Tag Archives: Southern Tier Brewing

Steep in Heavenly Yeast

It is just one week until Christmas and we open door eighteen to find…

Krampus Imperial Helles Lager from Southern Tier Brewing a behemoth 9% blend of hops, dark malts and lager yeast.

 

How many deer would a reindeer reign if a reindeer could reign deer?

Southern Tier Krampus

Okay first things first, brilliant beer name. The bottle depicts Krampus the Christmas Devil who, according to European tradition, beats the naughty children with chains and sticks – I am guessing there are fewer naughty European children since Krampus seems far far worse than the threat of coal!

Krampus pours a clear deep gold with bright white head that reduces to some lacing and a light skim. Big hop nose and first sip is floral and resiny hops at the front of the palate, then dark caramel malts at the back of the throat followed by a deep warming quality. Medium bodied and somewhat viscous this lager sure packs a wallop. The finish is surprisingly not that bitter but instead a little on the sweet side. Krampus is a sipping lager though lager may be a bit of a misnomer for this beer. Overall it is like a Christmas gift to hop heads everywhere; IPA meets Lager meets Winter Warmer, devilish indeed.

 

Krampus is getting eight candy canes out of a possible ten …I hope this does not make him angry.

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The Great Pumpkin Beer Wrap-Up

Well I did it (self congratulatory pat on the back) I tried nineteen different pumpkin beers  leading up to Hallowe’en and I am happy to not have to see or drink another pumpkin beer until next year. In honour of this feat I thought I would put together a little wrap-up by ranking the pumpkin brews 1 through 19 to give my readers a better sense of my favourite and not so favourite beers.

 

 

Starting at the top of the gourd pile we have…

1. Southern Tier Pumking

2. Elysian Night Owl

3. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

4. Parallel 49 Schadenfreude

5. Granville Island Pumpkin Ale

6. St. Ambroise Citrouille (Pumpkin)

7. Parallel 49 Lost Souls

8. Tree Jumpin Jack

9. Elysian Dark O’ the Moon

10. Elysian Hansel and Gretel

11. Steamworks Pumpkin Ale

12. Epic Brewing Imperial Pumpkin Porter

13. Fernie Pumpkin Head

14. Red Racer Pumpkin Ale

15. Howe Sound Pumpkineater

16. Two Beers Pumpkin Spice Ale

17. Pike Harlot’s Harvest

18. Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale

19. Phillips Crooked Tooth

 

Now onto the Great Christmas Beer Countdown, 55 beers in 55 days …just kidding!

 


Pumpkin Beer Seven, A Little Taste of Heaven

Punkin Ale from Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales marks one week into my kooky pumpkin project and since I am still enjoying the ales I sample that is a pretty good sign I just might make it all the way to Halloween.

 

 

Punkin Ale pours a very clear deep orange with a small amount of white head that has really good retention. There is lots of pumpkin pie spice on the nose, definitely all spice and nutmeg, and a little caramel sweetness. It is very smooth in the mouthfeel with just enough body to carry the big flavours. Taste wise this one is more pumpkin pie than real pumpkin but there is a touch of earthiness that reassures you there were pumpkins in the brew. The flavours carry through to the finish but there is no lingering aftertaste. Punkin Ale is imminently drinkable.

 

This is my second go with Punkin Ale; the first time I had it I was not a big fan but this time out …wow. Punkin Ale may just rival Southern Tier’s Pumking as my favourite pumpkin ale this year but I’ll hold off on a final verdict until the bittersweet end.

 

I give Punkin Ale nine candy corns out of a possible ten.

 

 

 

 

“Because the movie Halloween (1978) was on such a tight budget, they had to use the cheapest mask they could find for the character Michael Meyers, which turned out to be a William Shatner Star Trek mask. Shatner initially didn’t know the mask was in his likeness, but when he found out years later, he said he was honored” 

Halloween Facts from http://facts.randomhistory.com/halloween-facts.html


Pumpkin Beer Five, Taste has Arrived

It’s day five and I am still drinking pumpkin beer; my mental state remains pretty good and I have been putting extensive training into preparing for my squash-atholon. I remain optimistic that I will be able to make it to the finish line. True, there have been a few set-backs and at times I feared I may never love pumpkin again but then along came Southern Tier and their Pumking, which restored my faith and re-affirmed my sense of purpose.

 

 

Southern Tier Brewing’s Pumking is an ale brewed with pumpkin. Pumking pours clear copper colour with a little bright white head; the head dissipates pretty quickly leaving a small amount of white lacing. There is a lot of pumpkin on the nose and a sweetness that reminds me of vanilla bean. The pumpkin flavour is prominent when you drink the ale with the vanilla notes tempering the earthiness of the squash. There is a decent amount of body to this beer and it has a subtle winter warmer quality imparted by the relatively high ABV of 8.6%. The finish is also quite earthy and a bit alcoholy.

 

Overall I think the gauntlet has been thrown down and I give Pumking nine candy corns out of a possible ten.


A Pumpkin (Beer) a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

 

Hallowe’en is one of my favourite holidays – dressing up as someone or something else, eating too much candy corn, watching cheesy horror movies and, of course, the arrival of pumpkin beers!

To honour this holiday in the best beer geek fashion I am going to do a series of blogs reviewing a different pumpkin beer everyday until Hallowe’en.

I have a pretty decent selection in the fridge but I will need some recommendations to meet my goal so feel free to add your favourites to the comments section…

 

Pumpkin Beers on Deck

Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale

Tree Brewing Co. Jumpin Jack Pumpkin Ale

Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter

Steamworks Pumpkin Ale

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Fernie Brewing Co. Pumpkin Head Pumpkin Brown Ale

Parallel 49 Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest

St. Ambroise The Great Pumpkin Ale

Epic Brewing Fermentation without Representation Imperial Pumpkin Porter

Two Beers Brewing Co. Pumpkin Spice Ale

Elysian Dark O’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Pike Brewing Co. Harlot’s Harvest Pike Pumpkin Ale

Southern Tier Pumking Ale


The Great Dark Beer Taste Test

One thing you need to know about beer geeks is that we like to subject others to our endless stream of knowledge on all things ale. Taking this one step further we like to use our friends like laboratory mice and subject them to various tasting experiments –oh wait maybe that is just me. Well either way I had so much fun with my blind test taste of craft versus commercial beers that I decided to put people to the test with their stouts.

The Great Dark Beer Taste Test consisted of a selection of 9 stouts representing various styles  –Oatmeal, Foreign Extra, American and Russian Imperial- and different brewing regions –Canada, US and UK. I wanted to see if people could taste the regional and stylistic differences in this most robust of beer styles. Before I continue with my analysis of the evening I would like to proffer this little pearl of wisdom; nine is too many stouts to sample in one sitting so do not try this at home. Despite this error in estimating my alcohol tolerance I think the evening offered some interesting insights but first let me provide a little information on the stout styles, the contenders, the tasters and the taste test:

THE STYLES

Oatmeal Stout – A very dark, full-bodied, roasty, malty ale with a complementary oatmeal flavour.

Foreign Extra Stout – A very dark, moderately strong, roasty ale. Tropical varieties can be quite sweet, while export versions can be drier and fairly robust.

American Stout – A hoppy, bitter, strongly roasted foreign style stout of the export variety.

Russian Imperial Stout – An intensely flavoured, big, dark ale. Roasty, fruity and bittersweet with a noticeable alcohol presence. Dark fruit flavours meld with roasty, burnt or almost tar-like sensations. Like a black barley wine with every dimension of flavour coming into play.

 

THE CONTENDERS

Southern Tier Brewing Company Mokah (American Double/Imperial Stout) 11.2% ABV; North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout 9% ABV; Spinnakers Titanic Stout (Foreign Stout) 7.5% ABV (X2); Fort Garry Brewing Co. Kona Imperial Stout 6.5% ABV; BrewDog Rip Tide Twisted Merciless Stout (Imperial Stout) 8% ABV; McAusian Brewing St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout 5% ABV; Le Bilboquet Brasseur Artisan La Corriveau 5.5% ABV

THE TASTERS

Leanne Fawcett, lover of Goody hair accessories and ardent supporter of the continued use of suspenders.

Brick Rodgers, audiophile unable to commit to just one hair band and fervent devotee to the use of macramé.

Catherine Carveth, ironic lover of Motely Crue and fan of rainbow coloured suspenders.

Delbert Davis, former drummer for the Shitty Beatles and proud sporter of a beer gut not requiring any apparatus to keep his pants vertical.

How it all went down…

In order to make this tasting as blind as possible I wrapped all the bottles in paper bags taping them tightly and covering the caps in masking tape. I let someone else uncap and pour the beer so I did not see what bottle was being poured, and we set out three samples at a time so we could undertake a little cross-comparison. Being the consummate beer geek I am, I asked (coerced) everyone into keeping notes on appearance, aroma, flavour and finish as well as make their best educated case at the region and style of stout. I provided the Beer Judge Style Guide notes on the style we were sampling as a point of reference. Then the fun part began the tasting!

Now for some of the broad gleanings from the evening, aside from nine stouts being too many. A lot of the character of a dark beer is contained in the mouthfeel. It felt a little redundant describing the deep brown/black colour with tan head, and often the stouts had very similar coffee and/or chocolate noses but it was in the actual tasting that the differences truly emerged. It seems like the style of stout tended to fall into two broad categories; the after dinner dessert like stout that was viscous, sweet, heavy and high in ABV and the more quaffable cold coffee, lighter-bodied, almost carbonated style or stout. Interestingly we all scored very well on guessing the region of the stout but a little more hit and miss on determining the style.

The top beers of the evening were:

  1. Southern Tier Mokah
  2. BrewDog Rip Tide
  3. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
  4. St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

Barley Wine is the New Black

Craft beer seems to be following an interesting path lately in that new or re-discovered styles of beer become ‘trendy’. Once one of these ‘new’ beers hits the shelves all of a sudden every microbrewer is making a version to call their own –some recent examples include pumpkin ales, coffee stouts, fruit beers, white or wheat beers etc.

The first time I tried barley wine it was definitely a new experience and still somewhat novel but shortly after the flood gates opened and everyone and their dog was brewing up their version of a barley wine.  So I thought I would devote an entire post to this beer fad before it becomes passé.

 

First let’s talk about the barley portion of the barley wine. Barley [bahr-lee] is a cereal grain when malted forms the primary ingredient in beer.  According to Mosher in Tasting Beer, barley may just be the perfect brewing grain.  It contains a large reserve of starch that can be converted to sugar, a husk that functions as a filter bed and enzymes that do all the ‘work’ with only the addition of hot water.   The enzymes in the barley grain facilitate the malting, brewing and fermentation processes.  Barley for brewing comes in two forms, two-row and six-row, so named because of their appearance when viewed from above.  From a brewer’s point of view the main difference is the level of protein.  Malt beers tend to be brewed using the plumper, lower protein two-row variety while mainstream American beers use the less rotund six-row variety, which has extra enzymes to break down corn or rice starches.

Barley Wine is a style of strong ale originating in England.  According to CAMRA this style dates to the 18th century where it was the duty of the upper classes to drink ale rather than Claret during the war with France.  Barley wines were often stored for long periods of time -eighteen months to two years.  A barley wine typically reaches alcohol strength of 8 to 12% by volume and is brewed from specific gravities as high as 1.120.  This style is called barley wine because it can be as strong as wine but it is made from a grain rather than fruit.

Everything about a barley wine is big; big malt flavour, high alcohol content, a ton of hops and it takes time for these elements to blend into a full, complex and mellow drink. In terms of taste, one can expect massive sweet malt, ripe fruit, generous hops, pepper, grass, floral notes, chocolate and/or coffee.  In many ways barley wine is the cognac of the beer world; it can be successfully paired but it is truly meant to be savoured alone. Anchor Brewing Company introduced the style to the United States is 1976 with Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale.  Many micro-brewers now produce their interpretations of the style.

Some examples include: Driftwood’s Old Cellar Dweller, Rogue’s Old Crustacean, Brooklyn Monster Ale, Dogfish Head’s Olde School Barleywine, Deschutes Mirror, Mirror, Southern Tier’s Backburner, Full Sail’s Old Boardhead and many others.

 

Driftwood Old Cellar Dwellar: I would give this beer a 4 out of a possible 5

Rogue Old Crustacean: I would give this beer a 3.5 out of a possible 5

Descutes 2009 Reserve Mirror, Mirror: I would give this beer a 4.5 out of a possible 5

 

*Thanks to www.camra.org.uk, Randy Mosher 2009 Tasting Beer,http://beer.about.com, Barley Images courtesy of http://www.mosseolets-venner.no/mossol.htm


Stout n’ About

Christmas is many things to many people but one of the holiday truisms is the abundance and indulgence especially when it comes to rich foods and sumptuous desserts.  So what better to accompany this calorie-laden fete than a heavy, viscous and equally rich beer?  Now before you default to the tried and true (cough, cough …Guinness) how about taking a chance on something a little bit different…

First up is Southern Tier’s Imperial Creme Brulee Stout heavy ale that pours a rich deep black with dark caramel head.  The smell alone is worth the purchase; the burnt crème scent so distinctive to the dessert namesake wafts strongly from the glass before you even get a sip.  Initially this beer has an almost bitter quality, a coffee essence if you will or strong roast malt, but this is countered as you continue to drink with the sweetness.  Definitely one to savour after a meal and I think you would want to serve this cool but not cold as it seems to mellow as you drink it.

Second, the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout another strong, dark and heavy ale that pours near black.  This one has a staggering 10% ABV so be warned… I thought it was important to put that out there early in the review since the sheer awesomeness of this beer makes one (me for instance) want to drink it down (too) quickly.  This ale has all the hallmarks of a great stout viscosity, colour, depth, chocolate, coffee and lots of malty goodness.  My go to stout for the season.  Like the Creme Brulee stout this beer does not want to be ‘Coors lite mountain cold’ but rather prefers to linger at a cool-ish room temperature.

The last quaff is God Jul from Norway a dark seasonal more like a porter than a stout.  I would love to give a bit of a description from the brewer here but alas I do not speak Norwegian and I have no idea what the bottle says.  So onto my evaluation –just so you know I did not select this beer blind as I had sampled their stout earlier and was very impressed. God Jul did not disappoint.  An opaque, effervescent and sediment heavy beer, what my partner dubbed used motor oil, God Jul has a fruity, apple cider nose and the strength of a Belgian.  The beer pours dark with an impressive amount of lacing, which lingers on the sides of your glass.  There is a definite spice element and a burnt aftertaste.

So who is our holiday winner?  Which beer will be left out for Santa with a plate of gingerbread?   Drum roll please…  oh gosh I can’t pick between them they are all great in their own way so 4.5’s all around for Southern Tier Creme Brulee, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout and God Jul.

Happy Holidays!!!


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