Sunday, November 5, 2017

Not much this week, beer glass review

Not a lot of beer this week. The fresh hopped Wild IPA from Powell Street was nice. Pleasant mix of all the hop derived fruit flavours with a bit of funk. Not too grassy and just enough tongue tingle from the wild yeast. No where near as grassy as that Phillips Six. Someone described that flavour as a lawnmower that was let loose in an asparagus garden. Well said. That leaves my budget at about $132.
I did visit Noble Pig brewing in Kamloops. The food was well above average and the beers matched. Nothing exciting but all solid. Their mocha porter was the highlight beer. Red Collar brewing down the road had lots on tap, but not much worth drinking. After a few unappealing samples, a growler of mild of obtained. Was a decent English mild. Toasted, fruity malts tempered with a surprising herbal hop snap. Very seasonable at under 4% ABV. These were parental sponsored events and will not affect budget, YAY.

So what to blog about? Maybe glassware. I admit that I have a glassware problem. I'll let you in on a little secret. Most beer glasses do nothing to enhance drinking enjoyment, they are pretty forms of advertisement.  My go to glass is the Duvel tulip. Any serious beer geek should have a tulip.
There are several features of this glass I like:
1. It is easy to clean.
2. The bowl shape holds almost a full bottle and traps the aromas.
3. Its convex lip can hold support a large foamy head. It covers the lower lip to prevent contaminating flavours from food or lip balm. Also prevents the dreaded beer slobber.
4. The large foot and short stem lowers the center of gravity and makes it almost impossible to tip over.
5. The bowl fits the hand nicely.
6. There is a nucleation point for proper head and aroma production.
7. It just looks so damn cool.
8. I put way too much thought into this stuff

If you don't have a tulip, use a snifter instead. They are very similar, except for the convex lip, and can be found everywhere. In a future post, I should mention the glass I like the least, it might surprise you.



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Still going. Trading Post Trippel

Review first, ramble second.
Not much that caught my eye in the beer world. Might pick up a four pack of the Four Winds Fresh Hopped Wild Ale. This brew uses fresh Cashmere hop, so its topical fruit flavours should only be enhanced by the use of Sacch Trois. We, as in Mrs. Left4beer and myself, are still on the quest for the perfect Pilsner. There much to enjoy in a simple, clean malt profile with a short lived complex hop snap. Sometimes you don't want a tongue piercing, enamel chipping, throat burning IPA dry-hopped with a variety designated by a number. So we had the Bad Tattoo Pils and a Northern German pils. The Bad Tattoo was solid, perhaps the malts were a little mushy, but still nice. The German number was oddly hoppy, but this might be expected for a Northern German Pils.


The real highlight was the Trading Post Trippel. Their brewery is located in Central Langley, just a
few blocks down from KPU. I love me a good trippel. It must be hard to brew this iconic Belgian style. Even before the bottle is opened, drinkers wonder how it will rank up to Westmalle or La Fin. You can get a La Fin at every BCLS for about $7. Just a tip, store the La Fin for about a year. The unique, and sometimes unappealing, Unibroue yeast settles out but all the spicy flavours remain. The Trading Post came in with a very close second. After a gushing opening, the peppery, spicy hops/yeast started and finished the show. Honey and granola malts were not to be ignored, but the dry, clean finish left a definitive curtain fall. Worth the $9. This leaves the budget at $138. In case Rob was wondering, I included a $20 home brew in this deduction.


So why did I stop blogging? It was certainly not due to lack of ego development.
There were three reasons.
1. I'm lazy. Or to use the fancier term: cognitive miser
2. Someone mentioned my posts were boring and repetitive. This person was perhaps correct. I won't name names. #$@# you Braeden. Love you, kiss kiss.
3. The last reason sounds incredibly pompous and arrogant, even for me. The enjoyment of craft beer was ruined by studying for the Master Cicerone exam. I spend almost one year studying and dissecting beers on a daily basis. I drank lots of beers. Not a lot one beer, but lots of different beers. It came to the point that the sip was not the path of enjoyment but an avenue for aroma and flavour analysis. The pop of a cork lacked enjoyment. This was only reinforced when I failed the exam. I got 68%, which was short of the required 85%. Looking back at my failing feedback, it faded the luster of the labels. Is the pinnacle of craft beer appreciation deciding if the levels of damascenone were suitable for this aged Scottish Ale? Perhaps this faded cherry flavour is not actually yeast derived but from barrel aging. Was this what beer geeks strive for; no thank you. So, I guess this blog is trying to recover my lost love of beer.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

It's back, a new blog and Lighthouse Ahtanum hop IPA

Did you think I would be gone forever? I did miss it, blogging that is. A lot of beer is still drank, but certainly a lot less. I've been enjoying a lot of blogs and podcasts.  There is a common theme to successful ones. They add value and are creative expressions.
So a new blog idea, something less preachy and pompous. It is OK to admit it, there were references to obscure Philippine citrus fruits in my IPA reviews. This one is going to be the "small beer geek blog". This is the premise: a $200 per month beer budget and only use/keep 10 glasses. In case you noticed, one of the podcasts followed is The Minimalists.

Weekly, I visit multiple beer stores and read about all the brewery beer releases on Facebook. One can't drink them all, nor would you want too.  The beer bottle labels and descriptions are no longer a flavour mystery. Recently someone asked me, "is the honeymoon phase of craft beer over?" Sadly it is. Think about it. Other than perhaps Sartori Harvest, which local beer release have you been excited about. There are still Sartoris on the shelf so I am not the only one feeling this way.

So here is it. Limited budget and must explain why I chose this beer to drink. Enough rambling, now into the beer choice.

This week I drank the Lighthouse Numbskull Ahtanum single hop. I like a single hop beer for the fun factor of picking out flavours in more complex IPAs. This is a great way to start. I might get the El Dorado version next. It is a solid IPA, decent malt backbone of caramel and bread. The hop flavours
were very linear and well under the undrinkably bitter mark. Ample piney and grapefruit aroma and flavour, but not too much bitterness. Sounds right for a lowish alpha hop aroma with over 50% myrcene oil content. Worth a taste. So that makes monthly budget at $191. What did you drink this week and why?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

GCBF Rant 2017

And you thought I was finished blogging? Rarely to a miss a chance to rant about beer. The beer list from GCBF this year is out and has quite a few gems. This year I thought about doing a Top Ten list of the beers that I am looking forward to trying and perhaps a few items people may have overlooked. There will also be a few duds this year. It is a rant by the Victoria beer prick right?

10. Axe and Barrel's Fruity Mother Pucker. This is a great name for a kettle sour, but it is not original. Peaks in Port Angeles made a kettle sour, but they mentioned that it was not intentional. Will be nice to see how Andrew's favourite kettle sour tastes in his new place.

9. KPU beers. This is the Kwantlen Polytech University brewing program. They picked a few classic styles like a Schwarbier (black) and an altbier (lagered dark ale).

8. Unibroue - Ephemere this year is a elderflower and fruit. Should be tasty.

7. Faculty brewing's 713 Balsamic stout. Balsamic reduction in an oaked stout. Could be good or really bad, certainly worth a token.

6. Beau's Gruit Ale. A gruit is a beer bittered with herbs and not hops. The Buenos Dias sounds like a salty Gose with citrus additions.

5. VIB - They will be releasing two new beers at GCBF this year. Hopefully they are truly new and not remixes of old beers or Corona clones. Their beers are usually solid and token worthy.

4. Category 12 - They seem to have an interesting selection of new beers and casks.  Zombie 2 and brett pale ale here I come. Swan's should also get a nod here too. Swan's Black Chamomile Pils sounds interesting.

3. All the new breweries and Vancouver tasting lounge breweries. There are too many to list. Many of them are too far away to reach Victoria or volume is too small to warrant the ferry cost. In no particular order: Luppolo, A-Frame, Mount Arrowsmith, SOOKE!, Ravens, Hathi, Riot Brewing, Andina Kolsch, WhiteTooth.


2. Field House's Coolship! A coolship is an open fermentation vessel which allows wild yeast and bacteria from the environment to land on the cooling beer and assist in fermentation. True terroir! These beers and generally a bit on the sour and funky side and always one of a kind. This is where I will be lining up.

1. Drake Cask Tent! I wonder why the Drake Eatery and Beer Parlour (at 517 Pandora) has it's own booth at GCBF? Sorry, inside joke. There is no mention if these 13 casks will be tapped at the same time, or if they will be staggered throughout the weekend. We will have to find out on the day.

There are a few honourable mentions, but I ran out of space. Fuggles and Warlock G&T Peach sour, Four Winds Quadrennial, Moon's kettle sour, Steel and Oak Steinbier (heated stone beer in collaboration with Freigeist Bierjultur), Trading Post tart cranberry brett ale and Strange Fellows Popinjay New World sour.

Again, I feel disheartened by lack luster effort from local breweries in their choice of beers to showcase at an event that garners so much attention. They have the shortest travel distance. C12 has some new items, even VIB timed beer releases well.  Driftwood core brands and cask of strong seasonals (didn't they do this last year?), Phillips ditto (although their Cola Slipstream sounds interesting) , Spins ditto, Hoyne ditto (their cask sounds suspiciously like Dark Matter with blackberries), Twa Dogs only current mixer pack, Lighthouse 3rd beer not mentioned. Canoe only core brands. Special mention to Granville Island for the best written description of their beers, but weren't these the same beers as last year? Then again, there will be people new to craft beer and this is the perfect place for them to sample regular brewery offerings.

Maybe I am being overly critical. Irregardless, it will be a great weekend of great beers hosted by great volunteers and fed by great local food trucks. Hopefully the washroom line ups will be shorter this year. What do you think, leave comments below.



Sunday, February 5, 2017

Excitation Espresso Stout - Category 12


Brewing with coffee, this is a great idea. The ethanol calms you down and the caffeine revs you up. Or the roasted flavours of stout and coffee blend nicely, your pick. There are a few ways to incorporate the goodness of coffee into a beer. The first is to just add coffee grounds into the brewing mash. This is the easiest way, but can produce a quite bitter, astringent and roasty beer. Imagine brewing a coffee with warm water for about an hour, you are going to extract all the flavours. Including ones you might not want. I'm pretty sure this is how Black Jackal was made, tastes like it anyways.
Another way is to just add lots of espresso shots. This is quite time consuming but highlights the rich, sweet creaminess of fresh espresso. Swan's yearly Double Shot Porter is made this way.
The middle ground of effort and flavour extraction is the cold brew method. Most of us have tried, or made, cold brew coffee. Just place coffee grounds into cold water, wait 24-48 hours, then remove desired caffeinated liquid. How does the phrase go..." all the jitter but none of the bitter." Spinnakers makes a cold pressed coffee brew and Lighthouse has their Night Watch Coffee Lager. You can either use the cold pressed coffee as strike water, or just add the coffee before the boil.

Excitation = 8/10

The nose is unusually calm with roasted coffee beans and blackberries.  Only a but of roasted bitterness, and not coffee acrid, starts off this medium to full mouthfeel beer. Get your jitter on with flavours of espresso creme, coffee water, dark berries and creamy bittersweet chocolate. The finish is long and roasted with addition flavours of toasted pecans.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 6.4% +1
Value +1
Appearance +1 Great label with nice description of expected flaavours

Glassware: Snifter, or ceramic mug

Food Pairings:Definitely grilled, heavy meats. You could also pair this with a dessert of tiramisu.

Cellar: maybe, but nope

For those who read all the way to the bottom, there is more. I'm guessing that you are also the people who stay to the end of the credits of an animation movie. Just in case there are extra scenes. I shall be brief. This will be the last beer review. I have been doing these reviews for over 10 years and my heart is just not in it. As you can tell, due to the lack of reviews this year. Also there was no best beer of 2016 article either. It would have been the 2016 Sang, it case you were wondering. Either that or the Twa Dogs Saison. If you want beer reviews, check out Bring Your Porter to the Slaughter, Matter of Beer, or Beer Ye Beer Ye. I might do something in the future, I paid for the web domain for the year. But for now that is all.
Thank you for reading and commenting





Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sang Du Merle 2016 by Moon Under Water

There are three beers that I feel form the trilogy of fermented flavour awesomeness. The first is my personal favourite Rochefort 10. The second is by buddy's favourite, Orval. Final spot of honour falls upon my wife's favourite, Rodenbach. If I were stranded on a deserted island... you get the idea. Rodenbach is the pinnacle of sour beer perfection. The brewing process is quite complex and involves multiyear aging in open air oak vessels called foeders. This brewing process, and subsequent blending, produces a sour ale of startling complexity. One can pick out flavours of sour cherries, caramel, oak, balsamic vinegar and red wine. Whenever I taste a beer that claims to be a Flemish red sour, the comparison relative to Rodenbach is determined. It can be very hard to duplicate the fruity esters of cherries without a long and complex wood aging process. One way to mimic these flavours is to add in cherries. I fully endorse this idea.

Sang Du Merle 2016 = 9/10 


The best year so far. A nose that carries a tart, sweetness of cherries is sure to please Rodenbach fans. Within all that are hints of oak, balsamic and apple cores. It is not often you experience an effervescent, cherry infused balsamic but this is one of those times. Add to that a sweet prickly acidity that lingers and you pretty much sum up the Sang 2016. A must for sour fans.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Snifter or tulip

Food Pairings: I would recommend a sweet and sour Chinese dish. The bright acidity and effervescence would cut the heavy fats. While the sweet and sour from both would just resonate.

Cellar: I put a few down

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Holy Willie's Robust Porter by Twa Dogs

Porters never get a high score with my rating system. They are just not powerhouse beers. Rarely do you get a porter that adds a complexity of depth that keeps adding new flavours with each sip. Baltic porters maybe, but not English or American. These latter beers are simple in flavour: little roast, little chocolate with a hint of coffee or toffee. Usually not a lot of hop nor yeast character. This is not to say that porters are not enjoyable, quite the opposite. Each sip will distract you then release you back to reality. The robust porter was the stronger version of the brown porter in the 2008 BJCP guidelines. In the current guidelines, brown became English and robust became American. I am also glad to see that this version in not adulterated with added flavours. No blackberry, maple syrup or mocha porters for this beer geek. So how does it taste?

Holy Willie's = 7/10


Yup, it tastes like a proper porter. Roasted grains, cereal and earthy hot chocolate powder gently rise from the glass. Luckily the sip is not overly acrid with roasted astringency, just nicely medium. The flavour parts align like a middle school math question: common denominator or roasted bread crusts, weak coffee, hot chocolate powder and a hint of dirt. Not too quick a fade, yup solid porter. Should have brought the bigger growler.


Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1 (yup would buy again)
Appearance +1

Glassware: Nonic pint would work

Food Pairings: A steak, or other dark fatty meat, off the grill. The slight char and roasted flavours should harmonize nicely. Veggie option would be a wild mushroom stroganoff

Cellar: Noipe