Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Legacy Ale Barley Wine by Swan's

It might be a little late in the season for a barley wine. Barley wines invoke images of cold evenings curled up next to a crackling fire while reading Chaucer. In my demented world, barley wines are enjoyed while feeling the warmth of an overclocked GPU while playing online video games. Does pwning some person named Chaucerdude232 count? I digress. Last year this was my favourite beer. How could you not enjoy a pre-aged barley wine for only $7?

Legacy Ale = 8/10

I found this years version a little hot and syrupy. It was still quite nice, but it had big expectations placed upon it. The alcohol warmth and apricot sweetness became apparent as soon as I removed the cap. Sweetness was a major flavour of this barley wine; lots of peaches, apricots and marshmallow. The booziness and mild earthy hops tried their best to temper the syrup. Still, it was a tasty barley wine that is ready to drink now. I'm looking forward to seeing if the alcohol calms down in about six months.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 10.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Chalice or tulip

Food Pairings: The dish would have to be big, rich and fatty. How about duck pate?  Desert might be nice. I'm thinking apricot upside down cake. As for a cheese, a blue would be bold enough to stand up to this warming beer. It might pair well with a quality feta; the salty feta would be a good contrast to this sweet beer.

Cellar: Might be worth the effort. The malts are pretty thin, but if the alcohol fades....

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Spinnakers Belgian Porter

Why can't someone just release a normal porter? There are flavoured porters, imperial porters and now a Belgian porter. The porter is a wonderfully drinkable beer. It is a perfect blend of equal parts
roast, chocolate and earthy hops. I'm not sure how a usually spicy yeast will play upon a balanced dark ale.

Spinnakers Belgian Porter = 7/10

The nose is very porter-like with dark fruits/berries, dry chocolate and a slight bit of ash. There is a mild hint of the spicy yeast flavours apparent in the nose. This porter is a smooth sip with one surprise. A slightly minty hop flavour is balanced with bittersweet chocolate, dried berries and potted plant. The Belgian yeast only provides the slightest of spiciness. It is most noticeable in the short lived, calm spicy chocolate linger.

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

Glassware: A tulip would be optimal but anything will do

Food pairing. Think of things roasted, earthy or fruity. Might be nice with a spicy Mexican chocolate cake. I would choose a grilled Portabello mushroom burger.

Cheese: This beer could stand up to some potent cheeses. A mild Stilton would be nice or a smoked Gouda.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beer and Cheese: L'Hercule de Charlevoix and White Bark by Driftwood

Remember resolution #1 and #6? This post combines them both. Another resolution that I didn't share was that I plan to try a new cheese every week. This is mainly to explore the possibilities of beer and cheese pairings. My knowledge of cheese is very limited; there will certainly be some mistakes. At
least on the cheese side; feel free to correct me.

The first cheese that caught my eye was the L'Hercule de Charlevoix. It is a unpasteurized cheese made with Jersey cow milk. This hard cheese is brine washed and similar in flavour to alpine cheeses like Gruyere. I will not be providing too much information about the cheese mainly because of my lack of knowledge. An alpine cheese originates from the Alps mountain range. Animals that graze there consume lush grasses, flowers and herbs. These flavours are transferred into the cheese and can vary depending on season and location. Quebec does not really contain any high mountain ranges, but the processing of the L'Hercule and the milk selected produces a similar flavour.

So what does this cheese taste like? The initial aroma was that of feet and funk. Luckily, this did not transfer over into the semihard texture of the cheese. It was rather mild with a slight nutty, fruitness. The ending was a calm tartness. Perhaps a good pairing for this beer would be an equally calm and fruity beer. Swan's Arctic ale/Kolsch came to mind. A blonde ale or a calm pilsner would do nicely also. A pale ale or hoppy saison would have overpowered this cheese. I planned to head downtown to pick up a bottle of Andrew's Arctic Ale, which would have been perfect. The lazy factor kicked in, so another local favourite was chosen: Driftwood's White Bark witbeir. I thought the creamy wheat, orange peel and slight spiciness would compliment the flavours in this cheese. Sadly, this did not work out too well. The White Bark was spicier than I remembered, so it rather overpowered this delicate cheese. It wasn't bad, just not optimal. This beer would have been better with something a tad more robust, like an Emmental or young goat cheese.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Years Beer Resolutions

Can there be such things as resolutions for beer drinking? Why not? It seems like more fun than the regular resolutions. So along with getting more exercise and reading more fiction, I plan to do the following:

1. Start drinking the Victoria classics. This is hard for an Untappd beer ticker. Why would I spend good money on a beer I have already tasted? I can't recall the last time that I drank Driftwood's White Bark or a Hermann's.

2. Work really hard to try every new release in Victoria this year. At least, those worth trying. This is harder than it sounds, Moon Under Water released a few beer I had never heard of.

3. Go on a brewery tour. I have actually never been on one. Maybe Jeff from Category 12 can show me around. 

4. Visit the Four Mile Pub. Yes this does directly conflict with number 2, but I want to see if it is as bad as everyone says it is.

5. Start homebrewing again. All the gear is in the shed. My low ABV English style bitter was quite tasty.

6. Blog on a regular basis. Enough said. Did you know that this crappy blog has been running since 2007?!

How about you readers? Any Brew Years resolutions?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top 10 Victoria Beers of 2014 According to ME

Again it was another great year for Victoria craft beer lovers. New to the brewing scene was the 4 Mile Pub (boo) and Category 12 (Yay). It was also the first time there was a true collaboration brew between two local breweries. Sadly this beer did not make the top 10. The other collaboration brew will not be spoken of again. We also experienced the opening of two great, uber-taplist pubs. The Churchill/Garrick's Head and this supercool place called the Drake. My 2014 list is a little thin as I was not able to review nor taste all the beers in Victoria. Next year I shall try harder. But enough of my ramblings, how did these beers stack up according to ME?

1. Moon Under Water - Bench Warmer = 9/10

This was a wonderful collaboration beer. A spicy, bretty Belgian blonde with lots of oaty malts and hints of flowery and spicy hops. Well done John Adair (now Gladstone) and Jeff (MUW)

2. Category 12 - Disruption Black IPA = 9/10

A lot of black IPAs are potent and painfully hoppy. This new kid hit a nice balance between griping citrus and floral hops with roasted and chocolate malts. Yum

3. Entangled - Driftwood = 8/10

What happens when you mix the hoppy Fat Tug and a creamy wheat beer? Something wonderful.

4. Keg Tosser - Spinnakers = 8/10

A great strong Scottish ale that delivers deep peaty malts, lots of caramel and abundant fruitiness. Don't mind if I do.

5. Sauerteig - Lighthouse = 8/10

A little on the weird side. Who would have thought a rye sourdough bread yeast would work with a saison style beer? I'm glad someone tried.

6. Sea Port Vanilla Stout - Lighthouse = 8/10

Would could you not like a dry chocolate Keepers stout with added earthy vanilla.

7. 13 Knot - Phillips = 8/10

This was perhaps the greatest marketing tactic by Phillips to date. Bundling a hop flavoured liqueur with a double IPA.

8. Maxminer's Altbier - Moon Under Water = 7/10

Great balance between tame chocolate, caramel, bread, raisins and floral/spicy noble hops.

9. Surfrider - Vancouver Island Brewery = 7/10 

What can I say, it's a well done Pilsner. So good that they released it twice.

10. Chico Nico - Swan's = 7/10

It was a simple blend of tropical citrus hops over a bed of biscuity malts. Simply delicious.

Honourable Mentions

These beers never got a full review due to laziness, but would have ranked up with these top 10.

Pilsner Doehnel by Driftwood - a hoppy pils with local malts: ohh yess!
Rhubie by Lighthouse - the unintentional sour rhubarb beer. The only bottle I bought three times.
Lighter Side of the Moon by Moon - A simple, light lager in a super cool can.
Soma II by Moon Under Water - the keg didn't last long enough for me to try. But one might appear at the Drake soon
Oud King Crow by Moon - a lovely approachable sour.
Year Two Wheat Wine by Moon - no one wanted to share this lovely bottle with me. I took a peaceful nap afterwards.

Best Packaging of the Year

Hands down is was the Entangled by Driftwood and Hired Guns Creative. Perhaps the most elegant label I have ever seen. The Phillips 13 Knot was a close second.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Category 12 first two beers

Most of us have heard rumblings of this new brewery in town called Category 12. They are on Keating Cross Road with a little tasting room and growler fill station. You can read all about them in Eat Magazine. There are currently two beers available, a saison and a black IPA. You can find kegs around Victoria, including this cool place called The Drake. So how do they taste?

Unsanctioned Saison = 6/10

It started off great. There was a slight spiciness that came from both hop and yeast. You could also detect a funky earth aroma with ginger. It was surprisingly hoppy with more of that spicy floral and earthiness. The malts got a little funny, perhaps a bit underattenuated. It tasted grainy, mushy and chewy, not crisp and dry as expected. Perhaps I was hoping for local Saison Dupont. Still, I would order another.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.9%
Value +1
Appearance +1 good description of beer flavour, not keen on the word sessionable for a 6.9% beer

Glassware: Something clean. I would use a pokal tulip.

Food Pairings: Cheese would be a wash rind goat. Something light and spicy would go well. Perhaps lamb chops with a mildly spicy pepper glaze.

Cellar: nope

Disruption Black IPA = 9/10

I was getting a little worried until I tasted the Black IPA. This dark brew hits all the marks. A grapefruit citrus and piney hop aroma can be smelled one table over. It has a griping astringency that is partially kilned malts and partially hops. Imagine what a black IPA should taste like and this is it. Balanced parts of bittersweet chocolate, espresso, over done toast with marmalade and sweet grapefruit rind. Not over the top, but just right.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 6.7%
Value +1 delicious
Appearance +1 (a fitting description of flavour)

Glassware: A nice, big pint glass thank you.

Food Pairings: Something bold and roasted. A grilled portobello mushroom burger with blue cheese. As for the cheese, make it a well aged cheddar.

Cellar: Nope

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.