Tuesday, December 31, 2013

La Chouffe Blonde Ale (Belgium)

La Chouffe Blonde Ale (Belgium) 8%

A cloudy gold in a glass with a moderate soda like head of foam that fades fairly fast but still leaves nice lacing. A yeasty, herbal aroma with some dry euro hops and toasty malty sweetness.

A herbal, honey, nectar taste with middlelingly bitterness. Quite yeasty and with a creamy mouthfeel so, in that way, it is a little like a Belgian Wheat. However the toasty malt sweetness with subtle grain and the higher alcohol content (which is barely noticeable) makes this stand out as a very nice Belgian Blonde Ale.

Monday, December 30, 2013

104th Regiment - Picaroons (Canada - New Brunswick - Fredericton)

104th Regiment - Picaroons (Canada - New Brunswick - Fredericton) 4.2%

A clear brown colour in a glass with a head of off-white foam. Roasty, biscuit, caramel and brown sugar aroma.

A watery mouthfeel and quite carbonated (a bit of a more aggressive pour would have dealt with that though, I think). Biscuit and roasty, not quite coffee, sweet with caramel and brown sugar. Drinkable and pub appropriate if a bit sweet for a brown ale. Quite nice and I think it may be even better on tap.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Red Racer India Pale Ale - Central City Brewers (Canada - British Columbia - Surrey)

Red Racer India Pale Ale - Central City Brewers (Canada - British Columbia - Surrey) 6.5%

A slightly red full gold colour in a glass with a big head of white frothy foam. Resin, cedar, citrus (grapefruit) and mango hops aroma. Strongly hoppy flavour, with grapefruit, papaya, cedar, pine and sticky resin. Quite bitter but with some sweetness from the malty mixed in. A bitter hops (especially grapefruit) and slightly metallic aftertaste. This is a solid IPA that would go well with stirfry and one that I would drink regularly if it was local, that's no knock against Red Racer I just prefer my locally produced beers for environmental reasons.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Ale - Shepherd Neame (United Kingdom)

Christmas Ale - Shepherd Neame (United Kingdom) 7.0%

A reddish gold colour in a glass with a frothy, white head of foam. A dry, slightly herbal hop aroma with light red fruit and plum flavours. Sweet, lightly boozy and herbal taste with caramelized stickiness and dark malty flavours mixed with some light fruit tones (apple, raisin, plum). Shepherd Neame's Christmas Ale has sherry traits but also the robust malty body of a nice amber ale. The mix of flavours reminds me of really good fruitcake and is pretty close to my ideal concept of an English Christmas Ale.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Ale - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Winter Ale - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 6.2%

A dark and very red colour in a glass with a medium head of white foam. An aroma of cinnamon and perhaps cloves [note: nope] with a touch of roasted malt: not all that dissimilar from a pumpkin ale, although without any gourd tones kicking around, of course.

Lots of cinnamon (lots) and sticky, roasted malt in the flavour. The finish is fairly bitter and that is where some hops but especially the citrus (orange peel) comes out. It isn't the sort of sweet citrus that you get in a Belgian Wheat or with some hoppy west coast IPAs but the tangy, sour jolt of real orange peel. There are some red fruity, nearly sherry-like tones in the aftertaste. The spicy mix, which I originally (and mistakenly) thought included cloves (thinking of that other fabulous Christmas beverage, mulled cider) reveals the ginger in Great Lakes Brewery's Winter Ale as the beer warms.

This is a fine spiced beer but it doesn't quite suit the season to my taste. I cut my teeth, so to speak, as a beer geek/blogger/critic on Norwegian Yule Beers (see here, here and here) and therefore winter beers hold a special place in my heart. I just don't find molasses-less ginger and orange peel really speak to me as a far as the proper flavours of a beer for winter. Additionally, the lowish alcohol content and the only moderately malty body (one that is overshadowed by the spices anyway) don't really qualify this as a "true winter warmer" as the label asks you to believe. But do not misunderstand me: it may not fit my idea of a winter beer or a Winter Warmer but this is a tasty spiced beer, maybe just better suited to autumn.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Yuletide Cherry Porter - Barley Days (Canada - Ontario - Picton)

Yuletide Cherry Porter - Barley Days (Canada - Ontario - Picton) 5.5%

Dark chocolate aroma, colour with coffee, some smoke and some subtle cherry scents. Opaque and chestnut brown with a red hue in a glass. It does not have much of a head to speak of: just a thin lace of tan coloured bubbles.

Strong chocolate flavour, red cherries with a smoky finish and a velvety mouthfeel that makes me feel like I'm eating a slice of black forest cake. Not just smoky, the finish also tastes fairly strongly of cherry and the aftertaste is a delicious mix of chocolate and cherry. This is an exquisite desert beer though it is not all that sweet so it's also a tasty quaffing beer. I think this would be perfect for Christmas holiday afternoons and after-supper drinks.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fuller's Vintage Ale 2012 (United Kingdom - London)

Fuller's Vintage Ale 2012 (United Kingdom - London) 8.5%

Just on the amber side of gold and barely cloudy with not much of a head, although I am pour it out in dribs and drabs so that I can savour this beer that I have been saving for more than a year. Sweet, nectary, peach and apple pie aroma. Apple because of some esters but pie because of the sweet, somewhat roasty malt flavours. Subdued but solid resiny hops, earth tones and a touch of alcohol blends this all together tantalizingly.

Sweetly sugary but with malt tones like barley candy, dried fruit flavours (dates, raisins) and lingering peach or marmalade tones. These sweet flavours are grounded with spicy, herbal hops tones and medium bitterness. The aftertaste is slightly bitter, earthy, with a caramelized sweetness and leather hints with a faint lingering touch of that marmalade flavour. I think the flavour of Fuller's Vintage Ale 2012 is truly delightful. If I had to describe it in only one sentence I'd describe it as such: a lighter body and perhaps slightly sweeter barley wine but with all the complexity. Bear in mind that barley wines are among my favourite beer styles of all time so this is high praise indeed.

On the strength of Fuller's Vintage Ale 2012's flavour I plan to pick up two or three of their 2013 (and 2014 and 2015 and ...) edition: one for a year from now; one for a vertical tasting with a one-year-old 2014; and one for a vertical tasting with a one-year-old 2015 and two-year-old 2014. Vertical tastings take a long horizon and a good deal of planning and foresight (not to mention a place to actually properly store the beer) so I still haven't done a proper one (once, out of luck I managed to find a few Orval bottles at an NB Liquor store that were bottled eight months apart) but this beauty of a beer from more than twelve months ago has convinced me that it has to happen.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mill Street Barley Wine (2013) (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Mill Street Barley Wine 2013 (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 11.5%

A golden amber colour, very similar to a rich honey. Alcohol, herbal hops, caramelized malty sweetness with some clover, nectar and red fruit tones in the aroma, that I find a little reminiscent of some meads I have had, along with biscuit and honey.

A surprising chocolate flavour greeted me at first followed closely by the honeyed, sweet, caramelized roasted malt flavours. There are some red fruit (black cherry and red pear) esters and there is something about the mix of herbal hops touches, alcohol, clover and nectar that makes this barley wine taste 'meadow infused'. It is a very natural and somewhat medieval tasting ale. Chocolate never really came back as strongly as on the first sip but I taste it in there as part of the malty backing of this formidable barley wine. Mill Street's is a very nice American barley wine with a bit of a hops slant with the herbal flavour colouring things.

A few words about the ceramic bottle, the wax seal is a nice touch and more than just decoration if you want to age this beer for a few years. Also the little metal handle that is attached to the swing-top cap is a nice touch. This would make good gift for the beer geek on your Christmas list (is it too early to be giving out Christmas gift suggestions?).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

India Pale Ale - Sleeman Breweries [Sapporo Brewery] (Canada)

India Pale Ale - Sleeman Breweries [Sapporo Brewery] (Canada) 5.3%

Aroma of honey and bread, the faintest bit of dry european hops somewhat toasty.

Malty with some rye bread flavour actually, subtle fruit flavours with a hint of roast like very light chocolate. Sleeman IPA has a bitter finish but not any overly strong hop characteristics though there is some resin and slightly herbal flavours.

This is definitely much more of an English IPA than an American IPA. Don't expect a hopbomb, that's the wrong side of the Pond, but this is a quite good English IPA.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hennepin - Brewery Ommegang (USA - New York - Cooperstown)

Hennepin - Brewery Ommegang (USA - New York - Cooperstown) 7.7%

A big foamy white head with a gold and cloudy body. A lovely and intriguing aroma mix. It taste firstly of citrus, light herbal and honey tones with some nectar. Most of these (though not really the citrus) would fit in a Belgian Golden Ale but there is also an earthy character with spiced aspect (I gather that is the ginger) and a hint of hops. This second grouping of aromas makes it quite clear that this is a Saison not a Belgian Golden Ale.

Hennepin has a strong yeast character as well: herbal and there is a flavour that is close but not quite banana along with some drying hops touches. It is quite bitter actually, nearly tart at times too, and very refreshing as a result. It's also quite carbonated and that would be, I suppose, the "champagne-like effervescence" from the label and it is an apt comparison. The malty body comes out in the finish, lightly roasty, toasty and with biscuit touches. It has a somewhat bitter aftertaste with traces of the nectar, herbal, hops mix that makes me like Hennepin so much.

This would definitely be a good aperitif beer and I think Hennepin would also go well with pasta dishes, barbecue and stir-fry.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Obsidian Imperial Porter Rum Barrel - Cameron's Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Oakville)

Obsidian Imperial Porter Rum Barrel - Cameron's Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Oakville) 9.2%

This barrel aged brewed pours as dark as its namesake with a head of fine, tan (nearly brown) bubbles. The aroma is molasses, caramel, rum barrel tones, alcohol and burnt sugar. It tastes of chocolate flavours (both dark and milk chocolate) oak, dark dried fruit (like prunes and raisins) leather, black coffee, smoke, a bit of nearly maple as well as molasses tones and a somewhat spicy booziness that reveal the rum influence. Overall, Obsidian tastes like a sweet rum and chocolate fruit cake.

It may be too late to buy this beer but if my description sounds appealing keep an eye out for the next addition to Cameron's Oak Aged Series.

Edit (November 21st, 2013): I have been informed by Cameron's Brewing that Obsidian is still available at the brewery and at the LCBO.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Union Mills Porter - Waterloo Brewing - Brick Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Kitchener)

Union Mills Porter - Waterloo Brewing - Brick Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Kitchener) 7.0%

A very dark but not quite opaque chestnut colour in a glass with a head of off-white foam. Coffee, milk chocolate, leather aroma, a little earthy.

Chocolate and some dark fruit (prunes and the like) with an intermingling of a bit of booze and some hops. There is a certain hearty character to this formidable porter. Union Mills Porter is a really nice strong porter, a nicely chosen winter seasonal.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel (Germany) 5.3%

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel (Germany) 5.3%

This wheat ale pours a cloudy brown colour in a glass with an impressive head of resilient off-white foam.

It has a stronger yeast aroma than I was expecting, probably because I gave it a gentle roll to agitate the yeast before I opened the bottle: you don't want all that flavour just staying on the bottom of the bottle. Floral, nectar and blossom aromas as well as banana and cloves, just like a typical hefeweissen except there is dark malt background of lightly earthy, roasted malt with touches of chocolate.

Banana and cloves lead the slightly tart flavour when drinking through about three quarters of an inch of head. These flavours are followed by roasty and caramelized malt flavours that remind me of barley candy with some milk chocolate tones. It is this second group of flavours, along with mild red fruit tones, that come more to the forefront once the foam mostly subsides. Of course the yeast tones remain and feature strongly in the finish.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chatoe Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale (USA - Oregon - Newport) 6.0%

Chatoe Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale (USA - Oregon - Newport) 6.0%

A slightly cloudy, deep copper colour like a lucky (though not shiny) penny. Cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, the classic aroma of pumpkin pie, along with touches of the earthy aroma of the gourd itself.

The flavour is more or less identical to my description of the aroma though there is a bit of a roasty and sweet malt flavour which complements the spices nicely. There is some sediment at the bottom and, if it finds its way into your glass, it adds not just some yeast flavours (banana and an intensification of the cloves) but also suggestions of the orange peel Rogue used so it's worth adding.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Doppelbock - Les Trois Mousquetaires (Canada - Quebec - Brossard)

Doppelbock - Les Trois Mousquetaires (Canada - Quebec - Brossard) 8.6%

A reddish chestnut colour in a glass with a big head of frothy, resilient, off-white foam.

A malty, sticky, caramelized aroma with red fruit, a sugary molasses, and some alcohol tones tones a bit like fruitcake. A really delicious fruitcake.

Sweet with some flavour tones that remind me a bit of sherry but with much more depth and breadth than I have ever taste in a sherry. Some red fruit tones, as in the aroma, tastes of a light molasses, a hint of wood (likely from the hops) and plenty of dried fruit like raisin, dates or prunes but with a lighter taste to them.

Les Trois Mousquetaires' Doppelbock has a surprisingly light mouthfeel which keeps this beer very enjoyable and without allowing the sweetness to become cloying even at warmer temperatures (the suggested serving temperature is between 10 and 14 Celsius). There is a little sediment at the bottom of the bottle and it tends to make the beer a bit more yeasty and just the slightest bit sour so I would leave the last centimeter of beer in the bottom of the bottle to avoid that.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Arkell Best Bitter - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph)

Arkell Best Bitter - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph) 4.0%

Full gold in a glass, nearly amber. Roasty aroma with nutty tones. Caramelized malt and grain flavours are first and foremost but the flavour is fairly light overall with just a hint of creamed corn (DMS) and a subtle touch of red fruit all of which suit an English style Best Bitter. Not overly sweet, refreshingly bitter but mostly just balanced. The mouthfeel is also light which also makes it refreshing and Arkell Best Bitter has a pleasant lightly toasty aftertaste. This beer would go down well with standard pub fare.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Budweiser Crown Amber Lager

Budweiser Crown Amber Lager 6.0%

Full gold in a glass with a big and somewhat resilient head of off-white foam. The aroma was Budweiser-like (barely malty and lightly hopped, sometimes a tiny bit skunky) but with more malt and a touch of the promised caramel malt. Generally a distinctly lager-like aroma.

Malty and with more tastes of caramelization than a typical international lager though a bit skunky still. A bitter touch and just a hint of the slightly higher alcohol. Budweiser Crown has a sweet, nearly sugary, finish that is roasty with hints of caramel. A nicer mouthfeel than the typical Budweiser product.

Overall this is a decent effort by AB-InBev. It is quite a bit better than Budweiser and, although it certainly isn't the tastiest amber lager I have had, it is quite acceptable.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Vanilla Porter - Mill Street (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Vanilla Porter - Mill Street (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.0%

Very dark in a glass, opaque even, with a large, light mocha coloured head of silky foam. You can hear a fairly violent discharge as the nitrogen capsule fires when you open the can. The foam takes quite a while to settle but that's alright since it tastes just as good as it smells. Speaking of which: Mill Street's Vanilla Porter has a delightful vanilla and milk chocolate aroma.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth, creamy and yet refreshingly watery at times. The beer tastes mostly of vanilla but with dark chocolate and coffee notes as well as a lightly smoky backdrop. On top of that it features an aftertaste that I can best describe by comparing it to coffee flavoured ice cream. This dessert porter is quite delightful and will certainly please fans of vanilla.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

County Dark Ale - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph)

County Dark Ale - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph) 5.0%

A dark mahogany colour in a glass with not much of a head. Creamy, nutty (hazelnut) and coffee tones to the aroma along with some light roasty and caramelized malt tones, a little like barley candy.

A chocolate forward beer with some earthy smoke tones and some roasty malt flavours of a red. Pub appropriate, easy drinking, refreshing with a nice mix of flavours Wellington County Dark Ale isn't going to blow you away with exotic flavours but it's an excellent after work pint.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Ale - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Pumpkin Ale - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.5%

A slightly cloudy, orange and gold colour in a glass. Great Lakes Brewery's Pumpkin Ale features a pumpkin aroma with cinnamon, all-spice and nutmeg but this aroma features with more gourd than spice.

The aforementioned spices are prominent in the flavour but, like in the aroma, a strong, earthy, gourd taste of pumpkin really is the main player in this tasty pumpkin ale. It also features a fairly bitter finish.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mr. Hyde - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

Mr. Hyde - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 7.0%

A polished copper colour in a glass with a bubbly, big, off-white head that faded rather quickly to a creamy but thin layer of foam over the beer.

A sweet, nearly caramelized aroma with cereal some subtle wood and earth tones, and a hint of red fruit. A bit like a bock. While it is true that everything is reminding me of autumn, since we're on the verge of full blown autumn here in Ottawa and it happens to be my favourite season, the aroma as I've described it really seems to be perfect for an autumn beer.

Unmistakable rye flavour, just like the bread: a bit of a darker grain flavour, earthy, rich and bordering on nutty but not nutty, with a bit of red fruit that lends a note that is barely tart to the beer. Quite a bitter aftertaste with a lingering roasted grain flavour. For a beer that is 7% ABV, the flavour is mild while also being multi-layered and certainly doesn't taste much of alcohol so, while Mr. Hyde is a beer deserving of slow consideration, it is also dangerously quaffable especially when it is cold. As regular readers know, I prefer my beers a bit warmer than most but Mr. Hyde especially needs to be given a chance to warm up from refrigerator temperature so that you can enjoy the full spectrum of flavours that may otherwise be missed. I don't believe I've had a Roggenbier before but if Beau's Mr. Hyde is typical of the style I will definitely keep my eye out for another: delicious!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vanilla Barley Wine - Flying Monkeys (Canada - Ontario - Barrie)

Vanilla Barley Wine - Flying Monkeys (Canada - Ontario - Barrie) 11.3%

This magnificent barley wine is a dark cloudy brown in a glass (a pint glass!) on the Patio at the Arrow and Loon in Ottawa, with a creamy and resilient head of foam.

The aroma is straight vanilla at first but also toffee, caramel and sticky malt that comes to dominate. Some oaky wood tones, a bit of leather and some sweet espresso/coffee with milk added.

A creamy mouthfeel with caramel, vanilla, leather, smoke and mild wood flavours. Sweet initially with alcohol tones (though not as strong as you might expect from a beer that clocks in at a whopping 11.3% ABV) but the taste shifts (although it does so, so smoothly that it's much more like a glide) to a bitter finish and an aftertaste of barley candy. Overall, this is a really nice barley wine: sweet but balanced, malty, boozy and delicious featuring some very nice vanilla.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pink Fuzz - Beyond The Pale (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa)

Pink Fuzz - Beyond The Pale (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa) 6.0%

A sweet red ruby grapefruit aroma, cedar and resin hops as well. A bit of fresh, floral vegetable like really sweet, raw and fresh off the vine green bean.

A cloudy pale gold, more like yellow, in a glass with a slight pink hue that turns the colour of the beer to just like grapefruit peel. Cedar and pine flavours, grapefruit as well (though more subdued than in the aroma). The grapefruit is a little tart, more like actual grapefruit than the grapefruit-like aroma citra or cascade hops can give a beer. Overall, this is quite a nice fruit flavoured wheat.

If you happen to be in the Ottawa area you can buy Pink Fuzz in growler format straight from the brewery. If you do, be sure to agitate it gently so that the sediment is more evenly distributed: it holds a lot of the flavour. Of course, Pink Fuzz is also available on tap throughout Ottawa; a format in which this tasty brew never fails to please.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Beau's All Natural Brewing's 5th Annual Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill, Ontario

Beau's All Natural Brewing's 5th Annual Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill, Ontario

This weekend Vankleek Hill was the host to Beau's All Natural Brewing's 5th Annual Oktoberfest. A shuttle from Ottawa to Vankleek Hill got me there but there was also a bus from Montreal. I attended only the Saturday and am sure to return next year.

Not only was there a wide variety of splendid Beau's beers but there was also an extensive cask section with beers from a whole bunch of different breweries. In addition to beer there were lots of different restaurants from the region slinging their wares. Being a German festival there were lots of presumably tasty meaty dishes (if you are into that sort of thing) and the vegetarian options were few and far between. However, the Brisk-ain't this vegetarian ordered from The Branch restaurant was absolutely delicious.

On the beer side, Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale was a real standout to my taste (review upcoming) so I am pleased to report that Steve Beauschene announced that this beer will be brewed regularly by Beau's and distributed along with the rest of their fine brews.

I only choose to try two cask beers and, through no fault of anybody, their flavours were a bit all over the place. I happened to order two beers that were at the very, very end of their respective casks so I ended up getting quite a bit of sediment which kind of threw off the flavours; however, many people seemed to spend all day in the cask section so I'm sure most pours were fine and tasty.

Other than food and beer there were more fun (and hilarious) activities (beer dunk tank!) than you could shake a stick at including a homebrew competition (yum). Not to mention the whole thing raises a tonne of money for the many worthwhile causes that Beau's supports. For more information on that I suggest you head over to the event's webpage.

On top of ALL that, Rich Aucoin and the Mahones took turns rocking our worlds at the main stage. The Mahones were just awesome, speed folk metal on the accordion - I mean you gotta love it. Unfortunately, the shows were a little behind schedule so, in order to make the last shuttle back to Ottawa at 9 PM, I had to leave before Sloan took the stage. I really would have to see them but that in no way takes away from this awesome event and wonderful atmosphere.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

2 Weeks Notice (Wild Oats Series #12) - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

2 Weeks Notice (Wild Oats Series #12) - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 6.0%

Pitch black, completely opaque with a creamy off-white head of tiny bubbles that seems tan but with a touch of grey due to how black the beer is. Sediment remained at the bottom of the bottle but no way to tell how much made it into the glass, the beer is just too dark! A chocolaty, smoky and earthen aroma; black coffee and (faint licorice) with a touch leather too.

Creamy mouthfeel, milk chocolate at first and then dark chocolate as the bitterness builds when you swallow. 2 Weeks Notice is very drinkable; some light dark dried fruit (prunes) tones and the slightest touch of alcohol. Leather and earthy tones are still kicking around, grounding the lovely flavour in the realm of dark, delicious porters. A bitter, smoky aftertaste with a touch of acidity and lots of chocolate. Very nice.

Turned at a certain angle (see below) and you have to ask: how many weeks notice?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Smokin' Banana Peels Wild Oats Series #11 - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

Smokin' Banana Peels (Wild Oats Series #11) - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 4.9%

A typical weissbier aroma of cloves, blossoms, nectar and banana; as well as a lightly smoke twist that is more like well-browned, nearly burnt toast than a smoky wood fire.

Pale gold in a glass and as cloudy as you decide to make it. Similarly Smokin' Banana Peels features a silky white head of foam that can get quite foamy if you agitate it enough to get some of the sediment.

Creamy mouthfeel, yeasty with tasty cloves, banana and nectar flavours: sweet summery wheat beer flavours all. It isn't as smoky as other rauchbiers but there is a touch there, it comes out a bit more with some sips than other, and I'm sure the smoke flavour could be accentuated by pairing with smoky food. Fortunately, Smokin' Banana Peels is a very tasty weissbier even if it isn't very smoky and I have to say the name is quite clever.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Maredsous Brune (Belgium)

Maredsous Brune (Belgium) 8.0%

Yeasty, spicy aroma with floral hints and a dark malt back. Very roasty with a high alcohol burn that borders on a hum; floral and fruit tones (fig, prune). Very carbonated but that can be easily handled in the pour. Very nice brown version of you should expect from a Belgian Abbey Ale - perfectly balanced and bursting with character. Some light sediment that doesn't take anything away from the flavour.

Monday, September 30, 2013

La Trappe Tripel - Koningshoeven (Netherlands)

La Trappe Tripel - Koningshoeven (Netherlands) 8.0%

A lovely dark gold in a glass, this trappist ale (the only Trappist brewery outside of Belgium) has very mild honey and apple blossom aroma. Cloudy also and worth swirling to get a taste of the sediment.

The taste is strongly floral and sweet with a bitter backing that is powered by the distinct punch of cloves. Strong tasting for beer but actually quite mild for a Trappist tripel. Perfect for introducing non-initiates to the Trappist style of ale.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Autumn Hop Harvest Ale - Amsterdam Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Autumn Hop Harvest Ale - Amsterdam Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.6%

Herbal, citrus (orange and a hint of grapefruit), a bit floral, pine and sticky resin rounds out hops character of the aroma while there is also some earthiness and biscuit and honey tones from the malty body. Clear full gold in a glass.

To go along with its moderately hoppy flavour and sweet grain tones, this beer made with fresh hops (as in added without being dried first) has a pleasant peppery earthiness. The combination of spice and earth tones feels to me a bit like autumn incarnate (distillate?) which I think is perfect for a seasonal such as Autumn Hop Harvest Ale. The aftertaste is moderately bitter hops that tastes of pine as well as a little herbal, citrus and some resin too. This is a nice American Pale Ale in its own right but I feel it also is a good example of the appeal of fresh hop beers and the variety they can bring.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oktobock (Wild Oats Series #24) - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

Oktobock (Wild Oats Series #24) - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 7.0%

A deep gold in a glass, crystal clear with a head of white foam. The aroma is sweet, lightly malty with a distinctly lager yeast touch as well as that dry, lightly spicy hoppiness of Czech or German hops.

Drily bitter and spicy hops continue in the taste but are rounded out beautifully by a robust malty body and also have a slight herbal touch. Touches of caramel, a roast glaze and grain are highlights of a malt character that suits the style perfectly to my taste. Ocktobock's has a bitter finish (again, entirely appropriate) and a malty, roasty aftertaste.

Oktobock is just about exactly what I expect when I drink a Bock: that ineffable lager taste, drily bitter and barely spicy European hops, malty sweetness (an emphasis on roasty, sugary or caramel tasting malt as the brewmaster chooses), a refreshing feel even though the mouthfeel is thicker than a lager and marginally syrupy.

In a way my expectations are a little coloured by the travel time it takes for German bocks to arrive in Canada which can cause the hops to become a bit attenuated. With a beer brewed just outside of Ottawa the blush isn't off the rose, so to speak: the beer is fresh and the hops flavours have more depth and variety. Also since Oktobock is a Maibock interpretation, it is expected to be somewhat more bitter than a Bock or a Helles Bock.