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).