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.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dragonfly Rye Saison by Spinnakers

I have been a little lazy with beer reviews. Luckily there have not been too many. Other good beers this week include the Lighthouse Strath 100 and Phillips Barrel Aged Rauch.
This is the latest beer release by Spinnakers. Did have one little peeve with my experience at Spinnakers. I brought my growler in for a fill of the Irish Stout. It was on the draft list, but not on the growler fill list so the nice lady behind the counter said I couldn't get any. If only she mentioned that I had to walk upstairs to get my fill of Irish Stout, I would have been a happy blogger. This was partially my fault, because it is mentioned in the email newsletter Spinnakers sends out. I always forget to read the fine print. Anyways back to the beer.
We need more rye in beer.  It adds a great dry, grainy and spicy character. This ingredient is also helpful in head formation. Rye is unfairly considered an adjunct in brewing, just like corn, sugar, caramel, potatoes and spices. Basically if it is not malted barley, it is considered an adjunct. Which I think is unfair. Imagine lumping rye and oats together with corn syrup? Let's instead call it a superawesome unappreciated brewing grain, or SUBG for brevity. Enough ranting, how was the beer?

Dragonfly Rye Saison =7/10

The initial aroma announces rye with its characteristic grainy and spicy scent. This blended nicely with the spices from the saison yeast. Each sip is creamy with that rye spice, slightly juicy with minor earthy hops. The rye does dominate the flavour but doesn't overpower. It brings out the flight fruitiness and lingers just longer enough. Very nice. 

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

Glassware: Tulip or my favourite slightly bowled pokal

Food Pairings: This would be nice with Thai food. The spicy characters would blend nicely. A nice Welsh rarebit with rye bread and sharp cheddar would resonate with saison's flavours.

Cellar: Nope, drink it fresh

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rock Bay Mash Up - Driftwood/Hoyne

I have predicted a local Victoria brewery collaboration for years. If you keep making the same prediction year, after year eventually it will happen. This collaboration was no surprise as Driftwood and Hoyne share the same parking lot. Wonder why it took almost two years for this to happen? Hopefully this will become a regular event. Local brewers must realize, that while they are friendly competitors, the bigger prize they all chase is the massive 80%+ market share owned the the big breweries. Working together will reduce this domination quicker.
Everyone knows that I am dedicated follower of classic beer styles. The Baltic porter is a style influenced by the imperial stouts on route to Russia. Much of this thick English brew passed through the sea ports of Estonia and Latvia. Naturally, local brewers prepared recipes to hopefully gain favour of the Russian imperial court. The lagered Baltic porter was born. I love a good Baltic porter. There are two that stick out in my mind: Black Boss and Baltika 6. Both of these beverages are to be purchased on sight. Maybe I should trademark that phrase, "Purchase on sight", POS for short. Nah.. might get confused with Point of Sale or Piece of ... something.
Anyways, the style should be thick like oatmeal, clean like a sanitized toilet yet fruity as an episode of "Will and Grace". What did the Cicerone Certified (R), BJCP Judge think of this mash up? By the way, I don't think the 8% ABV listing is accurate.

Rock Bay Mash Up = 6/10

The nose is unassuming with only mild hints of roast. I hoped to enjoy some thick lager characters and milk chocolate. A dark brown wash hits the tongue with an initial alcohol burn mixed with toast and Nutella. Anticipated dark berries were replaced by twinges of green apple. The mouthfeel was almost there but the thinness made things end too quickly.
Looking back, this review sounds terrible. It is rather unfair. Label this beer an extra robust porter or a foreign stout and call it even. Memories of the past flavours taint the present. I was hoping to sit down with a ridiculously underpriced bottle of Baltika 6 to relive a glorious past. Instead I got an almost $10 bottle of beer that didn't live up to expectations. The bar was set pretty high. Get out there, buy this beer. It is tasty. Just don't compare it to Black Boss, Baltika 6 or that stellar Les Trois Mousquetaires version.

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0 (it just ended)
Alcohol Content +1 8% (Does anyone have a refractometer I can borrow?)
Value +1 (only for the mash up part)
Appearance +1 Awesome label Julie

Glassware: No real traditional style here. Use a tulip or snifter. For goodness sakes don't serve me a Baltic porter, or any strong beer, in a pint glass.

Food Pairings: Grab a thick tofu steak and go at it.

Cellar: If there was yeast on board, I'd say let it age to eat up that green apple. Otherwise nope.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sauerteig Farmhouse Ale by Lighthouse

I love stealth marketing. This beer just appeared before my eyes in some backwater CBAW. It wasn't really backwater, just Maude Hunters.This bottle was wedged next to all the releases you thought were sold out like Bird of Prey, Road Trip and Old Cellar Dweller. They even had a cask of Russell brewing on the bar. There was only a minor mention of this on the specials chalk board. My server never even mentioned it. Too bad, I would have liked to try it.
Anyways back to the beer. The farmhouse/saison style beer is a style where almost anything is appropriate. As long as you use some wheat and an appropriate yeast, things are good. Between fits of coughing, Dean elaborated on this beer, "[it was] brewered as a saison with as many bakery ingredients as we could through at it, including huge tubs of of rye sourdough starter made for us by Byron Fry. Sweet and a touch sour with a little rye spiciness, this one's for more general audience than a truly sour or bretty beer would be." Collaberations are great, especially with other craft food vendors like Fry's Red Wheat Bread. A beer with a sourdough starter and rye? What did this beer prick think?

Sauerteig = 8/10

You could tell there was some funky yeast action with the barnyard smell and the multitude of little bubbles that comprised the head. The nose also presented hints of athletes foot, wheat, peppery rye and lemons. My first impression of the sip was that this tastes rather like a Berliner Weisse. I tried to homebrew a Berliner Weisse once. The sauerteig tastes way better than my homebrew. Each sip is juicy and sweet with lemons, sourdough bread and Seville oranges. The ending gives a dry finish that speaks of rye. Did I mention the tart barnyard sourness that carries all the way through? It was not a mouth puckering sour; Mrs. Left4beer called it a beginner sour. Not an overly complex beer, but interesting enough to keep you coming back.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Boring label but good description of beer. Would have been nice if QR code linked to more information about beer)

Glassware: Tulip.

Food Pairings: I really wish there was some wash rind cheese in the fridge. A pasta with tonnes of pecorino cheese would be great.

Cellar: nope. Sour character might develop more.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I will be doing the Victoria Beer Week

Depending what rock you reside under, you might have missed the announcements for Victoria Beer Week. Naturally all the big ticket events are cherry picked and full. If you want to go the the cask festival Saturday night, check usedvictoria.com for tickets. However, there are some events that are overlooked. Ken Beattie from Eureka Beer Guide with be doing a few beer schools on Sunday at Vancouver Island Brewery. He gives a great talk and there are still tickets for cheap. He might be serving beer during his lecture. Something I am looking forward to is the Michael Jackson documentary. Not the king of pop, the other MJ aka. The Beer Hunter. They will be serving beers from two new breweries (Bomber and Barkerville). There is also a shuttle from downtown to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.  On Wednesday, there is a cask from Lighthouse (Dean's casks are the best) and a new release from Canoe Club. You can also drink beer in the Vic Theatre and watch Strange Brew on Sunday night. Despite a website that is riddled with typos, there is still lots to see at Victoria Beer Week. Even the Gorge Point Pub will be doing craft beer flights? For those who are Untappd freaks, there are many sampling events are CBAW stores.