Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Warmer - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Winter Warmer - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 6.5%

Smells roasty, sticky and like caramel. A dark amber in a glass, a little like burnished wood. Very strong flavour, sweet with a somewhat floral spicy punch and fairly bitter with cloves but also with a hops flavour that is ever so slightly (and pleasantly) green.

Not an ale for the faint of heart but perfect for a curling up with during a dark winter's night. Would be a great drink to serve at any Yule, Christmas or New Years Eve party and would also make a great stocking stuffer for that beer lover on your list.

Truly a great winter style beer, I'm not surprised at all it brought home a Silver Canadian Brewing Award in 2009.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

1664 Blanc (France - Strasbourg)

1664 Blanc (France - Strasbourg) 5.0%

This wheat beer is flavoured with plenty of extra additives including just plain old glucose syrup. However at first blush the colour is right, cloudy and a white gold; its aroma is a fun appetizing mix of grapefruit, other citrus fruits and a passion-fruitlike smell that may be from a mix of citrus and coriander wheats are known for. The flavour is actually quite nice, it's fruity like the aroma, there is malted wheat as well as bitterness (it is a real beer after all) and spice in there too.

I can imagine drinking a lot of these would result in a splitting headache the next day (especially since it's 5.0% rather than nearly all of the other flavoured beers out there) but these would be great on a patio in the summertime. It's also a beer that non-beer drinkers could enjoy.

A really cool blue glass bottle and a stylish, though simple, bottlecap. This one is definitely worth a try, hopefully it doesn't get pulled for being released in the winter when it would be better suited for the summer.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Orval Trappist Ale (Belgium)

Orval Trappist Ale (Belgium) 6.9%

The first one I tried was VERY bubbly - probably because I served it right out of the fridge instead of at 12 to 14 degrees Celsius as they directed: word of warning!

The second was very bitter, spicy, sweet, floral with some wood tones: this is a beer that won't go unnoticed. This is much as I expected from a Trappist ale though I do find it to be more bitter than some of the other Trappist ales I have tried. A fun, exciting and exotic beer to try for anyone interested in a taste adventure.

A cloudy orange amber colour in a glass. Trappist ales always cloudy with natural sediment because they are bottle fermented.

Also of note, this beer has a "bottled on" date and a "best before" date - five years later! Like many Trappist ales this one can be aged essentially like wine.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Beer From Ontario & One From Norway

Creemore Springs Premium Lager (Canada - Ontario - Creemore) 5.0%

This lager is malty and sweet, a little bit skunky, and is amber in a glass.

A very smooth pleasant taste with a bit of bitterness.

Frydenlung Bayerol (Norway) 4.5%

A brownish red in a glass, this beer is smoky and malty. And fairly bitter. It's a nice mix and darker tasting than I had expected. Hints of black licorice and oak.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kingfisher (India) 4.8%

Very pale gold. Malty, bitter and little bit skunky: very lightly flavoured. This bottle might have been a little stale. Regardless, the beer is really quite bland so it is easy to drink but not palate cleansing-ly refreshing per se.

But on the plus side Kingfisher is from India and has a beautiful bottlecap.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Alexander Keith's Dark Ale (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 4.1%

My first impression is that it is highly carbonated and really mild tasting despite being so dark that it was barely translucent. Skunky like regular Keith's with a bit more of a malt taste and slightly bitter.

Alexander Keith's Ambrosia Blonde and Tartan Ale are both really good but I found the Dark Ale didn't have the depth of flavour I would like. Might be a starting point though for people interested in broadening their beer horizons before trying the really strong tasting beers.

Though it is certainly not bland, it is hardly what I was expecting from a dark ale and in that way in reminds me of Rickard's Dark, another mild (though slightly paler) dark ale.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Boris Bold (France) 8.6%

Not surprisingly, this high alcohol beer has a high alcohol burn. Though expected this makes the rest of the flavours a little difficult to access. It is quite malty and a little hoppy. Like many strong beers the malt and the alcohol taste mix to form something a little sticky but it certainly tastes better than most.

On the darker side of full gold, nearly a brass sort of colour in glass.

This beer is kind of neat, its alcohol burn is more like that of a strong mixed drink but the typical beer flavours of malt (mostly malt) and a hops touch are there too. An interesting beer to try and certainly and interesting option for those who like strong beers (and 8.6% is really strong); however, if you don't like tasting your alcohol give this one a pass.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ambrosia Blonde - Alexander Keith's (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 5.2%

A full gold colour in a glass. Keith's Ambrosia Blonde has a sweetness to it with a slightly caramel taste. It is only barely bitter but is fairly malty with some roasted malt flavour and has some mild wooden tones. The aroma is along much the same lines though the roast and the caramel flavours share the spot light whereas the roast stays more in the background of the taste.

A very pleasant beer: well balanced and tasty. Keith's has come out with several limited release beers lately, I really liked the Tartan Ale - I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next. Hopefully they are considering moving towards having a variety of their beers out there all year round.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Royal 100: 1910-2010 - Mount Royal University & Wild Rose Brewery (Canada - Alberta - Calgary)

In honour of the 101st anniversary of Mount Royal University I will review the beer released to celebrate their 100th:
Royal 100: 1910-2010 - Mount Royal University & Wild Rose Brewery (Canada - Alberta - Calgary) 5.0%

Tastes of red malt make this beer taste warm with bitter hop tones. The mix of flavours were perfect for winter. A tasty beer and a grand one liter bottle - handy for homebrew too! A deep reddish amber colour in a glass.

It was brewed by the neighbouring Wild Rose Brewery for Mount Royal University located in Calgary in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Mount Royal University's founding.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Octoberfest!

Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier (Germany) 6.0%

The most notable thing about this beer is its awesome format. The glass, the 1 litre can of beer and the cardboard flaps holding the two together cost somewhere in the realm of $13.00 at liquor stores in New Brunswick and is well worth it; the glass alone is worth nearly that much to me.

The beer itself pours clear and golden. The aroma is malty and sweet but also hoppy, and the taste is much the same. Very pleasant but mild tasting, a combination that would make it very easy to drink lots of this beer (I think that's the idea).

I highly recommend this purchase, the glass is fantastic, the beer is good and traditional, and the can itself is sturdy and has a great label (piggy bank perhaps?).
Happy Oktoberfest!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Propeller Hefeweizen (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Propeller Hefeweizen (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 5.3%

Full gold in a glass, this Hefeweizen from Propeller hits on all cylinders. A yeasty bread aroma with hints of the flavours to come: cloves, dried banana chips, sweetness and spice. These flavours dance across the palate along with flashes of pumpkin, earthy nuttiness, as well as floral spiciness. A mouth wateringly nutty and earthy aftertaste, with echos of the cloves explosion, means the drinker will be reaching for a second shortly after finishing the first. Propeller really nailed this one, delectable and true to the style. Just a fantastic beer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Faxe Three

Faxe Premium (Denmark) 5.0%

A gold colour in a glass this beer has a nice head but went flat quickly. Fairly bitter, malty and somewhat thick and sweet. While certain characteristics of this beer aren't bad the mix is not appetizing at all and despite the low price of this beer this is not one that I would recommend.

Faxe Fest Bock (Denmark) 7.0%

A dark brown beer. It is malty, roasty and very bitter (almost sour) and a little sweet. It's reminiscent of Yule Beers which appear on shelves all over Scandinavia in the months leading up to Christmas (check out these reviews and these and this one, for an idea of what Yule Beers are all about).

Unlike its 10% brethren that includes glucose syrup amongst its ingredients, this Faxe is made with only water, barley malt, and hops. Like the 10% Faxe it is very cheap (selling for $2.85 for 500ml including tax and deposit) but unlike the 10% Faxe it's actually pretty good.

Faxe Extra Strong Beer (Denmark) 10.0%

I was surprised to see a complete ingredient list on the side of this 500ml can of beer. I was even more surprised to find glucose syrup as the third ingredient. I guess they needed something to make the yeast pump out enough booze to make this beer 10% ABV. It's bitter, sickly sweet, gold in a glass and very cheap. Very cheap is likely the only reason this thing sells and only to people who are looking to get drunk ... and those who are on a mission to review every beer they can find.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Belgian Brown

De Koninck (Belgium - Antwerp) 5.0%

A deep amber brown in a glass this Belgian beer smells malty and musty like it's just come out of a dusty barrel brought up from the cellar. Malty, bitter and largely without sweetness. Kind of watery (which makes it somewhat refreshing at first) but with a lasting musky taste that lingers and makes the beer taste as though it ought to be stronger than 5.0%. An interesting brown beer with an eye-catching bottlecap.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pokal Lys Pilsner (Norway) 4.7%

Pokal Lys Pilsner (Norway) 4.7%

A very ordinary international lager with a slightly hoppy taste. Altogether average and very drinkable. Gold in a glass and with a MILDLY bitter aftertaste. It is well on the cheap side of the beer options in Norway and as a result could be a staple during a Norwegian vacation: it is better than Borg Pilsner and almost exactly the same price. The only snag is that the flavour isn't worth going out of your way to find and it is only sold in Coop grocery stores which are not quite as common as the other grocery store chains in Oslo.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rickard's Blonde (Canada) 5.0%

Rickard's Blonde (Canada) 5.0%

As regular readers know, I've already reviewed Rickard's trio of beers. I enjoyed each of them (some bitterness towards Rickard's Dark regarding its replacement of my personal fave Rickards Honey Brown notwithstanding) so I was pleased when Rickard's came out with a new beer about two months ago: Rickard's Blonde.

This German style pilsner is a lovely deep gold colour - exactly the same colour of the can, the matching of the colours is a minor note but done with care taken is a sign of good things to come.

The aroma is malty, floral (a little bit of apple blossoms) and a little hoppy. The taste has a rich malt flavour with a mild sweetness as well as a fairly bitter blend of hops that reminds me of Czech pilsners. The rich maltiness and the pallet cleaning taste of hops make this a great beer to pair with all sorts of food: from gourmet cuisine to pub fare. The hops really come out well as the beer warms, the recommended serving temperature is between 4 & 5 degrees Celsius which is about 5 degrees cooler than the serving temperature of their other beers.

This isn't the most exotic tasting beer but it is a solid addition to the slew of pilsners out there and a good addition to Rickard's existing line of products.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dos Equis Lager Especial and Dos Equis Amber (Mexico)

Dos Equis Lager Especial (Mexico) 4.5%

Pale gold in a glass. Lightly flavoured: somewhat malty and sweet, a little bitter. Musty taste like damp cardboard. Fully carbonated and very drinkable but pretty light on taste. A standard international lager but it has great ads though.

The cardboard taste is due to oxidization, and unless this is due to sloppy brewing practices where the beer is exposed to oxygen during the brewing, this probably because the beer is old and has gotten a little stale. Unlike Samuel Adams there is no 'brew date' or 'best before' date on the bottle so you can't be sure if a bottle of Dos Equis is going to be stale tasting until you drink it! And unless your local beer store moves a lot of Dos Equis, there is a good chance you could end up with an older than optimal bottle of beer. Not the brewers fault but something to consider.

Dos Equis Amber (Mexico) 4.6%

Dark amber to the point of being brown. Sweet with hints of caramel, a little musky (like the Dos Equis Lager), malty and roasty. Dos Equis Amber is a surprisingly complicated beer (considering that the lager is quite bland), and it is quite good in my estimation.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Pair of Very Different Dark Beers

Gosser Dark Beer (Austria) 4.5%

Dark brown in a glass. A creamy malty flavour of dark chocolate and yet not very bitter. Velvety foam. A very nice beer in all.

Guinness Draught canned (Ireland) 4.2%

This is a watery offering with coffee and malt flavours and bitter but without any hints of dark chocolate that might be expected from a black beer like Guinness. All in all, the canned version just isn't Guinness Draught even if it says so on the label and even though it is black in a glass with the cascading silky smooth foam that it is known for.

And what is this "beer - serve extra cold" business at the bottom of the label? That seems more suitable to flavourless American style lagers rather than a pint with this much history.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beer Maven Canada Day Suggestion - Mill Street Brewery

Mill Street Brewery - Lemon Tea Beer (Canada - Ontario) 5.0%

A dark, but orange and gold tinted, brown colour in a glass. The lemon (and it is actual lemon puree) makes the beer taste like a white beer at first until the maltiness of the lager kicks in.
This is a beer that screams summer, it begs to be drunk on a sun drenched patio. The beer is sweetened with sugar cane juice but it doesn't come across overly sweetened probably due to the fact that it is mixed with actual orange pekoe tea which does a delicious job of balancing the sweetness.

Cheers and happy Canada Day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Boxer Lager (USA - Wisconsin) 5.0%

Boxer Lager (USA - Wisconsin) 5.0%

Very little taste to this beer: a little bit of bananas, some malt and a little skunky. An unremarkable lager that has a somewhat scummy mouthfeel.

Needless to say I don't exactly recommend this beer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bigtide Brewing Company - Sampler (Canada - New Brunswick - Saint John)

Bigtide Brewing Company - Sampler (Canada - New Brunswick - Saint John)

A delightful brewpub located in historic Saint John with good beer and great food. I enjoyed one of their sample trays of four of their five beers that they currently had available all for the low, low price of $8.00 (and that's including tax!). All their beer is brewed on site although not all the types mentioned on their website are available at all times of the year. I was also allowed into the brewroom, just off the bar area, for a few photos.

Rounding out the experience the service was great too; for whatever reason one of the glasses of beer was flat and our server, Breanne, brought us a new one without complaint. I recommend this place to anyone dining in Saint John.

(From right to left: Hemp, Bitter, Wheat, Brown)

Fogbound Hemp Pale Ale

This very good beer had an unusual but pleasant bitter taste, as well as floral tones and it was also almost a little soapy, probably from the natural oils of the hemp seed. A very interesting beer and tasty; ordered a pint of this one, also took a pint of the bitter.

Benedict Arnold Extra Special Bitter

Caramel taste and bitter. Wooden tones and a sprucy hops taste. A good mix and a very good beer.

Wild Wheat Summer Ale

The least flavourful beer in the tray, a little bitter and not bad but missing the interesting characteristics (usually floral flavours) I expect from a wheat beer.

Stone Circle Brown

Being a brown ale it was not thick like a stout or a porter. An enjoyable beer, the main flavour is a musty cross between coffee and chocolate with a certain woodiness.

A special Beer Maven thank you to Breanne G.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anchor Steam Beer (USA - San Fransisco) 4.8%

Anchor Steam Beer (USA - San Fransisco) 4.8%

Very bitter but pleasantly so. The mellow malty and sweet taste and the bitterness is consistent throughout making for a balanced tasty and interesting beer. The colour is alternatively amber or a brownish red depending on the angle.

Great bottle and bottle cap.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Borg Beer

Borg Pilsner (Norway) 4.7%

A typical international lager base with a thicker feel on the tongue. On the yellow side of gold in a glass. It has a sort of nutty aftertaste that is rather nice at first. More bitter than some of the other pilsners/lagers out there. As you drink on, the aftertaste lingers and becomes a little more bitter. One of the cheaper beers in Norway (retailing for 9.70 NOK which is about $1.70 CAD for a 330 ml bottle) it tends to leave a somewhat scummy feeling in the back of the throat after several beers and a hangover is guaranteed after three bottles.

Be sure to grab this one if drinking beer bought from a grocery store (it's worth the price savings) but I wouldn't drink it at a a bar when it is bound to be as marked up as anything else or not served at all.

Borg Lettol (Norway) 2.5%

A lighter version of the Borg Pilsner: lighter in flavour, lower in alcohol and a little bit cheaper.

However the best of the Norwegian Lettols (their light beers) is Lettol Grans.

Borg Sommer Pilsner (Norway) 4.5%

A light but engaging malty flavour. A little bitter in the immediate aftertaste which settles into a nice almost smoky lingering aftertaste. Very appetizing beer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two from Sam Adams

Samuel Adams Noble Pils (USA) 4.8%

Brewed with "all 5 Noble hops from the world's oldest growing regions" according to the blurb on the label. This beer has a great hops taste with tones of cucumber and bitter citrus.

Malty enough to somewhat balance the hops but this is definitely a hop-lovers beer.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager (USA) 5.5%

This beer tastes malty and ever so slightly hoppy with also smoky caramel, spicy and bitter flavours (so much so that certain sips almost taste slightly sour).

Overall it is a very nice winter ale and another great beer from Sam Adams.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Moose Light Ginger (Canada) 4.0%

Moose Light Ginger (Canada) 4.0%

This beer is gingery as promised, it tastes like real ginger and is spicy and sweet but manages to not be too spicy or sweet making it possible to drink more than one. A very nice summer beer.

I look forward to pairing it with different foods (stir-fry?).


[EDIT: Moose Light Ginger is, according to its label, a malt beverage - not actually a beer.]