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.