Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lagers from South East Asia

Yellow and fizzy lager is international - brewed and drunk everywhere. Here is a round up of three from South East Asia.

Tiger (Singapore) 5.0%

Pale gold. Very carbonated, light, sweet, malty. Yellow, fizzy international lager. Refreshing and with very little aftertaste. Not much to distinguish it from any other beer of this type but if a lager is all you're after this one will do the trick - though you might as well buy local.

Singha Lager (Thailand) 5.0%

Very sweet taste that somehow didn't interfere with the pleasant, though standard, lager taste.  I also really like the bottle cap.

Chang (Thailand) 5.0%

Very strong malty smell and sweet like creamed corn. The taste is along much the same lines, but also a very slight hint of hops and bitterness. A pretty nice international lager.  A really cool bottle cap and label.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rockbottom Brewpub (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Rockbottom Brewpub Sample Tray (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Six bucks for a sampler? Yes please! All of Rockbottom's brews were good and their seasonals were real standouts, can't wait to see their next batch of seasonals as the calendar turns. I also very liked the menu that comes with complete descriptions of their beers (which I didn't read), ABV, IBU and suggested food pairings: if only every restaurant treated beers with such respect! Our server was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, chatting with me about beers and their various events (a firkin of their specially made cask beer every Saturday!).

Deadwood Wheat 5.0% [12 IBUs]

Bread-like aroma. Slightly tart flavour with a touch of hops and a distinct grain taste.

Big Water Brown 5.5% [17 IBUs]

Very roasty, nearly coffee dark malt flavours at first. Nutty, grain & rye bread, sweet and slightly bitter with some fruit tones. A watery mouthfeel keeps it refreshing.

Fathom IPA 6.9% [70 IBUs]

Very floral, sweet, citrus (grapefruit) and melon hop aroma. That'll wake up your taste buds! Flavour is much the same (super nice) but more bitter than the aroma and the hops has a sprucy green edge as well as floral, sweet and really nice. A grain finish and floral bitter hops aftertaste.

Balticus 7.8% [70 IBUs]

Strong wooden tones come through in the aroma with spice and nut flavours as well as a smell that I can only describe as almost salty: very interesting. Some wooden tones come through in the flavour with hops and spice - quite a bit of bitterness as well as a mild high alcohol burn. This seasonal porter is also sweet with a touch of caramelized sugar.

Desecration 8.6% [65 IBUs]

Very floral hops aroma, sweet with grapefruit and melon tones but also a slight sticky sweet edge. This Imperial Red has punchy fruit and melon tones with a bitter hops finish. A nice beer with excitingly sharp tastes. The combination of alcohol burn and fruit tones almost make it a little wine-like but not a barley wine because it is not nearly that malty.

Jacktar Stout 6.7% [70 IBUs]

Chocolatey aroma, quite sweet with a hint of hops. Chocolatey taste as well as quite bitter with quite a bit of hops flavour too. Touches of fruit. A bitter finish. The hops seems to outshine the dark malt flavours to star in this one.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Take the Long Trail

This great craft brewery located in Vermont makes great beers and also has directions to the brewery printed on every bottle, gotta love it. Funny labels too.

Long Trail Ale (USA - Vermont - Bridgewater Corners) 4.6%

A deep amber colour, sweet but quite bitter. A full malty taste, roasty too. A nice change from bland beers and those that only show bitterness with a strong hops taste. Quite a malty and roasty aroma.

Long Trail Double Bag (USA - Vermont - Bridgewater Corners) 7.2%

Hoppy and caramel malt aroma. Light caramel flavour with quite a bit of bitterness. Not much of a hops flavour (other than the bitterness) but there is certainly some hops discernible. Also quite a hefty mix of dark malt tones: coffee, roast and dark chocolate flavours. In the same vein as the Long Trail Ale (bitterness and in colour) but definitely a unique beer that is quite good in its own right.

Long Trail IPA (USA - Vermont - Bridgewater Corners) 5.9%

Deep gold in a glass. A tangy strong hops aroma that tingles the back of your jaw and the sides of your tongue. A very hoppy taste and quite bitter but also a little sweet and nutty, floral with a strong malty finish.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Hoslten Three

These certainly aren't the only three Holsten brews but they are the only three sold in New Brunswick. All three are quite good and very cheap. Not a bad choice at all when served at the correct temperature. I like these beers and can design also: it seems very German and I like how similar each can looks and yet each can be easily distinguished from the rest so you know what you are picking up.

Holsten Premium (Germany - Hamburg) 5.0%

A dry hops and fairly malty aroma - sweet as well. Some fresh green hints.

Malty flavour with more of a hops character than I expected, though not extremely hoppy. Bitter flavour with a malt-house touch and bit of apple - a toasted bread and bitter finish. Holsten Premium tastes like it is higher in alcohol than 5%.  A shade paler than full gold in a glass.

A nice hops flavour that is greenish but still dry in the Euro lager style. The hops is dry as mentioned and while slightly musty it is also greener and fresher than many Euro lagers. Now the question is: is Holsten Premium hops character different than other Euro lagers because they used a different variety of (or just more) hops or did this can simply reach the shores of NB & my mouth faster? Hard to say.

All in all, a Euro lager with more hops and a more bitter flavour than most and that tastes more boozy than it actually is.

Holsten Maibock (Germany - Hamburg) 7.0%

An sweet slightly appley, malty aroma with hints of dry, musty hops and alcohol. A full gold colour in a glass with a full head. Very sweet, distinct fruit tones and the alcohol comes through quite, maybe even too, clearly when served cold. A little closer to room temperature and the alcohol seems to mix better with the rest of flavours rather than dominating them; roasted yet blonde tasting malt tones. A nice tasting strong beer when served warmish. Served cold, the alcohol plays too much in the forefront to the detriment of the other flavours.

Holsten Festbock (Germany - Hamburg) 7.0%

A sweet, somewhat appley, roasty and sticky aroma of figs. Initially very sweet with maple and caramel but it soon became dominated by more fruit (especially apple) and roast malt flavours with some faint wood notes; still quite sweet but not overly. Quite red in colour in a glass. Its high alcohol content delivers a chest warming finish.

The combination of sweetness, apple flavours and high alcohol result in a beer that is somewhat sherry-like. For a beer that is strong and cheap Holsten Festbock isn't bad at all. Where some beers in this class (cheap and strong) are simply alcohol delivery devices, I find Holsten Festbock to be quite good: not overly sweet, a nice blend of flavours and the warming alcohol feeling seems to bring it all together not push the flavours apart {like it does in some other cheap and strong ales}. Should definitely be served on the warmish side of a lager-serving temperature to ensure you can taste the other flavours over the alcohol.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Budweiser Shot 7.0%

Budweiser Shot 7.0%

It looks like Bud (gold in a glass), smells like bud (slightly skunky, vaguely malty) and tastes like Bud (sweet, a little skunky, malty; maybe a little more malty) but with an alcohol burn. It comes in a four-pack of mini-cans.

Interestingly, to me anyway, there is actually less total alcohol in a 236 ml can of Budweiser Shot (16.52 ml pure alcohol) than there is in regular 355 ml 5% Budweiser (17.75 ml pure alcohol). Though you can still drink this stuff much more quickly and therefore get drunker. Also they seem designed to sneak into places being pocket-sized and sporting a sharp looking black colour scheme. All in all, if you are a Bud fan and want to get wasted... well, this Bud's for you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Pair from Brick Brewing's Waterloo Line (Canada - Ontario - Waterloo)

Waterloo Traditional IPA - Brick Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Waterloo) 5.2%

A glowing orange, coppery colour. A light sprucy hops aroma. Somewhat sweet, sprucy with distinct roasty tones. Quite bitter as well as hoppy. A lingering bitter as well as roasty aftertaste. A really nice IPA.

Waterloo Dark - Brick Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Waterloo) 5.0%

Dark and malty but neither bitter nor roasty. Sweet but mild caramel flavour. Some oak tones are hiding in there. An interesting beer because it isn't quite what you would expect from a dark ale and also because it is very tasty.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

McAuslan Brewing (Canada - Quebec - Montreal)

Griffon Red Ale 4.5%

Griffon Red Ale is quite sweet and it's the crystal malt they refer to on the back label that is responsible for that. In addition to the slightly nutty or wooden tones, I also taste a sort of fruity flavour of figs in the aftertaste.

A very pleasant red that is sweeter than most but is not sticky: most traditional reds are more roasty and reminiscent of a caramelized sugar. Interestingly, I would say the aroma has more of that typical stickiness I expect from reds. I find Griffon Red Ale to be more drinkable than most reds - drinking four or five of these Red Ales wouldn't be a challenge at all because it's more crisp than those other reds I was referring to. Overall, a good red and one that even those who wouldn't normally reach for a red would enjoy.

Extra Blonde Ale 5.0%

Very clear and just on the pale side of full gold in a glass. Sweet with a distinct caramel flavour, also fairly bitter. A little smoky.

Pale Ale 5.0%

Caramel and sweetness, and also quite bitter: sprucy with hops in both the taste and aroma. A strong malt backing bracketed by the sugary sweet caramel flavour of what I suspect is crystal malt, and the sprucy hops bitterness with some faint red fruit esters for character.

An interesting beer, complicated and tasty but the mix of flavours seems just barely out of sync: the caramel sweetness doesn't entirely mesh with the robust hops bitterness, although I am often sensitive to caramel overload. All in all, McAuslan's Pale Ale is an enjoyable American Pale Ale on the sweet, caramel end of the spectrum with a nice hops character.

Saint Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale 5.0%

A pale apricot orange colour in a glass. Fairly mild aroma, a strong apricot taste. Not dissimilar to an apricot wine. It is barely bitter (a little more so in the aftertaste), sweet, perfumy and has a background of moderate malt. It is like a somewhat strong tasting lager with apricot added. The apricot flavour is well done and captures the nice aspects of the apricot and is blended nicely with the malt of the lager - an excellent flavoured ale.

Note: I have previously reviewed their excellent Raspberry Wheat seasonal, Saint Ambroise Framboise.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Keystone - Molson Coors (Canada)

Keystone - Molson Coors (Canada) 4.9%

Sweet, lightly malty not really bitter at all. A bit of a creamed corn flavour and very little in the way of an aftertaste. Light gold colour in a glass. Yellow, fizzy, refreshing and highly drinkable; there isn't really much else to Keystone so, it's a fine choice if that's what you are looking for.

This one of several discount beer brands NB Liquor brought onto their shelves for the summer of 2012. Among NB Liquor's summer choices to the passable James Ready, Molson Dry or the truly awful Old Milwaukee that round out this discounted roster, Keystone is your best choice.

Molson Dry 5.5 - Molson Coors (Canada)

Molson Dry 5.5 - Molson Coors (Canada) 5.5%

Malty, sweet, a little bitter. Pretty much just another international lager but with a cleaner taste with not much of an aftertaste to speak of. It's not a beer with a lot of character but if it's drunkening you're interested in it does the job and is cheap in New Brunswick all summer.

Old Milwaukee - Silver Creek Brewery (USA - Pennsylvania - Latrobe)

Old Milwaukee - Silver Creek Brewery (USA - Pennsylvania - Latrobe) 5.0%

In the case of this inexpensive beer you get what you pay for: Old Milwaukee manages to combine blandness with sickening sweetness and some misplaced bitterness that hits on all the wrong notes. Gold in a glass. Not a good beer, avoid.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Trio of Beers from China

This review of Chinese beers has something for everyone (sort of): a bad lager, an average lager and a really good lager.

Pearl River - Guangzhou Zhujiang Brewery (China) 5.3%

This beer pours crystal clear and bright gold in a glass. It has a strong hops and skunky aroma probably as a result of off-flavours caused by exposure to UV-B. Only lightly carbonated, quite sweet, lightly malty. A slightly different twist on an international lager: not as carbonated, not as malty, a little sweeter, and maybe more hoppy (or just more skunky). It is not bad but it is unremarkable, the only reason it is worth a try only is because it is from far away: pass.

Tsingtao (China) 5.0%

Skunky and sweet with an unpleasant scummy mouth feel. An uninteresting international lager.

Lucky Buddha - Cheerday Brewing (China) 4.8%

A sweet and dry hop aroma like that a Euro lager. Fully carbonated and leaves a good head that clings to the glass. A surprisingly fresh sweet malty taste, lightly hoppy and with some very light fruit tones of melon, banana and maybe citrus. Not very bitter; a pleasant malty aftertaste that doesn't fade too quickly. A slightly pale gold in a glass with a slightly brown hue.

I did not expect great things from this beer except that I'd get to keep the awesome bottle (it's really cool) but it is a very nice lager: refreshing and interesting.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Split Crow (Canada - Nova Scotia - Truro)

The Split Crow (Canada - Nova Scotia - Truro)

Our waitress at the Split Crow was extremely helpful providing a sample of all four of their unique beers free of charge (we bought several more after sampling) and answering my questions to the best of her ability. These beers are brewed by Garrison specially for the Split Crow pub so they aren't technically brewpubs but they do have beers you can't get anywhere else.

I was disappointed by the inability to get ABV for every beer but was impressed to see suggested beer and food pairings in the menu. There is also a Split Crow pub in Halifax and Bedford, Nova Scotia.

Split Crow Cream Ale 4.4%

A very nutty aroma and flavour that lingers roastily in the aftertaste. Malty and a bit hoppy and bitter as well. Gold in a glass. a very tasty beer with a bit of a watery mouthfeel that keeps it refreshing.

Rafter Red Ale 5.0%

A very sweet, nearly sticky aroma; hints of caramel and coffee in there. Considering how pleasantly pungent the aroma was, the taste is relatively understated. Mostly malty and hoppy with some bitter roasty with dark tones that leave a somewhat smoky aftertaste. Don't get me wrong, the taste is still very good just a notch of intensity below the aroma.

Shippey's IPA ? %

The weaker of the bunch, not hoppy at all. Yellow, fizzy... really nothing much to it, an IPA in name only - in the style of Alexander Keith's. The slightest touch of citrus. [Almost a slight touch of citrus in the taste (could just be leftover from other beers).]

Split Crow's Proprietor's Ale ? %

Light, malty, sweet, slightly floral a little appley, a little nutty. A nice yellow fizzy refreshing beer with a bit of character. Pale gold in a glass.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Clocktower Brewing Sampler (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa)

At $14.95 I thought this sample tray was a bit on the expensive side but the glasses were large for samples so that made up for it. An enjoyable time all around: good brews and the food was good too. Unfortunately I can't find my photos so this is going to be a rare photo-less review but there are plenty of pictures on their website. Enjoy!

Kolsch 4.4%

Nice hops spice and malty sweetness gives this beer a nice round finish. The aftertaste is a little skunky like a true Kolsch from Koln Germany, but otherwise it's not very similar to an authentic Kolsch: it's better. Pale gold

Raspberry Wheat 4.4%

Not drowning in raspberry. A fairly bitter finish and aftertaste that is not typical of wheat. Served with a slice of lemon on the rim which I removed at first. With the lemon in the beer it seems sweeter and obviously more lemony, I think it is better with the lemon but I recommend trying it both ways. Barely cloudy gold.

Wishart's Bitter 5.3%

Oak woodiness was first to jump out at me. It is bitter and the hops is a little spicy and floral. Pretty nice. A copper colour in a glass.

Clocktower Red 5.3%

A brown red it's so red. Very hoppy but not overwhelming. Malty and sweet tastes just a little fruity like and finishes with a bit of a burnt flavour suitable to a red.

Bytown Brown 4.8%

Bitter and dark. Roasty, hints of chocolate, quite a bit like coffee. Malty and sweet.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Three Summertime Lime Beers

Bud Light Lime Mojito 4.0%

Gold in a glass. Strong lime flavour, very pronounced: probably the strongest lime flavour I've had in a lime flavoured beer and it's also very minty. It is also very sweet but in a way that brings to mind fruit rather than sugar. Of the flavoured beers I have tried this has to be one of the more interesting: they were trying to make a beer that tastes like a mojito and, using natural ingredients, they did an excellent job. To be clear this is a beer that isn't just flavoured with lime and mint, Bud Light Lime Mojito is flavoured to the point that it tastes just like the lime and mint in a mojito. If you light lime beers you must try this one at least once and, obviously, if you hate flavoured beers steer clear. When paired with food it tastes less like a mojito and more like a mojito flavoured beer, as in some of mint taste seems to be replaced by regular old Bud Light barely malty (not barley) flavour.

Canadian 67 Sublime - Molson (Canada) 3.0%

A neat quirk of Molson Sublime 67 is a "Nutrition Facts" sheet stuck on its backside complete with a large number of zeroes and "not a significant source of"'s. The label is interesting because it is rare among beers though hardly surprising for a beer whose marketing is based on it having only 67 calories.

Very, very pale gold in a glass with an aroma of lime and lemon. Tastes ever so slightly malty (EVER so slightly) and sweet with the expected and pleasant touches of lime and lemon. It isn't overly sweet by any means but I thought the sweetness was a little strange for a beer with 0 grams of sugar unless they used artificial sweeteners however that seems unlikely because there is no mention of them on the label and that would pose an allergy risk.

At 3.0% this is a refreshing summer beer that is great for situations that call for low-alcohol content such as meeting the in-laws for the first time, or for the company picnic as well as for those looking for a low calorie alternative.

Tuborg Lime Cut (Denmark) 4.5%

It is hard to actually tell this is a beer. While other lime flavoured beers are just that, beers flavoured with some lime, Tuborg Lime Cut tastes only like lime. Judging by the name, Tuborg Lime Cut, I expected something more subtly flavoured as though it only had a wedge (or cut) of lime added.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

For this Independence Day I thought it would be a good for me to post a bunch reviews of great American beers I've tried over the last year or so. Cheers!

Allagash White (USA - Maine - Portland) 5.2%

Smells very fruity and floral, hint of banana. The taste is also floral, orange, spicy, coriander, bitter, a little yeasty. The suggested technique of pour most of it then swirling & pouring makes a great frothy head. Very cloudy gold or pale gold in a glass. A great Belgian style white beer.

Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale - Berkshire Brewing Company (USA - Massachusetts - South Deerfield) 5.3%

A heady mix of nutty and spicy malt and hops. Caramel sweetness and a perfect bit of bitterness. Described on the label as what the water in heaven should taste like and I am inclined to agree.

Pennant Beer - Brooklyn Brewery (USA - New York - New York) 5.1%

Caramel aroma and taste, quite sweet but also tangy with hops and a little bitterness that lingers on. Quite nice and well balanced. I drank this at the Cheers bar in Boston.

Gritty McDuff's Red Claws Ale (USA - Maine - Freeport)
A caramel and toasted bread aroma with some bitterness. Sweet caramel flavour with a spicy green hops bitterness. The warm round tones of toasted bread and caramel are nicely contrasted with, and the sweetness is cleaned out by, the spice of the hops and fairly bitter finish. Very enjoyable and drinkable. Would go well with food or on its own. An amber-brown colour in a glass.

Old Plowshare Stout - North Coast Brewing (USA - California - Fort Bragg) 5.7%

Not quite opaque, A roasty, chocolatey, oatmeal scent. A milk chocolate taste, sweet and smooth, some wood tones also. Has tiny bubbles, as a proper stout should. A pleasant slightly chalky mouthfeel with mild bitterness. A very pleasant stout; for those who favour organic food and drinks this one mustn't be missed.

 Redhook ESB (USA - New Hampshire - Portsmouth) 5.8%

A deep pumpkin orange. Sweet, earthy tones at first; a bitter tangy almost coppery finish that is quite hoppy. Sweet caramel malt combines with the mild earthy and wooden tones as well as a fairly pronounced hops taste for a pleasant-drinking and somewhat rustic beer which seems appropriate for a beer from northern New England.