Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saint Bernardus' Grottenbier Bruin

Literally, this beer is a cave-aged beer (in the marl pits in Kanne (Belgium) and Valkenburg (Netherlands), designed by the late Pierre Celis (who also brought back the style of white ales / witbiers with Hoegaarden). This beer was one of beerhemoth (I should trademark that) Michael Jackson's top ten present-day beers. It is also the first beer from this former Trappist brewery that I have been able to try.

It opens with a very loud pop, and is a crystal-clear medium brown with a rose tint to it. The decent multi-finger head lowers to a creamy skim by the time I get to drinking it. It leaves some lower, webby lacing.

Initially, it smells like a brown ale - somewhat unremarkable, really... at least at first. Then, there are light hints of a saison or even some tart notes. It becomes sweet, with some hay, mineral, & light funk, then warms up to throw in light fruit notes like raisins or even some bread pudding. It's a puzzler.

By the second taste, it's like a pumpkin ale - it has nutmeg/cinnamon/pumpkin spice, a mellow sweetness, a light/smooth caramel note... and some light nuts. I'm thinking this one has a bit of syrup in there. Perhaps maybe a bit of other spices and ginger. Almost a chalkiness in the finish near halway or so. This is a sneaky one that underwhelms at first, then creeps into your nostrils and taste buds. I'm really enjoying all the layers and turns. It's fairly light, yet robust.

The carbonation's gentle, and the finish is mostly slick with a bit of that aforementioned mineral / chalk slant. The body is rather light, but still substantial enough to be smooth and not watery.

The instructions on this said to serve at 6-10 degrees Celsius. I started out colder (hence the unremarkable start, probably), and I thought it was at its best when at the top of the temperature range or more. I looked forward to this brew a lot, and, after a "blah" start, it came through in spades. It was a great introduction for me to this brewery. The only downside? A very uncharacteristic headache the next day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tree Brewing Co.'s Hop Head IPA

This is my first Tree beer, which I had and took notes on last summer.

In the pour, there's lots of cascading head action - three-fingers+ tall, with some density to it, and a bit of cream colour. The beer has a nice, deep-amber hue... which gets brownish in deeper/larger parts of glass. There is lots of thick, sticky lacing.

Its smells of malt/toffee and mostly hops are very intertwined... its hop profile comes off more as floral than citrus/pine to me.

The flavour is pretty nice... there is some citrus pith and flavours of mostly grapefruit and orange. It's maltier than some IPA's. It's "full bodied" claim is true. It's not like an English IPA, but there is more of a malt presence / balance than many West Coast IPA's. Overall, it could be a bit brighter in both aroma and flavour  (no freshness date to give me info on this).

The feel is fairly bitter, but not overpoweringly so at all - it's enough to make a slightly sticky finish almost feel dry, though. The body is medium, the carb is fairly low - but there enough to keep things feeling bright.

Overall, a pretty solid IPA. It wouldn't be my go-to one necessarily (even in just BC), but it's definitely worth a try.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Alley Kat Green Dragon Double IPA

I have high hopes for this, my third Alley Kat brew, even though I had issues with every bottle of another of their offerings (my optimism stems from my own nature plus the other really enjoyable Ak brew I had).

The head on this is modest, creamy, and white. The lacing is solid, all the way down. The beer's clear, and rather pale for a double IPA, I thought. There are some slow bubbles rising in the glass.

This is brewed with one hop, Zythos, which is actually not one hop - it's a proprietary blend of other hops that are trying to emulate the best traits of a mix of other hops. Make sense?
Aroma-wise, I was expecting citrus, lemon, pine - the first whiff smelled more like Keith's - not good. I'm figuring this one is another bust. Once it was in the glass, though, it was more like light spice, maybe some Fuggles-like earthiness, and some light citrus. Much of what I enjoy from my beers is the aroma, and this one underwhelms.

Does this one have a lot of caramel malt, like their pale ale? It's caramel-y... but more drinkable than the FMPA's I had. Some pith comes out about 1/4 of the way in.
After the smelling, and with this, the hops come across most like Northern Brewer and Cascade to me. That's up for debate, though.

The feel or body of it is rather medium - very smooth and slick, with a finish that's just a little slick. It's not really resinous or anything like that. The carbonation's fairly strong at first but vanishes quickly.

Overall? Disappointing. I've got to stop sampling Alley Kat on PEI. Out of three varieties so far, two of them just aren't what online reviews crack them up to be. The Full Moon Pale Ale came across with just too much diacetyl (I tried several bottles from two batches). While this one is also bordering on that, it just isn't hoppy or fresh enough - it's coming across as something less aromatic, more pedestrian, and mass-market... that just can't be right. So... drink up, Albertans, I guess... but I'm getting wary of trying AK stuff that makes its way to me here. :(

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beermas in March!

It's like a Beermas miracle... in March! As cut off from good beer selection as I am... when I think about it... I do pretty well every now and then. Thanks to chalmers for all of these in one way or another!

Here we have some Christmas beers - hmm... enjoy them now and post them in December, or store them away 'til then... decisions, decisions...

Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale x 2
De Dolle Stille Nacht
De Ranke Père Noël x 2
Delirium Noël
Abbaye Des Rocs Spéciale Noël
La Rullés Cuvée Meilleurs Voeux (Bière De Gaume)  x 2

Next up are:
St. Bernardus Prior 8
St. Bernardus Abt 12
St. Bernardus Tripel
St. Bernardus Grottenbier
Rochefort 6 x 2
Achel Blond
Achel Bruin
Chimay Grande Réserve
Chimay Première
Chimay Tripel x 2
Hornbeer Caribbean Rumstout
Westmalle Tripel
Caracole Nostradamus
Caracole Troublette
Saison Dupont
Troubadour Blonde

Finally, there are:
Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René
Kriek De Ranke
Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait
Trois Mousquetaires Doppelbock
Trois Mousquetaires Kellerbier
Trois Mousquetaires Sticke Alt
Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique x 2
Hell Bay English Pale Ale x 2
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
Dieu du Ciel Rigor Mortis
Traquair House Ale
Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale
Anchor Porter