Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Brunette - Village Brewery (Canada - Alberta - Calgary)

Brunette - Village Brewery (Canada - Alberta - Calgary) 5.0%

Dark brown in a glass, slightly cloudy as one would expect after the slight roll before opening the label directed. A sweet toasted crusty bread, and slightly light molasses-like aroma. The taste is sweet, brown sugar, crusty bread, and biscuit. The aftertaste is umami and lightly bitter. This is a nice tasting Brown Ale.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bríó - Borg Brugghús (Iceland - Reykjavik)

Bríó - Borg Brugghús (Iceland - Reykjavik) 4.8%

Gold in a glass with a robust head of white creamy foam. Underneath that foam is a pretty spectacular pilsner. The aroma is lightly malty with a dry hoppiness.

To the taste Bríó has a light malty flavour but the main feature of this beer is a crisp, bitter hops flavour with a bit of citrus fruit, like an orange peel. This flavour doesn't stick around to the point where it seems out of place but it makes this pilsner standout in terms of flavour dimension as well as in terms of crispness. Not a surprise that this beer has taken home awards.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Saint of Circumstance - Collective Arts Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Burlington)

Saint of Circumstance - Collective Arts Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Burlington) 4.7%

A slightly cloudy gold in a glass with a thin but resilient head of foam. The aroma one is of citrus and sweetness in a way that reminds me of lemon sugar cookies. It is also herbal with faint touches of peach, clover and field flowers. There is also a hint of some something vaguely spicy like ginger or cinnamon.

The flavour is herbal and zesty from the, well, orange and lemon zest. It is also complemented nicely by the biscuit-like flavour of malty body and the subtle accent of piney hops. A very pleasant beer, nice use of citrus.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Alexander Keith's Saphir Hop Ale (Canada)

Alexander Keith's Saphir Hop Ale (Canada) 5.5%

Full gold with a finger of foam that settled fairly quickly. Herbal, floral, slightly citrusy (orange/tangerine) marmalade and sweet aroma. The taste is bitter but with continued citrus (more tangerine now), marmalade like sweetness. There is also some resin and a floral flavour that reminds me of some blossom, maybe honeysuckle? The aftertaste is drily, lightly bitter with more malt than hops flavour.

I am a fan of these One Hop beers because I like the opportunity to learn about one specific type of hops. This beer is also highly drinkable and pretty tasty.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Iron Duke - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph)

Iron Duke - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph) 6.5%

A deep yet red hued brown colour in a glass with a tan head of foam and a sweet, sticky malty aroma.

This malty beauty has a sweet, toasty, chewy dark fruit, molasses and lightly caramel flavour with some light smoky wood tones. There are some hops detectable, especially with the first few sips (hop aromatics and flavours come from more volatile compounds than sugars so they tend to be most noticeable at first especially in the head on the beer), but this is a malt forward beer for sure. This strong ale reminds me a little of a Wee Heavy and is just plain good.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Beaver River I.P.Eh? - Greener Futures - Beau's All-Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

Beaver River I.P.Eh? - Greener Futures - Beau's All-Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 6.0%

Punchy fruity tones stem from the hops and ginger combination, citrusy, almost like the peel of an orange - that characterizes the hops character. There are also distinct rum tones to be enjoyed, floating above the other flavour these alcohol, spice and wood tones give this version of Beaver River I.P.Eh? a heady and indulgent boozy aspect despite the fact that it is only 6% ABV. Beaver River I.P.Eh? is quite bitter but with some malty sweetness. This is a fun version of an IPA, the ginger and the rum barrels play well with the other flavours. I'd pick it up again if they were to make it again.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dominus Vobiscum Double - Microbrasserie Charlevoix (Canada - Quebec - Baie-Saint-Paul) 8.0%

Dominus Vobiscum Double - Microbrasserie Charlevoix (Canada - Quebec - Baie-Saint-Paul) 8.0%

A cloudy beer with a creamy tan head of foam. It is a deep brown colour with a deep amber hue very much like the colour of mahogany (like the label says).

A strong and unique aroma: there are apple juice tones, which is a bit weird but the other aspects balance it; there is grape, raisin, biscuit and molasses; finally, barley candy with subtle leather and an underlying earthiness. Makes for a heady, intriguing and delicious aroma.

The flavour is strongly malty with molasses and barley candy sweetness and lots of dark, dried fruit flavours like raisin, dates and prunes. There is a floral aspect to the overall flavour that is likely contributed by the yeast present in this bottle-conditioned beer. Dominus Vobiscum Double is neither overly sweet or bitter but just very flavourful and interesting. A really lovely beer full of character.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Zizanie - Tête d’Allumette (Canada - Quebec - St-André de Kamouraska)

Zizanie - Tête d’Allumette (Canada - Quebec - St-André de Kamouraska) 3.9%

A barely cloudy gold in a glass without much of a head. The aroma is sweet, light, with white fleshed fruits tones like pear or white grape juice. The flavour is light but not as light as you might expect from the low alcohol content,  a delicious mix of mild crusty roll or giant pretzel tones from the malt, floral tones that bring to mind wide fields in August and a light hop bitterness with an umami finish that means the glass spends as much time at my lips as it does resting on the bar. Yum!

A quick note about the venue where I came across this rare beauty. Gainsbourg is a fine brewpub in its own right (reviews of their beers upcoming) but they also serve a great selection of Quebecois beers including this one.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Chimay Blanche (Belgium)

Chimay Blanche (Belgium) 8.0%

Sweet, clear, subtle nectar aroma with light spice, tones of pear and light wood. Somewhat cloudy gold with a white, resilient head of foam.

The flavour is quite spicy, flowery touches to the nectar, hints of alcohol with similar light flavoured fruit touches (pear, white grapes) as were found in the aroma. This is an interesting Belgian Tripel as it has the lighter, flowery sweet flavours without that very sweet flavour and somewhat heavier texture of other Belgian Tripels.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blanche des Honnelles (Belgium)

Blanche des Honnelles (Belgium) 6.0%

A very cloudy deep gold in a glass with dark clumps of sediment. The aroma is medicinal and reminds me of a tincture: herbal and boozy. I fear this bottle may be off but nevertheless I persevere.

Very sweet flavour, sugary and herbal with a sticky candied ginger and a flavour of toast and marmalade. Dried fruit flavours are a part of an aspect of the flavour that sometimes comes across as malty syrup. It seems like this beer was brewed once and then reinforced with a pile of sugar to amp up the alcohol content. This is a tried and true way to make a stronger beer but using more malt works too and would make a better tasting beer. I'm not saying Blanche des Honnelles is terrible though, depending on which aspect of the flavour strikes me it will seem syrupy, cheaply made and kind of gross honestly but then on the next sip Blanche des Honnelles strikes me as a tasty wheaty homage to a barley wine and I'm won over. I flip-flopped like this all through the glass so I'd suggest you try it only if you like flavours found in sticky, malty barley wines. This is NOT your typical wheat beer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blanche de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Blanche de Bruxelles (Belgium) 4.5%

A light aroma of coriander with citrus (lemon) tones and some sweetness. A little bit like lemon tart squares. Quite a resilient and creamy hint of white foam. Somewhat cloudy and pale gold in a glass.

The flavour is stronger than I expected from the light aroma. The citrus is still there but it takes on a decidedly different form. It is still citrusy but novel somehow, checking out the label I see that it is probably what they call curaçao. Presumably this is the peel of the sour orange that the iconic Blue Curaçao is made from and not the blue liqueur itself. It makes for an interesting flavour and it works very nicely with the coriander. This is a really tasty and interesting Belgian White.

Monday, November 3, 2014

City and Colour - Flying Monkeys Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Barrie)

City and Colour - Flying Monkeys Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Barrie) 11.5%

Cloudy and the colour of maple syrup, not very carbonated but not flat despite having been aged for so long. In fact, the second glass I poured (into a red wine glass, for the record) had just under a finger's width of creamy, toffee coloured foam.

The aroma is strongly maple syrup and barleywine: malty with lots of prunes and other sticky dark fruit tones. Very sweet with maple but also barley candy and dark fruit tones. It has a bit of a syrupy mouthfeel but not more than you'd expect from a barley wine, which is a little less than you might expect considering this is an Imperial Maple Wheat. There is also some alcohol warmth, again as you would expect. This is a very sweet beer but the sweetness really works and City and Colour ends up being a magnificent barleywine-esque, strong maple ale.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Vanilla Porter - Waterloo Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Kitchener)

Vanilla Porter - Waterloo Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Kitchener) 6.0%

A strongly delicious, strongly vanilla aroma. Chocolate, sweetness, caramel and so much vanilla!

The vanilla flavour is strong but lessens with progressive sips. Along with the vanilla there are strong caramel and coffee/espresso flavours as well as nice dark chocolate flavours with a touch of black olives. If you have ever had a vanilla beer, porter or otherwise, and thought, "There's some vanilla, but I would like more" then this Vanilla Porter is for you. No one is going to say Waterloo Vanilla Porter is lacking in vanilla, that's for dang sure.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tante Blanche - Petit Sault Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Edmundston)

Tante Blanche - Petit Sault Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Edmundston) 4.7%

A brilliant, full gold in a glass; slightly cloudy with a thin white head of foam. The aroma is of nectar and field flowers, some hints of citrus and spices like a mix of the coriander or seeds of paradise that many Whites feature. The flavour has citrus (orange) and is spiced along the same lines. The wheat flavour and texture come through and Tante Blanche reminds me of a golden ale flavoured with wheat and wheat spices. All in all, it's well balanced and very tasty. Cool label with an amusing picture and a good story.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rauchbier - Mill Street (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa)

Rauchbier - Mill Street (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa)

A red hued brown in a glass (aka huge stein) with a smoke and spice forward aroma backed with malt flavours.

The flavour is also strongly smoked with a light mouthfeel and a fairly light malt character but with earthy tones and a very faint flavour that reminds me of dark cherries. The finish is also predictably smoky but in it more malt tones also come out with toasted bread and subtle molasses aspect.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bob LeBoeuf - Petit Sault Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Edmundston)

Bob LeBoeuf - Petit Sault Brewery (Canada - New Brunswick - Edmundston) 5.2%

Full gold in a glass without much of a head of foam. The malt flavour is somewhat toasted and sweet but with a herbal touch from the yeast that is well suited to the style and very pleasant. It has a somewhat thicker mouthfeel than some other beers but again this is suitable for the style. All in all, a nicely drinkable Belgian Style Blonde Ale.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Premier George Coles Cream Ale - PEI Brewing Company (Canada - Prince Edward Island - Charlottetown)

Premier George Coles Cream Ale - PEI Brewing Company (Canada - Prince Edward Island - Charlottetown) 5.0%

A very lightly hopped malty aroma. Light flavour with a bit of creaminess and just a little bit of hops. The malt character is somewhat sweet with some flavours of toasted rolls and a subtle honey aspect. This is a sessionable and mildly flavoured cream ale.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spark House Red Ale - Lake of Bays Brewing Company (Canada - Ontario - Baysville)

Spark House Red Ale - Lake of Bays Brewing Company (Canada - Ontario - Baysville) 5.0%

The colour is a bit on the dark side for a Red Ale and it boasts a large resilient head of off-white foam. The aroma is somewhat sweet, has a hint of maple and the caramelized sugars whose flavour is best characterized as red. They are a step beyond toasty but shy of roasty, they lie at the point on the carelization spectrum when blonde sugars turn to yellow and then a shiny red. They give Red Ales' their characteristic colour, flavour and name. These red sugars are the main flavour but they are balanced by a moderate hoppiness that keeps the sweetness from being too strong so that the beer remains refreshing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pumpkin Ale - Clocktower Brewpub (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa)

Pumpkin Ale - Clocktower Brewpub (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa) 

Amber in a glass, clear without much of a head. The aroma is pleasantly pumpkin-ey with a mix of spices, very much like pumpkin pie.

The taste is along the same lines, a good balance of pumpkin spices and pumpkin flavour.  The beer is well carbonated but there is something about the mouthfeel that tells me this beer was made with lots of real pumpkin.

This is a very nice pumpkin ale and if you are in Ottawa it does get much more fresh or more local than this. However, a word of warning: they will serve it with a sprinkle of pumpkin-spice unless you ask them not to. I think the beer's flavour is already nicely balanced so I recommend against the garnish.

Update: I tried it with the pumpkin-spice garnish and it amps up the aroma a notch but doesn't affect the flavour very much past the first few drinks.

Dark and Handsome - Box Steam Brewery (United Kingdom)

Dark and Handsome - Box Steam Brewery (United Kingdom) 5.0%

Dark brown in a glass with a frothy, light-mocha coloured of foam. Earthy, chocolatey aroma with tones of black licorice, tobacco and leather.

The flavour is also earthy with light chocolate flavour, light leather and subtle licorice. There is the a faint hint of lemon that adds an interesting dimension to the flavour even though it is rather subtle. There is something there that I wouldn't have called black currant if it wasn't on the label but I do get a little of that too. Light mouthfeel and nice sort of toasty, faint tobacco, aftertaste. All in all, a very pleasant beer.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Highballer Pumpkin Ale - Grand River Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Cambridge)

Highballer Pumpkin Ale - Grand River Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Cambridge) 5.2%

Full gold with an orange hue in a glass. A spice forward aroma: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and perhaps all-spice with a faint hint of pear, gourd and some toast, cereal and caramel.

Strongly nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves taste but with a distinctly pumpkin flavour as well. Sweet and quite heavily spiced although its flavouring, not including the malt flavours, can be broken down as 60% spices and 40% pumpkin. Highballer Pumpkin Ale has fairly low carbonation which makes for a smooth, watery mouthfeel even though there is a malty body with some toast and cereal notes.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Duvel Tripel Hop (2014) (Belgium)

 Duvel Tripel Hop (2014) (Belgium) 9.5%

Grassy, unripened mango, passionfruit hop laden aroma also with sweetness and a herbal hint typical of a less hoppy Tripel. A pale, cloudy gold in a glass with a frothy and resilient head of white foam.

Hoppy, bitter flavour at first, pine, sweet tangerine (got that from the Untappd description), something between the green (aka unripened) mango and passionfruit I got in the aroma but with a sweet herbal, floral finish of a Tripel. Interesting hops character and a flavour that is otherwise true to the Tripel style. Nice beer.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wilco Tango Foxtrot - Lagunitas (USA - California - Petaluma)

Wilco Tango Foxtrot - Lagunitas (USA - California - Petaluma) 7.8%

An amazing aroma and taste to match: very hoppy (melon & cucumber), hints of peaches but also malty and roasted.  Dark and almost chocolatey tasting at times. It's not bitter at first (or maybe there is just too much going on to really notice it) but it does have a bitter finish. As far as colour, just like one of the many humourous lines to read from the label: "We're not quite in the Red, or in the Black...". It tastes like they mixed a heavily hopped beer with maybe a stout. It's really really good. Too bad it was only a limited release.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Impact Altbier - Stack Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Sudbury)

Impact Altbier - Stack Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Sudbury) 5.2%

A deep amber in a glass. Quite a sweet aroma with some crusty bread and toasty malt tones and a hint of fruitiness and light molasses.

The flavour is certainly more sweet than bitter but it is not overly sweet and not even as sweet as it smelled. The crusty bread and toastiness are there, the hint of fruitiness is still subtle and there is a bit of hop bitterness, just a bit herbal, not strong but balancing some of the malt. In fact the hops character blends nicely with the toasty, caramelized though not-quite-roasty malt body and the touch of fruitiness. This is a very pleasant altbier.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Smoke 'n Oak - Stack Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Sudbury)

Smoke 'n Oak - Stack Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Sudbury) 5.5%

A crystal clear burnt amber colour in a glass with an off-white head of soda like foam. A smoky, maple aroma that made me say "Mmm!" outloud to myself. Oak tones as well and the smoke aroma is quite strong, just on the tasty side of acrid; which is exactly what I would expect from a smoked ale that even has smoke in the name.

A sweet flavour, oak and smoke;  that list is roughly in the order of flavour strength. The smoke and oak in Smoke 'n Oak really comes across as a flavour you could imagine being from fresh cut oak boards that were toasted just long enough for some of those wood sugars to caramelize without very much charring. Also, that could be exactly what it's from. Smoke 'n Oak is a tasty smoked beer that is a bit on the sweet side and makes good use of oak.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Saturday Night - Stack Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Sudbury)

Saturday Night - Stack Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Sudbury) 5.3%

A yummy cream ale. There a few mild fruit esters and a bit of a bitter bite at first which fits with a British style Cream Ale, and then a creamy mouthfeel supplemented with a strong nutty malt flavour, a bit like sunflower seeds, that I find extremely appetizing. This beer is fairly light, refreshing but with a satisfying malty body. A good ale on a summer day: pairs easily with all kinds of foods, thirst quenching, tasty and lends itself to big gulps.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Maredsous 10° Tripel (Belgium)

Maredsous 10° Tripel (Belgium) 10.0%

A slightly reddish full gold colour, just barely cloudy with a large, creamy head of white foam. A sweet toasted malt and herbal aroma with hints of apple, pear, touches of alcohol and honey.

Honey and nectar-like sweetness, apple blossoms, toasty malt and a slightly herbal flavour; a bit of seeds of paradise and maybe even light licorice at times. The high alcohol is exposed at times and Maredsous 10° Tripel will certainly warm your chest but most of the time it doesn't taste like it is 10% ethanol.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Belgian Cherry IPA - Mill Street Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Belgian Cherry IPA - Mill Street Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 7.0%

A Belgian candi sugar-esque sugary aroma that is beyond caramelized onto the sticky not quite roasty sweetness of a glaze. Slightly tart smelling cherry tones as well and some subtle Belgian yeast tones that are floral with a bit of earthiness.

The flavour is much the same but with more tartness from the cherry: the Belgian candi sugar and floral yeast characteristics provide a nice counterpoint to the cherry. No surprises tasting it after considering the aroma but it is a bit surprising to not detect any appreciable hop flavours in either based on the name. I guess Mill Street is aiming for a Belgian style, cherry version of an English style IPA; now that's a mouthful of a name. English IPAs have more muted hops flavours than the hoppier and better known North American IPAs.

The flavour is quite nice but I do have a bit of an issue with the name: when there is so much else going on in the name (and the flavour) why not a simpler name like Belgian Style Cherry Ale? Mill Street is more or less creating a style here so I would prefer a name that doesn't confuse the lineage even further by calling it an IPA. The cynic in me wants to ascribe the use of the IPA tag to the marketing department as a way to draw in hopheads.

All that said, if you like cherries this beer makes good use of them. Additionally calling it a Belgian style beer is certainly legitimate in my opinion as the sugary flavours and the yeast tones fit the style nicely.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Deviator Doppelbock - Cameron's Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Oakville) 8.6%

Deviator Doppelbock - Cameron's Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Oakville) 8.6%

Earthy, molasses, dark fruit (prunes) and sticky sweet aroma with the bourbon barrel notes coming through clearly and deliciously. Very dark but actually clearly translucent if you hold it up to a bright light which reveals a deep red hued brown colour. Some sediment towards the bottom of the bottle but very light and without a noticeable effect on the flavour.

Make sure you allow this and all Doppelbocks to warm up from refrigerator temperature before you drink them. Of course you don't have to wait for it to warm all the way up before you open it, in fact pouring it and warming it with your hands and sampling it over time allows you to pick out the temperature you prefer.

Smoky, malt flavours with chewy dark fruit undertones. Bourbon barrel flavours like oak, smoke and a little bit of spice are again quite prominent, which delights this bourbon fan. This beer is bitter with the smoky malt flavours and some subtle hop bitterness but has a molasses-like sweetness too. Something about the mix of flavours reminds me of chocolate and cherry confectionary such as a black forest chocolate cake or those chocolate orbs stuffed with a cherry and syrup that everybody's mom seems to like. This is a nice Doppelbock and the barrel aging complements the flavour excellently.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale - Beau's All-Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale - Beau's All-Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 5.6%

Full gold in a glass, cloudy too. It totes a resilient heady of creamy white foam. A berrylike (gooseberry?) touch to the hoppy floral, herbal, pine and citrus (tangerine) aroma.

The taste is floral, spicy, herbal, resiny, sweet but perfectly bitter with a delightful berry flavour throughout that is a little tropical and never seems out of place or inappropriate. A very tasty beer. Overall the impressive ingredient list (rose hips!) and the delightful flavour combine for a spectacular beer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rhyme & Reason - Collective Arts Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Burlington)

Rhyme & Reason - Collective Arts Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Burlington) 5.7%

Brilliant gold in a glass with a big fluffy white head of foam. Very citrusy hops aroma of grapefruit as well as peach and mango tones with cedar and resin as well.

Fairly bitter hoppy flavour: pine, cedar and other woods tones as well as citrus flavours reminiscent of grapefruit peel and oranges. Quite bitter, still very drinkable as long as you like bitter beers. There is a toasty, biscuit malty body that, in combination with citrus hops character, reminds of range marmalade on scones.

Collective Arts Brewing does something interesting with their labels, there are different ones on nearly every bottle. There seem to be upward of 60 different labels in at least 2 serieses. It makes the completionist in me want to buy far too many bottles of beer but at least the contents are also enjoyable.