Monday, October 29, 2012

Rickard's Oakhouse - Molson Coors (Canada)

Rickard's Oakhouse - Molson-Coors (Canada) 5.5%
A really nice, light vanilla, brown sugar sweetness and slightly spicy oak aroma to this beer which pours a brass colour in a glass. Lots of oak in the taste with that same malty brown sugar-like sweetness, and some baking spices mixed in there for good measure. However, after the initial drink, much of the sweetness fades and is a touch overpowered by the oak. The oakiness, which can be a touch on the tangy side naturally, mixes with the hops to form a slightly sour taste.

The beer I immediately think of when I think of oak done right is Innis and Gunn's line of barrel aged brews. Each of them are much sweeter, higher in alcohol than Oakhouse and are ales rather than a lager. The sweeter and more robust malt flavours in an Innis and Gunn balance the barrel tones; and the body of an ale seems better suited to carrying those wood flavours than the thinner, less robust body of a lager.

I have very much enjoyed some other Rickard's seasonals produced by Molson-Coors but while this one delivers on the promised oak flavour, the rest of the beer simply does not have the legs to carry these pronounced oak tones.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Saison Harvest Ale - Rockbottom Brewpub (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Saison Harvest Ale - Rockbottom Brewpub (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 5.0%

A touch sour, spicy and floral with quite a bit of green and bitter hops. Quite a bitter finish. A brownish amber in a glass that reminds me of tanned leather. This mix of flavours is entirely consistent with hoppy version of the style. Saison beers typically have a touch of that sour taste and the way Rockbottom incorporated wet hops fresh from the harvest is really nice. Interestingly, the yeast used in this beer is from the same colony that has been used for three years now by the brewmaster Greg Nash.

Rockbottom's Saison 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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

3 Fields Harvest - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

3 Fields Harvest - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 6.3%

A full orange-hued gold in a glass; slightly cloudy though I saw no sediment. Good frothy head with lacing. A coppery, honeyed, hoppy aroma with hints of grape juice. Quite sweet but with a balancing bitter taste. The source of the aroma I had likened to grape juice has divided in the taste into floral and resiny hops with nectar tones and almost citrus, as well as a malt character that faintly borders on raw along some toasty bread tastes. There is a suggestion in the flavour and aroma that reminds me of fallen leaves in the fall which is actually quite nice and certainly seems to suit the season.

Garrison 3 Fields Harvest 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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two Delicious but Temporary Offerings from Rockbottom (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Wreckoning - Rockbottom Brewpub (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 10.0%

Yikes, this Russian Imperial Stout is not messing around! On account of its strength, I wouldn't mind if they sold a 8oz version rather than only the 12. On account of its taste, I wouldn't mind getting a barrel to take home with me; but more on that later.

Wreckington smells punishingly high in alcohol with lots of dark fruit and bourbon tones: delightful and dangerous. Nitrogenated by a sparkler faucet this stout has a velvety smooth, creamy head. Black and more or less opaque in a glass.

The taste is just, wow. Bursting with flavour: dark and milk chocolate, molasses, fruit esters, vanilla as well as oaky wood tones, dark fruit and bourbon-like tones. So good and, as I have already mentioned, not messing about. As a result, beer geeks will flip for this one while many others will turn up their noses at a beer so strongly (and awesomely) flavoured.

Blackened IPA - Rockbottom Brewpub (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 6.8%

A strongly green spruce aroma with a hefty dose of sweetness. A shade more brown that black but just about opaque in a glass with just a touch of sediment. Lots of that same spruce flavour in the taste with plenty of wooden tones and a green cut grass taste that comes through with an astringent quality and a chest warming feeling that conveys its high ABV. This cask ale was of normal carbonation but pleasantly just on the cool side of room temperature having been sitting on the bar in a kirkin sized thermos for about three hours before I got my pint. A lovely cask ale, makes me wish I was in Halifax for every Firkin Saturday at Rockbottom.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Leffe Brune (Belgium)

Leffe Brune (Belgium) 6.5%

Very dark brown in a glass. A floral, roasty aroma with yeast and dark fruit tones. The taste is floral with lots of apricot, figs and a hint of dark chocolate or more so molasses. Quite sweet, somewhat sherry-like. Better off served much warmer than the five degrees Celsius that the label suggests. Reminds me of those Christmas chocolates that have booze in them.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Two from Geary's (USA - Maine - Portland)

Geary's Pale Ale (Portland - Maine - USA) 4.5%

Bitter and moderately hoppy. Amber in a glass. Tangy with a little caramel malt taste. A metallic tang to the hoppiness. A floral sweetness that reminds me a bit of clover. The hops of this American Pale Ale makes it a nice beer to pair with food.

Geary's Summer Ale (USA - Maine - Portland)

Smells like roasty caramel and clover with some wooden tones. Tastes quite bitter and hoppy with floral hints. This beer is complex and full bodied; again the strong hops lends it to food pairings.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cheval Blanc - Les Brasseurs RJ (Canada - Quebec - Montreal)

Cheval Blanc - Les Brasseurs RJ (Canada - Quebec - Montreal) 5.0%

A lovely floral aroma with a backing of wheat and apricot. A tangy and bright floral flavour with a umami malty body that combines with the fine carbonation to give Cheval Blanc an effervescent and satisfying punch. All of these great flavours come across even when it is served very cold which makes it a perfect choice for a spring or summer day. A cloudy white gold in a glass, Cheval Blanc is an all round lovely and delicious Belgian Style White Wheat.

80 - Caledonian Brewery (Scotland)

80 - Caledonian Brewery (Scotland) 4.1%

Molasses, clover nectar aroma - very sweet and SO roasty. A touch of wooden tones too. A perfect brown colour in a glass, very clear. Roasty, sweet brown sugar taste more than molasses. Water and refreshing mouthfeel. Brown bread tones and slightest hazelnut hint. Some nice fairly light fruit tones: raisins and faintly peachy - kind of like a red or purple grocery store punch.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tanaka - Corsaire Microbrasserie (Canada - Quebec - St Laurent)

Tanaka - Corsaire Microbrasserie (Canada - Quebec - St Laurent) 4.8%

Beer bonus! For some reason the can was actually overfull. Ok, well, moving on.

Tanaka pours a slightly cloudy pale gold. Gingery taste like ginger powder while the ginger aroma is more like fresh ginger. Also some typical wheat flavours make appearances in both the taste and the aroma: coriander and floral flavours make a nice combination with the ginger. Fairly bitter aftertaste but Tanaka is overall relatively mild for a flavoured beer even the ginger flavour is fairly muted and only a part of the other beer flavours. Towards the end of the beer there is quite a lot of sediment but it doesn't change the flavour very much. Overall a fine flavoured wheat, less heavy handed than some others.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sleeman Dark (Canada)

Sleeman Dark (Canada) 5.5%

The aroma is malty and quite roasty with a hint of dry hops. Sleeman Dark is brown with the slightest amber hue in a glass. The taste is roasty and quite sweet with some light green hops tones, more than a bit of molasses, quite bitter and mildly sour in a way that doesn't detract from the taste. Overall, quite good for a mass marketed brown beer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Barking Squirrel Lager - Hop City (Canada - Ontario - Brampton and St John NB)

Barking Squirrel Lager - Hop City (Canada - Ontario - Brampton and St John NB) 5.0%

Gold with an amber hue in a glass, a fluffy head leaving nice lacing. Malty lightly roasted aroma, a touch of hops. Sweet taste with the barest roast touch and equally light (if not lighter) apple touch. A hint of astringent bitterness which is the only taste of hops that comes through in this beer. A nice lager with some complexity of flavours and yet it is still as sessionable as the label claims. My only complaint about Barking Squirrel Lager isn't really a complaint at all but... the brewer's name is HOP City; it has an admittedly bad-ass cartoon squirrel holding a HOPS nugget on its label; and it also mentions on the label the blend of hops they used and yet... Where's the hops flavour? But of course it's not required by the style and the beer is otherwise enjoyable so I won't hold my cartoon-squirrel-inspired expectations against them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Archibald Microbrasserie (Quebec - Lac-Beauport)

I picked up the following four beers in a sample-pack from a grocery store in Quebec. The Archibald Microbrasserie is located in Lac-Beauport, Quebec and makes more than a dozen types of beers so the quad of reviews that follows is hardly exhaustive. Each of the beers is quite good with a cheeky french name and a certain raw malt flavour carrying through the whole group. I look forward to trying more from Archibald the next time I am in Quebec.

La Chipie - Archibald Microbrasserie (Quebec) 5.0%

Hoppy aroma with some fruit-like tones (nectarine) and it is also quite sweet which comes through even in the nose.

Very sweet, at first, then a crash of roast and nicely resiny, slightly green hops bitterness balance everything out deliciously. A taste of grain in the bitter finish that also has quite a bit of roast. The bitterness and strong roast combine into an almost mild smoky flavour in the aftertaste.

A top notch Red in my opinion. The confusing bit is that the label in English says it's a Pale Ale while on the French side it still says Pale Ale but it also says Rousse which I usually translate as a Red Ale and which is what I think it looks and tastes like. A darkish red amber in a glass.

La Ciboire - Archibald Microbrasserie (Quebec) 5.6%

An amber colour in a glass with a frothy head. A sweet roasty glaze aroma with a touch of resin, not particularly pungent consider the powerfully flavoured tastes to come. The taste is quite sweet and very resiny with a strongly bitter hops aftertaste. Honey, maple and white cake tones are mixed with the malt borne sweetness. The hops tones on the other hand have wooden shades, chlorophyll and touches of cedar mixed in with the resin flavoured that comes through initially. A pleasant touch of earthiness and a touch of grain comes through as well.

Overall, La Ciboire is a nice IPA. The mix of sweetness and hops is good, though it is sweeter than many IPAs. Despite this, the bitterness is stronger than the hops character might suggest so there is still balance. However, if you like an IPA loaded with hops character as well as bitterness you might find this one too strongly sweet and lacking a little in the hops character.

La Joufflue - Archibald Microbrasserie (Quebec) 4.2%

This Belgian Style White Beer is quite pale gold in a glass and an aroma full of coriander with a spicy floral aspect and a orange, citrus hint. Nice fluffy head and good lacing.

A very interesting taste, with a hint of green from a distinct hops taste. Also the coriander might not be quite the right word, it may be more like seeds of paradise with maybe even a hint of something like lavender. Also the citrus is less orange and more pink grapefruit. A moderately bitter finish. Overall a interesting perfumy white with some really nice flavours and spice that is a little different from you typical Belgian White. There is some fine sediment in the can which the can suggests swirling and adding to your glass. I recommend it as it adds some flavour and isn't overly thick though it obviously makes the pale slightly cloudy beer a yellow thickly cloudy colour. Definitely worth trying if you find yourself thirsty and in Quebec.

La Matante - Archibald Microbrasserie (Quebec) 4.9%

A floral, and slightly sour, sweet malty aroma at first. Also a mild dry and earthy hop aroma. The malt character of the nose reminds me of honey on toast.

Lots of grain in the flavour coming through with malthouse and bread tones. The malthouse is accentuated with a hops touch of green like you would get from eating a bean sprouts. This combined effect makes the malt taste appetizingly raw. La Matante has quite a sugary finish.

Quite a nice, fresh tasting beer. It almost seems like it could have been fermented a touch longer so the yeast could have eaten some more of the sugar and the raw malt flavours could have mellowed but it's nice this way too.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Corona Extra (Mexico)

Corona Extra (Mexico) 4.0%

Lightly malty taste and aroma with some dry hops. Corona is actually much like a pilsner in that respect despite the fact that it seems like you may actually have to slap the lime or lemon out of the bartender's hand to get a Corona without a slice of citrus and yet that never happens with a Euro lager or a traditional pilsner. Not bad for a light beer but why not go for a beer with a bit more substance.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Berthold Keller Premium Lager - Martens (Belgium)

Berthold Keller Premium Lager - Martens (Belgium) 5.0%

The aroma is malty, has dry hops and quite a lot of grain. Gold in a glass. A very nutty flavour that tastes exactly like plain roasted sunflower seeds. A touch of grain and sweetness in a way that reminds me of multigrain toast. Not really much of any hops taste that I expected from a Euro Lager but the is just enough bitterness to balance it nicely. A good very lager, reminiscent of a English Pale Ale in its nuttiness. Also the graphic design of the cool blue coloured can with slick post-modern lettering is very nice.

Friday, October 12, 2012

James Ready Light - Moosehead (Canada - New Brunswick - Saint John)

James Ready Light - Moosehead (Canada - New Brunswick - Saint John) 4.0%

A lightly creamy malt aroma and slightly skunky. Pale gold in a glass. Not much of a taste, a touch of malt and barely a touch of hops. The barest hint of toast. A pretty good mass-produced light beer even though light beers are not my thing.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oktoberfest - Pump House Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Moncton)

Oktoberfest - Pump House Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Moncton) 5.0%

A slightly cloud brass colour in a glass. A earthy, malty and roasty glaze taste. Quite sweet and a building bitterness with a taste of grain and a fresh hops flavour that is not quite cut grass and not quite as mellow as cucumber. I can best describe it as resiney without any cedar, spruce or pine flavour which is pretty cool. A touch of alcohol and a good Oktoberfest beer overall: interesting but sessionable.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Propeller Pumpkin Ale (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Propeller Pumpkin Ale (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 5.0%

Aroma contains more spice than pumpkin but there is gourd and a hint of green in there. Crystal clear and gold coloured in a glass. Lots of spice in the taste and quite a bitter finish. The gourd flavour from the pumpkin is nice though at times quite green tasting: the way it mixes with the spices is almost herbal and can nearly border on minty. The mix of spices is nice but there is a slightly hollow feel to the taste because the malt flavour is so light while the spice and gourd taste can be so strong that the malt is often overpowered by the spice. All in all a nice pumpkin beer that really suits this time of year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mill Street's Autumn Harvest (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Mill Street's Autumn Harvest six-pack (now available at Nova Scotia Liquor Stores as well as in Ontario) contains their Oktoberfest and Nightmare On Elm Street Pumpkin Ale. I appreciate them combining two of their seasonal ales into one six-pack and review both beers below.

Nightmare On Mill Street - Mill St (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.0%

This pumpkin flavoured wheat beer pours a clear chestnut and gold colour with a quick fading head but nice lacing. Lots of pumpkin as well as pumpkin pie spice flavour in the aroma along with some milk chocolate which gets stronger as the beer sits. The taste is quite dark, with sweet roasty and pie crust flavours, a bit of that same milk chocolate from the aroma as well but not much pumpkin or spice. However, there are still some pumpkin pie spice flavours but Nightmare On Mill Street is more like drinking a beer in the vicinity of a baking pumpkin pie than drinking a typical pumpkin ale that would be heavy with those flavours. A tasty beer and a nice Autumn treat but there are other beers that taste more clearly like pumpkin.

Ocktoberfest - Mill St (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.6%

A aroma like crusty dinner rolls, a touch of sweetness and darker earthy roast and underlying dry hop bitterness. A nice robustly malty taste with that same slightly darker touch of earthiness and light roasty glaze with a mild mix of red and dark fruit esters. A balancing moderate dry Euro hops bitterness comes through as well. Mill Street Oktoberfest leaves a moderately bitter umami aftertaste that might remind me of very lightly burnt toast. An orange gold colour in a glass, quite a dark gold. A very fine Oktoberfest beer: tasty, complex yet sessionable and true to the style.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Gahan House Iron Horse Brown - PEI Brewing Co (Canada - PEI - Charlottetown)

Gahan House Iron Horse Brown - PEI Brewing Co (Canada - PEI - Charlottetown) 5.3%

I already reviewed this beer (albeit briefly) in my review of the sample tray available at the Gahan House in Charlottetown. However, in honour of its arrival on the shelves of New Brunswick Liquor stores I thought a more extensive review was deserved.

Sweet brown and crusty rye bread aromas. Touches of molasses and an earthy dark chocolate or coffee hint. The taste is sweet, even a touch sugary, with those same rye and brown bread flavours from the aroma throughout the drink. Molasses tones, sweetened coffee or milk chocolate flavours as well as a distinctly bitter bite lending nice balance. Iron Horse Brown is a nice Brown Ale with a lightly sweet, lightly smoky, dark bread aftertaste.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Aventinus - G. Schneider & Sohn (Germany)

Aventinus - G. Schneider and Sohn (Germany) 8.2%

A cloudy orange-brown colour in a glass. Floral, sweet, roasty aroma; yeasty and wheaty. Spicy and herbal: coriander, cloves perhaps and hints of something nearly minty.

The flavour is distinctly a wheat while also very sweet, with vanilla as well as dark fruit tones like prunes and fig also very roasty and tones of banana. High alcohol hints but it doesn't taste very strongly of alcohol. A bit flat out of the bottle but it doesn't take away from the taste which is delicious. Some light sediment in the bottom, it wouldn't hurt to get a bit in the glass as it can add to the depth of flavour.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Schofferhofer Grapefruit (Germany)

Schofferhofer Grapefruit (Germany) 2.5%

Orange and cloudy from natural sediment, smells like red ruby grapefruit juice although it is half wheat beer and half juice and part of that juice is actually orange juice. Very carbonated and sweet. Not really a beer but mostly juice although it is otherwise tasty and summery, and would make a fine patio drink. On a hunch, I swirled the sediment into the beer in an attempt to get more beer flavour: no such luck, it just got flatter.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Pair From Sierra Nevada (USA - California - Chico)

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (USA - California - Chico) 5.6%

Deep gold. Quite hoppy but also malty and sweet. Nicely balanced. With a quite bitter aftertaste of sprucy hops - leaves tones of the forest lingering for some time afterwards. Aroma of caramel and hops. A great American Pale Ale.

Sierra Nevada Summerfest 2011 (USA - California - Chico) 5.0%

Tastes quite hoppy: bitter with pronounced melon tones. A nice malty sweetness rounds out the body followed by a somewhat spicy finish. Quite an interesting beer, it looks and smells like just another yellow and fizzy beer but has a unique and enjoyable flavour.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stone Hammer Premium Light - F & M Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph)

Stone Hammer Premium Light - F and M Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph) 4.2%

Pale gold in a glass with a fluffy head that fades quite quickly but leaves some nice lacing. Lightly hoppy aroma with a fresh smelling malt flavour with lots of grain.

Stone Hammer Premium Light has a pronounced, malty grain flavour that is either lightly nutty or more like a roasted but unsalted sunflower seed flavour that is very appetizing. It has a refreshingly clean finish with that slightly nutty, seed flavour in the aftertaste. As a result it would pair well with any food - it's not going to overpower any flavours but does a good job of whetting your appetite. This Premium Light shows that a light beer doesn't have to be bland - it's a great craft beer alternative to any megabrewery light lager.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rolling Rock (USA - Missouri)

Rolling Rock (USA - Missouri) 4.5%

A lightly sweet, lightly malty creamy aroma. A gold in a glass that is just a shade pale. A light malty taste with just a bit of a creamy mouthfeel. The barest hint of hops but the beer is mostly quite sweet. I have found in the past that when I have had Rolling Rock in the United States it is slightly nutty but the version Canada (read: brewed by Labatt) there is no such nuttiness. An acceptable beer, but I really prefer the American version which (unless I've imagined the nuttiness) makes it more of a mild English Pale Ale.