Saturday, September 13, 2014

Phillips 13 Knot Anniversary


I have seen some great marketing ideas during my blogging days. There have beers in pine boxes. One litre sized cans in a German stein was nice. Glow in the dark labels are fun. Bottles hand wrapped in paper are very elegant. No one can deny the pull of an Advent Calendar full of beer. This marketing idea by Phillips almost tops them all. Who can pass up an drink combination that could be called the PNW boilermaker? An imperial IPA with a side of liqueur, this is great. Reminds me of something the legendary Bert Grant was rumoured to have done. He would place a few drops of hop oil extract into any beer he was drinking if it was deemed underhopped. There is a nice write up about the pricing and legality on Brian's Blog. So how does this marketing gimmick taste?

Phillips 13 Knot = 8/10

This review will be in three parts; IPA only, liqueur only and both together. Perhaps we should start with the best part, the Hop Drop liqueur. I am certainly not an expert on spirits, but this hop drop is darn tasty. The favour is similar to a dry hopped mezcal. Ample honey sweetness and smooth with a slight pine and citrus addition. Very nice. This the best part of the package. Drink the spirit, trade the beer.

The Impy IPA on its own tastes like any other Phillips hop bomb. It reminded me like last years anniversary IPA and the year before last years. A beverage sure to please the hop heads in BC. Massive hop bitterness that is a mix of key limes, grass, pine and tropical fruits. The acidic mouthfeel feels like you did a face plant into a pile of pine needles. Once the initial attack fades, there is a lot of flavours to work through. There is cotton candy, pine sol, geraniums, pie crusts (Thanks Brian), and bread dough.

The two parts together make it a quite syrupy sip with acetone vapours. It almost becomes hard to taste anything, but there are whole wheat croissants, pine resin and a citrus fruit basket.

Interesting fact: It is illegal in some states to display a noose. 

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 (11.8 or 13%)
Value +1 (the liqueur is worth the cost)
Appearance +1 Great packaging

Glassware: Definitely a tulip.

Food Pairings: I honestly can't think of any food that could stand up to this exorbitantly hopped beverage.

Cellar: Maybe, since I plan to have a few bottles left over.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thoughts and rants on GCBF

Last year someone mentioned that there was no Beer Fest thoughts by a local blogger. There was a reason for this; it is our time to enjoy, be with friends and relax. No thinking, no analysis just enjoy some great local beer. Lucky for you I have no friends and can't learn to relax. Here are my thoughts about this years Great Canadian Beer Fest.

The food looks great this year. There are two regulars (Ali Baba Pizza and that delicious Caribbean place) and four food trucks. Thank you food trucks! Menus are posted on-line so you can plan ahead.

I'm assuming there will be lots of awesome volunteers, great musicians and entertainers. I wonder if that guy in the Mad Hatter outfit will be doing card tricks again. But enough of that; let's talk about the beer.

CASKS

In previous years the local brewers have delivered lackluster casks, with the exception of Lighthouse, Moon and Swan's. Many of the other casks in attendance were a dry-hopped regular beer. That is not a cask, it's an afterthought. This year, we cask people are in for a treat. Of the 40 casks that I noticed, there were only three that mentioned they were dry hopped regular beers. Twenty two casks did not mention anything unique about ingredients or yeasts. To me this says beer in steel barrel and put on counter to look good. While the remaining fifteen noted a unique brewing technique or ingredient addition. Top cask picks in no particular order
- Central City - Impy IPA collaboration with Ninkasi, P49, Gigantic aged in Cognac and Bourbon barrels
- Driftwood Singularity - Extra long boil them matured in Makers Mark bourbon barrels
- Lighthouse Currant Event - Soured with whacky yeast collection for nine months with additions of black currents, wheat, spelt, rye
- Moon x2 - Anniversary ale with grape juice on oak and Berliner with raspberry and Brett.
- P49 - Sour red ale in French oak for 18 months. Now that is planning
- Townsite - Kombuca wheat. This one sounds interesting.
These casks will be available on Friday. It should be sadly noted that Tofino will not have a cask at beer fest. Their spruce tip IPA last year was stellar.

New Breweries

I noticed 14 new BC breweries in attendance at this years beer fest. This is only 1/2 of the number of new breweries that opened in 2014, according to Jan Zeschky. I plan to check out the ones that are furtherest from: Three Ranges (Valemont) and Wheelhouse (Prince Rupert). True, Barkerville brewing is far away in Quesnel, but their beers are readily available in Victoria. The list of new beers to try is daunting, but here are my picks:
- Brassneck Magic Beans - Brown ale with cold brewed coffee
- Canoe Rye IPA - brewed in collaberation with Gerry Hieter.
- Cider Riot from Portland - everything
- Deep Cove - patersbier
- Fuggles and Warlock - Black Rye IPA (the name says it all)
- Green Leaf Acid Trip - Berliner weiss
- Three Ranges Red Ale
- 33 Acres Seasonal (unnamed at time of GCBF listings) perhaps Axel M or Schol.

US Pavilion
Most of the US breweries will be nestled within their own little enclave, with exception of Cider Riot from Portland. This area will be a mix of must and must not try beers. There are a large portion of these beers you can currently find on store shelves in Victoria. While the masses are lined up to try Stone's IPA, Fat Tire or 90 Minute IPA check out these hidden gems:
- Caldera Brewing IPA
- Kulshan Brewing IPA
- Saugatuck Milk Stout
- 90 Minute IPA - yah it's worth the wait.
- New Holland - Dragon's Milk Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged HELLO!


Hopefully attendees will explore new beer options and not just drink stuff they can find on tap anywhere. Of the local stuff here are the items I am looking forward to trying:
- Big Rock Rhine Stone Cowboy Kolsch - Yes Big Rock. I had a sample of this Kolsch and found it very nice
- Lighthouse new Pilsner (Yes the Pilsner market it saturated but not many are any good)
- Longwood Ginseng - Just for an Untappd tick and giggles
- Old Yale Sasquatch Stout - this beer is great. 2014 BC beer of the year. Maybe Old Yale should mention this on their website
- Steel and Oak red pilsner - sounds like a nice twist
- Water from the cooler. Must stay hydrated

See you all there. I will be the one in my usual blue Hawaiian shirt.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

4 Mile Summer Wheat Ale

2014 will be known as the year of number breweries. The 4 Mile Brewpub bombers hit the shelves this week. Very soon we shall see things from Category 12 Brewing. The 4 Mile will be the first brewpub that is not within walking distance of downtown. It shall join the -hopefully- growing list of brewpubs in the Western Communities. The Loghouse Pub will be brewing in the near future, though not in time for a Great Canadian Beer Fest appearance.
Perhaps we should learn a little bit about beer on this post. Let's learn about diacetyl. The phenomenon of diacetyl in beer is a lengthy discussion. So I shall be brief; it is bad. The flavour of diacetyl is similar to butter and should only be noticeable in English style ales. Then it should only be slightly present. If you want to taste diacetyl, grab a bag of microwave popcorn or visit the 4 mile pub. If you wish to learn more about diacetyl as on off flavour in beer, check out this site.
During the brewing process, yeast does its thing and converts fermentable sugar into all sorts of stuff. This stuff is both good (alcohol, carbon dioxide, ester, phenols) and bad (diacetyl, fusel alcohols, etc). A good brewery will allow the yeast to continue working and naturally remove the diacetyl it has produced. If young beer is removed from the yeast too early, diacetyl can be left behind. This is generally considered a flaw in the brewing process. There are other causes of diacetyl such as unhealthy yeast or infection from other bacteria (pediococcus). But to again summarize: diacetyl is bad.

4 Mile Summer Wheat -2/10


Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. Maybe not, many reviews on Untappd reflect my feelings.
The nose of the Summer Wheat is heavy with butter. There is a little bit of wheat and cracker malts also. Each chewy sip leaves a long sticky smear of diacetyl than no amount of carbonation can remove. I failed to taste much else except the buttery diacetyl. If pressed for something else, I would guess about lemons and wheat. Most of this beer hit the drain. There will be no further beer money spent on 4 Mile beer. On the positive side, this is the best packaged beer in Victoria to date. The whimsical artwork was very eye catching. It also gave a good description of what beer should have tasted like with food pairing ideas.

Taste -1
Aftertaste -1 (long and sticky)
Alcohol Content 0 4.5% is a nice sessionable strength
Value -1 (not a good beer)
Appearance +1 These are the nicest labels in Victoria. Very eye catching with good description of theoretical flavours and food pairings.

Glassware: Pint glass will do. If you have a six sided jam jar, now is the time to fetch it.

Food Pairings: Usually you can pair this beer with anything. Would go well with pasta salad topped with pecorino cheese. Seafood would also be a good choice. For those into fish, this beer style goes great along side trout with lemons.

Cellar: more like drain

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Una Mas by Canoe and Salt Spring Island

I am a slacker. I have not reviewed a beer for weeks. That is it! I commit to review a local beer every weekend. Luckily it is the summer and new releases are scarce. Sometimes I wonder why I do it. It is not as though this blog has a great number of readers. There is little fame and even fewer fortunes derived from blogging. Perhaps it is the community (small) and the creative process. Kinda like brewing itself. You take raw ingredients, add knowledge and you produce a unique and desirable product. That is the theory.
But I digress. This is another Victoria area beer collaboration.  Salt Spring Island is a little far away, but they are close enough. I had some reservation about this beer. Both of these breweries are known for unleashing diacetyl (D-bomb) beers. Now you put them together...

Una Mas = -1/10


Ratebeer no ratings 
Beer Advocate no mention

Oh yes, there is the diacetyl and sulfur I was dreading. It is mixed in with a cracker aroma and slight lager character. There is a bit of lemon and cream corn in there too. The mouthfeel is light to moderate with medium carbonation. Chewiness is the best way to describe the sip. Add that to crackers, a slight lemon and mixed citrus flavours. It is the aftertaste that really gets me; quite slick and sticky. I don't think I finished the bomber. Lets not talk about the pint I had on Canoe's patio. This is not going to be posted on Twitter or anywhere else. Some people quite liked this beer.

Taste +1
Aftertaste -1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value -1
Appearance 0

Glassware: Standard lager glass

Food Pairings: Nope

Cellar: I'm sure this beer will see a lot of shelf time

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Surfrider Bohemian Pilsner (Vancouver Island)

It has been a while. This pause is not due to lack of great local beers to try, but mostly due to a computer crash. Thank you NCIX for the new gaming/blogging rig. There is no shortage of great local beers to try. If you can find it, try the Lighthouse Rhubie ale. Other notable releases I have to review include the double delicious Whooper Swan Impy IPA by Swan's, Mike Doehnel's pilsner by Driftwood and  the Canoe/Salt Spring Una Mas release. There are too many releases by Spinnakers to mention.
But this article begins with a sad commentary. It appears things might be changing at Vancouver Island Brewing. Those familiar with the industry have mentioned that much of the VIB sales force have left or have been let go. Luckily, Victoria's top Certified Cicerone is still on the job. Hopefully this will not impact their seasonal bomber releases. This is the formula we have come to enjoy in BC craft beer. Have a handful of core brands that pay the bills and release some one off bombers to generate brewery interest. If these bombers taste good and sell well, repeat them. We should be seeing more of the Australian barley wine Numbskull by Lighthouse in the near future.
This leads us to the latest release from VIB, the Surf Rider Bohemian Pilsner. This is donation brew with 25 cents going to the Surfrider Foundation. You all voted for this one; I would have preferred the West Coast Common but such things happen in a democracy. What did the beer prick think about this beer?

Surfrider Pilsner = 7/10


This is a beer blog so maybe I should try and provide background about this beer style. Of the two old world pilsner styles, this Bohemian style is the maltier and less hoppy variety. By contrast, the German style Pils tends to be drier (more attenuated) and hoppier. This extra hop flavour is enhanced by water that has a higher sulfate content. The Bohemian Pils tends to be richer in malts and more restrained in the hops. This is due to a special barley mashing technique called decoction. Decoction involves changing the temperature of the water used to extract sugars from barley during mashing. Surfrider is a textbook Bohemian pils. The nose is slightly sulfury with cracker malts blended with minor floral and spicy hops. It was unexpectedly hop forward with floral but the chewy honey and cracker malt backbone was not far behind. A slightly mushy linger ended clean; awaiting another sip. Say what you will against the humble pilsner. I would like you try and drink a barrel aged, imperial stout on a warm patio.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.0%ABV
Value +1 A decent Czech pils
Appearance +1 Nice label and decent description of what the beer will taste like. Donations to charity are a nice touch.

Glassware: Only a tall pilsner glass will do

Food Pairings: Will work with most light fair. I'm thinking cucumber and Brie sandwiches. The chewy maltiness always calms spicy Thai food. For those who are bold; they might try a white chocolate fondue.     

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Chico Nico by Swan's

Ordinary, nice people often go unnoticed. The same can be said for beer. Geeks always pay attention to the imperial, barrel aged stout with fair trade, organic ingredients. Certainly a wax dipped bottle, signed by the brewer, must be better than any simple pale ale. I'm not going to disagree. However, this does not mean we should overlook common beers on the shelf. Take the Chico Nico for example. This beer will never score 5 stars on Untappd nor 98 on Rate Beer. However, I shared this beer with a non beer geek friend. He said that this was one of the most unique and tasty beers he has drank in a while. This is where the Chico stands out. It is approachable to every palate and delivers a divergent flavour surprise.  

Chico Nico = 7/10

The nose is abundant with tropical citrus notes. Mangos, tangerines, grapefruits, they are all there. Biscuity  and bready malts play host to a blended tropical hop bitterness. The slight astringency is a little soapy but doesn't distract from the sweet tangerine and blood orange linger. Very nice

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.2%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 Growler fills always get bonus points.

Glassware: Any glass will do. May I suggest a nonic as this is the most efficient way to delivery this delicious beer to the face.

Food Pairings: This beer would pair well with almost any middle of the road meal. Nice accompanying cheeses would be a cheddar or gouda.    

Cellar: Why wait?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

30 Year by Vancouver Island Brewing

Has it been thirty years already? It seems like an odd timeline, when you consider most of the craft beer changes have occurred within the last ten to fifteen years. Craft beer creativity and variety is certainly snowballing. The 30 Years beer from Vancouver Island pays homage to the Victoria craft beer veteran, Pipers Pale ale. I served Pipers at my wedding, but I won't tell you how long ago that was. Let's call this beer the Imperial Piper's.

Thirty Year = 7/10


The nose is a pronounced mixture of spicy (allspice) earth and boozy vapours. A little green apple appears upon warming.  Each sweet and chewy sip provides a warming sensation of prunes, toast, raisins, allspice and vodka tingle. Only the sweet earth and prunes lingered. Rather nice.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Elegant label art and good description of how beer will taste)

Glassware: Any glass will do.

Food Pairings: The earthy flavours would resonate well with mushrooms or wild game. Something salty or sour would contract nicely with the sweetness of this beer I'm thinking a mushroom risotto with foccacia bread and balsamic vinegar would work well. Maybe you would prefer grilled duck and scalloped potatoes. 

Cellar: Nope.