Sunday, February 27, 2011

BrewDog 5 A.M. Saint


Even though this is labeled as an amber ale (iconoclastic at that), this beer poured darker than I thought, and had more head than I expected. The head is huge, and slow to fall. As it does, the top keeps a creamy, cloud-like form with dimples and valleys. The lacing is solid.

The aroma is stronger than I expected. It has a very strong hop profile (no wonder Nash / The Hart and Thistle used this in their Brewmaster's dinner a week or so ago). What scents are in the hops are a little different... it has the same brightness as grapefruit, but not the same smell. It's more like an orange peel. Actually, I've got it - it's more floral than fruity, really. The aroma has the "feel" of a tulip and a rose-like scent mixed in with some fruity undertones.

The taste doesn't quite live up to the hype of the aroma. It is a bit "unripe" like the home brew I made this past fall. It does get better as you get used to it, though. In the taste are flavours of perhaps lychee, flowers, a touch of pineapple and bitter citrus peel.

The body of the beer is medium. The bitterness makes it feel like it has a bit of a dry finish, but it's actually a bit more slick and sticky than dry. Overall, the mouthfeel is fine.

All-in-all, pretty good! I'd have another one of these again.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dominus Vobiscum Triple


This one has been in my basement for about a month, and I've been waiting to try it. Wait no more!

It pours a lively, bubbly, clear, golden colour. The head is pretty good on it at first, and lowers to a few millimeters within a short time. The active bubbles maintain that height, though. The lacing is spotty, but also so heavy that it keeps falling down after you have a sip.

In the aroma is spice, yeast, and fruit - mostly
apple (maybe some hints of mango or banana if you're looking for them).

The taste... reminds me of a couple of Unibroue beers I have had... almost a cross between La Fin du Monde (same style) and Blanche de Chambly (a witbier). This style, the triple, used to be low on my scale of styles, but I have warmed up to it more and more (perhaps that's just the 9% abv). This triple tastes of some dough & yeast, and the fruity notes as mentioned above. Traces of spice are more hidden than in the smell. The alcohol is completely hidden.

The body is almost a little heavy for the flavour... let me rephrase that. It's heavier than you think it might be. It is very smooth, with a creamy feel and finish. From the appearance, you would expect it to be light and fresh, but it's very mellow and slick. The carbonation is just right - you get a tingle on the way in, and once it's down, everything just feels smooth (not to mention how your cheeks start to warm up).

This is a very good an excellent beer. It grew on me more and more as I drank it. It is expertly balanced, tasty, and with a hidden abv of 9%, somewhat dangerous! That La Trappe in my basement may not last very long after all...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Propeller Revolution Russian Imperial Stout


The night I wrote up this review, the windchill was about -33 degrees Celsius. Naturally, I thought, "Tonight'd be a good night to try a gut-warming 8% RIS."

This beer pours about as black as an 8-ball. There isn't much head to it - a finger's worth at the top, after a hard pour. It's a small-bubbled creamy brown. It doesn't stay that tall for very long.

When I first smell from the bottle, a bit of hops aroma comes out. Once in the glass, you can smell some chocolate (with some dark cherry notes... possibly from the alcohol), roasted coffee, and some oats.

The flavour is mostly chocolate... like a dark chocolate mousse with a roasted coffee finish that has the bitterness of a mild IPA. Rather nice. Quite nice, in fact, that the 8% is hidden well, and that there's nothing in it so sharp or sweet as to make it difficult to drink. You could down a bunch of this right before you go down (unexpectedly to you) on the floor.

This one feels pretty good, actually... the bitterness is mild enough that it doesn't overpower the aftertaste of coffee... it calls you back for more, rather than making you think about taking a smaller sip the next time. It might be a little light body-wise, but that's part of what helps to make it so drinkable. It's more than medium in body, and the finish is just a bit sticky.

Overall, I was really pleased with this one. I was braced for a sipper, maybe something that would be unbalanced... what I got was a well-balanced RIS. A little light, but tasty, and easy to drink.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Garrison Spruce Beer


"I think Christmas trees are meant to be smelled and not tasted." - My wife

The colour of this old-style Garrison Spruce Beer is a dark, chestnut brown with a reddish tint. It pours with an off-white head that is about 1.5 - 2 fingers high. It ends up being a thin ring of smooth, fine-bubbled head with no lacing that sticks.

The aroma of this is of spruce and fir needles, as well as wet wood/branches... you know that smell when you pull a Christmas tree out of its stand? That's it. There is also some strong molasses / malt aromas - even something like gingerbread (which is probably just an offshoot of the molasses). There is also somewhat of an earthy, "roasted sap" quality to it.

The taste? It tastes like I ate a liquefied Christmas tree. Memories of cough syrup surface. Just take the above aroma descriptors, liquefy it, and drink it... in the woods. That's what it tastes like. Like drinkable, spruce-flavoured, medicinal beer. It is, as something meant to be easily enjoyed, much too strong. It is authentic, though, I bet, and very memorable... just not easily enjoyable. This one must be done in sips.

The carbonation is nice... bright, but not aggressive. The mouthfeel is somewhere on the light side of medium, with a bit of a slick finish. It's not very bitter at all... more sweet.

If Garrison does one of these every year, one a year would be good, but no more. It's a unique, memorable, seasonal sipper, but it wouldn't be something I'd want any other time of year. Big thanks to Chris for finding me this one (since it sold out within two days). He said drinking it was like kissing a Christmas tree - I just didn't expect it to be a French kiss.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale


This ale is a little paler than other Lagunitas beers I have had. It is a slightly cloudy yellow with an orange tint. There is very little head. Before I even start to drink it, there is just a film of some creamy bubbles left.

There is a nice, hoppy smell to it; peach orange, and a bit of pineapple. A bit of yeast and dough.

There is something creamy about the flavour... almost like a peach yogurt quality, or something close to a saison / farmhouse ale or, perhaps, a Belgian white ale / triple. I also wonder if I'm picking up a bit of banana and spice in it.

The finish is slightly bitter and sticky. The body is on the lighter side of medium. The carbonation is good. The tingle of it lingers at the back of the throat. It also feels a bit like some saisons or hefeweizens I have had.

Overall? Good. It pales a bit in comparison to some of Lagunitas' other similar offerings, though.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gahan House - Black IPA


A couple of weeks ago, fellow BeerAdvocate and BrewNosers member Chris was over on the Island for some work. I wish there were more options for new beer when he comes (or any time for that matter), but, oh well... maybe in time another one or two will sprout. Hopefully this blog can help with that...

At any rate, we went to the Gahan House, as it's the best place on PEI for a variety of craft beers. The quality varies between flavours / beers, but they do have some good stuff. News to me (due to the Island/Canadian tradition of ignoring things at your own back door) was the fact that the Gahan does seasonal brews. Awesome. Not so awesome was back in December when their "seasonal" was what was left from the summer.

When Chris and I went this time, they had a Black IPA. I was pretty stoked when our bartender (labelled as a hobbit by a patron on a previous visit) said this. I had just had Garrison's, plus the INK'D at the Hart and Thistle, and loved them both. I was ready.

Longer story short, I was not impressed. The two glasses of Black IPA that Chris and I first got smelled and tasted completely different (first pours of the day, at around 8 or 9). It was either a dry-hopped version of their dark ale or stout, we thought. It didn't smell hoppy enough to be a blend of their 1772 IPA and one of their dark beers. In short, I did not like it, and it even made me feel a little cruddy the next morning, I think. The smell was very much like bubble gum (at least mine was), and the finish was akin to chalk. I would try it again, just in hopes that it was a couple of bad examples, but my hopes won't be too high.

Still... keep it up, Gahan. I'm glad you're mixing things up a bit!

Visit #2000

At 12:29 this afternoon, someone in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia became my 2000th blog visitor. They got here through a search for "garrison" on BrewNoseres.org, landing on my site from my post on Garrison releasing three beers in three days last week.

Thanks, whoever you are!

For some reason, the blog is getting a ridiculous (relative to what I usually get) amount of hits in the last few hours from Facebook. I wonder why... I only just started to set up an incomplete page there. I wonder if one of the new blog groups I joined linked me or something... let me know if that's how you got here and you don't know me. Cheers!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Propeller London Style Porter


The porter style of beer was created in London around 1700, and is considered the world's first industrialized beer (hence the name). I first had this beer a while ago, but I decided it was time to revisit it for a new review & pic.

After an aggressive pour, the head is decent, albeit short-lived. It leaves next to no lacing on the way down. The beer is a very dark brown, with chestnut highlights around the edges.

It has a strong aroma - dark coffee, dark chocolate... it's a rich, roasted, and slightly sweet smell.

It tastes like a beer that has a higher alcohol content than 5%. There are traits about it that almost remind me of a stout or milk stout... sweetness, bitterness, almost a fruity tart quality.

The BJCP and World Beer Cup divide porters into two categories: "robust" and "medium". This would definitely be in the latter. For how it tastes and smells, I expect something with more body to it. The mouthfeel on this is fine, but thinner than I think it should be... or wanted it to be, I suppose. On the plus side, that makes it fairly sessionable.

Overall, a pretty good beer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Garrison - Three Beers in Three Days


As a sort-of lead in to the Canada Games in Halifax, Garrison Brewing Co. just finished releasing three beers in three days. Up for grabs are:
  • Pils - a premium European lager that draws inspiration from several classic styles by blending Czech Saaz hops, German lager yeast and Bluenose spirit!
  • Ol' Fog Burner - their biggest beer yet at 11.3% alc/vol, this barley wine is tawny copper in colour with a sweet spiciness and mellow aromas of fruit and toffee (last year's was great!)
  • Ol' Fog Burner (Barrel-Aged) - A limited release of 500 (individually-numbered) bottles of 2010 Ol’ Fog Burner that was aged 11 months in oak barrels from Cape Breton's Glenora Distillery. Vanilla, caramel and whiskey notes offer a true taste of the Highlands. A premium product at a bit of a premium price - $12.99 per bottle.
Above is a collage of images from Garrison's FaceBook site, showcasing the three beers, plus two eager gents (one of whom was buying me my bottles!) who arrived there early this morning to get their hands on the aged Fog Burner. I can't wait to get my hands (and lips, tongue, and liver) on all three - too bad I have to wait until I'm in Halifax in March!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gavroche


This strong ale is darker than I thought it would be. I expected something pale, golden, and clear. What I got was something the colour of an average IPA - deep, orange/amber with some brown. There was lots of tall, creamy head, requiring me to pour it in stages. The head had great retention. It was there for the whole glass, and left some large patches of lacing.

The smell, initially, is of yeast, alcohol, and fruits like apple and peach. As it warms up, it releases smells of dates, liqueurs, and must. It started reminding me of Rochefort 10.

The taste is of yeast and the aforementioned fruits, as well as raisin. There's also a bit of something like... wet dog? At least the dog wasn't a very distasteful one. The aftertaste is slight.

Carbonation is crisp and a bit interesting... the tingle of it is at the leading edge of each sip. You can feel it move like a wave through the whole motion / action, from tongue tip to throat. The finish is slightly dry.

It was a pretty nice beer, with the smell being better than the taste. I may get another someday, but it didn't make a really memorable connection with me... other than the glass and how good it looked in it!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Red Racer ESB


You know... well, you probably don't... this is the second Red Racer / Central City Brewing Company beer I've ever had. Their first, the IPA, is probably about the highest I've rated any beer... it's definitely an all-time favourite at the very least. So... this ESB has an awful lot to live up to.

First off, it looks fantastic. A slightly cloudy, deep amber with some reddish tint to it. The off-white / cream-coloured head is massive. It forms fast and tall. As it starts to lower, large bubbles / pockets form in it, and the top of it stays firm and creamy, almost like a light meringue or beaten egg whites. Sticky lacing follows it down.

The smell? I don't like to rave, but... Oh. Mah. Gaw. It's awesome. Just my kind of aroma. The hops are strong with this one... it reminds me of the IPA. Citrus, like grapefruit and mandarin orange, lay over top of a pine scent - very bright and fresh. There's a nice, slight malt sweetness to it, too, which helps to round it out... a bit of caramel, I suppose.

The taste? Whoa... that's a little different. It doesn't seem to match the scent a lot. The first sip is very... sweet, and a bit sour. It's almost like a fruit punch, in a sense... with a bit of citrus in it, and something sweet... like a caramel syrup. It throws me off a bit. Let me eat some crackers and see if that balances things out a bit... (eats crackers, tries again). A bit, but it's still different than what I expected. I expected something maltier and smoother, like the Vache Folle ESB I had recently. This one is much fruitier and less mellow. Must be the West Coast interpretation of an ESB - an ESHB (Extra Special or Sour Hoppy Bitter). There is some malt in there (more as it warms up a bit), but I find the hoppiness and especially the sour slant seem to mask it almost entirely. It's still OK, but I'd rather see it be smoothed / evened out a bit.

It's a little prickly in its carbonation. Not aggressive, but some might find it a bit sharp, especially at first. The body is medium and the overall mouthfeel OK. The finish is fairly well-balanced... a bit dry, a bit wet, a little bitter. The sourness still lingers for me, though.

Overall, the beer's good. As an ESB, I expected certain elements. Then I smelled it and expected others. Then I tasted it and got completely thrown off... the taste didn't totally match either set of expectations. Next time, I'll be ready for this one. As it stands now, I wasn't completely won over. That sour element to it, compared to my expectations, really distracted my enjoyment. It got better as the glass went on, though, so I could see this being better if you had two or three, at a bit of a warmer starting temperature.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

La Vache Folle ESB


I broke the rules printed on the back of the label and poured this into the glass you see instead of an English tulip pint or weissbier "vase" as pictured. It's rebellious but leaves me looking pretentious and snobby to some. So... it all balances out. Besides... this is just about the best type of glass to drink a beer from.

This Extra Special Bitter is my second beer from the Microbrasserie Charlevoix in Quebec. It's a cloudy, rich copper. There was all kinds of head with a bit of creaminess that lowered slowly, leaving just a bubbly skim on top. There were only odd spots of lacing.

The aroma has distinct, flowery hops (like a really muted rose variety or clover nectar). Not so much powerful (as advertised) as obvious. It blends well with the smooth, sweet undertone of caramel.

In the flavour is a bit of sweetness... slight, like a caramel wafer, not like the pure liquid or toffee. The bitterness lingers and brings to mind orange peel.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty great beer. It has the brightness and qualities of an IPA in subtle form, blended with the nice, smooth sweetness of a bitter ale. It's well-balanced, just the way an ESB should be.