Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Growth at Gahan

As of this morning, Gahan beers started shipping to New Brunswick. I was a bit surprised (pleasantly so) to see how much coverage CBC gave it - it was online, on Compass (TV), and on Mainstreet (radio). Among the information seen and heard in the pieces was:

  • the public acknowledgement of their recent sign / name change at the brewery on Walker Drive. It's not the Gahan Brewery anymore, it's the "Prince Edward Island Brewing Company". I'll take a pic sometime soon for you.
  • they are working on a new lager with a "famous brewer"
  • the in-development lager (name withheld at the moment) is going to be their first canned beer, and will be created using some of their newer and much larger brewing tanks within the brewery's expansion. They hope to have it available outside of the Maritimes.
  • the bat-crap-crazy notion that people are actually willing to pay for a different / quality beer product around here or anywhere else... and that there's room for growth in that way here. You know, the same way there was room for growth after the Big Bang. 

In somewhat related news, one of my fellow Aleanders was in brew news today, too, in an article that mentioned his pitch to local farmers today - about considering diversifying their farms by growing hops. Sounds good to me, as it apparently does to most people voting on the poll on the article's page.

Paulaner Oktoberfest-Märzen

It can be Oktoberfest in the winter, right? I got this 1L can of Paulaner Oktoberfest-Märzen for Christmas, along with its mug.

The beer is exactly what you'd expect - clear, golden, a few bubbles rising in the mug. The head was much taller than expected - pillowy, soapy, and off-white, leaving wee patches of lacing on the way down.

It smells more like a European lager - an adjunct one, at that. It doesn't smell as cheap / poor as some - it comes off as fairly refreshing (but relatively plain). Some aromas of pilsner or noble hops.

Taste has some light caramel and spice. It's got more to it... it's fuller than it looks or smells. There's something lightly fruity about it too, as it warms / nears its end.

Despite its light body, it's actually quite smooth. The carb's fairly light.

I feel like I should be in a beer garden somewhere with buxom yet burly lasses somehow managing to carry several of these in one hand. Akin to the singing of the Whos in Whoville, this beer started in low then started to grow... on me. A smooth, enjoyable brew. Can't wait to whip the mug out next fall!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Anchor Old Foghorn

A couple of the first things I noticed on this barley wine-style ale were the bright, medium-orange colour, and the hoppy aroma - it's pretty bright and citrusy for a barley wine. It's also got a slightly ferrous or blood-like tinge to its aroma. Even with just the first sip, the character of the beer comes out - it's not a barley wine that's very in-your-face with that barley toy candy sweetness or a bit too much alcohol (this one clocks in at a somewhat modest 8.2%).

This is an ale that is a bit brighter, lighter, and fruitier than perhaps most. In each sip, you can pick up flavours like orange/tangerine, maybe even a hint of some things like pineapple or watermelon. After those evaporate, that's when the stronger side comes out - this is a brew with manners, it seems... almost like the beginning of something like a boxing match. A courteous greeting before a show of strength. The malt's sweet candy flavours and a bit of alcohol warmth and flavour finish off each sip... leaving your mouth feeling a bit sticky. Kind of like Pumbaa's grubs - slimy, yet satisfying.

This is an ale that I could see some say is a bit unbalanced. For a barley wine, though, I think it does a great job of showing some lighter traits along with its stronger ones. It's a very enjoyable brew, and I plan on getting one or two more to tuck away for a while.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale

This is one of the Lagunitas brews I picked up on a trip to the Mainland a while back, and sampled over a year ago. For some reason, it got buried in the list of 70-ish unpublished brew reviews I have just sitting and waiting for their turn.

A small head drops quickly to a thin film. It's a little cloudy. It has a pale, yet bright, apricot colour. There's lots of solid lacing.

As an American pale ale, it has that grapefruit and orange peel smell; tropical fruit with a bit of a sweet, malty base.

Flavour-wise, it's not too far away from Hop Stoopid or their IPA. It's kind of like "Hop Stoopid Lite". It's refreshing, lighter, less bitter, but also a bit more plain. What is in the smell is essentially the same as the flavour.

The feel is refreshing overall, with a slightly dry and bitter finish.

Overall, this is a very good beer... more than I thought it would be. In some ways, it doesn't quite measure up to the strong traits of the aforementioned beers, but that also works in its favour. For some, it would be an easier drinker than something like their IPA or Hop Stoopid. It'd be a nice entry point for someone as they're expanding their beer horizons, to build up to more bitter and fruitier things.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rum Running - A Documentary

This Sunday, from 12:00 - 12:30, CBC's Land & Sea will debut a documentary on rum running, creatively named Rum Running. I know this site is mainly about beer, but I couldn't help but share this little media release I got. After all... after beer, rum is my next go-to for imbibing.

To learn a bit more about the documentary, visit its Facebook page. There, you can view a trailer as well as a few pics. Although it "explores the role of Atlantic Canada and the French Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in the infamous era of Prohibition," and how fishermen from Atlantic Canada shipped spirits to our "thirsty southern neighbours," I hope there is some mention of the Nellie J. Banks and her dirty sail in there somewhere...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dieu du Ciel's Dernière Volonté

This bottle is from batch 3 - 0, and was bottled in October of 2010.

Translated as "Last Will", this is a crystal-clear Belgian pale ale. It has a deep honey colour and lots of active carbonation in the glass. The head is very tall, spaced-out, and lowers with lumpy patches of lace on the glass.

The smell is surprisingly hoppy - mostly citrus. Also in the aroma is some sweet toffee, apple, and a small amount of yeast / funk.

The flavour has a bit of white wine / grape juice to it. Also ripe apple, some orange peel, a hint of bubblegum, and maybe a hint of spice. It's hoppier (I get orange & tangerine) in flavour & more bitter than expected, too. The aftertaste is mostly the white wine / white grape juice aspect.

The carbonation is fairly medium, and the body light (but on the full side of that spectrum). The finish is slightly slick. Even though it's just 7% abv, there is a bit of alcohol in the feel after only the second sip (tongue and throat). There is also some kind of tingle or bitterness that lingers on tongue.

This is a bright, enjoyable Belgian pale ale. Very nice.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Beer & Comics

One of my blogroll sites, the Brookston Beer Bulletin, recently referred to another site's post about pairing beer with comic characters. Now, I've heard of pairing beer and food, but... comic characters?

Growing up, I used to buy the odd comic (usually at Outlands, the Comic Hunter, or Shoppers). I liked the art, I liked some of the characters, I liked some of the humour. I was a casual fan, but haven't bought a comic in... geez... 20+ years, I bet. I was probably following the lead of my brother, for the most part, who bought and read comics like he was trying to achieve some kind of Guinness world record. Unlike me, he still buys comics. More than that, he's been working for Marvel for years now.

So, being a big beer fan with an amount of comic knowledge that's probably better than the average citizen, I was intrigued by the post and the challenge of making more. I always enjoy making a creative comparison...

Now, you can head over to Jay Brooks' blog and see his suggestions (along with the original site's ones). For now, have a look at some of my first thoughts. Feel free to suggest your own (I left the more mainstream characters alone for you. Ain't I thoughtful?).

Colossus - Old Rasputin
Thor – Odin’s Tipple
Abyss – Abyss
Black Cat – Le Chat Noir
Union Jack – Spitfire
Puck – Howe Sound Pothole Filler Imperial Stout
Havok - Super Collider DIPA

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Caracole Saxo

The head was misleading on this one. At first, I thought it was going to be pop-like - tall, fast-forming, but loud and coarse-looking. Surprisingly, it took a while to fall and left some creamier stuff on top once it did. Lacing came in small clusters that slid slowly down the sides of the glass. The beer itself is deeply golden and clear with lots of bubble action.

Smells like a tripel or a bit of a saison to me - lots of ripe, mushy apple, some hay, almost a bit of white wine, and some slight yeasty funk.

The flavour is very much more of the same - apple (maybe pear, too?), some grassiness / hay. Also present are white grape juice, a spot of lemon, and just a little spice.

There was lots of carbonation to the feel of this one, too. At first, it wasn't very strong, but it had a bit of a lingering effect. The body was rather medium with a pretty smooth finish. Nothing too sticky or dry.

Overall, I was pretty pleased. Not a wower, but a solid little brew nonetheless.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

I was ecstatic to get this brew for Christmas. How could a beer fan read about something as crazy as a beer made to mimic a vanilla maple bacon doughnut and not want to try it? There was some drama that preceded this release, though. At first, it was to be a darker porter (which would have been better), but it ended up being a weaker and paler ale. You can read about the drama here.

According to my math (from the bottle's numbers), this ale is about a light 5.6% abv. It is a medium, slightly rosy amber. Some head in the pour doesn't last long.
Holy crap. Does this ever smell like bacon and maple. It's... it's breakfast! What it reminds me of most is the McDonald's hotcakes and sausage w/ syrup that I used to get, oh, 25+ years ago. The bacon is strong, but there's more smoke to it, though... it almost smells like half a smoke ale.

Flavour-wise, there's almost something slightly plastic about it from the large smoke profile. I mean, no wonder it smells and tastes a lot like a smoked ale... it does have three smoked malts in it (house-smoked Hickory, Weyermann Beechwood, Briess Cherywood). I'd say it's a case of too much of a good thing, though. Even by the near-end of a glass, it gets pretty smokey on the exhale... mostly smoke and bacon. The maple's not very strong, but it is there (I wish it was a little more forward). Although the aftertaste remains OK, it's just too smokey overall. As my wife said, it's "kind of like smokey meat".

Feel-wise, there's a light tingle and it's slightly dry up middle. The finish overall is slightly sticky.

Really, odd as it sounds for a beverage... overall - it could use more bacon and maple, and significantly less smoke. It was a cool attempt, I'm glad I had it and have the bottle, but it was just OK. It would have been so much better as a robust porter.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gahan Best Better

I heard about a week ago that the ol' GH had a one-off brew on offer - an English bitter with a go-to name of "Gahan Best Bitter".
Brewed back in early December, it is a sessionable English Ale, weighing in at about 4.3% abv. The hops used were East Kent Goldings, and the malt profile consists of English malt and the tiniest bit of Black Patent malt (500 grams out of 168 kg).

I'm doing this review mostly from memory (sampled on Tuesday), so forgive anything unclear / not quite right.

The appearance of the finished product, as you can see, is a very clear, ruby-brown (my new invented colour of the day) with a creamy white head.

The aroma is mainly of toffee and a bit of caramel.

The taste is also of toffee and caramel. Something honestly reminds me of the pints jugs of draft I used to drink at The Barn - not a good thing, you'd think - but it was actually something about it that I liked. I think it was a bit of the sweetness, and mostly the feel. But I digress. I think there's something also slightly earthy & woody about it - probably from the E. K. Goldings hops. As a nice surpise, the burps were rather hoppy - more like I'd been drinking an APA or IPA. A nice twist.

The body was fairly medium despite the low alcohol content, and had a fairly sticky finish. The carbonation was light, didn't build if held in the mouth, and left no impression after a swallow. There was a fairly lingering lingering mild bitterness, mild sweetness & a sticky to dry feel.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable brew. I could easily see it becoming a regular or regular seasonal. Nice job, Bryan! As a side note, the "Best Better" was originally a typo. I liked the ring of it, though, so I decided to leave it alone.