I&G beers, at least at first. It's darker than their original beer, with more of a deep red quality to it... kind of a deep honey / amber colour. There's no traces of head left on the glass as you drink.

It smells like an I&G product... vanilla, sweet butterscotch/caramel, slight hint of wood... a bit of pastry (like the cup of a raisin tart)?

The taste has just a bit of a metallic quality to it. I really don't taste much difference between this and a regular Innis & Gunn. The stronger alcohol content of this comes out only slightly as the glass wears on. A bit of fruit in the flavour comes out as it warms up as well (cranberry?).

The feel is a bit disappointing. It's watery. I was expecting something more full and robust.

Overall, I was underwhelmed, if that's a word (actually, I know it's not, 'cause Chris Murphy looked it up... it's one of those skills he learned in his school). It's a good beer, but... not significantly different enough from their original beer to make it special. I like the fact that there are common I&G threads in all their beers, but, at the same time... those common threads are starting, to me, make them feel "common".

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Garrison Ol' Fog Burner

This O'l Fog Burner from Garrison looks great. It has an interesting, cloudy, orange-brown colour. The head starts slowly, but rises high and fast enough to stop the pour. A tall, amber head forms and lowers, leaving no real lacing on the glass.

The smell is great. I expected something sharp, but it's quite pleasant, and surprisingly like a strong IPA. You can smell sweet toffee, fruits like pineapple and orange, even a bit of coffee. Just a hint of alcohol.

It has more of an interesting flavour than I expected, too... it starts off tasting like an IPA, with pineapple (it reminds me a fair bit of BrewDog's Hardcore IPA), but with a bit of an alcoholic taste & feel on the sides of the tongue. It's bitter, but not so much in the finish. The bitterness doesn't last long, which is nice. Toffee/malt flavours, and a bit of a roasted quality. Just a hint of roasted coffee on the exhale. The aftertaste is only slight, and the bitterness / alcohol doesn't linger.

The feel is a bit fizzy at first... like a burst of it. The bitterness only lasts a minute longer than the fizz. The alcohol is there in the feel, but not too strongly.

It's quite drinkable, especially for a 10.4% alcohol beer! I also like the fact that, on a bit of an empty stomach, it left me with a bit of a buzz! ;)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Samuel Adams Winter Lager

This is the first of a few beers brought to me from Newfoundland by a new friend in beer, Chris, known on beeradvocate as "cjbmacdon". Thanks!

The beer really reminds me of some Oktoberfest lagers. It had a nice reddish-brown colour. It's quite bright and clear, and has next to no head.

The smell has a bit of roasted toffee in it... I think there's a bit of warmed-up apple in there, too.

The taste? It's a bit different than I thought it would be after the smell and look. It's quite a bright flavour... at first, it's this hit of tangy, fruity hops, with some spice. It's like a bit of cinnamon in the background (maybe even some clove or other spices), with some apple... almost like chilled apple cider in some ways. Then, after you swallow, these sweet malt characteristics some out, like a bit of roasted toffee... it's more sweet than bitter, and more malt than hops. The spice and sweetness come out in the aftertaste, almost like you ate a bit of apple crisp a while earlier.

The feel is great. It's bright and fizzy in the mouth, smooth, slick, and not watery. Very refreshing.

Overall, quite a nice little lager. I enjoy these winter and fall lagers so much more (on the whole) than run-of-the-mill lagers. There's so much more flavour and depth to them, without them getting so complex that they overwhelm you. A great beer to just sit and drink on the holidays. Now... how come they can get this in Newfoundland and not in PEI? We're so much closer!
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Trappistes Rochefort 10

This deservedly-renowned beer has a rich, dark colour. It pours with a little viscosity. The head forms quickly... it needs a slow, easy pour. Suprisingly, since it starts out like beaten egg whites, the also-pop-like head is gone before I can have a sip, and leaves no lacing. The sediment / yeast is nearly black! I didn't think it would be so dark.

In the smell is... root beer is what I actually get first! Cinnamon rolls, molasses, orange, an almost minty smell, and some chocolate. There's an awful lot going on in there.

The flavour? Wow. Information overload! It's so complex, I don't know where to start. It's earthy. The exhale is nice. There is a strong taste of figs / dates, and still a bit of root beer (that sweetness coming out). It's slightly woody, maybe even walnutty, in a way, with a blood orange aftertaste... almost gets a bit tart as it nears its end... similar to a mincemeat or raisin tart.

The fizz feels a bit strong at first... it seems you can feel it go down your throat, but that's probably the 11.3% alcohol it has in it, although the taste of it never really enters into your mind. It's smooth overall, with a bit of a viscous finish.

Overall, it's a sipper, and a great one at that. It's very complex, but not so rich or dense as to put you off it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mill Street Original Organic Lager

This is a crystal clear, golden beer. No wonder they bottled it in clear bottles. There is some head that's gone ASAP. A few tiny spots of lacing appear as the drink empties from the glass.

As for the smell and flavour, there's something grass-like to it... like dried grass or sweet grass almost. There's also something slightly dried-fruity about it. It reminds me a bit of a Corona, with just a bit of lime in it.

The feel is crisp and clear. For this style, everything is A-OK. It's refreshing and not dry, not too watery, and the carbonation is just right.

The drinkability is good. A bit more refreshing than most average lagers / pilseners.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pump House Cadian Cream Ale

A hazy, (even) creamy-looking yellow ale with a bit of semi-creamy head that reduces to a skim pretty quickly.

The smell is a mix of apple and custard / tapioca. It smells sweet and creamy... so far, the name fits.

The taste is hard to pin, which is good, I guess. When I had some in the summer, straight out of the bottle, I enjoyed it more, though. It's still OK in a glass. The apple smell isn't in the flavour. The flavour is more of something creamy... a bit of biscuit dough, maybe. There is something about it that reminds me of lettuce of all things (slightly bitter lettuce, at that). Kind of a clove / spice note to it. It's a bit odd, really... OK, but not great.

The feel is good. The carbonation is balanced well, and it's not too watery. Just creamy enough.

The drinkability is OK. It is a bit odd/unique, which is, in some regards, good, but... overall, it's not too tasty.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Innis & Gunn Rum Cask

Let me just start by saying I have been coveting and waiting to try this beer for some time. I like Innis & Gunn's stuff in general, and when I heard they were doing a rum cask beer (that I couldn't get), I really wanted it. I was quite happy to find out that it would be included in a holiday pack available on the mainland this fall. Thankfully I have a helpful sister-in-law over there. ;)

It poured with a pretty nice head that didn't stay for long. The colour is great... like a deep stream... that full, honey-brown or light chestnut colour.

The smell is just what I thought it would be. It's exactly like Innis & Gunn's original beer, with some dark / demerara rum added to it... sweet & smooth scents of rum, toffee, and a bit of vanilla and wood.

The taste, at first, is more like a "regular" Innis & Gunn. The rum flavour starts coming out after a few sips. The rum flavour is fairly light. I wonder if that is because this brew was aged in barrels for 57 days as opposed to 107 when I&G first made this beer. I also wonder if that earlier version had a richer, fuller flavour. I found the flavour on this one to get a bit light as it wore on. It's a good sipping beer, though... almost makes you think you're sitting and sipping on a R & C instead.

I found the feel, honestly, to be a bit watery. The alcohol can be felt in the throat a bit, too. The carbonation is fine - it feels bright enough to be fresh, but light enough that you don't really feel any fizz. Overall, pretty smooth.

All things considered, this is a good beer. It's not the great one I wanted (and thought) it to be, but it's still an interesting brew. Now I am just curious about whether that 107-day-aged stuff was any better.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Old No. 38 Stout

Premier Wine & Spirits carries a good selection of brews from the North Coast Brewing Company. This is one of the several I've picked up, Old No. 38 Stout... a name which makes one think of old-time beer... black as a railway tie and thick as molasses.

The beer is pretty dark. Its colour is quite dense. I thought this one would have a mammoth head, for whatever reason, but couldn't squeeze any more out of it than you see here. About a finger's worth that lowers to pretty much nothing, with very limited lacing.

It has a bit of an alcoholic smell... a bit of bourbon / dark rum, perhaps. Some sweetness / molasses?

The flavour is mostly all coffee bean, with a bit of chocolate. Also there is a bit of fruit, like cherry or raspberry. That alcoholic smell is pretty well all gone in the taste.

The feel is fairly watery. Not what I expected. I like my stouts a little thicker. I'd almost call this more of a dark ale in how it feels. The carbonation is fine, as is the balance of bitter & sweet. The finish is fairly dry.

It's easy to drink, as it's not very rich. You could put a few down, but if you're looking for a great stout, there are other better picks.
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Hockley Black & Tan

Today's offering to the Beer God (let's call him... Hopollo) is Hockley Black & Tan. I have had a couple of other offerings from Ontario's Hockley, namely their Dark (don't recall off the top of my head what I thought of it... decent, I think) and their Georgian Bay Dipper (which I do recall liking). Let's see what this one's like.

When pouring, it looks exactly like dark cola. Even the fizz, at the start. For some reason, I expected something thicker. The head isn't too tall, but looks creamy when done pouring. It doesn't stay around for long, and lacing is sparse.

A light whiff will give you a sweet malt-generated smell. A deep whiff gives more of a scent of wet pet hair. Mmmm... pet hair. As it warms up, it smells stronger - like a toffee liqueur with some bourbon or something.

The taste is pretty good. It's subtle, but has a few things going on: a bit of black licorice, some nut, a bit of coffee / vanilla. It reminds me a bit of Garrison's Nut Brown, but less nutty. I think the aftertaste and exhale are the best parts.

In the mouth, it feels fine. It's not too rich a feel for the subtle flavour, which is good. That keeps it drinkable. Although it's not very thick, it's not watery either. All in, carbonation included, it's a pretty nice balance.

Overall, a pretty drinkable beer. It would be easy to put a few of these back in a pub or on a deck. Or a couch.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Almaza Pilsener Beer

In my "drink as many different beers as I can" quest, I sometimes pick a beer up just because I have never had one from a particular place. This is one of those beers. It wasn't rated particularly well, but I had never had a beer from Lebanon before... plus, the chap at Premier was willing to pull one from a case for me, so how could I resist?

Overall, it's just an average beer in every way. Are there many green-bottled beers out there that aren't?

It was a clear, bright yellow colour. It had a respectable, decent, little head, but it didn't last long.

The smell... kind of skunky, no surprise (being in a green bottle). There is something a little hoppy or fruity about it, which is a plus... but it's pretty faint.

The taste... not so skunky, thankfully. Kind of refreshing (but faintly so, like the smell), kind of straw-like, kind of cardboard-like. Not as bad / cardboard-like as the Birra Morena I had a while back, though.

The mouthfeel of it was fine. Nothing stuck out as particularly bad or good.

This Almaza was not a struggle to put down, but the only reason to put one down is to say you've had a beer from Lebanon, or to have the bottle in your collection. (reviewed in, and saved since, September)
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Innis & Gunn Original Oak Aged Beer

Even though this beer is available on PEI, I picked this one up (well, my sister-in-law did) as part of a holiday gift pack in New Brunswick, because we won't get the pack here on PEI. The box contains an Innis & Gunn glass (as you can see), a bottle of their original beer, a bottle of their Rum Cask beer (although I think it's not aged as long as the original), and a new "Winter Warmer", their strongest beer yet. Keep checking back for reviews on the latter two as the holidays approach.

Now, this beer is one of my favourites from my early days of trying out new brands and styles of beer. I've got an attachment to it. That being said, it has been a little while since I had one, and expected it to not live up to my memories. So... what did I think of it?

Well, it has the same nice amber colour, with only a small head. The head leaves a thin, creamy layer of itself on top. It's a very clear beer, with some random lacing (only on the side you drink from).

The smells are of muted vanilla, toffee/butterscotch... it's bright. Almost like a port; a bit of sweetness, like grapes or figs.

The taste is brighter than I remember, too, and sweeter. Maybe a bit too sweet. I do pick out a bit of the earthiness and the oak, but not as much as I remember from previous tastings. I miss that.

The feel of it is OK overall. Perhaps a bit watery.

The drinkability is still good, and, overall, so is the beer. Not as good as previous ones (at least according to my memory), but still worth a try if you've never had one.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Brakspear Oxford Gold

I'm busier than a one-legged man at an arse-kicking contest these days, but thankfully I have a few reviews saved up in the ol' archive. Here's one from September.

I think this is my first Brakspear brew. I'll have to check my list to be sure.

This English beer has a cloudy, deep honey colour. A little head disappears soon, leaving some lacing to the bottom.

The smell is good, but I liked the smell of it better from the bottle before I poured it. A bit of citrus and... graham cracker? That could be honey coming through, too.

The taste has just a hint of peppery spice, which is nice. A bit of citrus (grapefruit / more orange). It starts tasting a bit like a Sam Adams' Summer Ale as the bottle wears on.

The carbonation is a bit sharp if held in the mouth for a couple of seconds. On regular sips, it's fine. A bit of a bitter / dry finish. Not watery.

Overall, quite a drinkable beer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bitburger Premium Pils

Another "available on PEI" offering.

It pours with a nice, light, yellow colour. A foamy head dimples a bit as it lowers. The lacing is rather streaky.

In the smell, honestly, is a hint of "country air" (some of you will know what I mean). There is some... grain? Grass? Apple?

The flavour is fine. Pretty much the same as the smell, without the "country" component.

The feel is OK. It's light, but not too watery. Its finish is dry, and the carbonation is just about right.

Nothing fantastic... overall, though, it's a decent beer to sit and have a few of.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

BrewDog Rip Tide Stout

This BrewDog brew one said it'd be good 'til April 16th of 2012, but I couldn't resist tonight. I thought I deserved to try a little treat. Who knows when I'll crack and finally open this one.

Between the bottle and the glass, it has a kind of chestnut red colour. In the glass, it's deep and dark with bits of chestnut-coloured light on only a few edges. It has tons of head... I couldn't even pour the whole bottle out at once. The head slowly retreated, leaving big, creamy dimples and bubbles on top... like a half-done pancake in the pan. There was solid lacing the whole way down.

It has malty smells of date squares. It also had a bit of a hoppy / fruity smell... really, it's like someone took a bit of a strong IPA and mixed some of it in with this stout.

The flavour is nice. The 8% is almost completely buried in taste and feel. Most notes are standard stout ones... chocolate, coffee, molasses, and a bit of dough / bread. The slight alcohol and hoppy notes give it a tinge that's kind of like an IPA, kind of like a red wine.

The feel is not too thick, and not too watery. Just about right. The finish is sticky.

Overall, this is a very drinkable stout that has a unique trait or two. I wouldn't say it's exactly "merciless" or "twisted" (in a crazy sense) like the bottle says, but that's kind of what I expect from BrewDog; good, interesting beer that's well packaged and covered in all kinds of bravado and character.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale

The golden-brown-orange colour reminds me of my beloved Red Racer IPA. The head clings to the glass a bit as it swirls during the pour. Not much head forms, and what does doesn't last long. It has only light lacing.

The smell is nice, but not strong. Fresh and citrus-y. Not too much of the pine and juniper notes from other hop-strong beers. Its subtlety is nice, but I would like something a bit stronger.

The taste is good, too, but like the smell, subtle. Refreshing. It has a bit of orange and/or grapefruit that comes out from the hops. The malt plays second fiddle, but it is there.

It's a little viscous in its feel... a little thick, which makes it smooth and, again, refreshing. It's not very bitter at all, which, with the subtlety of the rest of it, gives it a lack of punch. That subtlety makes it go down easily, though.

Overall, a good-tasting and well-balanced beer that is rather subtle in all its traits, making it easy to drink several of these at once, if you wanted to ("sessionable").
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alfa Lager

OK, so... my mind was pretty much made up about this one as soon as I laid eyes upon it. It was just going to be some run-of-the-mill "Euro-lager", probably just like every other plain pilsener and lager out there. I'll admit... the style(s) can be refreshing, but I don't find examples of them to be very interesting or different from one another.

This one is a Greek lager, the second beer I've had from Greece (as far as I can remember... the other one being Mythos). My wife recognized it as a new one at whatever
PEI LCC store she was in.

This one had a bit more head at first than I thought it would. It was pretty much all gone within seconds, though. The colour is as expected... pale, clear, & golden.

The smell is pretty much what I predicted... green bottle skunk, some malt / grain, corn, & maybe a bit of honey.

The taste... more of the same. A bit skunky, light malt flavour, some corn / rice, and something fresh... honey / wheat notes, I guess. A bit of an unpleasant aftertaste.

The feel is normal / average. Lightly carbonated, a bit watery, with a dry finish.

It's fairly drinkable, but why bother? I can't see why the local LCC would add such a beer (it must have good profit potential, ie, be cheap) to their listings. The only interesting trait of this Adjunct Lager From Away is that it's new-to-us and foreign.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rogue Dead Guy Ale

What great review timing! I didn't even save this to review on Halloween on purpose.

The logo design was originally created as a tap sticker to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead (Nov. 1st). It was so well-liked, the brewery made it the permanent logo for this maibock-style beer that uses their own special "Pacman" ale yeast.

Dead Guy Ale has a colour akin to an IPA or amber ale... deep & honey-like. A hard pour will give lots of head that leaves foamy, spotty lacing.

It smells a bit like a weissbier. It has a smooth kind of smell to it... I pick out bits of banana, honey, wheat, and some spice... like clove or even nutmeg. It's a bit hoppy in its smell, but I think the malty traits smooth it out.

There is definitely a bit of spice in the taste, like clove and pepper, that almost gives the mouth a bit of a tingle. It has a creamy essence and taste... almost custard-like in that regard. Flavours of wheat, honey, maybe some dough, and toned-down malty sweetness (toffee/caramel) also play their part.

Feel-wise, it's smooth. The carbonation is fine... if anything, a little low, but I think it suits the smooth smell and taste. Some people complain it's a bit too bitter for them, but I don't pick that up from it.

Overall, a good beer. It kind of reminds me of Granite Brewery's "Peculiar". Not necessarily in taste, but in that it's hard to exactly peg or pigeon-hole it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rogue Smoke Ale

There are so many different styles and categories of beer out there. Today's test is of Rogue Brewery's Smoke Ale, my first foray into this fare.

It has a great, bright, smokey-red colour. The first pour yielded next to no head. The next one provided lots of foamy head. It sank rather quickly. Also, at the end of the bottle was some dark yeast, which I didn't expect, making the beer cloudier than at first. I would have swirled it around first, had I noticed.

The smell was so reminiscent of something I knew but couldn't place... I think, what it was, was a cold bean salad I've had at family things a couple of times. You can smell the smoke, but there was something meaty/beany in there, too. Also a bit of caramel and toffee.

The flavour? It's like I drank a drenched campfire... with a bit of caramel. Not bad, but a bit much, perhaps. A smaller bottle would have been better. I still got that bean note in the flavour, as well as the smoke. The smoke comes out in the taste, and really comes out in the aftertaste / exhale. The exhale smells like a campfire that had just been put out.

The feel of it was well-balanced, overall. For me, it seemed to work up a bit of solid spit (gross as it sounds, I know) in the mouth... leaving the mouth a bit dry, even though finish isn't really dry.

This was my first smoked beer, and it was alright. I would like a smaller amount of it to actually have with some BBQ or some campfire goodies. I think it would work even better there. Next time: find one in a smaller bottle size.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Festa Brew's West Coast IPA: The Verdict

So... what's the verdict on this home brew?

It's got that slightly cloudy amber colour of my favourite IPA's from BC and California. It's bright, but a bit deep/brown, with just a bit of rose to it. When I opened it, it had a bit of a "chsh" from the carbonation. A good sign. When I poured it, there were lots of bubbles, but not too much head. The head is a bit nice in that it didn't all completely disappear right away. By the time I had a few sips, it was mostly all gone from the top, but it left a good amount circular, webby lacing.

The smell is spot on, too, for the style. The hops definitely give it more of a fruity than evergreen scent... it's easy to pick out grapefruit, orange peel... those nice citrus smells with that bitter slant. Maybe even a bit of nectarine... mango or papaya... cherry-pineapple?

My first brew (and only brew) before this was, to me, a total loss. It didn't carbonate right, and I didn't even like the taste of the red ale that was a malt-in-can kit. So, I didn't want to get too excited about this before I tasted it. You know what? This turned out to be a better than decent beer. In the flavour is the grapefruit, but the taste of the orange peel comes out on top. There is something somewhat stale about the citrus-y flavour... almost like the green of the plant, or that it's not quite ripe. Not enough to throw it completely off, but it's not quite as bright as I'd like it to be. It's what holds it back from being a really great facsimile of the style I love. The smell and the rest of the taste are enough to make a whole bottle / glass good though, so that's fortunate.

How's the mouthfeel? Pretty much as I would have expected! The carbonation may be a bit on the sharper side of things, but not overly so... it keeps it feeling fresh. The bitterness is definitely there, and it gives the throat an open / aerated feeling that I enjoy. It's not so bitter that it gets in the way of anything, though. Just about right. It's light, but not watery. It has just a bit of a viscous quality to it like I would expect from this style.

The verdict? A worthwhile effort. This aptly-named kit hits the traits of a West-coast IPA mostly all spot-on. It's turned out to be something that I won't mind drinking over time, and something that I won't be embarrassed to give to anyone that stops by the house! If you want to try it out, it's seasonal, and a quick-seller. PEI's Festa Brew retailer, Island Wine Experts, on University Avenue, may have a couple left, but the chances would be slim. Now... do I buy a set of 1L swingtops and try Festa Brew's Double Oatmeal Stout for the winter? Decisions, decisions...

PS - About 9-10 of the 44.75 bottles I got out of it didn't completely seal / didn't have the caps on tight. I could tell by looking at them after the two weeks, as I could see some bubbles at the top, inside the bottle. A squeeze test proved way more give than they should have. I poured one a couple of days ago, and it actually poured with the expected amount of carbonation. I tightened the tops... maybe they're salvageable...

Warsteiner Premium Verum

This is another available-on-PEI beer that I have had before, but never officially reviewed. The first time I had it, I thought it was decent.

It has just a small, fast-dropping head, which reduces to nearly nothing then absolutely gone within minutes. The lacing is just the odd bubble spot. The colour is a crystal clear pale yellow.

In the smell is bread, and just a tad of that "Euro-lager skunky smell" right when I opened the can, and a bit of corn, I think.

The taste is a bit of honey and grain at first. I seem to get some corn or rice out of it... it tastes a bit flat and cheap as the glass wears on.

I find the carbonation a bit sharp / aggressive. It's still refreshing and crisp, and not too watery. The finish is dry.

Overall, it's an average beer that would best suit a hot day, when you're just looking for something to wet your whistle.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale, AKA The Kronic

Originally, this beer was known as "The Kronic". The company was forced to abandon the moniker, and re-labelled it "Censored (Rich Copper Ale)". It's a good thing they call this a "rich copper ale", as it's too pale to be called a red, in my opinion. For some reason, I was kind of expecting a darker beer to come out of the bottle, but was reminded by the label that I shouldn't be surprised. There was a fair bit of loose, large sediment at the bottom. I left the last little bit in the bottle, because it just didn't look right to me. There was a bit of head, which reduced to a creamy skim. Lots of lacing.

The smell is like a combo of an IPA, cream ale, and a red ale. Fruity, malty, smooth.

Interesting taste... the IPA smell is misleading. I would definitely put it in the cream / red ale category now. It reminds me a bit of Innis & Gunn and Greene King. It has that sweet red flavour... with the toffee and sugar notes. It has a bit more going on, too... a little earthy.

The feel at first is smooth and creamy, with a bit of a lasting tingle from the carbonation. The finish is a bit dry, and a bitterness kicks in that leans towards the IPA side of things.

A pretty drinkable brew! That odd-looking (and unexpected) sediment threw me off, but this is a good beer.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brother Thelonious

This is another brew from the North Coast Brewing Company. Brother Thelonious wasn't as dark and rich as I expected it to be. It poured a hazy, deep, chestnut-red/brown. A fairly gentle pour in this style of glass gave a small head that reduced faster than I thought it would. Basically, there was no lacing.

It smelled of molasses, alcohol (as it is over 9% abv), and a bit of coffee.

In the taste was the molasses and alcohol, maybe a bit of vanilla. Also there was something fruity... prune? Raisin? A bit of bread.

It felt a little watery. Its finish was a bit dry, yet sticky.

This beer wasn't great, nor was it bad. Just good. One good thing about it, is that when you buy this beer, "you also help to support the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz whose mission is to offer the world's most promising young musicians college level training by America's jazz masters and to present public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the world." So, while the beer may not be super-soulful, maybe its effects will be.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Acme California Pale Ale

Yet another entry from the North Coast Brewing Company. This is the next of beer kin to the first beer I reviewed on this site...

The colour is right about where I thought it would be; about halfway between an IPA and a generic pale ale. It's pale, but has a cloudy amber-rose appearance... like a translucent apricot. I found the head disappointing. I didn't give it a hard pour, but a very little head was gone before I could turn the camera off. At least its ring of suds left some lacing.

The smell is very subtle. A bit malty... like caramel with some orange peel. It's a nice blend of malt and hops.

The taste kicks it up a bit. It's what you get in the smell, but more pronounced. The flavour turns a bit to a mix of orange and grapefruit... even a hint of cherry, backed up with some malt sweetness / slight fullness.

The mouthfeel is good. The carbonation is just about right, and it's a little viscous like their IPA. It's not overly bitter, dry, or anything else. It's pretty well-balanced.

It's a pretty refreshing ale, and quite good overall. Against other American pale ales, I think it fares pretty well, as compared to the ACME IPA, which doesn't stack up quite as well to its IPA competition.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mill Street Tankhouse Ale

When I first saw this in New Brunswick, I hadn't heard of the Mill Street Brewery before, even though it was the Canadian Brewery of the Year at the '07, '08, and '09 Canadian Brewing Awards. I could only buy this beer in a six-pack, so I decided to go for it. I wasn't disappointed.

It poured much darker than I thought it would be. It has a not-quite-chestnut-brown quality to its amber-red colour. There isn't much head at all, but it does leave traces of it on the glass (lacing) on the way down.

Its subtle smell is a bit sweet and malty, with a bit of burnt caramel.

The taste is about the same, but with a bit of a woody character.

The feel is a little watery, but still fairly smooth.

Overall, definitely a drinkable beer. The only thing that has kept me from trying other Mill Street brews is the amount of other choices at mainland stores and the fact I haven't seen them sold as singles. Had I seen a single of this or this, for example, I would have picked one up!
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly

A few years back is when I really started to get into a wider variety of beers. On a trip to Quebec in particular, I saw, had, and purchased several... well, more than several, but less than a couple dozen... different brews in the province. One of the things I looked forward to most in Quebec, actually, was the Unibroue beers after I saw them in tourism information and looked them up online. Their Blanche de Chambly is one I had those years ago, and have revisited again, as it is the lone Unibroue beer available in my province so far.

The look is OK, standard witbier appearance; a slightly hazy, flat yellow. There would have been more head had I used a different or taller glass. As it stood, the head was good anyway. It receded to a fluffy skim that left solid patches of lacing on the sides of the glass.

The nose is more subtle than I expected this time, and not that enticing. I expected / wanted banana and spice, and just got cloves/spices and... rubber? Something very faint like that, anyway.

The taste, thankfully, has more oomph. I like it more this time than the first time I tried it (not that much). I get biscuit with nutmeg, and a hint of banana.

The feel is creamy and smooth, but with a bit of a watery fee in the finish, maybe due to the alcohol.

It's a good example of the witbier style. Compared to a similar style, like a hefeweizen or a weissbier, I like it more than a König Ludwig Weißbier, but not as much as a Weihenstephaner.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Garrison Oktoberfest Brau

Now, "3 Fields" is all sold out, and the draft of Oktoberfest Brau is, too. But, you can still get this in bottled form... for now.

I expected this beer, for some reason, to be much paler. And yellow. Imagine my surprise when I got a "chestnut red" beer with tons of head. I had to pour this in a couple of stages. The head on this very clear beer is creamy and foamy on top, lowering in a couple of minutes to just a thin layer on top.

The smell is sweet (and also sweet)! Smells of malt, some toffee, and a bit of cream.

The flavour is somewhat creamy. It's almost milky & sweet, like creme brulee with a red beer at the end of each sip. There's a bit of a singed sugar taste. Also, something in the smell and / or taste reminds me of a salsa & cheese omelet. I think it's the creaminess and the sweetness being somewhat tomato-like.

The alcohol is 4.9% abv, but you can feel / taste it a bit in the aftertaste. The feel is smooth and creamy - not watery. It's slightly bitter.

Get me a sausage with a big ol' heap of sauerkraut, some lederhosen & a fancy hat, a tuba, a keg of this stuff, and I'm ready to oom-pa-pa-party!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Garrison 3 Fields Harvest Ale

We're all a sucker for limited edition things. Imagine my level of... uh... suckerness when one of my favourite Atlantic breweries announced they were releasing a special brew called "3 Fields Harvest Ale". Imagine my glee when I read it was a beer made with hops from three fields in NS and NB (especially considering my hops / IPA kick these days). Imagine the cool factor of having some of this, the first wet (fresh) - hopped beer to be bottled in Atlantic Canada. Imagine my dismay when I thought of how I had no reason to visit Halifax these days. Imagine my dourness when Garrison announced on Facebook last Friday that they may not have enough to last the weekend, even though it came out less than a month ago. Imagine my my elation when I found out my in-laws would be in Mahone Bay last weekend and would swing through Halifax on the way home to pick some up for me. As Napoleon Dynamite would say, "Yesssss." Who has good in-laws? That's right. I do.

The beer itself is a very clear, bright amber with a reddish tint. There is some sediment in the bottom. The head is small, and fast-dropping, and leaves only sparse lacing. One thing I really appreciated on this one as well, is Garrison's new (at least as far as I know) bottle. As you can see, it's got their logo raised in the glass. Classy.

The smell is good, and distinct. It doesn't have the same combination of many of the pale ales, IPA's, and hop-heavy beers out there now. It has a bit of that resin/sap smell, but the fruit that comes through, I think, is green grapes and apricot (their site says lemon, orange peel, pineapple and lychee).

The taste isn't as strong as the smell. It's understated. Some of what's in the smell is there, but I get more of that orange peel flavour along with it. Any hint of malt is pretty light.

The feel is a bit bitter, but the bitterness fades pretty quickly, which is interesting. It registers more as a taste than feel. I could see some people saying it's a little watery.

Overall, this is a very drinkable beer, as it's not too bitter & is refreshing. Perhaps not as refreshing as some similar brews, but quite good, really. Glad my in-laws got me two. ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lagunitas IPA (India Pale Ale)

Lagunitas is responsible for uncorking my recent love affair with strong IPA's. As soon as I opened my first Hop Stoopid, I was a changed man. After that was Maximus. Then, after that, was BC's Red Racer IPA, which is at least tied with Hop Stoopid, but may even beat it. Now, I move back to Lagunitas' court, with their plainly-named "IPA".

It looks decent... a nice, rosy/orange colour. It doesn't look as viscous as the ones mentioned above. The head has a bit of creaminess, and soon lowers to a film. Solid lacing.

It smells great! Some grapefruit, and orange rind/peel/pith. A bit flowery.

The taste is good... the evergreen that comes out of other IPA's is replaced with something more floral. The grapefruit is in the taste, too, as is a stronger, bitter orange quality. There's also some grain / malt character in the background.

The mouthfeel's good. It does have some thickness / viscosity / smoothness. The carbonation is there, but not too sharp. The bitterness gets a bit strong by the end. It's bitter & dry, but refreshing.

It's quite drinkable, but I wouldn't want more than a couple at a time. Hop Stoopid, although more bitter, is easier to drink, as is Red Racer (still my two favourite IPA's thus far).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kronenbourg 1664

This is actually my second Kronenbourg 1664, and my third Kronenbourg (based in Strasbourg) product, but my first time reviewing one. This one is actually available on PEI now. I recall 1664 being pretty good, so I had no problem testing it again.

This one looks pretty good. Very nice, clear, golden colour. I like how the head has a bit of foaminess to it, and isn't just bubbles without substance. The head lowers to just a few islands of white, with some sandy lacing (looks like I'm feeling poetic tonight).

The smell is fine. I find lagers rather plain in general, but for a lager, this is nice. No skunky smell. There's something almost fruity to it.

The taste is similar. It's fresh, and has something fruity about it, but only subtly so (no jokes about my writing on this one, please).

The feel of it is quite good, really. It's refreshing, with a slightly dry and even more slightly bitter finish.
This is a beer that's very easy to put away a fair amount of... it's quite drinkable.

For the record, the other two Kronenbourgs I've tried were Kronenbourg, and Kronenbourg Blanc, both in Paris. As far as I can recall, I like this one above both of those.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

San Miguel Premium Lager

Like some of the beer I get, this one was purchased due not to its quality, but its other traits. This is another one that falls into the category of "I've never had one from there before..." San Miguel Premium Lager is from the Philippines, and, hey... it comes in a stubby!

Pretty much everything about the beer is average.

It has a very bright, clear yellow colour, with a little bit of head that leaves nothing on the sides of the glass.

Its smell is a little fruity, but has that whiff of corn or rice in it, too. Not bad, but a little cheap.

The flavour is pretty much the same as the smell. It has some fruitiness to it, but you get a bit of the cheap rice/corn in the finish.

It has a dry finish, and feels fine in the mouth. Oddly, the alcohol comes out a bit at the end.

It's a pretty refreshing plain lager, but is just fair. No thrilla from Manila.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kingfisher Premium Lager Beer

Kingfisher was one of those beers that I knew wasn't well-regarded, but had to try since I had never had one from its country of origin before: India.

It is a very pale and clear lager, with a little bubbly head (no substance at all) that vanishes quickly, leaving no trace.

The smell? Well... the first one I had in March had me saying "holy green-bottle skunk!" By chance, I had another one last night, and it wasn't quite so pungent. Aside from that standard green-bottle smell, there is something decent to it, though... almost like an amber hidden in there. Perhaps some hops that push through.

The taste is better than the smell (thank goodness). There is something nice or fresh in the nose / after-swallow. Still, it's a pretty run-of-the-mill lager. Not bad, but nothing great. It'd be fine on a hot day, in the shade of the sun.

As for how it feels, it's pretty average. Not too fizzy.

It is drinkable, but after drinking one, you might be thinking that Commonwealth Games preparation isn't the only thing people in India can't get quite right.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Garrison Harvey's Bitter

This is another Garrison Brewery offering I picked up in Halifax this summer. I picked it up partly because I generally like Garrison's stuff and I hadn't seen this before, as well as partly because my wife's uncle's name is Harvey (who isn't bitter... he's a Blackhawks fan, not a Leafs fan).

This is the winning beer from Garrison's 2009 Ultimate Brew-off competition.

The beer pours a nice amber colour, with some copper / red. It doesn't have much head, but leaves tons of lacing on the way down. It's clear, and pretty bubbly.

In the smell is a bit of hops as well as a bit of toffee.

The taste is nice, and kind of hard to peg, exactly. It has some woody / earthy notes, with some toffee or caramel, and maybe hint of orange from the hops. It reminds me a bit of beers like Innis & Gunn, Doom Bar, and Greene King IPA.

The mouthfeel is nice and changes as you drink. At first, I found the carbonation a little strong, but by the end of the glass, it had pretty much fizzled out to that of a flat draught. It's a little watery, but smooth. The bitterness is definitely there, but it's not too strong.

Overall, especially for a beer with only 3.8% alcohol, it's a nice little quirky beer. Fresh and yet complex enough to keep it interesting.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Garrison Blackberry Wheat Ale

Overall, I'm not a fan of fruit beers. The first one or two I had were way too sweet, and I was turned off from the style a bit. However, when I saw this at the Garrison brewery this past summer, I thought I would give it a try. I figured they might do a nice job of it.

The head was nice and foamy, yet dropped pretty quickly. At least there was lots of lacing. The colour was a deep gold, with a hint of orange.

There was a fairly sweet smell of berry; not overpowering, but it's about all I got from it.

Flavour-wise, this one wasn't too bad. It was a little too sweet for me, and almost a little soapy, due to a bitter finish I found kind of surprising.

The carbonation was OK, but it was a little thin/watery and a bit bitter (I don't think fruit beers should really be bitter at all, especially when they're pretty sweet).

The drinkability is OK, but I wouldn't want more than one or two. There are other much better fruit beers around. I'd start with St. Ambroise's Apricot Ale or Fruli.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Festa Brew West Coast IPA: The Home Brew Idiot Test

A couple or three years back, I got a start-up kit for home brewing. I was given a can of Brew Canada Canadian Red Beer to get me started. In the end, I didn't much care for the taste, and the carbonation didn't really work. Needless to say, I was disheartened.

When I had my IPA epiphany this summer with a few beers, I thought... I wonder if there is such a thing in town as a good, hoppy, west-coast style IPA home brew kit. Well, I went to a local brew shop and asked if he had such a thing. To my happy surprise, he said he basically had exactly what I was looking for. Now... I don't think it will be as hoppy as I want, nor do I think it will be as bitter as I like an IPA to be (I know it won't be, from the specs on it), but it was the best I could get. Apparently, Festa Brew kits are fantastic. The press online about 'em is pretty glowing. The fellow at the store makes them sound idiot-proof-dead-easy to make, and says they only form about 5% of the sediment other products do, because it's an all-grain kit. On all fronts, I can't wait to see if he's right. The stuff is sold out in different places in the Maritimes, and he has less than half of what he did last week, so... that should tell me something. Plus, this West Coast IPA kit only comes out
once a year, so... talk about lucky timing.

Anyhoo... wish me luck. I'm all paranoid and anal about it, thinking I'm not doing everything right, or sanitizing right, or that I'm contaminating something, or that I'm too careful about it, or not careful enough... I just hope the friggin' thing works. I'm looking forward to my first good batch of home-brewed beer.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rogue Mocha Porter

Oregon's Rogue Brewery makes some interesting and, volume-wise, large products. I have already tried their Smoke Ale (not on here yet), and have a Dead Guy Ale waiting in the basement. Tonight, I thought I would try their Mocha Porter.

Rogue's Mocha Porter is a deep, dark, chestnut-brown... only hints of light gleam through at the bottom of the glass. It has a nice tan head, about three thick fingers tall, that doesn't last too long, but leaves lots of lacing on the way down.

Its smell has a bit of alcohol, which gets mixed up with the sweetness of chocolate, cherry, and molasses. Also, of course, is the coffee and dark chocolate, and some rye bread. A pretty nice balance of hops and malt.

The taste, at the start, is mostly of coffee. There is some sweet chocolate, almost like a ganache. A bit of bitterness and sweet taste from the hops gets stronger about halfway through the drink as it warms up. Near the end, the mocha flavour dominates.

The feel is a little watery, but that may help to make the large bottle (or more than that) more easily drinkable. The finish is slightly sticky/chewy, and a bit dry.

Overall, an easy-to-drink dark beer, with some nice traits.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dieu Du Ciel's Aphrodisiaque

Dieu Du Ciel (Sky God) is a Québec brewery that just celebrated their 12th anniversary two days ago. This is only the second beer of theirs I've had, but they sure seem to make some good and interesting things.

Aphrodisiaque pours like less viscous molasses, but looks just as dark and thick. The head is massive! It couldn't be poured all at once, not by a long shot. It's very thick and creamy on top, and more bubbly underneath. It lasts forever, with peaks, lumps, holes, and gaps forming in it along the way. It laces pretty well on the way down.

The smell is like sharp dark chocolate with that alcoholic vanilla. Some rye bread & molasses is also there.

At first, I taste more coffee than anything else. It has the flavour of chocolate-covered espresso beans. It reminds me a bit of Old Rasputin, or stronger beers, without as much alcohol. The vanilla and bourbon flavours in it give the illusion of a higher abv, though.

It's a little more watery than the appearance would lead you to believe. The finish is a little chewy, and not very dry.

Overall, a complex and great sippin' beer! Pretty impressive.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I am a Craft Beer Drinker

I saw this today on the Brookston Beer Bulletin, and thought it was great.

Le Merle Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Today's review is Le Merle, a 750ml offering from North Coast Brewing Company. Saison, or farmhouse ales, are an old style, meant to be brewed in the winter and enjoyed in the summer. I couldn't resist this one when I saw it on the shelf. Tall, corked beers are hard to resist, plus the bottle said "exotic aromas of tropical fruit". I was sold.

Le Merle pours a cloudy, apple juice-yellow. A nice bit of fast-popping white head forms. It lowers quickly, but a mostly full film of it stays the whole drink down.

The smell has a bit of green apple, a bit of dough, a "creamy" smell... perhaps like porridge & milk, and some plantain (more plantain than banana, I think). Hmm... nothing too exotic or tropical.

The taste is pretty much the same as the smell. Unfortunately, I was expecting something fruitier / hoppier, and ended up getting something that is one of my least favourite flavours of beers.

The feel is very smooth and creamy, but with lots of fizz, too. It leaves a chewy yet dry kind of feel in the mouth. It also leaves a bit of sharp sweetness (it feels/tastes more sweet than bitter) that lingers for a bit that I don't care for... probably one of the main things I don't like about this kind of beer.

It's not a bad beer, and it's pretty drinkable. It's just not my type of thing.
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