Pils - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 4.8%
Full gold in a glass, nay beyond full gold. More like a brass colour. Sweet caramel aroma with some malty grain undertones.
Label from Garrison website
Quite a bitter taste, full of that dry European hops flavour I expect from a pilsner. A barely metallic finish preceded by some nice malty sweetness, a bit of roast flavour with a fresh grain taste. This is a solid Pilsner and just so much fresher than anything you can get from Europe that you gotta love it. While it's not make the kind of dynamic food pairings that some stronger tasting ales will form, Garrison's Pils pairs easily and casually with just about any food, like any good Pilsner. If only it wasn't February and I could suggest picking up a growler to serve it at your next BBQ; do it anyway!
This Double Chocolate Stout pours a very dark brown in a glass. The aroma has a surprising amount of melon hops in it along with milk chocolate and a bit of something like Earl Grey Tea. The mouthfeel is creamy just like a stout should be. The taste is again surprisingly hoppy, though mellow melon rather than cedar or pine tones; sweet milk chocolate flavours with some yummy caramel. Quite an interesting stout, not quite as chocolatey as I expected but it has a very nice. Only available until the end of February so go, go out and get some.
India Pale Ale - Big Rock (Canada - Alberta - Calgary) 5.5%
Earthy, malty aroma with some honeyed sweetness and a green hops touch that reminds me of fresh celery. Moderately bitter with some melon (cantaloupe) tones, sweet and slightly musty. A slightly amber colour in a glass with a decent head and lacing. Not a bad beer at all, very sessionable, but not quite the taste I expect from an IPA, the hops character is just a little more subdued than some other IPAs.
Estrella pours a pale gold with a thick and fairly resilient head which leaves behing some nice lacing and is a bit surprising. A malty, lightly hoppy aroma with something that reminds me just a little of pears.
A sweet, at times bordering on overly sweet, malty taste with overtones of lightly toasted bread, balanced with just a bit of hops and bitterness. Over all this is actually a nice tasting lager, however a glance at the ingredients list (that I'm guessing the EU forces the brewer to include) shows that Estrella uses rice and maize rather than just barley and a stabilizing agent called propylene glycole alginate. Needless to say this certainly isn't an ingredient list I associate with craft beer and it goes to show that even though it doesn't taste half bad this is a megabrewery's international lager not a craft beer.
This is one of alcohol free beers that are about as good as the ones in Canada. I've had some here in Norway that are pretty grand including some good Yule ones. Freeze is really sweet and smells and taste a little like a somewhat flat normal beer. It tastes more like a malty pop than beer. So, all in all: for beer this is a pass; for an alcohol free beer this is about average; for malty pops Freeze is delicious!
I should also mention that this beer is actually brewed above the arctic circle which is pretty amazing if you think about it.
Malty, sweet aroma. A shade paler than full gold in a glass. Quite a nice flavour of grain, lightly roasted malt, a touch of fresh bread, the barest hint of nut and a green taste of light hops bitterness which builds to a fairly bitter aftertaste. The bitterness of the aftertaste and the unassuming but delicious flavour make this beer very refreshing and an ideal pair with a wide assortment of dishes.
Another great lager, heaping shame on all those bland lagers pumped out by megabreweries.
Black Chocolate Stout - Brooklyn Brewing (USA - New York - Utica) 10.0%
Thickly black and opaque in a glass with a short tan coloured head. A deep dark chocolate aroma with toffee, dried fruit tones and some hints of earth - sweetness and bitterness intermixed but with bitterness coming out on top. Hints of alcohol come through as a suggestion of wood tones.
Dark chocolate is the first flavour along with a high alcohol hum that carries with it lots of dried red fruit tones and more than an inkling that some floral hops tones might be underneath all this delicious malt. Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout is also pleasantly earthy and has an almost charred finish of smoke, espresso and dark chocolate that is quite nice and just what I expect from an Russian Imperial Stout inspired brew. There are some sweet points that fade in and out providing a nice counterpoint to the primarily bitter primary flavours of dark chocolate, espresso and dried fruit. An excellent beer, really an impressive brew for special occasions rather than a session and although, Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout is delicious on its own, it could probably pair nicely with some chocolate heavy deserts.
Wells IPA - Wells and Young Brewing Company (UK) 5.0%
Malty, bitter, musty aroma with a hint of raisins. An amber hinted light brown in a glass. The taste is malty, quite bitter and yet not hoppy. Grain tastes like rye bread, a pale ale nutty flavour round out the body which is nice once you accept the lack of hops.
There is musty flavour in the background suggesting this particular can may not have aged all that well on its way to Canada. The nice slightly bitter and malty aftertaste is probably the best part of this beer and it persuades you to go back for more. The beer is very much an English Pale Ale rather than what you'd expect from an IPA, even an English IPA that is not going to have the strong citrus or cedar hop flavours of an American IPA.
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout - North Coast Brewing (USA - California - Fort Bragg) 9.0%
When I spotted this beer, named after one of the more interesting figures in history (in my opinion) and brewed by the folks responsible for one of my most favourite beers ever I had to have it.
It pours black and opaque in a glass with a nice and thick tan coloured head. The aroma is boozy, and a little hoppy with plenty of dark fruit and dried red fruit as well as a certain black licorice hint to the dark chocolate that itself smells like Black Forest Cake. It's enough to set my mouth watering.
The taste is divine: dark fruit and dried red fruit at first, and really throughout, followed by wood tones, I think from a mix of a light pine hops character, smoky dark malt flavours and the alcohol which will warms your cheeks and tickle your chest; sweet and chocolatey middle but balanced by the aforementioned wood tones and hefty bitterness that arrives just before the delectable coffee finish and the lingering coffee and smoke aftertaste.
Anyone not familiar with the Grigori Rasputin's tale should do themselves a favour and give it a read before they drink this Russian Imperial Stout to add some background. Oh and it wouldn't hurt to check out the song too.
Fire Chief's Red Ale - Pump House Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Moncton) 5.5%
A fairly dark red hued brown colour in a glass with a fluffy, off-white head. A sweet, toasty grain aroma; parts of which remind me of puffed wheat. Also a touch of the flavours from a sticky glaze's caramelized sugars (different, darker, roastier than the flavour of caramel).
Quite a nice touch of hops in the taste to go with the caramelized sugars I expect in a red and also with a pronounced but appetizing grain flavour. A sweet, almost sugary finish that doesn't linger too long before the more bitter aftertaste kicks in with a continuation of the same hearty grain flavour. A fine red from a great brewery.
Very dry, sweet malt aroma with a touch of creamed corn and hones. Some hoppy wooden tones. Slightly roasty. Full gold in a glass.
Warm toasty toffee malt taste to go along with quite a bitter finish. Roasty, a slightly herbal spice touch along with quite a punch of hops for a beer that isn't dominated by hops though that must be what explains why it is as bitter as it is.
A great ale overall: nice tasting, nicely delivered in its cool bottle, nicely bitter, nice on the world (organic) and even a nice story.
Super pale in a glass with a foamy quick fading head. Now when I say Bud Light Platinum is pale in a glass I mean really pale, unnaturally pale. There are plenty of white wines darker than this beer. It's the colour of watered down draft. A lightly malty, white bread, barely hopped aroma with just a touch of alcohol.
What a weird flavour: it's pretty sweet but only barely, barely malty and in way that reminds me again of white bread. The alcohol comes through quite clearly and makes this taste even less like a beer. It honestly reminds me quite a bit of a vodka cooler, you know those wobbly pops that has 6 or 7% alcohol content and are a mixture of food colouring fruit flavours and vodka? Bud Light Platinum drinks like a non-alcoholic beer that somebody spiked with liquor.
As bad as this beer is (and in case I wasn't clear enough above, I do think it is bad) it's is entirely what I expected. They're starting with Bud Light after all and as the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. I'm just glad I was able to buy a 355 ml single instead of having to buy a six pack. While I am not a fan of it either, even Budweiser Shot is better than Bud Light Platinum because it has a least a little bit of flavour to carry the higher alcohol content a little better. If forced to choose between Bud Light and Bud Light Platinum I might choose Bud Light Platinum in the hopes that the higher alcohol would numb me to the lousy flavour. All that being said Bud Light Platinum is not undrinkable but there are SO many better beers out there why bother with this one?
On a positive note, I like the aluminum bottle for a number of reasons: it protects the beer completely from light, it is lighter than a glass bottle, it is more easily recycled than glass, I see no particular reason the bottle couldn't be reused for homebrew and no more crying over spilt beer if you drop a six pack on the way out of the store although with Bud Light Platinum not drinking it wouldn't be such a bad thing.
A pale gold colour in a glass with lacing actually. Creamy sweet malty aroma with a the barest touch of dry hops. Light malty and sweet taste but with a bitter finish not much of an aftertaste - a touch of durum semolina (the main ingredient in pasta). Overall Tennent's is a pretty innocuous ale, so I can see why it is popular in pubs: it is not bad but not really much there.
The aroma is that Pilsner dry hops aroma and brassy touch of roast; mildly bitter and some sweet malt with just a hint of honey. The taste is exactly along the same lines with the bitterness at the first, with a very sweet middle, the finish contains more of the roast flavour and the aftertaste is a mix of all three flavours. The dry hops flavour comes through just a touch musty but that doesn't detract from the overall taste of the beer which is quite good. Wolfgang's is a fine German style beer; so, if you live in Ontario or thereabouts and like Pilsners, please be an Earth-conscious beer drinker: try Wolfgang's and save the world the shipping. Full gold in a glass.
IPA - Canning Brewery (Canada - British Columbia - Penticton) 6.0%
A dark amber colour in a glass with a nice frothy head and good lacing. A malty aroma with a hefty dose of resin and pine. Quite a bitter hops taste with roasty malt and full of resin and pine. Just a few red fruit flavours intermixed throughout and maybe just a touch of citrus in the finish.
Naramata Nut Brown Ale - Cannery Brewing (Canada - BC - Penticton) 5.5%
A very dark brown in a glass, nearly opaque, with a big frothy head. Roasty molasses and brown bread aroma. A nutty brown bread taste with molasses, touches of hops and some dark fruit hints. A pretty nice brown with a light mouthfeel that keeps it refreshing.
Anarchist Amber Ale - The Cannery Brewing Co. (Canada - British Columbia - Penticton) 5.5%
A roasty and bitter aroma that is yet a little spicy and tangy with red fruit esters. Amber in a glass with a big fluffy head. Definitely some floral red fruit esters in the taste too, a bit of red ale stickiness and a fair amount of hops comes through with a little pine, a bit of something astringent and some spiciness like a very mild cilantro. Malty also with grain flavours, toast and caramel sweetness with a roasty aftertaste.
Granite Brewing Sample Tray (Canada - Halifax and Toronto)
Quite a bit of grain and floral in the taste. Bitter, clean, crisp, lightly green in its crispness, roasty and sweet. Best Bitter Special
Really just the best bitter with a long lingering hops flavour. Cloudy for some reason, more fruit or more accurately nectar and floral tones from the hops. A bit of barnyard in the aroma.
Roasty and sweet, an alcohol taste oddly enough for 5.6%, quite bitter and sticky and red tasting. A touch sour and cherry-like before the long sweet roasted glaze-like finish. The sour touch works and makes this ale interesting, unique and pretty good overall.
Keefe's Irish Stout
A good creamy head, dark but not opaque in a glass. Sweetly creamy, milk chocolate, a touch of smoke in the aroma. A touch of dark fruit (like figs) and the hops come through as a touch of herbal. Kind of thin for a stout - more like a brown.
The aroma is sweet malted grain aroma, actually checked to see if it was a wheat. A nice touch of hops. The taste is very sweet, plenty of grain, not hoppy, lightly nutty. Springy on the palate but mostly grain flavours overall - not much else to this pale blonde ale.
This Abbey ale is deep gold in a glass and well carbonated. It has an floral aroma of apricots. The aroma is also distinctly alcoholic reflecting its strength at 6.8% ABV.
The taste is along much the same lines: sweet at first, floral, tastes of fruits like apricots and mildly banana, spicy like coriander; then bitter and obviously high in alcohol with a gingery aftertaste. It is right in the middle of the pack as far as abbey beers for alcohol content (or even towards the low end) but because its flavour is relatively mild the alcohol comes through quite clearly.
The flavour of Affligem Blonde is pronounced and interesting when compared to your average beer (and in truth profoundly delightful for those of us who have fallen for Belgian Abbey beers), but it is not nearly as strong as some other Abbey ales, especially compared to, say, Trappist ales. This makes it an excellent ale to use to introduce someone to the style: after having tried and enjoyed Affligem Blonde, some of the more "exotic" tasting (and thoroughly wonderful) Belgian beers will be much more approachable.
Affligem makes several other types of beer, a Dubbel, a Tripel and a Belgian ale, which I suspect will be much more like the explosion of flavour expected of a Belgian Abbey beer and I look forward to tracking them down.
A note on the serving: this beer, like any Trappist ale or Abbey beer (or really anything at all with a pronounced floral nose and spicy taste), should be served in a goblet style glass or, failing Belgian Abbey Ale dedicated glassware, a wine glass would do nicely to capture the aroma and bring out some of the best flavours.
Anchor Porter (USA - California - San Francisco) 5.6%
A black in a glass that is nearly opaque but with amber hints anywhere the light sneaks through. Quite a fluffy, creamy tan head. Roasty, black licorice and molasses, some red and dark fruit and just a little resiny hops.
An amazing but light black licorice flavour from mixing the touch of resiny hops and the full dark malt flavours. The hops are most noticeable in the finish but still not as prevalent as I expected from this American Porter. There's also molasses, a little grain and some red fruits. There is definitely some but I'm not getting a lot of chocolate or coffee tones. Of what there is there is more coffee than chocolate, which is a little different from a typical porter but the licorice flavour is really nice in my opinion and goes very well with the light coffee that does come through.
Overall a very nice American Porter with a more subtle hops touch than Victory Brewing's Storm King Imperial Stout (but sort of along the same lines) and a unique lightly licorice twist. Definitely worth trying.
A delectable aroma that is bitter and dark, full of coffee and chocolate tones with hints of sweetness and a touch over something that makes me think of black olives. Opaque and black in a glass with a tan head of foam that leaved behind nice lacing. The taste is also dark and delicious. Garrison's Martello Stout has a strong coffee flavours and a pleasantly creamy mouthfeel. A few mild touches of hops come through at different point balancing the malt nicely. A bitter almost smoky long lingering aftertaste makes sure you won't forget what you're drinking. This thick (nearly meal replacing), malty yet refreshing and low alcohol beauty of a stout should be a pub staple.
Opaque and black in glass. A big frothy, thick, brown head that leaves behind formidable lacing. The aroma is coffee, smoke, mild hops, a little caramel and maple, some wood tones - lots going on. The taste is similarly complicated: bitter, dark chocolate forward melding into more of a coffee flavour as each sip progresses, the powerful malt flavours overmatch a hops character that would be strong nearly in any other beer but in Propeller's Revolution Russian Imperial Stout it only balances. Smoke and umami, sweet touches of maple and molasses bread. Barely a few touches of alcohol and some faint fruit esters poke at the edges of my perception playfully adding yet another layer to this splendid flavour.
Propeller's Revolution Russian Imperial Stout is not a beer to be rushed. It's also a beer I like a little on the warm side and although it is nearly a meal in and of itself, it would probably pair well with some strong flavoured hard cheeses.