Category Archives: Beer Reviews

On Trend

Often craft breweries seem to pick up on a unique flavour, hop, herb, flower etc. and next thing you know there are countless options on the shelf boasting said ingredient du jour. I feel like hibiscus may be a somewhat slow-burning example of this. At first, I recall having one hibiscus craft beer and it was good, then another brewery followed suit and it was good, then… Well you get the picture.
This brings me to the current beer in my glass, Hibiscus Saison from Guelph’s Royal City Brewing Co. This beer pours a rose gold colour, a bit hazy and with tons of airy bright white head. Slightly funky on the nose typical of the saison style and perhaps a bit of fruitiness, this may be the hibiscus influence. First few sips and I would know this is a saison but not sure I can discern the hibiscus flavour. Truth be told, any of the other hibiscus beer I have tried is equally subtle with the star ingredient imparting a tepid, tea-like character or a slight fruity or berry taste but one that is not too sweet. A fairly light-bodied beer with impressive head retention and some carbonation. Finishes on the slightly spicy side. Overall a decent saison but not sure I would say the hibiscus was a crucial factor here. Maybe I need to sample some straight hibiscus tea to get a better handle on what this edible flower is bringing to the bottle.


Hibiscus image from https://funflowerfacts.com/2013/07/17/13-fascinating-uses-for-hibiscus


There’s no taste like home

Recently I received a wonderful gift in the mail, three new beers from Steamworks Brewing Company. It is like somehow the beer gods knew I was feeling quite homesick and bestowed these three offerings upon me – also pretty sure the new Sales and Marketing coordinator may have had her hand in there as well.
The treasures in my mailbox included two limited releases the White Angel IPA and Tropical Tart Ale as well as one seasonal release YVR ISA. timely selections in light of the fact Ontario is in the midst of a heat wave, a tropical heat wave, the temperature is rising, it isn’t surprising that she can, really can-can …. Oops off on a bit of a digression there perhaps the heat has gotten to my brain. Thankfully though my palate has been spared.

YVR India Session Ale is a lightly hopped 4.4% session beer that pours clear straw gold colour with lots of bright white head. Big citrus hop nose, good carbonation and lots of flavour packed into a very accessible beer. All citrus and tropical notes at the front followed by a subtle bitter finish. Light bodied and perfect for a patio pint. I really love session styles, especially in the crazy humid days we have been having. If you think IPA’s are a bit too much this brew is a great segue. As always beautiful bottle artwork.

Tropical Tart Ale is as advertised a 4.9% ale with tons of passionfruit flavour. This beer pours a hazy gold with lots of airy head on the initial pour. Like the YVR, the nose on this beer is all about the tropical fruit, reminds me of papaya, but also a little bit of that sourness that kind of puckers the back of your cheek. Effervescent and a little too easy to sip, light sours are really one of the best summer options out there in my humble opinion. There is also some yeastiness on the finish giving it a subtle hefe quality. A very pleasant surprise. If this beer makes it easy I will be picking up some more.

White Angel IPA is a 6.9% hybrid of IPA meets Hefeweizen. Pours hazy straw gold with lots of thick white head that leaves nice legs on the glass. Lots of carbonation. Spicy almost funky nose, all hefe, with the IPA character coming through after a couple of sips. Not as hop forward as I thought it may have been. At first, White Angel seems like a fairly light beer but the strength really begins to come through the more you sip. Of the three I sampled this one is not my favourite but it is an interesting blend of styles and the slightly higher ABV lets the big flavours -spice and hop- come together nicely.

Thanks Steamworks Brewery for a little taste of home!


Blogging and Drinking and Drinking and Blogging

Well it has been a ridiculously long time since my last post. Always ready with a myriad of excuses on why I do not have enough hours in the day to sit down and blog (a problem exclusive to me I believe) I have decided to crack a beer and blog while I drink it …no excuses!

TGIF, and TGIF it is a warm and sunny Friday. Ottawa has taught me (beaten into me) the need to seize every sun-filled moment and wring every last minute out of it because Mother Nature will soon take back what she has brought forth. So in honour of the sunshine I am drinking, literally right now as I type or at least between typing sentences.

Always a sucker for trying an odd beer flavour and basically ambivalent about Disco, Disco Soliel India Pale Ale brewed with kumquats, was an easy choice.

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Disco Soleil, from the always fabulous Quebec Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, pours a cloudy, sediment filled, effervescent dark orange gold with airy white head. There is a big tropical fruit nose with floral hop notes as well. First few sips are full-bodied, strong with a bitterness that reminds me of citrus rind or grapefruit, and lots of hop.

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As I continue drinking this beer becomes a bit more balanced; the malt character emerges from behind the initial bitterness and the hops are more subtle. The head settles down into some nice lacing around the glass and the nose pretty much dissipates. The strength of this beer imparts a nice warming feeling.

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Final thoughts. I like this beer. To elaborate a bit, the citrus forward IPA’s are a favourite of mine given I am not the most hop happy beer geek at the pub there is something about the bold bitter fruit flavours that I really enjoy. Bolder IPA’s really seem benefit from a bigger ABV as well as some time to sit and breathe bringing the complexity of tastes to their full potential. Disco Soleil leaves me with a lingering bitter taste with just a bit of sweet toffee malt.

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I doubt this brewery could make a bad beer if they tried…


A Pint fit for a Vulcan



I am sure by now everyone has heard of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. A relatively recent Trek convert, I actually saw Mr. Nimoy speak at a convention before I had even watched the original Star Trek series. I was impressed with his humour, warmth and obvious love for his fans. Stories of his cast mates hiding his bicycle during show tapings highlighted Mr. Nimoy’s good nature, and hearing him speak fondly of his friendship with William Shatner made him seem genuine and down-to-earth (no pun intended). Seeing Mr. Nimoy’s self-deferential cameos on Futurama and The Simpsons showed he could playfully poke fun at that blurry line between the man and the character he made famous. I’ll have to admit I was becoming a Spock fan.

After I returned home I embarked, with my ever-so-nerdy hubby, on my own little “trek” to figure out just why people loved the show so much. Much to my surprise I found it campy and fun with the Spock and Kirk bromance imparting a sense of heart. So in the end I joined the legions before me who have enjoyed the final frontier. 

When me husband shared the news with me that Mr. Nimoy had died he and I both felt someone unique was gone. That evening he and I shared our own form of remembrance. The hubby put on some Leonard Nimoy vinyl and I finally got around to opening my can of Vulcan Ale so I could raise a pint to his memory.

Vulcan Ale, brewed by Harvest Moon Brewing in honour of the 2013 centennial celebration of Vulcan Alberta, is an Irish red ale that pours a nice dark reddish chestnut colour with a light cream coloured head and a slightly sweet nose. Right out of the fridge this beer is pretty good though when you have to add the caveat ‘drink cold’ it does not really bode well. Pretty standard in flavour profile, malt forward, a bit of caramel sweetness and a slight toasted character. As it warmed this one seemed a little off to me but in fairness this beer may have been lingering in my fridge a little too long. Overall it was an okay beer, not bad per se but nothing I would add to my regular rotation more of a silly one-off appealing to my inner nerd.

In the end the man was far more memorable than the Vulcan Ale raised to his memory. 

Boldly go Mr. Nimoy, you are missed…










New Brew Friday Southern Tier Imperial Compass

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It is a warm and sunny September afternoon here in middle Canada. The mosquitos are mostly gone, the leaves are a myriad of beautiful colours and that makes it a perfect Friday for sipping some beers on the patio.

A recent trip to the LCBO was quite fruitful as I found not one but two Southern Tier brews nestled amongst the regular beer line-up. One was even new to me, which is the best case scenario for any true beer geek.

This new brew Friday is showcasing my find of the year, Southern Tier Imperial Compass a bottle conditioned sparkling ale brewed with rose hips and citrusy hops. As the description suggests this beer pours a bubbly deep gold with some bright white head and a big citrus hoppy nose. First few sips are sweet and hoppy with some yeast character and the slightest floral note. A big warming beer at 9% this one reminds me of a Belgian crossed with an IPA. Not too much to dislike about this beer, well balanced and easy to drink. As you continue drinking the flavours remain consistent and the head has impressive staying power. The finish leaves a nice lingering hop aftertaste.

I have yet to be disappointed by Southern Tier so no big surprise that I am a fan of this beer. If there is any critique it is some Southern Tier beers can be over the top, think Creme Brûlée, but Imperial Compass hits all the right points (bad pun Friday indeed). Have a great weekend!


You know that beer could kill you…

William Street Brewery

This week I visited William Street Beer Company in Cobourg, Ontario, which is located in an old white car garage on (where else) William Street. The brewery is pretty small with space for a couple of beer fridges at the entrance, a shelf for some beer swag and a bar where you can grab a small pour of whatever happens to be on tap. When I visited this happened to be nothing.

William Street Info Beer Fridges

The behind the counter beer guy explained they have been having some up and downs since opening, selling a lot of beer (a good thing) and have refrigeration issues (a not so good thing). The fridge stocks were likewise depleted so my only option was to purchase one of the half dozen or so remaining bottles of their English Golden Ale. I was told this beer did not turn out quite like expected but it had an interesting citrus note. A little unsure about the descriptor I hated to leave empty handed so I tried it. I mean what do you have to lose right?

Beer Swag Beer Swag

Beer Menu

Well apparently a little more than I would have thought.

I popped the beer into my freezer bag in the car and when I got home I put the bottle in the basement, which is always pretty cool (temperature not style). After dinner I am sitting upstairs when I hear a loud bang followed by a loud yell. I hurry downstairs to find an exploded beer bottle and beer everywhere and my very startled looking spouse standing midst the carnage.

Broken Dreams

Now being the dutiful beer geek I am and having had a previous experience with a combustible bottle of my own home brew I thought I should notify the brewery so they could pull those last couple of bottles from their fridge.

Their response was not what I expected.

Instead of saying thanks for letting us know or saying sorry about the exploding bottle or even offering to pour me pint next time I stopped in, I was told (via Twitter as they never wrote back to my email) no one else reported the ‘spontaneous combustion’ of their bottle and ‘they could not replace the bottle’?!?

Ouch. Not the answer I hoped for and to be honest this response kind of puts me off the brewery. I mean I am not some beer neophyte who left the bottle in the blazing sun for hours and hours and even if I were they made no effort to discern what could have went wrong. Not to sound trite but I like to think I know a bit about beer storage and bottles just are not supposed to explode at random.

So I have to ask, what do you think fellow beer geeks? Is a blown-up bottle just a random occurrence? Was something wrong with the beer? Should a brewery take some interest in this?


New Brew Friday Holiday Honey

Happy Friday beer aficionados!

This time around we have Holiday Honey from Old Credit Brewing Co. out of Mississauga, Ontario. We visited the brewery to pick up some of the beer and the brewery is in a great location right down near the Lakeshore. The brewery itself is pretty blasé, a red brick store front, some beer historical memorabilia in the shelves, a few fridges stocked with the three available beers and a nice gentleman behind the counter offering wisdom on which beer to pick up. I’ll post a brewery write-up soon.

The said gentleman recommended their award-winning Holiday Honey so I took his advice and brought a 650ml home.

Holiday Honey pours a really clear reddish gold colour with lots of airy head on the initial pour and the head dies down pretty quickly. Sweet honey on the nose, first few sips are very malt forward with a mineral water taste. There is just the slightest bit of bitterness on the finish but nothing to really discern the hop character. A light bodied 5% ABV beer, a nice choice for summer, one that drinks well when it remains cold. Overall a nice beer, not outstanding but safe and easy.

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Beers Across Canada Day 2

Second day on the road and I cleared all those ugly mountains dominating the British Columbia landscape finally making it to the flatness where the day is broken up alternately by a cow, a cell phone tower, a garbage can or a sign post that euphemistically states important intersection ahead.

Tonight’s beer selection is (was) Chocolate Bunny Stout (aka Minhas Chocolate Bunny Stout) from Rhinelander Brewing Company based in Monroe, Wisconson.

Sadly this chocolate bunny never quite made it to the tasting stage as it unceremoniously rolled out of my mini fridge and onto the ceramic tiled floor where it promptly burst into many pieces.

As such I can only give my thoughts on appearance and nose. Pooling on the floor this beer was medium brown in colour with just a swirl of mocha coloured head. The nose was big and chocolately. In fact it smelled so good I contemplated grabbing a straw. Well no that’s not true, but I did think it would be quite sad if I drank it through a straw off the bathroom floor. I quite liked the fun label on this beer it’s use of simple colours and patterns, and that is about all I have to say.

Hopefully I stumble across another bottle before I leave Wild Rose country so I can flesh out this post a little more. In the meantime stay tuned to see where I land tomorrow evening and keep you fingers crossed that my next beer makes it slightly closer to consumption.

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Beers Across Canada

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15 years. I have lived in British Columbia for just shy of 15 years and now I find myself saying goodbye to this most beautiful province as I, the hubby, our assorted pets and Juliet (our u-Haul) make our way across the country.

While it is always hard to say goodbye it is also exciting to think of all the new places and all the new craft beers I am going to explore in this next phase of our lives.

To commemorate my transition I thought I would mark each evening with a beer local to wherever I happen to land for the night.

First up is my final British Columbia beer, well to be clear my final BC beer consumed as a resident of the province, not my final BC beer ever. Anyway I digress as tonight with dinner I began my journey with a pint of Mt. Begbie High Country Kolsch on tap in Revelstoke home of Mt. Begbie Brewing.

This Kolsch pours a bright clear gold colour with very little head and lots of carbonation. There is a slightly yeasty slights sweet nose, it is very light bodied and you get subtle a sweet grassy flavour, mild hops and some wheat beer character. The finish is quite dry. Overall a really nice beer after a long day on the road.

Stay tuned as I continue to drink my way across Canada (not while I am driving of course).


Out of the Cellar: Beer with Friends

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This out of the cellar edition is dedicated to all those friends of beer geeks that uncomplainingly sample all the oddball beers the beer geek in their lives subjects them to, smiling politely while you tempt (torture) their taste buds with all manner of crazy ABV’s, crazy flavour combinations, crazy tart sours, crazy heavy stouts, crazy …well you get the idea.

This cellared beer, Old Cellar Dweller 2010 from Driftwood Brewery, has some history for its’ drinkers as it was the first beer we tried at our very first trip to the Great Canadian Beer Festival. In retrospect, starting the day with a whopping nearly 12% casked barley wine was probably not that smart but it certainly set the tone for the rest of the event!

Old Cellar Dweller pours a hazy caramel colour, opaque with some light white head that ebbs quickly. A very sweet and syrupy nose starts you off. First few sips are malty, sweet and viscous, this is followed by more floral and earthy notes and just a bit of bitterness on the finish and a warming sensation that lingers. It is a caramel kind of beer, sweet but not cloying.
Barley wines really do age very well smoothing off any harsh alcohol and bringing the malt way forward. A lovely finishing beer and big enough (in quantity and personality) to share with friends.


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