Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hip as Funk IPA by Moon Under Water

I am really far behind in my posts, this beer was released in January. The name eludes to the flavours and it also has a great label. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this the first Brett conditioned beer to be released in Victoria? If so, props to Clay for releasing a brave new beer. If not, just props anyways for a great beer.

Hip as Funk = 7/10

The nose is all brett with nostril tingles of wood pile and wool gloves. It is a pleasantly tart and acrid sip that might be categorized as medium in body. To balance the tartness is a light pit fruit sweetness that encompasses apricots, dried pears, peaches and horse blanket. Sadly all these great flavours just end. It is has an oddly clean ending for an initially funky beer.


Taste +4
Aftertaste 0 (it just ends)
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great label)

Glassware: I would prefer a tulip, but my buddy Brian has chosen a hefe style. Which is fine due to abundant head produced.

Food Pairings: Pairing with sour beers is a challange, but pick something on the light side. A good idea might be a grilled ham and a funky brie cheese. The high carbonation of dryness would work well to remove fatty or spicy tastes from the tongue; hello Pad Thai! A spicy sausage hoagie would be a good choice.

Cellar: The brett yeast might produce some interesting changes with the residual sugar. Might be worth it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Insubordinate Session IPA by Category 12


It is so nice to have a Cicerone working at a small, local brewery. That way, when they say that a beer is sessionable, it actually is. I suppose that this means Category 12 is almost a serious local brewery. In my selfish opinion I feel there are some informal criteria to meet to be considered a serious craft brewery. There are five of them, feel free to comment if you think I am crazy. First, you must produce a noteworthy IPA. A black IPA could be substituted perhaps.  Almost everyone has one, some are better than others. Second, you must make a high gravity beer that is worth cellaring. This can be a barley wine, stout or a weird Belgian thing. Third, you must do a unique cask once a year. It cannot be a dry-hopped-something-you-already-have-on-tap. Fourth, you must make something session strength that is quaffable. Finally, you must brew something with a unique yeast or something sour. How many local breweries meet all of these criteria? Most of them do, or are well on their way to fulfilling these criteria. Well, this is rather opinionated of me. This never happens. Anyways I digress.

This is the fifth release by the kids on Keating Cross. The previous releases were a pale ale and a Belgian dark. Both of which I tasted but forgot to review; I am such a slacker.  The pale ale gets a 7 and the dark gets an 6. There was a weird aroma on the dark that threw me off. Still both were very tasty, I especially liked the pale. Lots of aroma and not too grassy. Again I digress, must be the lack of caffeine.

Insubordinate = 9/10

This brew is darn tasty. An unexpected nose hits you with abundant pine/cedar and grapefruit citrus. The gripping bitterness followed the nose, yet faded quickly to reveal a mix of bready, biscuit and caramel malts. A simple, yet very drinkable beer, which is what a session ale should be. Oh and under 5%ABV.



Taste= +4
Aftertaste = +2
Alcohol Content +1 (low alcohol that doesn't taste weak)
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice art and reasonable description of flavour)

Glassware: What ever you have is fine. I did not include a photo of my glassware choice due to ummm technical difficulties.

Food Pairings: A sharp cheddar would pair nicely, maybe even a Stilton. There is a bit of spiciness, pine and citrus going on in this beer. Would enhance a cedar grilled salmon nicely or contrast a sweeter pasta dish with some citrus component. Try with tuna lemon pasta.

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Tale of Two Beers

It was the best of beers, it was the worst of beers. This is the only line that I know from the Charles Dickens novel. Actually, this knowledge was learned from Mr. Google. The title does introduces two contrasting beers nicely. Today I shall be ranting about Phillips, most days I rant about Phillips. Mix this rant about what makes a beer good. A beer is good for two reasons. The first is that it loosely follows guidelines and is free of flaws or faults. The second is that it tastes good (to you). Unless you are entering a beer in a contest, the first reason is usually ignored. Except for the flaw part. Now we come to the second reason, does a beer taste good?
Does a beer actually taste good.... really? Are your tastes biased due to marketing, preconceived expectations or the third and most insidious reason of Untappd review bias? I like to call this the Emperor's New Clothes effect. In this instance you are presented with a new beer. It has great packaging, great description, made by a big craft brewery with lots of positive Untappd or Ratebeer reviews. This must be a good beer right? Not always. In some circles this is called expectation or subjectivity. The classic example used wine experts and their impression about a certain wine. In this experiment, experts were served a bottle of red wine labeled as a grand cru (special) and a bottle labeled as a vin du table (ordinary). Experts rated the grand cru as better than the table wine. The kicker was that they were served the same wine in different bottles. You can influence experts with labeling. It happens in the beer world too. Samuel Adams Utopia is only pretty good, Pliny the Elder is not that mind blowing and the Phillips 10th Anniversary beer was an average IPA in a really fancy bottle. Perhaps this is enough ranting, I think you get the point.

3rd Blind Mouse by Phillips = -2/10

Like you never saw this review coming. Mr. Mouse started off with a wonderfully sweet nose of sweet tropical fruit, pineapple and passion fruit. Should have called it 3rd Blind Mosaic. Things went south when the tongue numbing bitterness became difficult to stomach. It was overly bitter, boozy and lacked malt balance. I imagine that this is what 20 year old can of tropical fruit salad would taste like. Despite all this, I felt there was a bit of diacetyl slickness in the aftertaste. This beer hit the drain. My thoughts were confirmed by others in the room with me: a great homebrewer, a professional brewer and a highly rated beer geek. They also thought it tasted like every other Phillips IPA. It looked wonderful, smelled great, was made by a famous craft brewery and had many great reviews. To me this beer just sucked.

Taste -1
Aftertaste -1
Alcohol Content +1 10.2%
Value -1
Appearance +1

Apteryx IPA = 7/10


I found this IPA to be quite tasty and interesting. I liked the use of Nelson Sauvin hops. I can't say that I have ever tried a gooseberry, cape gooseberry yes, but not a European one. Sauvignon blanc wine has passed over my tongue and yes you can taste it in these hops. There was the expected mix of tropical fruit, grapefruit with spicy papaya seeds.The mild bready and fruity malts did not distract from the slight white grape juice taste of the hops. A lingering of peppery fruit provided a pleasant end to the sip. I liked it, not stellar, but very tasty.

Taste+3 
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1 (I liked it)
Appearance +1 (Nice label art with good description of flavour)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jackline Rhubard Grisette by Lighthouse

Just when you think a BC brewery can't find another obscure beer style. From Gose to Gratzer to Grisette. Essentially the grisette is a table (low alcohol) saison. It is meant to be an unobtrusive yet refreshing drinking beer. Rather like the mild ale to the English. Unsurprisingly Lighthouse put rhubarb in their version. I mean it tasted great in the Rhubie saison last summer. In case brewers are looking for more obscure beer styles, here is a list. Or here

Jackline Grisette = 8/10


Yup it works. A cereal/grainy nose carries familiar friends fruity tannic and lightly yeasty. This is quite a dry beer, partially from the high carbonation and tannic tingle from unsweetened rhubarb. It is light and tartly refreshing with light cereal and lemon mixed with the namesake fruitiness. You will reach for another sip before the dry rhubarb quickly fades away. This beer is guaranteed to sell out this summer.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice label art)

Glassware: A tulip or pokal.

Food Pairings: Seafood, definitely light seafood. Perhaps a shrimp salad with a lemon dressing. As for cheese the tartness with enhance a young goat cheese for sure.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Can Beer Help with Post Exercise Rehydration?

Nope.

Perhaps I should elaborate or this will be a very short article. Researchers at the Griffith University in Queensland, Australia (where else), set out to answer this very question. Beer is apparently a very popular post exercise beverage, just as Olympic Gold Medalist Jon Montgomery. Could low alcohol beer with added sodium be an effective rehydration beverage? Actually, this is the second time these same researchers tried this stunt. Again, their old friend XXXX light (2.3%ABV) and XXXX Gold (3.5%ABV) got a dose of sodium and was served to some lucky, dehydrated university students. These poor students were stuck in heavy tract suits until they lost 2% of their body weight from sweating. Then they were given salty, low alcohol beer in approximate volumes to replace the fluid lost from exercise. Apparently the average fluid lost was about 2 litres, yuck.
After this torment, the researchers learned that beer was not an effective rehydration beverage. Even though the saltiest light beer (2.3%ABV with 50 mmol/L sodium) was the most effective, it was also the least palatable. By comparison Gatorade contains about 20 mmol/L of sodium, so this beer was quite salty. I shall continue to sit on my couch and rehydrate with a nice Gose.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Swans double review Master Blaster and Black Cygnet

It is already April and I have fallen behind in my reviews. Life is rough as Victoria's premier beer blogger. I might also mention only, beer blogger. This makes the premier part easy to claim

Andrew was busy for Victoria Beer Week, which was a great time. He released two beers: the Master Blaster Brett Saison and the Black Cygnet session black IPA. These are on tap and growler releases only. No preamble just review.

Master Blaster = 8/10


It is hard to go wrong with a fruity, spicy saison with the addition of brettanomyces. The nose was floral and tropical fruity from the hops and the brett character just dried that out and added a bit of funky orange peel. One can never have too much mango, dried pineapple or horse blanket. The Blaster was a little hoppy for a saison; I suppose the Northwest Style disclaimer in the name was enough of a warning. A spicy and tropical hop blast harmonized with the earthy and brett tart tang. There were some apricot and cracker malts along for the ride. It tasted a little thin but this was expected from the brett influence. The ending was short with cooling mangos. Very, very nice.

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

Glassware: Tulip

Food Pairings: Breaded or poached light seafood with a fruity sauce. I would choose a wild mushroom and risotto with lemon drizzle. The cheese would have to be something fresh goat.

Cellar: Can you cellar a growler?

Black Cygnet = 7/10

I really liked this beer, but I tend to like low ABV beers with lots of flavour. My growler still smells of powdered Nestle Quick and mixed citrus. The Cygnet was a very drinkable mix of weak coffee, dry chocolate, grapefruit, oranges and geraniums all in perfect balance.

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

Glassware: Whatever is clean

Food Pairings: Definitely something grilled and fatty. The cheese would be something cheddar and aged.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Craft Beer Revolution Second Edition Book Review

I was very pleased to receive a copy of Joe's new book, Craft Beer Revolution Second Edition. Not to be confused with the book by Steve Hindy with the same name. It is awkward to read, and potentially review, a book by someone I see on a semi regular basis. What if you don't like the book? Do you mention any errors or spelling mistakes? Luckily Joe's book if factually accurate, free of grammatical errors and a pleasure to read. I found the tone and personal nature of Joe's writing to be a refreshing change from other beer books. It felt like a pub chat with an old friend.

I should say what this book is not. This book is not an in depth tasting guide to the craft beers produced in BC. The tasting notes on the beers mentioned were a little generalized. This is not a beer appreciation book with glassware lesson, beer style guides, food pairings and recipes. This is most evident by the very short Glossary of Terms section near the front of the book. Many terms and beer styles mentioned in the later chapters are not mentioned. There is no definition of bock, weizenbock, porter, mash tun, etc, etc.

However, this book is the definitive guide to what is happening in BC craft beer. It covers the past, the present and gives hint into the future of what's brewing in this province. There is brief profile of almost (more on this later) every craft brewery in BC. These profiles are organized by geographical location. Each profile has a brief history about the brewers and owners that are make the beers we love. Joe excels in his book by capturing the passions and dreams of those driving the craft beer movement. I also enjoyed the extra stories placed within the book. There are stories about the Pink Boots, cask festivals, fresh hopped beers and more.

Perhaps the big question is should you buy this book. My answer is, "Yes". I learned quite a lot about the new craft breweries in BC. It was nice to know the places and names behind the beers I drink. I binge read this book over the course of two days.  If you are looking for a beer appreciation book, perhaps Beerology by Mirella Amato is a better option.

I mentioned the "almost" covering every craft brewery in BC. Again this edition omitted the  Merecroft Village Pub. This is the only craft brewery north of Nanaimo. I have been to the MVP Pub, I do not plan to return. Their website proudly offers to serve your favourite beer in a frosted mug. Did I mention there was no desire to return to MVP?  Something else I liked was the education section. This short chapter gave places to learn more about the appreciation of craft beer, such as the Cicerone program and Prud'homme. Mostly like no one with notice the absence of the beer blogger listings.
Well done Joe. I'm looking forward to reading the Third Edition.