Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sucker Punch Citra Sour by Swan's

This is terrible, two months of no beer reviews! Maybe I will just go back through my notes and not really post anything online. Thinking ahead for the 2106 top beers of Victoria.

Sucker Punch = 6/10

The nose is an odd mixture of red apples and dank. Despite a little thin mouthfeel there is ample tart tropical fruit flavours. Citra is very apparent with both aromas and flavours of lime, melon and pineapple. The tart and lactic character only seems to enhance these flavours. Sour and tart but not overpowering

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1 (quite clean, but still some residual tartness)
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1 very tasty
Appearance +1 (fun label art, change of pace for Swan's)

Glassware: Teku. Only because it looks elegant and not everyone has one

Food Pairings: Poached lamb with tangerine glaze.

Cellar: maybe. Citra character will fade for sure, but will Brett take up slack?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Odyssey Porter (Phillips)

There can never be enough nitrogenated beers. Nitrogen gas adds a creamy mouthfeel and sweet flavour. Since nitrogen is quite insoluble in most liquids, it adds a thicker creamier mouthfeel. When served on draught, nitro beers display that classic bubble cascade associated with a certain Irish stout. Within that fancy nitro beer faucet is a restriction plate (plate with tiny holes). Beer is forced through these narrow openings and nitrogen is forced out of solution, which leads to that large dense head. Nitrogen gas also has a sweetness which contrasts and softens bitter beers like stouts and porters. I have heard of nitro IPAs and hoppy pilsners.  If Clay is reading this, which I doubt, perhaps he would consider a nitro version of Potts Pils? That would be nice.
When nitro beers are available in cans, there is a whole different magic that happens. Read all about it here, because the internet is always true. Regardless, with a quick opening and a hard pour you can enjoy a creamy cascading beer at home.

Odyssey Porter = 8/10

A sweet aroma greets you with an equal mix of light toast, powdered milk and cocoa. The mouthfeel is creamy as expected, but a little thin. This is a straight forward porter with dry cocoa, milk chocolate, toast and slight fruity red apple. It all ends with a whipped cream and chocolate finish. Overall it is very nice.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.0%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Nice art with reasonable description of flavour)

Glassware: Definitely an Irish tulip, for historical effect. Make sure it is the 500ml version

Food Pairings: I would go for a mushroom and beef stew. The chewiness of the stem would mesh well with the creamy mouthfeel of the Odyssey. Generally stews are rich and umami heavy, perfect to balance with a sweet porter. For any veggies reading this, try with a mushroom and red kidney bean pot pie.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cereal Killer (Phillips)

Rye is the new and trendy grain to brew with these days. It ranks up there with the kettle sour. There is nothing wrong with this trend at all. When in used appropriately, rye adds a pleasant dry cereal and characteristic spiciness to a brew.

Cereal Killer = 5/10

Rye is apparent in the nose with its desired spicy cereal aroma. Not use why I am picking up marshmallow, maybe it is the kidlets hot chocolate. Despite the slightly slick mouthfeel, the Cereal Killer delivers the rye. It has the wet cereal, light spicy rye and chewy red apples you might expect. The only flavour not to fade was the sticky cereal. Tasty for a bottle, but might not buy a second one.

Taste +2
Aftertaste 0 
Alcohol Content +1 7.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Any thing clean will do, the shaker pint would do fine

Food Pairings: Indian food or Thai would do nice. The spiciness would blend together while there is enough maltiness to calm the spicy heat. Hello tofu Pad Thai. Even the carnivores don't mind this dish.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Moon Juice Kettle Sour

I love sour beers. The love of sour beers is polarizing in my opinion, you either love or hate. There is no middle ground. I feel this is the same for many culinary delights. Other examples include asparagus, sushi and cilantro. Let it be known; I do not like cilantro. Back to sour beers; I love sour beers. Luckily they do not contain cilantro.
Many fresh agricultural products are paired with bacteria or yeasts that will help ferment them. Grapes are covered in wine producing yeasts, ditto for apples. Barley is covered in Lactobacillus, which if whetted will lead to lactic acid fermentation. Normally wort is boiled to kill off these bacteria so the Saccharomyces yeast can ferment without competition. One exception is kettle souring. This brewing technique gives lactic acid bacteria a head start to produce the desired levels of sourness and attenuation. Once the desired level of sourness is achieved, the wort is boiled to halt the souring process and traditional fermentation proceeds as normal. Or in the case of the Berliner Weisse, the souring process if allowed to run its full course. Think of this as a lambic without atmospheric influence. Brewers might pitch a Lactobacillus culture to speed things along or produce a desired flavour.
Which leads us to the current trend of kettle souring. Many craft breweries are attempting one. Axe and Barrel makes a very nice spruce tip kettle sour.
Moon Juice Kettle Sour = 8/10

The nose is similar to lactic acid fermeneted beverages, think Kefir or yogurt. It also carries a hint of pine and oranges. A pleasant acidic tingle and oddly thick mouthfeel delivers all the sourness. Some felt it was a bit sweet, but I like a sweet beer. There was an equal part cereal, citrus and breadiness mixed together with an approachable yogurt like tartness. If you like your sours, this will make you happy. Sadly due to my lazy attitude this beer is already sold out. However, the Moon's Facebook page mentions another kettle sour release.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 (none mentioned but extra marks for deliciousness)
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Something small. I big glass of this sour might be hard to go through.

Food Pairings: This might be interesting contrast with a sweet dish, perhaps corn chowder. A good pairing would be an arugula salad with tart, salty feta or lightly acidic young goat cheese.

Cellar: I might try cellaring a growler of sour one day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sky High Grand Fir by Phillips

Is this the first release of the year? I think so, which is often the way with Phillips. Always with the fast and furious releases. Again with the firsts, this might be the first fir tree beer in Victoria. We have had several spruce tip releases, most notably from Tofino and Axe and Barrel.
Sky High Grand Fir = 5/10

The nose is as you would expect, forest. What was unexpected was the prominent orange crush aroma. It reminded me of a trip to Silk Road Tea House to randomly sniff the essential oil selection. Although, I sometimes feel that most evergreen trees have a slight orange smell.  The aromatic fir oil added an extra spiciness to the medium-light mouthfeel. It tastes just like it smells with an added straw, white bread malt background. Tasty enough, but I don't think I will have another.
Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1 Tasty enough for one
Appearance +1 Excellent description of beer flavour considering uniqueness of taste
Food Pairing: I wouldn't try to pair this beer with anything specific, too many odd, prominent flavours. If pressed, perhaps a cedar plank salmon with an orange or lemon glaze. Get your full forest on.
Glassware: Whatever is clean
Cellar: Nope.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Will judging homebew lagers will give me throat cancer?

I admit that title was a tad shocking but I need to attract readership. It works for the newspapers, so I figured it would work for me. This title seems scary at first, "Short-term salivary acetaldehyde increase due to direct exposure to alcoholic beverages as an additional cancer risk factor beyond ethanol metabolism." One of the major off favours in beer is acetaldehyde, so we know it is present in some of the beers we drink. We also know that there tends to be more acetaldehyde present in lagers. Anyone who has judged a lager category has gotten a mouthful of green apple. Acetaldehyde is a known risk factor for cancer. This compound in beer as associated with DNA damage and impaired DNA repair. So will drinking beer put you at risk of cancer? The answer is yes, but it is not as bad as you think.

In this study, students were given various alcoholic beverages to sample. These were sampled via the wine tasting method, swish, hold and spit. The beverages ranged from beer, vodka, wine to grape marc spirit. Oddly beer contained the lowest amount of acetaldehyde of all beverages except for vodka. I'm not sure what grape marc spirit is but I plan to avoid that crap, it contained the most acetaldehyde by far.

Acetaldehyde is formed in the body by liver metabolism and mouth or colonic bacteria. This was news to me. It also explains why poor dental hygiene is associated with higher risks of certain forms of stomach cancer. Back to our beverage spitting, cancer developing subjects. After the swish and spit, levels of acetaldehyde were measured in the saliva over the next 10 minutes. This method would allow bacteria present in the mouth produce acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde levels rose and faded over 10 minutes of saliva sampling. As predicted, initial acetaldehyde levels in beverages we responsible for the first 30 seconds of exposure. After that, it was due to the bacterial modification of alcohol content. This was evident when comparing grape marc spirit and vodka. Levels of acetaldehyde of vodka are unmeasureable where as levels in grape marc were 15851 uM. For comparison beer only contained 210 uM. The makes sense, in beer acetaldehyde is considered to be a flaw and avoided. After ten minutes acetaldehyde saliva levels of those who sampled beer were undetectable while vodka and grape merc levels of acetaldehyde were similar. So what does this mean for beer drinkers? Beer drinking is a risk factor for cancer, but not as much as spirits due to beer's lower alcohol content.  Even in bad lagers where green apple is noticeable, their acetaldehyde levels would be lower than grape merc spirit or cider. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Top Victoria Beers of 2015 according to ME

A large thank you to all my readers this year. Especially those pointing out dirty glassware and spellling errors. 
Another great year for beer drinkers in Victoria. There were almost monthly new releases, or almost new, from Phillips. Category 12 seemed to put out a new beer quarterly, all of them good. Again this year I was not able to review all the new releases from Victoria brewers. There were a couple of reasons for this. The first is that Spinnakers didn't always publish when they had new beers. Also some were draught only; I'm not going to take detailed notes over dinner. Secondly, some of Moon Under Water's sours I did not drink, but put directly in the cellar. And lastly I sampled very few from the Four Mile; this was on purpose. Now on the the list.

1. Raised by Wolves from Driftwood. This was no surprise to most people. I wish I had purchased more bottles to see how it evolved. Hopefully we will see this one again.

2. Induction by Category 12. This was a solid Belgian-style dubble made properly. I think this one is going to be released again very soon

3. Obscuritas by Driftwood. A great beer in a great bottle. 

4. Barque by Lighthouse. I love me a good Belgian strong

5.  Insubordinate Session IPA by Category 12. A sessionable IPA and didn't taste sessional.

6. Jackline Rhubarb Grisette by Lighthouse. This was the only beer in 2015 to score a 5 in taste, and well deserved.

7. Master Blaster by Swan's. This first brett beer from Swan's was a tropical fruit funky delight.

8. De Auras Wheat Sour by Driftwood. Need I say more?

9. Waveform Wit by Category 12. It hit all the wit flavour check boxes with a new twist.

10. Legacy Ale by Swan's. It is nice to have a barley wine that is a pleasure to drink upon release. Sadly this leads to not great aging.

Honourable mentions in no particular order.

Discover Coffee Lager by Lighthouse. This did not get a formal review due to it's keg only release. The coffee flavour was subtle and had no harshness.

The sour line up at Spinnakers. Individually they would not hit the top ten list. But as a group, it was an impressive lineup for the small brew pub.

The sours at Moon Under Water. These were included because they are in the cellar, but the one's I sampled at bottle shares were stellar. I also felt bad that Moon wasn't mentioned despite all their great beers this year.

Thorn Horn from Phillips.

Black Sam Licorice from Lighthouse. 

Simplicity Ale from Category 12

Pacific Sunset from Lighthouse

Accelerated Transmission by Category 12

The best packaging of the year goes to Obscuritas by Hired Guns. With the runner up Scarfface by Phillips.

Any predictions or resolutions?

I resolve to visit the Four Mile this year. Never went last year. Still never went on that brewery tour. This year will be even harder to try every new release, as a brewery, or two, is opening in Sooke in 2016. And there might be two more production breweries in Victoria this year.

Other top 10 beer lists
Brewed Awakenings
Beer Me BC