Is it just me or is there a bit of a renaissance on lagers? It feels like this once solely ball park staple has been slowly edging out shelf space formerly occupied by other perhaps more challenging craft brews.
I like to think that broadly there is a move towards (backwards to?) perfecting the simple styles and letting the essential ingredients speak for themselves. Do we really know how good the underlying ale or lager is once it has been subjected to all manner of spices, fruits, teas, wood chips etc. etc. etc.
On this note I recently picked up a can of Innis & Gunn lager. To be honest I primarily bought this beer for the arty can but also to sate my desire for clean and simple summer beer that will take the edge off the Ontario humidity.
Innis & Gunn lager pours a dark gold colour, very clear with lots of big white head. It is the kind of photogenic brew beer commercials dream of, if you could show beer in beer commercials. The nose is all lager that hallmark yeasty skunky kind of smell that brings you all the way back to your first few under-age sips from a relative’s can. Clean to drink with just a hint of maltiness, a whiff of hop and yeasty character. The finish is easy, non-threatening. There is a reason lagers are ubiquitous at events of a sporty nature they are safe and familiar like an old pal. Overall a nice example of the style wrapped in a pretty can.
I always like to save a special beer to commemorate this oh so special day.
No, I am not talking about Easter, though it does have its merits as a candy-fuelled holiday, I am talking about my birthday!
To mark this momentous occasion I celebrated with Cascade Brewing’s Apricot an oh so very sour brew for this oh so sour beer-lovin’ gal.
Apricot ale is a Northwest Style Sour Ale aged in oak barrels with apricots. Apricot pours a bright gold colour, slightly opaque, with lots of bubbles and very little white head. Sweet dried fruit on the nose and just the slightest hint of funkiness. Now I love sour, the tarter the better, but hang on to your beer glasses fellow geeks because this beer is Sour (with a capital S nonetheless). Lots of apricot flavour, a bit of citrus, some earthy character, medium body and a dry finish. The sour finish lingers and lingers. This beer just never let’s up. It was so tart it made the back of my cheek pucker as I drank it but as sour lovers know this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Overall a great beer. At this point I feel like such a groupie that I am not sure Cascade Brewing is capable of making a bad beer. Happy Birthday to me indeed…
There is something about that first truly gorgeous weekend of spring that just puts you in a great mood. The sun is shining, the cherry blossoms are blooming, there is a nice cool ocean breeze and I inadvertently got my first sunburn.
It sure is sweet.
To top off such a glorious day an equally glorious beer is called for. Thankfully when I called Strawberry Northwest Style Sour Ale from Cascade Brewing Company answered.
Strawberry is a blend of wheat ales aged in oak barrels and then aged again on strawberries. On first pour this beer is cloudy, dark gold in colour, with a slight ring of head. The nose is summer in a bottle, earthy, sweet and berry. Oh so very berry. Less tart than most of the Cascade beers but still bringing a nice touch of sour to offset the very prominent strawberry presence. Fairly light in body with a sweet and ever so slightly oaky finish. This ale is, like the majority of Cascades line-up, utterly amazing.
Happy Pi Day fellow beer geeks (or March 14th for beer fans) and also happy 250th blog post to me!
In the spirit of all things geeky, I felt this New Brew Friday edition warranted an extra special brew, one that has been the recipient of much beer geek love, one that in its’ barrel-aged format warranted the title of #1 Beer in the World from RateBeer, one that in its’ plain old regular format garners a perfect 100 on RateBeer, and one that I have been hunting for some time and finally captured and brought home.
Speedway Stout from AleSmith Brewing Company is described by the brewery as “A HUGE Imperial Stout that weighs in at an impressive 12% ABV! As if that’s not enough, we added pounds of coffee for a little extra kick.”
I started with the best of intentions for cellaring this beer but alas it only lasted about six months in stasis before the hubby and I were compelled to drink it, partly due to his looming gluten-free lifestyle and partly because we knew it was going to be great.
Over the course of my 250 blogs I have tried many fabulous beers and even a few beers that proclaim they are the best, often these brews, while fantastic, tend to fall short of the hype largely to the dizzying expectations built around them. Thankfully Speedway Stout delivers as promised.
This stout pours blackest brown with lots of airy mocha coloured head. Big, I mean really big, coffee and chocolate nose. First few sips are slightly bitter coffee and chocolate. The mouthfeel is very smooth and this stout is full-bodied. As you drink, roasted malt and caramel character emerges and nicely offsets the bitter. Incredibly easy to drink despite the high ABV with no harsh alcohol-iness. Speedway is one of the few imperial stouts I have tried that does not require any downtime, it drinks great from start to finish. Speaking of finish, it is just slightly bitter and dry. Overall, a well-balanced and highly addictive stout and I have to say Speedway Stout is right up there are one of the best beers I have had the pleasure to drink.
I can think of nothing more fitting to mark my 250th anniversary post. Here’s to the next 250 …Slainte!
If you read my last post you’ll know the hubby is (reluctantly) delving into the world of gluten free beer. In his honour, I am dedicating this new brew edition to his very first attempt at finding a new go-to brew.
May I present for your consideration Harvester Brewing Coffee Pale Ale, part of the brewery’s Experiment-ale Series.
Coffee Pale Ale pours a very clear gold colour with lots of bright white airy head and good carbonation. There is a nice amount of coffee bitterness on the nose.
So far so good, it looks like a beer and it smells like a beer but does it taste like a beer? No, no it does not.
While receiving a respectable 3.5 average on UnTapped one user (presumably not the one bestowing 3.5 stars) described this beer as paint thinner and somewhat sadly I think we get where he or she is coming from.
There is an overwhelming astringency to this beer that derails other attributes. The hubby did say as it warmed it got slightly better but I never made it past the first sip.
Perhaps it is best not to think of gluten- free beers as beer because in many ways that seems to just set the brewery up for a fail. The quality of craft beer is so high right now that removing traditional brewing grains from the equation means you are no longer comparing apples to apples. It is kind of analogous to thinking of alcohol free beer as beer.
Despite the first swing at the plate being a miss, we will not be undeterred. I am interested in trying more from Harvester Brewing because they seem like a great operation dedicated to making the transition to gluten free as painless as possible and they hail from the land of beer aka Portland OR so I imagine we will mine some gold from their line-up.
Happy Valentine’s Day! It is a day for lovers, beer lovers that is, so when you and your sweetie are indulging in some decadent dessert don’t forget to pair it with a worthy craft beer.
Accompanying our hazelnut torte with chocolate mousse the hubby and I cracked open our Joseph James 5th Anniversary Barrel Aged Smoked Wee Heavy, a 14% warmer that makes a lovely after dinner tipple.
This wee heavy pours a very darkest brown black with just a ring of head and nice legs. Big smoky sweet nose with lots of malt. First few sips are viscous and slightly harsh but as you drink the bourbon and vanilla flavours bring things back into balance. Nice oaky character reminding you this one spent lots of time in the barrel. Very warming on the finish, rich and sweet. Overall, There is a lot to like here and I think this beer would be a fantastic cellar candidate.
Also, I have say I really love their label (hope they don’t get sued by Joseph and his Amazing lawyer) with the beer name turned into a fox tail and the black/silver colour scheme. The silver wax seal was a nice touch and I would definitely gift this beer.
It’s the end of the week again (funny how that happens with such regularity) and that means it is time for a new brew review. I spent the start of my week in Seattle so I thought I would offer up a review of a local beer from Epic Ales.
Rooibos Red 7% ABV is a “hearty malty west coast red, made complex with loads of rooibos tea”.
Rooibos Red pours a very cloudy ice tea colour with lots of carbonation and just a little bright white airy head. There is a lot of cold tea aroma on the nose and some maltiness. A thin bodied beer with tons of tea flavour, a little like tea that has been steeped a bit too long, lots of malt, a bit of smokiness and just a touch of sweet. The finish is quite tannin heavy as well. Conceptually I like this idea and I like the quality tea imparts on beer making it somewhat tepid; however, I found this one a bit of a miss.
Kelp Stout from Tofino Brewing Company a 6% ABV stout brewed with seaweed.
Kelp stout Pours deepest black brown with lots of mocha coloured head that has decent staying power. A chocolate malt nose, full bodied but not in imperial territory, lots of cold coffee on the finish. The kelp comes through with a salty taste that displaces the usual sweet character in a robust stout. Personally I like this umami addition, which complements the minerally character of Tofino brews. As desserts the world over have shown us the addition of sea salt brings out a whole new dimension to dark sweet things. The problem with this stout for me is my initial impressions did not carry through to the bottom of the glass. By the time I finished this one I was totally kelped out, it just became too much. If I had tried this beer as a taster I would have said I loved it but an entire bottle and I am much more on the fence. Overall, Kelp Stout is definitely worth a try but bring it to a bottle share and let everyone have a little taste or a little kelp goes a long way!
Happy Holidays to all my fellow beer nerds, I hope Santa treated you well bringing a sack full of new and interesting beers for you to share with friends and family.
This new brew Friday is somewhat special for me because I finally got to drink a beer I have been looking forward to for quite some time now, Lustrum Wild Sour Ale from Driftwood Brewery.
Anyone who knows me or has ever read this blog will know that I am to sour beer what hop heads are to Double IPA’s. To find out that one of my favourite BC breweries was trying their hand at my most favouritest style was exciting.
Here is the description from Driftwood: “Aged for over a year in French Oak this blood red vinous beast holds depth of color, flavor and aroma unparalleled in any beer we have brewed thus far. Fermented with locally sourced wild yeast and a copious load of black currants, Lustrum will be enjoyed on many levels!”
And here is mine: Lustrum pour a beautiful deep plum red colour with tons of reddish tinged soapy head that really stuck around. Big dried fruit nose with an equal helping of funky yeastiness. Tart at the front then giving way to an oaky character and some sweetness. The currant really dominates giving this beer an almost lambic like quality meets red wine reminding me of Unibroue Cassis or Lindeman Cassis. A dry beer that finishes with some tartness but also a bitter quality. To me this beer tastes a bit young, like the flavours have not really blended together, and I think it could have benefited from further aging. I found the currant taste over-powering at times and also a bit cloying while the yeastiness seemed a bit too up front. Personally, I like my sours to be quite tart and very dry. Overall it felt like a bit too much was going on in this beer at once making it feel like a bit of an identity crisis.
Nonetheless to see BC brewers delving into sour/wild ale territory is quite exciting and hopefully this is the beginning of something big. #BCneedsabarrelhouse
Ah, winter beer season that most glorious time of the year when the craft beer pours forth dark and heavy, tipsy from time spent in the company of bourbon, and smelling like a bakery on a Saturday morning.
While I am boycotting the majority of holiday ale offerings this year after having (over) indulged when I (over) estimated I could (should) consume twenty- four Christmas themed brews in my de facto advent calendar for last year, luckily, for me, boycott is a fairly loose term. This means I can still cherry pick the odd seasonal for consumption in front of a roaring fire.
Having been pleasantly surprised by Young’s Double Chocolate Stout I felt pretty safe picking up Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Bitter from my local liqour store. The Young Brewery and Wells Brewery merged to become the Wells & Young Brewery in 2006.
Sticky toffee pours a deep black brown with lots if airy dark mocha head dying down to a light lacing and skim. Roasty malt and sweet caramel on the nose with some chocolate notes. A light bodied and clean bitter that presents flavours of cold coffee, toffee, powdered chocolate and roasted grains. This beer initially has a dry slightly bittered finish but as you drink more bitterness comes through on the finish.
Overall a nice, non-gimmicky, seasonal beer that hits all the flavours you want in a winter offering.