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 This has now been replaced by the GCBF beer list.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.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Kokako Wild Ale by Moon Under Water

Every release of the Moon's barrel aged series is something to look forward to. Wild/Brett yeasts in wine or spirit barrels, what is there not to love. This release was aged in French oak with kiwi and whole leaf Wai-Tai hops.  I forget what these bottles set me back, perhaps $10ish. If this was a release from a bigger American craft brewer, you happily hand over $15-$20.

Kokako = 8/10 

The satisfying pop of the cork opened up aromas of barnyard Brett and tingly citrus. Prickly favours of lemons, wool, pineapples wash back with a refreshing tart acidity. Not quite mouth puckering, but close. The bottle will not last forever, but the linger of tart barnyard and lemonade almost does. Not sure where the kiwis went. Excellent.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Clean tulip

Food Pairings: Food pairings with sour/wild beer are hard. Mainly because you just want to enjoy them on their own. I'm would pair with an open faced sandwich with tapenade and sticky wash rind cheese. The funk of the cheese and the beers should blend well. There will also be the sweetness/fattiness of the cheese and the oily olives contrasting with the sour of the Kokako.

Cellar: I'm will certainly but a few away

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Drawn to Light by Driftwood

Seems to be a Driftwood trend, renaming old beers. Apparently this used to be the Spring Rite. Perhaps the same is true for the "Cry me a River" Gose and "Gose-uh"? Either way, still good beer. If it makes you feel any better, Vancouver Island Brewery hasn't released a new beer in almost two years.

Drawn to Light = 7/10

Aromas from the moth beer, remind me of a calm Raised by Wolves, slightly spicy, quite tropical of pineapple, oranges with a hint of pepper. Nothing really dominates. The graininess, honey, earthy lemons and peppery yeast all play nicely together. A light to medium mouthfeel finishes dry with a buckwheat honey linger. Quite tasty and worth a try, if there is any left.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Great label art and good description of flavour)

Glassware: Chalice or tulip

Food Pairings: The tang of a goat cheese and arugula, would bring out the spiciness in the beer. While the residual sweetness would balance the bitterness of the arugula.

Cellar: Maybe, but not likely

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sax in Dark by Phillips

No preamble nor sharing, just cleaning up notes. This was the second in the Phillips sour series, Thorny Horn was the first. And much tastier.

Sax in the Dark = 3/10

Not a big fan of this one, most of the sour or tartness came from grape additions. It smelled a little like table grape bits on dark toast. Sour notes seemed to come from grape tannins and not Lactobacillus influence. The sip was a mix of whole wheat toast, slight chocolate and tart grape seeds with a linger of tongue coating grape tannics. Not really for me.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0
Value 0
Appearance 0

Glassware: Clean

Food Pairings: Something

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Phillips Botanicale

Has it been this long since a blog post? I truly am slacking. The Phillips Botanicale should be thought of as either a gruit or that dreaded BCJP category called "experimental" or "spiced". Although I don't think it is truly a gruit as this beer has hops for bittering while a true gruit only uses herbs or spices.

Phillips Botanicale = 7/10*

The asterix means you must like gin. The flavour is very reminiscent of the Phillips STUMP gin, which does contain Cascade hops and Grand Fir. There are much things gin on the nose: juniper, orange oil and forest. Reminds me of a well done negroni. These botanicals add a creaminess to the light to medium mouthfeel. It drinks like a plain pale ale with a shot of gin. Much botanicals with orange oil, juniper sweetness tempered with a citrus bitterness. The finish is a long coating of orange oil. Definitely worth a sip, if you like gin.

Taste +4 (If you like gin)
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6.2%
Value +1 (Yah its worth a taste)
Appearance +1 reasonable description of flavour

Glassware: Just clean

Food Pairings: Crab cakes, must be crab cakes or any other firm fish. Perhaps with a sage, rosemary and basil rub to get your herbal mojo going.

Cellar: nope