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.