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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Schottleweizen (Phillips)

I'm a pensive fanboy for style combinations. At times the blending of brewing techniques can yield new flavours. Or it can go wrong and raise the question, "How do I spit out this mouthful of beer in a crowded bar?" Luckily this bottle by Phillips hits the former category. This tees up a stronger dark malt base (dunkel?) and allows a saison yeast to dive in an do its thing. Will spicy phenolics mesh with a rich, dark fruity malt canvas? I'm sure others will disagree with my thoughts.

Schottleweizen = 7/10


From the start, the spicy phenolics dominate the nose. There might be a little dark bread if you dip your nose into the foam. Each chewy mouthful supplies something new. The Schottleweizen is all over the map with flavours of dark breads, chocolate, prunes, bananas esters intertwined with a spicy saison yeast. It fades just as it starts. Perhaps a little unfocused but still very tasty.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.5%
Value +1
Appearance 0 (barely. Nice art and a vague description of how beer will taste)

Glassware: Definitely need a weisse glass to accommodate the massive head on this beer.

Food Pairings:Something dark and spicy will work well here. Chicken mole or Jamaican jerk might be in order. What cheese, what cheese? Let's be bold and pair this with a roquefort. If you like desert, try this with flamed bananas with a cinnamon rum glaze.

Cellar: Nope. Most of the flavours are yeast dependent and should fade quickly.

Strath 100 by Lighthouse

Some days you just want to be alone. The desire to unplug from the metrics of the daily grind can, at times,  seem hopeless. How many IBU's is this IPA? How is your hockey pool doing? How full is your PVR? Numbers, metrics, grades.. Sometimes all one desires is a simple, uncomplicated experience. This is why I picked up the Strath 100 from Lighthouse. I hoped for a simple beer. After all, it was intended for the masses of 20-somethings that consume volumes of whatever is on special. Certainly this would be a linear beer that I could review and ignore. DAMMIT.
This is a tasty beer of furtive duality. At first sip, or gulp, it seems like any other 5% pale ale. Slightly citrus and floral with a calm bready/sweet malt backbone. For most people, this is where the story ends. However, it is easy to overlook a first for Victorian and possibly North American beer drinkers. This beer uses a new breed of hop called Vic Secret. Think of this hop as a toned down Galaxy. The citrus flavours are not the ones we are used to tasting. Sensations of pineapple and tropical fruit can be noted. A stealthy infiltration of unusual hop flavours into the Victoria collective palate. One might think of this a covert, Australian plot to get Victorian beer drinkers hooked on southern tier hop flavours. I'm OK with that.

Strath 100 by Lighthouse = 6/10

I kinda gave away the flavours in the preamble. 100's nose is calmly fruity of all things tropical (pineapple, mango). The unassuming medium to full mouthfeel can easily be overlooked. Yes, this beer contains the required citrus and bready flavours of a PNW pale ale. Tropical are the citrus in question. Hops dominate with pineapple, tropical fruit salad and earthy resins. A great mix for the ashy and bready malts. It all fades clean away. Well done.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware:Whatever you have will do

Food Pairings: Anything will work with this beer. I'm thinking BBQ (veggie) burger action on the patio. Might even work with a quality grilled cheddar cheese sandwich.

Cellar: Nope

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sabotage - Vancouver Island Brewery

Can there be trends in beer? There most certainly are. Brewers can use the hippest new hops (Citra, Amarillo, southern hemisphere), brewpubs can host tap takeovers or they can brew an India session ale. Other trendy things to do include putting your beers in tall boy cans or brewing a black anything (black IPA, black saison, black lager). Regardless, I digress. Even though I forgot to mention the act of filling multiple sizes of growlers. Back to the India session ale. Certainly this beer style was born from the desire to have a hoppy beer but still be able to function and operate heavy machinery. A session ale does not have a defined ABV strength or even a style. Let's call it the opposite of imperial. So a session IPA will be the flip side mirror image of an imperial IPA. My definition of a session beer has an ABV that hovers near the 4% mark. My hero Stephen Beaumont has similar views. This means Spinnakers Swiftsure almost qualifies (4.5%), Phillips Bottle Rocket ISA certainly does not (5%), but the Central City ISA certain does (4% ABV). The Sabotage does not come close at 4.8% ABV. Another complaint of people who drink ISA is that they taste weak or thin. This -made up-  style of beer has a low ABV and an attenuated malt profile. Perhaps this weakness perception is due to preconceived thoughts of all beers that contain the word "India". We see the word India, then smell the big hop nose and expect a malt and alcohol slap to the forehead. Our expectations are unfulfilled and we blog that this beer tastes weak. Well too bad. Some of us want to drink a few hoppy pints and still be able to operate heavy machinery. DISCLAIMER, the only heavy machine I operate after a few pints is my PC. Sometimes that is not such a good idea. Ok, so what does this beer prick think about the Sabotage ISA?

Sabotage = 7/10


The nose contains that composite of PNW C hops that we have been conditioned to seek out. There is a slight grassiness as the beer warms up; Kendrew is this beer dry hopped? There are equal parts sweet pine, vague citrus and slight floral spiciness. A meager graham cracker graininess is also present in the aroma. Mouthfeel for a session ale is often disappointing, but this is not a session ale so the mouthfeel is pleasantly thin to full. Each sip is fairly linear and parallels the nose. Some have mentioned a slight sulfur aroma, but it's not an issue. The linger is slightly slick but carries the citrus hop bite nicely. Nicely done, even thought it is not really a session ale.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 4.8% (If you call it a session ale make it low ABV)
Value +1 it's nice.
Appearance +1 nice label art and reasonable description of flavour. Yes, I know it is a growler, but I stared at the art while it was being filled.

Glassware: You can be a DB like me and buy a IPA specific glass (in photo). This is not necessary, grab a tulip or flared pokal. Nevermind the knowledge of what a flared pokal indicates DB tendencies.

Food Pairings: This would pair with almost anything. It would go well with spicy Szechuan, the hops would make the spiciness even hotter. Remember there is little malt backbone to calm the spices. Maybe an aged cheddar and pasta would be nice. How about a cedar planed salmon with calamansi reduction glaze?

Cellar:NOPE

This author discloses that he received a complimentary growler fill. Thanks Kendrew and Rob. If this beer was not up to standards I would still report as such. But it is dang tasty, even though it is not sessional. VOTE WEST COAST COMMON.