Friday, May 31, 2013

Bellwoods Brewery's Bring Out Your Dead

This is my first brew from Bellwoods in Toronto - thanks to Red from Untappd - and I hope it isn't my last! This was bottle 1084 of 1699, created to help celebrate the brewery's one-year anniversary - an imperial stout aged in cognac barrels.

This stuff pours like molasses mixed with a bit of blood - slightly reddish, wonderfully dark, and thick. It has next to now head, as you can see, and long legs when swirled in the glass.

The aromas are of wood (almost cedar-like at times), a smokey roastiness, slight dark fruit, and chocolate.

The flavour - I'm not one to rave often - is so good. It has all of the traits in the aroma (minus the cedar), plus a bit of heat as well as some citrus pith in the finish, making it rather bitter. It's almost like an RIS with an IPA finish of sorts. The body/feel is full, smooth, and rich.

For me, this fired on all cylinders in every category. I hope Bellwoods "brings out the dead" more often, and that it can at least sometimes make it to me!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Samuel Adams Utopias - 10th Anniversary Edition

Under the "holy crap" file is this little number. PEI just got six of these in the last little while, and there are still four out there right now. Be forewarned: it ain't cheap. It'll set you back a cool $129.90, and, although there is a special Riedel glass that you can have sent to you, there are some hoops to go through to get it (had to contact Moosehead, who takes care of SA in Canada, and they have helped me out).

Some little tidbits on this that may solidify or scare you away from purchase:

  • Ontario received 400 - we beat their Utopia-to-people ratio by about 9,000! 
  • There were 54 barrels of this produced - about 15,000 bottles (710ml) they say.
  • In Ontario, you could only order it by phone - all sold out in 2.5 hours, at $115 each.
  • In the USA, this routinely sold in stores for about $180 - $250. It's a comparative steal in Canada.
  • Think of it more as a spirit - with no carbonation, it clocks in at about 29% alcohol by volume, and will keep for years, even after opening.
  • Maple syrup plays a big part in this edition, apparently, with many tasters noting it felt sticky, tasted sweet, or that they thought it would be good on some really decadent pancakes or waffles.
  • If you'd like to see what crazy nonsense went into making this brew (some of the liquid in it is going on 20 yrs old now, supposedly), look no further.
So... if you just can't say no to something exclusive, have some big event in the near (or far, distant) future that you want to have this for, are too curious for your own good, have some extra coin, or some combination of all of these, have fun hunting one of these four down!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

PEI Brewing Co's Mango Wheat

This brew was a test batch for the Blueberry Ale, so there's no guarantee you'll ever get it again once it's gone!

This brew's got a very cloudy beeswax colour. At the pub, as you can see in the top image, there was a bit of head to it. At home, from the growler, next to nothing, as most of the carbonation was whipped out of it in a poor growler fill.

From the growler, things almost smelled a little plastic-y or something... but in the glass, things smelled OK - it was best right from the tap at the new brewery. Nice, light mango and wheat aromas. Like some sort of tropical Saskatchewan summer.

I dig the flavour. There is lots of wheat, but lots of mango, too without being overpowering. Refreshing. I found the finish pretty dry for the style, with a mild mango aftertaste.

Overall, I liked it quite a bit - moreso at the brewery, less so from the growler at home.

PEI Brewing Co's Blueberry Ale

This one's got about a finger of head. It's a very cloudy, yellow brew with a reddish-blue hue from the berries.

It's got a wheaty smell with subtle blueberries... almost something leathery in there.

It's definitely got blueberries in the flavour, without being too strong or sweet. It's OK. It builds to borderline bubblegum flavours by the end - almost something artificial, but not quite. It's a good thing the brewer really held back by adding a significant amount less blueberry than suggested.

The feel's light, smooth, with the carbonation being on the lower end.

It's an OK brew. Lots of folks will enjoy it this summer, I'm sure. I probably won't have it again, though - mostly just personal preference.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The PEI Brewing Company's Grand Re-Opening

The Mango Wheat
Yesterday was a landmark day in PEI's craft brewing history - it was the official grand opening of the PEI Brewing Company's new location at 96 Kensington Road, in Charlottetown. I was invited, back in April, to have a look at the new facility, and see how things were coming together. I got to add some hops to a brew, sample the first-ever brew from the new system, & have a chat or two along the way. When I left, I was quite keen & curious to see how it'd all come together. If you want to see what it looked like then, have a gander at my co-blogger Chris' post about his visit. He was much more into journalist mode than I was on my first trip.

The Blueberry Ale
The new growler & glass
I stopped by early on in the day yesterday, just to have a gander at the new main room, merch, and see what was available to sip on. I knew there was a blueberry beer coming, but I didn't know it was going to be bottled. I took a bottle & new glass home to have it in (more on that some other day soon). The bottles of Lobster Saison weren't quite ready yet, though, which is too bad. So, a pro and a con. In that vein, and to help me get my little post done, here are some other pros & cons of the day:

Pro - nobody was painted silver to match the brewhouse gear... not today, anyway, thank Ninkasi. What was whoever thought of that thinking?
Con - I was hopeful that everything on tap would have been super fresh (but all  weren't)... like the Harvest Gold, or IPA, for example.
Pro - a "surprise beer" - the Mango Wheat! It was a test batch for the blueberry, but, to me, tasted even better.
Con - I don't know if I've ever had a good growler pour from the Gahan Pub or this place. First, there was about 1/4 to 1/5 of just head. Must have been missing about 10 - 12oz anyway. The pourer reassured me it was full, because the neck felt cold. I showed him where I could see the beer level, way below the fill level. Poor guy had no clue. Not his fault. Nobody showed him, I'd say. Someone gave him a hand, and at least filled it, rather flat as it now was. It'll be nice when the counter pressure filler comes back from its use downtown. Maybe that'll help.
Pro - first guy on stage played a couple Big Sugar songs back-to-back. Won over, I was.
Con - the "growing hops" by the waterfall aren't real.
Pro - lots of nice merch to be had
Con - some ridiculous touristy merch like top hats
Pro - the whole place... great concrete bar (although too many bubbles in the edges of it), nice mix of industrial and rural. Dig it.
Pro - just to finish on a double-positive note... the prices! Taxes in, a growler's $13 (not including the vessel itself, which is $5), a pint's $5.50, and a half-pint's $4.

Overall, I had a great early part of the afternoon chatting with staff, checking the place out, and soaking up the interest of the public in this new cornerstone of PEI's brewing scene. It warms the heart just a little when one thinks of what is yet to come for PEI's brewing scene.

Some facts on the new place:

  • 25,000 square feet
  • 50-hectolitre brewhouse
  • will help to meet demand for current markets as well as future ones, including AB and BC, being worked on now
  • space includes meeting and hospitality rooms
  • when completely finished, it will accommodate up to 700 people in its event space
  • retail showroom, bar, and "fresh beer to go" section

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 Canadian Brewing Awards Results - Atlantic Edition

I took a few moments this morning to check out what Atlantic Canadian winners we have from last night's Canadian Brewing Awards. (you can see the whole list here, sorted by category)

Local winners include:

  • PEI Brewing Company's Sir John A's Honey Wheat Ale won a medal again, taking home silver in the "Wheat Beer – North American Style" category
  • Acadie-Broue Inc's Tintamarre won bronze
  • Halifax's Rockbottom Brewpub won a bronze with its Insidious IBA
  • Propeller Brewing Co. won a silver with their Bohemian-Style Pilsener
  • Pump House won a silver and two bronze with their Premium Lager, Pail Ale, and Blueberry Ale, respectively
  • From Moosehead Breweries - Alpine Lager and Alpine Light each won gold, Moosehead Lager won silver, and Cracked Canoe Premium Light Lager won a bronze

Saturday, May 11, 2013

News from the Beach Chair

Due to climate change, we have completely skipped spring and gone into the warmth and black flies of summer. To fight the black fly blues, at least there's "summer beer", and there's a bit of news about PEI's own summer brew.

Beach Chair Lager is now in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and should be available in all major centers.

Also, if 473 ml is just WAY too much beer for you in one sitting, the PEI Brewing Co. have also made Beach Chair available in the smaller 355 ml format, in packs of six or twelve (saw my first ones today, in fact... well, I saw the empty cans a bit over a month ago at the new site, but I didn't want to say anything before it was "official").

So wherever you are, and however thirsty you are, it's getting easier and easier to "grab a chair".

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Phillips Hop Circle IPA

Big thanks to Red Hunt from Untappd who brought me some goodies this week, including this.

This brew's a golden shade of orange more gold/yellow than most IPA's I've had. There's not too much head, but there are sticky white patches of lacing all the way down.

The aroma on this was initially awesome. Lots of fruity hops. Then it changes in a few seconds. I don't what the Hell is going on anymore. It's almost nearly something smokey... but NEARLY skunky... but clearly not. It's... almost in the mint family... almost... lemon. What the fun times is going on... Sorachi Ace? A bit of Galaxy? I'm puzzled.

The taste is a bit of a let-down at first given the nose... more muted, for sure. The aftertaste is the winner here. It has this bitterness that borders on some kind of pithy mint feel - really clean, bright, and airy. This is a  really easy-drinker. That bitterness builds a bit, but tastes & feels light. Nice burps. Weird, I know, but... hey... I happen to enjoy the many hoppy returns I can get from a beer. Sometimes it can be the best part!

The body's pretty light, so's the carbonation, and the bitterness is in the mid-range or just above.

Overall, pretty nice.