Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dupont's Avec Les Bons Voeux

For some reason, I thought this one was going to be a bit darker than it is. It's a mid-to-deep gold with some slight haze, and a pristine-white head.

In the aroma is a bit of spice, some apple, bread, hay, and a bit of yeastiness.

The flavour is a bit lager-ish, actually, especially in the burps / aftertaste. There is some grass / bitterness from the hops. There's also some honey, and pale fruit juice - like a blend of fruit salad juices... pear, apple, grape, maybe pineapple.

There's a bit of heat / warmth after the fact - great for Christmas. There's a sharp carbonation feel, but how it feels when it fades away gradually is actually quite nice. There's also an airiness about it that would put you in mind of a Belgian IPA.

Very nice. This one went great with some fancy shmancy salami and local aged white cheddar.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

De Dolle Stille Nacht

Other than the sediment at the end of the pour, this one is a clear, deep amber / orange, with about one finger of head. Constant bubbling maintains a 2-3mm white head throughout.

In the nose is sweet caramel up front. There's something interestingly flowery and fruity about it. Do I smell lychee? It smells strong without coming off as alcoholic. There's some slight banana as it warms.

There are flavours of... fruit, both light and dark... like "dark citrus". It's slightly pithy and bitter with dark fruit. I like its depth and intrigue. Caramel's in there, too.

Feel-wise, it's a bit hot (it is 12% ABV). It's nicely warming, though. Good for Christmas - excellently warming and buzzy without being astringent or too "burny". Thhe body is light-medium, with a slick finish, as if it was thicker than it is, if that makes sense.

This one's a winner. Over one year old, it's very nice. I'd get it again anytime.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Struise Tjeeses

This one pours with a clear, deep orange-brown colour. Doesn't look too much like a blond ale as the label says. There's a low creamy head. The label on this is also changed for North America. Originally, the label has the face with some smoke coming out of the nostrils and some pretty bugged-out intoxicated eyes.

In the aroma - noble hops. Almost a fruitiness like raspberries or strawberries as it warms. The malty sweetness is there foremost, though - almost toffee-like.

Looks aside, it tastes like a blond, but maltier, if that makes sense. There is some caramel in there that almost borders on molasses... there's something sneakily dark about it. There's some spice (allspice?), a bit of berry, and those noble hops.

Feel-wise, it's on the light side of medium, with a slick finish. There's a bit of airiness to it from the alcohol and the bitterness. It has tingly carbonation, but not overly so.

Nice stuff!

As an aside, I like the story of how the beer got its name...
Strong blond winterbeer with fluffy white head which has been lagered for 8 months on different stonefruits. Tsjeeses was born out of a 5 year brew experience regarding x-mas beer without being capable of finding a suitable name up to now. With the name came a face, a caricature actually, that was drawn on the day Urbain, our brew master and master brewer, drank too many Tsjeeses’s. Every time he drinks one, he says "Tsjeeses, what a beer". Therefore the name is more an expression of stupefaction than a curse.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Anchor - Our Special Ale 2012 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

At last - I've been waiting to have one of these for ages.

This brew pours a clear, dark brown, with a couple fingers' worth of head that leave a few spot of suds on the way down.

The aroma is... almost lavender oil or some sort of soap scent. Fir sap? Some slight roasted notes, and cranberries. A bit mysterious, complex, and perplexing.

The flavour is like a woody porter - a bit minty and fir or spruce-like as well. Sap, a bit of chocolate, a bit herbal. I also wonder if they perhaps used basil or if it's the hops at play.

It's got a medium body, a slick finish, and might be a bit high in the carbonation department.

It's memorable, for sure. Different, but very nice.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

La Rulles Cuvée Meilleurs Voeux

This brew has a couple of fingers of creamy white head with solid lacing that has a few irregular lumps. The beer's a mostly clear reddish-brown copper.

The aroma is subtle - a bit like a watered-down barley wine... sweet, with toffee notes and a subtle nuttiness.

The first time I had this a couple of weeks ago at our Christmas Aleanders extravaganza, it came off as watery / bland. Mind you, we had it near the end of our eve, and our palates were getting tired. On its own, it is more flavourful, but is perhaps a more subtle brew than you may expect. It has a light flavour of dark fruits, some toffee/caramel sweetness, a subtle roasted / coffee aspect, and some nuttiness.

It has a bit of a dry finish, a fairly light body, and a bit of a slick/thick feel.

Overall, actually pretty good - much better than the other bottle, which wasn't a fair comparison anyway.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Seventh Beer of Christmas

Again... a cop out tonight! I'm just too bushed and busy tonight to type out notes or drink something new. Although, you could get some previews of a few others on my Untappd account. But I digress. My seventh beer of Christmas is Smuttynose's Winter Ale.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Sixth Beer of Christmas

I'm going to cheat a little bit tonight. For the halfway mark of this endeavour, I submit to you a brew I had (and reviewed) last Christmas - the über-Christmasy Santa's Private Reserve from Rogue.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Granville Island Lions Winter Ale

The first few times I had this beer, I had it right from the bottle. I imagined being darker than it was. It's actually a very clear chestnut/rosy brown, with a wee little white head on top that leaves some pretty solid lacing.

In the aroma are vanilla, chocolate, and hazelnuts.

Flavour-wise, at first, cream soda comes to mind. This one's rather big in the vanilla department. There's some light spicing in there, too, light roasted notes, and chocolate. It's also a bit nutty - it reminds me of Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar in some ways.

For a warmer (a rather weak one, at that - 5.5%), this brew comes off a bit thin, with carbonation that might be a bit strong. That being said, though, I think, without that level of carbonation, this beer wouldn't be nearly as drinkable. It'd come off... well... flat. The finish is clean.

The first couple of times I tried this, I thought it was interesting, in that it was memorable - it didn't win me over, though. However, not too long into a sixer (which is available on PEI now), I started coming around. This isn't a bad little beer.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Abbaye des Rocs Spéciale Noël

A "pfft!" with instant fizz in the bottle occurred as this one had its crown pried off. Oddly, all of the sediment that had settled nicely out started rising, falling, and churning about inside, in chunks large and small... like some kind of yeasty snow globe for a beeraholic. It has a clear, deep red-orange hue, with a modest head, and lots of carbonation in the glass.

In the nose is a bit of toffee, some sweet/dark fruits, and almost a bit of a sea salt / sea air vibe.

The flavour was roastier than I thought it'd be, especially in the finish. Kind of like coffee and nuts. The main part of each sip, though, says this is a bit lacklustre or past its prime, even though its best before date is next summer. With some warmth, it got a bit better, showing off some sugary sweetness and a bit of orange peel.

Perhaps overcarbonated, it also feels a bit thin - and airy from the bitterness / alcohol.

Overall, this is fair to OK, but underwhelming (if that's a word... actually, I know it's not 'cause I looked it up - it's one of those skills that I learned in my school). Also, by the end of the last glass, that glut of unavoidable fatty-looking yeast blobs detracts from the experience a bit.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Garrison Spruce Beer

Today, for the Third Beer of Christmas, I will cheat a bit. This morning was the release of Garrison's third edition of their spruce beer. There was a lineup this morning, as usual (but probably not as much as the last two years - just my guess... and hopefully they weren't limiting buyers like last year, too).

Since I doubt I will have this year's version, I give you reviews and pics for the two versions from the last two years:

Garrison Spruce Beer 2010

Garrison Spruce Beer 2011

Thursday, December 13, 2012

N'Ice Chouffe

For my second beer of Christmas, I give you N'Ice Chouffe. I had this one on Christmas Eve with my pops (and I saved one that I still haven't opened yet).

This brew pours a dark orange-brown... it's a bit "chestnutty". It's got a nice creamy head that's tan/orange in colour. It sticks around and provides some solid lacing, while leaving a yeasty little island on top of the brew.

In the nose is grass, barley, hops... the funk's light, and so is some light coffee. Hops come out more as it warms, as well as some curacao.

Flavour - almost a bit like a barleywine. It's sweet, earthy, and the bitterness from the hops is kind of tingly / numbing. The 10% ABV probably provides some of that, too. It's sticky in its finish, and smooth, with a medium body.

This was not a revelatory brew, but it was very nice nonetheless. What a great beverage to share with family on Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Delirium Christmas / Noël

I've been wanting to do a series on Christmas beers for a while now. Unfortunately, last year, I didn't get my order of them quite in time. I got a few suitable ones, but not enough to do a "12 Beers of Christmas" series. For the record, the 12 days of Christmas don't actually start until Christmas. I didn't feel like posting Christmas beers in January, though, so I thought I'd do the 12 days leading up to it - a series of time-to-release posts to get you into the Christmas / winter brew spirit.

This shall be beer #1 - nothing says Christmas like a pink elephant on a sled.

This brew is a medium-dark orangey/ruby brown. It has a modest head that leaves a ring and a skim of suds. It's mostly clear, save for the clouding any sediment does.

It's got a nice aroma - fruitiness like raisin / date, fruitcake aromas, with some orange / citrus in there, too... maybe even a bit of coffee... also a hint of candi sugar / syrupy sweetness. My first first impression was that it was really nice, but not mind-blowing. The more it went on, though, it got really tasty. There's a nice finish to it... the start of each sip's strong, fades, then kicks in again. I don't know what it's like fresh, but this bottle with more than a year of age on it is great.

The carbonation is fairly high, but it's within acceptable limits. The body is rather thin, really... not bad, but, when you think about it, it feels lighter than its other traits would lead you to believe.

So... overall, quite good. Better than I thought it may be, and a great way to kick off some Christmas brews.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gahan Sydney Street Stout

I like it. Gahan / PEI Brewing Company finally does a limited release / one-off of sorts. It's not too crazy of a  release, as this brew's been around at the pub for ages, but this is the first time they have bottled it. It had been a long time since I'd had this without being mixed or changed in some way, so my mind was fresh and unplagued by any prior opinions. I first had it a couple of weeks ago, and, when my wife called me from the liquor store yesterday (yes, she's that good), I asked her to pick me up another one. That should tell you something. On to my thoughts!

This thing has tons of brown head (you may need to wait for it to settle to get the whole bottle in, depending on how you pour), and the brew itself is a very dark brown. Inviting.

In the aroma is a lot of coffee, and only a bit of chocolate.

Flavour-wise, the coffee bean flavour is strongest here as well, with some more chocolate, and something that just borders on licorice / anise. There is also a note of molassess or dark, rye bread in there.

Slightly chalky in its feel, it is smooth overall. It's light enough to make it very drinkable, while maintaining the full body that a stout such as this should have. Its finish is somewhat dry and bitter.

I've got to hand it to Gahan/PEIBrewCo on this one. It's very nice and just about bang on in every area. It may even be their best bottled offering to date. Kudos, gents.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What's Goin' On?

A lot, really. There's the Aleanders rum-barrel projects for one - more on that some other day.

I just thought I'd make a quick note about a few new things at the PEILCC:

  • Gahan / PEI Brewing Co. has bottled their Sydney Street Stout for the first time, and are selling it as a "limited release" kind of deal. It's pricier than their regular offerings - $4.25 vs. $3.60. I'll tell you later if it's worth it.
  • Remember the Beer Festival in September? Well, a couple of exhibitors had some extra beer, and one of them is finally getting sold: Quidi Vidi's Iceberg beer. Thank god this thing's novel and in a cool blue bottle, because at $3.95 for a rather average beer, it'd be sitting on the shelves forever. 
  • Granville Island continues its sneaky infiltration... its fourth offering on the Island has hit the shelves: Lions Winter Ale - if I remember correctly... I had one last December and it reminded me of cream soda. It wasn't what I expected, but I still kind of liked it. More on that one some other day, too.
  • And, oh yeah - in a regular "wow, we missed the right time for that one" kind of release, Sam Adams' Summer Ale is now available, too. Sheesh. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Beau's Lug Tread Lagered Ale

Finally... I get to try a beer from Beau's All Natural Brewing Company in Ontario. I have wanted to try one of their offerings for years, and, fittingly, I'm doing it with their flagship... er, flagtractor... beer. First off, I love shape and design of the 600 mL bottle as well as the artwork.

Lug Tread is a Kölsch, and an interesting beer in that it is an ale that goes through a lagering process - so, it should have some traits of both a lager and an ale.

It's a clear, golden, pale ale, with a minimal, pure-white head that stays around at least a little bit from all the active bubbles below. Some webby lacing appears.

It has a grassy hops smell, as well as aromas of grain (heavy on the grain, really - reminds me of a cattle barn, a bit), and just the faintest of citrus notes.

That citrus seems to cut come through, keeping things crisp, clear, and clean in the flavour. There is a bit of hop-generated fruitiness in the burps as well. It almost borders on some rice flavours, but, thankfully, it never crosses that border. The finish is clean, slightly dry and bitter, and has a long, light, but very present malty finish. It's also slightly woody - that grassiness borders on woody, at least, in aroma and in aftertaste. It suits the character of the brew, I think. It's got a light mouthfeel (on the high end there) with mild carbonation.

Overall, I liked this brew quite a bit. Even on this chilly night it's good, but I can imagine it's even better on a hot summer day, especially out there in the fields with those lug tread tracks.

PS - if anyone wants to send me this, feel free!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Second Annual PEI Beer Fest

I make a point of calling this the second annual beer fest here, because it is. The first one was last year. This can be confusing, since the Murphy / PEI Brewing Company group are convinced that they're throwing the first one ever in less than two weeks. Maybe the new Beach Chair delivery vehicle is a DeLorean. I dunno. Anyway, if you've heard about both, and you're confused, don't feel bad. A few folks thought the first one this month wouldn't happen and did their darnedest to make sure it didn't... but it did.

How did it all go down? What were my thoughts? Well, last year, I left a few thoughts on how it could be improved this year. I had also talked with some of the organizers since, and was very pleased to see that nearly everything that was identified as an area for improvement last year was, indeed, improved. What could still be worked on is the amount / variety of beer (see the first paragraph for some ideas there), but that's about it. Everything else was much better this year - a better venue, souvenir tasting mugs, buckets to dump poor brews or rinse water out, water you could hydrate with... it goes on. I did hear a couple of people grumble about price (OK, I think it was three). It was a little pricier than last year, but it was an improved event, so maybe that's OK.

What about the beer and such? What was good? How'd it go? Well, my personal thoughts are:

  • very pleased to see À l'abri de la Tempête there, and that they brought four tasty varieties along. They were, in the Aleanders' opinion, the overall best brewery of the festival. I had recently tried seven of their varieties at home, and was glad to get to try more. I love their use of local ingredients and the distinct character their beers have. 
  • glad to see Quidi Vidi in attendance. Their 1892 had a little something that was pretty good in it, and the Iceberg beer comes in great-lookin' bottles. They don't wow, but I was glad to see NL represented.
  • I was glad to try the St. Ambroise IPA that I can never find here (a little hoppier - gladly - than I expected... I was expecting an all-English IPA). Their mustards were also delicious, and at the beginning of the night, were in the running for "best in show". I also convinced a certain Guinness fan to try their Oatmeal Stout, and they weren't disappointed.
  • It was nice to taste some brews that I hadn't in a while, like Affligem's Blonde. 
  • The two brews made by Nash at Halifax's Rockbottom were great. His Fathom IPA was chosen by the Aleanders as the best overall beer of the festival. Too bad I heard they ran out before the end of Friday's session.

I have a few good ideas for next year's fest, but I think I'll just communicate them to the organizers themselves. My main hopes for next year:
  • if there are going to be two beer fests on PEI, for frig's sake, don't put them in the same month
  • I hope the Murphy folks decide to join in the fun a little more, rather than trying to just take it over
Picking the best beers is a hard task, but... The Aleanders can handle it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

PEI Beer Festival Promo

The best before dates on the milk say September now, which pretty much sounds the death knell of summer. On the positive side of things, the second annual PEI Beer Festival is getting closer - taking place at the Delta on September 6th and 7th. To help get you psyched, I have a limited-time promo offer for you - simply go the website and enter the code DRINKBEER when you buy your tickets online. You will receive 20% off! Hurry, though, because the code expires tomorrow!

While you're at the site, be sure to check out info on the 40+ beers from around the world, patio parties, live entertainment, etc. If you were there last year, you may note that there are a couple of missing participants (Garrison, Picaroons, and Barnone). To help make up for this (especially on the Barnone front - forgive them... they're nearing the finish line of completing their on-farm brewery), a few new participants have been added, namely Rockbottom Brewpub from Halifax, Quidi Vidi from Newfoundland, and Á L’abri de la Tempête from the Magdalen Islands. Not to talk a couple of them up too much, but Greg Nash at Rockbottom is a bit of a hop genius (watch out for his Fathom IPA!), and I tried seven different brews from Á L’abri de la Tempête this summer. They're all good, but their Corps Mort is one of the most unique and possibly best brews I have ever had. I look forward to having a few more samples so I can save my last bottle a little longer! I'm also eager to try Quidi Vidi's stuff, as I never have before, and travel to The Rock ain't exactly cheap.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


In case you didn't know, tomorrow is IPA Day around the globe. Wherever you may be, maybe you'd like to join in by just having a nice IPA at home, or, if you're lucky enough, at your local pub.

Well, I am glad to say that our local Gahan House is taking part. They plan to have six variations of the style on tap at the pub tomorrow (starting at 7:00), and you can try all six for $7. Plus, you can fill out your comments / notes on each on a card, to see what the best beers of the night were. Your card could also win you a 19L keg of Gahan's own 1772 IPA some PEI Brewing Company swag at the end of the night.

I know where I'll be tomorrow - how 'bout you?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale

This one pours a pale orange colour, nearly the equivalent of that on the label - maybe a little more golden. There us a good deal of active carbonation in the glass, and the head is just off-white, creamy, and sticks around longer than some door-to-door religious types. Solid, streaky, ringy lacing.

The smell's great - what's in there... Galaxy hops? It's tropical. No, it's a mix of Cascade, Centennial, and Northern Brewer (I looked it up). I think it's the N.B.'s bitterness that mixed with the citrus etc. of the others that was making me think Galaxy. Pineapple, mango, maybe a bit of lychee, and maybe a bit of alcohol.

With the first few sips, the taste doesn't quite match the promise of the aroma. It's much more muted, coupled with a feel that sits on the border between bitter and alcohol burn (odd, at only 6%, but that's how this is coming off). After a few sips, it starts to come out of its shell a bit more - the feel stays the same, but its flavours strengthen a bit. Yep. This one ends up being just fine - quite nice indeed. Pretty well-rounded with bright fruit notes and enough a malt backbone to carry them.

This one feels much stronger than its 6% label would suggest. It's bitter and a bit slick / resinous (while drinking, and in the finish both), and the bitterness at play gives it that aforementioned feeling or suggestion of alcoholic heat. The carbonation's fairly gentle behind all that hoppiness.

Overall, I'd like to see this one leveled out a bit more. I don't mind the bitterness at all, but it seems to out-compete some of the other traits. Still, this is a really good beer. I'd pick it up as part of a regular rotation if I had the chance. I am savouring the burps at this very moment. Beer (hoppy, especially) must honestly be the most enjoyable food (and it is food) post-eating / drinking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

American Vintage Hard Iced Tea

Every now and then, I get sent something that isn't beer but interests me enough to give it a whirl. When I received some info in this product, I thought... "Enhh... I'll read the promo stuff, though, anyway." When I did, I read that the tea was made from "tea leaves that have been cold steeped in a neutral malt base for three days... and dry hops at the end." My interest was won, and I decided to try it out. I couldn't find out what kind of hops were used - I was just told they were "standard bittering hops".

It pours a cloudy brown with hint of red, as you can see. There is no carbonation in the product.

In the smell is lemon, and a bit of wild roses (if you ask me).

I had three cans of this beverage. The first can tastes the best to me, and I found the last two to let the low alcohol content actually poke through. It's pretty balanced in its flavour, but I found it a bit on the sweet side and that it could use a touch more lemon. I'd like it to be a bit fresher and lighter - putting it on a bit of ice with a lemon wedge may have been just the thing.

The finish of it was dry and pretty clean. It had a smooth feel and was fairly light in body.

Overall, it's a pretty likeable beverage if this type of drink is your thing. If I ever saw it and had it again, I'd want to tweak it to my taste as mentioned above, though.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Creemore Springs Pilsner

A paler, honey-amber colour than the lager. It's crystal clear, with a small amount of carbonation in the glass. There is a minimal head which is gone in no time.

In the smell is some light wheat / bread, and the bright, noble hops.

This tastes like a light version of the lager. It's less fruity, sweet, and bready. It's cleaner and brighter, in a sense, similar to Sam Adams' Noble Pils. There is some light grass / spice at the end.

The feel is clean, crisp... and the finish is dry. The body's light, and the bitterness seems less than the lager.

Overall, a solid and enjoyable pilsner. Very respectable.

Creemore Springs Premium Lager

This lager is a deep gold / honey / amber colour, with a finger or two of head - which vanishes to nothing within moments. There are some active bubbles in this glass of crystal-clear brew.

One of my first impressions, after having a couple of cans of this (well, one in can, and one in a glass) was that it may smell & taste better from the bottle. That being said, it has a light honey and toffee aroma.

In the flavour is some grassiness, honey, and a bit of acidity / fruitiness. When it warms up a bit, it takes on some cereal / grain / wheat flavours moreso... as well as a bit of corn (only in one of the brews I sampled, I should say, but thought I should mention it)? If I get a bit of that, it's slight. Either way, it tastes best when it's a bit colder.

It has a dry, lightly bitter, clean finish. When it warms up, it also takes on a bit of an aftertaste that I could do without.

Overall, it's a solid lager - especially in a hot, dry summer. Just don't let it warm up.

As a side note (look at me goin' all foodie, here), my Mrs. got the idea of a beer granita from the latest Food Network magazine. I and some other Aleanders tested it out, and, I must say, I was pleased with the results. Basically, all you have to do is pour a bottle / can or two of this (or any other lager... I'm going to try a blanche or white ale next) into a fairly large cake pan, so that it sits at a shallow level. Put it into the freezer, and scrape the top of it with a fork (or just mix / mash it up, if it isn't scrape-able yet) every half hour for two or three hours (bet on at least three, at least with my freezer). When it's all frozen into grainy or flaky slush, scoop it into a glass or several sundae dishes, pour a little melted lemonade concentrate (magazine also suggests lime or grenadine) over it, and voilà - perfect summer treat

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rodenbach Grand Cru

This, my first Flanders red ale, looks more like a clear brown, but with deep red / fiery highlights in the glass - similar to a barley wine. The head is small, cream in colour, and leaves some spotty lacing.

It smells of red wine, maybe some vinegar, as well as some oaky woodiness.

The flavour is tart, with some cherry / kriek lambic flavours, and some other fruits, like... apricot. It tastes best when held in mouth for a few seconds, I think - the intensity / complexity builds.

As for feel, it has a very dry finish - a very quickly-vanishing and clean finish with little aftertaste. The body is light.

Overall, this is very nice and solid. It was a little too vinegary, perhaps, but quite refreshing on a muggy day.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Unibroue Noire de Chambly

I think I had this one last summer, and when I did, it had been a while since I had it last. I left myself a note to comment on the faces of the people on the label and who they must have been modelled after. Looking at them now, I'd say Ravishing Rick Rude and some combination of Greg Kinnear and Chris Jericho. No wonder General Wolfe won. But I digress.

This one is a dark, dark brown - with some reddishness to it when pouring, and at the edges. The head is a finger or so, but doesn't retain/stay very well. There are very active bubbles in the glass which maintain a little bit of head.

The smell is reminiscent of a triple or even a saison/farmhouse, with a bit of a dark, roasted/porter quality. There is a dark blueberry / berry character, as well as a bit of smoke as it warms.

The taste and feel are not entirely how I remember them. It's
very much just like a Belgian triple - some banana from the yeast,
a bit of spice, some tang or tartness as, perhaps, a combination between the yeast and grain. Fruits like apples and pears also surface, with just the slightest hint of darker things like chocolate.

I has fairly high carbonation - it's a bit sharp if you hold it in the mouth. At first, it feels a bit sticky, but, overall, the finish is a bit tingly and dry. The body is on the light side of medium - which suits the taste, but not the look.

Overall, it's a pretty nice beer - a triple in stout's clothing. The next time I try it, I'd like to try it with some food - thinking smoked salmon or a BBQ'd steak. Some gouda or smoked cheese would be killer, too.

Friday, July 13, 2012

2012 PEI Beer Festival

There are two beer festivals on PEI this fall, but let's talk about the one that has more information on it and is most likely to have a wide variety of beer. This is the second year for PEI's first beer festival, the one put on by Campbell Webster Entertainment at the Murphy Center last year. This year, he has partnered with RAW Events and the Delta Hotel, and plans to put on an event - over two days - that is even better-run than last year, with fewer hiccups (pun intended). I can personally say that I have (as the other Aleanders have) met with Campbell a few times in the last year or so, and have corresponded with him, as he's keen to cater to lovers of quality craft beers - not just "value drinkers" - and put on a great event. Attendees are still being finalized, but here's what is for sure:

Two nights of Tastings and Late Night Patio Parties

Special Offer starting July 13 @ 10:00 AM - Today! Now!$89.75 plus tax & fee - promo code will be released on July 12 - Thursday and Friday VIP tickets - Thursday and Friday Late Night Patio Party tickets- First 50 get a Souvenir Glass Mug (16oz)

Tickets on-sale July 20 @ 10:00 AMSample Ticket: General Admission $42.75 Thursday / $47.75 Friday

Sample Ticket: VIP - 30 minute early access to tasting$57.75 Thursday / $62.75 Friday

Late Night Patio Party - Lineup TBA soon *Space is limited!$14.75 Both Thursday & Friday 

*All prices are subject to tax 

All tickets can be purchased with Debit or Credit online via 

Direct Ticket link -

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Offerings At The PEILCC

While I've been busy drinking a couple of new local offerings as well as some fine off-Island (mostly Quebec and Belgian) lagers and ales, the PEILCC has sneakily snuck in some new listings that you might want to check out. Some are totally new to here, some were once here and are now back:

  • Unibroue's Blanche de Chambly - probably the best summer beer on the Island right now
  • Creemore Springs' Premium Lager - the other current offering in my fridge
  • Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale
  • Pump House Premium Lager
  • St. Ambroise IPA - with another one or two in this list, the first true, off-Island IPA's on PEI ever
  • Waterloo IPA
  • Affligem Blond
  • Fruli Strawberry Beer
  • Hollandia
  • Innis & Gunn Rum Finish
  • Innis & Gunn Oak Aged - how this differs from the oak-aged original, I have no idea... yet
  • Mongozo Premium Pilsener
  • Mort Subite Kriek - holly crap... a lambic for sale on PEI!
  • Paulaner - not sure which one yet
  • Tennents - not sure which one yet - can't tell from the listing
Now... I can't say there are any earth-moving stars in the last 13 here, but there are definitely a few worth trying. I've tried about half of them before (some published, some not), but you can decide which ones you'd like to try out. Me? My next ones to find are the Kriek, the St. Ambroise IPA, and maybe one of the Innis & Gunns. 

Cheers to increased choice on PEI!

PS - maybe once Mel's starts selling alcohol, they will turn into my own little import shop. Dreaming, I know, but... ah, what a dream. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fremont Summer Ale

This is my first beer from Seattle's Fremont Brewing Co. They describe this beer as a "tangerine flower in a glass, endless days distilled into nectar of barley and hops. One grain (2-row), one hop (Amarillo). Simplicity….yet, so much more."

The beer pours a mostly clear peach colour. There is about two fingers' worth of head made up of small microbubbles that leave solid creamy lacing. There is active CO2 action in the glass.

The smell is quite nice. There is something slightly woody about it... almost like an earthy chipotle smokiness, but it's mostly all big fruity hop notes up front - pineapple, pear, some other tropical fruits, but not so much on the citrus side - what there is does lean on orange / tangerine, though.

The flavour is more of the same, and the beer has a super-smooth finish. There's no lingering feel at first, and the malt notes really kick in in the aftertaste. In that aftertaste is some mellow caramel sweetness followed by the faintest zip of fruit... even a little spice? I'm thinking of a hint of some lemon / lemongrass, perhaps, too... almost reminds me of some brews I had last summer with kaffir limes in them.

Overall, a refreshing, nicely bitter, fruity beer with a nice finish. A solid beer all-round. I'd love to try more from this brewery.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Troubadour Blond Ale

On top of this brew is scads of wee-bubbly head, but it lasts forever and is pretty dense... leaving an oval peak of head from the beginning of the drink 'til nearly the end (picture a little sudsy mountain). There is tons of lacing, and the beer is a very clear and pale gold/yellow. There is lots of active carbonation in the glass.

In the aroma is a bit of white grape juice, apples, some slight spice/clove, and a bit of pineapple - rather muted and reserved.

The flavour is a bit bready, with bananas, slighter spice than suggested by even the subtle smell, pineapple/apple, pear... and just the faintest hint of a yeasty "funk".

The feel is light yet slightly slick - very smooth. The carbonation is nice - faint microtingles.

At first, I expected more than what I was getting from it, but this one ended up being quite nice - light, but sneakily flavourful and very enjoyable. I could drink a bunch of this one in one sitting! (which, at 6.5% yields more of a kick than normal)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gahan / PEI Brewing Co. Wins Again At CBA's

The Canadian Brewing Awards are tonight. I'm watching a bit of them on ustream. Sure enough, not long after I watch a bit, I see a fellow Aleander, B.A. Carver, accept a gold medal for a win in the brown ale category. The presenter wrongly said the triumphant Iron Horse was PEI's first-ever gold (they won one last year) at the CBA's, but whatever - it's good publicity and motivation for Gahan / The PEI Brewing Co. Congrats, folks!

Edit: last year's winner for them, their Sir John A Honey Wheat, won silver this year. View a complete list of winners here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mill Street's Franconian-Style Bock

From the same sixer in November...

A very clear caramel brown, it has a creamy, yet short-lived head that lowers to a skim on top.

There is a bit of adjunct / corn smell. There are some roasted sweet smells in there, too... a bit like a marzen / oktoberfest brew.

There is definitely a sweet kick to it... it's mellowed out by some toffee or caramel notes, but the sweeter notes dominate... like candy... barley toy candy... maybe light maple syrup or corn syrup. The alcohol is pretty subtle, but noticeable. Maybe some chocolate. Raisins.

The finish is sweet, and the feel is medium with a minimally sticky finish. There is a bit of alcohol in the feel, especially on the sides of the tongue, it seems.

Overall, at first, I was thinking it was just OK, that I wasn't won over, and wouldn't bother with it again. Just too sweet, and not well-rounded enough. It grew on me, though. The aftertaste built, and so did the character / roundedness by the end. So... it's good enough to have a couple or few - just don't stop halfway through your first one. You won't like it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mill Street's ESB

Reviewed last November, this was in Mill Street's second-last mixed six-pack.

There was lots of head - reminded me of marshmallow fluff in look and motion, a bit. The beer was a bit paler than expected. Still, a nice, clear copper.

In the aroma was sponge toffee, and a slight metal/mineral quality.

The flavour came across as watered down... it had some malt sweetness / toffee, but was gone so fast.

The mouthfeel was light - watery, actually, with a wet, watery, watered-down finish. The carbonation was medium.

The taste was OK, and it went down easy... but it was SO watery. Blandblandbland in the finish, I thought. No character.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

If the Hulk can smash, why can't The Gahan House SMaSH?

The Gahan / PEI Brewing Co. don't always have it right (like their recent commercial snafu), but, sometimes, they just don't stand a chance. Let's not even get started on the whole restrictive "anyone making beer on PEI can't brew one over 6.5% alcohol" law. Let's just look at what you can and can't call alcohol on PEI.

A couple of weeks ago, The Gahan House released a limited-release in-pub-only beer, simply called SMaSH, with the tagline, "Come get SMaSH" or something like that. Well, apparently the powers that be somewhere in the PEILCC thought that that would encourage binge drinking. So, Gahan had to erase any trace of it on Twitter and Facebook, and had to stop calling it SMaSH. Even though SMaSH is just an acronym... an industry term for a beer that's been made with a Single Malt and a Single Hop variety. They're not the first brewery to run into naming issues (check out this article from last year, for example). It just seems like over-regulation to me... and not good regulation at that.

So... it got me to thinking. I wonder what drinks they sell at PEILCC stores that could be offensive... here's a list of most of them:

  • Coors Light Iced Tea - another great acronym, guys!
  • Fat Bastard Merlot - what's wrong with that?
  • Cat's Pee On A Gooseberry Bush - guess that won't encourage binge drinking
  • Girl's Night Out Chardonnay - they never get hammered on girls' night
  • Coskspur rum - ouch!
  • Wisers - does NOT make you wiser
  • Shiver vodka - shiverin' drunk?
  • Williams and Humbert Dry Sack sherry - gross!
  • Eagle Hawk Merlot - what the Hell is an Eagle Hawk? You trust these people to make safe wine?
  • Eye Spy Red - total communist beverage
  • Wally's Hut Shiraz - speakeasy! Blind pig! Bootlegger!
  • Primitivo IGT - get drunk like a cave man!
  • Goats Do Roam - were they drunk when they named this?
  • Menage a Trois Red - skanky!
  • Deinhard Hans Christof - offensive to Bruce Willis!
  • Exclamation Point Verdicchio - too loud and in your face... like a drunk person!!!1!1!
  • Fireball - brings back IRA memories. Painful!
  • Rockstar Original - does not make you a rock star!
  • Wildass White 2006 - nudity!
  • Van Gogh Vodka - might be missing an ear in the morning

What can we all take from this semi-humourous look? While beer needs to be taken a bit more seriously and should be given more attention, serious attention doesn't mean those in charge need be unduly strict.

Oh, and for what it's worth, SMaSH is at least tied for the best beer that's ever come out of The Gahan House, and I'll be having more of it tomorrow. Too bad they can't tell anyone about it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beach Chair Lager - The Review

This last week, Beach Chair Lager-wise, has been a bit of a mess and an odd story with a twist or two. Let us not dwell on marketing oddities, though. I'm here for the beer - and now that it's out a few weeks early, let's review this recreational furniture-ready brew.

It is really pale in the pour, but dark enough in the glass. It has a decent head, but looks light - it reduces to a sliver of a white ring in not too long of a time. It is perfectly clear and has some light carbonation in the glass.

It has a bit of a rice smell to it, despite none being used. Light, dried-grassy hops. A slight spicy note (could be the grassy hops smell at play).

So... how's it taste? Not really bad, but not great. It's just kind of bland. Really, though, maybe that's the plan. I can't say the last time I sat at the beach and drank a fantastic beer. This is more of a "Holy Hell, it's hot, I need something wet," "What should we take on our fishing trip that won't break?" or "Let's go tan and drink at the same time" kind of beer. You're not going to be thinking critically when you drink it, like I am right now - it's just a beer that you'd have at the beach, a BBQ, whatever. Because it's not strong in flavour, it'd go with a lot of things. It's utilitarian... kind of like my wife's review: "It tastes like that last drink in the bottom of the bottle that's been sitting there all night and you gulp it down before you leave for the bar or something." All that being said, it's drinkable. Just not notable. Lots of folks (most, probably) will think it's fine, and that's great. I just wish it was great, too.

In the mouth, it's very light in body and carbonation, just slightly bitter and a little acidic / tangy.

Overall, I think you get my gist. I pull for every local brewer (PEI and Atlantic Canada) to succeed with every offering, but, of course, that's unrealistic. A good commercial lager's a hard thing to pull off - strong points are usually subtle, and any weaknesses are hard to mask. I hope the brewery does well with it, but I hope they improve it, too. My main fear is wondering who will pay (other than tourists) $3.25 for a single can of this when they can get something mass-market in a sixer or more for much cheaper per unit.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Garrison Mixed 6

Tall Ship Amber
It poured a crystal-clear honey-amber, with very little head. There was a bit of
caramel in the aroma, along with some hay/grass and rice/corn. The taste was rounded... malty, sweet... but a bit too strong with the cream of corn, though (any cream of corn in beer is wrong, IMO). The feel of it was fine... a light medium with some tingly carbonation - smooth overall. Overall - I hate to say it - not so hot... rather gross in fact. I wanted to pour it down the drain.

Nut Brown Ale
It poured a really dark and clear brown. It had a decent little head, which lowered to a creamy, pale, tan skim. There were stretched rings of lacing. The aroma was a fairly nice one of roasted coffee and chocolate. It reminded me a lot of what Gahan's Iron Horse is like these days, and tasted similar, too - light Nutella - hazelnut, chocolate, and coffee. The finish was a bit sticky, and the feel and carbonation were the same as the Tall Ship Amber. Overall, a decent brew. Glad to see the first Garrison brew I ever had is still OK.

Irish Red Ale
This poured a really dark garnet colour - more brown than red, really, with some off-white, creamy head. In the aroma was a bit of toffee, some hops, and a bit of a DMS smell (that grew with time / warmth). I wasn't sure about it after the first sip. I was beginning to think that reds are becoming my least favourite style. It was like caramel with just a splash of something like grenadine - sweet, a little slick - but not in a great way... not in this. It was a bit hoppier and sweeter than expected, and had a touch of something like peat. The carbonation was fine, but a bit pop-like when held in the mouth. The body was medium (maybe on the lighter side), and it had a sticky finish that eventually turned a bit dry. Overall, nothing more than decent at best.

Martello Stout
This one poured very dark with lots of fizzy brown head. I thought it would look better if it was a bit creamier / smooth. It was watery in feel - a light body, with tingly carbonation. In the nose was coffee, and some dark chocolate. Roasty. It was nicely bitter, a bit bready, and pretty solid.

As for the Raspberry Wheat Ale, I enjoyed it as much as I ever have, and as for the Hop Yard Pale Ale, it has continued its slow fall from how much I used to favour it. I find the hop character of it has changed for the worse - more peppery / grassy than it used to be, and not as citrusy.

Overall, 3/6 worthwhile.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

PEI Brewing Co's Beach Chair Lager

It's not out yet... well, it kind of is. It's been on tap at ISE's and maybe Gahan in some form before... and may still be... anyway, it'll soon be here for "real". Apparently the lager's in the can (literally) and is just waiting for a release in the second week of June or so. Look for the official commercial online May 22nd. In the meantime, here's a couple of pics of the new brew, plus a video of outtakes from the commercial.

I had a couple of pictures of the can and the label design, but was actually asked within two days to remove them prior to the official press release. Weird. I kind of get it, but... don't they want help with the hype? Why wait for an "official" release, when the stuff's on Facebook and YouTube? I didn't feel like getting into any Internet copyright law arguments, so, in their place, I have rendered my own image of what the can looks like:

If you still want to see the images of the real thing, look no further than the super-secret Facebook page for Beach Chair Lager.

I must say, I like the can design more than I thought I might (except the mixed fonts), and although I don't care a ton for the name, the "Grab a Chair" slogan's a great fit for it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Efes Dark Lager

This, my second Efes experience, poured with lots of "cascading-up" head action. The head was kind of creamy and dense, more than expected for this dark lager. The beer was a clear chestnut in colour and left lots of sticky lacing.

At first, when the cap comes off, its smell kind of reminded me of Innis & Gunn... wood, toffee, vanilla. In the glass, it changed a bit, to add hints of corn, a sweet roasted quality, and the wood took on a slightly cardboard slant.

Flavour-wise, it was kind of like a mix of a "traditional lager", a marzen, and Innis & Gunn Original. It wasn't bad, actually... the flavour was mostly toffee, wood, barley toy candy, and some nuttiness.

The feel was watery with a slightly sticky finish. The carbonation was low, and the 6.1% abv didn't come through at all.

Overall, this was better than expected - not bad, and a bit interesting.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

This beer pours a slightly hazy amber. About a finger's worth of head reduces to just a thin film within a couple of minutes.

The nose is a fairly nice balance of hops and malt; a "common" lager that has some interest to it. I get that standard "lager smell", with extra hints of green grapes / a light wine, and some malt that's harder to pin... at first, it's faint, so I find it tough to peg whether it's toffee, caramel, etc. As it warms, the malt intensifies, and it's caramel.

The taste is pretty good; on the better side of average. Slightly bready and sweet - mostly the malt notes malt, with a touch of hops.

The carbonation is good for a lager - crisp and plentiful, but not too aggressive; just there to keep it fresh and fairly sharp. The body is medium, and the finish is slightly sticky without being really watery or dry. A bitterness lingers a bit more strongly than I would like it to for this style.

Overall, a decent beer to pick up a pack of and take to a party; tasty enough, but not so good/expensive as to command your thoughts and attention. On tap, in "town", it varies. I've had it before when it was pretty nice; better and more hop forward, I thought. And I've also had it be more bland - quite possibly not the beer's fault. 

This review has been brought to you by the semicolon.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Propeller Extra Special Bitter

Another review from a while ago...

This Propeller Extra Special Bitter has nearly solid lacing the whole way down. The beer itself is a clear reddish brown.

In the scent has a slight amount of coffee. There is some raisin & toffee. It has a sweet or "bright" side, as well as something in it that's almost stale, vegetal, or woody.

The taste is not strongly bitter. It's earthy, with flavours of molasses and slight smoke.

In the mouth, it feels a bit on the heavy side of a medium body, with a bit of a sticky finish. The carbonation is mostly just a tingle that comes out a bit through the stickiness.

Overall - decent.