Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sang Du Merle 2016 by Moon Under Water

There are three beers that I feel form the trilogy of fermented flavour awesomeness. The first is my personal favourite Rochefort 10. The second is by buddy's favourite, Orval. Final spot of honour falls upon my wife's favourite, Rodenbach. If I were stranded on a deserted island... you get the idea. Rodenbach is the pinnacle of sour beer perfection. The brewing process is quite complex and involves multiyear aging in open air oak vessels called foeders. This brewing process, and subsequent blending, produces a sour ale of startling complexity. One can pick out flavours of sour cherries, caramel, oak, balsamic vinegar and red wine. Whenever I taste a beer that claims to be a Flemish red sour, the comparison relative to Rodenbach is determined. It can be very hard to duplicate the fruity esters of cherries without a long and complex wood aging process. One way to mimic these flavours is to add in cherries. I fully endorse this idea.

Sang Du Merle 2016 = 9/10 


The best year so far. A nose that carries a tart, sweetness of cherries is sure to please Rodenbach fans. Within all that are hints of oak, balsamic and apple cores. It is not often you experience an effervescent, cherry infused balsamic but this is one of those times. Add to that a sweet prickly acidity that lingers and you pretty much sum up the Sang 2016. A must for sour fans.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Snifter or tulip

Food Pairings: I would recommend a sweet and sour Chinese dish. The bright acidity and effervescence would cut the heavy fats. While the sweet and sour from both would just resonate.

Cellar: I put a few down

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Holy Willie's Robust Porter by Twa Dogs

Porters never get a high score with my rating system. They are just not powerhouse beers. Rarely do you get a porter that adds a complexity of depth that keeps adding new flavours with each sip. Baltic porters maybe, but not English or American. These latter beers are simple in flavour: little roast, little chocolate with a hint of coffee or toffee. Usually not a lot of hop nor yeast character. This is not to say that porters are not enjoyable, quite the opposite. Each sip will distract you then release you back to reality. The robust porter was the stronger version of the brown porter in the 2008 BJCP guidelines. In the current guidelines, brown became English and robust became American. I am also glad to see that this version in not adulterated with added flavours. No blackberry, maple syrup or mocha porters for this beer geek. So how does it taste?

Holy Willie's = 7/10


Yup, it tastes like a proper porter. Roasted grains, cereal and earthy hot chocolate powder gently rise from the glass. Luckily the sip is not overly acrid with roasted astringency, just nicely medium. The flavour parts align like a middle school math question: common denominator or roasted bread crusts, weak coffee, hot chocolate powder and a hint of dirt. Not too quick a fade, yup solid porter. Should have brought the bigger growler.


Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1 (yup would buy again)
Appearance +1

Glassware: Nonic pint would work

Food Pairings: A steak, or other dark fatty meat, off the grill. The slight char and roasted flavours should harmonize nicely. Veggie option would be a wild mushroom stroganoff

Cellar: Noipe

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Highway 19 IPA by VIB

I think this is a truly new release from one of Victoria's oldest breweries since 2014. For those keeping score, the last release was Sabotage. Nice to taste something truly new. Not much about this beer on their website, so how does it taste?

Highway 19 = 7/10

Yup, it's got Mosiac. It has the nose of tangerines, mangoes, papaya with only a hint of grass. I thought it was a little thin with a medium full and astringent mouthfeel. The tropical never stops, you might get a little bready and caramelized malts if you are lucky. But the rest is all assertive astringency of the tropical fruit, tang, papaya and onion variety. This flavour lingers for an impressive length of time. Nothing off or grassy to note, quite tasty. You are either a Mosiac (HBC342) fan or not.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6%
Value +1 (I would buy again)
Appearance +1 (suitable description of flavour on label)

Glassware: Just a clean pint glass or a fancy IPA glass. I think the IPA glass is a little over-rated and hard to clean.

Food Pairings: Hit it with a lemon chicken or Peking duck with a citrus glaze. For those vegans out there, try it along side mango fried rice with tamarind tofu

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Storm Watcher Red Pilsner by VIB

For some unknown reason, I decided to visit VIB today. I heard an empty growler in the trunk and had 30 minutes before violin practice pickup, so growler run it is. The closest place was VIB, Phillips or Moon. Being a beer ticker, I had to try something new. VIB had the red pilsner on tap, which I thought was a new beer. More on that later; don't worry, there is a happy ending. The label on the tap said "Storm Watcher Red Pilsner", didn't VIB already have a beer called Storm Watcher? And what really is a Red Pilsner? Neither BJCP nor Brewers Association has a red pilsner in the guidelines. Perhaps it is a Vienna lager, International Amber lager or an Altbier. This red pils might fit into these categories. Or perhaps, this is just a winter lager? Dang it, is this another VIB recycled beer recipe? Sure tastes like it. I actually plan to cut and paste an old review, because the flavour is similar. Luckily they had 2016 Hermannator and a new IPA called Highway 19. The Highway 19 is your standard IPA dry hopped with Mosiac, at least that is what the nice lady behind the counter told me. She seems very confident and believable. I got a sample also; SPOILER ALERT, it's good.

Storm Watcher = 6/10 


This ruby red brew is nice to look at, even though there is no foamy head. Despite the lack of head, it still offers up hints of vanilla and caramel with slight spicy hop presence. A cool creaminess delivers lots of malts - think graham crackers, caramel and raisins. There is also a continuous presence of vanilla that is not overpowering. The ending is sweet, quenching and ever so slightly astringent.  The storm watcher will appeal to beer drinkers who like their brews on the sweet side.


Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1 (yes, I would drink this beer again)
Appearance +1 I liked the label the first time

Glassware: Clean lager glass

Food Pairings: This would pair perfectly with an unsmoked ham and cheese sandwich on rye. Perhaps a caramelized onion and mushroom cream sauce over buckwheat noodles. Maybe a desert of sticky toffee pudding would accentuate this lagers sweetness. Come to think of it, the Storm Watcher could be used to make a hot toddy.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

GCBF 2016 rant

So apparently I have a reputation. It involves having a couple of beers and criticizing blogs and beers. Not sure if this is true - then again - if it were true, I would probably deny it. Let's pretend it is true and let loose. Sorry Adem, no beers on board, just a coffee and mango slices. 
This is the favourite time of year for a beer geek or aficionado. When I was young, the Sears Christmas toy catalogue was the greatest publication in the world. This has now been replaced by the GCBF beer list. The 2016 list has some great options and a few new breweries. A perfect list for me would be filled with casks and new limited releases. However, if any brewery that focused their marketing department on the above average beer geek, would go out of business quickly. I'm assuming limited beer releases do not pay the bills. I feel a brewery should bring lesser known core brands, something new and maybe a creative cask. That way there is something for everyone. There is an average assessment of this years beers list on The Brewtal Truth blog. Actually it is quite an accurate assessment. The cheeky description was to taunt this very accomplished author. However, he did miss a few things.

My picks for GCBF 2016

I plan to skip 33 Acres of regularity, which saddens me. They only brought a dry hopped regular release with unknown hops. I usually look forward to trying their creative brews. 

Beau's is bringing a gruit or herbed beer. This should be interesting.

Be Right Back are one of the new kids this year at GCBF. They are also bringing a lesser known beer style called the Kentucky Common. This beer style is one of the lost styles that was recently added to the BJCP list of beer styles in 2015. Looking forward to tying their interpretation. 

Brasserie Dunham, yes all those please.

Returning this year is Crannog and they are bringing a whisky infused Back Hand of God. I sure hope there is some left when I arrive late. Will the whiskey also be organic?

Deep Cove has the best beer name at the festival. I'm surprised it took this long to name a beer after the pub crawl anthem by Spirit of The West

Foamers Folly have a nitro IPA, which is hard to find. Also their beer naming department needs to use Google. Doesn't Red Arrow in Duncan have a beer named Idle Hands?

Granville Island is rarely a booth I stop at. However, this year they plan to serve a proper Berliner style weisse with choices of sweetening syrups. I had a stellar Berliner from Troubled Monk that was packaged with raspberry and woodruff syrups.

Attention Highway 97, the a traditional Scottish ale does not contain peated malts.

Four Winds. I has hoping for super awesome things from one of my favourite breweries. Truth be told, I flipped to this listing first. Their beers are all delicious, but I was longing for something new.  

Lighthouse is bringing a perfect mix of lesser known core brands, new releases and casks.

Three Ranges always brings solid beers to the festival and I plan to try their cask, despite my disdain for cilantro.

Don't forget about the newest Victoria brewery Twa Dogs.

I'm not one for cider, mostly due to lack of appreciation and familiarity. However, I plan to offer up a token for their cask of Spanish style sidre from Tod Creek. This style is tart, acidic and sometimes lightly sour.
I also have a booth category similar to Brewtal Truth. Their award is called "Why Bother". I call mine the "Zzzz" award, mainly because their booths don't add much excitement to this great nation's most important festival of brewing. Beer geeks, beer writers, sales reps, importers/exporters and people with deep beer money pockets come to this festival to sample the best and varied offerings from Canadian brewers. One would naturally assume breweries would want to bring their best.

Zzzz awards

Bomber, Bridge, Canoe, Gladstone (I expected more), Persephone (only core brands), S&O (core only).

Vancouver Island. Serving Islander (aka craft Lucky) at GCBF. Although, the root beer cask does sound interesting.

Moon is serving only core brands but the cask of Sang de Merle sour is somewhat redeeming

Hoyne core brands only and mentions a cask without how it is different or enhanced.
Phillips. Blue Buck and Pilsner? Blue Buck cask with Citra? I might be an very amateur homebrewer but isn't Sorachi Ace a mild flavouring/aroma hop, how are those dill and lemon flavours going to be noticed from beneath a chocolate and roasted porter? Still... might offer up a token is I have tried everything else.

Did I miss anything? Comment below

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mistress of my Soul Saison by Twa Dogs

15 minutes, Go. In case you were under a rock somewhere, or using Google+ instead of Facebook, you might not have heard that Twa Dogs brewing is now operational. You might also know them as Victoria Caledonian Brewing and Distilling. I am more concerned about the beer, but rumour has it that the first running of the whiskey is quite tasty. Located in an unassuming warehouse off the Pat Bay, the interior is far more appealing than the exterior. Back to the beer, at this moment they have two beers on tap, a saison and a pale ale. The pale is - well pale - but solid and much better than average. I am currently drink the pale now in a rapidly emptying glass, must have a hole in it. The beer score is 6. Why 6? Because I only have 15 minutes, but trust me it is worthy of a glass fill. Saisons are always benchmarked against the exceptional Saison DuPont. Which is both good and bad. Bad is that few beers ever make the grade, but good in that we always drink a Dupont to refresh our palates. I never understand how this excellent beer is under $8. Dean did give me a quote about the beers, but I forgot to write it down. Something about beers are evolving with improvements and recipe refinements being made and if you drink more we will brew more. I should bring a pen and paper to interviews. In this beer reviewers uneducated assessment, this is a very, very solid first run.

DISCLAIMER: The head brewer, Dean McLeod, is a friend of mine according to my criteria. However, this never taints my reviews.

Mistress = 7/10 


The first sniff speaks of peppery yeasts and warm cereal. A hazy sip adds the chewy mouthfeel which oddly lacks effervescence. This highly quaffable mix of spicy hops, lemon pith with muesli glides over the tongue with ease. It's off dry linger fades away cleanly. Is it a Dupont, no. Will you be delighted to see this beer on a draught list, yes. I know I will be.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 6% 0
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Anything clean and Scottish

Food Pairings: Pan seared sable fish with lemon and tarragon glaze. For the veggies out there, try a fettuccine alfredo with diced shallots and lemon dressing

Cellar: Fresh is best

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Belgian Golden Strong Ale by C12


OK 15 minute beer review, GO! New format. The speed review, so many reviews to catch up on and Victoria brewers have been pumping out the releases. So the Belgian golden strong is the hard to master category that is owned by Delerium Tremens and Duvel. It should be strong but not show it. Sweet, but hinting to the dry. Crisp finish to reveal minimal hopping. We all look at the category and compare beers to that pink elephant. Which is unfair, there should be room for interpretation. Rather like a Schopenhauer essay, your perception is your reality. Still if you are going to label it, you gotta own up. Does the C12 make the grade?  You tell me. I'm out of time.

BGSA by C12 = 7/10  

A tad syrupy for a BGSA, but tasty fruitiness makes you overlook that. I noticed apricots, pears, cotton candy and a slight wood presence. This beer was a tad hot, but nothing unreasonable. Did not taste a hop presence, but that's OK. There was a hint of wood character, think wood pencil dipped in vanilla extract. Over all, worth your hard earned money.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 10.6% (yah right)
Value +1
Appearance +1 great description of flavour.

Glassware: Certainly a tulip that Kendrew envies.

Food Pairings: Candied salmon, with carrots and turnips

Cellar: Maybe. Didn't see a lot of residual yeast.