Thursday, December 11, 2014

52 Foot Stout by Barkerville

People, I have finally hit it big time. This is a commissioned/requested beer review. Before you get all excited and start blogging for free beer and fame, you might want to learn the reality. I had to buy half the beer for this posting and my payment might be a pint. Still, it is nice to be noticed.

Anyone who has frequented any place that sells beer has probably seen a bottle from Barkerville Brewing. They have super pretty bottles and prominent placing. The beers have been getting some good reviews, ask my friend Chuck. Barkerville seems to be following the standard formula: make a blonde, make a pale, make a brown and make an IPA (English). But what I'm talking about is the stout. Enough of my ramblings how does the 52 Foot Stout taste?

52 Foot Stout = 8/10 (Fresh bottle) 


It's a good stout, one the best in BC. I'm not just saying that because I've been commissioned; it's good. The nose hits all the marks, roasted coffee beans, dry cocoa and light berries. 52 Stout has a slight cola astringency with a medium mouthfeel. There is a notable presence of Mexican drinking chocolate dryness, mixed with assertive roasted pencils, old coffee and blackberries. Sadly, this all fades away too quickly.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: A snifter or pint will be. Just make sure it is clean: Brian is watching.

Food Pairings: Would do well with a meaty, roasted dish or even dessert. Imagine the 52 Stout with tiramisu.

Cheese: Let the roasted character mingle with a smoked Gouda for fun.

Cellar: Maybe, see below.

I was also asked to determine if this beer might cellar. This is a tough one as the other beer provided was only 6 months old and storage was not controlled. There are many things determine if a beer will age well. Most notable with the 52 Stout are: alcohol content is a little low (7%), beta acid content of hops is OK, malt complexity is good and will prominent roasted flavour morph into something new. Will this beer change over time? Most certainly yes, even just six months of aging produced a noticeable reduction in the roasted aroma and flavour. With this diminished roast more syrupy wood and berry flavours came forward.Will this beer improve? Hard to tell, this is personal thing. I quite enjoyed the roasted character, so aging this beer might not appeal to me. However, if you are bittersweet chocolate and berry person, this might be something you might want to put away. Maybe I will put a few in the back for fun.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Entangled by Driftwood

You all know I have this thing against made up beer styles. They appeal to me about as much as flavoured porters. I don't like change. Perhaps Mark Twain was referring to me when he penned his famous change quote. It might have been my family that bought me this beer. My little one picks bottles based upon labels; she might have thought this beer was a Disney tie-in. Entangled is a hopfenweisse or hoppy wheat beer. Let's call this beer Fat Tug Wheat or FTW for short. I can see why she was attracted to the label. My choice for best packaged beer of 2014 was just decided. Those Hired Guns kids make some elegant designs. Anyways, back to the Fat Tug theme. Last month we sampled Fat Tug lite. Perhaps Driftwood might do a Fat Tug Black, a.k.a. American-style Black Ale/Cascadian/ Black IPA. This I could get behind; might even buy more than one. Enough of my rambling, how does the FTW taste?


Entangled = 8/10

Those who buy too much beer will find similarities between FTW and the Brooklyn/Schneider collaboration beer. Both smelled of potency in the spicy, floral, citrus hop department. There was not a lot of wheat in the nose, just the hops. Wheat became noticeable in the sip, it tempered the anticipated IPA astringency with a tongue caressing creamy texture. Most beer drinkers in Victoria have a collection of dedicated brain cells responsible for recognizing the taste of Fat Tug. Imagine this flavour mixed with cream of wheat and bread. The ending was the expected long linger of spicy wheat and citrus. I'm starting to warm up to the idea of made up beer styles.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Should be a weisse glass.

Food pairings: Hard with fusion beers; perhaps fusion food is in order. Try this next to a breaded salmon with lemon glaze. I might ask for a lemon and Seville orange risotto.

Cellar: Nope, it's all about the fresh hops.

Cheese: This is a new category. 2015 will be the year of cheese. An aged sheep's cheese, sharp cheddar or aged Gloucester should have enough strength to balance this potent beer.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mile High Mountain Ale - Vancouver Island Brewery

This is the first, or maybe second, beer VIB has released since it sacked most of it's beer geek employees. Maybe the Bohemian Pilsner was first. Many of us in the beer geek community were worried about all those passionate beer drinkers displaced by this shake-up. No worries, most have found jobs in the local craft beer industry. The label of the Mile High reads ,"blahblah blah hop forward, Northwest-style blahblah blah dry-hopped aroma... blahblah blah sessionable ale." Marketing certainly hit all the popular key words that resonate with craft beer. Sadly this beer did not live up to any of these claims, except for the Northwest part. I could neither taste, not smell any forward hops and sessionable is below 5%. Is there a false advertising law that applies to craft beer?

Mile High Mountain Ale = 3/10

Mile High is beer; that is all. It is a reasonably well crafted beer. I thought it tasted like a slightly maltier Piper's. The nose was a pleasant mix of bread crusts and raisins. A high carbonation sip delivered a medium to full body that was slightly cooling. Each sip added nothing new: slightly fruity, raisins, dark grapes, prunes and a vague hop bitterness. It finished relatively clean with an earthy lager character. Once it warmed up though, there was a bit of the D-bomb approaching. Certainly a very calm beer that will appeal to the masses. Not another Sabotage brew that pushed VIBs beer reputation higher.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +0 5.9%
Value +1 (it's not bad, just not exciting)
Appearance -1 (label looks like it was made an unemployed cartoon artist and the description was no way close to the taste)

Glassware: Any clean pint glass will do. Yes, you Brian.

Food Pairings: Meaty, calm foods would be idea. Try with a pulled pork sandwich.

Cellar: Nope

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Growth Pale Ale by Driftwood

One of the purposes of a blog is to educate. I must think of something because this beer review is going to be very short. Let's talk about hops. This is the first time I have seen the Newport hop used. It might be used but no brewery has mentioned it. Newport is a hop developed by the USDA as a mildew resistant substitute for Galena. If I remember correctly Vancouver Island Brewery uses Galena. Newport is a mix of Brewers Gold, Hallertauer M, Late Grape, Belgium 31 and Fuggles. Rogue uses this hop quite a bit; its in XS Imperial I2PA, Santa's Reserve, Dad's little helper black IPA and more. Which makes sense because all these beer are bitter as @#$#. This bitterness is due to a very high alpha acid content present in Newport. So how did the beer that some people are referring to as 'Diet Tug' or 'Tug Lite' taste?

New Growth = 6/10

Spicy and pine flavours are the order of the day. That's it. It reminded me of nasturtium. There is a little cracker and white bread malts. This brew is quite bitter and peppery. I found it a little bitter for a pale ale, but it is suitable for our PNW desires.

Taste +_3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0  5%ABV
Value +1 (worth the price)
Appearance +1 (nice label art)

Glassware: Whatever you got. Just as long as it is clean, right Brian?

Food Pairings: This is quite difficult to pair as it is very piney and bitter. Might be nice to counter with mango sweetness and fatty shrimp. Go for the uber-bitter-party with an arugula salad with blue cheese.

Cellar: Might be interesting because Newport has a good beta hop content, but malt complexity is lacking.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seaport Vanilla Stout and Beer Fairies

I love beer fairies. There are very few perks to being a beer blogger. Other than the fame and glory, there is not much else. There is no fortune, there is constant abuse and people loosely borrow your format. Perhaps I should be flattered. Every so often, free stuff comes my way. This was my lucky day, I came home to free beer on my doorstep! A wise and daring enigma left this bountiful box for me. I feel obligated to do a review as the accompanying press releases called me a 'champion of craft beer.' Actually it called everyone who got a box the same thing.
I do not have a degree in marketing, nor a degree in economics, nor a degree in behavioral psychology. These defects do not allow me to critique the new packaging. However, Mrs. Left4Beer very much liked the new packaging and found the iconic/naval signal flag theme appealing. Perhaps this is mission accomplished. With the trend in beer packaging to more elaborate and flashy packaging, the simplistic and iconic style of Lighthouse is refreshing. I really like the bottle caps. If there was a T-shirt available I would wear it proudly. hint..hint. This blog is more concerned about what is inside.

Seaport Vanilla Stout = 8/10


I liked this beer, and not because it was free. Perhaps I am wrong, but this tastes a lot like Keepers Stout with added vanilla. The nose started off with a hint of earthy vanilla, a dusting of chocolate and traces of well seasoned coffee. A friend of mine brought me a very elegantly worded tap list from the Mute Swan Pub. This list might have influenced that first sentence. Each full and creamy sip peels away layers of roasted astringency, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate and homemade vanilla ice cream. Yah, that tap list influenced me a lot. This beer is good. Tastes like Keepers with Madagascar vanilla. Which is great because every Victorian beer drinker secretly hopes they will get a case of Keepers for their birthday. I know I do, hint, hint. Even better an advent calendar that has a Keepers everyday, with a Shipwreck IPA on Friday. Shipwreck is the new name for SwitchBack IPA.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 I like the box! Ummm nice new packaging?

Glassware: A snifter if you are feeling fancy, or a nonic if you are in a hurry. Or a La Chouffe glass if you made a super-awesome thrift store find!

Food Pairings: Dessert all the way. A flour-less chocolate brownie with whipped cream would be delightful. Ribs with smoky vanilla BBQ sauce might overload the vanilla pleasure spot in your brain. If you want to try something messed up, may I suggest stew heavy on the chili powder.

Cellar: Yes, in mine. Trust me, I will keep it safe.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Drinking beer helps men at high risk of heart disease

I admit the title is a bit of a stretch, but I needed to hook you in somehow. The title should read, "Polyphenols in beer reduce atherosclerotic biomarkers in high cardiovascular risk men." The previous title is less likely to cause drowsiness. A study in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases gave 36 older men free beer, alcohol free beer or gin. It is known that polyphenols and alcohol in fermented
beverages reduce the risk of heart disease. This study intended to determine what parts helped what.
Atherosclerosis is a low grade, inflammatory disease that leads to plaque build up in arteries. These lucky guys were given a daily dose of either beer (660ml with 30gm ethanol and 1209mg polyphenols), alcohol free beer (similar polyphenol count) or gin (30gm ethanol and no polyphenols). After four weeks, these guys 'donated' a crap tonne of blood and all sorts of cardiovascular disease biomarkers were measured.
What the researchers found was that the polyphenols and alcohol affected their health in different ways. The
alcoholic beer and gin increased good HDL cholesterol and reduced fibrinogen (blood clotting factor), but the alcohol free beer did not. Yay booze. Only the alcohol free beer increased folic acid and lowered homocysteine (heart disease risk marker). Yay vitamins, boo booze. Systolic blood pressure also decreased with alcohol free beer. Yay polyphenols, boo alcohol. Both beer and alcohol free beer reduced leukocyte expression of adhesion molecules (trust me this stuff is bad news). Yay polyphenols.
So what does this mean for beer drinkers? Drink dark beer (rich in polyphenols) with ample hops (flavonoids) and low in alcohol. Can you say stouts or session strength Cascadian dark ale? Hope I don't get sued for that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Moon Under Water Maxminer's Altbier

Sticking with the Moon's signature brewing style we have another German influenced beer; the altbier. This is also another collaboration, which is something Clay and crew do a lot of.  Altbier means 'old beer', which could be applied to almost every German and European style of beer. When one mentions altbier, they are generally referring to a dark, lagered ale from Düsseldorf. Think of this as a dark Kolsch. Typically the alt style expresses some dark ale characteristics: caramel, dark fruits with a mild hop floral and spiciness. Extended cold conditioning (lagering) tends to smooth out the edges and cleans up the finish. How does the Maxminer stack up? Brilliantly.

Maxminer's Altbier =7/10


The nose is a tad restrained but enough clean, caramel maltiness floats up. There might be a little floral spiciness too. Alt beers are never flavour powerhouses. Each sip is clean with great balance between tame chocolate, caramel, bread, raisins and floral/spicy noble hops. True to form is hits all the marks and just tastes... well, good. The finish holds a slight tongue coating of sweet caramel. A very enjoyable beer, sadly it is only a seasonal.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always better from a growler in a proper glass)

Glassware: The altbier uses the stange style glass, but generally it is a bit larger (330ml). I picked this smaller size because it said 'Alt'. You could also pick a Willibecher.

Food Pairings: Anything caramelized and restrained in flavour will pair nicely. Would work well with grilled chicken, all things pork or a BBQ portabello mushroom burger. Mushroom caps with young Gouda sounds darn tasty.

Cellar: Nope