Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 2011 Holiday Haul

'Twas a great, beerful Christmas this year - many things to drink, read, wear, or use:

  • Two Garrison Spruce Beer and three Imperial ESB Collaboration Ales from Propeller / Greg Nash (present to myself, really, thanks to the helpful services of KMcK & benwedge)
  • An Alley Kat pint glass, coaster, bottle opener (as well as closer),  and Cringer Cranberry Ginger Ale, and, from Rogue, a Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale
  • Two wooden-boxed gift packs from Rogue - one a bottle and glass of Santa's Private Reserve Ale, and another with a bottle & t-shirt of Portland State IPA
  • Two Fuller's ESB (one can and one bottle), and a canned London Porter, a six-pack of Alley Kat Full Moon Pale Ale, and two nice Bodum glasses
  • A Paddock Wood / Sherbrooke Liquor Store release, Heartstopper (a spicy stout), and four more Alley Kat / Sherbrooke LS brews: Aaiieeeeeeeeee Caramba! (with a chili pepper in it), Van Helsings' All-Natural Mouthwash (with a whole clove of garlic in it), and Glenda & Glenn Sherbrooke (two strong brews aged in barrels from the Glenora Distillery)
  • A new Gahan House glass as well as five of their IPA's
  • A Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Rogue Nation sticker, and the new Oxford Companion to Beer
  • A ginormous Paulaner mug, complete with 1L can of Paulaner Oktoberfest, 12 Kölsch glasses, and a Montreal Canadiens beer sleeve
Not too shabby! Now... when will I get the time to drink all of it...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rolling Rock Extra Pale

Every now and then, I see a beer that I haven't seen in local stores before, and I have to try it - even though I'm pretty sure it'll be sub-par. This is such a beer. Not worth the time of a regular review, this, one of the palest and blandest beers I have ever had, shall be reviewed in haiku form.

Oh, Rolling Rock can
So handsome, yet your innards
Disappoint me much

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Smuttynose's Winter Ale

Here we have a winter ale from the Smuttynose Brewing Co. Ahh... 'tis the season to have such things. This beer's actually a dubbel/double, despite the moniker.

This wintery dubbel is a deep-stream / chestnut colour, with pale, amber head - and lots of it. It billows a bit out of the place where the beer's poured in, with larger bubbles than the surrounding ones. There is fairly solid lacing.

The aromas are light - pear, fig, toffee, and perhaps some apple.

The flavour is more of the same (add a bit of chocolate and slight nuttiness to the mix), albeit a bit heavier (but still rather light), yet bright. I wonder if I'm picking up a hint of cinnamon? A twinge of candy apple? It is reminding me more of an Oktoberfest beer or a Munich dunkel lager than a dubbel or winter ale.

The body's medium, I suppose, but the feel comes off as light overall. The carb's gentle, and the finish is smooth.

Overall? It's a pretty tasty, easy-to-drink, enjoyable brew that doesn't require all of your attention. Great for staying in on the longest night of the year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Beermas

Tonight was the first of (hopefully many annual) Beermas gatherings. Us Aleanders (a branch of the Brewnosers) gathered tonight at the workplace of one of our members, the tripling-in-size Gahan Brewery. Akin to Festivus, there were a couple of Beermas miracles: the fact that there was snow (in this time of global warming), and that we got to hold our meeting at a brewery. (Unfortunately?) There were no feats of strength or airing of grievances. A few of the best brews (in my opinion) were Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale, the Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel, Stone's Cali-Belgique Belgian IPA, St. Ambroise's RIS, and some really different winter ales. There were also some tasty home brews from Hogie and Wortly, as well as newcomer Devin (from the far away land of Stratford).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shipyard Imperial Porter (Pugsley's Signature Series)

I've been waiting for months to drink this attractive beaut from my cellar...

There is gobs of head post-pour on this one, and it lumps up as it lowers, making it almost look like tan-coloured sea foam. It smooths out as it lowers further.The beer is quite dark, and lets next to no light through it at all. There is not much lacing that sticks around.

The smell is initially very sweet, and more roasted notes come through it as it warms. It's like a mix of dark fruitcake, figs, maybe some coffee, and something somewhat dark rum-like.

The flavour is pretty nice on this one - big roasted notes (coffee and dark chocolate), sweet, dark fruits... that sweetness also plays around a bit like a milk stout. It starts making me think it's an oatmeal stout partway through. Smooth, sweet, roasted / burnt, a bit earthy from the hops... several nice things going on here, all in a nice balance.

The feel is lighter / thinner than I thought it would be. It's got a smooth feel, but it's nearly on the watery side. The carb is a bit tingly for my liking in this kind of beer, but it's OK. The finish is slightly bitter and a little sticky.

Overall - very solid. I quite enjoyed this one. One of these days, I'm going to have to do the Maine Beer Trail...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gahan 1772 IPA

I have had this brew a few times since (and including) launch day (and even an unfinished sample before). I've been meaning to post about it before now, but... things have been busy - masters, work, and home life. So, now that I have had time to think on it... without further adieu...

First off, why 1772? My guess (just from the date and ship's image on the packaging) is that it's connected to the landing date of the Alexander, a boat that brought some 210 passengers (mostly or all Scottish Catholics) to PEI. I'm thinking the Acadian folks on PEI don't care for the name...

This bottled incarnation of Gahan's IPA has lots of sticky, pale-amber head that lingers for a while before leaving some lumpy, sticky lacing on the glass. It is still clearer than the pub's version (which should change soon, as they're working on product consistency). The cloudy (and best-ever, from August) version of it seen below is a little cloudier than what you get at the pub now. The beer is a deep, clear rose-amber.

There are nice aromas of grapefruit and some other citrus, a bit of evergreen, and some slight malt / caramel notes.

In the flavour is some nice pith and grapefruit. It's fairly well-rounded, albeit a bit green / grassy. There is some cracker / bread / grain to it. It has a "summer ale" slant to it in that there are also ever-so-slight hints of lemon & pepper.

The finish is fairly bitter and a bit grassy, as well as slightly sticky. The body is medium, and the carbonation is pretty light (just right). There are some hops in the burps, which is nice - sounds gross, but those that understand know what I'm talking about. The 6.5% is apparently the strongest beer that can be brewed legally on PEI (let's hope that changes). I actually think it has a bit more of a kick than 6.5%... I wonder if it's just labelled 6.5% and it's actually a bit higher (there is a 1.5% "fudge factor" allowed). Either way, I'd like it to have a bit more "heft" than 6.5%.

Overall, I am really glad this beer has made it to the shelves of our stores here. It's the first IPA available in our stores, believe it or not - therefore, a bit of a triumph for IPA-lovin' people like me. It is a respectable IPA - not the best I have had, but it can at least stand shoulder-to-shoulder somewhere in the middle of the pack with other Canadian IPA's available on the market - really, for their first go at this, that's saying something for the Gahan folks. Keep up the progression, gents!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Anchor Porter

Coming out of this beautifully-labeled and well-shaped bottle, is a strikingly dark porter. Even in the pour, it is a deep mahogany or chestnut. In the glass, it is even darker and is topped off with a rich, creamy, brown head. It dissipates fairly quickly, leaving solid lacing on the glass and just a skim of head on top.

The smell is quite enticing - like date squares - a mix of dark fruit aromas with lightly-roasted oats or bready base. There is also some coffee and chocolate in there, with the former out-smelling the latter.

The flavour has a lot of coffee in it, and has a dark, roasted flavour. To balance the bitterness & roasted notes, there is also some brightness to it, from fruit flavours... which are just slightly tart - like overripe raspberries or... almost a chocolate-orange combo. Something about its sweetness and smoothness reminds me of some milk stouts.

The beer is smooth, with a body that's just on the watery side of medium. There is some nice bitterness in the finish as well. The carbonation is quite tingly, but not aggressive at all.

Overall, this is probably one of the best commercial porters I have had. I think I'd pick up a bottle again the next time I see it, without a second thought. Well... maybe, "Should I get two?"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dominus Vobiscum Double

From the Microbrasserie Charlevoix, I have had a few of their Vache Folle products now, as well as their Triple and Blanche. Time for the Double!

Very little light makes it through this deep, reddish-brown beer. The head is quite tall and impressive initially, and starts breaking down with gaps and bubbles within it, looking creamy and sturdy. However, it falls much quicker than you'd think, leaving nothing on the glass.

In the aroma are mostly figs & raisins. The advertised spice / star anise comes out as a hint of licorice. A bit of alcohol surfaces, too.

In the flavour is a bit more of the fig and raisin, perhaps a bit of brown sugar and taffy. A bit of the 8% alcohol also sneaks in here.

The bottle advertises the mouthfeel as "rich, nearly full". I would say this is on the light side of medium - almost watery at moments. There's almost nothing full and chewy about this one. The finish does have a bit of stickiness, but a bit of heat from the alcohol comes out in the finish as well, distracting and detracting from it.

I thought the Triple and Blanche in the Dominus Vobiscum series were pretty great. While this Double isn't a bad beer, it doesn't stack up to the quality of the other two I have tried - I'd try them again, whereas I would only try this again if it were really fresh or on tap.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gahan's Iron Horse Brown Ale

This newly-bottled Gahan offering pours a fairly dark, clear brown. It has about a finger of fairly dense tan head. There is solid lacing at the start, switching to rings / splotches that look somewhat grainy - a bit like powdered milk.

In the nose are some oats, and almost a smell of corn. Slightly sweet, faint chocolate. I wondered if I picked out a bit of DMS? Maybe not. There is something slightly butterscotchy & refried-black-beany about it though - sweet and earthy - which briefly reminded me of "off"erings from some other regional brewers in the last year.

There are light, roasted flavours of coffee, oats, and maybe some dark, grainy chocolate. There is something slightly and lightly Nutella-like about it (probably the chocolate mixing with the roasted / nutty notes combo, I guess).

Carbonation is light, but there. The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium. The finish is rather dry, and slightly bitter.

Overall... you know what? It's alright. The finish is rather flavourful, and there is nothing really off about it... not too shabby. My one main criticism has nothing to do with the beer: Why the boring label? Why not use what they have as a tap label at the pub - it's a much better logo.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pump House Scotch Ale

When I visited the Pump House Brewery back in April, one of the most memorable brews on tap that I sampled was their Scotch Ale. Now, it's time to sample the bottled version.

The ale pours a medium reddish brown, and is quite clear. A creamy and light brown head lowers to a still-creamy film of its former self within a couple of minutes, and leaves some stretched-out webby lacing on the glass.

In the aroma are roasted malt notes, molasses, & that "eau de bog" - peat. It's earthy and sweet.

The flavour is more of the same, albeit a little lighter in the malt categories and a little heavier in the peat area (especially in the initial exhales). There are also some fruity, acidic notes at the end of each sip and in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is smooth, but rather watery. Carbonation only surfaces as a light "microtingle" on the tongue. The overall impression is that it's a bit too light and flat.

Overall, the beer has some decent aspects (the exhale and aroma, mostly), but it's not particularly memorable or good. I remember the on-tap version being better. Unfortunately, it drinks like an ale that is 4.8% alcohol - I'd rather an ale like this to be a bit stronger and meatier.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Firestone Walker's Proprietors Reserve Series Porter

This is my second brew from Firestone Walker, another one from their Proprietors Reserve Series (thanks, ajcormier!).

This is a nice-looking dark brew with a two fingers' worth of dense, creamy-looking tan head (capable of three-four, though, in later pours!). The lacing is fairly solid, but slowly lowers & follows the beer.

It has a rather sweet aroma that is mostly of chocolate, with some fruity esters thrown in... somewhat like dark, melted chocolate & raspberries, without the tartness. There is a slight woody odour as well... like wet oak. Some roasted notes come out as it warms.

The flavour is more of the same, but some more prominent roasted flavours come through, replacing pretty much any hints of fruit. The hops did not come through in the aroma much, but in the flavour and feel, they add some near-American pale ale / IPA qualities (most likely the Cascade hops at play) - some citrus-y pith was a possibly-out-of-place yet pleasant surprise.

The carbonation is more tingly than expected, and its impression lasts / remains for a good little while, along with some bitterness. The hoppy bitterness comes through more than expected (which I liked). The body is medium and very smooth.

I've been working through some porters and darker brews lately, and this one stands out among recent beers. I quite enjoyed its hoppy slants - they brightened it up and gave all of its aspects a boost that made it memorable.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gahan 1772 IPA... in Bottles

I've been keeping this cat in the e-bag for a little while... even had an unfinished sample of it just over a week ago & kept mum...

The Gahan Brewery is releasing their IPA in bottled form, starting this weekend. So says their Twitter feed, anyway. If you're looking to sample it, free samples will be available at the pub as well as local liquor stores this weekend. I'm curious to see how the finished / carbonated version comes out... their IPA used to be mediocre, was, in August, pretty great, then, soon after, just OK (due to a malt and hop change), and now, on tap, is still OK / good. Hopefully the inconsistency will get sorted out. Ideally, what was getting done in August should be replicated and saved as their staple IPA. We'll see.

When I get a bottle, I'll review it and let you know.

Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil

With a name like this, I expected this "lubricious" porter to be jet black right out of the bottle. It's not, but it's pretty darn black in the glass. There's some nice cascading-up action from the carbonation. The head is a finger or so tall, dark, and creamy. It falls fairly fast, though. The lacing is, oddly enough, very lace-like.

In the smell is mostly roasted barley, some faint coffee, and just a hint of some dark, bittersweet chocolate.

The flavour has a bit of a smokiness that was a bit unexpected. There is also something a bit sweet as well as metallic about it that throws the balance of it off. I think it's coming from an odd combination of a slight citrus / fruit tang with the bitter feel and roasted flavour & exhale. It's like "simulated metallic", coming from the other notes not playing the way they should (what did I expect, I suppose... I'm drinking oil).

It is smooth, viscous, and lubricious, as advertised. The carbonation is just a faint tickle. The finish is slick & sticky. A bit of that metallic flavour & feel sticks around, too, unfortunately.

I was quite looking forward to this and must say I was a little disappointed. It's a good beer - don't get me wrong. I just didn't think it quite measured up to what I (and common opinion) had thought it would be. That being said, I'd gladly try again in the future.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout

Not the darkest beer coming out of the bottle, but it's good & dark in the glass. The head is very respectable - tall enough, creamy, brown, and dense. It leaves a mix of solid patches and spots of lacing.

At first, it smells like a milk stout - sweet, chocolatey, with roasted notes acting as wallflowers. As it warms up a bit, aromas of oats/oatmeal (go figure) and dark, roasty smells start to waft around in the glass. The chocolate's still there, but the sweetness starts to lower.

There is a great family of roasted notes in here - coffee, oats, chocolate. Sweetness is light. Only slightly estery / fruity.

The carbonation is a bit surprising at first - more tingly than I thought it would be (maybe a tad sharp, actually). The feel is nice - a very smooth and creamy medium. I expected the finish to be more sticky, but I find it more dry than sticky.

Overall, a really nice stout - it's full and robust enough to be a meaty little stout, but its carb, relatively light feel, smoothness, and non-overpowering flavours keep it very drinkable. This review has been brought to you by the hyphen - also known as the dash.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quilmes Lager

Yet another beer from a new place - Argentina.

Like the Tusker I drank right before it, a very clear and pale lager. The head on this one was minimal, with just a courtesy skim of bubbles left on top. A few bubbles continue to be active in the glass.

Lots of grass and a bit of sharp fruitiness on the nose of this one. Almost like a cider. It doesn't put me off, but it doesn't really entice me, either.

The first taste was actually a bit better than I thought it would be. There is just a hint of a malty roundness to it, but the flavour on this is all grass, corn / rice, and some fruitiness.

The fruitiness comes with an acidity that's too strong in the feel and finish. Overall, the feel is watery and light.

Not the worst lager or beer I have ever had by a long shot, but this one isn't worth seeking out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pranqster Belgian Style Golden Ale

Pranqster is another one of the beers I picked up at Premier W&S which comes from the North Coast Brewing Company. It's a Belgian-style golden ale, or Belgian strong pale ale.

The beer itself was a bit clearer than I thought it would be. I expected some cloudiness from the yeast, but I guess any sediment really settled out, and I only gave it a gentle pour. The colour was a deep gold, with a copperish hue. A bit of head, but none of it stayed save for a ring and wafer-thin central cake of it. Just a few spots of lace.

The smell had some spice in it, like nutmeg & biscuits, also some fruits, like peach & apricot.

The flavour is spot-on for the style. This is definitely a Belgian-style brew. Lots of yeast flavour; lots of spice (clove & nutmeg). The fruit takes a back seat to both.

The feel's good. A little strong fizz-wise, and almost a little bit of a heart/alcohol burn, even though it's not that strong.

Overall, a very drinkable Belgian ale.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Samuel Smith's Organic Lager Beer

This organic lager is a very pale, clear yellow. There is actually a ton of frothy, white head on this one from the first pour (maybe the mineral quality of the water helps this as much as the proteins in it), and it leaves tons of solid, spattery (my new word for the day) lacing.

There is a lot of mineral smell to it - almost chalky / limestoney- along with a bit of grain & honey. Maybe some light, fruity hops.

Hops come through subtly but nicely, more so as light fruit notes rather than bitterness. Honey's still at play, too... some light grass, and just the faintest hint of something white-pepper-like.

The body is light, and the finish / overall feel dry. It's a bit... strong, actually, in that the dryness & hoppy bitterness (light as it is) build a little and linger after you swallow. The carbonation - despite the impressive head - is pretty mild.

A solid lager, but not my favourite offering from Samuel Smith's.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gahan Pumkpin Beer - Tasted

Note the creepy Halloween lighting
So, Hogie (another Brewnoser & Aleander... look us up if you have no idea what I'm talking about) and I went down to The Gahan House tonight to try their new Pumpkin Beer. I didn't take any notes, like I normally would, but I did take a pic. We talked about the basics of the brew, and I think we came to a general two-man consensus.

It's good.

In more detail? The beer was a crystal clear orange-amber, with a finger+ of head. The smell started to match the flavour a bit as it warmed, but at the onset, it didn't tell you much. It just had - to me - faint notes of spice and maybe the yeast. Hogie thought it smelled like the inside of a hollowed-out pumpkin. The taste? It really was like liquid pumpkin pie. It had gentle / mild spicing, and a certain mellowness to it. A bit bright, but mostly smooth & mellow. Nothing stood out too much: carb, mouthfeel, any specific flavours. It was a solid, pretty-darn-well-balanced brew; more than I thought it would be.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Alpha%Dog Wet-Hopped Collaboration Ale

This is the second year that Sea Level and Propeller have put their skills together to release this wet-hopped IPA (using Cascade and Willamette hops from the Annapolis Valley). Last year, I missed out. This year, not so much, thanks to the understrait beer railroad (ie, Chris).

The head reminds me of Sea Level's brews right off the bat, but this one has more large pockets form in it, causing it to pull away from the sides and leave a moraine of creamy suds in the middle. Some sticky head clings to the glass. It's a fairly pale IPA. It has some deeper orangeness to it in its shadows, but, overall, it's more of a light apricot colour (maybe around a seven on the SRM scale).

I rather expected this brew (for whatever reason... maybe my recent Seal Level "luck") to be a bit of a lightweight. It's got a nice, hoppy smell, though, with some malt sweetness thrown in - like a mix of barley toy candy & oranges.

The flavour throws me off a bit - it's got this earth-pepper-grass-straw-wood thing going on that doesn't match the scent at all. There is some sweetness to it... like a muted barley toy note in there, some oats, and maybe some citrus, but it's a stretch. Might even be some wet dog... my God, I hope that's not where part of the title came from...

The carb is a little flat, and the bitterness is pretty high. The body is medium, and the finish bitter & a little slick.

I was looking forward to this one, but I can't say I'd be too gung-ho to pick it up again. The flavour isn't that great, leaving mostly just an impression of some oats and a not-too-likeable earthy bitterness.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gahan Pumpkin Beer

I received an email today to inform me about a new beer The Gahan House is offering on Monday (why Monday?), the 24th of October.

It's a pumpkin ale, made with pumpkins from Marshfield, hops from Breadalbane (the Barnone folks', I'm-a-guessin'), cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and brown sugar.

Sounds good to me - just wish it was available this weekend instead!

When I get some, I'll let you know how it is.

Berkshire Brewing Company's Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale

The beer has a gorgeous colour - a bright, slightly-foggy honey. A modest, nearly-pure white head lowers fairly quickly to just a smooth film. There's a fair amount of widely-spaced strands of bubbles as the beer lowers.

The overall aroma is pretty interesting - some fruit (flat citrus, perhaps), yeast, grain/straw, and even a bit of nuttiness. Really, it almost smells a bit like a multi-grain cereal with a few other notes along for the ride.

The flavour is more of the same, and I can't say that I have ever had a beer that tasted so much like grain or whole wheat before. I swear, it's like Life cereal... but, instead of putting milk on it, someone poured just a bit of a saison on it and added a few little pieces of dried coconut and fruit. The lasting impressions in the finish (exhale and flavour) are the nuttiness and multi-grain aspects.

The feel of the carbonation  is very light - just enough to keep things feeling fresh and bright. The body is medium (the lighter side thereof), and is nice and smooth. The finish is fairly clean - a little wet & a little sticky, if anything.

I was expecting more of a bright, hop-forward pale ale. What I got was more of a cross of a pale ale and a saison... with some extra rogue malt notes thrown in. More interesting than expected, and pretty tasty. Like Berskshire's Lost Sailor IPA, it even grows on you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Portsmouth Brewery's Gose

This is my first-ever gose, a fairly uncommon style of beer from Leipzig, Germany. It is made from a combo of approximately 40% barley malt and 60% wheat malt. A top-fermenting beer, it is seasoned with coriander and salt. Only a few breweries in North America are starting to tinker with this old, almost-forgotten style.

This brew has a surprisingly tall head, that looks quite white and creamy. It reduces fairly quickly, and most of the time the beer has just a few bubbles on top with a slim ring of foam. The beer is very clear and yellow, like an apple cider.

There are smells of wheat, and a bit of smoke, actually... which could be the salt playing tricks / giving it that slant. There are also some hints of fruit, similar to some triples.

The flavour is dominated by a fresh weissbier tang - a zippy kick of citrus (lemon). The salt comes into play here, again, too, with that smoky / salty tinge. It's a total dichotomy in the mouth... the fresh, light weissbier with this exhale and extra flavour of something darker and almost smoke-like... the combination of juxtaposed flavours puts me in mind of some other triples / saisons / strong Belgian ales.

The carbonation is ample without being too prickly. It's on the high side of a light mouthfeel, and a slightly viscous finish has a bit of stickiness. There is a tangy feel on the sides of the tongue, and some lightly salty burps... near the end, salt grows and plays on the tongue a bit more, too

Overall, a fairly cool style, even if it isn't strikingly different from others I am already familiar with... I'd liken it to Dominus Vobiscum's Triple with a bit of salt.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Samuel Smith's Pure Brewed Lager Beer

The huge, off-white head on this has the consistency of egg whites. The lumpy head leaves sticky patches of lacing as it lowers. The beer has kind of a pale honey or straw colour to it, and is clear.

The smell is nice, especially for a lager - puffed wheat, honey, oats, and some kind of straw/hay/grass combo.

There is honey in the taste as well as some straw. It tastes surprisingly... "golden". The water with its trademark mineral character takes, unexpectedly, a bit more of a backseat in this somewhat naked style... it's not as prominent as in their other beers, flavour-wise, but it still plays a good role and comes out more as it warms. As it warms, there also may have been some hints of fruit/citrus notes coming out.

The body is rather smooth and heavy for a lager... almost medium in feel. The carbonation is just a light tingle. The finish is actually a little sticky more than anything else... there is some dryness on the tongue, but stickiness comes through more.

This is one of the best lagers I've ever had - it was "full", so to speak, with good flavour, and no off-flavours common for the style. Loved it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cisco Brewers' Grey Lady Ale

A beer for old ladies? Mermaids? Sailors? From the look of the label, it could be any of the three. That being said, I do like the label. It has a "maritime historic" vibe about it. This ale is a light witbier, measuring in at 4.5% alcohol, and is my first beer from Cisco Brewers.

Witbier or not, this is one pale brew. In the glass it has a bit of colour, but coming out of the bottle, this ale was extremely pale. There is very little head. After a couple of minutes, all that remains is a thin cake on top and a ring of white. There are lots of active bubbles in the glass, though. Only some random dots of lace form.

It does have a decent smell. More than I expected. Light aromas of orange, coriander/cilantro, and some faint honey & wheat. It has a smell of Belgian yeast, along with some spice (clove, perhaps).

The taste is fuller than I wagered, too. This one has a bit of a zippy, tangy tinge. It's quite bright and refreshing, with lemon / orange notes, some pale / white pepper or spice / clove, light wheat / breadiness, and that Belgian / farmhouse / light funk personality.

The feel is light, almost bordering on watery. The finish is pretty clean, with, perhaps, just a bit of a stickiness.

This was a pretty cool beer. It's light and lightweight - making it easy to consume in larger amounts, were they available - but is also fairly complex and has quite a bit going on under the surface. A very well-made brew. Three cheers for old mermaid sailors!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Samuel Smith's Organically-Produced Ale

Each time I have a bottle of anything from the Samuel Smith brewery, I really look forward to it now. Every one I have had has been a winner, and I expect nothing different from this one.

There is some great cascading head action in the pour. It ends up tall, creamy, and slightly amber in colour. There are lots of bubbles popping in it, leaving it looking like a slow-falling cake and eventually just a skim of bubbles & lacing on the glass. Th colour is a lovely slightly hazy amber.

This ale has Smith's characteristic smell... I would swear the water's going to be a star again here. The beer smells a bit more like a hoppy pale ale than I expected it to (some subtle fruity esters), but, overall, I find this beer smells just like them... like a British ale... subdued smells of grain / toffee, earthy hops, and that mineral-y water.

The flavour's great... mellow malt notes like toffee, followed with a slight acidic tang - fruit notes like orange alongside honey and wheat. The aftertaste is mellow, a bit earthy, and yet a bit bright and fruity. At times, it almost reminds me of a light bread pudding.

The feel is medium & smooth, and the carbonation a subtle blanket of minute tingles. The finish is mostly dry, and a bit sticky.

Overall - love it... such a great British ale. It's fairly light and very drinkable, but has lots of subtle character that doesn't beat you over the head. This is a well-balanced, quality brew in every aspect. Samuel Smith is fast becoming one of my favourite breweries.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Barnone - Summer Sessions, Pale Ale, and IPA

At this weekend's first annual PEI Beer Festival, PEI's new brewery, Barnone, unveiled their first three beers and their brand / company in general. Available were samples of their Summer Sessions, Pale Ale, and IPA. In the text-heavy picture you can read about each in more detail. What did I think of them? Well, I was fortunate enough to get two or three samples of each, and here's what I thought:

Summer Sessions
A pretty refreshing summer beer, and not really a lightweight for the style. In the aroma were some hops and wheat. The flavour is bright, a bit bready, and has almost a tang to it. The hops in this one make it a bit more bitter than expected. The body is pretty much medium (fuller-feeling than expected, too), with some tingly carbonation. The finish was fairly bitter and quite dry. A nice beer.

Barnone Pale Ale

The first thing I wrote down for this one was "Yes". The middle beer in the pic below was quite hoppy in its aroma and taste - mostly citrus / pith (grapefruit, especially). There was also some nice malt in there to balance it out, in the form of a light caramel flavour. The body on this one was medium, with lighter carbonation than the Summer Sessions. The finish was also very dry here, but also had a bit of stickiness. I thought this was a very well-rounded, flavourful, drinkable beer. I thought it was the best one of their lineup and the festival as well, bar none (sorry, couldn't help it).

Barnone IPA
This brew was just a tad hoppier than the pale ale in aroma. Although a little more grapefruity in flavour, and a bit in aroma, the nose was arguably more floral - almost rose-like (could be that Rose Valley influence?). I found the medium body to feel a bit lighter than the pale ale, actually, but, oddly, it was definitely stickier at the same time. It was bitter, more than the other two, but not overly so - still very quaffable. A quality IPA, to be sure.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

PEI Beer Festival - A Review

Well, I returned home a few hours ago from the first session of PEI's first-ever beer festival. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of set-up and attendance, as the organizers were rookies at this, too. On their side, though, was a keenness to do it right and to listen to and learn from those attending. So... how was it?

I arrived only fifteen minutes early, and had two options: I could vote in the wrong riding of an advance poll, or I could wait in line for the beer fest. I chose the latter, and was Guest #1. Waiting for me was a fancy shmancy media pass, helping to make me look all official-like.There was a healthy line-up looking to get in, and I thought that the crowd was pretty decent. For the afternoon session of our first beer fest, where there was almost only beers available at the liquor store, the crowd was pretty good. It was a mix of old and young, and everyone seemed to be in a jovial, relaxed mood.

I was happily surprised at how "smart" the crowd was overall. The mass-market companies didn't have many visitors to their booths, especially compared to a few others. I'd be curious to hear how they did at the night session. People, in general, flocked to, and waited for, beers from our local breweries, and returned for their different varieties.

The most popular brewers would have to be PEI's new Barnone, Picaroon's, and perhaps Garrison or the table with Pump House and a few others. I think Picaroon's had the steadiest line-up the whole time, but that was partly due to the fact there was only one person there opening and pouring bottles - who just happened to be their owner/brewer Sean Dunbar. I'm not sure how many in attendance knew about their recent wins at the Canadian Brewery Awards this month (including brewery of the year), but that definitely couldn't have hurt. I was a little surprised at the relatively little attention Garrison seemed to get in comparison, as I think their reputation among beer folk is generally better. The fact there were two servers there didn't hurt, in terms of moving people along, though.

In terms of the beer, I had one main focus: Barnone. I had sampled every other beer there before except for a couple of Molson / Labatt's products, and I wasn't about to fill up on those. As soon as I went in, I went to Barnone, and started my sampling. I'll save my pics of the beer and notes for a later post, but I can honestly say their three beers were the best of the fest. Their Summer Sessions, Pale Ale and IPA were the best beers available. The fact that they were probably the freshest beers there, and the only ones on tap, and not out of a can or bottle didn't hurt. My other general thoughts on the beer was that Picaroon's tasted OK, but that I'd liked what I'd had of theirs more in the past. Known to have some diacetyl (some say "issues", others would say "character"), I found the couple I sampled to be a bit more buttery than in the past. Dunbar said he likes beer making to be a bit "dirty" and has diacetyl in there on purpose to mix things up a bit. Garrison was fine, although I found their Hop Yard to be not as good as I have had in the past - same goes for the Oktoberfest, which I quite enjoyed last year. I tried a couple of other things around the fest - two I'd had before, one I hadn't, and that was that. I just returned to Barnone a couple of times - not so much as to deplete their stock (they were a bit worried about running out of one or more beers before the second sessions would be over) - but enough to keep me in good beer & happy.

While everything was pretty smooth and the venue fine, there were a few things I thought would be some good ideas next year:
  • improve the variety of beer - bring in more stuff not available here already
  • the few munchies were OK, but some plain crackers or some such thing (to help reset the ol' taste buds) would have been nice. Those peppery Triscuits kind of messed me up for a beer or two. A food vendor or two wouldn't be out of line... maybe soft pretzels or something similar.
  • have some water available for folks to hydrate / reset their taste buds - even if it's just bottled stuff for sale.
  • maybe look into getting labeled souvenir tasting mugs that people could use - it reduces waste, and gives someone something to take home. I thought some of my cups had a bit of a plastic smell. Water stations may be needed to do some mug rinsing between tastings, though.
  • a place or two to dump some suds if you got something you didn't like.
  • the venue was decent - downtown, bathrooms right off the main room, etc. Something more upscale would be nice, though, too. How about the Rodd Charlottetown's ballroom? Or one of the rooms at the Delta?

Overall, cheers to Campbell Webster Entertainment for kicking this event off. I get the impression from them that they are keen to keep their eyes and ears open for ways to improve and make things even better for next year. This was one small step for some beer drinkers, and perhaps the (co-?) beginning of one giant leap for the Island beer scene.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

I reviewed this one a while ago, but just never posted it. Now that it's seasonal again, and will be available at the beer fest tomorrow, let's finally have a look at it.

The colour of this Sam Adams seasonal beer is just about what I thought it would be - a rich, reddish brown. The head is not what I thought it would be - basically nothin'! Some bubbles formed on the pour, but they didn't last too long.

The smell has a nice, light hoppy / fruity character along with the expected malt sweetness. The mix of scents brings to mind the apple and candy coating of a candy apple... maybe with a bit of caramel. As it warms up, it takes on a bit of a bread pudding vibe.

Its flavours brings to mind things like toffee & candy. Each sip starts sweet and finishes with an exhale that is full and smooth / mellow. The aftertaste, I found, might be a bit too bright.

The body or overall feel is almost watery, but due to the finish isn't. It's light, but has a slight viscosity or slickness to it. Despite the lack of any head, the carbonation for it is fine (albeit a bit low). It's only slightly bitter.

Overall, a decent seasonal. It would be easy to have a few of these sometime, although I much preferred Garrison's.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Barnone's new logo(s)

 Just received today, hot off the e-press, are two versions of Barnone's new logo. At first, I liked it for its simplicity, but wasn't sure of the thumbnail of the version with the colour background - I thought it might obscure it, and not let it stand out, like other breweries (Sea Level) or look like something printed off at home (Green Flash). Maybe it won't even be for a label - just ads / posters, etc. Either way, upon full-res inspection, I think it'll be alright. It's definitely growing on me. Overall, I like the not-too-obvious literal interpretation (a bar of wheat over the zero / "none"), as well as just the overall look and link to beer.

Once again, I can't wait to sample their brews on Saturday. Even better is knowing that a Double / Imperial IPA is in the works for a near-future brew. Thank Jeebus, the beer Gods are finally starting to smile on PEI.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Barnone To Debut This Weekend

Fantastic news. I just received word today that PEI's new brewery, Barnone, has been approved to participate in this weekend's beer festival by our LLC. Barnone's beers will use hops and barley from their farm in Rose Valley, PEI. At the beer fest, Barnone will be premiering three new beers:

-Summer Sessions
-Barnone Pale Ale
-Barnone IPA

I can't wait to try all three, especially the third in the list. I'm as giddy as a beer-drinking schoolgirl.
When I receive Barnone's logo, I will share it.
Check out the PEI Beer Festival's site for a now-complete list of featured brews, ticket info, and anything else you'd like to know about it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

And The Cellar Grows...

Thanks to Chris, the variety of brews in my beer room grew a little this past week:

We have:
Le Bilboquet's MacCroken Flower
La Vache Folle Yeoman Double IPA
Tree Brewing Co.'s Cutthroat Pale Ale
Tree Brewing Co.'s Hop Head IPA

And eight selections from the Brasserie Dupont in Belgium:
Bière De Miel Biologique
Moinette Biologique (AKA Foret)
Moinette Blonde
Moinette Brune
Bière De Beloeil
Saison Dupont
Avec Les Bons Voeux

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Half Pints Stir Stick Stout

This is my first brew from Winnipeg's Half Pints Brewing Company - I can almost taste the excitement! Well... I guess I'm about to. It's you who will be able to almost taste it, I guess.

Even being a stout, I was surprised at how dark this was coming out of the bottle. It was like a deep mahogany. In the glass, it's nearly black with just traces of reddish colour and light at a couple of edges. The head is of a decent amount (as you can see), light brown, and is fairly creamy.

In the aroma is a healthy dose of coffee beans and chocolate - it reminds me of chocolate-coated espresso beans.

The taste? Pretty much the same as the nose! I've got to say that this beer utilizes the coffee component about as well as any other beer I have had. It's a bit rich, a bit malty-sweet, a bit woody, & it has lots of coffee flavour (with a bit of cream, no less - perhaps that's coming from the lesser chocolate notes).

The feel is rather what you'd expect, perhaps - it feels just like a cold coffee with some light carbonation. A fairly light and watery (yet smooth) mouthfeel finishes off with a bit of dry bitterness in the mouth. Normally, I like my stouts a little heavier, but this one's lighter traits seem to suit it.

A great little coffee stout. I wouldn't hesitate picking this one up if it ever found itself in front of me again.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dogfish Head's Namaste

Finally. A Dogfish Head beer has made it to my hands. This one is Namaste, a witbier with coriander, dried orange slices and lemongrass. I was hoping, when I had it last night, that maybe its summeriness would help to eradicate the chilly fall-like day outside, complete with risk of frost.

Namaste seems to pour with a bit of a haze at first, then goes completely clear (I don't think it was just chill haze... could be things settling out). It is a pale yellow wheat ale. It has a very white head that comes across as quite dense at first. It lowers after a bit of time, of course, and leaves just a thin white ring. Lacing is minimal. There's lots of yeast / sediment in the final pour.

The aroma is solid. Not impressive, not disappointing. You get the yeast, coriander, and wheat more than anything else. Bright & Belgian.

The taste is more of the same. At first, I was a bit underwhelmed. I had been eyeing this thing in my fridge for weeks, anticipating what it would be like. First sips were pretty standard - just a good witbier. Oh well. Then it does get a bit more interesting. There's a bit of bite from the orange peel, over top of the lemon, coriander, and base flavours of the beer. It's tangy enough that it almost comes across as sweet... like a mild (yet tart) powdery orange candy. Oddly, there's almost a hint of cream-of-corn flavour in the aftertaste at the beginning... it morphs to more of an orange one by the end when the sediment comes into play a bit. Overall, a decent flavour with a nice little / subdued orange twist.

The feel of it is light, with a mostly dry finish. There is a lingering acidic tartness / twang to it on the sides of the tongue (and a bit up the middle) that also reminds of the aforementioned orange candies. The feel of the final glass (with sediment) was much smoother.

Unlike my wife, who said "It smells like pee, and it doesn't taste much better," I thought it was decent (I'm thinking she's just not used to the style yet). Unfortunately, though, decent as it is, it's not overly memorable.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

CBA Winners to attend PEI Beer Festival

The Canadian Brewing Awards were handed out last night, and it just so happens that some of the winners will be appearing at our beer fest here in two weeks. If you've never had them before, the medal-winning local brews you can expect to find are:

Picaroons' Best Bitter (Gold) and Yippee IPA (Bronze)
Garrison's Hop Yard Pale Ale (Silver) and Irish Red (Bronze)
and, if they show up,
Gahan's Sir John A. Honey Wheat Ale (Gold)

Also of note, Picaroons took home brewery of the year honours.

For more info on the beer fest, including ticket prices, times, etc., check out their site.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Innis & Gunn Canada Day 2011

This Innis & Gunn offering pours a very clear, dark, reddish-copper. There is lots of head that lowers slowly, and leaves semi-solid lacing as it slides down with the beer.

The fuggles hops add to the base I&G aromas here: there is some earthiness, woodiness, and some malt notes like toffee. The aromas are, overall, subtle, and it takes some deep inhales to get what you can out of it.

The 8.3% alcohol content is hidden fairly well, but it does come out somewhat in the flavour. The bourbon oak barrels as well as the vanilla play their parts a little more subtly than in other I&G beers. What you'll taste are a bit of alcohol, wood, & vanilla. A fig-like flavour comes out in the aftertaste / finish, and there is also a slight spiciness present.

The carbonation is a slight tingle. The alcohol comes out a bit in the feel as well - some heat / a bit of a burn, that lingers. As advertised, it does "mellow on the palate" a bit. It's slightly resinous, smooth, and has a somewhat wet finish

Overall? Pretty good - could use a bit more balance & masking of the alcohol. This beer stays in the Innis & Gunn flavour range, but doesn't really shine or stand out from the pack.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lagunitas Lucky 13.alt Anniversary Release

A while back, I reviewed Lagunitas' Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale, the cousin, or predecessor, to this, if you will. I thought it was an excellent beer. Now from Lagunitas is the "anniversary version" of their Lucky 13. Not a red this time, but an ".alt" - an American strong ale (not an altbier as some thought).

Many (most?) folks on BA report this to be mostly golden yellow (hunh?). This ale is a fairly rich, crystal-clear orange. Scratch that. I probably say crystal-clear too often (like many people). This stuff is clearer than an obvious, relatable simile - it's as clear as a glacial lake (aw yeah). The head is decent, pale apricot in colour, and a bit creamy. It leaves some pretty solid lacing.

Much like the Mondo Large Red, the smell is of pineapple... like that roasted pineapple on a ham (minus the ham), maybe with a cherry or some raisins on top... and of sweet, red candy apple. Some malty sweetness comes through, too, in the form of milky caramel (not that clear Caramilk stuff). There is just a hint of the 8.9% alcohol in it.

Flavour-wise, this one didn't quite live up to my expectations. It's still good, but it just doesn't wow me. Expect pineapple, candy apple, and some lightly rich malt notes... toffee, perhaps.

There is some heat / burn from the alcohol in the feel, which is too bad. This could have been balanced out a bit better. Other than that, the feel is fine. It's a little viscous/slick, with a surprisingly clean and mostly "no-finish" finish. The impression that's left is the heat and the malt notes, along with some bitterness.

Overall, this beer was good. Maybe a bit better than good. Unfortunately (at least for me), there's just too much out there (the Mondo Large Red included) that I think is better. This post was brought to you by bracketed asides and italics.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Portsmouth Brewery's Thaizenheimer

I always love a unique beer. Even if it doesn't turn out the best, I love diving into the intrigue of a beer off the beaten path. This Thaizenheimer is a twist on the Portsmouth Brewery's Weizenheimer, an American wheat ale. The twist is the addition of ginger, lemongrass, and kafir lime leaves.

While not impressive, a decent little head comes from a hard pour, and a creamy skim of the just-off-white stuff remains on top. It leaves some broad webs of lace on the way down. Out of the bottle, the beer looked quite pale and yellow, but, as you can see, it has a bit of brownish depth to the colour.

The aroma is mostly of strong ginger and lime, with some notes of honey and wheat. The ginger also gives an interesting almost-spicy aspect.

The flavour has some of the ginger, but the lemongrass and (especially) the lime leaves take over here. Combined with the wheat ale base, this is like an Asian take on liquid American wheat field sunshine.

Feel-wise, the carbonation makes a crisp tingle on tongue. The body is on the full side of light, with a smooth feel and some stickiness in the finish. That being said, what stands out most is the bright, acidic feel from the lime that lingers... it's kind of nice, and lingers at the back of your tongue and throat. This is coupled with an even longer-lasting, almost sour lemon-lime tang on the sides of the tongue.

What separates some good beers from the rest of the pack for me is how memorable or different they are. This one is definitely unique enough to stand out from the pack, and, overall, this is a very nice beer (especially for summer). It would also do very well with something light like whitefish, chicken, or, especially, shrimp (Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue would be so proud).

Berkshire Brewing Company's Lost Sailor IPA

This, my first beer from Massachusetts' Berkshire Brewing Company, is more of a British-style IPA - meaning that it should have more of a malt presence and be a bit more well-balanced than the strong hop bombs I also love.

As expected, this IPA is a bit darker than other recent ones I have had. This is a somewhat-deep orange-brown, as you can see for yourself. The head is fairly creamy and cream-coloured, and leaves patches of lacing that look like Rorschach blots inspired by the shape of Florida (calling them spotty or webby just wouldn't be enough).

The smell is rather subtle - light dates, some grass, and just the shadow of orange & citrus. Some toffee as it warms. A bit of spice... almost like cinnamon. Almost.

I like love IPA's in general, but definitely gravitate towards the hoppier American variation. So, my first impression of the flavour of this is a bit "meh". It doesn't seem particularly flavourful in any way. Its main note, to me (even though it's pretty fresh) is a grassy one - what I always think of as "stale" in this style. Where the best notes appear in this beer are in the aftertaste... it's what keeps you drinking. You get just a hint of citrus & pith. What comes out more are things like an earthy woodiness, some sweetness akin to maple syrup, and the overall impression of a cream / amber ale. The more you have, the better it gets.

In terms of feel? At 40 IBU's, this is a pretty "gentle" IPA. It has a bit of acidic tang on the sides of the tongue that lingers for a bit. The finish is also sticky. The body is medium and creamy-smooth. The carb is so secondary (but balanced) that you don't even think of it.

Overall, I'm searching for or wanting my "ballsier" hops, but I know that's not what this beer is about. While I don't love the flavour or smell, there is something about the impression this beer leaves in its aftertaste and balance that leaves me thinking it's alright. I didn't love it, but it's a good beer one could have a few of in one sitting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Garrison Comes to PEI

The good news from Nova Scotia today is that Garrison is shipping a couple of their brews over to PEI, to actually - get this - be available in our liquor stores! Tall Ship Amber has been available on PEI in draft form previously, but nothing from Garrison (or Nova Scotia from that matter... I mean, it is so far away, right?) has ever been available in bottled form. Better than that is that their Hop Yard Pale Ale is coming, too. While it's a bit of a lightweight in terms of bitterness and hoppiness (compared to the stronger IPA style at least), I think it's instantly the hoppiest (and probably just about the best) beer available to Islanders. Good news all-round. Hopefully this opens up the beer gates to PEI a bit more.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 2011 Beer Trade / Haul

This month saw the completion of my first true beer trade, and I must say it was quite fruitful.

A fellow BA member, Anthony (ajcormier) contacted me about beer on PEI and whether or not we could do a US-Canada beer trade. Luckily, I was going to be in Halifax between then and the trade (since there's nothing really to trade with from here). After a couple / few months, I finally got to meet Anthony and his Mrs. (a great couple), and trade the stash of beer I had in my cellar. What you see in the pic is what I got, and what you can expect to see here eventually (three have already been imbibed and two have already been reviewed):

Cisco Brewers Inc. - Grey Lady
White Birch Brewing - Indulgence Ale (Bottle Count 840, Batch One)
Lagunitas Brewing Company - Lucky 13.alt, Hop Stoopid

Berkshire Brewing Company - Lost Sailor IPA, Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale
Moat Mountain Brewing Company - Imperial Stout (Bottle #796, Brew #1162), Barley Wine Style Ale (Bottle #91, Brew#1233)

Allagash Brewing Company - Black Belgian Style Stout (Batch 30)
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - Namaste
Maine Beer Company - Lunch
Green Flash Brewing Company - Grand Cru

Long Trail Brewing Company - Double Bag
Smuttynose Brewing Company - Maibock (Big Beer Series)
Smuttynose Brewing Company - Big A IPA
Smuttynose Brewing Company - Winter Ale
ajcormier's Espresso Brown Ale

Portsmouth Brewery - La Chat Noir
Portsmouth Brewery - Thaizenheimer
Portsmouth Brewery - J.O.S. (Jurgen's Oatmeal Stout)
Portsmouth Brewery - GOSE

Shipyard Brewing Company - Pugsley's Signature Series Imperial Porter
Shipyard Brewing Company - Blue Fin Stout
Firestone Walker Brewing Company - Proprietors Reserve Series Porter
Firestone Walker Brewing Company - Proprietors Reserve Series Double Jack

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Firestone Walker Brewing Company's Double Jack

This brew is my first from California's Firestone Walker Brewing Company. I'm thinking starting with a double / imperial IPA is a great introduction.

It pours a somewhat pale and crystal-clear orange - think orange Jell-O or pale apricot. The head is tall, just off-white, and slightly creamy. It leaves rings and spots of lacing as it lowers.

The aroma is bright and crisp: tangerine, flowers, grapefruit, a bit of honey and malt. Great. I'd say bottle it up, but that's already been done.

The flavour, initially, comes across as a little hot / alcoholic, unfortunately - but, thankfully, that gets increasingly less with each sip... this beer gets better and better as it warms up and goes on. As the malt notes increase with warmth, they mask the heat. I was thinking this would miss the mark a bit, but it's hitting the right spot right about now, one third of the way through. It's bitter, citrus-y (mostly grapefruit), piney, a little sweet & rounded from the malt... this is a nice beer that becomes more balanced as it goes. That being said, the alcohol seems to come out a bit in the last third again.

In terms of how it feels in the mouth, there is a bit of burn / heat from the alcohol (9.5%), but that's pretty minimal overall. It's a little resinous and sticky, and also a little light considering how "big" this beer is. The finish is a little sweet, but mostly tingling bitterness.

Unlike my wife, who, after one sip, said, "It was like I took a bite of the rind of a grapefruit soaked in alcohol," I quite enjoyed this one. Being a bitter, strong, double IPA, it's not everyone's (read: IPA-inexperienced people) cup of tea... er, glass of beer. But, for the converted, this is a nice, big beer. As a parting thought, I'd be curious as to how this would taste and feel if it was less filtered.

PS - the burps taste so good. If you're an IPA fan / hop-head, you'll understand.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Maine Beer Company's Lunch

Named after a feisty New England fin whale (not the mid-day meal), I'm drinking this Maine Beer Company brew fresh thanks to fellow BA member and new friend in beer, ajcormier.

The head on this is massive! At first pour, it came out nearly 80% head or something ridonculous like that. It's an off-white colour, fairly dense, and creamy. As it starts to lower, larger bubbles start to form in the middle, while the perimeter actually goes down ahead of it. It takes several minutes for it to lower to the surface of the beer, and it leaves some thick, sticky lacing on the glass. The beer itself is nice & clear ('til the sediment gets stirred up), and is of a dark copper colour.

There is something about IPA's that just intoxicates me, and it really starts with (and is probably mostly based on) the smell. This one smells pretty fantastic... it's alllll hops. Pine. Grapefruit. Orange. I could just sit here, smell it, never sip it, and be totally happy (well, almost).

Taste-wise, it's a bit lighter than the smell. That's what really makes this one a beaut, though - it's an easy-drinking (though strong-smelling), approachable IPA that just begs to be imbibed in large amounts... and allows you to do so because it's so well-balanced and doesn't smack you across the face with bitterness or anything else (not that that's a bad thing, necessarily). There's something about the bitterness or 7% alcohol , though that gives at least the idea that it's a little hot / high in alcohol. No big deal, though. There's a nice malt backbone to this, too, but who are we kidding... nobody drinks IPA's for the malt notes.

In terms of how it feels, there is the aforementioned mid-range bitterness, and maybe a bit of alcohol kick. It's not overly resinous or slick, but it does have a smooth, medium body. The finish is the bitter pith notes, and is eventually a bit dry.

Overall, a great IPA - so glad I got to have it and have it fresh. I may have to hit that Maine Beer Trail soon!