This is not so much one review but rather an overview of my sampling of several beers in an attempt to broaden my palette before attending the craft beer tasting at Firefly Fine Wine and Ales. Worried about appearing like a beer ‘rookie’ in a sea of cicerones I had a couple of friends over to assist me in a little research ie. ordering pizza and drinking beer. With all good intentions to carefully document the evening I instead found myself staring at a counter full of empty bottles trying to recall the differences between beer 1 and beer 10. So instead of doing a disservice to any of the bevies I tried I am going to offer some thoughts on what I liked…I think…If I remember correctly.
We commenced the evening with a ‘What the Huck’ Huckleberry wheat ale from Fernie Brewing Co – great name! Yet another summer fruit varietal this one being more on the tart than sweet side. The liquid is, well, the colour one might expect from a berry beer slightly purplish with a golden undertone. This ale is very light only 5% making it a nice starter beer for the night. We followed up with Brooklyn Local 2 a nice crisp ale with honey and citrus peel. It almost has a flavour like a Hefeweizen but based in strong ale. The honey flavour was nice and mild, not overpowering, and in the glass the beer is a dark orange-red hue with a dark foam head. At the same time we cracked Cannery Brewing’s Apricot Wheat Ale which I enjoyed but was not blown away with. Apricot is a subtle flavour and competing with the Brooklyn Local 2 I found I was not drawing a lot of taste from this beer – but to be fair had I tried this first off my opinion may have swayed. Moving right along, the White Bark Wheat Ale from Driftwood Brewery and just to get this out up front –this beer has a fantastic label, as do all the Driftwood beers. This white beer puts itself up against the myriads of Belgian style wit beers on the market and it fairs well against the competition. Not to overstate the obvious but I like white beers and this did not disappoint. It remained cloudy in the glass, nice head, and a good ‘bite’ from the coriander and orange – I personally like that these elements play against creamy texture of white ale. So my astuteness tends to slip slide a little downhill after this as I moved onto to a couple entries from Hitachino Nest, the Weizen and the White Ale. While I usually really enjoy this brewery I was disappointed with the Weizen. The beer had a really odd sweet and sour quality to it that I did not enjoy almost like it should have been drunk as an aperitif. The white ale on the other hand was good -granted at that point in the evening my vocabulary did not extend much past this beer good that beer bad- not the best white beer but not the worst; it claims to have nutmeg so if you like ginger snaps give it a go.
Now a word or two from the dark side, I am a lightweight not only in amount I can drink but also in the strength and viscosity of my beers so my obliging better half took on Pretty Things Sylvan Stout by Pretty Things Beer and Ale, the Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout (Organic) by Eel River Brewing Company, and Madrugada Obscura Dark Dawn Stout by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Coincidentally enough he ranked them 1, 2, 3 in the order listed. Some further thoughts…Pretty Things was a java stout, heavy on the coffee but not a thick stout, while Raven’s Eye was similar with less obvious coffee overtones. The Madrugada Obscura on the other hand was very unique it had a fermented ‘bubbly’ quality, which is somewhat challenging in a stout. Being the last beer of the evening it may have unfairly been given the short shrift but hey whatcha gonna do?