Friday, August 31, 2012

Alpine Max 6.0 - Moosehead (Canada)

Alpine Max 6.0 - Moosehead (Canada) 6.0%

Pale gold to gold in a glass. Has a malty, very slightly yeasty aroma. Malty and a little sweet: typical bland international lager taste but with a slight alcohol burn even though it's only 6.0%. The alcohol probably stands out because there is so little actual flavour going on that there is nothing to mask it. This would be a fine choice if all you drink is bland international lagers and are looking to get drunk on the cheap, otherwise you aren't missing much by missing Alpine Max 6.0.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Banana Bread Beer - Wells & Young (UK)

Banana Bread Beer - Wells & Young (UK) 5.2%

Tastes like banana at first which is what it is supposed to taste like but it is pretty odd to drink. It is sweet but the finish is quite bitter and also tastes just like banana bread. A brownish red colour in a glass. I think that the initial banana flavour is a little artificial tasting, like banana flavoured candy or medicine, however I have always had a hard time with the taste of banana outside of bananas and banana baked goods. The banana bread finish is spot on. If you want a beer that tastes like banana bread this is the beer for you. If you are interested in trying as an wide assortment of beers as possible you would remiss if you passed on Banana Bread Beer by Wells & Young Brewing. If you hate flavoured beers: obviously stay away from this one.

Friday, August 24, 2012

UK Pub Brews

The flavours and mouthfeel of the following five beers are characteristic of beers I associate with pubs in the United Kingdom. There are many nice flavours but the slightly watery mouthfeel keeps all of these beers refreshing so that you could easily drink more than a couple. Enjoy!

Spitfire Premium Kentish Ale (England - Faversham) 4.5%

A warm toffee, roasty flavour. A pleasant sweet grain taste as well as a lively hops taste; somewhat bitter as a result (of the hops). A mild sherry-esque flavour of fruit rounds out the mix. That same fruit sherry aspect is prominent in the aroma along with toffee and roasted tones. A unique and pleasant drinking beer.

Ruddles County Traditional English Ale (England) 4.7%

Smells of bitter hops and is smooth on the tongue and almost a little watery. Tastes like toasted bread, lightly caramel, pleasantly bitter with a hint of coffee and a sprucy hops aftertaste although it's not nearly as hoppy as the smell initially led me to believe. A refreshing and interesting mix of flavours.

Belhaven Best (Scotland) 4.8%

I can see why this would be as popular in Scottish pubs as the can claims (though I saw more Tennets, London's Pride and Stella Artois). Belhaven Best's aroma is chock full of caramelized malt, as is the flavour, though there are also smoke and wooden tones that make it tasty if you like reds or, ahem, Scottish ales. Also its creamy head of foam and slightly watery mouthfeel make it very much pub-appropriate and session-able. It is a reddish brown colour in a glass and quite enjoyable.

Boddingtons Pub Ale (England) 4.7%

When you pour this ale from it's charming tall-can you are rewarded with a gold coloured curtain of tiny cascading bubbles that forms an extremely creamy head of foam. The aroma is of fresh bread and lots of roasty notes with hints of hops and spruce.

The ale itself is smooth and creamy as promised, and fairly sweet with a caramel touch. While it has roast tones and is bitter, it is also watery in a way that makes it dance on your tongue: hitting here and there while never being too strong tasting. Seems like an ideal summertime beer even though I'm drinking it in the depths of February. Highly drinkable and very pleasant, authentic to the style and it pairs well with a variety of dishes, those containing Dijon mustard in particular.

Old Speckled Hen - Morland Brewing (England - Suffolk) 5.2%

A fruity bouquet and a extra-reddish sort of amber colour in a glass with a full head. In true English fashion, this beer should definitely be served a little warmer than most in order to get the full flavours. It is malty, and bitter but also sweet (just the way ale should be). The malt taste is roasty and there is a little bit of spiciness lurking there too. Something about Old Speckled Hen always reminds me of sun-dappled wood floors.

Overall it is not too strong tasting, so drinkers with tastes that tend to the more bland beers could try this for a initial excursion into the wonderful land of full flavoured beers and ales. Also, I feel Old Speckled Hen is a good example of an English ale or at least it puts me in mind of a few of the better ones I had the good fortune to imbibe while I was in the UK.

Chin chin!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (USA - Delaware - Milton) 6.0%

Very hoppy in taste and aroma. Quite bitter with strong hints of coffee in both the aroma and the taste. Not sweet with an earthy finish. A really nice IPA with an interesting twist of coffee roasty tones and low sweetness.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Organic Old Ruby Ale 1905 - Duchy Originals from Waitrose (England) 5.0%

A full amber that seems to glow the way it catches the light. Ruby seems a bit of a stretch but (if it is meant to describe colour rather than style) as suitable a word as any. Quite a sprucy flavour paired with plenty of sweet roast stickiness, a mild touch of citrus in the middle and hops comes through on the back-end with a fairly bitter finish. A lively ale, the taste seems to change with each second as it passes from lips to belly.

Certified organic this ale is one of many varied organic products by Duchy Originals from Waitrose a partnership founded by HRH The Prince of Wales. More information can be found on the link below. I wonder if they'll knight me for linking to?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Okanagan Springs Brewery (Canada - British Columbia - Vernon))

Okanagan Springs Brewery located in Vernon, British Columbia has been making beer since 1985. This taster pack included four varieties was purchased (and reviewed) in January. It seems like the composition of these taster pack changes with the season: a seasonal taking the place of the winter appropriate Brewmaster Black Lager. The labels of all of the bottles include a brief write-up of the beer and a few cool informative graphics.

Pale Ale 5.0%

A slightly hoppy and sweet ale, a little nutty and a somewhat caramel flavour. It has a smooth finish with a bitter touch.

Hopped 5.2%

A strong but not overpowering hops taste, it's more balanced than many hop heavy beers. Also not particularly bitter for a beer that tastes so strongly of hops.

Brewmaster Black Lager 5.0%

Malty with coffee and chocolate flavours. Quite dark in a glass with a frothy head. An interesting beer out of a standard brown bottle and a very detailed label tells us something of the beer. An interesting black lager, it has the same refreshing mouthfeel of a lager but with the flavours of a dark beer.

1514 5.0%

This lager is made in accordance with the Bavarian Law of Purity. The result is a lager with more than a hint of hops and malty tastes of freshly toasted bread. Tasty and refreshing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Seaport Beerfest (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Seaport Beerfest 2012


A few general notes about my recent Seaport Beerfest experience in Halifax: it was awesome despite the rain. I got a number of reviews done and it was great to see such a vast selection.

Of the beers I tried, the ones that really stood out were: Rogue's Roost's Barley Wine, Garrison's Comet Double IPA, Flacatoune a Belgian Pale Ale from Microbrasserie Charlevoix and Hell Bay's English Ale which I thought I was a superb English Pale Ale. There were many more beers that I tried and enjoyed and many more that I didn't have time to try. Hell Bay's Smoked Rye also gets special mention for being such an interesting beer even though I couldn't finish my sample for fear that the intense smoke flavours would mess up my palate.

Beer on the Pier

I also would have liked to be able to make it to some of the ciders since I don't usually drink those. In fact, one of things I enjoyed most was being able to try beers that I wasn't expecting to be all that remarkable without having to shell out the cash to buy a 12-pack just to confirm my suspicions.

I'm definitely going next year and wholeheartedly recommend it to all you beer enthusiasts out there.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Waterloo Amber by Brick Brewing Co (Canada - Ontario - Waterloo)

This nice little number was only briefly carried by NB Liquor and at the time of publishing there are still some on the shelves of certain stores (use NB Liquor excellently useful Product Search to see which ones) but when they gone: that's it, that's all for Waterloo Amber in New Brunswick.

Waterloo Amber by Brick Brewing Co (Canada - Ontario - Waterloo) 6.8%

A red, roasty and sweet aroma with a hint of hops and more than a hint alcohol. There is a distinct alcohol warming and a bit of bitterness when drinking it after it has been out of the fridge for eight or so minutes. Best to let this warm up a bit so that the alcohol can mingle with the other flavours rather than stand out on its own. That's better: a nicely sweet and roasty body with a touch of honey and wooden edges though, with a still quite boozy finish.

For a beer with nearly seven percent alcohol by volume the flavours are on the light side, especially when compared to the darker, thicker, hoppier beers that one tends to find in that 'weight' class. Waterloo Amber is a good beer and really good for a strong beer. I think it would taste even better still if the alcohol content was slightly lower (6 or 6.2%) so it didn't mask some of the lighter flavours quite so much. A honeyed amber colour in a glass.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Another Fantastic Seasonal from the Pump House Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Moncton)

Thai Wheat - Pump House Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Moncton) 5.0% to 5.5%

Spicy, slightly nutty aroma. The taste is amazing: spicy like a touch of chili flakes and ginger with lots of floral, yeasty tones (a bit of apricot) typical of a conventional Belgian wheat and some nutty toasted bread malt flavours. A cloudy pale gold. A watery mouthfeel keeps it refreshing. I really want to pair this with stir-fry and similar food. A great beer with lots of great character and good balance.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Euro Lagers - Part 5: The Rest

Being the truly universal beer, lagers are produced in just about every country of the world. In this final part of my five part Euro Lager Saga (tm) I present six Euro Lagers from five countries in Europe not known for their beer production. Although their countries of origin may not be known for their beers and Euro Lagers are not the most titillating style, the last three are actually quite good (especially Kronenbourg 1664)!

Zubr (Poland) 5.6%

Dark yellow gold. Tastes of musty melon, it is sweet and not bitter. Somewhat unusual taste for a lager. Great copy-writing on the back label and a really cool bottle cap.

Viru (Estonia) 5.0%

Gold is a glass. Malty and fairly bitter for a lager - somewhat musty tasting. Thicker on flavour than a typical international lager but bland compared to any other style. The bottle is really cool though, and I quite like the bottle cap.

Peroni (Italy) 5.1%

Smells a little bit malty. Really carbonated and tastes of... barely anything. A little malty, barely hopped at all. If you want your beer to taste like nothing at all this beer is for you... or if you just want its cool bottle cap. Otherwise I would suggest you save yourself for a beer with a flavour.

Birra Moretti (Italy) 4.6%

A dry hoppy, slightly malty aroma. Gold in a glass. Quite a malty flavour with sweetness and toasted bread as well as a hint of caramel and all balanced out by lightly dry hops flavour - not very bitter but just bitter enough to make Birra Moretti work. A very nice Euro lager when it is all said and done.

Mythos (Greece) 4.7%

Quite skunky aroma - likely due to the light green bottle and UVB. A dry, light hops aroma typical of Euro lagers; a little musty perhaps due to age. The taste is mostly of that same dry hops flavour, though in Mythos it is bordering on wood tones with a hint of smoke. A bit of a tang and some spicy also from the hops. Lightly malty and probably more bitter than sweet. All in all, not a bad beer it's quite refreshing because it is dry rather than sweet and would probably pair well with spicy foods and lots of other kinds of fare. A fine Euro lager. Pale gold in a glass with a good head of foam.

Kronenbourg 1664 (France - Strasbourg) 5.0%

A sweet malty aroma with a touch of dry hops bitterness and a fairly strong banana and white grape juice smell too. More flavour to this beer than I expected from a Euro lager: it is still predominantly sweet malt but with a few lightly roasty hints and a bit of dry hops, but also plenty of that same white grape juice and some perfumy herbal characteristics make Kronenburg 1664 much more complicated than other Euro lagers. My refrigerator can be a little cool for ales and higher alcohol beers but the low temperature suits a lager like Kronenbourg 1664 just fine. I don't suggest giving it a few minutes to warm up. Gold in a glass with a good head and nice lacing. I was actually worried it might be flat when I opened it not much gas escaped when I cracked open the can. However, that was only because the can was very full (I might have an extra 5 ml) so there was very little room for gas to accumulate.

 In case you missed it, here are the earlier Parts to this Euro Lager Saga:

Euro Lagers - Part 1: The Czech Republic
Euro Lagers - Part 2: Scandinavia
Euro Lagers - Part 3: Germany
Euro Lagers - Part 4: Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Euro Lagers - Part 4: Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria

While hardly representative of Belgian beers, Stella Artois is a large part of Belgium's export market. It is included here with a trio of Euro lagers from Holland and one from Austria.

Stella Artois (Belgium)5.0%

A pronounced mix of sweet maltiness and dry hops. The result is a sweet moderately bitter lager that is refreshing and characteristically well balanced. There is also a detectable skunky off-flavour, that comes about due to the use of a green bottle which doesn't block UV-B the way a brown bottle does. Though technically an off-flavour I feel the skunkiness adds to the balance of the beer by forming a bridge between the malt and the dry hops.

Hollandia (The Netherlands) 5.0%

A somewhat yeasty, grain aroma. Full gold in a glass. Malty and quite bitter. A slight metallic alcohol flavour which is surprising for a beer that is only 5.0%. A generally unremarkable beer but not bad.

Grolsch (The Netherlands) 5.0%

Its characteristic flip-top bottle is a favourite of home-brewers (read: favourite of mine) and has also seen service as a bottle for homemade hot-sauce. The beer itself is gold in a glass. It tastes quite bitter for a lager with a dry hops flavour. A pleasant and typical European lager.

Heineken (The Netherlands) 5.0%

A creamy malt aroma with a bitter touch of dry hops and a splash of something skunky despite the fact that this beer came in a half-litre can and not a green glass bottle. There is also banana in the aroma. Gold in a glass with perfect frothy head.

The taste is sweetly malty, chaulky with a distinct but not overpowering banana flavour. Not very bitter at all and not much of the dry hops flavour I get in the aroma, as a result Heineken seems to be more like a North American, rather than a Euro, lager.

Stiegl (Austria - Salzburg) 4.9%

Such a warm sweet malty scent. The aroma doesn't carry over that strongly into the flavour. Quite bitter, hoppy. Has barest hints of apple and nut. Yellow, fizzy, highly drinkable and more bitter than most lager/pilsner types; although it is bitter without a sprucy hops punch like an IPA, there is still a bit of hops character to go along with the bitterness and fizz. Also, the old-style design of the beer can is quite likeable.

 In case you missed it, here are the earlier Parts to this Euro Lager Saga:

Euro Lagers - Part 1: The Czech Republic
Euro Lagers - Part 2: Scandinavia
Euro Lagers - Part 3: Germany

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Euro Lagers - Part 2: Scandinavia

Regular readers will know that my blog really got going during half of a year I spent in Norway (Norwegian Yule Beers). Here are a few other lagers and pilsners that I came across during my time in Scandinavia.

Fredrikstad Pilsner (Norway) 4.5%

Thin tasting, a little sweet (a kind of honey sweet) but very mild. It tastes lighter than 4.5% and isn't bad. However there isn't much to its flavour, good or bad. Cool label.

CB Pilsner - Christianssands Bryggeri (Norway) 4.7%

Thin but with a strong malty taste. It's unique but not terrible good: the flavour is one-dimensional and the beer is not very refreshing.

Dahls Pils (Norway - Trondheim) 4.5%

This is a dreadfully thin beer. It tastes of beer flavoured water with a hint of cardboard. The redeeming qualities are few and far between: it is cheap for Scandinavia and it has a nice looking bottle cap. Avoid this one.

Lundetangen Pilsner (Norway) 4.7%

A very sweet beer with a malty aftertaste. It's a little too sweet to be properly refreshing but in general not bad.

This beer is brewed by the Aass brewery but the recipe is from the now defunct Lundetangen brewery who's demise bankrupted the father of Henrik Ibsen, Norway's most famous playwright.

Nordlands Pils 4.5%

Nicely drinkable with a bitter (and delayed) aftertaste that I didn't mind. Somewhat sweet but definitely a solid Euro lager/pilsner. At 15.90 NOK it is on the expensive side of local beers but only by a few dozen cents per bottle.

Tuborg Green (Denmark - Copenhagen) 5.4%

A surprisingly lively pallet for a pilsner: a little bit fruity, a little sweet, a little bitter. Lightly carbonated and lightly, sparkling gold in a glass. Refreshing but mostly unremarkable.

Tuborg Pure Gold (Demark - Copenhagen) 5.5%

A dry hoppy smell. That hops character comes through in the flavour as well as sweet, smooth maltiness. This beer is a lovely gold (who would have thought Tuborg Pure Gold would be gold coloured!), well carbonated with a moderately bitter finish. All in all Tuborg Pure Gold is quite smooth, fairly refreshing though quite malty and is, on the whole, well balanced.

Gull (Iceland) 5.0%

A warm somewhat sweetly-toasted bread taste with a somewhat bitter aftertaste for a lager.

Viking Gultur (Iceland) 5.0%

A very ordinary international lager, slightly more malty and bitter than average.

In case you missed it, here's Euro Lagers - Part 1: The Czech Republic.