Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Ale - Bridge Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Summer Ale - Bridge Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 5.5%

Bridge Brewing's Summer Ale pours a clear, full gold in a glass with a quick fading white head. As the bottle was finished more sediment reached my glass for a cloudy and pale light gold colour. The aroma is floral, sweet and lightly spicy in such a way that reminds me of clover. Also some citrus in the aroma as well as a herbal touch and some banana.

Sweet and lighter than Bridge Brewing's other ales, the taste has herbal tones, a little bit of citrus, a bit of spice (almost peppery) and a bitter punch. The bitterness is a bit of a shock at first but this light and bitter Saison/Farmhouse Ale mellows with each subsequent sip and, like Bridge Brewing's Strong Dark Belgian, the bitterness blends much better with the rest of the flavours if you let it warm up to just about room temperature. It's fairly light on the tongue so you'll find it refreshing if you like beers more towards the bitter end of the spectrum and it will also pair well with flavourful barbecue and similar foods.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Strong Dark Belgian - Bridge Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax)

Strong Dark Belgian - Bridge Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 8.0%

It pours a glowing red hued amber with an off-white head that leaves nice lacing. Sweet, candied and roasty caramelized sugar aroma with floral and clove-like nectary yeast tones. The taste is along much the same lines, plenty of floral yeast tones with roasty sweetness balanced out (or perhaps more than balanced out) by quite a bit of bitterness and a fair amount of alcohol comes through in the taste at 9 C'. There is also a little acidity adding some tartness.

This beer's balance improves as it warms: the alcohol mellows and blends a bit better, some brandy and cherry flavours come out along with roasty red/dark malt to sit nicely in the aftertaste. Additionally, and most importantly, the bitterness and acidity are now playing nicely with the malty sweetness rather than standing out all on their own. Strong Dark Belgian is at least 8.0% as I can certainly feel its effects after splitting only half of a 750 ml bottle.

So, when you try Bridge Brewing's Strong Dark Belgian be prepared for a strong, full flavoured ale and be sure to let it warm up quite a bit - I think you'll enjoy it a lot more if you do.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rickard's Shandy - MolsonCoors (Canada) 4.5%

Rickard's Shandy - MolsonCoors (Canada) 4.5%

Pale gold in a glass with a quick fading white head. Lemonade aroma (plain lemonade not pink lemonade), sweet but sour. The taste is lemonade first and foremost but some malty lager flavours come out in the finish and particularly in the aftertaste. I had only ever had a shandy made by mixing beer with ginger ale but the lemonade version is okay too. Summery and refreshing, Rickard's Shandy is highly quaffable and as long as you think of it as a beertail (a cocktail made with beer) rather than a beer it's pretty nice. It doesn't taste artificial to me it just tastes like a blend of lemonade and a lager.

I'm a little curious as to what beer they are blending with lemonade since the only Rickard's beer that uses a lager yeast is their pilsner, Rickard's Blonde. Based on the underlying beer flavours that could indeed be the beer they are using.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer Weizen - Okanagan Spring (Canada - British Columbia - Vernon) 5.0%

Summer Weizen - Okanagan Spring (Canada - British Columbia - Vernon) 5.0%

The aroma is a blast of apricot, peach and passionfruit with some hints of citrus. Okanagan Spring's Summer Weizen pours a lovely and cloudy apricot colour with a moderate head.

The taste is also potently apricot, mostly dominating the complimentary wheat flavours. You can certainly still taste the wheat: it gives the beer an appetizing creaminess. Also, the apricot and other fruit flavours (I feel like the passionfruit comes through well in the taste) are so pleasant and tasty that as long as you tend to like a fruit flavoured wheat ale, and know what to expect from this one, you are sure to like Summer Weizen.

As always, Okanagan Spring has an interesting and informative label which I appreciate. I also like the fact that use apricots (presumably) grown in the Okanagan Valley region.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Braunschweig Wicked Wheat - Pump House Brewing (Canada - New Brunswick - Moncton)

Braunschweig Wicked Wheat - Pump House Brewing (Canada - New Brunswick - Moncton) 5.0%

A delectable aroma of cloves and banana, typical of the style. Braunschweig Wicked Wheat pours a cloudy full gold in a glass with a huge, white, fluffy, and highly resilient head of foam: well defines peaks and valleys remained on top of the beer throughout several pourings and plenty of drinks. The veritable eruption of foam does a splendid job of expressing the aroma but does delay the drinking by more than a few precious moments.

The cloves and banana tones of the aroma continue in the flavour and keep this fine wheat ale light and refreshing even as the wheat gives it a creamy mouthfeel and a light grain (wheat) flavour that would pair well with summer fare. The aftertaste is also quite appetizing and is the same balanced flavour (with perhaps just a bit more emphasis on the banana) lingering on. I suggest you try it out as it is a really nice summer beer; now if we could only get some warm weather to go with it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Picaroons Tap-Takeover at Ducky's Pub (Canada - New Brunswick - Sackville)

Picaroons Tap-Takeover at Ducky's Pub (Canada - New Brunswick - Sackville)

Sackville is my hometown and a 2008 Cultural Capital of Canada, and smack-dab in the middle of Sackville is the new and improved Ducky's Pub, established in 1989, shifted and refurbished in 2013. With the move has come a renewed focus on tasty regional craft beers as well as a full menu from a partnership with their new neighbour Pickles European Deli. This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending a Picaroons tap-takeover at Ducky's.

Under the watchful gaze of Picaroons reps Tony and Dave each of Ducky's twelve taps were "taken over" and instead of pouring a variety of craft beers poured only tasty Picaroons brews for the evening. As you can read below, I took this opportunity to review two special edition ales that had been aged in Glenora whiskey barrels from the highly rated distillery in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I also enjoyed Picaroons' seasonal Plaid to the Bone, an ale brewed with heather that will be hitting NB Liquor shelves soon.

Barrel Aged Winter Warmer - Picaroons Brewing (Canada - New Brunswick - Fredericton)

A lot of the whiskey barrel in the nose and dark but not quite opaque. The alcohol content is not quite a known factor but is likely higher than the 7.3% of the non-barrel aged version since the aging process along with some added sugars for an additional fermentation will kick the alcohol up a notch.

Lots of barrel and whiskey notes in the taste such as vanilla but also a sweetness along with a hefty malt body and flavours. More than detectable levels of alcohol - you can really taste it as you draw your next breath.

It reminds me a little of a Russian Imperial Stout without the hops because it has actual wood tones where wood tones in a typical RIS are just an interaction between the flavour of the hops and the alcohol. I liked Picaroons' original Winter Warmer but the Barrel Aged Winter Warmer is just spectacular.

Barrel Aged Timber Hog - Picaroons Brewing (Canada - New Brunswick - Fredericton)

Opaque in a glass and this hefty stout even looks like it'll stick to your ribs. The aroma is similarly filled with barrel notes but with more of a peat emphasis than the Barrel Aged Winter Warmer. As a result the aroma is very whiskey-like when coupled with the sweetness and alcohol content that a thoughtful sniff reveals.

The Barrel Aged Timber Hog definitely has a more mellow flavour than the Winter Warmer but it is full of dark malt flavours of chocolate and coffee. A bit of subtle cherry and molasses as well. There is no confusing this with a RIS though, as it does not have the same bitterness or alcohol content as the Barrel Aged Winter Warmer.

The Barrel Aged Timber Hog is highly drinkable for a beer so hearty. The barrel aged version is particularly good but the Timber Hog you can get year round in bottles is also quite good.

Friday, May 17, 2013

PEI Brewing Grand Opening (Canada - Prince Edward Island - Charlottetown)

PEI Brewing Grand Opening (Canada - Prince Edward Island - Charlottetown)

I had the privilege to attend a pre-grand-opening, last night in Charlottetown for PEI Brewing new fantastic facility. The space is beautiful and well designed with a full bar, a tasting room, a event area, a retail store filled with cool merch and beer, and (of course and most importantly) a state of the art brewery just begging to be toured.

As you can see from the photos below, the brewery is set up with tours and the public in mind what with the nifty orange signs hanging over everything interesting. Rest assured, however, the beer they make here is delicious too. I had the pleasure of trying their new Blueberry Wheat and Mango Wheat.

If you are in the Charlottetown area they are having a Grand Opening party on Saturday, May 18th that sounds like a lot of fun. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gaspésienne - Pit Caribou (Canada - Quebec - Percé)

Gaspésienne - Pit Caribou (Canada - Quebec - Percé) 6.2%

Huge frothy light brown head. Dark and thoroughly opaque in a glass. Milk chocolate aroma, a bit of yeast and maybe a hint of alcohol as well as some smoke and wood tones. A bit of acidity in the aroma as well as the taste. Flavours of chocolate, coffee, sweetness, a bit of brown sugar. Some of the aforementioned acidity along with a bit of red fruit (cherry). A very nice Porter.

Friday, May 10, 2013

White UFO (Un-Filtered Offering) - Harpoon Brewery (USA - Massachusetts - Boston)

White UFO (Un-Filtered Offering) - Harpoon Brewery (USA - Massachusetts - Boston)

A bright gold colour. Smells like moderately bitter, moderately sweet orange juice. While there certainly are citrus tones in the flavour it is more lemon & lime than orange. Also quite floral with some spiciness and some nice bread tones in the background that balance out this beer nicely.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Blanche de Pratto - Pit Caribou (Canada - Quebec - Percé)

Blanche de Pratto - Pit Caribou (Canada - Quebec - Percé) 4.75%

Cloudy, gold with a big white frothy head. The aroma is herbal with coriander, citrus (lemon) and something highly reminiscent of pink bubblegum. Blanche de Pratto has a creamy mouthfeel but not as thick as some other Belgian style Whites - I wonder if they use a dash of oatmeal to enhance the mouthfeel like many other brewers.

The taste is, lightly lemony, spicy and herbal: coriander, not quite mind or ginger but a sort of pleasant mild mixture of the two. All in all, a nice refreshing White Ale.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

La Blonde de l'Anse - Pit Caribou (Canada - Quebec - Percé)

La Blonde de l'Anse - Pit Caribou (Canada - Quebec - Percé) 5.0%

La Blonde de l'Anse is gold and slightly cloudy in a glass with resilient white head. The aroma has grain, honeyed sweetness with some spiciness. The taste is more bitter than expected. La Blonde de l'Anse has a white bread, grain flavour along with a light green flavour like Timothy-grass or when you pluck and suck on wild clover. A bit of a nutty or maybe umami aftertaste. Quite refreshing.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Citra One Hop IPA - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 6.5%

Citra One Hop IPA - Garrison Brewing (Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax) 6.5%

Brassy gold colour in a glass. Lovely citra hop aroma of mango, passionfruit and papaya with some light vegetal touches; some tones of honey. Quite a bitter taste, a malty body, some hone and still mango as well as passionfruit a bit of a slightly metallic aftertaste that mellows after a few sips but reminds me of dandelion greens.

This hops provides a really neat hops character that dresses this American IPA up in exotic tropical fruit flavours. Citra One Hop IPA is the second of the One Hop IPA series by Garrison. I have already reviewed the first and I look forward to trying their next one as soon as it is released.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shock Top (USA - Missouri - St. Louis)

Shock Top Belgian White (USA - Missouri - St. Louis) 5.2%

A nice orange apricot colour in a glass, slightly cloudy. This beer has a pleasant wheat and peach aroma. the taste is more floral and citrus (orange) than spicy but you can definitely taste the added coriander. Made by Anheuser-Busch/In-Bev this is actually (in my opinion) a nice beer. Pleasant fruit tones to go with the wheat flavour and a very slight kick of spice. I'd still prefer it with a little more coriander flavour and I have the sneaking suspicion that they may have used adjuncts like rice or corn in the brewing process but that could just be my natural suspicion of mega-breweries.

Shock Top Raspberry Wheat (Saint Louis, Missouri) 5.2%

Smells strongly of raspberries but doesn't taste all that much like them. Spicy and sweet, fruity and malty; a little bitter. Because it is not drowned in raspberry flavour it is distinctly a wheat beer and a cloudy gold colour in a glass.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Pacifico Clara (Mexico)

Pacifico Clara (Mexico) 4.6%

Light tasting except it is quite bitter for such a light tasting beer. A little bit malty but in general quite light tasting. In short, it's very light tasting!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Winter Ale - Newport Storm (USA - Rhode Island - Newport)

Winter Ale - Newport Storm (USA - Rhode Island - Newport) 5.9%

Very dark brown, mostly opaque actually. Pleasant bitter coffee and roast tones with a mellow milk chocolate middle; a nicely lingering bitter and coffee smoky aftertaste. The aroma has a chocolatey aspect to go with bitter coffee and roast. A really nice ale and aptly named and fits the brewery name as well: it reminds me of Christmas holidays and sitting, sipping by a fire while a snowstorm rages outside.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Grande Réserve 17 (2012) - Unibroue (Canada - Quebec - Chambly)

Grande Réserve 17 (2012) - Unibroue (Canada - Quebec - Chambly) 10.0%

A cloudy reddish brown colour in a glass with a smallish but resilient head. The aroma is loaded with oak along with some spice, cinnamon and nutmeg and herbal characteristics typical of Unibroue's brand of Belgian style ales.

The taste is again very oaky with an alcohol content you can feel. Sweet and spiced with fruit, raisin and herbal flavours, some light hops. Really spectacular and distinct. At various points in drinking the beer it reminded me alternatively of a white wine, a red wine, brandy or cognac. This is a phenomenal beer and a 'must try', there is so much to this beer that I think each person might take away something different.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dray Horse Ale (1820-1829) - Black Creek Historic Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Dray Horse Ale (1820-1829) - Black Creek Historic Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.0%

A dark slightly cloudy brown in a glass without much of a head, in fact it came out of the bottle less carbonated than most beers - suitable for a historic recipe however. The aroma is sweet and chocolatey (like chocolate cake) with a bit of a grain and roast and something bordering on dark, and perhaps red, fruit esters.

A light, watery mouthfeel belies the powerful mix of flavours: chocolate yes but also other hearty dark malt traits, brown bread with a bit of grain, some wood tones, light fruit esters and just a bit of acidity. It's quite a delicious brown ale. I look forward to seeing what the next 'decade' brings.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mill Street Seasonal Spring Mix (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Spring Imp Spring Bock - Mill Street (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 7.0%

A glowing orange colour in a glass. The aroma is sweet and somewhat creamy with just a hint of dry Euro style hops, just the faintest hint of lemon. The mouthfeel is creamy but not at all cloying while the taste is sweet and malty, but not overly with a moderate alcohol flavour that comes across as just a little bit herbal; in short, Spring Imp tastes exactly like a Bock should.

Spring Thaw Maple Ale - Mill Street (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.3%

A roasty, lightly smoky, a bit of a hop aroma with only a hint of maple. Not quite the typical Maple Ale aroma - though pleasant. A deep amber colour in a glass.

The taste is smoke, dark malt, light roast and mild coffee tones; sweet, especially in the finish, without being sugary. The maple flavour is certainly not overstated, mixing with the smoke to give a flavour that is reminiscent of maple syrup made over a wood fire. Just a bit of acidity as well as a moderately bitter finish from the mix of barely cedary, mellow hops and smoked malt. The aftertaste is long lingering, sweet and tastes very must of maple. The maple flavour comes out a little bit more as the beer warms; the maple aspect of Mill Street's Spring Thaw Maple Ale is still not as pronounced as many other Maple Ales on the market. This more balanced maple flavour makes Spring Thaw Maple Ale all the more drinkable and not so one-dimensional as other Maple Ales.