Sunday, September 30, 2012

Moosehead Cracked Canoe (Canada - New Brunswick - St John)

Moosehead Cracked Canoe (Canada - New Brunswick - St John) 3.5%

Very pale gold. A sweet, ever so slightly hoppy aroma with light malt and grain tones. Very mild flavour: mostly sweet, barely malty with a hint of grain as well as the faintest hints of hops. Watery mouthfeel. Fully (but not overly) carbonated and very refreshing. Pretty good for an ultra-light beer - an individual certainly cannot expect a pile of flavour from a beer of this style - so I would not dispute their use of the "Premium" tag.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Picaroons Harvest Ale (Canada - New Brunswick - Fredericton)

Picaroons Harvest Ale (Canada - New Brunswick - Fredericton) 5.5%

A green hop aroma with some resin and celery, sweet malt and earthiness. It is very foamy and has a super frothy head and spectacular lacing. Copper coloured in a glass.

Quite bitter with a mix of nice hop flavours: green vegetal tastes, touches of resin. In addition to the hops, Harvest Ale has some balancing malt sweetness, though the hops win out, and a touch of earthiness. All in all a nice tasting beer.

Picaroons Harvest Ale is an example of a rash of new beers from the Maritime Provinces that use fresh or "wet" hops (to indicate that they haven't been dried). Brewers in the Maritimes have the opportunity to use wet hops during harvest time now that numerous hop farms big and small have sprung up all across the region. It certainly is an exciting time to be a craft beer lover. Picaroons has included on their label a stamp to indicate variety of hop the farm and batch from which the hops originated and even a link to a page on their main website that identifies the farmers. Pretty great community building.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Twisted Tea (USA)

Twisted Tea (USA) 5.0%

Tastes like a really sweet and lemony iced tea; sweeter with more lemon and less tea flavour than Coors Light Iced-T but still very much like iced tea I've had before. Not any beer flavour to speak of and of course this is actually a malt beverage not a beer per se. If you like fountain iced tea give it a try, if you don't like iced tea might as well avoid it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Storm King Imperial Stout - Victory Brewing (USA - Pennsylvania - Downington)

Storm King Imperial Stout - Victory Brewing (USA - Pennsylvania - Downington) 9.1%

Opaque and very black. Smells strongly hoppy and of dark chocolate. It tastes quite bitter both like hops and bitter like dark chocolate and has an alcohol finish. The hops character mixes heavily with the chocolatey stout but there are melon hints before the two forces intertwine. This hoppy stout is called an American Stout (Americans do love their hops) which I think is a tasty and interesting take on traditional stouts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

9 - Magic Hat (USA - Vermont - South Burlington)

#9 - Magic Hat (USA - Vermont - South Burlington) 5.1%

An orange apricot gold colour in a glass. A very floral apricot flavour, sweet but not overly sweet with a nice hoppy hint in the background. Well balanced and although malty and a little bitter (especially in the aftertaste), #9 reminds me of a fruit wine, in a good way. Interesting, well balanced and refreshing, this is a very pleasant beer - perfect on this hot early Autumn day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 6.0%

Brewed with pineapple juice this Pale Ale would be considered an American Pale Ale so it drinks more like an IPA. It has an extremely hoppy aroma that is chock full of cedar and resin; and the smell of pineapple juice comes through too. The taste is along the same "oh-goody" lines: very hoppy, with cedar and resin tones, though the beer as a whole isn't overly bitter, and the pineapple juice comes through as well. Gold with an amber touch in a glass.

Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale is really neat, the pineapple juice is really obvious in one way but totally blends in at the same time: it is there if you are looking for it but because it mixes so well with the hops that it can go completely unnoticed. It's a wonderful idea to make a really hoppy Pale Ale like this and add pineapple juice, and I very much enjoy this beer. There is some very light sediment at the bottom of the beer which can make the beer quite a bit more bitter and obscure the pineapple if it makes its way into your glass.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Samuel Adams Octoberfest (USA - Massachusetts - Boston)

Samuel Adams Octoberfest (USA - Massachusetts - Boston) 5.3%

A deep amber, nearly brown in a glass. A delicious deep and full malt flavour as well as aroma. The slightest hint of dark cherries. Somewhat sweet fresh-baked bread taste with a slightly bitter finish. This beer has a great full colour and a wonderful taste. Can't miss this one, it is easy drinking but full of flavour.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rickard's Cardigan Autumn Spiced Lager (Canada)

Rickard's Cardigan Autumn Spiced Lager (Canada) 5.5%

First off, the name, label and even the bottle cap are awesomely hilarious. And it's fitting (har, har. Get it? It's a sweater!) too: the spice mix really does make this comfort food in the form of beer.

An orange hued gold in a glass. The aroma is of cinnamon, all-spice and cloves with just a touch of malt in there also. Some of the underlying sweetness is likely due to the added brown sugar but I didn't get any more sweetness than could be credited to the malt.

The taste is very spicy with lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, some brown sugar and cloves. A bitter finish reminds me that this is in fact a beer as well as a collection of flavours reminiscent of pumpkin pie and that reminds me of everything nice about Autumn. And it's a beer that I enjoy very much at that; I can feel the leaves turning with every sip. You absolutely must serve Rickard's Cardigan Autumn Spiced Lager quite a bit warmer than typical refrigerator temperature otherwise the spices are understated and the bitterness comes out much too clearly.

The food pairings suggested on the box are quite apt and I think they would work quite well: braised ribs, sweet potato fries or turkey. Overall a nicely spiced lager perfect for this time of year, so unless you hate pumpkin pie or flavoured beers in general you should give Rickard's Cardigan Autumn Spiced Lager a try.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two IPAs and a hoppy American Pale Ale from Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Imperial IPA -Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 7.0%

This unfiltered strong ale has a hop smell so strong and bitter it's almost metallic. It's a glowing reddish orange colour in a glass and is cloudy with some light sediment. The beer itself, quite unsurprisingly, tastes strongly of hops but with a caramel malt backing that prevents the beer from being one dimensional. However, even with this backdrop of sweetness, if you don't like hops this beer is not for you. If you DO like hops, this Imperial IPA has a hoppy bite that mellows as the glass empties and an interesting malt character making it an authentic and tasty IPA.

Comet Double IPA - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 7.0%

Had the chance to try this one out of a cask at the Seaport Beerfest. Quite good. Incredibly foamy. The aroma was very much watermelon and melon hops. Tastes extremely bitter, more along the lines of a sprucy hops but still with some melon tones balancing it out but overall less melon than there is in the aroma. Certainly sweet and had malt flavours but deliciously dominated by the hops.

Hop Yard Pale Ale - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 5.3%

This dry-hopped pale ale is just on the lighter side of medium amber in a glass and it pours a slightly cloudy gold with a nice fluffy head and good lacing. An aroma strongly of resin and sweet nectary hops. A very bitter very floral hops taste, citrus, melon and lots of cedar. Quite sweet with some toasted bread malt tones as well which grounds the high-flying hops taste which still dominates this lovely example of an American Pale Ale.

Depending on the sip this beer is sweet, malty, with fruity melon tones and very hoppy. If you love hops this beer is great: complicated and delicious. If you hate hops do not mess with this beer or really any other dry-hopped beer for that matter. If you are in between on whether or not you like hops give this one a try, and it may just make you a believer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two Mighty Beers from Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Ol' Fog Burner - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 11.5%

Amazingly bitter, sprucy, a touch sticky with a strong alcohol burn when served very cold. A nice smoky, sweet and mellowing aftertaste. A cloudy amber, a shade on the red side. It was served too cold, I think it ought to be taken out of the fridge several minutes before serving.

Upon further drinking it is definitely best served nearly warm as it changes from being barely drinkable to very nice. A thick liquid with a nice head. A sprucy flavour with tones of molasses flavour. Molasses, sprucy hops, sweet caramel and toasted bread aroma. Much better warm, as are many high alcohol beers.

Baltic Porter - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 9.0%

Smells salty like seawater. Also quite sweet, caramelized, red, roasty, molasses, hoppy but more so than hoppy it is the high alcohol that come through. The taste is very much high alcohol, a bit of spruce, salty like kelp (almost or something), very roasty, dark malt and super salty finish. Amazing how a beer can taste salty, if I hadn't had the Rockbottom Balticus already I would say this is the first beer I ever had like this but it's along much the same lines.

Definitely high alcohol flavour, roasty, a touch of cedar along with the roast and molasses combines to make it somewhat resiny. A good beer but not for the faint of heart. A touch of plum carrying throughout, baked beans, very strongly molasses. Herbal and green tones comes through with the high alcohol, hops and yeast (lees). Fine sediment on the bottom of the bottle that it is best to leave in the bottle.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two Limited Edition Brews from Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Tilford's Nit-Wit - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 4.8%

The winner of Garrison's Ultimate Brew-Off was designed by Scott Tilford and then scaled up by the folks at Garrison, and the result is a cool beer indeed. Gold in a glass with an awesome floral aroma of spice and yeast. Quite bitter and tart as well as yeasty and spicy with a mix of citrus flavours. Not a small amount of hops flavour in there too. I recommend drinking this one warmer than fridge temperature in order to fully appreciate the impressive mix of flavours.

Garrison 15th Mango and Ginger (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 9.0%

A very hoppy aromawith melonesque mango tones; sweet and sticky with a bitter edge. A touch of ginger - the way it smells cooked not raw. Noticeably high in alcohol, very bitter. Gingery, spicy, hoppy (cedar) flavours as well as mango and melon with a hint of citrus. A lingering very bitter finish. Caramel sweetness throughout. Cool label with the fifteen types of hops used.

Orangey gold in a glass. Some light sediment towards the end that adds to the taste: fruitier with more depth in the hops. I also found it tasted better as it warmed even though it had been already been out of the fridge ten or more minutes before I poured.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Two Fruit Flavoured Wheats from Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Raspberry Wheat - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 4.6%

A very cloudy yellow in a glass and well carbonated. It smells like a wheat beer with a stronger apricot-ish scent than raspberry. The taste is quite bitter along with tart raspberry flavours. This is a genuine wheat beer that tastes like it was actually brewed with raspberries rather than just having raspberry flavour added afterwards. However, if you are looking for a fruity beer to share with a non-beer lover, be forewarned that this beer isn't very sweet so may not be the best conversion tool. It is very good though.

Blackberry Wheat - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 4.6%

A really nice blackberry aroma, hints of coriander; so it actually is a wheat beer. The taste is much same as the aroma. Gold colour but slightly cloudy giving it a reddish hue. A very pleasant fruit flavoured beer.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oh Red Seal Ale, how I adore thee!

Red Seal Ale - North Coast Brewing Co (USA - California - Fort Bragg) 5.5%

An appetizing dark brass and amber colour in a glass. A full creamy head and a nice hoppy aroma with some dark hints of not quite coffee. A roasty, bitter, sweet and hoppy flavour. Initially it is the bitterness and red roasted malt that greets you, then sweetness with a hint of maple, a nutty flavour and the spicy hops character reveals itself along with some wooden tones. The wooden tones persist and soften into an aftertaste of spicy hops flavour which puts me in mind of rappinni or a similar green that is bitter, darkly green and mildly spicy.

I could drink this everyday: Red Seal Ale is intensely malty with pleasant roasty flavours, sweet with those bits of maple syrup and then bitter and spicy with a great mix of hops. It is a delicious, complicated, well-crafted and interesting beer but not strongly flavoured so I think everyone would like it unless they are die-hard lager-only drinkers (in which case who cares!?). Needless to say, a very nice beer.

On a personal note, I actually had Red Seal Ale for the first time 6 or so years ago while living Vancouver and not again until today and I remembered quite clearly liking it a whole lot then too - that doesn't happen with most beers from that pre-blogger stage of my life.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Two from my International Neighbour: Shipyard (USA - Maine - Portland)

Fuggles IPA - Shipyard (USA - Maine - Portland) 5.8%

A brass colour in a glass. Very bitter, a tacky sticky spruce sap hops flavour with a slightly metallic tone. A toasted bread flavour comes through as well; especially in the aftertaste which is also bitter. A slight hint of the somewhat elevated alcohol content. Not particularly sweet although the malt is present, roasted and a touch dark.

Shipyard Export Ale (USA - Maine - Portland) 5.1%

A sweet caramel aroma with a light cedar hop smell. The aroma changes from strongly caramel to more of a mix of caramel and light cedar smell. A taste that is at first nearly evenly split between hop bitterness and malty sweetness. Although it isn't very sweet, the caramel and slightly roasty sweetness eventually wins out. A nicely constructed and easy drinking beer with some character.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Two Canadian Beers that are Red in Title but not in Style

Red Racer Pale Ale (Canada - British Columbia - Surrey) 5.0%

First of all it comes in a really cool can. It has a very sweet malty taste with a hops backer. This American Pale Ale (by style not nationality) has a hoppy citrus aroma and is very nice paired with food although the bitter hops can make spicy foods taste even spicier!

Red Baron Premium Blonde Lager (Canada - Ontario - Waterloo) 4.8%

Pale gold in a glass. Sweet and malty. Light in flavour with a somewhat bitter hops touch in the finish which makes it more refreshing than it otherwise would be. A light malty, hoppy aroma. All in all a nicely crafted lager.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Boréale Pair from Les Brasseurs du Nord (Canada - Quebec - Blainville)

Boréale Dorée 4.8%

A darkish bronze colour in a glass. Roasty, quite sweet and tones of grains, not bitter. A little musty - likely due to hardship experienced by the beer during travel from Quebec to New Brunswick. A slick looking label and cool bottle cap also.

Boréale Blanche 4.2%

Aroma is punchy and floral. Tastes like apricots and also spicy and a little bitter; not overly sweet. Quite a nice white, not very cloudy more of a pale gold in a glass.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Four From Fullers (England)

Fuller's London Pride (England) 4.7%

A hoppy green aroma at first. As the head fades the aroma changes to one of sweet lightly bitter maltiness. The taste is sweet and roasty with hints of caramel but also lightly spicy with hops and some mild wood tones. The moderate bitterness and the half-watery, half-smooth mouthfeel keep the beer refreshing as a good pub beer should be. An glowing orange colour in a glass.

Fuller's ESB Champion Ale (England) 5.9%

Malty and quite sweet but with a bitter finish and quite oaky. Many of Fuller's have stronger wooden tones than most. Pretty mildly carbonated. Tastes a little like Innis and Gunn's Rum Cask, which is high praise indeed. Best served warmish (8 to 10 C'). Mix of coffee/chocolate and plum sherry (alcohol and fruit).

Fuller's Organic Honey Dew (England) 5.0%

A sweet malty aroma that is lightly hoppy with cedar and a touch of fresh cut grass. Gold in a glass.

Fuller's Organic Honey Dew tastes sweet and a little spicy. The hops are certainly in there, bringing that spice and moderate bitterness, but you certainly wouldn't call this beer hoppy. The honey is also there, smoothly sweet and building in a sweet crescendo from the initial taste, where it is masked by the bitterness, towards the end of the drink where the whole flavour becomes sweet warm honey before the slightly metallic and slightly bitter aftertaste. A very pleasant organic beer with a cute and interesting bottle cap.

Fuller's London Porter (England) 5.4%

Sweet classic porter aroma: hints of molasses, maple, coffee and barley candy, with hops hints that come across as lightly wooden. Amazing coffee flavour at first and then it changes a little towards the chocolate end of the dark malt spectrum before fading into a bitter aftertaste of hops and smoke. There is a taste of a pleasant taste of oats throughout. Dark in a glass to point of being nearly opaque with a smooth, creamy mouthfeel.

Fuller's London Porter is perfectly executed and tastes just like actually beer blended of coffee or chocolate and yet it is made only from malt, water, hops and yeast. Porters like this make me feel that other porters that use actual coffee or chocolate in the brewing process are not only "cheating", but doing so completely unnecessarily.