I know, I know. I've been conspicuously quiet and absent. I've been busy, OK? Rest assured, though, I've still been drinking great beer - check my Untappd if you don't believe me. At any rate, I thought I'd crack my silence and mention a couple of things. Some of these things may even be useful to you if you're a last-minute shopper and need something for the beer-lovin' friend on your list.
- Last year, PEI got its first-ever Utopias (four or six of them, I can't remember which). One or two were still around within the last couple of months. To my surprise, there are more of this year's that have surfaced. Oak Tree has at least one, and Stratford had three as of today - not sure on the total count province-wide. What to expect? Nothing like "regular" beer... clocking in at 28%, this year's Utopias blend (including the brewery's wild ale, Kosmic Mother Funk, as well as other beers as old as around 20 years) should come off tasting more like a brandy or barley wine. In the US, it retails for $200. On PEI, it's a relative steal at $130.
- In the next day or so, a new beer will be released by the PEI Brewing Company / Gahan Pub. It was originally going to be a dunkel, but came out a bit sweeter - more like bock territory. It's had vanilla and bourbon added, as well as oak chips. It's part of their new "Chef's Series" of beers, and will be paired with a dessert at the pub. Pick your beer buddy up a growler and stick it in their fridge for Christmas. I'll probably do the same for myself. There may also be some bottles of Lobster Ale at the brewery to buy - a bright saison that's worth picking up.
- Barnone's latest batch of IPA turned out really well. The smell is fantastic. The flavour almost borders on being a bit too bitter or grassy, but, when I had it two weeks ago, wasn't. It's really worth trying, and is definitely PEI's best IPA / hoppy beer at the moment. Get it in a growler at the brewery on their next growler night, or luck out and find it at one of the places that carries Barnone in the province (not sure who has this latest batch on tap yet).
- My wife and I have been testing several recipes from a book that was sent my way a while back - it's a beer cookbook called The Craft Beer Cookbook by "The Beeroness", Jackie Dodd. In short, there are lots of recipes in it that are really worthwhile, super-tasty, and easy to follow. It's not a slam dunk, but I think it's the best beer-related cookbook I've personally come across yet.
- At liquor stores, aside from a few good singles, there are some variety 12-packs from Pump House and McAuslan / St. Ambroise that are fairly fresh, and each have a couple or few beers that are worth having.
- If you know someone in Halifax, Garrison's seasonal Spruce Ale is also out again - I haven't had this year's yet, but I love having it every year. If you're OK with tasting liquefied molasses Christmas tree, go for it. It's unique locally, and, although it puts some people off, I quite enjoy it. 'Tis the season!
There. Now I'll have at least one post in the last three months!